Monday, October 27, 2003

51 Sounds vaguely familiar

I noticed this abstract (free) in the PNAS 100 (19):11163-1170 Sept. 5, 2003 (there is a charge for the on-line article). Sounds like the difference between the thinking of men and women, doesn’t it? Although as more women subscribe to male values of the work place, our differences in thinking, social relationships and preferences for the built environment are diminishing. Even so, I’m thinking if the house is burning down, we (the women) will still grab the photo albums while our husbands are moving the car to a safe distance.

Culture and point of view
Richard E. Nisbett * and Takahiko Masuda

*Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109; and Department of Behavioral Science, Graduate School of Letters, Hokkaido University,
N 10 W 7 Kita-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0810, Japan
Contributed by Richard E. Nisbett, July 21, 2003

East Asians and Westerners perceive the world and think about it in very different ways. Westerners are inclined to attend to some focal object, analyzing its attributes and categorizing it in an effort to find out what rules govern its behavior. Rules used include formal logic. Causal attributions tend to focus exclusively on the object and are therefore often mistaken.

East Asians are more likely to attend to a broad perceptual and conceptual field, noticing relationships and changes and grouping objects based on family resemblance rather than category membership. Causal attributions emphasize the context. Social factors are likely to be important in directing attention. East Asians live in complex social networks with prescribed role relations. Attention to context is important to effective functioning. More independent

Westerners live in less constraining social worlds and have the luxury of attending to the object and their goals with respect to it. The physical "affordances" of the environment may also influence perception. The built environments of the East are more complex and contain more objects than do those of the West. In addition, artistic products of the East emphasize the field and deemphasize individual objects, including people. Western art renders less of the field and emphasizes individual objects and people.

No comments: