8(1): Cognition & PerceptionCognition
Causes of Cultural Variation in Human Behavior: Philosophy
• Western philosophers in general shared the idea that everything exists, independently and all the objects
have their own characteristics inside of it.
• Eastern philosophers in general shared the idea that everything is interrelated to each other, and that all
the actions should be interpreted as a whole. Ying and yang alternates. They exist because of each other
Different view, nature, economic views that differ. Where do they come from?
• Ecology ▯leads to different economy and social structure. For example., irrigation project of ancient china:
in the low mountain. Need collaboration and live together in a harmony especially for rice and wheat
farming which requires a lot of people working together.
• Social Structure & Social Practices effect▯ Naïve Metaphysics (Where you attend to). For example,
Chinese: look at pairs, authorities, and their relation that are surrounding them (right side) while the Greek:
focus on the target and its feature only.
LinearThinking vs. Dialectical Thinking
• When reading two tendency, you immediately choose immediately which sides you are on. This shows
Analytic from holistic thought differentiation Chinese=more dialectic
Characteristics of LinearThinking vs. Dialectical Thinking
• LinearThinking: polarizing, based on formal logic
– The law of identity (“ A student is a student”)
– The law of noncontradiction(“A student is not a nonstudent”)
– The law of excluded middle (“ A student must be a student or a nonstudent, cannot be both”)
• Dialectical thinking in Chinese thought: “middle way”
– Principle of change
– Principle of contradiction
– Principle of relationship or holism
Differential preferences for dialectical proverbs
• Dialectical proverb: e.g. “too humble is half proud”.
• Nondialectical proverb: e.g. “one against all is certain to fall”.
– Material: 8 dialectical and 5 nondialectical proverbs from Chinese and English books respectively.
– Procedure: Participants rate their response on a 7point scale.
– Results: Americans rated that Americanmade nondialectical proverbs as more plausible.
– Chinese rated that Chinesemade dialectical proverbs as more believable.
Dialectical Resolution of Social Contradictions
• Method: causes and resolutions for two everydaylife scenarios
– MotherDaughter Conflict
– SchoolFun Conflict
• Expected: Dialect: address issues from both sides and resolve using compromise ( both mom and dad
should this)Non dialect exclusively one side i.e. mother should do this
• Results: Chinese were in general more likely than their American counterparts To solve the problem
Dialectically, whereas Americans tended to Jjudge which side was right, and which sides was wrong.
(Dialect=no one wins middle way. Nondialect=one person wins)
Differential Approaches toward Contradiction
• Materials: 5 apparently contradictory research findings
• Procedures: three conditions, rate beliefs about the accuracy of each statement on a 9point scale
• Results: US: One is right the other is wrong ( the law of noncontradiction, you cannot have it both ways) .
Americans who received both arguments showed a counter normative reasoning style in that they were more convinced that the stronger argument was correct when they also heard of a contradictory argument
than if they had only heard the strong argument by itself.
• Chinese: Dialectical reasoning styles of compromising ( the truth lies between the two sides)
• Chinese viewed a strong argument to be less plausible if they heard a contradictory argument. However,
they showed a counter normative response in viewing a weak argument as being more plausible if it was
paired with a contradictory argument ( finding the middle way)
• Are there any differences in their level of ambivalence regarding them? Chinese, Asian Americans, Euro
Americans, Latinos, African American answered the selfesteem scale (expected to be low in dialect). The
level of ambivalence was computed.
• Results: The level of selfevaluative ambivalence scores indicate that the Chinese are the highest, and
Asian Americans ranked second. Compared to EuroAmericans, Latino, and africanamerican Asians are
more accepting about contradiction within themselves
• Support the expectation: Asians are more accepting of contradiction within self then others euro cultures.
• Characteristics of western thinking include
(a) Construction of counterarguments ( one wins)
(b) Preference for consistency
• Characteristics of eastern thinking
(a) Litt emphasis on counterarguments
(b) Emphasis on finding the middle way
Culture and Prediction of Change
• Westerners are inclined to predict that the world will move in whatever direction it now moves
• East Asians are likely to expect the world to Reverse field
Cultural Variation in the Perception of Change
• Various types of graphs, which indicates the trend of some event (e.g. economic growth)
• Participants were then asked to predict the probability for the trend to go up, go down, or to remain the same
in comparison to the last point on the graph.
Negatively Accelerated Decay:
Given a line US said the trend would continue to go down. Chinese thought that it might stop and start ascending
Positively Accelerated Growth
• Results: US: thought the trend will go up. Chinese: thought it will platue or begin to change or go down.
