Perspective | Published:

Bridging cultural sociology and cognitive psychology in three contemporary research programmes

Abstract

Three prominent research programmes in cognitive psychology would benefit from a stronger engagement with the cultural context of cognition: studies of poverty focused on scarcity and cognitive bandwidth, studies of dual-process morality and studies of biases using the implicit association test. We address some limitations of these programmes and suggest research strategies for moving beyond an exclusive focus on cognition. Research on poverty using the cognitive bandwidth approach would benefit from considering the cultural schemas that influence how people perceive and prioritize needs. Dual-process morality researchers could explain variation by analysing cultural repertoires that structure moral choices. Research using the implicit association test can better explain implicit attitudes by addressing the variability in cultural schemas that undergird biases. We identify how these research programmes can deepen the causal understanding of human attitudes and behaviours by addressing the interaction between internal cognition and supra-individual cultural repertoires.

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A correction to this article is available online at https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-017-0270-7.

Change history

  • 29 November 2017

    Owing to a technical error, Bo Yun Park’s affiliation was incorrect in the originally published HTML version of this Perspective and should have read: Department of Sociology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA. This has now been corrected. The PDF version is correct.

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Acknowledgements

We thank G. Abend, B. Bonikowski, K. Cerulo, C. Daniel, P. DiMaggio, F. Dobbin, H. Gardner, P. Hall, H. Haste, S. Lukes, J. Mijs, A. Perrin and A. Wilson for their helpful feedback on an earlier version of the paper. M.L. acknowledges support from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Correspondence to Michèle Lamont.

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