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35 Bilingualism and Time Perspective in Hispanic-Americans Speed Attention

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 December 2023

Daniel W. Lopez-Hernandez
University of California San Diego Health, San Diego, CA, USA. Lundquist Institute, Torrance, CA, USA.
Krissy E. Smith
Lundquist Institute, Torrance, CA, USA. California State University Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA, USA.
Isabel D. C. Munoz
California State University Northridge, Northridge, CA, USA.
Tara L. Victor
California State University Doninguez Hills, Carson, CA, USA
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Differences between monolinguals and bilinguals have been documented in neuropsychological test performance. Various explanations have been provided to explain why differences exist among these language groups. Hispanic-Americans are individuals born and reside in the United States and have a family background extending to one of the Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America or Spain. Furthermore, Hispanic-American children from Hispanic homes where Spanish is their first language find themselves academically at a disadvantage because their English vocabulary may be lower than English monolinguals. Time perspective (TP) refers to an individual’s orientation towards the past, present, or future. One’s ability to change their TP in order to adapt to changes in cultural context can result in optimal psychological well-being. In one study, researchers reported no relationship existed between ethnicity and TP on cognition. To our knowledge, no study has examined the relationship between language and TP in Hispanic-Americans’ speed attention performance. Therefore, it was predicted that monolinguals would outperform bilinguals on speed attention tasks. Next, it was predicted that monolinguals would report higher scores on future time orientation compared to bilinguals, and bilinguals would report higher scores on past and present time orientation compared to monolinguals. Finally, differences in TP would correlate with speed attention tasks between language groups.

Participants and Methods:

The sample consisted of 119 Hispanic-Americans with a mean age of 19.45 (SD = 1.43). Participants were broken into three groups: English first language monolingual (EFLM), English first language bilingual (EFLB), and English second language bilingual (ESLB). The Comalli Stroop part A and B, Trail Making Test part A, and Symbol Digit Modalities Test written and oral parts were used to evaluate speed attention and the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory was used to evaluate time orientation in our sample.


ANOVAs revealed the EFLM group outperformed the ESLB group on the Comalli Stroop part B, p = .020, np2 = .07. Next, we also found on the Symbol Digit Modalities Test written part the EFLB group outperformed both bilingual groups, p = .025, np2 = .06. Regarding TP, the EFLB group reported higher past negative orientation compared to the EFLM group, p = .033, np2 = .06. Additionally, we found the bilingual groups reported higher present-fatalistic compared to the EFLM group, p = .023, np2 = .06. Pearson’s correlation revealed no significant correlations between TP and speed attention tasks on any of our language groups.


As expected, the EFLM group outperformed the ESLB group on several speed attention tasks, but the EFLM group only outperformed the EFLB group on the Symbol Digit Modalities Test written part. Additionally, we found that our EFLB sample reported higher orientation of the past and present compared to monolinguals. Our sample level of acculturation could have been a factor influencing the relationship between TP and speed attention. Future studies using larger representative samples should include measures of acculturation and examine if TP influences other cognitive domains (e.g., executive function) in Hispanic-American monolingual and bilingual speakers.

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