Don't miss the special BONUS offer during our Beta-test period. The next 100 new Registered Users (from a unique IP address), to post at least five (5) piglix, will receive 1,000 extra sign-up points (eventually exchangeable for crypto-currency)!

* * * * *    Free Launch Promotions    * * * * *

  • $2,000 in free prizes! is giving away ten (10) Meccano Erector sets, retail at $200 each, that build a motorized Ferris Wheel (or one of 22 other models) ... see details

  • Free Ads! if you are a business with annual revenues of less than $1M - will place your ads free of charge for up to one year! ... read more

Cultural schema theory

Cultural schema theory (Nishida, 1999) explains the familiar and pre-acquainted knowledge one uses when entering a familiar situation in his/her own culture. Cultural schemas for social interaction are cognitive structures that contain knowledge for face-to-face interactions in a person's cultural environment. Schemas are generalized collections of knowledge of past experiences that are organized into related knowledge groups; they guide our behaviors in familiar situations. Cultural schemas do not differ from other schemas, except that they are shared by certain cultural groups rather than individuals (Garro, 2000). Schemas unique to individuals are created from personal experiences, whereas those shared by individuals are created from various types of common experiences (Garro, 2000). Cultural schema theory proposes that when we interact with members of the same culture in certain situations many times, or talk about certain information with them many times, cultural schemas are created and stored in our brain (Nishida, 1999).

Cultural schema theory may be a relatively new theory, but neither schema nor cultural schema are new concepts.

The idea of schemas existing as ideal types in the mind dates back all the way back to Plato (see also and Schema (psychology)) . In the 19th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant developed the idea that every person's experiences are gathered in memory, forming higher order concepts. In the 1920s Jean Piaget's work investigated schemas in infants. In the 1930s Frederic Bartlett tested memory for schemas. From the 1970s to the 1990s, many researchers obtained loads of evidence showing that people's behaviors are deeply embedded to what they store in their brains. Through these studies researchers learned that human behavior relies heavily on past experiences and the knowledge stored in one's brain.

Research also revealed that schemas operate at many different levels. The experiences which are unique to individuals allow them to acquire personal schemas. Societal schemas may emerge from a group's collective knowledge and are represented across the minds in a society, enabling people to think as if they are one mind (Malcolm & Sharifian, 2002). However, when one's cultural environment provides experiences to which every member of that culture is exposed, their experiences allow every member to acquire cultural schemas (Nishida, 1999). Cultural schemas are structures which enable individuals to store perceptual and conceptual information about their culture and interpret cultural experiences and expressions. If people are not equipped with the appropriate cultural schema, they may not be able to make sense of culturally unfamiliar situations (Malcolm & Sharifian, 2002).

  • BBC News (2007). 'Muhammad' teddy teacher arrested. November 27, 2007. accessed March 25, 2008.
  • CNN (2007). Sudan protestors: Execute teacher. November 30, 2007. accessed March 29, 2008.
  • CNN (2007). Teddy row teacher leaves Sudan. December 3, 2007. accessed 28 March 2008.
  • Crilly, Rob (2007). The blasphemous teddy bear. TIME. November 26, 2007. accessed March 25, 2008.
  • Garro, L.C. (2000). Remembering what one knows and the construction of the past: A comparison of Cultural Consensus Theory and Cultural Schema Theory. Ethos, 28.3, 275-319.
  • Gettleman, Jeffrey (2007). Sudan accuses teacher of Islam insult. New York Times. November 27, 2007. accessed March 25, 2008.
  • Lipset, D. (1993). Review: Culture as a hierarchy of schemas. Current Anthropology, 34.4, 497-498.
  • Malcolm, I.G. & Sharafian, F. (2002). Aspects of Aboriginal English oral discourse: an application of cultural schema theory. Discourse Studies, 4, 169-181.
  • Nishida, H. (1999). Cultural Schema Theory: In W.B. Gudykunst (Ed.), Theorizing About Intercultural Communication, (pp. 401–418). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
  • Razi, S. The Effects of Cultural Schema and Reading Activities on Reading Comprehension. Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University, Turkey. 1-18.
  • Shaghasemi, E. & Heisey D. R. (2009). The cross-cultural schemata of Iranian-American people toward each other: A qualitative approach. Intercultural Communication Studies, XVIII(1), 143-160.
  • Sharifian, F. (2008). Cultural schemas in L1 and L2 compliment responses: A study of Persian-speaking learners of English. Journal of Politeness Research. 4(1), 55-80.
  • Sharifian, F. (2011). Cultural Conceptualisations and Language: Theoretical Framework and Applications. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
  • Times Online (2007). British teacher sentenced to 15 days in Sudan jail. November 29, 2007. accessed March 29, 2008.


Don't forget! that as one of our early users, you are eligible to receive the 1,000 point bonus as soon as you have created five (5) acceptable piglix.