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Cultural Diversity in Perception: Alternative Views of Reality

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Cultural Diversity in Perception: Alternative Views of Reality

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The physical mechanism of perception is pretty much the same in all people: sensory organs such as the eyes, ears, and nose permit us to sense our environment, and the sensations received by them are routed to our brains, where they are interpreted and accorded meaning in a two-stage sequence. The first stage is recognition or identification, in which a configuration of light or sound waves is identified. At the second stage, the interpretation and evaluation of that which has been identified take place. The result of this process is not the same for all people, however, because the process is learned and therefore influenced primarily by culture.


Perception takes place inside each individual, it is culture that primarily determines the meanings we apply to the stimuli that reach us. There is diversity within cultures just as there is diversity between cultures. Cultural diversity in perception will help us better understand how differently cultures perceive social aspects of environment. Social aspects of perception include not only description but evaluation as well. Culture strongly influences our subjective reality and that there are direct links among culture, perception and behavior.


Belief systems are significant to the study of intercultural communication because they are at the core of our thoughts and actions.
We must be able to recognize the fact that different cultures have different realities. By understanding the beliefs of others, we are in a position to better understand our own behavior.


Values are the social guideposts that disclose to us the cultural norms of our society and that specify in large measure the ways in which we should behave. It provides us with set of rules for making choices and reducing ambiguity.

Values can be classified as primary,...