Please take a moment to review Hachette Book Group's updated Privacy Policy: read the updated policy here.

The Geography of Thought

The Geography of Thought

When Richard Nisbett showed an animated underwater scene to his American students, they zeroed in on a big fish swimming among smaller fish. Japanese subjects, on the other hand, made observations about the background environment…and the different “seeings” are a clue to profound underlying cognitive differences between Westerners and East Asians.

As Professor Nisbett shows in The Geography of Thought people actually think – and even see – the world differently, because of differing ecologies, social structures, philosophies, and educational systems that date back to ancient Greece and China, and that have survived into the modern world. As a result, East Asian thought is “holistic” – drawn to the perceptual field as a whole, and to relations among objects and events within that field.

By comparison to Western modes of reasoning, East Asian thought relies far less on categories, or on formal logic; it is fundamentally dialectic, seeking a “middle way” between opposing thoughts. By contrast, Westerners focus on salient objects or people, use attributes to assign them to categories, and apply rules of formal logic to understand their behaviour.
Read More

Genre:

On Sale: 12th May 2005

Price: £14.99

ISBN-13: 9781857883534

Reviews

The cultural differences in cognition, demonstrated in this ground-breaking work, are far more profound and wide-ranging than anybody in the field could have possibly imagined just a decade ago. The findings are surprising for universalists; remarkable for culturalists; and regardless, they are most thought-provoking for all students of human cognition.
Shinobu Kitayama, Faculty of Integrated Human Studies, Kyoto University
A psychology professor dares to compare how Asians and Americans think. The upshot of Nisbett's research is that differences are real. They might not always be for the better, but they matter.
Forbes
[A] landmark book. The Geography of Thought shows that understanding of how individuals in eastern cultures think is not just nice, but necessary, if we wish to solve the problems we confront in the world today. We ignore the lessons of this book at our peril.
Robert J. Sternberg, president of the American Psychological Association
The cultural differences in cognition, demonstrated in this ground-breaking work, are far more profound and wide-ranging than anybody in the field could have possibly imagined just a decade ago. The findings are surprising for universalists; remarkable for culturalists; and regardless, they are most thought-provoking for all students of human cognition.
Shinoba Kitayama, Faculty of Integrated Human Studies, Kyoto University
Westerners and Easterners see the world differently. Nisbett hopes that his work will change the way the cultures view each other.
New Scientist
The most influential thinker, in my life, has been the psychologist Richard Nisbett. He basically gave me my view of the world.
Malcolm Gladwell
One of the world's leading thinkers
Daily Telegraph
Cultural psychology has come of age and Richard Nisbett's book will surely become one of the canonical texts of this provocative discipline. The Geography of Thought challenges a fundamental premise of the Western Enlightenment - the idea that modes of thought are, ought to be, or will become the same wherever you go.
Richard A. Shweder, anthropologist and William Claude Reavis Professor of Human Development at the University of Chicago
The fascinating cultural reason why Westerners and East Asians have polar opposite understandings of truth
Business Insider
The man whose ideas led to Malcolm Gladwell's Blink and to Nudge
The Times
I have long been following Richard Nisbett's groundbreaking work on culture and cognition. After so many fascinating experiments, challenging hypotheses, and passionate debates, it was a great time for Nisbett to share his ideas and findings with a wider public. The Geography of Thought does superbly!
Dan Sperber, author of Explaining Culture: A Naturalistic Approach
Cultural psychology has come of age and Richard Nisbett's book will surely become one of the canonical texts of this provocative discipline. The Geography of Thought challenges a fundamental premise of the Western Enlightenment - the idea that modes of thought are, ought to be, or will become the same wherever you go - East or West, North or South - in the world.
Richard A. Shweder, anthropologist and William Claude Reavis Professor of Human Development at the University of Chicago
Geography of Thought compares people from East Asia (Korea, China and Japan) with Westerners (from Europe, the British commonwealth and North America). Westerners typically see categories where Asians typically see relationships. Such differences in thinking can trip up business and political relationships
Wall Street Journal
This book may mark the beginning of a new front in the science wars.
Publishers Weekly
Nisbett's results indicate fundamental differences in the ways Westerners and East Asians view the word.
Kate Volpe, Association for Psychological Science
An important, research-based challenge to the assumption widespread among cognitive scientists that thinking the world over is fundamentally the same.
Howard Gardner, Harvard University, author of Frames of Mind
An important, research-based challenge to the assumption widespread among cognitive scientists that thinking the world over is fundamentally the same.
Howard Gardner, Harvard University, author of Frames of Mind: Theories of Multiple Intelligences
This is another landmark book by University of Michigan psychologist Richard E. Nisbett. Nisbett shows conclusively that laboratory experiments limited to American college students or even individuals from the western hemisphere simply cannot provide an adequate understanding of how people, in general, think. The book shows that understanding of how individuals in eastern cultures think is not just nice, but necessary, if we wish to solve the problems we confront in the world today. We ignore the lessons of this book at our peril.
Robert J. Sternberg, IBM Professor of Psychology and Education; Director, Center for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise (PACE Center), Yale University; President-Elect, American Psychological Association