[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Social class disparities in higher education between working-class students (i.e., students who are low income and/or do not have parents with four-year college degrees) and middle-class students (i.e., students who are high income and/or have at least one parent with a four year-degree) are on the rise. There is an urgent need for interventions, or changes to universities' ideas and practices, to increase working-class students' access to and performance in higher education. The current article identifies key factors that characterize successful interventions aimed at reducing social class disparities, and proposes additional interventions that have the potential to improve working-class students' chances of college success. As we propose in the article, effective interventions must first address key individual and structural factors that can create barriers to students' college success. At the same time, interventions should also fortify school-relevant selves, or increase students' sense that the pursuit of a college degree is central to “who I am.” When students experience this strong connection between their selves and what it means to attend and perform well in college, they will gain a sense that they fit in the academic environment and will be empowered to do what it takes to succeed there.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hierarchy can be conceptualized as objective social status (e.g., education level) or subjective social status (i.e., one's own judgment of one's status). Both forms predict well-being. This is the first investigation of the relative strength of these hierarchy-well-being relationships in the U.S. and Japan, cultural contexts with different normative ideas about how social status is understood and conferred. In probability samples of Japanese (N=1027) and U.S. (N=1805) adults, subjective social status more strongly predicted life satisfaction, positive affect, sense of purpose, and self acceptance in the U.S. than in Japan. In contrast, objective social status more strongly predicted life satisfaction, positive relations with others, and self acceptance in Japan than in the U.S. These differences reflect divergent cultural models of self. The emphasis on independence characteristic of the U.S. affords credence to one's own judgment (subjective status) and the interdependence characteristic of Japan to what others can observe (objective status).
Social psychological and personality science. 11/2014; 5(8):855-864.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Attitudes, theorized as behavioral guides, have long been a central focus of research in the social sciences. However, this theorizing reflects primarily Western philosophical views and empirical findings emphasizing the centrality of personal preferences. As a result, the prevalent psychological model of attitudes is a person-centric one. We suggest that incorporating research insights from non-Western sociocultural contexts can significantly enhance attitude theorizing. To this end, we propose an additional model-a normative-contextual model of attitudes. The currently dominant person-centric model emphasizes the centrality of personal preferences, their stability and internal consistency, and their possible interaction with externally imposed norms. In contrast, the normative-contextual model emphasizes that attitudes are always context-contingent and incorporate the views of others and the norms of the situation. In this model, adjustment to norms does not involve an effortful struggle between the authentic self and exogenous forces. Rather, it is the ongoing and reassuring integration of others' views into one's attitudes. According to the normative-contextual model, likely to be a good fit in contexts that foster interdependence and holistic thinking, attitudes need not be personal or necessarily stable and internally consistent and are only functional to the extent that they help one to adjust automatically to different contexts. The fundamental shift in focus offered by the normative-contextual model generates novel hypotheses and highlights new measurement criteria for studying attitudes in non-Western sociocultural contexts. We discuss these theoretical and measurement implications as well as practical implications for health and well-being, habits and behavior change, and global marketing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: "Tiger Mother" Amy Chua provoked a culture clash with her claim that controlling parenting in Asian American (AA) contexts produces more successful children than permissive parenting in European American (EA) contexts. At the heart of this controversy is a difference in the normative models of self that guide behavior. Ideas and practices prevalent in AA contexts emphasize that the person is and should be interdependent with one's close others, especially one's mother. In contrast, EA contexts emphasize the person as independent, even from one's mother. We find that AA compared with EA high school students experience more interdependence with their mothers and pressure from them, but that the pressure does not strain their relationship with their mothers. Furthermore, following failure, AAs compared with EAs are more motivated by their mothers, and AAs are particularly motivated by pressure from their mothers when it conveys interdependence.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 04/2014; · 2.52 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: America's unprecedented levels of inequality have far-reaching negative consequences for society as a whole. Although differential access to resources contributes to inequality, the current review illuminates how ongoing participation in different social class contexts also gives rise to culture-specific selves and patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting. We integrate a growing body of interdisciplinary research to reveal how social class culture cycles operate over the course of the lifespan and through critical gateway contexts, including homes, schools, and workplaces. We first document how each of these contexts socializes social class cultural differences. Then, we demonstrate how these gateway institutions, which could provide access to upward social mobility, are structured according to middle-class ways of being a self and thus can fuel and perpetuate inequality. We conclude with a discussion of intervention opportunities that can reduce inequality by taking into account the contextual responsiveness of the self. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Psychology Volume 65 is January 03, 2014. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.
