: Cultural Values,

Urals State Technical University - UPI

Foreign language department


Cultural Values

Student: Zaitseva S.V.

Group: P-4


Supervisor: Hramushina Zh.A.



Table of contents:

Summary 3

Key words 4

Introduction 5

1.  Definitions: beliefs, values 7

The value / belief puzzle 8

Contrastive orientations 12

Japanese interpersonal norms 15

2.  Japanese and American patterns of social behavior 22

The national status image 25

A Cultural model of interaction 27

Seven statements about Americans 31

3.  Factors influencing values 40

Intercultural communication: a guide to men of action 40

Cuisine, etiquette and cultural values 52

Patterns of speech 55

4.  Contrast Russians stereotypes 58

Nine statements about Russians 58

Middle Eastern interview responses 61

5.  Americans view of Russian. Russians view of American 65

American interview responses 65

Russian interview responses 75

Conclusion 79

Literature 80



A diploma work contains 80 pages, 2 tables, 1 figure, 4 books are a source of it.

Key words: cross-cultural communication, values, beliefs, clusters, stereotypes.

In detail it is said about concept "values", factors influencing values, the meaning of values in intercultural communication and understanding between different nations.

In brief it is mentioned differences between beliefs, values.

The actuality and novelty of a theme consist in the following points.

Problems of the intercultural communications and cultural values are "young". Scientists started to consider them rather recently. In Russia researches have begun only in the 80th years. In such a way, there is not enough literature and materials on the given questions. Therefore any new works and researches make the significant contribution to studying these problems.

So in my work I tried: to research the influence of cultural values to attitude one country to another; to explore and to compare Japanese and American patterns of social behavior; to understand the factors influencing values; to discover stereotypes between different countries.

In conclusion it is noted that excellent knowledge of language is only half-affair for successful cooperation with other country. Also it is necessary to know features of people of other country in negotiating or their attitude to business. Also it is necessary to take into account features of dialogue, etiquette, relations with grown-ups and many other things.



Cross-cultural communication is the information exchange between one person and any other source transmitting a message displaying properties of a culture different to the one of the receivers culture. The source of such a message can be either a person, in an interpersonal communication process, or any form of mass media or other form of media.

Values. A value is something that is important to people like honesty, harmony, respect for elders, or thinking of your family first. They are represents what is expected or hoped for, required or forbidden. It is not a report of actual conduct but is the inductively based logically ordered set of criteria of evaluations by which conduct is judged and sanctions applied.

Beliefs are generally taken to mean a mental acceptance or conviction in the truth or actuality of something. A belief links an object or event and the characteristics that distinguish it from others. The degree to which we believe that an event or object possesses certain characteristics reflects the level of our subjective probability (belief) and, consequently, the depth or intensity of our belief. The more certain we are in a belief, the greater is the intensity of that belief.

Clusters are groups of inter-related industries that drive wealth creation in a region and provides a richer more meaningful representation of local industry drivers and regional dynamics trends than traditional methods and represents the entire value chain of a broadly defined industry from suppliers to end products, including supporting services and specialized infrastructure.

Stereotype is a fixed set of ideas about what a particular type of person or thing is like, which is (wrongly) believed to be true in all cases.


The subject of my diploma work is cultural values.

Our perception of foreign cultures is usually based not on their complex reality, but on the simplified image they project. The clearer and more sharply defined that image is, the more convinced we will be that we are intimately acquainted with it: it is a mere outward confirmation of knowledge we already possess.

All cultures have been designed to meet universal human needs: for shelter - for love for friendship. While they have commonalties, they have great variety too! Values - universal feature of culture, how they might vary within and between cultures.

One universal feature of culture is values. A value is something that is important to people like honesty, harmony, respect for elders, or thinking of your family first.

We can't see values directly, but we can see them reflected in people's ordinary, day to day behavior. What we value shapes what we do. If respect for elders is important to me, I might listen very patiently to grandmother's stories and not argue with her. In fact, I might turn to her for valuable and wise advice. If I value honesty, I will hope that my friends will tell me the truth and not what they think I want to hear. If harmony is more important to me, I prefer to say things that make people happy, even if those things are not exactly true.

In the course of human interaction, evaluations are assigned to given types of behavior, attitudes, and kinds of social contact. Taken together they form the belief and value system, the cultural premises and assumptions, and the foundation for law, order, and the world view of given cultural groups. These systems embrace a number of assumptions about how the world is put together. Some values and norms, differentiate between good and evil, right and wrong. Some of these assumptions are made explicit in the beliefs and myths of the people. Beliefs, value systems, and world view often combine with other features of social and cultural organization to provide shared cultural symbols.

The actuality and novelty of a theme consist in the following points.

Problems of the intercultural communications and cultural values are "young". Scientists started to consider them rather recently. In Russia researches have begun only in the 80th years. In such a way, there is not enough literature and materials on the given questions. Therefore any new works and researches make the significant contribution to studying these problems.

Objects of research in my diploma work are behavioral samples and cultural clusters.


It is useful at this juncture to make some distinctions between beliefs and values.


Beliefs are generally taken to mean a mental acceptance or conviction in the truth or actuality of something. A belief links an object or event and the characteristics that distinguish it from others. The degree to which we believe that an event or object possesses certain characteristics reflects the level of our subjective probability (belief) and, consequently, the depth or intensity of our belief. The more certain we are in a belief, the greater is the intensity of that belief.

This is well attested to in the power of religious beliefs. There are three types of beliefs, all of which are of concern to us. They are experiential, informational, and inferential. Experiential beliefs come from direct personal experience, of course; they are integrated at the intrapersonal level. The second type involves information. This is transferred on the interpersonal level and shows great cultural variation. Here cultural beliefs are stated, transferred, learned, and practiced. Informational beliefs are connected with what are called "authority belief," or credible information sources. If a group of people believes that exercising increases the individual's physical and mental well-being, these believers may also be willing to accept athletes as authority figures even though the testimonies of these idols range beyond their physical prowess. Witness the selling success of Olympic champions and football stars in promoting breakfast food or panty hose.

Inferential beliefs are those which go beyond direct observation and information. These concern rules of logic, argumentation, rhetoric, and even establishment of facts (the scientific method). Although internal logic systems differ from one individual to another within a culture, they differ more from one culture to another. The most dramatic difference in cultural variance in thinking lies between Western and Eastern cultures. The Western world has a logic system built upon Aristotelian principles, and it has evolved ways of thinking that embody these principles. . . . Eastern cultures, however, developed before and without the benefit of Athens or Aristotle. As a consequence, their logic systems are sometimes called non-Aristotelian, and they can often lead to quite different sets of beliefs.


Values bring affective force to beliefs. Some of these values are shared with others of our kind some are not. Thus, we all adhere to some of the beliefs and values generally accepted within our cultures; we reject others. Values are related to what is seen to be good, proper, and positive, or the opposite. Values are learned and may be normative in nature. They change through time and are seldom shared in specifics by members of different generations, although certain themes will prevail. For example, the positive attributions placed upon competitiveness, individualism, action, and other general principles that pervade the belief and value orientation of members of the North American culture of the United States remain. They include the constitutionally guaranteed and socially valued "unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in individualistic, action-oriented, and competitive ways. These values have endured their expression varies from generation to generation.

A cultural value system "represents what is expected or hoped for, required or forbidden." It is not a report of actual conduct but is the inductively based logically ordered set of criteria of evaluations by which conduct is judged and sanctions applied.


Value and belief systems, with their supporting cultural postulates and world views, are complex and difficult to assess. They form an interlocking system, reflecting and reflective of cultural history and forces of change. They provide the bases for the assignment of cultural meaning and evaluation. Values are desired outcomes as well as norms for behavior; they are dreams as well as reality, They are embraced by some and not others in a community; they may be the foundations for accepted modes of behavior, but are as frequently overridden as observed. They are also often the hidden force that sparks reactions and fuels denials. Unexamined assignment of these characteristics to all members of a group is an exercise in stereotyping.


Often values attributions and evaluations of the behaviors of "strangers" are based on the value and belief systems of the observers. Have you heard or made any of the following statements? Guilty or not?

Americans are cold.

Americans don't like their parents. Just look, they put their mothers and fathers in nursing homes.

The Chinese are nosy. They're always asking such personal questions.

Spaniards must hate animals. Look what they do to bulls!

Marriages don't last in the United States.

Americans are very friendly. 1 met a nice couple on a tour and they asked me to visit them.

Americans ask silly questions, they think we all live in tents and drink nothing but camel's milk! They ought to see our airport!

Americans just pretend to be friendly; they really aren't. They say, "Drop by sometime" but when I did, they didn't seem very happy to see me. Of course, it was ten o'clock at night!

How should such statements be received? With anger? With explanation? With understanding and anger? Should one just ignore such patent half-truths stereotypic judgments, and oversimplifications? Before indulging in any of the above actions, consider what can be learned from such statements. First, what do these statements reveal? The speakers appear to be concerned about families, disturbed by statistics, apt to form opinions on limited data (friendliness), given to forming hasty and unwarranted generalizations (Spanish bullfighting), and angered by the ignorance of others. No one cultural group has a corner on such behavior. Second, we might be able to guess how certain speakers might feel about divorce, hospitality, or even animals. Third, the observations, while clearly not applicable to all members of the groups about which the comments were made, represent the speakers' perceptions. To many, Americans are seen as cold and uncaring. Because perceptions and native value and belief systems play such important roles in communication, it is important to recognize and deal with these perceptions-correct or incorrect, fair or unfair.

In the following part of this chapter the concept of value orientations will be explored. This will be followed by a review of the major value orientations associated with people from the United States. These orientations will be contrasted with those of other culture groups. Such an approach to cross-cultural variations in values and beliefs is far more productive than flat denial or even anger, as we form evaluative frames of reference for ourselves and hold them up to the frames of others we shall, at the very least, learn a great deal about ourselves.


Compiling a list of cultural values, beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions would be an almost endless and quite unrewarding endeavor. Writers in the field of intercultural communication have generally adopted the concept of value orientations suggested by Florence Kluckhohn and Fred Strodtbeck (1961).

In setting forth a value orientation approach to cross-cultural variation, Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck (1961:10) pointed out that such a theory was based upon three assumptions:

1. There are a limited number of human problems to which all cultures must find solutions.

2. The limited number of solutions may be charted along a range or Continuum of variations.

3. Certain solutions are favored by members in any given culture group but all potential solutions are present in every culture.

In their schema, Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck suggested that values around five universal human problems involving man's relationship to the environment, human nature, time, activity, and human interaction. The authors further proposed that the orientations of any society could be charted along these dimensions. Although variability could be found within a group, there were always dominant or preferred positions. Culture-specific profiles could be constructed. Such profiles should not be regarded as statements about individual behavior, but rather as tendencies around which social behavioral norms rules values, beliefs, and assumptions are clustered. As such, they might influence individual behavior as other cultural givens do; like other rules, they may be broken, changed, or ignored.

In the Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck classification, three focal points in the range of variations are posited for each type of orientation. In the man-to-nature continuum variations range from a position of human mastery over nature, to harmony with nature, to subjugation to nature. Most industrialized societies represent the mastery orientation; the back-to-nature counterculture of young adults during the 1960s and 1970s, the harmonious stance; and many peasant populations, the subjugation orientation.

The time dimension offers stops at the past, present, and future. Human nature orientation is charted along a continuum stretching from good to evil with some of both in the middle. The activity orientation moves from doing to being-becoming to being. Finally, the relational orientation ranges from the individual to the group with concern with the continuation of the group, as an intermediate focal point.

Value orientations only represent" good guesses" about why people act the way they do. Statements made or scales constructed are only part of an "as if" game. That is to say, people act as if they believed in a given set of value. Because the individuals in any cultural group exhibit great variation, any of the orientations suggested might well be found in nearly every culture. It is the general pattern that is sought. Value orientations are important to us as intercultural communicators because often whatever one believes, values, and assumes are the crucial factors in communication.


Let us take some American cultural patterns that have been identified as crucial in cross-cultural communication and consider what assumptions, values, and attitudes support them. Edward C. Stewart was a pioneer in examining such American behavior in a cross-cultural perspective. His book - American Cultural Patterns. This book describes dominant characteristics of middle class Americans. Stewart distinguishes between cultural assumptions and values and what he called cultural norms. Cultural norms are explicit a repeatedly invoked by people to describe or justify their actions. They represent instances in which the behavior and the value attached to it seem at odds. Stewart writes, Because cultural norms are related to behavior as cliches, rituals or as cultural platitudes, they provide inaccurate descriptions of behavior. He points out that Americans are devoted to the concept of self-reliance but accept social security, borrow money, and expect a little help from their friends. Culture bearers are usually more aware of their cultural norms than their systems of values and assumptions. As Stewart explains, "being fundamental to the individual's outlook, they [the assumptions and values] are likely to be considered as a part of the real world and therefore remain unquestioned".

