PSYC14H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Fundamental Attribution Error, Tao Te Ching, Laozi

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20 Dec 2013
Chapter 8: Cognition and Perception
- Masuda noticed differences in paintings produced in East Asia VS Europe figure 8.1
1) horizons in landscape scenes painted considerably higher in East Asian than Western
2) figures in portraits much larger in Western than East Asian
different because ppl from these cultures literally seeing world differently, argue reflect fundamental differences in
basic cognitive and perceptual processes that exist between two cultures
- (p.286) hierarchy of diff fields in psychology, study of cognition and perception occupies the throne isolate building
blocks of our psychological experiences, elementary and essential psychological processes
- this chapter explores ways basic cognitive and perceptual processes vary across cultures
exploration guided by two themes of this book:
1. there are cognitive tools that are universally available to ppl
2. cultural diff that do appear in basic cognitive and perceptual processes arise because of diff experiences ppl have
rowing up their respective cultures
- dog, carrot, rabbit
taxonomic categorization: grouped according to perceived similarity of attributes (carrot doesn’t belong)
thematic categorization: grouped together on basis of causal, temporal, or spatial relationships among them (dog
doesn’t belong)
similar as ways of attending to world in analytic and holistic thinking
- analytic thinking: focus on objects and their attributes
perceived as existing independently from contexts, understood in terms of component parts
more common in Western cultures
fixed and abstract rules to predict and explain behaviour of these objects
- holistic thinking: orientation to context as a whole
associative way of thinking
attention to relation among objects and objects and surrounding context
behaviour predicted and explained on basis of those relationships, knowledge gained through exp. rather than
application of fixed abstract rules
more common in East Asian cultures
- analytic and holistic argued to arise from diff social exp. ppl have w/in individualistic (primarily independent self-
concepts) and collectivistic societies (primarily interdependent self-concepts)
shape kinds of info ppl attend to in their physical environments
(p.290) cultural diff present between Greeks (discrete concepts and abstract principles) and Chinese (emphasized
harmony, interconnectedness, and change) believe this is reason behind cultural diff in ways of thinking between
Westerners and East Asians
- seems underestimated pervasiveness of analytic thinking, holistic thinking is quite widespread throughout world
(interesting: same places where holistic thinking found = places w/ little psychological research)
- analytic thinkers: tend to perceive world as consisting of discrete objects, more likely focus on separate parts of scene that
represent discrete objects
- holistic thinkers: tend to perceive world as consisting of interrelated whole, direct attention more broadly
should perform well at tasks where they have to detect relations among diff events ex: pairings where when one
picture shown, the other shown either 0%, 40%, 60%, or 100% of the time
o then shown the first picture alone and asked likelihood that other picture would appear Chinese were more
accurate than Americans
other tasks should perform especially badly on tasks that require you to separate scene into component parts figure
8.2: indicate whether rod is pointing straight up East Asians do relatively poor
o analytic thinkers tend to show field independence: can separate objects from their background fields
o holistic tend to show field dependence: tend to view objects as bound to their backgrounds
- field independence & dependence studied in another way (p.293-294) figure 8.3: Japanese VS Americans
showed underwater scene Japanese made more references to background objects than Americans; then same fish
presented w/ same background or novel background…
o results: when fish shown in original background = Japanese more likely recognize fish than Americans
o when fish shown w/ novel background = Americans more likely recognize fish than Japanese
replicated w/ American animals = same results
- possible that cultural diff occur at retrieval end of process, whereby perceptual experiences identical across cultures
study used eye-tracker device (determine where someone is looking at any given instant)
study: a scene where target person surrounded by ppl in background, all showing emotional facial expression
(sometimes all consistent with each other, where other times target is diff from background) task: identify emotion
on target person
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o Japanese judgments were influenced by expression of ppl in background
o American judgments was not influenced by expression o background ppl
o Evidence that East Asians attend more to background context than Westerners
question of whether ppl from two cultures look at same things figure 8.4 (p.295-296): percentage of time
participants looking at central figure compared to background
o Japanese devoted less time viewing central figure, and made more saccades: extremely quick eye movements
that shift ppl’s gaze from one fixation point to another
- these studies suggest: not seeing same things even when looking at identical scenes; eye movements occur largely out of
our voluntary control = shows how deep cultural diff in attention lie; done unconsciously
East Asian and higher horizons = diff objects and places w/in scene to be seen in relation to each other; lower horizon
(Western) = reduces range of scene visible
Western tend to show larger figures = focus attention on portrayal of individual; East Asian portrait individual remains
ensconced w/in surrounding context
- study on whether cultural diff in perception affect art produced today figure 8.5 asked Japanese and American college
students to draw landscape
results: Japanese drew higher horizon, provide more complex background (75% more contextual objects)
- in addition to child-rearing styles possibly leading diff cultures to develop more analytic or holistic ways of thinking, might
stem from other cultural factors
landscapes one habitually sees will have an influence figure 8.6: there were significantly more objects in Japanese
pictures than in American ones
necessary to demonstrate that holistic perception increases when ppl view busy scenes
o pictures from first study used to prime before looking at an airport scene that kept changing (foreground or
background); inability to detect change in a scene is “change blindness”
o two findings
1. overall Japanese noticed more changes to background
2. both Americans and Japanese more likely identify changes in background when primed w/ Japanese
scenes than American scenes
- dispositional attributions: explain ppl’s behaviour in terms of their underlying dispositions
considering their inner characteristics is extension of analytic way of thinking (like personality traits)
- situational attributions: more likely explain ppl’s behaviour in terms of contextual variables
considering how situation is influencing them is extension of holistic way of thinking (considering individual’s relation
w/ his or her context)
The Fundamental Attribution Error
- fundamental attribution error: tendency to ignore situational info while focusing on dispositional info
“fundamental” because viewed to be deeply ingrained in us
- not truly fundamental other cultures diff
attempt to learn age at which these diff ways of understanding ppl’s behaviours emerged across cultures children (8,
11, and 15) and university students from India and US
o asked to describe situation when someone behaved in either prosocial or deviant manner, then explain why
o results figure 8.7 -8yr olds gave quite similar responses in two cultures
American: as got older=make more dispositional attributions, situational remained unchanged;
adults=clear evidence for fundamental attribution error
Indian: as got older=more situational attributions, dispositional didn’t change; adults=didn’t show
evidence of fundamental attribution error, rather had reverse fundamental attribution error
- important consequences newspapers and causes of extreme behaviours interpreted differently
Chinese newspaper made more references to situation; American stories made more references to disposition of
- analytic (apply rules and laws of universal abstract rules and laws) and holistic (considering relationships among objects
or events) thinkers might go about solving problems in diff ways
- figure 8.8 (p.305-306): application of rule (A to group 2, and B to group 1) VS family resemblance judgments ( A to group
1, and B to group 2) conflict between the two reasoning styles
results: figure 8.9: European-Americans base decision on application of rule whereas East Asians base decision on
perceived resemblances of stimuli
note: this is in presence of a conflict w/out conflict, Westerners should be able to perform holistic thinking, and East
Asians perform analytic reasoning
- another way holistic or analytic thinking influences reasoning styles is kinds of info ppl perceive to be relevant to a task
holistic: aware of countless ways things in world are related to each other; see actions as having distal, and
sometimes unexpected, consequences
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