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?