Where is the research for our Cross-Cultural Kids?
When will we be able to share information on how they ‘see’ the world. I know about the work from FIGT and the Interchange Institute but there must be more information out there since we all becoming so much more global?
With a few modern updates, Western culture has been re-creating the same story over and over again since Homer collected The Odyssey more than two and a half thousand years ago. Since the Greeks, the ideal of the unique and strong individual has become so prevalent in Western culture that we have stopped to realize that it is even part of our culture. Often we mistake our perceptions of the world for how the world really is.
When I work with young kids, I try to see if the predictions from psychologists are true.
- Do North Americans children overestimate their own distinctiveness.
- Do Americans and Canadians talk about their individual personality and personal outlook more than others do.
- Do North Americans tend to settle arguments in terms of right and wrong.
- Do East Asians tend to seek compromises?
My problem is I can find so few of these kids.
All most everyone I work with can’t be labeled as North American, East Asian or etc. because they have lived a significant part of their life in another country. They are cross cultural kids.
Perhaps as an adult you are more aware and comfortable with one dominate culture. New research shows that culture even affects our cognition.
A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology claims that Americans and Japanese intuit the emotions of others differently based on cultural training. North Americans try to identify the single important thing that is key to making a decision, explains Dr. Takahiko Masuda, the study’s author. He asked questions like these:
Did you look at the picture above?
What did you focus on?
Did you see the main basketball boy or did you see the team in the background?
Masuda studied the eye movement of Americans and Japanese when analyzing a picture of a group of cartoon people. When asked to interpret the emotion of the person in the center, the Japanese looked at the person for about one second before moving on to the people in the background. They needed to know how the group was feeling before understanding the emotion of the individual. The Americans (and Canadians in subsequent studies) focused 95% of their attention on the person in the center. Only 5% of their attention was focused on the background, and this, Dr. Masuda points out, didn’t influence their interpretation of the central figure’s emotion.
Dr. Masuda is quick to point out that Americans and Japanese are physiologically the same. The difference in eye movement is tied to the roots of our respective cultures.
Masuda stresses that no way of perceiving the world is better than another and refuses to interpret his studies too broadly. He has yet to conduct his tests in Africa or South America.
But the message for me is loud and clear.
Masuda’s study is important
It reminds us that there is more than one way of seeing the world. Who can say what we really see when we look at the same thing?
Only by communication can we see the same.
Only by sharing our views can we see the same thing.
Only by caring enough to ask someone what they see can we see the same thing.
Please search out where some great cross-cultural studies are being documented and let me know.