Acculturation of the Self-Concept Move the Body, Change the Self: Acculturative Effects on the Self-Concept

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1 Perhaps the closest example of relatively “culture-free” humans can be observed in autistic children, who are less able to interact with their environment in a way that enables the internalization of cultural meanings. Indeed, in many ways the thoughts and behavior of autistic children do appear to be somewhat free of cultural influences (Tomasello, Kruger, & Ratner, 1993) and also somewhat different from the thoughts and behavior we typically associate with normal human functioning. Similarly, extreme cases of cultural deprivation such as that inflicted on “Genie” by her abusing father (she was isolated in an attic until the age of 13), also seem to impair thoughts and behavior relative to those raised to participate in a culture (Curtiss, 1977). We must remember, though, that each of these culturally-deprived cases makes poor controls to compare with fully “cultured” individuals as there are many confounding variables.

2 We reported the results of a similar analysis in Heine et al. (1999), however we have since collected more data that is included in the present analyses.

3 Surprisingly, there was no main effect for sex despite the massive size of this sample, F(1, 4690) = 1.83, ns. However, the results are qualified by a small culture by sex interaction, F(6, 4690) = 4.24, p < .001. Males exhibited nominally higher self-esteem scores than females in the “Been Abroad Japanese,” “Long-Term Asian-Canadian,” “2nd generation Asian-Canadian,” and “European-Canadian” samples, but females had nominally higher self-esteem scores than males in the “Never Been Abroad Japanese,” “Recent Asian-Canadians,” and “3rd generation Asian-Canadian” samples. We are at a loss for making sense of this pattern of sex differences.

4The considerable attrition of this sample necessitates caution in interpreting the results. In an effort to determine the impact of the sample’s attrition on the results, we conducted an ANOVA comparing the self-esteem scores at Wave 1 of those who only completed the questionnaire at Wave 1 and those who completed them for both waves. The 2 groups did not differ in their self-esteem at Wave 1, F < 1, suggesting that participation in the second lecture is not related to the student’s initial level of self-esteem. Moreover, it is difficult to conceive how those who came to the lecture should differ from those who did not in the extent of their self-esteem change. This suggests that the attrition of the sample did not unduly influence our measurement of self-esteem change across waves 1 and 2.

Figure Captions

1. Cross-sectional Comparisons of Self-Esteem
2. Longitudinal Comparisons of Self-Esteem

J – Japanese who have never been abroad

BAJ – “Been Abroad Japanese” (i.e., they have spent time in a Western country).

RAC – “Recent Asian-Canadians” (i.e., they have moved to Canada within the past 7 years)

LAC – “Long-Term Asian-Canadians” (i.e., they have moved to Canada more than 7 years ago)

2AC – Second-generation Asian-Canadians

3AC – Third-generation Asian-Canadians

EC – European-Canadians

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