Archive for the ‘Comparing Cultures’ Category
Basic Anthropological Theories
There are two fundamental approaches to a different culture, represented by L.H. Morgan (1818-1881) and Franz Boas (1858-1942).
Morgan believed in an evolution of cultures: a ladder, on which all cultures climb up or down. This thought was the beginning of Western anthropology.
L.H. Morgan (1818-1881)
http://oechoe.blogspot.com/2010/04/lewis-henry-morgan.html / Oetjhoe von Boegh
Boas tried to explain different cultures from their own background. Hall and Hofstede use different parameters or indices for comparing different cultures.
Franz Boas (1858-1942)
Frans Boas Projekt http://www.franz-boas.de/content/index.php?n=7&c=71
Universal Human Rights, Cultural Relativism and the Asian Values Debate
(…) Cultural relativism is the position to which local cultural traditions (religious, political and legal practices included) properly determine the existence and scope of civil and political rights enjoyed by individuals in a given society. It is premised on the idea that all cultures are equally valid and that standards of evaluation are internal to traditions. It sees that values emerge in the context of particular social, cultural, economic and political conditions and therefore vary enormously between different communities. However, the language of cultural relativism is often exploited by various state leaders and high officials to justify and rationalise repressive policies, despite such policies having no philosophical or cultural justification. The paradox of cultural relativism is that participation is necessary to understand what values are legitimate within a society, but that the rhetoric associated with cultural relativism helps effectively hinder any participation or freedom of thought within a given society. This lies at the heart of the problem of effectively implementing universal human rights. (…)
Community values are (…) consistently highlighted as a typical Asian value and are posited against the Western value of individualism. However, there are ambiguities about the definition of community. In political discourses, one often sees the community collapses into the state and the state collapse into the regime. When equations are drawn between the community, state and the regime, criticisms of the regime become crimes against the nation-state, the community and the people. This conceptual manoeuvre allows the dismissal of individual rights that conflict with the regime’s interests. At the same time, this view denies the existence of conflicting interests between the state and communities in an Asian nation or society. (…)
Patrick Chin-Dahler is currently studying a Bachelor of Asia-Pacific Studies (Honours) at the Australian National University.
High Context Communication and Low Context Communication
The context gives additional information, which is necessary to encode the whole situation / background of a given information.
(retrieved 10.05.2014 at http://my.ilstu.edu/~jrbaldw/372/Values.htm)
An example for High Context Communication would be the question, where my (the editor’s) black pepper is. A high context information would be: above my micro-wave. Those people, who know me, my apartment and my kitchen can immediately find the pepper. Their context is to know who I am, where I live, where my kitchen is and where micro-wave. Without the context (additional information) there is not enough information to encrypt the proper meaning.
In high context communication an information can have different meanings according. It needs additional information to encode (understand). Speaking in examples is also a high context information.
- Less verbally explicit communication, less written/formal information
- More internalized understandings of what is communicated
- Multiple cross-cutting ties and intersections with others
- Long term relationships
- Strong boundaries- who is accepted as belonging vs who is considered an “outsider”
- Knowledge is situational, relational.
- Decisions and activities focus around personal face-to-face relationships, often around a central person who has authority.
