Blurring the Cross-Cultural Lines

The concept of cross-cultural or the intersection of distinct cultures, norms and mores is beginning to diminish say cognitive scientists–especially when it comes to the way people think. The world is not only becoming smaller, it is becoming homogenized.  More specifically, it is becoming westernized.  Scientists have a new way of summing up the predominant force behind this transition in an acronym: WEIRD–Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic.  In short, once unique, independent and even isolated cultures are now starting to think–and therefore become–WEIRD.

Humanity is getting more ego-centred in other ways, too. It has long been observed that Western adults – and Americans in particular – privilege the individual over the group. We give our children unique names; we put them in bedrooms of their own; we emphasise their autonomy and needs. People in many other societies, most famously in East Asia, have historically privileged the collective instead. But Western-style individualism is gaining a foothold, even in the East. Japanese people have started giving their children unique names, too. A recent analysis of 78 countries found that, over the past half-century, markers of individualism have increased in the majority of them.

-Dr. Kensy Cooperrider, cognitive scientist, Department of Psychology, The University of Chicago

Read more here.


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