17 Culture through the Lens of Self-Regulatory Orientations

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					              17            Culture through the Lens of
                            Self-Regulatory Orientations
                            Angela Y. Lee and Gün R. Semin

             One of the main divides between an individualist culture and a collectivist culture is the way in
             which people view the self in relation to others (Triandis, 1989). Whereas members of individualist
             cultures tend to view the self as autonomous and unique (i.e., they have an independent self-con-
             strual; Markus & Kitayama, 1991), members of collectivist cultures tend to view the self as inextri-
             cably and fundamentally embedded within a larger social network (i.e., they have an interdependent
             self-construal). The independent self-construal defines the individual in terms of characteristics that
             distinguish him or her from others, and is common to members of Western cultures who celebrate
             independence and creativity (e.g., U.S.). In contrast, the interdependent self-construal defines the
             individual in terms of relationships with respect to others, and is common among members of East
             Asian cultures (e.g., China, Japan), who value the fulfillment of obligations and responsibilities over
             personal desires or benefits (Markus & Kitayama, 1991; Singelis, 1994; Triandis, 1989).
                 While these two distinct self-construals are culturally encouraged and determined, individuals
             have also been shown to differ in the way they view the self within each culture (Singelis, 1994).
             Furthermore, these two self-schemas are thought to coexist within every individual such that a self-
             construal that is culturally inconsistent can be made temporarily more accessible by a situational
             context or through priming (Oyserman & Lee, 2008). Once activated, these temporarily enhanced
             self-construals often exert similar influences on social perception and behavior as their chronically
             accessible counterparts (Brewer & Gardner, 1996; Gardner, Gabriel, & Lee, 1999; Hong, Ip, Chiu,
             Morris, & Menon, 2001; Lee, Aaker, & Gardner, 2000; Trafimow, Triandis, & Goto, 1991).
                 Recent research shows that, regardless of whether they are chronically or temporarily made
             accessible, these alternative ways of viewing the self reflect different self-regulatory orientations.
             More specifically, the independent goal of distinguishing oneself from others through personal
             growth and accomplishments and the interdependent goal of maintaining harmony with respect to
             others through the fulfillment of obligations and responsibilities serve as self-guides that regulate
             attention, attitudes, and behaviors toward achieving different goals (Higgins, 1997). In fact, the
             independent and interdependent self-construals have been shown to be associated with different
             self-regulatory orientations. In particular, the independent goal of being positively distinct is consis-
             tent with a promotion orientation, whereas the interdependent goal of maintaining harmony within
             the group is consistent with a prevention orientation (Lee et al., 2000).
                 According to regulatory focus theory (Higgins, 1997), people are guided by their self-regula-
             tory orientations in their goal pursuit activities to satisfy their needs for nurturance and security.
             Individuals with a promotion orientation strive toward growth and accomplishments. They focus
             on achieving their hopes and aspirations and pursue their goals with eagerness. They are sensitive
             to the presence and absence of positive outcomes and prefer strategies that ensure matches to their
             desired end-state; that is, they aim to approach gains and avoid nongains. On the other hand, indi-
             viduals with a prevention orientation strive toward safety and security. They focus on fulfilling their
             duties and responsibilities and pursue their goals with vigilance. They are sensitive to the presence
             and absence of negative outcomes and prefer strategies that ensure against mismatches to their
             desired end-states; that is, they aim to avoid losses and approach nonlosses.

