Culture, Public Appearances, and Threat Perception in Competitions
Lee, Kai Chung
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The present research examined cultural differences between Euro-Canadians and Chinese in threat perception in competitive settings. Based on past cultural psychological research on self and thinking, we predicted that, compared to Chinese, Euro-Canadians would perceive greater correspondence between public appearances and reality – inferring an opponent as competent and threatening if he or she appears competent. As predicted, Euro Canadians perceived greater threat than did Chinese in an opponent who appeared competent or domineering, whereas Chinese perceived greater threat than Euro Canadians in an opponent who appeared non-distinct or ordinary (Studies 1 to 4). Consistent with my predictions, these cultural differences were partially mediated by perceived unpredictability associated with different appearances (Study 3) and fully mediated by the more general beliefs that appearances can be unreliable reflections of reality (Study 4). The results have important implications for judgment and decision making in competitions.