Evaluate the role that one cultural dimension (e.g. individualism/collectivism, power distance) may have on behaviour.

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Evaluate the role that one cultural dimension (e.g. individualism/collectivism, power distance) may have on behaviour.

    According to Matsumoto (2004), culture can be defined as the common rules that regulate interactions and behaviour in a group as well as a number of shared values and attitudes in the group. A cultural dimension is a conceptual framework suggested by Hofstede. It describes the effects of a society's culture on the values of its members, and how these values relate to behavior. Individualism and collectivism is a dimension which relates to the relationship between the individual and the group. In individualist societies, people tend to see themselves as independent individuals who must take care of themselves. Ties between individuals are loose. Typical values include freedom, personal challenge and uniqueness of individuals. In collectivist societies, identity is defined more by the characteristics of the collective groups to which one belongs. From birth onwards, people are integrated into cohesive in-groups, which provides them support and protection. People are more interdependent. However, if the individual does not comply to the rules of the group, the results can be severe. In this essay, the differences between individualist culture and collectivist culture will be evaluated.

    To begin with, the way culture affects construal of self will be explained. According to Markus and Kitayama (1991), collectivistic cultures often focus on relatedness of individuals to each other. The emphasis is on attending to others, conforming and interdependence with others. In contrast, in individualist societies, individuals seek to maintain their independence from others by attending to the self and by discovering and expressing their unique inner attributes. These construals can influence individual’s cognition, emotion and motivation, when then affects our behaviour such as attribution, conformity, relationship and attitudes towards mental disorders.

    First, there seems to be a difference in attribution tendency between collectivistic societies and individualistic societies. As mentioned above, people in collectivistic societies are more interdependent. Therefore, one’s action are likely to be viewed as situationally bound, and chacterizations of the individual are more likely to include the context. This can explain why in collectivistic societies, people are less likely to show Fundamental Attribution Error (tendency to attribute others' behaviour to dispositional and rather than situational factors). In contrast, people in individualist societies tend have to a more independent view of the self and believe that an individual should be responsible for his/her success and failure. Therefore, they are more likely to show FAE. This is supported by the following study. In 2002, Norenzayan et al. tested whether information given to Korean and American participants would influence their attributions. When participants only received information about individuals, both groups made dispositional attributions. When situational information was also provided, the Koreans tended to include these information in their explanations much more than the Americans did. This indicates that there are universal features in FAE, but collectivist cultures are more likely attribute others’ action to situational factors then internal factors then individualist cultures.

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    However, this study is an experiment. It is artificial and has limited ecological validity. Furthermore, the participants are only from Korea and America. They may not be a good representation for collectivistic culture and individualist culture. It can be argued that the results have limited generalizability to other cultures. Furthermore, the participants are equally likely to show FAE when given limited information about the situation. This shows that, FAE is universal and vary slightly among different cultures. Nonetheless, this study supports the idea that cultural dimension can influence attribution tendency when given situational information. In short, people growing ...

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