The Closing of the American Mind Versus the Closing of the Chinese Mind: The Impact of Need for Cognitive Closure on Social Attribution Varies Across Cultures as a Function of Implicit Theories

By Michael W. MorrisChi-yue ChiuYing-yi HongTanya Menon
1998| Working Paper No. 1537

We propose that need for closure (NFC) leads attributors to respond to an ambiguous social stimulus by increasing reliance on implicit theories received from acculturation. Hence, the influence of NFC should be shaped by the knowledge structures in a culture, and, likewise, the influence of culture should be moderated by epistemic motives such as NFC. Our specific hypotheses drew on past findings that N. American and Chinese attributors posses differing implicit social theories, N. Americans conceiving of individuals as autonomous agents and Chinese conceiving of groups as autonomous. In the current studies we found the predicted pattern that among N. American participants NFC increased attributions to personal but not group dispositions whereas, among Chinese participantys, NFC increased attributions to group but not personal dispostions. Predictions were supported both when NFC was operationalized with an individual differences scale and when it was operationalized as a situational manipulation. Findings are discussed in light of an emerging dynamic account of culture in cognition.