The Development and Transmission of Culturally Unique Attentional Styles in Canada and Japan: A Demonstration of Children’s Cultural Learning and Parents’ Scaffolding Behaviors

  • Author / Creator
    Senzaki, Sawa
  • Accumulating evidence suggests systematic cross-cultural differences in patterns of attention, such that North American adults’ attentional patterns tend to be more selective and object-oriented, while East Asian adults’ attentional patterns tend to be more diffused and context-sensitive. Although such culturally divergent patterns of attention are expected to be the product of socialization practices unique to these cultural groups, little research to date has examined this theoretical assumption. The present research investigated the development and transmission of culturally specific attentional patterns by focusing on parent-child socialization practices as the source of cultural differences in visual attention in Canada and Japan. Two studies established that although children at ages 4 to 9 do not demonstrate cross-cultural differences in patterns of attention when they independently engage in a visual attention task that requires verbal description and recall (Study 1), when parents and children jointly engage in the same visual attention task, cultural differences emerge (Study 2). Particularly, Canadian and Japanese parents directed children’s attention in a culturally unique manner, and this effect was especially strong among parents with older children. Age-related differences were also found in children’s behavior, such that older children (7- to 9-year-olds) showed cross-cultural differences in their attentional patterns, mirroring those of their parents (i.e., object-oriented in Canada and context sensitive in Japan). Younger children (4- to 6-year-olds), however, did not show cultural differences even when their parents were demonstrating culturally unique attentional patterns during joint task engagement. These findings suggest parent-child interactions differ across cultural groups, which contribute to the development of culturally unique cognitive processing styles. Implications of parental scaffolding and cultural learning during parent-child socialization practices are discussed.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2013
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Kabata, Kaori (East Asian Studies)
    • Wiebe, Sandra (Psychology)
    • Nicoladis, Elena (Psychology)
    • Noels, Kim (Psychology)
    • Wang, Qi (Human Ecology)