Application of Dual Brain Theory to Cross-Cultural Studies of Cognitive Development and Education

Warren D. Tenhouten, Sociological Perspectives, Summer 1989, 32, 2, 153–167.

Abstract: The cognitive structures of children from minority group, poor, rural, aboriginal, or otherwise socially disadvantaged backgrounds are hypothesized to be gestalt-synthetic in mode of thought and field-dependent in cognitive style; cognitive structures of children from dominant, majority, urban, nonaboriginal, or otherwise advantaged backgrounds, to be relatively logical-analytic and field-independent. These cognitive structures are shown by cerebral lateralization theory to have neurophysiological substrates. Individual hemisphericity, the tendency to rely on the resources of the right or left cerebral hemisphere, is interpreted on four distinct levels: performance hemisphericity, hemispheric activation, hemispheric preference (as personality structure), and cognitive style (lateral flexibility). An illustrative comparison of thinking processes of Australian Aborigines and Australian-born whites is developed using primary and secondary data.