Deviance or uniqueness, harmony or conformity? A cultural analysis

Heejung Kim, Hazel Rose Markus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

779 Scopus citations


Uniqueness has positive connotations of freedom and independence in American culture, whereas conformity has positive connotations of connectedness and harmony in East Asian culture. The present research examined how these cultural values and individual preferences for uniqueness and conformity influence each other. In Studies 1 and 2, East Asian and European American preferences for uniqueness were measured using abstract figures. In Study 3, the choice of pens by East Asians and European Americans was examined as a function of whether the pen appeared unique. In Study 4, Korean and American magazine ads were analyzed with a focus on themes of conformity and uniqueness. In all studies. East Asians preferred targets that represented conformity, whereas European Americans preferred targets that represented uniqueness. The results highlight the relationship between individual preference and the adoption and perpetuation of cultural values.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-800
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1999


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