(quoted from Culture at Work http://www.culture-at-work.com/highlow.html)
(retrieved 12.09.2013 at http://www.culture-at-work.com/highlow.html)
High Context Communication is also common in many Western countries
“The table sheds light on just how difficult it can be for a foreigner to understand what the British really mean when they’re speaking – especially for those take every word at face value. Phrases that prove the trickiest to decipher include ‘you must come for dinner’, which foreigners tend to take as a direct invitation, but is actually said out of politeness by many Britons and often does not result in an invite. The table also reveals that when a person from Britain begins a sentence “with the greatest respect …’, they actually mean ‘I think you are an idiot’.” (Alice Philipson in The Telegraph 02 Sep 2013)
|WHAT THE BRITISH SAY||WHAT THE BRITISH MEAN||WHAT FOREIGNERS UNDERSTAND|
|I hear what you say||I disagree and do not want to discuss it further||He accepts my point of view|
|With the greatest respect||You are an idiot||He is listening to me|
|That’s not bad||That’s good||That’s poor|
|That is a very brave proposal||You are insane||He thinks I have courage|
|Quite good||A bit disappointing||Quite good|
|I would suggest||Do it or be prepared to justify yourself||Think about the idea, but do what you like|
|Oh, incidentally/ by the way||The primary purpose of our discussion is||That is not very important|
|I was a bit disappointed that||I am annoyed that||It doesn’t really matter|
|Very interesting||That is clearly nonsense||They are impressed|
|I’ll bear it in mind||I’ve forgotten it already||They will probably do it|
|I’m sure it’s my fault||It’s your fault||Why do they think it was their fault?|
|You must come for dinner||It’s not an invitation, I’m just being polite||I will get an invitation soon|
|I almost agree||I don’t agree at all||He’s not far from agreement|
|I only have a few minor comments||Please rewrite completely||He has found a few typos|
|Could we consider some other options||I don’t like your idea||They have not yet decided|
(retrieved 30.09.2013 at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/10280244/Translation-table-explaining-the-truth-behind-British-politeness-becomes-internet-hit.html)
A good manual is an example of low context communication / information. No other information is necessary to understand it. In low context communication an information has only one single meaning. No additional information is necessary to encode (understand) the meaning.
- Rule oriented, people play by external rules
- More knowledge is codified public, external, and accessible.
- Sequencing, separation–of time, of space, of activities, of relationships
- More interpersonal connections of shorter duration
- Knowledge is more often transferable
- Task-centered. Decisions and activities focus around what needs to be done, division of responsibilities.
(received 10.05.2014 at http://www.culture-at-work.com/highlow.html)
High Context vs. Low Context
Take a look how members of high and low contextual cultures see themselves and their opposites:
|High Context Communication
||Low Context Communication
|High Context claims Low Context
||Low Context claims High Context
For an example how a low context culture interacts with a high context culture as the Chinese, please visit GlobThink: http://globthink.com/2009/06/24/indirect-communication-and-indirect-leadership-in-asia/ Unfortunately this link is broken / not existing anymore (reviewed 12.12.2012)
Applications of Hall`s Theories about the Context
Website Design in High and Low Context Cultures
|Parameter:||Tendency in HC Cultures||Tendency in LC Cultures|
|Animation||High use of animation, especially in connection with images of moving people||Lower use of animation, mainly reserved for highlighting effects e.g., of text|
|Promotion of values||Images promote values characteristic of collectivist societies||Images promote values characteristic of individualistic societies|
|Individuals separate or together with the product||Featured images depict products and merchandise in use by individuals||Images portray lifestyles of individuals, with or without a direct emphasis on the use of products or merchandise|
|Level of transparency||Links promote an exploratory approach to navigation on the website; process-oriented||Clear and redundant cues in connection with navigation on a website; goal-oriented|
|Linear vs. parallel navigation on the website||Many sidebars and menus, opening of new browser windows for each new page||Few sidebars and menus, constant opening in same browser window|
High Context Cultures
Low Context Cultures
(…) Meanwhile, it’s rolling out a new social media campaign, asking consumers to share favorite moments at the store, and it made a massive ad buy on Baidu, China’s main search engine, this weekend. The new togetherness message doesn’t mean China is phasing out global slogan “I’m Lovin’ It.”
“What we’ve done is give a layer of context to the ‘it’ — why are you lovin’ it?'” said Agatha Yap, senior marketing director for McDonald’s China.
(retrieved 21.05.2014 at http://adage.com/article/global-news/mcdonald-s-a-local-touch-chinese-store-decor/292702/)
M;rs. Martina Wuertz published “A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Websites from High-Context Cultures and Low-Context Culture“, which gives an interesting idea of applications of Hall`s model. Download pdf “Cross-Cultural Analysis of Websites from High-Context Cultures and Low-Context Culture” here.
