The role of culture in appraisals, emotions and helplessness in response to threats

Berna Gercek‐Swing, Ayse K. Uskul, Susan E. Cross, Ceren Günsoy
Published Online:
27 May 2019

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In honour cultures, such as Turkey, reputation management is emphasised, whereas in dignity cultures such as northern US, self‐respect and personal achievements are central. Turkey is also a collectivistic culture, where relationship harmony is as important as reputation management. When Turkish people's reputation is threatened, they may experience an internal conflict between these two motives and display helplessness. The purpose of the present study was to examine how people from Turkey (an honour culture; n = 52) and northern US (a dignity culture; n = 48) would perceive and respond to reputation threats as opposed to self‐respect threats. As predicted, Turkish participants anticipated stronger anger, shame, and helplessness in response to reputation threats than self‐respect threats, whereas differences were smaller or non‐existent in northern US. Moreover, shame was a mediator between appraisal and helplessness for reputation threats in Turkey (shame positively predicted helplessness); anger was a mediator between appraisal and helplessness for self‐respect threats in northern US (anger negatively predicted helplessness). These results are novel in their inclusion of helplessness and appraisal theory of emotions when examining responses to threats in honour and dignity cultures.

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