Cross-Cultural Differences in the Valuing of Dominance by Young Children

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
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  • 1 CNRS – Institut des Sciences Cognitives Marc Jeannerod – Université Lyon 1 – UMR 5304
  • 2 Institut Jean Nicod, Département d’études cognitives, ENS, EHESS, PSL University, CNRS, Paris, France
  • 3 Department of Educational Psychology – University of Tokyo
  • 4 Center for Research in International Education – Tokyo Gakugei University
  • 5 Center for Research in International Education – Tokyo Gakugei University
  • 6 CNRS – Institut des Sciences Cognitives Marc Jeannerod – Université Lyon 1 – UMR 5304
  • 7 Centre de Sciences Cognitives, Université de Neuchâtel
  • 8 CNRS – Institut des Sciences Cognitives Marc Jeannerod – Université Lyon 1 – UMR 5304, Instituto de Investigaciones Psicológicas – Universidad de Costa Rica
  • 9 CNRS – Institut des Sciences Cognitives Marc Jeannerod – Universite Lyon 1 – UMR 5304

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Abstract

Developmental research suggests that young children tend to value dominant individuals over subordinates. This research, however, has nearly exclusively been carried out in Western cultures, and cross-cultural research among adults has revealed cultural differences in the valuing of dominance. In particular, it seems that Japanese culture, relative to many Western cultures, values dominance less. We conducted two experiments to test whether this difference would be observed in preschoolers. In Experiment 1, preschoolers in France and in Japan were asked to identify with either a dominant or a subordinate. French preschoolers identified with the dominant, but Japanese preschoolers were at chance. Experiment 2 revealed that Japanese preschoolers were more likely to believe a subordinate than a dominant individual, both compared to chance and compared to previous findings among French preschoolers. The convergent results from both experiments thus reveal an early emerging cross-cultural difference in the valuing of dominance.

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