Human psychology might vary by culture, as research has shown that tendencies that were thought to be universal in humans are not always present in isolated groups. This idea developed after a study of the indigenous Machiguenga culture of Peru, during which a common behavioral experiment was conducted to measure ideas of fairness. The experiment is known as the ultimatum game, in which money is given to a participant who must give some to another anonymous participant to keep, but if the second participant feels it’s an unfair offer, he or she can refuse and punish the offering person, who will not get to keep the money. The Machiguenga rarely ever denied any of the offers, no matter how low, which showed a dramatic difference from North Americans, who were more likely to want punishment for what they perceived to be unfair behaviors.
More about cross-cultural psychology:
- Americans are the least likely of any cultural group to conform to group pressure, according to a study that measured incorrect decision making under peer pressure.
- About 96% of all participants in psychology studies from 2003 through 2007 were Westerners, who represent only 12% of the world’s population.
- People in countries such as India, Pakistan and Malaysia, which are not generally accepting of deviant behavior, have been found to have more impulse control than people in the US and other Western countries.