Click the links below to see our publications in each of the following lines of research. Disclaimer: Please note that PDFs here are for personal use.

Bilingualism and Foreign Language

Millions of people worldwide use a foreign language everyday but why should this be relevant to how they make decisions? We discovered that when people use a foreign language they make different choices in a variety of domains. For example, it affects moral choices, risk attitudes, the ability to visualize and willingness to lie.

Accents

What are the consequences of speaking with a foreign accent? We discovered that when people have an accent they are both judged by others and are understood differently. Accent is used as a cue for lack of trustworthiness and credibility, and what nonnative speakers say is understood more vaguely and with fewer details.

Judgment, Decision Making, & Negotiation

How does language impact the way we make decisions? Our research addresses this in a variety of ways, from the way that bilingualism impacts choice to how framing an act affects reciprocity and escalation, as well as how language may impact how we negotiate with others.

Perspective Taking, Theory of Mind (TOM), and Common Ground

As social creatures, we can understand the actions of social agents in terms of their underlying mental states, as well as distinguish between our own mental state and that of others. This allows us to take the perspective of others, as well as form common ground with them. Our counterintuitive discoveries violate many of these assumptions. For example, we discovered that people are much more egocentric when they communicate than is normally assumed, as they anchor in their own egocentric perspective when trying to understand others. We also discovered that a communal culture dramatically improves perspective taking and that a multilingual environment improves children’s ability to take perspective.

Communication Effectiveness

How well do we communicate? No one knows the answer to this question, but we did discover that people grossly overestimate how well they communicate. We find that people have the illusion that their listeners understood them and so they miscommunicate much more then they realize. This is true even when the stakes are high, such as when a physician communicates to their patient.

Figurative Language

How do people understand figurative language such as metaphors, idioms, irony and sarcasm? Our earlier work shows many similarities between understanding literal and non literal language, presents a theory of metaphor comprehension, and shows that people have the illusion that idioms are more transparent than they really are.

Other Research