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Cultural dimensions

Culture: A dynamic system of rules, explicit and implicit, 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 & Juang)

Cultural Norms: These are the rules which indicate the expected behaviour in a group.

Dimensions of Culture: The perspective of a culture based on values and cultural norms. Dimensions work on a continuum - for example, a culture is never 100% collectivistic or individualistic, but are different levels with a preference for one set of behaviours over another.

Ethnocentrism: The inability to empathize with another culture; to assume that one's own culture is the standard by which other cultures are assessed.


SAQ SAMPLE - Describe one cultural dimension using one study. 

    "One cultural dimension is individualism and collectivism. Cultural dimensions were suggested by Hofstede who found that there are common characteristics among cultures and different among others. These characteristics involve the behaviour, responses or general norms of the given cultures. The dimension of individualism and collectivism shows how a given individual behaves in society. 

    An individualistic cultures is a culture where individuals are very self-reliant, ambitious, assertive, competitive and wants to be a leader. The connections between individuals are loose, as independence and freedom play an important role in the culture. Here the "me" part of one's personality is important.

    A collectivist culture is a culture where the individual is dependent on others, such as his family and friends. He or she respects the opinions of others and follows them. In his type of culture it is important to belong to the group. Individuals from competitive cultures are usually very cooperative . The "us" is more important than the "me." 

    A study was done by Berry to see whether individualistic or collectivistic cultures conform more. Berry used a test similar to the Asch test of conformity where confederates tried to influence the participant who came either from a collectivist (Temne) or an individualistic (Inuit) culture. Berry found that the participants from Temne people conformed more than the Inuits. He explained this by saying that Temne people are used to cooperating since they are a cultures of farmers where people must work together. Inuits conformed less because they are hunters who have to learn to be more self-reliant."


Examiner's Response

A very strong response. 8 marks.


*another appropriate study would be Kashima & Triandis' study (1986) which is also under Attribution Theory

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