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Culture, Communication Practices, and Cognition: Selective Attention to Content Versus Context Keiko Ishii Hokkaido University, Japan.

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Presentation on theme: "Culture, Communication Practices, and Cognition: Selective Attention to Content Versus Context Keiko Ishii Hokkaido University, Japan."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Culture, Communication Practices, and Cognition: Selective Attention to Content Versus Context Keiko Ishii Hokkaido University, Japan

3 Research Questions - Do cultural norms and practices, especially communication ways influence human cognition? - Do they foster people to acquire culturally specific ways of thinking and attention, which correspond to the communication ways?

4 Cultural variation: A brief review 1) Cultural construal of self (Markus & Kitayama, 1991) - Independent self in North American cultures: Belief that people are likely to be separate from each other and independent of social relations. Importance of self- expression. - Interdependent self in East Asian cultures: Belief that people are likely to be connected with each other and depend on social relations and context. Importance of maintaining relationships.

5 Cultural variation: A brief review 2) Communication practices (Hall, 1976) - Low contextual communication in North American cultures: Verbal content is the primary means by which information is conveyed, and contextual information including vocal tone plays a minor role. - High contextual communication in East Asian cultures: The proportion of information conveyed by verbal content is less, and contextual information including vocal tone plays a greater role.

6 Cultural variation: A brief review 3) Cultural variations in cognition (Nisbett, Peng, Choi, & Norenzayan, 2001) - Analytic cognition in North American cultures: People tend to attend primarily to an object. - Holistic cognition in East Asian cultures: People tend to attend to the entire field, which consists of both an object and its context.

7 Cultural variation: A brief review Culturally different beliefs of self and communication practices will provide people particular frameworks regarding what they should focus on in the world. The frameworks encourage them to acquire culturally specific patterns of attention throughout their living in a culture. Self-construal Communication Cognition Independent vs. Interdependent Low-context vs. High-context Analytic vs. Holistic

8 Overview Testing with a Stroop-type interference task (Study 1-3) - Verbal meaning and vocal tone, which is one of contextual information, were manipulated. - People were asked to make a judgment of one information while ignoring the other information. - Examining the degree to which verbal meaning or vocal tone captured attention when people had to ignore it.

9 Overview Testing with a Stroop-type interference task - Examine cultural/linguistic differences in attention in Japan and the U.S (Study 1), and in the Philippines (Study 2) (Ishii, Reyes, & Kitayama, 2003). - Examine whether the attentional pattern in Japan could be replicated (Study 3) (Ishii & Kitayama, 2003). Testing with an affective priming task (Study 4) - Examine the attentional pattern in Japan by using a different task (Ishii & Kitayama, 2002).

10 Hypothesis (Study 1) 1) When making a judgment of verbal meaning while ignoring vocal tone, Interference by vocal tone: Japanese > Americans 2) When making a judgment of vocal tone while ignoring verbal meaning, Interference by verbal meaning: Americans > Japanese

11 Method (Study 1) - Procedure - Participants 119 Japanese and 95 Americans Either verbal meaning judgment or vocal tone judgment - Materials - 32 emotional utterances in each language (=8 words x 2 meaning evaluations x 2 vocal tone evaluations) - The degrees of pleasantness of verbal meaning, vocal tone, and vocal qualities were quite similar not only within language but between the two languages

12 Results (Study 1) Vocal tone judgment Meaning judgment Interference = (Mean response time for the incongruous utterances) - (Mean response time for the congruous utterances) JapaneseAmericans Respondents Interference The verbal meaning x vocal tone x culture x judgment interaction : p <.05 (msec)

13 Results (Study 1) Vocal tone judgment Meaning judgment Interference = (Mean response time for the incongruous utterances) - (Mean response time for the congruous utterances) JapaneseAmericans Respondents Interference P <.02 (msec)

14 Results (Study 1) Vocal tone judgment Meaning judgment Interference = (Mean response time for the incongruous utterances) - (Mean response time for the congruous utterances) JapaneseAmericans Respondents Interference (msec)

15 Results (Study 1) Vocal tone judgment Meaning judgment Interference = (Mean response time for the incongruous utterances) - (Mean response time for the congruous utterances) JapaneseAmericans Respondents Interference (msec)

16 Study 2 - Extending the finding of Study 1 by exploring whether a high-context pattern of interference might be found in the Philippines - Exploring whether a pattern of interference might depend on the languages, that is, a low-context pattern for English and a high-context pattern for Tagalog These questions would address the relative significance of the linguistic vs. cultural relativity in attention

