A Cross-Cultural Exploration of Imagination as a Process-Based Concept

The present study explores imagination in a cross-cultural context through an original 25-item questionnaire. A cross-national sample of 940 respondents included 336 participants from North America, 309 from Germany, and 295 from mainland China. Imagination is shown to be a process-based concept consisting of a number of components (factors) rather than a single, reified faculty. A principal component factor analysis yielded a five-factor model including expressive imagination, openness to variations, instrumental imagination, past/future mindedness, and conventionality (in descending order of importance). The central factor, expressive imagination, reflects the intrinsically motivated creation and reception of narratives in everyday life and childhood imaginary worlds. Significant regional differences were found for all five factors. Cultural and social contributors to the study results were discussed.

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