A fundamental challenge facing social perceivers is identifying the cause underlying other people’s behavior. Evidence indicates that East Asian perceivers are more likely than Western perceivers to reference the social context when attributing a cause to a target person’s actions. One outstanding question is whether this reflects a culture’s influence on automatic or on controlled components of causal attribution. After reviewing behavioral evidence that culture can shape automatic mental processes as well as controlled reasoning, we discuss the evidence in favor of cultural differences in automatic and controlled components of causal attribution more specifically. We contend that insights emerging from social cognitive neuroscience research can inform this debate. After introducing an attribution framework popular among social neuroscientists, we consider findings relevant to the automaticity of attribution, before speculating how one could use a social neuroscience approach to clarify whether culture affects automatic, controlled or both types of attribution processes.

Journal Article
Publication Date
Social Cognitive Affective Neuroscience

Full Citation

. “Culture, Attribution and Automaticity: A Social Cognitive Neuroscience View.”
Social Cognitive Affective Neuroscience
, (January 01, 2010):