How WEIRD are the attitudes of Japanese and English teachers towards creativity: a cultural psychological perspective

Kagari Shibazaki, Nigel Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies in Psychology have been traditionally based on data collected in WEIRD countries; that is nations that are Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (Henrich, Heine & Norenzayan (2010a, 2010b). Hence, many of the beliefs we hold about human behaviours may in fact be describing truths that apply to a very small sample of the worlds’ population namely those who live in WEIRD countries (see also Rad, Martingano & Ginges, 2018). This is due to the fact that a wide range of cultural individualities exist that create culturally and psychologically relevant differences. Hence, cultural psychology argues that cultural differences produce psychological differences, and the values, attitudes and meanings that individual cultures experience as the norm, are in fact created and enforced by the structures (e.g. legal and political) and behaviours developed by, and through, that cultural context (Pitesa & Gelfand, 2023).
The study aimed to explore the extent to which the cultural ideologies that are dominant within a WEIRD nation can impact on the beliefs and practices of teachers in a music classroom. To this end, interviews were carried out with 12 music teachers; six in Japan and six in England. The two countries were selected as being appropriate representations of an ‘individualist’ and a ‘collectivist’ culture (Triandis, 1995). The interview schedule sought to better understand the views of teachers around the idea of ‘creativity’, and how these ideas impacted on the process of assessing children’s creative products.
The data suggested that teachers’ basic beliefs about creativity clearly reflected their cultural contexts, with the Japanese teachers valuing a more adaptive, and EEIRD approach to creativity whilst English teachers tended to prefer a more innovative and WEIRD form of creativity. The study also found that even within EIRD populations, a wide range of cultural contexts do exist that can create significant psychologically relevant differences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-24
JournalProblems in Music Pedagogy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


  • Creativity
  • cultural psychology
  • music education
  • assessment

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