Language, Culture and Experience (11-30-20)

Research confirms that our experiences are influenced by language being spoken and culture. Gianola, Losin, and Llabre found, via a study published in Affective Science, that “the language a bilingual person speaks can affect their physical sensations, depending on the cultural association tied to each vernacular. . . . bilingual Hispanic/Latino participants . . . participate[d] in separate English and Spanish testing sessions. During both sessions, they received a pain-induction procedure, when an experimenter applied painful heat to their inner forearm. The primary difference between the two experimental visits was the language being spoken (English or Spanish). . . . participants who engaged more with the Hispanic culture showed higher pain when speaking Spanish, while more U.S.-American identified participants reported higher pain in English. People who were fairly balanced in their engagement with U.S.-American and Hispanic culture had pain outcomes that didn’t differ much across languages. The study also suggests that bodily responses to the pain played a larger role in determining pain ratings among more Hispanic oriented bilingual participants.”

“Language, Cultural Identity Can Affect Pain.”  2020. Press release, University of Miami. https://news.miami.edu/stories/2020/12/language-cultural-identity-can-af...