Archive for the ‘Collectivism and Individualism’ Category
Individualism – Collectivism and Accountability in Intergroup Negotiations
However, for those who place a high emphasis on collectivism, cooperative behavior and harmony with others, especially with persons with whom one is similar, is normative and is likely to ensure positive evaluations in accountable negotiations.
In the low-accountability condition, those who had high levels of collectivism reported less cooperative intentions and behavior, and achieved lower outcomes, as compared to representatives with low levels of collectivism.
However, the current research suggests that negotiators’ behavior depends both on the nature of the negotiation situation, as well as on negotiators’ collectivism. Applying this to cross-cultural investigations, this suggests that broad generalizations about the negotiation styles of cultural groups, which does not take situations into account, are likely to be inappropriate.
Michele J. Gelfand / University of Maryland at College Park
Anu Realo / University of Tartu, Estonia
Journal of Applied Psychology , 1999, Vol. 84, No. 5, 721-736 - retrieved 08.12.2011 from http://www.bsos.umd.edu/psyc/gelfand/index.html
Interpersonal Communication Theory of Schulz von Thun (Four Sides Model)
Friedemann Schulz von Thun (*06.08.1944) enlarges the Watzlawick Model of communication by adding two more layers: the Self Revealing Layer and the Appeal Layer. These four Layers shape the Square of Communication (Kommunikationsquadrat):
Content Layer (CL) aka Sachebene (facts)
Relationship Layer (RL) aka Beziehungsseite (what I think of you)
Self Revealing Layer (SRL) aka Selbstkundgabe (who I am)
Appeal Layer (AL) aka Appellseite (what I want you to do)
Get his material here or download a pdf from Schulz von Thun directly here. For more information please visit his website http://www.schulz-von-thun.de/ or check his portrait at the Akademie für Konflikttransformation.
German users may refer to additional information on his website.
Deutschsprachige Besucher finden hier weiterführende Informationen.
“Muender und Ohren” / Tongues and Ears – Applications of Schulz von Thun`s Theories
Chinese Ears and Chinese Tongues
„Words cannot express a thought completely“ noted Confucius about the I Ging. He was aware of the limitations of language. For expressing a thought, Confucius needs the impression (picture), the character (logograph) and finally adds his finding (or taking action).
Chinese characters are logographs. That logographs derived from images or pictographs. Some Chinese logographs are still similar to the pictograph. Read more about Chinese and western characters at Logographs and Phonographs – Visualisation of Language
Logographs are not meant to express a thought precisely or distinguish different approaches. A single character can have different meanings, so it needs a lot of imagination, or active listening to understand a message. Sentences need to be “encoded” or interpreted by the recipient. (See E.T. Hall – High Context Cultures.) To understand the specific content it needs additional information (context).
Chinese Sender / Chinese Tongue
Content Layer (less distinct) In Chinese culture the Content layer needs additional information to understand. It is influenced by other layers more than in German culture. When the Content Layer leaves space for different interpretations (in respect of other layers), it harbors the risk of misinterpretations. Words are chosen more carefully for leaving enough space for the recipients.
Relationship Layer (highly distinct) How a content is delivered may also indicate the relationship between the sender and recipient. For making sure, that the CL is completely understood, the RL must be taken into account. The same content can have very different meanings depending on the recipient. Relationships have a long perspective (Long Term Orientation) and should be treated with priority.
Self Revealing Layer (less distinct) Harmony in Asia means a well structured hierarchical system in a “natural balance”. In order to keep this balance, a Chinese sender tends to avoid the Self Revealing Layer. Stressing the Self Revealing Layer indicates a deep gap between the sender and recipient or used as harsh critic. (It is still perilous in most parts of Asia to express personal political ideas in public.)
Appeal Layer (highly distinct) Since the Relationship Layer plays such a dominant part in communication, personal wishes are not clearly said but expressed in appeals.
Chinese Recipient / Chinese Ears
Content Layer (less distinct) The unspoken additional context leaves space for different interpretations. A Chinese recipient would not react spontaneously to certain words, but rather to situations. Words itself represent only limited information for Chinese recipients. A Chinese recipient usually adds different sources for information (body language, situation, sound,…) by himself. The Content Layer is only one layer of others and represents only a part of the message. Other layers may play a more important part in understanding a message.
Relationship Layer (highly distinct) The way the content is sent plays an important role to understand the content itself. The content depends on the estimated value for the recipient and can vary.
Self Revealing Layer (less distinct) The way the sender stresses the Self Revealing Layer points at the recipient, and not to the sender. When stressed, than for pointing at the recipient, and not to the sender.
Appeal Layer (highly distinct) The Appeal Layer is highly developed in Chinese culture. The “Chinese Appeal Ear” notices all indirect expressed wishes to balance the relationship. It helps to understand the Content Layer and corresponds with the relationship Layer. Neglecting the Appeal Layer can lead to deep conflicts in relationships.
