In this TED talk linguist Keith Chen explores how language affects our ability to save. In a post on the TED website Chen explains, “In late 2011, an idea struck me while reading several papers in psychology that link a person’s language with differences in how they think about space, color, and movement. As a behavioral economist, I am interested in understanding how people make decisions. Could a person’s language subtly affect his or her everyday decisions? In particular, could the way a person’s language marks the future affect their propensity to save for the future?”
One of Chen’s findings is that different languages encourage varying ways of thinking about time. For example, languages without a concept for the future, where speakers would say “It rain tomorrow” instead of “It will rain tomorrow” correlate strongly with high savings rates.
The way we think about the future impacts on how we save and language plays a vital role in shaping that outlook.