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, May 23, 2012


The Loss of the Body in the Eye of the Other

The Eye of the Other and the Loss of the Body by timtak
The Eye of the Other and the Loss of the Body, a photo by timtak on Flickr.
Recently, Ma-Kellams, Blascovich, & McCall, (2012) have demonstrated that East Asians are less in touch with their bodies, less aware of their bodies, than Americans. What of the vaunted embodiment (Kasulis & Ames, 1992) of the Asian Self?

There is something about Hiroko, and other Japanese girls, that shows they can see very well (contra Mary, see Jackson, 1986). Hiroko above can see so well she can even see herself.

Japanese ladies looks doll-like (Gerbert, 2001), perfect, presented, visio-dramatologically, because, I claim, they are continually presenting themselves to the Eye-of-the-Other: the generalised visual other than they simulate, that looks with them (Kitayama, 2005) in their minds.

You can always spot Japanese people, even abroad in Asian, especially Japanese ladies due to this oh 'so perfect' self-presentation.

While the Japanese could not care a hoot about how their self-narrative is heard (Heine, Lehman, Markus, & Kitayama, 1999), they care oh so much about how they appear. The above photo was one kindly taken in the research my auto-photography (Takememo ne Leuers & Sonoda, 1999) which demonstrated that Japanese auto-photography is as positive as the self-narratives and self-descriptions of Americans. Permanently in a height state of objective self awareness, this subject is always presenting her self, as if she is on strings. (This subject's name is not really "Hiroko" and I have blurred her face).

Back to the research of Ma-Kellams, Blascovich, & McCall (2012). They found that Japanese were more easily deceived as to bodily information; when misinformed that their heart rate had changed (raced) they changed their perceptions of stimuli whereas Americans did not. Japanese were more likely to mis-attribute arousal and think a confederate sexy in a virtual version of the classic scary "rope bridge" (Dutton & Aron, 1974) type situation. Japanese were also less accurate at estimating their own heart rate.

Furthermore this insensitivity to the body of correlated with the "contextual" (read visual?) ability found among Asians summarised in my last blog post.

In other words, the better Asians are at judging the relative lengths of rods in frames, the worse they are at being aware of the inside of their own body. Ma-Kellams, Blascovich, & McCall (2012) claim that East Asians are being distracted by contextual information that they are processing.

I believe however, that they are aware of their bodies in their self-directed, autoscopic gaze and it is this that interferes with their "visceral perception" of internal bodily events. This explanation contradicts research that suggests that increased objective self awareness in front of mirrors reduces the placebo effect (Gibbons, Carver, Scheier, & Hormuth, 1979; Gibbons & Gaeddert, 1984), but this may be due to an excesss of OSA, or depending on the supposed effect of the placebo.

I think that there may be exceptions to the findings in that the Japanese may be hyper sensitive to bodily changes that present themselves visually, such as blushing, sweating and appearing overweight.

Dutton, D. G., & Aron, A. P. (1974). Some evidence for heightened sexual attraction under conditions of high anxiety. Journal of personality and social psychology, 30(4), 510.
Gibbons, F. X., & Gaeddert, W. P. (1984). Focus of attention and placebo utility. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 20(2), 159–176. doi:10.1016/0022-1031(84)90018-0
Gibbons, F. X., Carver, C. S., Scheier, M. F., & Hormuth, S. E. (1979). Self-focused attention and the placebo effect: Fooling some of the people some of the time. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 15(3), 263–274. doi:10.1016/0022-1031(79)90037-4
Gerbert, E. (2001). Dolls in Japan. The Journal of Popular Culture, 35(3), 59–89. doi:10.1111/j.0022-3840.2001.3503_59.x
Jackson, F. (1986). What Mary didn’t know. The Journal of Philosophy, 83(5), 291–295. Retrieved from http://www.philosophicalturn.net/intro/Consciousness/Jackson_Mary_Know.pdf
Kasulis, T. P., & Ames, R. T. (1992). Self As Body in Asian Theory and Practice. (W. Dissanayake, Ed.). State Univ of New York Pr.
Kitayama, O. 北山修. (2005). 共視論. 講談社.
Leuers, T., & Sonoda, N. (1999). 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.
Ma-Kellams, C., Blascovich, J., & McCall, C. (2012). Culture and the body: East–West differences in visceral perception. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(4), 718–728. doi:10.1037/a0027010

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