Sunday, November 05, 2006

On "cross-cultural psychology and economy" label

First I will talk about cross-cultural psychology.

Understanding other culture is very very difficult. The following story will illustrate it.

Back in university, I took a course in cross-cultural psychology. After around 3 months, we had a cultural sensitivity training. We role-played into being 2 groups, a country of collectivist and individualist. Each of our group were given a purpose we must negotiate on, given each of our country condition. We may negotiate in any way we like. However, our behavior while negotiating must follow the cultural characteristic of our assigned country.

The students were disproportionaly American, so playing individualist roles are easy. But we (well, most of us.. :-p) really sucks in playing collectivist roles. The students who are into collectivist roles do not establish enough rapport, communicate too directly without using available context, always monetize the negotiation terms, too confrontative, etc. In short, they fail in almost every aspects, even the supposedly easy behavior aspect of not using eye contact too much.

And these total failures still happened after months of studying the theory of cross-cultural psychology!

btw, talking about eye contact, this one Swedish woman in the collectivist group has one of the most beatiful wide eye I have ever seen. I kind of regretted not talking to you much. I wonder if you will ever read my blog.. Drop me a note please.

Back to topic.
You might argue that even if emulating people of other culture is difficult, understanding them is easy. So the question is, is it really easy?

I will answer with another story.

Once on a holiday I returned to Indonesia. Obviously I meet up with my old friends. We have a lunch in a mall talking nothing about everything. We were talking for at least 3 hours when finally we start talking about religion. We talked about different denomination of a religion. We talked, talked, and talked when suddenly a realization hit me.

Well, the realization is more like sinking instead of hitting me. Although I did suddenly realize it, it was the conversations that slowly showed me my realization is really accurate.

The realization is that I had been acting very confrontative, unlike the me in the past who were more deferential. I had been living in US for so long that I changed, and somehow I do not realized I changed despite of all cross-cultural training I had. It was very strange to hear my friends talking very deferentially, especially after thinking that I used to be like that.

Now, if somehow I was changed into being more individualist without knowing, it can means that I don't really know the characteristic of being individualist.

Considering the difficulty of appreciating and understanding cultural differences, I try to share what I know and experienced, hoping that it can help you to be more sensitive. Additionally, feedbacks from you will also enhanced my understanding of the culture I live in. So please feel free to give feedback.

In matters of cross-cultural economy, people of different culture have different values, which in turn cause them to act differently while being economic agents. Therefore economic discussion should consider the culture of the agents.


All blog entries described above will be labeled "cross-cultural psychology and economy".

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