Why Do Americans Act Like That? Abstract

Culture is an aspect that defines people from different regions across the world. It is lack of understanding of the differences in culture and lack of exposure to them that leads to negative outcomes such as culture shock. Kohls tries to make it easier for people who may visit America or who may have Americans visit their countries to understand the American culture. He tackles several concepts in his discussion including personal control and responsibility, change, time, equality, individualism, self-help, competition, future orientation, action, informality, directness and materialism.
Why Do Americans Act Like That?
In line with personal control and responsibility, Americans believe that people turn out to be what they are because of their actions and not because of fate. I think this is realistic considering the fact that most of the most successful men and women in the U.S. did not depend on fate for success. The sentiments in the paragraph express belief in character and not uncontrollable circumstances. This is different from my culture because people are pretty superstitious and would readily blame failure and success to fate in some instances.
The discussion about change being seen as natural and positive claims Americans perceive change as being good all the time. I think the paragraph captures only the positive side of change. It does not capture negative change. The American culture is in this sense same as my culture but in my culture, there are some changes that are considered negative and are not seen as being good.
The discussion about time suggests that it is one of the most important aspects to be controlled. The paragraph captures the drive for productivity in America. It has gives the picture of a unified time culture. This is different from my culture because people seem to have their own senses of time and therefore there is a disparity in the way they spend their time either accomplishing things or building relationships.
Equality is the next concept and the author suggests that in most cases people are treated as equals rather than in different ways. I think the author presents equal public treatment as a hallmark in the US. I however feel that there are areas that have not been captured since there is a lot of generalization. In my culture, differential treatment is not so overt, but people with higher social ranks and from the high class are definitely treated better in some instances.
The next aspect is individualism and the author suggests that Americans highly value individual time and individual decisions. I think the paragraph has an indirect reference to democracy and personal choice. It reflects a society in which ideological influence over people`s thoughts and actions is minimal. This is different from my culture because people value communism, familial and friendship ties more than individualism.
The next paragraph outlines the level to which Americans value being self made. I think it suggests that people work hard to be what or who they want to be rather than dwell on associations with familial success. I think it suggests dissociation from sycophancy and misplaced credit. This is quite different from my culture because where I come from one person`s success may be seen as a group`s success in that if a family member succeeds, that may pass as the whole community`s success and they can take credit for it.
The next element discussed is competition and the author claims that the U.S. is open to free enterprise in areas such as arts, medicine, sports and education and this assists in bringing the best out of people. I think the paragraph directs attention to the freedom that people have to run good business in the U.S. It also directs attention to the entrepreneurial nature of U.S. citizens in my view. This culture is similar to mine because people with entrepreneurship skills have chances to invest in areas that they feel they can manage best.
The next aspect discussed is future orientation and it suggests that Americans are highly futuristic in their actions through planning and setting clear objectives. I think the author is right but claiming that a happy present largely goes unnoticed may not be 100% accurate. I think future planning is determined by past and present conditions and therefore they must be noticeable. Future orientation is also part of my culture because actions are based on particular targets at personal levels and other higher levels.
Americans are also said to be work oriented because they work hard through engaging in physical labor and they relax only to rejuvenate and regain energy for more action. I think the statement is reflective of a well establish working culture. I feel that it points to a reward driven culture in which people are driven by the outcomes of their actions. I would say the same about my culture because people engage in physical labor to earn a living.
Informality in areas such as dressing and addressing superiors is outlined as an overt American characteristic. I think it signifies flexibility in their perceptions and actions. To me, the author alludes to a liberal society where social norms do not form the basis for unnecessary restrictions. Informality in my culture is highly subjective because one has to be careful with whom to be informal and how far informality can be stretched.
Americans are also said to be direct and open when delivering both good and bad news and that those who use others to deliver their messages may be considered manipulative or untrustworthy. This is very interesting because the person who delivers the message seems to have effect that is as great as the message itself. The meanings deduced from the way messages are delivered uniquely stands out. In my culture it`s a bit different because several aspects are considered including the nature of the news, the person receiving the news and other aspects other than the message deliverer.
Last but not least is the concept of materialism and in this case Americans are said to be materialistic but this perception is said to be exaggerated by non-Americans. I think the author presents a clear picture of materialism being part of their lives and not as something unique. They value what they have because of what they have done to get it. The same can be seen in my culture because people want more material things and that is one drive for working hard.
Kohls, R. (2011). Why Do Americans Act Like that? A Guide to Understanding U.S. Culture and Its Values. San Francisco: San Francisco State University.