Date of this Version


Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Details

Liang, B. and Kale, S. H. (2010). Cultural differences in imagery generation: the influence of concrete versus abstract thinking

Working Paper Series; No. 37, March 2010.

Copyright © Beichen Liang, Sudhir H. Kale and The Globalisation and Development Centre, Bond University, 2010.


Do concrete stimuli help generate more images than abstract ones? Although past research has suggested this, the finding may not hold true across cultures. Our investigation suggests that since East Asians tend to think concretely as compared to Westerners, they tend to generate more imagery than Westerners when subjected to abstract messages. However, when the stimuli are concrete, the concreteness of the stimuli overwhelms the differences in the natural tendency toward imagery generation. The study also finds that under abstract stimuli, limiting mental resources makes cultural differences in imagery generation disappear but mere instructions to imagine do not. Moreover, the paper also separates ways of thinking from views of self to suggest that it is not views of self but ways of thinking that drive imagery generation.