Tying It Up

Symbolic Framing in Cross-Cultural Perspective

by Hugh M. Lewis

1995

 

 

You can take the girl off the Jetty but you can't take the Jetty out of the girl.

Ethnocultural models presume that cultural reality is to some extent situated within a specific social and historical context. If we traverse cultural boundaries, we suffer culture shock. Not only are ethnocultural groupings contextualized by a particular period and place, as an historically rooted and socially entangled reality, but the symbolisms of ethnoculture become planted inside of our heads. Cultural reality occurs mostly on an implicit level. It is contextually defined and bound to rules of practice. It is therefore also an unconscious process that moves us in mysterious ways.

A number of different tasks were designed and administered upon the Jetty with the aim of discerning significant patterns of symbolic response by these people that are linked to perceptual recognition. The design and inter-correlation of these tasks rests upon several related theoretical presuppositions. In some largely unknown way and to some largely unknown degree: 1) "culture" is planted "inside our heads," 2) shared patterns of response across a common community are significant indications of "culture," 3) both this "sharing" of culture and its psychological correlates are "situated" and rooted in the common setting and group context of the culture bearers' daily lives.

These tasks have been constructed and grouped under the influence of an alternative theoretical framework for which these tasks are largely perceptual gestalt-like frames in analyzing the differentiation of the perceptual field (Turney 1955; Fuller 1982; Zubin, Eron & Schumer 1965:95-166). These symbolic frame tasks elucidate not just a random response, but patterns of response which meet certain requirements of statistical significance. The tasks aid in this effort in at least two ways: first they are capable of eliciting a limited range of similar response sets between any number of people, and, second, they are capable of eliciting a relatively wide, but not unlimited range of variability within and between these response sets. I define these response patterns as symbolic.

The samples of the frame tasks on the Jetty were variable in composition and only partially overlapping. When possible, the samples were grouped during analysis on the basis of gender, age (children younger than 18-years-old, adults 18 and over), and Jetty versus control reference group and non-Jetty samples. It was difficult coordinating who did what within the different behavioral settings of the Jetty, and in part it was this difficulty which led to the design of the symbolic frame battery (SFB) and the use of a reference group as a means of establishing systematic control and consistency between samples. The lack of control and consistency in the ethnographic context is felt to have been offset by the exploratory and experimental nature of these tasks, and the degree of achieved consistency of response pattern apparent even with small samples, and especially evident in repeated sub-samples of similar tasks.1

This presentation is intended only to suggest that there may be significant patterns of sharing and inter-sample differences (Szalay & Deese 1978). This minimal sharing appears consistent enough between samples and across different kinds of tasks to suggest that these frequencies may be indicative of common symbolic and mental attitudes that are tied to cultural and sub-cultural differences. Where possible, correlations of scores were sought, and thus a correlational search was conducted in the effort to identify hidden patterns of relationship in the different kinds of response patterns elicited. This data can be interpreted in any number of ways, depending ones theoretical primes. Discussion is confined to only the most preliminary analysis of these results; gross averages of group scores conflate significant individual differences and inter-task relationships. Its value is as an analytical (largely atheoretic) description of an implicit level of shared patterning that is hypothetically linked to internalized cultural orientations.

Color Tasks

In what I refer to as the 8 and 12 card tasks (Semeonoff 1976:250-257), colored cards are laid in random order in a pyramid and half square in front of the informant on an interview board that gives uniformity of local ground. Informants are asked to choose their most favorite colors, the card is taken up, and the rank order of selection recorded. This entire procedure was then repeated, with the interviewee being told to make the second selections independent of the order of the first.

In the 8 card sample (adult females, N=58; adult males, N=34) the most frequent color rank order is purple, red, yellow, green, blue, gray, brown and black, competing with juxtapositions between red and purple, yellow, green and blue, and gray and brown. The greatest differences in responses between male and female subjects is the frequency of red in the first and second position for the males and the frequency of yellow and green in the second and third positions for the females.

For the 12 card sample (adult women, N=14; adult men, N=24), black as the last choice remains the most frequent color and purple remains the most frequent color first choice, followed by violet, and then red and pink, green and yellow and orange, then blue and gray and finally brown and white. For the men, red and pink are the first and second most common choices, followed by gray, yellow and purple, green and blue.

An ethnosemantic task was given with the same 12 cards in an effort to get at some common color associations and values.2

The subjects (N=22) were asked to identify the colored cards along dimensions of contrast that emerged from the interviews as important in differentiating the colors. These dimensions were male and female, pretty and ugly, light and dark, good and bad, dirty and clean, and dangerous and safe. For each category an intermediate category emerged that was considered "both male and female" and "sometimes dirty and sometimes clean."3

Figure D-1 shows a cluster analysis of the correlation of the colors across the elicited categories.

Figure D-1. Cluster analysis of the positive and negative dimensions of color associations.

The same task also included at the end a "top-down" pile sort with the twelve color cards. The analysis of the pile sorts proceeded from left to right, and from grouped to ungrouped at the bottom of the tree. Red at each level was taken as an anchor point for the identification of the different colors. Figure D-2 shows the most frequent first choice colors at each level of the pile sort. There is surprising consistency in these pile sorts, as well as a tendency to draw out red and yellow from purple and violet in the first cuts.

Figure D-2. Most frequent first choices in each level and cut of the 12 card color pile sorts.

A 12 color version of the "color pyramid test" (Semeonoff 1976:258-270; Schaie & Heiss 1964) was given in which subjects were asked to construct sets of pretty and ugly pyramids using small pieces of color felt. The colors of the felt were matched as closely as possible to the 12 color cards. Informants were asked to construct pretty and then ugly pyramids from these colored squares of felt. There were from top down five rows of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 squares on each level, respectively, and a total of fifteen such patches per pyramid. In terms of the gross frequency scores for the occurrence of the 12 colors across the six samples, there was an inter-correlation of -.82 between the ugly and pretty pyramids--with the sequence of colors for pretty and ugly pyramid occurring almost in reverse order. Highest to lowest frequency colors of the pretty pyramids were pink, purple, yellow, red, orange, blue, white, green, violet, gray, brown and black. Highest to lowest frequency colors of the ugly pyramids were black, brown, gray, green, blue, white, orange, yellow red, pink, violet and pink.4

Each pyramid was symmetrically balanced, requiring fifteen patches of felt to complete. Thus there were from top down five rows of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 squares on each level, respectively, and a total of fifteen such patches per pyramid. This technique, though complex and time consuming to prepare and administer, provides a useful and interesting way of corroborating the Luscher related rank order tasks.5

Twelve sets of "color-thing" rank order tasks were also given involving color-object association with pictures of diverse groups of things printed on paper by the use of a set of ten colored pens with which subjects (N=21)were asked to choose one object at a time (objects covered diverse sets of shapes, symbols, animal forms and household things) and rank it (from one to ten) on the page.6

The perfect correlations for the colors across the twelve tasks suggests that the rank order of the colors was amazingly consistent. A low average correlation of colors across the items in each of the tasks and of items across the colors in each task suggests that there is only slight if any interaction between choice of color and choice of item--leading to the conclusion that overall there is a lack of association between colors chosen and items chosen.7

The rank order of the frequency distribution of the 12 colors of the pretty pyramid is highly correlated with highest frequency distribution of the rank order of the most two most preferred cards of the 12 card task, while the rank order of the ugly pyramids is highly correlated with the two least preferred cards. The correlation matrix of the 12 color task and of the color pyramid task is shown in Table D-1.

