Чибисова Ольга Владимировна
Комсомольский-на-Амуре государственный технический
университет кандидат культурологии,
доцент кафедры лингвистики и межкультурной
коммуникации гуманитарного факультета
Chibisova Olga Vladimirovna
Komsomolsk-on-Amur State Technical University PhD in Cultural Studies,
Associate Professor of the Department of Linguistics and
Intercultural Communication of the Faculty of Humanities
Товбаз Артем Алексеевич
выпускник кафедры лингвистики и межкультурной
коммуникации гуманитарного факультета
Tovbaz Artem Alekseevich
Graduate of the Department of Linguistics and
Intercultural Communication of the Faculty of Humanities
Hope to get lucky … (comparative analysis of the Russian and Chinese students’ values)
This article reflects the findings of the place of the instrumental value “luck” in the value hierarchy of the Russian and Chinese cultures’ representatives. The purpose of the publication is to fill a gap in the research literature because, in our opinion, little attention is paid to the comparative analysis of the individual’s internal and external attributions in Russia and China.
В данной статье отражены результаты исследования места инструментальной ценности «удача» в иерархии ценностей представителей русской и китайской культур. Целью публикации является заполнение пробела в современной научной литературе, поскольку, на наш взгляд, сопоставительному анализу внутренней и внешней атрибуции личности в России и Китае уделяется недостаточное внимание.
A detailed study of national peculiarities is very significant in our globalizing world, as the lack of background knowledge in a particular field of an interlocutor’s culture leads to communication errors. Because of them a statement may be misinterpreted by the listener which can entail cross-cultural misunderstandings and even conflicts .
The interpretation of the term “culture” has acquired a new meaning recently. Originally it used to mean so-called world cultural values (such artifacts as works of art, literature, etc.). In today’s world the definition of culture includes first and foremost the description and interpretation of the national traditions of linguistic communities, their way of life, and the specifics of conduct, thinking and perceiving the surrounding world.
We are firmly convinced that culturology is mainly a value science and, of course, it is influenced in versatile ways by different value models. The value component of a culture provides its integrity. Accordingly, the changes in values, their hierarchy and interdependency caused by the impulses issued from other cultural configurations can transform a cultural system beyond recognition. Besides, we assert that during the intercultural interaction it is on the value level where the conflicts emerge. The latter outline the boarders of a culture in a common cultural environment. Contrariwise, a positive interaction results in creating, supporting and updating the universal values.
The value orientation is primarily a preference or rejection of certain meanings as life organizing principles and (un)willingness to act in accordance with them . Value specificity is to give meaning to human existence, to ensure unity and coherence without which man can not live . The study of values is especially promising in comparative aspect. The contrastive analysis examines cultures through the opposition “own — alien” which is one of the most important constants, preserving its value throughout the ages along with other conceptual oppositions such as “male — female”, “senior — junior”, “life — death”, “light — darkness”, reflecting the archetypal notions about the world structure .
“Alien” is something unknown that lies beyond someone’s traditional way of life which is perceived as strange, incomprehensible, concealing a threat or danger. “Own” is always good and “alien” is, if not an enemy, then at least a misgiving. The idea of an “alien” is a key to cross-cultural communication on account of a growing number of international contacts. For effective interaction people should overcome their dislike through realizing that an “alien” means different but not hostile. For that they should know similarities and differences in understanding and assessing the principal concepts of an interacting culture.
One of them is the notion “luck” which reflects numerous life aspects of a person and community, as it is closely related to consciousness and regulation of both individual or group behaviour and activity. We have already dwelled on both notional and object-figurative sides of the concept “luck” in the article “The concept Luck in Russian and Chinese cultures” .
To define the role of luck in the value system of Russian and Chinese linguocultures we used such methods as “Locus of control” by J. Rotter, “Rokeach Value Survey” and «The Sentence Completion Test» by Dr. Joseph M. Sacks and Dr. Sidney Levy.
According to the definition given by PsychCentral encyclopaedia , locus of control is a notion, which shows a person’s tendency to refer the reasons of events to either external or internal factors. The theory of J. Rotter belongs to the theories of “expected benefit”, which mean that human behaviour can be defined by his/her estimate of a chance to reach the desired result. They suppose that individuals who have the internal locus of control behave purposefully and gradually, gather the information needed for successful actions meticulously, overcome difficulties persistently and tend to follow the social norms. In accordance, the externals are characterised by outward protective behaviour and, as the attribution of the situation, they prefer having a chance to succeed. Though locus of control is deeply personal, it depends on the culture of a person .
According to Rokeach’s typological model of values, they can be divided into “terminal” and “instrumental”. Terminal values are convictions that the final aim of individual existence is worth striving for or, in other words, these values are ends-in-themselves. Instrumental ones are beliefs that some lines of action are preferred in any situation. They are aids of achieving terminal values. In scientific literature the first are also called “ends values”, the second “means values”. In our research we included “luck” into the list of instrumental values, as we see “luck” as a “means value”.
