Tag Archives: symbol

Pink Ribbon: Charity or hitting in the face?

Pink_Ribbon_Ducks_16_836Every October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a sea of pink ribbons washes over products. This cute and soothing pink ribbon which represents companies’ promise to donate into cancer research, however, leaves some breast cancer survivors feeling suffering rather than appreciating.  “I think that the pink ribbon, as symbol, tends to pretty up what is a pretty crappy disease. But a pink ribbon is easier to look at than the disease itself.” Like Zielinski, many breast cancer survivors feel overwhelmed by the constant pink reminder of a disease that has forever altered their lives.  

The diagnosis of breast cancer, the most common type of cancer among American women, elicits greater distress than any other diagnosis, regardless of prognosis. Medical and psychological research suggests that patients’ reporting of somatic symptoms is more closely related to emotional variables (particularly negative affect) than to their actual health as determined by external criteria (Koller et al, 1996 ). A supportive social environment (broad social network, presence of a significant other, availability and reception of social support) has beneficial effects on patient’s health whereas negative emotions, most of which are evoked by stigma, could be very harmful to patients’ health (Eccleston , 2008).

Stigma means that the individual possesses an undesired anomaly and is therefore disqualified from full social acceptance. People may think breast cancer is less stigmatized than mental diseases or other physical diseases such as HIV because the most significant risk factors for breast cancer (such as genetics and age) can’t be altered by women, which is why it’s often regarded as a “blameless” disease. However, besides negative responses (anxiety, disgust, sadness, anger, or helplessness), the effects of stigma may also contain positive emotions such as empathy or overconcern. Both emotional responses, however, reflect the attitude that the stigmatized person is unfavorably different from “normal” individuals (Koller et al, 1996).Imagine a breast cancer woman who is constantly reminded by this pink ribbon and thus is forced to be aware of the disease so often. Is it a charity or a torture?

square-eyeEccleston, C.P. (2008). The Psychological and Physical Health Effects of Stigma: The Role of Self-threats. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 10,1345–1361.

square-eyeMichael Koller, M., et al. (1996). Symptom reporting in cancer patients: The role of negative affect and experienced social stigma. Cancer, 77, 983-995.

square-eyeSick of pink.

Individual’s influence on culture: What does Michael Jackson’s story tell us

Micheal JacksonFive days after the death of Michael Jackson the on-going worldwide discussion and mourning fully demonstrated the influences of an individual, especially a culture icon, on cultures in the context of globalization today.

As the speed of globalization accelerates, world cultures are more closely connected to each other than ever before. Traditional research in both cultural and cross-cultural psychology has focused on culture-based effects by identifying the influence of culture on the individual. However, the reverse relationship has attracted increasing attentions over time: individuals influence culture by the creation of institutions, symbols, and practices that carry and validate particular cultural meaning systems. Icons have been called “magnets of meaning” in that they connect many diverse elements of cultural knowledge (Betsky, 1997). Particularly, cultural icons demonstrate an incredible individual influence on culture – an influence stretching across boundaries of race, class, gender and nationality.

Michael Jackson is the best case. His music and clothes, his dance moves, and his massive live concert tours not only significantly influenced the pop music, but also “projected to the world the sense and the promise of a multicultural and tolerant United States”. Like him or not, a cultural hero or a freak, for a long time this singer was considered as the “face of America” and the defining figure of the global pop culture.

Learn more about cross-cultural psychology and globalization The article about “America’s global face”

Learn more about cross-cultural psychology and globalizationLearn more about cross-cultural psychology and globalization

Learn more about cross-cultural psychology and globalizationIcons: Magnets of meaning

Learn more about cross-cultural psychology and globalizationLearn more about social psychology research on culture