The effects of culture and friendship on rewarding honesty and punishing deception

Cynthia S. Wang*, Angela K y Leung, Ya Hui Michelle See, Xiang Yu Gao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


The present research explores whether the type of relationship one holds with deceptive or honest actors influences cross-cultural differences in reward and punishment. Research suggests that Americans reward honest actors more than they punish deceptive perpetrators, whereas East Asians reward and punish equally (Wang & Leung, 2010). Our research suggests that the type of relationship with the actor matters for East Asians, but not for Americans. East Asians exhibit favoritism toward their friends by rewarding more than punishing them, but reward and punish equally when the actors are strangers (Experiment 1 and 2); Americans reward more than they punish regardless of the type of relationship (Experiment 2). Furthermore, the findings were replicated when the proposed mechanism - social mobility - was manipulated within the same culture (Experiment 3). We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding how friends versus strangers are rewarded and punished in an increasingly relationally complex world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1295-1299
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


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