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Unformatted text preview: PERSONALITY PROCESSES AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES Deviance or Uniqueness, Harmony or Conformity? A Cultural Analysis Heejung Kim and Hazel Rose Markus Stanford University Uniqueness has positive connotations of freedom and independence in American culture, whereas conformity has positive connotations of connectedness and harmony in East Asian culture. The present research examined how these cultural values and individual preferences for uniqueness and conformity influence each other. In Studies 1 and 2, East Asian and European American preferences for uniqueness were measured using abstract figures. In Study 3, the choice of pens by East Asians and European Americans was examined as a function of whether the pen appeared unique. In Study 4, Korean and American magazine ads were analyzed with a focus on themes of conformity and uniqueness. In all studies, East Asians preferred targets that represented conformity, whereas European Americans pre- ferred targets that represented uniqueness. The results highlight the relationship between individual preference and the adoption and perpetuation of cultural values. If a person orders a decaffeinated cappuccino with nonfat milk in a cafe in San Francisco, he or she can feel good about having a preference that is not exactly regular. That person can feel right about being able to get the drink exactly the way he or she wants it and will be vindicated as the waiter brings the precise drink ordered without comment or question. In the United States, drink- ing a decaffeinated cappuccino with nonfat milk feels as good as drinking a regular cup of coffee, perhaps even better. The best taste is one's individualized taste, and being sure of one's own partic- ular taste contributes to being an appropriate person in this cultural context. If a person orders the same drink—a decaffeinated cappuccino with nonfat milk—in a caf6 in Seoul, however, he or she may feel strange about being the only person who is getting this specialized beverage. That person will face others who are likely to be forming the impression that he or she is a person who does not get along with the group very well, and, moreover, that person will have to confront a waiter who may be annoyed at the request. Eventually, the person may even be humbled by the verdict that the cafe cannot make this idiosyncratic drink just for her. In this Korean cultural context, it does not feel right or good to drink a cup of decaffein- ated cappuccino with nonfat milk. In Korea, the normal, regular, and traditional are usually the best tastes for the individual, and a Heejung Kim and Hazel Rose Markus, Department of Psychology, Stanford University. We thank Ann M. Ku and Jasook Koo for helping with data collection and David A. Sherman, Robert B. Zajonc, Felicia Pratto, Valerie Ben- veniste, and members of the .Stanford University Culture Lab for com- menting on earlier versions of this article....
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