J a p a n e s e    C u l t u r e

Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Vuvuzela Advantage for Asia at FIFA WC 2010

Vuvuzela image copyright Dr. ZVLV.

Complaints about noise of the vuvuzela horns popular with South African soccer fans have been reported by the presss since the start of the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Various top players, such as Ronaldo and Messi, and coaches from European and South American teams have stated that they believe the deafening roar of the Vuvuezellas adversely effects their concentration.

But Japan (vs. Cameroon) and North Korea (vs. Brazil) have been playing very well.

According to Heejung Kim's ground breaking research on the relationship between culture, language and thought (2002 see pdf online), "atriculatory supression," or the suppression of human ability to think in phonetic language, has a greater impact on Eurpean Americans than it does upon Asian Americans. Kim claims that Europeans and their decendents have a stronger tendency to think, solve problems, and express themselves in phonetic language than Asians.

Comparing European American and Asian American performance on a problem solving task it was found that:

1) Making subjects talk about the task increased European performance but decreased Asian peformance (in the former case since talking stimulates Europeans' thinking, in the latter case because Asians were effectively being asked to perform two tasks at once)

2) Making subjects repeat the letters of the alphabet, effectively suppressing their ability to think in phonemes, had only a small negative effect upon Asians, but greately decreased (by about 20% more) Europeans' problem solving ability.

It is therefore unsurprising that the deafening roar of Vuvuzela at the 2010 FIFA world cup should adversely affect the concentration of European and South American teams. The surprising thing for some may be that the non-Western (non phono-logocentric) teams may not be adversely effected, or may even play better, concentrate more as a result of the roar.

Repeating the alphabet results a cognative load. The Vuvuzelas on the other hand have the effect of silencing the voice of the mind so I am predicting shockingly good results for Japanese, Korean and North Korean teams.

My advice to European and American teams is, wear ear plugs. The inability to communicate with team members is going to be less importantant than the inability to think.

Graph Copyright Kim, H. S. (2002). We talk, therefore we think? A cultural analysis of the effect of talking on thinking. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 828-842.

This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.