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                 In a series of studies, Lee et al. (2000) demonstrate that individuals from an individualist culture
             (European Americans) whose independent self-construal is chronically more accessible, as well
             as Chinese whose independent self-construal is temporarily made salient, tend to be promotion-
             oriented; whereas individuals from a collectivist culture (Chinese from Hong Kong) whose interde-
             pendent self-construal is chronically more accessible, as well as Americans whose interdependent
             self-construal is temporarily made salient, tend to be prevention-oriented. Regardless of whether
             self-construal was operationalized through cultural orientation (North American versus East Asian),
             individual disposition (Singelis, 1994), or situational prime (e.g., independent—“you are playing in
             a tennis tournament…”; interdependent prime—“your team is playing in a tennis tournament and
             you are representing your team…”), research participants whose independent self-construal was
             more accessible were more motivated by the presence and absence of a positive outcome. In con-
             trast, participants whose interdependent self-construal was more accessible were more motivated by
             the presence and absence of a negative outcome. More specifically, independents perceived an event
             (i.e., the final match in the tennis tournament) to be more important when they were prompted to
             think about winning or not winning the tournament than when they were prompted to think about
             losing or not losing the tournament, and the reverse was true for the interdependents.
                 That distinct self-construals are associated with different self-regulatory orientations has inter-
             esting implications for cross-cultural research, as it is becoming clear that the two distinct regula-
             tory orientations represent two complex motivational systems that have a significant impact on social
             perception, information processing, language use, temporal perspective, motivation and emotion,
             with distinct behavioral consequences. In the next sections, we will first review the consequences
             of the two self-regulatory systems and discuss how they may account for cultural differences in
             different domains. We then review the literature to show how predictions based on regulatory orien-
             tations may seem contradictory to commonly held views on cross cultural differences in temporal
             perspective and perceptual processing, followed by a discussion on how these inconsistencies may
             be resolved.


             THE PROMOTION AND PREVENTION SYSTEMS
             Individuals whose independent self-construal is more accessible are likely to have a promotion ori-
             entation (Lee et al., 2000). Promotion-oriented individuals are driven by their desire for nurturance
             (Higgins, 1997). Their attention, attitude and behaviors are guided by their ideal self-standards;
             they are more sensitive to gains and nongains rather than losses and nonlosses, and they experi-
             ence cheerfulness and dejection emotions more intensely than relaxation and agitation emotions
             (Higgins, 1997; Lee et al., 2000). In striving toward growth and accomplishment, they are more
             likely to pursue maximal goals (Brendl & Higgins, 1996), and hence are more willing to adopt
             change (Liberman, Idson, Camacho, & Higgins, 1999) and take risks (Crowe & Higgins, 1997).
             They are also more concerned with guarding against errors of omission than errors of commis-
             sion (Crowe & Higgins, 1997); they value speed more than accuracy (Förster, Higgins, & Bianco,
             2003), and their default is action rather than inaction (Roese, Hur, & Pennington, 1999). Further,
             promotion-oriented individuals tend to process information at a more abstract, global level (Förster
             & Higgins, 2005; Semin, Higgins, Gil de Montes, Estourget, & Valencia, 2005) and construe future
             events with a more distal temporal perspective (Pennington & Roese, 2003).
                In contrast, individuals whose interdependent self-construal is more accessible are likely to have
             a prevention orientation (Lee et al., 2000). Prevention-oriented individuals are driven by their desire
             for safety and security (Higgins, 1997). Their attention, attitude and behaviors are guided by their
             ought self-standards; they are more sensitive to losses and nonlosses rather than gains and non- AU: Is this the desired
                                                                                                                     word here? Not sure
             gains, and they experience relaxation and agitation emotions more intensely than cheerfulness and it’s the right part of
             dejection emotions (Higgins, 1997; Lee et al., 2000). In striving toward safety and security, they speech. An alternative
                                                                                                                     is ideal.
             are more likely to pursue minimal goals (Brendl & Higgins, 1996); hence they prefer the status
             quo (Liberman et al., 1999) and are less willing to take risks (Crowe & Higgins, 1997). They are




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             also more concerned with guarding against errors of commission than errors of omission (Crowe &
             Higgins, 1997); they prefer accuracy over speed (Förster et al., 2003), and their default is inaction
             rather than action (Roese, Hur, & Pennington, 1999). Further, prevention-oriented individuals tend
             to process information at a more concrete, local level (Förster & Higgins, 2005; Semin et al., 2005)
             and construe future events with a more proximal temporal perspective (Pennington & Roese, 2003).
             Indeed, empirical studies examining cross-cultural similarities and differences present results that
             are consistent with the characteristics of these two motivational systems. We review and summarize
             some of these findings in the next sections.


