Culture and the body: East-West differences in visceral perception

Christine Ma-Kellams, Jim Blascovich, Cade McCall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research investigated cross-cultural differences in the accuracy of individuals' perceptions of internal visceral states. We conducted 4 studies to test the hypothesis that Asians are less sensitive to internal physiological cues relative to European Americans. Studies 1 and 2 assessed cultural differences in visceral perception via tests of misattributions of arousal: Study 1 involved false heart rate feedback during an emotionally evocative slideshow and examined subsequent self-reported affective changes; Study 2 manipulated apparent physiological arousal and measured its effects on attraction via an immersive virtual environment. Study 3 directly assessed visceral perception using a heartbeat detection task. All 3 studies found Asians to be less viscerally perceptive than European Americans. Study 4 examined one possible cultural mechanism for the observed difference and found evidence for contextual dependency as a mediator of the culture-visceral perception link.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)718-28
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • Adult
  • Arousal
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Electrocardiography
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Feedback, Physiological
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Perception
  • Thematic Apperception Test
  • User-Computer Interface
  • Viscera
  • Young Adult

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