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Chapter 13: Culture and Social Behavior
# concept of self is an imp first step to exploring social behavior because it organizes info about oneself and it is
related to our concepts of others
# self-enhancement is a universal process, but people of different cultures do it in different ways! tactical self-
# biases in our attributional styles are called “self-serving biases”; these are related to self-enhancement
# self-serving biases in attribution are universal but people differ in the specific ways in which they exhibit their self-
serving biases
Culture and Concept of the Self
# self-concept is the idea or images that one has about oneself and how and why one behaves as one does
# self is a psychological construct that people create in order to help themselves understand themselves and their
world better
# descriptive labels imply (1) that we have this attribute within us, just as we possess other attributes such as
abilities, rights or interests (2) that our past actions, feelings or thoughts have close connections with this attribute
and (3) that our future actions, plans, feelings or thoughts will be controlled or guided by this attribute and can be
predicted more or less accurately by it
# the concept of self as a specific descriptive label may be central to one’s self-definition, enjoying a special status as
a salient identity or self-schema
# our sense of self is at the core of our being, unconsciously and automatically influencing our every thought, action
and feeling
# each individual carries and uses these internal attributes to guide their thoughts and actions in different social
Where does the self-concept come from?
# concept of self is an imp product of human cultures
# cultural practices refer to discrete, observable, objective and behavioral aspects of human activities in which people
engaged related to culture! refers to the doing of culture
# cultural worldviews are belief systems about one’s culture. They are cognitive generalizations about how one’s
culture is or should be, regardless of whether or not those generalized images are true. They are produced because
verbal language is a unique characteristic of humans, and because people talk about their own culture and other
o verbal descriptions can be oral or written and are social constructions of reality expressed in consensual
ideologies about one’s culture
# concept of self is part of one’s cultural worldviews (CW) because how one sees oneself in relation to the rest of the
world is an intimate part of ones culture; like CWs it is also a cognitive generalization about one’s nature, whether
or not that belief is grounded in reality
# CW influence the construction of the self as a cognitive generalization derived from past experiences that organize
and guide the processing of social experiences
o They aid in addressing needs for affiliation and uniqueness and explain the importance of understanding values as
guiding principles as an imp part of culture
# Terror management theory suggests that because humans have unique cognitive abilities, we are the only animals
aware of the fact that we will die eventually and we are afraid of that inevitable death; we create psychological
phenomena to buffer against the terror of dying. We fabricate and give meaning to our existence in order to raise
our human existence above nature so that meaning can be drawn from life
o Meaning is not physical in nature, nor does it exist as an objective element of culture
o Meaning raises because humans must balance a propensity for life with an awareness of the inevitability of death
# Humans create cultural worldviews and thus concepts of self, partially as a reaction to the terror we feel because of
our awareness of our mortality
Cultural Differences in Self-Concept: Independent vs. Interdependent Self-Construal Theory
# concept of self should differ in different cultures just as cultural worldviews do
# these differences occur because cultures are associated with different systems of rules of living, and exist within
different social and economic environments and natural habitats
# different demands that culture places on individual members means that individuals integrate, synthesize and
coordinate their worlds differently, producing differences in self concepts
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# Markus and Kitayama: two different senses of self, contrasting the Western or individualistic construal of self as
independent, separate entity with a composite construal of self more common in non-Western, collectivistic
cultures, in which the individual is viewed as inherently connected or interdependent with others and inseparable
from a social context
# When individuals carry out cultural tasks, they feel satisfied with themselves and self-esteem increases
# Independent construal of self: individuals focus on personal, internal attributesindividual ability, intelligence,
personality traits, goals or preferencesexpressing them in public and verifying and confirming them in private
through social comparison
o Self is a bounded entity, clearly separated from relevant others
o There is no overlap b/w the self and others
o The more salient self-relevant info related to attributes thought to be stable, constant and intrinsic to self, such as
abilities, goals, and rights
# Many non-western, collectivistic cultures neither assume nor value overt separateness; these cultures emphasize
what may be called the fundamental connectedness of human beings”
o Primary normative task is to fit in and maintain the interdependence among individuals
o Individuals in these cultures are socialized to adjust to themselves to an attendant relationship or a group to which
they belong, to read one another’s minds, to be sympathetic, to occupy and play their assigned roles and to
engage in appropriate actions
o self-esteem depends on whether they can fit in and be part of a relevant ongoing relationship; individuals focus
on interdependent status with other people and strive to meet or even create duties, obligations and social
o the more salient aspect of conscious experience is intersubjective, rooted in finely tuned interpersonal
o interdependent construal of self: self is unbounded, flexible and concentrated on context. There is substantial
overlapping between self and others
o most salient aspects of self are defined in relationships; those features of self related to and inseparable from
specific social contexts
o internal attributes are relatively less salient in consciousness and are unlikely to be the primary concern in
thinking, feelings and acting
An example of the Independent vs. interdependent self: consequences for self-perception
# with an independent construal of self, ones internal attributes such as abilities or personality traits are the most
salient self-relevant info.
# Cultures that foster interdependent self-construal, internal attributes are not the most salient self-relevant info;
instead, info concerning one’s social roles and relationships with others are more salient and imp
# American subjects tend to generate a greater number of abstract traits than do Asian subjects
o People with independent construal of self view their own internal attributes as the most salient self-relevant info
o Internal attributes are less salient for those with interdependent selves, who are more likely to think about the self
in particular social relationships or contexts
# Triandis et al, individuals from interdependent cultures generate many more social categories, relationships and
groups to which they belong
# Idocentric= individualistic; allocentric= collectivistic; group self-references
# Cultural variations in self-concept are not categorically different across cultures; all people seem to identify
themselves according to both personal attributes and group membership
# What differentiates among people in different cultures is the relative salience of either type of self-reference when
describing oneself
An Empirical Assessment of the Independent vs. Interdependent Self-Construal Theory!phase 3 research
Data regarding assumptions concerning culture and self
# when studies have compared scores b/w American and Asians, they often do not find that Americans are more
individualistic and Japanese more collectivistic
# Klienknecht administered individualism-collectivism test to American and Japanese students and found that there
were no cultural differences on independent self-construal. There were differences on interdependent self-
construal; but Americans were more interdependent than the Japanese
# Evidence for predicted cultural differences is weak, inconsistent or nonexistent
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