Unit 4 General Psychological Issues in Cultural Perspective
Subunit 1 Basic Psychological Processes and Culture
Decision Making in Individualistic and
C. Dominik Guess
Northern Illinois University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Guess, C. (2004). Decision Making in Individualistic and Collectivistic Cultures. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 4(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.9707/2307-0919.1032 This Online Readings in Psychology and Culture Article is brought to you for free and open access (provided uses are educational in nature)by IACCP and ScholarWorks@GVSU. Copyright © 2004 International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology. All Rights Reserved. ISBN 978-0-9845627-0-1
Decision Making in Individualistic and Collectivistic Cultures Abstract
How do cultural values influence individuals' decision making? One would expect answers to this question either from cognitive psychology or from cross-cultural psychology. Cognitive theories on decision making, however, rarely consider the factor of culture, and research in cross-cultural psychology deals only to a small extent with decision making. Therefore the study of culture and decision making is a relatively new and unexplored field. In this paper normative and descriptive approaches to decision making are discussed and three crosscultural studies on decision making in individualistic and collectivist cultures using different methodologies are described. The results are integrated into a model that can be helpful to derive specific hypotheses for further studies in this field. Creative Commons License
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This article is available in Online Readings in Psychology and Culture: http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/orpc/vol4/iss1/3
Guess: Decision Making in Individualistic and Collectivistic Cultures
Decision Making According to Normative Models and Descriptive Models Decision making is the selection between several options. We make many decisions a day (e.g., when we go to the grocery store and choose a bottle of milk, when we select a TV channel, when we decide what to prepare and eat for breakfast, whether we buy a new DVD-player or save the money for our next holiday trip). Most of our decisions might occur unconsciously, but often we have to consciously decide among several options. Imagine a student, called John, who finishes high school. John has to decide whether to study psychology, accounting or art. In Figure 1, psychology is choice 1, accounting is choice 2 and art is choice 3. Which subject will the student choose?
Figure 1: Abstract schema of a simple decision task.
Using normative models of decision making, we try to explain which is the best choice from among several choices. In effort to explain the decision making process, von Neumann and Morgenstern (1944) utilized a normative model that they called the expected utility model. According to this model, John will make the decision that maximizes an expected utility. The expected utility of an alternative is the sum of the product of its probabilities of success and its utilities as demonstrated in the following formula:
Expected utility = (probability of a given outcome) x (utility of the outcome) Produced by The Berkeley Electronic Press, 2011
Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, Unit 4, Subunit 1, Chapter 3
Although this formula may look difficult, it is easy to understand with a concrete, simplified example. According to the formula, the student evaluates each option: psychology, accounting, and art. John estimates the probability of success in each subject. Perhaps John thinks that the success rate is highest in art (art .80, psychology .70, and accounting .50). Then the personal value of success (i.e., the utility) will be evaluated. Let's assume John's favorite subject is psychology, followed by art and...
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