Inference and culture : The distinction between low context culture and high context culture as a possible explanation for cultural differences in cognition


Nisbett et al. (2001) claim that Easterners are more likely to use holistic thinking to solve problems, whereas Westerners are more likely to use analytic thinking. This distinction in cognitive behaviors has often been explained by using a framework based on the fact that Western culture favors independent self-construal (individualist culture) and Eastern culture favors interdependent self-construal (collectivist culture). However, we propose another possible cultural explanation in the distinction between Western low context culture and Eastern high context culture (Hall, 1976). We particularly focus on the difference between the rule-based inference more common in low-context Western cultures and the dialectical inference more common in high-context Eastern cultures, and we argue that rule-based inference using global rules is more adaptive in low context cultures.

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