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The ‘Michigan fish test’ and Cultural Difference

The little yellow stars showing my blog readers’ geographical location in the world keep flashing and 5-6 times more views were recorded on the day of March 7 (Manila time). The Site Stats has shown that the “Michigan fish test” was the term used by most of the people to find my blog. What happened to the “Michigan fish test”?

A quick Google search immediately gave me the answer: CNN published on its site an article titled

The ‘Michigan fish test’ and the Middle East By Sheena Iyengar

In a blog post last year, I talked about the “Michigan Fish Test” . The analystic and holistic cognition styles for western and eastern cultures reflected in the test are also present in the word order in English and in Chinese. Take simply how our names are called as an example. The researcher of this test is called Richard Nisbett with Richard his given name and Nisbett his family name. “Richard ” is placed before “Nisbett” because Richard represents the INDIVIDUAL and his uniqueness compared with all other people in the Nisbett family. While in Chinese, people’s family name always comes first and the order can never be reversed. It possibly reflects the mentality that an individual is first a member of his family and the uniqueness as an individual is not more important than the collective family feature. Actually, recent research shows that culture can even influence the neural activities of our brain and  “Cultural Neuroscience” emerged as a new science branch.

 Just what does this visual exercise have to do with Middle East? Read Sheena’s article on CNN.


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