Communication across cultures II

We tend to think we are normal and that other people are strange. It is actually very difficult to not think that way unless you try hard to put things into context.

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Other people tend to look weird. We usually see our own group as being normal. Photo. By Steve Evans from Citizen of the World (Malawi) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The problem is that we cannot see the context, because it does not seem relevant to our experience.

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It often seems impossible that the customs of other people could connect with us. Photo. John Hill at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

A great deal of research on culture and the way people think comes out of America and Europe. One problem with that is that researchers often imagine that people all over the world are basically just like Americans and Europeans. Some researchers argue that this really is not the case at all. They claim that too many of the subjects of research are W.E.I.R.D. (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) and that is not typical of people around the world. In other words, the rich, “advanced” people are the strange ones.

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What is normal? Photo. By User:Liberal Freemason [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Let’s think about the way other people see the world. Try to think that we might be the strange ones, not other people. Maybe that will help us to communicate better.

Here are the PowerPoint slides from the introductory class.