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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2001 Nov;81(5):922-34.

Attending holistically versus analytically: comparing the context sensitivity of Japanese and Americans.

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Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-1109, USA.


Much research indicates that East Asians, more than Americans, explain events with reference to the context. The authors examined whether East Asians also attend to the context more than Americans do. In Study 1, Japanese and Americans watched animated vignettes of underwater scenes and reported the contents. In a subsequent recognition test, they were shown previously seen objects as well as new objects, either in their original setting or in novel settings, and then were asked to judge whether they had seen the objects. Study 2 replicated the recognition task using photographs of wildlife. The results showed that the Japanese (a) made more statements about contextual information and relationships than Americans did and (b) recognized previously seen objects more accurately when they saw them in their original settings rather than in the novel settings, whereas this manipulation had relatively little effect on Americans.

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