Ideal of beauty – Länsimaissa ihaillaan rusketusta, siinä missä Itä-Aasiassa vitivalkoisuutta.
Size of the individual’s ego
Way of life
Traveling and recording memories
Transportation/ Transport (1970 vs. 2006)
Sundays on the road
Noise level inside a restaurant
How to stand in line
Attitude towards punctuality – asenne täsmällisyyteen.
Yang Liu also depicts the two cultures’ contrasting approaches to solving a problem. While Germans steer straight toward the problem and start sorting it out, the Chinese consider problems to be as moveable as people; so they tend to hold back and wait for the most appropriate moment to tackle them (Figure 3). Consequently, the Chinese problem-solving process can take a lot longer than Westerners are used to.
At a party
Complexity of self-expression
When it comes to communication, expectations also differ. Germans, says Liu, find it relatively easy to express their opinions (Figure 4). They generally come straight out with them. Asians are different. Yang Liu, who chooses a winding path to reflect the Chinese mentality, explains: “The Chinese do not want to startle their counterparts by voicing their own opinion. In Chinese society, people who express their opinions directly are often perceived as being impolite.”
Moods and weather
Three meals a day
Elderly in day to day life
Connections and contacts
Liu observes similar differences in body language, as depicted in “Annoyance” (Figure 5). On the face on the blue background, the corners of the mouth are turned down: If a German is annoyed with somebody, he or she will show it. A Chinese person, on the other hand, can be equally annoyed but will continue to smile – all according to the motto: save face, stay polite, don’t bother others with your feelings.
Linnut – valmiina syötäväksi Aasiassa
Psychologically many studies and scholars like Hazel Markus of Standford, and Richard Nisbett of the University of Michigan have spent years spent years studying the different ways Asians and Westerners think and perceive. One most famous experiment conducted by Nisbett showed pictures of fish tank to Americans and Japanese, and asked them to describe what they saw. During the experiment, Americans described the biggest and most prominent fish in the tank and 60 per cent of Japanese made reference to the context and background element of the scene, like the water, rocks, bubbles, and plants in the tank. The conclusion was draw from the experiment that Westerners tend to focus narrowly on individuals talking actions, while Asians are more likely to focus on contexts and relationships.
What impact does culture have on cognition? Psychologist Richard Nisbett has conducted dozens of studies to find out the answer to this question
Not every study highlighted in Professor Nisbett’s book was conducted by him, but most of these studies share a similar methodology: the psychologists conducting the experiment found tests of inference, logic, or decision making that had previously been administered to Westerners and then adapted them so they could be used to compare two different groups 1) ”Asians” and 2) ”Westerners.” Here is a small sampling of their remarkable findings:
- Canadian and Japanese students were asked to to take several bogus ’creativity’ tests and then given feedback on how they did on each task. When participants were given the opportunity to work on similar tasks, Canadian students worked longer if they had previously ”succeeded;” Japanese students worked longer if they had ”failed.” (p. 56)
- Chinese, Korean, and American students were asked to read newspaper reports about mass shootings. When asked why the killings happened, Chinese and Korean students were far more likely to blame situational factors (such as ”he was isolated from the rest of his class” or ”availability of guns in the United States”) while Americans were more likely to focus on the shooter’s personality traits or psychological problems (such as a ”suffered from severe depression” or a ”political belief that guns were a legitimate means to address grievances”). (p. 112, 129).
- Most toddlers who grow up in a European language environment learn new nouns at twice the rate at which they learn verbs. East Asian toddlers learn verbs at a faster rate than they learn nouns. (p. 149)
- When asked to describe themselves either in particular contexts or without specifying a situation (e.g. I work very diligently on school projects, I am a loving child, or I like to cook with my friend vs. I am loving, diligent, or I like to cook ) Japanese people had difficulty describing themselves without referencing context; Americans not only preferred to describe themselves in terms of universal attributes, but many had trouble understanding the concept of describing themselves ’in context’ at all. (p. 53)
- American and Japanese students were asked to view a CGI video of a fish tank that included several fish in the foreground with bubbles, water plants, rocks, and smaller fish in the background. They were later tested on what they remembered from the scene. Japanese students were twice as likely to remember inert, background objects. When asked to describe what they saw, Japanese students first referred to the environment (”it looked like a pond”), while Americans were three times as likely to refer to something in the foreground (”there was a big fish swimming to the left”). (p. 90)
- A cross cultural mental health survey of a American and Asian study groups found that ”feeling in control of my life” was strongly correlated with happiness for the Americans, but weakly correlated with happiness for the Asians. (p. 97)
- When shown pictures of grass, a chicken, and a cow and then asked to select which of the three did not belong, American children were far more likely to choose the grass (because the other two are animals), while Chinese children were far more likely to choose the chicken (because the cow eats the grass). (p. 140)
- Chinese and American students were presented with ”plausible” statements that seemed to conflict but were not in true logical contradiction with each other, such as ”A social psychologist studied young adults and asserted that those who feel close to their families have more satisfying social relationships” and ”A developmental psychologist studied adolescents and asserted those children who had weaker family ties were generally more mature.” Participants were asked to rate how ”believable” one statement was before they saw the other; once they read the second statement they were to rate how believable both were. When Americans read two statements in seeming contradiction they usually rated one as much more believable than the other; when Chinese encountered the seeming contradiction they rated bothstatements as more believable than when they read them in isolation! (p. 182)
Particularly interesting were studies focused on well known cognitive biases. These cognitive quirks are routinely blamed for humanity’s inability to act rationally. Entire realms of study – for example, behavioral economics – are devoted to studying how these types of cognitive bias affect the wider world. It was fascinating to discover that these biases are not uniformly distributed. Again, a short sampling:
- Psychologists have presented many studies suggesting that humans operate under the illusion of control – a tendency for people to believe that they have more influence over the course of events than they really do. Several experiments have been developed to test this. When these same tests were applied to samplings from China and America, Americans showed this bias stronger than Chinese did. (p. 101-102).
- Another common bias well studied by social psychologists is the fundamental attribution error, also called the correspondence bias. When these tests were applied to Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and American groups, the Americans consistently demonstrated a stronger bias than the Asians (p. 120-126). On the flip side, when tested for hindsight bias, Korean test groups consistently demonstrated a stronger bias than American participants.
- When taking the rod-and-frame test for field dependency (i.e. the ability to separate an object from its context) Chinese test subjects were remarkably more field dependent than American ones. (p. 96)
When dozens of studies of this sort are placed side by side a composite picture of the Eastern and Western mind can be drawn. Asians perceive the world as a complex, constantly changing, and interrelated whole and that is not subject to their personal control; Westerners perceive a world that can be analyzed, categorized, and divided into discrete objects whose attributes can be known and whose future can be predicted. Asians have difficulty understanding an object apart from its context; Westerners often never see the context at all. Asians see themselves as part of one larger whole. They accept hierarchy, value fitting in, and are quicker to notice the feelings of others. Westerners strive to make themselves look good and look unique. Westerners demand social equality; Easterners aim for social harmony. Asians shy away from disagreement and contradiction. Westerners revel in it. When controversy emerges Asians look for a ”Middle Way” that satisfies both parties; Westerners are less willing to compromise ”the truth.”