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Cultural variation in the use of current life satisfaction in future outlook

Authors Oishi, Shigehiro
Wyer, Robert S.
Colcombe, Stanley
Issue Date 1998-09
Summary Three studies examined both cultural and situational influences on the tendency for people to use their current life satisfaction to predict future life events. Other cross-cultural studies have demonstrated that persons with individualistic cultural backgrounds typically attribute their own success or other's failure to internal, stable factors, whereas persons with collectivistic cultural backgrounds tend to attribute such events to situational, unstable factors. Based on this finding, we predicted that either writing about a positive experience of their own or reading about the negative experience of another would lead European Americans to think about life as stable, and thus lead them to use their current life satisfaction as a heuristic for predicting the future. However, we predicted that these same conditions would lead Asian Americans to think about life as unstable, and therefore would decrease their likelihood of using their current life satisfaction as a basis for predictions. Experiments 1 and 2 supported these hypotheses. Furthermore, Experiment 3 confirmed the hypotheses under conditions in which participants' collectivist or individualist orientation was experimentally manipulated.
Language English
Format Working paper
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