and Gratch, 2006) combines appraisal theory (Scherer et al., 2001) with standard AI plan representations to model relationships between an agent’s goals and emotions. Finally, the cultural-cognitive architecture (Taylor et al., 2007) builds on schema theory (D’Andrade, 1992) and uses the SOAR architecture to model culturally specific behavior schemas or scripts.
Culture is one of the more complex and interesting elements of human social behavior. Even the definition of the term “culture” is hotly debated. Geert Hofstede (1994), a widely known researcher of culture, defines it as “the collective programming of the mind that separates one group of people from another.” Following in this vein, we define culture more specifically as the aspects of physical appearance, internal knowledge, and external behavior common to a cultural group. A cultural group is defined as a group of people who identify with the group through a shared trait, such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, “regionality,” age, economic status, social class, education, or occupation.
Individuals belong to many different cultural groups simultaneously. Current theories of culture propose that, in any given situation, an individual selects a dominant cultural identity trait, which plays a primary role in influencing his or her behavior (DiMaggio, 1997). In the Culturally Affected Behavior (CAB) Project at the University of Southern California, we distinguish between culture and personality. Culture denotes the aspects of appearance, reasoning, and behavior that are common to a group; personality denotes the aspects of appearance, reasoning, and behavior that are specific to an individual and by which that individual defines his or her identity within the group.
Previous research on culture in the fields of psychology, sociology, and anthropology can be divided into two general categories. In one category, researchers (e.g., Hofstede) attempt to identify the high-level cultural parameters (such as power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation) that characterize a culture. This is the cultural equivalent of the Myers-Briggs personality test (Myers, 1962). Researchers in the second category focus on detailed aspects of culturally influenced behavior (such as greetings and polite or impolite gestures) (D’Andrade, 1992; DiMaggio, 1997).
Unfortunately, it is not feasible to derive low-level details of culturally influenced behavior solely from high-level cultural parameters. Hofstede’s five dimensions of culture do not provide enough information for us to derive, for example, that in Muslim cultures women should not initiate a handshake when greeting a man. However, Hofstede’s masculinity dimension (which is generally very high in Muslim cultures) could be used as an indicator that culturally important details are involved in a woman greeting a man. The masculinity dimension might also suggest that Hindu cultures, which have similar masculinity values, might share many details in this area with Muslim cultures.
Thus high-level theories can provide useful indicators and parallels that could make it less difficult to create cultural-behavior “modules” that encode the details of culturally influenced behavior. At the very least, high-level theories indicate