Cross-Cultural Similarities and Differences in Person-Body Reasoning: Experimental Evidence From the United Kingdom and Brazilian Amazon

Cognitive Science 35 (7):1282-1304 (2011)
We report the results of a cross-cultural investigation of person-body reasoning in the United Kingdom and northern Brazilian Amazon (Marajó Island). The study provides evidence that directly bears upon divergent theoretical claims in cognitive psychology and anthropology, respectively, on the cognitive origins and cross-cultural incidence of mind-body dualism. In a novel reasoning task, we found that participants across the two sample populations parsed a wide range of capacities similarly in terms of the capacities’ perceived anchoring to bodily function. Patterns of reasoning concerning the respective roles of physical and biological properties in sustaining various capacities did vary between sample populations, however. Further, the data challenge prior ad-hoc categorizations in the empirical literature on the developmental origins of and cognitive constraints on psycho-physical reasoning (e.g., in afterlife concepts). We suggest cross-culturally validated categories of “Body Dependent” and “Body Independent” items for future developmental and cross-cultural research in this emerging area
Keywords Mind‐body  Dualism  Cognitive anthropology  Person  Brazil  Cross‐cultural
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