5
Nation Building

Beyond its role in conflict and cooperative environments, the U.S. military is increasingly asked to play a role in nation building, acting as advisers and mentors to local militaries and security forces. This can occur in both peaceful and postconflict environments, and today American servicemen are advising, training, and equipping forces from Iraq to Mongolia in everything from combat operations to natural disaster relief.

Such roles can be particularly challenging for military personnel, accustomed as they are to working within the military chain of command. In these situations, advisers have no command authority over their local counterparts, so they must instead rely on building rapport, conveying trust, establishing credibility, and engaging in collaborative problem solving. This in turn requires the adviser to be prepared for cultural differences in emotional expression and cognitive style, so as not to misread counterparts or be misread by them.

As Michael Morris, the panel’s moderator, noted in his opening remarks, this requires a somewhat different type of cultural awareness than that which matters most in other types of missions, discussed in the previous panels. “Whereas the cultural differences that we looked at yesterday afternoon had to do with dyadic interactions, discourse processes, and relationship scripts, the focus this morning is on individual-level processes—cultural differences in patterns of emotional expressions and recognition and cultural differences in the information processing strategies used to solve a problem.” The panel’s two presenters were Jeffrey



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5 Nation Building B eyond its role in conflict and cooperative environments, the U.S. military is increasingly asked to play a role in nation building, act- ing as advisers and mentors to local militaries and security forces. This can occur in both peaceful and postconflict environments, and today American servicemen are advising, training, and equipping forces from Iraq to Mongolia in everything from combat operations to natural disaster relief. Such roles can be particularly challenging for military personnel, accustomed as they are to working within the military chain of command. In these situations, advisers have no command authority over their local counterparts, so they must instead rely on building rapport, conveying trust, establishing credibility, and engaging in collaborative problem solv- ing. This in turn requires the adviser to be prepared for cultural differ- ences in emotional expression and cognitive style, so as not to misread counterparts or be misread by them. As Michael Morris, the panel’s moderator, noted in his opening remarks, this requires a somewhat different type of cultural awareness than that which matters most in other types of missions, discussed in the previous panels. “Whereas the cultural differences that we looked at yes- terday afternoon had to do with dyadic interactions, discourse processes, and relationship scripts, the focus this morning is on individual-level processes—cultural differences in patterns of emotional expressions and recognition and cultural differences in the information processing strate- gies used to solve a problem.” The panel’s two presenters were Jeffrey 49

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50 SOCIOCULTURAL DATA TO ACCOMPLISH DOD MISSIONS Sanchez-Burks, who conducts research on cultural and ethnic group differences in the patterns of workplace interactions and relationships, including the role of nonverbal emotional cues; and Shinobu Kitayama, who studies the greater social interdependence of people in East Asian compared with Western societies and its consequences for their emotions, relationships, and problem-solving styles, with Easterners relying more on holistic information processing than Westerners. CROSS-CULTURAL BRIDGES In the first presentation, Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks of the University of Michigan discussed two different characteristics that play a role in how well a person communicates and works with people from other cultures: relational attunement and emotional aperture. Relational Attunement The workplace can be thought of as having two dimensions, Sanchez- Burks said. “It’s the paper and the people. You can call it the task and the social–emotional, or the task and the relational, and the way in which people deal with these two different dimensions varies greatly across cultures.” Understanding these differences is one key to getting along with people from other cultures, he said, and it is a key that is particularly important for Americans. Research shows that, in countries around the world, the usual pattern among people working together is to pay close attention—or, in socio- cultural terms, to have a “heightened relationship attunement—to other people and to the task or, in situations when there is no task, just to the people.” However, Sanchez-Burks said, there is one outlier, or anomaly, in the pattern that appears consistently in the research, and that is the United States. Compared with people in other countries, Americans are the most individualistic, the most independent, the most task-focused, and the least relationally attuned, and this has implications for how they go about their jobs relative to how people in other countries go about theirs (Sanchez-Burks, 2002, 2005). Sanchez-Burks uncovered this pattern in a series of experiments that he summarized for the workshop. In some early work, for example, he would play a video or audio recording for people and later test their memories to determine what they had paid attention to. In one par- ticular study looking at Anglo Americans and Latinos (i.e., Mexicans and Mexican-Americans), he found no cultural differences in memory for task-related items, such as the nature of the project, but there was a huge difference in memory for relational information, such as how people got