Numerous frequency distributions of the ten rank order colors in the trait-color association tasks bears out the same relationships, with the most preferred colors becoming most highly associated with the most preferred, and presumably the most basic, objects across a number of domains. There is a -.61 correlation between last and first frequency rank orders.

 

ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

1. Most Preferred

1

     

2. Pretty Pyramids

0.6

1

   

3. Least Preferred

-0.44

-0.56

1

 

4. Ugly Pyramids

-0.69

-0.82

0.66

1

Table D-1. Correlations of Pyramids to Rank Order Frequencies of Colors.

Drawing Tasks

While drawings were for the most part "kid's stuff," (most adults strongly resisted requests to draw, and were embarrassed by drawing) the utility of drawing as productive symbolic frame tasks and the basic competence of children as productive and willing cultural informants, warranted extensive incorporation and utilization of numerous drawing tasks.

Of a sample of 28 boys, the average developmental score of the Human Figure drawings (Koppitz, 1966, 1968, 1984) was 21.2 out of a possible score of 30. For this sample there was an average score of 1 for impulsiveness, .64 for insecurity, .46 for anxiety, .46 for shyness, and .178 for anger. For the most part, these scores were distributed evenly over the whole sample. For the female sample of 21 women, there was an average score of .33 for impulsivity, .19 for insecurity, .38 for anxiety, .38 for shyness and .047 for anger.8

Of the male sample, more than 85% drew male figures, and only 14% drew female figures. Of the female sample, more than 90% drew female figures, and only 10% drew male figures. The average number of clothes for the male figures is 3.8, while the number of clothes for the females' figures is 3.28.9

Another sample of drawings were derived from the family drawing tasks. It is interesting that the typical arrangement of the members are in a kind of hieratic order of size, with individual's standing side-by-side in a row, usually without touching.10

Table D-2 shows the correlation matrix of the scores for the family and human figure drawings of the boys and the girls.

 

Boys' Figures

Girls' Figures

Boys' Families

Girls' Families

Boys' Figures

1

 

 

 

Girls' Figures

0.47

1

 

 

Boys' Families

0.84

0.86

1

 

Girls' Families

0.52

0.95

0.89

1

Table D-2. Correlations between Human Figure and Family Drawings

There is a slight tendency for the boys to draw the males (father's and son's) alike, with similar hair, clothes, postures, and for the girls to draw the women alike in a similar manner. Siblings are usually drawn very similarly, and smaller than the adults. Predictably, there was an increase in the average score of organic and neurological signs per figure in the drawings, being 5.98 for the boys' sample (N=32) and 4.9 for the girls' sample (N=16)

An adapted version of house-tree-person drawings which were done on the same page were collected from small samples of boys (N=16) and girls (N=14). The two samples are remarkably consistent in the scores of the expected frequency of developmental items, the absence of which serve as neurological indicators, as well as in the relative frequencies of exceptional items which are also used in developmental analysis, the girls having an average absence score of 11.4 out of 28 items (40.8%) and the boys having an average absence score of 10.5 out of 28 items (37.5%).

The differences in direction and degrees of rotation were significant for the human figures, the boys being slightly oriented to the left while the girls were slightly oriented to the right. The chi square for this difference in left/right orientation between the boys and girls is 10.9, significant above the .001 level.

The drawings were also scored for the relative position of the house, tree, and person from left to right, from foreground to background (from bottom edge to top) and also in terms of small to large size. The predominant pattern was a left-to-right orientation in which the paper was cut evenly into thirds widthwise to accommodate each thing.11

In terms of relative positioning and size, there is a .1 correlation between the house and the tree, a -.77 correlation between the person and the house, and a -.61 correlation between the tree and the person.

Three samples were constituted of drawings from different tasks. They all yielded similar interesting and highly significant patterns of association in which certain types of figures drawn were highly associated with the symbols which served as their stimulus.12

A number of other drawing tasks were also conducted, as well as a number of spontaneous samples that emerged as natural groupings from the children, including drawings of houses, Mickey Mouse faces, and persons.

The final drawing task that was administered to the Jetty (N=11) was a set of stimuli which ranged from "open" blank drawing pages to dots, with dots and lines, and finally to "closed" spaces. The object of the task was for the individual to successively draw in pictures in the spaces provided with successive levels of increasing background constraint. In the first level of four sets of "open" or unconstrained drawings, every picture was filled with full, expressive items. In subsequent levels, fewer clear items occur, and more geometrized forms occur.13

Perception

The understanding of perception in relation to symbolic framing is critical, because we can refer to the basic "perceptual integrity of experience" (Fuller 1982:84-5) The first levels of perception and the final levels of cognitive processing are interlinked in a feedback loop within which our continuity of experience becomes shaped and defined. It is this perceptual continuity of conscious experience that enables us to utilize symbolic framing tasks in ways that give us insight into systematic patterning of this informational processing of the brain.

The perception tasks included a number of different kinds of tasks that were independently devised, mostly as spin-offs ("testing the limits" with a perceptual integration and hand-eye coordination task, a short term memory task, a "rotating frame" task and a pattern recognition task) of the Minnesota Percepto-Diagnostic Technique (or MPDT, see Fuller, 1982).

The average raw scores of the female Jetty sample (N=13) of the adapted version of the MPDT is 25.1. The average raw score of the male Jetty sample (N = 15) is 46.1. The average raw score of the reference group sample (N=18) is 31.7. The average raw score of the non-Jetty sample (N = 15) is 34.

There is a difference of frequency scores of the direction of rotation of the MPDT figures between men and women of the Jetty. This difference was not significant for the reference group, nor for the non-Jetty sample, so may therefore just be a fluke, nevertheless it is a pattern present in the data worth mentioning. The chi square test for significance is 6.611, significant above the .025 level.

