Thomas Talhelm studies how culture affects the way we behave. He studies how rice and wheat agriculture have given northern and southern China two very different cultures, even influencing whether people move chairs in Starbucks. His research also finds that liberal culture in the United States is more individualistic and that getting people to think more analytically increases support for liberal social policies, whereas thinking holistically increases support for conservative policies. He occasionally lectures and writes about research and culture in Chinese.
Assoc. Prof. Talhelm lived in China for five years as a Princeton in Asia fellow (teaching high school in Guangzhou), a freelance journalist in Beijing, and a Fulbright scholar and an NSF graduate research fellow. While living in Beijing, Prof. Talhelm founded Smart Air, a social enterprise that ships low-cost air purifiers to help people breathe clean air without shelling out thousands of dollars for expensive purifiers.