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Arguments, values and weight assessment: holistic versus analytical argumentation and cultural values in weight assessment processes

Dalen, R. van (2013) Arguments, values and weight assessment: holistic versus analytical argumentation and cultural values in weight assessment processes.

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Abstract:This thesis is centred on two types of cultural differences in argumentation in weight assessment processes. One part on the process of argumentation in weight assessment and one part on the content of arguments by looking at values. Weight assessment processes concerns determining the importance of (sub) attributes, in this experimental setting these attributes were safety and comfort when buying a new vehicle for a fictitious taxi company. These attributes can be split up into sub attributes, for example you can split up the attribute comfort into the sub attributes air-conditioning and comfortable seats. The importance of (sub) attributes is called weights. You can weigh in a relative way, you link two or more (sub) attributes together. For example: safety is more important than comfort. You can also weigh in an absolute way, stating one (sub) attribute is important. For example: safety is important. This research was originally done by Hans Heerkens in 2003 among Dutch students. Later on this research was expanded by Floor Richters and Julia Doednik on respectively Australian and Russian students. This thesis is a secondary analysis of the raw data collected in the previous research on the subject of cultural differences. Culture distinguishes a group from other groups and it influences the way we think and act (Hall, 1976), this is not directly visible but manifested in behaviour (Root, 1994). Researching a cultural difference regarding argumentation in weight assessment processes would be interesting, because if you are aware of cultural differences you are able to anticipate on the behaviour someone else would portrait in certain situations. As said, in this thesis we research cultural differences on process and cultural differences on content. Researching a cultural difference on the process of argumentation was done by analysing results in the light of the contradiction between holistic versus analytical ways of thinking. From the work of Nisbett (2001) we’ve derived two indicators on the basis of argumentation in weight assessment processes:  Attribute versus sub attribute weighing o Holistic argumentation supports weights on the attribute level. o Analytical argumentation supports weights on the sub attribute level.  Relative versus absolute weighing o Holistic argumentation supports relative weighing. o Analytical argumentation supports absolute weighing. Both indictors point in the same direction. The Russian group is most holistic of all the three groups, the Australian group is most analytical of all the three groups and the Dutch group falls between the Russian and Australian group. Researching a cultural difference on the content of argumentation was done by the usage of the 10 value-types devised by Schwartz (1994): hedonism, power, achievement, stimulation, self-direction, universalism, benevolence, conformity, tradition and security. These values are present in every culture. The difference between cultures is made up by the relative importance of these value types, not every values is equally important. According to the theory of Schwartz & Bilsky (1987) values guide behaviour to the socially preferable road and therefore choices. In our case the choices for certain weights. So it would not be exceptionally if we would find values. However the reality of this research is far from this. Values are almost not present in weight assessment processes, more precisely: I almost didn’t find any. When values are measured, a large portion is not even aimed on importance assessments at all. Due to the low amount of values found a more in depth analysis on value types and the analysing a difference in relative importance is not viable. The amounts of values are too low to investigate any correlations between culture, value types and their relative importance. The low amount of values could have a number of causes:  In contradiction to the theory the presence of values in weight assessment processes is low. o This would contradict the theory on the guiding effect of values. o The experimental subjects did not feel any involvement with the fictitious assignment. The experimental subjects were aware of this fact and the lack of consequences of their weight assessment could mean the socially preferable road doesn’t exist at all.  The choice of being conservative with coding o To enhance intercoder reliability we were conservative with coding, doubtful ‘values’ were not included.  The suitability of the think aloud method. o With this method we can only measure what experimental subjects say. Therefore they have to be conscious of their thoughts in order to verbalize them. Values are not directly visible. (Hofstede, 1994) They are at the core of culture and guide behaviour in an unconscious way. If experimental are not conscious of the influence of values we cannot measure them using the think aloud method. On the basis of the research on values we cannot prove any difference between experimental groups, the relative importance of values and their influence on weights. We can draw conclusions on the process of argumentation in the light of holistic versus analytical argumentation. There is a big difference in the use of argumentation between the groups. The Russian group is the most holistic of all the three groups, the Australian group is the most analytical of all the three groups and the Dutch group can be found between the Russian and Australian group.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/63661
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