Research Topic

Untangling Cultural Influences on Human Cognition: Integrating Evidence across Cultural Contexts and Methodological Approaches

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Cultural identity and background shape the way we perceive and understand our world and influence our cognitive processes from early stages of development. Social and ecological factors have been described as key drivers of the ensuing cultural differences in cognition. Indeed, the cross-cultural literature ...

Cultural identity and background shape the way we perceive and understand our world and influence our cognitive processes from early stages of development. Social and ecological factors have been described as key drivers of the ensuing cultural differences in cognition. Indeed, the cross-cultural literature contains substantial evidence that collectivists – because they tend to have an interdependent view of self - are inclined to attend to contextual information and be driven by holistic, dialectical modes of thought while individualists - because they tend to have an independent view of self - are inclined to attend to focal objects and be driven by analytical, logical modes of thought.

This classical perspective on the cultural drivers of differences in cognitive style originates, however, in differences between very specific cultural contexts in highly industrialized areas of the world. Different perspectives are needed to account for the cognitive styles displayed by remote people and by most people coming from low- to middle-income countries. Future work needs to focus on the gamut of social and ecological factors that underpin cross-cultural differences in basic human cognition. Critical factors include urbanization, education, mode of subsistence, and socialization, but our understanding of how these factors influence cognition over different developmental timescales is far from complete.

Recently, the research paradigms employed in the field have broadened beyond the pseudo-experimental designs and questionnaire methodologies that have traditionally been adopted. New approaches include experimental methodologies, which have focused on the causality of culture-related differences in psychological processes, as well as neuroscientific methodologies, which have focused on the brain processes that underlie cultural differences in attention and their development. Additionally, computational modeling approaches have very recently been applied in cross-cultural attentional tasks.

The present Research Topic seeks to broaden our understanding of the influences exerted by social and ecological factors on basic human cognition and how they unfold across different timescales.
We welcome all types of manuscripts - including reviews or theoretical manuscripts - that extend the classical cross-cultural contrasts or that highlight the potential of novel methodological approaches, including neuroscientific and computational ones.


Keywords: Culture and Cognition, Social and Ecological factors, Broadening methodological approaches, Broadening cultural contexts, Computational modeling


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