The influence of culture on social cognition

Prof. Lydia Krabbendam

We are studying the influence of cultural orientations (e.g. individualism, collectivism and honour) on various socio-cognitive processes. Does growing up in a culture of honour or in a more individually oriented society affect the way people think about themselves and how they respond to feedback from peers and teachers?

In this context we do not focus solely on cultural orientation as something that is set in stone, but also on culture as a mindset that can be triggered by cues from the individual’s social circle and from their physical environment. Aside from experimental techniques, we also use anthropological methods to tackle research questions.

Is there a relationship between the culture you grow up in and the way your brain develops? In 2012, Prof Krabbendam received a VICI grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research for research on culture and the brain.

Another component of this line focuses on social cognition and individual differences, as well as well-being at school and academic performance. Our research in pupils in primary and secondary education, and in university students, focuses on how individual differences in theory of mind and empathy (e.g. gender differences) are associated with well-being at school/university and with academic performance. In some projects, we also study interactions with other pupils/students and with teachers/lecturers.