Which Romans do "as Romans do"? Individual differences in conformity to cultural conflict resolution scripts

By Ho-ying FuMichael W. Morris
2002| Working Paper No. 1660

The current research investigates the proposal that cross-cultural differences in conflict resolution choices are driven by culturally conferred cognitive scripts-expectancies about appropriate actions in a setting and outcomes they will evoke. Cognitive styles such as Need for Cognitive Closure affect the extent to which individuals rely on their own cultural scripts and hence display culturally typical conflict resolution behaviors. We tested this prediction in two conflict resolution domains where robust differences between American and Chinese had been identified. Study 1 found that differences in conflict management styles emerge primarily in hihg NFC individuals. Study 2 found that differences in preference of types of the third party mediator are qualified by the same interaction with individual differences in NFC. Further evidence was provided by the statistical mediation of expectancies of harmony maintenance or restoration on the moderated cultural difference in choosing the third party. We discuss in light of how cognitive scripts compare with other proposed individual-level mechanisms underlying cultural differences.