Monday, July 28, 2008

Underestimating variance in foreign countries

Interesting observation from Austin Tyler out of China: Shanghai is much more Western than Beijing. The difference is apparently "night and day."

This is counter-intuitive to me, because my notion of China is fairly homogeneous, but it's pretty clear now that I'm biased. This seems like a general phenomenon: we underestimate the variance of things that we don't know much about. So we think that people are either always angry or always happy or always whatever, when it is much more likely that there is more variance and less homogeneity at play.