You are on page 1of 20

Cultural norms

Define the terms culture and cultural norms Using one or more examples, explain emic and etic concepts Examine the role of two cultural dimensions on behavior

Some Key Terms

Culture: A dynamic system of rules, explicit and implicit, share by a group and transmitted across generations, that allows the group to meet basic needs of survival, pursue happiness and well-being, and derive meaning from life (Matsumoto & Juang). Cultural norms: These are the rules which indicate the expected behaviour in a group. Ethnocentrism: The inability to empathize with another culture; to assume that one's own culture is the standard by which other cultures are assessed. Etics: An approach to studying culture based on the premise that there are universal properties of cultures which share common perceptual, cognitive and emotional structures - typically employed in cross-cultural psychology where behaviours are compared across cultures. Emics: An approach to studying culture with the idea that behaviours are culture specific. This is also characterized as cultural relativism. Dimensions of culture: The perspective of a culture based on values and cultural norms. Dimensions work on a continuum. The two that we will examine are individualist vs. collectivist cultures and time orientation - monochronic vs. polychronic cultures. For a more descriptive approach, see the attached notes.

Learning Outcome Define the terms culture and cultural norms

What is meant by the term Culture?

There is no single generally accepted definition of culture. The definitions below seem to capture most of what is meant by the term.
Culture is: A set of attitudes, behaviours and symbols shared by a large group of people and usually communicated from one generation to the next. (Shiraev and Levy, 2004) A unique meaning and information system, shared by a group and transmitted across generations, that allows the group to meet basic needs of survival, pursue happiness and well-being, and derive meaning from life. (Matsumoto and Juang, 2008)

Some further definitions:

A complex concept that is used in many different ways (e.g. to describe food and eating habits, clothing, rituals communication patterns, religion and status behaviour). It is often used to describe what could be called surface culture because it is so visible. (Matsumoto, 2004): Can be defined as common rules that regulate interactions and behaviour in a group as well as a number of shared values and attitudes in the group. Lonner (1995) Shapes the mind. Hofstede (2002) uses the analogy of the computer as a metaphor. He suggests that while individuals are born with an operating system, it is not sufficient to operate in society. Culture provides the program, which can be likened to the development of cultural schemas that influence thinking, emotions and behaviour. Culture is therefore the Mental Software that is shared by members of a sociocultural group. It is transmitted or learnt through language, daily interactions and feedback from other members of that group.

All these definitions suggest or state that culture is transmitted from generation to generation. Two specific elements from these definitions: What is transmitted by culture?
Attitudes include beliefs (for example, political, religious and moral beliefs), values, superstitions and stereotypes Behaviours include norms, customs, traditions and fashions Symbols can be words, gestures, pictures, or objects that carry a meaning which is recognized only by those who share a particular culture.

What are the essential functions of culture?

Culture makes it possible for people to interact with other people to produce food, procreate and develop the knowledge, skills and tools needed to protect themselves from their environment Culture provides for the formation of complex social networks and relationships.

It enables protection, appreciation and use of art,

science and mathematics.

Triandis (2002) distinguishes between objective culture and subjective culture: Objective culture involves and enables characteristics such as dress styles, use of various technologies and cuisine. Subjective culture on the other hand refers to the beliefs, norms and values considered important enough to pass on to future generations. They include moral code, religious beliefs and social etiquette.

What is meant by norms & cultural norms?

