Papers from the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology Conferences

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Past research suggests that Poland and Germany differ in the inclusiveness of their “moral universe”, i.e. the breadth of the community to which people apply moral values and rules of fairness (Schwartz, 2007). It seems likely that this difference is reflected in a more or less inclusive definition of one’s ingroup. The present study investigated (1) whether there are indeed differences in ingroup inclusiveness as manifested in differential construals of the self in East and West Germany and Poland and (2) whether those differences are reflected in differences in tolerance. As expected, participants in West Germany had the most inclusive self-construal, followed by participants from East Germany and then Poland – both in terms of their absolute scores on the most inclusive level (being a member of humanity), and in terms of the relative importance of the different levels. A relationship between a more inclusive self-construal and tolerance was observed in West Germany, but not in East Germany and Poland. The results suggest that more inclusive and abstract levels of the self-construal are more closely linked to other abstract constructs such as values rather than a true reflection of people’s ingroup. In countries with a communist past where universal values or the concern for humanity at large have been used for ideological purposes, these values may have lost their original meaning and psychological significance, and are less linked to intergroup attitudes such as tolerance towards immigrants.

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