German Ears and German Tongue
German language is meant to express information very precisely. Grammar includes different conjugations and declinations for transporting as much information as possible in the most efficient way. It does not need additional information (context) to understand a specific message (See E.T. Hall – Low Context Cultures.)
German Sender / German Tongue
Content Layer (highly distinct) A German sender expresses himself as clearly as possible to avoid misunderstandings. In opposite to Chinese senders, language is not regarded as a source of misunderstandings. Abstract information can be expressed comparatively well defined. Clear words are regarded as honest and true. The Content Layer is also used for expressing “the unspeakable”. Criticism is widely used to show how much the sender cares.
Relationship Layer (less distinct) Relationships are shown in deeds and not in words. Being punctual or keeping promises is widely felt as a sign of sympathy, respect and honesty. Neglecting settlements can cause severe damage on a relationship.
Self Revealing Layer (highly distinct) Expressing (and/or discussing) personal thoughts and moods is often felt as “being close to someone”. It is essential for any relationship to share those personal matters. Different opinions are respected or appreciated.
Appeal Layer (less distinct) German senders usually do not respect the recipient’s situation. Messages are clear and usually do not content hidden messages. Therefore Germans are respected as trustful and honest, but also naive and awkward.
German recipient / German Ears
Content Layer (highly distinct) Germans tend to stress the Content Layer in communication. A German recipient focuses on this layer most, neglecting other layers. The content of a message can be understood without or a minimum of additional information. Small Talk is often seen as unpleasant and inefficient. Often German senders “hide” other layers within the Content Layer. Emotions or “unspeakable messages” are drawn into the Content Layer. “True and honest” words can be felt as insult, and often enough meant this way.
Relationship Layer (less distinct) The Relationship Layer is not very distinct in German culture. A relationship is often shaped on the Content Layer. Authenticity and reliability make a person trustful. Keeping settlements is a good way to show respect and/or sympathy.
Self Revealing Layer (highly distinct) German culture is highly influenced by the idea of individuality. Sharing very personal thoughts can be a good way to approach other individuals. A German recipient needs this information to establish a relationship. A person holding back personal thoughts is regarded as not trustful, hiding something or “being fishy”.
Appeal Layer (less distinct) On the Appeal Layer the German recipient is mostly numb. The ability of “active listening” is not much developed. It is hard for a German recipient to understand implicit messages. Not corresponding on the Appeal Layer is often felt as “cold” or impersonal.
(Adopted/translated from Lei Wang/Cologne, Münder und Ohren, 2008)
Cultural Aspects of Information Management in China (Abstract)
Chinese culture is a collectivist culture which stresses the interdependence and long-term mutual obligations between individuals and organizations. People are expected to follow group values and initiatives. As found in the study of western ecommerce diffusion in China, Chinese people prefer small group based operations with emphasis on long-term relationship, interorganizational collaboration and re-negotiation. Another ecommerce study also indicates that collectivist features like clubs, chat rooms and family themes have a higher percentage occurrence on Chinese websites than on US domestic websites.
Chinese collectivism, however, differs substantially from those prevailing in other Asian countries. They are individualistic collectivism where small group or family value is emphasized, rather than society oriented. In contrast to Japanese society, which may be considered as a block of granite, the Chinese resembles a tray of loose sand, where every grain is a family.
This opinion is consistent with the finding of Martinsons and Westwood (1997) that the Chinese power structure is perhaps best represented by a series of concentric circles or “family” with the patriarch in the center. The traditional family values are emphasized in this circle. The Chinese collectivism can be either an inhibitor or enabler of IS practices. Most information is gathered and processed in Chinese environment is intended to support the top managers of various small circles, which results in many independent systems and data that are hard to integrate or share. Such behaviors actually make Chinese collectivism a negative factor in ERP implementation. From above analysis, Chinese collectivism may be seen as individualistic collectivism.
Hierarchical Power Structure
Chinese management philosophy is characterized by centralized authorities as well as directive and hierarchical structures due to the long power distance and paternalistic tendency. The position of top management in Chinese business is overwhelming. No other champion is needed because such a champion would be seen as a challenge to the authority of top management, which often leads to power conflicts. And both top managers and lower level staffs are not comfortable with empowerment because they are accustomed to the practice that key decisions are made by top management. It is also natural that Chinese business leaders use their authorities to facilitate modifying subordinates behaviors in change management.
Unfortunately, Chinese top managers do not appear to realize the importance of IT and IT management. Consequently, they commit less on IT management. Problem arise when Chinese managers rarely accept knowledge input from their subordinates, and when the IT decisions by top management are seldom made with due consultation with end users This may be helpful to speed up IT decision and IT implementation, but such bureaucratic and arbitrary organizational culture is seen as one important cause of IT project failures.
