2011 Volume 54 Issue 4 Pages 178-189
This paper reports on a study relevant to the psychology literature on pan-cultural self-enhancement; namely, what are some strategies by which people from non-western cultures raise their self-worth? I conducted an experiment to test hypotheses regarding culturally acceptable means of communicating positive feedback and its effect on changes in self-esteem. Japanese were expected to report elevated feelings of self-worth after receiving positive feedback from a friend, whereas Americans were expected to report higher feelings of self-worth after announcing their own positive feedback (given by an experimenter in front of a friend). One hundred and fifty-seven pairs of friends participated in an experiment in which one friend in each pair was the target of positive feedback from a simulated creativity test (delivered by self or friend). Analyses revealed that culture and source of feedback affected the global self-esteem of the test takers and appearance self-esteem of both the test taker and the friend. Relative to each culture, US Americans’ self-esteem increased after self-delivered feedback, whereas the self-esteem of Japanese increased after feedback announced by a friend. The results highlight appropriate feedback situations leading to positive self-evaluation for Japanese and Americans. Implications for intercultural education are discussed.