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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science