The Positive Effects of Cultural Immersion on Cross-Cultural Awareness and Knowledge
Fouch, Tiffany L.
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The most common type of cultural immersion today is study abroad. Dating back to when it first emerged in the 1960s, cultural psychology has always been very interested in the different ways humans interact (Markus, 2001). However, during its early stages of development, psychological research was mostly conducted in a controlled setting or laboratory (Markus). Today, cultural psychology has matured greatly and conducts many experiments in communities, with a much more integrative and hands-on approach. Cultural awareness, knowledge, and sensitivity are especially important in the political, business, and medical fields today where there are a greater number of interactions between different cultures. It has been found that active learning is much more effective than merely observational learning. In addition, it has been hypothesized that personality plays an important role in the effectiveness of immersion. Thus, this study attempted to incorporate total immersion versus just one aspect of it. Cultural immersion and personality can have a very positive effect on an individual’s level of both cultural knowledge and cultural awareness. It is important to understand cultures other than your own to prevent naivety. One way to gain both cultural knowledge and cultural awareness is through social interaction with other cultures. However, before this can be done it is also essential to understand yourself as well to make the most of the experience because the better we know ourselves, the better we can relate to and understand other people.
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