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51 NATION BUILDING along, whether a particular person seemed rude, or if someone criticized another person’s personality (Sanchez-Burks et al., 2000). “It was almost as if it [relational information] was falling on deaf ears for the Anglos in this study.” In a second study, conducted among employees of a Fortune 500 oil company [located in the southwestern United States], Sanchez-Burks tested how people reacted to the presence or absence of nonconscious mimicry in a person with whom they were speaking (Sanchez-Burks et al., 2009). Nonconscious mimicry is the tendency of people to mimic another when speaking or interacting. “One person leans to the right, the other person leans to the right. One person crosses the legs, the other person crosses the legs.” It’s not conscious, but it helps to create rapport, he explained, and “when people don’t mirror us, we start to feel anx- ious.” The subjects in the study talked with an interviewer who had been instructed either to mirror the subject or to not mirror the subject and just sit in a relaxed position that stayed mostly unchanged. The question of interest was whether the subject’s performance— measured in how quickly the subject responded to the interviewer— would be affected by whether the interviewer was mirroring his or her movements. The subjects were Anglos and Latinos, both from the United States. What the experiment found was that the Latinos responded much more slowly in the nonmirroring condition than in the mirroring condi- tion, but the Anglos were unaffected by whether the other person was engaged in nonconscious mimicry (see Figure 5-1). On one hand, the Anglo subjects’ response was probably a good thing, Sanchez-Burks com- mented. “When you don’t pay attention to the interpersonal context, you’re inoculated from some of the uncomfortable effects when dealing with somebody who’s awkward.” On the other hand, it was clear that the Anglos, as a group, were not encoding sociocultural information in the same way or to the same extent that the Latinos were. In another experiment, Sanchez-Burks used a technique developed by Shinobu Kitayama (the next workshop speaker) to measure how much attention people pay to what is being said versus how much attention they pay to how it is said and the emotional tone of voice (Sanchez-Burks, 2002). He put a group of U.S. subjects in a relaxed situation—talking and playing cards—and tested them for how attuned they were to messages conveyed by tone of voice. Then he put the same group of subjects in a work environment—giving them a task to solve—and performed the same test. The data showed that the subjects were far less attuned to emo- tional content in the work environment than in the nonwork environment, even though it was the same group of subjects (see Figure 5-2). In related studies, Sanchez-Burks has tested people on how indi- rect their communication is in work and nonwork situations—how they

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52 SOCIOCULTURAL DATA TO ACCOMPLISH DOD MISSIONS 200 180 160 140 Latency (msec) 120 No Mirroring Mirroring 100 80 60 40 20 0 Anglo Americans Latinos FIGURE 5-1 Delay in response to interviewer questions. NOTE: Interaction: F(1,84) = 2.30 , p = 0.10. Fig. 5-1.eps SOURCE: Adapted from Sanchez-Burks et al. (2009, p. 220). Copyright ©2009 by the American Psychological Association. Adapted with permission. The use of APA information does not imply endorsement by APA. 160 Strength of the Emotional Stroop Effect Mean Response Time (msec) 120 80 40 0 Casual, Nonwork Work Context Context FIGURE 5-2 Attunement to how a message is conveyed via emotional tone of voice. Fig. 5-2.eps NOTE: Data drawn from U.S. participants raised as Protestants. SOURCE: Adapted from Sanchez-Burks (2002, p. 923). Copyright ©2002 by the American Psychological Association. Adapted with permission. The use of APA information does not imply endorsement by APA.

