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Cultural Worldview

Cultural Worldview

Author: marlene johnson

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand that culture of origin has an effect on individuals' perceptions of how the world is and how the world "should" be.

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Video Transcription

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Culture influences all of us, the way we perceive the world, the way we behave. And cultures differ. Well, I'm Marlene, and today I'd like to talk with you more about cultural worldview.

Now, we know that we can see expressions of culture all around us. You can travel anywhere and we can see an expression through food, art, language, go to the movies, read books, what are the proverbs in a particular culture, these are all expressing something about the people in that culture.

But culture is more than just external expression. It's also something internal. Culture is really assumptions, expectations, viewpoint about the way things are and the way we believe they should be.

So a cultural worldview, then, would be a set of assumptions that are common to everyone in a particular culture. And it governs their behaviors and helps to make decisions about what to do, how to interpret the world.

So every culture has a worldview. We have one here in the United States. Anywhere you travel, you'll find worldview.

So it's important to recognize worldview, but not stereotype. Unfortunately, it's way too common for people to stereotype and apply traits or trends that they may see in a particular culture to everyone when they don't apply to everyone, because every culture has individuals who more or less adapt to the worldview and perhaps express things or see things slightly differently.

So are there ways to help us recognize the differences in worldview? Well, there are. There's been quite a bit of research done.

I have the names of three individuals back here. Geert Hofstede, Hall, Kohls. These men have all been pioneers in looking at different cultures, and I think of Hofstede in particular, as a Dutch researcher, who really was a pioneer in cross-cultural groups and organizations. He came up with something called cultural dimensions that really are certain elements that affect how people perceive and behave. Now, there are many elements. He identified a few.

And these other two gentlemen also looked at values and cultural elements. I've listed a few of them here, a few worldview elements that can be helpful to understand.

Power. How does a culture view power? Who should hold power? How evenly distributed? Should it be within a culture? What are the expectations and assumptions?

How about an individual or group orientation? Is the culture, in general, is the worldview, that an individual can rise to the top, make it for themselves, be competitive? Or is it more about the grand collective? The group?

Fate and personal responsibility is also another interesting element to take a look at. How much of what happens is really destiny? Is the worldview a fatalistic one? Or is the worldview one of personal responsibility? You can get out and make a change, and it's up to you.

Future and past. Is the worldview really focused more on traditions and preserving, perhaps, a long history of a culture and tradition? Or is it a worldview that thrives more on innovation, looking to the future? That's another element.

Now, these are just a few. And we will be discussing these in upcoming lessons here, upcoming tutorials. There are others.

Time orientation. How do we use time? How about risk or ambiguity? Are we averse to risk? Are we open to experimentation?

And even language. Expressions, verbally and nonverbally. Is a more direct? Is it indirect?

So there are a number of elements that are useful to look at in coming to a broad understanding of worldview for any particular culture. Once again, it's important not to stereotype everybody within that culture, but understanding in general what the worldview is can be enormously helpful in knowing how to communicate better and to avoid conflict and misunderstandings.

So I've enjoyed being with you in this tutorial. I look forward to next time.

Terms to Know

Forming a belief that certain general trends or traits of a group (culture) apply equally strongly to all individual members of that group; perceiving people as simplistic representatives of abstract cultural traits rather than as individuals.


The way a person interprets and makes decisions about his or her environment (world), including beliefs or assumptions about what is considered right or normal.