Tag Archives: Ara Norenzayan

Ara Norenzayan discussed how people in different cultures can believe and value different things. Do they perceive, categorize, and reason differently because of different cultural experiences? Until recently, little was known about this question since most research on human thinking was done in N. American and Europe. In recent years, cross-cultural researchers have begun to examine thinking in diverse cultural groups in Asia and the Middle East. People exposed to different cultures often rely on different strategies to solve the same problems. People in western, educated, industrialized, rich, and developed societies (WEIRDs) are cognitive outliers whose psychological profile is unrepresentative of the rest of humanity. Possible social, historical, and ecological explanations for cultural differences in thinking will be examined. Some implications and dilemmas these findings raise for culturally diverse civil societies such as Canada and the US will be explored.

Learning Objectives:

(a) Describe experimental work that shows that people from East Asian cultures tend to perceive, categorize, and reason about the world using holistic strategies, whereas people from Western cultures tend to rely on analytic cognitive strategies. Critically evaluate the proximal and distal explanations for these cultural differences in thinking.
(b) Explain in what ways western, educated, industrialized, rich, and developed societies (WEIRDs) have a psychological profile that is argued to be unrepresentative of humanity.
(c) Think about how these cognitive differences may contribute to cross-cultural misunderstandings, and what can be done to address them.