How cross-linguistic differences in the grammaticalization of future time reference influence intertemporal choices

Thoma, Dieter ; Tytus, Agnieszka Ewa

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Document Type: Article
Year of publication Online: 2017
Date: 22 August 2017
The title of a journal, publication series: Cognitive science
Page range: 1-27
Place of publication: Malden, MA [u.a.]
Publishing house: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 0364-0213 , 1551-6709
Publication language: English
Institution: School of Humanities > Anglistik I - Anglistische Linguistik (Tracy 1995-)
Subject: 400 Language, linguistics
Individual keywords (German): Decision Framing; Future-Time Reference; Intertemporal Choice; Linguistic Savings Hypothesis; Linguistic Relativity; Schwartz Values
Abstract: According to Chen's (2013) Linguistic Savings Hypothesis (LSH), our native language affects our economic behavior. We present three studies investigating how cross-linguistic differences in the grammaticalization of future-time reference (FTR) affect intertemporal choices. In a series of decision scenarios about finance and health issues, we let speakers of altogether five languages that represent FTR with increasing strength, that is, Chinese, German, Danish, Spanish, and English, choose between hypothetical sooner-smaller and later-larger reward options. While the LSH predicts a present-bias that increases with FTR-strength, our decision makers preferred later-larger options and this future-bias increased with FTR-strength. In multiple regressions, the FTR-strength effect persisted when controlled for socioeconomic and cultural differences. We discuss why our findings deviate from the LSH and ask in how far the FTR-strength effect represents a habitual constitution of linguistic relativity or an instance of online decision framing.

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