Experimentally Detecting How Cultural Differences on Social Anxiety Measures Misrepresent Cultural Differences in Emotional Well-being

Norasakkunkit, Vinai; Kalick, S.
June 2009
Journal of Happiness Studies;Jun2009, Vol. 10 Issue 3, p313
Academic Journal
Previous research, statistically accounting for self-construal factors and thereby eliminating widely reported culture main effects in social anxiety scores between East Asians and European-Americans (Norasakkunkit and Kalick Culture, ethnicity, and emotional distress measures: The role of self-construal and self-enhancement. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 33(1), 56–70.) suggested that social anxiety measures penalize individuals for being low on independent self-construal; therefore, cultural differences in emotional distress according to social anxiety measures may possibly misrepresent cultural differences in emotional well-being. In the current experimental study, 127 Japanese and 126 American participants were either primed or not primed to access an independent mode of thought prior to filling out two commonly used measures of social anxiety and a measure of emotional well-being. Independent priming caused social anxiety scores to decrease. Yet, independent priming did not influence levels of self-reported emotional well-being. Furthermore, although the Japanese respondents were shown to be more distressed according to both of the standardized social anxiety measures, this finding was actually reversed with respect to self-reported emotional well-being. The evidence thus points to high scores on measurements of social anxiety being directly and causally linked to low levels of independence, while no link was found between independence and emotional well-being.


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