All Context is Cultural

Who is this man?

What's my line?

Here’s a real example of how cultural context shapes the way we see and understand the world.

This image was actually used in a multinational qualitative study on branding.  People were given given a stack of photographs which included many different types of people, some famous and some anonymous.  Each person in the study was given the option of using any of the photos when creating a collage about a specific brand.

This photo was used by a substantial number of people across multiple countries.  But it was selected for very different reasons, strongly driven by cultural context.

No surprise that in Western Europe and the US that it was easily recognized as Albert Einstein, and people used it when they saw the brand having the qualities of genius, brilliance, or even eccentricity.

In South Africa and some South American countries it was selected when people felt the brand appealed to older people, particularly lower income.  It was never recognized as Albert Einstein.

So who is this?  Albert Einstein or an old man?  All of the interpretations are right.  The answer truly depends on your cultural context.

Oh, and for those of you who thought it was Peter Sellers disguised as a dentist in The Pink Panther Strikes Again.  Well, the resemblance is remarkable.

Peter Sellers




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