Perceptions and Performance for Bilingual Labels as a Function of Native Users of English and Spanish

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Title: Perceptions and Performance for Bilingual Labels as a Function of Native Users of English and Spanish
Author: Lim, Raymond W
Advisors: Larry H. Royster, Committee Member
Eric N. Wiebe, Committee Member
Christopher B. Mayhorn, Committee Member
Michael S. Wogalter, Committee Chair
Abstract: According to the U.S. census, Hispanics are now the largest minority group in the U.S. Many are Spanish language users who are potentially susceptible to injury or death from improper handling or use of hazardous products because most warnings on products in the U.S. are written for English language users. This study focused on several issues that examined the perceptions and performance of both English and Spanish language product users towards bilingual labels (labels with two languages). Three studies were conducted; the latter two involved experimental manipulations of bilingual labels. The first study consisted of a survey asking English language users about their beliefs and attitudes in favor of implementing bilingual label products to the mainstream. Participants were asked to rate various statements involving safety and design issues of bilingual labels. Participants agreed that bilingual products are useful for Spanish speakers and that people who intend to live in the U.S. should learn English. Also, participants believed that bilingual labels are important, because many people in the U.S. do not read English. Participants disagreed that products bearing bilingual labels should not be sold in the U.S., and that products with bilingual are lower in quality than English labeled products. The second study asked English and Spanish language users for ratings on the level of acceptability, the likelihood of purchasing, and the likelihood of reading of several manipulated bilingual label designs on actual box and cylinder containers. Examination of the three ratings indicated that they were all highly interrelated thus the acceptable ratings was used. In general, box containers were favored over the cylinder containers. Also, designs having both language displayed side-by-side were rated higher in acceptability than languages displayed on top and bottom. Overall, the design of the English-text on the left half and the Spanish-text on the right half displayed on a box yielded the highest acceptability ratings. The third study tested the salience of several visual enhancements (font size, font color, and pictograph) to bilingual labels using a time-based performance task with both Spanish and English language users. The most effective bilingual design was adopted from Study 2 in which the languages were displayed side-by-side. Labels with the user's native language (English-text only for English language users and Spanish-text only for Spanish language users) produced the fastest search times. Overall, labels having either two flags or a single flag had faster search times but labels with colored text and no flags had longer search times. The English-text Left, Spanish-text Right with both flags, on average, added 76 milliseconds in response time compared to the label with just the user's native language. This research provides validation for implementing bilingual labels in the U.S. with well designed labels, users (both English language and Spanish language) in the U.S. are more likely to accept bilingual labels on products. By making them more usable through research such as the present work, it will help consumers to find information that they need. The results suggested that bilingual labels can be developed to provide important information to persons who do not use the main language, yet still communicate important information without detracting persons of the majority language. Implications for manufacturers and federal agencies in charge of safety are discussed.
Date: 2006-03-02
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Psychology

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