The authors argue that cultures differ in implicit theories of individuals and groups. North Americans conceive of individual persons as free agents, whereas East Asians conceptualize them as constrained and as less agentic than social collectives. Hence, East Asian perceivers were expected to be more likely than North Americans to focus on and attribute causality to dispositions of collectives. In Study 1 newspaper articles about "rogue trader" scandals were analyzed, and it was found that U.S. papers made more mention of the individual trader involved, whereas Japanese papers referred more to the organization. Study 2 replicated this pattern among U.S. and Hong Kong participants who responded to a vignette about a maladjusted team member. Study 3 revealed the same pattern with respect to individual and group dispositionism using a different design that compared attributions for an act performed by an individual in one condition and by a group in the other condition.

Tanya Menon, Michael Morris, Chi-Yue Chiu, and Ying-Yi Hong
Journal Article
Publication Date
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Full Citation

Menon, Tanya, Michael Morris, Chi-Yue Chiu, and Ying-Yi Hong
. “Culture and the construal of agency: Attribution to individual versus group dispositions.”
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
, (January 01, 1999):