Prior research demonstrates that members of collectivistic cultures are less likely to reduce cognitive dissonance after making a choice, compared to members of individualistic cultures. This difference has been attributed to different conceptualizations of choice that derive from different self-construals across cultures. In individualistic cultures, choice leads to stronger commitment to the chosen option compared to collectivistic cultures, because it implicates core aspects of the independent self, such as personal preferences. However, this cultural variation in postchoice dissonance has thus far been studied exclusively by comparing East Asians and North Americans. Building on the assumption that this difference is due to different construals of the self, we conducted an experiment with movie choices using the classic free-choice paradigm to examine differences in dissonance reduction between Western and Eastern Europeans, two populations known to differ with respect to interdependence. The results show that Eastern Europeans are less likely than Western Europeans to reduce postchoice dissonance by spreading their alternatives. Our findings speak to the generalizability of the hypothesis that in cultures differing in independence or interdependence people also differ in the way they construe choice, as well as in the way the act of choosing affects their self-concept.
- Western and Eastern Europe