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Thread: Americans Trail Chinese In Understanding Another Person's Perspective

  1. #1

    Americans Trail Chinese In Understanding Another Person's Perspective

    Americans Trail Chinese In Understanding Another Person's Perspective

    Science Daily — People from Western cultures such as the United States are particularly challenged in their ability to understand someone else's point of view because they are part of a culture that encourages individualism, new research at the University of Chicago shows.

    In contrast, Chinese, who live in a society that encourages a collectivist attitude among its members, are much more adept at determining another person's perspective, according to a new study.

    One of the consequences of Americans' and other Westerners' problems of seeing things from another person's point of view is faltering communication, said Boaz Keysar, Professor in Psychology at the University of Chicago....

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0712135003.htm
    Last edited by antiquity; 07-15-2007 at 10:03 PM.

  2. #2
    I was curious about who the subjects were and the method used.

    Here is the UC news page of the story, with the full report in pdf in right column (top link)

    I don't disagree with the basic report, about cultural differences and communication, but am wondering about the effects of those differences The report state that it isn't so much the lack of ability or loss of it, but the the level of use (perspective-taking or reflecting upon others' mental states).

    BUT, I'm curious about the subjects. They said that to minimize confounding subject variables, they matched them. However, the factor I'm mostly curious about is the Chinese subjects being foreign students, in US from 2-9 months, while the non-asian American students are native-born. Given that the Chinese students were in U.S. less than a year, and all students at the same school (despite dif. studies), I would think that they are more likely to have a more dependent relationship with one another, especially since they would not have the same social network as the American students, even if the American students came from different states (not specified). So, having a smaller network and being non-native English speaking in a primarily English speaking community, I think the Chinese students might have been more likely to have a bond or be more inter-dependent. Foreign students may be more likely to depend on one another more, than if these same students were in their native country. I'm also curious if students from another country (here, China) who choose to study abroad, have certain characteristics that are associated with greater inter-dependence and perspective-taking.

    So, selection bias? Dunno. They'd have to study American students in a foreign school, and Chinese students with other Chinese students, to compare. lol

    What you say Wise. You think there are qualities/characteristics (relating to or contributing to enhanced perspective maybe?) that might set Chinese students studying abroad apart from other Chinese youth? I'll assume they are smart, have had greater opportunities and/or wealth, or at least to an extent they've been able to afford, if not by grants/scholarship, etc. These things themselves might relate to further developing and utilizing perspective.

    Tho, I'm also curious here, about "perspective" and what that implies, esp. among cultures that may be inter-dependent, but also may be less emotionally dependent or empathetic, at least in an overt social sense? Could that foster, or discourage even, perspective-taking?
    Last edited by chick; 07-17-2007 at 12:06 AM.

  3. #3
    I don't know. I have been waiting until I have some time to read the report and think about it before responding. Off the cuff, I don't think that such generalizations should be made about cultures as complex as American and Chinese. On the other hand, I have been working closely now with many Chinese for the past 4 years, both in Hong Kong, mainland China, and Taiwan and think that there are major differences. Incidentally, I am Chinese and I grew up in Japan until age 18. I have many Asian students. In fact, over 25% of Rutgers is Asian. But, before I say any more, let me read and think.

    Wise.




    Quote Originally Posted by chick
    I was curious about who the subjects were and the method used.

    Here is the UC news page of the story, with the full report in pdf in right column (top link)

    I don't disagree with the basic report, about cultural differences and communication, but am wondering about the effects of those differences The report state that it isn't so much the lack of ability or loss of it, but the the level of use (perspective-taking or reflecting upon others' mental states).

    BUT, I'm curious about the subjects. They said that to minimize confounding subject variables, they matched them. However, the factor I'm mostly curious about is the Chinese subjects being foreign students, in US from 2-9 months, while the non-asian American students are native-born. Given that the Chinese students were in U.S. less than a year, and all students at the same school (despite dif. studies), I would think that they are more likely to have a more dependent relationship with one another, especially since they would not have the same social network as the American students, even if the American students came from different states (not specified). So, having a smaller network and being non-native English speaking in a primarily English speaking community, I think the Chinese students might have been more likely to have a bond or be more inter-dependent. Foreign students may be more likely to depend on one another more, than if these same students were in their native country. I'm also curious if students from another country (here, China) who choose to study abroad, have certain characteristics that are associated with greater inter-dependence and perspective-taking.

    So, selection bias? Dunno. They'd have to study American students in a foreign school, and Chinese students with other Chinese students, to compare. lol

    What you say Wise. You think there are qualities/characteristics (relating to or contributing to enhanced perspective maybe?) that might set Chinese students studying abroad apart from other Chinese youth? I'll assume they are smart, have had greater opportunities and/or wealth, or at least to an extent they've been able to afford, if not by grants/scholarship, etc. These things themselves might relate to further developing and utilizing perspective.

    Tho, I'm also curious here, about "perspective" and what that implies, esp. among cultures that may be inter-dependent, but also may be less emotionally dependent or empathetic, at least in an overt social sense? Could that foster, or discourage even, perspective-taking?

  4. #4
    Aonther thing to consider is the origin and nature of the collective aspect in China. Can this really be examined outside of the context of politics and social structure. This form of thinking would be encouraged in totalitarian regimes. In a society where people are informed that their survival is dependent on the "greater good" from childhood and onward to adulthood, it would behoove the individual to consider the motivations and views of other people. This motivation could stem from simply wanting to fit in to one's role in the collective as best as possible, or it could be more dire in the case of someone wanting to "feel out" the motivations and opinions of others before revealing any sort of personal beliefs that might run counter to the official doctrine of the greater good. I believe that a study of people living in other authoritarian societies would reveal a similar mindset regardless of ethnicity or the cultural history of that nation prior to the current form of government.

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