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SAQ Cultural Dimension


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SAQ cultural dimensions


Describe one cultural dimension, referring to one study.


Culture can be defined as a set of values, behaviour and beliefs shared by a large collective of people. This is usually transmitted across generations. Cultural dimensions are the values of members living within a cultural that can affect your behaviour. One cultural dimension is individualism-collectivism. Individualistic cultures and collectivistic cultures differ in terms of how an individual defines their personality. In individualistic culture, the individual defines their personality in terms of their own personal characteristics, their successes, their unique features. Additionally, the values of individualistic cultures typically include personal autonomy, competitiveness, and self-sufficiency. In comparison, one’s identity in a collectivistic culture is linked to the social group, or the culture as a collective. In collectivistic cultures values associated with belonging to a group take priority over personal values. This difference between collectivistic and individualistic cultures was studied by Berry’s, Child, and Bacon (1959).


Berry’s research had the aim of measuring the level of conformity in these two types of societies by applying a version of the Asch Paradigm. He wanted to see the conformity of the two types of cultures. 

He used the Temne farmers – collectivistic culture and then the Inuit fishers and hunters – individualistic culture. In each group there were 120 participants. 

The participants were given an image of a line and asked to match it for length with one of the other five lines. This was the controlled condition. Here were no mistakes made. In de experimental condition, they were told that the other participants thought it was for example line D when in fact it was line A. This made a significant difference in the Temne society, they were much more likely to conform to the incorrect answer than the Inuit’s.  


Berry concluded that collectivistic cultures had a higher rate of conformity than the individualistic culture. This is due to the collectivistic cultures desire to have social harmony and being more depended on each other in a farming culture. Thus, the Temne felt that going with the answer given by its community they are still part of the group and don not priorities personal achievement. On the other hand, the Inuit’s do not have the desire for social harmony and are not depended on each other. This resulted in them being less likely to conform their answer because they value personal achievement. 


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