Culture and Decision: Cross-Cultural Similarities and Variations in Resource Allocation between European Canadians and East Asians

  • Author / Creator
    Li, Man Wai
  • People engage in a variety of decision making tasks in daily life, in which people’s experiences and strategies during the decision making tasks are affected by cultural influences. The primary objective of this dissertation was to examine the role of analytic versus holistic thinking styles on resource allocation across cultures. Analytic thinking style, which is more prevalent in North America, refers to a linear view about the world where objects’ properties remain stable due to the independent nature of the relationships among objects. In contrast, holistic thinking style, which is more prevalent in East Asia, refers to a non-linear view of how the world is organized in which people perceive change to be a constant phenomenon due to the complex interactions among elements in the universe (Nisbett, Peng, Choi & Norenzayan, 2001). I conducted three cross-cultural studies to understand this phenomenon. Study 1 tested the role of analytic versus holistic thinking styles on people’s resource allocation. Study 2 showed evidence that supported the causal link from cultural thinking styles to decision making experiences in resource allocation. Study 3 examined the role of context-sensitivity, which was found to be higher in East Asian societies than in North American societies, in resource allocation. In Study 1, Hong Kong Chinese, a representative group of holistic cultures, and European Canadians, a representative group of analytic cultures, completed a resource allocation task (i.e., fort game). The results showed that the allocation pattern of European Canadians was more concentrated than that of Hong Kong Chinese. In Study 2, thinking styles were manipulated in which Hong Kong Chinese and European Canadian participants were reminded of either holistic thinking style (by watching a movie showing an nonlinear trend) or analytic thinking style (by watching a movie showing a linear trend). Regardless of cultural backgrounds, the allocation pattern was more concentrated in the analytic condition than in the holistic condition. Finally, the role of context-sensitivity across cultures in resource allocation among Japanese, Hong Kong Chinese and European Canadian participants was examined in Study 3. The results showed that East Asians, especially the Japanese, were more likely to change their resource allocation in a manner consistent with experimental manipulation than European Canadians. Implications of these findings for research using experimental manipulation, cross-cultural research, and applied research are discussed.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2015
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Schimel, Jeff (Psychology)
    • Hong, Ying-yi (Business)
    • Kabata, Kaori (East Asian Studies)
    • Noels, Kim (Psychology)
    • Masuda, Takahiko (Psychology)