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2014/2015  BA-BIMKV1003U  Complexity of cultures in East and in West : from the view of cultural psychology

English Title
Complexity of cultures in East and in West : from the view of cultural psychology

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration One Semester
Course period Spring, Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
Study Board for BA in Intercultural Marketing Communication
Course coordinator
  • Fumiko Kano Glückstad - Department of International Business Communication (IBC)
Main academic disciplines
  • Business psychology
  • Globalization, International Business, markets and studies
  • Communication
  • Marketing
  • Language and Intercultural Studies
Last updated on 19-05-2015
Learning objectives
At the end of the course the students will be able to:
  • define the concept of "culture" from the view of "social identity theory"
  • explain the complexity of cultures seen in the modern globalized society by applying the social identity theory
  • understand the recent cultural psychology research from the view of people's happiness and subjective well-being in East and in West
  • consider and reflect cultural aspects from the view of cultural psychology in the context of consumer-centric marketing communication
Analysis of marketing materials in East and West:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
In addition, materials which each student uses for his/her analysis should be attached to the written assignment.
Assignment type Written assignment
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter Term and Summer Term
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content and structure

The course focuses on marketing communication from the view of cultural psychology that reveals considerable variation in how people construe happiness and experience subjective well-being in East (e.g. Japan) and in West (e.g. Denmark, US).

In the contemporary globalized society, mobility of people having different values, attitudes and life-styles makes much complicated for both public- and private service providers to offer consumer-centric service and communication. If service is meant and designed for providing individuals’ happiness through their well-being, the happiness criteria should be investigated at individual levels. In this context, the definition of culture should be re-examined in a more complex manner

From the theoretical viewpoint, the course introduces several research articles with special focus on people's happiness and subjective well-being in cultural psychology  and the social identity theory (Tajfel, 1978; Turner, 1982; Staub, et al. 2004) that explain the complexity of cultures.  

On the basis of the aforementioned theories introduced, we will discuss how such cultural differences in East and in West influence on service providers' marketing practice by analyzing consumer products and audio/visual marketing materials introduced througout the course. Furthermore, we will discuss how to consider consumer-centric communication in consideration of the complexity of cultures seen in the modern globalized society.

The course is provided by a teacher who has obtained professional experience in consumer behavior research and product concept design with the Japanese largest consumer high-tech enterprise and in Japanese marketing coordination with a Danish high-tech enterprise for more than 10 years in total. Thus, it provides the students with opportunities for acquiring practical skills in identifying and analyzing cultural insights that are essential for business practices.

Teaching methods
The course employs diverse audio/visual marketing materials etc. in East (e.g. Japan) and in West (e.g. Denmark) from which the students can analyze important cultural dimensions introduced during the course and discuss how to design consumer-centric communication.

Tentative schedule (examples: may be changed without notice) :

1st lesson: "introduction to cultural psychology - happiness as keyword"

2nd lesson: "introduction to complexity of cultures (social identity theory)"

3rd lesson: "introduction to consumer-centric communication"

4th lesson: "happiness and unhappiness in East and in West"

5th lesson: "individualistic cultures vs. collectivist cultures"

6th lesson: introduction of the mid-term assignment and its preparation

One week break: mid-term assignment (one page assignment )
The students are asked to select their own material to work with for the rest of the semester - it is eventually used for the term-paper.

7th-8th lessons: "recent trend in happiness research: subjective well-being"

9th lesson: "consumer-centric marketing communication design: examples from a Japanese marketing company"

10th lesson: Summing up
Expected literature

(Tentative literature list: may be changed without notice)

Complexity of cultures:

Staub, D., Loch, K., Ev Aristo, R., Karahanna, E., Srite, M. (2002) Toward a theory-based measurement of culture. In: Journal of Global Information Management, Vol. 10 No.1, pp.13-23

Turner, J. C. (1982). Towards a Cognitive Redefinition of the Social Group. In H. Tajfel (Ed.), Social Identity and Intergroup Relations: 15-40. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Tams, S. (2013) Moving cultural information systems research toward maturity: A review of definitions of culture construct. In: Information Technology & People Vol. 26 No.4. pp.383-400

Tajfel, H. (1978). Differentiation Between Social Groups. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Happiness, well-being and cultural psychology:

Diener, E. (1984) Subjective well-being. In: Psychological Bulletin, 95. pp.542-575.  

Diener, E. & Diener, M. (1995) Cross-cultural correlates of life satisfaction and self-esteem. In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68. pp.653-663.

Diener, E., Emmons, R.A., Larsen, R.J., Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. In: Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71-75.

Uchida, Y. (2011) A holistic view of happiness: Belief in the negative side of happiness is more prevalent in Japan than in the United States. In: Psychologia, 53, pp.236-245.

Kitayama, S. & Uchida, Y. (2004) Interdependent Agency: An alternative System for Action. In R. Sorrentine, D. Cohen, J.M. Olson, & P. Zanna (Eds.), Culture and social behavior: The Ontario Symposium, (Vol. 10). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbraum

Kitayama, S. & Duffy, S. (2004) Cultural competence - Tacit, yet fundamental: Self, social relations, and cognition in the US and Japan. In R. J. Sternberg, and E. L. Gritorenko, (Eds.) Culture and competence: Contexts of life success. Washington DC: American Psychological Association

Kitayama, S., Snibbe, A.C., Markus, H.R., & Suzuki, T. (2004) Is there any "free" choise? Self and dissonance in two cultures. In: Psychological Science, 15(8) pp. 527-533.

Uchida Y. & Kitayama, S. (2009) Happiness and unhappiness in east and west: Themes and variations. In: Emotion, 9, pp.441-456.

Uchida, Y., Kitayama, S., Mesquita, B., Reyes, J.A.S., Morling, B. (2008). Is perceived emotional support beneficial? Well-being and health in independent and interdependent cultures. In: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 741-754.

Uchida, Y., Norasakkunkit, V., Kitayama, S. (2004) Cultural constructions of happiness: Theory and evidence. In: Journal of Happiness Studies, 5, pp. 223-239.

Fisher, R. & Boer, D. (2011). What is more important for national well-being: Money or autonomy? In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101. pp. 164-184. 

Lu, L. (2001) Understanding happiness: A look into the Chinese folk psychology. In: Journal of Happiness Studies, 2, pp. 407-432.

Lu, L., & Gilmour, R. (2004). Culture and conceptions of happiness: Individual oriented and social oriented SWB. In: Journal of Happiness Studies, 5, pp. 269-291.

Oishi, S. & Diener, E. (2001) Goals, culture, and subjective well-being. In: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, pp.1674-1682.


Oishi, S. & Schimmack, U. (2010) Culture and well-being: A new inquiry into the psychological wealth of nations. In: Perspectives of Psychological Science, 5, pp.463.471.

Ryff, C.D. (1989) Happiness is everything or is it? Exploration on the meaning of psychological well-being. In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, pp.1069-1081.

Snyder, C.R. (2002) Hope theory: Rainbows in the mind. In: Psychological Inquiry, 13, pp.249-275.

Research methods in psychology:

Morling, B. (2012). Research Methods in Psychology: Evaluating a World of Information (Chapters 2 and 3) New York: W.W. Norton.

Last updated on 19-05-2015