Paper 1 Sample


The following answers are meant to summarize the article, "Beyond self-presentation: Evidence for self-criticism among Japanese."


Q1: What was the research about?

The present research compared Canadians versus Japanese in their likelihood to exhibit self-enhancing or self-critical responses to positive and negative feedback. Are Canadians more likely to take credit for their success? Are Japanese more likely to take blame for their failure? This study attempted to determine if cultural differences exist in the way that we present ourselves to others.

Q2: How did they conduct the research?

Participants were brought into the lab individually to take part in an experiment entitled Cognition and Judgment which contained 2 phases. In Phase 1, participants viewed grids of colored shapes on a computer and were then asked to answer 20 questions regarding the numbers of certain shapes presented as quickly and accurately as possible. They were told that their speed and accuracy in answering these questions reflected how well they could integrate and manipulate information, a skill they were told is critically linked to intelligence.

In Phase 2, participants were told that the experimenters were interested in how well they could make a mathematical judgment with only a limited amount of information. They were urged to make the judgment as soon as they felt that they had seen enough information to be able to determine the correct answer. The judgment that they were to make was whether their performance on the ICC test was better or worse than that of a computer, which participants were told was programmed to function the same as an average UBC/Nara University student.

The computer randomly assigned participants either to a success or a failure condition. After indicating that they had seen enough information to make their decision, participants decided who performed better-themselves or the average student. Next, participants were asked to indicate how confident they were that they had made the correct decision on a scale of 1-9.

Q3: What kind of research did they conduct? Briefly explain how you can tell it is that type of research.

Although this study randomly assigned participants and had dependent measures (p.74) it was not an experimental design because there was not an independent variable that could be manipulated. It was identified in the article that "Because cross-cultural comparisons are inherently correlational in nature (i.e., culture is never manipulated by the experimenter), it is important to consider whether any extraneous factors or third variables may have affected the results."

Q4: What did they find?

Researchers found that the Japanese were more likely to be self-critical than the Canadians while the Canadians were more likely to exhibit self-enhancement. In fact, when the Japanese participants were told that they exhibited above average performance on the tasks, the Japanese subjects tended to require more information before making a decision, require more time to do so, express less confidence in their decision, and were slightly more likely to dismiss the validity of the test.


Q5: What might be an alternative explanation or limitation to the research?

One possible alternative explanation is that the two universities sampled in the study varied in level of prestige. That is, the Japanese students may have attended a less pretigious university than their Canadian counterparts, and, as a result, were more likely to view their performance less positively.

Q6: How might the findings be relevant to your listener's life?

In general, it is useful to remember that people behave differently in different cultures. It is so easy to adapt to what we have been exposed to in our culture and assume it is the same everywhere. If in our culture we are constantly exposed to ourselves and others exhibiting self-enhancing statements and behaviors, we can easily assume that it is common throughout the world. This study reminds us why we need to be careful jumping to such conclusions. We should be careful not to assume that the behavior of others is "abnormal" or strange just because it is different. Our behavior may look quite odd to them as well.