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Conceptualizing Culture and Its Impact on Behavior

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Abstract

This chapter explores the interconnections between culture and behaviour. These interconnections can be two-way, but here we just focus on the potential impact of culture on behaviour, not vice versa. Our goal is not to try to use cultural factors to predict behaviour; such an approach is bound to fail because behaviour will always result from numerous influences, some spontaneous and dynamic, others expected and anticipated. Nevertheless, it is important to grapple with this complex issue. The chapter is divided into three parts. Part I discusses how culture and behaviour have been defined and conceptualised. Part II turns to the main focus of the chapter: how culture may influence behaviour. It critically considers three main perspectives: the impact of values and beliefs, the impact of norms and the impact of schemas. Part III considers applications of the discussion and offers some practical advice on interpreting culturally unfamiliar behaviour.

Keywords

  • Defining culture
  • Conceptualising culture
  • Culture and social groups
  • Culture and sharedness
  • Culture and levels of analysis
  • Conceptualising behaviour
  • Culture, behaviour and values
  • Culture, behaviour and norms
  • Culture, behaviour and schemas
  • Interpreting culture and behaviour

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Fig. 10.1
Fig. 10.2
Fig. 10.3
Fig. 10.4

Notes

  1. 1.

    Since 2011, Schwartz has increased the number of individual-level values to 19, as Figure 2 illustrates.

  2. 2.

    See http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/

  3. 3.

    Schwartz uses different versions for male and female respondents. Here a mixture of his male and female items has been presented.

  4. 4.

    The full message is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/christmas-2015-prime-ministers-message

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Spencer-Oatey, H., Žegarac, V. (2018). Conceptualizing Culture and Its Impact on Behavior. In: Frisby, C., O'Donohue, W. (eds) Cultural Competence in Applied Psychology. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-78997-2_10

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