Recent reports suggest that over half of the world's population regularly uses two or more languages (or dialects) in their daily lives. The U.S. Census Bureau reports 21.6% of the population communicates in a language other than English within their homes. Thus, it is essential to methodically investigate how language processing and learning vary between monolingual and bilingual individuals. To date, research on the effects of bilingualism on language processing has been inconsistent or conflicting. The present study was designed to empirically examine if bilingual speakers differ in language processing and comprehension compared to their monolingual counterparts. It was hypothesized that the bilingual switching process would impact language processing as measured by accuracy and reaction time (RT). A sample of 60 participants was used and consisted of 15 monolingual English speakers and 45 bilingual Spanish, French, and Arabic speakers.
All participants completed a series of language decision tasks consisting of 44 congruent and incongruent sentences presented randomly and sequentially. Results showed that participants were more accurate in detecting incongruent than congruent sentences. Similarly, participants also responded faster to incongruent than congruent sentences. In addition, results also showed that participants had higher accuracy scores when the sentences were presented sequentially than randomly and responded faster when sentences were presented randomly than sequentially. Interestingly, results also showed a significant interaction between congruency and presentation mode on participants' accuracy scores. Tests of simple effects indicated that for the sequentially presented sentences, there was a significant difference between congruent and incongruent sentences.
Similarly, for the congruent sentences, there was a significant difference between the sequentially and randomly presented sentences. Furthermore, our results also showed a significant interaction between congruency and presentation mode on participants' reaction time scores. Tests of simple effects indicated that participants had faster reaction time scores in the congruent sentences when they were presented randomly than sequentially. A series of General Linear Models (GLM) was conducted to examine the effects of language tested, congruency, and presentation mode on participants' accuracy scores. Results also showed a marginally significant interaction between congruency and language tested on accuracy and reaction time scores. Tests of simple effects indicated that only the Arabic speakers had significantly higher accuracy scores on concurrent than incongruent sentences. None of the other language groups had significant differences between congruent and incongruent accuracy scores for the other language groups. Finally, there was a significant interaction between congruency and language tested on participants' reaction time scores. Results showed that for the congruent sentences, French speakers had significantly faster reaction times than Spanish speakers and English speakers had significantly faster reaction times than Spanish speakers. However, English speakers had significantly faster reaction time scores for incongruent sentences than Arabic speakers. Both theoretical and practical implications are discussed, and future research directions are presented.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Sciences
Rader, Ancuta, "Bilingual Switch Cost Effect on Language Processing" (2023). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 1469.