“... 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”.
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
(specifically Chinese and German)
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
Asians tend to show more
respect to guiding authorities
Asians tend to be more
conforming, compliant and
into social learning than their
counterparts in Western
Cultures (Chang, 2011).
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
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 .
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
Study 2 also found that Taiwanese made more comments
about the emotional states of characters.
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,
Such socialization differences can
contribute to how East Asians and
Americans perceive both social
behavior and the physical world.
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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)
What can you say
about this in terms
of Eastern and
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).
Americans’ greater attribution of intentionality for social
events likely reflects the importance of sense of control for
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.
Socialization practices in East Asian and American
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.
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,
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
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) .
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).
In general, it seems that respondents in these countries prefer
to see tall poppies rewarded than to see them fall (Feather,
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
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.
Initially poor protagonists were perceive as more
competent than initially rich protagonists in both
Americans and Australians alike appeared to
demonstrate “sympathetic identification with the
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.
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.
Consistent with the image of the American
Dream, US respondents perceived slightly
more permeability of class boundaries in their
society than did Australian respondents.
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.
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
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?
Customs are norms and expectations
about the way people do things in a
Why were 3M executives perplexed
concerning lukewarm sales of ScotchBrite floor cleaner in the Philippines?
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.
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.”
Change is slow and often painful
Shifts away from “traditional
values” towards “secular values”
Changes with shift from “survival
values” to “self-expression
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:
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