The Influence of Culture: Thematic versus Taxonomic Categorization


There is evidence that cognition processes may not be universal for people in the world. The goal of this study was to explore whether people from different culture backgrounds adopt varied concepts to categorize objects. Participants from eastern and western were required to rate association strength of word pairs in questionnaires which used five-point-scale. Two types of word relations are manipulated. These words were paired by taxonomic (e.g., banana - apple) or thematic (e.g., banana - orangutan) categories. The results showed culture differences. Relative to western people, easterners tend to put weaker emphasis on objects’ taxonomic categories than on thematic relations. There was an interaction between people from different cultural background and the type of relations. The tendency influenced by culture to sort objects into thematic or taxonomic categories will be discussed in further research. Keywords: culture, thematic, taxonomic, categorization

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