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Culture, Context, and Behavior


  • I thank Michael Bond, Walt Lonner, Noriko Nakagawa, Maureen O'Sullivan, Susumu Yamaguchi, Seung Hee Yoo, Brent Roberts, and Ken Sheldon for their valuable comments on a previous draft of this article. I also thank Shannon Pacaoa, Dustin Cantrell, Victoriya Tebeleva, Aaron Estrada, Janice Cheng, and Phuong Thai for their assistance in the general laboratory program.

concerning this article should be addressed to David Matsumoto, Department of Psychology, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA, 94132. E-mail:


ABSTRACT In this article I propose a model that posits three major sources of influence on behavior—basic human nature (via universal psychological processes), culture (via social roles), and personality (via individual role identities) and argue that individual behaviors are the products of the interaction between the three. I discuss how culture emerges from the interaction of basic human nature and the ecological contexts in which groups exist, and how social roles are determined by culture-specific psychological meanings attributed to situational contexts. The model further suggests that situational context moderates the relative contributions of the three sources in influencing behavior. I provide examples of apparent contradictory findings in the study of emotion that can be explained by the model proposed.