Besides the MPDT, a systematic means of "testing the limits" of this tasks, especially in terms of perceptual integration of information, was devised as a series of multiple choice tasks of images of the cards with the figures in different orientations. This task was especially meant to help assess any relative level of impairment of perceptual integration of information. A small sample from 31 subjects was collected. A paired variates T-test with MPDT scores with a sub-sample of 15 sets of scores shows no significant difference in the two sub-samples at a level of .05 rejection. There is a positive correlation of .215 between these sets of scores. This correlation suggests that though the sample sizes are small, the task may be measuring to some degree what it was designed for, and that is the relative level of ability to perceptually integrate information in an increasingly "noisy" or ambiguous field.

Besides this task for systematically testing the limits of the MPDT, especially in relation to the perceptual integration of information, an alternate "short term memory" task (N=17) was devised that was parallel to the MPDT. It was designed to learn about the process of the individual's retrieval of information from "short term" memory that was just perceptually processed by the presentation of cards before their removal. Two types of errors became apparent with this task. These are in the number of reversals and rotations that occur within the figure itself, though the overall figure is drawn correctly. Attending to the minor details, the overall axis of orientation may be simple "left out of the picture" or "forgotten."

The "rotating frame task" was a direct spin off of the development of extensions of the MPDT, and concerned only the axis of rotation in relation to the frame. The original position of the frame was slowly revolved from a horizontal to a diamond position, and the original axis of the rod shifts from the vertical, to the horizontal, diagonal, and oblique. Four samples were collected from different designs of the tasks (N=11, N=30, N=19, N=10). While a gradient is clear in all four samples taken, unadapted scores of the N=30 sample, show a clear demarcation line at greater than 15. The 13 highest frequency scores for errors of this sample all reveal that the error was made when the frame itself was rotated to the diagonal axis such that it assumed a diamond shape. It appears on this task that this was the least stable or most difficult orientation, especially when the rod was rotated to the vertical or slightly oblique from the vertical axis. Also unstable were the diagonal frame in which the rod was also pointed to the diagonal.14

The patterning of the correlation matrix suggests that there are four subgroups on the sample--low scorers below 4, low intermediate scorers from 5 to 14, high intermediate scorers from 15 to 21, and high scorers from 22 to 46. The high/low intermediate groups form a distinctive boundary between each other, with the highest average correlation of .74 occurring with the high intermediate groups, compared to an average of .41 for the low intermediate group, and a .18 average correlation for both the remaining low and high scorers.

It appears that diagonal frame or rod in relation to non-diagonal figure or frame is more difficult for the high intermediates to guess than for the low intermediates. The seven point spread between the two groups suggests that these are substantial and consistent types of errors made between the two groups, and are near perfect discriminators of the pattern.15

The third task (N = 19), transitional from the third to the fourth, has a stronger positive correlation of .36 and is noteworthy because this was perhaps the best task, generating a clearly bipolar histogram between high and low scores (ten below 1.75, and nine above, out of a total score of 12). The consistency of the third task sample was quite remarkable, especially for those who scored six, and was without exception due to the diagonal rotation of the frame to the oblique or vertical rod. This sample bears out the diagonal rotation of the frame as the main discriminator, as shown in Figure D-3.

Figure D-3. Two examples of the rotating frame task showing diagonal.

 

The final perception task reveals with greater detail the processes of recognition and object identification that may be involved in modes of perception. The pattern task consists of 9 pictures each of 8 common objects (half of an apple, a fish, a spider, a horse, a flower with stem and petals, a human skeleton oriented along the horizontal axis, a cat's face and a mouse). Each successive picture of each series presents a more definite outline of the object. A substantial sample was collected (N = 41, 18 males and 23 females). People were scored at the page at which they first had recognition of the object. At the same time, notes were kept of the details of individuals' response patterns, indicating what they thought they were seeing in the pictures until the "true form" of the object became apparent to them. What is interesting is how pattern recognition is preluded with much processing of details and trying out of different possible forms, and at some point, the "aha" pattern of the gestalt emerged, or else failed to emerge at all. Table D-3 illustrates very directly in terms of the gross frequency scores of the entire sample the pattern of achieving the "gestalt" The greatest tendency was to see the gestalt by the eighth card, while the second greatest tendency was to be unable to perceive the correct gestalt at all.

Figure D-3. Frequency of scores per sequenced item number across total sample.

Symmetrical forms were more difficult to recognize than asymmetrical forms, as evidenced by difference in average scores. The chi square test comparing of scores of ten (no correct response) with scores of six or below, of the four symmetrical figures with the four asymmetrical figures is 35, significant past the .005 level.16

Drawing analysis of the same tasks in which subjects were asked to draw what they saw on successive pages, reveals a consistent pattern of early disparate, geometric and prototypical forms (i.e., fish, butterflies, faces, hearts, ribbons), the gradual emergence of a focal and "stereotypical" form that is "cartoonish" in its simplicity, then the sudden degradation of this entire form as attention appears to become focused upon specific "key" details of the image, and then either the sudden emergence of the true form in a more realistic representation, if the correct form was found.

A test of the difference of between eight paired values of the highest peak and the frequency score immediately preceding the peak has a critical t value of 3, which is significant above the .02 level. There was a slight positive correlation of scores with age of .28. This edge of recognition in difference of values is better represented in Table D-4:

Figure D-4. "Edge" at which gestalt recognition occurs.

 

Basic Things Tasks

Several different "basic things" tasks (Semeonoff 1976:231-245; Szalay & Deese 1978) were used, involving subjects rank ordering with pencil various pictures of objects upon a paper. Different "domains" of objects were used in these tasks (shapes, symbols, flora and fauna, animals, household things, miscellaneous things.) Basic shapes tasks entailed the rank ordering from one to ten of a set of 14 basic shapes. The probability that any single object will be chosen at random is 7.1%. There were three samples for this task (#1, N=56, #2, N=63, #3, N=17). The average score for a random response should be 560/140, or 4, and the average number of responses per category of items should be 560/14, or 40. Categories in which frequencies were significantly lower, and especially higher, or frequencies of individual rank orders significantly above or below 4, must be regarded as "salient." The most frequently chosen by subjects in sample #1 were:

The circle (50); the square and hexagon (47 each); the octagon (45); the triangle (44); the horizontal oval (43); parallelogram (42). Of the remaining shapes, the least frequent were the horizontal rectangle (12); the trapezoid (19); the vertical rectangle (30); the rectangle (31); the upside down triangle and the vertical (36 each).

Perhaps more revealing, are the frequency patterns of the individual rank order choices, as the distribution of scores among categories for certain items is far above the expected frequency of four:

1. the hexagon (18) and the circle (8) and octagon (7).

2. the circle (10) and the pyramid and octagon (7 each).

3. the square (10) and the pentagon (9).

4. the circle and the pyramid (8 each).

5. the horizontal oval(10) and the octagon (9).

6. the horizontal oval (7).

7. the parallelogram (10) and the vertical oval (9).

8. the parallelogram (9).

9. the trapezoid (8).

10. the rectangle (8) and the parallelogram (7).

