Show Details

Starbucks Culture

May 2, 2018

Customers at Starbucks in China show behavioral traits of their agrarian past.

Transcript

What does coffee shop behavior have to do with our agrarian past? (StockSnap/Pixabay/CC0)

What does coffee shop behavior have to do with our agrarian past? (StockSnap/Pixabay/CC0)

BOB HIRSHON (Host):

Starbucks social behavior. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Visit a Starbucks in Northern China, with its tradition of wheat farming, and you’ll see many patrons sitting alone compared to Starbucks in southern China, where they’ve raised rice for many centuries. In the journal Science Advances, University of Chicago researcher Thomas Talhelm writes that this is no coincidence: managing rice paddies is intensely cooperative, while wheat farming allows more independence.

THOMAS TALHELM (University of Chicago):

Since this was how Chinese people lived their life, day in and day out, these farming patterns may well have influenced Chinese culture.

HIRSHON:

This is true even among city-dwelling, Starbucks-sipping office workers, who have never farmed. Talhelm’s work suggests that a culture’s farming past is so deeply engrained, that it can play a role in modern behavior, decades or even centuries later. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

Story by Bob Hirshon