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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Culture and Cognition : The Relationship between Self- Construals and Cognitive Fluency

  • Author(s): Medina Luis D., Medina Luis D.
  • et al.

Neuropsychological research has been limited in representation of cultural diversity due to various issues. These limitations raise questions regarding applicability of current findings to diverse populations. Nonetheless, culture-dependent differences in fundamental psychological processes have been demonstrated in several domains. One of the most basic of these, self-construal, is central to how many other differences are interpreted. Self-construals, described as individualistic or collectivistic (IC), may have possible consequences on social interactions, emotions, motivation, and cognition. Despite research demonstrating cultural differences, frontal-lobe-dependent cognitive processes are not well understood in the context of self-construal. This dissertation explored this relationship. A total of 201 adults (101 young, 100 older) were recruited. The young adults (YA) were recruited from undergraduate psychology students between ages 18 and 26. The older adults (OA) were community-dwelling and at least 60 years of age. IC was measured using common three self-report measures. A brief neuropsychological battery was administered to assess for verbal and non-verbal fluency abilities. The study aimed to: (1) demonstrate the usefulness of Latent Profile Analysis (LPA) in classification of IC when using multiple measures of self-construal; (2) evaluate the impact of self-construal on cognitive fluency; (3) elucidate the effect of aging on this relationship. Once participants were classified by self-construal based on LPA results, one-way analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) including relevant covariates (e.g., gender, ethnicity, education) were used to compare cognitive performance between individualists and collectivists in both age groups. In YA, self-construal was not significantly related to cognitive performance (all ps>.05). In OA, collectivists outperformed individualists on measures of verbal fluency after controlling for race, ethnicity, and linguistic abilities. Groups did not differ on non-verbal fluency. Results support the utility of LPA in assessing self-construal. Although self-construal did not affect cognitive performance in YA, cross-cultural differences emerged in OA. This bias may be due to a cognitive advantage in collectivists for executive function as measured by verbal fluency. Research with more diverse samples and larger cognitive batteries is needed to clarify relationships among self-construal, cognition, and age and to explore the possible role of executive functions. Nonetheless, self-construal as a key demographic factor may provide a meaningful descriptor for diverse samples in neuropsychological research

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