What makes cultures different from each other? Cultures have values and beliefs. These are passed down from generation to generation, forming the basis of a society. Cultures also help establish social roles and norms, which describe people’s behaviors. Norms are set of expectations of what people should do and not do, as well as their attitudes towards other cultures. In large societies, there may be many subcultures. Within these cultures, behaviors are shaped by the values of the dominant culture.
Although individual cultural characteristics may influence behavior, the cultural contexts surrounding them are important. To understand individual behavior, researchers must understand the cultural context of the environment they study. Such contextual factors include the demographics of the surrounding population, as well as social norms and values. In addition, cultural contexts are a complex mix of individual perceptions and objective realities. For example, in the United States, Americans value the concept of individual autonomy and choice.
Cultures define individuals, and individual behavior reflects that identity. We have to hold on to our values and beliefs to remain a part of society. However, today, there are people from all over the world, each with their own unique perspectives on life. A culture affects every aspect of an individual’s life – from daily routine to food and interaction with other people. As a result, students from different cultures may react to the same situation in unintended ways that they would not in their native culture.