Table 1, illustrates some of the general value orientations identified with North Americans. The left-hand column indicates what the polar point of the orientational axis might represent. The Contrast American column does not describe any particular culture, but rather represents an opposite orientation. Of course, the American profile is drawn in broad strokes and describes the mainstream culture; ethnic diversity is of necessity blurred in this sweeping treatment.

Thus, with the reservations noted above, it can be said that in the relationship of human beings and nature, Americans assume and thus value and believe in doing something about environmental problems. Nature can and should be changed. In addition, change is right and good and to be encouraged. That toe pace of change has increased to a bewildering point in the United States at the present time presents problems, but, as yet, change has not been seen as particularly detrimental.

Equality of opportunity is linked to individualism, lack of rigid hierarchies informality, and other cultural givens. It is manifested in American laws regarding social conduct, privacy, and opportunity. This contrasts with an ascriptive social order in which class and birth provide the bases for social control and interaction.

The achievement orientation calls for assessment of personal achievement, a latter-day Horatio Alger (Lee Iacocca) orientation. A future orientation is joined to the positive value accorded change and action. Directness and openness are contrasted to a more consensus-seeking approach in which group harmony is placed above solving problems.

Cause-and-effect logic joined to a problem-solving orientation and a pragmatic approach to problems defines the much-vaunted scientific method. Intuition and other approaches to evidence, fact, and "truth" are associated with being orientations and philosophical approaches to knowledge and knowing. Competition and a do-it-yourself approach to life are well served by a future orientation, individualism, and the desire for change.

The statements above simply point out some very general orientations that have driven and, to some degree, still guide North American society. Change is always in the air. Many have pointed out, as Stewart himself does, that these orientations represent white middle class American values. They do. They serve the purpose, however, of providing a frame of reference for cross-cultural comparison.

Table 2 offers a contrastive look at some American and Japanese values.

Such culture-specific contrast alerts us to the need to examine our cultural values and assumptions from the perspective of others. As one studies the dimensions of contrast, one cannot help but marvel at the communication that does take place despite such diversity. Okabe, in drawing upon Japanese observations about some well-known American values, reveals a new perspective to us. For example, the bamboo whisk and octopus pot metaphors refer to a reaching out tendency in the United States as opposed to the drawing inward of the Japanese.

Omote means outside and omote / ura combines both the inside and outside world. In the heterogeneous, egalitarian, sasara-type, doing, pushing culture of the United States, there is no distinction between the omote and the ura aspects of culture. In the hierarchical takotsubo-type, being, pulling culture of Japan, a clear-cut distinction should always be made between the omote and the ura dimensions of culture, the former being public, formal, and conventional, and the latter private, informal, and unconventional. The Japanese tend to conceive of the ura world as being more real, more meaningful.

Interpersonal relationships contrast on the basis of the role of the individual and group interaction. Japanese patterns are characterized by formality and complementary relationships that stress the value of dependence or amae. Amae is the key to understanding Japanese society. The concept of amae underlies the Japanese emphasis on the group over the individual, the acceptance of constituted authority, and the stress on particularistic rather than universalistic relationships. In the homogenous, vertical society of Japan the dominant value is conformity to or identity with the group. The Japanese insist upon the insignificance of the individual. Symmetrical relationships focus on the similarities of individuals; complementary relationships exploit differences in age, sex, role and status. There are many ways in which the Japanese publicly acknowledge a social hierarchy-in the use of language, in seating arrangements at social gatherings, in bowing to one another and hundreds of others. Watch Japanese each other and the principles will become quite apparent. Notice who bows lower, who waits for the other to go first, who apologizes more: (1) younger defers to older; (2) female defers to male; (3) student defers to teacher; (4); the seller's bow is lower than the buyer's; and (6) in a school club or organization where ranks are fixed, the lower ranked is, of course, subordinate. These features of interpersonal relationships lead to an emphasis on the public self in the United States and on the private self in Japan, Americans being more open in the demonstration of personal feelings and attitudes than the Japanese.

Let us look to this question in detail.


Numerous studies by social scientists of national character or culture have appeared in recent years, initially as a response to the need for knowledge of enemy countries in World War II. Most of these studies have is asked a substantive question: what is the nature of the behavior shared by all, or a majority, of the members of a national society? Once this shared behavior is "discovered," its written description becomes an outline of the national culture of that country. This approach has been extensively criticized on the grounds that the behavior of the members of any complex society is so variable that any attempt to describe the shared items results in superficial generalization. Critics have also pointed out that descriptions of national cultures frequently consist of statements of norms only, and do not denote actual behavior.

At this point in the account of our own research it is necessary to raise questions about the nature of national cultures. However, we shall not attempt to claim that our answer to these will be valid for all members of the Japanese nation. We do claim validity for our own subjects and are also willing to guess that much of what we say will apply to the majority of Japanese men who were socialized in prewar and wartime Japan in families of the middle and upper income brackets. We shall not claim that our subjects necessarily behaved in the manner suggested, for the description itself pertains to norms or principles and not to behavior. In a subsequent section we shall provide a description and analysis of the behavior of our subjects with reference to these norms.

This procedure implies the concept of a "cultural model": essentially a highly generalized description of principles, shared by a large number of people and maintained in the form of personal values. To some degree these principles or norms constitute guides or rules for behavior: sometimes followed literally, sometimes not, but always available as a generalized protocol for use by the individual in finding his way through social relationships and in judging the acts of others.

The first half of the model we shall construct pertains to the patterns of interpersonal relations in the two societies, Japan and America. We recognize that as representatives of the class of modern industrial nations, these two countries have cultures very similar in many respects. The Japanese are, in fact, often called the "Americans of the Orient," a phrase referring to their industrious orientation toward life and nature; their interest in mass-cultural pursuits like baseball; and their success with capitalist enterprise in a collectivist world. Similarities in all these areas are a fact but it is equally apparent that some significant differences have existed in other aspects of social life in the two countries. Among these differences the norms and patterns of interpersonal behavior are probably the greatest. Thus, while a Japanese and an American may share an interest in baseball which brings them closer together that either one might be to a member of some other nation, the two may differ so widely in their habits of behavior in social situations that communication between them may be seriously impeded.

Studies of Japanese social norms have revealed the following general features: articulate codification of the norms; strong tendencies toward a face-to-face, or "primary group" type of intimacy; an emphasis upon hierarchical status positions; concern for the importance of status; elative permanence of status once established; and "behavioral reserve" or discipline. These will be discussed in order.

articulate codification of rules

During the long Tokugawa period of centralized feudalism, Japanese patterns of interpersonal behavior underwent an elaborate institutionalization. The Shogunate attempted to fix the position of each class with respect to the others and established written rules of behavior for its members. The family system had developed historically along patrilineal lines, and during Tokugawa times such patterns of relations between kin were proclaimed as an official social code. After the Meiji Restoration, the samurai class in control of the nation maintained these formalized rules and even elevated them to the status of an idealized spiritual expression of the Japanese ethos. The reason for this enhancement of the Tokugawa code after the Restoration lay in the need to preserve and strengthen national discipline and unity as a practical policy in industrialization and other aspects of modernization. Thus, Japan moved into her modern era in possession of a system of rules of social behavior based on feudal and familial principles.

It is necessary to note that this system of codified rules was consistently adhered to in actual behavior by only a minority of the population: the samurai and nobility. The remainder of the population followed the rules in part, or only in "public" situations where the pressure for conformity was strong. In the decades subsequent to the Restoration a generalized version of the code was adopted by the developing business and official classes, and this is the situation which continues to prevail in Japan today (although since the Occupation a considerable liberalization of social behavior can be found in all classes and groups). Since the student subjects of-the research project were persons from upper- and middle-class groups socialized in prewar and wartime Japan, we can use the gross aspects of this social code as a backdrop for the interpretation of their behavior. The strength and the influence of this code were enhanced further by the fact that up to the period of the Occupation, no large migration to Japan of Westerners had occurred. In this situation relatively few Japanese were presented with the need to learn the modes of interaction of other societiesparticularly the more "open" type of the Western nations. This isolation was intensified during the militarist-nationalist epoch of the 1930s and 1940s, in which the social code was given renewed emphasis as a counter-measure against liberal trends. The codified norms on or ascribed obligation; giri or contractual obligation; chu or loyalty to one's superior; ninjo or humane sensibility; and enryo or modesty and reserve in the presence of the superiorwere incorporated in the school curriculum as ethical doctrine, and exemplified in a multitude of cultural expressions.

primary associative qualities

An important aspect of Japanese social norms may be described in Western sociological terms as that of "primary association." Emphasis upon personal qualities, obligations between subordinate and superior, and distinctions based on age or sibling birth-order are features suited to the atmosphere of a small, highly interactive social group, like the family or a feudal manor. It goes without saying that in the modern mass society of Japan these rules have not always been observed, but the fact is that to an extraordinary degree the Japanese have succeeded in organizing present-day society into small, cell-like groupings, in which highly personalized relationships are governed by an explicit code of behavior. Even in impersonal situations, as in labor organizations, rules of primary associative type have been used at least symbolically as models for interaction and responsibility.


If Japanese social norms present an image of society in the character of a primary group, it is at least a hierarchically organized primary groupone in which there are explicit gradations of status from superior to inferior. The family is ideally organized on patrilineal-patriarchal principles, with the father as dominant, the eldest son superordinate to the younger, and so on. Primogeniture was the law of the land until the Occupation period, and, even though no longer so, it is still followed in a great many cases.

Japanese business firms, government bureaus, and many universities and schools are organized in ways reminiscent of this familial model; or their organization may be more closely related historically to feudal or lord-vassal principles. In such cases the employee and the employer, chief and underling, or teacher and pupil occupy positions which carry with them defined and ascribed rights and duties, in which the superior generally occupies a paternalistic and authoritarian role. The term sensei means teacher, or mentor, but its wide application to people outside of the teaching profession suggests its connotation of benevolent but stern authority and superiority. Likewise the term oyabun ("parent-status" or "parent-surrogate"), while strictly appropriate only for certain types of economic groups, is often applied to any highly paternalistic superior.

concern for status

All this would imply, of course, very considerable preoccupation with matters of social status. It is necessary or at least desirable for every Japanese to know his own status in the interaction situation, since it is in status that one finds the cues for reciprocal behavior. To put this in sociological terms, there exists a very close tie between status and role: the role behavior expected of one in a given status position is clearly defined and there are relatively few permitted alternatives or variations from the pattern (when alternatives are present, they, too, are often very clearly defined). Thus the behavior of a person of a given status in a social relationship, can constitute familiar and unmistakable cues for the appropriate behavior of a person of another status.

Concern with status is evidenced further by the incorporation into the Japanese language of a multitude of forms expressing varying degrees of politeness, levels of formality and respect, and subservience or dominance. This type of language dramatizes status differences between persons by the use of such devices as honorific suffixes, special verb endings, and differing pronouns. To mention only the most commonly used forms for designating the second person singular, there are anata, omae, kimi, kisama, and temai. The proper use of each of these forms depends upon the relative status of the speaker and the particular situation in which the conversation or interaction takes place. Status in language depends upon age, sex, and class differences, as well as on the degree of intimacy and the extent of formal obligation existing between those communicating.

relative permanence of status

Once status positions are clearly defined, the parties holding these statuses are expected to occupy them for very long periodsoften throughout life. A superior, for example one's professor, retains strong symbolic hierarchical precedence throughout the life of both parties, even when the student has become a professional equal in productivity, rank, and pay. Subtle changes in status of course occur, and we do not wish to make too sweeping a generalization. However, as compared with the fluid patterns typical of Western society, Japanese society-possesses considerably more orderly and predictable allocations of statusor at least the expectations of this.

behavioral reserve and discipline

A "tight" social organization based on concern with status and hierarchy is by necessity one in which social behavior tends to be governed more by norms, or public expectancies, and less by free or idiosyncratic- response to a given situation. At the same time, a system of this kind requires institutional outlets in the event that obligations, duties, status relationships, and the like, for one reason or another, may be unclear or not yet defined. The Japanese have utilized, for this purpose, the concept of enryo, loosely translatable as hesitance or "reserve." The development of this pattern in Japanese culture is of particular importance for our problem here.

The original meaning of enryo pertained to the behavior of the subordinate in hierarchical status relations. The subordinate was expected to show compliant obsequiousness toward the superior: he should hold his temper, check any aggressive response to frustration (and of course, bide his time). This pattern of behavior may be manifested by Japanese when they interact with persons of their own or any society whom they regard as superior in status. Whenever the presumption is that a superior person occupies the "alter" status, enryo is likely to be observed by "ego".

