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Culture

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By sch0125
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Culture is all of the behaviors and beliefs representative of a specific social, ethnic, or age group. I have always been fascinated with the Chinese culture. I am amazed with their rich history and sense of tradition. On the surface Chinese culture seems very different from American culture. The cultural views between the two differ when it comes to intelligence, identity development, morality, gender, time orientation, communication, and health and wellness.
The United States of America is an individualistic society. In an individualistic society, it is “every man for himself”. An individual’s success is more important than that of the entire society. China is a collectivistic society. The people value the success of the entire society over that of an individual. In order to maintain a sense of harmony, they behave with decorum at all times and will not do anything to cause someone else public embarrassment. The Chinese benefit from being a collectivistic society. Confrontation is avoided and harmony is maintained. Furthermore, when the society as a whole works together everyone benefits from the labor. For example, rice agriculture is extremely labor intensive. It takes between 1,000 and 2,000 man hours to raise a crop on 2.5 acres of land (Hays 2010). As rice is important for the economic growth of China, everyone in the community works to grow the rice, everyone also benefits from its growth. On the other hand, there are downfalls to being part of a collectivistic society. For example, the “leader” of the society makes all the major judgments or decisions for that society. Unfortunately, the society is only as strong as its leader’s greatest weakness. Communism is linked directly to collectivism (“Collectivism” 2012). China has been a communist nation since 1949. As an American I have benefitted greatly from living in an individualistic society. I am able to work and earn money for myself and my family. I have the option of sharing my wealth and resources. I live in a society where I am free to think for myself and my opinion matters. The United States of America is a democracy so my vote counts. Although America is an individualistic society, it could benefit from some of the aspects of a collectivistic society. Time orientation is categorized into either Monochronic or Polychronic. Monochronic cultures value their time and a system is used to schedule, arrange and manage daily, yearly or monthly time. Time is never wasted in this cultural. There is a time to play and a time to work. Americans function on the monochronic time pattern whereas Chinese function on polychromic time. Polychronic is based upon conducting things at once. Polychronic cultures are not concern with precisely the amount spent on any given activity. They are more flexible with their time. This is often observed by the use of silence in very structured meetings. If someone disagrees with what another person says, rather than disagree publicly, the person will remain quiet. This gives face to the other person, while speaking up would make both parties lose face. Non-verbal communication speaks volumes in the Chinese cultural. They rely on facial expression to communicate their feelings (www.kwintessential). During interaction, if a person frowns, it means they disagree with what is being stated. They prefer not to use eye contact during conversation and it is not customary to stare when involved in a conversation. Americans use their eyes to express their feelings. It is very important to use good eye contacts during interviews or in conversations with another person. The eye is the window of the soul it tells the inner most part of your soul.

Chinese overall physical health supersedes that of Americans. Actively, Chinese participate in exercise, hiking, karate, and dance rituals. They are more physically fit and obesity is not an issue. Obesity among Americans has tripled in the past years which have lead to chronic illness. Many initiatives have been implemented to address and fix this problem. Some Americans have begun taking their physical health more seriously by obtaining a daily exercise regimen. For most of Chinese history, mental illness carried a stigma of weakness (newyorker.com). China lacks adequate professions to properly assist with diagnosing mental illness and give proper counseling and medication. Herbalists use herbs as a cure all for mental illness although, problems continue to exit and vastly increasing. America’s have a wealth of medical professions who assist with mental health issues. We have many suffers of bipolar, Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Hyperactivity Disorder and Depression. Depression is a chronic illness that exacts a significant toll on America's health and productivity (mentalhealthamerica.net/go/state-ranking). (This needs to reworded)- Among Chinese, social relationships tend to be more formal and hierarchical than in the United States. Chinese tend to be most comfortable in the presence of a hierarchy in which they know their position and the customs and rules for behavior in the situation. Americans tend to prefer relationships that are informal and egalitarian. Americans generally feel most comfortable with their social equals; they minimize the importance of social rankings (http://china-nafsa.aief-usa.org/chapter3.pdf). (perceptions and measures of intelligence)-Need information on this. “Culture shapes the wiring of our brains. (Livermore 2011)” There are differences in the way Americans process information and the way the Chinese process information. Dr. Ying-Yi Hong conducted a study where American and Chinese students were placed in an MRI head scanner and shown images. The American students concentrated on the “object” in the picture while the Chinese students focused on the context of the picture. In doing so, the Chinese students MRI scans revealed a larger amount of anxiety. When the test was repeated after the Chinese students had been exposed to American culture, the anxiety levels diminished (Livermore 2011). This proves that people can be re-wired to adapt to cultural differences. The research on cultural intelligence demonstrates that individuals who attend to their motivation, thinking, and behavior for cross-cultural work are able to improve the way they adjust and perform (Livermore 2011). It should be the goal to not compare cultural learning but rather what capabilities are needed to effectively bridge cultures. Differences in views of self differ between the Chinese and American because cultural influences play a great role in personality development. Chinese people often appear shy and self-conscious to Americans, especially when they are around foreigners or are in situations which they are not comfortable. Chinese do not like to be separated from the crowd, stared at, or asked too many questions (Hays 2011). There are several human development theories although; I chose Lev Vygotsky Theory. According to thegreatcourses.com, Lev Vygotsky believed that learning came first and caused development. He believed that learning is a social process in which teachers, adults, and other children’s supportive “scaffolding” helps children master new skills. The views of Lev Vygotsky have had a large impact on educators. Lev Vygotsky points out the fact that children learn from the actions of other people. As small children we learn to share. This “practice” is learned first by our parents first explaining the art of sharing and why it is important. After that most children learn to interact with other children by creating friendship bonds and playing nicely with other children. These behaviors encourage sharing because children want to continue to have friends. During this process, other adults and teachers reinforce these behaviors and children eventually understand that sharing is a key element of friendship and being accepted.

