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.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Look at these Faces to Turn Japanese

Look at these Faces to Turn Japanese by timtak
Look at these Faces to Turn Japanese, a photo by timtak on Flickr.
As previously mentioned, Ishii's (Ishii, Reyes, & Kitayama, 2003) research has demonstrated that Japanese pay more attention to tone of voice rather than verbal, linguistic message than Americans. Ishii and colleagues played conflicted verbal / vocal-tone words to US and Japanese and found that Americans reacted faster to the verbal message, whereas Japanese reacted faster to the tones.

Hence, if you tell a Japanese person that you are "happy", in a sad tone of voice, they are more likely to think you are in fact sad, whereas an American is more likely to believe that you are "happy". The Japanese use empathy or "sasshi" (Doi, 2002) to read people's faces and tone of voice and often ignore language as social pleasantry, or phatic communication.

More recently, Ishii (2011) has found that looking at schematic faces, like those pictured above encourages both Japanese and American's to focus more on tone of voice and less upon linguistic content. Faces bring us out of the world of language, into the world of sight and hearing. It is in this facial world where the Japanese usually live.

This contrasts with Oyserman's priming research (e.g. Kühnen & Oyserman, 2002) which finds that the most effective way of encouraging people to see the world in a more Western way is have them circle the pronoun "I".

As previously argued, "I" is to Westerners what face is to Japan.

Doi, T. (2002). The Anatomy of Dependence. Kodansha USA.
Ishii, K., Reyes, J. A., & Kitayama, S. (2003). Spontaneous Attention to Word Content Versus Emotional Tone. Psychological Science, 39–46. Retrieved from php.scripts.psu.edu/users/n/x/nxy906/COMPS/indivdualisman...
Keiko, I. (2011). Mere Exposure to Faces Increases Attention to Vocal Affect : A Cross-Cultural Investigation. 認知科学 = Cognitive studies : bulletin of the Japanese Cognitive Science Society, 18(3), 453–461. Retrieved from ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/10029590461
Kühnen, U., & Oyserman, D. (2002). Thinking about the self influences thinking in general: Cognitive consequences of salient self-concept. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 38(5), 492–499.

Do the faces look a little like their author?

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