How our Idea of Well-Being is Shaped by our Culture

How come some people can’t go a day without eating pork while some groups of people completely avoid it? Some cultures prohibit gambling in all ways and in some it’s completely normal to search for a Harrah’s Casino promo code for 2019 during any time of night and day. Even the basic needs of people differ greatly from group to group.

So, what is ‘your culture’

Your culture is typically defined as your surrounding environment that you experienced throughout your development and is comprised of many factors.  Culture tends to vary between different countries and different areas all over the world, but can also vary between families living in the same country. Your culture ultimately ends up shaping and guiding your decision-making and belief systems later in life, this is a concept known as the internal working model.  For example, if a child has parents who are happily married, and they experience a stable, loving relationship during the development stage, then they will generally maintain a positive view of love and relationships later in life.

How it shapes your idea of well-being

Many studies have proven that your culture and upbringing shapes and effects your ideas and beliefs about well-being and happiness, below are some of the ways that culture can affect your beliefs about well-being:

Need for positivity

Different cultures around the world appear to have different beliefs and needs regarding positivity.  Most people around the world seek out positive experiences and dislike negative experiences or unwanted negative comments. However, some cultures place less emphasis on seeking out positive experiences than others. For example, a study found that members of the public in America often require two positive events to offset one negative event, whereas many countries such as Japan only required one positive event to offset a negative event and maintain a positive well-being.

Perception of gift receiving

In most western countries, gift-giving is seen as an act designed to bring positivity and happiness to the recipient. However, this is not the case across all cultures.  Some cultures, such as South Korea, do not necessarily see gift-giving as a positive and enjoyable act. In fact, a study found that many people in South Korea who receive a gift view it as a reminder that they are not doing enough for their community.  With a simple cultural variation, an act that is considered positive and often kind in one culture can be considered upsetting, if not offensive in another.

Collective happiness V Individual happiness

A final example of how your culture can affect your views on welfare is the way in which you perceive true happiness cultures can be one of two things, either collectivist (individuals are perceived as part of one large machine- the community), or individualistic (societies where individuals tend to place their own needs above the needs community as a whole). Studies have found that members of the public in collectivist societies tend to find true happiness when most people in a group are happy, whereas in an individualist Society, members of the public tend to find happiness when they themselves are happy rather than everybody else.

How To Overcome Culture Shock?

When subjected to an unfamiliar setting we have all felt a feeling of displacement. Whether it is when you see someone freely bet on their phone with the Borgata sportsbook promotions and to you that’s unfathomable, or somebody speaks openly about some things that are just not spoken about where you come from, or anything else. The extent to which we feel a culture shock is different for each individual. We have tried to get to grips with this phenomenon down to the details and we are not alone here because a number of anthropologists, sociologists and psychologist have been examining it since the 1950s.

Lysgaard (1955) outlined a U-curve that seeks to describe the degree of adjustment to the cultural circumstances over time. This simple pictorial representation has seen its use in corporate training regimes and even educational contexts. Elaborations and tweaks have been made to the original theory to this date but we cannot go through all of them because they are far too numerous. But first, let’s introduce the four phases of cultural adjustment.

On Honeymoon

To begin with, when a person is first exposed to an environment that is wholly new culturally it is called the honeymoon period – think about when you went on holiday, gap year, Erasmus program, mandate, work placement, etc. The initial exposure to the novel surroundings does not induce stress but rather entices the person to enjoy the area. Whatever dreams or expectations one has had about the place at first seem to be true or fulfilled. This period lasts from 0-3 months approximately.

Crisis

Very shortly after the honeymoon period people have a tendency to enter a phase of crisis – they feel increased anxiety. The cultural differences are no longer perceived as exotic but rather are becoming a nuisance. Plenty of factors contribute to this stage such as: language barriers, public hygiene, congestion, cuisine, food quality, etc. This crisis tends to last between 3-6 months.

Recovery

After the crisis period, the person becomes accustomed to the environment and slowly begins to adjust to his or her surroundings around 6-12 months. A possible reason seems to be that the subject begins to develop routines and increased knowledge of the area, eliminating uncertainty. Issues that used to be around are now solved with relative ease that pertains to everyday activities.

Adaptation

This phase is commonly called the mastery stage, when individuals begin to feel as if their surroundings have become ‘normal’. Sometimes dubbed the bicultural stage due to the person assimilating nuances from their environment more than ever before. This period naturally begins after a year or so. This is the rightmost tip of the U-curve that is higher than the left tip concerning the honeymoon period.

Conclusion

Interestingly, the phenomenon of reverse-culture shock suggests that this same process may occur for a person when they come back to their domestic environment. Cases include expatriates that have been away for a number of years and come back home yet still feel that familiar feeling of displacement. Culture shock usually addresses a single yet elusive concept, but hopefully the reader has seen, just as much as we have, the complexity of the phenomenon ripe for more interesting research.

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