Now, as Japan entered the stage of industrialization, with its expanded opportunities for individual enterprise and mobility (a process still under way), social situations became more complicated, more ambiguous, and more violative of the traditional rules and behavioral prescriptions. Since at the same time the basic hierarchical, primary-group character of the norms prevailed, there emerged strong needs for adjustive behavior. Enryo became the escape-hatch: in the new ambiguity, behavioral reserve and noncommitment became the frequent alternative, and the Japanese manifested such withdrawn, unresponsive behavior in the event that a particular interpersonal situation lacked clear designation of the statuses of ego and alter. Much the same situation holds when the Japanese is overseas. Here, too, his behavior is frequently characterized by enryo often concealing confusion and embarrassment over his ignorance of the social rules of the foreign society. Thus the "shyness" or reserved behavior often found in Japanese on the American campus can be due either to the fact that the Japanese views Americans, or certain Americans, as superior people; or to the fact that he is simply not sure how to behave in American social situations, regardless of status. The rule goes, when status is unclear, it is safest to retreat into enryo. This form of response is most typical of persons socialized in prewar and wartime Japan; the postwar generation, many of whom have grown up in the more liberal atmosphere of the Occupation and after, are much more tolerant of ambiguity.


We may now view these normative patterns from a comparative cultural perspective. A detailed description of the American norms will not be required, since it may be presumed that the reader has sufficient familiarity with them. We shall select those American rules of interpersonal behavior that are "opposites" to the Japanese patterns just described. In a later section we shall discuss cases of similarity.

There is among Americans a tendency toward an initial egalitarian response oil the part of "ego": two persons are presumed to be equal unless proven otherwise. (The Japanese norms contain an opposite premise: when status is vague, inequality is expected.) In practice this egalitarian principle in American interpersonal behavior leads to what the Japanese might perceive as fluidity and unpredictability of behavior-in interaction, and highly variable or at least less apparent concern for status. Things like wealth, public versus private situations, and a host of other features may all in the American case, influence the behavior of ego and alter in ways which are not subject to predicate codification, Allowance is made continually for subtle changes in roles of those interacting, with a strain toward equalization if hierarchical differences appear. Thus, while in social situations the Japanese may find it difficult to communicate unless status differences are clear, the American, in view of his egalitarian preference, may point to and actually experience status difference as a source of interpersonal tension and difficulty in communication. Thus the Japanese may see the free flow of communication as enhanced by clear status understandings; the American may view it instead as requiring maximal intimacy and freedom of expression.

Finally, reserve or discipline is in some cases much less apparent in American social behavior. Initially, outward display of feeling is encouraged, and' reserve may develop after status differences are recognized. Once again the Japanese may proceed on an approximately opposite principle: behavioral freedom and expressivity become a potentiality after statuses are clearly differentiatedespecially when equality is achieved but not before. Moreover, even when statuses are clear to the Japanese participants in social relations, interaction often continues to be hesitant and guarded. (Important institutionalized exceptions to the general rule of avoidance are found in the frank behavior tolerated in sake parties, behavior of the male guest and his geisha partner, and a few others.)

In American interpersonal behavior the patterns of tact, obsequiousness, and other forms of retiring behavior are seen continually, but they are often much more situational and idiosyncratic. Americans lack a concept with the generalized cultural meaning of enryo; reserve may be a useful form of behavior for some people, but not others, or in some situations; it may be associated with status differences, or it may not. And when this reserve is associated with status positions (and in the presence of hierarchical patterns generally), Americans are likely to express attitudes of guilt or regret, or are likely to conceal the existence of such patterns by verbally reaffirming egalitarian principles. Moreover, some American normative attitudes frown on "manipulative" tendencies; frankness, openness, and humility are valued highly, if not always observed. Quotations from interviews with student subjects (sojourners and returnees) may serve to indicate the Japanese perspective on their own and the American patterns of interpersonal behavior.

Q.: What did you like about America that you didn't about Japan?

A.: Well, it's hard to give concrete examples, but mainly I was satisfied with what you might call the smartness of life the modernness of things. And also the simplicity and frankness of life. You don't have to worry about gimu-giri-on [obligations] over there ... In the United States you have to visit relatives too, but such visits are more personal, more real more meaningful. Here in Japan they are for the sake of girt and righteousness and all that stuff.

Q.: Could you define the term "Americanized" as it is used by Japanese students?

A.: Well, to be Americanized means to be indifferent to social position-indifferent to social formality such as in formal greetings. It concerns points about how one acts socially.

This is about human relations it didn't surprise me but it did impress me very much to find that relations with others are always on an equal plane in the U.S. In Japan I automatically used polite language with seniors so that this just seemed natural and if I used polite words in Japan I didn't necessarily feel that this was feudalistic though some do. At first in the U.S. when young
people, like high school students, talked to me as an equal, I felt conflicted, or in the dormitory it surprised me to see a boy of 20 talk to a man of 45 as an equal.

In Japan, my father and some of my superiors often told me that my attitude toward superiors and seniors was too rude. Here, though, my attitude doesn't seem rude at least it doesn't appear as rude as I was afraid it would. It is easier to get along with people in America, because for one thing, Americans are not so class conscious and not so sensitive about things like status. In Japan, my conduct to superiors seemed rude, but the same behavior isnt rude here. For instance here it is all right simply to say "hello" to teachers, while in Japan I would be expected to say ohayo gozaimasu" [polite form of "good morning"] with a deep bow. In Japan I did things like this only when I really respected somebody.

A main problem with me is the problem of enryo, or what you call modesty. Even in life in America you have to be modest, but in a different way from the so-called Japanese enryo. But the trouble is that I don't know when and where we have to show enryo in American life. You never can be sure.

The good thing about associating with Americans is that you can be friendly in a light manner. Not so in Japan. Japanese are nosey in other peoples' businessthey rumor, gossip. It gives you a crowded feeling, after you get back. Of course in Japan friendships are usually deep it is good to have a real friend to lean on you know where you stand with your friends; it is the opposite of light associations.

I have few American friends those I have are usually Americans who have been to Japan. I think the reason is that my character is somewhat backward.

I don't try to speak first, but let the other fellow open up. Those who have been to Japan know about this and speak first, and that makes it easier to start an association.

From the information on contrasting cultural norm and cue systems supplied thus far, it is possible to predict in a general way that I when a Japanese interacts with an American, certain blockages to communication and to the correct assessment of status behavior may occur. Japanese are likely to confront Americans with unstated assumptions concerning status differences, while the American may be inclined to accept the Japanese at face valuethat is, as a person, not a status. In the resulting confusion it may be anticipated that the Japanese will retreat into what he calls enryo, since this form of behavior involving attenuated communication is appropriate toward persons of unclear or superior status.


For reasons usually found in the cultural background of the peoples concerned, and in the historical relations of nations, there is a tendency on the part of some to view other nations and peoples much as one would view persons in a hierarchically oriented social group. Modernization, which brings an increased need for knowledge of other peoples, has brought as well a strong sense of competitiona desire to know where one stands, or where one's nation stands relative to other nations in technological and other areas of development. This desire to know one's position and the tendency to view other nations hierarchically are probably found to some degree in all modern societies, but may be exaggerated among those nations that are in the middle ranks in the competitive race for modernizationand particularly in those societies which have incorporated into their own culture a strong hierarchical conception of status.

Thus, in societies with hierarchical patterns, there will occur certain established techniques which are defined as appropriate for governing behavior toward the nationals of countries judged either to be higher or lower than that of the actor. On the other hand, for societies with egalitarian ideals of social relations, while there may be a tendency in the national popular ideology to view other nations hierarchically in terms of power and progress, there will be no ready behavioral pattern to follow toward individual members of these other societies. Ideally, regardless of national origin, individuals will be considered as "human beings," theoretically equal. Such theoretical equality is often violated in practice, of course, but the violations are based not on systematic hierarchical conceptions, but on transitory and situationally determined attitudes.

The Japanese tendency to locate other nations on a hierarchical scale is well known, and is observable even at the level of formal diplomatic interchange. With respect to the Japanese attitude toward the United States, the tendency toward a superordinate status percept is very strong although qualified and even reversed in certain contexts (American arts and literature have been viewed as of questionable merit, for example) and in certain historical periods. The historical basis for this generally high-status percept may be found in America's historic role in the opening of Japan; in the use of America as a model for much of Japan's modernization; and in the participation and guidance of the United States in reform and reconstruction during the Occupation. America, though not always a country for which the Japanese feel great affection, has come to be a symbol of many of Japan's aspirations, as well as a "tutor" whom the "pupil" must eventually excel (or even conquer). Therefore, whatever the specific affectual response, we have found that the Japanese student subjects often perceived America as deserving of respect or at least respect-avoidance (enryo), and were further inclined to project this image onto the American individual. Evidence of these views available in our research data is sampled at the end of this section, in the form of quotations from interviews.

Within tolerable limits of generally, America may be specified as a society in which egalitarian interpersonal relationships are the ideal pattern and, in tendency at least, the predominant pattern of behavior. But in the United States, especially as the country emerges from political isolation, there also has appeared a tendency to rate other nations in a rough hierarchical order. Thus, some European nations in the spheres of art, literature, and the manufacture of sports cars would be acclaimed by many Americans as superior, and Americans are increasingly concerned about their technological position vis-a-vis Russia. However, this tendency to rate other nations hierarchically does not automatically translate itself into code of behavior for Americans to follow toward the people of other countries, as is the case for many Japanese. It may leave the social situation a little confused for the Americans, but in the background of thinking for many individual Americans is the notion that in social relations people should be treated initially as equals.


When a person from a national society with hierarchical tendencies encounters a person from a society with egalitarian tendencies, and moreover when the country of the latter is generally "high" in the estimation of the former, the idealized paradigm as shown in Figure 1 would be approximated. In this diagram, X, the person from a country with egalitarian views, behaves toward Y, the person from a hierarchically oriented country, as if he occupied the same "level"; that is, in equalitarian terms.

Figure 1.

But Y perceives X in a high-status position X1, "above" X's image of his own status in the relationship. Since from Y's point of view X does not behave as he "ought" tohe behaves as an equal rather than as a superiorY may be expected to feel confusion and disorientation. The confusion can be resolved readily only by Y's assuming an equal status with X, or by X's assuming the position X1 assigned to him by Y; i.e., either by closing or by validating the "arc of status-cue confusion" shown by the arrow.

The reader will note that in effect we have already substituted "average American" for X, and "average Japanese" for Y. We have found that the diagram has been meaningful as an ideal model for the analysis of interaction patterns between Japanese and Americans. In many cases the conditions denoted by the diagram were actually found: Americans do behave toward Japanese as equals, while the Japanese perceive the Americans as, and in some cases expect them to behave like, superiors. In this ideal situation since the Japanese is generally not able to respond as an equal, and since withdrawal and distant respect are proper behavior both for interaction with superiors and for interaction in situations where status is ambiguous, he simply retires into enryo and communication is impaired. This model does much to explain what many educators and foreign student counsellors have come to feel as "typical" behavior of the shy, embarrassed Japanese student on the American campus.

A revealing interchange on the matter of status imagery by some twelve Japanese sojourner students was recorded during a two-hour group discussion planned by the project but not attended by Americans. A translation of part of this interchange follows.

M: As I see it, Japanese think of Americans as nobility. So, it is hard to accept invitations because of the status difference.

K: I don't agree fully. Americans are not nobility to us, but they do have a higher social status, so that it is hard to accept invitations. But there is a "category" of persons who are known and placed as "foreign students," and we can take advantage of this general foreign student status and go to American homes and places.

N: During foreign student orientation we came and went as we desired as "foreign students." But here, as an individual person, I have felt it necessary to return invitations which are extended to me, and this I find very difficult since I have no income and must return the invitation in a manner suited to the status of the person.

M: Only if the invitation is from Americans who we can accept as status equals to us should it be returned. . . . American table manners are difficult to learn, and it is a problem similar to that encountered by anyone who attempts to enter a higher social class in Japan. . . . Japanese just can't stand on an equal footing with Americans. ... I wouldn't want an American janitor to see my house in Japan. It is so miserable.

N: Why? That seems extreme.

M: Because I have social aspirations. I am a "climber." A Japanese house in Tokyo is too dirty to invite an American tofor example, could I invite him to use my poor bathroom? (General laughter)

At a later point in the discussion, the following emerged:

Mrs. N: I have watched American movies in Japan and in the United States I have seen American menand they all look like Robert Taylor. No Japanese men look like Robert Taylor.

M: Again I say it is not a matter of beauty, but one of status.

Mrs. N: No, it is not statusnot calculation of economic worth or anything but of beauty. Americans are more beautifulthey look nicer than Japanese.

U: It is the same in other things. Americans look nice, for example, during an oral examination in college. They look more attractive. Japanese look down, crushed, ugly.