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53 NATION BUILDING would communicate with a coworker compared with how they would communicate with somebody outside the workplace (Sanchez-Burks et al., 2003). Americans are much more direct—or less indirect—in the work- place, being more likely to say exactly what they think to coworkers than to other people. Other cultures, however, are equally indirect in the work- place or else show a tendency to become more indirect. “In every culture I’ve ever compared to the United States, I can get this pattern,” he said. “I’m sure there’s another culture that looks just like the United States, but I haven’t found it yet. There is this deep-seated assumption that in task situations you focus on the task, not on the people.” What this means, he said, is that while there may be very little cul- tural difference in communication outside the work environment, there are quite large differences between Americans and people in other cul- tures in the way that they communicate at work. “And when I say work, it’s not just in an office building. It’s any sort of situation in which there’s a task at hand. You get this in the lab, and you get this with senior manag- ers in large organizations.” This “American exceptionalism,” Sanchez-Burks suggested, probably has its roots in the same Protestant work ethic that the sociologist Max Weber credited for the capitalistic spirit in the United States. A lesser known part of that work ethic, he said, was Calvin’s belief that people should not display emotions or relational information while performing their calling.1 “So you have this crazy cocktail in which not only do you feel like you’re supposed to work, but you’re supposed to be very task- focused while doing it.” And so Americans, unlike most other people in the world, pay little attention to the emotional or relational signals of others while they are at work. Interestingly enough, Sanchez-Burks said, a similar difference can also be seen in people’s attitudes toward conflict at work. It is well known among organizational psychologists that relationship conflict on a team hurts a team’s performance. So Sanchez-Burks surveyed people from different countries to see if their beliefs matched what scientific research has shown. In one study, he questioned people from the United States, Argentina, and Korea (Sanchez-Burks et al., 2003). When they were asked whether they agreed that conflicts or disagreements related to a team’s task would harm the team’s performance, there was no significant differ- ence in opinions among the three countries. But when he asked the same question about relationship or interpersonal conflicts, Americans were far more skeptical than people from the other countries about whether 1 Thepresenter refers to John Calvin, the French theologian and pastor during the Protes- tant Reformation and father of the theological system of Calvinism.

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54 SOCIOCULTURAL DATA TO ACCOMPLISH DOD MISSIONS such conflicts would negatively affect a team’s performance. The Ameri- cans were far less likely to worry about interpersonal conflicts hurting a team than task-related conflicts, whereas the Argentinians and Koreans were more likely to point to interpersonal conflicts as a problem for a team. “This shows up when you ask people, ‘Should you try to resolve the conflict?’ If it’s a relationship conflict, Americans are less likely than other groups to say, ‘Yes, this is something that we should try to resolve.’ Instead, they opt for ‘Let’s just press on and get through this.’ It’s not as necessary to focus on it.” Similarly, when people are asked if they would join a group of “dream team” experts even if it is clear that the team members are not going to get along, Americans are far more likely than Chinese, Koreans, or Japanese to say that they would join (Sanchez-Burks et al., 2008). Thus, Sanchez-Burks said, how people think about workplace rela- tionships affects not only their communication styles and how much attention they pay to what other people are saying, but also how they think about conflict. Americans are far less likely to worry about interper- sonal conflicts at work than are people from other cultures, and that has clear implications for teams consisting of people from different cultures. “What we found,” Sanchez-Burks said, “is that if a team differs in their beliefs about conflict and then conflict actually starts to occur, they have metaconflict, or conflict about conflict. One person will say, ‘Let’s just press on,’ and the other says, ‘No, we need to resolve this.’ ‘No, let’s just press on.’ ‘No, I told you it doesn’t matter.’ And now they’re fighting about fighting. We have data showing they don’t even know what they were arguing about to begin with, but those differences in beliefs about conflict are leading to additional conflict.” Emotional Aperture Switching gears, Sanchez-Burks then described a second characteris- tic that plays an important role in communication and conflict: emotional aperture (Sanchez-Burks and Huy, 2009). To describe emotional aperture, he began with an incident captured by a journalist on film which involved Colonel Christopher Hughes of the 101st Airborne Division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Colonel Hughes commanded a battalion travelling to the Grand Mosque of Ali in the holy city of Najaf, in order to coordinate humanitarian aid distribution with a local cleric. In front of the mosque, the battalion encountered a crowd that Colonel Hughes sensed was on edge and close to turning hostile, and he felt that the wrong move on the part of the soldiers could lead to violence. His response was to order his soldiers to smile and point their weapons to the ground. Surveying the crowd, he could tell that the tension had been

