The paper is based on Lotte Thomsen's MA theses at the University of Copenhagen and at the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development and Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles. It was presented in part at the Society for Cross-Cultural Research meeting in Santa Fe, 2001, the Society for Cross-Cultural Psychology meeting in Budapest, 2003 and the Society for Psychological Anthropology Biannual Meeting in San Diego, 2003.
Interpersonal leveling, independence, and self-enhancement: a comparison between Denmark and the US, and a relational practice framework for cultural psychology†
Version of Record online: 23 AUG 2006
Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
European Journal of Social Psychology
Volume 37, Issue 3, pages 445–469, May/June 2007
How to Cite
Thomsen, L., Sidanius, J. and Fiske, A. P. (2007), Interpersonal leveling, independence, and self-enhancement: a comparison between Denmark and the US, and a relational practice framework for cultural psychology. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 37: 445–469. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.366
- Issue online: 25 APR 2007
- Version of Record online: 23 AUG 2006
- Manuscript Accepted: 1 APR 2006
- Manuscript Received: 14 APR 2005
- Foundation for Psychocultural Research/University of California Los Angeles Center for Culture, Brain, and Development
- Fulbright Scholarship
- National Danish Research Agency
We argue that the relational model that people use for organizing specific social interactions in any culture determines whether people self-enhance. Self-enhancement is not a functional consequence of the (independent or interdependent) cultural model of self. Across three studies, Danes self-enhanced considerably less than did Americans but were more independent on the Twenty Statements Test, made more individual attributions about social life, made more autonomous scenario choices, and were more independent on the self-construal scale. Public modesty did not account for these Danish-American differences in self-enhancement. However, Danes practiced interpersonal leveling, preferring equality of outcome more than did Americans. This leveling strongly and inversely predicted self-enhancement within both cultures and mediated Danish-American differences in self-enhancement. In contrast, no independence measure systematically predicted self-enhancement within both cultures nor mediated the cultural differences in self-enhancement. This dissociation of independence and self-enhancement demonstrates that self-enhancing downward social comparisons are not functionally necessary for an independent concept of self. We conclude that social relationships, not the model of the self, mediate the mutual constitution of psyche and culture. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.