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THE INFLUENCE OF CULTURE ON HUMAN BEHAVIORpdf print preview print preview
21/04/2015Page 2 of 2
 
Showing of affection: Showing affection in public between men and women is not acceptable, even between husbands and wives. Men may hold hands (no sexual implications) or even hug, but male/female relationships are much more strictly controlled. Hugging is not commonly done except by very dear friends.
In contrast, the American insistence on hugging is often very discomforting to many Ghanaians. Our culture frowns on the use of using the terms "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" because they carry the idea of sexual involvement. People who break these cultural norms are seen to be deviants. But due to the dynamism of culture and the influence of globalization, publicly showing affection is gradually becoming a thing of the past.

Respect for the elderly: Culturally people who criticize the behaviors of the elderly are seen to be disrespectful. We are expected to accept the advice of the elderly as and when it is given, even when we do not agree. A younger person addressing (an older one) as old as the father or mother must show appropriate difference. This norm is widely accepted and has been practiced from time immemorial.

Humor, teasing and abusive words: Ghanaians love to laugh and have fun, but humor is usually not bi-cultural, that is, it does not cross cultural boundaries. What is funny in one language may be insulting in another. Teasing especially, can be misunderstood. We are expected to observe and learn. Do not attempt jokes unless you catch on to the style of humor. Many feelings have been hurt due to improper expression of humor. Our culture frowns on comparison especially of people to animals. In our day to day life our behavior is not expected to be judgmental and arouse strong language, such as "fool, stupid, crazy," for many words have different meanings in different societies. Certain words are considered profane in our culture but in other cultures seen as pious. Sexuality is not a topic to be treated in public easily but very easy in other non-Ghanaian Cultures.

Shouting or displaying loud, boisterous behavior: Shouting is considered of poor taste, especially for women. Whenever we are in public, we are expected to be cautious and careful, normally exhibiting a quiet, friendly attitude.

Use of titles when addressing someone. Anyone older than oneself must be
addressed as "brother" or "sister" at the very least. In our culture you will hear terms like "senior brother, elder, mother, father, uncle, auntie," etc. the extreme case of disrespect is when one fails to mention the name of a Chief or Traditional Leader without the appropriate tit1e such as Otumfuo, Daasebre, Odeneho, Nii, Togbui, etc. and ones failure to regard these titles is tantamount to embarrassment in public and sometimes serious consequences.

Dressing: It is unacceptable for women, particularly young women, to wear clothes of a revealing nature. Female clothing that would be acceptable in the West (shorts, low- cut strapped tops, etc.) is not socially acceptable in Ghanaian society. Similarly, it is unacceptable for men to be bare-chested in public and also unacceptable for Ghanaian men, to a lesser degree. Ghanaian social norms are sometimes difficult to establish, as younger adults are generally much less inhibited about wearing revealing clothing or being shirtless, while older Ghanaian citizens may find such apparel on Ghanaians, and
foreigners of any nationality or race, to be insulting. A general rule is to dress
conservatively, unless in the company of people of one's own gender or age, with whom one is well-acquainted.

Scientists have showed that through genes individuals are most likely to behave like their parents even when they do not share the same culture for a very long time, but culture and lifestyle have the great impacts on behavior. Ghana contains great diversity of ethnic groups. In spite of its disparate origins and arbitrary boundaries, we have developed a modest degree of national coherence.
Since independence, Ghanaian leaders have strengthened national integration, especially through the expansion of the educational system and the reduction of regional inequalities through the use of culture. From all the typical Ghanaian behaviors explained above, it is evident that Culture influences the pattern of living, consumption and decision making by individuals. These are some of the great extents to which culture affects our behavior.
The people of Ghana must recognize that our culture is the basis of, and the
Most important factor in the nation’s human and material development. Thus our history, cultural values and institutions must continue to exercise a deep influence on the nation’s destiny and play a key role in governance and national life.
It is for this reason that Institutions such as the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, the National Commission on Culture and its Regional Centres and other related Agencies were established to promote our rich culture. I urge all stakeholders to come on board to promote the distinct Ghanaian Culture in this era of globalization and cultural dynamism in order to maintain our unique identity.


Article by: ISAAC OFOSU OBIRI

REFRENCE: DiMaggio, P. 1997. Culture and cognition. Annual Review of Sociology 23: 263–287.
http://www.ghanaculture.gov.gh
http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/02/world/africa.
 
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