A long-held assumption in the ﬁeld of cognitive science is that the funda - mental nature of human cognitive faculties is universal and that cultural differences are only superﬁcial. If you open a standard psychology textbook, you will ﬁnd chapters on human perception, attention, memory, language, executive functions, emotion, and consciousness. An implicit assumption running through these chapters is that the theories and models described apply to human beings across the globe. Research in the last decade, however, suggests that cognitive differences exist between Westerners and East Asians, where the “West” is generally taken to include the continents of Europe, North America, South America, and Australia, and the “East” is understood to include the countries of China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. A leading ﬁgure in this research ﬁeld is Richard E. Nisbett and much of the relevant research has been brought together in Nisbett’s 2003 book The Geography of Thought.1 The central argument is that Westerners and East Asians have different cognitive styles. Westerners tend to cognize the world in a
more analytic fashion: for example, they are more likely to think in terms of categories and rules, and to attend more to the focal objects in a visual scene. East Asians, on the other hand, tend to cognize the world in a more holistic fashion: that is, they are more likely to think in terms of contextual relationships and family resemblance, and to attend more to backgrounds and the relations between objects.