Nisbett, Richard E. 1941–

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Nisbett, Richard E. 1941–

(Richard Eugene Nisbett)

PERSONAL: Born June 1, 1941, in Littlefield, TX; son of R. Wayne (in insurance) and Helen (King) Nisbett; married Susan Isaacs, June 29, 1969; children: Matthew, Sarah. Education: Tufts University, A.B., 1962; Columbia University, Ph.D., 1966.

ADDRESSES: HomeAnn Arbor, MI. Office—Department of Psychology, 3229 East Hall, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Yale University, New Haven, CT, assistant professor of psychology, 1966–71; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, associate professor, 1971–76, professor of psychology, 1976–.

MEMBER: American Psychological Association, Society of Experimental Social Psychology.

AWARDS, HONORS: Donald T. Campbell Award, American Psychological Association, 1982; American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellow, 1992; Distinguished Senior Scientist Award, Society for Experimental Social Psychology, 1995; William James Fellow Award, American Psychological Society, 1996; Guggenheim fellow, 2002.


(With Edward E. Jones, David K. Kanouse, Harold H. Kelley, Stuart Valins, and Bernard Weiner) Attribution: Perceiving the Causes of Behavior, General Learning Press (New York, NY), 1972.

(Editor, with H.S. London) Thought and Feeling: Cognitive Alteration of Feeling States, Aldine (Chicago, IL), 1974.

(With Lee Ross) Human Inference: Strategies and Shortcomings of Social Judgment, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1980.

(With J.H. Holland and P. Thagard) Induction: Processes of Inference, Learning, and Discovery, Bradford Books/MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1986.

(With Lee Ross) The Person and the Situation: Perspectives of Social Psychology, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1991.

(Editor) Rules for Reasoning, Lawrence Erlbaum (Hills-dale, NJ), 1993.

(With Dov Cohen) Culture of Honor: The Psychology of Violence in the South, Westview Press (Boulder, CO), 1996.

The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently … and Why, Free Press (New York, NY), 2003.

(With Thomas Gilovich and Dacher Keltner) Social Psychology, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor and editorial consultant to various psychology journals.

SIDELIGHTS: As a social psychologist, Richard E. Nisbett studies the differences between ethnic and cultural groups. His Culture of Honor: The Psychology of Violence in the South, written with Dov Cohen, studies the rate of violence in the South, higher than the North, and the factors that may contribute to it. The authors conclude that Irish and Scottish immigrants came from herding cultures where violence was accepted as normal and transferred their instincts to the South, to which large populations migrated. They show that the rate of violence is higher in small Southern rural towns than in urban settings in either the South or the North. Considerations like poverty, the availability of guns, and the legacy of slavery seem not to be factors in the homicide and other violence rates. Nisbett and Cohen based their findings on experiments with Southern students at the University of Michigan that involved testing responses when they were insulted or deliberately bumped into. However, as Reason critic James D. Wright noted, most Southern students do not go as far North as Michigan to attend college. Most continue their studies in the South. Consequently, the students in the study were probably less aggressive than their peer group as a whole. Wright concluded his review by writing that "assuming Nisbett and Cohen are essentially right, higher rates of violence in the South have cultural roots that stretch back centuries, which implies that we cannot reasonably expect short-term interventions to have much of an impact."

In writing The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently … and Why, Nisbett relied on experiments conducted by his students and himself. He concludes that when confronted with a visual presentation, Asians typically consider what they see holistically, taking in everything, while Westerners focus on individual objects that they feel they must remember. Library Journal contributor E. James Libber-man wrote that this volume "makes key contributions to education, science, health, business, politics, language, and religion."



Booklist, February 15, 2003, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently … and Why, p. 1020.

Library Journal, February 15, 2003, E. James Lieber-man, review of The Geography of Thought, p. 156.

Publishers Weekly, February 24, 2003, review of The Geography of Thought, p. 67.

Reason, February, 1997, James D. Wright, review of Culture of Honor: The Psychology of Violence in the South, p. 62.

Scientific American, April, 2003, review of The Geography of Thought, p. 98.


University of Michigan Web site, (February 9, 2006), faculty info on Nisbett.