For more info about website design in different cultures see how AM+A used Hofstede`s framework for analysing website design in different cultures/countries. Download pdf here or visit the website http://www.amanda.com
Monochrone / Polychrone Times
Western cultures intend to have a monochrone time (mono=single / chrone=time). Time is used as a single line, where all events are lined up. Asian and African cultures intend to have a polychrone conception of time (poly=different / chrone=time). Events happen simultaneously in a polychrone conception of time.
Dialogue – when two time systems collide
Mr. Paul Rosen is the international sales representative for his computer equipment company. His most recent trip takes him to China,where he is scheduled to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Patrick Chang.
Mr. Rosen and his training team arrived in Beijing three days ago for a scheduled appointment with Mr. Chang. However, Mr. Chang has not yet met with Mr. Rosen or his team. Finally, a call to Mr. Rosen’s hotel room indicates that Mr. Chang is prepared to meet with him. When Mr. Rosen arrives at the location, he is asked to wait outside Mr. Chang’s office. As he waits, he notices many people entering and leaving Mr. Chang’s office at a very quick pace. The hallways of this building are a hustle and bustle of activity, with people shuffling in and out of many rooms. Finally, after several hours, Mr. Rosen is called in to meet Mr. Chang.
Mr. Rosen: Ah, Mr. Chang, it’s so good to finally see you. Gosh, I’ve been waiting for days. Did you forget our appointment?
Mr. Chang: Hello, Mr. Rosen. Please sit down. Everything is fine?
Mr. Rosen: Actually no … (Phone rings) … the problem is …
Mr. Chang: Excuse me … (Takes the phone call and speaks in Chinese. After several minutes he concludes the phone conversation) Yes, now … everything is fine?
Mr. Rosen: Well, actually, I’ve got a small problem. You see, the computer equipment you ordered…(A staff person enters the room and hands Mr. Chang something to sign.)
Mr. Chang: Oh, excuse me… (signs the document) Yes, now, everything is fine?
Mr. Rosen: As I was saying … all of the computer equipment you ordered is just sitting on a ship at the dock. I need your help in getting it unloaded. I mean, it’s been there for two weeks!
Mr. Chang: I see … This is no problem.
Mr. Rosen: Well, if it sits in the heat much longer, it could be damaged. Could I get you to sign a worksgroups to have it unloaded by Friday?
Mr. Chang: There is no need for that. The job will get done.
Mr. Rosen: Well, could we set up some kind of deadline? You see, I have a staff of people here waiting to train your people on the equipment. I need to let them know when it will be ready. How about this Friday? Could we do it then? My people are here now, and they’re waiting to begin training.
Mr.Chang: Dont worry. We have been living quite well without those equipment for years. If necessary, we could wait for several weeks. That’s not the problem.
There is little chance that Mr. Chang will sign any kind of workgroups for Mr. Rosen. Mr. Rosen is also distressed by the constant interruptions. To Mr. Chang, Mr. Rosen is in too much of a hurry. Mr. Rosen is monochronic, whereas Mr. Chang operates from a polychronic time orientation.
Proxemics is the theory, that people from different cultures have different (imaginary) spaces around them. Link: http://www.edwardthall.com/
See more about E.T.Halls Concept of Personal Space at E. T. Hall – Proxemics (Understanding Personal Space)
Partly incorporated by the later post Arrow, Circle, Spiral and Cylinder – Different Conceptions of Time and History: Culture influences Brain
MIT imaging shows culture influences brain function
Asians and Westeners had to answer questions about absolute quantities (is, is not, how many?) or relative qualities (bigger than, higher than, more red than,…)
It became obvious, that Western people have to spend more energy to render relative judgments (bigger than, lower than, …) than Asians. Vice versa it showed, that Asians needed more energy rendering absolute judgments (is or is not).
IMAGE / TREY HEDDEN, MCGOVERN INSTITUTE FOR BRAIN RESEARCH
TechTalk by MIT (Mass. Institute for Technology), volume 52, No. 14 (30.01.2008), J. Gabriell and T. Hedden from the Mc Govern Institute
Download the full pdf here, the article is on page 4 below.
