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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2001 Oct;81(4):599-615.

Divergent consequences of success and failure in japan and north america: an investigation of self-improving motivations and malleable selves.

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Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Self-enhancing and self-improving motivations were investigated across cultures. Replicating past research, North Americans who failed on a task persisted less on a follow-up task than those who succeeded. In contrast, Japanese who failed persisted more than those who succeeded. The Japanese pattern is evidence for a self-improving orientation: Failures highlight where corrective efforts are needed. Japanese who failed also enhanced the importance and the diagnosticity of the task compared with those who succeeded, whereas North Americans did the opposite. Study 2 revealed that self-improving motivations are specific to the tasks on which one receives feedback. Study 3 unpackaged the cultural differences by demonstrating that they are due, at least in part, to divergent lay theories regarding the utility of effort. Study 4 addressed the problem of comparing cultures on subjective Likert scales and replicated the findings with a different measure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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