Home History Members Research Publications News Log Join Us Participants

Contact Information:

Culture and Cognition Lab
P123 Biological Sciences Bldg.
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB, T6G 2E9, Canada
Lab Email: cultpsy@ualberta.ca


Lab Leader: Taka Masuda, PhD
Associate Professor
P355 Biological Sciences Bldg.
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2E9, Canada

Phone: 780-492-7861
Fax: 780-492-1768
Email: tmasuda@ualberta.ca

Taka Masuda Homepage

Upcoming News:

Dr. Masuda received Honour Roll with Distinction for two of his courses in Fall 2017. Congratulations, Dr. Masuda!

Congratulations to Emily for being invited to interview for the Jet Program!

Congratulations to Denise for the successful completion of her Psychology Internship poster presentation!

Dr. Liman Li found a new tenure-tracking assistant professor position at Education University of Hong Kong. Congratulations, Liman!

Mantou Nigel Lou's dissertation proposal is approved. Congratulations, Nigel!

We are pleased to welcome back Yuto Yasuda who will be joining us in the lab on Friday, September 15th!

Congratulations to Dr.Masuda, Hajin, Sumin and Shirley for successfully completing their data collection in Japan and returning from their trip!

Congratulations to Dr. Masuda for his recent publication!

Li, L., Masuda, T., & Lee, H. (2017). Low Relational Mobility Leads to Greater Motivation to Understand Enemies but Not Friends and Acquaintances. British Journal of Social Psychology.


Interested in participating in a study?

The Child-Parent Project




U of A Main Page


In collaboration with international scholars, we are currently conducting a variety of research projects:

Project 1: 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; 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 effect was especially strong in the case of children 8 years of age and older. 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 in both Japan (Dr. Itakura, Dr. Shimizu) and in the US (Dr. Senzaki).

Collaborators Affiliations
Senzaki Sawa, PhD University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, USA
Matt Russell, PhD University of Alberta, Canada
Kristina Nand, MA University of Tokyo, Japan
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
Sandra Wiebe, PhD University of Alberta, Canada

Project 2: Culture and Attention

To investigate cultural variations in visual attention, we 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 these cultural variations 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, PhD University of Alberta, Canada
Jeremy Caplan, PhD University of Alberta, Canada
Yvonne Chen, PhD University of Alberta, Canada
Keiko Ishii, PhD Kobe University, Japan
Koichi Hioki, MA Kobe University, Japan
Project 3: Culture and Emotion

Do cultural differences in patterns of attention influence the perception of emotional expression? When interpreting the emotions of a target person, are East Asians influenced by the apparent emotions of individuals surrounding the target person, and if so, is it to a greater degree than North Americans?

In a series of experiments, 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. We used cartoon images and real morphing pictures consisting of five children. 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). We are extending this line of research by examining types of context which also influence emotion judgment in North Americans (Ito, Masuda, & Hioki, 2012; Ito & Masuda, 2013). In addition, in collaboration with scholars at business schools, we investigate whether this cultural variation in emotion judgment is also observable 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 have found that people in cultures where expression management is the norm evaluate 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 tend to 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, MA Kobe University, Japan
Keiko Ishii, PhD Kobe University, Japan
Senzaki Sawa, PhD University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, USA
Masaki Yuki, PhD Hokkaido University, Japan
Project 4: Culture and Aesthetics

This project investigates cultural variations in aesthetics between North Americans and East Asians. The findings suggest that people’s aesthetic preferences in artwork 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 have extended this line of research by focusing on socialization processes involved in aesthetic preferences. We are currently investigating the point at which culturally dominant aesthetic preferences emerge during the developmental course (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, MA University of Tokyo, Japan
Senzaki Sawa, PhD University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, USA
Satoshi Akutsu, PhD Hitotsubashi University, Japan
Huaitang Wang, PhD Alberta Government, Canada
Project 5: Culture and Relationships

This project examines how cultures influence one’s experience in different social relationships. We have used a variety of different perspectives in our studies in order to have a comprehensive understanding. First, in collaboration with Dr. Kenichi Ito, we examined whether perceived norms of help seeking in one’s society affect expectations of closeness in friendships in East Asians and North Americans (Ito, Masuda, Komiya, & Hioki, under review). We found that the perception of relational costs was primarily important to East Asians when considering help seeking. In addition, the perceived norm of seeking help was positively associated with expectation of closeness in friendships. We are extending our research on friendship experience to enemyship experience from a socio-ecological perspective, and 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, PhD Sun Yat-Suen University, China
Ken-Ichi Ito, PhD Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Project 6: Culture and Judgment

This project extends our research on culture and perception to applied research. We obtained evidence that East Asians were more context-sensitive relative to North Americans when making attribution to others’ behaviors (Masuda & Kitayama, 2004). Recently, we have focused on how cultural variation in perception and attention may affect the judgment and decision-making processes. First, we found that East Asians and North Americans used different strategies for information-searching processes in decision making; 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 a cultural meaning system, dialecticism, affected indecisiveness among East Asians and North Americans (Li, Masuda, & Russell, in preparation).

Collaborators Affiliations
Liman Man Wai Li, PhD Sun Yat-Suen University, China
Takashi Hamamura, PhD Chinese University of Hong Kong, China
Project 7: Culture and Language

Linguists and Psycholinguists have long debated 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 a cross-cultural method, this project examines how language influences 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, PhD University of Alberta, Canada
Project 8: Culture and Sleeping Arrangement

The majority of North American households have a separeate room and crib for their babies, whereas the majority of East Asian households excercise co-sleeping. This project investigate the relationship between sleeping arrangements 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









(Culture & Cognition Lab Web Committee, September 13, 2013)

Updated: February, 2017.

Copyright(c), Takahiko Masuda, all rights reserved