Conflict often occurs because people are different. They have different values, needs, and perspectives and are often from different cultures. In order to resolve a conflict, it is helpful for each party to understand the conflict from the other party’s point of view. Cultures are frequently classified by their geographic location in Western or non-Western parts of the world. They also are categorized by individualist and collectivist value systems. Chapter 16 in the online book, Peace, Conflict, and Violence: Peace Psychology for the 21st Century, explains the differences between Western and non-Western cultures as well as the distinction between individualist and collectivist value systems. Psychologist Geert Hofstede acknowledged individualism-collectivism as one potential difference between cultures. In his research, he identified a total of five cultural differences that he termed dimensions. The five dimensions are power/distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty/avoidance, and long-term orientation. Each dimension is described in detail in the assigned article, “Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions.” Comparing countries on the five dimensions is helpful in understanding conflict and conflict resolution between countries.
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