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55 NATION BUILDING defused somewhat, but not enough, and he had his men turn around and leave, to come back another day. “He was able not just to read the emotions of a single person,” Sanchez- Burks said, “but to read the distribution of emotions in a group, in real time,” and to decide on actions based on that reading. This is what he refers to as emotional aperture: the ability to read the distribution of emotions in a group of people. Just as changing the aperture of a camera makes it possible to bring an entire group of people into focus rather than just a single person, emotional aperture makes it possible to quickly get a picture of an entire group’s emotional state. This is important for two reasons, Sanchez-Burks said. First, as was the case with Colonel Hughes, it can be important to interpret a situation and anticipate how a group might behave. Since the collective emotions of a group influence its collective action tendencies (e.g., Bartel and Saavedra, 2000), it is not enough to observe what one or two people are feeling. It is important to be able to judge the emotional state of the group as a whole. Second, emotional aperture is an important skill for anyone who is leading a group. “You may be more effective as a leader if you’re able to understand how the group is behaving,” Sanchez-Burks said. For example, if people are reacting to what you’ve said in a variety of ways, it may be that you’re being very confusing. If the group members are all contemptuous, they may be on the verge of revolt. If they’re all patiently pleasant and listening to you, you may have established some trust. And these things can change from minute to minute, so it is important to be able to sense the mood of the group in real time. Sanchez-Burks has developed tests for emotional aperture, and he has found that it is related to one’s ability to read the emotions of a single individual, but only modestly. One’s ability to capture information holisti- cally is a more important component of emotional aperture. He has also studied which types of mistakes in reading a crowd mat- ter the most. “The most dangerous errors you can make when reading the room are to overestimate the positive or underestimate the negative,” he said. “That is, you need to be sensitive to the prevalence of negative affect in the room.” The research on both relational attunement and emotional aperture has implications for what it takes to be successful in communicating and working with people from other cultures. “High levels of relational attunement can be used to increase coordi- nation and rapport,” Sanchez-Burks said. Indeed, simply paying atten- tion to others’ emotional states and cues is enough to have these effects. Conversely, low levels of relational attunement can negatively affect the other person’s performance, particularly with people from non-American cultures. This was the case, for example, in the experiments in which the

