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PSYC 332 - Intro to Personality

Course Code
PSYC 332
Richard Koestner

of 7
Lecture 12: Culture and the Self
Questions of the Day:
Does making a personal choice mean the same thing in all cultures?
oPersonal choice – autonomy, importance of volition in our everyday lives
oParenting – responsiveness – operationalized if you give the child an opp
to make a choice or express an opinion
oWe need to maximize opportunities for choice
What are the main differences between individualistic and collectivistic cultures?
Some phenomena that do not generalize across cultures
Attributions to disposition vs situation;
oThe way we try to explain other people’s behaviour
oGeneral tendency when you see someone behave and do something, a
general bias in western samples to interpreting it as a reflection of the
individual’s disposition (highlight personality)
oRather than than focusing on the situation and what kind of demands there
might be, bc of the role someone has and other ppl in the situation
(correspondence bias)
oIndividuals from non-western cultures don’t show this bias – more likely
to make attributions to the situation and the context
Motivation to maintain consistency
oWe are all motivated to maintain a consistent view of ourselves and
behave consistently
oNotion was that all of us have a drive to maintain consistency
oHowever, what has since been discovered is that this seems to be primarily
true for ppl with a Western background
oPpl from other background are more comfortable with behaving
themselves inconsistently (bc their behaviour is more about context)
Experiment: students Japanese or American, write 20 diff sentences abt yourself (do
it 4 diff times in diff settings: alone, classroom group, friend, professors office)
people completed the self description in 4 contexts: American students – descriptions
were highly similar regardless of the context. Japanese – great deal of variability, context
mattered in terms of how they thought of themselves/described themselves
McAdams on Individualism vs Collectivism
Fundamental difference – is usually captured with these 2 terms
Individualism: meaning system that exalts the autonomy of the individual over
and against the interdependence of the group.
oPersonal goals are pre-eminent and take priority over goals of other ppl
oUS, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, Great Britian
oFocus on individualism is determined in a complex way of political,
Collectivism: meaning system that give priority to the in-group or the collective
over and against the individual
Emphasis not on personal choice, on maintaining harmony and connections
Key Differences Between Independent and Interdependent Self Construals
Feature Independent Interdependent
Definition Separate from social
Connected with social
Structure Bounded, unitary, stable Flexible, variable
Characteristics Internal and private External and public
Task Be unique Belong, fit in
Basis of self-esteem Ability to express self,
validate internal attributes
Ability to adjust, maintain
harmony with social context
Key distinction – btwn the 2, is the way we conceive and conceptualized the self
Individ – more likely you will focus on the self being independent and separate
Collect – more likely to highlight that the self is interdependent
Basis of self esteem varies – a lot of evidence ppl from Eastern cultures, typically will
score dramatically lower so that people form Japan or India will score 2 or 3 points lower
on self esteem than western samples
Happens bc most used in the west focus on whether ppl feel positively abt their internal
attributes and there is a lot of evidence ppl from collectivistic cultures focus on in terms
of self esteem have harmony etc
McAdams nuance point
“The distinction between individualism and collectivism should not be drawn too sharply,
but instead should be seen as a matter of degree. Any given culture is not completely
individualist or collectivist, as a whole. Regardless of what society people live in, most
people are capable of construing their own selves in either an independent or
interdependent manner.”
Research on Benefits of Choice
Describe typical study such as Zuckerman et al 1981
Iyengar and Lepper 1999
Rethinking the Value of Choice: A Cultural Perspective.
America = individualistic culture in which people possess a model of themselves
as fundamentally independent.
-- seek to express our internal attributes in order to demonstrate our uniqueness.
-- making a choice allows us to display our attributes and to show our uniqueness.
(for Americans)
oif they make a choice in a group situation they would feel more pressure to
make a choice that shows they are unique and stand out from the others
Iyengar & Lepper, 1999
East Asia = collectivistic cultures in which people possess a model of themselves
as essentially interdependent
-- strive for interconnectedness and belongingness with their social ingroups
-- choices are intended to maintain harmony and fulfill the wishes of those groups.
oChoices aren’t personal in the same sense as it owudl be form
individualistic culture
Pilot Study: Survey of American and Japanese students
Keep track of how many choices you make during the day
Rate how important each choice is
Iyengar & Lepper Study 1
Studies done in San Franscisco – very multi cultural
Asian-American – had to be speaking Chinese/Japanese at home
told that there would be anagrams and they could select the categories of anagrams
100 4th- 6th graders asked to work on anagram task.
½ Anglo-American ½ Asian American
6 topical categories -- Family, Animals, San Francisco, Food, Party, and House.
15 anagrams in each pile arranged from easiest to most difficult.
Piles were pre-tested to assure equal difficulty.
Study Design
3 Conditions:
(1) Personal Choice – choose which anagram they wanted
(2) Experimenter Choice – whatever the first participant selected the next participant
that came in was told that’s what they had to work on (told by experimenter)
(3) Mom's Choice – added a really interesting third condition, kids were told we would
like you to work on the animals bc this is what your mother has said she would like
you to do
Dependent Variables:
(1) Performance on anagrams
(2) Free Choice Persistence
Picture 1 – results for first dependent measure (out of 15 anagrams ho wmany did they
get correct)
Look in terms of the anglo Americans first (polka dot) – you see that in personal choice
condition they get between 7-8 anagrams correct, whereas if the experimeneter or mom
chose they only get 3 correct (do twice as well when they make a personal choice)
For East- Asian moms choice wins, kids are getting almost 9 anagrams correct when
mom chooses, do fairly well with personal choice, stands out when they respond to moms
Asian and ango Americans are similar in responding badly to experimenter choice