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The Research Report Dynamic Influences of Culture on Cooperation in the Prisoner’s Dilemma studied the effects of cultural knowledge on one’s behaviors in social contexts. Research has shown that culture affects social judgments and behaviors. A Dynamic Constructivist Approach assumes that “culture consists of a pool of shared knowledge that is produced, distributed, and reproduced among a collection of interacting individuals.” People with knowledge of multiple cultures can pull from these pools of cultural knowledge and use them to their discretion.
The hypothesis of this experiment was: Does cultural knowledge affect subsequent behavior, thereby resulting in cultural-specific situation-behavior patterning?
Prior research on this topic has shown that access to cultural knowledge sets up a necessary but not sufficient condition to affect subsequent judgments and behaviors. And, the knowledge will only be used depending on the social context.
This means that if someone was to have cultural knowledge, judgments, and behaviors of that individual can be affected by this knowledge depending on the social context. The researchers used 171 Hong Kong Chinese college students (67 males and 104 females). Each student was primed with either 7 slides of Chinese cultural icons, American icons, or neutral icons. They tested cooperative behaviors between friends and strangers when bicultural individuals were primed with either Chinese Cultural knowledge or American Cultural knowledge.
They believed that when primed with Chinese: individuals would be more cooperative with friends. And when primed with American: individuals would be less likely to cooperate with friends. And with strangers, they predicted that the difference in coop-arability would disappear.
To test their hypothesis, after being primed, participants were asked to pick between 2 strategies and earn points. If both participants choose strategy A then they get the most points collectively. Strategy B would yield the most points for the individual who picked it but would give the other individual the least amount of points. The amount of points earned equates to how much money they get. After playing the game, participants were asked to guess their partners’ choice from 1 (very confident strategy B) to 8 (very confident strategy A).
The participants were also asked what they would have chosen if the partner had chosen strategy A. The results among friends were that Chinese primes elicited more cooperation (76.9%) than did American primes (53%) and the neutral primes fell in between (69.1%). The results among strangers were that Chinese primes also elicited more cooperation (62.9%) than did American primes (58.5%). The results the questions showed were that among friends, Chinese primed participants were shown to expect their partners to have chosen strategy A (6.15) more than American primed participants (4.8). There was a .8 strong correlation between the frequency of cooperation and the expectation that the partners would cooperate and Chinese primed participants were more motivated to cooperate (4.42) vs American primed participants (3.4).
The researcher’s data supported their predictions that Chinese culture primes activate more cooperation with friends than do American primes whereas there was no systematic effect of priming on cooperation with strangers. They also concluded that the cultural symbols can activate expectations and goals, but those activated expectations and goals translate into behaviors only if a specific relational context is present. A couple of questions that I had about this research study are: How much research has been done before on the perception-behavior link and how much do we think that we know about the complicated ways that our environment, culture, thoughts, and senses color each individual’s world?
It seems that a lot of people’s perceptions are based on specific and personalized understandings of the world. I feel like the research we are doing on topics such as the perception -behavior link adds to our general understanding of how humans work. I am also curious as to what may happen to our species if we figure out exactly how all things affect us. If we figure out exactly how all phenomena affect our selves, then wouldn’t all things be predictable and thus make any further researchable progress obsolete? It seems to me that the researchers have all of their bases covered when it comes to confounding factors. One thing I would change is the number of females and males that were used in the study so that there was an equal amount.
I think that there could be a difference in the ways in which males and females utilize their knowledge of cultural icons, thus having a disproportionate number of males to females would change the data in some way or another. I think another possible confounding factor in this study is the fact that all of the participants are Hong-Kong college students. I believe that race plays a major roll in the cultivation of the self as well as the perception of the world that the self takes on. Hong-Kong students with knowledge of English cultural icons and knowledge of Chinese cultural icons will most likely have different behavioral expressions than an American, African, Canadian, or European person with knowledge of Chinese and American cultural icons.
The fact that all participants were from Hong-Kong means that the researchers won’t be able to conclude their research findings among all humans and just people from Hong-Kong. I think that the measures and procedures were effective in accurately forming statistical data that answered the researchers’ hypothesis so I do not think change is needed within the measures and procedures. I think that western science has tapped into the tip of the iceberg with this type of research. Further studies might show us specific behavior-links to things that we wouldn’t even conceive affect us. This could mean a link between the humidity in the air and our ability to tap into our crystallized knowledge.
This type of progress could bring the medical field to great heights in its ability to help psychosomatic disorders as well as physiological diseases because we would know and be able to control all factors that negatively or positively affect humans. Another idea that could be further explored with this type of research is the way religious symbols effect peoples behavior. If cultural icons affect people’s behaviors in consistent specific ways then it is possible that religious symbols have similar roles. For instance, a study could be done with participants who know about many different religious symbols. The researchers could use the same priming techniques in order to activate the religious knowledge systems for specific religions and then use the game in order to observe the behavioral outcome.
If this study was performed on different populations it would most likely produce different results as each population has its own deep and rich cultural backgrounds that affect behavior and perception of the people in it. Americans who grow up in New York will have different perceptions and behavioral understandings of the world than Americans from El Paso. Because of this, the research concluded from the Hong-Kong study is by no means conclusive for all humans. The method that was utilized in this study worked well for what was being researched but there are other methods that could have been utilized that might have shown different and more accurate results.
The questions that were asked to the participants is one method that could be altered. The researchers asked the participants to guess the strategy that they expected the stranger/friend to choose as well as if they would change their strategy if they knew their partner chose Strategy A. These questions obviously tell the researchers the Expectation of Partner’s Strategy and Motivation to Maximize the Joint Outcome but if the researchers changed the questions to ‘Would you change your strategy if you know that your partner will choose Strategy B?’
And ‘Did you choose your strategy based on your expectation of what strategy you expected your partner to choose?’ These questions would have most likely changed the findings of the study. The researchers could have also changed the cultural icons that were presented to the participants in order to try to control which behaviors the participants expressed. For instance, if the researchers wanted the students to act in a more cooperative manner, they could show the participants American and Chinese icons that represent cooperation. A similar method could be used to see if the participants would act with less cooperation towards each other.
This method would produce results that show what different cultural symbols that have similar usages are more effective in producing the behavior that they represent. The results would be completely different but I think that the findings would be interesting. We might be able to see why certain cultures treat each other in a more understanding way and we might also be able to start changes of our own culture in order to create more harmony between the people. All in all, I think that this line of research between culture and behavior is extremely beneficial to the understanding between our environment and our perception of the world and I am excited to see further research findings in the future.
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