Testing the Roles of Perceived Influence and Competition in Cross-Cultural Social Learning

Caluori, Nava, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Brown-Iannuzzi, Jazmin, AS-Psychology (PSYC), University of Virginia

Globalization has brought societies’ international influence and competitive relationships into sharp focus. In this dissertation, I explore how these salient dimensions of influence and competition shape social learning between different cultural groups. Drawing from past theories, I suggest that people may be biased to learn from others whose countries are perceived to be highly influential. Further, I test whether perceived competition between countries may shape this process. I investigate these research questions across 4 studies. Study 1 tests whether perceived influence and competition between countries interactively predict openness to cross-country social learning using correlational data from U.S. participants (N = 296). Study 2 (U.S. participants, N = 391) develops a novel experimental paradigm to causally investigate whether perceived influence of a country impacts U.S. participants’ social learning from individuals in that country. Studies 3 (U.S. participants, N = 970) and 4 (N = 447 U.S. participants; 301 New Zealand participants) expand on Study 2 to manipulate perceived competition. Across all studies I find that people are biased to learn from others whose countries are perceived to be highly influential, even when those countries are perceived to be in direct competition with their own. Further, an international sample in Study 4 reveals that competition’s effect on social learning varies in countries with different levels of international influence. Studies 2-4 also test whether the type of cultural information people seek to learn matters, and I find that influence and competition only promote social learning for strategic, but not personal, topics. Together, these studies contribute to a growing literature seeking to understanding how culture evolves in a globalizing world.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Social Learning, Cross-Cultural Psychology, Globalization
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