Annual Review of Psychology 09/2013; · 20.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous studies conducted in Western cultures have shown that negative emotions predict higher levels of pro-inflammatory biomarkers, specifically interleukin-6 (IL-6). This link between negative emotions and IL-6 may be specific to Western cultures where negative emotions are perceived to be problematic and thus may not extend to Eastern cultures where negative emotions are seen as acceptable and normal. Using samples of 1044 American and 382 Japanese middle-aged and older adults, we investigated whether the relationship between negative emotions and IL-6 varies by cultural context. Negative emotions predicted higher IL-6 among American adults, whereas no association was evident among Japanese adults. Furthermore, the interaction between culture and negative emotions remained even after controlling for demographic variables, psychological factors (positive emotions, neuroticism, extraversion), health behaviors (smoking status, alcohol consumption), and health status (chronic conditions, BMI). These findings highlight the role of cultural context in shaping how negative emotions affect inflammatory physiology and underscore the importance of cultural ideas and practices relevant to negative emotions for understanding of the interplay between psychology, physiology, and health. (172 words).
Brain Behavior and Immunity 07/2013; · 5.61 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Two studies utilized firsthand accounts from survivors of two major natural disasters—Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Chilean earthquake in 2010—to investigate (1) how people make sense of their disaster experiences and (2) who understands these events in religious terms. We found that describing the disasters as an act of God was among the most common explanations. Moreover, the degree to which survivors encountered extreme hardship—unpredictable, disruptive, and uncontrollable experiences—predicted explanations of the events as an act of God. These findings held even after controlling for demographic factors (educational attainment and race/ethnicity) known to be associated with religiosity. Notably, objective experiences (e.g., seeing dead bodies) were better predictors of religious meaning-making than relatively subjective psychological reactions to those experiences (e.g., fear). These studies extend the literature by examining how experiences of hardship in real-world contexts underlie religious meaning-making and suggest that religiosity emerges, in part, from variation in individual experience.
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 05/2013; 44(4):606-619. · 1.42 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Today's most pressing social challenges require people to recognize their shared fate and work together-to think and act interdependently. In the three studies reported here, we found that appeals for increased interdependence may undermine the very motivation they seek to inspire. We examined the hypothesis that invoking interdependent action undermines motivation for chronically independent European Americans but not for bicultural Asian Americans who are both chronically independent and chronically interdependent. Studies 1 and 2 demonstrated that priming interdependent rather than independent action undermined European Americans' motivation to perform challenging mental and physical tasks. Study 3 showed that framing an appeal for environmental sustainability in terms of interdependent rather than independent action led to decreased motivation and resource allocation among European Americans. Motivation was not undermined for Asian Americans, which reveals how behavior is divergently shaped, in the land of the free, by foundational sociocultural schemas of independence and interdependence. This research has the novel implication that it may be necessary to invoke independent behaviors in order to successfully motivate interdependence.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Recently, researchers have proposed that psychological resources might be key concept in explaining the association between social class and health. However, empirical examinations of the extent to which psychological resources to social class in health are still few. PURPOSE: This study investigated mediating effects of selected psychological resources (sense of control, self-esteem, optimism, and neuroticism) on the association of social class [education and subjective social status (SSS)] with current health status (self-rated health and the number of chronic conditions). METHOD: This sample consisted of 1,805 Americans (818 males and 987 females) from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) survey, 2004-2006 and 1,027 Japanese (505 males and 522 females) from the Midlife in Japan (MIDJA) survey in Tokyo, Japan, 2008-2010. Information on social class, psychological resources, and health status was obtained using telephone interviews or written questionnaires. RESULTS: A mediation analysis was conducted separately for males and females in Japan and the USA. Neuroticism significantly mediated the association of education and SSS with self-rated health and chronic conditions among males and females in both countries, with one exception (not for chronic conditions among Japanese females). Sense of control significantly mediated the association of education and SSS with self-rated health among males and females in both countries. As hypothesized, self-esteem significantly mediated almost all of the associations of education and SSS with self-rated health and chronic conditions among men and women in the USA, but very few such associations in Japan. Optimism significantly mediated most associations of social class and health status in both countries, but only among females. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the findings underscore important culture- and gender specificity in the ways in which psychosocial resources mediate the links between social class and health.
