Culture and the Complex Environment: Comparing the Complexity Difference between East Asians and North Americans

  • Author / Creator
    Wang, Huaitang
  • Previous cultural research found that East Asian pictorial representations (e.g., paintings) contained more elements than North American ones, and that East Asians were more likely than North Americans to prefer context-rich information to context-impoverished information (Miyamoto, Nisbett, & Masuda, 2006; Masuda, Gonzalez, Kwan, & Nisbett, 2008). Four studies were conducted to examine the cultural variations of the complexity difference between East Asians and North Americans. Study 1 analyzed the posters collected at the SPSP conference and the results indicated that East Asians were more likely than North Americans to design complex posters when posters contained two or more studies; however, no cultural effect was found when posters contained a single study. In Study 2, I analyzed portal pages of governments and universities in East Asian (e.g., China, Japan, Korea) and North American societies (e.g., USA and Canada), and found that East Asian portal pages were more complex than North American ones. Based on the findings, I further investigated people’s speed in dealing with complex web information in Study 3 and simple web information in Study 4. The results showed that East Asians were faster than North Americans in dealing with information on complex WebPages, especially at the bottom of sections, but no cultural effect was found when participants were asked to perform the same tasks on simple WebPages. This research reinforced the previous cultural research on visual representations, and suggested that East Asians were more likely than North Americans to prefer to complex designs, which in turn can affect people’s patterns of attention and cognition. (255 words)

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2010
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Wu, Joe (Faculty of Education)
    • Ji, Li-Jun (Department of Psychology, Queen’s University)
    • Nicoladis, Elena (Department of Psychology)
    • Mos, Leendert (Leo) Pieter (Department of Psychology)