A cross-cultural examination of selective attention in Canada and Japan: The role of social context

Sawa Senzaki*, Sandra A. Wiebe, Takahiko Masuda, Yuki Shimizu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have found that East Asian children outperform Western children on executive function tasks; however, cultural differences may depend on the task demands. Particularly, East Asian children may have difficulties in regulating attention within social contexts. Selective attention was tested among four- to seven-year-old Canadian (N = 62) and Japanese (N = 54) children using two Flanker task variants: (a) Social Flanker (i.e., happy/sad faces) and (b) standard Fish Flanker (i.e., right/left) tasks. In the Social Flanker task, Japanese children's performance was more impaired by flanker interference than that of Canadian children. While the interference effect was similar across cultures in the Fish Flanker task, Japanese children had an overall better performance than Canadian children. In both cultures, the older children (ages 6–7) performed better than the younger children (ages 4–5). These results suggest the importance of social contexts in understanding cultural differences in the development of cognitive control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-41
Number of pages10
JournalCognitive Development
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive control
  • Culture
  • Executive function
  • Flanker
  • Selective attention
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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