Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Stephen J. Gould


Sankar Sen

Committee Members

Marlone D. Henderson

Diogo Hildebrand

Subject Categories

Advertising and Promotion Management


English as a Lingua Franca, closeness, sympathy, need to be belong


Prosocial ads are often crafted in multiple languages to reach a diverse global audience. However, we propose that using English as the delivery language can lead to increased prosocial behavior from bilinguals compared to other languages. We call this phenomenon the English as a Lingua Franca Effect. Across seven studies, our research consistently demonstrates that using English to deliver a donation solicitation, rather than using bilingual consumers’ native language, promotes a stronger sense of interpersonal closeness to the beneficiaries, which in turn fosters greater sympathy and donation towards them. Furthermore, the stronger a consumer’s need to belong, the stronger this relationship of English as a lingua franca, closeness, and sympathy with donation becomes. This effect holds true regardless of participants' native languages. Native English speakers do not demonstrate this effect. The English as a Lingua Franca Effect only applies when English is used as a second language, not any other second language. By drawing on the theory of lingua franca, our work contributes to a better understanding of how language builds consumer social relationships. Our findings are particularly valuable for marketing managers who seek to create persuasive prosocial solicitations in different languages or cultural contexts. In a world full of conflicts, we explore whether a lingua franca can be a useful tool in making socially impactful changes.

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