How To Persuade Americans, Germans, Spaniards, and Chinese

Fascinating article on how different cultures respond to different forms of persuasion. The bottom line? When asked to do something, Americans ask what’s in it for them. Germans ask if the request complies with rules and regulations. Spaniards consider whether or not the person asking the favor is a friend. And Chinese consider the status and connections of the requester.

Perhaps there is something to our cultural stereotypes after all!

Morris and colleagues surveyed Citibank branches within four different countries-the United States, Germany, Spain, and China (Hong Kong)-and measured employees’ willingness to comply voluntarily with a request from a co-worker for help with a task. Although the survey respondents were influenced by many of the same factors, some factors were more influential than others.

Employees in the United States, for instance, were most likely to take an approach based on direct reciprocation. They asked the question, “What has this person done for me?” and felt obligated to volunteer if they owed the requester a favor. German employees, on the other hand, were most likely to be influenced by whether or not the request stayed within the rules of the organization. They decided whether to comply by asking, “According to official regulations and categories, am I supposed to assist this requester?” Spanish Citibank personnel based the decision mostly on friendship norms that encourage faithfulness to one’s friends, regardless of position or status. They asked, “Is this requester connected to my friends?” And finally, Chinese employees responded primarily to authority in the form of loyalties to those of high status within their small group. They asked, “Is this requester connected to someone in my unit, especially someone who is high-ranking?

3 thoughts on “How To Persuade Americans, Germans, Spaniards, and Chinese

  1. This is fascinating. I wonder where Citibank is most successful financially, comparatively.

  2. Phillip Jacobs

    I find that article incredibly interesting. I personally know people of the four aforementioned nationalities. Surprisingly, the article’s theory seems to fit right in with their personalities! As to tim taylor’s comment, I would have to say that Citibank is probably the most financially successful in America. The base of my reasoning is that China and America has the larger populations, but Americans, as we all know, are “big spenders.”

  3. Hello Chris,

    Can you please send me the link to the Citibank survey? Thank you.


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