Shows different in cognition about the change
• Culture and Child Development: Perception of Change
• Procedure: Scenarios with 5 possible states. Children were asked to predict the future state. They were then
asked to justify their answer
• Results: Canadian: things could be change easily and as they got older their way of thinking change and they
start thinking that it will not change as north American culture prefer stability over change (absorb societal
• Chinese: no sure what is change, but then as they get older they absorb Chinese culture and say now that
change is the rul.
Investigating Training Effect of Holistic Thinking
• questions: Training in Oriental medicine would make students think in a more holistic way”. Thus Can the
way a person think be modified by formal education and training.
• Trying to prove that cultural differences are not fixed, but shaped through various socialization processes.
Regular Students vs. East Asian Medical Students
• Participants were provided a graph showing a trend of an event over three data points.
• Participants were asked to predict how the phenomenon would change by marking dots at the next two data
• Students of both oriental medicine(square) and other majors thought the graph would continue in the same
direction to point four.
• However, at point 5, the oriental medicine group expected the trend would reverse. • The students from other majors still predicted that the graph would continue in the same direction at point
five as it did in point four
• Thus, difference in socialization or institutional practices effects the answers even though from same
• Discussion: What is the difference between western dialectical thinking and eastern dialectical thinking?
• Ans: In such a society, placing everything on the same logical field is often seen as rather naïve , childish,
and less intelligent. ( no strong motivation to simplify things using clear logic)
• Analytic thinking involves understanding objects by focusing on their component part, whereas holistic
thinking involves understanding objects by considering their relation with with context.
• Explaining people’s behaviors by attending to their personal characteristics is known as a dispositional
attribution. NorthAmericans: mostly dispositional attributionà this bias is called the called the fundamental
• In contrast, explaining people’s behaviors by attending to contextual variables is known as a situational
• Study: In Jones & Harris’s (1967) classic study, American students were asked to evaluate an essay
writer’s true attitude by reading an essay that they had written, which espoused either positive or critical
attitudes towards Fidel Castro.
• fundamental attribution error: Personnel disposition rather then the situation in which a person is. What
ever the person says are does it because of the person’s internal factors and not in the situation in which a
person might be.
• CASTRO STUDY: (Ask)
• Condition 1: Participant read an essay, which was said to be written freely. I hate castroyes he does.
• Condition 2: Participant read an essay which was said to be written under constraints and he says I LOVE
CASTRO as a judge, In this case, you are not sure since you don’t know if its his true thought. But you
know that mostAmericans at that time have anti-castro beliefs ( so you might think that these are not his
true attitudes). Same thing if he says I HATE CASTRO you are not sure what he thing but might be
tempted to say yes based on majority beliefs.
• Results: Large number difference =pro castro ( freely choosenà judge that essay written by the participant
truly represented the participant’s belief regardless of what the most people at the time believed)
• Small number difference btw pro and anti-castro difference. This should not have been the case if they had
though about the situation.
• In all of these conditions, participants assumed that the person reading or writing the anti-Castro essay had
more negative feelings towards Castro than the person reading or writing the pro-Castro essay.
• These tendencies to neglect situational information in favor of dispositional information are so pronounced
that they have been labeled the “fundamental attribution error.”
Culture and the FundamentalAttribution Error (ASK)
Replicating Snyder & Jones’(1974) Experiment
Condition 1: Free Choice: Participant read an essay, which was said to be written freely
Condition 2: Forced Choice: Participant read an essay which was said to be written under constraints (i.e. told to
wrote an essay on it). Condition 3: Experience: Overal, john wrote the essay under social pressures.
Condition 4: Experience + Fixed Arguments ( i.e. this is what you have to say to why it is great) Results: Y= strength of fundamental attribution error
Free choices: NA+Kor=truly represent their true beliefs which expected
No choice: wrote under assigned position. NA+Korà showed strong Fundemental atrribution error
Experience: NAàerror seen. Korà attinuated to level of error. They took into account the situation thus decreasing
Experience + arugment: NA= still show it. Kor=decrease error to almost 0
Mainpoin: Cultural differences start coming out in the last 2 groups. In these last groups, they are not aware of the
situation in which they wrote the essay regarding punishment.
• IfAsians are aware of the salient situational factors through the experimental manipulation, they are able to
attenuates the fundamental attribution error ( decrease like in number 4 scenario above)
• However, such experimental manipulation did not work forAmerican participants.American participants
continued to show a strong fundamental attribution error.
InternalAttribution:Attributing the causes of one’s behavior to the person’s personality, skill, talent, and
abilities (e.g. Richard Gere is clumsy!)
