This study examines the differences between individualism in American culture and collectivism in Eastern cultures. The researchers designed four studies, using abstract figures, pens and advertising and participants from both cultures. In their first study they used Eastern Asians who may have been influenced by living in the USA, so the second study used participants who were living in Korea.
The researchers expected that East Asians would show a preference for conformity and Americans would show a preference for uniqueness, and they found this in the four studies. In the first study, they used abstract figures and although they found the patterns to be consistent with the American cultural emphasis on uniqueness, the found the Asian-American participants to be more neutral than they expected, so the study was replicated using East Asians, who hadn’t spent so much time in the USA.
After the first two studies that related to preferences with abstract figures, they then designed an experiment using the choice of pens, to examine how these preferences converted into action. Although they suggest that the results showed that each cultural value was consistent with what the individuals picked, they were not the same group of participants, which could have an impact on the results.
I wonder if it would have been the same if they had used the same group of participants.
Although most would probably agree that the formation of the most simple preferences is heavily influenced by culture, I wonder if these studies could really be considered to be an effective way of showing that.