The March 21 lecture will be at 4:10pm in room 1010 on the 10th floor of the Weiser building.

Please join Dean Andrew Martin in honoring Professor Shinobu Kitayama on his appointment to the Robert B. Zajonc Collegiate Professor of Psychology.

The study of culture in psychology has come of age. I was fortunate to live this development through my professional career. Along with a number of colleagues, I have explored cultural pluralism – the hypothesis that there are multiple equilibriums in human cultural adaptation while relying on epistemological positivism – a set of scientific methods employed to evaluate claims made on different cultures. One primary domain of interest has been a macroscopic comparison between (relatively interdependent) East and (relatively independent) West. The resulting field is now called cultural psychology. In this lecture, I will discuss three core themes of the field and put forward new questions that have emerged on the horizon. Specifically, the success of cultural psychology was initially anchored in (i) an experimental approach to document cultural variations in mentality. Subsequently, it has been reinforced by both (ii) an effort to identify situational, historical, ecological, and, more recently, evolutionary forces that shape the contemporary cultural variations in mentality and (iii) the adoption of neuroscience methods to assess the “depth” of cultural influences on mentality. Now, the field is poised to address novel questions on the biological mechanisms that are recruited to support culture, including neuroplasticity, gene x culture co-evolution, and epigenetic pathways of socio-cultural adaptation.

Shinobu Kitayama received a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, where he is currently Robert B. Zajonc Collegiate Professor of Psychology. His research focuses on cultural variations in the self and certain cognitive, emotional, and motivational processes that are linked to it. In recent years, he has contributed to a newly emerging field of cultural neuroscience by investigating the dynamic, recursive interaction between culture and the brain. He is also interested in genetic and epigenetic mechanisms in understanding human culture. He previously taught at several institutions including the University of Oregon, Kyoto University, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago. He is currently serving as Editor in Chief of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology—Attitudes and Social Cognition. He was an elected Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences (1995-1996 and 2007-2008), received a Guggenheim Fellowship (2010-2011), held the Earnest Hilgard Visiting Professorship at Stanford (2011), and has been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2011).