The Invisible Influence of Language — with Lera Boroditsky
One of the oldest technologies we have is language. How do the words we use influence the way we think?
The media can talk about immigrants scurrying across the border, versus immigrants crossing the border. Or we might hear about technology platforms censoring us, versus moderating content.
If those word choices shift public opinion on immigration or technology by 25%, or even 2%, then we’ve been influenced in ways we can't even see. Which means that becoming aware of how words shape the way we think can help inoculate us from their undue influence. And further, consciously choosing or even designing the words we use can help us think in more complex ways – and address our most complex challenges.
This week on Your Undivided Attention, we're grateful to have Lera Boroditsky, a cognitive scientist who studies how language shapes thought. Lera is an Associate Professor of Cognitive Science at UC San Diego, and the editor-in-chief of Frontiers in Cultural Psychology.
Clarification: in the episode, Aza refers to Elizabeth Loftus' research on eyewitness testimony. He describes an experiment in which a car hit a stop sign, but the experiment actually used an example of two cars hitting each other.
How language shapes the way we think
Lera Boroditsky's 2018 TED talk about how the 7,000 languages spoken around the world shape the way we think
Boroditsky and Paul H. Thibodeau's 2015 study about how the metaphors we use to talk about crime influence our opinions on how to address crime
Boroditsky and Caitlin M. Fausey's 2010 study about how the language used to describe the 2004 Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction" influence our views on culpability
BBC article featuring the research of former Your Undivided Attention guest Guillaume Chaslot, which shows the verbs YouTube is most likely to include in titles of recommended videos — such as "obliterates" and "destroys"
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Mind the (Perception) Gap: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/33-mind-the-perception-gap
Can Your Reality Turn on a Word?: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/34-can-your-reality-turn-on-a-word
Down the Rabbit Hole by Design: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/4-down-the-rabbit-hole-by-design