Why Do Individuals Follow Cultural Norms: Need for Closure, Script-Based Expectancies, and Conflict Resolution Choices
Posted: 25 Aug 2002
The current research investigates the proposal that cross-cultural differences in conflict resolution choices are driven by cognitive scripts - expectancies about appropriate actions in a setting and outcomes they will evoke. Cognitive styles such as Need for Cognitive Closure affect the extent to which individuals rely on their own cultural scripts and hence display culturally typical conflict resolution behaviors. We tested this prediction in two conflict resolution domains where robust differences between American and Chinese had been identified. In Study 1, participants completed the NFC scale (Webster & Kruglanski, 1994) and the conflict management styles inventory (Rahim, 1983). Results showed that differences in conflict management styles emerge primarily in high NFC individuals. In Study 2, participants first filled out the NFC scale and then read a conflict scenario and responded to which type of third party conflict mediator they would prefer and the expectancies attached for each conflict mediator. It was found that differences in preference of types of the third party conflict mediator are qualified by the interaction between culture and individual differences in NFC. Among high NFC individuals, Chinese preferred relationally connected third party whereas American preferred relationally unconnected one. However, this differential pattern was reduced among low NFC individuals. Further evidence was provided by the statistical mediation of expectancies of harmony maintenance or restoration on the moderated cultural difference in choosing the third party. We discuss emergence of cross-cultural difference in light of script-based expectancies interacting with individual-level mechanisms.
Keywords: Culture, Conflict resolution, Need for Closure
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