In the experiments reported here, we integrated work on hierarchy, culture, and the enforcement of group cooperation by examining patterns of punishment. Studies in Western contexts have shown that having high status can temper acts of dominance, suggesting that high status may decrease punishment by the powerful. We predicted that high status would have the opposite effect in Asian cultures because vertical collectivism permits the use of dominance to reinforce the existing hierarchical order. Across two experiments, having high status decreased punishment by American participants but increased punishment by Chinese and Indian participants. Moreover, within each culture, the effect of status on punishment was mediated by feelings of being respected. A final experiment found differential effects of status on punishment imposed by Asian Americans depending on whether their Asian or American identity was activated. Analyzing enforcement through the lens of hierarchy and culture adds insight into the vexing puzzle of when and why people engage in punishment.
Kuwabara, Ko, Alice J. Lee, S. Yu, and Adam Galinsky. "Status decreases dominance in the West but increases dominance in the East." Psychological Science 27 (February 2016): 127-137.
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