International Journal of Behavioral Medicine 12/2012; · 2.63 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: First-generation students experience a cultural mismatch in university settings. ► This mismatch leads to an aversive state that affects biological functioning. ► Independent norms produced a social class gap in cortisol and negative emotions. ► Interdependent norms eliminated the social class gap in cortisol and negative emotions. American universities increasingly admit rst-generation students—students whose parents do not have four-year degrees. Once admitted, these students experience greater challenges adjusting to universities compared to continuing-generation students—students who have at least one parent with a four-year degree. This additional adversity is typically explained in terms of rst-generation students' relative lack of economic (e.g., money) or academic (e.g., preparation) resources. We propose that this adversity also stems from a cultural mismatch between the mostly middle-class, independent norms institutionalized in American uni-versities and the relatively interdependent norms that rst-generation students are socialized with in working-class contexts before college. As predicted, an experiment revealed that framing the university culture in terms of independent norms (cultural mismatch) led rst-generation students to show greater increases in cortisol and less positive/more negative emotions than continuing-generation students while giving a speech. However, reframing the university culture to include interdependent norms (cultural match) eliminated this gap.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 11/2012; 48(6). · 2.22 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The literature on social class disparities in health and education contains 2 underlying, yet often opposed, models of behavior: the individual model and the structural model. These models refer to largely unacknowledged assumptions about the sources of human behavior that are foundational to research and interventions. Our review and theoretical integration proposes that, in contrast to how the 2 models are typically represented, they are not opposed, but instead they are complementary sets of understandings that inform and extend each other. Further, we elaborate the theoretical rationale and predictions for a third model: the sociocultural self model of behavior. This model incorporates and extends key tenets of the individual and structural models. First, the sociocultural self model conceptualizes individual characteristics (e.g., skills) and structural conditions (e.g., access to resources) as interdependent forces that mutually constitute each other and that are best understood together. Second, the sociocultural self model recognizes that both individual characteristics and structural conditions indirectly influence behavior through the selves that emerge in the situation. These selves are malleable psychological states that are a product of the ongoing mutual constitution of individuals and structures and serve to guide people's behavior by systematically shaping how people construe situations. The theoretical foundation of the sociocultural self model lays the groundwork for a more complete understanding of behavior and provides new tools for developing interventions that will reduce social class disparities in health and education. The model predicts that intervention efforts will be more effective at producing sustained behavior change when (a) current selves are congruent, rather than incongruent, with the desired behavior and (b) individual characteristics and structural conditions provide ongoing support for the selves that are necessary to support the desired behavior. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Does local context (e.g., city of residence) matter for self and well-being? We theorized that it does because local contexts diverge in prevalent historically-derived ideas, norms, and products. Through historical analysis, studies of norms (tightness-looseness; Study 1) and cultural products (content analyses of newspaper headlines, venture capital firm websites, hospital websites; Studies 2-4), and studies assessing individuals' self and well-being (Studies 5-7), we compared Boston and San Francisco-similar cities on many metrics. We find that self and well-being are, in some important part, local. Reflecting themes of "old and established," Boston's history and cultural products emphasize tradition, status, and community, and social norms are relatively tight; accordingly feelings and selves are socially contingent. In contrast, reflecting themes of "new and free," San Francisco's history and cultural products emphasize unlimited possibility, egalitarianism, and innovation, and social norms are relatively loose; accordingly feelings and selves are relatively less contingent on others.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 09/2012; · 2.52 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Two studies investigate whether interpersonally engaging emotions-those that bring the self closer to others (e.g., affection, shame)-are central to the model of self and relationships prevalent in Mexican cultural contexts. Study 1 demonstrated that compared to people in European American contexts, people in Mexican contexts were more likely to report experiencing interpersonally engaging emotions and less likely to report experiencing interpersonally disengaging emotions. Study 2 found that interpersonally engaging emotions had a substantial influence on performance motivation in Mexican contexts-Mexican participants solved more word search puzzles after recalling instances in which they experienced positive interpersonally engaging emotions, and fewer after recalling negative interpersonally disengaging emotions; in contrast, there were no differences by condition for European Americans. These findings significantly extend previous research by documenting the implications of relational concerns (e.g., simpatia, personalismo) for emotion and motivation in Mexican contexts, and are the first to demonstrate the motivational effects of interpersonally engaging emotions.