The hierarchy management structure also helps to explain the correlation between power and information in China. Information control is one of the predominant sources of power in China. Critical information in China is selectively preserved instead of being distributed widely. Information is often treated as an individual property and critical information controlled by individual can be used to preserve discretionary power in Chinese organization. It is quite obvious in e-government practices in China where branches of government purposely hold back some information and obstruct large-scale information sharing in order to keep their power and interests.
Uncertainty tolerance is the extent a person feels comfortable in unstructured situations. It is commonly accepted that there are two different cultures, namely, uncertainty avoiding culture and uncertainty accepting culture.
The former tries to minimize uncertainly by taking strict laws and regulations, or risk control measures. The later tolerates ambiguous situation, and tries to live peacefully with it.
The majority of the studies, however, argue that the Chinese culture is uncertainty tolerant. Martinsons (1997) and Lam et al(2005) show that East Asians, especially Chinese people are more comfortable with unclear information. This corresponds with the informal communication path among Chinese that relies more on personal experience. They keep more information among themselves, rather than explicitly express it. It is common in China that you need to guess the “true” meaning of conversation beside the surface information, because Chinese people like to use allusion to tell something they think you should know and would understand.
Based on authors’ own understanding about uncertainty tolerance as native Chinese, the uncertainty avoidance mentioned in the literature is mainly because of the importance of information for the power, rather than unable to tolerate the uncertainty. So the idea that Chinese culture is uncertainty tolerant is supported. Contrary to the traditional thinking that Chinese people are more conservative in regard to change, the literature demonstrates that Chinese people’s attitude seems to be more positive toward change and towards new technology when they come to experience it.
Both Collis (1995) and Brown et al(1998) conclude that people from China hold more positive attitudes on change and new technologies than those from countries that they compare, namely, UK, US and Japan.
Intuitive Decision Making
The way that Chinese people make decisions or solve problems is relatively unstructured compared with westerners “the Chinese’s decisions are comparatively implicit, relying on analogical and correlative thinking, rather than on rational and analytic thinking”. Although Chinese managers refer to information or data to support decision making process, only a few data analysis is used even when deciding the most important issues.
The entrepreneurial model of strategy making that relies on personal knowledge and intuition rather than objective criteria or formal and quantitative method is dominant in Chinese decision making. Therefore, “the decision making process usually involves few people and takes short time to make”.
The decision making of Chinese people is also characterized to be highly contextual. Regulation and rules may play important role in directing the decision, but in most situations, Chinese people like to adopt “the individual-policy-for-individual-issue approach”, which means that the executors of rules usually can find some room for themselves to make flexible decisions.
Cultural Aspects of IS in China
Xiang-Hua Lu / School of Management, Fudan University
Michael S H Heng / National University of Singapore
Download the full pdf here.
The PACIS (Pacific Asia Conference on IT Systems) has tons of other interesting material and is worth a visit.
The I Ging – structure in East Asian Collectives (Natural Order)
This Matrix defines the Relationship Layer (Ranking/Relation) and the Appeal Layer (Distance/Approach). Still many Asian companies follow this structure.
Download an introduction to Hofstede`s theories as pdf here.
(…) Nor can it be said truly that a pure-blooded Chinese could ever quite disagree with Chuangtse’s ideas. Taoism is not a school of thought in China, it is a deep, fundamental trait of Chinese thinking, and of the Chinese attitude toward life and toward society. It has depth, while Confucianism has only a practical sense of proportions; it enriches Chinese poetry and imagination in an immeasurable manner, and it gives a philosophic sanction to whatever is in the idle, freedom- loving, poetic, vagabond Chinese soul. It provides the only safe, romantic release from the severe Confucian classic restraint, and humanizes the very humanists themselves; therefore when a Chinese succeeds, he is always a Confucianist, and when he fails, he is always a Taoist. As more people fail than succeed in this world, and as all who succeed know that they succeed but in a lame and halting manner when they examine themselves in the dark hours of the night, I believe Taoist ideas are more often at work than Confucianism. Even a Confucianist succeeds only when he knows he never really succeeds, that is, by following Taoist wisdom. (…)
With special thanks to Milanda: The Chuang Tzu, translated by Yutang Lin at http://terebess.hu/english/chuangtzu.html
Download the Chuang Tzu as pdf here.
(…) For the Chinese, quite a lot of concepts have a circular nature. One clear example is time: the same things happen again and again. History is circular and not lineal like in the West. The best example is the history of China which can be summarized as the continuous succession of the following four stages: “arrival of a new dynasty”, “dynasty at its height”, “decline of the dynasty”, “China in chaos” and start back again. Note that this circular pattern cannot be easily applied to the history of western civilizations.
Another clear example is human relations understood as a continuous exchange of favors or services among people. In China, the idea of doing something for somebody else in exchange of nothing is less common than in the West. The reason is that the favor is circular and it has to come back to the person who did it. For example, at work in China, if a colleague or business partner helps you in something, he understands that he is developing an important link with you and that he will have the right to ask for a favor back in the future. The favor has to come back to him because it is circular. (…)
Pedro on Globthink: http://globthink.com/2009/06/10/chinese-working-culture/
After hours of fruitless discussions if there is a God in Buddhism, I found a nice approach of an Anglican priest towards Eastern religions. Bishop Spong reflects the so called “theistic” definition of God in the Mosaic religions (Jewish, Christian and Muslim).
