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Research
Oct 1, 2018

Self-Assertive Interdependence In Arab Culture

Abstract

Arabs represent a major cultural group, yet one that is relatively neglected in cultural psychology. We hypothesized that Arab culture is characterized by a unique form of interdependence that is self-assertive. Arab cultural identity emerged historically in regions with harsh ecological and climatic environments, in which it was necessary to protect the survival of tribal groups. Individuals in Arabian cultures were honour-bound to be respectable and trustworthy group members. Supporting this hypothesis, study 1 found that Arabs were interdependent and holistic (like East Asians), but also self-assertive (like Westerners). This psychological profile was observed equally for both Muslim and Christian Arabs, thus ruling out Islamic religion as an alternative explanation for our findings. Studies 2 and 3 showed that the self-assertive tendency of Arabs is in service of interdependence, whereas that of Westerners is in service of independence. Our work contributes to the current effort by cultural psychologists to go beyond the prevailing East versus West, interdependence versus independence paradigm. It also speaks to the emerging socioecological perspective in cultural research.


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