The Psychology of Voice and Performance Capabilities in Masculine and Feminine Cultures and Contexts
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Posted: 2 Mar 2010
Date Written: March 2, 2010
This paper examines the hypothesis that in masculine cultures, or other contexts that emphasize competitive achievement, those with higher performance capabilities will feel empowered to have input into decisions and hence will desire opportunities to voice their opinions about decisions to be made. In contrast, in more feminine cultures, or other contexts that value the importance of nurturing people with lower capability, those with lower capabilities will feel valued as important group members, thus will feel worthy of receiving voice, and hence will appreciate voice opportunities. We provide evidence for these predictions in two studies, one conducted in the United States (a more masculine culture) and one in the Netherlands (a more feminine culture). Evidence also comes from experimental conditions in both studies, in which we made salient to participants "countercultural" norms and values, that is, nurturing the less capable in the United States and competitive achievement in the Netherlands. Implications for the psychology of voice and cross-cultural research are discussed.
The studies presented here illustrate a methodological procedure that may be used to account for cross-national differences in people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In many cross-cultural studies, researchers select participants from different cultures and assume that the participants differ along certain psychological dimensions, which, in turn, elicit differences in dependent variables of cognition, emotion, or behavior. As suggested by the present research, one way to evaluate whether certain psychological dimensions account for cross-cultural differences is to assign people from a particular culture to a condition designed to elicit a “countercultural” psychological state, for example, one that emphasizes femininity values in the United States and one that emphasizes masculinity values in the Netherlands. By including such countercultural conditions in our studies (i.e., the experimental conditions), we are on firmer ground in suggesting that the different results that emerged in the control conditions in the American sample in Study 1 and in the Dutch sample in Study 2 are attributable to differences in how much members of the two cultures assigned importance to the values associated with masculinity and femininity, respectively.
Keywords: voice, performance capabilities, masculine and feminine cultures, competitive achievement, nurturance
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