Wednesday, July 18, 2007

So, what are you suggesting?

The headline, from Yahoo! reads;

"American individualism may hinder understanding of others"
My question is, who fucking cares?

Now, as Paul Harvey would say, here the rest of the story:

Study: Americans Don't Understand Others

Corey Binns Special to
1 hour, 33 minutes ago

Rugged American individualism could hinder our ability to understand other peoples' point of view, a new study suggests.

And in contrast, the researchers found that Chinese are more skilled at understanding other people's perspectives, possibly because they live in a more "collectivist" society.

"This cultural difference affects the way we communicate," said study co-author and cognitive psychologist Boaz Keysar of the University of Chicago.

Simple study

The study, though oversimplified compared to real life, was instructive. Keysar and his colleagues arranged two blocks on a table so participants could see both. However, a piece of cardboard obstructed the view of one block so a "director," sitting across from the participant, could only see one block.

When the director asked 20 American participants (none of Asian descent) to move a block, most were confused as to which block to move and did not take into account the director's perspective. Even though they could have deduced that, from the
director's seat, only one block was on the table.

Most of the 20 Chinese participants, however, were not confused by the hidden block and knew exactly which block the director was referring to. While following directions was relatively simple for the Chinese, it took Americans twice as long to move a block.

"That strong, egocentric communication of Westerners was nonexistent when we looked at Chinese," Keysar said. "The Chinese were very much able to put themselves in the shoes of another when they were communicating."

The results are detailed in the July issue of the journal Psychological Science. Collectivist societies, such as the Chinese, place more value on the needs of the group and less on the autonomy of the individual. In these societies, understanding other peoples' experiences is a more critical social skill than it is among typically more individualist Americans.

Gross oversimplification

"Of course, these are very gross oversimplifications," said Keysar. "Even in America, you can find collectivist societies. For example, working class people tend to be much more collective."

Culture appears to direct our eyes to read others' emotions, too.

Psychologists at Hokkaido University in Japan have found that Japanese gaze at the shape of a person's eyes, while Americans focus on the mouth. When people from the two cultures interact, these crisscrossed sightlines can lead to miscommunication.

"We all know people from different cultures are different. This is not new. But what research is now showing is how they're different and what are the implications," Keysar told LiveScience. "If we are aware of how we think differently, this can go a long way toward not allowing these differences to get in the way of reaching mutual understanding."

At once, I am almost speechless, while filled with rage that someone has the utter vacuousness between the ears to write such drivel. There are at least a few implications here that I could expand upon, and the fears that these would, quite understandably, raise, at least to those with a pulse, but I'll let anyone who dares read this tripe decide for themselves what to make of it.

The scariest part of it to me is this, there are people in this country who actually think this way, and they also vote. Consider that for a moment.

Another step toward rock bottom, then.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree Mr.B&N's opinion. The story Mr.B&N quoted is unclear. But it seems to promote collectivism, because there is the negative word "hinder understanding" for individualism.
The Americans who attended the study might understand the director's intention and might only respected the director's instruction itself. If so, individualism may not hinder understanding.
I'm a Japanese and Japan is a more collectivistic country than China. Rather collectivism hinder understanding of others than individualism may do, because many Japaneses often hush up minority's opinions.
It seems that there is a person who insist that (most) Japaneses aren't collectivists in Hokkaido of Japan, though there are many data indicate most Japaneses are collectivists. The Japanese researcher in the quotation may be the person.

9:59 AM  

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