Self-perception study: Cultural Differences in identity Perspectives

2011 - present

supervisor: Dr. Scott Eidelman

Who Do You See in a Mirror? Cultural Differences in Identity Perspectives


Self-categorization theory explains that our process of self-relevant information is more context-dependent rather than a reflection of our self-schema. This theory proposes two types of identities (a personal identity and a social identity), and a salience of the identity can void the effect of self-schema. Those two identities are thought to show antagonism, but because the levels of both identities vary depending on the population and on the degree of self-awareness, the hypothesis is questionable. The current study focuses on different characteristics between an individualistic culture (the U.S.) and a collectivistic culture (Japan) in order to test the validity of antagonism. The experiment is conducted via the Internet using a carefully designed computer mediated communication (CMC) to deal with the minority ethnicity effect and a false identity construction. The result showed that in a self-focused condition with a web-cam, American participants decreased the social identity; conversely, Japanese participants increased the social identity. This contrast successfully showed the cultural differences in identity perspectives. However, unlike many past studies with a mirror, both American and Japanese participants decreased the personal identity in the condition with a web-cam. The implication and future research will be discussed in this paper.