Research

In Collaboration with International Scholars, we are now conducting a variety of research projects as follows:

Project 1: Culture and Attention

We have investigated cultural variations in visual attention, and examined whether East Asians are more likely than North Americans to attend to context. In a variety of experiments, we have demonstrated that East Asians are more attentive than North Americans to contextual and relational information (Masuda & Nisbett, 2001; 2006; Nisbett & Masuda, 2003). We are continuing to investigate the underlying mechanisms of cultural variation in perception. For example, we have conducted eye-tracking studies in collaboration with Dr. Sawa Senzaki (University of Wisconsin, Green Bay), which support these differential patterns of attention (e.g. Senzaki, Masuda, & Ishii, 2013). These results suggest that cultural variations in basic perceptual processes may be deeply rooted.Currently, we are investigating these differences under the frameworks of culture and neuroscience (e.g. Masuda, Russell, Chen, Hioki, & Caplan, 2013)

Collaborators Affiliations
Matt Russell University of Alberta, Canada
Jeremy Caplan University of Alberta, Canada
Yvonne Chen University of Alberta, Canada
Keiko Ishii Kobe University, Japan
Koichi Hioki Kobe University, Japan

Project 2: Culture and Emotion

Do cultural differences in patterns of attention influence the perception of emotional expression? When interpreting emotions of a target person, do East Asians take into consideration the apparent emotions or feelings of those individuals who surround the target person? And if so, do they do this to a greater degree than North Americans?

In a series of experiments, we use cartoon and real morphing pictures consisting of five children. We measured the extent to which the perception of a central figure’s emotion could be influenced by changes in the facial expressions of the background figures. Thus far, we have found that the interpretations of Japanese participants are more likely than their American counterparts to be influenced by contextual changes (Masuda, Leu, Ellsworth, Mesquita, Tanida & Veerdonk, 2008; Masuda, Wang, Ishii, & Ito, 2012). Now, we further extend this line of research by examining types of context which influence even North American’s emotion judgment (Ito, Masuda, & Hioki, 2012; Ito & Masuda, 2013). In addition, in collaboration with scholars at business schools, we investigate whether this cultural variations in emotion judgment is observable even in business settings (Masuda, Argo, Hioki, Ito, & Senzaki, in preparation).

Another line of study attempts to answer the following question: If the intensity of facial expression differs across cultures, do these variations influence how people infer emotions from facial expressions? So far, we found that people in cultures where expression management is the norm evaluated the information appearing around the eyes, because emotional expression in that area is more difficult to control. In contrast, in cultures where overt emotional expression is the norm, people would evaluate the mouth area, which creates the most dynamic changes in facial expression (Yuki, Maddux, and Masuda, 2007; Masuda, Wang, Ito, Senzaki, Ishii, & Yuki, in preparation).

Collaborators Affiliations
Jennifer Argo, PhD University of Alberta, Canada
Ken-Ichi Ito, PhD Nanyang Technological University , Singapore
Koichi Hioki Kobe University, Japan
Keiko Ishii Kobe University, Japan
Senzaki Sawa, PhD University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, USA
Masaki Yuki, PhD Hokkaido University, Japan

Project 3: Culture and Aesthetics

This project investigates cultural variations in aesthetics between North Americans and East Asians. The findings suggest that people’s esthetic preference such as artworks and web design can be influenced by the dominant patterns of visual attention developed in their respective cultural worldviews (Masuda, Gonzalez, Kwan, & Nisbett, 2008; Wang, Masuda, Ito, & Rashid, 2012). Recently we extend this line of research by focusing on socialization processes of aesthetic preferences. We investigated at what point in the developmental course culturally dominant ways of aesthetics emerge (Senzaki & Masuda, under review). Thus far, we have collected data from 180 Japanese elementary school children. The data indicate that the concept of horizon is understood at around age 8 or 9 (Grade 3), and that children from Grades 4 through 6 locate the horizon progressively higher.

