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Futureless languages and savings behaviour

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Whilst this is not really about design, it’s none-the-less fascinating from a behavioural point-of-view how language has a bearing on how people save for the future.  What’s interesting is how the results are counter-intuitive – the less ‘distant’ the future-tense of an action is in a language, the more likely it is that people speaking that language will be ‘savers’.  Supposedly this is because language – and therefore culture I would presume – appears to have a very real effect on behaviour. The less abstract ideas of the future are, the more tangible I guess the feelings towards it are.  So in a sense, ‘futureless’ languages aren’t futureless at all – they just speak of the future tense as something more closely resembling the present and therefore it’s intrinsically more tangible to the native speaker.


Makes me wonder now, how culture and language effects how we view and utilise designed objects and services, and how that knowledge can be used to inform good design.  Hypothesising for a second, could this fundamental difference in language also account for other design behaviours, such as the Wests’ seemingly inherent innovative design ethos, or our apparent reluctance to fully embrace ESD because the future is something to worry about tomorrow?



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