Differences in Cultures Jan14

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Differences in Cultures

Hello, all! My name is Hannakate Hall. I am a psychology/pre-med student, class of 2017, and this fall I studied abroad in Oxford, England! There were so many wonderful things about this place. I especially loved the friendships and memories made here (and in Spain, Germany, Italy, France, and all kinds of other places :). But during my time here, I conducted a research study that I would like to tell you about. Through this project, I chose to learn about how the differences in culture could help travelers like myself understand them better.

For this research project, I studied advertisements in order to determine whether each country I visited is culturally more individualistic or collectivistic. My study was classified as an “interpretative framework,” meaning that instead of conducting a watertight experiment, I gained an in-depth analysis of various cultures by becoming a part of them (both as a tourist and as a resident). I modeled my approach towards advertising in these cultures after the famous Kim and Markus study, which was performed in 1999 and studied qualities of the individualistic United States of America versus the collectivistic South Korea. An individualistic society emphasizes such qualities as freedom and personal expression, while a collectivistic society emphasizes harmony, the well-being of the group, and conformity. These preferences are displayed in particular through advertising, as a collectivistic culture favors ads that preach harmony, and an individualistic society prefers ads that value uniqueness.

For this study, I used my travel grant money to visit the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, and Catalonia. I picked advertisements that illustrated either individual choice or community betterment, and found that the United Kingdom alone leaned towards individualism. Catalonia, Spain, and Italy heavily favoured collectivism. France’s culture alone was I unable to determine, though if I had to choose, I would pick individualism.

With both picture proof and a multimedia presentation, I presented this study before our CORE 210 class, the class of identity and community, and challenged the class to apply this to their lives. Understanding a culture means so much more than being able to successfully market a product there. It relates to the Christian walk, to a global perspective, and to betterment of the world as a whole. This study grew me as a global Christian and a global citizen because it opened my eyes to the cultures around me, widened my view of the world as a whole, and helped me understand how social factors such as cultural preferences influence the people around me.

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