             Benefits and Values
             Given the relationship between self-construal and regulatory orientation (Lee et al., 2000), it is only
             natural that there is significant overlap between the values upheld by members of individualist ver-
             sus collectivist cultures and those that are deemed important by individuals with distinct regulatory
             orientations. The correlation between cultural values and regulatory orientations becomes evident
             when people with different cultural backgrounds are observed to be differentially persuaded by
             appeals that highlight promotion versus prevention benefits.
                 To illustrate, Aaker and Lee (2001) show that individuals with a dominant independent self-con-
             strual are more persuaded by promotion- (versus prevention-) focused information that addresses the
             concerns of growth and achievement (e.g., getting energized), whereas those with a dominant inter-
             dependent self-construal are more persuaded by prevention- (versus promotion-) focused informa-
             tion that addresses the concerns of safety and security (e.g., preventing clogged arteries). Similarly,
             Chen, Ng and Rao (2005) find that consumers with a dominant independent self-construal are more
             willing to pay for expedited delivery of a product when they are presented with a promotion-framed
             message that emphasizes gains (e.g., to enjoy a product early), whereas those with a dominant inter-
             dependent self-construal are more willing to pay for expedited delivery when presented with a pre-
             vention-framed message that highlights nonlosses (e.g., avoid delay in receiving the product). These
             patterns of results were observed irrespective of whether self-construal was situationally primed or
             culturally nurtured (Aaker & Lee, 2001; Agrawal & Maheswaran, 2005; Chen et al., 2005).
                 More recent research suggests that people are more likely to selectively process information con-
             sistent with their regulatory orientation when they are not expending cognitive efforts in information
             processing (Briley & Aaker, 2006; Wang & Lee, 2006). For example, Briley and Aaker (2006) dem-
             onstrate that participants who were culturally inclined to have a promotion (North Americans) or
             prevention (Chinese) orientation held more favorable attitudes toward those products that addressed
             their regulatory concerns when they were asked to provide their initial reactions or when they evalu-
             ated the products under cognitive load or time pressure. Participants across the two cultures did not
             differ in their evaluation of the products when they were asked to make deliberated evaluations or
             when they were able to expend cognitive resources on the task.
                 Involvement seems to have a different effect on judgment when individuals are primed with a
             culturally inconsistent self-construal. More specifically, Agrawal and Maheswaran (2005) manipu-
             lated brand commitment among participants from an individualist (U.S.) and a collectivist (Nepal)
             culture and primed them with either an independent or interdependent self-construal. They then
             presented participants with a promotion- or prevention-focused appeal. They found that across both
             cultural samples, appeals consistent with participants’ chronic self-construal were more persuasive
             when participants were committed to the brand, whereas appeals consistent with the primed self-
             construal were more effective under low brand-commitment.
                 Taken together, these results seem to suggest that when people are not motivated to process
             information, their judgments reflect their more accessible view of the self, whether it is their chronic
             self-construal that is culturally encouraged (Briley & Aaker, 2006) or a self-construal that has tem-
             porarily been made salient (Agrawal & Maheswaran, 2005). However, when they are motivated to
             process information, a chronically inaccessible self-construal that has been primed seems to have




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             no influence on judgment. People’s judgment reflects the influence of their chronically accessible
             self-construal even when their chronically inaccessible self-construal is made salient. That is, peo-
             ple who are motivated to process information seem to fall back on their chronically accessible self-
             construal as the standard of judgment when they experience some sort of conflict—they are more
             persuaded by messages that are consistent with their chronic self-construal when they are primed
             with a self-schema that is inconsistent with their chronic self-construal. A better understanding of
             the interaction between involvement and people’s chronic and primed self-construals awaits future
             research.


