Moving Chairs in Starbucks: Observational Studies Find Rice-Wheat Cultural Differences in Daily Life in China

Talhelm, T., Zhang, X., & Oishi, S. (2018). Moving chairs in Starbucks: Observational studies find rice-wheat cultural differences. Science Advances, 4, eaap8469.

42 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2018

See all articles by Thomas Talhelm

Thomas Talhelm

University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Xuemin Zhang

Beijing Normal University (BNU)

Shigehiro Oishi

University of Virginia - Psychology

Date Written: June 20, 2018

Abstract

Traditional paddy rice farmers had to share labor and coordinate irrigation in a way that most wheat farmers did not. We observed people in everyday life to test whether these agricultural legacies gave rice-farming southern China a more interdependent culture and wheat-farming northern China a more independent culture. In Study 1, we counted 8,964 people sitting in cafes in six cities and found that people in northern China were more likely to be sitting alone. In Study 2, we moved chairs together in Starbucks across the country so that they were partially blocking the aisle (N = 678). People in northern China were more likely to move the chair out of the way, which is consistent with findings that people in individualistic cultures are more likely to try to control the environment. People in southern China were more likely to adjust the self to the environment by squeezing through the chairs. Even in China’s most modern cities, rice-wheat differences live on in everyday life.

Keywords: Culture, China, Agriculture, Rice Theory

Suggested Citation

Talhelm, Thomas and Zhang, Xuemin and Oishi, Shigehiro, Moving Chairs in Starbucks: Observational Studies Find Rice-Wheat Cultural Differences in Daily Life in China (June 20, 2018). Talhelm, T., Zhang, X., & Oishi, S. (2018). Moving chairs in Starbucks: Observational studies find rice-wheat cultural differences. Science Advances, 4, eaap8469.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3199645

Thomas Talhelm (Contact Author)

University of Chicago Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.chicagobooth.edu/faculty/directory/t/thomas-talhelm

Xuemin Zhang

Beijing Normal University (BNU) ( email )

19 Xinjiekou Outer St
Haidian District
Beijing, Guangdong 100875
China

Shigehiro Oishi

University of Virginia - Psychology ( email )

United States

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