What Folklore Tells Us About Risk and Risk Taking: Cross-Cultural Comparisons of American, German, and Chinese Proverbs
Elke U. Weber
Columbia Business School - Management & Psychology
Christopher K. Hsee
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 75, No. 2, 1998
Two studies attempted to discriminate between a situationaleconomic and a cultural explanation for the recently reported finding that Chinese from the People's Republic of China (PRC) are more risk-seeking than Americans. Both studies compared American and Chinese proverbs related to risk and risk-taking. The first study added Germany as a control group for its socioeconomic similarity to the United States but its closer resemblance to the PRC in its social safety-net and cultural collectivism. Members of each culture rated American, Chinese, and German riskrelated proverbs, respectively, on implied advice (to take or avoid risk) and applicability to financial or social risks. Results were consistent with the cultural explanation of national differences in risk taking: (a) Chinese and German proverbs were judged to provide more risk-seeking advice than American proverbs; (b)American proverbs were judged less applicable to risks in the social domain than Chinese and German proverbs; (c) regardless of national origin of proverbs, Chinese perceived proverbs toadvocate greater risk seeking than American raters, but only for financial and not for social risks.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 17
Keywords: risk preference, risk attitude, cultural difference, China
JEL Classification: D81, D11, D12, D91Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: October 11, 2006
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