Monolithic Western Mind? Effect of Fear of Isolation on Context Sensitivity in us Americans, Italians and Chinese

in Journal of Cognition and Culture
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


Culture influences what we attend to, encode, remember and think about. Easterners are said to attend more to the relationship between focal objects and their context while Westerners disentangle focal objects from their context. Simply put, Easterners process information holistically and Westerners analytically. Psychosocial factors, like Fear of Isolation, have been proposed as a possible mechanism for cultural differences in terms of information processing. While East vs. West cultural differences are well researched, the monolithic notion that all Westerners process information analytically was questioned in the research presented below. In this paper, we present a study conducted with two Western cultures (Italian and us American) and one Eastern (Chinese) where we induced the chronic psychosocial factor: Fear of Isolation (foi), and measured its influence on information processing. We found that Italian participants processed information more holistically than us Americans, and that Italians were more similar to Chinese than us Americans.



BaumeisterR. F.LearyM. R. The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation Psychological Bulletin 1995 117 497 529

BrislinR. W. Back-translation for cross-cultural research Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 1970 1 185 216

ChoiI.NisbettR. E. Cultural psychology of surprise: Holistic theories and recognition of contradiction Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2000 79 890 905

CrossS. E.GoreJ. S.MorrisM. L. The relational-interdependent self-construal, self-concept consistency, and well-being Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2003 85 933 944

FedericiS.StellaA.DennisJ. L.HündsfeltT. West vs. West like East vs. West? A comparison between Italian and us American context sensitivity and Fear of Isolation Cognitive Processing 2011 12 203 208

GardnerW. L.GabrielS.LeeA. Y. “I” value freedom, but “we” value relationships: Self-construal priming mirrors cultural differences in judgment Psychological Science 1999 10 321 325

HaberstrohS.OysermanD.SchwarzN.KühnenU.JiL.-J. Is the interdependent self more sensitive to question context than the independent self? Self-construal and observation of conversational norms Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 2002 38 323 329

HenrichJ.HeineS. J.NorenzayanA. The weirdest people in the world? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 2010 33 61 135

JiL.-J.PengK.NisbettR. E. Culture, control, and perception of relationships in the environment Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2000 78 943 955

JiL.-J.ZhangZ.NisbettR. E. Is it culture, or is it language? Examination of langauge effects in cross-cultural research on categorization Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2004 87 57 65

KimK.MarkmanA. B. Differences in Fear of Isolation as an explanation of Cultural Differences: Evidence from memory and reasoning Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 2006 42 350 364

KimK.NarvaezL.MarkmanA. B. Self-construal and the processing of covariation information in causal reasoning 2006 University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX

KitayamaS.DuffyS.KawamuraT.LarsenJ. T. Perceiving an object and its context in different cultures: A cultural look at New Look Psychological Science 2003 14 201 206

KitayamaS.IshiiK.ImadaT.TakemuraK.RamaswamyJ. Voluntary settlement and the spirit of independence: Evidence from Japan’s “Northern Frontier” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2006 91 359 384

KitayamaS.ParkH.SevincerA. T.KarasawaM.UskulA. K. A cultural task analysis of implicit independence: Comparing North America, Western Europe, and East Asia Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2009 97 236 255

KnightN.NisbettR. E. Culture, class and cognition: Evidence from Italy Journal of Cognition and Culture 2007 7 283 291

KühnenU.HannoverB.SchubertB. The semantic-procedural interface model of the self: The role of self-knowledge for context-dependent versus contextindependent modes of thinking Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2001 80 397 409

KühnenU.OysermanD. Thinking about the self influences thinking in general: Cognitive consequences of salient self-concept Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 2002 38 492 499

MarkusH. R.KitayamaS. Cultures and selves: A cycle of mutual constitution Psychological Science 2010 5 420 430

MasudaT.NisbettR. E. Attending holistically versus analytically: Comparing the context sensitivity of Japanese and Americans Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2001 81 922 934

MasudaT.NisbettR. E. Culture and change blindness Cognitive Science 2006 30 381 399

NaJ.GrossmannI.VarnumM. E. W.KitayamaS.GonzalezR.NisbettR. E. Cultural differences are not always reducible to individual differences Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2010 107 6192 6197

NisbettR. E. The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently . . . and Why 2004 Free Press New York, NY

NisbettR. E.PengK.ChoiI.NorenzayanA. Culture and systems of thought: Holistic versus analytic cognition Psychological Review 2001 108 291 310

Noelle-NeumannE. The Spiral of Silence: A Theory of Public Opinion Journal of Communication 1974 24 43 51

OkazakiS. Sources of ethnic differences between Asian American and White American college students on measures of depression and social anxiety Journal of Abnormal Psychology 1997 106 52 60

OysermanD.LeeS. W. S. Does culture influence what and how we think? Effects of priming individualism and collectivism Psychological Bulletin 2008 134 311 342

RensinkR. A.O’ReganJ. K.ClarkJ. J. To see or not to see: The need for attention to perceive changes in scenes Psychological Science 1997 8 368 373

SimonsD. J.LevinD. T. Change blindness Trends in Cognitive Science 1997 1 261 267

SingelisT. M. The measurement of independent and interdependent selfconstruals Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 1994 20 580 591

SpectorP. E.SanchezJ. I.SiuO. L.SalgadoJ.MaJ. Eastern versus western control beliefs at work: An investigation of secondary control, socioinstrumental control, and work locus of control in China and the us Applied Psychology 2004 53 38 60

UskulA. K.KitayamaS.NisbettR. E. Ecocultural basis of cognition: Farmers and fisherman are more holistic than herders Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2008 105 8552 8556

VarnumM. E. W.GrossmanI.KitayamaS.NisbettR. E. The origin of cultural difference in cognition: The social orientation hypothesis Current Directions in Psychological Science 2010 19 9 13

WatsonD.FriendR. Measurement of social evaluative anxiety Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 1969 33 448 457

WitkinH. A.LewisH. B.HertzmanM.MachoverK.MeissnerP. B.WapnerS. Personality through perception: An experimental and clinical study 1954 HarperCollins New York, NY



Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 16 16 8
Full Text Views 5 5 5
PDF Downloads 0 0 0
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0