Here is an exercise I’m planning to use in an upcoming revision. I figure that using extreme statements is the best way to awaken in students the importance of understanding their cultural attitudes and the consequences of such attitudes.
Exploring Cultural Attitudes
One of the best ways to appreciate the influence of culture on communication is to consider the attitudes people have about central aspects of culture. In a group of 5 or 6—try for as culturally diverse a group as possible—discuss how you think most of the students at your school feel (not how you feel) about each of the following. Use a five-point scale: 5 = most students strongly agree; 4 = most students agree; 3 = students are relatively neutral; 2 = most students disagree; 1 = most students strongly disagree.
_____ 1. Most people receiving welfare benefits don’t really want to work.
_____ 2. The issue of discrimination against women is overly exaggerated.
_____ 3. Homosexuals are mainly interested in having sex with many partners.
_____ 4. Minorities would be successful if they worked hard and stopped complaining.
_____ 5. Racism isn’t going to end overnight so minorities need to be patient.
_____ 6. Poverty is just a natural way of life for some people.
_____ 7. Most feminists are just too sensitive about sexism.
_____ 8. Both females and males are victims of sexism.
_____ 9. Gay rights means gay men and lesbians demanding special privileges.
_____ 10. All men and women have a choice to be homosexual or not.
_____ 11. Racism isn’t going to end overnight so minorities need to be patient.
_____ 12. Minorities have the same opportunity as whites to succeed in our society.
Attitudes strongly influence communication. Understanding your cultural attitudes is prerequisite to effective intercultural communication.
Source: These statements were taken from the Human Relations Attitude Inventory (Koppelman, with Goodhart, 2005). The authors note that this inventory is based on an inventory developed by Flavio Vega.