Do Easterners and Westerners Treat Contradiction Differently?

20 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2013

See all articles by Hugo Mercier

Hugo Mercier

University of Neuchatel

Jiehai Zhang

Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS)

Yuping Qu

Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SHUTCM)

Lu Peng

East China Normal University (ECNU)

Jean-Baptiste Van der Henst

CNRS

Date Written: October 28, 2013

Abstract

Peng and Nisbett (1999) put forward an influential theory of the influence of culture on the resolution of contradiction. They suggested that Easterners deal with contradiction in a dialectical manner, trying to reconcile opposite points of view and seeking a middle‐way. Westerners, by contrast, would follow the law of excluded middle, judging one side of the contradiction to be right and the other to be wrong. However, their work has already been questioned, both in terms of replicability and external validity. Here we test alternative interpretations of two of Peng and Nisbett’s experiments and conduct a new test of their theory in a third experiment. Overall, the Eastern (Chinese) and Western (French) participants behaved similarly, failing to exhibit the cross‐cultural differences observed by Peng and Nisbett. Several interpretations of these failed replications and this failed new test are suggested. Together with previous failed replications, the present results raise questions about the breadth of Peng and Nisbett’s interpretation of cross-­cultural differences in dealing with contradiction.

Keywords: Culture, Reasoning, Contradiction, Dialecticism, Replication

Suggested Citation

Mercier, Hugo and Zhang, Jiehai and Qu, Yuping and Peng, Lu and Van der Henst, Jean-Baptiste, Do Easterners and Westerners Treat Contradiction Differently? (October 28, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2346286 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2346286

Hugo Mercier (Contact Author)

University of Neuchatel ( email )

Espace Louis Agassiz 1
Neuchâtel, 2000
Switzerland

Jiehai Zhang

Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS) ( email )

Shanghai
China

Yuping Qu

Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SHUTCM) ( email )

Shanghai
China

Lu Peng

East China Normal University (ECNU) ( email )

North Zhongshan Road Campus
3663 N. Zhongshan Rd.
Shanghai, 200062
China

Jean-Baptiste Van der Henst

CNRS ( email )

3, rue Michel-Ange
Paris, 75794
France

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