Collaborators Affiliations
Kristina Nand University of Alberta, Canada
Senzaki Sawa, PhD University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, USA
Satoshi Akutsu, PhD Hitotsubashi University, Japan
Huaitang Wang, PhD Alberta Government, Canada

Project 4: Culture and Child Development–The Child-Parent Project (the CC Lab Main Project)

Developmental psychologists have advocated theoretical frameworks of socialization processes (Azuma, 1994; Greenfield & Bruner, 1969; Rogoff, 1993, 2003; Vigotsky, 1930/1978), and cultural psychologists are now starting to demonstrate in what ways culturally divergent patterns of attention are developed through socialization practices (Imada, Carlson, & Itakura, 2013; Senzaki & Masuda, under review; Senzaki, Masuda, Shimizu, Takada, & Okada, 2013; Masuda, Shimizu, Senzaki, & Takada, 2013). For example, Senzaki et al. (2013) investigated the development and transmission of culturally specific attentional patterns, while focusing on parent–child socialization practices as the source of cultural differences in visual attention in Canada and Japan. The results indicated that when parents and children jointly engaged in the same visual attention task, cultural differences emerged, and this effect was especially strong in the case of 8-year-old and older children: Children showed cross-cultural differences in their attentional patterns, mirroring those of their parents (i.e., object-oriented in Canada and context-sensitive in Japan). This is indirect evidence of “scaffolding processes” (Wood, Bruner, & Ross, 1976). With their parents’ help, older children imitate the ways of attention held by mature members of the society. We further intend to investigate (1) when, and (2) how children internalize culturally unique attentional patterns. To answer these questions, we have assembled a research team in collaboration with three developmental psychologists both in Japan (Dr. Itakura, Dr. Shimizu) and in the US (Dr. Senzaki).

Collaborators Affiliations
Senzaki Sawa, PhD University of Alberta, Canada
Matt Russell University of Alberta, Canada
Kristina Nand University of Alberta, Canada
Yuki Shimizu, PhD Saitama University, Japan
Shoji Itakura, PhD Kyoto University, Japan
Akira Takada, PhD Kyoto University, Japan
Yukiko Uchida, PhD Kyoto University, Japan
Hiroyuki Okada, PhD Tamagawa University, Japan

Project 5: Culture and Relationship

This project examines how cultures influence people’s experience in different social relationships. In order to have a comprehensive understanding, we use different perspectives in our studies. First, we, with collaboration with Dr. Kenichi Ito, examined whether perceived norms of help seeking and perceived norms of help seeking in one’s society affected expectations of closeness in friendships between East Asians and North Americans (Ito, Masuda, Komiya, & Hioki, under review). Specifically, we found the perception of relational costs was primarily important East Asians whey they considered about help seeking. In addition, the perceived norm of seeking help was positively associated with expectation of closeness in friendships. We extend our research on friendship experience to enemyship experience from a socio-ecological perspective. We are currently conducting research to examine the potential influence of relational mobility on enemyship strategies among East Asians and North Americans (Li & Masuda, in preparation).

Collaborators Affiliations
Liman Man Wai Li University of Alberta, Canada
Ken-Ichi Ito Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Project 6: Culture and Judgment

his project extends our research on culture and perception to applied research. We obtained evidence that East Asians were more context-sensitive when they made attribution of others’ behaviors relative to North Americans (Masuda & Kitayama, 2004). Recently, we focus on how cultural variation on perception and attention may affect the judgment and decision-making processes. First, we found East Asians and North Americans used different strategy for information-searching process in decision making, in which East Asians searched both important and unimportant information (Li, Masuda, & Russell, in preparation). Secondly, East Asians were more likely to allocate resources for all possible alternatives whereas North Americans primarily allocated resources to the most possible alternative (Li & Masuda, in preparation). Finally, we found correlational and experimental evidence that showed cultural meaning system, dialecticism, affected indecisiveness among East Asians and North Americans (Li, Masuda, & Russell, in preparation).

Collaborators Affiliations
Liman Man Wai Li University of Alberta, Canada
Takashi Hamamura Chinese University of Hong Kong, China

Project 7: Culture and Language

Linguists and Psycholinguists have devated the relationship between language and thought. Some researchers maintain that humans are innately endowed with producing language, whereas other researchers maintain that our thoughts are influenced by syntactic and pragmatic aspects of the language. By using cross-cultural method, this project examine how language influence our perception of similarity among objects (Masuda, Miwa, Ishii, Rashid, under review).

Collaborators Affiliations
Koji Miwa, PhD University of Alberta, Canada
Keiko Ishii, PhD Kobe University, Japan
Huaitang Wang, PhD Alberta Government, Canada
Mutsumi Imai, PhD Keio University, Japan
Marghalara Rashid University of Alberta, Canada

Project 8: Culture and Sleeping Arrangement

Majority of North American households have a room and crib for their babies, whereas majority of East Asian households excercise co-sleeping. This project the relationship between the sleeping-arrangement and culturally domimant beliefs about child rearing (Song, Masuda, Noels, Sieusahai, & Zhou, in preparation).

Collaborators Affiliations
Kim Noels, PhD University of Alberta, Canada
Jianhui Song, PhD University of Alberta, Canada