How Asians and Westerners look at Faces
(…) Western society is very individualist. Asian societies are much more collectivistic (…) Western approach to facial recognition is piece-by-piece and intimate. The East Asian approach is both more formal and holistic: peripheral information is gathered
(…). We tested some Chinese who had been in Glasgow for three or four years, and you see a clear difference between them and those who just arrived (…). That really demonstrates that it’s not genetic. It’s experience. (…)
Retrieved 14.01.2011 from http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/08/culture-shapes/
Read the full research article “Culture Shapes How People See Faces” online here or download as pdf here.
Citation: Blais C, Jack RE, Scheepers C, Fiset D, Caldara R (2008) Culture Shapes How We Look at Faces. PLoS ONE 3(8): e3022. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003022 Editor: Alex O. Holcombe, University of Sydney, Australia Received June 12, 2008; Accepted July 30, 2008; Published August 20, 2008 Copyright: ß 2008 Blais et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Funding: This study was supported by The Economic and Social Research Council and Medical Research Council (ESRC) (RES-060-25-0010). REJ was supported by a PhD studentship awarded by ESRC (PTA-031-2006-00192), CB by a PhD studentship provided by the Fonds Que ́cois de Recherche en Nature et Technologies ́be (FQRNT) and DF by a FQRNT post-doctoral fellowship. Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. * E-mail: email@example.com, retrieved 14.01.2011 from http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0003022
How Asians and Westerners look at Emotions (Facial Expressions are not universal)
Here, we report marked differences between EA (East Asians) and WC (Western Caucasian) observers in the decoding of universal facial expressions. EA observers exhibited a significant deficit in categorizing ‘‘fear’’ and ‘‘disgust’’ compared to WC observers. Also, WC observers distributed their fixations evenly across the face, whereas EA observers systematically biased theirs toward the eye region. A model observer revealed that EA observers sample information that is highly similar between certain expressions (i.e., ‘‘fear’’ and ‘‘surprise’’; ‘‘disgust’’ and ‘‘anger’’). Despite the apparent lack of diagnostic information, EA observers persisted in repetitively sampling the eye regions of ‘‘fear,’’ ‘‘disgust,’’ and ‘‘anger.’’
Cultural Confusions Show that Facial Expressions Are Not Universal
Cultural Confusions Show that Facial Expressions Are Not Universal – Rachael E. Jack,, Corresponding Author Contact Information, E-mail The Corresponding Author, Caroline Blais, Christoph Scheepers, Philippe G. Schyns, and Roberto Caldara,, Corresponding Author Contact Information, E-mail The Corresponding Author, 1Department of Psychology, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QB, Scotland, UK, 2Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (CCNi), University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QB, Scotland, UK, 3Départment de Psychologie, Université de Montréal, Montreal, PQ H3C 3J7, Canada ,Received 12 May 2009; revised 12 July 2009; accepted 13 July 2009. Published online: August 13, 2009. Available online 13 August 2009.
Current Biology – Volume 19, Issue 18, 29 September 2009, Pages 1543-1548: retrieved 19.02.2011 under http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VRT-4X0FH86-5&_user=10&_coverDate=09%2F29%2F2009&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=afe59a73a6b115faacec22215d993939&searchtype=a
The Stroop Effect on Morphosyllabic (Asian) and Alphabetical Readers (Western)
(1) No interference: Green Red Blue Purple Blue Purple (2) Interference: Blue Purple Red Green Purple Green
In psychology, the Stroop effect is a demonstration of the reaction time of a task. When the name of a color (e.g., “blue,” “green,” or “red”) is printed in a color not denoted by the name (e.g., the word “red” printed in blue ink instead of red ink), naming the color of the word takes longer and is more prone to errors than when the color of the ink matches the name of the color. The effect is named after John Ridley Stroop who first published the effect in English in 1935. The effect had previously been published in Germany in 1929. The original paper has been one of the most cited papers in the history of experimental psychology, leading to more than 700 replications. The effect has been used to create a psychological test (Stroop Test) that is widely used in clinical practice and investigation.
