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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Culture and the need for positive self-regard : the Japanese case Heine, Steven J.


A great deal of research indicates that North Americans are motivated to possess. enhance, and maintain positive self views. The cross-cultural generalizability of these motivations is addressed by examining a culture characterized by an interdependent view of self: Japanese. An anthropological and social psychological review suggests that many elements of Japanese culture are incongruent with needs for positive self-views. It is maintained that Japanese culture discourages people to think highly of themselves, in large part because positive self-views conflict with fulfillment of interdependent cultural goals. Five studies were conducted to test the notion that Japanese have a less pronounced need for positive self-regard than do North Americans. Studies 1 and 2 demonstrate that Japanese are less likely than Canadians to enhance their groups. Study 3 shows that the absence of self-enhancing biases is linked to larger actual-ideal discrepancies for Japanese. Study 4, employing a hidden behavioral measure, provides additional albeit somewhat limited evidence for self-enhancing tendencies among Canadians and for self-effacing tendencies among Japanese. Finally, Study 5 demonstrates an absence of dissonance reduction and self-affirmational tendencies among Japanese. The results of the 5 studies are discussed within the context of the role of positive vs. negative self-feelings in Japanese culture.

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