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Thinking in a Foreign language reduces the causality bias

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      Abstract

      The purpose of this research is to investigate the impact of a foreign language on the causality bias (i.e., the illusion that two events are causally related when they are not). We predict that using a foreign language could reduce the illusions of causality. A total of 36 native English speakers participated in Experiment 1, 80 native Spanish speakers in Experiment 2. They performed a standard contingency learning task, which can be used to detect causal illusions. Participants who performed the task in their native tongue replicated the illusion of causality effect, whereas those performing the task in their foreign language were more accurate in detecting that the two events were causally unrelated. Our results suggest that presenting the information in a foreign language could be used as a strategy to debias individuals against causal illusions, thereby facilitating more accurate judgements and decisions in non-contingent situations. They also contribute to the debate on the nature and underlying mechanisms of the foreign language effect, given that the illusion of causality is rooted in basic associative processes.

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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            Universidad de Deusto, Bilbao, Spain
            Author notes
            Helena Matute, Departamento de Fundamentos y Métodos de la Psicología, Universidad de Deusto, Apartado 1, 48080 Bilbao, Spain. Email: matute@ 123456deusto.es
            Journal
            Q J Exp Psychol (Hove)
            Q J Exp Psychol (Hove)
            QJP
            spqjp
            Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (2006)
            SAGE Publications (Sage UK: London, England )
            1747-0218
            1747-0226
            16 February 2018
            January 2019
            : 72
            : 1 , Special Issue on Language, Emotion and Decision Making
            : 41-51
            29451106
            6295649
            10.1177/1747021818755326
            10.1177_1747021818755326
            (Editor), (Editor), (Editor),
            © Experimental Psychology Society 2018

            This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages ( https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

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