Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Person's language may influence how he or she thinks about other people

Date:
July 13, 2010
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
The language a person speaks may influence his or her thoughts, according to a new study on Israeli Arabs who speak both Arabic and Hebrew fluently. The study found that Israeli Arabs' positive associations with their own people are weaker when they are tested in Hebrew than when they are tested in Arabic.

The language a person speaks may influence his or her thoughts, according to a new study on Israeli Arabs who speak both Arabic and Hebrew fluently. The study found that Israeli Arabs' positive associations with their own people are weaker when they are tested in Hebrew than when they are tested in Arabic.

Related Articles


The vast majority of Arab Israelis speak Arabic at home and usually start learning Hebrew in elementary school. The subjects in this study were Arab Israelis, fluent in both Hebrew and Arabic, who were students at Hebrew-speaking universities and colleges. Researchers Shai Danziger of Ben-Gurion University and Robert Ward of Bangor University took advantage of the tensions between Arabs and Israelis to design an experiment that looked at how the students think differently in Arabic and Hebrew. Their hypothesis: "It's likely that a bilingual Arab Israeli will consider Arabs more positively in an Arab speaking environment than a Hebrew speaking environment," says Danziger.

The study used a computer test known as the Implicit Association Test, which is often used to study bias. Words flash on the computer screen, and subjects have to categorize them by pressing two keys on the keyboard as quickly as possible. It's a nearly automatic task, with no time to think about the answers. The trick is, the subjects are classifying two different kinds of words: words describing positive and negative traits and, in this case, names -- Arab names like Ahmed and Samir and Jewish names like Avi and Ronen. For example, they might be told to press "M" when they saw an Arab name or a word with a good meaning, or "X" when they saw a Jewish name and a word with a bad meaning. In this example, if people automatically associate "good" words with Arabs and "bad" with Jews, they'll be able to do the classifications faster than if their automatic association between the words is the other way around. In different sections of the test, different sets of words are paired.

For this study, the bilingual Arab Israelis took the implicit association test in both languages β€" Hebrew and Arabic β€" to see if the language they were using affected their biases about the names. The Arab Israeli volunteers found it easier to associate Arab names with "good" trait words and Jewish names with "bad" trait words than Arab names with "bad" trait words and Jewish names with "good" trait words. But this effect was much stronger when the test was given in Arabic; in the Hebrew session, they showed less of a positive bias toward Arab names over Jewish names. "The language we speak can change the way we think about other people," says Ward. The results are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Danziger himself learned both Hebrew and English as a child. "I am a bilingual and I believe that I actually respond differently in Hebrew than I do in English. I think in English I'm more polite than I am in Hebrew," he says. "People can exhibit different types of selves in different environments. This suggests that language can serve as a cue to bring forward different selves."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Person's language may influence how he or she thinks about other people." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100712115058.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2010, July 13). Person's language may influence how he or she thinks about other people. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100712115058.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Person's language may influence how he or she thinks about other people." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100712115058.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins