Cultural Differences

Cultural Differences or Child Abuse

Russian parents Aleksander and Anna prepare to bathe their 2-month-old Viktor in icy water in St. Petersburg, where the air temperature was 27 degrees. Viktor obviously prefers hot baths. Photo: Dmitry Lovetsky, Associated Press

We view the world through our own personal and cultural filter. We can’t help but do that. But put us in another cultural frame or time period, and we might be horrified at what we might witness. Consider this image: This baby is only two months old. And the people about to dip him into the freezing waters of St. Petersburg’s lake are his parents. I’ve been to this lake. I saw my own dad do the dip. He was a grown man at the time, and I still thought it was crazy. In Russia, the folksy wisdom is that such dips are good for you. But here, in U.S., the parents would be arrested, their son taken away by child protective services… It’s all relative! And here’s a few examples: /blog/2011/01/cultural-differences-or-child-abuse/

Going Potty…or iPotty!

Edge Designs Men's Restroom Mural

An iPotty App for kids learning to use a toilet: And here’s a bit for an older audience: Would it have worked if the sexes were reveres — images of staring men on the walls of women’s room? I don’t think so… And here’s a link to a previous post on this subject: Toilet Games

Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!

Who would have thought that our KFC fried chicken would be an object of desire in Japan? But perhaps all it takes is some very good PR (and some luck), and a product designed to please a very specific audience finds a new user group… Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas Dinner Japanese tradition started in 1974. While Japan is not a Christian nation — most Japanese (84% to 96%) identify themselves as Shinto or Buddhists — people do celebrate Christmas. There are Christmas office parties, people put up trees and give gifts, and families and friends eat Christmas dinners together. But unlike here in U.S., Christmas turkey dinners are not common — it is almost impossible to get a turkey at a local supermarket. To celebrate the Christmas spirit with an authentic American flavor, Japanese turn to KFC! The Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii — or Kentucky for Christmas — is so popular, that people have to order their Christmas fried chicken buckets a month in advance! This is the power of advertising.

Google Apps New Pay Policy and Behavioral Economics

Google Apps Icons

Yesterday, Google flipped a switched on its Google Apps policy — starting with December 7th, 2012, Google Apps will no longer be free! The change is for Google Apps for Business and it effectively ends the ability to create free accounts for groups of 10 or fewer users (here’s Google’s announcement). Individuals could still have a personal account, but businesses will have to pay $50 per user, per year… That is NEW business customers will have to pay — if you had a business account prior to the announcement, you get to keep it on the same terms you’ve signed up for — free! But all new Google Apps business customers from this point forward will pay to play. There’s a lot of chatter about whether Google’s customers will pay or walk away, but I’m interested in the behavioral economics analysis of this change. Allow me describe a few experiments on anchoring — the psychological phenomena where individuals get attached to the first result they witness and base their subsequent decisions on that original priming. The experiments I’m going to describe come from two books: Dan Ariely’s “Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions”…

Same Desire, Cultural Shift in Solution

Give cigarettes for christmas

Over time, some desires have stayed constant: an aversion to pain, a wish for health, a longing to be loved, and a craving for wealth, power, and youth. But desires are susceptible to cultural shifts, and so they shift with the whim of fashion: the need to be thin, the hope to fit the norms of current beauty, the yearning for popularity, an aspiration for fame. Each generation comes up with solutions for their desired that are based in the cultural soup that nourished them. What is a cultural soup? Well, it’s a heady mixture of the following: anxiety — each generation has their own issues that they loose sleep over. In addition to the ones that their parents experienced, each generation can choose and pick and invent their own worries. affordances — affordances are available actions that are mired in context and situation. As context changes, affordances evolve. Each generation sees a unique subset of problem solutions. emotional design — each generation is stirred by issues and fashion that are uniquely their own. Emotional design is by definition tied to a particular group of people, be they joined in time, cause, or geography. Social value, user satisfaction, and emotional…