Psychology ETDs


Xiaoshen Jin

Publication Date



Considerable cross-cultural work on adults and older children suggests that collectivist and individualist cultures are associated with different modes of cognitive processing involving holistic and analytic thinking styles. The current study examined cultural differences in holistic-analytic thinking styles in an understudied population—preschoolers—in the United States, a representative country for individualism, and in Mexico, a representative country for collectivism. Eighty-three preschoolers (United States: n = 41; Mexico n = 42) with an age range from 3 years to 6 years 1 month participated in this study. Two measures of cognitive style were given to each participant: the triad task and a modified version of the Preschool Embedded Figures Task (Coates, 1972). Results revealed no significant differences between Mexican and United States preschoolers in either the triad or the embedded figures task except in how quickly preschoolers identified the embedded figures, with Mexican preschoolers performance exceeding American preschoolers' performance. An age effect was evident in preschooler performance in both tasks in both countries: older preschoolers were more likely to show thematic organization and field-independent thought than younger preschoolers. Results are discussed in terms of the need to re-evaluate monolithic concepts of both collectivism-individualism and cognitive style.

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First Advisor

Witherington, David

First Committee Member (Chair)

Delaney, Harold

Second Committee Member

Ruthruff, Eric




Cognition in children--Cross-cultural studies, Preschool children--Psychology--Cross-cultural studies, Cognition and culture, Cognition in children--United States, Cognition in children--Mexico, Individualism--Psychological aspects, Collectivism--Psychological aspects.

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