What Drives Cultural Differences in Deference to Authorities? Internalized Goals Versus Injunctive Norms
59 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2010
Date Written: December 2, 2010
We examine the claim that acting deferentially in the presence of authority figures is more pervasive in Indian than in Western cultures, and explore two psychological mechanisms for this cultural difference: internalized goals and injunctive norms. Study 1 found that after reflecting upon an authority’s expectations, Indians but not Americans accommodate in their clothing choices but not in their evaluations of various clothing options. Study 2 found that merely activating the concept of authority figures, without highlighting specific expectations, was sufficient to influence Indians’ choices of various courses but not their evaluations. Examining a more basic distinction underlying internalized goals vs. injunctive norms, Study 3 found that authority primes influenced Indians’ ratings of what they should do but not what they want to do. Study 4 found that the effect of explicit authority primes did not increase after brief delays, thus inconsistent with the internalized goal mechanism. However, participants who were less likely to accommodate to the salient authority experienced more guilt across delay conditions, thus supporting the injunctive norms mechanism. The findings suggest that manipulating injunctive norms, rather than personal values, can be a means for inducing or eliminating deferential behaviors in Indian settings.
Keywords: accommodation, decision making, choice, priming, goals, norms, automaticity, culture, India
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