Recent research has discovered a bias towards the processing of self-relevant information in perceptual matching tasks. Judgments for self-associated stimuli are processed faster and more accurately than judgements for friend or stranger associated stimuli. It is also well known that priming of independent or interdependent self-construals successfully modulate self-biases in high-level tasks such as self-referential memory. Here we examined whether culture can shape the self-prioritization effects on perceptual matching via two experiments. In each experiment participants first performed a cultural priming task (Experiment 1, implicit cultural priming with a word search task; Experiment 2, explicit cultural priming using the Similarities and Differences between Family and Friends (SDFF) task), and then immediately performed a perceptual matching task, where they learned to associate geometric shapes with labels (e.g. circle represent friend, square is stranger, triangle is self), and made judgements on whether the shape-label pairs displayed on-screen were the correct associations or not. Findings from Experiment 1 showed a reduced self-bias effect in perceptual matching after priming the interdependent self-construal in participants who had low self bias compared to those with high self-bias. In contrast, priming the independent self-construal did not modulate the self-bias in perceptual matching. The effects were replicated in Experiment 2 with an explicit priming method. The results indicated that the self is a dynamic concept that can modulate perceptual processing by temporary access to other cultural contexts.
Mengyin Jiang, Tsinghua University, China
Jie Sui, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom