Thinking style across cultures: an interview with Richard Nisbett

Published on Feb 6, 2017
· DOI :10.1108/CCSM-10-2016-0181
Hyun-Jung Lee10
Estimated H-index: 10
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to gain some insights from a leading scholar of the cross-cultural cognitive social psychology field on how cultural differences are viewed, understood, and dealt with, and thus to contribute to enrich the way cultural differences are framed in cross-cultural management research. Design/methodology/approach The author conducts a formal, semi-structured interview with Richard Nisbett for a duration of 90 minutes. The author extracts the key message from the interview and re-structures the conversation in a meaningful manner. Findings From his cognitive social psychology lens, Richard Nisbett views that any cross-cultural contact between different thinking styles is advantageous because differences help address the limitations of one’s own thinking style. Research limitations/implications The insights from cross-cultural cognitive social psychology encourage cross-cultural management researchers to further investigate the positive consequences of cultural differences. Originality/value Richard Nisbett’s own journey from a young scientist who describes himself as an extreme universalist, to a mature intellectual who understands and appreciates different thinking style, is itself a concrete example of how differences can lead to the positive. The author summarizes three factors that are key to a positive outcome of cultural differences: curiosity and openness to cultural differences; habit of critical thinking; and intense interaction with culturally different others.
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