International Journal of
Sociology and Anthropology

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Sociol. Anthropol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-988X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJSA
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 305

Full Length Research Paper

Decision making styles East and West: Is it time to move beyond cross-cultural research?

Jac Brown1*, Ssekamanya Siraje Abdallah2 and Reuben Ng3
  1Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. 2Institute of Education, International Islamic University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 3School of Humanities, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 27 May 2011
  •  Published: 31 December 2011



Cultural differences in decision making styles were explored using the conflict model of decision making (Janis and Mann, 1977). Six hundred and seventy three university students in Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore (Mean age of 20.2 years; SD=5.4) were tested on the Melbourne Decision Making Questionnaire (Mann, Burnett, Radford, and Ford, 1997) to explore cultural, gender, and age differences between these three countries. Vigilance scores were higher for Malaysian and Australian respondents compared to Singaporeans. Hyper-vigilance scores were higher for Malaysian while buck-passing and procrastination scores were lower for Malaysian than for Australian and Singaporean respondents. Women reported higher scores on hyper-vigilance than males for all three countries. However, buck-passing scores were significantly higher for women than men only for the Australian respondents. There were significant positive correlations between vigilant decision making and age, and significant negative correlations between non-vigilant decision making patterns and age. A country analysis indicated that these results were significant for the Australian and the Malaysian sample only. These results are discussed in terms of cultural differences, some of which are reflected in the Hofstede (2001) comparison of cultures on beliefs, values, and behaviours. Further research is suggested that may reflect aspects of the global shift towards more common patterns of thinking across culture, which is influenced by access to media and internet information, as well as increased travel and commerce in an attempt to understand how local decisions may have global impacts. Implications of this research suggest that culture may be too broad a concept and that other more sensitive variable should be examined when conducting cross-cultural research.


Key words: Decision making, vigilance, hyper-vigilance, procrastination, buck-passing, culture.