Culture-Training Match: Testing the Interaction between Trainee Cultural Background and Training Design on Stress Reactions and Transfer of Training
Gelfand, Michele J.
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This study investigates how trainee cultural background interacts with training structure and error instructions to predict transfer of training. Previous research on training interventions relies largely on Western theories of learning, and few training techniques have been tested with samples outside of North America or Western Europe. The current research seeks to expand these perspectives to investigate the impact of different training interventions in face and dignity cultures, with a particular focus on how cultural differences in stress reactions affect training outcomes. Building on this foundation, I hypothesize that the match between trainee cultural background and training design elements will predict training effectiveness, as measured by training transfer. Specifically, trainees from dignity cultures are expected to benefit from training interventions with low structure and error encouragement instructions. In contrast, the same training design may be ineffective or even counterproductive for trainees from face cultures, who are hypothesized to benefit more from high structure training and error avoidant instructions. Further, I link culture-training match to physiological stress to suggest that this may be one mechanism through which the interaction between culture and training dimensions impacts training transfer. One study was conducted in which participants from dignity and face cultures (N = 212) were randomly assigned to training conditions varying on structure and error framing instructions. Participants were trained to perform a computer-based simulation, with heart rate and cortisol collected throughout the training intervention. Participants returned seven to 15 days after the training to complete transfer measures. The results showed the expected interactions between culture and training structure and between culture and error instructions for training transfer. Stress reactions did not mediate this effect as expected; in contrast, emotional control was the key explanatory mechanism. Implications for training design and implementation across cultures are discussed, along with possible extensions of this research.