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Refining Lewin's formula: A general model for explaining situational influence on individual social behavior

Authors

  • Michael Harris Bond

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    • Department of Management and Marketing, Faculty of Business, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Hong Kong S.A.R., China
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Correspondence: Michael Harris Bond, Department of Management and Marketing, Faculty of Business, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Hong Kong S.A.R., China. Email: ssmhb@polyu.edu.hk

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to develop a model for individual social behavior, B, that incorporates the contributions of both the personality of the actor, P, and the relevant features of the situation, S, in which he or she is performing. In analyzing the original formula by Lewin, viz., B = f(P.S), the paper first considers the importance accorded the situation in previous theorizing about ‘Asianness’. It then analyzes the contributions of the actor's personality, noting in particular that actors come to develop broad expectancies for situational outcomes, P(S), associated with situations they encounter. Those situations are glossed for social psychological purposes in terms of their affordances for potential yields relative to the actor's motivations for sociality and status. These situational affordances are defined by the normative prescriptions believed to be operative in that situation for acceptable enactments of behaviors aimed at attaining the actor's goals for sociality and status. That normative pressure is objective, though it may be judged by the actor, and is termed the O(S) component of the situation. It is held with some degree of consensus, CO(S), by others in, or observers of, the situation. These two components specify the ‘strength’ of the situation for social psychological purposes, yielding an elaborated Lewinian formula B = f(P.P[S].O[S].CO[S]). The culture of the participants, national, organizational, familial or dyadic, will determine the beta weights linking the components of the formula.

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