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Advanced Seminar on Socio-Cultural Bases


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This includes the journals entitled: Culture and Diverging Views of Social Events (Chua, Leu and Nisbett) and "Tall Poppies and "American Dreams" (Mandisodza, Jost and Unzueta, 2006).

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Advanced Seminar on Socio-Cultural Bases

  1. 1. “... affects the issues that members bring to a group and the ways in which they might be either ready or reluctant to explore these issues”. -Corey, 2010
  2. 2. Yang Liu, a 35-year-old ChineseGerman artist. One of her projects, “East Meets West,” was first exhibited in Germany a few years ago and features pictographs representing the differences between Eastern and Western (specifically Chinese and German) cultures.
  3. 3.  Many Asian cultures and even African cultures promote interdependence rather than independence stressing reliance on the family and the individual’s community (Sapp cited in Sharf, 2008).
  4. 4.  Asians tend to show more respect to guiding authorities or mentors.  Asians tend to be more conforming, compliant and into social learning than their counterparts in Western Cultures (Chang, 2011).
  5. 5.  The authors compared East Asians’ and Americans’ views of everyday social events.  Research suggests that Americans tend to focus more on the self and to have a greater sense of personal agency than East Asians.  Chua, Leu & Nisbett assessed whether as compared to East Asians, Americans emphasize main characters even when the events do not involve the self and whether they see more agency, even when the actions are not their own .
  6. 6.  In Study 1, Chinese and Americans read alleged diary entries of another person.  Study 2 examined whether cultural differences in memory about social events would be found both on personal events as well as for written narratives and video presentations of other people’s life events.  Americans did focus more on main characters and on characters’ intentionality.  Study 2 also found that Taiwanese made more comments about the emotional states of characters.
  7. 7. In collectivistic cultures such as East Asia, interdependence and orientation toward other people are emphasized.  In contrast, in individualistic cultures such as North America, independence and autonomy are stressed. Americans live in a society with less complex and role-governed social relations (Hsu, 1981; Markus & Kitayama, 1991; Trandis, 1989).  Such socialization differences can contribute to how East Asians and Americans perceive both social behavior and the physical world. 
  8. 8.  As Markus and Kitayama (1991) stated, if one “perceives oneself as embedded within a larger context of which one is an interdependent part, it is likely that other objects or events will be perceived in a similar way” (p. 246).
  9. 9. Main Character 3 Issues Personal Agency Emotions
  10. 10. East Asians have been shown to be relatively less self-focused than Americans. Han et al. (19980 asked 4 and 6-year-olds to report about daily events, such as the things they did at bedtime last night or how they spent their last birthday. They observed that whereas all children made more references to self than to others. Also, American children’s narratives contained twice as many references to internal states, such as evaluations and references was much greater for American than for East Asian children. This tendency of North American children to focus on the self appears to be true for adults too.
  11. 11. What are the implications of a culture that emphasizes autonomy and independence and a culture that emphasizes interdependence on main character focus? For cultures that emphasize interdependence, people might focus relatively less on main characters for social events and it is possible that people from cultures that emphasize autonomy and independence to focus more on main characters.
  12. 12. Intentionality refers to the expression of agency, aims, motives, goals, and plans that guide actions that a person intends to follow. What can you say about this in terms of Eastern and Western Cultures?
  13. 13.  In East Asian societies, one’s actions require coordination with those of others and the minimization of social friction.  In contrast, North Americans live in a society with fewer social constraints. There is thus more room for North Americans to be more internally motivated and to set their own goals and plans. There is also less pressure on them to change to adjust to the environment.
  14. 14. Developmental psychologist Chiu (1972) observed that “Chinese are situation-centered. They are obliged to be sensitive to their environment. Americans are individual-centered. They expect their environment to be sensitive to them.” (p. 236)  Hsu (1981) said that the “Chinese tends to mobilize his thought and action for the purpose of conforming to the reality, while the American tends to do so for the purpose of making the reality conform to him” (p. 13) 
  15. 15.  What can you say about this in terms of Eastern and Western Cultures?
  16. 16.  With greater concern for relationships, social harmony, and meeting the needs of the group, Asians might be expected to pay less attention to a principal character’s actions and intentions and instead to generally allocate more attention to emotions and feelings.  When participants were shown videos of fish, Japanese were found to be more likely to see emotions in the fish than were Americans (Masuda & Nisbett, 2001).
  17. 17.    Americans’ greater attribution of intentionality for social events likely reflects the importance of sense of control for them. People in Western societies have greater independence and freedom to act in accord with their goals and plans. This results in Americans being likely to see even the behavior of other people in terms of intentionality. Greater attention to emotions on the part of East Asians can be interpreted as being due to greater sensitivity to contextual information that could guide their behavior in relation to other people, helping them to coordinate their actions with those of others to minimize social fricition.
  18. 18. Socialization practices in East Asian and American cultures:  For example, Japanese mothers emphasize feelings and relationships when they play with their children, whereas Americans tend to focus their attention on objects and their attributes (Bornstein et al., 1990; Fernald & Morikawa, 1993).  It is probable then that, from early childhood, East Asians are socialized to pay greater attention to emotional cues than Americans.