There is a positive correlation of .96 between sample #1 and sample # 2, a positive correlation of .89 between sample #2 and sample # 3, and a positive correlation of .87 between sample #3 and sample #1, showing high consistency in response pattern.

In all the samples which were of substantial size (N=50-100), the same pattern emerges with remarkable consistency. These different rank order tasks of basic items were corroborated with a separate and differently constructed rank order task utilizing nine sets of many of the same items but differently arranged on the page and differently configured on a "framed" background and field.

"Shapes" tasks show an average correlation of .98 between different geometric shapes. There is a positive correlation of .71 between the rank order frequency of the ten objects from this sample and the same objects from the #3 (N=17) sample presented above and a .84 with the same objects from the #1 (N=56) sample.

In two samples of 9 tasks of sets of basic things, one utilizing color (N=21) and one with pencil (N=10), almost every item that occurred most frequently of all, also tended to be the most frequent first or second item chosen. The frequency distributions of the two samples show an average correlation of .75. This pattern of high correlation suggests a remarkable consistency which is not influenced by the relative sizes of the samples and which also suggests that underlying "structures" exist which cannot be accounted for on the basis of chance alone. Another kind of task related to these basic things tasks consisted of "analogical" sets of from four to six items of similar shape and/or kind presented in a row. The informant was asked to rank the objects, choose the three most alike, the two most different, and the reasons for the choice. In total there were 36 sets of such analogies, given to samples ranging from 7 to 29 subjects.

An example of the frequency distribution is the set encompassing the crocodile, turtle, lizard, frog, fish and snake. The turtle is clearly the most frequent first choice, followed by the turtle as the second choice and most frequent thing. The fish is the most frequent third rank, followed by the frog for fourth and the lizard and snake tying for fifth and the crocodile as the most frequent last thing. The three things most alike are the crocodile, lizard and frog, because they have the same shape and all have legs. Table D-5 shows the frequency landscape of the three most alike:

Table D-5. Three most alike of crocodile, frog, lizard, snake, fish and turtle.

What also frequently occurs is an implicit underlying basic form, such as triangularity, "roundness" or four-leggedness, which appears to be critical in the distinguishing between most different and most alike. "Basicness" also appears to influence the relative rank order, especially of the first thing chosen--this is especially the case in the geometric shapes in which a square or circle can be easily distinguished as more "basic" than a pentagon or an egg shape.17

Inkblot Tasks

The five inkblot samples taken from the Jetty were mostly overlapping, based upon five different sets of inkblot pictures, two of which were of my own construction, one of which was a photocopied version of the Rorschach, lacking the color and fine detail, and another a similar version of the Harrower inkblot in both black and white and in color. The total sample size was about 123 sets of tasks (Rorschach, N=25; Harrower, N=27; Harrower Color, N=15; #1, N=30; #2, N=26). The frequencies of the relative scores for all five samples were recorded, and correlation between the tasks is quite high, as shown by the Table D-6:18

 

#1

#2

Rorschach

Harrower

Color

Inkblot #1

1

       

Inkblot #2

0.98

1

     

Rorschach

0.92

0.97

1

   

Harrower

0.91

0.96

0.96

1

 

Color Harrower

0.82

0.86

0.81

0.87

1

Table D-6. Correlations between Scores of Inkblot Tasks.

Three of the five samples (#2, the Rorschach and the Harrower) were compared for content frequencies. All three samples yielded a great variety of content, which overlaps as much as 90%. The Rorschach had approximately 224 different items, while task #2 had approximately 350, and the Harrower about 270 items. Correlations between the samples on the basis of five shared most frequent items (butterflies, people, eyes, bats, and birds) shows a high positive correlation (.75) of frequencies between the Harrower and Rorschach, a low positive correlation between the Rorschach and #2 (.175) and a negative correlation between the Harrower and #2 (-.38). Correlations between the item frequencies themselves show the pattern of association in Table D-7.

 

butterflies

people

eyes

bats

birds

butterfly

1

       

people

0.54

1

     

eyes

-1

-0.57

1

   

bats

0.45

-0.5

-0.42

1

 

birds

-1

-0.5

1

-0.5

1

Table D-7. Correlations of most frequent shared items.

There are apparent basic cognitive and conceptual domains under which content items can be grouped on the basis of similarity in terms of the response to the same or similar types of figures. For example, bats, birds, butterflies, airplanes and dragon flies and sometimes heart shapes all form a common class of objects. The categories into which things are implicitly grouped are not as clear cut, and there are many overlaps of shared traits of items. For example, mice and dogs may sometimes occupy different basic domains, but mouse snouts and dog muzzles may form a common membership.19

The Symbolic Frame Battery (or SFB)

The symbolic frame battery (or SFB) was designed during the course of the field work with the intention of standardizing the elicitation of a series of different symbolic frame tasks, with the aim of implementing basic controls over the administration/elicitation of response of these tasks, and in order to simplify and ensure greater reliability of analysis between individuals and of different tasks by the same individual. It was also designed for the purpose of cross-cultural research based upon etically measured differences of response patterns between different cultural (or sub-cultural) samples, while at the same time it may provide an objective means of measuring the relative "distance" between samples in terms of the profile of scores (and hence of the cultures they represent). Correlational patterning and differences between the samples may represent structural differences between cultural samples. This "search" for underlying structure in the response patterns of the symbolic frame protocol can be usefully extended through more sophisticated techniques such as factor analysis and multidimensional scaling.

What follows is an analysis of three samples of the second revised form of the SFB as it was given to Chinese people (N=35, 6 adult men, 5 boys, 12 girls, 11 adult women), mostly from the Jetty (87%), a small sample of British students (N=14, five women and nine men) and a diverse group of Americans (N=14, five men and nine women).

Task Set 1: Revised Form B of the MPDT

The first task were the six MPDT figure-frame images given in reverse order, following "form B" or the "parallel" version of the original task (Fuller, 1982:101-113). In terms of scoring of reduction/enlargement of figures and of minor distortions, there were clear differences between the samples. The chi square test for significance of total left/right rotations between Chinese men and English/American men is 11.9, which is significant past the .001 level. Women of all the sub-samples show similar numbers of left and right rotations.20 

These differences are represented by the following average scores in Table D-8:

Rotations

English

Chinese

Americans

Right

9.1

9.8

5.8

Left

4.7

13.3

12.4

Table D-8. Average degrees of rotations of the 3 cultural samples.

Unadjusted average raw MPDT scores for the different sub-samples are: Chinese as a total, 22.8; English as a total, 14.4; Americans as a total, 17. These differences can largely be accounted for on the basis of educational achievement, as the American male sample is clearly the most strongly represented in the total number of years in school.

