I Am Dumber When I Look Dumb in Front of Many (vs. Few) Others: A Cross-Cultural Difference in How Audience Size Affects Perceived Social Reputation and Self-Judgments

Minjae Seo, Young-Hoon Kim, Kim Pong Tam, Paul Rozin

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People from all cultures are averse to looking dumb in front of others, especially if there is a large audience. However, there could be a difference between Face and Dignity cultures in the extent to which their members see themselves as dumb when they perform poorly before a large versus small audience. In the present study, Chinese and Americans were asked to imagine themselves performing poorly on tasks either in front of 10 others or one other and make judgments about how poorly (a) they thought and (b) others would think they performed on the tasks. Chinese were found to judge their performance more negatively in the large (vs. small) audience, but Americans were not. Audience size effect on self-judgments was mediated by how the Chinese perceived others to judge their performance in the large (vs. small) audience. Findings are discussed in the context of the logic of Face and Dignity cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1019-1032
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Sep 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology

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