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56 SOCIOCULTURAL DATA TO ACCOMPLISH DOD MISSIONS interviewer did not engage in nonconscious rapport with the subject. “They get nervous, they get anxious, and they perform worse, so if you’re trying to work and collaborate with people from other cultures, your tendency to simply focus on the task could influence their performance, which can then lead to disappointment, and it can spiral downward.” At the same time, low levels of relational attunement can increase miscommunication. This is particularly likely for Americans when they are at work on a task. Ironically, Sanchez-Burks noted, Americans are less likely to have such problems outside work, when the stakes are lower. Similarly, emotional aperture is an important skill to have when working with groups of people from other cultures. It allows a person to grasp how a group is reacting, and how a person reads a group will affect how the group sees that person. Someone with little emotional aperture is likely to find it much harder to be successful in dealing with groups, either from other cultures or even his or her own. CULTURE AND ATTENTION The next speaker, Shinobu Kitayama of the University of Michigan, continued with and expanded on the theme of the previous talk. Ameri- cans, he said, see the world differently than people from many other cul- tures, particularly Asian cultures, and the differences arise from physical differences in the wiring of the brain. The difference that Kitayama focused on was the attitude, common in the United States and Western Europe, that people are mainly inde- pendent entities (Markus and Kitayama, 1991). According to this mindset, Kitayama said, a person is defined by such internal attributes as goals, preferences, attitudes, and personality traits. People have relationships with other people, of course, but these relationships are generally seen as secondary to the primary identity, which is the self. In other parts of the world, including Asian cultures, the more promi- nent perspective is to see people as interdependent, with relationships being much more important to the definition of the self. A person tends to define himself or herself more in terms of family, friends, coworkers, and various others. There is no black-and-white division between the cultures, of course. Asian cultures do include a conception of the self as an independent entity, although that model is much less salient than the interdependent- self model. And people in the United States and other Western cultures do recognize the importance of relationships and other people. But the dominant models differ from culture to culture. This difference in attitudes about the self leads to a number of behav- ioral and cognitive differences. One of the best studied of these is the

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57 NATION BUILDING phenomenon known as fundamental attribution error, which Kitayama defined as “a tendency to draw very strong inferences about the essence of the person when you are seeing the person behaving in one way or the other, even when there are obvious situational constraints” (e.g., see Choi and Nisbett, 1998; Miyamoto and Kitayama, 2002). To illustrate, he offered the example of a man giving up his seat on a crowded train to someone else. An observer might draw the conclusion that this is a very nice person, and that it was the person’s fundamental nice- ness that led him to give up his seat. But that conclusion would be ignoring a variety of situational forces that might have played a role. Perhaps, for example, his boss was on the train and he wanted to impress the boss. This sort of error has been examined in a large number of studies, Kitayama said, and the past two decades of research indicate that this fun- damental attribution error is likely to be a cultural characteristic, one that is more common in Western cultures. The question, then, is why. Why is it widespread in the United States and relatively rare in Asian countries? One possibility is that the likelihood to commit fundamental attribu- tion errors is a product of the Western tendency to see a person as defined by his or her internal essence. If a person is an independent entity, then it makes sense to interpret his or her actions as the product of the person’s internal traits rather than the product of externalities—that is, to com- mit a fundamental attribution error. Conversely, a person whose mental model sees people as interdependent is more likely to look for situational forces to explain their actions and less likely to assume that an action is a product of a person’s inherent traits. To test this possibility, Kitayama looked at a phenomenon called spontaneous trait inference. As an example, he described a test in which subjects consider a woman who has tested her smoke detectors before going to bed. If the subject concludes that the woman is cautious, that is a case of spontaneous trait inference. Psychologists have shown that this is a spontaneous phenomenon that happens automatically, even uncon- sciously. That is, the subject concludes that the woman is cautious without ever going through a conscious, logical thought process. If the cultural difference in the tendency to make fundamental attri- bution errors is a product of the difference conceptions of the self, inde- pendent versus interdependent, then there should also be a cultural dif- ference in spontaneous trait inference. People from cultures who see the self as independent will subconsciously interpret actions as a product of a person’s fundamental traits, whereas those from cultures who see the self as interdependent will not be so likely to attribute actions to particular character traits. Psychologists have developed a number of ways to test for spontane- ous trait inference, Kitayama said, and he used some of these methods to