The task for indicating a problem with perceptual integration of information reveals an average score of 1.4 for Chinese females under 17 years, and an average score of 2 for Chinese females 17 years or older, an average score of 1.6 for males 17 years or below, and an average score of 1.2 for males over 17 years of age. This gives a total average score of 1.7 for Chinese females and 1.4 for Chinese males, and a total of 1.6 for the total Chinese sample. English males have an average score of .67 and English females have an average score of .2 for the females, yielding an average score of the total English sample of .43. American males have an average score of .5, and American females have an average score of 1.6, with a combined average of 1.1.

Task Set 3: The "Rotating Frame"

The third task was a revised version of the rotating frame task, which shows a clear bipolar pattern of response, especially for the British, and to a lesser extent, the American samples, but much more of a continuum for the Chinese sample. The totals of the females and male averages are compared below in Table D-9:

Rotation Scores

Chinese

English

American

Total Average

Males

15.4

12.7

9.6

12.6

Females

11

18

16.3

15

Total Average

13.2

15.3

13

13.8

Table D-9. Average rotating frame scores across the three cultural samples

There is -.7 correlation between men's and women's scores. There is a perfect negative correlation between Chinese and English, and Chinese and American scores, and a perfect positive correlation between American and English scores. Chi square comparing raw scores of American and Chinese males and females reveals a significant difference past the .001 level.Task Set 4: 8 Color Rank.

It was apparent that the adult Chinese females had the greatest consensus, followed by the Americans and the other Chinese sub-samples, while the English had the least amount of agreement. Table D-10 shows the color preference sequences of the three samples. There is .9 correlation of these frequency scores of the color rank order patterns between English and Chinese samples; a .68 correlation between American and Chinese samples; and a .65 correlation between American and English samples.

8 colors

1st.

2nd.

3rd.

4th.

5th.

6th.

7th.

8th.

American

yellow

yellow

blue

red

green

brown

gray

black

English

purple

purple

red

blue

red

gray

gray

brown

Chinese

purple

purple

yellow

blue

green

brown

gray

black

Table D-10. Most frequent colors in eight card rank order task

 

Task Set 5: The Symbolic Profile Drawing Task

The symbolic profile (Fry 1976) consists of six small squares on the paper, each containing a different symbol. In some of the squares the underlying geometric form of the presented symbol of the square thematically unites the different pictures drawn within the square, and also provides a basic form which may take many alternate shapes--a round dot can become grapes, marbles, suns, concentric circles, dots on the ends of pencils, holes in walls or tables, while small squares can become elaborated into larger rectangles--computer screens, hallways, boxes, books, puzzles or houses. Items have been highlighted where this seems to be occurring in the following lists, and also items have been underlined which reappear with frequency between different samples or within the same sample.

Square 1--curved line

1. Chinese females: fish and flag 3 each; river, mouse, eye, hat 2 each; lips, cake, candles, face, hair, tree, sea, string or thread, caterpillar, ice cream, glass, bag with strap, shape 1 each.

2. Chinese males: worm, 3; eye and flag, 2 each; paper, brow, face, waves, 1 each.

3. English: face and pairs of eyes, 3 each; lips, sea, sun, and sail boats, 2 each; flower, leaf, rabbit, skyline, life-raft, squiggly line, cigarette, 1 each.

4. Americans: face 5, ocean, 4; waves, sailing boat, 2 each; dolphin, snake, fish, car on a road, 1 each.

Square 2--small circle

1. Chinese females: flower, 4; concentric circles, sun, leaf, eyes, turtles, 2 each; box, hole, grapes, nail with head, umbrella, stick, child's face, snowman, snow, fish, marbles, hills, pencil, 1 each.

2. Chinese males: sun, face, hair, fish, person, radio, television, flag, flower, Chinese javelin, concentric circles, hole in wall, 1 each

3. English: stick figure 2; cat's face, snow, cloud, spider, wheel barrow, dice, flower, # 5, straw, soccer player, ball, pea shooter, pea, fox head, string of pearls, smiling face, 1 each.

4. Americans: happy face 3; flower 2; Cheshire cat, snake, circle, dog, dots, reindeer, snowman, fish, 1 each.

Square 3--diagonal line

1. Chinese females: house 4; pencil and triangle 3 each; table, 2; line, box, frog egg, ladder, key, umbrella, rain, pot, stirrer, river, tree, ruler, kite, kite tail, hills, tree, 1 each.

2. Chinese males: triangle 6; pencil 2; house, kite, fly, arrow and arrowhead, 1 each.

3. English: kite, kite tail, 3 each; park, swing, slide, merry-go-round, fir tree, hill, house, sail boat, water, flag, asterix, fish, big Ben clock, triangle, stick figure, Javelin thrower, javelin, volcano erupting, arrow, 1 each.

4. Americans: pyramids, 3; house, arrow 2 each; puzzle, slide on playground, face, book, box, square bisected with diagonal, road arrows, mountain with snow, chimney, 1 each.

Square 4--small square

1. Chinese females: house, 8; box 4; cup, 2; rectangle, robot, umbrella, pencil, fish, face, square, ribbon, cat's face, ground, weeds, moon, 1 2. Chinese males: radio, tree, pencil, book, glasses, nose, bell, anchor, stick, helicopter, concentric squares, brick wall, 1 each.

3. English: house with chimney 4; flower 2; robot's face, face with squares, stick figure, fruit in a basket, leaves , step pyramid, glasses, television, car, throwing dice, match stick, flower pot, shoulder pole for carrying baskets, 1 each.

4. Americans: square inside a square, 4; checkerboard, face, hallway windows, computer, 3; rectangles of increasing size, wood, blocks, cube, house, chimney, Christmas tree with presents, 1 each.

Square 5--up-turned curved line

1. Chinese females: face, 10; hair, 5; bangs, 4; tongue, cup, torso, 2 each, bowl, t-shirt, mouth, eye, flower, sun, crescent, dress, round thing, cake, fish, 1 each.

2. Chinese males: face, 4; banana, 2; shape, can-cylinder, head, eye, samurai armor, concentric circles, 1 each.

3. English: face, 5; eye, palm trees, hair, 2 each; lashes, hammock, human figure, rugby ball, crescent moon, sun, wok, stick figure, jack-o-lantern, mug, bird, tie, 1 each.

4. American: face, 9; snail, reindeer, sun, volcano, 1 each.

Square 6--dot

1. Chinese females: head, bangs, flower, 3 each; triangle, arrow with point, tree, 2 each; umbrella, pyramid, stick, fish, tadpole, flower pot, shirt, lamp, plug, apple, hill line, clock with hour hand, star, crescent moon, grass, 1. 2. Chinese males: ice cream cone, 2; shampoo bottle, pencil, ribbon, arrow, bow, line dot, sea, fishhook, jet airplane, MPDT dots, raindrops, 1 each.