  19. 19.  Societies’ differ along cultural dimensions How/why do social structure, religion, language influence cultural differences?  What are some differences between culture and values in the East and the West?  Culture changes over time. What are some reasons behind this?  Implications for educators, counselors, psychologists 
  20. 20.  A comparative study conducted in Australia and the United States examined people’s responses to protagonists who were either born rich or poor and who ended up either rich or poor as adults.  Specifically, people in both countries perceive initially poor and subsequently rich individuals as more competent and likeable than initially rich and subsequently poor individuals, but these differences were greater in the American context than in Australian context.
  21. 21. In the United States, a popular legitimizing myth is that of the “American Dream,” which promises that through sheer hard work and determination, nearly everyone can achieve prosperity (Cawelti, 1965: Hochschild, 1995; Weiss 1969/1988).  The American ideal of attaining wealth despite humble origins is a kind of cultural myth for the simple reason that many poor people fail to succeed despite hard work and ambition (“Class and the American Dream,” 2005).  The belief that boundaries between social classes are permeable and that upward (and downward) social mobility is prevalent is an especially effective legitimizing myth because it encourages the assumption that people “get what they deserve and deserve what they get” (e.g., Lerner, 1980; Major & Schmader, 2001) . 
  22. 22.  In other cultural contexts, different myths may gain popular appeal, possibly because they depart from the ideological assumptions of the American Dream.  There is reason to believe that Australians, for instance, do not value wealth, power, and mastery as highly as Americans do and that they value egalitarianism more (Feather, 1998; Hofstede, 1991/1997; Schwartz, 1994).
  23. 23.  In general, it seems that respondents in these countries prefer to see tall poppies rewarded than to see them fall (Feather, 1998).  Feather (1998) found that American respondents were more in favor of rewarding tall poppies than were Australians, which is consistent with the American Dream and the notion that wealth and success are particularly admired characteristics in the context of the American capitalist system.
  24. 24.  Participants read a vignette about a protagonist, Mr. Z, who was described in one of four ways according to a 2 (initial status: rich vs. poor) x 2 (subsequent status: rich vs. poor) between-participants factorial design. They then answered a series of questions about the protagonist and about their own social and economic system.
  25. 25.  Initially poor + subsequently poor condition  Initially poor + subsequently rich condition  Initially rich + subsequently poor condition  Initially rich + subsequently rich condition
  26. 26.     Initially poor protagonists were perceive as more competent than initially rich protagonists in both countries Americans and Australians alike appeared to demonstrate “sympathetic identification with the underdog” Subsequently rich protagonists were perceived as more competent than were subsequently poor protagonists This effect is consistent with prior research on victim blaming and system justification.
  27. 27. Initially poor protagonists were liked more than initially rich protagonists, again suggesting a general affinity for underdogs.  Respondents reported liking subsequently rich protagonists more than subsequently poor protagonists. This is consistent with the high value placed on individual achievement in both countries (e.g. Feather, 1998)  Although participants in both countries liked the subsequently rich protagonist more than the poor one, this difference was greater in the US than in Australia. 
  28. 28.  Consistent with the image of the American Dream, US respondents perceived slightly more permeability of class boundaries in their society than did Australian respondents.
  29. 29.  Australians tend to value egalitarianism more and to value conspicuous wealth less , especially when that wealth is inherited rather than achieved.  It also suggests that for Americans, reminders of undeserved poverty may (at least temporarily) lower the perceived fairness and legitimacy of the system.
  30. 30. Results reveal both similarities and differences in the way that Americans and Australians treat wealth and status.  People in both countries demonstrate sympathy for the underdog (Schuman & Harding, 1963) by perceiving initially poor protagonists as more competent and likeable than initially rich protagonists. Although subsequently rich protagonists were perceived as more competent and more likeable than subsequently poor protagonists, both of these effects were greater among Americans than Australians.  There were cross-cultural trends suggesting that Americans perceive class boundaries to be more permeable than Australians do.  This result is consistent with the image of the American Dream – a cultural myth that is not as relevant to the Australian context (Feather, 1998). 
  31. 31. Values represent personal or socially preferable modes of conduct or states of existence that are enduring. Why doesn’t McDonald’s sell hamburgers in India?
  32. 32. Customs are norms and expectations about the way people do things in a specific country. Why were 3M executives perplexed concerning lukewarm sales of ScotchBrite floor cleaner in the Philippines?
  33. 33. When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used US packaging with the smiling baby on the label. In Africa, companies routinely put pictures on labels of what’s inside, since many people can’t read.
  34. 34. Coca-Cola’s name in China was first read as “Kekoukela”, meaning “Bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse stuffed with wax”, depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 characters to find a phonetic equivalent “kokou kole”, translating into “happiness in the mouth.”
  35. 35. Change is slow and often painful Shifts away from “traditional values” towards “secular values” Changes with shift from “survival values” to “self-expression values”
  36. 36. Chang, L. et. al. (2011). Cultural Adaptations to environmental variability: an evolutionary account of east-west differences. Educational Psychology Review, volume 23, 1. Corey, M. (2010). Groups: process and practice, eighth edition, USA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning. Corey, M. (2006). Groups: process and practice, seventh edition, USA: Thomson Brooks/Cole. Gladding, S. (2008). Groups: a counseling specialty, fifth edition, USA: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall. Sharf, R. (2008). Theories of psychotherapy and counseling, concepts and cases, fourth edition, USA: Thomson Brooks/Cole. Yang Liu slideshare