Cherish the harmony among people? – 1/2

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Today and next posting of this blog is about the article in the RESEARCH WORLD issued by

The title of the article is “All in the mind” whose author is Richard Nisbett from Michigan
University in the US.
The message from this article is that even with globalization, perception and cognition of
East Asian and Western people are different so same approach may not work in the business
Maybe you all have already gotten this lesson but some case studies in the article sound
interesting for us Japanese.

Although the main focus of this article is the difference between East Asian and Western
people, the author quotes more cases on Japanese people.
Maybe behavior of Japanese people is drastically different from Westerns’ so it is good to

One of interesting experiments had both Japanese and American people see underwater
scenes for 20 seconds, and then asked “What did you see?”
This experiment showed a tendency that Japanese respondents tended to mention the
context of the underwater and American tended to mention the most appealing thing
among what they saw in the underwater.

For example, Japanese respondent said “I saw the stream, water was green, rocks and
shells on the bottom, three big fishes were swimming…”
On the other hand, American respondent said “There big fishes were swimming to the right,
big stripes on the bellies, rock and shell on the bottom…”
In addition, more Japanese people tends to mention the objects in the underwater such as
rock and shell, and the relation between objects like “Shell next to the reeds”

The author quoted this experiment to analyze that East Asian people look themselves in the
relationship with others and Western people respect their own identity.
Other to say, East Asian people tend to care about what other people think about themselves
more than Westerns’.

From this experiment, one thing came to my mind.
The way respondents explained what they saw is like the difference of the grammar between
Japanese and English. When talking about something in Japanese, we start explaining about
the situation that something had happened before and then tell what happened at the last.
However, English speaking people first tell what happened. I thought that such difference
between each language may do less or more with above mentioned tendency between East
Asian and Western people.

Back to the article, the author explains how these differences between East Asian and
Western people impacts the business.
For example, as for the power of the ad or word-of-mouth, East Asian people aware of other
people around them and conformity more and Western people aware more of their
personality based on their own reasons and values.

The author quoted Samsung which used different concepts of ad in Western and Korean
In the Western market, the ad showed the individual and addressed the messages “Express
your individuality” “This products matches your individuality” and something like this.
On the other hand, in Korea, the ad showed two families enjoying picnic and addressed the
message that “Samsung is another family”
This is very notable example to launch different business strategy according to different
cultural background, I am not sure if this ad campaign had worked or not though.

The article mentions the relation between the above mentioned cultural gap and
Socio-economic status (SES) as well. I will be talking about this next time.
Thank you for your time!

2014-06-12 | Posted in Blog, ResearchNo Comments »