Standing out as a signal to selfishness: Culture and devaluation of non-normative characteristics

Zoe Kinias, Heejung S. Kim, Andrew C. Hafenbrack, Jina J. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


This article proposes and tests a theoretical model articulating when and why differences in devaluation and avoidance of individuals with non-normative characteristics emerge between East Asian and Western cultural contexts. Four main studies examined this theoretical model. In a pilot study, relative to Americans, Koreans devalued a target individual with a non-normative characteristic, and in Study 1 the target's efforts to forestall disruption of group processes eliminated the devaluation in Korea, with perceived selfishness mediating this process. In Study 2, Koreans, relative to Americans, devalued and avoided coworkers with non-normative characteristics, particularly when the non-normative characteristic was controllable. Study 3 further showed that perceived selfishness mediates this effect with a behavioral dependent variable. Study 4 tested the generalizability to positively valenced characteristics and found that Koreans (relative to Americans) also devalue individuals with positive characteristics at non-normative levels. Implications for individuals with non-normative characteristics, organizational diversity, and cross-cultural interaction are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-203
Number of pages14
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Culture
  • Deviation
  • Evaluation
  • Hiring decisions
  • Norms


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