Nearly 20% of the cultural differences between societies boil down to ecological factors – new research

In some parts of the world, the rules are strict; in others they are far more lax. In some places, people are likely to plan for the future, while in others people are more likely to live in the moment. In some societies people prefer more personal space; in others they are comfortable being in close quarters with strangers.

Why do these kinds of differences exist?

There are a number of theories about where cultural differences come from. Some social scientists point to the role of specific institutions, like the Catholic Church. Others focus on historical differences in philosophical traditions across societies, or on the kinds of crops that were historically grown in different regions.

But there’s another possible answer. In a growing number of cases, researchers have found that human culture can be shaped by key features of the environments in which people live.

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