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Beliefs, Attitudes, and Values



Culture is stored in individual human beings, in the form of their beliefs, attitudes, values.

Beliefs are an individualís representations of the outside world. Some beliefs are seen as very likely to be true. Others are seen as less probable. Beliefs serve as the storage system for the content of our past experiences, including thoughts, memories. Beliefs are shaped by the individualís culture. When a belief is held by most members of a culture we call it a cultural belief. Culture influences the perceptions and behaviors of the individuals sharing the culture through beliefs, values and norms. They are important building blocks of culture. Not everyone in a society holds exactly the same cultural beliefs. In other words, an individualís culture does not totally determine his/her beliefs. But the members of a society who share a common culture have relatively more similar beliefs than do individuals of different cultures. For instance, most Japanese believe that gift giving is much more important than do people in the United States. West African people believe in magic and in the religious sacrifice of animals more than do individuals in most other cultures.

Attitudes, like beliefs, are internal events and not directly observable by other people. Attitudes are emotional responses to objects, ideas, and people. Attitudes store these emotional responses in the same way that beliefs store the content of past events. People express opinions, observable verbal behavior, and engage in other behaviors, partially on the basis of their attitudes and beliefs. Attitudes and beliefs form a storage system for culture within the individual. Attitudes and beliefs are internal and are not publicly observable. We cannot know your attitudes or your beliefs directly, but we can observe what we say (our expressed opinions) and what we do (our behavior). Many attitudes are based on cultural values. In the United States, freedom is a dominant value. In others, itís just one value among others. The meaning of any value, including freedom, differs across cultures.

Values are what people who share a culture regard strongly as good or bad. Values have an evaluative component. They often concern desired goals, such as the values of mature love, world peace. Values also concern ways of behaving that lead to these goals, such as valuing thrift, honesty, or speaking and acting quietly so as not to make noise that disturbs other people. Cultural values involve judgments (they specify what is good or bad) and are normative (they state or imply what should be). For instance, most people in the United States feel that bullfighting is disgusting and cruel. But to many Mexicans and Spaniards it is an important and exciting sport.


Date: 2015-01-02; view: 1066

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