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Feeling badly makes us more who we are: negative affect strengthens culturally consistent self-construals

Author: Maddux, William W. ; Ashton-James, Claire E. ; Galinsky, Adam D. ; Chartrand, Tanya L.INSEAD Area: Organisational Behaviour Series: Working Paper ; 2007/53/OB Publisher: Fontainebleau : INSEAD, 2007.Language: EnglishDescription: 28 p.Type of document: INSEAD Working PaperAbstract: Research suggests that negative affect triggers a variety of cognitive and behavioral responses designed to re-affirm and strengthen one's sense of self. In the current research, four studies explored the hypothesis that negative affect would also intensify the expression of cultureconsistent self-construals. Using an implicit measure of self-construal (proximity seeking), Study 1 revealed that Western participants sat farther from a stranger when in a negative than a positive affective state. Study 2 found that the self-reported self-construals of Western participants became more independent when experiencing negative affect. Study 3 induced affect implicitly and demonstrated that participants' cultural background moderated the effect of affect of self-construals: The self-construals of Western participants became significantly more independent, but the self-construals of East Asian participants became significantly more interdependent when experiencing negative affect. Finally, Study 4 replicated this cultural difference using an implicit measure of self-construal. Implications for the interplay between affect, self-construal, and culture are discussed.
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INSEAD Working Paper Asia Campus
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Print Available BC007994
INSEAD Working Paper Europe Campus
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Print Available BC007993
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Research suggests that negative affect triggers a variety of cognitive and behavioral responses designed to re-affirm and strengthen one's sense of self. In the current research, four studies explored the hypothesis that negative affect would also intensify the expression of cultureconsistent self-construals. Using an implicit measure of self-construal (proximity seeking), Study 1 revealed that Western participants sat farther from a stranger when in a negative than a positive affective state. Study 2 found that the self-reported self-construals of Western participants became more independent when experiencing negative affect. Study 3 induced affect implicitly and demonstrated that participants' cultural background moderated the effect of affect of self-construals: The self-construals of Western participants became significantly more independent, but the self-construals of East Asian participants became significantly more interdependent when experiencing negative affect. Finally, Study 4 replicated this cultural difference using an implicit measure of self-construal. Implications for the interplay between affect, self-construal, and culture are discussed.

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