3. English: dots, 7; face, 2; sun, dress, concentric spirals, # 4, dice, ball, cat, boat, water, mouse, tail, whiskers, MPDT dots, 1 each.

4. Americans: Snow/rain/hail, 4; circle around dot, 2; right triangles, house, fire from dot, curving line, dog, four legged animal, Christmas tree, dot, mouth shape, window, blob, flower, rectangle, 1 each.

From these lists basic "symbol chains" for each sub-sample can be constructed based on the most frequently occurring things across the six task items.

Chinese females: face 13; house 12; fish and flower 6; pencil, 5; triangle 4; flag, 3.

Chinese males: triangle 6; face 5; pencil 4; flag 3; concentric circles, 2

English: face 13; house, boats, and suns, 5 each; eyes, 4 flower 3; kite, 3.

Americans: face 13; animals (dogs, cats, snails, snakes, fish, reindeer) 12; ocean 4; flowers and house, 3.

Task Set 6: Basic Things

The sixth set of tasks involves 5 different sets of basic items (geometric shapes, basic symbolic shapes, animals, household things, flora and fauna) which subjects were asked to select and rank from 1 to 10, and then to draw lines connecting as many items together on the page by any criteria of relationship of the subject.

Geometric Shapes

1. Americans: 1. horizontal oval, (21%); 2. triangle (21%); 3. square (21%); 4. square (21%); 5. none; 6. circle (21%); 7. pentagon (21%); 8. hexagon (21%); 9. parallelogram (35.7%); 10. octagon (21%).

2. English: 1. circle (35.7%); 2. none; 3. square, vertical oval and circle, (21% each); 4. hexagon and square (21% each); 5. none; 6. octagon and hexagon, (28.6% each); 7. none; 8. triangle (21%); 9. triangle (21%); 10. parallelogram (21%).

3. Chinese males: 1. hexagon (36.4%); 2. circle and horizontal oval, (27%); 3. none; 4. triangle (27%); 5. pentagon (27%); 6 none; 7. none; 8. none; 9. none; 10. vertical rectangle (27%).

4. Adult Chinese females: 1. octagon, hexagon, and circle (27% each); 2. none; 3. none; 4. small rectangle (27%); 5. triangle (27%); 6. triangle (27%); 7. hexagon (36%); 8. none; 10. square (27%).

5. Young Chinese females: 1. hexagon (41.67%) and circle (33.3%); 2. hexagon (25%); 3. octagon (25%); 4. none; 5. upside down triangle (33.3%); 6. none; 7. none; 8. horizontal oval (25%); 9. none; 10. none.

 

Basic Symbols

1. Americas: 1. sun (35.7%); 2. 5 pt. star, (42.9%);3. Christmas tree (28.6%); 4. crescent moon (35.7%); 5. heart (21%); 6. Greek Cross (21%); 7. none; 8 none; 9 none; 10, none.

2. English: 1. sun (71.4%); 2. 5 pt. star (25.7%); 3. swirl (21%); 4. none; 5. 8 pt. star (21%); 6. 8 pt. star and heart (28.6% each); 7. crescent (28.6%); 8. equal sign. (21%); 9. none, 10. 8 pt. start, (28.6%)

3. Chinese males: 1. 5 pt. star and sun, (36.4% each); 2. 5 pt. star (27%); 3. sun (27%); 4. none; 5. 8 pt. star (45.45%); 6. arrow and heart, (27% each); 7. none; 8. none; 9. none; 10; gold symbol (27%).

4. Adult Chinese females: 1. sun (36.4%); 2. 5 pt. star (36.4%); 3. none; 4. 8 pt. star (27%); 5. none; 6. swastika (36.4%); 7. diamond; (27%); 8. none; 9; none; 10. MAS logo, (27%)

5. Young Chinese females: 1. none; 2. sun (41.7%); 3. 5 pt. star (33.3%); 4. none; 5. crescent (25%); 6. none; 7. crescent (25%); 8. none; 9. none; 10; none.

Animals

1. Americans: 1. horse and dog (21% each); 2. dog (21%); 3. turtle (28.6%); 4. none; 5. alligator and dog (21% each); 6. bird (42.9%) and cow (21%); 7. none; 8. shark (28.6%); 9. pig (21%); 10. none.

2. English: 1. gecko (28.6%); 2. elephant (21%); 3. dog and elephant (21% each); 4. cow (28.6%) and turtle (21%); 5. crab (28.6%); 6. turtle and monitor (21% each); 7. cow (28.6%) and fish (31%); 8. rooster, (21%); 9. gecko (21%); 10. none.

3. Chinese males: 1. horse and turtle (27% each); 2. crab (36.36%) and cow (27%); 3. none; 4. none; 5 none; 6. elephant (36.36%); 7. fish and rooster (27% each); 8. none; 9. mouse (27%); 10. none.

4. Adult Chinese females: 1. horse (27%); 2. fish (27%); 3. none; 4. cow (27%); 5. rooster (27%); 6. bird (27%); 7. none; 8. shark (27%); 9. none. 10. monitor (27%)

5. Young Chinese females: 1. horse (41.67%) and dog (25%); 2. none; 3. turtle and elephant (25% each); 4. none; 5. none; 6. none; 7; none; 8. fish and cow (25% each); 9. shark and mouse (33.33% each); 10. snake (25%).

 

Household things

1. Americans: 1. chair, sunglasses, globe, bicycle, and knife, (14.28% each); 2. sunglasses (14.28%); 3. key (21%), valentine (14.28%); 4. stapler, (14.28%); 5. tennis shoe, alarm clock (14.28% each); 6. robot, skeleton key (14.28% each) and globe (21%); 7. tennis shoe and box (14.28%); 8. sunglasses and calendar (14.28% each); 9. ribbon (14.28%); 10. tennis shoes and book (14.28% each).

2. English: 1. bicycle (42.86%) and sunglasses (14.28%); 2. globe (21%); Swiss army knife and bicycle (14.28% each); 3. globe (21%), Swiss army knife and tennis shoe (14.28% each); 4. valentine, bird cage and coffee cup (14.28%); 5. globe (21%); Swiss army knife and key (14.28%); 6. stamp, open box and chair (14.28%); 7. clock, fountain pen and tennis shoe (14.28%); 8. tennis shoe (21%); skeleton key, television and open box (14.28%); 9. fountain pen and book (14.28%); 10. chair, stamp and book (14.28% each).

3. Chinese males: 1. sunglasses (27%) bicycle and Swiss army knife (18%); 2. ennis shoe, bicycle and book (18% each); 3. pot (18%); 4. tennis shoe, closed box and open box (18% each). 5. sunglasses (18%); 6. globe (27%) and bird cage (18%); 7. bicycle and key (18% each); 8. spanner wrench and bird cage (18% each); 9. none; 10. valentine (27%).

