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Cross-Cultural Research Nations With More Dialectical Selves Exhibit Lower Polarization in Life Quality Judgments and Social Opinions
Michael Minkov Cross-Cultural Research 2009; 43; 230 originally published online May 19, 2009; DOI: 10.1177/1069397109334956 The online version of this article can be found at:

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Nations With More Dialectical Selves Exhibit Lower Polarization in Life Quality Judgments and Social Opinions
Michael Minkov
International University College, Sofia, Bulgaria

Cross-Cultural Research Volume 43 Number 3 August 2009 230-250 2009 SaGe Publications 10.1177/1069397109334956 hosted at

This study shows that nations whose members are less likely to dissociate pleasant and unpleasant emotions (an established measure of individual-level dialecticism) are also less likely to exhibit strong and polarized quality judgments (very good vs. very bad) in life appraisals or in assessments of current domestic social issues as measured by the 2007 Pew Research Center survey in 47 nations. Middle Eastern Arab societies are characterized by the highest polarization in their answer patterns, while East and South East Asia are at the opposite extreme. It is suggested that pastoralism may have promoted the adoption of a strong stance in communication styles, resulting in stronger polarization, whereas rice cultivation may have encouraged the expression of moderate statements. Keywords: dialecticism; moderate versus strong statements; rice cultivation; pastoralism

number of studies and analyses (Choi & Choi, 2002; Hamamura, Heine, & Paulhus, 2008; Hofstede, 2001; Nisbett, 2003; Nisbett, Peng, Choi, & Norenzayan, 2001; Peng & Nisbett, 1999; Peng, Spencer-Rodgers, & Nian, 2006) describe East Asian thinking as more dialectical than the thinking of some other nations, for example North Americans. Dialectical thinking can be defined as the tolerance for holding apparently contradictory beliefs (Hamamura et al., as cited in Peng & Nisbett, 1999). For instance, a dialectical mindset would see less contradiction than a nondialectical one between self-descriptions such as outgoing and shy (Hamamura et al., 2008).

Authors Note: Please address correspondence to Michael Minkov, International University College, ul. Shesti Septemvri No 6, Sofia, Bulgaria 1000; e-mail: 230
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Americans may perceive such self-descriptions as mutually exclusive, but in the view of many East Asians one can be somewhat outgoing and somewhat shy, depending on the circumstances. Indeed, Spencer-Rodgers, Peng, Wang, and Hou (2004) found that Chinese are more likely than European Americans to present ambivalent self-appraisals. Individual-level dialecticism can take on another similar form. Bagozzi, Wong, and Yi (1999) found that positive and negative emotions are strongly and negatively correlated for American women and weakly and negatively correlated for American men. However, positive and negative emotions were strongly and positively correlated for Chinese women and weakly and positively correlated for Chinese men. The same authors also found that the Koreans pattern was somewhat mixed but closer to the Chinese results. Also, Oishi (as cited in Shimmack, Oishi, & Diener, 2002) found that Asian Americans reported mixed feelingsfor instance being happy and sad at the same timemore often than European Americans. This means that the definition of dialecticism can be expandedit is a tendency to hold or reconcile not only beliefs that may seem contradictory to a Western mind but also feelings. The observed differences in dialecticism versus nondialecticism are very interesting for various reasons. Nisbett et al. (2001) associated dialectical thinking with a holistic mindset and suggested that this combination may explain Western versus Eastern differences in various historical developments. For example, the fact that surgery was never practiced in traditional China may be due to a holistic view of the human body, according to which it is illogical to seek a problem in one particular organ. The same authors pointed out that the Chinese made substantial advances in algebra but not in geometry because the latter is largely based on the notion of contradiction theorems are often proven by demonstrating that the opposite cannot be truewhich is incompatible with a dialectical mindset. Nisbett et al. also explained a number of modern East Asian practices, ranging from Japanese human resource management to games like Go, in terms of East Asian holistic and dialectical thinking. And according to Hamamura et al. (2008), differences in dialecticism can account for differences in response style and explain the well-known fact that East Asians tend to avoid extremes when presented with questionnaires in which items are scored on a Likert scale, whereas North Americans and some other nations are less likely to exhibit such avoidance. Heine (2001) indicated another interesting aspect of dialecticism that has served as the basis for this study. According to that author, Chinese appear to accept contradictions as a natural part of life and when presented

