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Cross-Cultural Differences in Adult Theory of Mind Abilities: A Comparison of Native-English Speakers and Native-Chinese Speakers on the Self/Other Differentiation Task

Bradford, Elisabeth E.F., Jentzsch, Ines, Gomez, Juan-Carlos, Chen, Yulu, Zhang, Da, Su, Yanjie (2018) Cross-Cultural Differences in Adult Theory of Mind Abilities: A Comparison of Native-English Speakers and Native-Chinese Speakers on the Self/Other Differentiation Task. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, . ISSN 1747-0218. E-ISSN 1747-0226. (doi:10.1177/1747021818757170)

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https://doi.org/10.1177/1747021818757170

Abstract

Theory of Mind (ToM) refers to the ability to compute and attribute mental states to ourselves and other people. It is currently unclear whether ToM abilities are universal or whether they can be culturally influenced. To address this question, this research explored potential differences in engagement of ToM processes between two different cultures, Western (individualist) and Chinese (collectivist), using a sample of healthy adults. Participants completed a computerized false-belief task, in which they attributed beliefs to either themselves or another person, in a matched design, allowing direct comparison between ‘Self’ and ‘Other’ oriented conditions. Results revealed that both native-English speakers and native-Chinese individuals responded significantly faster to selforiented than other-oriented questions. Results also showed that when a trial required a ‘perspective-shift’, participants from both cultures were slower to shift from Self-to-Other than from Other-to-Self. Results indicate that, despite differences in collectivism scores, culture does not influence task-performance, with similar results found for both Western and non-Western participants, suggesting core and potentially universal similarities in the ToM mechanism across these two cultures.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/1747021818757170
Uncontrolled keywords: Theory of Mind; Cross-Cultural; Perspective-Taking; False-Belief; Social Cognition
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Lizzie Bradford
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2017 16:38 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 20:06 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/65423 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Bradford, Elisabeth E.F.: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7647-0891
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