             affectiVe Responding
             As White (1994, p.228) eloquently expressed, “emotions are a moral rhetoric that implicates both
             descriptions of the world and recommendations for acting upon it.” According to Markus and
             Kitayama (1991, 1994), emotional events predominantly characterize the qualities of the types of
             relationships between a person and his or her social world. Given that people with different schematic
             conceptions of the self uphold different values and relate differently to their social environment, we
             would expect individuals with an independent self-construal to desire, experience, interpret and
             express emotions in a manner that is different from those with an interdependent self-construal.
                 More specifically, members of individualist cultures who are more likely to have a promotion
             orientation should experience more intense promotion-focused cheerfulness/dejection emotions,
             and members of collectivist cultures who are more likely to have a prevention orientation should
             experience more intense prevention-focused relaxation/agitation emotions (Higgins, 1997). Indeed,
             in a study where participants were asked to imagine a scenario in which they had won or lost
             an important tennis event, American participants expressed more promotion-focused cheerfulness
             emotions (happy, cheerful, honored, proud) than prevention-focused relaxation emotions (relaxed,
             peaceful, calm, comfortable), but did not differ in their experience of the promotion-focused dejec-
             tion emotions (disappointed, shameful, guilty) and prevention-focused agitation emotions (worried,
             uptight, tense, nervous, fearful). In contrast, Chinese participants expressed more negative agitation
             emotions than dejection emotions, but did not differ in their experience of cheerfulness and relax-
             ation emotions (Lee et al., 2000, Study 5).
                 Further, people’s ideal affective states across cultures (i.e., affective states that people value and
             would ideally like to experience) seem to reflect the difference in regulatory orientations of the
             two self-construals. For example, Tsai, Knutson and Fung (2006) find that European Americans
             indicated that they would ideally like to feel elated, enthusiastic and excited (i.e., positive, promo-
             tion-focused emotions); whereas Chinese in Hong Kong indicated that they would ideally like to
             experience calm, relaxed and serene (i.e., positive, prevention-focused emotions). Americans have
             also been reported to prefer feeling more joy than Japanese (Izard, 1971), and more enthusiasm than
             Chinese (Sommers, 1984).
                 That different construals of the self are likely to imply different constructions of emotions con-
             sistent with their view of the self is also reflected in how people describe their emotions. In par-
             ticular, Semin and his colleagues (Semin, Görts, Nandram, & Semin-Goossens, 2002) find that
             transitive verbs that denote interpersonal relationships (e.g., to respect, to envy, to love) are more
             often used to describe emotional events in collectivist cultures where thoughts, feelings and actions
             in conformity and harmony with in-group members are valued and where group goals prevail over
             individual goals. In contrast, nouns (e.g., happiness, love) and adjectives (e.g., happy, sad) are more
             often used to describe similar emotional events in individualist cultures where individual prefer-
             ences and goals frequently prevail over group goals. As discussed in more detail later, these results
             are also consistent with the notion that a promotion orientation is associated with abstract, high-
             level construals (Förster & Higgins, 2005), hence the reliance on more abstract language such as
             adjectives (Semin et al. 2005), whereas a prevention orientation is associated with concrete, low-




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             level construals (Förster & Higgins, 2005), hence the preference for more concrete language such
             as action verbs (Semin et al., 2005).


