For this task, you will analyze the impact of culture on behavior and on our consequent ability to decode the behavior and emotions of people from different cultures and apply what you have learned in a paper.
First, consider the following scenario.
Wilma and Scott Jackson, a White American couple, have reached retirement age. They are taking a long anticipated 3-month world tour. They prepared financially for the trip, but did not prepare culturally. Many interactions they have with people leave them confused, angry, or hurt.
They enjoy sitting at an outside café in Paris, where they set up their laptop and carry on a video conference with their children and grandchildren back home. They wave excitedly at their grandchildren and after the conversation is finished, reminisce with each other, often laughing loudly. The Parisians in the café look at them with disdain.
In Morocco, they have a 22-year old male Moroccan tour guide. One afternoon, they see him walking hand in hand with another male and sitting for hours with a group of male friends in an all-male hookah coffee house. Even the dancers and all musicians are male. They assume that their tour guide is gay and mention this casually to the tour guide. He is astounded by their presumption.
In Greece, the Jacksons eat at a small restaurant. The owner of the restaurant, a man in his 50s, is very warm, and the two families become friends. After a couple of days of touring the islands, the Jacksons return to the restaurant. The owner comes out and gives Scott a full hug, kissing him on both cheeks. Scott is taken aback.
In Japan, they take a small apartment for the final two weeks of their tour. It’s almost autumn now and the leaves are falling from some of the trees. They often notice their neighbors outside sweeping their walkways and gathering fallen leaves from their lawns. Their own lawn and walkway, however, never seem to get cluttered by leaves.
One day, the Jacksons don’t feel well and return early from their tour. They find their own lawn is being tended to by one of the neighbors. When they confront their neighbor, the neighbor shyly says that she didn’t want the Jacksons to be disgraced by their untidy lawn. She then excuses herself and quickly returns to her own home. The Jacksons look at each other in total confusion.
Applying what you have learned this week, address the following questions in your paper:
- What have you learned about the expression of emotions in different cultures that could explain the reaction of the local Parisian people to these American visitors?
- Assuming that he is not, indeed, gay, what type of Moroccan social rules may have led the American couple to misread the situation?
- How can you explain the Greek owner’s behavior and Scott’s reaction in terms of cultural differences in physical and emotional behavior?
- Why was their Japanese neighbor cleaning their lawn? Why hadn’t she just told them about the untidy lawn if it bothered her? Why didn’t she stay and let them thank her?
Begin your paper with a discussion of the universal (etic) and culturally different (emic) aspects of emotion, interpersonal manners, and perception? Offer examples for each category.
Finally, reflect on any situation you were in where you didn’t understand the cognitive or emotional cultural context. (The culture may be related to a foreign country, or even to a subculture or group culture within your own country) What mistakes did you make? How did you feel? How did you resolve them? Did you notice them immediately, or only on retrospect? If such a situation has never happened to you, then reflect on a situation that you saw happen to someone else, either in real life or in a television show or movie.
Length: 5-7 pages