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Culture and Attention: Comparing the Context Sensitivity between East Asians and Westerners: 

Culture and Attention: Comparing the Context Sensitivity between East Asians and Westerners Takahiko Masuda, Ph.D COE Postdoctoral Fellow Hokkaido University Japan Workshop with Professor Cook: Feb 17, 2005

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Culture? Culture: A dominant symbolic meaning system (e.g. worldview) sustained and transmitted over generations by members of a given society, which then shape the member’s psychological processes.

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Worldview: Things exist by themselves and can be defined by their attributes (context independent, object-oriented). Worldview: Things are inter-related. Various factors are involved in an event (context dependent, context-sensitive). Westerner's Attention East Asians’ Attention (Nisbett, 2003; Nisbett, Peng, Choi, & Norenzayan, 2001)

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Cultural Variations in Socio-Cognitive Processes

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Culture and Attention:The Self-Report Task (Masuda & Nisbett, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2001) The Michigan Fish Test North Americans basically referred to the attributes of the target fish, whereas the Japanese referred to the background and contextual information as well as the target fish attributes.

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The Michigan Animal Test Culture and Attention: The Recognition Task (Masuda & Nisbett, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2001)

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(Masuda & Nisbett, under review; Nisbett & Masuda, PNAS, 2003) Culture and Attention: The Change Detection Task The Flicker Paradigm (Rensink et al, 1997)

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(Masuda, Mesquita, Ellsworth, Leu, Tanida & van de Veerdonk ; under review) Culture and Attention: Interpreting emotional expressions

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(Masuda, Mesquita, Ellsworth, Leu, Tanida & van de Veerdonk ; under review)

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(Masuda, Mesquita, Ellsworth, Leu, Tanida & van de Veerdonk ; under review)

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(Masuda, Mesquita, Ellsworth, Leu, Tanida & van de Veerdonk ; under review)

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The Japanese took into account the background figures’ facial expressions when judging the central figure’s emotion. (e.g. If the background figure looks happy, the degree of happiness of the central figure seems to be intensified). However, North Americans weren’t influenced by changes in the background figures’ facial expressions. Question: To what extent do people allocate their attention to the context information? Question: When, if at all, can we observe cultural variation in the allocation of attention? Culture and Attention: Interpreting emotional expressions (Masuda, Mesquita, Ellsworth, Leu, Tanida & van de Veerdonk ; under review)

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(Masuda, Mesquita, Ellsworth, Leu, Tanida & van de Veerdonk ; under review) Culture and Attention: Interpreting emotional expressions Westerners’ Attention East Asians’ Attention

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(Masuda, Gonzalez, Kwan, & Nisbett; under review) Culture and Attention: Comparing East Asians’ and Westeners’ Esthetics East Asian fine arts in general emphasize the object as well as its Context. For example, the East Asian perspective includes: *The bird’s eye technique *The scroll technique *The concept of ‘Space’ Western fine arts in general emphasize the objects by themselves. For example, the Western perspective and portraits includes: *Drawing close objects large and far objects small. *Stabilizing the viewer’s stand point. *Utilizing the rule of covertures. *Excluding or darkening backgrounds

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Western Perspectives East Asian Perspectives Foreground-------------------------Background Flattening Bird’s eye Horizon Horizon The size of objects 3D 2D DV1: The Location of Horizon in Scenery Pictures

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Western Portraits Foreground---------------------------Background Depth of Field East Asian Portraits Foreground---------------------------Background DV2: The ratio of face/The entire frame

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Metropolitan Museum, NY, USA Landscape = 365 Portraits = 210 People = 110 National Museum in Tokyo, Kyoto, Taiwan, and Korea Landscape = 218 Portraits = 151 People = 291 (Masuda, Gonzalez, Kwan, & Nisbett; in preparation) Comparing East Asians’ and Westeners’ Esthetics Study 1: Research on World’s Masterpieces

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Example 1: American, female Comparing East Asians’ and Westeners’ Esthetics Study 2: Research on Students’ Drawings

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Example 2: East Asian (Hong Kong), female Comparing East Asians’ and Westeners’ Esthetics Study 2: Research on Students’ Drawings

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Comparing East Asians’ and Westeners’ Esthetics Study 3: Research on Students’ Portraits (Masuda, Gonzalez, Kwan, & Nisbett; in preparation) Drawings Drawings The # of additional objects (%) The Location of the horizon (%)

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American Examples Culture and Esthetic Preference: Study 3: Research on Students’ Portraits

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East Asian Examples Culture and Esthetic Preference: Study 3: Research on Students’ Portraits

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The ratio of the face to the frame (%) Laboratory Sitting Model Laboratory Standing Model Americans East Asians Atrium Sitting Model Atrium Standing Model Culture and Esthetic Preference: Study 3: Research on Students’ Portraits (Masuda, Gonzalez, Kwan, & Nisbett; in preparation)

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Overall, the location of horizon drawn by East Asian artists was significantly higher than those drawn by Western artists. In addition, the ratio of the face against the entire frame in East Asian paintings was significantly smaller than those in Western paintings. The results of the picture-drawing task and picture-taking task replicated the findings of the national masterpiece study. It suggests that even contemporary members of East Asian and Western cultures hold their traditional ways of capturing images. Culture and Attention: Comparing East Asians’ and Westeners’ Esthetics Summary

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Cultural Variations in Attention: Summary

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Collaborators Culture & Cognition Richard E. Nisbett, University of Michigan Shinobu Kitayama, University of Michigan Culture & Emotion Phoebe Ellsworth, University of Michigan Batja Mesquita, Wake Forest University Culture & Esthetics Richard Gonzalez, University of Michigan Richard E. Nisbett, University of Michigan Special Thanks: The Center of Cultural and Ecological Foundation of the Mind, Hokkaido University, Japan

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Thank you

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