A Lesson in Cultural Values

As I was going through my notes on International Marketing, I was reminded of a particular survey which my professor talked about while explaining differences in cultures around the world.

My class has students from a variety of ethnic and national backgrounds and the professor put forward a hypothetical situation. He said, “Imagine you are Michael Phelps. You are in the middle of the sea. You can very easily swim to safety. Not only that, you can even carry one person who does not know to swim to safety along with you. But here is the catch. In the water along with you are three people and you can only save one. And it gets more complicated. The three people are – your mother, your wife (who is your soul-mate and your one true love or whatever) and your only child. The obvious question is, whom would you pick?”

So some people raised their hands and said they would save the wife, some said they would save their child and some said their mother. So the professor asked the people who said they would save their wife why they would do that? Some said you can have another child with her, some said she is your true love and you can never find another one, etc.

Then he asked the people who said they would save the child why they would do so. The people said the child has the longest life span ahead. Some said the child is more helpless, it has a bright future etc.

The professor then said, “When this question was posed to people in Western countries, 60% said they would save the wife and 40% said they would save the child. However when this was asked to students in the East, 100% said they would save the mother. Now would the people who said they would save the mother raise their hands?” And we did. The professor said, “If you look at all these people, do you notice something? They all come from the Indian subcontinent or are generally from the Orient.”

And I swear to God he was right.

An awesome example of the inherent cultural differences in the world don’t you think?

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “A Lesson in Cultural Values

  1. Preeti

    πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  2. Dimple

    funny πŸ˜€

  3. Half way through the post and I knew where it was going.I do not find this funny.I find it too inriguing.People.Cultre.Religion.All brilliant concepts.Especially religion.I strongly believe, religion is the biggest brand mankind has ever seen.
    The only reason for me to have even considered GRE was potential cultural interaction i’d possibly have there.Too much of a gamble I thought.Anyways relish your moments da.Keep informing.

  4. Not funny at all !

    So many things are inherent – makes us what we are. Just that travelling miles and being on the other side of the globe made you more aware..made us more aware…

    Yes- like anna said- keep informing !

    Culture is the most intriguing concept- something you acquire without having to work on it-without having to write assignments or write tests…That is the beauty. And it stays. Hence I would never want to leave this place at the risk of losing the culture to the future generations !

    And for me culture is not equal to religion,never shall be. And I’d buy culture to religion anyday ,a bigger brand for me.

    • Rohit

      Religion helps shape culture. Indian culture, if you think about it, is a confluence of not only the values we believe in, but is full of religion. They can never be mutually exclusive.

  5. Just depends on how you perceive it. Anything that asks me to be biased and do a ‘certain’ rituals is religion as the general perception goes. And I would not be party to it. Culture is what makes me and this land. Culture is much deeper and inherent. Else I’d agree at the ‘never mutually exclusive’ part.

    • Rohit

      Religion never asks you to do anything. It is people who say do this and do that. So you don’t really have to be a party to it.

      Lets not turn this into a “which came first” discussion. What I am saying is that no culture is complete without elements of religion in it.

      • Why I say Religion is a bigger brand is because for me Brand success is all about Loyalty.People can not be loyal to culture(Alcohol, Non-Vegetarianism etc) but in spite of consuming alcohol, a Muslim will still consider himself Muslim.So here, he has gone against the culture prescribed by his religion but never will he ever hate his religion.

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