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Foreign-language effects in cross-cultural behavioral research: Evidence from the Tanzanian Hadza

Stibbard-Hawkes, Duncan N E; Abarbanell, Linda; Mabulla, Ibrahim A; Endeko, Endeko S; Legare, Cristine H; Apicella, Coren L

Foreign-language effects in cross-cultural behavioral research: Evidence from the Tanzanian Hadza Thumbnail


Authors

Linda Abarbanell

Ibrahim A Mabulla

Endeko S Endeko

Cristine H Legare

Coren L Apicella



Contributors

Michele Gelfand
Editor

Abstract

Behavioral research in traditional subsistence populations is often conducted in a non-native language. Recent studies show that non-native language-use systematically influences behavior, including in widely used methodologies. However, such studies are largely conducted in rich, industrialized societies, using at least one European language. This study expands sample diversity. We presented four standard tasks—a “dictator” game, two sacrificial dilemmas, a wager task, and five Likert-risk tolerance measures—to 129 Hadza participants. We randomly varied study languages—Hadzane and Kiswahili—between participants. We report a moderate impact of study language on wager decisions, alongside a substantial effect on dilemma decisions and responses to Likert-assessments of risk. As expected, non-native languages fostered utilitarian choices in sacrificial dilemmas. Unlike previous studies, non-native-language-use decreased risk preference in wager and Likert-tasks. We consider alternative explanatory mechanisms to account for this reversal, including linguistic relativity and cultural context. Given the strength of the effects reported here, we recommend, where possible, that future cross-cultural research should be conducted in participants’ first language.

Citation

Stibbard-Hawkes, D. N. E., Abarbanell, L., Mabulla, I. A., Endeko, E. S., Legare, C. H., & Apicella, C. L. (2024). Foreign-language effects in cross-cultural behavioral research: Evidence from the Tanzanian Hadza. PNAS Nexus, 3(6), Article pgae218. https://doi.org/10.1093/pnasnexus/pgae218

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 23, 2024
Online Publication Date Jun 3, 2024
Publication Date Jun 3, 2024
Deposit Date Jul 3, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jul 3, 2024
Journal PNAS Nexus
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 3
Issue 6
Article Number pgae218
DOI https://doi.org/10.1093/pnasnexus/pgae218
Keywords foreign language effects, cross-cultural research, risk tolerance, moral dilemmas, economic games
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/2505496

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