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What a gloriously offbeat social experiment in China can tell us about the human psyche

Northern and southern Chinese think differently—and the reason goes back centuries

By Philip Ball  

At last, there’s scientific proof that you can take the person out of the countryside but you can’t take countryside out of the person. In China, at any rate. Yet if “proof” it is, it comes from a gloriously offbeat experiment in social science. Researchers examined differences in the behaviour of northerners and southerners in China by observing them in branches of Starbucks. Well, experiments are meant to happen under standardised conditions, right? And where will you find a social setting more blandly uniform than in Starbucks?

Why should one…

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