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Large-Scale Psychological Differences Within China Explained by Rice Versus Wheat Agriculture

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Report on research design elements on new reports
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Report on research design elements on new reports
Rice farming or wheat farming can determine whether a person thinks in a collectivist way or in an individualistic way. This conclusion is according to research published on May 9th by a group of Psychologists. The research that used China and the people of China as the samples for the study reached such a conclusion after noticing behavioral differences between people in the North of China and residents of Southern China. The leader of the group, Thomas Talhem, had in the past taught in the Southern part of China, the city of Guanzhou. While living there, he noticed that people there were calm and avoided confrontations and conflicts. Later, on moving to the Northern parts of China, in Beijing City, he noticed that the people in the region were more direct in terms of relating to people, regardless of whether they were strangers (Talhelm et al., 2014). After the report had been published, a subsequent news article was published on an online news site that outlined the chief conclusions of the report. The article was written by David Biello on Scientific American media. This paper seeks to compare the news article to the report published by Thomas Talhelm in terms of the research design, the elements and variables that were examined in the research, the samples Thomas Talhem and his group used, the report’s robustness as well as the reliability of the reliability and its validity.

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The research design used by Thomas Talhem is a causality research design. This design type seeks to inquire about an issue under investigation and understand the causes of the problem or issue. The research design starts with a hypothesis that the research team seeks to determine its truth. In the research, Talhem had already noticed some difference in behavior between the people in the Northern region that cultivated wheat and the southern region where Rice farming was predominantly grown. The region, South China and the North China region are the variables in the research experiment. The behavior and their thinking styles are the other variables studied in the experiment. The research takes a descriptive approach and tries to find the relationship between the farming activities and the people’s ways of thinking. The study sampled students from China, 1162 Han Chinese students. The students were drawn randomly from six different provinces in China, both the South and the North of China.
The confounding variables in this study are the ancient Chinese culture and the modernity factor. The Chinese culture has been used as an explanation for the relationship between the Chinese behavior and the collectivist way of thinking. Passing down the culture through generations helps keep the culture intact. The research proposes that moving to towns does not affect the ways of thinking of the people from the rice farming regions. Students from the southern China, who had moved to towns, still exhibited the same style of thinking (Weber, 2011). A loyalty test, popular in psychology experiments was also used to determine the differences in thinking between the South and North China. People from the Rice growing region showed more loyalty to their friends compared to North wheat growing people that showed a greater deal of individualist thinking (Talhelm et al., 2014). The conclusion was consistent with behavioral studies done in the past about the differences between East Asia and Europe in terms of thinking styles in which the holistic thinking was inherent in the European people while the East Asian people showed a greater collectivist way of thinking.
Controls were used in the research study. The controls were done on women as psychological studies in the past have proven that women have a general tendency to think in a more holistic way than men. Different studies were conducted to determine if the behavior was uniform for people in the South and those in the North. Neighboring provinces were used in the experiment, Anhui, and Huainan. Anhui province had 2% of its land under rice while the Huainan province had about 67% of its land under rice. The results of the comparison showed consistency with the hypothesis with the people from Anhui showing a more individualistic thinking compared to the Huainan people that showed a collectivist thinking style (Talhelm et al., 2014).
In Conclusion, the news article gave a good account of the report published on May 9th by Thomas Talhelm. All the variables were included in the news report. However, the news report avoided several experiments and theories that Talhelm may have used to come up to the conclusion. For instance, the news report did mention other theories such as the pathogen theory that was used to explain some of the behavioral alignments. The news article focused on the Rice theory alone, and the bias means that the news article does not give a reliable reflection of the study. However, the study can be considered reliable, and its conclusions are valid based on the samples used and the various tests used. The various experiments done showed greater consistency with the purpose of the study.
Talhelm, T., Zhang, X., Oishi, S., Shimin, C., Duan, D., Lan, X., & Kitayama, S. (2014). Large-scale psychological differences within China explained by rice versus wheat agriculture. Science, 344(6184), 603-608.
Weber, D. (2011, April). Agri-environmental attitudes of Chinese farmers–The impact of social and cognitive determinants. In 85th Annual Conference (Vol. 18).

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