Event-related potentials during individual, cooperative, and competitive task performance differ in subjects with analytic vs. holistic thinking
It has been presented that Western cultures (USA, Western Europe) are mostly characterized by competitive forms of social interaction, whereas Eastern cultures (Japan, China, Russia) are mostly characterized by cooperative forms. It has also been stated that thinking in Eastern countries is predominantly holistic and in Western countries analytic. Based on this, we hypothesized that subjects with analytic vs. holistic thinking styles show differences in decision making in different types of social interaction conditions. We investigated behavioural and brain-activity differences between subjects with analytic and holistic thinking during a choice reaction time (ChRT) task, wherein the subjects either cooperated, competed (in pairs), or performed the task without interaction with other participants. Healthy Russian subjects (N=78) were divided into two groups based on having analytic or holistic thinking as determined with an established questionnaire. We measured reaction times as well as event-related brain potentials. There were significant differences between the interaction conditions in task performance between subjects with analytic and holistic thinking. Both behavioral performance and physiological measures exhibited higher variance in holistic than in analytic subjects. Differences in amplitude and P300 latency suggest that decision making was easier for the holistic subjects in the cooperation condition, in contrast to analytic subjects for whom decision making based on these measures seemed to be easier in the competition condition. The P300 amplitude was higher in the individual condition as compared with the collective conditions. Overall, our results support the notion that the brains of analytic and holistic subjects work differently in different types of social interaction conditions.