We examine the claim that Indians are more likely than Americans to act deferentially in the presence of authority figures and explore 2 possible psychological mechanisms for this cultural difference: introjected goals and injunctive norms. Studies 1 and 2 showed that after reflecting upon an authority's expectations, Indians were more likely than Americans to make clothing and course choices consistent with the authority's expectations, but there was no such cultural difference for peers' expectations. Study 3 showed that merely activating the concept of authority figures, without highlighting specific expectations, was sufficient to influence Indians' choices but not their evaluations. Examining a more basic distinction underlying introjected goals versus injunctive norms, Study 4 showed that authority primes influenced Indians' sense of what they should do but not what they want to do. Study 5 showed that, inconsistent with the internalized goal mechanism, the effect of explicit authority primes did not increase after brief delays. However, Indian participants who were less likely to accommodate to the salient authority experienced more guilt across delay conditions, which supported the injunctive norms mechanism. The findings suggest that manipulating injunctive norms can be an effective means for inducing or eliminating deferential behaviors in Indian settings.
K. Savani, Michael Morris, and N.V.R. Naidu
Journal Article
Publication Date
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Full Citation

Savani, K., Michael Morris, and N.V.R. Naidu
. “Deference in Indians' decision making: Introjected goals or injunctive norms?”
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
, (April 01, 2012):