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Culture and the Complex Environment: Comparing the Complexity Difference between East Asians and North Americans Open Access


Other title
East Asians
complexity difference
North Americans
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Wang, Huaitang
Supervisor and department
Masuda, Takahiko (Department of Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Mos, Leendert (Leo) Pieter (Department of Psychology)
Wu, Joe (Faculty of Education)
Nicoladis, Elena (Department of Psychology)
Ji, Li-Jun (Department of Psychology, Queen’s University)
Department of Psychology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Previous cultural research found that East Asian pictorial representations (e.g., paintings) contained more elements than North American ones, and that East Asians were more likely than North Americans to prefer context-rich information to context-impoverished information (Miyamoto, Nisbett, & Masuda, 2006; Masuda, Gonzalez, Kwan, & Nisbett, 2008). Four studies were conducted to examine the cultural variations of the complexity difference between East Asians and North Americans. Study 1 analyzed the posters collected at the SPSP conference and the results indicated that East Asians were more likely than North Americans to design complex posters when posters contained two or more studies; however, no cultural effect was found when posters contained a single study. In Study 2, I analyzed portal pages of governments and universities in East Asian (e.g., China, Japan, Korea) and North American societies (e.g., USA and Canada), and found that East Asian portal pages were more complex than North American ones. Based on the findings, I further investigated people’s speed in dealing with complex web information in Study 3 and simple web information in Study 4. The results showed that East Asians were faster than North Americans in dealing with information on complex WebPages, especially at the bottom of sections, but no cultural effect was found when participants were asked to perform the same tasks on simple WebPages. This research reinforced the previous cultural research on visual representations, and suggested that East Asians were more likely than North Americans to prefer to complex designs, which in turn can affect people’s patterns of attention and cognition. (255 words)
License granted by Huaitang Wang ( on 2010-01-25T21:00:03Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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