Effects of culture on cognitive development

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Effects of culture on cognitive development

Abstract Growing evidence indicates a suite of generalized differences in the attentional and cognitive processing of adults from Eastern and Western cultures.


Cognition in Eastern adults is often more relational and in Western adults is more object focused. Three experiments examined whether these differences characterize the cognition of preschool children in the two cultures.

Rich objects, consistent with past research, strongly limited the performance of U.

Effects of culture on cognitive development

In Experiment 2, U. This double-dissociation is discussed in terms of implications for different developmental trajectories, with different developmental subtasks in the two cultures.


Culture, Attention, Object perception, Relation, Development, Visual search Introduction Classic theories presume that development—at least in its broad strokes—is universal across cultures. The developmental origins and timing of these differences is clearly important to understanding the role of culture in cognition and to understanding the developmental process more generally e.

The Japanese participants described the central fish in relation to peripheral components e. This difference between more individual object focused attention in Westerners and more relational attention in Easterners has been documented in a variety of tasks, including perceptual, social, and reasoning tasks Chua et al.

Some findings suggest that cultural differences in perceptual and cognitive tasks begin early. In a task asking children to match facial expressions to emotions, 4-year-old Japanese preschoolers were influenced by the context happy or scary eventwhereas U. Finally, in a recent study particularly relevant to the current one, Richland and colleagues reported that 4-year-olds in Hong Kong were better able than U.

In brief, although the number of studies with young children is as yet limited, they consistently point to cross-cultural differences in preschoolers that are like those in adults in implicating a Western cognitive system biased toward decontextualized objects versus an Eastern system biased toward objects in relation to context.

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Studies testing this proposal have shown better relational reasoning when object properties correlate with the relations, that relational reasoning by preschoolers falters when object similarities are pitted against relational similarity, and that preschoolers have greater success in finding the relational structure when objects are simple and abstract than when they are rich and perceptually interesting in their own right e.

However, sensitivity to relational structure is not the only cognitive skill developing during the preschool period.

Effects of culture on cognitive development

What is the relation between developing skills in selective attention to objects and sensitivity to relational structure, and do they differ across cultures? Furthermore, if, as Gentner hypothesized, these two developing skills sometimes compete with each other, then cross-cultural differences might be most evident in relational tasks with salient individual objects and in object judgment tasks with salient but irrelevant relational contexts.

Before turning to the experiments, we provide background on the specific relational and object-focused tasks used in the experiments. This task is easier than many of the other versions—giving children an opportunity to show their emerging ability to match relations—because there is only one possible correct response: The relational match choice matches in its relational structure, the foil does not match at all, and the two choices differ only in relational structure.

Although Western preschoolers do relatively well in this task with simple abstract objects, their performances suffer when the elements in these arrays are rich detailed objects cf.

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Children also perform better when the relevant relation is more concrete than when it is abstract cf.Quann and Wien (, 28) suggest that one way to support the development of empathy in young children is to create a culture of caring in the early childhood environment: “Helping children understand the feelings of others is an integral aspect of the curriculum of living together.

Cognitive Development. ; – Rattermann MJ, Gentner D, DeLoache J. Proceedings of the Twelfth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum; The effects of familiar labels on young children’s performance in an analogical mapping task; pp.

22– Richland LE, Chan TK, Morrison RG, Au TKF. My paper focuses on culture and its effects on cognition. The areas I have focused on were, family, language, emotions, and socialization.

Each of these areas seems to have a great impact on the development of a child's cognition. Proposed that cognitive development occurs in situations where a child’s problem solving is guided by an adult.

Cognitive development progresses through the collaborations of members of one generation with another.

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Cognitive development is embedded within culture. Cognitive development -- the brain's development -- often is associated with intellectual capacities, but also includes memory and sensory development.

Though many parents are interested in the way genetics affects their infants, environment strongly affects a child's cognitive development.

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(PDF) Interrelations of language and cognitive development