Sheena Iyengar

What Drives Whom? A Cultural Perspective on Human Agency

Coauthor(s): Miriam Hernandez.

Download:

Adobe Acrobat PDF

Abstract:
This paper examines agency as a mechanism that can predict cultural differences in human motivation. In elaborating on the theory of self-construal (Markus and Kitayama, 1991) and drawing on past research on culture, we propose that people from cultures stressing independence are more personally agentic, whereas people from cultures stressing interdependence are more collectively agentic?which results in culturally contrasting differences in cognition and human motivation. Specifically, it is hypothesized that personal agents perceive agency to emanate from the self and, in turn, exhibit greater intrinsic motivation toward actions perceived as self-initiated, whereas collective agents perceive agency to lie within the collective and, in turn, exhibit greater intrinsic motivation toward behaviors perceived to originate from a collective. Such a framework elucidates current empirical research in the area of culture, cognition, and motivation as well as enables predictions about the contexts that can engender or inhibit human motivation across cultures.

Source: Social Cognition
Exact Citation:
Hernandez, Miriam, and Sheena Iyengar. "What Drives Whom? A Cultural Perspective on Human Agency." Social Cognition 19, no. 3 (July 2001): 269-94.
Volume: 19
Number: 3
Pages: 269-94
Date: 7 2001