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Extending self -discrepancy theory: The role of different standpoints on self -regulation across cultures

Cem Safak Cukur, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This study was designed to test the discriminant predictions of self-discrepancy theory (SDT) (Higgins, 1987) within USA, China and Turkey. More specifically, using SDT as a framework, this study explored cross-cultural differences related to the role of different perspectives (own, significant other, and generalized other) on the relationship between self-discrepancies and emotional distress. The present study sought to address cross-cultural differences by identifying some aspects of culture that were hypothesized to be responsible for observed differences, such as independent versus interdependent self-construals, self-guide importance, and interpersonal contingency beliefs. Additionally, the purpose of this study was to explore the role of social comparison processes on the relationship between self-discrepancies and emotional distress. ^ A total of 540 college students from USA, China and Turkey participated in the present study. The findings yielded mixed support for discriminant predictions of SDT that actual-ideal discrepancies are associated with depression or dejection-related emotions, whereas actual-ought discrepancies are related to social anxiety or agitation-related emotions. Partial correlations between composite self-discrepancy scores and general emotional distress measures of dejection and agitation supported the main prediction of SDT only in the Chinese sample. On the other hand, correlations between the specific self-discrepancy scores and specific emotional distress measures of depression and interpersonal sensitivity supported the main prediction of SDT in both USA and Turkish samples, but not in the Chinese sample. As predicted, compared to Americans, Turkish and Chinese participant generally manifested higher discrepancy scores. However, the findings did not support the prediction that magnitude of emotional distress would associate differently with “own” versus “other” based self-discrepancies across cultures. As predicted, it was found that inconsistencies between actual self and normative self-guides were a source of emotional distress. Furthermore, self-guide importance and interdependent self-construal moderated the relation between ought-other discrepancy and interpersonal sensitivity across cultures. Additionally, the results of the present study suggest that upward social comparison does influence the magnitude depression one experiences as a result of ideal-own discrepancy. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Psychology, Clinical|Psychology, Cognitive|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Cukur, Cem Safak, "Extending self -discrepancy theory: The role of different standpoints on self -regulation across cultures" (2002). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3055268.