Different societies across the world have different cultural values, as well as, aspects that reflect the beliefs and attitudes of the people, which they embrace in their daily lives and are taken as their identity. The cultures of the people influence all aspects of human life both positively and negatively. In this case, cultural differences explain the differences that are specifically observed in the type of thinking, as well as, behavior among the people. The eastern culture is based on the holistic type of thinking while the analytical type of thinking influences the western culture. Therefore, the paper provides an overview of the analytical and holistic types of thinking. Additionally, it describes how the differences in cultural thinking reflect on the actions, as well as, beliefs that are shown by people from different cultures. Lastly, it provides an analysis of how the cultural differences in thinking relate with social psychology.
The two primary styles of thinking include analytical and holistic approaches and can be used in different scenarios. To begin with, the analytical thinking refers to a cognitive style that focuses on the components that make up a field and uses logical reasoning to comprehend how the system and its components work together to yield outcomes. It involves disentangling the whole to different categories based on individual attributes, as well as, context. The analytical method is said to be comprehensives since it splits the ‘whole’ into different parts to allow the understanding of each component that makes up the whole system (Monga & John, 2006). On the other hand, holistic thinking refers to focusing on a field as a whole and uses dialectical reasoning to comprehend the systems.
Holistic thinkers provide a broad attention to relationships, context, as well as, backgrounds to predict events effectively. It can be useful in making decisions that are aimed at promoting accuracy, as well as, evidence-based practice. The analytical thinkers are likely to commit the attribution error through overestimation or underestimation of the impacts of an event than the holistic thinkers are. Therefore, when predicting trends such as the stock market, the analytical thinkers may be the best compared to the holistic thinkers to ensure accuracy and reliability.
The cultural differences among the people affect how they perceive things, as well as, think. For instance, studies have indicated that westerners portray and utilize the analytical thinking process while Eastern Asians use the holistic type of thinking (Monga & John, 2006). It has been identified that the type of thinking exercised by an individual impacts the methods through, which consumers from the western and eastern countries make a judgment on the brand extension fit and evaluations. Therefore, the consumers from the eastern culture tend to perceive a higher level of brand extension fit as well as evaluate brand extensions more auspiciously than the consumers from western cultures do.
The easterners tend to focus on external factors such as the reputation of the company when determining the extension of the brand as opposed to brand extension fit. It explains the differences in trends in how different customers from across the globe react and show their buying patterns for a certain product. While a product may be in high demand in one country or culture, it may fail to have customers in other cultures as a result of the differences in thinking. Moreover, it can be argued that the East Asian nations are focused on social relations. They also focus on the relationship between objects while the western societies support few social relations due to believing that the world is discontinuous (Monga & John, 2006).
The nature of social relations regulates the type of thinking that is exercised by the people of a certain society. The type of thinking used by society affects how they perceive things and act in various situations. The economic status of an individual determines the type of social relations that he or she develops and the way that he or she thinks. Evidence has indicated that the Chinese involved in wheat farming tend to use analytical thinking while those in rice growing industry tend to use holistic thinking, which proves the differences. This is because the process of rice framing requires collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders from irrigation, planting, and harvesting (Lee, 2017). Wheat farming does not require much-coordinated efforts by the farmers hence the difference in the type of thinking that is utilized.
In addition, farmers and fishers in a small region in Turkey utilize the holistic approach in thinking compared the herders because they are required to interact with people (Lee, 2017). The ways people act, perceive others and form social relationships depends on the economic factors that define an individual or society. Economic factors influence the development of relationships based on the social class in society. Therefore, it can be identified that the holistic kind of thinking considers the social factors and context that influence the decision-making the process of the people.
Cultural differences in thinking have the ability to influence international business. This is because cultural differences affect how people act and perceive various aspects of life like a business and social relations. The morality of an action or decision that is made regarding certain issues varies from one culture to the other depending on the argument raised by the people. It has been identified that the holistic system emphasizes on building or maintaining relationships with other people. For instance, Lee (2017) gave an example of a Michigan University student, who got into an argument with a Chinese taxi driver. This resulted in flying the student back home as ordered by the school management, which looked reasonable by the westerners as a way of instilling behavior among the students. However, the Chinese people identified the process as unrealistic to take such cruel actions against the student.
Additionally, a study carried out on the use of Psychedelic drugs shows that the United Kingdom, as well as, the United States view the drugs as harmful on the people (Adams, 2010). Thus, the users of these drugs are perceived as disorganized in addition to delusional in these countries. However, the easterners may perceive the drugs are helpful because they contain components that dissolute the cognitive boundaries thus, promoting critical thinking. The supporters of the drugs say that it provides a tool for problem-solving that can be used to solve the problems affecting people in the contemporary world (Adams, 2010). Therefore, the business of selling Psychedelic drugs in western countries may be low compared to countries that support their use hence influencing international business decisions.
The westerners believe in extreme individualism approach while the easterners believe in the group welfare of preservation of social relationships (Lee, 2017). Since the evolution, the Americans have forsaken the concept of communal living by embracing the concept of individualism that characterizes their thinking methods. For the Americans, there is little recognition of the need to promote social relationships compared to the Chinese people. The Chinese or the eastern communities are more inclined towards developing and maintaining healthy social relationships with others in society.
They help to emphasize on promoting the welfare of other people compared to Americans, who focus on how to become better as an individual rather than a group. However, the Americans, who are more individualistic, focus of self and perceive the laws as the common factor that unites the interests of the people. Therefore, the ability of people to develop and maintain social relationships with others depends on the type of thinking that they utilize as guided by cultural differences. In America, the blame is put on an individual, who is thought to have caused some failure while the Chinese community is collective thus no single person carries the blame. Blaming an individual is discriminatory and may cause conflicts, which limits social relations. Culture plays an essential role in influencing the actions, perception, and behavior of the people towards each other.
From a cognitive social psychology view, it can be identified that the cross-cultural intersection between the holistic and analytic kinds of thinking has positive impacts on individuals. This is because the variance helps individuals to eliminate the limitation that comes from an individual’s thinking style (Lee, 2017). The limitations of a type of style may result in biased decision-making process hence, should be eliminated for accuracy purposes. Different situations require people to use different types of thinking, which means that the westerners can think like easterners and vice versa. When people are open to embracing a different type of thinking to identify and deal with an issue, they manage to overcome the limitations put in place by a specific type of thinking. Therefore, people have and should be encouraged to use both holistic, as well as, analytical way of thinking when dealing with their day-to-day issues. None of the styles is considered superior to the other but share significant differences. However, they can be used to promote cultural cohesion among the people. In the future, people will be required to choose their way of thinking rationally to avoid bias and limitations that come with the type of thinking chosen.
- Adams, C. (2010). Psychedelics and holistic thinking: a tool for science. Drugs and Alcohol Today, 10(1), 33-35.
- Lee, H. J. (2017). Thinking style across cultures: an interview with Richard Nisbett. Cross-Cultural & Strategic Management, 24(1), 99-104.
- Monga, A. B., & John, D. R. (2006). Cultural differences in brand extension evaluation: The influence of analytic versus holistic thinking. Journal of Consumer Research, 33(4), 529-536.