Not All Cultural Misunderstandings are Negative: The Inadequacy of the Concept of Ethnocentrism

Jordan Hyde, Alex North, Brigham Young University – Idaho

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Abstract: This qualitative study examined the extent to which expatriates accommodate local worldviews and the implications of such accommodation on intercultural relations. Participants were interviewed and transcripts were analyzed and coded for themes. Most participants did not accommodate local worldviews per se, but most recognized the ecological benefits of the other cultural traditions. Various factors influenced the degree to which they accommodated local perspectives. Those who empathized with local perspectives expressed more positive relations with the host culture.

Introduction: In an age when technological, political, and economic trends make the world smaller, research on intercultural relations has become increasingly important. Samuel P. Huntington (2008) argued that “in this new world . . . the great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural” (p. 203). Further, Richard A. Nisbett (2003) demonstrated that cultures (in this case, East Asia and the West) “have maintained very different systems of thought for thousands of years” (p. xvi). Hence, research on cultural ideologies and how to facilitate positive human relations across cultural boundaries is more relevant than ever.

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