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with two contradictory arguments, they tend to accept both. If this is so, societies whose members tend to have dialectical selves, such as those of China and other East Asian countries, should be characterized by an avoidance of strongly expressed opinions, especially on matters that may cause social conflict. The reason for this is that if two parties formulate their opinions in strong terms and the opinions turn out to contradict one another, it is less easy to reconcile them in a dialectical way than if they were moderately expressed. The way in which people word their opinions is especially important in the public and political sphere. For example, if one has described a national government as very good, this position cannot be easily reconciled with somebody elses view that the same government is very bad. Dialectical mindsets can be expected to avoid such polarized statements. Instead, they would probably prefer more moderate descriptions, such as somewhat good and somewhat bad, because if a public argument starts from these two platforms, it is easier to achieve some sort of reconciliation.

People in societies that are characterized by greater personal (individuallevel) dialecticism should have a greater tendency to refrain from voicing strong opinions. For instance, quality judgments such as very good and very bad should be avoided. Hence, these societies should have lower polarization of quality judgments about socially important issues. To validate this hypothesis, it is necessary to show a high negative correlation between aggregate national measurements of individual-level dialecticism and measurements of nation-level polarization in the expression of quality judgments.

Importance of the Present Study

There is substantial anecdotal evidence that when cultural differences in the way that people express themselves are poorly understood, the result can be utmost frustration. The following example is from a televised interview with Sonys late founder and president, A. Morita, led by a wellknown Japanese commentator, S. Shiroyama:
Shiroyama: Ive heard that one of our prime ministers was on his way to the US for the first time and asked you for advice, and you suggested the critical thing was to start right out with a yes or no, followed by a brief explanation.

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Morita: When they ask questions or express an opinion, they want to know right away whether the other party agrees or opposes them. So in English, yes or no comes first. We Japanese prefer to save the yes or no for last. Particularly when the answer is no, we put off saying that as long as possible, and they find that exasperating. Shiroyama: But in Japan, as you explained, we do not come out with yes or no, but prefer expressions like Ill take it into consideration. Our feeling is that vagueness in these cases is less offensive. So when you are in America, you must be clear; and when you return to Japan, you must be vague. Is it hard to switch back and forth? Morita: It is more difficult than you can imagine. (Mr. Sonys Struggle, 1999, p. 120)

If the hypothesis of this study is confirmed, it would explain the perceived vagueness in the communication style of East Asians and other nations and their unwillingness to make strong statements, including strong and unequivocal agreement or disagreement, versus the relative tendency of other nations to communicate in the opposite way. The explanation could be useful to anybody who is involved in cross-cultural communication. Also, the findings would provide support for the hypothesis that cultural differences in response style in answers to questionnaire items may owe something to differences in dialecticism (Hamamura et al., 2008).

Aggregate National Measurements of Individual-Level Dialecticism
Most cross-cultural studies of differences in dialecticism-related phenomena rely on comparisons of only two groups, usually North Americans versus East Asians. The results from such studies could lead to the conclusion that there is an association between nondialecticism and Western individualism and vice versa: Dialecticism is an aspect of collectivism. If this is true, measurements of individualism versus collectivism could be a proxy for a measurement of absolutism versus dialecticism. However, without a comparison of the two constructs across a large sample of nations or ethnic groups, such a conclusion would be hasty and should be treated as an unproven hypothesis. Shimmack et al. (2002) set out to verify this unproven hypothesis by measuring a particular aspect of dialecticism across 38 nations from all

