Cultural Differences

Individualism: giving priority to oneís own goals and defining oneís identity in terms of personal attributes.

Collectivism: giving priority to the goals of oneís groups and defining oneís identity in terms of group attributes.



Social Differences:

Collectivists tend to have fewer interpersonal relationships, but the oneís they have are typically stable and longer lasting.

In social situations, collectivists avoid blunt honesty, avoid sensitive issues, and exhibit a self-effacing humor as ways of preserving social harmony.

Collectivists are more likely than individualists to prejudge people based on group identity.

Individualists are more likely to prejudge people based on obvious personal attributes.






Differences in Child Rearing

Western culture attempts to develop the independence of the child by training them to think for themselves, and allow them to make their own choices in many areas.

Collectivistic cultures encourage the development of group identities by teaching communal sensitivity and cooperation, and advising the child on important matters.


Communicating in a foreign culture

Triandis, Brislin, and Hui (1988) examined cultural differences and developed a set of guidelines which can assist people visiting other cultures.

For Individualists living in a collectivist culture:

Avoid confrontation and confrontational issues

Work on cultivating long-term relationships without expecting instant closeness.

Present oneself modestly

Pay attention to peopleís positions in group hierarchies



For collectivists living in an individualist culture:

Realize making critical comments in conversations is acceptable

Donít beat around the bush

Present yourself in a favorable light

Pay more attention to personal attitudes


Each cultural viewpoint has its own benefits and drawbacks

Western cultures: people enjoy more personal freedoms, take greater pride in individual accomplishments, enjoy more privacy, and live with more spontaneity than people in collectivist cultures. However, individuals in western culture are also suffer from more loneliness and depression, higher divorce and homicide rates, and are more vulnerable to stress related diseases.









Gender Differences

Gender : biologically or socially influenced characteristics which people use to define "male" and "female"


Women are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety or depression related disorders.

Men are five times as likely to be alcoholics and three times as likely to kill themselves.

Social Dominance

In both Western and non-Western cultures, people expect men to be socially dominant.

93% of the worlds legislators were men in 1989.

Men make up half of all juries but 90% of jury forepersons are males.

In conversation, men are more likely to interrupt, talk assertively, stare more, and smile less than women.

When in control, Men tend to direct others behaviors, while women rule in a more democratic fashion.

Women in control use a more indirect style of management: interrupting less,more willing to listen to others ideas, better at building a consensus.

The importance of Gender Roles

Gender Roles -- Behavioral expectations for women and men

Example: Men do most household repairs while women do most child care


Zanna and Pack (1975): Examined how womenís descriptions of themselves would change as a function of who they thought they were describing themselves to.

D.V. : What adjectives they used to describe themselves

I.V. : Whether they thought the man they were describing themselves to held a traditional view of women (home-oriented, submissive) or a man who liked strong, independent women.

Results: When women thought the man held traditional values, they described themselves in more typically feminine terms.

Additionally, when performing a problem solving task within the same experiment, women who thought they were going to be introduced to the sexist male solved 18% less problems than women expecting to meet the "enlightened" male.

Gender Roles start very early:

In the majority of cultures, girls spend more time helping with household chores and child care, while boys spend more time in recreational activities.

Over the last fifty years in America gender roles have become less pronounced.

In 1938, only 1 in 5 Americans approved of women working outside the home.

In 1989, 4 in 5 Americans approved.


From 1965 to 1985, the percentage of housework claimed to be done by men increased from 15% to 33% (Robinson, 1988)


However, almost 2/3 of Americans still agree with the statement

"The ideal family situation is when the father has a job and the mother takes care of the children.

Researchers believe that gender roles have both cultural and biological influences.


Aggression --Physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt

Men are more aggressive than women (8 times More likely to commit a violent crime than women)

This has been demonstrated in experiments in which subjects believe they are inflicting pain on someone else. Men are more likely to agree to inflict pain, and agree to inflict higher levels of pain than women.

Cultural Reason for Menís aggressiveness:

Throughout history, males have traditionally been the aggressor, engaged in both hunting, fighting, and making war

Biological Reason for Menís aggressiveness:

Testosterone has a significant role in aggressive behavior.

Animals injected with testosterone in the lab can trigger aggressive reactions towards nearby animals.

Aggressive tendencies decline with age, positively correlated with the drop in testosterone levels.


Social psychologists predominantly study how socio-cultural influences can change (or contribute to) peopleís behavior, they do acknowledge that Biological/Genetic factors do affect behavior.