17 Method (Study 2) - Procedure - Participants 122 Filipinos Four conditions: 2 judgments (meaning judgment vs. vocal tone judgment) x 2 languages (Tagalog vs. English) - Materials - 60 trials in each language (=10 words x 2 meaning [VT] evaluations x 3 vocal tone [meaning] evaluations) -The degrees of pleasantness of verbal meaning, vocal tone, and vocal qualities were quite similar not only within language but between the two languages

18 Results (Study 2) Vocal tone judgment Meaning judgment Interference = (Mean response time for the incongruous utterances) - (Mean response time for the congruous utterances) TagalogEnglish Language Interference The verbal meaning x vocal tone x judgment interaction: p <.03 (msec)

19 Study 3 - Procedure - Participants: One hundred and twenty-eight Japanese (Age: years) - The same as the Japanese part of Study 1. - Sixty-six participants were assigned to the verbal meaning judgment, and the rest of the participants (62) were assigned to the vocal tone judgment. - Purpose: Examining whether the spontaneous attention to vocal tone, which was demonstrated for Japanese in Study 1, could be replicated with new groups of Japanese in a much larger age range.

20 Results (Study 3) youngerolder (over 30 yrs) Interference (msec) Vocal tone judgment Meaning judgment The Meaning x VT x Judgment interaction was significant (p <.03). Interference by vocal tone was significantly larger than interference by meaning regardless of age. Interference = (Mean response time for the incongruous utterances) - (Mean response time for the congruous utterances)

21 Study 4 - Procedure - Participants: Fifty-eight Japanese - After completion of the verbal meaning judgment, participants were given a recognition test of the prime word. - Participants were presented an emotional utterance (prime), immediately followed by a pleasant or unpleasant meaning word spoken in neutral vocal tone (target). They were asked to judge the verbal meaning of the target as quickly as possible.

22 Hypothesis (Study 4) If Japanese primarily pay attention to vocal tone, the vocal tone information activated would influence the processing of the target. - The processing of the target would be facilitated if the pleasantness of vocal tone is congruous with the emotional meaning of the target. Therefore, the vocal tone of the prime would have a priming effect. - In contrast, the meaning of the prime, which would be less activated, would not influence the processing of the target.

23 Results (Study 4) (msec) Prime vocal tone pleasant unpleasant pleasantunpleasant Target verbal meaning The prime vocal tone x target verbal meaning interaction is significant (p <.01)

24 Results (Study 4) (msec) Prime verbal meaning pleasant unpleasant pleasantunpleasant Target verbal meaning The prime verbal meaning x target verbal meaning interaction is NOT significant.

25 Results (Study 4) - A priming effect happened due to the vocal tone of primes, whereas there was no priming effect as a function of the verbal meaning. - Participants were accurate in the recognition of the prime words (M = 0.80). Only the vocal tone had a priming effect not because participants could not completely ignore meanings of the prime words, but because vocal tones of the prime were so informative that meanings of the prime words were inhibited, although they were encoded.

26 Conclusions - The attentional attunement to vocal tone in Japan was found regardless of age. In addition the attunement was also shown by the affective priming task. - The effect of language is minimal as long as different languages are integrated into the single system of cultural practices. Therefore, the divergent pattern in attention might be related to cultural patterns of communication rather than to any structural characteristics of languages. - In the vocal Stroop task Japanese and Filipinos attended more spontaneously to vocal tone and found it difficult to ignore it. Whereas, Americans especially attended to verbal meaning.

27 Conclusions Two issues would be concerned in future research … 1) When and how do people acquire culturally specific patterns of attention throughout their living in a culture? 2) Are such patterns of attention stable, once people acquired them in their childhood? Communication with adults would induce to develop a child ’ s competence to understand their communicative intensions and use of the effective symbolic forms. Due to her competence, then she could grasp a particular framework in a culture regarding what she should focus on in the world. Yes, they may be relatively difficult to change …

28 Hall, E. T. (1976). Beyond culture. NY: Doubleday. Ishii, K., Reyes, J. A., & Kitayama, S. (2003). Spontaneous attention to word content versus emotional tone: Differences among three cultures. Psychological Science, 14, Markus, H. R. & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review, 98, Nisbett, R. E., Peng, K., Choi, I., & Norenzayan, A. (2001). Culture and systems of thought: Holistic vs. analytic cognition. Psychological Review, 108, Ishii, K., & Kitayama, S. (2002). Processing of emotional utterances: Is vocal tone really more significant than verbal content in Japanese. Cognitive Studies, 9, References Ishii, K., & Kitayama, S. (2003). Selective attention to contextual information in Japan. Poster presented at the 25th annual meeting of Cognitive Science Society.


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