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continents. Surveying 5,886 respondents, they collected self-reported frequencies of pleasant emotions (FPE) and frequencies of unpleasant emotions (FUE) over 1 month and calculated correlations between the FPE and the FUE. They found that these correlations tended to be negative in almost all nations. In other words, it is not typical for people anywhere in the world to have frequent experiences of mixed feelings, such as happy and sad, within a short period. However, the negative correlations between FPE and FUE were higher in some nations than in others. They were relatively high among Americans, but the highest values were those of Egyptians (.49). The opposite extreme of this ranking was occupied by Hong Kong Chinese, Japanese, Thais, Nepalese, and Mainland Chinese. They were the only ones that did not have negative correlations but weakly positive. The study did not demonstrate strong emotional dialecticism anywhere in the world. It revealed the opposite: nondialecticism, which could also be called absolutism. Nevertheless, East Asians were least likely to be nondialectical or absolutist. They were the ones who exhibited the lowest disassociation between pleasant and unpleasant feelings. For this reason, Shimmack et al. considered their FPE-FUE correlations as a measurement of relative individual-level dialecticism. The FPE-FUE correlations correlate with Hofstedes (2001) individualism indexes at .36 (p = .049, n = 30) and with Project GLOBEs in-group individualism practices indexes (Gelfand, Bhawuk, Nishii, & Bechtold, 2004) at .32 (p = .096, n = 29). These low correlations, the second of which is also statistically insignificant, mean that personal dialecticism cannot be satisfactorily explained as a function of cultural collectivism. Because all of the nations that scored high on the FPE-FUE index and have positive scores share a Buddhist tradition, Shimmack et al. (2002) came to the conclusion that another explanation is more appropriate: The roots of dialecticism should be sought in Buddhist philosophy. Whatever the origin of the national differences in personal dialecticism, they cannot be predicted on the basis of differences in individualism versus collectivism and the latter dimension cannot be used as a proxy for the former. This leaves only Shimmack et al.s (2002) FPE-FUE correlations as a potential measurement of national differences in personal dialecticism. Can this measurement be validated? Does it correlate with other meaningful constructs in a way that suggests it does reflect something associated with dialecticism as it is conceptualized in the academic literature? There are two large-scale studies that yield satisfactory and meaningful correlations with Shimmack et al.s (2002) FPE-FUE. The first one was carried out by the Chinese Culture Connection (1987). It describes a cultural

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dimension called Confucian work dynamism, later renamed long-term orientation (LTO) by Hofstede (2001). The country ranking produces a compact East Asian cluster at one of the dimensions poles versus an opposite pole grouping diverse nationsPakistan, Nigeria, and the Philippines with the Anglo countries clearly gravitating in that direction. According to that study, the most salient characteristic of the East Asian pole is a low importance of personal steadiness, which can be interpreted as having a flexible rather than a stable and invariant self. There is a considerable literature showing that East Asians are characterized by lower self-stability and self-consistency and higher self-flexibility than North Americans. The latter tend to believe that they possess and describe themselves in terms of stable personal characteristics that change little across situations, whereas the opposite is true of East Asians (Bond & Cheung, 1983; Choi & Choi, 2002; Heine, 2001; Kanagawa, Cross, & Markus, 2001; Markus & Kitayama, 1991; Suh, 2002). It should not be difficult to understand why self-flexibility is associated with personal dialecticism. A person with a flexible self would exhibit behaviors that change across situations. Also, such a person would not be unlikely to make statements such as I am lenient with my work subordinates but strict with my children. For this person, lenient and strict are not mutually exclusive but form a dialectical pair: One can be both, depending on the situation. Self-descriptions of this type are not atypical among East Asians (Choi & Choi, 2002) but are rather unnatural in a North American context. American culture does not encourage shifting characteristics, inconsistent behaviors, and ambiguous self-portrayals. Across 16 common cases, LTO (indexes in Hofstede, 2001) correlates with the FPE-FUE correlations at .68 (p = .004). Societies with higher personal dialecticism are characterized by lower personal steadiness or stability. These two sets of indexesFPE-FUE and LTOare bound by a common factor. The other study is by Minkov (2007), who used data from the World Values Survey (WVS, 2006) to extract a cultural dimension underpinned by differences in pride and religiousness. The dimension was called monumentalism versus flexumility, referring to the fact that the self in the highest scoring societiesthe Arab nationscan metaphorically be likened to a proud and stable monolithic monument, whereas the lowest scorersEast Asians and East Europeansexhibit the opposite tendency: humility and flexibility. In that study, a WVS item that measures the importance of religion was taken as a proxy for an ecological (nation-level) measurement of self-stability because religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam emphasize the importance of adhering to strong and immutable values and

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beliefs. The monumentalism scores in Minkov correlate with the FPE-FUE correlations at .60 (p = .002, n = 24) and with LTO at .68 (p = .004, n = 16). Thus, more monumentalist (and hence more religious) societies have lower personal dialecticism. The high correlations between FPE-FUE, LTO, and monumentalism suggest that all three measure something similar, associated with higher personal dialecticism and self-flexibility versus higher absolutism and self-stability. Of these three measurements, it is the FPE-FUE correlations that most closely reflect the concept of personal dialecticism as described in the academic literature. These correlations will be used in this study as the main measurement of personal dialecticism aggregated at the national level.

