Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate June 2001

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"Similarity in Perceptual Orientations really struck my interest. " This concept refers to a person's prevailing approach to reality and the degree of flexibility he manifests in organizing it."(Barnlund, 31.) Due to this very general concept, I feel that the ideal behind perceptual orientation being related to culture is subject to question. Firstly, I feel that anyone from any culture can share this type of concept because it is not necessarily based on culture, but on mindset, and though people of other countries may have different influences, they can share the same frame of mind: either that change is good, or the familiar is more comfortable.

According to the concept of perceptual orientation, a person can be perceived from two different standpoints. On the one hand, a person can be very open-minded about the world and different environments that are contained within it. They are willing to take many risks and try new things when in relation to culture or lifestyle.

They are able to escape from their own cultural bubble and explore the world. Drawn to new things, they are intrigued by a vast variety of different and opposing cultures in seeking diversity. On the other hand there are certain people who are much less narrow-minded when it comes to attempting to gain a certain "worldliness." They are not willing to commit their lives to different lifestyles and are not comfortable giving up the old and starting out with the new, culturally speaking. They prefer to stick within their own cultural comfort zone where everything has remained constant, for the most part, and familiar. These types of individuals are relentlessly seeking to verify their past experiences.

Though the actual phrase "perceptual orientation" was new to me, the concept itself seemed very proverbial. Throughout the course of my life I have known many people, and although they have for the most part been culturally homogenous (New England, USA), I feel that this type of concept may well apply to them. One interesting additive concerning this concept which makes it all the more confusing is that hit is hard to tell whether of not a person who exemplifies themselves as they type of person who is culturally diverse, or comfortable adjusting to his/her cultural surroundings is actually so. There seems to be a definite drawn between those wanting others to believe as though they are worldly, and those who actually are. This type of circumstance I do not believe is related to culture itself however.

Whether in the USA or India, I believe that there are people who have the mind set on worldliness as well as homeliness. I don't think it necessarily depends on what type of culture within which one is raised. No matter where they come from, a certain person can be very adventurous, another can be very simpleminded, and yet another can be shun the idea of being narrow minded, but when it comes down to it, they are all but culturally adventurous. The issue here is how can one perception be defined accurately when one has not had the opportunity to experience different lifestyles? How is it examined one way or another? Certain people can act very open minded and seek out new cultures and diversity, but the true test is to put them in a new environment. They may be acting or believing themselves to be open minded under false pretenses. They might be trying to change or adapt from there old narrow-minded ways. Although, as hard as they try, many will not be able to comfortably leave their cultural bubble. For example, my brother and I planned a trip to Ireland two summers ago. We were going to visit and tour the Southern part of the country by hiking and camping, whatever way we could experience the land and the culture to the fullest extent. My friend decided she wanted to come with us, so she did. Once we got there we realized she was not taking in any of the culture, she refused to do the things we wanted to do in order to experience the culture first hand. It didn't take me long to figure out that she went purely to say she was in Ireland, to say she tried new and exciting things. She had no intention of identifying with other cultures, taking advantage of new experiences or a broadened horizon when concerning ideas. I realized that she was very narrow-minded and she wasn't seeking to find new understandings. However, I did not dislike her for her differences from my brother and I. I understood that some people were uncomfortable outside of their own reality. I just wish that she had been honest with herself in realizing that.

I know many people like this; they say one thing and do another. This makes me wonder how, when looking at similarity of perceptual orientation; it is identified as fake or real? Subconsciously someone could think that they were searching for diversity, they could be well traveled, and at the same time be searching to confirm past experiences, and not be open to adjusting to the cultures that they have experienced. They feel intriguing when they say they have seen eleven countries. How is one classified if they think they are one way, but in reality they are the exact opposite? In the article, it says that people can shift or sway from one side to another. Are there some though that really feel they are one way and live in a false world acting as something they are not? If so, how is that identified? I have a friend who I know that honestly believes she is very diverse and willing to seek out new adventures, cultures, etc. On the other hand when it comes down to it she is very stuck in her stable physical and emotional setting, and does not welcome new material or intellectual challenges. I just wonder if a person themselves can identify truthfully, exactly what they are. It seems that many people change there lifestyles to fit the needs of others, or they change to be someone they are not, to appear more intriguing. Someone can act as one thing, but in realty be something totally the opposite. So, how can one really classify anyone as anything? When it comes to systems of beliefs, I feel that there is no way to classify anyone's view of the world. First of all, it cannot be limited to culture in the sense that people from the USA and India could share these similar feelings; either the need to become more diverse, or the need to verify the past. People are constantly changing either from new experiences, perhaps a boyfriend or a sibling's influences, which often cause them to think another way. Some people chance their views of sex or divorce just to be able to fit in with a person with different views or way of life. The article mentions that they surveyed people and asked them to put things in the order of importance to them, and the results were that people tend to find satisfying relationships with someone that shares their own beliefs. In my experience, I find that that is usually true. I tend to share fulfilling relationships with people that have similar beliefs, values and aspirations as I do. I don't feel that this has anything, however, to do with culture. I think that most often the entire world is searching for this type of relationship. I do, however, often question whether the people really do have the same feelings on issues, or really do share have my similar beliefs. I have seen so many times people changing because they either think your way is better than theirs or they change just to agree with you. That is the reason I wonder if it is even worthwhile to form concepts especially based on cultural differences, because in the end it is frame of mind that makes one either simpleminded or excited by change.