From an analysis of the posters, I soon found out that Westerners wanted to see the reality while people from the Eastern region of the world wanted to be the reality. For example, one poster said “I am a princess. Therefore it shouldn’t be over 19.8 degrees. Keep it 19.8 degrees I can allow you to have me”. As one can see, this poster is more participative because the audience is presumed to be the subject. One denotes this from the use of the words ‘I’, ‘you’ and ‘me’. It calls the female involved a princess and goes on to use that as a way of determining her actions.
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There is an element of fantasy in this poster and it appears as though audiences may be comfortable with that fact. Conversely, a Swiss advert would say “Extra fruit and fresh for longer”. This is a more realistic description because the advert focuses on the practical aspects of the drink. Ji et. al (145) explain that Americans tend to be less holistic and more analytic while the reverse was true among persons from Hong Kong. In this regard, it would make more sense to the westerner if an advert focused more on realistic aspects than fantasy. On the other hand, because of the inclination of Easterners towards the holistic then it is possible to understand why they are more accepting of unrealistic posters (Nisbett, 203).
It is also clear that westerns posters are more focused on the object under discussion while the Eastern counterparts prefer to dwell on memory and things that people have experienced before. An Eastern poster on an alcoholic drink stated that “I was too shy. If I’m braver, our relationship could develop from a timid relationship to a closer relationship”. The words ‘I was’, If I’m’ denote the fact that the poster is appealing to the memory of past events.
Experience is an important part of the Easterner’s way of life and theirs’ is an indirect way of getting the message across. It is interesting to note that no mention of the actual drink has been done in this advertisement. On the other hand, a Western poster from Switzerland described the drink as follows: “With extra surplus yeast”. This implies that westerners prefer to look at aspects and attributes of the object under discussion. A study on the cultural variations of American and Japanese mothers revealed that American mothers labeled objects more frequently than their Japanese counterparts when talking to their infant (Fernald & Morikawa, 653).
It is this cultural inclination that continues in adults and it explains why posters are very keen on objects. In this same study, it was illustrated that Japanese mothers focused more on empathy routines towards toys than did American mothers. For instance, they would prod their children to ‘give the toy love’ while American mothers would simply focus on the nice features of the toy (Fernald & Morikawa, 654). This explains why Easterners tend to focus more on the memory of things rather than their description even in posters.
A Western poster will have a distinct and clear message of an occurrence concerning an object. On the other hand, eastern posters will look at a complex distribution of consequences of the events. Therefore, they have a broader focus than their counterparts. For example, an Eastern poster once said that ” ‘See you soon’ is just empty talk. If you miss each other, it is always better to say let’s go for a drink today”. The poster is talking about an alcoholic drink but this has been mentioned last.
The major emphasis is really on the consequences of not having the drink. The event of ‘going for a drink’ has a series of consequences which are the focal point of the discussion. On the other hand, A Swiss advert stated that “Erobert Lautrer won hearts by storm”. In other words, the focus is on what happens at the time of taking the beer. Little emphasis has been given to the broad consequences of doing so.
It is also clear that Eastern posters attribute behavior more broadly than Western posters because here, situational factors play the biggest role. A western poster stated that “this is beer” and illustrated that the situation at hand is what is most important to western audiences. On the other hand, an Eastern poster would state “Good to see you. Thank you. I love you. Take care. It is always better to clink a glass than saying a word.” The actual behavior under discussion here is taking a drink.
However, they relate it to a myriad of things such as; meeting a friend, thanking someone or being with a lover. These are all very broad attributions of behavior. Peng and Knowles (1279) explain in their study of culture and attribution of physical causality than Americans focus more on causality while Easterners focus more on the context of the physical event. This is why Easterners’ posters tend to dwell more on context. This is also backed up by findings from research carried out by Maddux and Yuki (680) who explain that there is a significant difference in the manner in which Americans and East Asians perceive consequences of events. The latter is aware of the distant and indirect consequences of actions while the former will engage more in the direct consequences.
Lastly, the analysis also revealed that Eastern posters utilize more calligraphy than western posters. This may be explained by a study carried out by Ishii et al. (13) which found that western cultures (specifically Americans are more attuned to word content than vocal content. The reason the Swiss posters lacked calligraphy could be that its audiences are more interested in the actual content of the message rather than how it is presented unlike in the Eastern, high context cultures.
Ji, L., Nisbett, R., Zhang, Z. Culture, language, and categorization. Michigan; University of Michigan, 2001.
Ishii, Keiko., Reyes, Jose & Kitayama, Shinobu. Spontaneous attention to word content versus emotional tone: differences among three cultures. Psychological science (in press), 2003.
Fernald, Anne & Morikawa, Hiromi. Common themes and cultural variations in Japanese and American Mothers Speech to infants. Child development 64(1993): 637-656.
Maddux, William and Yuki, Masaki. The ripple effect in cultural difference in perception of the consequences of events. Personality and social psychology bulletin 32.5(2006): 669-683.
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Nisbett, R. The Geography of thought: how Asians and westerners think differently.. and why. NY: Free press, 2003.
Peng, Kaipang & Knowles, Eric. Culture education and attribution of physical causality. Society for personality and social psychology 29.10(2003):1272-1284.