Understanding how culture shapes identity

| September 8, 2014

In our modern society we are experiencing contact with different cultures like never before. Jovana Balanovic is conducting a survey that wants to answer the question why people respond to inter-cultural contact in different ways.

Culture is something that surrounds us all and continues to shape our lives everyday. But what is culture? How does it influence us? How does it shape who we are as people? These are some of the questions that cross-cultural psychologists and other social scientists work hard to try and answer.

Today, with the rapid increase in telecommunication and international travel, people are experiencing inter-cultural contact like never before. That’s why the study of culture and its influence on people has become particularly relevant. One approach to studying this has been to look at how newcomers to foreign lands adjust to new cultural environments (both psychologically and socially). Such research has shown that not everyone reacts to intercultural contact in the same way. For example, one individual may choose to ‘assimilate’ into a new culture by putting a lot of effort and emphasis on fitting in to the new culture and not placing a lot of importance on maintaining his or her heritage culture. Whereas someone else may choose to ‘integrate’ – keeping their heritage culture alive while at the same time participating in the wider society.

As a Masters student, one thing that continues to intrigue me is – why do people respond to inter-cultural contact in different ways? And on top of that – how and why do people in their own countries relate to their own culture in different ways?

To answer these questions, I have developed a survey that takes a more personal approach in understanding how people relate to their culture and how that shapes who they are. I have decided to do this study in three multicultural countries: Australia, New Zealand and the US – where understanding how culture shapes people is particularly relevant.

To contribute to my research, all you need to do is fill out this relatively short (approx. 20mins), completely anonymous survey. (Note that if you stop at any point during the survey, the link allows you to come back and finish it later, so you don’t have to do it all at once).

Thank you for your time and feel free to share this link with others who may be interested.

Jovana Balanovic
Jovana Balanovic is a Masters student in Cross-Cultural Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. She completed her Bachelors degree at Victoria in Psychology, Anthropology and Religious studies in 2009 and received a first-class honors degree in Psychology in 2013. She is currently part of an international project that looks at social norms/regulations in different cultures and is also working on a New Zealand project that is exploring the cultural nature of bullying in the New Zealand context. She is continuously inspired by travel – such as her trip to India and South America in 2012 – which helps put the academic knowledge into perspective.

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