The Geography of Objects

This thesis discusses the method of reflecting on psychological differences between the West and the East that is responsible for significant differences in thinking and behaviour in the design process. I mainly adopted the cross-cultural research method in order to discover where the benefits could reside for the other culture. My interest is rooted in a critical view on globalisation. As a consequence of globalisation we have been led to believe that people everywhere share a universal perspective of the world. I question the truth of a universal point of view. In cultural psychology and cognitive science, attention has been focused on the assertion that human cognition is not the same everywhere. To borrow Kenya Hara’s expression, design is a behaviour that creates a formal outline for cognizing the world through designing objects or communication methods. However, no one has studied the cognitive differences between the East and the West within the context of design. Huntington, the author of ‘Clash of civilization’, mentioned that it is dangerous to assume that “people from different cultural backgrounds think the same way.” In this thesis, I discuss the following aspects: 1. cross-cultural cognitive differences and their effects on real life. 2. the relation between design and cultural psychology. 3. how psychological identity can be taken into consideration in the design process. The results presented here provide an interface for examining the way designers consider cultural differences on a psychological level, as well as the linked experiences of design and psychological identity in the design process.

Jeonghwa Seo


The Geography of Objects

Photo by Vincent van Gurp