Why do people always have misconceptions about other's cultures?

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crmhaske eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is difficult for humans to understand something they are not personally a part of.  Human precept ion is filtered through our own personal experiences; therefore, we cannot help but compare our culture to someone else's culture when we first encounter it.  This process leads to many misconceptions as what means one thing in one person's culture can mean something completely different in another person's culture.

For instance, an often cited difference between Western and Eastern cultures is the difference between the stress on the importance of the individual vs. the importance of the group.  A westerner perceiving an easterner sacrificing their wants and needs for the wants and needs of the group might perceive that person as weak and lacking in confidence.  Whereas an easterner perceiving a westerner sacrificing the wants and needs of the group for their own wants and needs might perceive that person as selfish and self-centered.

In this circumstance there is no absolute definition of the behaviour of either person.  The difficulty arises from perceiving one action through the veil of another.

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The Storyteller

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