Culture and Cognition
- Culture and Cognition
Synopsis of a book which you may read
Western and Eastern thinking patterns contrasted
This article can provide some of the missing
pieces to the 'puzzle' of 'how we think'. It is
easier to see when cultural differences are
brought to light.
From the above site:
The first, and most important, which I refer to as automatic
cognition is "implicit, unverbalized, rapid, and automatic"
(D'Andrade 1995). This routine, everyday cognition relies heavily
and uncritically upon culturally available schemata - knowledge
structures that represent objects or events and provide default
assumptions about their characteristics, relationships, and
entailments under conditions of incomplete information.
Psychological research on schemata is central to the interests of
sociologists both methodologically (due to advances in techniques
that reveal taken-for-granted assumptions to which subjects may not
have easy verbal access) and substantively, for what it tells us
about how culture works. Indeed, for some purposes, it may be useful
to treat the schema as a basic unit of analysis for the study of
culture, and to focus on social patterns of schema acquisition,
diffusion, and modification (Carley 1991 makes a related argument).
Schemata are both representations of knowledge and information-
processing mechanisms. As representations, they entail images of
objects and the relations among them. Psychologists use the term
broadly [some would suggest too broadly (Fiske & Linville 1980)]. It
can refer to simple, highly abstract concepts [for example, container
(D'Andrade 1995)]; to concrete activities (buying chewing gum), or to
complex social phenomena (group stereotypes or social roles). Event
schemata or scripts (Abelson 1981, Garfinkel 1987) constitute an
important class of schemata. Special attention has also been given
to self schemata (Milburn 1987, Markus & Kitayama 1994, Markus et al
1997), culturally variable representations of the self that provide
stability both to individual behavior across time and to social
interactions within the group.
Schemata are also mechanisms that simplify cognition. Highly
schematic cognition is the realm of institutionalized culture, of
typification, of the habitus, of the cognitive shortcuts that
promote efficiency at the expense of synoptic accuracy (Berger &
Luckman 1967, Bourdieu 1990, Kahneman et al 1982). Much cognitive
research demonstrates that "schematic material dominates other
material in accurate recall, in intruded recall, in recognition
confidence, in recall clustering and in resistance to
disconfirmation. . . . Schemata also facilitate inaccurate recall
when the information is schema consistent" (Fiske & Linville 1980:
545). In schematic cognition we find the mechanisms by which culture
shapes and biases thought.
People are more likely to perceive information that is germane to
existing schemata Von Hippel et al (1993) report that experimental
subjects are more likely to perceive correctly terms that are
schematically relevant than those that are not. Information embedded
in existing schemata and information that is schema-dissonant are
both more likely to be noticed than information orthogonal to
existing structures (Schneider 1991). Such laboratory findings
resonate with results in historical sociology and cultural studies:
for example, the gradual and halting acceptance of information about
the New World by early modern mapmakers (Zerubavel 1992); the ways in
which archaic physical models constrained medical scientists'
interpretation of new evidence about syphilis (Fleck 1979); and the
penchant of male biologists for seeing dominance hierarchies when
they watch apes and elephant seals (Haraway 1991)."
Help stamp out, eliminate, and abolish redundancy.