The way people think about themselves as individuals and their lives in general seems to have a lot to with several contextual factors. Personality and culture have been shown to be linked to one another in several important ways. However, personality and identity are factors that change throughout one’s life. In this research we sought to better understand how culture is linked to the way people perceive changes to their identity throughout their lives. Do people who live in different cultures tend think differently about how they have changed? We investigated this question in two different cultural contexts, Japan and the United States. We asked 794 Japanese and 815 Americans about their personality and life satisfaction now, 10 years in the past, and to predict their personality and life satisfaction 10 years in the future. We found that Japanese looked back at their lives (10 years in the past) in a more positive light than those from the United States. We also found that the tendency for Americans to derogate their past selves was linked to greater self-reported self-esteem. These finding support the idea culture plays an important role in painting people’s life story. While Japanese may espouse nostalgia and harmony when thinking about their life story, Americans espouse life stories depicting growth from a previously negative place.
Brian Haas, University of Georgia, United States
Kazufumi Omura, Yamagata University, Japan
About the Presenter(s)
Brian W. Haas is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Georgia. The primary objective of Dr. Haas’ research is to produce results that improve the way people function within diverse multicultural settings.
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