Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2022

Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology


Psychological Sciences


Dr. Laura Getz


Throughout the years, researchers have investigated the various advantages that may exist of being bilingual; however, it is unknown how switching between languages affects a person’s basic perception of speech sounds. The goal of this thesis was to determine whether Spanish-English bilinguals respond to auditory stimuli differently based on the language in which they receive task instructions. Participants were randomly assigned to receive instructions and complete the study entirely in English or Spanish, thus thinking in the language that they were assigned. In the study, participants listened to three different sets of recordings, which could be perceived as a word in English or a word in Spanish. After listening to each audio sample, the participants were asked to identify the beginning sound of the word that they heard (i.e., /b/ or /p/). We predicted that if participants were given instructions in English, they would be more likely to perceive the recordings as English words. However, if participants were given Spanish instructions, their responses would shift more towards Spanish word responses. The results of this study show that English-Spanish bilinguals’ auditory perception is not affected by the language of the instructions, which can have implications for bilinguals who grow up as frequent informal translators as well as auditory comprehension in everyday conversations.