Measurements of Social Polarization in Life Quality Judgments and Social Opinions

The Pew Research Center (PRC) is a U.S. research agency that studies political moods in the United States. In 2002 and in 2007 it carried out cross-cultural studies in 44 and 47 nations on all continents, using mostly nationally representative samples, especially in the second case (PRC, 2007). Among other things, the PRC asks the respondents to make quality judgments. Quality judgments can be defined as expressions of opinions about the quality of situations, phenomena, individuals, or groups of people. They may be presented in different formats, such as:
X is good/bad. I am satisfied/dissatisfied with X. I agree/disagree that X is good/bad.

It is also possible to make quality judgments about hypothetical situations, such as:
X would be good. It would be good if X did Y.

Regardless of the different formats and wordings, all judgments are statements in which somethingreal or hypotheticalis evaluated as positive or negative. The Pew Research Center (2007) study contains a high number of quality judgment items. The relevant ones are reproduced in the appendix. There are also other quality judgment items in that PRC study. They have

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been left out of this analysis either because the questions were not asked in all PRC countries or because they are not scored on Likert scales. Polarization in the expression of quality judgments can be measured starting from the following logic. The highest possible degree of polarization in a particular country is when 50% of all respondents in it have chosen the positive extreme position on a Likert scale, such as very good, and 50% have chosen the negative extreme, such as very bad. A society that exhibits this pattern is more polarized than one where the pattern is for instance 70% very bad versus 30% very good. This means that to measure the degree of polarization for each country and for each item, we should multiply the percentages of respondents who have chosen the positive extreme of each item by the percentages of respondents who have chosen the negative extreme. Adding up the two values would not create the desired effect because a 50-50 split would yield the same sum as a 70-30 split or a 90-10 split, although these do not reflect the same degree of polarization. If the extremes are multiplied, the maximum possible score for each item is 50 50 = 250. This maximum score can be obtained only if the split is 50-50, that is, when the highest polarization is observed. In a very few cases, the percentages of respondents in some countries who have chosen an extreme answer is 0. Because multiplication by 0 results in a value of 0 regardless of the number that is multiplied by 0, those few 0 values were replaces by a value of 1. The total number of PRC items that seem appropriate for this study is 17. Before the multiplication of the percentages of respondents who have chosen extreme positions, it is necessary to verify how many factors the 34 extremes of the 17 items form. A small number of factorsone or two would mean that there is not much real diversity across the selected items and the answers do not reflect broad cultural patterns of expression of quality judgments on diverse matters but are a reaction to a limited set of correlated stimuli. The factor analysis of the 34 extremes yielded three factors with eigenvalues exceeding 1.00, each of them explaining at least 10% of the total variance. Cumulatively, these three factors explain 49.78% of the total variance. There were also six weaker factors with eigenvalues exceeding 1.00 but explaining less than 10% of the variance each. Nevertheless, cumulatively they explain another 31% of the total variance. Thus, the diversity captured by the 34 extremes of the 17 items appears to be vast and acceptable for general conclusions.

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After the multiplication products (Positive Extreme Negative Extreme) for the 17 pairs of items were obtained, they were added up for each nation. This resulted in indexes for quality judgment polarization (vs. moderation) for 47 countries and provinces, presented in Table 1. These polarization indexes correlate with the FPE-FUE correlations (Schimmack et al., 2002) at .66 (p = .003, n = 18). The hypothesis of this study is validated: Members of nations with more dialectical selves exhibit greater avoidance of polarized quality judgments. Furthermore, the polarization indexes correlate with long-term orientation (Hofstede, 2001) at .81 (p = .000, n = 14) and with monumentalism (Minkov, 2007) at .60 (p = .002, n = 27). Although these two constructs are neither direct nor pure measurements of dialecticism at either the individual or ecological level, they are partial reflections of that construct at the ecological level and provide additional validation for the polarization indexes by demonstrating that they reflect something real and meaningful. The World Values Survey Association (2008) released its latest wave of nationally representative surveys of values, beliefs, and perceptions across some 50 nations (not all questions have been asked in all countries). Question v65 asks the respondents whether they seek to be themselves or prefer to follow others. The East Asian countries form a clear cluster: They have the lowest percentages of people who agree strongly that they prefer the first option. Across 29 common cases, the index in Table 1 in this study correlates with the percentages who agree strongly that they seek to be themselves at .58 (p = .001). Thus, nations with higher polarization have lower percentages of people who prefer to follow others. Obviously, in these nations it is more important to stand ones ground than adapt to other people. McCrae, Terraciano, Realo, and Allik (2007) reported respondents descriptions of the mean personality traits (the 30 main facets of the five personality dimensions in the five factor model) of their own fellow citizens. Results are available for 49 nations and ethnic groups. The authors believed that these descriptions do not contain any truth, but there are diverging opinions on the matter (Heine, Buchtel, & Norenzayan, 2008; Minkov, 2009). There is no doubt that laypeoples descriptions of the prevailing personality or culture in their own country can sometimes be grossly inaccurate, but that does not mean that it is always so. The indexes in Table 1 correlate significantly and meaningfully with the following personality facets in McCrae et al. (2007):

