Unpacking East-West Differences in the Extent of Self-Enhancement from the Perspective of Face versus Dignity Culture

Hae In Lee, Angela K.y. Leung, Young Hoon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)


The question of whether or not the need for self-enhancement is culturally universal has been a controversial issue in cultural psychology. Though there have been numerous studies arguing that East Asians also have the need for self-enhancement, the controversy remained. We contend that the field is ready to see a cohesive theory that integrates and explains when and why East Asians do and do not manifest their need for self-enhancement. In this paper, we provide the theoretical logics of and rationales behind face and dignity cultures as the new theoretical proxies that integrate and explain East Asians' self-enhancing behaviors, supplementing the former approach that uses the individualism-collectivism dichotomy. In particular, four representative properties of face culture - humility, public (versus private) concern, prevention regulatory focus, and harmony - are discussed to explain cross-cultural differences in the extent and ways of manifestations of self-enhancement motivation between European Americans and East Asians. Theoretical corroborations and empirical findings supporting this approach are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-327
Number of pages14
JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jul


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology

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