4. Adult Chinese females: 1. television (27%) and ribbon (18%); 2. bicycle (27%) tennis shoe, and globe (18% each); 3. tennis shoe, globe and Swiss army knife (18% each); 4. none; 5. bicycle (18%); 6. globe and valentine (18% each); 7. sunglasses (27%) and ribbon (18%); 8. chair, sunglasses, ribbon and television (18% each); 9. clock (18%); 10. stamp (27%) and skeleton key (18%).

5. Young Chinese females: 1. bicycle (50%),valentine and closed box(16.67%); 2. none. 3. bicycle (16.67%); 4. sunglasses, television and skeleton key (16.67%); 5. spanner wrench and key (16.67%); 6. none; 7. ribbon and Swiss army knife (16.67%); 8. globe and book (16.67%); 9. stamp (16.67) and 10. stapler (25%), stamp and sunglasses (16.67%)

Flora and Fauna

1. Americans: 1. dog (21%) and tyrannosaurus and pine tree (14.28% each); 2. bird (21%), archaeopteryx and palm tree (14.28% each); 3. pine tree and dragon fly (14.28% each); 4. dog (14.28% ); 5. spider and coconut palm (14.28%); 6. magnolia tree, horse, and frog (14.28% each); 7. clam shell and starfish (14.28% each); 8. none; 9. horse (14.28%);

2. English: 1. sea turtle (21%) and fish (14.28%); 2. starfish and clamshell (14.28%); 3. palm tree and saguaro cactus (14.28%); 4. saguaro cactus and starfish (14.28%); 5. lizard and dragon fly (14.28% each); 6. mushroom and sea turtle (14.28% each); 7. fish and sea turtle (14.28%); 8. magnolia, mushroom, and coconut palm (14.28%); 9. snail (14.28%); 10. crab and pterodactyl (14.28%). The beetle, flower, cactus, acorn, oak leaf, seaweed, peel bug, ant, spider, grasshopper, shark, tuna fish, dinosaur, trilobite, alligator were things not chosen at all. Items salient in any rank include the coconut palm (6.36%), the pine tree and the horse (6 each) followed by the starfish, magnolia and clam shell (5 each).

3. Chinese males: 1. tyrannosaurus and horse (18%); 2. fish (27%) and clam shell (18%); 3. shark (18%); 4. sea turtle (18%); 5. frog, snake and sea turtle (18%); 6. horse and fish (18%); 7. bird (18%); 8. none; 9. none; 10. clam shell (18%).

4. Adult Chinese females: 1. pine tree (27%) and coconut palm (18%); 2. magnolia (18%); 3. magnolia (18%); 4. coconut palm (27%) and pterodactyl (18%); 5. mushroom and horse (18% each); 6. none; 7. none; 8. none; 9. dog and clamshell (18% each); 10. horse, starfish and dragon fly (18% each).

5. Young Chinese females: 1. tyrannosaurus (25%); 2. dog, horse and dragon fly (16.67% each); 3. pine tree (16.67%); 4. bird and dragon fly (16.67%); 5. none; 6. bird (25%) and tuna (16.67%); 7. dog and frog (16.67%); 8. clam shell (16.67%); 9. none; 10. tyrannosaurus (16.67%).

There are clear, consistent individual differences in patterning of the linkages, individual consistencies which are carried over from one task to the next, as well as different overall tendencies for the different samples to link things together in fundamentally different ways. Differences in frequencies of linkages, things linked, and ratios of linkages to things linked have been calculated for the different groups. British have more average linkages than the American or the Chinese, and a higher average ratio of linkages to things linked, than either the Chinese of the Americans. Also the pattern of what kinds of things are linked to others varies considerably between different samples, and shows some significant consistencies within samples.21

A similar pattern exists for the average number of things connected between the different samples, except that the Americans (12.4) are higher on average than the British (11.6) and both are higher than the Chinese total average (8.4). English males have the highest average (13.2), followed by American Females (12.5).22

Task Set 7: The 12 Color Rank.

The seventh task involves a 12 color rank order. Though similar in form to the 8 color task, it should not be considered the same--it is more complex and leads to a wider variation of choice. Composite scores of the Chinese, English and American sub-samples are summarized by Table D-11. There is a .7 correlation between American and English scores and between English and Chinese scores, and a .5 correlation between American and Chinese scores.

 

1st.

2nd.

3rd.

4th.

5th.

6th.

7th.

8th.

9th.

10th.

11th.

12th.

Amer.

yellow

green

blue

pink

orng.

blue

blue

green

red

gray

gray

black

Engl.

purple

blue

yellow

violet

red

orng.

green

pink

gray

gray

brown

black

Chin.

purple

purple

yellow

orng.

orng.

red

blue

green

brown

brown

gray

black

Table D-11. Most frequent colors of the 12 ranks order task.

 

Task Set 8: Second drawing task.

The seventh task involves three symbolic images (Semeonoff 1976:194-5) on which the subject draws. Responses are similar to the symbolic profile with some of the same basic qualitative differences between the samples, except that there is a greater frequency of sharing of basic shapes, and of greater thematic unity within and between the drawings.

 

Square 1.

1. Chinese females: t-shirts and triangles, 5; crescent moon, balloon, house, square, shape, bowl, bow, tree, lamp, 2 each.

2. Chinese males: rectangles 4; tree and flowers, 2 each.

3. English: sail boats and trees, 3 each; cup, water, land, stick figures, crescent moon, 2 each.

4. Americans: rectangles, 5; faces, 3, sailboats, water, square, valentine, sun, pine tree, 2 each.

Square 2

1. Chinese females: rectangles 19; house, 6; "L" 4; square 3; gift, box, circles, face, ribbons, 2 each.

2. Chinese males: rectangles 8; ladder-steps, candle, 2 each.

3. English: rectangles 5; aliens 5; house 4; rectangular boxes and "domino men", 3; clock, 2.

4. Americans: rectangles 10; human figures 5; square faces and rectangular buildings 3 each; road and steps, 2 each.

Square 3

1. Chinese females: fish, 20; ocean/water, 5; flag, 4; snake and birds, 3; road, flower, eye and triangle, 2 each.

2. Chinese males: fish, 10; waves, 3; cloud, skyline, snakes, 2 each.

3. English: ocean/water, seagulls, faces, 4 each; waves, sun, sail boat, hill line, 2. 4. Americans: water/ocean and faces, 6 each; sun and birds, 4 each.

Task Set 9: Inkblots

The final task consists of six inkblots which subjects are asked to outline and detail anything that they may see in them. Form scores are the best overall indicator of performance and clear perception of "gestalt" in the inkblots. Table D-12 presents the average relative form scores for the different sub-samples:

Form Scores

1st.

2nd.

3rd.

4th.

5th.

6th.

total

aver.

