People hold a certain view of themselves on the basis of what is perceived as culturally appropriate by others in the culture or within the in group (Usunier, 1996). Building on Foa and Foa’s (1974) social exchange theory and the status characteristics theory (see Berger, Cohen, & Zelditch, 1966; Bereger & Fisek, 1974; Humphreys & Berger, 1981), Hirschman (1987) identified ten resource categories that comprehensively encapsulate the resources offered and sought in exchange between men and women using personal advertisements. These categories are: love, physical status, educational status, intellectual status, occupational status, entertainment services, money, demographic information, ethnic information, and personality trait information.
Love comprises emotional commitment, companionship, warmth, and emotional/affective personality traits. Physical status involves those physical characteristics that are valued within a society. Educational status refers to formal education and college degrees. Intellectual status relate s to characteristics typically associated with high intelligence. Occupational status refers to those occupations that are held in high regard within a society. Entertainment services refer to nonsexual activities to be done with another person. Money is an expression of wealth, affluence, or financial well-being. Demographic information comprises general descriptive characteristics such as age, marital status, and place of residence. Ethnic information concerns specifics such as race, religion, nationality, and caste. Personality trait information refers to statements about one’s personality but “does not include traits related to sexual or emotional characteristics” (Hirschman, 1987; p. 101).
We posit that the frequency of mentions of characteristics belonging to each of the ten categories described above would be associated with culture of the advertiser and the target audience (Kale, 1991). Operationalizing and explaining differences arising out of culture requires a suitable cultural framework (Kale & Barnes, 1992). Previous literature presents several frameworks with which to operationalize culture. Key among these are the classification schemata proposed by Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck (1961), Hall and Hall (1990), Inkeles and Levinson (1969), Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1998), Schwartz (1994), and Hofstede (1991; 2001). While there exists some disagreement among researchers as to which cultural framework is most appropriate, for the purposes of this study, we chose the one proposed by Geert Hofstede (1991). Of all the frameworks, Hofstede’s (1991) seems to have the most overall acceptance, an intuitive appeal, and the advantage of quantification. Hofstede proposes five dimensions of culture: power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term orientation.
Power distance (PDI) is the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. This dimension represents the amount of inequality in the distribution of power, status, and wealth. It suggests that a society’s level of inequality is endorsed by the followers as much as by the leaders. Power and inequality across humans are extremely fundamental facts of any society. All societies are unequal, but some are more unequal than others.
Countries are scored on the power distance dimension, receiving a number between 1 and 100. For this dimension, higher numbers means there is greater distance (inequality) in the distribution of power.
Individualism (IDV) assesses the bond between an individual and his or her fellow individuals. Individualist societies are characterized by loose ties across people; thus, in a country receiving a higher score everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family. On the collectivist side, we find societies in which people are integrated into strong, cohesive in groups, often extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents), clans, or tribes which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.
Masculinity (MAS) versus femininity refers to the stereotypical sex-role differences across societies. In masculine cultures sex roles are sharply differentiated and traditional masculine values such as achievement, assertiveness, and competition are relatively more valued. In feminine cultures sex roles are less sharply distinguished and attributes such as nurturing and caring are relatively more valued. Masculine societies tend to be hero worshippers whereas feminine societies tend to sympathize with the underdog. The women in feminine countries have the same modest, caring values as the men. In masculine countries (those with high scores), women tend to be somewhat assertive and competitive, but not as much as men; masculine countries, therefore, show a considerable gap between men’s values and women’s values.
Uncertainty avoidance (UAI) reflects a society’s level of tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. This dimension indicates to what extent a culture programs its members to feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situations. Unstructured situations are novel, unknown, surprising, and ambiguous. Strong uncertainty-avoiding cultures try to minimize the possibility of such situations by enacting strict
laws and rules, safety and security measures, and through their belief in an absolute truth. People in strong UAI countries are also more emotional, and motivated by inner nervous energy. The opposite type, uncertainty accepting cultures (those with low UAI scores), are more tolerant of opinions different from what they are used to; they try to have as few rules as possible, and allow multiple truths to exist.
Long-term orientation (LTO) versus short-term orientation: Also called “Confucian Dynamism,” this dimension assesses a society’s capacity for patience and delayed gratification. Long-term oriented cultures—reflected in high LTO scores—tend to save more money and exhibit more patience in reaping the results of their actions. Short-term-oriented societies want to maximize the present rewards and are relatively less prone to saving or anticipating long-term rewards. Hofstede (2001, p. 359) writes, “Long Term Orientation stands for the fostering of virtues oriented towards future rewards, in particular perseverance and thrift. Its opposite pole, Short Term Orientation, stands for the fostering of virtues related to the past and present, in particular, respect for tradition, preservation of ‘face’ and fulfilling social obligations.”
Scores for the three countries chosen for this research along the five cultural dimensions are shown in Table 1. Our starting position was to se- lectAustralia, our country of citizenship for further analysis. We then endeavored to select two other countries that exhibited considerable differences
in scores along the dimensions of PDI, IDV, UAI, and LTO; although as can be seen, there is little variance on masculinity, with all three countries scoring slightly above the world average.