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WEIRD Americans

On cultural differences in human psychology
http://www.psmag.com/magazines/pacific-standard-cover-story/joe-henrich-weird-ultimatum-game-shaking-up-psychology-economics-53135
58 page research paper PDF: http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~henrich/pdfs/Weird_People_BBS_final02.pdf

Americans are most susceptible to the Muller-Lyer optical illusion (the one with the double 'arrows' that look different lengths), perhaps from growing up most in boxy rooms, and least susceptible to the Asch conformity result. Worse at noticing background details of an aquarium, better at judging the verticality of a line despite confounding context.

"Children who grow up constantly interacting with the natural world are much less likely to anthropomorphize other living things into late childhood." “Indeed,” the report concluded, “studying the cognitive development of folkbiology in urban children would seem the equivalent of studying ‘normal’ physical growth in malnourished children.”

'People are not “plug and play,” as he puts it, and you cannot expect to drop a Western court system or form of government into another culture and expect it to work as it does back home. Those trying to use economic incentives to encourage sustainable land use will similarly need to understand local notions of fairness to have any chance of influencing behavior in predictable ways.'

'Recent research has shown that people in “tight” cultures, those with strong norms and low tolerance for deviant behavior (think India, Malaysia, and Pakistan), develop higher impulse control and more self-monitoring abilities than those from other places. Men raised in the honor culture of the American South have been shown to experience much larger surges of testosterone after insults than do Northerners. Research published late last year suggested psychological differences at the city level too. Compared to San Franciscans, Bostonians’ internal sense of self-worth is more dependent on community status and financial and educational achievement.'

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/353752.html#comments

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
heron61
Mar. 6th, 2013 06:22 am (UTC)
"Children who grow up constantly interacting with the natural world are much less likely to anthropomorphize other living things into late childhood." “Indeed,” the report concluded, “studying the cognitive development of folkbiology in urban children would seem the equivalent of studying ‘normal’ physical growth in malnourished children.”

I've definitely seen this to be true when talking to people raised on farms, and it's yet another reason I celebrate the fact that we are now a primarily urban species - It seems fairly clear that the strong sentiment that cruelty to animals is wrong comes directly from this anthropomorphization, and while I'm not certain, I believe that there is a feedback loop between decreased cruelty to other living things and decreasingly cruelty to other humans.

Of course, my partner amberite is also convinced that the spread of antibiotics and childhood vaccines accomplished much the same effect, because children and young adults died so much less frequently that they had previously.

Edit: Wow, I just read the linked article, and was blown away by the beginning. It's impressively clear why people would keep more of the money and (especially) not refuse any offers - "The stakes Henrich used in the game with the Machiguenga were not insubstantial—roughly equivalent to the few days’ wages they sometimes earned from episodic work with logging or oil companies", in short, instead of recruiting US college students, who are rarely on the edge of survival, he tried the experiment on actual poor people - not pointing that out was a serious fault of the article and show economic differences far more than cultural ones. The rest of the article is interesting, but that bit was pretty darn obvious.

Edited at 2013-03-06 06:27 am (UTC)
mindstalk
Mar. 6th, 2013 06:33 am (UTC)
Yeah, I think they've found the ultimate effect changes when the amounts are bigger. Like if someone was offering me 10% of $10 million I probably wouldn't stand on fairness.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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