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58 SOCIOCULTURAL DATA TO ACCOMPLISH DOD MISSIONS examine the phenomenon cross-culturally. In one experiment, he looked at subjects’ brain responses with an electroencephalograph (EEG). In the first phase, the subjects were shown pictures of faces paired with behaviors—the face of the woman who had checked the smoke detectors before going to bed, for example. “In the second phase of the study, each of the stimulus faces was used as a prime, so it was presented very briefly as a fixation point, which was followed by one word.” In some cases, that one word could describe the behavior of the woman: “cautious.” In other cases, the word was not a match to her behavior: “careless.” And in still other cases, the word wasn’t a real word at all: “strusse.” The subject was asked to say whether the string of letters was a word or not. If there had been spontaneous trait inference when the subjects were first shown the photos of the faces and the behavior, it should have been easier to recognize the words that matched the behavior, Kitayama explained, and so there should be a difference in response to the words that matched and the ones that didn’t. And this is exactly what happened with the European American subjects—there was a clear difference in EEG patterns between the responses to words that matched the photos and those that didn’t. But there was no such difference among the Asian American subjects. There was no evidence of spontaneous trait inference in this group. Kitayama also gave the subjects a questionnaire designed to test whether they saw the self as independent or interdependent. In gen- eral, as expected, the European Americans were more likely to be on the independent side of the spectrum, and the Asian Americans fell more on the interdependent side of the spectrum. Then Kitayama compared the subjects’ places on the independent-interdependent spectrum with their responses in the EEG part of the experiment. There was a clear correla- tion between the two: no matter whether they were European Americans or Asian Americans, the subjects who saw the self as independent were most likely to exhibit spontaneous trait inference, and those who saw the self as interdependent were least likely to make unconscious assumptions about traits. Kitayama suggested that these cultural differences are likely to be wired into the brain by the experience of growing up in a particular culture. “Recent work on brain plasticity and epigenetics—that is, gene expression—has suggested that some of such deep mechanisms of the mind can be influenced or even fostered by experience, and experience, of course, is patterned by culture in human societies. Accordingly, the human mind may be shaped by culture to some extent, and maybe to a far greater extent than has ever been imagined before.” “Jugglers juggle, and, as they juggle, their brains change. Humans are cultural animals, they act in a cultural world, and, as they act in accor-

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59 NATION BUILDING dance with cultural scripts, their brains change as well. That’s the basic message.” What are the implications for the Department of Defense missions? The main lesson, Kitayama said, is for Americans working with people from other cultures to keep in mind the fact that Americans tend to have a set of implicit assumptions about people and how the world works that are quite different from the implicit assumptions common around the rest of the globe. In particular, he said, Americans are WEIRD. “This is not my invention,” he said. “This acronym really stands for Western educated industrialized rich democratic,” and it was proposed in an article in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences (Henrich et al., 2010). “Essentially, WEIRD people have a strong commitment to indepen- dent models of the self, which highlight, among other things, personal choice as opposed to communal choice, control efficacy and influence as opposed to adjustment and accommodation, self-promotion as opposed to self-improvement, self-esteem and self-actualization as opposed to honor and public affirmation, and pursuit of personal happiness as opposed to communal happiness.” An important first step in dealing with people in other parts of the world, Kitayama said, is to understand the existence of this mindset and to make allowances for it. This is easier said than done, however. “What makes the situation very, very hard is the fact that cultural models are not just cognitive, but they are ingrained and embodied and therefore they are extremely highly tacit and implicit.” A person can recognize logically that he or she sees the self as an independent entity and is prone to making spontaneous trait inferences, but because these things happen subconsciously, they seem completely normal. For these reasons, Kitayama said, it is particularly important for Amer- icans to learn as much as possible about other cultures. “I am convinced multicultural competence is really, really important.” It is also important to develop an openness to other cultures, and part of that openness would be the ability to suspend WEIRD habits of heart and mind. “It’s not easy,” he said. “That’s such a natural, spontaneous habit that suspending them would require a lot of training.” Ideally, everyone would be multicultural, multilingual, and able to think in multiple frames of mind, switching back and forth among them as necessary. With that capability, it would be possible to move beyond the WEIRD way of thinking and have a real meeting of the minds with people from foreign cultures.

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