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Thinking in Chinese vs. Thinking in English: Social Preference and Risk Attitudes of Multicultural Minds


  • Li King King

    () (Strategic Interaction Group, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena)


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Li King King, 2010. "Thinking in Chinese vs. Thinking in English: Social Preference and Risk Attitudes of Multicultural Minds," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-061, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2010-061

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    Blog mentions

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    1. Thinking in Chinese vs. Thinking in English
      by Nicholas Gruen in Club Troppo on 2010-09-20 18:59:04


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    1. repec:eee:deveco:v:129:y:2017:i:c:p:47-57 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    language; bilingual; biculture; social preference; risk attitudes;

    JEL classification:

    • B40 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - General
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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