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The Geography of Thought

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  2,075 Ratings  ·  232 Reviews
Everyone knows that while different cultures may think about the world differently, they use the same equipment for doing their thinking. Everyone knows that whatever the skin color, nationality, or religion, every human being uses the same tools for perception, for memory, and for reasoning. Everyone knows that a logically true statement is true in English, German, or Hin ...more
Hardcover, 263 pages
Published February 25th 2003 by Free Press
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Matthew Vacca
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this book certainly sheds a lot of light on the different approaches in the thinking of Easterners and Westerners (and the origins of both), that does not necessarily add up to an enjoyable or engaging read. This book comes off a bit like a graduate thesis and certainly has done the homework to back everything up.

Having lived in South Korea for the last two years, I have often wondered about (and even laughed out loud at) the subtle cultural differences in my day-to-day life here that tou
Jul 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For much of my life, I've been a bridge: trying to connect people into communities and communities into networks, helping our world hold together. I was born with/grew into a dislike for arguments (of the quarrel variety) and an affinity for transforming conflicts. Often, I've felt uneasy with the values of my own country or other parts of the West I've been to.

This book helped me understand why.

Among the brighter insights were:

- why I say 'I' so much--and often still feel disconnected from othe
Mar 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i think the crux of the book is

(1) object-based thinking vs (2) context-based thinking and how through the years, the Westerners and the Easterners have differed in their thinking process

i think the idea can be equally applied to all of us, as some are more bound to object-based thinking vs context-based.

if you have to choose 2 things out of the following 3 things:
(1) monkey
(2) banana
(3) lion

and you choose
(1) monkey and banana - u are more likely a context-based thinking person
(2) monkey and li
Ahmad Al-Maaini
Jan 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(نُشر هذا العرض في ملحق شرفات بجريدة عمان بتاريخ 14 أبريل 2010)

هناك نكتة تقول بأن الأمم المتحدة وزّعت استبانة حول العالم تسأل فيها السؤال التالي: "من فضلك هلاّ قدّمت لنا رأيك الشخصي الصادق حول الحلول لمشكلة نقص الغذاء في بقية أنحاء العالم؟"، وتبيّن من النتائج أنه في أفريقيا لم يفهموا كلمة "غذاء"، وفي الشرق الأوسط لم يفهموا كلمة "حلول" وفي الصين لم يفهموا معنى "الرأي الشخصي" وفي أميركا لم يفهموا معنى "بقية أنحاء العالم"! هي مجرد طرفة لا تعميمات تُرجى منها، ولكنها قد تشير إلى فروقٍ كبيرة بين شعوب
Loved this book! I am certainly Western, and yet... there are aspects of my thinking that conform to Eastern trends and sometimes make me feel out of place, but I couldn't have quite put into words what was going on.

For example, I am probably somewhat more holistic than the average Westerner - I do tend to think that many theories are hopelessly oversimplified. Is this because I was a statistics minor, and have developed an interest in complexity? I also am deeply ambivalent about intuitive noti
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
Fascinating book! While reading another book by a guy who had moved to Thailand, this was recommended. I ended up putting aside the Thailand book in favor of this one. It was just so thought-provoking. Here we are, immersed in a huge country, with this culture that has infiltrated most areas of the world, and most of us are quite unaware that not everyone has the same underlying assumptions that we do as they look at life. In essence, the West is based on the philosophical ideas of the Greeks, w ...more
This is a short book with a sweeping thesis. In essence, the thesis of "The Geography of Mind" is that many important cognitive processes dominant in East Asian (i.e., Chinese, Japanese and Korean) cultures are substantially different from those processes in Western (i.e., American and European) cultures. This proposition explains a variety of dissimilarities in how people from each culture approach the world and each other, and it is also a partial explanation of the Great Divergence—why the mo ...more
Tim Pendry
This is an important work in the undermining of the universalism that has afflicted private discourse and public policy in the West since the age of Plato.

Nisbett explores a simple issue - whether, how and why East Asians and Americans (though he insists on referring to them as Westerners) think in different ways.

It is more exploratory than decisive. There is no psychological experiment that is not contingent in time and space by the very nature of its subject matter but much of his material is
Feb 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia, culture
Superb. There is no need for me to add another summary to the excellent summaries submitted by other readers. This book had me gripped from beginning to end. Occasionally I had to raise my eyebrow at the use of the term Westerner, when clearly the author meant American, and was describing cultural experiences I cannot relate to at all as an English woman. Also there were many discussions which I felt could have benefitted from feminist analysis - experiences and descriptions of cultures appear v ...more
May 27, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
The differences in thoughts between Asians and westerners have often been elaborated from the perspectives of history, culture, politics, and philosophy. Therefore, it's good to read on a psychology approach on this analysis.