The third of the included tests refers to the group of projective tests and inherently represents a kind of an associative experiment or, a variation of word association technique. It provides a great freedom for an individual and a numerous variety of answers; it also reflects a vast area of the respondent’s behaviour world. We used this technique to verify the results, given by the first and the second test and also to identify dependencies or particular divergences.
We conducted a poll among 50 Russian and 50 Chinese university students. The received information allowed us to analyse the respondents’ internal or external attribution, to distinguish the rank of luck in their value system, and to identify their personal attitude to the role of chance in their lives.
From the results of the poll we can deduce which statements the Russian and Chinese respondents favour mostly. Obviously, the Russians show less preference than the Chinese to the options which refer to the external attribution; however, there is practically no difference in answers to some points. The number of the Russian students, who feel that they don’t have enough control over the direction their life is taking, prevails over the number of the Chinese respondents by 14% (38% and 24% correspondently). For their part, the Chinese students, as it follows from the answers, are inclined to think that becoming a boss often depends on who was lucky enough to be the first in the right place (62%), meanwhile their Russian congeners are sure that luck has little or nothing to do with it, one just needs an ability of governing people (86%).
Considerable difference of 20% is observed in the informants’ attitude to the role of chance (fate) in their lives. The Russian students are convinced that chance can hardly affect events happening to them (58%), while only 38% of the Chinese ones tend to think the same. Besides, when it seems hard for the Chinese to make an independent choice, they prefer to rely on the tip of high forces received, for example, by flipping a coin (32%).
Though fate plays a key role in life of the Chinese students (62%), like their Russian peers, they would rather make a decision and take a definite course of action according to the circumstances than pin their hopes on the favourable outcome of the events and wait for it submissively (76% of the Chinese and 86% of the Russians). At the same time, a substantial number of the Chinese respondents (66%) believe that events as phenomena dependent on the fate’s intention can be both positive and negative so in some cases it may be worth waiting.
The representatives of both cultures are almost unanimous (80% and 74%), when they say that people’s misfortunes result from the mistakes they make. But when the informants think about their own failures their opinions vary: only 52% of the Russian and 34% of the Chinese students interpret them as the result of their own inability, ignorance or laziness. Also, an approximately equal amount of the representatives belonging to the both cultures do not see an opportunity to control world events while the other part would like to participate in social life.
On the grounds of the similarities and divergences mentioned above we can conclude that on the whole the Russian and the Chinese are more internals, than externals. The highest rates of externality are observed in respondents’ considering events as phenomena controlled by fate, and also in their attitude to the role of chance in current events. As a difference we may consider the fact that the total score of externality is higher in the Chinese culture, than in the Russian one (44,25% > 30,5%). The maximum rate of externality is shown by the Chinese students in the appraisal of their capabilities to become a boss (62%). While the Russian students show it in estimating the importance of their role in social life (48%), however, even in this case the rate is no higher than 50%.
Since the majority of our informants think that getting what they want has little or nothing to do with luck (80% of the Russians and 68% of the Chinese) and what happens to them is their own handiwork (62% and 76% correspondently), let us examine which qualities (instrumental values) they consider useful for reaching their life goals (terminal values) unassisted.
The Russians ranked the proposed qualities as follows:
1. Responsible, dependable and reliable.
2. Obedient, dutiful and respectful.
3. Clean, neat and tidy.
4. Independent, self-reliant and self-sufficient.
5. Capable, competent and effective.
6. Strong-willed, resolute and having one’s own way.
7. Logical, consistent and rational.
8. Courageous, standing up for one’s beliefs.
9. Lucky, successful and favored by fortune.
10. Ambitious, hardworking and aspiring.
The Chinese ranged them in a slightly different priority order:
1. Responsible, dependable and reliable.
2. Strong-willed, resolute and having one’s own way.
3. Independent, self-reliant and self-sufficient.
4. Courageous, standing up for one’s beliefs.
5. Clean, neat and tidy.
6. Capable, competent and effective.
7. Logical, consistent and rational.
8. Ambitious, hardworking and aspiring.
9. Lucky; successful and favored by fortune.
10. Obedient, dutiful and respectful.
Notwithstanding a certain divergence in the estimation of each value we can note that “luck” as means value takes the 9th place in the value system of both cultures, which confirms our previous statement about an insignificant role of luck in their lives. Below “luck” in the value pyramid is only “ambition” in the Russian culture and “obedience” in the Chinese one. We do not see it a key point for our work to describe other means values; still, nevertheless, we believe that some conclusions would be useful for experts, who pursue cross-cultural researches.
First of all it should be mentioned that in both cultures the first rank is taken by “responsibility” and the seventh one belongs to “logic”. There is a considerable discrimination in ranking “obedience” which stands on the 2nd place in the Russian culture and on the last place in the Chinese one. Russian “obedience” is opposed to Chinese “willpower” (the 2nd place). In its turn, the last place in the Russian culture is occupied by “ambition”; which is not approved in the Chinese one (the 8th place) either. The fact that the Russian students chose “responsibility”, “conscientiousness” and “neatness” as main instrumental values seems significant to us as it refutes stereotypes about the Russians as a lazy people.