(…) Western religion has regularly and consistently defined God in theistic terms. That is, God is perceived as an external being, supernatural in power, who periodically invades the world in miraculous ways to establish the divine will or to answer our prayers. Eastern religion in general, but Buddhism in particular, does not define God in theistic terms. That has caused some westerners to refer to Buddhism as an “atheist” religion. Well, it is, but only in the sense that “atheist” means “not theist.” It does not mean that there is no sense of God in Buddhism. Language is our problem. The theistic definition of God is so total in the western world that the word “atheism” has come to mean that there is no God. Theism is a human definition of God and, as such, is destined to die like all human definitions do in time. Theism is not God. (…)
Bishop Spong Q&A 28.01.2010 http://www.johnshelbyspong.com
For more info about different conceptions of time please click here.
Culture and Happiness / 5-HTTLPR
Joan Chiao and Katherine Blisinsky took a research on the worldwide spreading of the 5-HTTLPR – gene, which is identified as responsible for the mood (anxiety and mood disorder) of it`s carrier by transporting serotonin. It was published from the Royal Society Publishing.
Using Hofstede`s model of cultural indices/dimensions to define cultures into individualistic and collectivistic, they crossed these data with the spreading of 5-HTTLPR.
(…) Here, we demonstrate for the first time a robust association between cultural values of individualism–collectivism and allelic frequency of the serotonin transporter gene, controlling for associated economic and disease factors. (…) Critically, our results further indicate that greater population frequency of S allele carriers is associated with decreased prevalence of anxiety and mood disorders due to increased cultural collectivism. (…)
Results from correlation analysis between Hofstede’s individualism–collectivism index (reverse scored) and frequency of S allele carriers of the 5-HTTLPR across 29 nations. Collectivist nations showed higher prevalence of S allele carriers (r(29) = 0.70, p < 0.0001).
Geographical coincidence between serotonin transporter gene diversity and cultural traits of individualism–collectivism across countries. Colour maps include all available published data for each variable of interest. Grey areas indicate geographical regions where no published data are available. (a ) Hofstede Colour map of frequency distribution of IND-COL from Hofstede (2001). (b) 5-HTTLPR Colour map of frequency distribution of S alleles of 5-HTTLPR. (c) anxiety Colour map of frequency of global prevalence of anxiety. (d) mood disorders Colour map of frequency of global prevalence of mood disorders. Yellow to red colour bar indicates low to high prevalence.
(Chiao, J.Y. & Blizinsky, K.D. 2009 Culture-gene coevolution of individualism-collectivism and the serotonin transporter gene. Proc. R. Soc. B (doi: 10.1098/rspb.2009.1650)
Background Info: World`s Haplogroups
This Map of Haplogroups (J.D. McDonald) shows the distribution of certain genetic characteristics. It is widely used for genealogical research because certain cell structures are inherited matrilinear or patrilinear. Click here to download from the the University of Illinois/School of Chemical Sciences. You can also download the full pdf here.
Body Odor / Genetic Differences between Asians and Westerners / ABCC11
Earwax and body odor
There are two kinds of sweat glands: eccrine sweat glands, which are found throughout the skin, and apocrine sweat glands, which are found in the armpits and groin. Eccrine sweat glands produce sweat that is mostly water and salt, and it does not contribute very much to body odor. Apocrine sweat contains proteins and lipids; when bacteria on the skin metabolize apocrine sweat, they produce body odor. The earwax glands (ceruminous glands) are a form of apocrine gland. (…) Some people have earwax that is wet, sticky and yellow or brown; other people’s earwax is dry, crumbly and grayish. Variation at a single gene determines which kind of earwax you have; the allele for wet earwax is dominant over the allele for dry earwax. The allele for dry earwax appears to have originated by mutation in northeastern Asia about 2,000 generations ago, then spread outwards because it was favored by natural selection. It is very common in eastern Asia, becomes much less common towards Europe, and is rare in Africa. Earwax type is not used very often to illustrate basic genetics, but unlike most human characters that are used (tongue rolling, attached earlobes, etc.), it really is controll ed by a single gene with two alleles. . (…)
(retrieved 20.01.2013 at http://www.google.de/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=myths%20of%20human%20genetics&source=web&cd=14&cad=rja&ved=0CEcQFjADOAo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bio-logisch-nrw.de%2FMyths_of_Human_Genetics__Tongue_Rolling.pdf&ei=wib8UOezFMnYtAaFuYDQAg&usg=AFQjCNFEZd0CAl1L9hrf5_JZmjyAs)
(retrieved 20.01.2013 at http://www.google.de/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=das%20ohrenschmalz%20als%20rassenmerkmal%20und%20der%20rassengeruch&source=web&cd=11&ved=0CDAQFjAAOAo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fge.tt%2Fapi%2F1%2Ffiles%2F50GjGkI%2F0%2Fblob%3Fdownload&ei=FK77ULKmLo_otQaVvoCgBg&usg=AFQjCNEG–tL)
Happiness and Income
Check the trends of several countries here: http://margaux.grandvinum.se/SebTest/wvs/SebTest/wvs/articles/folder_published/article_base_106/files/trends.doc
From R.Inglehart and H-D. Klingemann, “Genes, Culture and Happiness,” MIT Press, 2000.
