Foreign Language Effect and Moral Decision Making


Would you sacrifice one person to save a group of five people? This kind of moral dilemma juxtaposes deontological ethics against consequentialism. It presents the problem of balancing doing what is right against the common good. Such morality forms the foundation of our identity as citizens. However, does this morality change when the problem is posed in a different language? This has been the focus of recent research into the effects of the Foreign Language Effect on moral judgement (MFLE). This experiment examined whether and how the MFLE affects moral judgement of non-native speakers of English. The findings suggest that foreign language does influence moral decision making. Moreover, there was evidence supporting the hypothesis that a problem presented in a foreign language attenuates cognitive functioning toward the deliberation of consequences rather than blunting the emotional and moral reactions to right and wrong. Such findings have a wider social implication, particularly in an increasing globalized world where individuals often engage in decision-making involving communication in a foreign language.

Author Information
Arnold Arao, Osaka Ohtani University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACP2020
Stream: Linguistics, Language & Psychology/Behavioral Science

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon