Similarities between Cultures

The two cultures I will be comparing in their perceptions of time are the United States and China. These two countries have vastly different cultures but they do share a few similarities when it comes to their perceptions of time.

Fung et al. (2001) found that older Chinese people showed a preference to fewer, more emotionally close partnerships and relationships as they aged than their younger counter-parts. This is because the older population viewed time as more limited than the younger participants, who viewed time as more open ended. This study was built off the Carstensen et al. (1999) study showing the same results among the American population. From these studies, it has been showed that the tendency to gravitate towards closer more personal relationships when time is viewed as limited is universal cross-culturally. This is because when the future is expansive, novel experiences with others are at a premium. Contact with a wide range of people helps individuals to prepare for an unknown future and the myriad experiences and challenges that await them. When time is limited, familiar social partners are valued because they are best able to influence emotional states and are realized immediately during the social exchange (Carstensen et al. 1999).

The United States and China are both thought to behave according to “clock time” rather than “event time.” (Brislin and Kim, 2003) If people in a culture behave according to clock time, this means that they focus on the times of scheduled appointments, make sure that their watches are running on time, and become irritated if others are careless about scheduled meetings. If people follow the culture of event time, then they organize their time according to various events and do not move on to the next event until the previous one is finished or completed. Clock Time cultures are generally in countries with large industrial economies that focus more on global business. Event time cultures tend to be more developing nations.