New paper: Investigating the foreign language effect as a mitigating influence on the ‘optimality bias’ in moral judgements

Bodig, E., Toivo, W., & Scheepers, C. (2019). Investigating the foreign language effect as a mitigating influence on the ‘optimality bias’ in moral judgements. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science, DOI: 10.1007/s41809-019-00050-4 .


Abstract Bilinguals often display reduced emotional resonance their second language (L2) and therefore tend to be less prone to decision-making biases in their L2 (e.g., Costa, Foucart, Arnon, Aparici, & Apesteguia, 2014; Costa, Foucart, Hayakawa, et al., 2014) – a phenomenon coined Foreign Language Effect (FLE). The present pre-registered experiments investigated whether FLE can mitigate a special case of cognitive bias, called optimality bias, which occurs when observers erroneously blame actors for making “suboptimal” choices, even when there was not sufficient information available for the actor to identify the best choice (De Freitas & Johnson, 2018). In Experiment 1, L1 English speakers (N=63) were compared to L2 English speakers from various L1 backgrounds (N=56). In Experiment 2, we compared Finnish bilinguals completing the study in either Finnish (L1, N=103) or English (L2, N=108). Participants read a vignette describing the same tragic outcome resulting from either an optimal or suboptimal choice made by a hypothetical actor with insufficient knowledge. Their blame attributions were measured using a 4-item scale. A strong optimality bias was observed; participants assigned significantly more blame in the suboptimal choice conditions, despite being told that the actor did not know which choice was best. However, no clear interaction with language was found. In Experiment 1, bilinguals gave reliably higher blame scores than natives. In Experiment 2, no clear influence of target language was found, but the results suggested that the FLE is actually more detrimental than helpful in the domain of blame attribution. Future research should investigate the benefits of emotional involvement in blame attribution, including factors such as empathy and perspective-taking.

Keywords Bilingualism, Foreign Language Effect, attribution, decision-making, blame

New paper: Studying human eating behaviour in the laboratory: Theoretical considerations and practical suggestions

Best, M., Barsalou, L. W., & Papies, E. K. (in press). Studying human eating behaviour in the laboratory: Theoretical considerations and practical suggestions. Appetite. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2018.06.001

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New Paper: Exploring collective experience in watching dance through inter-subject correlation and functional connectivity of fMRI brain activity

Until 6 July, 2018 there is free access to the paper/chapter at:

https://authors.elsevier.com/b/1X3gQI6WlyxW5

Pollick, F. E., Vicary, S., Noble, K., Kim, N., Jang, S., & Stevens, C. J. (2018). Exploring collective experience in watching dance through intersubject correlation and functional connectivity of fMRI brain activity. Progress in brain research. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.pbr.2018.03.016

Abstract: How the brain contends with naturalistic viewing conditions when it must cope with concurrent streams of diverse sensory inputs and internally generated thoughts is still largely an open question. In this study, we used fMRI to record brain activity while a group of 18 participants watched an edited dance duet accompanied by a soundtrack. After scanning, participants performed a short behavioral task to identify neural correlates of dance segments that could later be recalled. Intersubject correlation (ISC) analysis was used to identify the brain regions correlated among observers, and the results of this ISC map were used to define a set of regions for subsequent analysis of functional connectivity. The resulting network was found to be composed of eight subnetworks and the significance of these subnetworks is discussed. While most subnetworks could be explained by sensory and motor processes, two subnetworks appeared related more to complex cognition. These results inform our understanding of the neural basis of common experience in watching dance and open new directions for the study of complex cognition.