Total English

31.7

23.5

24

22.9

31.4

23.6

157.1

26.2

Total Americans

29.9

23.5

24.7

15.6

23.7

23.4

140.8

23.5

Total Chinese

18.9

16.7

17.5

13.1

14.8

13.2

94.2

15.7

Table D-12. Average Form Scores across the 3 samples.

It is evident by these relative scores that in terms of relative form American males score highest, followed by British females, British Males, American females, Chinese males and then Chinese females. Other total averages of relative scores of the inkblots are presented in Table D-13:

 

W.

Wd.

D.

dd.

c.

K.

M.

S.

Total English

2.35

3.4

17.1

4.2

1.15

3.2

1.6

4.8

Total Americans

1.2

4.8

14

2

0.38

1.45

1.44

2.65

Total Chinese

13

2.85

10.04

4.33

1.023

1.37

1.36

1.05

Table D-13. Average relative psycho grid scores of the three samples.

Finally gross content scores are presented in Table D-14 and include average number of the following response types (Semeonoff 1976: 52-101, Levitt 1980): whole human (H), human part (Hd) and human object (Ho), whole animal (A); animal part (Ad); animal object (Ao); whole plant (P); plant part (Pd); plant object (Po); Object (O); abstract-type (Abs); shape (Sh.) and pathonomic (Path.):23

 

H

Hd

Ho

A

Ad

Ao

P

Pd

Po

O

Abs

Sh

Path

Net

Total English

2.7

6.6

1.8

7

3.8

0.5

2.7

0.4

0.3

6.8

0.7

0.3

3.3

37

Total Americans

1.9

4

1.4

7.5

5.9

0.2

1.9

0.6

1.2

3.4

0

0.2

0.8

29

Total Chinese

1.8

2

0.8

0.9

2

0.6

1

0.4

1

2.3

0.2

0.6

0.9

14

Table D-14. Average content scores across the three samples.

CONCLUSIONS

The small sizes of the cross-cultural samples compromises the statistical significance of their differences. But consistent differences appear to occur not only on a cultural level, but also in terms of age and sex. There were important differences in a number of empirical measures, defined by age and sex, between Jetty and non-Jetty samples, and, cross-culturally, between the English, Americans and Chinese (which sample was 86% from the Jetty). The average MPDT scores of the Jetty men and women were much higher than the non-Jetty Chinese, and the parallel form of this task on the Symbolic Frame Battery shows that average Chinese MPDT scores were substantially higher than either English or American samples. Other error and rotation scores of this task also produced similar kinds of differences, as well as the task for perceptual integration. The rotating frame task shows the average scores of the Chinese slightly higher than those for the American and English samples. The American and English samples show much more of a bi-modal distribution, while the Chinese sample shows a clearer gradient. The Chinese samples of the rotating frame tasks from the Jetty all point to a similar kind of gradient, with the diagonal axis in relation to the diamond frame being the primary discriminator. Similar kinds of differences occur in the linkage scores of the basic things tasks, as well as in all the relative average measures of the inkblots.24

In order to understand the implications of these consistent differences between the samples, we may refer to gestalt theories of the symbolic differentiation of the phenomenal field (Turney 1955; Werner 1957; Mortensen 1991).25 

In general, increasing background noise or ambiguity tends to obstruct or delay the ability of people to form clear, well defined gestalts that are in a critical sense "true to form." There is a difference between individuals and between samples in the average ability to form early or complete gestalt recognition under conditions of increasing background noise. There is a differential of reliance upon preconceived, stereotypical information drawn from the memory and, as well, upon contextual information derived from the background for cues as to the gestalt recognition which, if exaggerated, especially under ambiguous circumstances, may interfere (and in the long run, incapacitate) the individual's ability to achieve gestalt recognition which is independent of such information (recognition of the "thing in itself" so to speak). This kind of difference is consistent across different kinds of tasks, and may be linked to two aspects of human difference: 1) the development and adaptive organization of personality configurations, 2) the cultural context and social-environmental background in which these configurations of personality may be developed and situated. (Whiting and Whiting 1975)

I refer to this pattern of recognition as basically symbolic, and the differences between individuals and samples reflect differences of symbolic organization of cultural psychological functioning. Symbolic framing appears empirically to function at several levels. Symbolization occurs continuously both in the analytical differentiation of the phenomenal field, and in the subsequent reintegration of this field. Symbols thus appear to mediate complex boundaries in complex ways.

It has long been accepted that symbols are somehow important in understanding how culture works and influences our ways of thinking, but precise linkages or mechanisms between the outer world of symbols and the inner world of meanings have not been clearly established. The empirical demonstration of such a linkage was implicitly suggested a number of times in the frequency patterning of the responses in the data presented, but nowhere explicitly stated. To put it concisely, our minds are somehow organized to function symbolically as pattern recognition devices that bounce the myriad inputs of rudimentary percepts around in our heads to construct progressively higher organized mental patterns. In this we can see a basic isomorphism of symbolic structure, patterning and content between the inner world of the subconscious psyche and the external world of the lived cultural context. The linkage between the inner cognitive model of the world and the culturally organized environment are the gestalt patterns of the symbolic framing mechanism.

At the individual level of psycho-cultural functioning there is a sense in which the external context of informational perception provides a relative level of organization or structure or order which is never complete or static. Gaps of information frequently occur at numerous levels in the perceptual and symbolic processing of such information which it is the facility and adaptability of the human mind to compensate for by filling in with what it "interprets" implicitly as relevant information drawn from its own memory and symbolic material. The mind may try to repair the holes to reconstruct gestalts with information which may become increasingly irrelevant and out of synchrony with the original patterning.

There is a great deal of cultural consonance and consistency of shared values in the communities of the Jetty. The Chinese there have elaborated a locally situated version of a wider familial model of order which has been extended symbolically, principally through their religion, to incorporate larger relations with the social, natural and supernatural worlds. The mother with a cane in one hand and a candy in the other is performing a similar role as the community shaman-turned-baby God who in a state of semi-trance gives candy to the children while cracking his whip with the other hand. The Gods which protect from harm and bless the Jetty Chinese with good fortune in the lotteries or in gambling, can also punish and chastise them for going against the established way and values of the community.

In this we can refer to basic field dependency theory and the differences between articulated and "global" personality structures, in which the articulated personality is relatively differentiated (individually) from the surrounding nexus of perceptual relations. "To characterize a system as more differentiated implies, first of all, segregation of self from nonself" (Witkin and Goodenough 1981:19-20; Werner and Kaplan 1963). Developmental differentiation depends upon the effective environment, and involves separate identification and sense of autonomy, an articulated concept of the body as having definite limits and of integrated but different parts, the availability of structures for controlling impulse, and use of specific defenses such as intellectualization, projection and isolation, "rather than relatively nonspecific defenses such as repression and denial." Such differentiation is associated with neuro-physiological specialization of brain function.