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Table 1 Social Polarization: Indexes for 47 Countries and Provinces

Middle Europe East and Sub and English- Latin Saharan North Speaking Rank America Africa Africa World Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union


Index 6,264 5,558 4,785 4,475 4,402 4,222 4,198 3,923 3,921 3,845 3,754 3,600 3,576 3,579 3,525 3,262 3,140 2,301 3,045 2,953 2,990 2,940 2,888 2,716 2,707 2,685 2,668 2,663 2,631 2,487 2,330 2,278

1 Kuwait 2 Palestine territory 3 Tanzania 4 Egypt 5 Jordan 6 Pakistan 7 South Africa 8 United States 9 Mali 10 Nigeria 11 France 12 Lebanon 13 Uganda 14 Sweden 15 Ivory Coast 16 Germany 17 Turkey 18 Senegal 19 India 20 Canada 21 Kenya 22-23 Ethiopia Bangladesh 24 Venezuela 25 Argentina 26 Morocco 27 United Kingdom 28 Ukraine 29 Ghana 30 Israel 31 Peru 32 Slovakia Russia 33


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Table 1 (continued)
Middle Europe East and Sub and English- Latin Saharan North Speaking Rank America Africa Africa World Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union


Index 2,185 2,126 2,121 2,061 1,947 1,798 1,664 1,511 1,495 1,258 1,232 1,069 768 461

34 Czech Republic 35 Bulgaria 36 Chile 37 Bolivia 38 Brazil 39 Malaysia 40 Mexico 41 Spain 42 Poland 43 Italy 44 Indonesia 45 Japan 46 China 47 Korea

assertiveness: r = .51, p < .005, n = 29; actions: r = .51, p < .005, n = 29; excitement seeking: r = .46, p < .012, n = 29; compliance: r = .39, p <. 037, n = 29; modesty: r = .37, p <. 049, n = 29.

Again, we see a clearly interpretable syndrome: People in societies with a higher social polarization index are more likely to perceive active assertiveness in their fellow citizens and less modesty and compliance. This provides additional validation of the meaningfulness of the indexes in Table 1. It is customary in such studies to control for the effect of national wealth because that variable yields a significant correlation with an extremely wide range of other social variables and is a potential predictor of many of them. Across 46 common cases, the correlation between the indexes in Table 1 and gross national income (GNI) per person at purchasing power parity (PPP) in 2007 (World Bank Group, 2008) is exactly .000. Because all measurements of gross national income or product, raw or at PPP, are strongly intercorrelated, longitudinally and between the two calculation

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methods, they all yield correlations with the indexes in Table 1 that are close to 0. The conclusion is that the indexes in Table 1 are not associated with national wealth in any way.

