Do You Mean What You Say? The Effect of Uncertainty Avoidance on the Interpretation of Probability Expressions - A Comparative Study between Spanish and German

Abstract

In times of globalization, differences between cultures and in the interpretation of linguistic terms can lead to misunderstanding in communication. The present study focuses on the influence of cultural dimensions, especially uncertainty avoidance, on the interpretation of verbal probability expressions. It is hypothesized that uncertainty avoidance has an effect on the interpretation of uncertainty expressions. Therefore, Spanish and German participants were asked (1) for uncertainty avoidance and (2) to estimate numerical equivalents for 12 verbal probability expressions (e.g., possible). The estimation data were modeled using fuzzy membership functions. Results neither show differences in uncertainty avoidance nor in the interpretation of the probability expressions between these two languages. Possible reasons and future research perspectives are discussed.


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