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Regular version of the site

Article

Examining Self-Advantage in the Suffering of Others: Cross-Cultural Differences in Beneficiary and Observer Justice Sensitivity among Chinese, Germans, and Russians

Social justice research. 2014. Vol. 27. No. 2. P. 231-242.
Wu M. S., Schmitt M., Nartova-Bochaver Sofya, Astanina N., Khachatryan N., Zhou C., Han B.

Other-related concerns for justice are fundamental components of morality and interpersonal behaviors. In this paper, we investigated macro/cultural and micro/individual differences in justice concerns for others. More specifically, beneficiary sensitivity (BS) and observer sensitivity (OS) were compared across China as a typical collectivist society, and Germany and Russia as two individualistic societies. Individualism–collectivism was assumed to mediate the cultural variance of BS and OS. In Study 1, Chinese participants exhibited more BS but less OS compared to German participants. In Study 2, the Chinese participants exhibited more BS but not significantly different OS compared to Russian participants. Moreover, collectivism mediated this cultural difference in BS but not OS. In Study 3, collectivist participants identified according to their proposals in social value games exhibited more BS than did individualistic participants, while the two groups revealed no significant difference in OS. Taken together, our studies consistently show that higher collectivism both on the cultural and individual levels is related to BS but not to OS, suggesting that collectivist values make people sensitive to selfadvantage in comparison to the suffering of others.