Notes on Intercultural Communication

The Core of Hoftede’s Onion Model

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Approches to the Core (Values) of Hofstede’s Onion Model


Onion Hofstede

Unfortunately, the nice intercultural website where I got the pic from was closed down: (retrieved 28.08.2009, disappearance noticed 22.11.2012). Sorry for this.

It is made of 3 layers around a core. The core stands for the values of a certain culture, which is not moving a lot. It mostly remains the same. Even if something seems to be outdated, it still can subconsciously play a role in the present. That includes individuals as well as groups.

Those values are laid in the early childhood and only change little. They mostly appear subconsciously. The outer layer appear more and more consciously. The Schemata – Theory was originally meant to describe mechanisms of learning, but can also be applied to cultures.


Bartlett’s Schema Theory

“(…) Bartlett proposed that people have schemata, or unconscious mental structures, that represent an individual’s generic knowledge about the world. It is through schemata that old knowledge influences new information. (…) For example, consider the representation of a generic (typical) elementary school classroom. The frame for such a classroom includes certain information, such as that the room has walls, a ceiling, lights, and a door. The door can be thought of as a slot which accepts values such as wood door or metal door, but does not accept a value such as a door made of jello. If a person or a machine is trying to represent a particular elementary school classroom, the person or machine instantiates the generic frame with specific information from the particular classroom (e.g., it has a window on one wall, and the door is wooden with a small glass panel). If, for some reason, one does not actually observe the lights in the classroom, one can fill the lighting slot with the default assumption that they are fluorescent lights. This proposal gives a good account of a wide range of phenomena. It explains, for example, why one would be very surprised to walk into an elementary classroom and find that it did not have a ceiling, and it accounts for the fact that someone might recall that a certain classroom had fluorescent lights when it did not. (…)

Read more: Learning Theory – Schema Theory – Knowledge, Representation, Schemata, and Information –

 (retrieved 13.09.2013 at


Dr. John Medina gives an example by leaving out the core-information when describing an everyday issue. He describes the schemata as “(…) the way of organizing thoughts about some aspects of the world. We call those framework schemas, and you have them about people, situations, objects. This means that something profound. (…)”

John Medina Brain Rules Schema

(retrieved 12.09.2013 at

Dr. Medina’s website Brain Rules! is definitely worth a visit


John Anderson on The Counsel Channel about Schemata

John Anderson Schemata


“(…) they encompus the beliefs we encountered in childhood and the beliefs, (which) we developed as a result of those beliefs and the way we maintain them.

They in a sense give us brinks, because they also determine the way we perceive events in the world and structure our thinking. Schemata (…) are made up of unconditional beliefs laid down in very early childhood – the child’s view of themselves and the environment, at the people – and the future or goals – are they achievable or not achievable.

In slightly later childhood, when the child becomes a manipulator of a situation – or trying to be – then they use to be developing conditional beliefs. If I do this, then that may happen., and if I do that, then this may happens – which become rules – I must do this, I must do that. I ought to do this – and which is also applied to other people too. (…) . And then you get ways of maintaining these beliefs. So people either replay them or because they don’t like the negative beliefs, they go great length to avoid them. (…)”

(retrieved 13.09.2013 at


(reviewed 13.09.2013)

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