John L. Dennis, Stefano Federici, Aldo Stella and Thomas Hünefeldt

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.