Have you ever eaten a plate of locusts or a termites for dinner? Does the idea seem revolting? Some cultures think insect foods are delicious, but in America we find eating insects disgusting . American foods like peanut butter, on the other hand, are seen as revolting by other cultures, even our close cousins, the Britons. Social norms are the rules to play by. We wouldn't wear a bathing suit to the opera or a black tie on the beach. Different cultures enjoy different foods, and have different ways to dress, speak, and interact. Human beings are social animals, and culture provides a familiar environment for us to adapt to and fit into.
As we saw in the article on perception, the human brain is always taking in information through the senses and giving it meaning through evaluation, creating a mental model of the world. Some of this process is shaped by biological factors, but a significant portion is shaped by culture. Through culture, which is the knowledge and customs shared by a group, we learn what is important to our group, including values and mores, as well as information specific to our region. For example, ice hockey is the national sport in Canada , soccer in Europe, and baseball in the US. Growing up in Italy, playing soccer in the streets comes naturally and being interested in ice hockey would leave you playing alone.
Our take is that culture shapes our perception and our lives as much as genetics, and is a major key in understanding the experience of being human.