High-Status People Are More Individualistic and Analytic-Thinking in the West and Wheat- Farming Areas, But Not Rice-Farming Areas

European Journal of Social Psychology

56 Pages Posted: 14 May 2021

See all articles by Haotian Zhang

Haotian Zhang

Hangzhou Normal University

Thomas Talhelm

University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Qian Yang

Zhejiang University School of Medicine

Chao Hu

Hangzhou Normal University

Date Written: May 10, 2021

Abstract

Previous studies have found that high-status people are more individualistic and think more analytically than people of lower social status. We find new evidence that this is not always the case. We tested a large sample (N = 1,418) of people across China on analytic thought and the friend- stranger distinction. In China's more individualistic wheat-farming regions, social status patterns replicated findings from the West: high-status people thought more analytically and drew smaller distinctions between friends and strangers. But in more interdependent rice-farming regions, high- status people thought more holistically and drew a larger distinction between friends and strangers. This suggests that culture shapes social status differences in thought style and individualism. The data also showed that STEM majors thought more analytically than non-STEM majors. STEM differences in thought style were larger among older students, which is consistent with the idea that STEM training encourages analytic thinking over time.

Keywords: socio-economic status, cognitive style, analytic, holistic, culture, rice theory

Suggested Citation

Zhang, Haotian and Talhelm, Thomas and Yang, Qian and Hu, Chao, High-Status People Are More Individualistic and Analytic-Thinking in the West and Wheat- Farming Areas, But Not Rice-Farming Areas (May 10, 2021). European Journal of Social Psychology, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3845663

Haotian Zhang

Hangzhou Normal University ( email )

Hangzhou Institute of Service Engineering, Hangzho
Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310036
China

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

Qian Yang

Zhejiang University School of Medicine ( email )

481 Binwen Road
Binjiang
Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310058
China

Chao Hu

Hangzhou Normal University ( email )

Hangzhou Institute of Service Engineering, Hangzho
Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310036
China

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