Mind-culture interactions: How writing molds mental fluidity in early development
Demetriou, Andreas P.
Zhang, X. K.
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This study investigated intellectual development in 4-7. years old Greek and Chinese children. They were examined on speeded performance, working memory, reasoning, and self-awareness tasks in order to investigate possible effects of learning the Chinese logographic system on possible differences in intellectual development between these ethnic groups. Speeded performance was examined with commonly familiar objects and tasks related to reading (i.e., Latin, Arabic, and Chinese characters). Chinese outperformed Greeks in (1) reading-related processing efficiency tasks but not in common objects (2) spatial but not verbal WM, (3) cognitive, and (4) the self-awareness tasks. Structural equation modeling showed that performance is organized in four systems (i.e., domain-specific problem solving, representational capacity, inference, and consciousness) integrated by g, in both ethnic groups. There were differences between the two ethnicities in the strength of relations between constructs, attributed to Chinese logographic experience. That is, the massive practice in visuo/spatial processing and memory seemed to provide an advantage in the communication between systems of the mind causing increased general cognitive fluidity, expressed in higher intellectual performance among the Chinese. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.