Beneath the Surface of the 'Ripple Effect': Understanding the Underlying Nature of Cultural Differences in Perceptions of Event Consequences

53 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2007

See all articles by William Maddux

William Maddux

INSEAD - Organisational Behavior

Ivy Lau

Singapore Management University

Chi-yue Chiu

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Psychology

Ying-yi Hong

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Psychology

Masaki Yuki

Hokkaido University - Graduate School of Economics & Business Administration

Date Written: September 2007

Abstract

The "ripple effect" refers to a robust cultural difference in how individuals make social judgments regarding the consequence of events, with East Asian individuals perceiving a greater distal impact of events than Western individuals (Maddux & Yuki, 2006). The present research offers the first investigation into the underlying psychological nature of this phenomenon, following stringent methodological requirements for establishing cultural mediation of a cognitive phenomenon. Study 1 demonstrated that the notion of distal causation is more widely circulated in the mass media in the East than in the West, whereas Study 2 provided evidence that the ripple effect reflects a culturally determined inferential bias and does not result from veridical perceptions. Studies 3-4 demonstrated the causal role of culture: Compared to bi-cultural individuals primed with American or Western cultural icons, bi-cultural individuals primed with Chinese or East Asian icons demonstrated an enhanced focus on downstream consequences. Finally, Studies 5 and 6 provided direct evidence that analytic versus holistic worldviews are an explanatory mechanism of cultural differences in such social judgments. Implications for our understanding of social perception and social judgment across cultures are discussed.

Keywords: Culture, cognition, social perception, attribution, responsibility

Suggested Citation

Maddux, William and Lau, Ivy and Chiu, Chi-yue and Hong, Ying-yi and Yuki, Masaki, Beneath the Surface of the 'Ripple Effect': Understanding the Underlying Nature of Cultural Differences in Perceptions of Event Consequences (September 2007). INSEAD Business School Research Paper No. 2007/52/OB. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1021255 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1021255

William Maddux (Contact Author)

INSEAD - Organisational Behavior ( email )

Finance area, Boulevard de Constance
Fontainebleau 77305
France

Ivy Lau

Singapore Management University ( email )

50 Stamford Rd.
Singapore 912409, 178899
Singapore

Chi-yue Chiu

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Psychology ( email )

603 East Daniel
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
217-265-5352 (Phone)

Ying-yi Hong

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Psychology ( email )

603 East Daniel
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

Masaki Yuki

Hokkaido University - Graduate School of Economics & Business Administration ( email )

Kita-ku Kita 9 Nishi 7
Sapporo, Hokkaido, 060
Japan

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