Australian And Japanese Students Coping Styles

2503 words - 10 pages

The effect of culture on decisional coping styles is examined. Results of a questionnaire study of 743 Japanese and 309 Australian university students showed that cultural differences existed, with Japanese students higher on complacency, avoidance and hypervigilance coping styles and lower on the vigilant style than Australian students. These findings are related to cross-cultural differences between Australia (an individualistic culture) and Japan (a collectivistic culture).It has been suggested that current descriptive theories of decision making fail to account for decision making in non-Western cultures (Jones, 1990; Smith, 1989). Although recognising that decision making is common to most, if not all societies, the results from several cross-cultural studies of decision making suggest there are cultural differences in the cognitive style of problem solving and decision making (e.g., Bloggs & Hoon, 1993; Man & Taki, 1996; Wu, 2001). To date, few studies have examined the influence of culture on the major patterns that are used for coping with decisional conflict. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine cultural differences in decision-making behaviour in samples from two countries - Japan and Australia. In particular, it aimed to see to what extent the Conflict Model (Jankt & Man, 1978) was able to adequately account for decision making in non-Western cultures.According to the Conflict Model, making important decisions is stressful (Jankt & Man, 1978). The model identifies four major coping patterns for dealing with decisional stress: complacency (associated with low stress, in which the individual ignores the need to make a decision or simply takes the first course of action which presents itself); avoidance (associated with high stress in which the individual puts off or avoids making a decision); hypervigilance (associated with high stress in which the individual makes a hasty and ill-thought out decision); and vigilance (associated with moderate stress and which involves careful information processing which is likely to lead to informed and successful decision making). The first three styles are associated with poor or maladaptive decision making, and the fourth is associated with adaptive or "good" decision making. A positive correlation has been found between self-esteem of a decision maker and the use of the vigilance coping pattern, and a negative correlation with avoidance and hypervigilance (Brown, Man & Booker, 1987; Ramer & Kolt, 1981).Gray (1985) suggested that, although the Conflict Model may be appropriate in describing decision making in the United States, it is unable to account for decision making in non-Western countries, and in particular, Japan. According to Gray, describing decision making in terms of conflict predisposes the theorist to find conflict where it may not exist and to neglect other factors which may be important. Further, Gray suggests that decision making is dependent on...

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