However, this study is an experiment. It is artificial and has limited ecological validity. Furthermore, the participants are only from Korea and America. They may not be a good representation for collectivistic culture and individualist culture. It can be argued that the results have limited generalizability to other cultures. Furthermore, the participants are equally likely to show FAE when given limited information about the situation. This shows that, FAE is universal and vary slightly among different cultures. Nonetheless, this study supports the idea that cultural dimension can influence attribution tendency when given situational information. In short, people growing up in collectivistic culture are more less likely to show FAE then those who live in individualist culture.
Furthermore, cultural dimension can affect people’s tendency of conformity. Conformity is the act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group norms. In collectivistic cultures, people are more interdependent so they are more likely to conform to the social norms; in individualist cultures, people are more independent so they are less likely to conform to the social norms then those living in a collectivistic cultures. This is supported by a cross-cultural study done by Bond and Smith (1996). Bond and Smith (1996) carried out a meta-analysis of 133 conformity studies all using the Asch paradigm. The studies were carried out in 17 countries. Results showed that more conformity was obtained in collectivistic countries than individualistic countries. Members of collectivistic countries value conformity because it promotes supportive group relationships and reduce conflicts. Agreeing with others in collectivist societies is more likely to be viewed as a sign of sensitivity than submission as perceived in individualistic societies.
This study supports the idea that cultural dimension can influence conformity. However, since this study is a meta analysis, studies that does not conform with the researcher’s hypothesis may be hidden. Furthermore, even in individualist countries such as America, most people still conform to the group norm, supported by Asch’s experiment (1951), in which participants conform to the group norm for acceptance even though some of them know the answer is wrong. Moreover, there are also other situational factors in conformity. For example, group unanimity can lower the conformity rate. In the Asch’ experiment, one confederate was instructed to disagree with majority, even if it was also a wrong answer. The conformity rate dropped significantly with the addition of the confederate. Also, a larger group size may lower the conformity rate. People are more likely to conform in one-on-one situation. Finally, individual factors such as expertise and self-esteem can also affect conformity rates. When individuals feel that they are more competent to make decisions with regard to a field of expertise, they are less likely to conform. Participants with high self esteem are less likely to conform to incorrect responses. To a small extent, culture influences conformity, as there are other factors that influence conformity.
Moreover, cultural dimension may also influence marriage relationship. In collectivistic culture, people have a strong family values and focus on group harmony. People, especially women, are generally more dependent and have closer relationship with the spouse. On the other side, in individualist societies, values such as freedom and personal challenge are cherished. People view themselves as independent individuals, and value self interest more than the in-group interest. These can explain why there seems to be a relationship between individualism rankings and rate of divorce. A study was conducted on 26 nations by Lester (1996), which investigated on the relationship between societal divorce rates and individualism and collectivism. Using the individualism scores, which were reported by Hofstede (1980), Lester discovered the more individualistic a country, the higher the divorce rate. For example, United States is ranked the highest in the individualism ranking, and also has the highest divorce rate. In contrast, in Chile, which is ranked one of the lowest in the individualism ranking, has a low divorce rate of 0.38 per 1000 people. The result had a correlation r value of 0.40.
The above study suggests that cultural dimension is related to behaviour within the area of relationship. However, a cause and effect relationship cannot be inferred. There are also other factors that influences marriage relationship. For example, women status is also a variable in divorce rates. In countries such as United States where women receive high-level education and can work for a living, the divorce rate is often higher because women do not rely on men for survival. Social factors such as gender roles can influence marriage relationship, not only construal of self. Furthermore, Bowlby’s internal working model in attachment suggests that there is a continuity between childhood and adult relationships. Hazan and Shaver (1978) supports this idea. It finds out that loving and stable relationship are associated with loving and affectionate parenting at young age while insecure lovers (who are more likely to divorce) often reported having cold and rejecting mothers. This shows that early attachment style can affect adulthood relationship, which is associated with divorce rates. To a certain extent, cultural dimension influences relationship, but other factors such as gender roles and early attachment style need to be taken into account.
Finally, the impact of cultural dimension on attitudes towards people with mental disorders. In collectivistic societies, people who do not conform to norms or rules of the society are more likely to be discriminated in a collectivistic society then in a individualistic society. This is demonstrated in (2009) cross-cultural study. 350 individuals from four UK-based cultural groups (individualist - white-English, American, collectivist -Greek, and Chinese) took part in the study. They were asked to fill in quantitative survey regarding their attitudes towards people with mental illness. It is found that Greek and Chinese participants hold more negative stigmatising views towards mental illness then white-English and American. The study also indicated that there is a positive shift towards more tolerant attitudes having taken place in recent years even in the Greek/Greek Cypriot and Chinese cultures.
The study supports the idea that the more collectivistic culture is, the more negative the attitudes towards mental disorders, vice versa. The sample size is large therefore it can be generalized. However, since these participants are UK-based, his/her attitudes might be affected by the British culture itself, so the results may not reflect the attitudes towards mental disorders of Greek, American and Chinese. Furthermore, educational level, mental illness experience, and, particularly, mental illness knowledge, were other powerful and consistent stigma explanatory factors. For example, in China, people often have limited knowledge about mental disorders while in US, people are more exposed to knowledge about mental disorders, with the rise of psychiatry industry in a earlier time. As mentioned above, in collectivistic societies like Chinese and Greek, after they are exposed on mental disorders knowledge in recent years, they hold more positive views towards mental disorders. Cultural dimension can only partly explain the attitudes. A collectivistic culture does not necessarily hold negative views towards mental disorders, especially when mental health information are available to the public.
To conclude, to a moderate extent, cultural dimension of collectivism vs individualism can influence behaviour. Collectivist culture are more interdependent while individualist culture are more independent. These can influence behaviour in different areas, for example, attribution, conformity, relationship and social stigma towards mental illness. However, it is essential to understand that situational factors, personal factors, social factors and educational factors can influence behavior. Cultural dimension interacts with these factors in a complicated way.