How Culturally Sensitive Are You?

How strongly do you agree with each of the following statements?
On the line before each statement, record your level of agreement on a 1–5 scale. Higher numbers mean you agree more, and lower numbers mean you agree less.

1. I enjoy interacting with people from different cultures.
2. I am pretty sure of myself when interacting with people from different cultures.
3. I rarely find it very hard to talk in front of people from different cultures.
4. I like to be with people from different cultures.
5. I respect the values of people from different cultures.
6. I tend to wait before forming an impression of people from different cultures.
7. I am open-minded to people from different cultures.
8. I am very observant when interacting with people from different cultures.
9. I respect the ways people from different cultures behave.
10. I try to obtain as much information as I can when interacting with people from different cultures.

When you’re done, add all your scores together. Your result should be between 10 and 50. This is your total intercultural sensitivity score. If your score is above 35, you find it relatively easy to interact with people from other cultures. If your score is between 25 and 35, you are sometimes comfortable in intercultural conversations, but they make you uncomfortable from time to time. If your score is below 25, you probably haven’t had a great deal of experience around people from other cultures, so you tend to fi nd intercultural conversations challenging.
No matter how we score, however, we can all improve our cultural sensitivity. We begin this process by learning as much as we can about the values, customs, beliefs, and behaviors that characterize other cultures. The information we have covered thus far in this chapter provides a good start toward helping you maximize your cultural sensitivity.

Masculine behavior in adulthood includes being a leader, being a breadwinner, and focusing more on action than on talk. Like most things, masculinity has its good and bad points. For instance, the emphasis on strength and dominance can motivate and enable men to protect themselves and their families against threats. Thinking logically can help solve problems, and being willing to take risks can help someone achieve things he or she didn’t believe were possible.

Masculine role expectations can also pose problems, however. For example, the emphasis on independence may keep men from asking for help—such as medical care—when they need it.38 Focusing on competition and aggression can put men in harm’s way and may account for the fact that men are more likely than women to be victims in every type of violent crime except rape.39 Men are also much more likely than women to commit violent crimes. Masculinity also emphasizes risk taking; therefore, men are more likely than women to smoke, drink excessively, drink and drive, and fail to use seatbelts and sunscreen, and also more likely not to exercise, all of which increase their chances of illness, injury, and premature death.

The feminine gender role. The set of role expectations a society typically assigns to women is called femininity, although this term can characterize either sex. Like masculinity, femininity varies somewhat from culture to culture. In general, the feminine gender role typically emphasizes empathy and emotional expressiveness, a focus on relationships and relational maintenance, an interest in bearing and raising children, and attentiveness to appearance. Traditional femininity also emphasizes cooperation and submissiveness and tends to downplay intellectual achievement and career ambition.

Like masculinity, femininity has its pros and cons. The focus on caregiving has helped to ensure the survival of countless generations of children and families. The emphasis on empathy and relationships has allowed women to build strong, intimate friendships with one another and to excel at careers that require interpersonal sensitivity, such as teaching and counseling. Emphasizing cooperation instead of competition has probably also helped women to solve interpersonal problems in mutually beneficial ways.

Traditional femininity can also impose limits on the choices and options available to women. In the past it has discouraged many women from pursuing their education and achieving their career goals out of the belief that a woman’s proper place is in the home. In addition, the emphasis on appearance has placed tremendous pressures on many women to achieve certain body types. As a result, women are far more likely than men to develop depression and eating disorders. The focus on submissiveness has also made it difficult for some women to leave abusive relationships.

The androgynous gender role. Masculinity and femininity are, to a large extent, opposing concepts; that is, part of what makes a trait masculine is that it is not feminine, and vice versa. Not everyone is best described as either feminine or masculine, however.
Rather, some people seem to have both characteristics. For example, a woman might love children yet be very assertive, logical, and unemotional in her job. Similarly, a man may be strong and independent while still being sensitive and caring deeply and expressively for his friends. Androgyny is the term used to describe the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics. When a person strongly identifies with both gender roles, we say that he or she is psychologically androgynous.