(Wikipedia, retrieved 08.01.2011)
Stroop Effect on Morphosyllabic and Alphabetical Readers
Twenty-three Chinese and 24 German undergraduate students were tested in a Stroop paradigm with the following stimuli: color patches, color-neutral words (e.g., friend printed in yellow), incongruently colour-associated words (e.g., blood printed in blue), and incongruently colour words (e.g., yellow printed in blue). Results revealed no differences in German and Chinese students’ response times to colour patches. Chinese participants, however, showed longer colour naming latencies for neutral words as well as for colour words and colour-related words. No differences between German and Chinese participants were found when print colour latencies for neutral words were subtracted from print colour latencies for colour words and colour-related words. This result does not support theories which suggest that for morphosyllabic readers there is a direct route from orthography to the semantics of a word. We rather argue, with reference to dual route models of reading, that access from print to phonology is faster for morphosyllabic than for alphabetic readers, and therefore interference caused by conflicting phonologies of colour name and written word will be stronger in Chinese readers than in German readers.
HENRIK SAALBACH and ELSBETH STERN / Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 2004, 11 (4), 709–715 / Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany
Download the full pdf here.
Happiness throughout Nations
Comparing World and Regional Happiness Levels: 2005–07 and 2010–12
Veenhoven, R., World Database of Happiness, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Assessed on 02.07.2013 at: http://worlddatabaseofhappiness.eur.nl
Happiness and Income
World Value Survey
(tertieved 12.07.2013 at http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/wvs/articles/folder_published/article_base_106)
Read the Income, Health, and Wellbeing Around the World: Evidence From the Gallup World Poll online here or download as pdf here.
Happiness and Life Satisfaction
(tertieved 12.07.2013 at http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/wvs/articles/folder_published/article_base_122/files/RisingHappinessPPS.pdf)
Check out for more surveys at the Word Value Survey http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/
What you always wanted to ask, but never dared to…
The Humboldt-University in Berlin released a website about sex in many countries throughout the world.
Great database for inter-/ cultural and sexology studies: The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/index-countries.html
Pictographs / The Origin of all Characters
Chinese and Western characters both derived from pictographs. Traffic signs are pictographs. They express a complex meaning by a picture (Greek “picto” = picture and “graph” = sign). Pictographs can be understood throughout all languages.
(retrieved 12.01.2013 at http://www.nps.gov/nhl/DOE_dedesignations/graphics/SRRPSpictographs.JPG)
Asian characters are called logographs (deriving from Greek “logos” = meaning and “graph” = sign). These characters are not necessarily linked directly to their pronunciation.
The separation of meaning and pronunciation allows different languages to use the same set of characters.
Te character for “Bird” ist still similar in Chinese as well as in Japanese:
鳥 traditional Chinese
Chinese character for door (men2) It looks like a symbol for a door with movable hinges on the left side.
During the times, the pictographs changed the shape. This is the character for sun (ri4).
Development of Chinese Characters
Retrieved 08.01.2011 from http://blog.chinesehour.com/?p=589
More info about Chinese Language in here.
Western characters are called phonographs (Greek “phono” = sound and graph=sign). They show the spelling but do not represent the meaning. A foreign reader may pronounce a word, but not understand the meaning. The English word “Hut” has a very different meaning in German language (“Hat”).
Western Characters also derived from pictographs. The European Phoenicians (1000 – 500 BC) used the first types of characters as we still have now.
D for “Dalet”, which means Door (looks like the triangle entrance of a tent)
A for “Aleph”, which means Ox (looks like two horns or a plow)
Development of the Phoenician alphabet
Development of the Greek Alphabeth
Development of the Latin Alphabet
Western Mathematics is based on Arabic Numerals
The Inglehart-Wetzel Cultural Maps of the World
The World Value Survey Cultural Map 1999-2004
The World Value Survey Cultural Map 2005-2008
Check out for more at http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/
(retrieved 12.07.2013 at http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/wvs/articles/folder_published/article_base_54)