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Modesty in self-presentation: A comparison between the USA and Japan


Toshio Yamagishi, Department of Behavioral Science, Hokkaido University, N10 W7, Kita-ku, Sapporo, Japan, 060-810. Email:


Japanese participants in Study 1 exhibited a self-effacing tendency when no reason for their self-evaluation was provided. However, they exhibited a self-enhancing tendency when they were offered a monetary reward for the correct evaluation. In Study 2, Americans, especially American men, exhibited a self-enhancing tendency whereas Japanese exhibited a self-effacing tendency when no reason for making the evaluation was presented. This cultural difference disappeared when participants were provided with a monetary reward for correctly evaluating their performance level. These results support the view that the modesty observed in self-evaluation among Japanese participants is a ‘default strategy’ to avoid offending others.