3 years ago

Culture Changes How We Think About Thinking: From "Human Inference" to "Geography of Thought".

de Oliveira, Nisbett
Cultural comparison has challenged people's assumptions of universality in psychology. It has also revealed that many questions and approaches in psychology are not culture-free, but reflect a distinctively Western analytic framework. In this framework, the world is assumed to operate by discernible and stable rules, contradiction is a problem to be resolved, and entities are viewed as relatively independent agents. Context and relationships between people and objects are relatively downplayed-or, when they are examined, are assumed to operate under parsimonious rules. Dialectical or holistic thinking, a framework more prevalent in East Asian societies, involves greater attention to context and relationships, assumptions of change rather than stasis, and acceptance of contradiction. Analytic thinking is useful for science and daily life. But sometimes dialectical thinking results in more accurate conclusions or pragmatically useful decisions than analytic thinking. Therefore, we propose that both dialectical and analytic thinking should be consciously adopted as tools in the "cognitive toolbox" of researchers and laypeople alike. In the present article, we review the cross-cultural work demonstrating the psychological differences that analytic versus dialectical thinking produce. We then consider the strengths of each type of thinking and how they may serve complementary functions for problem solving.

Publisher URL: http://doi.org/10.1177/1745691617702718

DOI: 10.1177/1745691617702718

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