We tested the hypothesis that “good feelings”—the central element of subjective well-being—are associated with interdependence and interpersonal engagement of the self in Japan, but with independence and interpersonal disengagement of the self in the United States. Japanese and American college students (total N = 913) reported how frequently they experienced various emotional states in daily life. In support of the hypothesis, the reported frequency of general positive emotions (e.g. calm, elated) was most closely associated with the reported frequency of interpersonally (...) engaged positive emotions (e.g. friendly feelings) in Japan, but with the reported frequency of interpersonally disengaged positive emotions (e.g. pride) in the United States. Further, for Americans the reported frequency of experience was considerably higher for positive emotions than for negative emotions, but for Japanese it was higher for engaged emotions than for disengaged emotions. Implications for cultural constructions of emotion in general and subjective well-being in particular are discussed. (shrink)
Previous work suggests that Asians allocate more attention to configuration information than Caucasian Americans do. Yet this cultural variation has been found only with stimuli such as natural scenes and objects that require both feature- and configuration-based processing. Here, we show that the cultural variation also exists in face perception—a domain that is typically viewed as configural in nature. When asked to identify a prototypic face for a set of disparate exemplars, Japanese were more likely than Caucasian Americans to use (...) overall resemblance rather than feature matching. Moreover, in a speeded identity-matching task, Japanese were more accurate than Americans in identifying the spatial configuration of features (e.g., eyes). Together, these findings underscore the robustness of culture’s influences on cognition. (shrink)
Central and East Europeans have a great deal in common, both historically and culturally, with West Europeans and North Americans, but tend to be more interdependent. Interdependence has been shown to be linked to holistic cognition. East Asians are more interdependent than Americans and are more holistic. If interdependence causes holism, we would expect Central and East Europeans to be more holistic than West Europeans and North Americans. In two studies we found evidence that Central and East Europeans are indeed (...) more holistic than Westerners on three tasks, one of which examined categorization and two of which measured patterns of visual attention. These studies support the argument that cross-cultural differences in cognition are due to society level differences in independence/interdependence. (shrink)
As Beller, Bender, and Medin (in press) pointed out in their target article, in the contemporary study of culture in psychology, anthropology is virtually invisible. In this commentary, I traced this invisibility to a root conflict in epistemological goals of the two disciplines: Whereas anthropologists value rich description of specific cultures, psychologists aspire to achieve theoretical simplicity. To anthropologists, then, to understand culture is to articulate symbolic systems that are at work in a given location at a given time. In (...) contrast, to psychologists, to understand culture amounts to identifying socio-cultural variables that moderate psychological effects. These divergent epistemological goals dictate both theoretical perspectives and empirical approaches in both disciplines. Yet, the two goals are both valid and in fact complementary. A renewed effort toward integration of the two goals may enrich both disciplines. (shrink)
Evidence Van de Vliert draws on is more consistent with the idea that settlement in the frontier encourages independent mentality and individualistic social institutions. This cultural system can sometimes flourish, generating both wealth and power, but clearly not always. In our view, wealth is, for the most part, a measure of success of any given cultural group, and climate is important to the extent that it plays a role in creating rugged lands of frontier.
While some studies suggest cultural differences in visual processing, others do not, possibly because the complexity of their tasks draws upon high-level factors that could obscure such effects. To control for this, we examined cultural differences in visual search for geometric figures, a relatively simple task for which the underlying mechanisms are reasonably well known. We replicated earlier results showing that North Americans had a reliable search asymmetry for line length: Search for long among short lines was faster than vice (...) versa. In contrast, Japanese participants showed no asymmetry. This difference did not appear to be affected by stimulus density. Other kinds of stimuli resulted in other patterns of asymmetry differences, suggesting that these are not due to factors such as analytic/holistic processing but are based instead on the target-detection process. In particular, our results indicate that at least some cultural differences reflect different ways of processing early-level features, possibly in response to environmental factors. (shrink)
The target article offers an important cautionary note on the interpretation of the heritability index. However, it does not directly address how culture and genes might interact. Here, we suggest that one allele of the dopamine D4 receptor gene promotes the acquisition of cultural values and practices and likely has coevolved with the human culture over the last 50,000 years.
Recent neuroscience research makes it clear that human biology is cultural biology - we develop and live our lives in socially constructed worlds that vary widely in their structure values, and institutions. This integrative volume brings together interdisciplinary perspectives from the human, social, and biological sciences to explore culture, mind, and brain interactions and their impact on personal and societal issues. Contributors provide a fresh look at emerging concepts, models, and applications of the co-constitution of culture, mind, and brain. Chapters (...) survey the latest theoretical and methodological insights alongside the challenges in this area, and describe how these new ideas are being applied in the sciences, humanities, arts, mental health, and everyday life. Readers will gain new appreciation of the ways in which our unique biology and cultural diversity shape behavior and experience, and our ongoing adaptation to a constantly changing world. (shrink)
Grossmann used evolutionary analysis to argue for the adaptive nature of fearfulness. This analysis, however, falls short of addressing why negative affectivity is maladaptive in contemporary Western societies. Here, we fill the gap by documenting the implied cultural variation and considering cultural (rather than biological) evolution over the last 10,000 years to explain the observed cultural variation.