This study showed that societies whose members are more likely to have dialectical selves are also more likely to suppress the expression of strongly formulated quality judgments that are likely to cause social polarization. This finding is important because it demonstrates that when personality characteristics are aggregated at the national level, the resulting differences in the national scores can predict societal differences. The finding supports Hofstede and McCrae (2004), who arrived at the same conclusion. This study has shown that Latin Americans are not characterized by strong polarization in quality judgments. In the case of most PRC items, the percentages of Latin Americans who have chosen an extreme are similar to those of East Europeans and lower than the percentages of West Europeans, let alone Arabs. Even if the extremes were not multiplied, Latin Americans would not have a high polarization score, meaning that no extreme response style would be observed in their answers. A previous PRC study, done in 2002, evidences the same pattern. This is an interesting finding. Latin Americans are traditionally viewed as prone to extreme response style when presented with Likert scales. They are said to prefer extremes, especially when the scale range is narrow: 4 of 5 points rather than 10 (Hanges & Dickson, 2004; Hofstede, 2001; Hui & Triandis, 1989). However, it has not been demonstrated that this effect occurs in all circumstances. The conclusion is that different cultures may generate different response styles but these may vary according to the context. Latin Americans may state their values in a strong way, but they are quite moderate when they have to make quality judgments. On the other hand, East Asians do seem to avoid extremes in most circumstances. Studies that discuss cultural dimensions should address the issue of their origins. At first glance, the most absolutist and polarized nations appear to be Muslim, whereas the most dialectical and least polarized ones have a Buddhist tradition. However, this dichotomy cannot provide a good explanation because Indonesia and Malaysia have been Muslim countries for centuries, yet they are characterized by relatively dialectical feelings and low polarization in quality judgments. The highest and lowest scoring countries are differentiated by something that probably has little to do with the type of religion.

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The most dialectical and least polarized cultures share a millennia-old tradition of wet rice cultivation. This type of agriculture is described as follows:
Historically, rice cultivation has been a collective enterprise. The investment and shaping of the landscape that are needed for the ponding system (terraces) require collective organization within the community. Water management also relies on collective interest: crop and water calendars must be organized for large blocks of fields in order to manage water efficiently and organize such work as land preparation, transportation and drying for harvesting. (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2004)

The irrigation system was typically considered common property and the members of the community, which often included several villages, were obliged to provide labor and materials for its maintenance (Cohen & Pearson, 1998). In addition, a labor exchange system was practiced in periods of rice transplantation and rice harvesting: Work parties, consisting of several households, worked on the rice fields of each of the households (Tatsuro, 2006). In cultures where the whole communitys welfare is dependent on the complex management of common property and the achievement of shared goals, harmony and cooperation are essential. Expression of strong opinions is undesirable because they may clash with somebody elses dissenting strong opinion, eventually resulting in factions, coalitions, social polarization, and conflict. The best strategy to maintain harmony and cooperation is to avoid extreme statements and to concur with others, at least partly, even if that means accepting seemingly contradictory views. The societies with the highest polarization in Table 1those whose index exceeds 4,000share a pastoralist past. That way of life has a strong tradition in East Africa and the region that extends from North Africa through the Middle East, Iran, and Afghanistan to Central Asia and Pakistan (Haviland, 1990; Oswalt, 1986). In 1860, Tunisia had about 600,000 nomadic pastoralists versus 500,000 settled people (some of whom may also have practiced pastoralism), whereas their estimated number in Saudi Arabia on the eve of the Second World War was 3 million (Findlay, 1994). Pastoralism still represents a strong sector of the economies of the Saharan countries and those of East Africa (Hatfield & Davies, 2006). It accounts for more than 80% of agricultural GDP in countries such as Niger and Sudan (Hatfield & Davies, 2006). As late as 1970, the percentages of nomadic pastoralists in Mauritania and Sudan were substantial: 45% and 13%, respectively (Findlay, 1994). Pastoralism was practiced also by some subSaharan African tribes outside East Africa, such as the South African Zulu (Chanaiwa, 1980).

