Culture influences prosociality through ideal affect match
- Why do people share with strangers? We propose that people give, trust, and lend more to those whose emotional expressions match how they ideally want to feel ("ideal affect match"), and that cultural differences in ideal affect might account for cultural differences in prosocial decisions. Specifically, we hypothesized that European Americans would share more with excited vs. calm recipients, whereas Koreans and other East Asians would share more with calm vs. excited recipients in part because European American culture values excitement and other high arousal positive states more and low arousal positive states less than Korean and other East Asian cultures. We tested this hypothesis in five studies. In Studies 1-2, European Americans and Koreans played multiple trials of the Dictator Game with recipients who varied in emotional expression (excited, calm), race (White, Asian), and sex (male, female). Consistent with their culture's valued affect, European Americans perceived excited recipients as more trustworthy, and gave more to excited recipients than calm recipients. In contrast, Koreans perceived calm recipients as more trustworthy, and gave more to calm recipients than excited recipients. These findings held regardless of recipient race and sex. The degree to which European Americans vs. Koreans wanted to feel high-arousal positive states (HAP) vs. low-arousal positive states (LAP) accounted for their giving decisions. In Study 3, we used fMRI to probe potential affective and mentalizing mechanisms underlying these results. Increased activity in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc; associated with reward anticipation) predicted giving, as did decreased activity in the right temporo-parietal junction (rTPJ; associated with reduced belief prediction error). Ideal affect match decreased rTPJ activity, suggesting that people may give more to strangers whom they perceive to share their affective values. In Study 4, we tested whether these effects would be generalized into a different type of prosocial decision. European Americans and Koreans played multiple trials of the Trust Game with trustees who varied in emotional expression, race, and sex. Again, European Americans valued HAP more than Koreans, which led them to trust excited (vs. calm) trustees more, and to expect greater reciprocation from excited (vs. calm) trustees, compared to their Korean counterparts. In contrast, Koreans trusted calm trustees more and expected calm trustees to reciprocate more than excited trustees. Again, trustees' race and sex did not alter these results. In Study 5, we investigated whether these differences emerge in a naturally occurring situation by examining real borrowers' loan requests in a web-based microfinance platform (Kiva; www.kiva.org). Consistent with previous findings, borrowers who presented greater positive arousal in their photos to request loans were more likely to be supported by lenders whose cultures valued HAP more and LAP less. Together, these findings advance our understanding of the cultural factors that drive prosocial decisions. Specifically, the sense of shared affective values promotes greater prosociality, above and beyond other less-malleable factors such as race and sex. These findings deepen our understanding of how emotional factors, particularly emotional ideals fostered in different cultural contexts, influence prosocial decisions. Further, this research demonstrates the channels through which culture and emotion jointly shape individuals' decisions. This research can lay the foundation to improve communication between people with different cultural backgrounds and increase interpersonal and intergroup harmony in today's global society.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Park, Bo Kyung
|Stanford University, Department of Psychology.
|Tsai, Jeanne Ling
|Tsai, Jeanne Ling
|Markus, Hazel Rose
|Markus, Hazel Rose
|Statement of responsibility
|Bo Kyung Park (Bokyung Park).
|Submitted to the Department of Psychology.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2017.
- © 2017 by Bo Kyung Park
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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