RAS Weekender

Tavern at the Radisson Xingguo Hotel

The Rice Theory of Culture: China’s Two Psychological Cultures

Speaker: Thomas Talhelm

Recently published on the cover of Science, psychologist Thomas Talhelm’s study found large psychological differences between people in northern and southern China—and that these differences were correlated with the amount of rice historically grown in different provinces. Talhelm argues that rice farming’s staggering labour requirements and irrigation networks encouraged labour exchanges and tight, reciprocal relationships. In contrast, wheat’s lower labour and water requirements lead to the north’s more independent and free-wheeling culture. Talhelm’s research has been featured in the Economist, National Geographic, and NPR.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Thomas is an assistant professor of Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He researches cross-cultural differences and north-south cultural differences in China. He has lived in China (both north and south) for five years as a Fulbright scholar, Princeton in Asia fellow, and a freelance journalist. He is also founder of Smart Air, which promotes low-cost DIY air filters as an alternative to the high-priced air purifier market.

RSVP: bookings@royalasiaticsociety.org.cn

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