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Moral judgements in a foreign language: Expressing emotions and justifying decisions

Mavrou, Eirini; Kyriakou, Andreas; Foucart, Alice; (2022) Moral judgements in a foreign language: Expressing emotions and justifying decisions. International Journal of Bilingualism 10.1177/13670069221134193. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Aim: Previous evidence suggests that language influences bilinguals’ moral judgements. One explanation for this phenomenon is that using a second language (L2) attenuates emotional arousal, thus leading to more rational decisions. This study examined whether bilinguals’ moral arguments and emotional vocabulary are influenced by the language – first language (L1) or L2 – in which a moral dilemma is presented. / Methodology and data analysis: A mixed-methods design was employed. We analysed the emotional vocabulary used by 204 Spanish-English bilinguals when making moral judgements and expressing their emotions in response to a highly emotional moral dilemma, as well as the type of arguments they employed to justify their moral decisions in L1 and L2. / Findings: The participants were more emotional in their L1, as reflected in the arguments they used to justify their decisions. This finding was supported by a significantly lower number of emotional words in their L2. Moreover, the effect of language on moral judgements was mediated by the participants’ emotions. / Originality: This study is the first to qualitatively examine the types of arguments underlying bilinguals’ moral decision-making in their L1 and in their L2. Moreover, the analysis of verbal emotional expressions in relation to moral decisions adds to the findings of previous research that was based almost exclusively on forced-choice measures and further supports the hypothesis that the reduction of emotional arousal in an L2 modulates individuals’ moral judgements. / Implications: The results have implications for L2 teaching and pedagogy. The L2 curriculum should include instruction in emotional vocabulary and should engage learners in discussions that require argumentation and critical thinking about strong emotional content. This may assist bilinguals not only to express their internal affective states more efficiently, but also to experience the intensity of L2 emotionally charged words in a similar way as they do in their L1.

Type: Article
Title: Moral judgements in a foreign language: Expressing emotions and justifying decisions
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/13670069221134193
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/13670069221134193
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Foreign language effect, moral decision-making, emotional , vocabulary, emotional arousal, bilingualism
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10159303
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