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:

Summary 3

Key words 4

Introduction 5

1. Definitions: beliefs, values 7

The value / belief puzzle 8

Contrastive orientations 12

Japanese interpersonal norms 15

2. Japanese and American patterns of social behavior 22

The national status image 25

A Cultural model of interaction 27

Seven statements about Americans 31

3. Factors influencing values 40

Intercultural communication: a guide to men of action 40

Cuisine, etiquette and cultural values 52

Patterns of speech 55

4. Contrast Russian’s stereotypes 58

Nine statements about Russians 58

Middle Eastern interview responses 61

5. American’s view of Russian. Russian’s view of American 65

American interview responses 65

Russian interview responses 75

Conclusion 79

Literature 80



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

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

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

In brief it is mentioned differences between beliefs, values.

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

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

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

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


Cross-cultural communication is the information exchange between one person and any other source transmitting a message displaying properties of a culture different to the one of the 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 applied.

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

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

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


The subject of my diploma work is cultural values.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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

Americans are cold.

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

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

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

Marriages don't last in the United States.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us look to this question in detail.


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

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

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

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

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

articulate codification of rules

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

It is necessary to note that this system of codified rules was consistently adhered to in actual behavior by only a minority of the population: the samurai and nobility. The remainder of the population followed the rules in part, or only in "public" situations where the pressure for conformity was strong. In the decades subsequent to the Restoration a generalized version of the code was adopted by the developing business and official classes, and this is the situation which continues to prevail in Japan today (although since the Occupation a considerable liberalization of social be­havior can be found in all classes and groups). Since the student subjects of-the research project were persons from upper- and middle-class groups socialized in prewar and wartime Japan, we can use the gross aspects of this social code as a backdrop for the interpretation of their behavior. The strength and the influence of this code were enhanced further by the fact that up to the period of the Occupation, no large migration to Japan of Westerners had occurred. In this situation relatively few Japanese were presented with the need to learn the modes of interaction of other 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 ambiguity.


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

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

Finally, reserve or discipline is in some cases much less apparent in American social behavior. Initially, outward display of feeling is encouraged, and' reserve may develop after status differences are recognized. Once again the Japanese may proceed on an approximately opposite principle: behavioral freedom and expressivity become a potentiality after statuses are clearly 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 sure.

The good thing about associating with Americans is that you can be friendly in a light manner. Not so in Japan. Japanese are nosey in other peoples' 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 backward.

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

From the information on contrasting cultural norm and cue systems supplied thus far, it is possible to predict in a general way that I when a Japanese interacts with an American, certain blockages to communication and to the correct assessment of status behavior may occur. Japanese are likely to confront Americans with unstated assumptions con­cerning status differences, while the American may be inclined to accept the Japanese at face 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 attitudes.

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

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


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

Figure 1.

But Y perceives X in a high-status position X1, "above" X's image of his own status in the relationship. Since from Y's point of view X does not behave as he "ought" 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 Japanese.

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

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

A high-status Japanese man going out with American girls knows some­thing of what he must 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-conscious.

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

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

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

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


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

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

2. Americans insist on treating everyone the same.

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

4. Americans always want to change things.

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

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

7. Americans are so impatient!

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

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

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

2. Americans insist on treating everyone the same.

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

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

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

4. Americans always want to change things.

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

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

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

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

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

7. Americans are so impatient!

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

Americans are. . . (students of different countres)

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

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

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

Student No.3-from Japan: "I have been learning about Americans since I came here last September. First, Americans don't care wha

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