Culture and perception are inextricably linked, because it is through people’s own culture that they view and perceive themselves and others in the world, as well as events and social and political happenings. Culture includes people’s background and upbringing as well as their religious and political beliefs. It also is based on factors such as a person’s gender, race, ethnicity and nationality. Although people can easily develop an appreciation for and understanding of diverse cultures, their perception of people — as well as their perception of historical and social events — and their actions and beliefs likely will be heavily colored or influenced by their own culture.
People analyze what they observe and experience through their own cultural background, meaning culture and perception play a vital role in how people interpret and understand the world around them. Words or behaviors, such as hand gestures, that may be considered offensive or rude in one culture may be considered neutral and go unnoticed or be considered positive in another culture. While it is considered polite in some cultures to burp after eating a meal, for instance, this is considered crude and socially unacceptable behavior in other cultures. The perception that people have of the world around them is often colored by their religious or political beliefs, so culture and perception also are connected in this way. Some people believe, for example, that the government should use money collected from taxpayers to help those in need, while others perceive this as promoting dependence on government handouts and condoning laziness.
As an example of how culture and perception are connected, certain things that are deemed acceptable in one culture might be considered entirely unacceptable in another culture. For example, some cultures condone and regularly practice arranged marriages, whereby a female is told by her family whom she will marry — usually a male from a family with similar social and economic standing. The marriage, in fact, may be arranged by the parents of both the male and the female, neither of whom has a choice in the matter.
In such as case, the parents think they are doing the right thing by arranging a marriage that will contribute to their children’s futures. In other cultures, the idea of arranged marriages is perceived as wrong, if not taboo, and may even be considered an abhorrent idea that goes against the idea of human rights and freedom. It all comes down to a matter of culture and perception.