Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A.O.C.: Choice & the Influence of Cultural Background

Haley Scholars Fall 2012 Reading Groups

Sheena Iyengar's travels to multiple countries and her interactions with hundreds of people, not to mention her attention to studies involving thousands of participants, have given her tremendous insight concerning the cultural factors that influence choices.

Iyengar notes that "members of individualist societies are taught the special importance of choice" while on the other hand, "members of collectivist societies place greater emphasis on duty" (45). Iyengar strives, by the way, to move beyond the typical task of suggesting that one society's approach is superior to another; instead, she highlights and celebrates the differences.

We're still doing exploratory work on this book, so let us hear from you. What aspects of choice, in relation to the influence of cultural background, seemed most essential to you and why concerning chapter 2 (pages 22 - 73) of Iyengar's book?


Ke'Asha jones said...

To me the choice of choosing my religion was the most essential to me. i feel it is important because your religion in a sense defines you. It helps shape your morals and values and if you are not choosing your own religion you are basically being forced into believing something and then you are forced yo have certain morals and values. i also think that caring more about your families success than your own is also essential because you can be successful on your own but what is success without others around you happy.

Jessica Lewis - Walton said...

The choice of choosing whom your spouse is was the most essential to me throughout chapter 2. At the beginning of the chapter, Iyengar describes how Kanwar Jit Signth and Kuldeep Kaur Anand started their day. At first I thought the author was maybe describing a holiday that the two celebrated in which they dressed a certain way. Although, Iyengar goes on to mention how the next day at dawn they two families meet at a temple to celebrate "The Blessed Union" of the two. The two had no voice about the details of the ceremony. Every detail was already chosen for them, including that they were marrying each other whether they wanted to or not. This was most concerning to me because while I know it is tradition to them, I believe the decision of who to marry should be left up to that person. Whether that person wants to marry somebody of the same gender, race, religion, or cultural background I believe it is solely up to that person's preference.

Jacquelene Greene said...

When reading The Art of Choosing, I thought one essential element in chapter 2, was when the author found that people from fundamentalist religious backgrounds, while many choices are made for them by their religious beliefs, were more optimistic and less depressed than atheists. I thought this was interesting, because I thought that more freedom to make choices free of influence would result in more optimism. Another aspect I found essential is that depending on whether you come from a collectivist culture or a individualistic culture, greatly affects your choices. If you come from an individualistic culture, you a prone to make choices that will benefit you. If you come from a collectivist culture, you a prone to think about the state of the whole group before the state of yourself when making choices. Last but not least, I found that greater wealth is associated with individualism; perhaps this means that when making choices individualistic choices is more productive for the economy.
Jacquelene G.

Candace P said...

Throughout this particular chapter, the difference between collectivist and individualist societies was the most essential aspect. Although it is obvious that collectivism focuses on “we” and individualism notes the importance of “I” when choosing, it is intriguing to relate these characteristics to everyday life. During the chapter, Sheena Iyengar demonstrated that children of the individualist culture actually perform better when they have a choice in anything pertaining to the activity. In contrast, children in a collectivist background demonstrate high performance when choices are made for them.

This difference of autonomy and dependence can, and does, affect individuals throughout their lives. It is interesting for me to learn how much of an impact my society has in shaping the person I am. My ability to make choices on my own is definitely something that I overlook, however it is interesting for me to come to the understanding that other individuals, specifically those of collectivist backgrounds, do not make choices by themselves and are content with it.

Sean Pettiford said...

At the foundation of any society one willl find some form of religion. From Christianity to Buddhism, religion always has a significant role. That is why the choice of choosing one's religion was the most important to me in chapter two. Religion, believe it or not, means everything to ordinary people. No matter what the individual believes in they always feel that it should be their choice to have that belief and not be forced to worship or serve a specific deity.

Sean Pettiford