Time *is* relative: Different cultures perceive it differently

By studying other cultures, begin to understand yourself better:  Why do you do things the way you do?   Why do people here in the U.S. finance houses or cars?  Yes, you have the convenience of having things “right here, right now”, but in the end you pay much more money with the interest rates.  In my country, it is really not very common to apply for loans.  If you don’t have the money, don’t spend it.  Who knows what tomorrow brings?  Contrasting allows us to grasp a better understanding of how we do things and perhaps why.  Recently, I interviewed a couple of Latinos for a class assignment and asked them, what makes you different from others in the US?   One of the responses struck me in the head.

·       “”Uy…The habit of getting late… My coach had the stereotype that Latinos drink only Red Gatorade and always arrive late. And I think it’s true,” my friend admitted with a smile.


It stuck on me because… Well, why do we tend to get late to places?  Is there a reason why?  Until I moved to Taiwan, I would always get late everywhere. If my friends said we would meet at 7 for movies, I would get there at 7.30… and that was early, because I would always have to wait on the others. 

And then, one day I see a video that did not address the question directly but could give an explanation of our inexplicable tardiness.

Dr. Zimbardo, Psychology professor at Stanford University, explains that people living near the Equator have time personalities that focus on the present rather than the future, since in their countries they have no seasonal change to have to organize and prepare for. 

This might explain why Latinos tend to plan less, resulting in more spontaneous decisions, and do not feel constrained by time. 

For example, Dr Zimbardo notes that in Peru there is a habit of ignoring clocks that locals call “Peruvian Time”.  This habit of tardiness costs the Peruvian government five billion dollars every year.  This does not only happen in Peru, but in most Central and South American countries with a steady season.  Chronic tardiness has surpassed parallel latitudes and is commonly seen today among US Hispanics.  

You can read more about this topic if you check out Philip Zimbardo‘s The Time Paradox or watch his video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3oIiH7BLmg

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