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Intrapersonal culture clash: the effect of cultural identity incongruence on decision-making

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Research and theory in social psychology and related fields indicates that people simultaneously hold many cultural identities. And it is well evidenced across relevant fields (e.g., sociology, marketing, economics) that

Research and theory in social psychology and related fields indicates that people simultaneously hold many cultural identities. And it is well evidenced across relevant fields (e.g., sociology, marketing, economics) that salient identities are instrumental in a variety of cognitive and behavioral processes, including decision-making. It is not, however, well understood how the relative salience of various cultural identities factors into the process of making identity-relevant choices, particularly ones that require an actor to choose between conflicting sets of cultural values or beliefs. It is also unclear whether the source of that salience (e.g., chronic or situational) is meaningful in this regard. The current research makes novel predictions concerning the roles of cultural identity centrality and cultural identity situational salience in three distinct aspects of the decision-making process: Direction of decision, speed of decision, and emotion related to decision. In doing so, the research highlights two under-researched forms of culture (i.e., political and religious) and uses as the focal dependent variable a decision-making scenario that forces participants to choose between the values of their religious and political cultures and, to some degree, behave in an identity-inconsistent manner. Results indicate main effects of Christian identity centrality and democrat identity centrality on preference for traditional versus gender-neutral (i.e., non-traditional/progressive) restrooms after statistically controlling for covariates. Additionally, results show a significant main effect of democrat identity centrality and a significant interaction effect of Christian and democrat identity centrality on positive emotion linked to the decision. Post hoc analyses further reveal a significant quadratic relationship between Christian identity centrality and emotion related to the decision. There was no effect of situational strength of democrat identity salience on the decision. Neither centrality or situational strength had any effect on the speed with which participants made their decisions. This research theoretically and empirically advances the study of cultural psychology and carries important implications for identity research and judgment and decision-making across a variety of fields, including management, behavioral economics, and marketing.

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  • 2019