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The Psychology World Podcast: Episode 7- What is Social Psychology and Cultural Dimension?

Hello everyone, I hope that you had a great weekend.

Today’s episode is on Social psychology and Cultural Dimensions.

You can see more information on Sociocultural Psychology in my book. Available on amazon, Kobo and all other major retailers.

(If you want to read or listen for FREE request it at your local library)

In the introduction, I talk about my new business books, which I love!

Then in the news update, I inform you about the bad side of homework and I talk myself into a great project!

Below is a short version of today’s episode:

Cultural dimensions can be explained simply as the cultural differences in its people’s values and norms.

The original theory and set of 6 dimensions were created by Hofstede and we’ll look closer at his work in a moment.

But putting this into context, these dimensions can be used to explain why; for instance; British act differently to Chinese people.

So now we can start to look at the six dimensions:


In 1965, he founded the personal research department at IBM Europe, and he undertook a massive study across 40 countries.

He gave a questionnaire to over 117,00 employees which asked them about their behaviours and values.

He completed his initial study in 1973 and found six dimensions; including dimensions found after later studies.

These dimensions included: individualism versus collectivism (1980) which is where people in individualism cultures they focus on their needs and not the needs of the group. Whereas in collectivism cultures they focus on the need of the group and not themselves.

Power distance index (1980) which is the extent to less powerful members of the group except and accept inequalities. This is very closely related to how societies understand and tolerate inequalities between members. High PDI scores mean that society is tolerant of inequalities. Low scorers mean that cultures are less tolerate and require an explanation.

Critically thinking:

As this study was done with a large sample size and it was a cross-cultural study. It gives us evidence that the study’s results can be used across all cultures and that the dimensions’ work for all cultures as well.

However, to improve the creditability of the study even further another research method could be used to support the findings. Such as interviews or focus groups with different cultures so their response to questions on values can be compared in more depth.

The six dimensions:

Individualism versus collectivism- discussed in the case study above.

Power Distance Index- spoken about in the study above.

Uncertainty avoidance index- this is how tolerant a society is for ambiguity. In other words, tolerance for ambiguity means there’s an openness to change as well as less strict rules.

For example the UK is more open to change, and it has less strict rules compared to China. As they don’t have freedom of speech.

Masculinity vs. femininity- masculine societies focuses on achievement, competition and wealth. Whereas feminine societies focus on cooperation, relationships and quality of life.

For example western cultures focus on their achievement, getting the most land; a type of resource and getting the most money. Whereas, African countries; collectivism cultures; focus on the cooperation of everyone and focus on what the group needs in terms of its quality of life as well.

Long-term vs. short-term orientation- this is the connection to the past and attitude toward the future. Short-term orientation means that traditions are kept. Long-term orientation has more of a focus on the future.

Chinese is a good example of this as they focus on their traditions. Especially in rural China whereas the UK is focusing on its uncertain future after Brexit.

Indulgence vs. restraint- Indulgent cultures; like the western world; allow people to enjoy life and have fun. Restrained cultures; like in the east; have stricter control through strict social norms. Indulgent cultures tend to believe that they are in control of their lives; restrained cultures are more fatalistic.[1]

Berry (1967)

He used 120 people in each group, and he used the rice farming culture of the Temne people from Sierra Leone, the hunting, fishing Inuit people from Canada and urban and rural Scots as a reference group.

Additionally, each group was divided in two further groups. The people who had and the people who hasn’t received an education in the western world.

They brought themselves into a room and were given nine lines.

For the first two trials, they were told to match the top line as closely as they could to the other eight lines on the sheet. The instructions were given by a local interrupter in their own language. These two trials were tests to see if the instructions were understood.

For the other four trials, they were told that the other members of their culture said that a particular line was correct and then they were told to pick their own answer. For trial three the correct answer was given but for trials 4-6 the wrong answer was given. This was to test conformity.

Results showed that the collectivism culture; the Temne people; shown the highest rate of conformity and the Inuit people shown the lowest. However, within the group themselves, there was no significant difference between them in the rate of conformity. Therefore, being exposed to western culture has little difference.

Critically thinking:

The study effectively uses a number of experimental groups to enable a cross-cultural comparison for their behaviour.

Although, this study lacks temporal validity; how time affects the findings; as the world has become a lot more interconnected since this study was done. So, it’s very possible that the results would be different. Mainly because the Western influences are much strong now than compared to when the study was done.


Cultural dimensions are cultural differences between social values and norms.

Hofstede shows us the six dimensions he came up with. The six are:

Individualism versus collectivism

Power distance index

Indulgence versus restraint

Uncertainty avoidance index

Masculine versus feminine cultures

Short term versus long term orientation

Berry (1967) found that collectivism cultures have a higher conformity rate than other cultures.

I hope you enjoyed today’s episode.

If you want to know more about my psychology books, then please consider signing up for my newsletter to get your FREE book.

Thank you for reading.

Have a great week.

Kind regards Connor.


Lee Parker (author), Darren Seath (author) Alexey Popov (author), Oxford IB Diploma Programme: Psychology Course Companion, 2nd edition, OUP Oxford, 2017

Alexey Popov, IB Psychology Study Guide: Oxford IB Diploma Programme, 2nd edition, OUP Oxford, 2018


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