Cultural Bias

Dressed to Distract

Dowd, M., (2010). “Dressed to Distract.” NYTimes. Retrieved on July 1st, 2010, Summary: Good looks are an advantage to any woman, man or child (and maybe even animal) in this world. Research tells us that babies will look longer at a good looking parent, and the “good looking” babies receive the same preferential treatment. The University of Alberta put together a research team to carry out a study in a supermarket to see if parents gave more attention to their more attractive children. Team leader, Dr Andrew Harrell, says that just as other animals do, “…we tend to parcel out our resources on the basis of value.” Debrahlee Lorenzana, a single mother of 33, was fired from Citibank in August for “looking too sexy”, she claims. According to her lawyer, the shape of her figure made the clothing she chose to wear too distracting for the males in her workplace. Lorenzana wasn’t like other women who chose to come to work in low-cut tops and tight pants, but because of her hourglass figure, any well tailored clothing she wore was “too distracting”. This specific case is interesting because normally the attractive people get better treatment and evaluations at work.…

Mining the Web for Feelings, Not Facts

Wright, A. (2009). “Mining the Web for Feelings, Not Facts.” The New York Times.  Retrieved on 30 June, 2010. Online presence is a valuable commodity in today’s digital market.  As companies seek to track exactly how their brand is discussed via the web and where these discussions appear, it becomes apparent that even a team of employees devoted to such research cannot tackle the shear size of the medium.  Thus, algorithms are being employed by marketing research firms as well as companies themselves to handle not only the amount of information present on the Internet, but also in what context it amasses. These algorithmic tools are applied all over the web, but are concentrated on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as sites that allow large amounts of user-generated content. Theoretically, in this way a computer can track not only when a company is mentioned but also in what connotative context it appears. Differing from previous brand tracking, these new programs seek to determine subjective opinion as well as objective knowledge. By programming computers to scan the Internet for words that hold certain connotative meanings, marketers and brands can preemptively address user satisfaction issues as well as…

A Curiously French Complaint

Kirby, E. (2008). “ A Curiously French Complaint,” BBC News.  Retrieved on 2008/12/13. Summary: This article focuses on the cultural differences between the French and British populations in regards to their medical care. Each culture has their own script of understanding, which people rely to set their expectations during a medical crisis. The author Emma experienced a cultural ‘shock’ during her first encounter with a French doctor due to her vastly different set of expectations. She visits a doctor in France due to the severity of a sore throat, where she is “diagnosed with a severe lung infection, mild asthma and had in my hand a prescription for six different types of medicine, an appointment at the local hospital’s radiology department and an emergency referral to a specialist in pulmonary disease (article).” Upon her return to Britain a few days later, she visits her family physician, who within a few minutes diagnoses her with only a ‘common cold.’ Her article then explains how the French expect a much more sever diagnosis to support their physical suffering. France is also the leading country of consumers who take prescription medications. While in England, there’s a more ‘keep a stiff upper lip’…

Globalization and Cultural Errors

Jew's Ear Juice

There was a time when a product designed for a specific geopolitical region would have stayed there for the duration of its existence. With few exceptions, products didn’t travel the world to areas where they would be considered a fopaux. These products were cultural curiosities displayed by adventurous tourists for the pleasure and laughs of their friends and family. But things change. Product design and usability protocols now have to include culture experts. What works well in one place, for one group of users, at a particular time won’t do so under other circumstances.