The Role of Cognitive Discrepancy Between Perception of National Character and Personality in the Functioning and Adaptation of 46 Countries: An Exploratory Study

Daniel David, Silviu Andrei Matu, Oana Alexandra David, Antonio Terracciano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

The role of distorted cognitions in human functioning/adaptation is well-established at the individual level. We argue that the discrepancy between perceived national character and the actual national character (i.e., personality traits) is a form of distorted cognition at the group/country level and thus could have a negative impact on the functioning/adaptation of a given country. In this study, we computed this discrepancy score (the perceived national character minus the actual national character) and correlated it to indicators of functioning/adaptation in 46 countries. Results showed that the overestimation of national character (a higher score on the discrepancy measure) is associated with lower life satisfaction, lower autonomy, lower human development, and lower peacefulness at the country level. These results were maintained even after controlling for the effect of economic development, indexed as gross national income. Distorted cognitions related to national character shared by citizens are not only a scientific curiosity, but they might also have more practical implications for the country’s positioning on the global stage. These findings set the ground for a new topic of research investigating the role of such cognitive distortions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-430
Number of pages19
JournalCross-Cultural Research
Volume51
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2017

Keywords

  • autonomy
  • cognitive discrepancy
  • country functioning/adaptation
  • human development
  • life satisfaction
  • national character
  • peacefulness
  • personality

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