The BBC's article Cracking India's mystifying nod code is an interesting read and contains the paragraph:

However, there is more to the Indian head wobble than just a cultural quirk passed through the generations. In renowned cultural scientist Geert Hofstede’s exhaustive research on cultural norms across different countries, India scored 77 on the dimension of Power Distance – the extent to which people expect and accept power inequalities within their own society – compared to a world average of 56.5. This high score indicates a deep respect for hierarchy and limited scope for disagreement with those considered superior in any way.

and links to the website hofstede-insights.com where one can compare countries (cultures?) I've spent over a decade in the US and Taiwan each for example, and certainly the following comparison using the tool on that website rings true per my personal experience:

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The terms "dimensionality" and "distance" have meanings to me in mathematics and physics, but I'm not familliar how they might be used in Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory.

Could someone help me understand the terms "dimensionality" and "distance" in the current context, using language accessible to one not familliar with the field, Hofstede's work, or formal psychology in general?

Does "the extent to which people expect and accept power inequalities within their own society" sum it up completely, or do "dimensionality" and "distance" carry more meaning than just "extent of expectation and acceptance"?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ A bauble for your bobble. $\endgroup$
    – Rob
    Aug 4, 2018 at 6:36

1 Answer 1


Hofstede has developed a cultural dimensions theory to compare countries, which uses factor analysis to assign values across 6 dimensions of culture. These dimensions are:

  • Power Distance Index

  • Individualism vs Collectivism

  • Masculinity vs Femininity

  • Uncertainty Avoidance Index

  • Long Term Orientation vs Short Term Orientation

  • Indulgence vs Restraint

That's all their seems to be when it comes to defining the term 'dimension': a measurable aspect of a situation. As for power distance, as you have already quoted as "the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally", basically means how readily the people of the culture accept hierarchies and inequalities of power. A larger power distance would imply a wider gap between people at different levels of the hierarchy, and greater acceptance of this gap with lesser questioning or asking for justifications.

  • $\begingroup$ Ah, this is exactly what I needed, thank you very much! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 4, 2018 at 6:03
  • $\begingroup$ it might help adding how one of these (e.g. power distance) is actually... measured. $\endgroup$ Aug 4, 2018 at 9:24

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