At a still later point, one of the discussants embarked on a long monologue on the ramifications of the status problem. Part of this monologue runs as follows:

A high-status Japanese man going out with American girls knows something of what he must dofor example, he must be politebut he does not know the language so he can be no competition to American men, who will be superior. In an emergency, for example, the Japanese male regresses to Japanese behavior. Great Japanese professors are embarrassed for the first few months in the United States because they can't even beat American college juniors in sociable behavior or expression of ideas. They don't know the language, they feel inferior. These people, forgetting that they were unable "to defeat America, become highly antagonistic to the United States. . . .They reason that Japan must be superior, not inferior to the United States, because they are unable to master it. While in America, of course, they may write home about their wonderful times and experiences to hide their real feelings. Actually while they are in the U.S. they feel as though they were nothing.

Some quotations from two different interviews with another subject:

Before I came to the States, I expected that whatever I would do in the U.S. would be observed by Americans and would become their source of knowledge of Japan and the Japanese. So I thought I had to be careful. In the dormitory, there is a Nisei boy from whom I ask advice about my manners and clothing! I asked him to tell me any time when my body smells or my clothing is dirty. I, as a Japanese, want to look nice to Americans.

In general, I think I do less talking than the others in my courses. I'm always afraid that if I raise questions along the lines of Japanese thinking about the subjector simply from my own way of looking at somethingit might raise some question on the part of .the others. When talking to a professor I can talk quite freely, but not in class. I am self-conscious.

These specimen quotations help to show that quite frequently the perspective of many Japanese students toward America has some of the qualities of the triangular model of interaction. Regardless of how our Japanese subjects may have behaved, or learned to behave, they harbored, as a picture in the back of their minds, an image of the Americans as people a notch or two "above" Japan and the Japanese. Thus even while a Japanese may "look down" on what he calls "American materialism," he may "in the back of his mind" continue to "look up" to the United States and its people as a whole, as a "generalized other." Our cultural model of interaction is thus felt to be a very fundamental and highly generalized component of imagery, as well as a very generalized way of describing the behavior of Japanese and Americans in certain typical interactive situations.

Quite obviously the model, taken by itself, would be a very poor instrument of prediction of the actual behavior of a particular Japanese with Americans. It is apparent that there would have to be a considerable knowledge of situational variability, amount of social learning, and many other factors before all the major variants of Japanese social behavior in America with respect to status could be understood. While there is no need to seek complete predictability of individual behavior, some attempt may be made to show how the social behavior of the Japanese subjects of research did vary in actual social situations in America, and to see if these variants followed a consistent pattern.

Here is a list of values that some visitors from other cultures have noticed are common to many Americans:

Informality (being casual and down-to-earth) Self-reliance (not looking to others to solve your problems) Efficiency (getting things done quickly and on time) Social equality (treating everyone the same) Assertiveness (saying what's on your mind) Optimism (believing that the best will always happen)


Here is a list of comments a non-American might make about an Americans:

1. Americans are always in such a hurry to get things done!

2. Americans insist on treating everyone the same.

3. Americans always have to say what they're thinking!

4. Americans always want to change things.

5. Americans don't show very much respect for their elders.

6. Americans always think things are going to get better. They are so optimistic!

7. Americans are so impatient!

Reasons some cultural anthropologists have offered to explain why Americans may appear the way they do to people from other cultures.

1. Americans are always in such a hurry to get things done!

Americans often seem this way because of their tendency to use achievements and accomplishments as a measure of a person's worth. They're in a hurry to get things done because it's only then that they feel they have proven their worth to other people. The more Americans accomplish, the more they feel they are respected.

2. Americans insist on treating everyone the same.

Americans do this because of our cultural roots as a free nation (e.g., "All men are created equal"). Americans have a deep cultural instinct toward social equality and not having a class system. Ibis is a reaction to the European class system as well as the feudal system that existed in Europe. In cultures where inequality between social classes is more accepted, American insistence on egalitarianism, or social equality, may be annoying.

3. Americans always have to say what they're thinking!

Americans believe that being direct is the most efficient way to communicate. It's important to "tell it like it is" and "speak your mind" to say what you mean and mean what you say. Being direct is often valued over "beating around the bush." Americans value "assertiveness" and being open and direct about one's droughts and feelings. Not all cultures have this same value. In some cultures, the "normal" way to disagree or to say no is to say nothing or be very indirect.

4. Americans always want to change things.

Americans mink things can always be better, and that progress is inevitable. The United States is just a little more than 200 years old, and American culture tends to be an optimistic one. Older cultures are more skeptical because they have been around longer, have experienced more, and have been in situations in which progress was not always made. In American businesses, being open to change is a strong value, because things really do change quickly, and it is necessary to adapt. Many Americans believe it is "good" to initiate change and "bad" to resist it.

5. Americans don't show very much respect for their elders.

Americans believe people must earn by their actions whatever regard or respect they are given. Merely attaining a certain age or holding a certain position does not in itself signify achievement.

6. Americans always think things are going to get better. They are so optimistic!

America, because of its resources and successes, has always had a culture of optimism. Americans believe that they are in control of their own destinies, rather than being victims of fate. Many Americans tend to believe that "the American dream" can be achieved by anyone who is willing to work hard enough. Many Americans believe mat the only obstacle to things getting better is "not trying hard enough." Americans also believe that a personal lack of determination or effort can be "fixed." Other cultures may believe more in fate ("what will be will be"). When something bad happens, some members of these cultures believe it was fated to happen, must be accepted, and cannot be changed.

7. Americans are so impatient!

Americans believe that if things take a long time to do, they won't be able to do enough of them. Many Americans believe that more and faster is better. They do not like to stand in line and wait, and they originated "fast food." Americans believe that "getting things done" (and doing them quickly) may be more important than other things. Many other cultures believe that slower is better and that building and maintaining relationships takes priority over "getting things done" at the expense of relationships.

Americans are. . . (students of different countres)

What response would you give to these students? Do you consider their observations biased? naive? limited? unfair? interesting? useless?

Student No.1-from Saudi Arabia: "I have learned three important things about Americans since I came to the United States. First, I have learned that all Americans are lively; they move and speak quickly, because time is very important to them. Second, Americans are the same as the machine, they do their work worthily but without any thinking, they just use the instructions even if it is not completely right. Finally, they do not know anything except their job, they do not know what is happened in their country."

Student No.2-from Venezuela: "I have observed that Americans are polite, pragmatic, and organized. Wherever you are in the United States you can hear words of friendship and cordiality like, "May I help you?", "Excuse me", "Have a nice day.", "Thank you", and many others. Another characteristic is their pragmatism. Along years, Americans have worked a lot in order to create many devices which have made their life more comfortable. These devices not only save time but they also make things easier. Last, but never least, Americans are very organized. Perhaps, for the same fact that they are very pragmatic people, they have developed different ways of organization that assure them better services. "

Student No.3-from Japan: "I have been learning about Americans since I came here last September. First, Americans don't care what other people do or what happened. For example, when I come out of my room my roommate never ask me where you are going or where I went. Second, Americans are friendly and open-minded. When I went to my roommate's home, I was welcomed by her family. Her mother said to me immediately: "Help yourself to everything in my home," and I was surprised to hear it. I thought that the words indicated friendliness. In Japan we never open refrigerators or use my friend's things without permissions, because to serve is a virtue in my country. Third, Americans like cards, sometimes I can find cards are delivered to my American friends without special reasons. As far as I look at Americans, they seem not to care what other people do as a whole, while they think it's important to keep relation-ships between them and their friends and them and their parents."



Mary Rathbun, 57, spent a restless night in the San Francisco jail thinking about the "magical cookies" that she baked to add to her fixed income. "The police wouldn't let me have one before I went to jail," she said. "I might have slept better if they had." Mary started her home baking business six months ago after a back injury forced her to quit her job as a grave-yard shift waitress. "I was a waitress for 43 years. I was good at it."

Mary's dozen magical brownies, which were baked with a lot of marijuana, were taken Wednesday night from her apartment, along with 20 pounds of pot and large amounts of sugar, margarine and flour. Mary, who has no previous criminal record, admitted doing a great business out of her home selling her "health food cookies." She said that she wouldn't give away her special recipe.

Mary advertised her "original recipe brownies" for $20 a dozen. Her lack of carefulness, especially taking orders over the phone from anyone amazed and amused the police officers who arrested her. "Life is a gamble.

I played by the rules for 57 years. Then I gambled and lost."

True, Americans enjoy money and the things it can buy. But in defense of the so-called materialistic American, one expert in American culture points out, ". . . however eager we are to make money, we are just as eager to give it away. Any world disaster finds Americans writing checks to relieve distress. Since the war we have seen the spectacle of the United States sending billions and billions of dollars' worth of goods to countries less fortunate than we. Write some of it off, if you will, to a desire to buy political sympathy; there is still an overplus of goodwill strictly and uniquely American. Generosity and materialism run side by side."

The average American is also accused of being "rough around the edges" -that is, of lacking sophistication in manners and understanding of things cultural. He tries hard to polish those edges through education and travel. But no matter how much he learns and sees, his interests are less with the past than with the present and future, less with the decorative than with the functional. He may be bored by medieval art but fascinated by modern engineering. Foreigners will find him always ready to compare cultures, though he may conclude that American methods are more efficient and therefore better. In expressing his views, he may be blunt to the point of rudeness. He admires efficiency and financial success. Eager to get as much as possible for his time and money, he is sometimes impatient, tense, and demanding. Often, he is in a hurry and unable to relax. His intensely competitive outlook is probably his greatest fault. But one must give him credit for his virtues: he is friendly, spontaneous, adaptable, efficient, energetic, and kindhearted. All things considered, he is a likable guy.

Whose American Dream?

"All men are created equal," says the Declaration of Independence.

This statement does not mean that all human beings are equal in ability or ambition. It means, instead, that all people should be treated equally before the law and given equal privileges and opportunities, insofar as government can control these. In practice, this ideal often does not work perfectly. There have always been those who would deny the rights of others for their own self-interest. There are times when the American people need to be reminded that any denial of basic rights is a weakening of the total system. However, equal treatment and equal opportunity for all are ideals toward which American society is moving ever closer.

The American belief in equality of opportunity is illustrated by the Horatio Alger myth. Horatio Alger was a nineteenth-century American novelist who wrote stories about poor boys who became successful. His books told about the little newsboy or bootblack who, because he was hardworking, honest, and lucky, grew up to become rich and respected. These popular "rags-to-riches" stories exemplified the American Dream-the belief that any individual, no matter how poor, can achieve wealth and fame through diligence and virtue.

The "American Dream"

In the United States there is a belief that people are rewarded for working, producing, and achieving. Many people believe that there is equality of opportunity that allows anyone to become successful. This belief is illustrated by stories written by a nineteenth-century American novelist, Horatio Alger, who wrote about the" American Dream." In his stories he described poor people who became rich because of their hard work, honesty, and luck. The stories reinforced the idea that all individuals, no matter how poor, were capable of becoming wealthy as long as they were diligent and virtuous. For many Americans, however, Horatio Alger's "rags-to-riches" stories do not represent the reality of opportunity. Many poor immigrants who came to the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were able to rise on the social and economic scales. Today, however, the poor generally do not rise to the middle and upper classes. The" American Dream" is now described as a myth; it is still difficult for several million Americans to "get ahead."

Which Kind of University?

These excerpts provide two versions of life on North American University campuses. Which version would be most helpful to foreign students in general? Should a choice be made?

A college community is an interesting and lively place. Students become involved in many different activities-extracurricular, religious, social and athletic. Among the extracurricular activities are college newspapers' musical organizations, dramatic clubs, and political groups. Some of these have faculty advisers. Many religious groups have their own meeting places where services and social activities can be held. Student groups run parties of all types-from formal dances to picnics. Most colleges have a student union where students can get together for lunch, study sessions, club meetings, and socializing.

At many schools, campus life revolves around fraternities (social and, in some cases, residential clubs for men) and sororities (similar clubs for women). These organizations exist on more than 500 campuses. The best known are national groups with many chapters at schools throughout the country. Their names are Greek letters such as Alpha Delta Phi. These groups have been much criticized for being cruel and prejudiced because membership is limited and selective. A student must be invited to join. There is often great competition among freshmen and sophomores who want to join. Those who seek membership must go through rush (a period when prospective members visit different houses to meet and be evaluated by current members). The whole experience can be very painful if a student goes through rush and then is not asked to pledge (become a trial member of) any of the houses he or she has visited. Sororities and fraternities also tend to limit membership to one particular racial and religious group, thereby depriving its members of the wonderful opportunity that college offers for broadening social contacts. However, these groups do help students find friends of similar backgrounds; thus, they help combat loneliness for those away from home.

