The revelation that culture can determine the way individuals think was a departure from the conventional psychology, which as a subject customarily presumed that elementary cognitive progressions are universal (Earley and Soon 111). Japanese and American students were shown a scene by Nisbett to describe; both parties described the scene differently. The study proved that Japanese are of the collectivist culture; they pay consideration to all elements in a scene and recognize the connection between items in context. On the other hand, Americans are of the individualistic culture; they pay consideration to particular items and objects. Culture also causes individuals to behave differently in the same situation. For example, when someone knocks or steps onto us, we behave differently. Some of us will take the incidence as an accident and expect an apology; on the other hand, someone from a different culture would react to the same incidence with a kick or an insult even before the aggressor apologies to them.
Different perceptions resulting from different cultures result to Bottom-up and Top-down processes. Top-down processes occur when an individual sees the bigger image and overview while the bottom-up individual focuses on the primary details instead of the landscape (Bernstein 123). As seen in the study conducted by Nisbett and Takahiko Masuda, Americans and Japanese students had a different perception of the scene shown to them due to different cultures. The Americans described the bigger image they saw while the Japanese explained the whole scene starting with the background description. The experiment is in agreement with Ben Bogart’s argument that the environment we interact with determines our culture. Being able to acknowledge other individuals’ perspectives during inter-cultural interactions can assist us to reduce misunderstandings and conflicts. It is a crucial component of cross-cultural competency. The strategy to taking a cross-cultural perception is having an outline that can assist us to begin to acknowledge the opinions of other individuals.
Bernstein, Douglas A. Essentials of Psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.
Earley, P C, and Soon Ang. Cultural Intelligence: Individual Interactions Across Cultures. Stanford, Calif: Stanford Business Books, 2003. Print.