             attitude towaRd Risk
             Empirical findings that members of collectivist cultures are more risk averse than members of
             individualist cultures in their goal pursuit strategies would be consistent with the notion that a pre-
             vention orientation is about vigilance and not making mistakes, whereas a promotion orientation
             is about eagerness and not missing opportunities (Crowe & Higgins, 1997). Indeed, Hamilton and
             Biehal (2005) primed their participants with either an independent or interdependent self-construal
             and found that those primed with an independent self-construal were more likely to pick mutual
             funds that are more risky (i.e., the more volatile investments that have higher risks but also offer
             higher payoffs) than those primed with an interdependent self-construal; further, this difference was
             mediated by their regulatory goals, in that risky preferences were encouraged by promotion goals
             that were more salient among the independents but discouraged by prevention goals that were more
             salient among the interdependents. They also found that interdependent participants’ preference for
             the more conservative options was moderated by their desire to not deviate from the status quo. That
             is, when interdependent-primed participants were told that they had previously chosen the more
             risky mutual funds, they were more likely to stay with these investments—another demonstration
             of risk-averse behavior. In contrast, the preference of the independent participants was not affected
             by status quo information.
                 Briley and Wyer (2002) also found that those primed with an interdependent versus independent
             self-construal* were more likely to choose the compromise alternative (i.e., an option with moder-
             ate values on two different attributes) of a camera, a stereo set and a computer over the extreme
             options (i.e., options with a high value on one attribute and a low value on a second attribute). And
             when presented with the task of picking two pieces of candy, interdependent-primed participants
             were more likely to pick two different candies than two pieces of the same candy. To the extent that
             choosing the compromise alternative or picking one of each candy reduces the risk of social embar-
             rassment and post-choice regrets, these results provide further support that those with a dominant
             interdependent self-construal are more risk averse.
                 We note that contradictory results have also been documented in that those with an accessible
             interdependent self-construal were observed to be less risk-averse than those with an accessible
             independent self-construal. In particular, Hsee and Weber (1999) presented Chinese and Americans
             with options in three decision domains—financial (to invest money in a savings account or in stocks),
             academic (to write a term paper on a conservative topic so that the grade would be predictable, or to
             write the paper on a provocative topic so the grade could vary), and medical (to take a pain reliever
             with a moderate but sure effectiveness or one with a high variance of effectiveness). They found
             that while Chinese were more risk-averse in the academic and medical domains relative to their
             American counterparts, they were more risk-seeking than Americans in the financial domain. In a
             different series of studies, Mandel (2003) also reported that participants primed with an interdepen-
             dent (versus independent) self-construal were more likely to choose the safe (versus risky) option
             when making a decision about which shirt to wear to a family gathering, or when playing truth or
             dare. However, these same participants were more likely to choose the risky option when making
             financial decisions regarding a lottery ticket or a parking ticket.
             *   Briley and Wyer (2002) primed independent versus interdependent self-construal by telling participants that they would
                 be working individually or as a group (exp. 1–3) or by presenting participants (Chinese and American) with culturally
                 inconsistent versus consistent icons (exp. 4–6). Their results showed that American cultural icons primed an interdepen-
                 dent self-construal among the American participants but an independent self-construal among the Chinese participants.
                 These findings are particularly interesting because they highlight the fact that American cultural icons do not always
                 prime individualism; they may prime a group identity, which in turn makes salient an interdependent self-construal
                 among Americans.




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                 Thus, it seems that an interdependent self-construal is in general more risk-averse than an inde-
             pendent self-construal, and their corresponding regulatory orientation seems to be accountable for
             this difference (Hamilton & Biehal, 2005). However, an interdependent self-construal may be less
             risk-averse than an independent self-construal when financial decisions are involved. To account
             for these findings in the financial domain, Weber and Hsee (1998; 2000) propose that members of
             collectivist cultures can afford to take greater financial risks because their interdependent network
             serves as a cushion that protects them from financial downfall; that is, they have a larger support
             system than members of individualist cultures. Because members of collectivist cultures have this
             cushion, the options are perceived to be less risky. And the larger their social network, the bigger
             the cushion, and the less risky the options. Hence, they are more likely to choose the riskier options
             than those from individualist cultures. In support of this “cushion hypothesis,” Mandel (2003) found
             that the size of participants’ social network mediated the difference between independent and inter-
             dependent participants’ risk preferences.
                 In another study, Weber and Hsee (1998) asked American, German, Polish and Chinese partici-
             pants to evaluate the riskiness of a set of financial investment options and their willingness to pay
             for these options. They found that their Chinese participants gave the lowest riskiness ratings and
             paid the highest prices for the options, and the opposite was true for Americans. Once risk percep-
             tion was accounted for, the cross-cultural difference in risk aversion disappeared. This suggests that
             it is not the case that interdependents are less risk averse than independents—they simply perceive
             the same investment options as less risky (because they have a larger cushion) and hence would be
             more willing to invest in them.


