Do verbs and adjectives play different roles in different cultures? A cross-linguistic analysis of person representation

Anne Maass, Minoru Karasawa, Federica Politi, Sayaka Suga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Five studies are reported testing the hypothesis that Westerners (Italians) rely more on trait adjectives and that East Asians (Japanese) rely more on behavior-descriptive verbs in person description and memory. In Studies 1 (N = 80) and 2 (N = 128), Italians used more adjectives and fewer verbs than Japanese to describe individuals and groups. Likewise, Studies 3 (N = 161) and 4 (N = 84) revealed that Italians committed more memory errors indicative of behavior-to-trait inferences, whereas Japanese showed an opposite tendency (Study 3) or no difference (Study 4). Study 5 (N = 64) revealed that in both languages, adjectives were perceived to provide more information about the actor and that verbs were perceived to provide more information about the situation. Yet, Japanese participants found adjectives less predictive of future behavior but facilitative of the process of imagining a concrete situation. These results are interpreted as providing evidence for systematic cultural differences in the elaboration of social information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)734-750
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume90
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006 May 1
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

role play
Linguistics
linguistics
human being
cultural difference
Language
language
evidence
Group

Keywords

  • Adjectives
  • Cognition
  • Cultural differences
  • Culture
  • Inferences
  • Language abstraction
  • Person description
  • Person perception
  • Verbs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

Do verbs and adjectives play different roles in different cultures? A cross-linguistic analysis of person representation. / Maass, Anne; Karasawa, Minoru; Politi, Federica; Suga, Sayaka.

In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 90, No. 5, 01.05.2006, p. 734-750.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{5e3141f5eb5b4422b7bb52c1a7e5a8bf,
title = "Do verbs and adjectives play different roles in different cultures? A cross-linguistic analysis of person representation",
abstract = "Five studies are reported testing the hypothesis that Westerners (Italians) rely more on trait adjectives and that East Asians (Japanese) rely more on behavior-descriptive verbs in person description and memory. In Studies 1 (N = 80) and 2 (N = 128), Italians used more adjectives and fewer verbs than Japanese to describe individuals and groups. Likewise, Studies 3 (N = 161) and 4 (N = 84) revealed that Italians committed more memory errors indicative of behavior-to-trait inferences, whereas Japanese showed an opposite tendency (Study 3) or no difference (Study 4). Study 5 (N = 64) revealed that in both languages, adjectives were perceived to provide more information about the actor and that verbs were perceived to provide more information about the situation. Yet, Japanese participants found adjectives less predictive of future behavior but facilitative of the process of imagining a concrete situation. These results are interpreted as providing evidence for systematic cultural differences in the elaboration of social information.",
keywords = "Adjectives, Cognition, Cultural differences, Culture, Inferences, Language abstraction, Person description, Person perception, Verbs",
author = "Anne Maass and Minoru Karasawa and Federica Politi and Sayaka Suga",
year = "2006",
month = "5",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1037/0022-3514.90.5.734",
language = "English",
volume = "90",
pages = "734--750",
journal = "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology",
issn = "0022-3514",
publisher = "American Psychological Association Inc.",
number = "5",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Do verbs and adjectives play different roles in different cultures? A cross-linguistic analysis of person representation

AU - Maass, Anne

AU - Karasawa, Minoru

AU - Politi, Federica

AU - Suga, Sayaka

PY - 2006/5/1

Y1 - 2006/5/1

N2 - Five studies are reported testing the hypothesis that Westerners (Italians) rely more on trait adjectives and that East Asians (Japanese) rely more on behavior-descriptive verbs in person description and memory. In Studies 1 (N = 80) and 2 (N = 128), Italians used more adjectives and fewer verbs than Japanese to describe individuals and groups. Likewise, Studies 3 (N = 161) and 4 (N = 84) revealed that Italians committed more memory errors indicative of behavior-to-trait inferences, whereas Japanese showed an opposite tendency (Study 3) or no difference (Study 4). Study 5 (N = 64) revealed that in both languages, adjectives were perceived to provide more information about the actor and that verbs were perceived to provide more information about the situation. Yet, Japanese participants found adjectives less predictive of future behavior but facilitative of the process of imagining a concrete situation. These results are interpreted as providing evidence for systematic cultural differences in the elaboration of social information.

AB - Five studies are reported testing the hypothesis that Westerners (Italians) rely more on trait adjectives and that East Asians (Japanese) rely more on behavior-descriptive verbs in person description and memory. In Studies 1 (N = 80) and 2 (N = 128), Italians used more adjectives and fewer verbs than Japanese to describe individuals and groups. Likewise, Studies 3 (N = 161) and 4 (N = 84) revealed that Italians committed more memory errors indicative of behavior-to-trait inferences, whereas Japanese showed an opposite tendency (Study 3) or no difference (Study 4). Study 5 (N = 64) revealed that in both languages, adjectives were perceived to provide more information about the actor and that verbs were perceived to provide more information about the situation. Yet, Japanese participants found adjectives less predictive of future behavior but facilitative of the process of imagining a concrete situation. These results are interpreted as providing evidence for systematic cultural differences in the elaboration of social information.

KW - Adjectives

KW - Cognition

KW - Cultural differences

KW - Culture

KW - Inferences

KW - Language abstraction

KW - Person description

KW - Person perception

KW - Verbs

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=33745208446&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=33745208446&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1037/0022-3514.90.5.734

DO - 10.1037/0022-3514.90.5.734

M3 - Article

C2 - 16737371

AN - SCOPUS:33745208446

VL - 90

SP - 734

EP - 750

JO - Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

JF - Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

SN - 0022-3514

IS - 5

ER -