Researcher: Bilingual Speakers Change Personalities When Switching Languages

Published: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - 2:56pm
Updated: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - 3:07pm

Some people who speak more than one language are great at navigating between them. Like say Dora The Explorer!

Dora is great at switching seamlessly between Spanish and English, and taking us all on awesome, international adventures.

But new research suggests there’s more to switching back and forth between languages than Dora might make it seem.

The Show’s Lauren Gilger spoke with one researcher who says when bilingual speakers switch between languages, their personalities change, too.

Nairan Ramirez-Esparza is an assistant professor of social psychology at the University of Connecticut, and she has done a series of studies on cultural frame switching.

And what does that mean exactly?

It describes this idea that people who speak more than one language seem to access different — culture-specific — mental frames depending on the languages used. And Ramirez-Esparza wondered, does this mean their personality shifts when they switch languages?

So she looked specifically at bilingual Mexican-Americans in her studies, and she told me about more what she found.

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