VII. Our Earthuman Ascent: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality
4. A Complementarity of Civilizations: East and West is Best
Keller, Heidi, et al. Concepts of Mother-Infant Interaction in Greece and Germany. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. 34/6, 2003. In Germany, considered in this study as socioculturally oriented to independence and autonomy, mothers were found to act with contingent behavior toward their babies, while for Greece, an example of an interdependent society which values relatedness, more interpersonal warmth was observed.
Kessler, Klaus, et al. A Cross-Culture, Cross-Gender Comparison of Perspective Taking Mechanisms. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 281/20140388, 2014. University of Glasgow and Aston University, UK, psychologists measure personal aptitudes for self-other visual perceptions as another a way to assess East Asian or Western, feminine or masculine archetypes. Again an Oriental milieu favors interdependent (We) values and high social skills, while for the West an individualist bias (me) rules. Gender roles follow in kind with women as sensitive “empathizers” and men as more prone to snap judgments.
Being able to judge another person's visuo-spatial perspective is an essential social skill, hence we investigated the generalizability of the involved mechanisms across cultures and genders. Developmental, cross-species, and our own previous research suggest that two different forms of perspective taking can be distinguished, which are subserved by two distinct mechanisms. The simpler form relies on inferring another's line-of-sight, whereas the more complex form depends on embodied transformation into the other's orientation in form of a simulated body rotation. Our current results….confirmed the hypothesis that Westerners show an egocentric bias, whereas EAs reveal an other-oriented bias. Furthermore, Westerners were slower overall than EAs and showed stronger gender differences in speed and depth of embodied processing. Our findings substantiate differences and communalities in social cognition mechanisms across genders and two cultures and suggest that cultural evolution or transmission should take gender as a modulating variable into account. (Abstract)
Kim, Uichol, et al, eds. Indigenous and Cultural Psychology. New York: Springer, 2006. An extensive volume with an Asian emphasis that seeks to broaden our western individual focus to include complementary understandings of people in their own societal context.
Kimmerle, Heinz. The Concept of Person in African Thought: A Dialogue Between African and Western Philosophies. Wautischer, Helmut, ed. Ontology of Consciousness: Percipient Action. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008. An emeritus Erasmus University (Rotterdam) philosopher first notes the ‘We’ or ‘I’ contrast often cited between Africa and the West (North). Although broadly applicable, a more fitting appreciation would be an African penchant for a mutuality of person and community, in academic terms a ‘moderate communitarianism.’ With regard to cerebral hemispheres, if one may add, the male brain emphasizes the left, object out of context, mode. The female brain, however, does not favor the right, holistic field view, but as much neuroscience confirms, a balance of both sides. And such a complementarity is just what the premier African philosopher Leopold Senghor recommends (search herein). Compare also with James Maffie’s paper on Mexican wisdom in the same volume.
Kitayama, Shinobu and Dov Cohen, eds. Handbook of Cultural Psychology. New York: Guilford Press, 2007. A representative volume of 36 papers by authorities such as Helen Markus and Harry Triandis which centers on the local and global appreciation of personal and social behaviors by their degrees of an independent or collective complementarity. A typical, insightful contribution would be “Perception and Cognition” by Ara Norenzayan, Incheol Choi and Kaiping Peng.
Kiyokawa, Sachiko, et al. Cross Cultural Differences in Unconscious Knowledge. Cognition. 124/1, 2012. With coauthors Zoltán Dienes, Daisuke Tanaka, Ayumi Yamada, and Louise Crowe, psychologists from Japan and England quantify how the now accepted complementary East and West holistic or analytic, context or character predilections, are in prior play even during unaware or pre-conscious cognitive processes.