ExternalAttribution:Attributing the causes of one’s behavior to situational factors (e.g. Dancing is very
Study: Culture and CausalAttribution: Ball
Task: Guessing the reason of why the orange ball moved forward
NorthAmericans and Chinese equally explain the event using both internal and external attribution
Culture and CausalAttribution: Fish
NorthAmericans tended to explain the event using internalAttribution, whereas Chinese tended to explain the
event using external Attribution
Explanation: Social behavior is more complex and thus we began seeing a cultural different. NAà intentially
moved forward since it was the leader. Chineseà Kicked out since its color was different
Two Murder Case Scenarios of a Chinese and then another person was irrish person killing someone.
• Results: NAà lau was mentally imbalance/he worked too much/pressure on himself
(internal/dispositional). They did mention external but not as much as the chinese
• Results: North Americans tended to explain the event using dispositional attribution, whereas Chinese
tended to explain the event using situational attribution
• ChineseàAmericans individualistic and violence tactic effect international students.Advisors were the
proble. Alot of external factors/situational factors.
Newspaper Reports of Soccer Games
• Study: Lee, Hallahan, Herzog’s research on positive causal attribution (1996).They analyzed 11 US
Newspaper articles vs. 28 Hong Kong Newspaper articles Coding the contents of article:
• Measure: The amount of DispositionalAttribution
• Results: NAà more likely to mention player’s personal characteristics ( mental/physical strength and
personal attributes).HKà relation to the team and the circumstances surrounding the player ( external
attributes) Thus, Cultural variation exist…. But where to do they comes from?
Attribution & Child Development
• Joan Miller (1984): 8,11,15 year-old children as well as adults from Mysore, India, and from Chicago, USA
engaged in attribution task to try to ans if it is It is innate/social developed.
• Results: Indiansà situation.As they got older this tendency became stronger.
• Americansà dispositional attributes and as they got older this got stronger. • No difference btw the 8 years old but then changer. Our child rearing component are very important. WE
explain events using external events/internal attribute and teach them/explain events using these thus they
internalize these and these become stronger as they get older.
Culture and Prediction of Causes
Study: Looked at regular and premedical students who study ancient chinese medicine.
• Procedure: Participants were given a brief summary of a hypothetical murder case, involving a graduate
student being a suspect in the murder of his advisor. Participants were given a list of 97 items that could be
factors in the crime.
• Participants were asked to eliminate any of the items on the list that they thought were useless in the
investigation of the murder. The items were randomly ordered.
• Results: The second year premedical students excluded fewer items then did the students of other majors.
• Importantly, second year medical students excluded even fewer items that that of second year premedical
3students. Study two-showed evidence of positive correlation between holistic thinking and oriental
Family Resemblance vs. Rule-Based Categorization
NAà More importance on things that they can categorize.
Chineseà Motivated on similarties/family resemblance of the examples ( i.e. they are all same in color=they are
all related even though they are square and circles)à they cannot help but think that allAsians a re related.
They are not good at categorizing things. Less sensitive to common characteristics
Similarity-Based Categorization vs. Rule-Based Categorization
• Analytic and holistic thinkers show different reasoning styles.
• In general, analytic reasoners are more likely to apply abstract rules in order to solve problems.
• Holistic reasoners attend more to relationships among objects or events, looking for similarities or temporal
• Which flowers belong to which groups? i.e. shape of the steep is same to the group of flowerA=group 2
( rules based category)=NA
• Similarities of the pedalà group 1 had pedal/lead and were circle thus overall,A=group 1
• Results: North Americans were in general good at identifying common characters
• EA=similrility / family based oriented vs NA=rules based categorization mostly.
Differences in Similarity Judgments betweenAmericans and EastAsians
• European-Americans make these decisions more based on applying rules than in looking at the overall
similarity between the targets and the groups.
• East Asians and Asian-Americans make these decisions more based on the overall similarities
• These cultural differences only emerge when there is a conflict between an analytic and a holistic solution.
Both groups can reason well in purely analytic or purely holistic tasks.
Field Dependence vs. Field Independence
• When perceiving a scene, holistic thinkers are more likely to perceive it as an integrated whole. This makes
it more difficult to separate objects from each other in a scene. This is called field dependent.
• Being able to separate objects from each other is termed field independent.
Cultural Difference in Attention
• Westerners’ Attention Selectively attending to the target object and its attributes (context independence,
• East Asians’ Attention: Holistically attending to target objects in relation to their context and situation
(context dependence, contextoriented, relationshipsensitive).
Field Dependence vs. Field Independence • Often field independence is tested with a Rod and Frame task, where a rod is inside of a frame and they
are both rotated.
• Results: In general, Westerners perform better on field independence tasks than do nonWesterners.
• The individual parts of the scene are seen as distinct, and Westerners are better able to ignore the rest of the
scene. This difference can be seen in a variety of other tasks.
• If you ignore the frame, you will do well. If you pay too much attention to the angle of the frame, you will
do worse ( east Asian)=context dependent= field dependent.
• Results of the rod and frame task: East As