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Cultural Values

Cultural Values

«Urals State Technical University - UPI»

Foreign language department


«Cultural Values»

Student: Zaitseva S.V.

Group: PП-4

Supervisor: Hramushina Zh.A.



Table of contents:



Key words




1. Definitions: beliefs, values


The value / belief puzzle


Contrastive orientations


Japanese interpersonal norms


2. Japanese and American patterns of social behavior


The national status image


A Cultural model of interaction


Seven statements about Americans 31

3. Factors influencing values


Intercultural communication: a guide to men of action


Cuisine, etiquette and cultural values


Patterns of speech


4. Contrast Russian’s stereotypes


Nine statements about Russians


Middle Eastern interview responses


5. American’s view of Russian. Russian’s view of American


American interview responses


Russian interview responses








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,


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


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



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 receiver’s 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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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 societies—particularly 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 superior—were 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

group—one 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 periods—often 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 status—or 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



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 differentiated—especially 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 isn’t 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


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' business—they 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


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 value—that 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 competition—a 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 modernization—and

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


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


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" to—he behaves as an equal rather than as a superior—Y

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 to—for 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 men—and 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 status—not calculation of economic worth or

anything —but of beauty. Americans are more beautiful—they look nicer than


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 do—for example, he must be polite—but 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 subject—or simply from my own way of looking at

something—it 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-


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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?

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

airplane window.

. 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


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

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

. 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?

. Everyone is very rich. There is lots of oil. (They don't

differentiate among countries).

. Women wear veils.

. People ride camels.

. Men marry four or five women.

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

. They don't know our history.

. Terrorists

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

Russian perceptions of Arabs/Southerners

. 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.

. One student had two brothers who came to Russia. One brother

was beaten and had a severe head injury. Another had a leg


. 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.

. 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


. Why are young Russians rude to older people?

. Why don't young men don't give up seats on the trolley bus for


. Why do young people sometimes yell or shout bad words at old


Your Perceptions of Russia and Russians Now

. The people are friendly and sympathetic. Teachers are friendly

and sympathetic. Sympathy is the key to understanding.

. Russian women are very beautiful. They are patient, they work

hard, they are good housewives, they are always loyal, and they

dress nicely.

. 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


Major differences between cultures

. Alcohol — many Muslims do not drink.

. Families at home are bigger —5-10 people

. In Russia, people don't know their neighbors' names. They don't

greet each other on the street and communicate.

. Clothes — women dress more modestly than Russian women.

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


. Families support each other more. Brothers and sisters support

each other. Russian families seem more isolated and


. The divorce rate at home is very low.

. 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?

. People are very thin.

. How many people actually walk. There are lots of cars and good

public transportation, but there are lots of pedestrians too.

. How dirty the cities are. I knew they would look a little run

down, but there's more litter and trash than at home.

. People don't smile.

. Russians are not materialistic. They consider other people more

important than what you can buy.

. 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.

. 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.

. 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.

. 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

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

. No freedom of speech

. Few products

. Pervasive presence of Mafia

. Young people getting rich very quickly

. Prostitution (from news exposes about dark side of big city


. Prejudice against people of Southern nationalities

. Russians drink vodka

. Russians are poor, suffered a lot, are very serious, have bread


. Never smile

. Bureaucracy is infamous

. Churches with onion domes, great literature

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


. Every woman is looking to marry an American, there are mail

order brides, women want to get out

. 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.

. Russians tend to be paranoid.

. 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,


spend money today.

. Russians are quite rigid about teachers being authoritative and

strong disciplinarians.

Advice family & friends gave you before you left home

. Don't drink tap water.

. Advice to women: be prepared that girls here dress differently:

Russians dress for fashion and Americans for comfort

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

. Be careful. Russia is not safe because of worries about war,

bombings in Moscow, unrest, crime, civil strife. General


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

. 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

. Why is shopping a three step process? It's so inefficient.

Maybe it prevents shoplifting.

. Why is only one person doling out money?

. Why is only one door open?

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

no motivation?

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

. Why do women wear such high heels?

. Why do people crowd others and cut in line?

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

. Why are things so unpredictable? Nothing is consistent.

. 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?

. Why are restaurant workers so indifferent or outright rude?

. Why do Russian women think they need a man for anything

technical or physical?

. Why must everyone sit at a party?

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

. Why do men carry purses (for women)?

. Who does everything break so easily?

. Why does everything need to be stamped?

. Why are there so many forms?

. Why do women dress like hookers (prostitutes)?

. Why do women wear see-through trousers with thongs and stiletto


. Why is everything so dirty?

