Combining Social Axioms With Values in Predicting Social Beahviours 2004

European Journal of Personality Eur. J. Pers. 18: 177–191 (2004) Published online in Wiley InterScience ( DOI: 10.1002/per.509 Combining Social Axioms with Values in Predicting Social Behaviours MICHAEL HARRIS BOND1*, KWOK LEUNG2, AL AU2, KWOK-KIT TONG3 and ZOE¨ CHEMONGES-NIELSON1 1 Chinese University of Hong Kong 2 City University of Hong Kong 3 University of Macau Abstract Recently, Leung et al. (2002) have identified a pan-cultural set of five dimensions tapping
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  European Journal of PersonalityEur. J. Pers.  18 : 177–191 (2004) Published online in Wiley InterScience (  DOI : 10.1002/per.509 Combining Social Axioms with Values inPredicting Social Behaviours MICHAEL HARRIS BOND 1 *, KWOK LEUNG 2 , AL AU 2 ,KWOK-KIT TONG 3 and ZOE ¨ CHEMONGES-NIELSON 1 1 Chinese University of Hong Kong  2 City University of Hong Kong  3 University of Macau   Abstract  Recently, Leung et al. (2002) have identified a pan-cultural set of five dimensions tappingbeliefs about the world in which each individual functions. These general axioms may beconceptualized as individual assessments of the social context constraining one’sbehavioural choices. As such, we hypothesize that these beliefs about the world may becombined with measures of motivation to predict an individual’s actions. To test thismodel, the present researchexamined the usefulness of these social axioms as predictors of behavioural tendencies in conjunction with four comprehensive dimensions of values(Schwartz, 1992). Hierarchical regression analyses showed that social axioms added moderate predictive power over and above that provided by values to vocational choices,methods of conflict resolution, and coping styles. Specifically, reward for application wasrelated to preference for conventional jobs and accommodation in conflict resolution;religiosity was related to accommodation and to competition in conflict resolution; socialcynicism was related negatively to collaboration and to compromise in conflict resolution,and positively to wishful thinking in coping; fate control was related positively to wishfulthinking and distancing in coping; and social complexity was related to compromise and tocollaboration in conflict resolution, and to problem-solving as a coping strategy. It thusseems as if measures of respondents’ beliefs about the external, social world supplement measures of their internal motivations to achieve various goals. Copyright  # 2004 JohnWiley & Sons, Ltd. INTRODUCTION Attempts to predict behavior based on a person’s value priorities often yield unsatisfactoryresults, with the direct link between values and specific behaviours shown at best to bemoderate (Leung, Bond & Schwartz, 1995), and often weak (Feather & O’Brien, 1987;  Received 25 April 2003 Copyright # 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.  Accepted 7 November 2003 *Correspondence to: MichaelHarris Bond, Departmentof Psychology, Chinese University of Hong Kong,Shatin,N.T., Hong Kong, S.A.R., China. E-Mail:   Henry, 1976). Similarly, in the domain of personality and attitude research, Mischel(1968), Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) and others have concluded that global, abstractconcepts or orientations, such as personality traits and general attitudes, are not strongpredictors of specific behaviour. Despite this predictive weakness at the individual level,values and other personality constructs are frequently deployed to account for cross-cultural differences in behaviour. Traditionally, culture has been defined in terms of values,and the major taxonomies of cultural difference use values as measures for mappingcultural positions  vis-a`-vis  one another. This approach is firmly entrenched, despite themixed empirical success of values at unpackaging cultural differences in individualresponses (Smith & Bond, 2003). The case for social axioms: previous research Social axioms, or people’s beliefs about how the world functions, provide a different typeof general orientation that may augment the predictivepower of values. Beliefs vary acrossa continuum of specificity (Hahn, 1973), but some beliefs are general, and may be viewedas ‘generalized expectancies’, a concept introduced by Rotter (1966) to characterizeinternal versus external locus of control. These general beliefs about the world, or socialaxioms, are likely to relate to social behaviours across contexts, actors, targets, and time(Leung et al., 2002). For example, locus of control, a general belief about the causes of events, has been related to how people make sense of their personal successes and failures(see, e.g., Spector, 1982). Furthermore, people commonly encounter situations where theyapply what they ‘know’ about the world in general when making decisions