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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Geography of Thought : How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why » User review

My review of The Geography of Thought

  • Mar 30, 2003
This is a very insightful book with lots of information. It is well written and researched. There are many differences between the way Westerners and Easterners think. Some of the points may seem obvious, but they are still interesting to read about. Children who grow up in the East learn verbs faster. In contrast, children in the West pick up nouns faster. This is because Easterners learn the relationships between objects with action words first. Westerners generally just learn what the object is first. Conflict resolution is handled very differently too. The goal in Eastern conflict resolution is to reduce hostility and to reach a compromise. The goal in resolving conflict in the West is having satisfaction that justice was carried out with a clear winner and loser. However as the author suggests Westerners have to begun to embrace a lot of Eastern ideas. There is a greater emphasis in achieving harmony in a person's life in Eastern cultures. Asian people are more self critical of themselves as a result. In contrast, the goal of a Westerner is to achieve a sense of uniqueness and superiority. I also learned that students who study history in the West focus on the implications or outcomes of events first. Asian students study the causes of historical events first. Teacher training and evaluation is a process that never ends in Eastern countries unlike the West where it is short.

The Geography of Thought is a very short book, but it should not be read rapidly because of the depth and quantity of information. I have a greater insight and appreciation for the way people think now. I enjoyed it very much.

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Robert Yokoyama ()
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I love to read new books and talk about them. I also like to listen to different kinds of music and talk about that. I am a friendly guy who likes to meet new people. I love to read books that teach me … more
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This book may mark the beginning of a new front in the science wars. Nisbett, an eminent psychologist and co-author of a seminal Psychological Review paper on how people talk about their decision making, reports on some of his latest work in cultural psychology. He contends that "[h]uman cognition is not everywhere the same"-that those brought up in Western and East Asian cultures think differently from one another in scientifically measurable ways. Such a contention pits his work squarely against evolutionary psychology (as articulated by Steven Pinker and others) and cognitive science, which assume all appreciable human characteristics are "hard wired." Initial chapters lay out the traditional differences between Aristotle and Confucius, and the social practices that produced (and have grown out of) these differing "homeostatic approaches" to the world: Westerners tend to inculcate individualism and choice (40 breakfast cereals at the supermarket), while East Asians are oriented toward group relations and obligations ("the tall poppy is cut down" remains a popular Chinese aphorism). Next, Nisbett presents his actual experiments and data, many of which measure reaction times in recalling previously shown objects. They seem to show East Asians (a term Nisbett uses as a catch-all for Chinese, Koreans, Japanese and others) measurably more holistic in their perceptions (taking in whole scenes rather than a few stand-out objects). Westerners, or those brought up in Northern ...
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ISBN-10: 0743216466
ISBN-13: 978-0743216463
Author: Richard Nisbett
Publisher: Free Press

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