British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 5 Issue 4 (November 1987), Pages 299-394

Cultural influences on the development of conceptual differentiation in person description (pages 309-319)

Cultural influences on the development of person/situation and self/other differentiation are examined in a cross‐cultural developmental study of person description. Comparison is undertaken of modes of describing peers known well and peers not known well by middle‐class Hindu and American children at ages 8, 11 and 15 years and by middle‐class Hindu and American adults. Results indicate that at older ages Americans make significantly greater reference to general psychological dispositions and employ significantly more impersonal attributions than do Hindus. It is also observed that significant developmental increases in use of general psychological dispositions and impersonal attributions occur among Americans and not among Hindus. Evidence is presented to suggest that these cross‐cultural developmental differences reflect individuals' acquisition of contrasting cultural meaning systems rather than differences in individuals' cognitive capacities, socio‐economic status or exposure to the persons being described. The results are interpreted as implying that developmental changes occurring in conceptual differentiation may be dependent on cultural transmission and non‐progressive in nature.

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