Norms: are set of rules based on socially or culturally shared beliefs of how an individual ought to behave. It provides a means of regulating behavior in a group. When an individual deviates from social/cultural norms, they may be punished, marginalized, stigmatized or creating and affecting change in the society. As humans are social animals, the need to belong plays a strong role in the desire to conform to group norms. Cultural norms are patterns of behavior typical of a specific group. They are normally passed down from generation to generation via learning through gatekeepers e.g. parents, teachers, religious leaders and peers. Cultural patterns of behavior can be thought of as traditions like wedding rituals or rites of passage, ways of raising children and views on how to care for the elderly. What needs to be highlighted is the distinction between social norms and cultural norms. While social norms and cultural norms are obviously related, cultural norms are a special kind of social norm. In cultural norms, the social dimension extends to cover wider social groups (e.g. entire ethnic groups) compared to other types of social norm (for example, an individuals peer group). Cultural norms, contribute more than social norms to what for many is more fundamental and longer lasting sense of social identity (e.g. ethnic identity). One may wish to also define sub-cultural norms to refer to cultural subunits such as tribes, social classes and casts found in the same nation. Other sub-cultural norms may regulate behavior in subcultures such as particular organisations, cults, criminal gangs, etc. Children learn about cultural norms from their parents, peers and institutions (Triandis, 2002). Elements of culture are shared standard operating procedures, unstated assumptions, tools, norms, values, habits about sampling the environments and the like p135. Norms come from the cognitive processing that depends on how a group samples information from the vast amounts around them. These samplings of information are the psychological process studied by psychologists. How a group samples information shows where the group generally fits on different dimensions of culture. For example, people in individualist cultures are more likely to view the self as independent and evaluate the self in terms of personal performance. People from collectivist cultures view the self in terms of relationships with others and evaluate the self in terms of creating harmonious relationship s with others. These sampling affect a wide range of behavior. For example, social learning theorists examine how different view are norms about the self that are created when cultural groups sample different aspects of the world see later for a study on social learning theory and depression.

Notes on Ethnocentrism and cultural relativism

The concepts of ethnocentrism and cultural relativism remind us that other cultures make meaning in different ways. Both concepts are important for studying design and interpretations, as well as everyday life situations. If we fail to recognise the role of the processes of enculturation, we increase the risk of becoming ethnocentric. Ethnocentric people treat their own culture as if it was the model by which all cultures should be judged. The reason a depression study has been selected for the next topic (etics/emics) is to reminds us of the need to be careful about assuming that a worlds definition is similar from one culture to another. The study by Tabassum et al. (2000) illustrates the problem of assuming that depression means the same thing across cultures. Cultural relativism is the principle that helps minimize ethnocentrism. Cultural relativism does not mean to accept everything or think that all cultural practices are correct. At the same time, we do not want to become extremist about cultural relativism. It just means that others can be right and judgment must be made without ethnocentrism. The relativist view of cultural research can sometimes conflict with psychological history of studying universals. However, more and more psychological research tries to find out how culture mediates common human characteristics.

References: Law, A., Halkiopoulos, C. and Bryan-Zaykov, C. (2010) Psychology for the IB Diploma. Pearson Education.

Extension work
Read work by Triandis on Subjective Culture available:

Learning Outcome Using one or more examples, explain emic and etic concepts
Etic approaches to studying culture are typically undertaken within cross-cultural psychology where behaviour is compared across specific cultures. Etic study involves drawing on the notion of universal properties of cultures, which share common perceptual, cognitive, and emotional structures. This is very much found in early studies and studies which take the view that cultures have universal behaviours - that is they have rules of human behaviour. Emic approaches look at culturally specific behaviour. Emics have challenged psychologists to examine their ideas closely, because clearly studies that are conducted in the West cannot be applied to all the different cultures in the world.

Taken within cross-cultural psychology where behavior is compared across specific cultures Attempt to find universal behaviors Looking for rules of human behavior that can be applied to all cultures around the world Drawing on the notion of universal properties of cultures, which share common perceptual, cognitive and emotional structures Discover what all humans have in common Address universals (etics) of human behavior Used extensively in cross-cultural studies Relies on theories and techniques developed in their own culture to study some other culture 2. Etics to do with mental health research Assumption that psychological disorders are subjectively experienced are similar If not universal, then across cultures Culture influence the way abnormal behavior manifests itself Generate research on cross-cultural validity and reliability of psychiatric diagnosis

Looking at behavior that are culturally specific Challenges psychologists to re-examine their ideas of truth behind a culture Important for psychologist to recognize cultural variations to best understand the members of other cultural groups Culture's uniqueness explored by studies through distinctive behaviors (emics) Do not import theoretical framework from another culture Assumption: meaning of behavior defined from the culture studied

3. Emics to do with mental health research Abnormal behavior can be understood only in context provided by the culture which it occurs Study a behavior as it occur in specific culture No interest in cross-cultural comparisons What is normal in one country may not be normal in another

