Does Speaking More than One Language Make it Easier to See More Than One Perspective?

Summer 2020

Jacqueline Phuong Nguyen : Psychology

Donor: Anonymous
Mentor: Mahesh Srinivasan

Understanding linguistic subjectivity means recognizing that two speakers of a language can disagree about what counts as “beautiful,” or “tall." Adults can understand and easily accept when people disagree on subjective properties of the world; however, children seem to fail to do so until much later. On the other hand, when exposed to two subjective opinions, children often assert that only one opinion could be correct. In turn, my research question asks whether or not bilingual children are more likely to be able to understand and acknowledge that two people can disagree about a subjective property. In knowing two different languages, bilingual children have been found to exhibit increased executive functioning and metalinguistic awareness skills. In better comprehending how children come to accept subjectivity in language, we can better support children's social development and understand how we come to cooperate with each other as adults. 

I would like to thank the donors for allowing me to pursue my research goals to their greatest extent. This fellowship has enabled me to dedicate my last summer at UC Berkeley to tackle my curiosity and interest in developmental psychology research more than ever before. I am forever grateful to be able to delve into this amazing research opportunity to learn more about how our ability in developing subjectivity in language impacts the way we interact with each other.