However, we should point out that by giving a high mark for “courage” and “independence” the Chinese students mostly show tendency for independent deeds and decisions. We notice that “logic” in the Chinese culture is less valued than in the Russian one (the 7th place). Besides, students of the both cultures are not quite interested in the effectiveness of their work (the 5-6th places).
Now let us see which terminal values are supposed to be promoted by instrumental value “luck”. The answers of the Russian and Chinese students to the question “Which values do you associate luck with?” were grouped according to the terminal values from the “Rokeach value survey”.
It stands out that in the Russian culture the means value “luck” is associated with reaching more terminal values than in the Chinese one (16 > 6). The Russians mostly need luck for a happy family life – 48% (“family”, “good alliance”, “family rapport”). The leading position in the Russian culture among terminal values coupled with luck is also taken by those, which denote financial welfare – 38% (“pecuniary success”, “financial welfare”, “wealth”). Luck can also come in handy with a successful job, career – 32% (“having a good job”, “career opportunities”, “job”). On the basis of these rates we state that the leading terminal values of young people are the values of “reaching” and “high prosperous life”, which belong to the pragmatic values. In comparison with their Russian peers, the Chinese students are less pragmatic: an interesting job and high prosperous life got only 10% of voices apiece.
The Chinese, first of all, connect luck with “efficient life” – 38% (“my actions turn out well”, “make a go of it”, “realization of my ideals”), and secondly – with the family – 14% (“achieved family happiness”, “happy family life”, “joy with dearest people”). In addition, the Chinese respondents are sure that luck can also help other people and the whole humankind to reach happiness (“aid to other people”, “assistance in business”, “helping friends and parents”). As opposed to them, the Russian respondents, having covered almost the whole list of the terminal values, do not think of the whole nation. Besides, both sides unanimously decided that an enjoyable leisurely pastime is good per se.
Summing up, we can note that the Russian culture is abundant in more associations of luck with the terminal values than the Chinese one. In Russia luck is more often coupled with pecuniary welfare and a good job, in China – mostly with efficient life, also, though less – with family welfare and happiness of other people. Despite the significant contrast, we can note that in both cultures the concept “luck” is connected with reaching a deal of the same values.
Besides the free associations of the means value “luck” with ends values, we have structured and analysed the respondents’ reactions on situations, given in the form of incomplete sentences. Mainly they proved to be unique in the target cultures, however, there are statements, which agree in meaning, and some of them coincide either by frequency or by percentage terms. Thus, when facing troubles, the Russian respondents try to overcome them (40%) and, on a par with them, the Chinese students also look for the way to solve their problems (28%). In this case the respondents show aspiration for making some efforts to respond to challenges as they perceive them as missions to be carried out. In both cultures 8 percent of the informants answered that they start to tackle incipient problems right away. 12% of the Chinese respondents seek distraction and relief from problems and 4% out of the general number take them hard. Escapism is also a way out in the Russian culture (22%).
In difficult situations 50% of the Russians rely on themselves or themselves and a timely lucky chance which could come in handy (12% more). The rest of the informants rely on their friends and relatives (20%) or fortune, favourable outcome or a fate’s tip (18%). The Chinese students also rely on themselves (32%), close people (36%) or luck (32%).
Having considered the value component of the concept “luck”, we came to the following conclusions concerning similarities and differences in understanding and estimating “luck” by the Russians and the Chinese. First of all, we are going to denote the similarities. In both cultures there are more people who are convinced that they are architects of their own fortunes, than those, who would prefer to sit and wait for an opportunity to turn up. The maximum degree of external attribution is revealed in informants’ regarding events as occurrences caused by a supernatural force and also in their evaluating the importance of chance in what is going on. The means value “luck” takes the penultimate position (the 9thrank) in the system of values of the Russian and Chinese students. Almost equally were estimated such values as “responsibility” (the 1st rank), “logic” (the 7th rank), and “ambition” (the 8th and 10th ranks). The representatives of the both cultures count more on themselves, friends’ and relatives’ help when they are down on their luck than on propitious external factors.
The revealed divergences are more significant, than the similarities. The total score of externality is higher in the Chinese culture, than in the Russian one (44,25% > 30,5%), which denotes the greater tendency of the Chinese to attribute the cause of events to external factors. The externality is peaked by the Chinese students in assessing their chances to become a boss, and by the Russian students in evaluating their role in social life. The number of the respondents, who appreciated highly the instrumental value “luck/success in affairs”, is bigger among the Chinese students. The means value “luck” is associated with obtaining more terminal values in the Russian culture, than in the Chinese one (16 > 6). The Russians couple luck mostly with family happiness, material security and availability of a good job; while the Chinese connect it in the first instance with efficient life, and then, though by far less, with the family wellbeing and happiness of other people. In difficult situations more Chinese than Russian students tend to put their hope in their luck (32% > 18%).
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