Papers from the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology Conferences

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Members of different cultures vary in basic social psychological processes, such as value orientation, attitudes, attitude-behavior relations, person perception and attribution of observed behavior. Previous researchers have traced back these differences to the respective culture members’ self-construal: Westerners define their self primarily in independent terms, whereas Asians are more likely to define their selves in interdependent ways. This difference in construing the self in turn affects the above mentioned judgmental processes. However, when relying on cross-cultural studies alone, the critical role of the self cannot directly be tested. In this chapter I argue that the accessibility of either independent or interdependent self-knowledge plays a critical role, because judgments are assimilated to either autonomous –or social– contents to the degree that independent –or interdependent– self-knowledge is accessible in the judgmental situation. If so, making self-knowledge of one kind or the other temporarily accessible, should mirror cross-cultural differences. I will review a series of studies confirming this assumption. These studies will be discussed with regard to their implications a) for the role of the self in judgment formation and b) for the flexibility of cultural differences.

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