Contextualized self: When the self runs into social dilemmas

International Journal of Psychology, Vol. 44, No. 6, pg. 451-458, 2009.

Chang-Jiang Liu, Shu Li
 
Research on the construction of self and of others has indicated that the way that individuals construe themselves and others exerts an important influence on their cognition, emotion, and even behavior. The present study extends this line of research to mixed-motive situations in which short-term individual and long-term collective interests are at odds. In addition, this study associates the importance of context interdependence, and specifically its interaction with independent self-construal, with an individual's cooperative behavior. We used a priming task to manipulate the level of self-construal and also manipulated the degree of interdependent context by giving participants a chance to assign rewards either to their group members or to themselves alone. The results showed that when participants received interdependent (as opposed to independent) self-construal priming, they consistently contributed highly, regardless of context manipulation. In contrast, those primed with an independent self-construal contributed less in the investment game, but only when placed in a context where group members were encouraged to think about their individual (versus mutual) fate. In this situation they contributed the least to the group in the game. These findings indicate that independent self-construal in a low interdependence context produces the most competitive behavior. The results also showed that how participants felt about their interaction with other group members mediated the effect of context interdependence on cooperative behavior, and possibly that was especially the case for independent self-construal. The results demonstrate that the self can be contextualized and embedded in the social contexts and symbolic systems within which people live.

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(Something interesting I found)Posted:Dec 01 2009, 12:00 AM by nick stock
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