Score Yourself: Universalism or Particularist Results  


These behaviors tend to be more characteristic of Universalists: These behaviors tend to be more characteristic of Particularists:
1a. In hiring someone, I want to know about their technical skills and their educational/professional background. 1b. In hiring, I want to know who the personís family and friends are, who will vouch for this person.
2a. In society, we should help those who are the neediest. 2b. In society, we should help the neediest of those who depend on us.
3b. There are certain absolutes which apply across the board. 3a. There are no absolutes in life; you always have to look at the particular situation.
4b. I would not expect my neighbor, the policeman, to jeopardize his job and not give me a speeding ticket. 4a. I would be very hurt if my neighbor, a policeman, gave me a ticket for speeding.
5a. The courts should mediate conflicts. 5b. People should solve their own conflicts; itís embarrassing if it has to go to court.
6a. In general, people can be trusted. 6b. My closest associates can be trusted absolutely; everyone else is automatically suspect.
7a. Performance reviews should not take personal relations into account. 7b. Performance reviews inevitably take personal relations into account.
8b. Exceptions should be very rare; otherwise, you open the floodgates. 8a. You often have to make exceptions for people because of circumstances.
9b. Contracts guarantee that friends stay friends. 9a. Contracts arenít necessary between friends.
10b. Ethics are ethics no matter whom you are dealing with. 10a. What is ethical in a given situation depends on whom you are dealing with.





Universalist and Particularist are one of a number of cultural dimensions, which are called "contrast sets." They do not assume that all cultures fall to one extreme or the other, but rather that all cultures balance and weigh the features differently. They fall along a continuum. For example, US-Americans tend to be strongly Universalist, as are the British and Germans, while Venezuelans, Brazilians, Egyptians, Saudi Arabians, and Pakistanis, among many others, tend towards Particularism.  

When universalists come into contact with particularist cultures they may tend to see the societies as corrupt, untrustworthy, overly emotional, and, perhaps because so much depends upon personal relationships and "who one knows", and perceive the society as closed and cliquish.  Particularists coming into contact with universalist cultures often feel their people are impersonal, cold, rigid, rule-obsessed, and unfriendly.  This is obviously most intense in legal or governmental settings, but ideas about what is just and appropriate permeate cultures and often play a role in interpersonal relationships.  Where these fundamentally differ, the cross-cultural results may not be positive. 

When you compare your answers with the key, how did you score? If you are going to study abroad in a country which is strongly similar to your own orientation (like Sweden if you tend towards universalist) then you are likely to feel at home, at least in terms of universalism versus particularism. But if you are going to a country which is strongly the opposite of your own orientation (like Morocco, which is particularist) then you will probably have some conscious adjustment to make to function efficiently within that society. That is why it is useful to know what your orientation is regarding this cultural dimension, as well as that of your host country.

Talking to students who have studied in the country before you is always a good source of information (assuming they were successful themselves!). So is your study abroad advisor and international students from that country or region. Returned Peace Corps Volunteers on campus or in the community are also excellent sources of practical advice. It is important to know about all this before you go so you can, if necessary, adequately prepare yourself to deal with a different cultural reality overseas.



INSIGHT..!!  The relationship between an individual and ethics is influenced by culture.