I feel as though the theory of Lev Vygotsky best explains the influence of culture on human development. The reason for my decision is the fact that I believe that all experiences, good and bad make us who we are. Every failure and triumph can shape us into who we are as an adult. If you were told your entire childhood that you could succeed and that you could be who and whatever you want; then that is what you believe. If you were told your entire childhood that you were a failure and that your dreams weren’t realistic and would never happen; that is what you would believe. It is because of this that I feel it is so important to practice positive reinforcement so that children can grow up into productive, positive citizens that will not continually need to be positively reinforced.

Cultural determinism refers to the unconscious process by which people of a certain society are conditioned to accept certain beliefs and values that ultimately shape their personalities. All people develop their personalities over time. Many experience any set of “stages” theorized by major psychologists—Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development, Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development, Erikson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development, etc (Cherry 2012). However, many children develop their personalities from the example and the lessons that their parents have taught them. Parents are a child’s first encounter with the world. American parents and Chinese parents aim to teach their children to be responsible citizens that will one day rule the society. Even though parents have a major influence on personality, so are social mediums yet the influence is different. Social interactions in Chinese society are more hierarchical-based than in America (Lawrence 2012). The Chinese revere their elders and learn to adapt to a societal role within the social hierarchy. On the contrary, in America, social interactions are often more casual and easy-going. Age does not carry as much weight as it does in China. Friendship also differs. In American culture, there exist large groups of friends, whereas the Chinese prefer a smaller, close-knit group of friends. This is in part because they value long-term friendships, while Americans go through many friends throughout their lives (Lawrence 2012). Cultural conditioning refers to learning which sets of behaviors are regarded as right and wrong within a particular society. Both cultures teach values to their children. Some of the shared values include A theory needs to be inserted here to address the following: Morality, gender, aggression and one other psychological process within it. Mortality for the Chinese has declined during the last 30 years. Although, Psychologist indicated there have been hundreds of unreported deaths. Recently, China Ministry of Health data indicated Lung Cancer is the leading cause of deaths (Larsen 2011). Dirty air is the contributing factor of Chinese incurring cancer.
On the other hand, American mortality has increased over the last 30 years. Two leading causing of death in is lung cancer and obesity. In American almost daily, you are advised that someone has died from cancer. Cancer is one of the deadly diseases across our country. It is my hope that someone will create a cure for the big “C”.
Gender

Aggression

Psychological Process

Explain any biases that may influence your analysis of these cultures and explain why.

References

Jeffrey Hays (2010) “Rice Agriculture in China” http://factsanddetails.com/china 17 August 2012

“Collectivism” (2012) en.wikipedia.org 17 August 2012

Livermore, David (2011) “The Culturally Intelligent Brain” www.management-issues.com 17 August 2012

Cherry, Kendra (2012) “Personality Development: Major Theories of Personality Development” http://psychology.about.com 17August 2012

Lawrence, Charles (2012) “Chinese vs. Western Culture” www.ehow.com 17 August 2012

Jeffrey Hays (2011) “Chinese Personality Traits and …” http://factsanddetails.com/china 17 August 2012

www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/china-country-profile.html

http://www.thegreatcourses.com

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/state-ranking

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/01/10/110110fa_fact_osnos#ixzz23uvPdYCS
http://china-nafsa.aief-usa.org/chapter3.pdf…...

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