The use of a foreign language in the decision making process lowers the emotional component

If you could save the lives of five people by pushing another in front of a train to their death, would you? And would there be any difference if this choice was presented in a language you speak but is not your mother tongue?

These are the main questions that an international team of psychologists from the University of Chicago, the University of Utah and Pompeu Fabra University have posed in a study published in August in the journal Psychological Science. And the answers they found are surprising: individuals who are faced with this dilemma while communicating in a foreign language are far more willing to sacrifice the person that those who use their mother tongue.

The team of researchers, including Albert Costa, ICREA Research Professor and director of SPB group and Joanna Corey, researcher of the CBC at the UPF, propose that the use of a foreign language provides people with an emotional distance that allows them to take a more utilitarian actions (