Thinking in Chinese vs. Thinking in English: Social Preference and Risk Attitudes of Multicultural Minds
This paper investigates whether language priming activates different cultural identities and norms associated with the language communicated with respect to social preference and risk attitudes. Our contribution is on identifying the conditions where there will be language priming effects. We conduct economic games with bilingual subjects using Chinese and English as instructions. It is found that language priming affects social preference, but only in context involving strategic interactions. In social preference games involving strategic interactions, e.g., the trust game, subjects in the Chinese treatment are more trusting and trustworthy. In individual choice games, such as the dictator game, there is no treatment difference. Further, we also find that language priming affects risk attitudes. Subjects in the Chinese treatment prefer to pick Chinese lucky numbers in Mark Six lottery. These findings suggest that the effect of language priming is context dependent.
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