Culture Influences Judgment of Others
Wynne Parry, LiveScience Senior Writer | April 13, 2011 05:52pm ET 1
European Americans are more likely than Asian-Americans to judge an individual's personality based on behaviors, such as presuming someone who, say, won't touch a door handle is neurotic, a new study suggests. The key is cultural, according to the researchers. European American culture emphasizes individual independence; meanwhile, Asian culture is more interdependent and more sensitive to social contexts. This difference means European Americans are inclined to account for someone's behavior by making assumptions about their personality, while Asians are not (at least not without some context), according to the researchers. "Culture can be very important in shaping some fundamental aspects of the human mind," said study researcher Shinobu Kitayama, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. "This study is one example of a demonstration that culture can influence what appears to be a very deep part the human mind, something that happens automatically and continuously." Personality testing
To test for this particular cultural difference, the researchers recruited European American and Asian- American students at the University of Michigan. The Asian-Americans were born in Asia and had spent at least several years in their home country before moving to the United States. [Face Recognition Varies by Culture] In the first part of the study, the participants were given what they believed was a memory test, and asked to learn faces paired with behavior — for instance, when shown an image of a woman called Julie, they were told she checks the fire alarm every night. The faces were the same race as that of the participants. "Some people make the immediate inference about what kind of person Julie is based on this behavior: Julie is very neurotic or Julie is very cautious," Kitayama said. "That is the effect we...
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