How Individualistic and Collectivistic Cultural Values Influence Our Decision Making Along Cognitive Spectrum: A Cognitive Neuroscience and fMRII Study

  • Liu, Ho-Ling (PI)
  • Huang, Chih Mao (CoPI)
  • Huang, Hsu Wen (CoPI)
  • Wu, Chien Te (CoPI)

Project: National Science and Technology CouncilNational Science and Technology Council Academic Grants

Project Details


The burgeoning field of cultural psychology and anthropology has provided innumerable demonstrations that there are subtle differences in the way individuals process information that appears to be a product of culture-related experiences. There is a well-developed literature suggesting that systematic differences can be observed between so-called independent/individualistic culture (hypothesized to be predominant in Western cultures such as America) and interdependent/collectivistic culture (hypothesized to be predominant in East Asian cultures including Japan, Korea and China) in attention, perception, memory, social judgment, and reasoning. Several behavioral studies have showed an analytic-holistic dichotomy in processing styles between Westerner and East Asian cultures, with the observation that Westerners have a tendency to process focal and discrete attributes of the environment (i.e., analytic cognitive processing style), whereas East Asians are more sensitive to contextual information (i.e., holistic cognitive processing style) than Westerners. However, there is a small functional neuroimaging literature thus far that has developed to examine the culture-related differences in neural function associated with analytic-holistic dichotomy in cognitive processing style. In this proposed project, we investigate the neural basis of culture-related differences in a variety of cognitive tasks, focusing on analytic-holistic dichotomy in processing styles between Western and East Asian cultures, by conducting three cross-cultural fMRI experiments. We will manipulate the effort required to process different types of cognitive tasks to examine how culture-related differences in the engagement of cognitive style impact the ways of perceptual decision making, visual spatial attention, and episodic memory retrieval. More importantly, we define individuals’ cultural values based on participants’ self-report on the Schwartz Value Survey (SVS; Schwartz, 1992) and the Self-Construal Scale (SCS, Singelis, 1994). There are three specific aims in this proposed project: (1) to examine whether cognition of perceptual decision making, visual spatial attention, and memory retrieval are shaped by different cognitive processing styles (i.e., analytic and holistic cognitive style for Westerns and East Asians, respectively), (2) to investigate the common and distinct neural correlates of decision making, spatial attention and as well as memory across cultural groups, and (3) to explore the neural impact of culture-related experiences (indexed as individual/independent vs. collectivistic/interdependent cultural values) on individual differences in cognitive processing styles. Toward the end of this project, bottlenecks in information processing and culture-specific cognitive styles to alleviate these limitations will be identified, and the candidate information processing mechanisms that can be made more efficient with augmented cognition will be suggested.

Project IDs

Project ID:PF10301-0112
External Project ID:MOST103-2420-H182-002-MY2
Effective start/end date01/01/1431/12/14


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