Check out for more at http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/
Read a different view on the category “Culture influences Brain” or view the World’s Map of Happiness.
What Germans think about Chinese and Chinese think about Germans
对你来说什么“最中国”? 最“中国”? 人们一起做所有的事，从不单独做任何事，这也许是一种典型的中国方式。人总在社会中，总在一起。如果有一些自己的想法的话，那就最好不说出来，而只说别人认为自己应该说的话——但这并不一定是对方想听到的话。
Read more at the Deutsch-Chinesisches Kulturnetz at http://www.de-cn.net/zfa/zhindex.htm
See also there, what the Chinese think about Germans (nur auf Deutsch): http://www.de-cn.net/zfa/deindex.htm
Chinese artist Yang Liu did an excellent job in using this pictographs to explain the differences between Chinese and German culture. http://www.yangliudesign.com/
The full set is available here: http://www.china-observer.de/index.php?entry=entry070705-080511 or here.
Basic Anthropological Theories
There are two fundamental approaches to a different culture, represented by L.H. Morgan (1818-1881) and Franz Boas (1858-1942).
Morgan believed in an evolution of cultures: a ladder, on which all cultures climb up or down. This thought was the beginning of Western anthropology.
L.H. Morgan (1818-1881)
http://oechoe.blogspot.com/2010/04/lewis-henry-morgan.html / Oetjhoe von Boegh
Boas tried to explain different cultures from their own background. Hall and Hofstede use different parameters or indices for comparing different cultures.
Franz Boas (1858-1942)
Frans Boas Projekt http://www.franz-boas.de/content/index.php?n=7&c=71
Universal Human Rights, Cultural Relativism and the Asian Values Debate
(…) Cultural relativism is the position to which local cultural traditions (religious, political and legal practices included) properly determine the existence and scope of civil and political rights enjoyed by individuals in a given society. It is premised on the idea that all cultures are equally valid and that standards of evaluation are internal to traditions. It sees that values emerge in the context of particular social, cultural, economic and political conditions and therefore vary enormously between different communities. However, the language of cultural relativism is often exploited by various state leaders and high officials to justify and rationalise repressive policies, despite such policies having no philosophical or cultural justification. The paradox of cultural relativism is that participation is necessary to understand what values are legitimate within a society, but that the rhetoric associated with cultural relativism helps effectively hinder any participation or freedom of thought within a given society. This lies at the heart of the problem of effectively implementing universal human rights. (…)
Community values are (…) consistently highlighted as a typical Asian value and are posited against the Western value of individualism. However, there are ambiguities about the definition of community. In political discourses, one often sees the community collapses into the state and the state collapse into the regime. When equations are drawn between the community, state and the regime, criticisms of the regime become crimes against the nation-state, the community and the people. This conceptual manoeuvre allows the dismissal of individual rights that conflict with the regime’s interests. At the same time, this view denies the existence of conflicting interests between the state and communities in an Asian nation or society. (…)
Patrick Chin-Dahler is currently studying a Bachelor of Asia-Pacific Studies (Honours) at the Australian National University.
Edward T. Hall (*16.04.1914) was the most popular founder of Intercultural Communication. He put up three theories: High / Low Context, Monochrone / Polychrone Conception of Time and Proxemics.
High Context Communication and Low Context Communication
The context gives additional information, which is necessary to encode the meaning of an information (to understand).
An example for High Context Communication would be the question, where my (the editor’s) black pepper is. A high context information would be: above my micro-wave. Those people, who know me, my apartment and my kitchen can immediately find the pepper. Their context is to know who I am, where I live, where my kitchen is and where micro-wave. Without the context (additional information) there is not enough information to encrypt the proper meaning.
In high context communication an information can have different meanings according. It needs additional information to encode (understand). Speaking in examples is also a high context information.
- Less verbally explicit communication, less written/formal information
- More internalized understandings of what is communicated
- Multiple cross-cutting ties and intersections with others
- Long term relationships
- Strong boundaries- who is accepted as belonging vs who is considered an “outsider”
- Knowledge is situational, relational.
- Decisions and activities focus around personal face-to-face relationships, often around a central person who has authority.
