Dialectical thinking and attitudes toward action/inaction beyond East Asia

Ethan Zell, Rong Su, Dolores Albarracín

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Previous research has focused primarily on assessing dialectical thinking among respondents in representative East Asian and Western nations (e.g., China, Japan, South Korea, and the United States). This chapter examines how dialectical thinking varies across 19 nations/subnations spanning four continents. Consistent with previous theory, dialectical thinking was highest in East Asian societies, such as mainland China, Hong Kong, and Japan. Dialectical thinking was lowest in Guatemala, Turkey, and Italy. Further, both individual and nation-level dialecticism significantly predicted attitudes toward action and inaction. That is, both cultural groups and individuals high in dialectical thinking evidenced greater balance and moderation in attitudes toward action and inaction than cultural groups and individuals low in dialectical thinking. Given that dialectical thinking exists to some degree in a variety of cultures, factors that cultivate dialecticism in both East Asian and Western cultures are addressed. The chapter concludes with discussion of avenues for future research examining patterns of dialectical thinking across the globe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Psychological and Cultural Foundations of East Asian Cognition
Subtitle of host publicationContradiction, Change, and Holism
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9780199348541
StatePublished - Jan 18 2018


  • Action
  • Attitudes
  • Cultural groups
  • Culture
  • Dialectical thinking
  • Dialecticism
  • East Asian cultural groups
  • Inaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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