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Chapter 8

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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 ANALYTIC AND HOLISTIC THINKING - 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) ATTENTION - 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 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 UNDERSTANDING OTHER PEOPLE’S BEHAVIOURS - 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 accused REASONING STYLES - 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  analytic: focus attention on relations between relatively small # of discrete objects or events  ex: solving a murder mystery and given 97 diff info possibly related to it –results: Koreans felt greater # of items had possible relations to murder; whereas Americans discarded more info (focus on only those items most relevant to the case) TOLERATION OF CONTRADICTION - East Asians also believe in view that reality is continually in flux (ultimate fluidity of reality) –captured in Tai Chi, symbol encompasses Yin and the Yang (moon and the sun)  clearly evident in writings of Lao Tzu, legendary founder of Taoism (Tao Te Ching, p.308)  not only highlights reality is in flux, but also indicates opposing truths can be simultaneously accepted - at time of Lao Tzu, Aristotle offered diff scheme for making sense of world proposed law of contradiction: no statement could be both true and false = at heart of much of logical reasoning - Chinese thought (captured in I-Ching) includes principle of contradiction –real contradiction ceases to exist (because everything perceived as connected w/ everything else and constantly in flux)  contradiction not to be rejected, but accepted naïve dialecticism: acceptance of contradiction  different way from Western logical reasoning - study of Chinese VS American students figure 8.10–given arguments (p.308), as well as contradictory pairs of these  half of participants read only one argument (left side) = both felt argument A was more plausible  when given both contradictory arguments (Argument B & Argument A (together)=different results: o American: felt even more compelled to say argument A is more plausible, responding to contradiction by denying that it exists (denying a problematic contradiction) o Chinese: less convinced A is plausible, and more convinced B more plausible than before apparently showing that they noticed the contradiction (reminding them that world is often contradictory), making it difficult to say which side is right/wrong; contradiction is accepted as it is, no motivation to get rid of it - greater tolerance for contradiction among East Asians also found in way they think of themselves  East Asians appear to hold views about themselves that are more contradictory than those held by North Americans - other cultural ways in ways ppl think  Westerners understand world changes, but believe it does in linear fashion (occur in rather static and predictable ways) –ex: stock has risen over past year = likely rise again, birth rate dropped = likely drop more in the next generation  In contrast, East Asians believe that change happens in rather fluid and unpredictable ways o P.311-312: Story shows that change can happen at any time, often in opposite way one is anticipating  attitudes toward the future diff -study: asked Chinese and American students to estimate what they thought would happen over next few years given graphs of number of trends) o Chinese almost twice as likely to predict trend would reverse direction in future o Nonlinear perspective associated w/ them being more contrarian investors: more willing to buy stocks that are falling in value and sell stocks rising in value CREATIVE THINKING - seen that Westerners more creative but Asian art tends to be more about mastering techniques of a model rather than producing original works (excel more in genres like classical music) - to compare cultures on creativity, have to consider what creativity is Creativity is generation of ideas that are bot (a) novel and (b) useful and appropriate  novelty part appears facilitated by Western cultural experiences (individualism) - novelty-individualism link for Western creativity can be seen in tendencies for Western artists to be more likely than average person to suffer mental illness –perhaps its continual push toward novelty associated w/ mental disturbances - collectivism appears associated w/ generation of useful rather than novel ideas –socialized to be concerned about opinions of others and find solutions that will fit w/ goals of members of their groups - kinds of innovations cultures produce  Western cultures (emphasis on novel ideas) encourage more breakthrough innovations  East Asians (emphasis on useful ideas) more likely foster incremental innovations - perhaps optimal creative team would include both Westerners and East Asia
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