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The political organization of pastoralist societies is nearly always a hierarchical chiefdom rather than egalitarian villages (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008). Unlike intensive agriculture, animal husbandry creates a good basis for individual competition: Individuals and families with more animals enjoy higher prestige. Pastoralism is also associated with higher polygyny rates (Marlowe, 2000) than intensive agriculture, and polygyny fosters competition for women. In sum, compared to societies of intensive agriculturalists, those of pastoralists are more oriented toward competition and have a lower emphasis on harmony and cooperation. The biblical story of Jacob and Esau attests that strong competition in a pastoralist society is possible even between brothers. Besides, most nomadic pastoralists tend to form strongly oppositional identities with respect to most out-groups and consider them unclean or unhealthy (Phillips, 2001, p. 46). For instance, the Tahtacipastoralist nomads in modern Turkeywill wash their cups 40 times if Turks have drunk from them (Phillips, 2001). Thus, nomadic pastoralists seem used to opposition and polarization with respect to out-groups. Furthermore, Nisbett (1996) has shown that animal herders all over the world tend to be characterized by greater verbal and physical assertiveness than agriculturalists because they need to protect their animals from thefta common phenomenon among herders. As a result, pastoralists quarrel and fight more often. Nisbett quoted ethnographic studies according to which in some pastoralist societies a young shepherds first public quarrel is a critical moment in the development of his reputation. Tension between nomads and surrounding populations is also very common (Phillips, 2001), which explains why the former have felt a need to be outspoken and stand their ground, not only as individuals but also as a group. Nomadic pastoralists can be a politically volatile force (Findlay, 1994), capable of strong action. The history of Morocco provides many examples of sultans being replaced by rebellious tribal leaders of nomads, whereas uprisings by sedentary agriculturalists in that country have usually been far less successful (Findlay, 1994). Edgerton (1974) provided compelling evidence for a number of differences between pastoralists and farmers that are relevant to this discussion. He studied four tribes in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda, each of which consisted of both pastoralists and farmers. In this way, the ethnic variable was controlled for. Edgerton found that pastoralists were more conflict oriented. Also, farmers were more likely to recall insults but they defined these as oblique acts: an act of omission, an overheard remark, or an interpreted intention to insult somebody. When pastoralists recalled insults, they

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typically referred to a direct verbal affront in a face-to-face situation. Edgertons study shows that farmers are more prudent in their communication style, whereas pastoralists are more likely to express themselves in strong terms, even at the risk of clashing with somebody. In sum, pastoralism encourages the expression of a strong stance in unambiguous terms and an us versus them philosophy, coupled with forceful action. Along with other factors, this may have contributed to the fact that attempts to implement political freedom and a democracy of sorts in Arab countries, such as Lebanon, Algeria, Palestine, and Iraq, have invariably resulted in large-scale armed conflicts and civil war. It is important to reiterate that the cultural differences created by the two different economieswet rice cultivation versus pastoralismshould not be misinterpreted as differences in collectivism versus individualism in the sense of the dimension that clearly differentiates today the cultures of the poor nations from those of the West. The cultures of the poor nations are invariably characterized by close-knit in-groups and treatment of people on the basis of their group membership, whereas the members of Western nations tend to emphasize the importance of treating people as individuals without privileges for any particular group (Minkov, 2007). If collectivism versus individualism is conceptualized in this way on the basis of the overwhelming evidence from the WVS and other sources (Minkov, 2007), only todays rich Western nations are strongly individualist, although some other rich nations, such as Japan, are beginning to gravitate in the same direction. Pastoralist societies are strongly collectivist. This explains why the polarization indexes in Table 1 and the WVS item that measures ones willingness to be ones self versus following others do not correlate significantly with any reported nation-level measurements of individualism versus collectivism. This analysis suggests that the effect of subsistence economies that were practiced for millennia can still be detected today in respondents who are overwhelmingly urban residents and are not involved in subsistence economy, such as the populations of Japan or Kuwait. The idea that aggregate national personality traits and cultural traits can be extremely durable (Hofstede & McCrae, 2004) is supported by this study. Switching to a new type of economy does not immediately delete what has been imprinted in the human psyche over millennia. The pastoralism versus rice cultivation split accounts for the differences between the extremes in the country ranking in Table 1 but leaves the other cases unexplained. The ranking of the Anglo and European nations points to another factor in that region. Societies that experienced an early shift from agriculture to industry have more polarized cultures. Industry breeds

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competition and assertiveness, whereas intensive agricultureeven if it does not involve rice cultivationdoes not encourage such qualities. If this is so, societies with a pastoralist tradition should experience even greater polarization after they industrialize. Kuwaits case (see Table 1) suggests that this may be true. Thus, the following descending gradation of factors emerges, which can explain cultural differences starting from high polarization and absolutism and ending with low polarization and dialecticism:
pastoralist tradition plus modern industry pastoralist tradition early industrialization intensive agriculture without wet rice cultivation wet rice cultivation.