about how toact (Furnham, 1988). This knowledge about the world may be construed as the personalrepresentation that an individual develops over his or her life experiences about the distalsocial context constraining his or her actions in the world. It thus seems probable thatadding general beliefs to trans-situational values would increase the predictive power of values with respect to behaviour.Drawing upon research on expectancy–value theory, Leung et al. (1995) conductedresearch showing that what people ‘know’ about the world, in this case their expectanciesfor various outcomes, were an additional and better predictor than values, in this caseoutcome valences, for determining how people will behave across the domains of resourceallocation, influence tactic use, and mode of conflict resolution. The predictive measuresof outcome expectancy and outcome valence used in this study were behaviour specific,but we expect that more general measures of motivational pull, such as values, and of expectancies, such as general social beliefs, will likewise be supplementary predictors of individual responses.To explore the usefulness of social axioms as predictors of social behaviour, Leung et al.(2002) conducted the first step in this project, namely, to identify a core set of pan-culturalsocial axioms. Based on qualitative research conducted in Hong Kong and Venezuela, andthe Western literature on beliefs, Leung et al. developed a social axiom survey. Using thissurvey, they identified five factors of belief, which were replicated in the U.S.A., Japan,and Germany, suggesting that they may be culture general.  Social cynicism  represents anegative assessment of human nature and social events (e.g. ‘Kind-hearted people usuallysuffer losses’).  Reward for application  refers to the position that the investment of humanresources will lead to positive outcomes (e.g. ‘Hard working people will achieve more inthe end’).  Social complexity  refers to the view that there are multiple solutions to socialissues, and that the outcome of events is uncertain (e.g. ‘One has to deal with matters178  M. H. Bond   et al. Copyright # 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.  Eur. J. Pers.  18 : 177–191 (2004)  according to the specific circumstances’).  Fate control  refers to the general belief thatsocial events are influenced by impersonal, external forces (e.g. ‘Fate determines one’ssuccesses and failures’). Finally,  spirituality  (now labelled  religiosity  by Leung & Bond,in press) refers to the view that spiritual forces influence the human world and thatreligious institutions exert a positive effect on social outcomes (e.g. ‘Religious people aremore likely to maintain moral standards’). These five dimensions and their core definingitems have now been identified in 40 national groups (Leung & Bond, in press). Combining values with social axioms to predict behaviour The current study sought to demonstrate that a combination of values and social axiomswould yield significantly better results for predicting social behaviour than the use of values alone. This study employed the revised Schwartz (1992) value survey as acomprehensive measure of values together with the Social Axioms Survey developedearlier by Leung et al. (2002) to predict three classes of behavioural tendencies: styles of conflict resolution, ways of coping, and vocational interests. These three behaviours werechosen because they are distinct from one another, and because they have been subjectedto considerable cross-cultural research where value differences are often used as anexplanation for the observed differences. For example, avoidance was preferred as astrategy for conflict resolution by persons in several cultural groups who endorsed thevalues of tradition and conformity (Morris et al., 1998); cross-cultural differences incoping style have been explained in terms of differences between Japanese andAmericans in ‘individualistic Western values’ by O’Connor and Shimizu (2002); Farh,Leong, and Law (1998) explained their pattern of results from Hong Kong using theirparticipants’ endorsement of traditional Chinese values to account for their vocationalpreferences. In all three domains of responding, then, the construct of values has beenproposed as a mechanism for explaining individual differences and differences acrosscultural groups.As research on social axioms is just beginning, there is no previous work to guide thedevelopment of specific hypotheses about the linkage between these general beliefs andthe three domains of behaviour examined in this study. We offer some speculationsinstead. For the domain of vocational preferences, we expect that reward for applicationshould be related to preference for jobs where the effort–reward relation is clearer.According to the vocational taxonomy proposed by Holland (1985), enterprising (e.g.sales manager) and