We test three main hypotheses: (1) older people are more interdependent than younger people and (2) as a consequence, they become more holistic in cognition, and (3) in part as a result of more holistic thinking, they become wiser in some respects. We will sample people aged 20-79. We will study American and Japanese participants on tests measuring independent/interdependent social orientation including characteristics of each participant's social network, perceived social support, and various indirect indicators such as sensitivity to vocal tone. To test whether greater interdependence within age groups is associated with more holistic thinking, we will assess several facets of holistic cognition including attention to context, causal attribution, logical vs. dialectic reasoning, recognition of uncertainty, and context-dependent learning. More holistic people, as compared to more analytic people: attend to context more broadly, more clearly recognize the role of situations in producing behavior and have more complex views of causality, look for the middle way in disputes and evaluation of contradictory propositions, are more cognizant of uncertainty and change, and show larger context- dependent learning effects. We anticipate that greater age will prove to be associated with more holistic cognition for Americans, who become increasingly more interdependent as they age. We anticipate that the aging effect on cognition will be less for Japanese, who probably increase less in interdependence as they age. We will draw random samples from one middle-class area and one working-class area of both the United States and Japan. We will measure health, socioeconomic status, crystallized intelligence and fluid intelligence. These measures will be used to gauge comparability of samples in the U.S. and Japan and to determine their relation to interdependence and holistic vs. analytic cognition. Thus this application examines the long-held folk belief that with age, we become wiser, and evaluates the hypothesis that much of what westerners call """"""""wisdom"""""""" is similar to holistic processing of information. Holistic processing of information is fostered by interdependence with other people, which is more characteristic of the elderly. The research will shed light on how social relationships change with age, how the nature of social relationships influences thinking, and how certain kinds of cognition encourage wise thinking. Public Health Relevance: The research will shed light on how social relationships change with age, how the nature of social relationships influences thinking, and how certain kinds of cognition encourage wise thinking.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Project (R01)
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Social Psychology, Personality and Interpersonal Processes Study Section (SPIP)
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Nielsen, Lisbeth
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University of Michigan Ann Arbor
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Ann Arbor
United States
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Park, Jiyoung; Kitayama, Shinobu (2014) Interdependent selves show face-induced facilitation of error processing: cultural neuroscience of self-threat. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 9:201-8
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Murata, Asuka; Moser, Jason S; Kitayama, Shinobu (2013) Culture shapes electrocortical responses during emotion suppression. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 8:595-601
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Na, Jinkyung; Kitayama, Shinobu (2011) Spontaneous trait inference is culture-specific: behavioral and neural evidence. Psychol Sci 22:1025-32
Kitayama, Shinobu; Park, Jiyoung (2010) Cultural neuroscience of the self: understanding the social grounding of the brain. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 5:111-29
Varnum, Michael E W; Grossmann, Igor; Kitayama, Shinobu et al. (2010) The Origin of Cultural Differences in Cognition: Evidence for the Social Orientation Hypothesis. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 19:9-13
Na, Jinkyung; Grossmann, Igor; Varnum, Michael E W et al. (2010) Cultural differences are not always reducible to individual differences. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107:6192-7
Bowman, Nicholas A; Kitayama, Shinobu; Nisbett, Richard E (2009) Social class differences in self, attribution, and attention: socially expansive individualism of middle-class Americans. Pers Soc Psychol Bull 35:880-93

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