             language and peRception
             A review of the literature also shows a convergence between the individualist and collectivist cul-
             tures and the distinct characteristics of a promotion versus prevention system in terms of perception
             and language use.
                More specifically, recent research shows that people’s cultural background (Maass, Karasawa,
             Politi, & Suga, 2006; Semin et al., 2002) has a similar effect on their language use as their regula-
             tory orientation (Semin et al. 2005). In particular, Semin et al. (2002) provide evidence that mem-
             bers from an individualist culture (Dutch) tend to use more abstract language such as adjectives,
             whereas members from a collectivist culture (Hindustani Surinamese) tend to use more concrete
             language such as action verbs when describing events. In a different study, Maass et al. (2006) show
             that members of an individualist culture (Italians) rely more on adjectives in a person description
             task whereas, members of a collectivist culture (Japanese) use more action verbs. To the extent that
             members of individualist cultures are likely to be promotion-oriented and members of collectivist
             cultures are likely to be prevention-oriented, these data are consistent with the findings that strategic
             approaches associated with a promotion orientation lead to more abstract language use, whereas
             strategic approaches associated with a prevention orientation lead to more concrete language use
             (Semin et al., 2005). For example, Semin et al. (2005) show that participants who were asked to
             write about promotion strategies (e.g., how to be a good friend in a close relationship) used more
             abstract language in their description than those asked to write about prevention strategies (e.g., how
             to not be a poor friend in a close relationship; Semin et al., 2005).
                More recent research on the influence of language on cognition further establishes the relation-
             ship between regulatory orientation, cultural differences and perceptual processes. In a series of
             studies, Stapel and Semin (2007) find that participants’ basic perceptual processes were systemati-
             cally influenced by abstract versus concrete language, in that those primed with abstract linguistic
             categories (e.g., adjectives) had a global perceptual focus, whereas whose primed with concrete cat-
             egories (e.g., action verbs) had a local perceptual focus. To illustrate, participants in one experiment
             were told they would be seeing a film “about the personality of chess pieces” (an abstract language
             prime) or a film “about the behaviors of chess pieces” (a concrete language prime), and their task




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             was to describe the film. Then participants were presented with a target object that was either a
             square or a triangle (global form) made up of smaller squares or triangles (specific form) and were
             asked to indicate whether the target object was more similar to a group of objects that matched its
             global shape or a group of objects that matched its local, specific shape. Participants who had been
             primed with the abstract language were more likely to match the object based on its global form,
             whereas those who had been primed with the concrete language were more likely to match the
             object based on its local form.
                 In a second experiment, participants were first given a sentence scrambling task that involved
             either adjectives (e.g., aggressive, friendly, humble) or action verbs (e.g., punch, help, swim).
             Participants who had been primed with adjectives (i.e., the abstract language prime) were more
             inclusive in a subsequent categorization task (which is indicative of more global, abstract process-
             ing) than those who had been primed with action verbs (i.e., the concrete language prime; for a more
             thorough discussion of these relationships, see the chapter by Semin in this volume).
                 This research reveals how the cognitive activation of different meta-semantic linguistic catego-
             ries can influence people’s perception of objects in a systematic manner and has important implica-
             tions for cross-cultural research. In particular, these findings suggest that those with a promotion
             orientation (such as members of an individualist culture) who tend to use more abstract language
             are more likely to engage in global processing, whereas those with a prevention orientation (such
             as members of a collectivist culture) who tend to use more concrete language are more likely to
             engage in local processing. Indeed, Förster and Higgins (2005; exp. 1) show that promotion strength
             is positively correlated with speed of global processing and negatively correlated with speed of local
             processing, as measured by the Navon (1977) task. Moreover, they report that the reverse is true
             for prevention strength. Thus, the findings reported by Stapel and Semin (2007) provide the bridge
             between the linguistic signatures of promotion and prevention orientations (Semin et al., 2005) and
             their associated processing differences (Förster & Higgins, 2005).
                 Taken together, these studies suggest that cultures that are more likely to use concrete language
             (e.g., Maass et al., 2006) are also more likely to attend to contextual (local) features of a stimulus rel-
             ative to cultures that use more abstract language (Stapel & Semin, 2007). Indeed, Kitayama, Duffy,
             Kawamura and Larsen (2003) report that Japanese participants were better than their American
             counterparts at a line drawing task that requires paying attention to more concrete, contextualized
             information, whereas American participants were better at a line drawing task that requires paying
             attention to more abstract, decontextualized information (see also, Stapel & Semin, 2007; exp. 3).
                 The convergent nature of the evidence across different studies using divergent paradigms sug-
             gests that the relationship between culture, regulatory orientation and people’s preferential use of
             linguistic forms and perceptual foci is a robust one. However, cross-cultural differences that appear
             to contradict predictions based on the convergences noted have also been reported. These contradic-
             tions emerge in the context of temporal perspectives that are associated with the individualist and
             collectivist cultures. We highlight these discrepancies in the next section and offer some potential
             explanations to resolve these apparent inconsistencies.


