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What do YOU see? Americans and Chinese Differ in Their World View—Literally (National Academy of Sciences) There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that Americans tend to be more analytic when evaluating a scenario, fixating on the focal object ,

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Americans and Chinese Differ in Their World View—Literally

(National Academy of Sciences)

There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that

Americans tend to be more analytic when evaluating a scenario, fixating on the focal object,

East Asians are generally more holistic, giving more consideration to the context.

Richard E. Nisbett of the University of Michigan

conducted a series of experiments in which Chinese

and American student eye movement was tracked

when viewing various photographs.


American students


on particular


Eye Movement Studies

Chinese students focused on background as well.

Socialization: "East Asians live in relatively complex social networks with prescribed role relations. Attention to context is, therefore, important for effective functioning," the scientists observe. "In contrast, Westerners live in less constraining social worlds that stress independence and allow them to pay less attention to context."


Harmony versus goals

    Nisbett and his colleagues believe that this distinctive pattern has developed because of the philosophies of these two cultures. "Harmony is a central idea in East Asian philosophy, and so there is more emphasis on how things relate to the whole," says Nisbett. "In the West, by contrast, life is about achieving goals."



Very generally speaking, Chinese society has traditionally had a hierarchical structure resulting from Confucian ideas about the proper order of life and society.

Americans generally lack the Chinese/Confucian concern with order, hierarchy, and harmonious interpersonal relationships.

Americans learn to “question authority,” including that of their fathers. They value “freedom” from external limitations on their behavior.

Some of what they see among Americans disturbs Chinese because the Americans seem disrespectful, selfish, or tending toward disorder.


FACEWhile Americans may prefer not to embarrass themselves or others in public, they will not generally go as far as Chinese often will go to avoid that embarrassment. To Americans, it is more important to "be honest,"“face facts,” make their views known, and express their questions and disagreements.

FRANKNESS, OPENNESS, DIRECTNESS“Frankness is [a] major characteristic of the Americans. Most Americans show their likes and dislikes, hatred and love, happiness and sorrow directly. But that is not the case with Chinese. Chinese always prefer modesty, even though they make great achievements. “

--Fan Rui,

(a student at East ChinaTechnical Institute of Water Resources, writing about “Contrasts between Americans and Chinese” for a class assignment, 1988)

Thus Americans are inclined to be open, direct, and even confrontational in ways that Chinese consider improper.

In Chinese-American interactions, Chinese often feel disturbed by what they consider the Americans’ “lack of respect” for traditions and for other people.



Chinese generally learn that it is possible to get what they want from other people and from organizations.

Getting what they want may require knowing the right people, saying the appropriate things, asking often enough, giving the right gift, or paying the right amount.

It may require using the “back door.”


Americans, by contrast, see everyone’s choices as limited by a framework of laws, regulations, rules, and procedures. Officials cannot act outside this framework of laws, regulations, and so on, without risking punishment for illegal, unethical, or improper behavior. There may be no “back door” that a moral, responsible person can use.

Chinese may view the American approach as “unhuman,” since it relies on impersonal rules that presumably apply to everyone and leaves out human feelings and judgments.


AMERICANS’ STEREOTYPES OF CHINESEThe typical American stereotype of Chinese students:· intelligent· very hard working (“diligent” is the usual word)· single-minded about their studies and thus not the

“well-rounded people” Americans admire· particularly good at mathematics· not very good at speaking English· not good at sports· unable to drink to alcohol· unable to “let loose” and behave informally at parties· “cliquish,” meaning that they tend to associate mainly

with other Chinese· polite· passive


China has grown around 9 percent a year for more than

25 years, the fastest growth rate for a major economy

in recorded history.

In the same time, it has moved 300 million people out of poverty

and quadrupled the average Chinese person's income.

There are many who criticize China's economic path.

They argue that the numbers are fudged,

that corruption is rampant,

that its banks are teetering on the edge,

that regional tensions will explode,

that inequality is rising dangerously

that things are coming to a head.

And while China has many problems, it also has something

any Third World country would kill for—consistently high growth.


There are an estimated 350 MILLION smokers in China….the number of Chinese smokers is greater than the entire population of the United States!!!