Learn to understand people of other cultures

People of different nationalities, with unusual traditions and customs among us becomes more and more. How to learn to live together and understand each other better? Psychophysiology Victor Arshavskii offers a look at the problem from the point of view ... our brain.

Learn to understand people of other cultures


Why in the world today, where the distances are rapidly declining, civilization and culture converge and interact, we continue to divide people into "us" and "them"?

Victor Arshavskii:

It is in our nature. We are different from each other not only in appearance, character or religion, that we confess - our brain is wired differently! The right and left half of it, as is known, are asymmetric. In any complex mental activities are involved, both hemispheres of the brain, but some of us are active right, others - left. Right connects us with the outside world through images (all children are born right-brain and remain so until about 8-10 years). Thanks to the work of the left hemisphere, we understand other people and cultural codes, especially language. Ideally, each of us must be able to process the information of either the right or left hemisphere, depending on the requirements of a particular environment or situation. But it does not take place: one of them is turned on, which determines the type of thinking characteristic of the man. Moreover, we can assume that on this basis and divided civilization - western and eastern.

Learn to understand people of other cultures

Victor Arshavskii, Doctor of Biological Sciences, the author of the theory of search activity (together with For each characteristic of the two kinds of thinking?

VA .:

Exactly. Western civilization is oriented to actively change the world, biased analyzes causal relationships. It is based on linguistic and logical thinking, which is responsible for the left hemisphere. Some eastern civilization perceive the world as an unchanging reality and focus on human adaptation to it. To do this, they use mainly the possibility of spatially-shaped (hemispheric) thinking. The dominant type of thinking is passed from generation to generation.

Therefore, a person of another culture, and it seems to us to be inadequate?

Q. .:

So it is: it is inadequate for our perception of the world, just as we do - for him.

How to find a common language with those who see the world differently?

B. A .:

To begin, try not to interfere in his life. Here is an example: in Magadan, in Soviet times, I was a witness of the northern peoples of apartheid. Paleo-Asiatics, to which the majority of northerners - people with imaginative mindset. The Chukchi family mother did not tell the child: "Let us learn," she says, "Arise, and see." And here moved the Europeans - to work, and along with the missionary task: they came and acted as if he knew how to be better than the indigenous population. Children are illiterate - hence, they must be away from their mothers and placed in boarding schools. And the children of the Chukchi, driven by homesickness, early spring ran skiing on snow-covered tundra in their camps, for 100-200 kilometers. Once I asked one of the boys, he found his way home. He replied: "Tundra because it smells ..." These children have found a way to smell! Could Europeans understand them? Opposite example: the Danish government at the time strictly regulate the entry of Europeans in Greenland. As a result, fully adapted Eskimos retain their psychological status, perceived much-needed part of European culture. And the most striking example - the Japanese: they managed to preserve the traditions of their society, and as a result they led the country to the forefront of technological civilization. It turns out that the most meaningful - this is a long, nonviolent, patient penetration of one culture to another? But it takes a lot of time in Greenland ...

B. A .:

Or Yakuts that during three hundred non-violent Christianization acquired most adaptive mixed hemispheric type response.

But we seem to have this no: people from other cultures - is our housemates, equal partners for survival ...

B. A .:

While we perceive "alien" as an alien, and it remains a stranger - then there is a need to suppress it or to destroy. Each civilization developed its principles of thinking, their contact system, the features, ensuring optimal function under stress. We have to realize that our culture - not only possible norm. Everyday culture of virtually any modern civilization is focused on the contact to open people to each other. If you have taken at the entrance to greet, then you will naturally greet janitor-Tajik, and in response to meet a smile and good wishes. If there is no such rule - do not be surprised that the neighbors (no matter what nationality they may be) will treat you with suspicion.

The inhabitants of the Caucasus and Central Asia are focused on right-brain way of thinking, as well as other oriental culture?

B. A .:

Most probably yes. But, of course, rely on the fact that each of us, and especially society, building relationships with migrants, will always make allowances for physiological differences - a utopia. I am convinced that the only tool in solving this problem is tough legislation, prescribing general rules of conduct for all who live in the same territory. Perhaps not all of them - the citizens of this country, but all are required to clean up, for example, your dog, turn off loud music after eleven pm, or send their children to school. It must do everything, then there is no reason for conflict and aggression, anyway home. In fact, you are calling to learn just accept the world in all its diversity?

B. A .:

It's just the hardest part. But the most interesting! This is something that should be brought up from childhood. The ability to think in different coordinates, provides endless possibilities, it's very powerful reserve of our brain. We can agree only if agreed to develop two types of thinking available to us.