             the tempoRal paRadox
             Pennington and Roese (2003) have shown that a promotion orientation is associated with a dis-
             tant temporal perspective, whereas a prevention orientation is associated with a proximal temporal
             perspective. Consistent with these results, Förster and Higgins (2005) find that a promotion orien-
             tation facilitates global processing, whereas a prevention orientation enhances local processing.
             Drawing from construal level theory (Trope & Liberman, 2003), to the extent that independents
             are promotion-oriented and interdependents are prevention-oriented (Lee et al., 2000), one would
             expect independents (who are likely to be promotion-oriented and use abstract language) to have a
             distant temporal perspective and interdependents (who are likely to be prevention-oriented and use
             concrete language) to have a proximal temporal perspective.




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                 However, a distant temporal perspective for independents and a proximal temporal perspective
             for interdependents seem to contradict the more widely accepted belief that members of collectivist
             cultures adopt a longer-term perspective than their individualist counterparts. In fact, Hofstede has
             added long-term orientation as a fifth dimension on which individualist and collectivist cultures
             differ (Hofstede, 1980; Hofstede & Bond, 1988). More specifically, Eastern cultures that are more
             collectivistic are more likely than Western cultures to prescribe to the values of long-term commit-
             ments, which support the work ethic that long-term rewards are expected as a result of today’s hard
             work. In support of this view, Maddux and Yuki (2006) demonstrate that members of a collectivist
             culture are more likely to think that an event has more distal consequences than are members of an
             individualist culture. For example, their Japanese participants were more likely to hold the CEO of
             a company who fired his employees responsible for the increase in crime rate in the area two years
             later than their American participants.
                 How can this paradox be resolved?
                 As an exploratory first step to resolve these apparent contradictions, it may be important to
             distinguish between two types of temporal perspective: (1) the temporal construal of an event (i.e.,
             when an event is construed to take place in the future; Trope & Liberman, 2003), and (2) the tem-
             poral consequences of an event (i.e., for how long will the rewards be enjoyed and the consequences
             be felt; Hofstede, 1980). Our view is that interdependents’ temporal perspective—whether distal or
             proximal—depends on what their focus is. Their temporal perspective is likely to be distal if they
             are focusing on temporal consequences, but proximal if they are focusing on event construal.
                 More specifically, distinct self-construals with their corresponding regulatory goals should be
             the basis of different temporal construals of events across members from different cultures such that
             those with a dominant independent self-construal are more likely to construe events at a more dis-
             tant future than those with a dominant interdependent self-construal (Pennington & Roese, 2003).
             For the independents, their regulatory goal that emphasizes growth and achievement takes time to
             attain; hence, they are more likely to adopt a distant temporal construal. Their sensitivity to positive
             information also focuses their attention to the distant future (Eyal, Liberman, Trope, & Walther,
             2004). In contrast, for the interdependents, their regulatory orientation that emphasizes safety and
             security necessitates their keeping a close watch on their immediate surrounding environment; their
             inclination to be vigilant often prompts them to start planning and taking action sooner (Freitas,
             Liberman, Salovey, & Higgins, 2002); hence, they are more likely to adopt a proximal temporal con-
             strual. Their sensitivity to negative information also focuses their attention to the near future (Eyal
             et al., 2004). However, perceptions of the time at which an event occurs should be distinguished
             from the temporal duration of its consequences (i.e., the ripple effect; Maddux & Yuki, 2006). The
             propensity to recognize the interrelationships between people, objects and situations should prompt
             individuals with a dominant interdependent self-construal to perceive events to have far-reaching
             consequences. In contrast, the perception of people, objects and situations as discrete rather than
             intertwined should prompt individuals with an accessible independent self-construal to think that
             the consequences of events are relatively short-lived. Consistent with these conjectures, Lee and Lee
             (2005) observe that members of a collectivist culture (Koreans) are more likely to construe a future
             event to be temporally more proximal than are members of an individualist culture (Americans).
             However, when asked how long they anticipated the consequences would be felt (“how long do you
             anticipate the enthusiasm of the community to last?”), although interdependents construed the event
             to be taking place in the near future, they thought that the consequences of the event would last
             longer. In contrast, although independents construed the same event to be taking place in the distant
             future, they felt that the event was temporally less consequential.
                 Thus, in one sense, the inclination of independents to abstract events from the here and now
             and process them globally is what prompts them to detach themselves from the details of an event.
             When an event’s detail is obliterated, it becomes timeless and is situated further into the future.
             From a different perspective, the construal of the very same event by interdependents remains
             faithful to the situated detail and retains the concrete complexity of the event holistically. This then




