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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.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Hand Size Estimates in Schizophrenic and Healthy Japanese

Hand Size Estimates in Schizophrenic and Healthy Japanese by timtak
Hand Size Estimates in Schizophrenic and Healthy Japanese, a photo by timtak on Flickr.
With Gishin Imamura, I did a study (Takemoto and Imamura, 2001) comparing self body views of Japanese and Japanese schizophrenics which we presented at a regional psychology conference just over 10 years ago.

In the experiment we showed both groups a picture of a hand and asked them to zoom in or zoom out until the picture is the same as actual size. We found, contra previous research which find that schizophrenics have unrealistic self body views, that Japanese schizophrenics were more accurate than "healthy" Japanese people who consistently underestimated the size of their hands, as if subjective first person body views were affecting their size estimates.

This goes against my theory of Japanese culture; that the Japanese are particularly good at seeing themselves from a third person view having a visual generalised other (Heine, et al. 2008; Masuda, T., Gonzalez, R., Kwan, L., & Nisbett, R. E. 2008). Or does it?!

Westerners are good at seeing themselves from a third person linguistic perspective describing themselves in the same way irrespective of who they are talking to (Kanagawa, Cross & Markus, 2001) having a *linguistic* "super addressee" (Bakhtin, 1986. p126) or *linguistic* generalised other (Mead, 1967), unlike the Japanese for who lack a linguistic third person perspective on the self, and whom the first person is a "you for you" (Mori, 1999). According to our analysis, (Leuers and Sonoda, 1999b) Japanese, but not Canadian, even self-descriptions given in response to a paper based Twenty Statements Test showed "dialogical markers" suggesting that Japanese were describing themselves to imagined real others even when no other was present.

At the same time, despite this generalised view of self, Westerners and not Japanese are the ones to bend their self view to suit themselves - that is to say to present themselves linguistically in an unrealistically positive light (Heine, Lehman, Markus and Kitayama, 1999). Similarly it is Japanese and not Westerners that present themselves photographically in an unrealistic light ({Takemoto ne} Leuers and Sonoda, 1999a: see Heine, 2011, p?)

Having a generalised other in a certain media provides an objective view of the self but it is from the point of view of an other with which one identifies, is self-simulated or that loves the self. Thus, paradoxically, the presence of a "generalised other" (Mead, 1967) super addressee (Bakhtin, 1986. p126) , or third person perspective (Mori, 1999) can result in the most self-serving, subjective self-cognitions. And that may be what we are seeing here in the above experimental results. Perhaps.

Addendum (No the Opposite!?)
The healthy subjects are only worse than the SC (schizophrenic) subjects when the image was two metres from the eyes. At 30 cm (a typical distance when looking at ones hands) their was no difference between the two groups. One never normally sees ones hands at a distance of two metres. We asked subjects to make the images on the screen actual size (so that when they put their hand on the screen their hand would be the same size as the image). Healthy subjects made their hands consistently smaller.

On second thoughts I don't see how this can be attributed to the influence of a subjective, auto-genus, first person view since that view never exists of hands at 2m, and would tend to make hands larger since they always appear larger since they are always within 1m.

I did not need to invoke the tortuous paradox mentioned above. The paradox does exist. Both Americans in language, and Japanese in vision, do self-enhance even though they have an objective viewpoint on self. But I think that the paradox only comes into play when there is a difference in value. Americans enhance, linguistically, but they also strive for consistency, to be objective whereas Japanese do not.

But why are the Japanese seeing their hand smaller than it really is when 2m away? Do they have a view of themselves from a long way away (like the eye in the sky found by Masuda et. al)? I am confused.

Bibliography created using Zotero
Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. (V. W. McGee, Trans.) (Second Printing.). University of Texas Press.
Cohen, D., & Gunz, A. (2002). As seen by the other...: perspectives on the self in the memories and emotional perceptions of Easterners and Westerners. Psychological Science, 13(1), 55–59.
Cohen, D., Hoshino-Browne, E., & Leung, A. K. (2007). Culture and the structure of personal experience: Insider and outsider phenomenologies of the self and social world. Advances in experimental social psychology, 39, 1–67.
Kanagawa, C., Cross, S. E., & Markus, H. R. (2001). ‘Who am I?’ The cultural psychology of the conceptual self. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(1), 90–103.
Heine, S. J., Takemoto, T., Moskalenko, S., Lasaleta, J., & Henrich, J. (2008). Mirrors in the head: Cultural variation in objective self-awareness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(7), 879–887. http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~henrich/Website/Papers/Mirrors-pspb4%5B1%5D.pdf
Heine, S., Lehman, D., Markus, H., & Kitayama, S. (1999). Is there a universal need for positive self-regard?. Psychological review.
Heine, S. J. (2011). Cultural Psychology (Second ed.). W. W. Norton & Company.
{Takemoto ne} Leuers, T., & Sonoda, N. (1999a). The eye of the other and the independent self of the Japanese. Symposium presentation at the 3rd Conference of the Asian Association of Social Psychology, Taipei, Taiwan.
Leuers, T. R. S., & Sonoda, N. (1999b). Independent self bias. Progress in asian social psychology, 3, 87–104.
Masuda, T., Gonzalez, R., Kwan, L., & Nisbett, R. E. (2008). Culture and aesthetic preference: comparing the attention to context of East Asians and Americans. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(9), 1260–1275.
Mead, G. H. (1967). Mind, self, and society: From the standpoint of a social behaviorist (Vol. 1). The University of Chicago Press.
Mori, A. 森有正. (1999). 森有正エッセー集成〈5〉. 筑摩書房.
武本Timothy and 今村義臣(2001)"分裂病患者の身体像:身体の末梢部位と物体の 大きさの恒常性" 九州社会心理学会,佐賀大学

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