Student life at American universities is chaotic during the first week of each quarter or semester. Registering for classes, becoming familiar with the buildings on campus, buying books, adding and dropping classes, and paying fees are confusing for everyone. During this busy period there is little time for students to anticipate what they will later encounter in the classroom.

International students, accustomed to their countries' educational expectations, must adapt to new classroom norms in a foreign college or university. Whereas in one country prayer may be acceptable in a classroom, in another it may be forbidden. In some classrooms around the world students must humbly obey their teacher's commands and remain absolutely silent during a class period. In others, students may talk, eat, and smoke during lectures as well as criticize a teacher's methods or contradict his or her statements. It is not always easy to understand a new educational system.

Diversity in Education

There is considerable variety in university classrooms in the United States. Because of diverse teaching methods and non-standardized curricula, no two courses are identical. Undergraduate courses are considerably different from graduate courses. The classroom atmosphere in expensive, private universities may differ from that in community colleges which are free and open to everyone. State-funded universities have different requirements and expectations than do parochial colleges. Nevertheless, there are shared features in American college and university classrooms despite the diversity of educational institutions of higher learning.

The differences between cultures are leaded to misunderstandings in many points.



Anyone who has traveled abroad or dealt at all extensively with non-Americans learns that punctuality is variously interpreted. It is one thing to recognize this with the mind; to adjust to a different kind of appointment time is quite another.

In Latin America, you should expect to spend hours waiting in outer offices. If you bring your American interpretation of what constitutes punctuality to a Latin-American office, you will fray your temper and elevate your blood pressure. For a forty-five-minute wait is not unusual -no more unusual than a five minute wait would be in the United States. No insult is intended, no arbitrary pecking order is being established. If, in the United States, you would not be outraged by a five-minute wait, you should not be outraged by the Latin-American's forty-five-minute delay in seeing you. The time pie is differently cut, that's all.

Further, the Latin American doesn't usually schedule individual appointments to the exclusion of other appointments. The informal Clock of his upbringing ticks more slowly and he rather enjoys seeing several people on different matters at the same time. The three-ring circus atmosphere which results, if interpreted in the American's scale of time and propriety, seems to signal him to go away, to tell him that h~ is not being properly treated, to indicate that his dignity is under attack. Not so. The clock on the wall may look the same but it tells a different sort of time.

The cultural error may be compounded by' a further miscalculation. In the United States, a consistently tardy man is likely to be considered undependable, and by our cultural clock this is a reasonable conclusion. For you to judge a Latin American by your scale of time values is to risk a major error.

Suppose you have waited forty-five minutes and there is a man in his office, by some miracle alone in the room with you. Do you now get down to business and stop "wasting time"?

If you are not forewarned by experience or a friendly advisor, you may try to do this. And it would usually be a mistake. For, in the American culture, discussion is a means to an end: the deal. You try to make your point quickly, efficiently, neatly. If your purpose is to arrange some major affairs, your instinct is probably to settle the major issues first, leave the details for later, possibly for the technical people to work out.

For the Latin American, the discussion is a part of the spice of life. Just as he tends not to be overly concerned about reserving you your specific segment of time, he tends not as rigidly to separate business from non-business. He runs it all together and wants to make something of a social event out of what you, in your .culture, regard as strictly business.

The Latin American is not alone in this. The Greek businessman, partly for the same and partly for different reasons, does not lean toward the "hit-and-run" school of business behavior, either. The Greek businessman adds to the social element, however, a feeling about what length of discussion time constitutes go09 faith. In America, we show good faith by ignoring the details. "Let's agree on the main points. The details will take care of themselves."

Not so the Greek. He signifies good will and good faith by what may seem to you an interminable discussion which includes every conceivable detail. Otherwise, you see, he cannot help but feel that the other man might be trying to pull the wool over his eyes. Our habit, in what we feel to be our relaxed and friendly way, of postponing details until later smacks the Greek between the eyes as a maneuver to flank him. Even if you can somehow convince him that this is not the case, the meeting must still go on a certain indefinite-but, by our standards, long-time or he will feel disquieted.

The American desire to get down to business and on with other things works to our disadvantage in other parts of the world, too; and not only in business. The head of a large, successful Japanese firm commented: "You Americans have a terrible weakness. We Japanese know about it and exploit it every chance we get. You are impatient. We have learned that if we just make you wait long enough, you'll agree to anything."

Whether this is literally true or not, the Japanese executive singled out a trait of American culture which most of us share and which, one may assume from the newspapers, the Russians have not overlooked, either.

By acquaintance time we mean how long you must know a man be fore you are willing to do business with him.

In the United States, if we know that a salesman represents a well known, reputable company, and if we need his product, he may walk away from the first meeting with an order in his pocket. A few minutes conversation to decide matters of price, delivery, payment, model of product-nothing more is involved. In Central America, local custom does not permit a salesman to land in town, call on the customer and walk away with an order, no matter how badly your prospect wants and needs your product. It is traditional there that you must see your man at least three times before you can discuss the nature of your business.

Does this mean that the South American businessman does not recognize the merits of one product over another? Of course it doesn't. It is just that the weight of tradition presses him to do business within a circle of friends. If a product he needs is not available within his circle, he does not go outside it so much as he enlarges the circle itself to include a new friend who can supply the want. Apart from his cultural need to "feel right" about a new relationship, there is the logic of his business system. One of the realities of his life is that it is dangerous to enter into business with someone over whom you have no more than formal, legal "control." In the past decades, his legal system has not always been as firm as ours and he has learned through experience that he needs the sanctions implicit in the informal system of friendship.

Visiting time involves the question of who sets the time for a visit. George Coelho, a social psychologist from India, gives an illustrative case. A U.S. businessman received this invitation from an Indian businessman: "Won't you and your family come and see us? Come any time." Several weeks later, the Indian repeated the invitation in the same words. Each time the American replied that he would certainly like to drop in-but he never did. The reason is obvious in terms of our culture. Here "come any time" is just an expression of friendliness. You are not really expected to show up unless your host proposes a specific time. In India, on the contrary, the words are meant literally-that the host is putting himself at the disposal of his guest and really expects him to come. It is the essence of politeness to leave it to the guest to set a time at his convenience. If the guest never comes, the Indian naturally assumes that he does not want to come. Such a misunderstanding can lead to a serious rift between men who are trying to do business with each other.

Time schedules present Americans with another problem in many parts of the world. Without schedules, deadlines, priorities, and timetables, we tend to feel that our country could not run at all. Not only are they essential to getting work done, but they also play an important role in the informal communication process. Deadlines indicate priorities and priorities signal the relative importance of people and the processes they control. These are all so much a part of our lives that a day hardly passes without some reference to them. "I have to be there by 6: 30." "If I don't have these plans out by 5:00 they'll be useless." "I told J. B. I'd be finished by noon tomorrow and now he tells me to drop everything and get hot on the McDermott account. What do I do now?"

In our system, there are severe penalties for not completing work on time and important rewards for holding to schedules. One's integrity and reputation are at stake.

You can imagine the fundamental conflicts that arise when we attempt to do business with people who are just as strongly oriented away from time schedules as we are toward them.

The Middle Eastern peoples are a case in point. Not only is our idea of time schedules no part of Arab life but the mere mention of a dead line to an' Arab is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. In his culture, your emphasis on a deadline has the emotional effect on him that his backing you into a corner and threatening you with a club would have on you.

One effect of this conflict of unconscious habit patterns is that hundreds of American-owned radio sets are lying on the shelves of Arab radio repair shops, untouched. The Americans made the serious cross-cultural error of asking to have the repair completed by a certain time.

How do you cope with this? How does the Arab get another Arab to do anything? Every culture has its own ways of bringing pressure to get results. The usual Arab way is one which Americans avoid as "bad manners." It is needling.

An Arab businessman whose car broke down explained it this way:

First, I go to the garage and tell the mechanic what is wrong with my car. I wouldn't want to give him the idea that I didn't know. After that, I leave the car and walk around the block. When I come back to the garage, I ask him if he has started to work yet. On my way home from lunch I stop in and ask him how things are going. When I go back to the office I stop by again. In the evening, I return and peer over his shoulder for a while. If I didn't keep this up, he'd be off working on someone else's car.

If you haven't been needled by an Arab, you just haven't been needled.


We say that there is a time and place for everything, but compared to other countries and cultures we give very little emphasis to place distinctions. Business is almost a universal value with us; it can be discussed almost anywhere, except perhaps in church. One can even talk business on the church steps going to and from the service. Politics is only slightly more restricted in the places appropriate for its discussion.

In other parts of the world, there are decided place restrictions on the discussion of business and politics. The American who is not conscious of the unwritten laws will offend if he abides by his own rather than by the local rules.

In India, you should not talk business when visiting a man's home. If you do, you prejudice your chances of ever working out a satisfactory business relationship.

In Latin America, although university students take an active interest in politics, tradition decrees that a politician should avoid political subjects when speaking on university grounds. A Latin American politician commented to. anthropologist Allan Holmberg that neither he nor his fellow politicians would have dared attempt a political speech on the grounds of the University of San Marcos in Peru-as did Vice-President Nixon.

To complicate matters further, the student body of San Marcos, anticipating the visit, had voted that Mr. Nixon would not be welcome. The University Rector had issued no invitation, presumably because he expected what did, in fact, happen.

As a final touch, Mr. Nixon's interpreter was a man in full military uniform. In Latin American countries, some of which had recently overthrown military dictators, the symbolism of the military uniform could hardly contribute to a cordial atmosphere. Latin Americans need no reminder that the United States is a great military power.

Mr. Nixon's efforts were planned in the best traditions of our own culture; he hoped to improve relations through a direct, frank, and face-to-face discussion with students-the future leaders of their country. Unfortunately, this approach did not fit in at all with the culture of the host country. Of course, elements hostile to the United States did their best to capitalize upon this cross-cultural misunderstanding. However, even Latin Americans friendly to us, while admiring the Vice President's courage, found themselfes acutely embarrassed by the behavior of their people and ours in the ensuing difficulties.


Like time and place, differing ideas of space hide traps for the uninformed. Without realizing it, almost any person raised in the United States is likely to give an unintended snub to a Latin American simply in the way we handle space relationships, particularly during conversations.

In North America, the "proper" distance to stand when talking to another adult male you do not know well is about two feet, at least in a formal business conversation. (Naturally at a cocktail party, the distance shrinks, but anything under eight to ten inches is likely to provoke an apology or an attempt to back up.)

To a Latin American, with his cultural traditions and habits, a distance of two feet seems to him approximately what five feet would to us. To him, we seem distant and cold. To us, he gives an impression of pushiness.

As soon as a Latin American moves close enough for him to feel comfortable, we feel uncomfortable and edge back. We once observed a Conversation between a Latin and a North American which began at one end of a forty-foot hall. At intervals we noticed them again, finally at the other end of the hall. This rather amusing displacement had been accomplished by an almost continual series of small backward steps on the part of the American, trying unconsciously to reach a comfortable talking distance, and an equal closing of the gap by the Latin American as he attempted to reach his accustomed conversation space.

Americans in their offices in Latin America tend to keep their native acquaintances at our distance-not the Latin American's distance-by taking up a position behind a desk or typewriter. The barricade approach to communication is practiced even by old hands in Latin America who are completely unaware of its cultural significance. They know only that they are comfortable without realizing that the distance and equipment unconsciously make the Latin American uncomfortable.


We would be mistaken to regard the communication patterns which we observe around the world as no more than a miscellaneous collection of customs. The communication pattern of a given society is part of its total culture pattern and can only be understood in that context.

We cannot undertake here to relate many examples of communication behavior to the underlying culture of the country. For the businessman, it might be useful to mention the difficulties in the relationship between social levels and the problem of information feedback from lower to higher levels in industrial organizations abroad.

There is in Latin America a pattern of human relations and unionmanagement relations quite different from that with which we are familiar in the United States. Everett Hagen of MIT has noted the heavier emphasis upon line authority and the lesser development of staff organizations in Latin-American plants when compared with North American counterparts. To a much greater extent than in the United States, the government becomes involved in the handling of all kinds of labor problems.

These differences seem to be clearly related to the culture and social organization of Latin America. We find there that society has been much more rigidly stratified than it has with us. As a corollary, we find a greater emphasis upon authority in family and the community.

This emphasis upon status and class distinction makes it very difficult for people of different status levels to express themselves freely and frankly in discussion and argument. In the past, the pattern has been for the man of lower status to express deference to his superior in any face-to-face contact. This is so even when everyone knows that the subordinate dislikes the superior. The culture of Latin America places a great premium upon keeping personal relations harmonious on the surface.