Overall, etics and emics are abstract concepts that are useful to researchers. Etics are universal behaviour and emics are culture-specific behaviours. Researchers often approach cross-cultural study with an etic description of a concept in mind, such as a Western view of depression. The behaviour defining the category major depression are useful to researchers but may not be different from emic description of depression within another culture. If paying attention, researchers quickly realise that the original etic description really does not apply and must elude the word depression but can be used quite differently. We start with one study into depression, which shows why it is important to take emic descriptions of a concept into account, and then we consider John Berrys comments on using emics and etics properly in research. The goal is to use the principles of emics and etics to benefit others. d_etic_crosscultural_research

An interview study about etics/emics and depression

What are the differences between the emics of depression and the Western etics used to evaluate and treat depression in ethic populations living within Western cultures? Rashda Tabassum and colleagues (2000) conducted an interview study to answer this question. They compared emic definitions of depressive symptoms from Pakistanis living in the United Kingdom with the existing predominant etic description used by Western Psychiatrists treating them. The study explored womens mental health needs and clarified inconsistencies about the frequency of mental disorder, attitudes towards mental disorder and attributions contributing to attitudes about mental illness. There was concern that Western etics dominated how data was collected in the past and dictated how Pakistanis were viewed as either mentally healthy or unhealthy. Participants: First and second-generation Pakistani women were participants. All lived in a poor UK urban setting. It was hard to get a sample. The interviews were all conducted in family groups because males typically would not allow females to meet with the researchers alone. Twenty-two females born in Pakistan, 29 first-generation women, and 23 secondgeneration women participated. Interviews: The interviews took place in participants homes in English, Urdu, Punjabi, or a combination of the languages. Only seven families allowed the researchers to record the interview, creating transcription difficulties. When recording was not possible, researchers took detailed notes and categorized responses immediately after the interviews. The interview contained 21 questions. Topics included the perception of causes for mental disorder, helpseeking behaviour, family perception and reaction to mental disorder and the community status of people with mental disorder. The researchers experienced some difficulties translating the questions because Western symptoms did not always directly translate and the Pakistani culture had some different ways of conceptualising mental disorders. Results:

The data were reported as percentages.

The results showed an emic description of mental disorder centering on physical symptoms. The participants were fairly knowledgeable about Western etic mental health models. However, 63% viewed aggression as a main symptom of abnormality. Pakistani culture is collectivist and emphasise politeness in social behaviour, so aggressive displays are viewed as abnormal, more important than anxious or depressive symptoms. However, many of the other identified causes of mental disorders were similar to those from Western models, with 63% emphasising stress as a primary factor. Recall that stress is an etic, though there are emic features of how the Pakistani display stress. Some participants used the terms anxiety and depression but the w ords in Urdu had different meaning from Western etic descriptions. 25% of the participants attributed mental disorders to supernatural causes and 35% believed in faith healers. Most males thought a general practitioners (GP) should be consulted for treatment. Fewer females identified a GP as the first person to consult, but there may be cultural barriers to women getting help from doctors. These difficulties include language barriers, the fact that many doctors are males, and that many Muslim women have difficulty with hospitalization because of the purdah. One prevalent attitude was that families should cope with mental health problems. Hospitalization was a last resort. Participants were reluctant to discuss intimate family matters with the researchers, even at times saying that they did not know someone first-hand with a mental disorder, contradicting previous statements that they did. Pakistanis may fear stigma associated with mental disorder.

Assuming that researcher of the same ethnic group speaking the same language bridge the barrier between researcher and participant was a mistake. Western research models where individual respond to interview questions are not always the best way to collect data in collectivist cultures. In addition, the interviewer was known to be a doctor, so social desirability possibly interfered with the responses. The study successfully identified barriers that women face in getting mental health services. In addition, differences between emic and etic approaches to understanding mental disorders were uncovered. Implications: One of the main implications of this study includes physician training and future data collection. Do doctors have enough information about cross-cultural views of abnormality? How can we collect data to accurately identify another cultures views?

