The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why

The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why

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By (author) Richard Nisbett

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  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Format: Paperback | 263 pages
  • Dimensions: 138mm x 212mm x 20mm | 240g
  • Publication date: 19 April 2004
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0743255356
  • ISBN 13: 9780743255356
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Sales rank: 29,745

Product description

A "landmark book" (Robert J. Sternberg, president of the American Psychological Association) by one of the world's preeminent psychologists that proves human behavior is not "hard-wired" but a function of culture. Everyone knows that while different cultures think about the world differently, they use the same equipment for doing their thinking. But what if everyone is wrong? "The Geography of Thought" documents Richard Nisbett's groundbreaking international research in cultural psychology and shows that people actually think about--and even see--the world differently because of differing ecologies, social structures, philosophies, and educational systems that date back to ancient Greece and China. As a result, East Asian thought is "holistic"--drawn to the perceptual field as a whole and to relations among objects and events within that field. By contrast, Westerners focus on salient objects or people, use attributes to assign them to categories, and apply rules of formal logic to understand their behavior. From feng shui to metaphysics, from comparative linguistics to economic history, a gulf separates the children of Aristotle from the descendants of Confucius. At a moment in history when the need for cross-cultural understanding and collaboration have never been more important, "The Geography of Thought" offers both a map to that gulf and a blueprint for a bridge that will span it.

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Author information

Richard E. Nisbett has taught psychology at Yale University and the University of Michigan, where he is the Theodore M. Newcomb Distinguished University Professor. He has received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association, the William James Fellow Award of the American Psychological Society, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2002, he became the first social psychologist in a generation to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences. The coauthor of "Culture of Honor" and numerous other books and articles, he lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Review quote

"Philadelphia Inquirer" Nisbett's findings pose provocative challenges to universalist assumptions about human thought and inference.