The author developed his argument on the basis of case studies carried out among Asians, Asian-Americans, and westerners. Of course, the results of each case study is never conclusive, but in the end, as a whole, the author's work should be commended. Indeed, he merely reco
Nov 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"في عام 1991 وقعت جريمتان جماعيتان، إحداهما في الصين والأخرى في أميركا، الأولى قام بها طالب فيزياء صيني خسر جائزة تنافسية، وفشل على إثر ذلك في الحصول على وظيفة أكاديمية، فأطلق الرصاص على المشرف وعلى عدد من زملائه وبعض من صادف وجودهم، أما الجريمة الأميركية فقد أقدم عامل بريد على إطلاق النار على رئيسه في العمل وعلى زملائه وعدد ممن صادف وجودهم ثم انتحر.

فسر الأميركيون الجريمتين بوجود الاستعدادات المفترضة لدى الجاني، وهي استعدادات راسخة لدى القاتل، ورأوا أن جرائم القتل ستقع دون اعتبار لاختلاف الظروف.
رياض المسيبلي
طالما شغلني التفكير عن أسباب تقدّم الغرب وتخلفنا.
وكانت قراءاتي لمن حاول الإجابة عن هذا السؤال, أو حتى اجتهاداتي الذاتية, لا تسمن ولا تغني من جوع.
حتى وقع في يدي هذا الكتاب الرائع, وقرأته حينها, ثم أعدت قراءته مرّة أخرى قريباً.
في هذا الكتاب يشرح الكاتب أنّ طرق التفكير المتباينة عند الشرق والغرب, ليست نابعة عن أي الجانبين أفضل, بل نابعة
عن الاختلاف بين أساليب التفكير, فليس هناك أفضل أو أدنى, بل ندّية ناشئة عن الاختلاف في البيئات والمجتمعات وغير ذلك.
يتحدّث "نيسبت" عن الطريقة "الجماعية" للتفكير في الش
Shalan al shammary
ليس من المصادفة أن اقرأ هذا الكتاب بعد قراءة عدة كتب عن الفلسفات والعقائد الشرقية
ولكن الصدفة كانت في قراءته بالمزامنة مع كتاب نهاية التاريخ لفوكوياما ،الذي كنت اتسائل طوال الكتاب لما لم يأت الكاتب على ذكره خلال حديثه عن الرؤية الغربية الخطية لمسار التاريخ
حتى جاء على ذكره اخيرا في نهاية الكتاب بالمقارنة مع رؤية هنتنغتون لصراع الحضارات
الكتاب مميز في هذا المجال،ويطرح افكار جديدة لتفسير الفكر والتاريخ الفكري لشعوب الشرق والغرب
مأخذي الوحيد أنه اتخذ الذهنية الغربية الانجلوسكسونية البروتستانتية بالمقار
Tony Selhorst
“The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently... and Why” is a book filled with laboratory experiments – done by the writer Richard Nisbett and colleagues - that substantiate the statement that Westerners and Far Easterners (Chinese, Koreans and Japanese) think differently, and that therefore thinking is culturally based. For instance: Westerners see objects, Easterners see relations between the objects. In some parts Nisbett even goes so far as to compare Asian male thi ...more
Dec 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Richard E. Nisbett's The Geography of Thought examines the age-old question that has intrigued  psychologists (and anyone, really) for centuries: how do Eastern and Western modes of thought differ, and why?

In the book, Nisbett begins by explaining the core foundations of thought on either side. In the East, Confucianism states that the world is a complex place that "consists of continuous substances." In the West, Aristotelianism asserts that "the world is composed of discrete objects or separat
Nabil Zouine
يعرض هذا الكتاب نظرة عن طريقة تفكير كل من أبناء الشرق (الصين والهند وكوريا) والغرب (أروبا وأمريكا)، ويبين أوجه الاختلاف بين نمطين من التفكير، كمثال: يجنح الشرقيون للنظر الى الشيئ بمنظور شمولي كلي بينما الغربيون يميلون الى التجزيء. الشرقيون يلقنون أبناءهم الأفعال بينما الغربيون الأسماء. التأكيد على القيمة الفردية تقابلها الجماعية الخ.
ويختم الكتاب بطرح هل الفكرين في طريق الى التقاء أو صراع.
Oct 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Panpan Wang
Understanding differences in how people from "The East" or "The West" think has profound insights not only on a theoretical level, but can have important implications on a practical level whether in our homes, our communities, or the grander stage of international affairs. Perhaps more than simply explaining sociological through and behavior, a better understanding can help predict actions, or at the very least provide a better informed prediction. Using field research conducted across continent ...more
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first saw this title referenced in Eric Liu's "Chinaman's Chance," intrigued by the concept of language influencing thinking processes (Sapir Whorf Hypothesis).

From reading the reviews, I was initially wary of the somewhat negative commentary on the book focusing on linguistics, but this turned out to be what I liked most. That said, it is difficult to appreciate the lengths to which Mr. Nisbett has gone to understand and detail the differences in languages, if the reader does not have a basi
Hon Sze Lo
Apr 30, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horrible
I think it is interesting to scientifically examine the well-known myths about how the East and the West think differently.