Cultural differences in dialecticism and the ability to reconcile contradictory opinions at the individual level, as well as in the avoidance of the expression of strong opinions that can cause social polarization, are extremely old. They are so ancient that they account for the emergence of radically different religions and philosophies in the Middle East and Asia. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam owe a lot to the pastoralist tradition of the Middle East, whereas Hinduism and Buddhism reflect, among other things, the spirit of Asian rice cultivation. The classical Buddhist cannon Ti Pitaka, composed between the fourth and second centuries B.C.., abounds in descriptions of dialectical views such as After death a Tathagata [Buddha] both exists and does not exist or After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist (Cula-Malunkyovada sutta, 2005). This way of thinking clearly precedes Buddhism because the classical Buddhist treatise Brahmajala sutta (2003), composed between the second and the fourth centuries B.C., describes it as typical of Indian philosophical thought prior to the advent of Buddhism. The Buddha is said to have been asked on several occasions to take a clear position on controversial issues of this type and on questions about the existence of an immortal individual soul, the unity or disunity of body and soul, the eternity or transience of the universe, and so on. He consistently refused to take a firm stance and retorted that these questions need not be answered (CulaMalunkyovada sutta, 2005; Maha-nidana sutta, 2005; Potthapada sutta, 2005). This is a perfect example of avoidance of strong statements on socially controversial issues. This makes Buddhism and other Asian philosophies and religions mutually compatible. Since antiquity, it has been normal practice in

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246 Cross-Cultural Research

East Asia to follow more than one religion and philosophy at the same time. Today, China and Vietnam demonstrate another striking example of dialectic reconciliation of seemingly incompatible phenomena: communist governments that are busily building capitalist economies. In contrast, the three Middle Eastern religions are strongly absolutist. It is not possible to follow any of them in conjunction with another one. They emphasize self-stability: an eternal and immutable individual self that adheres to strong values and beliefs and rejects anything that is not in agreement with them. The self also maintains consistency in this life and in the hereafter, avoids dialectical opposites, and is not afraid of expressing its position in strong and unambiguous terms.

The following items from Pew Research Center (2007) were used in this study.

Judgments About the Quality of Various Aspects of the Respondents Lives

As I read each of the following, please tell me whether you are very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied with this aspect of your life: q. 6a: your household income q. 6b: your family life q. 6c: your job

Judgments About the Acceptability of Societal Phenomena

Please tell me whether you completely agree, mostly agree, mostly disagree, or completely disagree with the following statements: q. 18a: Most people are better off in a free market economy even though some people are rich and some are poor.1 q. 18c: Protecting the environment should be given priority even if it causes slower economic growth and some loss of jobs. q. 22a: The (state or government) controls too much of our daily lives. q. 22b: It is the responsibility of the (state or government) to take care of very poor people who cant take care of themselves.2 (continued)

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Minkov / Dialectical Selves and Life Quality 247

Appendix (continued)
q. 22c: Religion is a matter of personal faith and should be kept separate from government policy. q. 22e: Our way of life needs to be protected against foreign influence. q. 22f: We should restrict and control entry of people into our country more than we do now. q. 22g: It is sometimes necessary to use military force to maintain order in the world. q. 20: What do you think about the growing business ties between (survey country and other countries)do you think it is a very good thing, somewhat good, somewhat bad, or a very bad thing for our country?

Judgments About the Influence of Groups and Institutions in the Respondents Countries
Is the influence of (read name) very good, somewhat good, somewhat bad, or very bad in (survey country): q. 21a: our national government q.21d: news organizations/the media such as television, the radio, newspapers and magazines q. 21f: immigrants q. 21g: large companies from other countries

Judgments About Aspects of Life in the Respondents Country

q. 11: How would you describe the current economic situation in (survey country)is it very good, somewhat good, somewhat bad, or very bad?

1. Essentially, this question asks the respondents if a market economy is good or bad. 2. In other words, respondents are asked if it would be good or bad for the government to take care of poor people.

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250 Cross-Cultural Research Michael Minkov is an associate professor of cross-cultural awareness and organizational behavior, teaching on the University of Portsmouth (UK) programs delivered through its franchisee, International University College, Sofia, Bulgaria. He graduated from Sofia State University St Kliment Ohridski with a masters degree in linguistics, culture, and literature and is currently finishing his PhD at the Department of Scandinavian Studies of the same institution. He is a coauthor, together with Geert Hofstede, Gert Jan Hofstede, and Henk Vinken, of the 2008 version of the Values Survey Modulea cross-cultural research instrument based on Hofstedes classical five-dimensional model, enriched with two new dimensions recently proposed by Minkov.

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