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, September 14, 2016


Idiotropic or Visual Up Swayed by Images of Self and Others

Idiotropic or Visual Up and SelfIdiotropic or Visual Up and People
Which of the grey partially illuminated disks looks the most convex?

Since humans tend to feel that light comes from above, then disk which is "illuminated" from direction that the subject feels to be "above" will appear to be the most convex. This will be likely to be the uppermost disk if one bases ones judgement upon all the information outside the picture, such as the pressure on your skin from your chair, and the historical/narratival information regarding where you know up to be, "idiotropically" (Oman, 2003), and the lowest disk should appear convex if one bases the decision regarding "up" on the visual information in the photograph.

The Japanese are often described as being context dependent, this being due to their "groupist/conformist" tendency to pay attention to others around them (Nisbett & Masuda, 2007). While I accept that there is some truth in this, and that certainly a philosophy of "harmony" is very prevalent in Japan, and that of individualism equally in the West, I argue that in fact the Japanese have a strong visual sense of self and attend to themselves and others visually, largely because their self love and self-division (Smith, 1770/2002, pp.101,102) is in the visio-spatial, rather than in the linguistic domain. Whereas Westerners whisper to themselves in order to evaluate themselves (Bakhtin, 1986; Mead, 1967; Vygotsky, 1986), Japanese imagine themselves using the mirror in their head (Heine, Takemoto, Moskalenko, Lasaleta, & Henrich, 2008).

The philosophies of independence and collectivism are I believe secondary to the differences in mode of self-cognition being due to the way in which members of each culture can obfuscate the self-division. Westerners think that they think because they are talking to themselves, as true individualists might, when in fact they are talking to a horrific intra-psychic "ear of the other" (Derrida & McDonald, 1985). Japanese think that they are concerned with the gaze of real external others as conformists are, when in fact they are watching themselves from a horrific intra-psychic "seeing of detached perception" ("離見の見", Yusa, 1987, p.331). The horror and purported social philosophy (individualism or collectivism) function to keep the self-love hidden, and the self intact.

If Japanese contextualism were driven by a groupist tendency to conform then pictures of people should encourage them to reorientate the direction of up towards the direction of the picture more than those of photos which do not contain people but do contain "intrinsically polarised" objects (Howard, 1982). If Japanese visio-contextuality is motivated as I suggest, by autoscopic self-love, then pictures of other people would be little more likely to influence decisions regarding orientation more than pictures of people-less cityscapes, whereas pictures of themselves would be the most likely to interfere with their visual self-identification and swing the direction of "up" the most.

However, the "Honi Phenomenon" (Dion & Dion, 1976) found that there was less context induced optical illusion in an Ames Room when viewing a loved spouse rather than a stranger, at least in women. This is presumably because people are more likely cut significant, loved others out of the total context, in a way parallel to the "cocktail party effect" (Pollack & Pickett, 1957) wherein, out of a buzz of conversation, one can pick out utterances of ones own name.

The strength of sway of the perceived direction of "up" may therefore be inversely proportional to the significance of the “intrinsically polarized” (Howard, 1982) objects in the visual background.

Image adapted from figure 2 in (Jenkin, Dyde, Zacher, & Jekin et al., 2005)

Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. (C. Emerson & M. Holquist, Eds., V. W. McGee, Trans.) (Second Printing). University of Texas Press. Retrieved from pubpages.unh.edu/~jds/BAKHTINSG.htm
Dion, K. L., & Dion, K. K. (1976). The Honi phenomenon revisited: Factors underlying the resistance to perceptual distortion of one’s partner. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 33(2), 170. Retrieved from psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/33/2/170/
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
Howard, I. P. (1982). Human visual orientation. John Wiley & Sons.
Jenkin, H. L., Dyde, R. T., Zacher, J. E., Zikovitz, D. C., Jenkin, M. R., Allison, R. S., … Harris, L. R. (2005). The relative role of visual and non-visual cues in determining the perceived direction of ‘up’: experiments in parabolic flight. Acta Astronautica, 56(9), 1025–1032. Retrieved from www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094576505000445
Mead, G. H. (1967). Mind, self, and society: From the standpoint of a social behaviorist (Vol. 1). The University of Chicago Press.
Nisbett, R. E., & Masuda, T. (2007). Culture and point of view. Intellectica, (46–47), 153–172.
Oman, C. M. (2003). Human visual orientation in weightlessness. In Levels of perception (pp. 375–398). Springer. Retrieved from link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/0-387-22673-7_19
Pollack, I., & Pickett, J. M. (1957). Cocktail party effect. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 29(11), 1262–1262. Retrieved from scitation.aip.org/content/asa/journal/jasa/29/11/10.1121/...
Smith, A. (2002). Adam Smith: The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from www.ibiblio.org/ml/libri/s/SmithA_MoralSentiments_p.pdf# (Original work published 1770)
101 When I endeavour to examine my own conduct, when I endeavour to pass sentence upon it, and either to approve or condemn it, it is evident that, in all such cases, I divide myself, as it were, into two persons; and that I, the examiner and judge, represent a different character from that other I, the person whose conduct is examined into and judged of. The first is the spectator, whose sentiments with regard to my own conduct I endeavour to enter into, by placing myself in his situation, and by considering how it would appear to me, when seen from that particular point of view. The second is the agent, the person whom I properly call myself, and of whose conduct, under the character of a spectator, I was endeavouring to form some opinion. The first is the judge; the second the person judged of. But that the judge should, in every respect, be the same with the person judged of, is as impossible, as that the cause should, in every respect, be the same with the effect. pp.101,102
Vygotsky, L. S. (1986). Thought and Language. (A. Kozulin, Trans.). Cambride, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

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