Which Human Experiences Are Universal?

By Emma Young As everyone knows, American undergrads are not representative of all humanity — and the perils of drawing conclusions about people in general from WEIRD studies have been well-publicised. To really understand which human experiences are universal, and which are a product of our individual cultures, we need big, well-conducted studies of people from many different cultures. Fortunately, there are studies like this. Here are some of their most fascinating insights… Personal space How big is your “personal space”? As a Brit, I’d expect mine to be larger than that of the average Italian’s, say. That’s because I know there are studies finding that people living in cultures that favour physical contact tend to have smaller “personal bubbles”. However, until recently, decent cross-cultural analyses of this concept had been lacking.  That changed with a 2017 paper on “Preferred interpersonal distances” in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology from authors representing a total of 59 institutions, based everywhere from Beijing to Uruguay to Iran. In total, the team, led by Agnieszka Sorokowska, collected data on almost 9000 participants from 42 countries. They looked at preferences for “social distance” (physical distance when interacting with a stranger), “personal distance” (when with an acquaintance), and “intimate distance” (when interacting...
Source: BPS RESEARCH DIGEST - Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Authors: Tags: Cross-cultural Feature Source Type: blogs