International Journal of Psychology 06/2012; · 0.40 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: American universities increasingly admit first-generation college students whose parents do not have 4-year degrees. Once admitted, these students tend to struggle academically, compared with continuing-generation students--students who have at least 1 parent with a 4-year degree. We propose a cultural mismatch theory that identifies 1 important source of this social class achievement gap. Four studies test the hypothesis that first-generation students underperform because interdependent norms from their mostly working-class backgrounds constitute a mismatch with middle-class independent norms prevalent in universities. First, assessing university cultural norms, surveys of university administrators revealed that American universities focus primarily on norms of independence. Second, identifying the hypothesized cultural mismatch, a longitudinal survey revealed that universities' focus on independence does not match first-generation students' relatively interdependent motives for attending college and that this cultural mismatch is associated with lower grades. Finally, 2 experiments at both private and public universities created a match or mismatch for first-generation students and examined the performance consequences. Together these studies revealed that representing the university culture in terms of independence (i.e., paving one's own paths) rendered academic tasks difficult and, thereby, undermined first-generation students' performance. Conversely, representing the university culture in terms of interdependence (i.e., being part of a community) reduced this sense of difficulty and eliminated the performance gap without adverse consequences for continuing-generation students. These studies address the urgent need to recognize cultural obstacles that contribute to the social class achievement gap and to develop interventions to address them.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 03/2012; 102(6):1178-97. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: What factors determine whether mixed-race individuals claim a biracial identity or a monoracial identity? Two studies examine how two status-related factors-race and social class-influence identity choice. While a majority of mixed-race participants identified as biracial in both studies, those who were members of groups with higher status in American society were more likely than those who were members of groups with lower status to claim a biracial identity. Specifically, (a) Asian/White individuals were more likely than Black/White or Latino/White individuals to identify as biracial and (b) mixed-race people from middle-class backgrounds were more likely than those from working-class backgrounds to identify as biracial. These results suggest that claiming a biracial identity is a choice that is more available to those with higher status.
Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology 01/2012; 18(1):91-6. · 1.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Emotions are for action, but action styles in emotional episodes may vary across cultural contexts. Based on culturally different models of agency, we expected that those who engage in European-American contexts will use more influence in emotional situations, while those who engage in East-Asian contexts will use more adjustment. European-American (N=60) and Asian-American (N=44) college students reported their action style during emotional episodes four times a day during a week. Asian Americans adjusted more than European Americans, whereas both used influence to a similar extent. These cultural differences in action style varied across types of emotion experienced. Moreover, influencing was associated with life satisfaction for European Americans, but not for Asian Americans.
Cognition and Emotion 06/2011; 26(2):332-40. · 2.52 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Choice makes North Americans feel more in control, free, and independent, and thus has many positive consequences for individuals' motivation and well-being. We report five studies that uncovered novel consequences of choice for public policy and interpersonal judgments. Studies 1 through 3 found that activating the concept of choice decreases support for policies promoting intergroup equality (e.g., affirmative action) and societal benefits (e.g., reducing environmental pollution), but increases support for policies promoting individual rights (e.g., legalizing drugs). Studies 4 and 5 found that activating the concept of choice increases victim blaming and decreases empathy for disadvantaged people. Study 5 found that choice does not decrease Indians' empathy for disadvantaged individuals, indicating that the social and interpersonal consequences of choice are likely culture-specific. This research suggests that the well-known positive effects of choice for individuals can be accompanied by an array of previously unexamined and potentially negative outcomes for other people and for society.