Previous studies have indicated cross cultural differences in conscious processes, such that Asians have a global preference and Westerners a more analytical one. We investigated whether these biases also apply to unconscious knowledge. In Experiment 1, Japanese and UK participants memorized strings of large (global) letters made out of small (local) letters. The strings constituted one sequence of letters at a global level and a different sequence at a local level. Implicit learning occurred at the global and not the local level for the Japanese but equally at both levels for the English. In Experiment 2, the Japanese preference for global over local processing persisted even when structure existed only at the local but not global level. In sum, we show for the first time that cultural biases strongly affect the type of unconscious knowledge people acquire. (Abstract)
Kuhnen, Ulrich and Marieke van Egmond. Learning: A Cultural Construct. Proust, Joelle and Martin Fortier, eds. Metacognitive Diversity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. In this volume about how worldwide knowledge-gaining endeavors need to factor in cultural differences, Jacobs University, Bremen and University of Hagen, Germany psychologists include a strong case for an archetypal individual/society, object only/contextual field, isolate parts/relational harmony complementarity as it distinguishes western American and eastern Chinese mindsets, especially with regard to children’s education. Along with Iain McGilchrist 2018 (search), in our midst can be found the clearest evidence of left/right global hemispheres, a true bicameral sapiensphere. (And once again, Natural Genesis is founded on the premise that this planetary progeny is then proceeding to learn on her/his own.)
Lao, Junpeng, et al. Culture Modulates the Temporal Dynamics of Global/Local Processing. Culture and Brain. 1/2-4, 2013. University of Fribourg, Switzerland psychologists accomplish one of the first direct associations of a person’s neural hemispheric proclivity with their abiding social milieu. Once again East and West are seen to reside in an archetypal holistic We or a particulate me modes. See the 2014 paper Cultural Differences in Human Brain Activity by Shihui Han and Yina Ma in Neuroimage (99/293) for a further deep verification.
Cultural differences in the way individuals from Western Caucasian (WC) and East Asian (EA) societies perceive and attend to visual information have been consistently reported in recent years. WC observers favor and perceive most efficiently the salient, local visual information by directing attention to focal objects. In contrast, EA observers show a bias towards global information, by preferentially attending elements in the background. However, the underlying neural mechanisms and the temporal dynamics of this striking cultural contrast have yet to be clarified. A robust data-driven spatio-temporal analysis revealed at 80 ms a significant interaction between the culture of the observers and shape adaptation. EA observers showed sensitivity to global congruency on the attentional P1 component, whereas WC observers showed discrimination for global shapes at later stages. Our data revealed an early sensitivity to global and local shape categorization, which is modulated by culture. This neural tuning could underlie more complex behavioral differences observed across human populations. (Abstract excerpt)
Laungani, Pitto. Understanding Cross-Cultural Psychology. London: Sage Publishing, 2007. A scholar versed in both societies of his home country India, and adopted England, indeed endorses the broad east/west contrasts of individualism or communalism, cognitivism or emotionalism, free will or determinism, materialism or spiritualism. However, these real categories are not to be seen polar opposites but to hold along a continuum of emphasis.
Li, Peggy and Linda Abarbanell. Competing Perspectives on Frames of Reference in Language and Thought. Cognition. 170/9, 2018. Harvard University and San Diego State University research psychologists (Arbabanell has a 2010 Harvard PhD) pursue their project to distill and clarify relations between a person’s native speech and their process mode of thought. This persistent task is traced to Benjamin Lee Whorf in the 1940s, since there really do seem to have a deep affinity. In this study, Dutch children are seen to have an individual “egocentric” emphasis, while Tseltal Mayan youngsters abide within a contextual “geocentric” perspective.
Markus, Helen, et al. Selfways: Diversity in Modes of Cultural Participation. Ulric Neisser and David Jopling, eds. The Conceptual Self in Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. The makeup of selfhood broadly divides into autonomous individuality or relational connectivity which align with Western or Eastern cultures. The emphasis is on Japanese and European-Americans, but Korean, Chinese, and African societies are also found to incline to group values.
Mascolo, Michael and Jin Li, eds. Culture and Developing Selves: Beyond Dichotomization. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development. No. 104, 2004. A special issue of six articles on this subject. Although an Individualism-Collectivism polarity is recognized as a valid framework, in each case an element of the other quality is usually present. For example, for collective India or the individualist United States, “deep interiority and social relatedness coexist in different ways in each culture.” One might note this is just what a Yin and Yang complementarity teaches.