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

. Why are people so mean to each other (at stores, yelling at


. Why do people push in front of others?

. When a husband beats his wife in public, why doesn't anyone do

anything? Why are people so reluctant to stop and help?

. Why are there no public toilets even approaching American

standards? Why do people accept such things?

. Why do toilets have no seat covers? Is there a shortage? Can't

they find them somewhere?

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


. Why do Americans say "excuse me1 when they bump into strangers

and Russian don't?

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

Things that frustrate

. People always on the make

. Large injustices in society, for example, why are teachers paid

so little and then expected to buy their own textbooks

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

. Russians are emotional, prejudiced and xenophobic.

. 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

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

. Why are Americans fat? Why do they all have cars? Why are they

so loud?

. Why do Americans drink so much water?

. How can you believe men and women are equal when they are so


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

. Why do Americans smell like soap? - What interviewee's mother

taught him: "If your clothes smell like you, they're dirty."

. Why do Americans smile all the time?

. Why are Americans so informal about everything?

. Why do Americans ask so many questions?

. Why don't you speak English correctly? It's your native

language, isn't it?

Stereotypes Russians You Met Had of Americans

. Americans are rich. "You can afford to pay that price, that's

nothing for you at home!"

. Americans have cars — are fat - are loud.

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

. Americans always smile.

. All American women hate men.

. American women are drab, dull and unfeminine.

. American women want to do everything themselves.

. American women are ambitious and individualistic.

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


How are Americans viewed?

. 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.

. 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


How has living abroad changed your original view or expectations about what

life in Russia would be like?

. 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.

. 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.

. 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.

. The Russian gesture for being drunk.

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

. 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.

. 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.

. Banging the fist again the palm

. Thumb between the middle and index fingers

. Touching: there's more same sex touching in Russia, women

walking down the street arm in arm or holding hands

. 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?

. 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.

. 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.

. 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?

. 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.)

. 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.

. 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?

. 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.

. Russians are more traditional, especially the way women want to

be treated by men. Feminism doesn't seem to exist. (Said by a


. 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.

. Russians are less tolerant of racial differences and of sexual

orientation. Russian men are very homophobic.

. 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?

. American men are not expected to be as attentive as Russian

men. Men pour drinks for women, carry packages for women, etc.

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

. Americans separate business and pleasure

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

native culture?

. 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.

. I value independence and self-reliance.

. 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.

. Shallow, superficial friendliness and customer service. But I

like it anyway! Maybe it's not so shallow. Maybe it says

something about egalitarianism.

. 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


. 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.

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


. Americans value individualism and the right to speak their

minds freely

. 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?

. The traffic system is orderly and well organized. Drivers are

polite and stop for pedestrians.

. How Americans are relaxed, they have a relaxed posture, free

behavior, a relaxed way of dressing, usually sports clothes

. Aged parents very seldom live with their grown children and

prefer living alone or moving to a nursing home

. 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

. They use computers a lot in everyday life

Stereotypes of Americans You Were Aware Of

. Pragmatic

. Rich

. Overweight

. Always smile

. Body conscious and fond of healthy life styles

. American women are too independent

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

. 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

. To find some things they wanted

. To set up an aim you want to achieve in this country and to do

it. For example, to visit all the museums.

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

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

Why questions you asked

. Why do Americans love their cars so much?

. Why do they never dress up?

. Why do they mingle at parties? Why do they invite so many


. Why do they leave their nests? Why do they so often change


. Why are university professors so informally dressed in class?

. 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

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

. Why do Russians have more long lasting friendships?

. Why do you prefer jeanswear: is it because you like American

style clothing or do you find this kind of clothing more


. Do people in Russia know foreign languages?

Stereotypes of Russians You Discovered

. Russians are poor.

. Russians dance very well. They like to dance.

. There is Mafia in Russia.

. Russian women do a lot of work at home.

. Russians don't know how to work.

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

respect themselves.

. Russians are strong and hard working.

. The new generation will change the country.

. Russians don't know foreign languages.

. Starving and wearing shabby clothing

. Russians don't smile on the street.

. One young American guy mentioned he wouldn't be interested in

meeting a Russian woman because Russian women are

hairy and don't shave.

. There are few cars in Russia.

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


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?

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

western type.

. 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?

. 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?

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

see me.

. People not smiling. Not helpful.

. Gloomy people on the streets; impolite shop assistants; dirty

public places; no adaptation of public places for disabled

. 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?

. Russians are hospitable, collective. They discuss things in

groups before making decisions. They are always ready to share.

. Russians are more family oriented.

. I learned that I should not feel inferior to other people

because of being physically disabled.

. 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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