טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentBen Nahum Yaara
SubjectHolistic-Analytic Thinking and Creativity: Exploring the
Effect of Culturally Shaped Cognitive Strategies
DepartmentDepartment of Industrial Engineering and Management
Supervisor Professor Emeritus Miriam Erez
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


Abstract

Cultural effects on personal creativity have long been debated; however research on national-level cultural values (e.g. Power distance) failed to provide conclusive results. The present exploratory study examines weather creativity is affected by Holistic and Analytic Thinking cognitive strategies (Nisbett, Peng, Choi & Norenzayan 2001), which are nurtured by certain ecological, social and cultural environments. These cognitive strategies are reflected in behaviors, which are the most external manifestation of culture. Holistic and Analytic thinking styles differ on aspects such as locus of attention (to the entire field vs. the focal object); explanations of causality (interactions with surrounding field vs. object’s internal dispositions), perception of change (cyclic vs. linear) and attitudes toward contradictions (dialecticism vs. formal logic). The literature is inconclusive regarding the possible effect of Holistic-Analytic thinking on creativity. Conformity was also examined in the study because it is nurtured by the same socio-cultural environment as holistic thinking, and the literature suggests it has a negative effect on creativity. Participants in this study were 168 Engineering and Chinese Medicine students who were asked to perform a creativity task. They further performed a memory task requiring them to recall objects that appeared in pictures they observed earlier. This memory task served for measuring whether they recalled background information, reflecting a Holistic thinking orientation, or mainly the main objects, reflecting Analytic thinking orientation. Finally they filled out a questionnaire assessing Holistic vs. Analytic thinking and a measure of conformity. Results indicated a positive effect of Holistic thinking on creativity, and a negative effect of conformity on creativity. The study suggests that culture may affect creativity through the shaping of cognitive strategies. It also highlights that culture's effect may be complex, as different elements conformity on the one hand and holistic thinking on the other hand can have contradictory influences on certain outcomes, such as creativity.