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Ethnocentrism and the Lewis Model of Cultural Classification |

Ethnocentrism and the Lewis Model of


Cultural Classification

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THE LEWIS MODEL OF CULTURAL CLASSIFICATION. DRAW A TRIANGLE OF THE LR, MR
AND R NUMBER SCORES THAT YOU RECEIVE THAT THE RESULT WILL BE THAT YOUR
LOCATION ON THE DIAGRAM IS YOUR CULTURAL PROFILE. THE COUNTRIES CLOSE TO
AND CONNECTED TO YOUR CULTURAL PROFILE ARE THE ONES THAT YOU ARE MOST
COMPATIBLE WITH/IDENTIFY WITH.
I received the biggest cultural shock of my life when I arrived in Mainland China. I remember how
completely bewildered and at times, judgmental, I was in China. Meanwhile my family is Chinese and
I study Anthropology (and had studied ancient and contemporary Chinese culture).
No matter how cross-culturally competent one is, we all suffer from ethnocentricity. Ethnocentricity is
in the internal infrastructure of the culture that we grow up in. This manifests itself in people thinking
that the infrastructure of their home country is superior to the country that they are visiting, that the
way that other people do things is wrong, inefficient, or just plain mind-boggling. At some point,
people can begin to feel disillusioned, confused, and frustrated. The values that they have internalized
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are being turned upside down and challenged by a culture that they do not understand. This is why
learning the language and talking with as many people from that particular country is a good idea. It
will help you come closer to understanding their mentality, their point of view, and the reason that they
do things. You can begin to curb your stereotyping of them, as ethnocentricity often breeds negative
stereotyping and promotes an us versus them mentality. Hopefully, you will begin to understand
and start to appreciate elements of this foreign culture, and will perhaps even experience reverse
cultural shock when you return home.
Im closer to that point with Chinese culture. While I was in Hong Kong, I volunteered for the
International Art Fair (I gave art tours to children. Remember that you can volunteer for anything,
anywhere, folks!) and I met many Mainland Chinese artists. Talking with them in Mandarin about
their works, the themes that they chose to present and the issues that these themes represented, helped
me to see more from their point of view, the worldview from which some Chinese understand the world
and survive in their society. This is something that growing up in a Chinese family didnt teach me to
do, because I separated myself from my mother identity-wise early on. Thats why Chinese culture is
not something that I say that I personally identify with. Thats the second element that I will bring in
here: personality compatibility.

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WILSON SHIEH, A HK ARTIST, JUXTAPOSES TYPICALLY MASCULINE ELEMENTS WITH
NUDE FEMALES HERE. BESIDES THE FACT THAT WOMEN ARE SEXUALLY EVALUATED
BEFORE ALL, THESE ASIAN WOMEN ARE PAINTED IN THE TRADITIONAL GONG-BI STYLE
AND LOOK DEMURE AND IMPASSIVE: THINGS THAT CHINESE SOCIETY HIGHLY VALUES
IN GOOD WOMEN.

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LETS JUST SAY THAT THE CHINESE DO NOT VALUE THE EXPRESSION OF ONES
OPINION.
In her book The Global Citizen (http://www.amazon.com/Global-Citizen-Creating-InternationalCareer/dp/1580083528), Elizabeth Kreumpelmann calls this discovering your cultural profile.
Interestingly enough, your cultural profile is not necessarily determined by the culture that you come
from, even though we all are affected by ethnocentricity. She says, Many global citizens, by the very
nature of our interests in other cultures, deviate from the cultural norm of our societies to some
extent. Finding out where you stand, culturally speaking, will help you understand yourself better
compared to the culture in which you choose to live, travel, and work. And it will give you an overview
of the similarities and differences of various other cultures (34).
A very useful model for finding out your personal cultural profile is the Lewis Model of Cultural
Classification. The Richard Lewis Communications Plc (www.crossculture.com) is a cross-cultural
training organization known for its 50 years of extensive research and training in cross cultural issues.
There are three cultural categories of the Lewis Model: linear-active, multi-active, and reactive.
HOW TO FIND YOUR CULTURAL CLASSIFICATION:
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1. Find your cultural profile by answering the fifteen question survey. Circle the description that best
describes you out of the three choices.
2. Transfer the totals for each column (linear active (L), multi active (M) and reactive (R)) to the LMR
box.
3. Plot your LMR score on the numbered lines in the triangular diagram.
4. After you fill in and circle your LMR score, connect the dots as shown to form a triangle. Place a dot
in the middle of the triangle. This dot represents where your natural preferences stand in relation to the
cultures of the world.
Lewis Model Summary: How close is your cultural profile to the countries that you plan to visit? How
much are you prepared to adapt your thinking and behavior? Even with cultures that are similar to
your profile, do you know what the differences are?
LINEAR-ACTIVE

