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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2012 Mar;38(3):331-44. doi: 10.1177/0146167211427148. Epub 2011 Dec 5.

Unraveling the mystery of Brazilian jeitinho: a cultural exploration of social norms.

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  • 1Salgado de Oliveira University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Two studies explore the structure and psychological makeup of jeitinho, a Brazilian indigenous construct associated with problem-solving strategies in strong hierarchies. Study 1 used a scenario approach with nonstudent participants and demonstrated that jeitinho can be described by a three-dimensional structure: corruption, creativity, and social norm breaking. Study 2 used individual and social norm scenarios in nonstudent samples and demonstrated that moral leniency is associated with more corruption and social norm breaking. Furthermore, only in the personal but not the social norm condition was greater social dominance orientation associated with more corruption and social norm breaking. Jeitinho is not a monolitical construct, but it is a complex sociocultural strategy that has distinct functional components at the personal and normative levels. Theoretical advances in the understanding of social norms and indigenous psychology by examining both culture-specific and general social-psychological processes are outlined.

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