Explaining the Chinese Preference for Conflict Avoiding: an Exploration of Five Alternative Models
33 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2002
This paper develops five alternative models for Chinese-American differences in conflict avoiding tendencies, and test them using a scenario study with respondents from Taiwan and the U.S. Our results show that, contrary to expectations, differences in the expected career costs/benefits of good/bad relations with others does not explain Chinese-American differences in conflict avoiding, nor do differences in attributional styles. The most important explanation for differences in avoiding is strong social norms that favor avoiding among Chinese. In addition, Chinese prefer avoiding more than Americans due to their expectation that direct expressions of conflict would damage the relationship and the greater value they place in having good relationships, as well as due to lower confidence in their own conflict management skills. The Chinese preference for avoiding, then, is not a matter of rational utility maximizing, but rather is an expression of deeply-held values and norms.
Keywords: Culture, conflict avoiding, Chinese, rationality
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