The Cultural Context of Cognition

This article employs evidence from a literature within social psychology on the malleability of scores on the Implicit Association Test (IAT), a measure that is widely used to assess implicit attitudes, and other implicit cognition measures, to provide a theoretical framework for incorporating implicit processes into sociological accounts of culture. Studies from this literature demonstrate the fundamentally contextual and interactional nature of implicit cognition; that is, how the cultural environment shapes the activation of cognitive associations. Understanding how culture works to influence behavior requires attention to the interaction between the cultural environment — including symbols and media, place, situations, and networks—and cognitive representations. Using this theoretical framework, I discuss how evidence from the sociology of culture regarding the nature of this cultural environment can inform our understanding of culture in action.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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