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PSYCH253 Lecture Notes - Fundamental Attribution Error, Percentile, Pantene

Course Code
Emiko Yoshida

of 6
Chapter 8 Culture and Language
What to Know from Assigned Article
What the authors did, what they found
Relation between cognitive dissonance and self-affirmation what is self-affirmation, how they induced self-
affirmation, why did they use self-affirmation?
In-Class Exercise
People can learn to do things differently, but the important parts of who they are can’t really be changed
agree or disagree?
In-Class Exercise
How does the boy in the middle of picture feel? (he looks happy, others around him look angry)
Cross-cultural differences in interpreting facial expressions
“Crazy Asian Mother by Erick Liang” video clip – reading report card, got As in everything except B+ in English,
punishment time-out” is for white people, they use “knock-out”
Asians tend to believe in incremental theory
Failure as lack of effort boy didn’t try hard enough; didn’t live up to expectations
Focus on negative aspects to improve performance (As cannot be improved, still room for improvement with a
Cultural Differences of Self-Concept
Researchers use “who am I?” questionnaires
Individualistic cultures define themselves using personal characteristics (“I am honest”)
Interdependant cultures define themselves using role and membership (“I am a younger brother”)
Study Cross-cultural differences in self-concept
American undergraduate students
Kenyan sample Nairobi undergrad (most westernized of Kenyan sample), workers in Nairobi,
traditional tribes of Masai and Samburu
o American undergrads describe themselves more in terms of personal characteristics
o Nairobi undergrads describe themselves more in terms of personal characteristics
o Traditional Kenyan participants (Nairobi workers, Masai, Samburu) describe themselves more
in terms of role and membership (how they are related to other people)
Independent vs. Interdependent Self-Construal Theory
Independent self construal
Self as a separate entity
Independent, unique, relatively stable
Internal attributions (ex. abilities, personality) are salient they tend to describe themselves in terms of
internal attributes
Self-concept and other people are completely independent (Xs are factors that impact the self)
Interdependent self construal
Self as connected with others
Inseparable from a social context
Malleable (ex. feel more critically about themselves when interacting with higher authority such as a
professor, feel better about themselves when interacting with friends)
Social relationships or specific contexts are salient they tend to describe themselves in terms of their
social relationships
Boundaries between self-concept and others is less strict, social relationships are much more influential
in defining the self-concept
Chapter 8 Culture and Language
Independent self
Interdependent self
Freedom, autonomy
Duty, obligation, responsibilities, roles
Goal: Standing out, unique
Goal: Fitting in, not falling behind
People have both interdependent and independent aspects of self
Individual differences within culture
Cannot apply broad characteristics of cultures to specific individuals
Cultural contexts encourage people to think in a certain way
Self-Enhancement Motivation
Self-enhancement motivation to view oneself positively
Self-serving bias (ex. discount your setback)
Make an external attribution (ex. cousin was in town, couldn’t study)
We have many strategies to protect our self-esteem
Meta-analysis of self-esteem
Canadian sample more people have higher than theoretical mid-point self-esteem
Maintain unrealistically positive views of ourselves
A majority of studies are conducted in North America: do people in different cultures have the same levels of
Self-serving bias is less common in East Asian cultures
North Americans tend to make external attributions for their failure; Japanese tend to make external
attributions for their success
Self-esteem is more balanced in East Asian cultures meta-analysis: half of people have higher than
mid-point self-esteem, half of people have lower
Why are there cultural variations?
People in individualist cultures are taught self-reliance greater need to view oneself positively
People in collectivist cultures are motivated to maintain positive evaluations from others, and live up to
the standards of the roles/expectations focus on weakness and work towards correcting them
Culture and the Self Motivation
Westerner’s views of self-concept self is distinct from others and the environment
High on self-consistency, stable
Entity theory
o Person’s abilities and traits are fixed and stable, reflect innate features
o Abilities/traits cannot be improved through practice and effort
o Ex. August Rush clip parents are talented musicians, boy inherited musical talent from his
paretns; music comes naturally to him, didn’t make much of an effort (you’re born with it)
East Asian’s self-concept self is influenced by situational constraints and obligations
Less likely to do fundamental attribution error take situational constraints into account
Low on self-conssitency
Tend to change their self-concept depending on who they are interacting with (ex. will be more polite
when interacting with someone with higher status)
Self is seen as malleable will change depending on situation, interaction partner
Incremental theory
o Person’s abilities and traits are malleable; can be improved with effort
o Person can acquire skills and abilities
o Ex. Pantene commercial deaf girl tries to learn violin
Chapter 8 Culture and Language
People thought that she couldn’t play violin because she can’t hear
She overcame her obstacle through lots of practice
Able to change her abilities using practice
How Do the Beliefs About Intelligence Affect Motivation?
Entity theorists (Westerners)
Making efforst means an individuals’ innate abilities are not adequate
Failure is lack of abilities (threatening)
Children will choose easy tasks becasue they want to appear smart
Ex. “I hate this difficult question” (negative emotions failure means they are not smart)
Motivated to work hard on tasks in which they excel (easy to prove that they are smart)
Incremental theorists (East Asians)
Failure is lack of effort
Failure is not threatening to person’s self-concept
Motivated to work hard when people do not perform well
Goal is to improve their skills, not just to seem smart
Children will choose difficult tasks because they want to improve (“I love challenge! This will help me
improve my skills”) not afraid of making mistakes want to improve skills
Culture and Self-Improving Motivations Study
2 (culture: Canadian vs. Japanese) x 2 (condition: success vs. failure)
Undergrad students
Perform the Remote Associate Test (RAT) “come up with word that is associated to 3 other words: heart,
coffee, down”
Success condition
Given an easy version of task
Percentile distribution told that they are above the 50th percentile
Failure condition
Given a difficult version of task
Percentile distribution told that they are below the 50th percentile
Before a participant starts the next task, a computer “crashes,” Ps told that they can work on the RAT again
while they are waiting
DV: the length of time that participants worked on the RAT
Hypothesis: Japanese participants will persist longer than do Canadian participants in the face of failure; Candian
participants will persist longer than do Japanese participants in the success condition
Results confirmed the hypothesis
failure motivates Japanese students, success motivates Canadian students
if they are told about theories of intelligence (stable vs. malleable) will that change their motivation?
Part 2 of the study:
2 (culture: american vs. Japanese) x 3 (condition: low/high effort or control)
Everyone received failure feedback on the RAT (difficult test)
Computer crashes again, Ps can work on the RAT: 3 conditions
1. High effort condition emphasized performance is malleable, facilitated by effort (“if you keep
working, you will eventually figure out the answer)
2. Low effort condition emphasized performance is fixed, independent of effort (“trust your intution,
some people are good at these tests, others aren’t)
3. Control group no instructions about the RAT
Hypothesis: Japanese people tend to possess the incremental theory
o Providing the incremental theory (high effort condition) will not affect their performance
o Providing the entity theory (low effort condition) will affect their performance
Hypothesis: Americans tend to possess the entity theory
o Providing the entity theory (low effort condition) will not affect their performance