He is smarter when he looks smart in front of many versus a few others: Impact of audience size on target appraisals in a cross‐cultural context

Dasom Seo, Da Eun Han, Young‐Hoon Kim
Published Online:
04 Dec 2019

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Will a person be seen as more superior if he or she receives an award in front of a large audience in comparison with a small audience? We predicted that this would hold true for East Asians, whose cultural logic of face asserts that a person's worth can only be conferred by collective others, but would not hold true for European Americans, whose cultural logic of dignity promotes the judgement of a person's worth based on their own perspective. This study found an audience‐size effect for East Asians, in which participants gave higher appraisals to a target when they imagined the target's high performance to have been seen by 10 other people (vs. one other person) even when the target's performance level remained constant. In contrast, Westerners were not affected by the size of the audience witnessing the target's performance. In addition, perceived social reputation was found to mediate the audience‐size effect; the participants imagining the target performing well in front of 10 others (vs. one other) perceived others as thinking more highly of the target; this in turn led participants to give higher appraisals to the target. As expected, this mediation effect was only found for East Asians.

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