Yesterday I did a bit of research for my Bilingualism class with a couple of classmates. It was the first time I’d done this kind of research so it was quite exciting.
The aim was to find out whether bilinguals were faster than monolinguals at seeing alternative interpretations of images like the ones below. The ability to switch between languages and to ignore irrelevant information is thought to be more developed in bilinguals.
We asked students and staff in the university, which was easier than going into town to try to find willing participants. Most of the people we asked were willing to help, which probably wouldn’t be the case in town.
We did find that the bilinguals were faster to see the two versions of the images, though nobody was able to see the second interpretation of the first image without clues. I saw a cowboy straight away, but it took me ages to see an old man, which some people saw as an old woman. Once you can see both versions, they seem so obvious that you wonder how you couldn’t see them at first. One person suggested that being left handed might also make you quicker to see the different versions of the images.
Here are the images we used:
What can you see for each one?