In the United States, we feel that it is not only desirable but natural to speak up to your superior, to tell the boss exactly what you think, even when you disagree with him. Of course, we do not always do this, but we think that we should, and we feel guilty if we fail to speak our minds frankly. When workers in our factories first get elected to local union office, they may find themselves quite self-conscious about speaking up to the boss and arguing grievances. Many of them, however, quickly learn to do it and enjoy the experience. American culture emphasizes the thrashing-out of differences in face-to-face contacts. It de-emphasizes the importance of status. As a result, we have built institutions for handling industrial disputes on the basis of the local situation, and we rely on direct discussion by the parties immediately involved.

In Latin America, where it is exceedingly difficult for people to express their differences face-to-face and where status differences and authority are much more strongly emphasized than here, the workers tend to look to a third party-the government-to take care of their problems. Though the workers have great difficulty in thrashing out their problems with management, they find no difficulty in telling government representatives their problems. And it is to their government that they look for an authority to settle their grievances with management.

Status and class also decide whether business will be done on an individual or a group basis.

In the United States, we are growing more and more accustomed to working as members of large organizations. Despite this, we still assume that there is no need to send a delegation to do a job that one capable man might well handle.

In some other parts of the world, the individual cannot expect to gain the respect necessary to accomplish this purpose, no matter how capable he is, unless he brings along an appropriate number of associates.

In the United States, we would rarely think it necessary or proper to call on a customer in a group. He might well be antagonized by the hard sell.

In Japan-as an example-the importance of the occasion and of the man is measured by whom he takes along.

This practice goes far down in the business and government hierarchies.

Even a university professor is likely to bring one or two retainers along on academic business. Otherwise people might think that he was a nobody and that his affairs were of little moment.

Even when a group is involved in the U.S., the head man is the spokes man and sets the tone. This is not always the case in Japan. Two young Japanese once requested an older American widely respected in Tokyo to accompany them so that they could "stand on his face." He was not expected to enter into the negotiation; his function was simply to be present as an indication that their intentions were serious.


One need not have devoted his life to a study of various cultures to see that none of them is static. All are constantly changing and one element of change is the very fact that U.S. enterprise enters a foreign field. This is inevitable and may be constructive if we know how to utilize our knowledge. The problem is for us to be aware of our impact and to learn how to induce changes skillfully.

Rather than try to answer the general question of how two cultures interact, we will consider the key problem of personnel selection and development in two particular intercultural situations, both in Latin cultures.

One U.S. company had totally different experiences with "Smith" and "Jones" in the handling of its labor relations. The local union leaders were bitterly hostile to Smith, whereas they could not praise Jones enough. These were puzzling reactions to higher management. Smith seemed a fair minded and understanding man; it was difficult to fathom how anyone could be bitter against him. At the same time, Jones did not appear to be currying favor by his generosity in giving away the firm's assets. To management, he seemed to be just as firm a negotiator as Smith.

The explanation was found in the two men's communication characteristics. When the union leaders came in to negotiate with Smith, he would let them state their case fully and freely-without interruption, but also without comment. When they had finished, he would say, "I'm sorry, We can't do it." He would follow this blunt statement with a brief and entirely cogent explanation of his reasons for refusal. If the union leaders persisted in their arguments, Smith would paraphrase his first statement, calmly and succinctly. In either case, the discussion was over in a few minutes. The union leaders would storm out of Smith's office complaining bitterly about the cold and heartless man with whom they had to deal.

Jones handled the situation differently. His final conclusion was the same as Smith's-but he would state it only after two or three hours of discussion. Furthermore, Jones participated actively in these discussions, questioning the union leaders for more information, relating the case in question to previous cases, philosophizing about labor relations and human rights and exchanging stories about work experience. When the discussion came to an end, the union leaders would leave the office, commenting on how warmhearted and understanding he was, and how confident they were that he would help them when it was possible for him to do so, They actually seemed more satisfied with a negative decision from Jones than they did with a hard-won concession from Smith.

This was clearly a case where the personality of Jones happened to match certain discernible requirements of the Latin American culture. It was happenstance in this case that Jones worked out and Smith did not, for by American standards both were top-flight men. Since a talent for the kind of negotiation that the Latin American considers graceful and acceptable can hardly be developed in a grown man (or perhaps even in a young one), the basic problem is one of personnel selection in terms of the culture where the candidate is to work.

The second case is more complicated because it involves much deeper intercultural adjustments. The management of the parent V.S. company concerned had learned-as have the directors of most large firms with good-sized installations overseas-that one cannot afford to have all of the top and middle-management positions manned by North Americans. It is necessary to advance nationals up the overseas-management ladder as rapidly as their abilities permit. So the nationals have to learn not only the technical aspects of their jobs but also how to function at higher levels in the organization.

Latin culture emphasizes authority in the home, church, and community. Within the organization this produces a built-in hesitancy about speaking up to one's superiors. The initiative, the acceptance of responsibility which we value in our organizations had to be stimulated. How could it be done?

We observed one management man who had done a remarkable job of building up these very qualities in his general foremen and foremen. To begin with, he stimulated informal contacts between himself and these men through social events to which the men and their wives came. He saw to it that his senior North American assistants and their wives were' also present. Knowing the language, he mixed freely with all. At the plant, he circulated about, dropped in not to inspect or check up, but to joke and to break down the great barrier that existed in the local traditions between authority and the subordinates.

Next, he developed a pattern of three-level meetings. At the top, he himself, the superintendents, and the general foremen. At the middle level, the superintendents, general foremen, and foremen. Then the general foremen, foremen, and workers.

At the top level meeting, the American management chief set the pattern of encouraging his subordinates to challenge his own ideas, to come up with original thoughts. When his superintendents (also North Americans) disagreed with him, he made it clear that they were to state their objections fully. At first, the general foreman looked surprised and uneasy. They noted, however, that the senior men who argued with the boss were encouraged and praised. Timorously, with great hesitation, they began to add their own suggestions. As time went on, they more and more accepted the new convention and pitched in without inhibition.

The idea of challenging the boss with constructive new ideas gradually filtered down to the second and third level meetings. It took a lot of time and gentle handling, but .out of this approach grew an extraordinary morale. The native general foremen and foremen developed new pride in themselves, accepted new responsibilities, even reached out for more. They began to work to improve their capacities and to look forward to moving up in the hierarchy.


Also, it is necessary to note that food is one of the most enjoyable ways to experience another culture.


Every culture has staple foods. A staple food is a food that is rich in carbohydrates, that is eaten daily, and that is a primary source of calories and life energy. Rice is the staple food of much of Asia: from China & Japan to Sri Lanka & India. For example, many Japanese eat rice three times a day with breakfast, lunch and dinner. If there is no rice, diners feel dissatisfied: the meal simply is not complete.

Cuisine and Etiquette in Zambia

In traditional families, mothers eat together with the girls and the small boys. Boys age seven and older eat with the father. This is because all of the children below the age of seven live under the guidance of their mother and much learning takes place through daily activities in the home. Ibis is changing, however, especially in towns and cities. The new trend1 is that all members of the family eat together.

Before eating, everybody washes hands in order of the status of the members of the family: father first, then mother, and the children follow according to their ages. If a visitor happens to have a meal with the family, he or she is given the honor of washing first.

It is rude to talk very much or loudly while eating. After eating, the family members wash their hands again in the same order. The wife and the young ones clear the table. Burping after a meal is a traditional compliment, but it is not quite so common nowadays.

Zambia's staple food is maize (corn), and the inhabitants eat maize in several ways. When the corn is new, it can be roasted or boiled. When it is dry, it can be fried or boiled, either by itself or mixed with beans or peanuts. Sometimes maize is ground to a size a little bigger than rice and is cooked like rice. Finally, we have the fine cornmeal which is called mealie-meal in Zambia. This is used for making nsima, the most popular way of cooking maize. Nsima is steamed cornmeal.

Meat from cows, goats, sheep, and fish are used in sauces over nsima. There are also a lot of vegetables put in sauces, such as leaves from bean plants, okra, peas and pumpkins. Other vegetables eaten almost daily include onions and tomatoe. Nsima is usually prepared for lunch and dinner and not for breakfast. All the cooking is done by the wife.

Cuisine & Etiquette in Uganda

In Uganda, the staple food is matoke (a variety of semi-sweet bananas with green peels used in cooking). Other food crops include sweet potatoes or yams, white potatoes, beans, peas, peanuts, cabbage, onions, pumpkins, and tomatoes. Some fruits, such as oranges, papayas, lemons, and pineapples, are also grown.

Most people, except for a few who live in the city centers, produce their own food. The responsibility of preparing the family's meals belongs solely to the women and the girls in the family. Men and boys of age 12 and above are not even expected to sit in the kitchen, which is separate from the main house.

Most families eat two meals a day. The two meals are lunch and supper. Breakfast is just a cup of tea or a bowl of porridge.

When a meal is ready, all members of the household wash their hands and sit down on floor mats. Hands have to be washed before and after the meal. At mealtime everybody is welcome; visitors and neighbors who drop in are expected to join the family at a meal.

Food is served by the women. "Sauce" a stew with vegetables, beans, butter, salt, and curry powder is served to each person on a plate. Sometimes fish or beef stew is served.

Normally a short prayer is said before the family starts eating. During the meal, children talk only when asked a question. It is bad manners to reach for salt or a spoon. It is better to ask someone sitting close to it to pass it. It is also bad manners to leave the room while others are still eating. Everyone respects the meal by staying seated until the meal is over. Leaning on the left hand or stretching ones legs while at a meal is a sign of disrespect and is not tolerated.

People usually drink water at the end of the meal. It is considered odd to drink water while eating.

When the meal is finished, everyone in turn gives a compliment to the mother by saying, "Thank you for preparing the meal, madam." No dessert is served after the meal. Fruits like papaya, pineapple, or sweet bananas are normally eaten as a snack between meals.

Cuisine & Etiquette in Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone, the staple food is rice. "If I haven't had my rice, I haven't really eaten today," is a popular saying of this people. They eat rice at least twice a day. Only women and girls prepare the food.

If you visit a there friend, he or she will almost always invite you to stay and eat. Sharing is an important part of life in Sierra Leone! Everyone washes their hands before they eat, and then they gather in a circle with a huge dish of food placed in the middle.

The oldest males get the choicest food, the best pieces of meat or fish. Then the young males take the next best pieces, and then finally the women and girls get any meat or fish that is left. Sometimes the women and girls wait until the men and boys have had all they want before they eat.

Rice is eaten with the hands by squeezing or rolling it into a ball, dipping it into the sauce, and then popping it into the mouth. When everyone finishes eating, they wash their hands and thank the cook.

When you are eating, you usually don't talk. Talking shows a lack of respect for the food. It is rude to lean on your left hand while you are eating. People usually drink water only after a meal is over.

Many ingredients go into sauces or stews to go with rice. The most popular sauces are made of greens. Other common ingredients include palm oil, onions, tomatoes, yams, and red peppers. Sometimes peanut oil or coconut oil are used. Sources of protein that go into the sauces include peanuts and beans, as well as fish, chicken, goat meat, or pork. Seafood, such as oysters, lobster, and crab, may also be used. Most of the calories, however, come from rice, which is eaten in large quantities.

Fruits include oranges, bananas, papayas, lemons, avocados, watermelon, mangoes, and pineapples. Fruit is usually eaten as a snack. Plantains (cooking bananas) are sometimes sliced and fried as chips for a snack. Tea and coffee are drunk in some parts of the country for breakfast. Coke and beer are popular with people who can afford them.


A language is more than the sum of its words, its grammar, and the expressive quality of its melody.

Language =Words+ Grammar + Melody + "?"

Every cultural group has unique patterns of speech patterns for doing things like giving and responding to compliments, saying no, and forming business relationships. And even the most elementary of speech acts the greeting is more complex than you might think!


Many visitors to the United States are perplexed every time an American flashes one of those famous smiles, looks you straight in the eye, exclaims "How are you?" and then disappears without waiting to hear a word. These visitors must feel like Alice in Wonderland, trying to communicate with the White Rabbit. That's because they are taking the question "How are you?" literally, as a request for information about ones health and well-being. "How are you?" (when said in passing or as part of an everyday greeting) may be a question according to the rules of grammar, but in practice it is not a question at all! It is a friendly and polite greeting. No one expects to give or hear a long answer. A one or two word answer will do. In fact, it's considered rude to tell a long story.

When Americans are not simply greeting you and truly want to know how you are, they may put a small emphasis on the word "are." How ARE you? Or, to make the message absolutely clear, they might say "How ARE you, REALLY?" Then you can tell a very long story indeed.


In Moroccan Arabic, people greet each other with the words "Salaam Oo-allay-kum." Ibis greeting means "Peace be with you." The response is "Oo-allay-kum salaam" "And with you peace." But the greeting does not end there! Greetings in Morocco may continue for many minutes - sometimes as long as half an hour as people ask about each other's health, faith in Allah, families, work, etc.