investigative (e.g. engineer) jobs seem to provide a clearer link between effort and tangible reward, and we expect a relationship between reward forapplication and preference for these two types of occupation. We also expect a significantcorrelation between social complexity and preference for artistic jobs (e.g. architect).Finally, religiosity is related to agreeableness (Leung & Bond, 1998) and a belief that oneis positively inter-dependent with others, so we expect that the endorsement of religiositywill predict a preference for jobs with a social orientation (e.g. social worker). People highin religiosity should welcome the opportunity to provide services to others, a core elementof jobs in this category.In the domain of conflict resolution, we expect that social cynicism should show anegative correlation with collaboration, a strategy for dealing with interdependences thatrequires mutual trust. Previous research has shown that social cynicism is correlated withlow interpersonal trust (Singelis, Hubbard, Her, & An, 2003), a correlation that we believederives from the belief that the other will exploit you if the opportunity arises. Because of  Social axioms and values  179 Copyright # 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.  Eur. J. Pers.  18 : 177–191 (2004)  its pluralistic emphasis, social complexity should be related to compromise andcollaboration. In fact, Singelis et al. (2003) found a correlation between social complexityand cognitive flexibility, which is important for achieving comprise and collaboration inconflictual situations. Accommodation involves the acceptance of any outcome withoutresisting. Fate control should be related to accommodation because of the passivity in theface of external forces involved in the endorsement of fate’s power. Finally, religiosityshould be related to accommodation because of their mutual emphasis on sociality andagreeableness.In the domain of coping, social cynicism should be related to wishful thinking, and todistancing because of the tendency for people high in social cynicism to believe that theirproblems are caused by social institutions and others who impede their personal progress.Seeking of support and ventilation should also be avoided by persons high in socialcynicism. Because of its support for trying hard, reward for application should show apositive correlation with problem-solving, a coping strategy that requires grappling withthe problem actively. Because of its legitimation of passivity, fate control should showpositive correlations with wishful thinking and distancing. This last hypothesis isconsistent with the finding of Singelis et al. (2003) of a positive correlation between socialcynicism and external locus of control which is related to fate control.To sum up, our long-term objective is to develop a framework based on social axiomsand values for understanding those factors responsible for generating cultural similaritiesand differences in the social behaviour of individuals (see, e.g., Smith & Bond, 2003). Theuse of behaviours that have already been subjected to cross-cultural investigation helps setthe stage for subsequent research into fuller models to explain the relative strength of thesebehaviours across individuals and across cultural groups. The present study is considered afirst step towards demonstrating the need to integrate values with social axioms in order toconstruct complementary and theoretically more complex frameworks for understandingand predicting specific behaviours. We conceptualize social axioms as being individualperceptions of the social context, so that their integration with the motivational constructof values could provide one approach to producing more contextually responsive modelsof individual functioning (see, e.g., Shoda & Mischel, 1996). METHODParticipants Participants were 180 undergraduate students, 90 males and 90 females, takingintroductory psychology courses at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Theycompleted the questionnaires in order to fulfil course credits. There were 81.3% of theparticipants with age ‘20 years or less’, while the rest were in the ‘21–30 years’ category. Procedure and materials A battery of five paper and pencil surveys was administered. The first two surveys tappedinto the predictor variables, namely, social axioms and values. The other three surveysassessed self-reported behavioural responses for the dependent variables, namely,vocational interests, styles of conflict resolution, and ways of coping. The materials hadall originally been written in English and subsequently translated into Chinese bycompetent bilinguals, using the method of back-translation.180  M. H. Bond   et al. Copyright # 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.  Eur. J. Pers.  18 : 177–191 (2004)
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