© 2013 Cengage Learning
Outline
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Culture as Cognition
 Culture, Attention, Sensation, and Perception

Perception and Physical Reality
 Cultural Influences on Visual Perception
 Attention

Culture and Thinking

Culture and Categorization
 Culture and Memory
 Culture and Math Abilities
Outline (cont’d.)
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Culture and Thinking (cont’d.)

Culture and Problem Solving
 Culture and Creativity
 Culture and Dialectical Thinking
 Culture, Regrets, and Counterfactual Thinking
 Summary
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Culture and Consciousness
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Culture and Dreams
Culture and Time
Culture and the Perception of Pain
Outline (cont’d.)

Culture and Intelligence

Traditional Definitions of Intelligence and its
Measurement
 The Concept of Intelligence in Other Cultures
 Recent Developments in Theories about Intelligence
in Contemporary Psychology

Conclusion
CULTURE AS COGNITION
Culture as Cognition
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Psychologists view culture as cognition
Culture is viewed as set of mental
representations about world
Norms, opinions, beliefs, values, and worldviews
are all cognitive products
Knowledge system—culture—created to solve
complex problems of living and social life
Humans have certain cognitive skills other
animals do not, allowing for culture
CULTURE, ATTENTION,
SENSATION, AND PERCEPTION
Perception and Physical Reality
People’s perceptions of world do not necessarily
match physical realities of world
 Once we begin to question our own senses, we
want to know their limits:
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Do experiences and beliefs influence perception?
Do other people perceive things as we do?
What aspects of others experiences and backgrounds
explain differences in perception?
How does culture influence this process?
Cultural Influences on
Visual Perception
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Optical illusions: perceptive discrepancy
between how object looks and what it actually is
Carpentered world theory: unconscious
expectation that objects have squared corners
Front-horizontal foreshortening theory:
interpretation of vertical lines as horizontal lines
Symbolizing three dimensions in two theory:
Westerners experienced in interpreting pictures
People of different cultures may be differently
motivated to perceive certain types of objects
Attention
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Culture influences what we attend to
 Masuda studies:
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Americans and Japanese differ in attention to
background objects and individuals vs. groups
 Cultural differences in environment affords cultural
differences in perception and attention
 Holistic vs. analytic perception
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Westerners use analytic perceptual processes by focusing
on salient object independent of context in which it is
embedded
 East Asians engage in context-dependent and holistic
perceptual processes by focusing on object within context
CULTURE AND THINKING
Culture and Categorization
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People categorize on basis of similarities and
attach labels to groups of common objects
Creating mental categories helps sort out
complex stimuli
Some categories are universal across cultures
Way in which people categorize things may be
culturally variable
Sorting tasks: common way to study cultural
differences in categorization
Culture and Memory
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Differences in memory as a function of oral
tradition may be limited to meaningful material
 Serial position effect: first or last item in list are
easiest to remember
 Memory constants across cultures: age,
hindsight bias, collective remembering of past
 Cultural differences in episodic memory are due
to differences in self-construals, emotion
knowledge, and interpersonal processes
Culture and Math Abilities
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Math is universal human psychological process
National differences in math abilities and
achievements exist
Mapping of numbers onto space is universal
Gender stratification hypothesis: gender
differences related to cultural variations in
opportunity structures for girls and women
Even without formal educational systems,
members of all cultures learn math skills
Culture and Problem Solving
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Problem solving: process of discovering ways of
achieving goals not readily attainable
 Psychologists isolate process of problem solving
by asking people from different cultures to solve
unfamiliar problems in artificial settings
 Luna (1976): hypothesized logical reasoning is
artificial; taught in Westernized schools
 Illiterate people may not understand hypothetical
nature of verbal problems or view them with
same degree of importance
Culture and Creativity
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Creativity depends on divergent rather than
convergent thinking
 Constant across cultures:
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Creative individuals have high capacity for hard work,
willingness to take risks, high tolerance for ambiguity
and disorder
Differences amongst cultures:
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High on uncertainty avoidance: work within norms
Higher on power distance: gain support
Collectivistic countries: seek cross-functional support
Culture and Dialectical Thinking
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Dialectical thinking: tendency to accept what
seems to be contradictions in thought or beliefs
Positive logical determinism: contradictions are
mutually exclusive categories
East Asians prefer dialectical thinking whereas
Americans prefer logical deterministic thinking
Naïve dialecticism: belief that truth is always
somewhere in the middle
Westerners believe something cannot be both
truth and false at same time
Culture, Regrets, and
Counterfactual Thinking
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Counterfactual thinking: hypothetical beliefs
about past that could have occurred to avoid or
change a negative outcome
 Regrets related to thoughts of inaction are more
prevalent than regrets related to action
 Degree to which people experience regret over
inaction than over action was comparable
across all cultures
Summary
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Ancient cultural systems produce differences in
ways of perceiving and thinking about world:
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Social orientation hypothesis:
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Westerners: analytic thinking
East Asians: holistic thinking
Cultures differ in independent vs. interdependent
social orientation patterns
Many other factors for cultural differences
uncovered to date:
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Educational systems, linguistic, genetic differences
CULTURE AND
CONSCIOUSNESS
Culture and Dreams
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Differences in dream content amongst cultures:
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Palestinian children from Gaza incorporated more
external scenes of anxiety in dreams
Finnish children had more "inner" anxiety scenes in
dreams
Role of dreams differs amongst cultures:
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Dream sharing and interpretation common among
Mayans
 American culture does not place much emphasis on
importance of dreams as symbol of individual and
social concerns
Culture and Time
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People of different cultures experience time
differently
 Long- versus short-term orientation is cultural
dimension that differentiates among cultures
 Pace of life correlated with ecological and
cultural variables
 Most cultures represent time spatially from left to
right or right to left, or from front to back or back
to front, with respect to body
Culture and the Perception of Pain
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Culture influences experience and perception of
pain in several ways:
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Cultural construction of pain sensation
 Semiotics of pain expression
 Structure of pain's causes and cures
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Cultural display rules govern expression,
perception, and feeling of pain
 Tolerance of pain may be rooted in cultural
values
CULTURE AND INTELLIGENCE
Traditional Definitions of Intelligence
and its Measurement

Intelligence: conglomeration of many intellectual
abilities centering on verbal and analytic tasks
 Intelligence tests rely on verbal performance and
cultural knowledge, thus immigrants are at
disadvantage
 Do cross-cultural differences in intelligence
reflect biological or cultural differences?
The Concept of Intelligence
in Other Cultures
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Many languages have no word that corresponds
to our idea of intelligence
 Because of enormous differences in definition of
intelligence, it is difficult to make valid
comparisons from one society to another
 Tests of intelligence often rely on knowledge
specific to particular culture
Recent Developments in
Theories about Intelligence in
Contemporary Psychology
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Gardner (1983), seven types of intelligence:
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Sternberg (1986), three "subtheories“ of
intelligence:
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Logical mathematical, linguistic, musical, spatial,
bodily kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal
Contextual, experiential, and componential
intelligence
Collective intelligence:
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Strongly correlated with average social sensitivity,
equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking,
and proportion of females in group
Conclusion
Conclusion
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Perception, cognition, and consciousness are at
the core of many psychological constructs:
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Cultural differences in these processes exemplify
various levels of psychology that culture influences
Cultural differences and similarities in definitions
and processes of intelligence have considerable
relevance to various applied settings
 Awareness of cultural differences in intelligence
raises difficult questions concerning testing and
use of test scores
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