Bilingual Decision Making: Zachary Brooks, PhD

Bilingual Decision Making captures the idea that first- and second-language speakers of various languages sometimes make decisions differently because of their first language. Naturally, their decisions are also affected by their culture. Though I worked to isolate language from culture, I now accept that any findings in will also capture cultural factors. This is called a confound.

Bilingual Decision Making can be studied from a behavioral, cognitive, and neurological point-of-view and it affects all of us.


  • When a tourist to Mexico injures his leg, he ends up in a hospital trying to navigate important decision making using his college-level Spanish with a Mexican doctor who only speaks Spanish.
  • A Chinese businessman who studied in the United States, nonetheless sometimes has difficulty sharing his opinion clearly with his earnest counterpart, and American businessman. With a long-day of bargaining nearly complete, the American says “should” which the Chinese interprets as “would.”
  • A French exchange student studies for the GRE in order to apply for American graduate school and she scores higher on logic problems than her friends, first-language speakers of English. What advantages does she have as a non-native speaker?