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Lecture 5

Week 5 - Mental Habits.docx

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Igor Grossmann

Week 5: Mental Habits Pormuraaw, Australia - Cape York Peninsula, Queensland - Aboriginal community (about 600 people) - Two shops, no clothing stores or hairdressers - Pre-paid electricity through a generator - High mineral water via a bore, pumped into tanks - Pormuraawans are sensitive to cardinal facing directions in arranging their space and time - The feel of the direction with respect to the map –importance due to the century- long reliance on star navigation? - Unlike English, the Pormpuraawan languages do not make extensive use of relative spatial terms like left and right; instead, speakers of these languages rely on absolute direction terms (e.g., “north,” “south,” “east,” and “west”), saying things like “move your cup over to the north-northwest a little bit” or “the boy standing to the south of Mary is my brother” - “Where are you going?” and an appropriate response would be, “a long way to the south-southwest. Perception - What differences do you see in these pictures in terms of where and how objects are situated? Analytic vs. Holistic Thinking - There appears to be 2 basic systems for reasoning: o Analytic thinking  Separating objects from each other  Breaking down objects into component parts  Using rules to explain and predict an object’s behaviour  Relying on abstract thought  Taxonomic categorization  Field independence o Holistic thinking  An orientation to the entire scene  Attending to the relations among objects  Predicting an object’s behaviour on the basis of those relationships  Relying on associative thought  Thematic categorization  Field dependence –difficulty in separating objects from each other o These 2 very fundamental ways of thinking differ across cultures 1 o In some cultures, people learn to think of others as fundamentally independent from each other  Likewise, the physical world can be understood in the same way  Engages in more analytic thinking o In other cultures, people are socialized to learn to attend to relations among people  This is generalized to an attention of relations among objects in one’s environment  Engages in more holistic thinking Rod and Frame side view subject’s view 2 Experiment – Example of Field (In) dependence - Participants looked at a scene with a background and a foreground object o E.g., a wolf in front of snow scenery - They were then shown more scenes with the same foreground object, but with either the same or a novel background Seeing the Object and the Field – Masuda and Nisbett (2001) - Participants o 41 American participants from the University of Michigan o 44 Japanese participants from the Kyoto University - Phase 1: Recall Task 3 - Phase 2: Recognition Task - Previously Seen Objects (Japan) - Previously Seen Objects (United States) 4 - Westerners’ performance relatively unaffected by the background - East Asians’ performance worse if the background is switched on them - East Asians appear to see the scene as bound together, Westerners see it as a collection of parts Change Detection - Japanese and American participants shown pairs of animated vignettes and asked to report differences across pairs - Do Japanese see more contextual (background and relational) changes? - Do Americans see more focal object changes? Construction Still 1 Construction Still 2 5 - Changes Detected in Objects and Context Scene Perception – Eye Tracking American Chinese Horizons and Context - East Asian paintings have higher horizons –directs attention to relations amongst objects and places within the scene - Western paintings direct attention to particular focal objects 6 - East Asian portraits portray individuals as being embedded within the context - Western portraits have larger faces, directing more attention to the individual as he/she dominates the scene - Such a bias in artistic output extends beyond professional art - When Japanese and Euro-American college students were asked to draw a picture involving a house, a tree, a river, a person, and a horizon, the following pattern emerged: Euro-American Japanese - Comparing Euro-Americans’ and East Asians’ drawings, East Asian drawings had higher horizons and had 75% more contextual objects in the scene - Westerners thus seem to represent scenes differently from East Asians Understanding People’s Behaviours - Analytic thinkers focus on objects’ component parts, whereas holistic thinkers consider objects’ relations with the context o Same distinction is applied to understanding people - Based on this differentiation between analytic and holistic thinkers, people generally make 2 types of attributions to explain behaviour o Disposition attribution –explaining people’s behaviours by attending to their personal characteristics o Situation attribution –explaining people’s behaviours by attending to contextual variables - Fundamental attribution error: tendency to overstate dispositional attributions and understate situational attributions - Research with Westerners consistently finds that they attend more to dispositional rather than contextual information when explaining others’ behaviours o This happens even when contextual constraints are made explicit Jones and Harris (1967) - American students were asked to evaluate an essay writer’s true attitudes by reading his/her essay espousing either positive or negative attitudes towards Fidel Castro o Participants assumed that the writer of the pro-Castro essay felt more positively toward Castro than the writer of the anti-Castro essay - In other conditions, participants were told of some significant situational constraints on the essay writers’ behaviours o One condition –participants told that the authors had been assigned to their positions o Another condition –participants watched as another subject was asked to read a pre-written essay 7 - Regardless of the additional conditions with explicit situational constraints… o Participants assumed that the anti-Castro author has more negative feelings toward Castro then the pro-Castro author o Same results were found when the writer was assigned a position to write about - This is termed the “fundamental attributions error” Miller (1984) - One study explored how “fundamental” the fundamental attribution error is by examining it cross-culturally - Participants (8 years old to adult) read scenarios in which a person did something o Participants were then asked to explain the person’s behaviours o Explanations were then coded for being dispositional or situational - American and Indian – 8 year olds gave similar attributions - Older Americans made more dispositional attributions, but not situatio
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