Organizational Patterns

Studies suggest that differences in brain development may play an important role in intercultural communication. It has long been known that many non-western cultures do not stress logical reasoning. Children growing up in western cultures are taught to think and reason along the principles of induction and deduction, to break things down into their parts, to focus on details and important aspects of a matter, and also to understand underlying cause and effect relationships. Non-western cultures tend to take in the overall picture and do not attempt to analyze. People learn to give proper consideration to all variables considered together. This means that they do not overlook background or secondary elements, which westerners could and would immediately rule out in their hurry “to get down to basics,” or “to find the facts that count.” This holistic perception of the world also takes into account feelings and associated emotions. An Asian or Native American could look at a landscape scorched by the hot sun and feel the suffering of the plants and animals. Other cultures making use of a holistic approach to viewing the world or to solving problems include Hispanics and African-Americans. Whether one is linear or holistic in thinking depends partly on (brain) hemisphericity. Deduction, induction, mathematical reasoning, analysis — in general, what we call a linear and direct approach — are processes lateralized to the left hemisphere; holistic thinking, blending in with nature, feeling an overall effect, letting sights, sounds and smells build an overall picture involve processes lateralized to the right hemisphere.

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