Why do people describe the same thing in dissimilar ways?

Seeing things differently

Does your background, life experience and current position in life shape how you might see and describe the exact sam thing differently from someone else?

Can the way an ordinary lightbulb is described help us reflect on how the diversity of worldviews causes people to think of and talk about the same thing in very different ways?

light bulb with the
words This is not a light bulb on it
Graphic used with permission of Sodexho Marriott Services (who do, by the way, run the food services at Southern Nazarene University).

This graphic came from a Sodexho Marriott Services advertisement in a magazine. It appeared as a full-page ad in Hemispheres, the inflight or onboard magazine of United Airlines.

The advertisement noted the ways three people with different job responsibilities might describe a lightbulb:

The ad's punch-line was "To us, it's the importance of seeing things differently."

Your assignment:

Describe this object in two or more different ways without using the word "lightbulb." Tell what kind of person would be most likely to use each of your descriptions.

When you have finished writing your descriptions, check out here below how a V.P. of Finance, a Risk Manager and a Director of Engineering might each have described a common lightbulb

Purpose of assignment:

To illustrate and reinforce how the categories and models we formulate from our experiences then influence how we continue to see and describe the "real world." This exercise can, in a very small way, aid in understanding the idea that we see things through a cultural lens. That lens shapes our "worldview."

Responses given in the Sodexho Marriott Services ad

To a V.P. of Finance, it's an energy conservation opportunity.

To a Risk Manager, it's a critical safety device.

To a Director of Engineering, it's code LB36-85/N7 in the electrical monitoring software.

    -- Howard Culbertson

Turn on your imagination

NextSuppose you were "beamed" into a McDonald's restaurant from a distant planet. What would you conclude about earth's people? [ more ]


Cultural Anthropology course resources:    Cultural bingo icebreaker    Bwanda Fusa game    Cultural anthropology case studies     Christianity and culture     Culture shock    Ethnocentrism     Exam study guides    Models of culture     World mission outreach and culture     My own culture shock experience    PowerPoints used in class    Research paper topic ideas