Neural cultural fit: Non-social and social flanker task N2s and well-being in Canada

Matthew Joseph RUSSELL, Man Wai LI, Hajin LEE, Anthony SINGHAL, Takahiko MASUDA

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Research has noted well-being benefits to having a cultural fit between a person and the environment. The more a person fits the environment, the greater their reported well-being. We tested if cultural fit is also seen with neural patterns, which we term neural cultural fit. To address this question, we measured European Canadian (EC) and East Asian (EA) electroencephalography data during non-social (switches) and social (face emotions) flanker tasks. Participants were asked to categorize center switches (up–down) and faces (happy–sad) that were surrounded by other switches or faces. The flanker tasks involved congruent lineups, which showed the same directions or emotions between center and surrounding stimuli, and incongruent lineups, with different directions or emotions between center and surrounding stimuli. As the target neural measure, we calculated N2 event related potentials. Larger N2s to incongruent than congruent lineups suggest more conflict to incongruent lineups. We found larger N2s to incongruent than congruent lineups for EAs, as compared to ECs, replicating previous findings showing more context sensitivity for EAs. We also found evidence of neural cultural fit, with individuals with more difference from N2 neural pattern averages set by ECs in Canada in the social task, reporting less well-being. Cultural fit was also observed with social orientation beliefs, but did not explain neural cultural fit. These findings are important as they suggests that cultural fit depends not only on the subjective experience of what we believe (e.g., self-reports), but also on the objective experience of how we think (e.g., neural patterns). Copyright © 2019 Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCulture and Brain
Early online date15 Nov 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Nov 2019


Evoked Potentials
Self Report
Direction compound
Conflict (Psychology)


Russell, M. J., Li, L. M. W., Lee, H., Singhal, A., & Masuda, T. (2019). Neural cultural fit: Non-social and social flanker task N2s and well-being in Canada. Culture and Brain. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s40167-019-00089-8


  • Cultural fit
  • N2 and N200
  • Non-social versus social
  • Flanker
  • Cultural neuroscience
  • Well-being