(quoted from Culture at Work http://www.culture-at-work.com/highlow.html)
(retrieved 12.09.2013 at http://www.culture-at-work.com/highlow.html)
A good manual is an example of low context communication / information. No other information is necessary to understand it. In low context communication an information has only one single meaning. No additional information is necessary to encode (understand) the meaning.
- Rule oriented, people play by external rules
- More knowledge is codified public, external, and accessible.
- Sequencing, separation–of time, of space, of activities, of relationships
- More interpersonal connections of shorter duration
- Knowledge is more often transferable
- Task-centered. Decisions and activities focus around what needs to be done, division of responsibilities.
(quoted from Culture at Work http://www.culture-at-work.com/highlow.html)
High Context Communication is also common in many Western countries
“The table sheds light on just how difficult it can be for a foreigner to understand what the British really mean when they’re speaking – especially for those take every word at face value. Phrases that prove the trickiest to decipher include ‘you must come for dinner’, which foreigners tend to take as a direct invitation, but is actually said out of politeness by many Britons and often does not result in an invite. The table also reveals that when a person from Britain begins a sentence “with the greatest respect …’, they actually mean ‘I think you are an idiot’.” (Alice Philipson in The Telegraph 02 Sep 2013)
|WHAT THE BRITISH SAY||WHAT THE BRITISH MEAN||WHAT FOREIGNERS UNDERSTAND|
|I hear what you say||I disagree and do not want to discuss it further||He accepts my point of view|
|With the greatest respect||You are an idiot||He is listening to me|
|That’s not bad||That’s good||That’s poor|
|That is a very brave proposal||You are insane||He thinks I have courage|
|Quite good||A bit disappointing||Quite good|
|I would suggest||Do it or be prepared to justify yourself||Think about the idea, but do what you like|
|Oh, incidentally/ by the way||The primary purpose of our discussion is||That is not very important|
|I was a bit disappointed that||I am annoyed that||It doesn’t really matter|
|Very interesting||That is clearly nonsense||They are impressed|
|I’ll bear it in mind||I’ve forgotten it already||They will probably do it|
|I’m sure it’s my fault||It’s your fault||Why do they think it was their fault?|
|You must come for dinner||It’s not an invitation, I’m just being polite||I will get an invitation soon|
|I almost agree||I don’t agree at all||He’s not far from agreement|
|I only have a few minor comments||Please rewrite completely||He has found a few typos|
|Could we consider some other options||I don’t like your idea||They have not yet decided|
(retrieved 30.09.2013 at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/10280244/Translation-table-explaining-the-truth-behind-British-politeness-becomes-internet-hit.html)
High Context vs. Low Context
Take a look how members of high and low contextual cultures see themselves and their opposites:
|High Context Communication
||Low Context Communication
|High Context claims Low Context
||Low Context claims High Context
For an example how a low context culture interacts with a high context culture as the Chinese, please visit GlobThink: http://globthink.com/2009/06/24/indirect-communication-and-indirect-leadership-in-asia/Unfortunately this link does not work anymore, please excuse (reviewed 12.12.2012)
Monochrone / polychrone Times
Western cultures intend to have a monochrone time (mono=single / chrone=time). Time is used as a single line, where all events are lined up. Asian and African cultures intend to have a polychrone conception of time (poly=different / chrone=time). Events happen simultaneously in a polychrone conception of time.
Dialogue – when two time systems collide
Mr. Paul Rosen is the international sales representative for his computer equipment company. His most recent trip takes him to China,where he is scheduled to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Patrick Chang.
Mr. Rosen and his training team arrived in Beijing three days ago for a scheduled appointment with Mr. Chang. However, Mr. Chang has not yet met with Mr. Rosen or his team. Finally, a call to Mr. Rosen’s hotel room indicates that Mr. Chang is prepared to meet with him. When Mr. Rosen arrives at the location, he is asked to wait outside Mr. Chang’s office. As he waits, he notices many people entering and leaving Mr. Chang’s office at a very quick pace. The hallways of this building are a hustle and bustle of activity, with people shuffling in and out of many rooms. Finally, after several hours, Mr. Rosen is called in to meet Mr. Chang.
Mr. Rosen: Ah, Mr. Chang, it’s so good to finally see you. Gosh, I’ve been waiting for days. Did you forget our appointment?
Mr. Chang: Hello, Mr. Rosen. Please sit down. Everything is fine?
Mr. Rosen: Actually no … (Phone rings) … the problem is …
Mr. Chang: Excuse me … (Takes the phone call and speaks in Chinese. After several minutes he concludes the phone conversation) Yes, now … everything is fine?
Mr. Rosen: Well, actually, I’ve got a small problem. You see, the computer equipment you ordered…(A staff person enters the room and hands Mr. Chang something to sign.)
Mr. Chang: Oh, excuse me… (signs the document) Yes, now, everything is fine?
Mr. Rosen: As I was saying … all of the computer equipment you ordered is just sitting on a ship at the dock. I need your help in getting it unloaded. I mean, it’s been there for two weeks!
