As we started off by sharing our own international experiences, we noticed that a surprising number of BAAPT members and attendees have lived in different cultures. We learned how culture affects the development of identity. With index cards, we identified personal information – such as our type preferences and our hometown – while also listing our impressions of our own culture. After sharing these descriptions in our temperament groups, we noticed striking similarities and differences. One interesting contrast was an emphasis on “self reliance” and an analysis of regional and demographic cultural differences with the NT groups, while the NF groups shared other aspects, such as “spiritual poverty” and “freedom”. Interestingly, there was broad consensus on all descriptions used to describe our culture. One interesting conclusion about American culture was that there is a duality and tension between freedom and productivity which speaks to the contrast between the freedom to pursue one’s goals and aspirations with the need to control the outcome.
Doris also showed us examples of individuals with different types adjusting as expats in different cultures around the world. Using the “Cultural Self-Awareness Toolkit” handout, we learned how different types of communication and cultural characteristics are on a continuum. We reviewed this worksheet while looking at potential scenarios. For instance, if you are in a car with a friend, and he or she hits another car, would you agree to lie for the friend? Answers to this type of question are different across cultures – and they depend on how the culture prefers to apply rules – Universal vs. Particular. Similarly, we discussed differences with handling of public/private space (Specific vs. Diffuse), and personal orientation (Individual vs. Community). While these differences may appear like individual type preferences, it is important to consider that these cultural dynamics play a role in an individual’s personality – regardless of their type preferences.
-- Mit Kumarasamy