5 November 1998

A Bird In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Bush

A new study uses an unusual source -- proverbs -- to reveal cultural differences in how Chinese and American citizens view risks and risk-taking.

When Chinese and American students compared proverbs from their countries they agreed: Chinese proverbs generally advocated greater risk-taking than did American proverbs.

These results help explain earlier research that has found Chinese citizens are indeed more willing to take financial risks than are Americans, said Elke Weber, co-author of the study and a professor of psychology at Ohio State University.

"Proverbs are part of a nation's culture and reflect the nation's beliefs and values," said Weber. "By looking at proverbs, we were able to show that long-standing cultural differences are one reason that the Chinese are more risk-seeking than Americans when it comes to financial issues," Weber said.

Perhaps a posting to the forum of your favourite proverb may counter this research.