Previous behavioral science research has established that American culture, which values the individual, emphasizes the independence of objects from their contexts, while East Asian societies emphasize the collective and the contextual interdependence of objects. The 2008 study mentioned above attempted to determine if they could actually “see” these differences in the brain itself. The researchers “… asked 10 East Asians recently arrived in the United States and 10 Americans to make quick perceptual judgments while in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner – a technology that maps blood flow changes in the brain that correspond to mental operations.”
|Image by Trey Hedden, McGovern |
Institute for Brain Research at MIT
Such differences in terminology and phrasing that result from different cultural scripts have the potential to create havoc when communicating technical information cross culturally. At the very least this could extend the time required to commission a lighting control system if the commissioning agent is East Asian and the control system and/or its product guide were produced in the US (or vice versa), simply due to the difficulties in interpreting a document produced by someone with a different perception of the world around them. Some may only see this only as an annoyance, but it would never-the-less result in additional commissioning time not likely accounted for when the fees were put together. And neither is this limited to lighting control systems or these two cultural groups.
And so ends my inaugural post, providing a sample of the types of topics I’ll likely be addressing. I’ll be looking at the reciprocal relationships between people and their built environments, how those relationships impact the performance of both buildings and their occupants, and how they impact our quality of life. I’ll also be using insights from anthropology to comment on the building construction industry itself. While many of these posts will draw upon my professional life and experiences, the opinions expressed in these posts are solely my own and are not meant to be seen as representing the opinions of my employer.