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The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Whyby Richard Nisbett
Synopses & Reviews
When psychologist Richard E. Nisbett showed an animated underwater scene to his American students, they zeroed in on a big fish swimming among smaller fish. Japanese observers instead commented on the background environment — and the different "seeings" are a clue to profound cognitive differences between Westerners and East Asians. As Nisbett shows in The Geography of Thought, people 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. The Geography of Thought documents Professor Nisbett's groundbreaking research in cultural psychology, addressing questions such as:
"Writing dispassionately yet with engagement, Nisbett explains the differences as 'an inevitable consequence of using different tools to understand the world.'" Publishers Weekly
"Nisbett's readable presentation has admirable depth in history, philosophy, and culture....This outstanding book makes key contributions to education, science, health, business, politics, language, and religion." Library Journal
"The book is written in a chatty and reader-friendly style. The experiments are sometimes ingenious, and the results are sometimes provocative." New York Times
"Understanding the thought processes of other cultures may very well turn out to be critical to the survival of Western civilization. Unfortunately, it may be our very nature to discount or completely ignore any system that doesn't mesh with our own." Providence Journal
A and#8220;landmark bookand#8221; (Robert J. Sternberg, president of the American Psychological Association) by one of the world's preeminent psychologists that proves human behavior is not and#8220;hard-wiredand#8221; but a function of culture.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;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?andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;Iandgt;The Geography of Thoughtandlt;/Iandgt; documents Richard Nisbett's groundbreaking international research in cultural psychology and shows that people actually think aboutand#8212;and even seeand#8212;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 and#8220;holisticand#8221;and#8212;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. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;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, andlt;Iandgt;The Geography of Thoughtandlt;/Iandgt; offers both a map to that gulf and a blueprint for a bridge that will span it.
Eminent psychologist Richard Nisbett boldly takes on the presumptions of evolutionary psychology in a provocative, powerfully engaging exploration of the divergent ways Eastern and Western societies see and understand the world.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;When Richard Nisbett showed an animated underwater scene to his American students, they zeroed in on a big fish swimming among smaller fish. Japanese subjects, on the other hand, made observations about the background environment. These different and#8220;seeingsand#8221; are a clue to profound underlying cognitive differences between Westerners and East Asians. For, as Nisbett demonstrates in andlt;Iandgt;The Geography of Thoughtandlt;/Iandgt;, people think about and see the world differently because of differing ecologies, social structures, philosophies, and educational systems that date back to ancient Greece and China and that have survived into the modern world.
About the Author
Richard E. Nisbett has taught psychology at Yale University and the University of Michigan, where he is the Theodore M. Newcomb Distinguished University Professor.
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