ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 53 ›› Issue (11): 1244-1259.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2021.01244

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The influence of culture on wise reasoning in the context of self-friend conflict and its mechanism

WEI Xindong1, WANG Fengyan2,3   

  1. 1School of Teacher Education, Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Nanjing 210044, China;
    2School of Psychology, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210097, China;
    3Institute of Moral Education Research, Nanjing Normal University; Nanjing 210097, China
  • Received:2020-10-09 Published:2021-11-25 Online:2021-09-23

Abstract: Wisdom involves certain types of pragmatic reasoning to navigate challenges in social life. Scholars presented aspects of wise reasoning that include perspective taking, consideration of change and alternatives, intellectual humility, search for compromise, and adopting an outsider’s vantage point. Researchers have found that most WEIRD (western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic) people can reason more wisely about friends’ social problems than their own (i.e., Solomon’s paradox). However, it is not clear whether Solomon’s paradox will exhibit different characteristics and mechanisms among Chinese people who are mainly interdependent selves. We hypothesized that 1) Americans endorsed greater wise-reasoning strategies in the friend-conflict condition than in the self-conflict condition, while among Chinese, endorsement of wise-reasoning strategies did not differ between the two conditions; 2) People with independent self exhibited greater wise reasoning in the friend-conflict condition than in the self-conflict condition, whereas people with interdependent self didn’t have significant differences between the two conditions.
In study 1, we recruited 594 American participants from MTurk and 610 Chinese participants from a Chinese survey platform to participate in “a survey of daily life”. Participants who responded less attentiveness to the study was excluded. The final sample consisted of 282 American participants (125 females, 155 males 2 with unreported gender; M = 36.87 y, SD = 11.04; 218 Whites, 21 African Americans, 27 Asian, 13 Latino, and 3 other) and 295 Chinese participants (151 females, 144 males; M = 23.22 y, SD = 4.34). Participants were randomly assigned to either self-conflict or friend-conflict conditions. They were asked to think about a close relationship that was currently not going very well, and then responded to the wise-reasoning scale and self-construal scale. The results using the alignment and ANOVA both showed that Americans reason more wisely about friend’s interpersonal conflict than about their own, while the Chinese didn’t have significant differences between the two conditions. Moreover, the interaction effect of independent self and conflict type on wise reasoning was significantly positive in Chinese culture. Among participants high in independent self, endorsement of wise-reasoning strategies was greater in the other-conflict condition than in the self-conflict condition (β = 0.21, t(287) = 2.48, p = 0.014), whereas among participants low in independent self, endorsement of wise-reasoning strategies did not differ between the two conditions (β = -0.07, t(287) = -0.81, p = 0.419). In study 2 (n = 710) and 3 (n = 537), we created a 2 (priming independent vs. interdependent self-construal) × 2 (self-conflict vs. friend-conflict) between-subjects design online and in study 4 (n = 200), we created same design in lab. The results all showed that independent participants reason more wisely about friend’s conflict than about their own, while the differences between the conditions were not significant among interdependent participants.
The results from the two studies indicate that Solomon’s paradox is not universal and may only exist in individuals with high independent self. This study also suggests that we should not only focus on the WEIRD samples but also pay attention to the WEIRD researchers who use these samples to make inferences about humans in general.

Key words: wisdom, self, wise reasoning, cultural difference, alignment

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