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Origins of Cultural Differences in Cognition: Influence and Adjustment Modes of Interpersonal Interaction

Project Leader
Yuri Miyamoto, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Faculty Staff Responsible for the Project
Yukiko Uchida, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University

Recent research in the areas of social, cultural and cognitive psychology has exposed cultural differences in basic cognitive processes, but has not explained how such culturally divergent cognitive processes are shaped and maintained through interpersonal interactions. Our study aims to demonstrate how cognitive processes and interpersonal interactions influence each other. Our past year’s research found that, in order to influence others, Americans use analytical cognitive styles by focusing mainly on the focal objects, while Japanese tend to show holistic cognitive styles by attending to the surrounding contexts. Building on these findings, this project aims to explore how cognitive styles impact interpersonal interactions. Specifically, we shall investigate whether or not engaging in analytical cognitive processing increases the amount of power one has over others in the United States, whereas engaging in holistic cognitive processing increases one’s power over others in Japan.
We hope that, by demonstrating mutual relationships between cognitive processes and interpersonal interactions, this research will provide a framework not only for understanding cultural differences, but also for grasping individual differences within particular cultures.