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Cross-Cultural Social Attitudes Activities


These four activities can be used to educate students on how and where social attitudes differ across cultural contexts. Before doing any of the activities, instructors should make sure they are familiar with the World Values Survey online database.

Estimated time

Activity A should take approximately 20-45 minutes of class time. Activities B, C  and D are designed to serve as part homework assignment, part in class discussion. The in-class discussion aspects should take approximately 30-60 minutes. 

Group Size

Activities A, B, & D work best by dividing the class into groups of 4-6 students. Activity C would be best suited for a group of 30 or less

Overview of Activities

The goal of Activity A is to allow students to get a basic grasp on where social attitudes differ globally, using attitudes towards gay people as an example. (The activity can be easily modified to address another social group.)

Activity B also uses attitudes towards gay people as an example to give students the opportunity to take the perspective of a sexual minority of a different culture in order to gain insight on how sexual minorities' experiences vary cross-culturally.

The goal of Activity C is to have students study and understand people's experiences (in this example, sexual minorities) cross-culturally through a sociopolitical lens.

Activity D allows instructors to easily modify the above activities to address other social issues addressed by the World Values Survey. The online database is very user friendly.


Activity A/D: Divide students into groups of four to six. Show students the list of countries included in the World Values Survey (see Table 1 on Activity Sheet) and ask them to predict which three countries hold the least accepting and which three hold the most accepting attitudes toward their chosen social construct. Ask them to justify their choices based on what they have learned about cross-cultural similarities and differences.

Next, provide the link for the online database and ask students to select the six countries they chose for one of the waves. Then, ask them to rank order a subset the actual data for one of the social attitude items. This can be easily done by clicking on the interactive map or by scrolling down the list by country name. Students can discuss how well the results match their predictions and the reasons for the match or mismatch. They can also discuss the cultural factors that might influence which countries' citizens are most and least accepting. 

Activity B: Assign each student to a different country from the most recent wave of the World Values Survey database. Select a range of countries (e.g., very accepting to not at all accepting). Have students look up statistics regarding social attitudes, for example, toward homosexuality, in their assigned country. Students might also cross these attitudes by a number of participant demographic variables (e.g., sex or age) or by responses to variables that are generally correlated with social attitudes; possible variables from Wave 6 include human rights (V142), religiosity (V150-V156), sex before marriage (V206), couples living together before marriage (V43) and women's roles (V45, V47-V54). 

As a homework assignment, ask students to write a one-page, single-spaced diary entry from the perspective of a minority group member (for example, sexual minority) from their assigned country who is of their same age. The entry should address the hardships (or lack thereof) that a sexual minority in the student's assigned country might face. For the next class meeting, assign students to groups of four to six and ask them to role-play the person they wrote about. In each group, include students who were assigned to more or less accepting countries. 

Activity C: Have students identify five countries with the least accepting attitudes, using the map feature for either of the social attitudes variables. Have them also explore at least one other variable that has been found to be correlated with these attitudes (see Activity B). As a homework assignment, have students prepare a presentation that they would give to the United Nations about the experiences of people in those countries. Their presentation should include recommendations for public policy changes that would support human rights; these should be connected to the results of psychological science research and to concepts covered in your classes.