Moroccans shake hands when greeting, touching the heart immediately after the handshake to show that the greeting is sincere. Sometimes instead of touching the heart, they will kiss their own hand after the handshake as a sign of particular esteem or affection. In the case of family members or close friends, women greeting women and men greeting men will kiss each other's cheeks back and forth a few times. In the north, it's right cheek-left cheek-left cheek. In other parts of the country, it could be right-left-right, or right-left only. How many times you kiss cheeks also depends on how much you like the person, or how long it's been since you've seen them. The longer it's been, the more kisses are exchanged.


A stereotype is a statement that simplifies human and social realities. For example, a single quality is said to belong to every member of a group: "Men hate to cook."

Prejudice is to prejudge: to form an opinion, usually negative, about someone before you know many facts. "Richard can't cook - he's a guy!" If you have seen the film Shrek, about an ogre who falls in love with a princess, you may remember Shrek's lament his sad complaint that "They judge me before they even know me!"

Stereotypes and prejudice are based on incomplete or faulty information. They get in the way of knowing people as individuals and of understanding the world in a complex and sophisticated way; they can offend & hurt people; and they can lead to serious misunderstandings.


The nine comments a non-Russian might make about Russians:

1. Russians are dreamers and not doers.

2. Russians are not materialistic. They consider other people more important than what you can buy.

3. Russians value familiar faces and distrusts those they do not know.

4. There is a right and a wrong way to do almost anything, and Russians will not hesitate to tell you when you are doing something wrong or "nyekulturno."

5. Russians don't think about the future they don't plan far ahead. If they have money today, they spend money today.

6. Russians are certain that they are right, they know everything & they have all the answers.

7. Russians are fatalistic they feel nothing they can do will make a difference.

8. Russians disapprove of people who are different or who break social conventions (like Tattoo).

9. Russians are "lazy" if you don't tell them what to do and supervise them carefully they will do as little as possible or nothing at all.

If we can understand what lies behind the stereotypes, we are able to politely challenge or correct others' misperceptions if we so choose. We all stereotype others sometimes

and it can be a shock to hear about how others stereotype us. Just think of a time you have stereotyped someone, as we all have, and imagine their reaction if they heard your words!

For an explanation of each of the nine notions, we shall learn some reasons that some observers and scholars might give as to why Russians may appear to others the way they do.

1. As a general rule Americans are oriented towards doing. They measure their own value, and that of others, by what & how much they do. Ideas are not valued as highly as the practical application of ideas and results. Russians are more oriented towards contemplating ideas and valuing ideas in and of themselves. A Russian who attended an American/Russian conference described the different ways each group would spend conference evenings. "The Russians would sit all night drinking tea, discussing and reflecting upon the events and ideas of the day, while the Americans would be dunking of what they had to do the next day and preparing for it."

2. "It's better to have 100 friends than 100 rubles." Russians have very close bonds with and depend upon a close network of friends, family and familiar faces people they know they can trust. Government, banks, & bureaucracies are not trusted or depended upon. Friends, however, can trust each other and depend upon one other.

3. Again, many Russians belong to close-knit groups of family & friends. Within these groups, there is great trust and a strong sense of closeness however strangers and outsiders are not immediately trusted and are kept at a greater social and emotional distance.

4. Russian culture, more than many others, emphasizes clear cultural norms, rules and scripts (what people should say). Many Russians expect others to conform to these social or cultural rules and freely correct those who "stray." They may feel that they are being helpful and saving others from future trouble or embarrassment

5. Russians may believe that planning for the future and living for tomorrow is sinful and contradicts Christian teachings. One Russian student quoted the Bible as proof that this belief is sacred: "Now listen to me, you that say, 'today or tomorrow we will travel to a certain city, where we will stay a year and go into business and make a lot of money.' You don't even know what your life tomorrow will be! You are like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears." Making the most of each day, living 'it to the fullest, and facing only the hardships of the current day are valued.

Many Russians appear to prefer a consensus on truth to a plurality of opinions or truths. Some writers trace this preference to the early Russian Empire - when Russia was "ruled by an autocratic dynasty with a holy mission to defend its faith against the barbarians of the East and the heresies and pluralism of the West" "The pluralism of the West was seen by Russia as chaotic, without harmony, a disunity or thought and purpose." Historically, Russia has held to a vision of a single, unifying truth the truth as told by the Communist party and Communist ideology; or a Russian Orthodox vision of an absolute truth with no room for conflicting opinions. Russian Orthodoxy, according to one writer, was envisioned as "a fellowship uniting all souls under a single and correct religious rite" actively agreed upon and shared by all. The faithful were envisioned as members of one big family - just as the 15 Soviet republics were envisioned as "sisters."

7. It is a general Russian cultural belief that people cannot necessarily or easily change things or influence events. The goal is to be patient & persevere. Some writers say this may be because of the physical hardships of Russian life from the long winters to shortages of goods.

8. Again, Russians appear to prefer dear cultural norms and rules and to easily judge and criticize those who break them.

9. Russian workers and Russian students appear to prefer detailed and precise instructions from supervisors or teachers. Decisions about what should be done, and how, appear to be made at the top. Supervisors/teachers appear to know best. People may prefer to follow clear directions from above rather than risk errors or innovations that may harm their careers.


When your first arrived in Russia, what stood out the most?

þ The forests, the vast number of green trees I saw from the airplane window.

þ It was my dream to study in Russia. It's a great country and there are many opportunities for study. I love the writings of Gorky, and through reading Gorky I got the impression that Russians are clever and patient- it's a great country, as great as the US.

What stereotypes did you hear about Russians before coming to Russia?

þ People are poor. They have to wait in line for bread.

þ It's liked a military zone, closed to most people.

þ People are hospitable. You can knock on your neighbor's door. There is brotherly love.

What stereotypes do Russians have of your part of the world?

þ Everyone is very rich. There is lots of oil. (They don't differentiate among countries).

þ Women wear veils.

þ People ride camels.

þ Men marry four or five women.

þ Everyone is Muslim. (They don't know about other religions).

þ They don't know our history.

þ Terrorists

þ Not much knowledge, they only know the name Arafat.

Russian perceptions of Arabs/Southerners

þ Southerners are called "black." There is discrimination based on skin color. There are unpleasant encounters on the street. Many international students have been assaulted. Flats have been broken into. Almost everyone has been assaulted, especially in bars, nightclubs, and discos. Students go out in groups for safety in numbers.

þ One student had two brothers who came to Russia. One brother was beaten and had a severe head injury. Another had a leg broken.

þ Some babushki yell "Chechens go home!" One interviewee says that he doesn't pay attention- he understands that they are old and he understands the psychological reasons. Another says they have no right to say those things. We are students here. We have come here for our education. We are spending money and adding to the Russian economy. We are not troubling anyone.

þ Overall crime rate is high, but foreigners are particularly victimized. There is no police protection. There seems to be no law. There are police document checks and bribes. There has been a big change in the past ten years. Now there is more economic disorder, corruption, violence, and crime.

Why Questions

Why are women streetcar drivers? Why do they do manual and construction work?

þ Why are young Russians rude to older people?

þ Why don't young men don't give up seats on the trolley bus for elders?

þ Why do young people sometimes yell or shout bad words at old women?

Your Perceptions of Russia and Russians Now

þ The people are friendly and sympathetic. Teachers are friendly and sympathetic. Sympathy is the key to understanding.

þ Russian women are very beautiful. They are patient, they work hard, they are good housewives, they are always loyal, and they dress nicely.

þ There are a high number of educated people, especially in the sciences. They are able to work under difficult conditions. It's a wonder. It's not about equipment. That's Russia's secret.

Major differences between cultures

þ Alcohol many Muslims do not drink.

þ Families at home are bigger 5-10 people

þ In Russia, people don't know their neighbors' names. They don't greet each other on the street and communicate.

þ Clothes women dress more modestly than Russian women.

þ Women don't smoke, drink, or dress revealingly as they do in Russia.

þ Families support each other more. Brothers and sisters support each other. Russian families seem more isolated and

þ The divorce rate at home is very low.

þ  Men respect women more at home, there is not so much domestic violence as in Russia.




When you first arrived in Russia, what stood out the most?

þ People are very thin.

þ How many people actually walk. There are lots of cars and good public transportation, but there are lots of pedestrians too.

þ How dirty the cities are. I knew they would look a little run down, but there's more litter and trash than at home.

þ People don't smile.

þ Russians are not materialistic. They consider other people more important than what you can buy.

þ To some degree, they are less culturally aware. Russia was dosed off to the rest of the world and Russians are not used to seeing people of color.

þ Men with machine guns at the airport A woman with big, black poufy hair, a frilly white blouse, an army-issue green mini-skirt, black stiletto heels, frosty pink lipstick and a scowl It was like a scene from a John Waters movie.

þ In 1978 I arrived in St. Petersburg from Sweden. It was like going from color to black and white. There were shortages of food. It was drab; it was dark. I came back in 1998. Ibis time I noticed a washed-out drabness. People wore dark clothes, not much color. There were things to buy in the shops this time, but somehow everything looked faded. The communist experience was unique. The whole world moved on, and Russia was closed off. There are some good things and some bad things in this. It was like being dropped off in the 1950s, when I was a child. There was still not much tourism, but the attitudes of people changed. This first time it was less friendly, people spoke less English, and there were millions of forms to fill out, scattered all over the place. You had to be precise, because the authorities were hypervigilant.

þ Crazy drivers everywhere, incredibly long waits for trams and buses, no timetables for buses and trams, people going out of their way to help you find a destination

Stereotypes You Were Aware of Before Coming to Russia

þ Lines everywhere (though I knew it was thing of the past)

þ No freedom of speech

þ Few products

þ Pervasive presence of Mafia

þ Young people getting rich very quickly

þ Prostitution (from news exposes about dark side of big city life)

þ Prejudice against people of Southern nationalities

þ Russians drink vodka

þ Russians are poor, suffered a lot, are very serious, have bread tones

þ Never smile

þ Bureaucracy is infamous

þ Churches with onion domes, great literature

þ Russian women dress up, but it doesn't matter so much what men wear.

þ Every woman is looking to marry an American, there are mail order brides, women want to get out

þ I remember bomb scares in American during the 50s and 60s and hiding under desks. The Russians wanted to come and
conquer the USA, we were told. They had the same message as us.

þ Russians tend to be paranoid.

þ Russians don't think in or about the future. Americans think about the future, but not the past or present. Americans
pay for classes so they can learn to live in the present! Russians don't plan so far ahead. If they have money today, they
spend money today.

þ Russians are quite rigid about teachers being authoritative and strong disciplinarians.

Advice family & friends gave you before you left home

þ Don't drink tap water.

þ Advice to women: be prepared that girls here dress differently: Russians dress for fashion and Americans for comfort

þ Be careful, you can't trust people there.

þ Be careful. Russia is not safe because of worries about war, bombings in Moscow, unrest, crime, civil strife. General danger.

þ Bring toilet paper and jeans. You can sell your jeans.

þ You need to have good health insurance and be prepared to fly back to the US if you need treatment Hospitals are bad and doctors aren't very good. In fact, doctors run the gamut from very dedicated to indifferent.

Why questions

þ Why is shopping a three step process? It's so inefficient. Maybe it prevents shoplifting.

þ Why is only one person doling out money?

þ Why is only one door open?

þ Why is service so bad? Is it because there is no tipping and so no motivation?

þ Why can we sit in a cafe all day without buying very much?

þ Why do women wear such high heels?

þ Why do people crowd others and cut in line?

þ Why do shop attendants go on so many breaks or just close down?

þ Why are things so unpredictable? Nothing is consistent.

þ There are no schedules at school. I arrive at school to teach and I'll be told "there is no fourth grade today." Why can't
people tell me in advance?

þ Why are restaurant workers so indifferent or outright rude?

þ Why do Russian women think they need a man for anything technical or physical?

þ Why must everyone sit at a party?

þ Why can't people put bags on the floor?

þ Why do men carry purses (for women)?

þ Who does everything break so easily?

þ Why does everything need to be stamped?

þ Why are there so many forms?

þ Why do women dress like hookers (prostitutes)?

þ Why do women wear see-through trousers with thongs and stiletto heels?

þ Why is everything so dirty?

þ Why do people spit and blow their noses onto the street?

þ Why are people so mean to each other (at stores, yelling at customers)?

þ Why do people push in front of others?

þ When a husband beats his wife in public, why doesn't anyone do anything? Why are people so reluctant to stop and help?

þ Why are there no public toilets even approaching American standards? Why do people accept such things?

þ Why do toilets have no seat covers? Is there a shortage? Can't they find them somewhere?

þ Why do Russians drink so much tea? Why don't they drink during meals?

