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Comparisons Across Societies

Comparisons Across Societies: Attitudes and Practices Another difference across countries concerns how individualistic or collectivistic cultures tend to be. As discussed throughout this book, individualist cultures place more emphasis on the values of independence, autonomy, and self-reliance, whereas collectivist cultures place greater emphasis on the values of interdependence, cooperation, and social harmony. Gordon Forbes and others hypothesized that people from individualist cultures would be more likely to choose direct, aggressive responses to a conflict than would people from collectivist cultures.

Cultures also differ in their attitudes about aggression. In a study involving students at 36 universities in 19 different countries around the world, there was considerable variation in how acceptable the students found different actions, such as a husband slapping a wife or vice versa. For example, almost 80% of the respondents from a university in India did not strongly disapprove of a husband slapping a wife, compared to only about 24% at a university in the United States. According to a UNICEF (2012) report, a majority of adolescent girls and boys in India and in Nepal believe that it is acceptable for a man to beat his wife. In general, respondents from Europe were more approving of a husband slapping a wife than were respondents from Australia and New Zealand, who in turn tended to be somewhat more approving than respondents from North America. Even within the same region, cultural differences can lead to very different attitudes and behaviors regarding aggression between men and women. A study of Israeli youths revealed that rates of dating violence were much higher among Israeli Arabs than Israeli Jews, apparently reflecting the very different norms between the two cultures.

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