Mr. Chang: I see … This is no problem.
Mr. Rosen: Well, if it sits in the heat much longer, it could be damaged. Could I get you to sign a worksgroups to have it unloaded by Friday?
Mr. Chang: There is no need for that. The job will get done.
Mr. Rosen: Well, could we set up some kind of deadline? You see, I have a staff of people here waiting to train your people on the equipment. I need to let them know when it will be ready. How about this Friday? Could we do it then? My people are here now, and they’re waiting to begin training.
Mr.Chang: Dont worry. We have been living quite well without those equipment for years. If necessary, we could wait for several weeks. That’s not the problem.
There is little chance that Mr. Chang will sign any kind of workgroups for Mr. Rosen. Mr. Rosen is also distressed by the constant interruptions. To Mr. Chang, Mr. Rosen is in too much of a hurry. Mr. Rosen is monochronic, whereas Mr. Chang operates from a polychronic time orientation.
Proxemics is the theory, that people from different cultures have different (imaginary) spaces around them. Link: http://www.edwardthall.com/
Source: E.T. Hall, Beyond Culture – with special thanks to Mrs. Lei Wang for providing great material about this this field.
Watch a funny intercultural video about a European in Mexico. Europeans usually have a large personal space. The European is puzzled by Mexicans, who have a much smaller personal space.
(retrieved 30.09.2013 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhIzGrIqAk0)
Applications of Hall`s theories
Website Design in High and Low Context Cultures
|Parameter:||Tendency in HC Cultures||Tendency in LC Cultures|
|Animation||High use of animation, especially in connection with images of moving people||Lower use of animation, mainly reserved for highlighting effects e.g., of text|
|Promotion of values||Images promote values characteristic of collectivist societies||Images promote values characteristic of individualistic societies|
|Individuals separate or together with the product||Featured images depict products and merchandise in use by individuals||Images portray lifestyles of individuals, with or without a direct emphasis on the use of products or merchandise|
|Level of transparency||Links promote an exploratory approach to navigation on the website; process-oriented||Clear and redundant cues in connection with navigation on a website; goal-oriented|
|Linear vs. parallel navigation on the website||Many sidebars and menus, opening of new browser windows for each new page||Few sidebars and menus, constant opening in same browser window|
High Context Cultures
Low Context Cultures
M;rs. Martina Wuertz published “A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Websites from High-Context Cultures and Low-Context Culture“, which gives an interesting idea of applications of Hall`s model. Download pdf “Cross-Cultural Analysis of Websites from High-Context Cultures and Low-Context Culture” here.
For more info about website design in different cultures see how AM+A used Hofstede`s framework for analysing website design in different cultures/countries. Get the .pdf here or visit the website http://www.amanda.com
Partly incorporated by the later post Arrow, Circle, Spiral and Cylinder – Different Conceptions of Time and History: Culture influences Brain
MIT imaging shows culture influences brain function
Asians and Westeners had to answer questions about absolute quantities (is, is not, how many?) or relative qualities (bigger than, higher than, more red than,…)
It became obvious, that Western people have to spend more energy to render relative judgments (bigger than, lower than, …) than Asians. Vice versa it showed, that Asians needed more energy rendering absolute judgments (is or is not).
IMAGE / TREY HEDDEN, MCGOVERN INSTITUTE FOR BRAIN RESEARCH
TechTalk by MIT (Mass. Institute for Technology), volume 52, No. 14 (30.01.2008), J. Gabriell and T. Hedden from the Mc Govern Institute
Download the full pdf here, the article is on page 4 below.
How Asians and Westerners look at Faces
(…) Western society is very individualist. Asian societies are much more collectivistic (…) Western approach to facial recognition is piece-by-piece and intimate. The East Asian approach is both more formal and holistic: peripheral information is gathered
(…). We tested some Chinese who had been in Glasgow for three or four years, and you see a clear difference between them and those who just arrived (…). That really demonstrates that it’s not genetic. It’s experience. (…)
Retrieved 14.01.2011 from http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/08/culture-shapes/
Read the full research article “Culture Shapes How People See Faces” online here or download as pdf here.
