Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Content and Style of Advice in Iran and Canada/Le Contenu et la Style De Conseil En Iran et Canada

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Content and Style of Advice in Iran and Canada/Le Contenu et la Style De Conseil En Iran et Canada

Article excerpt

The social context of advice can immensely influence how it is both sought and given. Social context can be as small and specific as the regional location or social structure (Rogers, Hassell, Noyce, & Harris, 1998), or as large and general as the country and culture where advice is exchanged (Bauer & Wright, 1996; Green & Roberts, 1974). The purpose of the present study is to examine how country and culture affect the kinds of advice about human relationships given and received.

Components of culture such as beliefs, morals, laws, and habits (Cashmore, 1984) influence the meanings of social concepts, values, and behaviours, including concepts of advice and the behaviours that lead to or flow from these concepts. For example, American culture values autonomous and independent behaviours of infants and views directiveness and control attempts as indicators of parental mistrust and insensitivity. In contrast, in Korea, directive parenting is the norm, and infants are brought up to be passive and dependent (Choi, 1995). Such differences in cultural values are likely to produce cultural differences in advice and in how people experience advice. For example, parents who believe that children should be compliant and rely on external assistance to learn are likely to be more directive than parents who believe children should be independent (Johnston & Wong, 2002). A cross-cultural study of advice showed Canadians requested less advice than did Iranians, but Canadians felt more pressure from advice that they had not requested (Tavakoli & Tavakoli, 2010). If people from different cultures experience advice differently, does advice across a variety of social settings (e.g., schools, workplace, and counselling centres) in multicultural societies need to be tailored to the cultural backgrounds of those people? This article attempts to illustrate cultural differences in advice, and the important implications of such cultural differences for delivery of advice.

A study of cultural difference in giving advice among general practitioners working in Scotland showed that those who were trained in India differed than those trained in the UK in providing advice about contraceptives for the women under 16 years of age (Sengupta & Smith, 1998). Practitioners trained in India were reluctant to give advice about contraceptives and were less likely to offer contraceptives even when they gave advice on contraceptive use (Sengupta & Smith, 1998). Similarly, British and Polish nurses differed in their advice, as Polish nurses offered fewer referrals to a doctor than did the British ones (Whyte, Motyka, Motyka, Wsolek, & Tune, 1997). These differences are regarded (see Whyte et al., 1997) as a consequence of the close professional relationship among the British nurses and doctors, or of the fact that boundaries of professional responsibilities in Britain are well defined.

A study of cultural difference in receiving advice among people in the Soviet Union who had immigrated to the United States showed that both long-term immigrants and newcomers expected direct advice from the therapist. However, unlike the newcomers, long-term immigrants expected the therapist to be facilitarive, tolerant, or accepting (Bol, 1989).

Research on advice is widely scattered among different areas of psychology such as clinical, counselling, decision making, developmental, social, and educational psychology, and among associated areas such as nursing, medicine, and sociology. Studies of cultural differences in the content of advice are very limited, but what is reported suggests that the differences would be significant. The present research explored these differences.


The cross-cultural literature presents many theories of differences among cultures, but none address cultural differences in advice. This report attempts to uncover a link between features of advice and two distinctions found in prominent cross-cultural theories of Triandis (1994, 1995), Schwartz (1994), and Hofstede (2001): individualism- collectivism and hierarchy-egalitarianism. …

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