The Teaching of International Consumer Behavior


Debbora A. Whitson (2001) ,"The Teaching of International Consumer Behavior", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, eds. Paula M. Tidwell and Thomas E. Muller, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 305.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, 2001      Page 305


Debbora A. Whitson, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, U.S.A.

The focus of this course is to provide an in-depth investigation of similarities and differences of consumption behavior across cultural and international boundaries. The social/cultural issues facing businesses in the global marketplace are examined within a metaphorical paradigm.

The following is an outline of the topics covered by lectures, discussions, case analyses, classroom demonstrations, group projects and videos:

Cultural Shock in the International Arena: Understanding Cultural Metaphors

a. The importance of understanding cultural metaphors, (i.e., behaviors that help a foreigner understand quickly that which a society’s members consider very important, Gannon,1994)

b. An overview of the metaphoric method of cultural behavior

C Examining the various dimensions (Hall & Hall, 1990):

*religion *socialization *public and private behavior *leisure activities *food and eating behavior

*roles & status *humor etc

The Influences of Family, Reference Group Membership, and Opinon Leaders

a. An in-depth investigation of early socialization processes and family structural differences

b. Methods for exploring behavioral patterns

c. Relevance to consumption behavior and business practices

The Interaction Between Religious Practices and Public Behavior

a. Investigating diverse rituals

b. Normed behavior in various cultures

c. Correlations between practices and consumption behavior

Cultural Paradoxes

a. Defined (Mooij, 1998)

b. Individualism versus collectivism

c. Masculinity versus femininity

d. Public versus private behavior

e. Distance versus closeness

f. Avoiding the paradoxical blackhole in business transactions

Communicating Across Cultural Boundaries

a. The communication machine

b. Nonverbal factors

C body posture, hand gestures, facial expressions, and touching

C influence on conducting business in the global marketplace

c. Verbal Issues

C Explicit versus implicit communication

C Slang & Euphemisms

d. Breakdowns in communication

C Identifying troublesome patterns

Collecting and Analyzing Multicountry Data

a. Issues facing researchers (Douglas & Craig, 1983)

CLocating sources

CHandling field research

b. Interpreation biases

c. Implementation and control

Cross-Cultural Examinations

a. Compulsive buying behavior

b. Green marketing (Whitson & Henry, 1996)

c. Diffusion practices

d. Financial management

C saving Cborrowing (indebtedness) Cinvesting

e. Negotiating (Stauble, 1995)

Controversial Topics Within the Cross-Cultural Paradigm

a. Perceptions of privacy (Whitson, Barsellotti & Roxas, 1999)

b. Covert intelligenceCbusiness practices

c. Marketing of cloning services and human donations

Exposing students to the aforementioned subject(s) represents a timely addition of skills that will benefit them in the business arena.


Douglas, S. & Craig, S., International Marketing Research, Prentice-Hall Inc., 1983.

Gannon, M., Cultural Methaphors, Understanding Global Cultures, pp. v-vii, Sage Publication,1994.

Hall, E., & Hall, M.. Understanding cultural differences. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press, 1990.

Mooij, M. Global Marketing and Advertising: Understanding Cultural Paradoxes, Sage Pulications, 1998.

Stauble, V., Professional Saling: A Relationship Process, Dryden Press, 1995.

Whitson, D., Barsellotti, D. & Roxas, J. Perceptions of "Invasion of Privacy" Within the Direct Marketing Paradigm, Published Proceedings, Direct Marketers Educators’ Conference, Toronto, Canada, October 1999.

Whitson, D. & Henry W., What’s in a Label: Environmental Issues in Product Packaging, Journal of Euromarketing, Vol. 5 #3, 1995-6.



Debbora A. Whitson, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, U.S.A.


AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4 | 2001

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