Over-reliance on English hinders cognitive science
Damián E. Blasi, Joseph Henrich, Evangelia Adamou, David Kemmerer and Asifa Majid @
Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Vol. 26, Issue 12, p. 1153-1170
December 1, 2022
Open Access – DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2022.09.015
English is the dominant language in the study of human cognition and behavior: the individuals studied by cognitive scientists, as well as most of the scientists themselves, are frequently English speakers. However, English differs from other languages in ways that have consequences for the whole of the cognitive sciences, reaching far beyond the study of language itself. Here, we review an emerging body of evidence that highlights how the particular characteristics of English and the linguistic habits of English speakers bias the field by both warping research programs (e.g., overemphasizing features and mechanisms present in English over others) and overgeneralizing observations from English speakers’ behaviors, brains, and cognition to our entire species. We propose mitigating strategies that could help avoid some of these pitfalls.