How Important Is It to Look Competent?

University students in Korea can look at the faces of two unknown political opponents in the U.S. and choose the winner about two-thirds of the time, yet they can’t accurately predict what happens in their own country. What’s going on here?

Emotions, Culture, and Heart Disease

The relationship between expressing hostility and heart disease is a strong candidate for a psychological universal. Or is it?

I, Me, Mine

Americans, as a group, are becoming more individualistic. But what about people in other countries? In collectivist China, for example. Do they also have a Generation Me?

Thoughts Wandering in an Estonian Cemetery

Do Estonians, because of their surnames, feel more closely connected to nature? And what would happen if the dead wrote their own inscriptions on gravestones?

The Construction of National Identity: The Estonian Case

Personal identities and self-concepts are often shaped by the ways in which we differ from others. Is the same also true for ethnic and national identities?

Communication Styles in Estonia and the United States

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate and to even prefer the communication style used by most Estonians. It’s liberating to know that you don’t have to acknowledge everyone you see and don't have to fill the silent spaces with empty words.

Are Muslim Arabs Especially Fatalistic?

Many commentators claim that Muslim Arabs are fatalistic, that they believe what happens in life is mostly beyond their control. Are these claims valid?

Creativity and Multicultural Experiences

In a recent study, children whose parents were born in different countries were generally more creative than children whose parents were born in the same country. The mystery is why.

Are Bilinguals Really Smarter?

Conventional wisdom says that individuals who speak more than one language are more adept cognitively than individuals who speak just one language. A new study, however, challenges the notion that bilingualism enhances cognitive control, despite a large number of studies showing just such an advantage. The alleged culprit? Publication bias.

Solving the Puzzle of National Differences in Self-Esteem

A well-documented finding in cultural psychology is that people in individualistic societies typically score higher on measures of self-esteem than people in collectivist societies. Less well understood are the reasons for this difference.

Where Is the Future?

In spatial terms, where are the future and past located? The answer seems to depend on one’s language, one’s cultural values, and even one’s age.

How High Is Your Horizon?

A team of researchers crammed themselves into a classroom in Japan. They passed out art supplies to the students and said, “Draw a landscape with a horizon.” On the other side of the world, the same scene played out in a Canadian classroom. Later, the researchers closely examined one detail—the placement of the horizon line. Why?

Two-Dimensional Sounds and Dutch Babies

In some places, people talk about musical notes as being high or low, as in “Minnie Riperton could really hit the high notes.” In other places, people use a horizontal metaphor instead of a vertical one, talking about musical notes as being thick or thin. Are these spatial metaphors for musical pitch learned or innate?

Cultural Values and the Likelihood of Suicide

In the United States, southern and western states are said to be “honor cultures” in which people are especially courteous but also quick to avenge a social insult. People living in honor states kill themselves at an unusually high rate. Might there be a connection?

How to Estimate a Country's Suicide Rate

What is the suicide rate in Bolivia? Indonesia? Kenya? No one knows because government officials in those countries don’t report official suicide statistics. The lack of reporting is unfortunate because suicidal behavior is a public health problem in some countries. When official statistics are unavailable, is it possible to estimate the suicide rate?

My Path to Happiness May Not Lead You to the Same Place

Counselors and therapists need to consider the so-called “culture-activity fit” of techniques designed to benefit clients.

Do Moral Judgments Depend on Language?

A team of international researchers says people using a foreign language are more likely to make utilitarian decisions when faced with a moral dilemma. What does this mean for people who work at the U.N. or multinational corporations?

Japan Is a Loser’s Paradise

If you lose your wallet, camera, cell phone or anything else of value, you stand a much better chance of recovering the item in Tokyo than in New York City.

Does Older Mean Wiser Everywhere?

Many older people have probably lost a step when it comes to certain cognitive functions, but they can take solace in the fact that they’re wiser now—wiser than they used to be and wiser than the typical young person. Right? Well, maybe. It apparently depends a great deal on where you live.

Do Personality Traits Predict Punctuality and Tardiness?

Companies frequently use the results of personality tests when making hiring decisions. Is it possible to predict employee tardiness on the basis of personality test scores?

Valuable Advice for Investors and Other Gamblers

Picture yourself at a casino in Las Vegas, on the hunt for a new game of chance. You come across a table with a huge sign overhead, “The Big Payoff.” In this game, a player puts $100 on the table and a mechanical device flips a coin. If the coin comes up heads, you forfeit your bet. If the coin comes up tails, you walk away $150 richer. Would you take the bet?

Is Cognitive Dissonance Universal?

Imagine yourself acting in a way that contradicts one of your most cherished inner beliefs. You get an abortion, even though you think abortion is immoral. Or you cheat on your spouse, even though you believe marital infidelity is a sin.

Why So Many Spelling Bee Champions Are Indian-Americans

Indian-American kids have dominated the Scripps National Spelling Bee since 1999, winning 11 of 15 competitions and the last six in a row. What’s going on? Why do Indian-Americans consistently win spelling contests at the national level?

Some Like It Tight, Some Like It Loose

Do you want to live in a place where people can sing or kiss or even curse in a public park or train station? If so, then you should consider Estonia or Hungary but cross Pakistan and Singapore off your list.

Experiencing the World Inside Out or Outside In

Try to recall a time when you were the center of attention. When you graduated from high school, for instance, or did something really embarrassing. When you picture that scene in your mind’s eye, whose perspective do you adopt? Do you imagine the scene from your original point of view or from the perspective of an observer? For many people, the answer depends in part

Masculine or Feminine? (And Why It Matters)

Gendered rules of language have multifarious effects on cognition — and they usually go unnoticed. Focusing on grammatical gender, this post explores the fascinating and always mysterious relationship between language and thought.

Cities Where Tourists Are More Likely to Receive Help

Picture yourself in a foreign city, walking along with a guidebook in one hand and city maps in the other. If misfortune came your way, if you stumbled and dropped everything, where would you be most likely to receive help from a passerby? Budapest? New York? Bangkok? Rio de Janeiro? Stockholm?

The Truth About “They All Look Alike to Me”

Most of us have heard someone say, “How should I know if I’ve seen the guy before? They all look alike to me.” We’re inclined to think the clueless person is a bigot, but might there be some truth to the idea?

Boiling Blood

We all feel it sometimes, but we don't fully understand it.

Why Do Killers Kill?

We all have our pet theories about why people do bad things. Most interesting to me, though, is the fact that our pet theories depend, in part, on where we were born.

Pages