Moral in whose eyes? Cross-cultural differences in moral decision making and behaviour

Minjae Seo, Jinkyung Na, Young Hoon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


All people want to feel that they are morally adequate. People tend to evaluate their moral adequacy by judging their behaviour through their own eyes (first-person perspective) or the eyes of others (third-person perspective). People in all cultures use both perspectives, but there may be cultural variations in which perspective takes precedence. By conducting two studies, we explore the way people in face cultures are more likely to secure their moral self-regard through the eyes of others (vs. their own eyes), whereas the opposite is true in case of people from dignity cultures. Study 1 found that people from face culture (Korean participants) cheated to a lesser extent when others were invoked (vs. not invoked), but people from dignity culture (American participants) were not affected by this priming. Study 2 found that moral intentions were more strongly influenced by what participants perceived others to do in moral situations in face (vs. dignity) cultures. In contrast, moral intentions were found to be more strongly influenced by what they believed they should do in moral situations in dignity (vs. face) cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-182
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Feb

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF‐2018S1A3A2075114). All persons who meet authorship criteria are listed as authors, and all authors certify that they have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for the content, including participation in the concept, design, analysis, writing, or revision of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 International Union of Psychological Science

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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