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(From the BBC) – Psychologists are uncovering the surprising influence of geography on our reasoning, behavior, and sense of self.

Until recently, scientists had largely ignored the global diversity of thinking. In 2010, an influential article in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences reported that the vast majority of psychological subjects had been “western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic”, or ‘Weird’ for short. Nearly 70% were American, and most were undergraduate students hoping to gain pocket money or course credits by giving up their time to take part in these experiments.

The tacit assumption had been that this select group of people could represent universal truths about human nature – that all people are basically the same. If that were true, the Western bias would have been unimportant. Yet the small number of available studies which had examined people from other cultures would suggest that this is far from the case.”

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When it comes to cultural identity and difference, bias plays a huge role – not just in how you perceive others, but also how you view yourself and those like you. This cultural bias is especially problematic when one limits oneself to interacting only with people who think and look like you. It creates a false sense of understanding rooted in a very limited experience. There are all sorts of barriers that contribute to these conditions. The above article highlights the very real issue that arises as a result of geographic barriers. Towering mountains, expansive oceans and vast distances all contribute to groups of people being separated. In such cases, “truth” becomes a real matter of perspective that is largely driven by experiences within that group. Such matters of truth are also apparent closer to home, even within the same city or community.

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