þ Why do Americans say "excuse me1 when they bump into strangers and Russian don't?

þ Why are Russians so formal when you first meet them?

Things that frustrate

þ People always on the make

þ Large injustices in society, for example, why are teachers paid so little and then expected to buy their own textbooks

þ I'm annoyed at people looking and making an instant judgment

þ Russians are emotional, prejudiced and xenophobic.

þ The Russian sense of personal space, especially in public sphere: people stand much closer, pressing up against each
other, pushing

Why questions Russians asked you about Americans

þ Why do you want to come to Russia? (most consistent question)

þ Why are Americans fat? Why do they all have cars? Why are they so loud?

þ Why do Americans drink so much water?

þ How can you believe men and women are equal when they are so different?

þ Why don't Americans lock their doors at night?

þ Why do Americans smell like soap? - What interviewee's mother taught him: "If your clothes smell like you, they're dirty."

þ Why do Americans smile all the time?

þ Why are Americans so informal about everything?

þ Why do Americans ask so many questions?

þ Why don't you speak English correctly? It's your native language, isn't it?

Stereotypes Russians You Met Had of Americans

þ Americans are rich. "You can afford to pay that price, that's nothing for you at home!"

þ Americans have cars are fat - are loud.

þ Americans are rich, noisy, lazy, and unworldly.

þ Americans always smile.

þ All American women hate men.

þ American women are drab, dull and unfeminine.

þ American women want to do everything themselves.

þ American women are ambitious and individualistic.

þ American women are not afraid to speak their minds or confront authority.

How are Americans viewed?

þ Russians are accepting of American music, movies, and clothing but still have anti-American sentiments. It's a kind of guilty pleasure - a sense they are letting themselves, their roots, and their standards down. They accept American cultural products while remaining anti-American.

þ They think we're rich; even our poor, compared to their poor. Retirees on cruises set this stereotype, with Russians misunderstanding that some people must save for a long time for such a trip. Also, Russians on exchange programs stay with middle-class, educated families. They don't see American ghettos.

How has living abroad changed your original view or expectations about what life in Russia would be like?

þ Some stereotypes were borne out. People can be very rude in the public sphere in restaurants, airports, trains. On the other hand, if you're invited to people's homes you'll find they're the most hospitable people you've ever met. I didn't expect warm hospitality though I was prepared for inhospitality in the public sphere.

þ I tend to try not to have too many set expectations before I go to a different culture. Sure, I have some, but part of the experience is seeing what is there and seeing how you can adapt to these circumstances.

Gestures that are different, etc.

þ I always speak with my hands and show facial gestures. Most people here don't gesture much when they speak. Ibis is true of facial gestures too. My face always betrays my feelings.

þ The Russian gesture for being drunk.

þ Helping women put their coat on; other women can't do this.

þ Men NEED to carry things and pay. I met a male friend at a cafe, and he HAD to pay, to be a gentleman, even though I know he doesn't earn a lot of money. No Dutch treat.

þ The weight of swear words is stronger here than in the US. In the States I use obscenities every day. Now that I'm here, I use them maybe once a month.

þ Banging the fist again the palm

þ Thumb between the middle and index fingers

þ Touching: there's more same sex touching in Russia, women walking down the street arm in arm or holding hands

þ Shaking hands is not common practice in Russia where it is automatic and unconscious behavior for most Americans. (Said by a woman)

What are the most positive things that happened to you in Russia?

þ I met my wife and made some very close friends from another culture. Human contact. You realize you can make close friends and find similarities. I also improved my Russian.

þ I had an opportunity to live with a family and be included in family life- crises and arguments included. I really experienced normal Russian life in more depth than many.

þ Positive things: meeting very friendly people/ hospitality and the nurturing manner of Russian women. The sincerity I -have felt from the sympathy expressed by Russians about the attacks in the U.S.

What is the worst thing that happened to you?

þ The first week I was living in my flat, and felt like a stranger in my landlady's home, my landlady and her husband would share nothing with me. I had to buy my own dish washing liquid and toilet paper. They would not allow me to wash my own clothes and wanted to charge me 20 rubles per shin. (While this may not be typical, this incident it is a true story.)

þ In St Petersburg, I got ripped off. 60 or 70 dollars in a money exchange on the street It can happen anywhere, though, and it didn't change my feelings; but there are nasty rip-offs in St Petersburg and Moscow.

þ Negative things: indifference to issues of lateness and when things don't work or something goes wrong. How things tend to be more black / white or how things are taken more literally. How certain some Russians are about certain issues.

If you were to compare Russian and American culture, what are some of the broad distinctions you might draw?

þ Economics. In the US everything is about money. Sometimes Russians are very concerned about money and talk about money because it's a necessity. They have no qualms about asking how much money you make. That's a taboo question in the States.

þ Russians are more traditional, especially the way women want to be treated by men. Feminism doesn't seem to exist. (Said by a man)

þ Russians drink more. There are few laws about drinking in public. You can drink beer in public but not vodka. It's strange, in the springtime, to be the only sober person walking down the street.

þ Russians are less tolerant of racial differences and of sexual orientation. Russian men are very homophobic.

þ There is no one word or phrase for "cultural identity," vanity, or privacy in Russian language; you would have to explain your intention in order to be understood.

Can you describe some situations/incidents in which cultural expectations caused a misunderstanding?

þ American men are not expected to be as attentive as Russian men. Men pour drinks for women, carry packages for women, etc.

þ If I'm silent, people see me as standoffish.

þ Americans separate business and pleasure

By living in Russia, have you learned anything new about yourself and your native culture?

þ I learned a lot of about myself as an American. There are some things I feel proud about. I stopped taking things for granted, things I would have demanded in the past.

þ I value independence and self-reliance.

þ I notice consumerism in the US more. Everything is packaged, everything is for sale. There's more media and advertising everywhere. People need things NOW: fast food, quick and efficient customer service.

þ Shallow, superficial friendliness and customer service. But I like it anyway! Maybe it's not so shallow. Maybe it says something about egalitarianism.

þ The number of trashcans and the amount of waste produced in the US. In Russia there's no place to put trash and there are lots of wrappers and litter on the streets. In America there ate lots of receptacles because we produce lots of waste -packaging, wrappers, etc. We even sell special 10-gallon trash bags!

þ The main thing I noticed and was overwhelmed by was by the amount of choice in everything- it was great but too much to handle sometimes, whether I was shopping or trying to decide what to eat in a restaurant.

þ I can live in an arctic climate but I'm still not a fan of long winters.

þ Americans value individualism and the right to speak their minds freely

þ Some Americans can be as ethnocentric as some Russians can be and more concerned with events at home, but what culture isn't?



When you first arrived in the USA, what stood out?

þ The traffic system is orderly and well organized. Drivers are polite and stop for pedestrians.

þ How Americans are relaxed, they have a relaxed posture, free behavior, a relaxed way of dressing, usually sports clothes

þ Aged parents very seldom live with their grown children and prefer living alone or moving to a nursing home

þ Americans prefer to live in suburbs in their own houses and thus a car play a very important role in one's life and there might be several cars in the family

þ They use computers a lot in everyday life

Stereotypes of Americans You Were Aware Of

þ Pragmatic

þ Rich

þ Overweight

þ Always smile

þ Body conscious and fond of healthy life styles

þ American women are too independent

How do you think Americans viewed Russian culture, in general terms?

þ As far as I remember, everyone I met was very friendly, considerate and helpful and eager to get to know Russians better and learn more about our culture.

Advice friends or family members gave you

þ To find some things they wanted

þ To set up an aim you want to achieve in this country and to do it. For example, to visit all the museums.

þ Try to make new friends and make the most of your stay

þ My mother told me to try every kind of food I can

Why questions you asked

þ Why do Americans love their cars so much?

þ Why do they never dress up?

þ Why do they mingle at parties? Why do they invite so many people?

þ Why do they leave their nests? Why do they so often change cities?

þ Why are university professors so informally dressed in class?

þ Why do children prefer to live separately from parents when they complete high school and almost never come back to
live with the parents again?

Why questions others asked you

þ Why do Russians stay at one place (at a table) at a party?

þ Why do Russians have more long lasting friendships?

þ Why do you prefer jeanswear: is it because you like American style clothing or do you find this kind of clothing more comfortable?

þ Do people in Russia know foreign languages?

Stereotypes of Russians You Discovered

þ Russians are poor.

þ Russians dance very well. They like to dance.

þ There is Mafia in Russia.

þ Russian women do a lot of work at home.

þ Russians don't know how to work.

þ Russian women do too much work for the family. They do not respect themselves.

þ Russians are strong and hard working.

þ The new generation will change the country.

þ Russians don't know foreign languages.

þ Starving and wearing shabby clothing

þ Russians don't smile on the street.

þ One young American guy mentioned he wouldn't be interested in meeting a Russian woman because Russian women are
hairy and don't shave.

þ There are few cars in Russia.

þ All women are prostitutes because that's the only way to earn a living.

How has your experience changed your original view or expectations?

I don't think Americans are rich. They get more money but they economize and spend more rationally.

If you were to compare Russian and American culture, what are some of the broad distinctions you might draw?

þ Russian culture belongs to the eastern type and American to the western type.

þ Americans are more matter-of-fact and business-like; they are more active; they are not afraid of making severe life changes.

Can you describe some situations/incidents in which cultural expectations caused a misunderstanding?

þ When you are in Russia, invited to someone's home, you are asked to have tea or some food. In America this does not happen in every house.

What things stood out the most or what things did you most notice about Russia when you returned home?

þ The one thing that pleased me is that my family was so glad to see me.

þ People not smiling. Not helpful.

þ Gloomy people on the streets; impolite shop assistants; dirty public places; no adaptation of public places for disabled

þ People are less polite; there is garbage everywhere; there are no non-smoking areas

By visiting the USA, have you learned anything new about yourself and your native culture?

þ Russians are hospitable, collective. They discuss things in groups before making decisions. They are always ready to share.

þ Russians are more family oriented.

þ I learned that I should not feel inferior to other people because of being physically disabled.

þ Being in the US I am conscious of being Russian and proud of it. I don't that I stand out in American culture and most Americans can't say I am from a different country unless I tell them, but somehow I always "feel" Russian and tell people I am from Russia with a sense of pride.


Let's sum up everything considered above.

Now there is a problem of misunderstanding among people of the different countries. This misunderstanding is shown owing to different attitudes to life, to business, to family, to fellow workers. Also because of ignorance of traditions, customs, etiquette of other countries.

Excellent knowledge of foreign language is not a guarantee of successful cooperation of firms or pleasant dialogue of people from different continents. To know language is only half-affair. The most important is to understand priorities of other people, to try to look at the world by their eyes.

If the country is more advanced in economic, political, social spheres, it gives more attention to studying other cultures for successful cooperation (for example, the USA, Japan).

It is important to note, that the closer cultures to each other, the fewer problems arise at their interaction. If cultures are opposite, then the essence of intercultural dialogue is reduced to understanding of different values.

For greater success in relations between the countries it is necessary to take into account all these features.


1.          Communication and Culture / Alfred G. Smith // Hold, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., the United States of America,1966

2.          Crossing Cultural Borders - Russia / Julie E. Zdanoski // Petrozavodsk, 2003

3.          Culture Learning: The Fifth Dimension in the Language Classroom / Louise Damen

4.          Culture Matters. How Values Shape Human Progress / Lawrence E. Harrison, Samuel P. Huntington // Basic Books, A Member of the Perseus Books Group, the United States of America, 2000



When a person from a national society with hierarchical tendencies encounters a person from a society with egalitarian tendencies, and moreover when the country of the latter is generally "high" in the estimation of the former, the idealized paradigm as shown in Figure 1 would be approximated. In this diagram, X, the person from a country with egalitarian views, behaves toward Y, the person from a hierarchically oriented country, as if he occupied the same "level"; that is, in equalitarian terms.

Figure 1.


North American (USA)

Personal control of the environment

Change inevitable and desirable

Equality of opportunity


Future orientation

Action orientation

Directness and openness

Practicality; pragmatic; rational

Problem-solving orientation

Cause-and-effect logic



DO-it-yourself approach to life

Contrast American

Nature dominating man

Unchanging; traditional

Class structure dominant; hierarchical Interdependence but individuality

Present or past orientation

Being orientation

Suggestive; consensus-seeking; group orientation

Feeling orientation; philosophical

Inactive; enduring; seeking help from others Knowing


Group progress



Values concerning

1. Nature and Culture vertically

(octopus pot)(draws in)


2. Interpersonal Relationships

Unated States

Heterogeneity; horizontal society guilt sasara (bamboo wisk)



Omote predominates

Independence; I/you clash symmetrical relationships informality

Achieved status


Homogeneity; shame takotsubo






We over I; amae complementary

Ascribed status

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