Papers from the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology Conferences

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The concept of self varies across cultures: in some cultures, individuals tend to see themselves as interdependent on others, and clear distinction is made between in-groups and out-groups because in-group members are seen as part of the “BIG SELF”. In other cultures individuals see themselves as independent and autonomous and have a less salient boundary between in-groups and out-groups. Little empirical work has been done on how such different cultural perspectives on in-groups, versus out-groups, shape emotional experiences. Although emotions are always internally experienced, these experiences often involve interpersonal and social interactions, and therefore how we think of ourselves in relation to others might influence our emotional reactions to interpersonal problems. The current study examines how such cultural differences based on the ‘in-groups versus out-groups’ distinction influences the attribution of shame experiences between Mainland Chinese and Americans. We examined self-reported descriptions and ratings of shame experiences. Results showed that Mainland Chinese and Americans differ in their attribution of shame antecedents: Mainland Chinese are less inclined to attribute the shame antecedents to close others, and they are more reluctant to ascribe negative traits/qualities to close others; no such bias towards in-groups is seen among Americans in the ascription of disagreeable acts or traits. The methodological implications of the current research are also discussed.

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