Culture and Thought: Including the Thoughts of Scientists

Douglas Medin


Northwestern University



Lecture 1. The Place of Culture in Cognitive Science. What is culture and how should one study it?



Useful readings:
  1. Brumann, C., (1999). Writing for culture: Why a successful concept shouldnot be discarded. Current Anthropology 40, pp. 1-27.
  2. Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The Weirdest People in the World? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33(2-3), 61-83.
Extended readings:
  1. Peng, K. & Nisbett, R. (1999). Culture, dialectics, and reasoning about contradiction. American Psychologist, 54, 741-754.
  2. Morris, M.W. & Ping, K. (1994). Culture and Cause: American and Chinese Attributions for Social and Physical Events.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 949-971

Lecture 2. Is Culture in the Head? Can we use priming to make culture into an independent variable?

Useful readings:
  1. Morling, B. & Lamoreaux, M. (2008). Measuring culture outside the head: A meta-analysis of cultural products. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 12, 199-221.
  2. Hong, Y., Morris, M.W., Chiu, C., & Martinez, V.B. (2000). Multicultural minds. American Psychologist, 55, 709-720.
Extended readings:
  1. Gilens, M. (1996). Race and poverty in America: Public misperceptions and the American news media. Public Opinion Quarterly, 60, 515-541.
  2. Wolff, P., Medin, D. L., & Pankratz, C. (1999). Evolution and Devolution of Folkbiological Knowledge. Cognition 73 , 177-204.
  3. Herrmann, P., Waxman, S. R., & Medin, D. L. (2010). Anthropocentrism is not the first step in children's reasoning about the natural world. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(22), 9979-9984.
  4. Masuda, T., Gonzalez, R., Kwan, L., &Nisbett, R.E. (2008).Culture and Aesthetic Preference: Comparing Attention to Context of East Asians and Americans. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 1260-1275.

Lecture 3. How Should We Think about Culture? Cultures Are Like Species?Culture Are Like Ecosystems?

Useful readings:
  1. Atran, S., Medin, D.L, & Ross, N. (2005). The cultural mind: Environmental Decision making and cultural modeling within and across populations Psychological Review, 112(4), 744-776.
  2. Na, J., Grossman, I., Varnum, M.E.W., Kitayama, S., Gonzalez, R., & Nisbett, R.E. (2010). Cultural Differences Are Not AlwaysReducible to Individual Differences. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 107: 6192-6197.
Extended readings:
  1. Atran, S. & Medin, D.L. (2008). The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature. Boston, Mass.: MIT Press.

Lecture 4. Culture and Relational Epistemologies. Does psychological distance make a difference? Is that all we need?

Useful readings:
  1. Bang, M., Medin, D. &Atran, S. (2007). Cultural Mosaics and Mental Models of Nature.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 13868-13874.
  2. Trope, Y., & Liberman, N. (2003). Temporal construal. Psychological Review, 110(3), 403-420.
Extended readings:
  1. Duarte Olson, I. (2013). Cultural differences between favela and asfalto in complex systems thinking.Journal of Cognition and Culture, 145-157.

Lecture 5. Who Owns Science? The Case for Diversity. Does the science that gets done depend on who's doing it?

Useful readings:
  1. Medin, D. Bennis, W. & Chandler, M. (2010).The Home-Field Disadvantage Perspectives on Psychological Science. 5(6), 708-713.
Extended readings:
  1. Bang, M., Medin, D., Washinawatok, K., and Chapman, S. (2010). Innovations in Culturally-based Science Education through Partnerships and Community. In M. Khine& I. Saleh (Eds.) New Science of Learning: Cognition, Computers and Collaboration in Education. New York: Springer.