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refers to the learned meanings, values, and behavior patterns that are shared by a society

includes the knowledge, beliefs, art, law, morals, customs, and habits acquired by a person as a member of society


  • different perceptions of time, poly. vs. monochronic

  • different perceptions of the role of women, men

  • different perceptions of right vs. wrong, as in "lubrication"


  • Culture is comprehensive: it includes almost everything that influences an individual's thought processes and behaviors

  • Culture is acquired or learned: it does not include inherited responses or predispositions. Values and behaviors are learned from cultural influences.

  • Culture supplies boundaries within which individuals think and act.

  • We are seldom aware of cultural influences; we generally take these influences for granted.


Culture provides loose boundaries for individual behavior.

These boundaries are called norms.

rules that specify or prohibit certain behaviors in specific situations; expectations of behaviors regardless of position

cultural values
what is right, good, and important; widely held beliefs that affirm what is desirable

basic actions such as what ceremonies are held and the roles played by the sexes

customs that emphasize the moral aspects of behavior

NORMS: Nonverbal Communication


  • polychronic vs. monochronic
  • promptness
  • lead time


  • office size and location
  • personal space


  • fast vs. slow


  • verbal vs. written


  • terminal materialism:
    acquisition of goods as an end in itself

  • instrumental materialism:
    acquisition of goods to enable one to do something


  • pink vs. blue identifiers


  • generally accepted ways of behaving in social situations


individual vs. collective
the extent to which a culture values more - the individual or the group

the extent to which the characteristics of one sex are valued over those of another

time orientation
the extent to which the members of the society are oriented to the past, present, or future

uncertainty avoidance
the extent to which members of the society are willing to tolerate ambiguity and unusual behavior

activity orientation
the extent to which the society values action versus reflection

relationship to nature
the extent to which the society lives in harmony with nature or attempts to dominate nature

The following are "urban legends" which, for the most part, probably have no basis in fact.  Nonetheless, these are repeated here because they help to make an important point.

US: "Body by Fisher"
Japan: "Corpse by Fisher"

US: Chevrolet "Nova" = "Star"
Puerto Rico: "No Va" = "it doesn't go"

U.S.: Pepsi "come alive"
Germany: "come out of the grave"
Asia: "bring your ancestors back from the death"

LESSON: translate back and forth a few times!

If people can't read your English labels and rely on the picture to indicate what is the contents of a jar, would you attempt to distribute baby food with the picture of a baby on the jar?