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Evaluate the role that one cultural dimension (e.g. individualism/collectivism, power distance) may have on behaviour.

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Introduction

´╗┐Evaluate the role that one cultural dimension (e.g. individualism/collectivism, power distance) may have on behaviour. According to Matsumoto (2004), culture can be defined as the common rules that regulate interactions and behaviour in a group as well as a number of shared values and attitudes in the group. A cultural dimension is a conceptual framework suggested by Hofstede. It describes the effects of a society's culture on the values of its members, and how these values relate to behavior. Individualism and collectivism is a dimension which relates to the relationship between the individual and the group. In individualist societies, people tend to see themselves as independent individuals who must take care of themselves. Ties between individuals are loose. Typical values include freedom, personal challenge and uniqueness of individuals. In collectivist societies, identity is defined more by the characteristics of the collective groups to which one belongs. From birth onwards, people are integrated into cohesive in-groups, which provides them support and protection. People are more interdependent. However, if the individual does not comply to the rules of the group, the results can be severe. In this essay, the differences between individualist culture and collectivist culture will be evaluated. To begin with, the way culture affects construal of self will be explained. ...read more.

Middle

Agreeing with others in collectivist societies is more likely to be viewed as a sign of sensitivity than submission as perceived in individualistic societies. This study supports the idea that cultural dimension can influence conformity. However, since this study is a meta analysis, studies that does not conform with the researcher?s hypothesis may be hidden. Furthermore, even in individualist countries such as America, most people still conform to the group norm, supported by Asch?s experiment (1951), in which participants conform to the group norm for acceptance even though some of them know the answer is wrong. Moreover, there are also other situational factors in conformity. For example, group unanimity can lower the conformity rate. In the Asch? experiment, one confederate was instructed to disagree with majority, even if it was also a wrong answer. The conformity rate dropped significantly with the addition of the confederate. Also, a larger group size may lower the conformity rate. People are more likely to conform in one-on-one situation. Finally, individual factors such as expertise and self-esteem can also affect conformity rates. When individuals feel that they are more competent to make decisions with regard to a field of expertise, they are less likely to conform. Participants with high self esteem are less likely to conform to incorrect responses. ...read more.

Conclusion

The study supports the idea that the more collectivistic culture is, the more negative the attitudes towards mental disorders, vice versa. The sample size is large therefore it can be generalized. However, since these participants are UK-based, his/her attitudes might be affected by the British culture itself, so the results may not reflect the attitudes towards mental disorders of Greek, American and Chinese. Furthermore, educational level, mental illness experience, and, particularly, mental illness knowledge, were other powerful and consistent stigma explanatory factors. For example, in China, people often have limited knowledge about mental disorders while in US, people are more exposed to knowledge about mental disorders, with the rise of psychiatry industry in a earlier time. As mentioned above, in collectivistic societies like Chinese and Greek, after they are exposed on mental disorders knowledge in recent years, they hold more positive views towards mental disorders. Cultural dimension can only partly explain the attitudes. A collectivistic culture does not necessarily hold negative views towards mental disorders, especially when mental health information are available to the public. To conclude, to a moderate extent, cultural dimension of collectivism vs individualism can influence behaviour. Collectivist culture are more interdependent while individualist culture are more independent. These can influence behaviour in different areas, for example, attribution, conformity, relationship and social stigma towards mental illness. However, it is essential to understand that situational factors, personal factors, social factors and educational factors can influence behavior. Cultural dimension interacts with these factors in a complicated way. ...read more.

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