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Self-Enhancement and Self-Effacement in Reaction to Praise and Criticism: The Case of Multiethnic Youth



Abstract We conducted research on the independent and interdependent self which points to cultural differences in self-enhancing versus self-effacing perspectives. We investigated members of multiethnic, high school, girls' sports teams and their tendencies to interpret praise or criticism in a self-effacing or self-enhancing manner. Our analysis is in the spirit of Bruner's conceptualization of narrative as cultural interpretation. This investigation differs from other studies on the independent and interdependent self in several respects: (1) it is naturalistic; (2) it focuses on ethnic differences within a multicultural society, rather than on cross-national comparison; (3) primary data sources are qualitative (ethnography, journals); (4) we analyzed cultural perspectives of researchers and participants; and (5) its focus is on adolescence. Euro-American and African American participants shared a more self-enhancing perspective, while Asian American and Latina participants shared a more self-effacing perspective. Differing cultural perspectives produced conflict when participants were faced with contrasting interpretations of praise and criticism. [individualism, independence, collectivism, interdependence, sport, adolescence]

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