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Cultural Differences in the Effects of Written Choices on Commitment

In the last two of four experiments, Kim and Davis (2007) compared Asian- and European Americans in their evaluations of the quality of a pen they were given instead of the one they had chosen after using four pens. Whether the choice had been a written or remembered one was varied. Participants had been told they would receive the pen they had chosen, but after they had made their choices, they were informed that the only type of pen still available was one that all but a few participants (the data for whom were not used) hadn’t chosen (the one with the lowest mean rating in a pilot study).

When they evaluated the quality of the non-chosen pen they were given, European Americans rated it less favorably if their choice had been written than if they had been asked to remember it. There were no differences in the evaluations of Asian-Americans who had written vs. remembered their choices. Experiment 4 differed from Experiment 3 in one way: Prior to coming for testing, all participants had completed one of the two kinds of questions on an 11-item Value of Expression Questionnaire (VEQ).

These questions assessed the extent to which participants valued behavioral self-expression, measured using an 8-point rating scale (recoded so all high numbers corresponded with high valuing). The researchers created the scale and used it in the second experiment, where mean ratings of European Americans were higher than those of Asian Americans. When the many European and few Asian Americans who scored high on the scale were compared to the few European and many Asian Americans who scored low, regardless of culture, the patterns for high and low scorers were the same as in the analysis comparing European and Asian Americans.

The researchers thus concluded that the European/Asian- American difference was attributable to the difference in value most of those in the two cultures placed on behavioral self-expression. (In the first experiment, Korean students at a university in Korea and European Americans from a university in California responded to two open-ended questions on the importance and purpose of speaking. Based on categorizing responses, European Americans were more likely than Korean Americans to mention self-“expression of internal attributes,” p.

4, and the reverse pattern resulted for mention of social communication and accommodation. ) Evaluation Contributions of the research. Studies of cultural differences within a country are important because they make it possible to avoid misunderstandings. For example, knowing that integration of African-American and white children in elementary schools does not in itself result in increased interaction between members of the two groups, researchers have developed educational practices that when (or if) used have resulted in increased positive interactions between members of the two groups (e. g.

, “jigsaw groups,” where group members must interact because each member has a different piece of information, all required to complete a project, Aronson & Bridgeman, 1979). Kim and Sherman (2007) attempted to explain why East Asian participants in previous research they cited have not been affected in their evaluations of objects after making a choice, relative to findings using participants from other cultures in the United States, where after evaluating and choosing between two alternatives, post-choice re-evaluations of chosen and non-chosen alternatives have been more and less favorable respectively than pre-choice evaluations.

Kim and Sherman (2007) contributed to cross-cultural research by using the method of finding a commonality in previous research that might have caused the differences in results. They noted that participants always made their choices verbally or in writing, so they varied whether the choice was made in writing or committed to memory.

When the manipulation did not alter the pattern in previous research (Experiment 3), they appropriately attempted to solve the “third variable” problem often arising with non-manipulated variables (being unable to randomly assign participants to groups such as membership in a culture) by examining the effect of another cultural difference they had found in their second experiment, that European Americans reported that they valued behavioral expressions of their thoughts more than Asian Americans reported valuing such expression.

Since writing, but not remembering, is a behavior, they compared (Experiment 4) individuals reporting high vs. low valuing of behavioral expression, regardless of culture, and found that those who reported high and low values produced the same pattern as comparisons of European and Asian Americans respectively. As discussed below, despite there being alternatives to their interpretation that the latter patterns were attributable to differences in “how [individuals] express . . . [their values of self-expression] in their behaviors” (p.

8), it is important to use the method of looking for reasons that account for cultural differences. The second contribution of the research was in constructing a scale, despite problems discussed below, that might eventually result in one that other researchers could use in measuring the extent to which individuals value self-expression. Limitations and weaknesses. Conceptually, the idea that there is “a [italics added] Western tradition” of considering “expression of thoughts, preferences, and feelings . . . a way to express one’s selfhood” (p.

1) is later denied even by the researchers who made the statement when they replaced “Western tradition” with “European Americans” and then acknowledged that so-called support for a European American tradition has not been provided when less educated, lower SES European Americans have been participants. They also failed to note differences based on previous research using middle- and higher SES European American participants. For example, there have been findings that the feelings expressed by men are likely to be either of anger or impersonal (e.

g. , “I loved the way those Dodgers slaughtered the Braves. ”), those of women are likely to express a wider range of feelings, both positive (e. g. , affection) and negative (e. g. , feeling depressed), and regarding the supposedly European American tradition of undervaluing relationships, there is evidence not only that women are more relationship-oriented than men but that this is one of the few gender differences for which there is evidence implicating a genetic (based on hormones) predisposition (Maccoby, 1998).

Also, both women and men who are successful athletes in sports such as basketball and soccer must value relationships in the sense of viewing oneself “as connected with others” (p. 2), as opposed to as an individual who, for example, tries for the basket, rather than passing the ball to someone in a better position to succeed. There also have not been studies either supporting or refuting the stereotype of European American “old money” disdaining demonstrations of emotion. A methodological limitation involves the 11-item questionnaire created by the researchers, the Value of Expression Questionnaire (VEQ).

They provided no information on how they determined their items measured “both the extent to which participants value self-expression in their behaviors . . . [and] in their beliefs” (p. 4). At the very least, it would have been easy to provide all 11 items in a table, rather than providing only 4 examples. They did not assess test-retest reliability, inter-item reliability, or any measures of validity except convergent reliability, relationships between theoretically related measures (a measure of validity that’s only useful when a measure of discriminant validity also is provided).

Kim and Sherman’s interpretation of the Pearson rs used to measure convergent validity is one of two examples where they mistake statistical significance with effect size – they seem to treat all statistically significant results equally (p. 5, paragraph 2), although none of the rs in Table 1 (p. 5) even approach the high correlation (at least /. 6/, Salkind, 2006) indicative of convergent reliability. (The second example is in using the phrase “much more negatively” to describe statistically significant mean differences – that weren’t even tested for effect size, pp. 6, 8).

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