Special Session Summary New Directions in Cultural Psychology: the Effects of Cultural Orientation on Affect and Cognition

Jennifer L. Aaker, UCLA
Durairaj Maheswaran, New York University
[ to cite ]:
Jennifer L. Aaker and Durairaj Maheswaran (1997) ,"Special Session Summary New Directions in Cultural Psychology: the Effects of Cultural Orientation on Affect and Cognition", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 24, eds. Merrie Brucks and Deborah J. MacInnis, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 244.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 24, 1997      Page 244



Jennifer L. Aaker, UCLA

Durairaj Maheswaran, New York University


The cultural variable, individualism-collectivism, has received an increasing amount of attention in cultural psychology. Briefly, individualism-collectivism refers to the differences in the construal of the self, others and the interdependence of the two (e.g., Cousins 1989; Markus and Kitayama 1991; Triandis 1989). Individualism refers to the view of the self as independent, while collectivism refers to the view of the self as interdependent. Due to these differences in self-construal, members of individualist vs. collectivist cultures tend to exhibit different perceptions of the in-group vs. out-group (e.g., Triandis 1989), patterns of emotions (e.g., Matsumoto 1989), value systems (e.g., Schwartz and Bilsky 1990), and attributional styles (e.g., Morris and Peng 1994).

However, despite the increase in research on individualism-collectivism, limited research has addressed how these cultural differences affect consumer information processing (Aaker and Maheswaran), the structure of emotions (Bagozzi, Wong and Yi) and advertising effectiveness (Shavitt, Nelson and Yuan). In this collaboration, these three areas was examined through three different methodologies. Aaker and Maheswaran focused on an experimental design in which motivation, consensus information, attribute information are manipulated and hypotheses are tested via an ANOVA and regression analysis. Bagozzi, Wong and Yi explored the structure of emotions through survey analysis and test the structure through exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. Shavitt, Nelson and Yuan examined the differences in cognitive responses to advertisements and test their hypotheses through ANOVA and correlational analysis. Finally, in order to provide a diverse yet synergistic perspective, the three papers explored the effects outlined above in distinct collectivist cultures: Hong Kong (Aaker and Maheswaran), Korea and Chinese (Bagozzi, Wong and Yi) and Taiwan (Shavitt, Nelson and Yuan), while focusing on the United States as an individualist culture.


First, Aaker and Maheswaran examined whether culural differences in persuasive effects are a function of processing differences or perceptual differences in cue diagnosticity. In two experiments, the impact of motivation, congruity of persuasive communication and the diagnosticity of heuristic cues on the processing strategies and product evaluations of members of a collectivist culture were compared with findings documented in past research in individualist cultures. This research supports the view that perceptual differences in cue diagnosticity account for systematic differences in persuasive effects across cultures. It is also suggested that existing theoretical frameworks, specifically the dual process models of persuasion, are robust across cultures and can help predict and explain cultural differences.

Second, Bagozzi, Wong and Yi focused on the similarities and differences in the structure of emotions across cultures. Through measuring the emotions of people from three cultures, Chinese from Beijing (n=210), Koreans from Seoul (n=122) and Americans from Ann Arbor (n=300), the authors found a three-factor affect-positive, affect-negative, and affect-interpersonal attraction structure. In addition, differences in the intercorrelation and levels of emotions were found. These differences were interpreted from theories on the self-concept and the influence of culture. Other issues addressed included the within-culture structure of emotions, the independence or interdependence of positive and negative affect, and cross-cultural and cross gender similarities and differences in the structure and level of emotions.

Third, Shavitt, Nelson and Yuan examined differences in cognitive response content across two cultures: the United States (individualist culture) and Taiwan (collectivist culture). The types of thoughts that subjects tended to list and the types of thoughts that were the most predictive of brand attitudes varied with cultural orientation. Whereas the U.S. subjects’ thoughts focused more on product-related claims in the ads, Taiwanese subjects were more persuaded by their "ad evaluation" thoughts about the appropriateness of the ads than by their product thoughts. These findings suggest that persuasion may be mediated by different cognitive processes across cultures.

In closing, the contribution of this session was to advance cultural research in three substantive domains: persuasion, emotions and advertising effectiveness.


To synthesize the three pieces of research and to highlight areas for future research, Bernd Schmitt commented on where cross-cultural research is progressing in both consumer behavior and psychology.