Culture and early attention to positive versus negative self-relevant information: An ERP investigation

[Speaker] Kamikubo, Aya:1
[Co-author] Karasawa, Mayumi:1, Kitayama, Shinobu:2
1:Tokyo Woman's Christian University (Japan), 2:University of Michigan (United States of America)

Previous work shows that North Americans are more self-enhancing than Asians, but it is not clear at which stage of information processing this cultural difference occurs. In the present study, we recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) from Japanese and American participants while they read vignettes of either positive or negative social events and judged how their self-esteem would be influenced. In both groups, an early positivity around 200ms post-stimulus (P2) was followed by a pronounced negativity (N2). For Japanese, both of these early ERP components were biased in the direction of negative polarity for negative (vs. positive) events. This effect of event valence was non-significantly reversed for Americans. No cultural difference was found either in subsequent ERP components or in the self-esteem change judgment. Our finding suggests that the cultural difference in self-evaluation may result from differences in allocation of early attention to negative versus positive self-relevant events.
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