New app Global Village lets you compare yourself with other nationalities

Have you ever wondered whether all people think the same way, or whether cultural differences across the world mean people’s minds work differently? A new app, ‘Global Village: Discover Your Thinking Style’, lets you compare your own thinking style with the rest of the world. Devised by researchers at Durham University and Queen Mary University of London, and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the free app lets users discover which nationality they most think like.

Previous research has shown that people from Western societies like the US and UK often think differently to ’non-Westerners’ from countries like Japan and China. For example, they tend to group objects according to formal categories, while non-Westerners instead group according to the relationships between objects. When asked whether a cow should be paired with grass or a chicken, people from the US tend to choose the chicken because cows and chickens are both farmyard animals. People from China tend to choose the grass, because cows eat grass.

In social relationships, Westerners tend to be more individualistic, which means that they see themselves as separate from others and are motivated more by personal goals and achievements. Non-Westerners, on the other hand, are more collectivistic; they see themselves as part of larger social groups and are motivated more by the success of their family or social group.

The Global Village app works out thinking styles through a mixture of games and quizzes. After completing the tasks the app gives users a score and allows them to compare this to the average score recorded in different countries, to reveal which nationality they most think like.

The app has been devised by a team led by Dr Alex Mesoudi from Durham University as a way of expanding the small sample sizes of previous studies. It will provide more information about the thinking styles of people who don’t fit into simple notions of East and West, such as people living in countries other than the US, Western Europe or East Asia, or immigrants who grew up in one place and later moved to another. The app is part of Dr Mesoudi’s wider Thinking Styles project, which aims to unpick the reasons why people from different cultures think differently.

In a previous study, Dr Mesoudi and his colleagues measured the thinking styles of British Bangladeshi immigrants living in East London to see how exposure to Western culture affects the way migrants see the world.

“We have found that first-generation British Bangladeshi migrants, that is people who were born in Bangladesh but have since moved to Britain, often tend to think in a ‘non-Western’ way, as expected,” says Dr Mesoudi.

“However, second generation British Bangladeshis who were born in Britain to Bangladeshi-born parents are largely indistinguishable from native Londoners’ Western thinking styles, showing that variation in thinking patterns is certainly not genetic, but more likely a product of cultural factors such as schooling or exposure to Western media. One of the aims of our Global Village App is to see whether similar cultural factors shape variation in thinking styles in other migrant communities, too.”

The Global Village app, compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, is available as a free download from the iTunes store.