Cross-cultural Differences

By 2005 the EPQ had been used by enough researchers, in enough countries, to provide the raw materials needed to do a meta-analytic review of national variations in idealism and idealism. With my colleagues Ernest O’Boyle and Mike McDaniel we tracked down 100s of publications, and examined variations in means and variance after considering changes in the metrics and variations in the scale itself. This review identified 139 samples drawn from 29 different countries, for a total sample of 30,230 respondents, and concluded that (a) levels of idealism and relativism vary across regions of the world in predictable ways; (b) an exceptionist ethic is more common in Western countries, subjectivism and situationism in Eastern countries, and absolutism and situationism in Middle Eastern countries; and (c) a nation’s ethics position predicted that country’s location on previously documented cultural dimensions, such as individualism and avoidance of uncertainty (Hofstede, Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values, 1980).

For more information please see Forsyth, D. R., O’Boyle, E. H., & McDaniel, M. A. (2008). East meets West: A meta-analytic investigation of cultural variations in idealism and relativism. Journal of Business Ethics, 83, 813-833.

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