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             Culture through the Lens of Self-Regulatory Orientations                                           299


             becomes a temporally persistent, consequential representation that has a longer temporal horizon
             during which details of the event continue to reverberate.
                Closely related to the temporal paradox are the inconsistent findings on the global versus local
             processing of information. Construal level theory (Trope & Liberman, 2003) posits that people
             construe distant future events more abstractly and near future events more concretely. Thus, inde-
             pendents, who are more likely to adopt a distant temporal construal, should process information at a
             more abstract, global level; whereas interdependents, who are more likely to adopt a near temporal
             construal, should process information at a more concrete, local level. However, while interdepen-
             dents have been observed to use more concrete language than independents (e.g., Maass et al.,
             2006), they have also been reported to be faster at processing global features than independents
             (Kühnen & Oyserman, 2002)—results that seem inconsistent with findings that concrete linguistic
             categories prime local versus global processing (Stapel & Semin, 2007).
                Our view is that the desire of interdependents to achieve and maintain relationship harmony
             within the group necessitates their minding the group as a whole (hence, more abstract, holistic
             processing at the global level) by paying attention to the details and the immediate environment
             (hence, more concrete, contextual processing at the local level). Indeed, although interdependent-
             primed participants in Kühnen and Oyserman’s (2002) study were faster than the independent-
             primed participants in identifying global features, they were able to identify local features with the
             same expediency as they could identify global features. Thus, one may argue that interdependents,
             while tending to local, contextual information, do not lose sight of the bigger picture.


             CONCLUSIONS
             In this chapter, we review the literature to highlight the differences between a collectivist and indi-
             vidualist culture through the lens of two fundamental motivational systems that are associated with
             the two cultures: whereas members of a collectivist culture are more likely to be guided by a pre-
             vention regulatory orientation, those of an individualist culture are more likely to be guided by a
             promotion regulatory orientation. We discuss cultural differences in terms of the values, attitude
             toward risk, affective responding, language use, perceptual processing, and temporal perspective
             that can be accounted for by the distinct regulatory orientations associated with the two cultures.
                 We also raise the issue about some apparent inconsistencies related to temporal perspectives
             based on cultural tendency (i.e., collectivist cultures are more long-term oriented, whereas individu-
             alist cultures are more short-term oriented; Hofstede and Bond 1988) versus regulatory orientation
             (i.e., a prevention orientation is associated with a near future perspective, and a promotion orienta-
             tion is associated with a distant future perspective; Pennington & Roese, 2003). And we propose
             how the inconsistency may be resolved. For those with an interdependent self-construal, their tend-
             ing to local, contextual information is the means to achieve their higher goal of preserving global
             harmony; and their paying attention to the immediate environment and near future is the means to
             ensure long term prosperity. In this light, whether interdependents process globally or locally or
             they have a distant or near future perspective relative to independents should depend on the extent
             to which the relationship matters. The important difference to note is that those with an indepen-
             dent self-construal celebrate individual success more than group achievements, and those with an
             interdependent self-construal value group achievements more than individual success. The way they
             process information and construe events reflects how they view themselves and the world around
             them and is consistent with the values and goals they uphold.


             ACKNOWLEDGMENT
             The writing of this chapter was in part facilitated by grant ISK/4583/PAH from the Royal Netherlands
             Academy of Arts and Sciences awarded to the second author.




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