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Identity motives and cultural priming: Cultural (dis)identification in assimilative and contrastive responses


Journal of Experimental Social Psychology


Organisational Behaviour

Authors / Editors

Zou X;Morris M W;Benet-Martinez V

Publication Year



The present article explores whether effects of cultural primes are influenced by identity motives as well as by construct accessibility. The authors hypothesized that assimilative responses (shifting one’s judgments toward the norm of the primed culture) are driven by identification motives, whereas contrastive responses (shifting away from this norm) are driven by disidentification motives. Evidence for this claim was attained in reanalyzes of past data sets and a new study of Chinese American biculturals, using improved measures of identification and disidentification motives. Consistent with the identity-motive hypotheses, assimilative responses to American-culture primes occurred for high (but not low) identifiers with American culture, and contrastive responses to Chinese-culture primes occurred for high (but not low) disidentifiers with Chinese culture. Results disconfirmed an alternative account predicting that contrast effects hinge on trait self-consciousness. Consistent with an accessibility saturation account, judgment patterns already heightened in accessibility by the task structure were not made more likely by priming.


Motive; Cultural icon prime; Assimilation; Contrast

Available on ECCH


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