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

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Document pages: 56 pages

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.

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