John Berrys comments about using etics and emics properly in research
John Berry (1969) was the first to apply etics and emics to cultural research in psychology. Berry asked how psychologists could make cross-cultural comparisons without a specifically identified methodology that aided the task. Etics are pan-cultural groups of continuums and every culture falls onto these continuums in some way. Examples of etics are marriage, kinship principles, concepts of intelligence, time orientation and how the other dimensions of culture, for example, the education of children, and stress. Examples of emics are specific definitions of marriage and kinship rules, what is valued in educating children, monochromic or polychromic time orientation and how the other dimensions of culture are displayed, and how stress is experienced. Anthropologists struggled with the dilemma of how to study cultures as they could be understood n their own terms. Psychologists shared this dilemma as they became more interested in culture. Ideally, all cultures should be understood in relation to their own setting. Berry borrowed emic and etic from anthropologist Kenneth Pike and used them to design a three step framework for cross-cultural psychological research. Emics and etics were originally used by Pike to distinguish between the sounds particular to a language (emics) and the sounds that could be generalised as universals in language (etics): By analogy emics apply in only a particular society, while etics are culture -free or universally aspects of the world Berry, 1969, page 123 Etics and emics are different ways to gather data about culture. An emic approach studies humans from within their system, the researchers discover cultural practices. On the other hand, an etic approach studies cultures from the outside; researchers collect data that fit into pre-existing categories assumed to be universal. Ideally, cultural psychologists should describe both emics specific to a group and ethics that make comparisons between cultures possible. Historically, psychologists entered cultural systems using emics from their own or some other system or with an imposed etic assumed to be useful. These were not always meaningful to those studied. Berry identified three steps to create universal categories that were really useful to make comparisons between cultures: 1. Out of necessity, psychologists may have to start a research study with an imposed etic. Psychologists should remain aware that the imposed etic is a poor approximation of

what is really needed for the final results, which is to create true emic description of the culture, one that is meaningful to people in the culture being studied. True emic description of a culture involve continually altering the imposed etic. The researcher moves on to step 2 only if this can be done without completely destroying the original etic categories used for scientific discovery. 2. Researchers create new categories that reflect what is observed in another culture. Berry called these new etics the derived etics. The derived etic categories are now useful for making comparison between two groups. 3. Finally, derived etic categories are applied to new research settings, modified emically again, and then more new etic categories are created. It is only when all groups for comparison have been studied this way that we have real universals for comparison. The goal of this three-step process was to create instruments that were appropriate for measuring behavioural similarities and differences between cultures. Both Ekman (facial expression) and Cole (cognitive development) approached other cultures with one set of imposed etics, realised that they had to modify those etics with emic descriptions and created new methods that allowed for true comparisons between cultures. Tabassums (2000) research above is also valuable for finding future variables that are real comparisons between cultures.

Foundation for qualitative research in education: Emic and Etic Approaches: Global Perspectives, Colarado: Emic and Etic Approaches to Culture: Harris, M. (1976) History and Significance of the Emic/Etic Distinction: Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 5 (1976), pp. 329-350 Headland,T. Emic and Etic: insider/outsider debate: Lett, J. Emic and Etic Distinctions: Princetown University: Emic and Etic: Wombles, K. Science 2.0: The Emic and the Etic in Cross-Cultural Research

Learning Outcome Examine the role of two cultural dimensions on behaviour

Possible dimensions: Individualism/Collectivism Harry C. Triandis Power/distance & uncertainty/avoidance Geert Hofstede Space & Time Edward Hall

Individualism/Collectivism: Examine the Contribution of Harry Tirandis to our understanding of these dimensions of culture.

Harry C. Triandis
Born in 1922 in Greece. He is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Illinois. He received his in American in 1958, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Athens, Greece, in 1987. His research interests have concerned (a) the links between behavior and elements of subjective culture and (b) differences between individualistic and collectivist cultures. The APS named him Distinguished International Psychologist of the Year in 2002, and he received the Lifetime Contributions Award from the Academy of Intercultural Research in 2004.

Triandis (1995) proposed the constructs of collectivism and individualism. Collectivists are closely linked individuals who view themselves primarily as parts of a whole, be it a family, a network of co-workers, a tribe, or a nation. Such people are mainly motivated by the norms and duties imposed by the collective entity. Individualists are motivated by their own preferences, needs, and rights, giving priority to personal rather than to group goals. Triandis challenged the view that psychology is universal, offering evidence for culture-specific influences on thought and action. He suggests that the cultural patterns represented by individualism and collectivism lead people to view their worlds through different lenses, attaching different meanings to life events. Triandis explains how these variations in meaning can help us better understand why crime rates, divorce rates, levels of self-esteem, feelings of well-being, and indeed overall behavioral patterns can be so different from one society to another. Table of some general differences between individualistic and collectivist cultures
Individualistic Collectivist

