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Culture as Common Sense: Perceived Consensus vs. Personal Beliefs as Mechanisms of Cultural Influence

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Forthcoming

69 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2009 Last revised: 14 Aug 2011

Xi (Canny) Zou

London Business School

Kim-Pong Tam

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Michael Morris

Columbia Business School - Management

Sau-lai Lee

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ivy Yee-Man Lau

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Chi-yue Chiu

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Psychology

Date Written: April 20, 2009

Abstract

We propose that culture affects people through their perceptions of what is consensually believed. Whereas past research has examined whether cultural differences in social judgment are mediated by differences in individuals’ personal values and beliefs, we investigate whether they are mediated by differences in individuals’ perceptions of the views of people around them. We propose that individuals who perceive that traditional views are culturally consensual (e.g., Chinese participants who believe that most of their fellows hold collectivistic values) will themselves behave and think in culturally typical ways. Four studies of previously well-established cultural differences found that cultural differences were mediated by participants’ perceived consensus as much as by participants’ personal views. This held true for cultural differences in the bases of compliance (Study 1), attributional foci (Study 2), and counterfactual thinking styles (Study 3). To tease apart the effect of consensus perception from other possibly associated individual differences, Study 4 experimentally manipulated which of two cultures was salient to bicultural participants and found that judgments were guided by their perception of the consensual view of the salient culture.

Keywords: culture, cross-country comparison, norms, priming

Suggested Citation

Zou, Xi (Canny) and Tam, Kim-Pong and Morris, Michael and Lee, Sau-lai and Lau, Ivy Yee-Man and Chiu, Chi-yue, Culture as Common Sense: Perceived Consensus vs. Personal Beliefs as Mechanisms of Cultural Influence (April 20, 2009). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Forthcoming . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1392170

Xi Zou (Contact Author)

London Business School ( email )

Sussex Place
Regent's Park
London, NW1 4SA
United Kingdom

Kim-Pong Tam

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Michael W. Morris

Columbia Business School - Management ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States
212-854-2296 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.michaelwmorris.com

Sau-lai Lee

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ivy Yee-Man Lau

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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)

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