People With A Lack Of Control Give In To Strong Social Norms: Study

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Lack Of Control Can Make You

Psychology News

A research team at the American Psychological Association explored how people who feel a lack of control in their lives prefer rules-based cultures. The study is published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The Study

The researchers conducted a series of experiments and analyzed survey data. They assessed how a low sense of personal control influenced preferences for a culture that imposes order with strong social norms for cultural tightness.

For instance, in one study, participants were asked to respond to questionnaires about perceived levels of personal control. In another, they were asked about the need for structure and preference for working in tight organizational cultures or living in closely monitoring states.

The Findings

The results revealed that individuals who perceive a lack of control in their personal and professional lives are more likely to prefer a rule-based culture that espouses a sense of collective control and societal tightness.

It was also found that operating in a culture that imposes order also reduces people’s perceptions of personal control and makes them reward prosocial behavior while punishing selfish behavior.

Elaborating on the findings, the lead researcher Anyi Ma remarked: “Scholars have argued that tight cultures evolved as a way for people to collectively mitigate societal threats. We support this idea by showing that being in a tight culture increases people’s perceptions of collective control, which makes them feel more confident in overcoming external threats as a group.

To Know More You May Refer To

Ma, A., Savani, K., Liu, F., Tai, K., & Kay, A. C. (2022). The mutual constitution of culture and psyche: The bidirectional relationship between individuals’ perceived control and cultural tightness-looseness. Journal of personality and social psychology, 10.1037/pspa0000327. Advance online publication.

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