Ties between individuals are loose Everyone is expected to look after themselves There is more emphasis on the needs of the individual

Very strong ties with family and other groups Family or cultural rules apply, e.g. someone breaks these rules they would be considered an outcast

Research Studies
The key study on cultural dimensions is the one by Hoefstedes IBM study. Hoefstede (1973) In this study Hoefstede ad employees fill in surveys about morale in the workplace. He then carried out a content analysis on the responses, focusing on key differences of people from different countries. The trends he noticed he called dimensions. The study comprised 116,000 questionnaires, from which over 60,000 people responded from over 50 countries. From this he identified four bipolar dimensions (Power Distance; Individualism/Collectivism; Uncertainty Avoidance; Masculinity/Feminity), which became the basis of his characterisations of culture for each country Whiting (1979) case study of Americans on Japanese baseball teams. Found that Americans who tried to do their best were often ostracized by the team. Those who put the team above individual progress were seen as more valuable players. Domino & Hannah (1987) studied Chinese and American children ages 11 - 13. Children were given a series of story plots to complete - for example: John and Bill are playing ball and break a neighbors window, but no one sees them do it. Content analysis of 700 stories. Chinese children emphasized family dishonor or embarrassment, something that never occurred with the American children. The Chinese children emphasized good behaviour, cooperation, and obedience. Gabrenya, Wang & Latan (1985) found that social loafing is not a universal phenomenon. In Chinese groups they found what they called social striving. On group performance tasks, Chinese students exerted a greater effort than did American children. Hamilton et al (1991) compared teaching styles of Japanese and American teachers in elementary classrooms. American teachers directed their instruction to individual children during both full class instruction and private time; Japanese teachers consistently addressed the group as a collective. Even when working with a student individually, the Japanese teachers would check to make sure that all children were working on the same task. Oyserman et al. (2002) conducted a meta-analysis of 83 studies. Found that IC had moderate effects on self-concept and rationality, and large effects on attributions and cognitive styles. Individualist cultures tend to overemphasize dispositional factors, whereas collectivist cultures tend to overemphasize situational factors.

Extension work
Read work by Triandis on Subjective Culture available:

Have a look at Hofstedes chapter Culture of the Mind: pdf:

Power Distance / Uncertainty Avoidance / Masculinity Femininity

Examine the Contribution of Geert Hoefstedes Analysis of the IBM Survey to our understanding of the dimensions of culture. Hoefstede argued that culture is the glue that keeps societies together. However, it is a very broad term, in fact too broad to measure. He suggests that identify and having dimensions of culture allow us to unpack the term culture, and understanding the cultural dimensions help facilitate communication between cultures. This is important in international diplomacy as well as international business. He suggests that culture is the collective programming of the mind. Hofstede uses the metaphor of a computer, and his emphasis is with how people acquire culture. He suggesting that people are born with an operating system, but still need a lot of programming to function, the culture provides that programming. Hoefstedes classic study (1973) involved asking employees of the multinational company IBM to fill in surveys about morale in the workplace. He then carried out a content analysis on the responses he received, focusing on the key differences submitted by employees in different countries. His research looked at the 40 most representative countries in the surveys. The trends he noticed, he called dimensions. Hoefstede found a number of dimensions, only some are discussed below. Uncertainty/Avoidance This dimension is all about fear, anxiety and stress. It deals with societys tolerance for uncertainly and ambiguity. If a society cannot tolerate ambiguity it is more stressed (than a society that can tolerate ambiguity). It indicates to what extent a culture programmes its members to feel either uncomfortable (stressed) or comfortable (more relaxed) in unstructured situations. Unstructured situations are novel, unknown, surprising. Uncertainty-avoiding cultures (more stress within society) try to minimise the possibility if such strict situations by strict laws and rules, safety and security measure, and, on the philosophical and religious level by a belief in absolute truth. Power/Distance Is the emotional distance between the person at the higher step and the person on the lower step in society, for example, emotional distance between a parent/child; teacher/student; boss/worker. Masculinity/Femininity Is concerned with the gender roles within society. Cultures that are categorised as masculine are where the men are programmed to be tough and practical, and women are meant to be tender and concerned with the quality of life. What Hofstede calls a feminine are societies where he suggests both men and women are from Venus. Video 33 minutes
Geert Hofstede on Culture Interview by Gert Jan Hofstede October, 2011

Time Orientation
Examine the contribution of Edward T. Hall to our understanding of the Monochromic/Polychromic dimension of time.

