Papers from the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology Conferences

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Previous work on cross-cultural differences in the domain of education, has primarily studied Western (European) and Asian cultures or comparisons thereof. Current internationalization trends in higher education however call for a greater understanding of possible within-European cultural differences in the domain of learning. The current paper therefore addresses the question how culture influences the beliefs of Western and Eastern European students. The studies are based on the theory that the beliefs of students and faculty in the Western cultural context can be characterized as primarily ‘mind oriented’, whereas previous research has indicated that the beliefs of East-Asian academics has a stronger ‘virtue orientation’. In the mind orientation, the development of one’s cognitive thinking skills is at the heart of the concept of learning. In the virtue orientation, learning is primarily seen as a process of social and moral development of the person. Since the psychological literature has not yet reached a consensus on the degree and domains in which cultural differences emerge across the Eastern and Western European regions, a two-fold survey study was conducted in the Eastern European countries of Poland and Russia; and the Western European countries of the Netherlands and Germany. Students from both European regions were found to endorse mind oriented beliefs about learning more strongly than virtue oriented ones on the level of both attitudes and behavioral intentions, pointing to a striking cross-cultural similarity across the European region in the domain of beliefs about learning.

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