What Is the Connection between Culture and Perception?

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  • Written By: E. Reeder
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2016
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Culture and perception are inextricably linked, because it is through people’s own culture that they view and perceive themselves and others in the world, as well as events and social and political happenings. Culture includes people’s background and upbringing as well as their religious and political beliefs. It also is based on factors such as a person’s gender, race, ethnicity and nationality. Although people can easily develop an appreciation for and understanding of diverse cultures, their perception of people — as well as their perception of historical and social events — and their actions and beliefs likely will be heavily colored or influenced by their own culture.


People analyze what they observe and experience through their own cultural background, meaning culture and perception play a vital role in how people interpret and understand the world around them. Words or behaviors, such as hand gestures, that may be considered offensive or rude in one culture may be considered neutral and go unnoticed or be considered positive in another culture. While it is considered polite in some cultures to burp after eating a meal, for instance, this is considered crude and socially unacceptable behavior in other cultures. The perception that people have of the world around them is often colored by their religious or political beliefs, so culture and perception also are connected in this way. Some people believe, for example, that the government should use money collected from taxpayers to help those in need, while others perceive this as promoting dependence on government handouts and condoning laziness.

As an example of how culture and perception are connected, certain things that are deemed acceptable in one culture might be considered entirely unacceptable in another culture. For example, some cultures condone and regularly practice arranged marriages, whereby a female is told by her family whom she will marry — usually a male from a family with similar social and economic standing. The marriage, in fact, may be arranged by the parents of both the male and the female, neither of whom has a choice in the matter.

In such as case, the parents think they are doing the right thing by arranging a marriage that will contribute to their children’s futures. In other cultures, the idea of arranged marriages is perceived as wrong, if not taboo, and may even be considered an abhorrent idea that goes against the idea of human rights and freedom. It all comes down to a matter of culture and perception.


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Post 3

I've struggled with this recently, because I think it's difficult to draw a line sometimes. An example is the way women are treated in some cultures. The women themselves might see their treatment as perfectly reasonable, because they have grown up in that culture and they perceive it as normal.

But at what point do you draw the line? I would consider it to be oppressive if I was expected to wear a full burka, but some women think of it as necessary. I don't think you can just argue that it should always be a matter of choice, because if I decided that pants were oppressive most people in my culture would think it unreasonable for me to go without them.

On the other hand, wearing pants doesn't damage my quality of life.

Post 2

@browncoat - Yeah, that kind of stuff often gets taken for granted. People just don't realize that there are different ways of doing things. It can affect all kinds of facets of life too.

I think people tend to think about other cultures as being bizarre without ever questioning the culture that they have grown up in and the way they see the world.

Post 1

I think the problem is that people don't really understand what culture means. They think of it as something very visible and obvious about an ethnic group, like the traditional clothes they wear, or their celebrations or food.

But it isn't just that. Culture is pretty much everything about how someone interprets the world. It's customs and language and habits and relationships and everything, really.

So it absolutely affects perception and that's something that needs to be addressed in a lot of ways.

The simplest example I can think of is that, in some cultures, it's consider polite to look away from a speaker to show that you're listening. In my culture, that would be a sign that you were not listening and you might perceive a person doing that as being rude.

Which can be very confusing for students or business people who travel between places who have these different cultures.

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