What You Are Getting and What You Will Be Getting: Testing Whether Verb Tense Affects Intertemporal Choices

103 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2020

See all articles by Akshina Banerjee

Akshina Banerjee

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Oleg Urminsky

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Date Written: September 10, 2020

Abstract


Prior research has shown that language structure – specifically the form of verb tense in that language – can predict savings behaviors among speakers of different languages, consistent with some forms of the Whorfian hypothesis that language shapes thought. To test the role of language in financial decision-making, we investigate the effect of manipulating verb tense (within a single language) on intertemporal tradeoffs. We find that verb tense can significantly shift choices between options, due to tense-based inferences about timing. However, the spontaneous use of verb tense when making choices occurs only in the complete absence of other timing cues and is eliminated when even ambiguous or non- diagnostic time cues are present, even if prompted timing inferences persist. We test between multiple competing accounts for how verb tense impacts timing inferences but not choices, and find evidence for a cue-based account, in which the presence of other cues blocks the use of verb tense in making intertemporal-decisions.

Keywords: Judgment; Decision Making; Linguistic Priming; Intertemporal Choice; Inferences; Whorfian Hypothesis; Implicatures; Cue Competition

Suggested Citation

Banerjee, Akshina and Urminsky, Oleg, What You Are Getting and What You Will Be Getting: Testing Whether Verb Tense Affects Intertemporal Choices (September 10, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3698127 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3698127

Akshina Banerjee (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S Woodlawn Ave
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Oleg Urminsky

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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