What Are the Important Decisions in the Lives of German and Indian University Students? The Structure of Real-Life Decision-Making Processes

  • Arun TipandjanEmail author
  • Thomas Schäfer
  • Suresh Sundaram
  • Peter Sedlmeier
Regular Article


In intercultural research, bias is sometimes introduced when a methodological approach that was mostly developed within one of the cultures (usually the Western one) is chosen. Instead of identifying and controlling such bias after data collection and during analysis, eliminating and minimizing bias during planning and while conducting the research is much more advisable. Particularly cross-cultural decision-making research has been hindered by the lack of instruments that are equally applicable in different cultures, resulting in biased findings. We have proposed a methodology for comparing cultures that uses qualitative methods and have used it in a comparison of German and Indian students’ most important decision-making situations. In the first study, we identified common and different decision-making situations and recommended major areas for further cross-cultural research on decision making. In the second study, we made an attempt to explore the factors underlying important decision-making areas in the two cultures. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to look for strong similarities and differences between cultures. Transcribed interview data were analyzed qualitatively using thematic analysis. Several themes were identified and descriptions of factors influencing decision making were derived inductively from interviews with students. Similarities and differences are explained in detail and a further, quantitative survey in different cultures is recommended.


Decision making Cross-cultural decision making Indian students German students Qualitative research 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arun Tipandjan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thomas Schäfer
    • 1
  • Suresh Sundaram
    • 2
  • Peter Sedlmeier
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyChemnitz University of TechnologyChemnitzGermany
  2. 2.Annamalai UniversityChidambaramIndia

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