Introduction to time orientation, monochromic and polychromic persons: Edward T. Halls The Silent Language (1959) discusses how peoples use of time and space convey a large range of social values. Time orientation and proxemics, the social use of space are etics. The focus here is with culture differences in time use. Hall is an anthropologist, but his time orientation dimension of culture is relevant to psychology. In fact, much of the cultural psychology is borrowed from anthropology; both psychologists and anthropologists are social scientists. Hall thought about time orientation as occurring in two opposing categories, polychromic and monochromic. Hall suggests that time and culture has a reciprocal relationship, time is central to culture but culture has a great influence on time time orientation is an organising principle for relationships, norms and expectations. Table: Opposing categories of time orientation Monochronic Polychtronic
(Is probably correlated with individualism)
People do one thing at a time People focus on time commitments The culture is low-context (context refers to which a culture believes the situation is important in determining behaviour Persons from low-context cultures are more likely to make dispositional attributions. People think about deadlines and stick to plans People follow privacy rules about disturbing others People put the job first. Time is a commodity that can be wasted. Language reflects time as a commodity don't waste time People respect property People emphasise promptness

(Is probably correlated with collectivism)

People do many things at once People are easily distracted The culture is high-context. Persons in high context cultures are more likely to make situational attributions. The meaning of words is also more dependent on the situation, so nuances such as inflection are more important for understanding than literal meanings. People think in terms of goals and are not as concerned with deadlines. Language reflects this such as it will get done People put relationships first. There is more concern toward others who are closely related rather than respecting an individuals privacy. People readily borrow and lend Promptness is based on relationship factors. For example, polychromic persons may be on time for a respected grandmother but not for someone outside of the family. People pay attention to nonverbal language.

People focus on verbal language more than non-verbal language. The literal meaning of words is valued over the context of language use.

Time orientation is thought to have effects on academic achievements, stress management and mental health. A cultures time orientation affects individual behaviour, reflecting family relationships and childrens socialisation as well as strategies for managing health, stress and wellbeing.

Research on Time Orientation

Jones and Brown (2005) were also interested in time orientation. The used the concepts temponomic (similar to monochronic) and temponostic (similar to polychronic) and designed a self-report questionnaire assessing time values and its affect on behaviour. Results categorise people in terms of their orientation to the past, present and future. Past
A person scoring high on past orientation mulls over the past and wants to relive it. Of interest to students studying abnormal psychology past orientation is positively correlated with neuroticism, depression and rumination.

A person scoring high on present origination focuses on the present. Enjoyment is an important behaviour motivation. Present orientation is positively correlated with optimism and impulsiveness and negatively correlated with concern about future consequences.

A person scoring high on future orientation is selfdisciplined and plans for the future consequences and negatively correlated with impulsiveness.

Jones & Brown (2004) carried out a correlational study on time orientation and academic achievement. Found that African American students who were futureoriented were more academically successful than those who were not. Stratham et al (1994) found that future-oriented individuals are less likely to engage in risky health behaviour. Burnam et al (1975) 62 undergraduates were classified on their level of timeconsciousness. Results indicated that those who were highly time-conscious worked on a task at near maximum capacity, irrespective of the presence or absence of a time deadline. Those with low time-consciousness, by contrast, exerted more effort only when the task had an explicit deadline. Glass et al (1974) Conducted an experiment with a total of 71 male undergraduates to examine behavioral consequences of a sense of time urgency. Time-urgent participants became more impatient and irritated than less time-urgent participants when both types were systematically slowed down in their efforts to reach a solution on a joint decision- making task. Cole et al (2001) investigated the association between a sense of time urgency and non- fatal myocardial infarction [MI] in a study of 340 cases. They used a matched pairs design where the groups had an equal distribution of age, sex, and personal habits - for example, smoking. They concluded that a sense of time urgency was associated with a dose-response increase in risk of non-fatal MI, independent of other risk factors - that is, as stressors increased, the risk of heart-attack increased. Extension work: James Jones web site: White, L.T., Valk, R., & Dialmy, A. (2011) What Is the Meaning of ''on Time''? The Sociocultural Nature of Punctuality. Journal of Cross-Cultural Research

Examine the contribution of Edward T. Hall to our understanding of the proxemics dimension (perception and use of space).