Citation: Blais C, Jack RE, Scheepers C, Fiset D, Caldara R (2008) Culture Shapes How We Look at Faces. PLoS ONE 3(8): e3022. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003022 Editor: Alex O. Holcombe, University of Sydney, Australia Received June 12, 2008; Accepted July 30, 2008; Published August 20, 2008 Copyright: ß 2008 Blais et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Funding: This study was supported by The Economic and Social Research Council and Medical Research Council (ESRC) (RES-060-25-0010). REJ was supported by a PhD studentship awarded by ESRC (PTA-031-2006-00192), CB by a PhD studentship provided by the Fonds Que ́cois de Recherche en Nature et Technologies ́be (FQRNT) and DF by a FQRNT post-doctoral fellowship. Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. * E-mail: email@example.com, retrieved 14.01.2011 from http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0003022
How Asians and Westerners look at Emotions (Facial Expressions are not universal)
Here, we report marked differences between EA (East Asians) and WC (Western Caucasian) observers in the decoding of universal facial expressions. EA observers exhibited a significant deficit in categorizing ‘‘fear’’ and ‘‘disgust’’ compared to WC observers. Also, WC observers distributed their fixations evenly across the face, whereas EA observers systematically biased theirs toward the eye region. A model observer revealed that EA observers sample information that is highly similar between certain expressions (i.e., ‘‘fear’’ and ‘‘surprise’’; ‘‘disgust’’ and ‘‘anger’’). Despite the apparent lack of diagnostic information, EA observers persisted in repetitively sampling the eye regions of ‘‘fear,’’ ‘‘disgust,’’ and ‘‘anger.’’
Cultural Confusions Show that Facial Expressions Are Not Universal
Cultural Confusions Show that Facial Expressions Are Not Universal – Rachael E. Jack,, Corresponding Author Contact Information, E-mail The Corresponding Author, Caroline Blais, Christoph Scheepers, Philippe G. Schyns, and Roberto Caldara,, Corresponding Author Contact Information, E-mail The Corresponding Author, 1Department of Psychology, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QB, Scotland, UK, 2Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (CCNi), University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QB, Scotland, UK, 3Départment de Psychologie, Université de Montréal, Montreal, PQ H3C 3J7, Canada ,Received 12 May 2009; revised 12 July 2009; accepted 13 July 2009. Published online: August 13, 2009. Available online 13 August 2009.
Current Biology - Volume 19, Issue 18, 29 September 2009, Pages 1543-1548: retrieved 19.02.2011 under http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VRT-4X0FH86-5&_user=10&_coverDate=09%2F29%2F2009&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=afe59a73a6b115faacec22215d993939&searchtype=a
The Stroop Effect on Morphosyllabic (Asian) and Alphabetical Readers (Western)
(1) No interference: Green Red Blue Purple Blue Purple (2) Interference: Blue Purple Red Green Purple Green
In psychology, the Stroop effect is a demonstration of the reaction time of a task. When the name of a color (e.g., “blue,” “green,” or “red”) is printed in a color not denoted by the name (e.g., the word “red” printed in blue ink instead of red ink), naming the color of the word takes longer and is more prone to errors than when the color of the ink matches the name of the color. The effect is named after John Ridley Stroop who first published the effect in English in 1935. The effect had previously been published in Germany in 1929. The original paper has been one of the most cited papers in the history of experimental psychology, leading to more than 700 replications. The effect has been used to create a psychological test (Stroop Test) that is widely used in clinical practice and investigation.
(Wikipedia, retrieved 08.01.2011)
Stroop Effect on Morphosyllabic and Alphabetical Readers
Twenty-three Chinese and 24 German undergraduate students were tested in a Stroop paradigm with the following stimuli: color patches, color-neutral words (e.g., friend printed in yellow), incongruently colour-associated words (e.g., blood printed in blue), and incongruently colour words (e.g., yellow printed in blue). Results revealed no differences in German and Chinese students’ response times to colour patches. Chinese participants, however, showed longer colour naming latencies for neutral words as well as for colour words and colour-related words. No differences between German and Chinese participants were found when print colour latencies for neutral words were subtracted from print colour latencies for colour words and colour-related words. This result does not support theories which suggest that for morphosyllabic readers there is a direct route from orthography to the semantics of a word. We rather argue, with reference to dual route models of reading, that access from print to phonology is faster for morphosyllabic than for alphabetic readers, and therefore interference caused by conflicting phonologies of colour name and written word will be stronger in Chinese readers than in German readers.
HENRIK SAALBACH and ELSBETH STERN / Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 2004, 11 (4), 709–715 / Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany
Download the full pdf here.
Happiness throughout Nations
Veenhoven, R., World Database of Happiness, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Assessed on 02.07.2013 at: http://worlddatabaseofhappiness.eur.nl
Happiness and Income
World Value Survey
(tertieved 12.07.2013 at http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/wvs/articles/folder_published/article_base_106)
Read the Income, Health, and Wellbeing Around the World: Evidence From the Gallup World Poll online here or download as pdf here.
Happiness and Life Satisfaction
(tertieved 12.07.2013 at http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/wvs/articles/folder_published/article_base_122/files/RisingHappinessPPS.pdf)
Check out for more surveys at the Word Value Survey http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/
What you always wanted to ask, but never dared to…
The Humboldt-University in Berlin released a website about sex in many countries throughout the world.
Great database for inter-/ cultural and sexology studies: The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/index-countries.html
The Inglehart-Wetzel Cultural Maps of the World
The World Value Survey Cultural Map 1999-2004
The World Value Survey Cultural Map 2005-2008
Check out for more at http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/
(retrieved 12.07.2013 at http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/wvs/articles/folder_published/article_base_54)