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Professor Quippy: Apparently, culture dictates your viewpoint

Professor QuippyI don’t want to become Professor Quibble, but there appears to be a bit of a flaw in the research from the University of Chicago that suggests self-centered cultures have a narrower viewpoint.

According to the New Scientist:

In a new psychological experiment, Chinese students outperformed their US counterparts when ask to infer another person’s perspective. The researchers say the findings help explain how misunderstandings can occur in cross-cultural communication.

This might seem pretty devastating to the notion Western democracies are the haven of enlightened, non-biased thinking. However, when you read in a bit you discover that the research was done with a pretty biased mix of subjects: “Half of the volunteers were non-Asians who had grown up in the US, and the other half were native Mandarin speakers who had very recently emigrated from various parts of China.”

Um, you don’t suppose the recent immigrants to the US had been forced to infer other’s viewpoints on a pretty regular basis? Especially since they’ve been forced to engage with a culture not their own.

Perhaps this might be a more meaningful study if a similar experiment was done with subjects in the US and in China.

If they get the same results, then I’ll start thinking outside of the Quippy box a bit more.

New Scientist Story: Self-centered cultures narrow your viewpoint