About this Research Topic
Cultural identity and background are considered very important in shaping the way we perceive and understand our world. They influence our cognitive processes, even at early stages of development.
Much of the literature invokes social organization as the key driver of these cultural effects: it suggests that because collectivists tend to have an interdependent view of self, they are inclined to attend to contextual information and be driven by holistic, dialectical modes of thought. In turn, because individualists tend to have an independent view of self, they are inclined to attend to focal objects and be driven by analytical, logical modes of thought. This account works well for differences between Westerners and East Asians, but additional factors linked to urbanization are needed to explain the exceptionally focal style displayed by remote peoples. Whatever combination of factors drives cross-cultural differences, it is clear their impact is exerted dynamically: the number of visits to town made by remote peoples affects cognition incrementally, and cultural effects can be simulated by priming individualism and collectivism in the laboratory.
Although many studies in the area have relied on pseudo-experimental designs and questionnaire methodologies, more recent work has adopted experimental methodologies to further investigate the causality of culture-related differences in psychological processes. Further recent work has examined the ways in which underlying brain processes, and patterns of activation, contribute to cultural differences. Additionally, computational modelling approaches have been used in cross-cultural attentional tasks and in spatial problem-solving tasks.
Although considerable progress is being made in the area, the exact influences of culture and culture-related constructs on psychological processes and their underlying brain processes are still unclear. These shortcomings can be addressed by adopting an integrated approach that utilizes computational modelling as a translator of the collected experimental data. using approaches like the model-based analysis of fMRI data. As such, this Research Topic aims to bring the technique of computational modelling--currently underutilized in the investigation of cross-cultural differences in cognition--into the forefront of research in the area. We will gather relevant work that is currently under way, and identify how computational modelling approaches can be used to enhance knowledge in this area.
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