1.3.1 - Cultural Distinctions

 

Universal, Cultural, or Personal?

 

Culture is only one category or dimension of human behavior, and it is therefore important to see it in relation to the other two dimensions: the universal and the personal. The three can be distinguished as follows:

  • Universal refers to ways in which all people in all groups are the same;

  • Cultural refers to what a particular group of people have in common with each other and how they are different from every other group;

  • Personal describes the ways in which each one of us is different from everyone else, including those in our group. 

There are two important points for you to remember:

  • Because of universal behavior, not everything about people in a new culture is going to be different; some of what you already know about human behavior is going to apply in your host country.

  • Because of personal behavior, not everything you learn about your host culture is going to apply in equal measure, or at all, to every individual in that culture.

 



.. Memories ..

 


Through the following exercise, let's explore categories of behavior:

 

This next exercise contains a list of behaviors. In the underlined space preceding each of them, put a "U" if you think the behavior is universal, "C" if it is cultural, or "P" if it is personal.

 

 

1.

Sleeping with a bedroom window open

2.

Running from a dangerous animal

3.

Considering snakes to be "evil"

4.

Men opening doors for women

5.

Respecting older people

6.

Liking spicy food

7.

Preferring playing soccer to reading a book

8.

Eating regularly

9.

Eating with knife, fork, and spoon

10.

Being wary of strangers

11.

Calling a waiter with a hissing sound

12.

Regretting being the cause of an accident

13.

Feeling sad at the death of your mother

14.

Wearing white mourning robes for 30 days after the death of your mother

15.

Not liking to wear mourning clothes for 30 days after the death of your mother

 

See Suggested answers

 


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