Chapter 9: Cognition and Perception
Analytic and Holistic Thinking
- Westerners often categorize things by taxonomy, similarity of their
- East Asians often categorize things by themes, grouped together on the
basis of causal, temporal or spatial relationships among them (rabbit eats
- Analytic Thinking: a focus on objects and their attributes and objects are
seen as existing independently from their contexts (more common in
- Holistic Thinking: an orientation to the context as a whole and is an
associative way of thinking where there is attention to the relations
among objects and the surrounding context (more common in East Asian
- These kinds of thinking arise due to different social experiences, being
individualistic/collectivistic and having independent/interdependent self-
○ Collectivistic societies tend to be socialized in relational contexts.
○ Individualistic societies tend to be socialized to be independent.
- Holistic Thinking characterizes the thinking of people from much of the
- Analytic thinkers would more likely to focus their attention on separate
parts of a scene.
- Holistic thinkers should direct their attention more broadly, across an
- Field Independence: separating objects from their background fields
- Field Dependence: viewing objects as bound to their backgrounds (holistic
- Those who are more outgoing are more field dependent than people who
- Americans are more likely to attend to the foreground objects than
Chinese who are more likely to look more at the background; Chinese are
more systematically scanning the scene.
- Aesthetic preferences appear to be influenced by culturally influenced
tendencies to attend to foreground objects/background objects.
○ Western portraits tended to show larger figures than East Asian ones.
○ Horizons tend to be painted significantly higher in East Asian
paintings than Western ones.
- The scenes that Japanese and Americans see on a day-to-day basis vary
in their complexity with Japanese scenes having more objects.
○ If people are showing a holistic attentional style, attending to the
1 background, they should notice more of the changes in the
background than people who are analytic.
○ The busy scenes of Japanese day-to-day life appear to make both
Japanese and Americans more holistic in their attentional styles when
○ This means that the scenes Japanese and Americans see everyday
influence their thinking, either holistic or analytic.
Understanding Other People’s Behaviours
- Dispositional Attributions: people are more likely to explain people’s
behaviours in terms of their underlying dispositions like he is angry
because he has a short temper (Westerners).
- Situational Attributions: people are more likely to explain people’s
behaviours in terms of contextual variables like he is angry because the
situation calls him to be (East Asians).
- Fundamental Attribution Error: ignoring situational information (context)
while focusing on dispositional information (attitudes and beliefs).
○ Americans are more likely to describe people in terms of abstract
personality traits (she is friendly) than were Indians who attended to
others in terms of concrete behaviours they engaged in (she brings
our family cakes every Christmas).
- Formal Logical Reasoning: more common in analytic thinkers in which
they are making the decision based on the application of an abstract rule.
- Similarity-Based Judgements: more common in holistic thinkers in which
they are basing the decision on the similarity of the objects.
- Americans are more likely to base their decisions on the application of the
rule whereas East Asians were more likely to base their decision on the
perceived similarities of the stimuli.
- Analytic thinkers should be more concerned with direct relations between
- For Holistic thinkers, the world consists of many overlapping and related
Toleration of Contradiction
- Naïve Dialecticism: acceptance of contradiction
- Americans respond to contradiction by denying that a contradiction exists.
- Chinese accept contradictions as it is and they do not seem motivated to
get rid of it.
- Chinese were significantly more likely than Americans to provide
statements that were in apparent contradiction with each other (when
asked to answer open-ended questions).
- East Asians tolerate apparent contradictions within themselves and
- Westerners appear to view change as occurring in more linear ways (if a
2 stock rise