Department

Psychology

Program

Cognitive, Developmental and Brain Sciences

Year

M.Sc 2

Supervisor Name

Debra Jared

Supervisor Email

djjared@uwo.ca

Abstract Text

Does the language we speak influence the way we interpret intentions of others? Prior literature has shown that obligatory markers in a language may influence the way we think. In Malay texts, accidental actions are marked using a prefix. Malay speakers are, thus, quick to identify the accidental actions of others. Conversely, it may be that Malay speakers often interpret intentions as deliberate given a more ambiguous context where the prefix is absent. The goal of the current study was to determine whether this way of interpreting one’s intentions of others extends to English texts for Malay-English bilinguals. In Study 1, I examined whether intentions are particularly memorable to Malay speakers using a forced-choice recognition task. In Study 2, I investigated whether there were cross-linguistic differences between Malay-English bilinguals and English monolinguals in their interpretation of intentions in English texts using a cross-modal priming task with lexical decision. Results of Study 1 showed that Malay speakers remembered and accurately recognized the intentions of characters. Preliminary results of Study 2 showed trends of an interaction between the ambiguity of intentions and the resulting consequence only in Malay-English bilinguals but not in English monolinguals. These findings demonstrate that the grammatical structure in which intentions are coded in Malay texts may have influenced Malay-English bilinguals into developing a prescribed perception of one’s interpretations of intentions even when reading English texts. These cross-linguistic differences in perceiving intentions of others not only support prior literature but also result in important consequences for understanding cross-cultural differences.

Study completed

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Share

COinS
 

Cross-linguistic Effects of Intention Recognition in Malay Bilinguals

Does the language we speak influence the way we interpret intentions of others? Prior literature has shown that obligatory markers in a language may influence the way we think. In Malay texts, accidental actions are marked using a prefix. Malay speakers are, thus, quick to identify the accidental actions of others. Conversely, it may be that Malay speakers often interpret intentions as deliberate given a more ambiguous context where the prefix is absent. The goal of the current study was to determine whether this way of interpreting one’s intentions of others extends to English texts for Malay-English bilinguals. In Study 1, I examined whether intentions are particularly memorable to Malay speakers using a forced-choice recognition task. In Study 2, I investigated whether there were cross-linguistic differences between Malay-English bilinguals and English monolinguals in their interpretation of intentions in English texts using a cross-modal priming task with lexical decision. Results of Study 1 showed that Malay speakers remembered and accurately recognized the intentions of characters. Preliminary results of Study 2 showed trends of an interaction between the ambiguity of intentions and the resulting consequence only in Malay-English bilinguals but not in English monolinguals. These findings demonstrate that the grammatical structure in which intentions are coded in Malay texts may have influenced Malay-English bilinguals into developing a prescribed perception of one’s interpretations of intentions even when reading English texts. These cross-linguistic differences in perceiving intentions of others not only support prior literature but also result in important consequences for understanding cross-cultural differences.