MULTI-ACTIVE

REACTIVE

Talks half the time

Talks most of the time

Listens most of the time

Gets data from stats,


research

Solicits information first-hand from


people

Uses both data and people


sources

Plans ahead step by step

Plans grand outline only

Looks at general principles

Polite but direct

Emotional

Polite and indirect

Partly conceals feelings

Displays feelings

Conceals feelings

Confronts with logic

Confronts emotionally

Never confronts

Dislikes losing face

Has good excuses

Must not lose face

Compartmentalizes projects

Lets one project influence another

Sees the whole picture

Rarely interrupts

Often interrupts

Doesnt interrupt

Job-oriented

People-oriented

Very people-oriented

Sticks to the facts

Juggles the facts

Statements are promises

Truth before diplomacy

Flexible truth

Diplomacy over truth

Sometimes impatient

Impatient

Patient

Limited body language

Unlimited body language

Subtle body language

Respects officialdom

Pulls strings

Networks

Separates the social &


professional

Interweaves the social & professional

Connects the social &


professional

Does one thing at a time

Multi tasks

Reacts to partners action

Punctuality very important

Punctuality not important

Punctuality important

TOTAL =

TOTAL =

TOTAL =

Linear-Active Cultures: tend to be data and fact oriented. Speech is mainly used to exchange
information. Linear-active cultures tend to stick to planned agendas, work fixed hours, be results
oriented and gain status through achievement. Linear-active people will secure deals by compromising.
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Contracts are binding and short-term profit is most desirable. In general, linear-active countries rarely
borrow or give. The cultures at the high number end of this scale are Germany, Switzerland, the U.S.A,
the United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, and Norway.
Multi-Active Cultures: are dialogue oriented. In general, the people are animated, they love to talk
(usually quite fast), they show their emotions, and they value relationships. Multi-actives like a flexible
work schedule and sometimes they ignore the rules. They would rather win an argument than
compromise. Because relationships are more important than fixed appointments, they tend to complete
meetings with friends or colleagues before moving on to the next meeting, even if that means showing
up later than the scheduled time. Multi-actives achieve status in their culture by having charismatic
personalities and connections. In business, having a good relationship with the client is deemed more
important than drawing up a contract, which is considered more idealistic than realistic. Pulling strings
and doing favors is a way of business and life. Latinos, Spaniards, Portuguese, Italians, Greeks etc are
at the heart of the multi active scale, followed by some African and Arab cultures.
Reactive: cultures are the polite listeners of the cultural categories. They prefer a slower-paced dialogue
to have time to reflect on what is being said, they are sometimes suspicious of fast talkers. They never
confront as they must never lose face. In addition, reactive cultures prefer to live in harmony with
people and the environment. Speech is a reflection of their desire to promote harmony in relationships,
as is the practice of compromising. Reactive cultures are respectful and give ritually, but rarely borrow.
A person gains status in this society through birthright and education. In business, long-term profit and
increased market share are important. Ancient philosophies like Confucianism dominate the way of
life. Reactive cultures are found typically in Asia, with China, Japan, and Vietnam being at the far end
of the spectrum.
Remember that individual behaviors vary but the general conclusions that this model can provide are
invaluable ! As for me, my natural tendencies mostly mirror those of multi-active cultures. My score
was L 1 M 11 R 3 and not surprising as I love to talk and value relationships, y es que tambin bailo
salsa! (Although that actually has nothing to do with the Lewis Model, I would add love of and
willingness to dance to the survey).

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DANCING SALSA WITH MY FAMILY IN CARTAGENA; IT WAS THE AUNTS BIRTHDAY. WE
PLAYED OLD SALSA RECORDS UNTIL LATE MORNING

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FRIENDS THAT I MADE AT A SALSA PARTY AND MET AGAIN AT ANOTHER ONE ON THE
OUTSKIRTS OF PARIS.
What do you think about the Lewis Model? What is your own cultural profile? Does that fit with your
worldview and experiences in other cultures?
+
JUNE 16, 2011 BY ANI CHINESE CULTURE,
CULTURE, ETHNOCENTRISIM
ETHNOCENTRISIM,, HONG KONG,
KONG,
STEREOTYPES
+
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