The Culture Map by Erin Meyer


“You have two eyes, two ears and one mouth, use them accordingly.”

  • What do you think this expression means?
  • Do you think the extent to which people subscribe to this belief is affected by cultural differences?
  • Do you know of any cultures where people listen more and talk less or vice versa?

“The goldfish is the last to discover water”

  • What do you think this expression means?
  • How might this relate to culture?
  • Why might this be a problem in understanding how culture affects behaviour?


  1. How was Bo Chen’s (‘Silent Bo’s’) behaviour affected by cultural norms? (p. 1-6)
  2. How was Erin’s (the storyteller’s) behaviour affected by her cultural norms? (P 1-6)
  3. Explain how cultural differences affected Sabine Dulac’s (‘Deaf Dulac”s) performance review. (p.6 onWards)
  4. Explain how a better understanding of cultural differences between French and American culture could have helped. (p. 9-10)
  5. Outline why it can be helpful to spend time immersed in a culture in order to avoid to avoid cross-cultural misunderstandings – (link to the Indian head-shake p. 11)
  6. Why is it ‘not enough’ to try and understand human behaviour by focusing on the individual. Why is an understanding  of cultural differences also necessary? (p.12-13). You might find it helpful to think about ‘fundamental attribution error’ and the fact that this is more common in Western societies.
  7. List the 8 scales that Meyer uses to compare cultures. p.16.
  8.  Looking at the diagram, List two scales on which the Russian and Israelis are similar and two where they are very different . p.17
  9. Draw a sketch to remind you about the normal distribution of attitudes, the normative response and a comparison of normative responses from different countries. (see fig 1.2- 1.4 p 19-21).
  10. Explain why an awareness of ‘cultural relativity’ is important. Use the example on p. 22 to help ( German, UK, French and Indian business people).
  11. Make a note about bi-cultural or indeed multi-cultural individuals.
  12. One criticism of cross-cultural studies in psychology is that they often lack an appreciation of regional differences within a nation; what can we learn about his criticism from the story of John Cleary (p.25).

Chapter 1

  1. Outline the story about the SWAGAT restaurant
  2. Outline the difference in what is deemed to be successful communication in the US as opposed to the East and some African and Latin American cultures.
  3. Kenji Takaki explains that people learn about their cultures as they grow up (enculturation); what does Kenji say is meant by ‘kuuki yomenai’ (KY); how does being a ‘KY guy’ or a ‘non-KY guy’ affect the way that people communicate?
  4. Explain the main difference between low context and high context cultures. Draw up a list of cultures/nations ranked from lowest to highest context.
  5. Give examples of explicit teaching about how to communicate successfully in low context cultures.
  6. Outline the ‘Mariam’ example of communication in a high context culture.
  7. Give examples of single words with multiple meanings in high context cultures. How does number of words in a language relate to high and low context?
  8. Explain what is meant by ‘sous-entendu’ and how this relates to high context culture. How does this relate to first and second degree messages?
  9. How does high/low context relate to a countries history and diversity?
  10. Outline Edward Hall’s analogy about marriage and how this relates to high/low context cultures.
  11. Give examples of the problems that can arise when low meet high and high meets low context communicators. (p 42).
  12. How is high/low context communication affected by level of education? (p44) Why do you think this might be?
  13. Make a note about sarcasm/irony in US and UK culture