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Do Japanese birds of a feather flock together? : cultural variation in the similarity-attraction effect Foster, Julie-Ann B.


One of the most well-researched phenomena for explaining interpersonal attraction is the similarity-attraction effect. However, virtually all the research in this area has been done in North America. This led us to hypothesize that there may be cultural differences in the presence or magnitude of the similarity-attraction effect. Our first experiment was designed to replicate the classic similarity-attraction paradigm of the bogus stranger and introduce culture as a variable of interest. We hypothesized that Japanese participants would not base their likeability of a stranger on the perceived similarity of personality traits of that person to the self. Confirming our hypothesis, Euro-Canadian participants demonstrated a strong attraction to strangers they perceive as like themselves on personality traits while Japanese participants did not demonstrate this preference. Evidence for self-esteem or self-consistency explaining this difference did not materialize. In our second study, liking was manipulated and perceived similarity was measured in personality and additional domains. We hypothesized that Euro-Canadians would report that the more they like someone, the more similar they would rate themselves to that person and that Japanese participants would report a more constant similarity rating regardless of how much they like someone. We predicted this same pattern across personality, attitude, activity and demographic domains. Across the domains of personality, activities, and attitudes, Japanese showed a significant similarityattraction effect, although it was consistently weaker than it was for Euro-Canadians. This program of study highlights the cultural variability of the similarity-attraction effect.

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