What Folklore Tells Us About Risk and Risk Taking: Cross-Cultural Comparisons of American, German, and Chinese Proverbs

17 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2006  

Elke U. Weber

Columbia Business School - Management & Psychology

Christopher K. Hsee

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Abstract

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.

Keywords: risk preference, risk attitude, cultural difference, China

JEL Classification: D81, D11, D12, D91

Suggested Citation

Weber, Elke U. and Hsee, Christopher K., What Folklore Tells Us About Risk and Risk Taking: Cross-Cultural Comparisons of American, German, and Chinese Proverbs. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 75, No. 2, 1998. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=930085

Elke U. Weber

Columbia Business School - Management & Psychology ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Christopher K. Hsee (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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