Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Values and Culture (by Ulvia Zahro)

Mental programming leads to person having same behaviors in similar situations, so we can predict a person’s behavior or people’s behavior if we know their mental programming and the situation. Our mental programs are physically determined by states of our brain cells. We cannot directly observe mental programs but we can observe behavior, words, or deeds. Every person’s mental programming is partly unique and partly shared with others.
There are three levels of uniqueness in human mental programming that consists of universal, collective, and individual level. The most basic of mental programming is universal level, in this level, mental programming is shared by all mankind. The collective level of mental programming is shared with some people in groups or categories. Language, which is part of culture, is learned in this level. The top level is individual level which is the truly unique part, each person is different and unique, because people have different mental programs.
Mental programs can be learned, and better if they are learned when we are young, it will be easier than if we start it in mature age. There are two kind of operationalization of mental programs, they are provoked behavior and natural behavior, and each of that can be verbal (words) and nonverbal (deeds). So, there are four kind of behavior, provoked words, natural words, provoked deeds, and natural deeds.
Values can be defined as an attribute of individuals as well as collectivities. Each person has many values in their life, and other people can agree with one person’s values or disagree with it. One value can be good in some people’s point of view or can be bad in another. Values are very subjective and each person has different subjective sign so that their values are different and most people hold some conflicting values.
Values are distinguished into desired and desirable, what people think ought to be desired isn’t always same with what they actually desire. Values are different with behavior, values also cannot be equated with deeds, it’s simple because behaviors depend on the person and the situation. Based on nature of a value, values can be distinguished into the desired and the desirable value, and based on the dimension of value, there are intensity and direction, and based on dominant outcome, the desired most has outcome in both deeds and words but the desirable has outcome in words. Important, successful, attractive, and preferred belong to terms used in measuring instrument of the desired values, whereas good, right, agree, ought, and should belong to terms used in measuring instrument of the desirable values. Based on the corresponding behavior, the desired value has choice and differential effort allocation, and the desirable value has approval or disapproval. Person reffered to in measuring instrument of the desired are ‘me’ and/or ‘you,’ and person reffered to measuring instrument of desirable are people in general.
Culture is defined as the shared patterns of behaviors and interactions, and affective understanding that are learned through a process of socialization. These shared patterns identify the members of a culture group while also distinguishing those of another group. Values can be found in one person or individually, but culture only can be found in group of people or institutions. The institutions include the family, education system, politics, and legislation. The major group of population has the value system that became societal norms. The ecological factors and societal norms influenced the culture of each institution that raised the consequences of culture. The consequences are structure and functioning of institutions that consist of family patterns, role differentiation, social stratification, socialization emphases, education, religion, political structure, legislation, architecture, theory development.  Each institution has different culture because the different norms and the different ecological conditions, those ecological factors are geographic, economic, demographic, genetic, historical, technological, and urbanization that led to different structure and functioning of institutions.
Ethnocentrism is the tendency to look at the world primarily from the perspective of one's own culture, that one's own race or ethnic group is the most important and that some or all aspects of its culture are superior to those of other groups. Ethnocentrism is already present in the instruments used in data collection. To avoid ethnocentrism in data collection, the instruments should be developed cross-culturally. In fact, ethnocentrism still present in the decision, and it is also found in divulging of research results. The ethnocentrism has been the main reasons for the lack of advance of the art.
Language is part of culture that became the systematic study and theory-building. We can learn foreign language because language is a learned characteristic, but we have to learn about that foreign culture too. If we learn an additional language which is foreign language and we don’t know about its culture, we could find difficulties in translation. Because translation not only just translate the words or sentences but also translate the sense and also the style of the language, by knowing the culture will make the translation is natural and easily understood. In some cross-cultural studies, the translation is needed for research instruments. In that chase, sometimes error translations are happened, but it can be randomized if we able to increase the number of languages used.(Ulvia-2009)


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