Standard Article

Culture and Cognition

  1. Richard E. Nisbett1,
  2. Ara Norenzayan2

Published Online: 15 JUL 2002

DOI: 10.1002/0471214426.pas0213

Stevens' Handbook of Experimental Psychology

Stevens' Handbook of Experimental Psychology

How to Cite

E. Nisbett, R. and Norenzayan, A. 2002. Culture and Cognition. Stevens' Handbook of Experimental Psychology. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Michigan

  2. 2

    University of Illinois

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2002


We review evidence for the mutual interdependence of cultural and cognitive processes. Some cognitive content, assumed by many psychologists to be infinitely variable, appears to be universal, including theories of mechanics, biology, and mind. These domain-specific theories constrain the diversity of human thought and the range of cultures possible. On the other hand, many cognitive processes assumed to be universal are highly susceptible to cultural variation. We consider recent developments regarding cultural variation in mathematical and folkbiological reasoning, deductive reasoning in traditional societies, as well as the linguistic relativity hypothesis, field dependence, and situated cognition. We then examine recent research on marked cultural differences in holistic vs. analytic modes of reasoning primarily between East Asian and Western cultures.


  • Culture;
  • folkbiology;
  • holistic thinking;
  • language and thought;
  • logical reasoning;
  • mathematical thinking