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Can home-culture images impair second-language skills?
Date:6/26/2013

became more likely to name pictured objects with literal translations from Chinese (e.g. labeling pistachios as "happy nuts" or a bulldozer as an "earth moving machine"). Another experiment found that Chinese cultural priming evoked resulted in faster recognition of these literal translations, indicating heightened cognitive accessibility.

The results were published this month in PNAS, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study builds on Morris's decade of research on the cognitive dynamics that enable people to operate effectively in multiple cultures. Cultural knowledge can be thought of as lenses for interpreting events and scripts for guiding actions. "Our cultural lenses and scripts activate automatically in response to cultural cues in the setting sights, sounds, and even aromas that are highly associated with a given cultural tradition," he says. "But in culturally complex or mixed settings, this cultural chameleon-like response doesn't always serve us well."

In related projects, Morris has identified priming effects on social behaviors that differ between East Asian and Western cultures, such as modesty versus self-enhancement in taking credit for projects. Priming that induces East Asian immigrants to speak less fluently and behave less "Western" can hinder their promotion. Knowing how cultural cues in a setting affect people is important for firms seeking to develop their managerial talent.


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Contact: Evan Nowell
egn2109@columbia.edu
212-854-2747
Columbia Business School
Source:Eurekalert

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