NSF Awards UTEP Grant to Study Word Choice Phenomena
Last Updated on October 21, 2020 at 8:00 AM
Originally published October 21, 2020
By Daniel Perez
The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a three-year, $150,000 grant to The University of Texas at El Paso’s Iva Ivanova, Ph.D., to study the mental processes that bilingual speakers use to choose their words.
Ivanova, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, said her research will focus on people’s natural tendency to reuse the language of their conversation partners. For example, someone who speaks Spanish to someone from Spain who calls a car “coche” probably also will use “coche.”
The UTEP professor said this phenomenon helps people understand each other better, enhances likability and could lead to faster learning. She wants to study the mental processes that stand behind this tendency in bilingual (Spanish-English) speakers, and how it varies with language proficiency.
This study, funded by the NSF’s Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Science, launched Sept. 1, 2020.
Ivanova said that data from her project could lead to the development of strategies that could improve communication in various settings to include health care.
Part of the project’s mission is to provide research training to graduate and undergraduate students who are first-generation college students and students from groups that are underrepresented in scientific research. Ivanova’s student researchers are Rachel Williams, a psychology doctoral student, and Kyle Wolff, a sophomore linguistics major.
Click here to learn more about Ivanova’s research project.