According to a survey of more than 15,500 people across 11 cultures, 10 countries and eight languages who were asked to describe their cultures in their own words to outsiders, many cultures not only now resemble each other in key areas, but the characteristics they have in common are most pronounced in American culture.
The survey collected responses to a single, fill-in-the-blank question from nationally representative general population samples in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Australia, Mexico, Japan, Canada, and the U.S., which were then machine translated and analyzed by OdinText, a text analytics software platform that leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify meaningful patterns in unstructured (text) data.
“Those who say that globalization is diluting and blending the cultures of the world into one global melting pot culture may not be so far off,” said OdinText managing partner Tom H. C. Anderson.
“When we think about culture, it’s often in terms of food, music, customs, etc., but it turns out that when you ask people in countries around the world to describe their own culture in their own words, one nearly universal and unexpected attribute rises to the top: diversity/multiculturalism,” Anderson said.
More than 15,500 comments collected for the poll were aggregated into an international culture average and broken out for comparison at the country level. Analysis of the data indicated that the greatest similarities between cultures are also key attributes/characteristics they share with American culture as described by U.S. respondents.
“The U.S. appears to occupy the center of the culture universe in our data, which may not be a coincidence, as American culture could in many ways be considered the original ‘melting pot’ model, and culture is a major U.S. export,” said Anderson.
Responses were subsequently analyzed for significant patterns of emotional sentiment, which suggested that people’s perceptions of their culture are also strongly influenced by current affairs.
“How people talk about their culture depends largely on circumstantial factors that one wouldn’t normally associate with culture. For instance, Odin-Text identified high levels of ‘anger’ in descriptions of American culture by Americans, which upon closer inspection appears connected to the outcome of the presidential election,” said Anderson.