The cultural dynamics of rewarding honesty and punishing deception

Cynthia S. Wang, Angela K Y Leung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research suggests that individuals reward honesty more than they punish deception. Five experiments showed that different patterns of rewards and punishments emerge for North American and East Asian cultures. Experiment 1 demonstrated that Americans rewarded more than they punished, whereas East Asians rewarded and punished in equivalent amounts. Experiments 2 and 3 revealed that these divergent patterns by culture could be explained by greater social mobility experienced by Americans. Experiments 4 and 5 examined how certain consequences of social mobility, approach-avoidance behavioral motivations and trust and felt obligation, can lead to disparate reward and punishment decisions within the two cultures. Moreover, Experiment 4 revealed that Americans exhibited stronger evaluative reactions toward deception but stronger behavioral intentions toward honesty; East Asians did not exhibit this evaluative-behavioral asymmetry. The cross-cultural implications for understanding rewards and punishments in an increasingly globalized world are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1529-1542
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


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