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When your heart is in your mouth : the effect of second language use on negative emotions

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Author list: Bjärtå, Anna;Dylman, Alexandra

Publication year: 2018

ISSN: 0269-9931

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2018.1540403


Abstract

Research on bilingualism and emotions has shown stronger emotional responses in the native language (L1) compared to a foreign language. We investigated the potential of purposeful second language (L2) use as a means of decreasing the experience of psychological distress. Native Swedish speakers read and answered questions about negative and neutral texts in their L1 (Swedish) and their L2 (English) and were asked to rate their level of distress before or after the questions. The texts and associated questions were either written in the same (within-language), or different languages (cross-language). We found that within-language trials when the text was written in participants’ native language (Swedish–Swedish) resulted in an increase of distress, whilst cross-language trials (Swedish–English) resulted in a decrease of distress. This implies that purposeful second language use can diminish levels of distress experienced following a negative event encoded in ones first language.


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