However, the book fails (or neglects) to address that much of these myths were originated in the 19th century to justify European superiority (recommend reading Keevak (2011) Becoming Yellow). And indeed, the book reads very much like something written by a 19th century anthropologist, who felt the need justify Western military dominance over the 'lesser' races in terms of
Charlie Canning
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Walls of the mind

Throughout history, there have always been barriers between cultures. Many of the first boundaries were physical ones drawn along the natural divisions created by continents, oceans, mountain ranges, rivers, and lakes. When these weren't enough to keep some groups of people separated from others, nation states built castles and walls.

Over the last thirty years, things have changed dramatically. Countries once closed are now open and people are traveling more than ever. The Berli
Jessica Lu
It took me nearly 8 months to finish this book, as I often got annoyed (by its repeating concepts, unstructured content and sometimes wrong arguments) and put it down for a while before picking it up again.

The book was published in 2003 and most of the “findings” were not very new even at that time, in my humble opinion. The more “interesting” part for me was the psychological tests the author and his assistants did with “easterners” and “westerners” to prove their arguments. However, descripti
Mar 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is a cognitive psychologist’s look at how differences between Asian (mainly Chinese) and Western (mainly American) thinking influence what Nisbett refers to as “habits of mind.” He asserts that differences between Asian and Western “habits of mind” are essentially cognitive. With reference to the intellectual traditions of Aristotelian and Confucian logic, cognitive psychology experiments performed by both Asian and Western researchers, and several of his own experiments, Nisbett claim ...more
Anthony Bello
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
The book's main value comes at the end where it justifies the value of the studies contained therein. The book's second major value comes from the various and diverse experiments cited. All in all, I would not recommend this book.

Many things about this book disappointed me. For one thing, I found that the author incorrectly characterizes much of the Western thinkers and thoughts in this book. He claims that Eastern Asians are at fault for discrediting action at a distance, whereas Einstein's di
Eric Sbar
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Understanding the difference between Western and Eastern cultures is a complicated task. This book dissects differences according to philosophy, language and psychology. An interesting read
مع الأسف لم أستطع الإستمرار على هذا الكتاب ..

أمتع ما به فصله الأول حيث تحدث عن الإغريق والصين القديمة .. بدايةً تحدث عن طبيعة كل مجتمع وعاداته الفكرية ومن ثم تطرق بإيجاز عن فلسفة كلاً منهما وأخيراً في نهاية هذا الفصل تحدث عن العلم والرياضيات وأثارها وإهتمامات كل مجتمع بها
تميل الفلسفة الإغريقية إلى فهم الطبيعة بشكل حر ومستقل مما جعلها تكون أسئلة لا حصر لها بينما كان المجتمع الصيني القديم وبحسب طبيعة عاداته أُرتبطت فلسفته بالعادات والأخلاق .. أراها فلسفات مكمّلة لصنع هذا العالم

ومع نهاية هذا الفصل
Sarah Se-Jung Oh
The Geography of Thought was definitely enthralling, captivating and stimulating. I came across this book in my mum's bookshelf and was captivated by the title " How Asians and Westerners Think Differently". This question has been in my thought for a couple of months after I have arrived in Korea. As I observed the difference between Westerns at this school and the Easterns (Asians), I started seeing the divergence between two cultures. Simple observations resulted in constant pondering and inqu ...more
Excellent and thought-provoking summary of the claim that East and West think differently.

Anyone who has spent time in another culture quickly discovers that people are people, that there is wide variation among people and their personalities. When you try too hard to generalize, you get it wrong because you'll always find exceptions.

Also, some of the things that characterize people are, frankly, a question of modernity and development. Once you've taken a logic class, you "get it", and you'll a
Jun 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nabili ko itong librong 'to sa National Bestseller sa Robinsons, Galleria. Natuwa ako kasi discounted, at saka sakto 'tong librong 'to sa gusto kong matutunan ng mga panahong yon. Kaya binili ko kahit wala akong pera.
Paano nga ba mag-isip ang mga tao? Saan nagsimula ang pagkakaiba ng Western at ng Eastern pagdating sa system of thought? Mayroon nga bang universal psychology o Western lang talaga yun at ang plano nila ay gawing Western ang buong mundo?
Nasagot naman lahat dito sa librong ito.
Mar 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had just read 3 books about life and culture in Asian settings (Wild Swans, The Crazed, The Orphan Master's Son) and a comment that frequently came up in our discussions was "how can they live without individual freedom?" This book offers insight into the thinking by beginning with the notion that for more than 6000 years, the broad culture in Asia (defined in the book as China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea) has come from a history of wholistic thinking, group oriented, harmony seeking trad ...more
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“‎The Chinese believe in constant change, but with things always moving back to some prior state. They pay attention to a wide range of events; they search for relationships between things; and they think you can't understand the part without understanding the whole. Westerners live in a simpler, more deterministic world; they focus on salient objects or people instead of the larger picture; and they think they can control events because they know the rules that govern the behavior of objects.” 8 likes
“objectivity arose from subjectivity—the recognition that two minds could have different representations of the world and that the world has an existence independent of either representation. This” 4 likes
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