Connecting and Separating Mind-Sets: Culture as Situated Cognition

Daphna Oyserman, Nicholas Sorensen, Rolf Reber, Xiaohua Sylvia Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

162 Citations (Scopus)


People perceive meaningful wholes and later separate out constituent parts (D. Navon, 1977). Yet there are cross-national differences in whether a focal target or integrated whole is first perceived. Rather than construe these differences as fixed, the proposed culture-as-situated-cognition model explains these differences as due to whether a collective or individual mind-set is cued at the moment of observation. Eight studies demonstrated that when cultural mind-set and task demands are congruent, easier tasks are accomplished more quickly and more difficult or time-constrained tasks are accomplished more accurately (Study 1: Koreans, Korean Americans; Study 2: Hong Kong Chinese; Study 3: European- and Asian-heritage Americans; Study 4: Americans; Study: 5 Hong Kong Chinese; Study 6: Americans; Study 7: Norwegians; Study 8: African-, European-, and Asian-heritage Americans). Meta-analyses (d = .34) demonstrated homogeneous effects across geographic place (East-West), racial-ethnic group, task, and sensory mode-differences are cued in the moment. Contrast and separation are salient individual mind-set procedures, resulting in focus on a single target or main point. Assimilation and connection are salient collective mind-set procedures, resulting in focus on multiplicity and integration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-235
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2009


  • collectivism
  • culture
  • independent
  • individualism
  • interdependent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Connecting and Separating Mind-Sets: Culture as Situated Cognition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this