Hall is probably most associated with proxemics, the study of the human use of space within the context of culture. In The Hidden Dimension (1966), Hall developed his theory of proxemics, arguing that human perceptions of space, although derived from sensory apparatus that all humans share, are molded and patterned by culture. He argued that differing cultural frameworks for defining and organizing space, which are internalized in all people at an unconscious level, can lead to serious failures of communication and understanding in cross-cultural settings. This book analyzed both the personal spaces that people form around their bodies as well as the macro-level sensibilities that shape cultural expectations about how streets, neighborhoods and cities should be properly organized. Hall's most famous innovation has to do with the definition of the informal or personal spaces that surround individuals: Intimate space - the closest "bubble" of space surrounding a person. Entry into this space is acceptable only for the closest friends and intimates. Social and consultative spaces - the spaces in which people feel comfortable conducting routine social interactions with acquaintances as well as strangers. Public space - the area of space beyond which people will perceive interactions as impersonal and relatively anonymous.

Cultural expectations about these spaces vary widely. In the United States, for instance, people engaged in conversation will assume a social distance of roughly 4-7', but in many parts of Europe the expected social distance is roughly half that with the result that Americans traveling overseas often experience the urgent need to back away from a conversation partner who seems to be getting too close. At the level of fixed and semi fixed feature space, the terms Hall uses to describe furniture, buildings and cities, every culture has similar internalized expectations about how these areas should be organized. United States cities, for instance, are customarily set out along a grid, a preference inherited from the British, but in France and Spain a star pattern is preferred.

Some evaluation Points for Dimensions of Culture

Hofstedes research has had a remarkable effect on academics and practitioners alike. His model has been instrumental in the implementation of many business systems, including: compensation practices; budget control practices; entrepreneurial behaviour; training design; conflict resolution; workgroup dynamics and performance; innovation; leadership styles; management control systems; participative management, and of course many other crosscultural issues. Hoefsted & Hoefstede (2001) have cited over 400 correlations of the IBM dimension scores with other studies, claiming that the results obtained in the 1970s are consistent with scores obtained 30 years later. However, Hoefstedes study was originally meant to describe organizational cultures and not national cultures. Inductive content analysis depends on the trends that are identified by the researcher. Researcher bias can play a significant role in which trends are noticed. There is a need for prospective studies with regard to time-orientation. The difficulty with studying the effect of time-orientation on our health is that our health is multi- factorial, and it is difficult to isolate the effects of time consciousness. This if further complicated because time orientation in individuals can change over the life-span. We have to avoid the ecological fallacy - that is, that we cannot attribute these characteristics to individuals, but use them to describe the general behaviour of the group. There is some concern that the dimensions are simply a stereotypical view of culture. Triandis argues that these labels may be more helpful at an individual level than at a cultural level (Triandis) Much of the research is correlational and does not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

General Links for Cultural Psychology:

Center for World Indigenous Studies CIA World Factbook Cross-Cultural Psychology Bulletin (IACCP newsletter) Cross-Cultural Research (SCCR journal) Cultural Studies Central Cultural Studies Resources Cultural Studies Page International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology International Psychology (APA Division 52) Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology (IACCP journal) Online Readings in Psychology and Culture Other Cultural Psychology Links Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Society for Cross-Cultural Research UNESCO

Cultural Dimensions - A review

Please answer all of the following questions. Wherever possible, you should use research to support your claims.

What are two key differences between collectivistic and individualistic cultures?
Difference 1: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

Difference 2:

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

What is meant by the power-distance index? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ Discuss how power-distance dimension may affect behaviour in a society. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________

What are three components of the definition of culture?

Component 1: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________
Component 2:

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

Component 3:

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

List three characteristics of monochronic (time conscious) cultures.

Characteristic 1: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

Characteristic 2:

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

Characteristic 3:

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

What effect may time-consciousness have on our health (cite research)? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ How may time consciousness affect our general task performance? (cite research) ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

What is the difference between a prospective and a retrospective study? What are the disadvantages of each?
Difference between prospective and retrospective study: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

Disadvantage of prospective study:

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

Disadvantage of retrospective study:

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

What are two limitations of the theory of cultural dimensions?

Limitation 1:

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

Limitation 2:

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________