CULTURAL VARIATION IN GRATITUDE DEMONSTRATIONS AND PERCEPTIONS BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND TAIWAN Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
Creator
  • Chang, Yen-Ping
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
Abstract
  • Linking two well-developed yet rarely conversing bodies of literature, I propose a general cultural paradigm for testing the functions of emotions. Taking gratitude for example, I predicted that, for gratitude to function, people in Confucius cultures would use self-improvement (cultivating personal skills and living up to social roles) to communicate gratitude, whereas people in individualist cultures would use bodily contact instead. Indeed, although both Taiwanese (Confucius) and American (individualist) participants communicated gratitude by verbal acknowledgment and reciprocating kindness (Study 1 & 2), they spontaneously demonstrated their respective cultural behaviors when being asked to thank someone they chose (Study 1), deliberately listed down such behaviors as their everyday gratitude demonstration strategies more than did the other group (Study 1), and reported applying their cultural behaviors but not those of the other culture similarly to applying non-cultural demonstrations of gratitude (acknowledgment and reciprocity; Study 2). Extending to the perception side of dyadic communication, I further presented participants with manipulated gratitude demonstrations that conveyed the intent of either reciprocity, bodily contact, or self-improvement, and found that Americans perceived gratitude in bodily contact (v. self-improvement) as in reciprocity, whereas the Taiwanese sensed gratitude in self-improvement (v. bodily contact) as in reciprocity (Study 3). Together, this research deconfounds gratitude’s underlying relational function from its ostensible manifestations, bolstering its function over specific behavioral manifestations. The research, therefore, demonstrates the utility of studying culture to further functionalist emotion theories; I also developed and demonstrate a new method for de-biasing cross-cultural comparisons along the way.
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Advisor
  • Youngstrom, Eric
  • Sheeran, Paschal
  • Algoe, Sara
  • Fredrickson, Barbara
  • Payne, Brian
Degree
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2019
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