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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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Will Jim be Helpful?

Will Jim be Helpful?

Choi, Nisbett, and Norenzayan (1999) that when Americans and Korean's were asked whether an individual, "Jim", would help a stranger in the situation where Jim either has plenty of money in his pocket, or where Jim has money only enough for his own fare and an important meeting to go to, the Koreans were found to be more influenced by the situation as in the above graph (based upon Choi, Nisbett, & Norenzayan, 1999, fig. 1. p. 52). It is argued that Asians are more contextual basing their decisions, and predictions of other's decisions, upon the context of the action rather than the character of the individual.

The experimental evidence is persuasive, and it fits in with stereotypes of East Asian "collectivists", lacking gumption, blown by the winds of societal, and contextual pressure.

At the same time, there is something wrong with this picture. Firstly I find that Koreans and Japanese are notably helpful, and non violent, to strangers across situations rather than showing behavioural swings, the helpful to mean, as shown in the graph above.

I suspect that there is another reason why the Koreans are being more "context" sensitive and that is that they are given no information about Jim other than his name. If the Koreans were given an equal amount of information regarding Jim, such as "Jim is a suited 25 year old business man working for a provincial bank", say, then the they would have been no more swayed by the context than the Americans because they, like the Japanese, base their decisions upon what they can imagine, animating the visio-imaginable rather than the phoneme "Jim".

In support of this hypothesis in other research it was found that when given a little more information ‘‘Kate (Yumiko in Japanese) age 20, is a student at your university," (Hamamura, Heine, & Takemoto, 2007, p.250) was given to Japanese and Canadian students, it was the Japanese and not the Canadians that gave a more outlier - further from "most other students" - appraisal of ‘Kat/Yumiko's personality (graph above bottom, based on Hamamura, Heine, & Takemoto, table 1). This difference was significant (p<.001). This is because, I believe, in this experiment the subjects were not just given a name, but also some information upon which to imagine the person that they were appraising.

The Japanese mind does not make decisions in words (Kim, 2002), but upon the surface of its mirror (Timothy Roland Scott Leuers = Takemoto & Sonoda, 1998, 2000; T.R.S. Leuers = Takemoto & Sonoda, 1999; T. Leuers = Takemoto & Sonoda, 1999; Takemoto, T., 2002, 2003; T. Takemoto, n.d.; Timothy Takemoto, 2011a, 2011b, 2012a, 2012b, 2014).

Choi, I., Nisbett, R. E., & Norenzayan, A. (1999). Causal attribution across cultures: Variation and universality. Psychological Bulletin, 125(1), 47. Retrieved from citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=
Hamamura, T., Heine, S. J., & Takemoto, T. R. (2007). Why the better-than-average effect is a worse-than-average measure of self-enhancement: An investigation of conflicting findings from studies of East Asian self-evaluations. Motivation and Emotion, 31(4), 247–259. Retrieved from link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11031-007-9072-y
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. Retrieved from www2.psych.ubc.ca/~heine/docs/2008Mirrors.pdf
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(4), 828. Retrieved from labs.psych.ucsb.edu/kim/heejung/kim_2002.pdf
Leuers = Takemoto, T. R. S., & Sonoda, N. (1998, October). 心像的自己に関する比較文化的研究(1) Cross Cultural Research on the Specular Self. Oral Presentation口頭発表 presented at the The 62th Annual Convention of the Japanese Psychologiocal Association English日本心理学第64回大会, Tokyo Gakugei Daigaku. Retrieved from nihonbunka.com/docs/shinzoutekijiko1.doc
Leuers = Takemoto, T. R. S., & Sonoda, N. (1999). Independent self bias. Progress in Asian Social Psychology, 3, 87–104. Retrieved from httyp://www.nihonbunka.com/docs/independent_self.rtf
Leuers = Takemoto, T. R. S., & Sonoda, N. (2000, November). 心像的自己に関する比較文化的研究(6) -メディア(言語とイメージ)の違いと日米比較― Cross Cultural Research on the Specular Self: Differences in Media (Language and Image) and comparison between Japan and America. Oral Presentation口頭発表 presented at the The 64th Annual Convention of the Japanese Psychologiocal Association English日本心理学第64回大会, Kyoto University. Retrieved from nihonbunka.com/docs/shinzoutekijiko6.docx
Leuers = Takemoto, T., & Sonoda, N. (1999). The eye of the other and the independent self of the Japanese. In Symposium presentation at the 3rd Conference of the Asian Association of Social Psychology, Taipei, Taiwan. Retrieved from nihonbunka.com/docs/aasp99.htm
Takemoto, T. (2002). 鏡の前の日本人. In 選書メチエ編集部, ニッポンは面白いか (講談社選書メチエ. 講談社.
Takemoto, T. (2003). 言語の文化心理学―心の中のことばと映像(The Cultural Psychology of Language: Language and Image in the Heart). In 武本, ティモシー & 古賀,範理, あなたと私のことばと文化―共生する私たち―. 五絃舎.

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