Globalization core values: A comparison of United States, Mexican, and foreign students’ interpretation of exploitation as shown in “The Giving Tree.”

Swift, Daniel
Garcia, Camilo
Iowa State University,

Current globalization analyses focus on acculturation as a major characterization of this process. However, knowledge about the specific values promoted by this acculturation is limited. This study departs from the concept of dominant culture as the set of values shared and disseminated, not by a particular ethnic group, but by groups in power among industrialized societies. Projective methods are used through an open ended set of seven questions to elicit the participants’ interpretation of a popular story “The Giving Tree” by Shell Silverstein. This story essentially describes a boy exploiting to the fullest extent a close relationship with a tree, which most of the readers interpret as a parental or maternal figure. Participants were students varying in their degree of exposure to values of industrialized nations. The three groups of participants were High school and college students of both sexes: Fifty United States college students, forty Mexican High students who were raised in the United States, and forty foreign students of developing countries in the United States were compared. The Chi-square statistical analysis of the participants’ dominant themes responses showed strong significant differences for all groups.

Results were interpreted in terms of participants’ degree of exposure to the values of the dominant culture. Overall, students born and raised in the dominant culture “did not see” anything “wrong” with the issue of exploitation. This was followed by the Mexicans (with limited exposure to the dominant culture) and by the foreigners (the least exposed), who were astoundingly shocked and disturbed by the story. These differences observed with our sample were consistent with previous studies with the same story used for different purposes and methods. In those studies, different responses were observed depending on the level of participants’ levels of acculturation to the dominant culture.