Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Interdependent behavior facilitated by independent behavior?

Hamedani et al. , who end up suggesting that it may be necessary to invoke independent behaviors in order to successfully motivate interdependence, start their article with a Quote:

"Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes . . . And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great." "—U.S. president Barack Obama, State of the Union address, January 24, 2012 "
They then outline the context for their study on factors that influence the kinds of interdependent behavior needed to face problems common to all people, such as the environmental crisis. They:
...compared European Americans, who have been exposed primarily to mainstream cultural contexts that promote and value independence, with East Asian Americans, who have been exposed both to these contexts and also to cultural contexts that promote and value interdependence. Asian Americans are considered bicultural because they are exposed not only to mainstream American contexts that foster independent behavior (e.g., in schools and workplaces), but also to East Asian contexts that foster interdependent behavior (e.g., in families and communities)...This European American/Asian American cultural contrast allowed us to examine whether independence necessarily functions as a barrier to interdependent awareness and action. Comparing two American groups who are similar in their exposure to independence but different in their exposure to interdependence enabled us to test the theory that interdependence may undermine motivation because of a lack of exposure to cultural contexts that promote and value it as a normatively “good” style of behavior.1 Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that invoking interdependent behavior, compared with invoking independent behavior, would undermine motivation for European Americans but not for bicultural Asian Americans.
Here is their 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. Two studies demonstrated that priming interdependent rather than independent action undermined European Americans’ motivation to perform challenging mental and physical tasks. A third study 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.

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