Burr, Vivien, Giliberto, Massimo and Butt, Trevor (2014) Construing the cultural other and the self: A Personal Construct analysis of English and Italian perceptions of national character. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 39. pp. 53-65. ISSN 0147-1767

How we perceive other cultures is arguably of increasing importance in contemporary society, impacting on realms such as international relations, business and tourism. The qualitative research reported in this paper was carried out in the UK and in Italy and adopted a Personal Construct Psychology approach. It aimed to explore intercultural perceptions in a sample of people who had some degree of experience with the ‘other’ culture, and a unique feature of the research is that it asked how those perceptions might be affected if people from both cultures are given access to each other’s perceptions. There was considerable commonality in the perceptions of the English and Italian participants, and each culture envied some of the qualities of the other. However, they initially struggled to accommodate how they were seen by the other and endeavoured to resolve difference by construing at a more superordinate level. The findings also suggest that national identity is rooted in the construing of others’ constructions, achieved through relationship and comparison.

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