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Sociocultural Variations in Motivation and Decision-making Under Uncertainty


People of varying sociocultural background differ in their motivations and decision-making processes. Across two chapters, national culture and socioeconomic status were examined as factors that might drive individual’s motivational orientations, which in turn could predict their decision-making processes and strategies. Chapter 1 investigated cross-cultural differences in strategic risky decisions in baseball—among professional baseball teams in North America and Japan (Study 1), and among baseball fans in the US and Japan (Study 2—pre-registered). Study 1 analyzed archival data from professional baseball leagues and demonstrated that outcomes reflecting high risk-high payoff strategies were more prevalent in North America whereas outcomes reflecting low risk-low payoff strategies were more prevalent in Japan. Study 2 investigated fans’ strategic decision-making with a wider range of baseball strategies as well as an underlying reason for the difference: approach/avoidance motivational orientation. European American participants preferred high risk-high payoff strategies, Japanese participants preferred low risk-low payoff strategies, and this cultural variation was explained by cultural differences in motivational orientation. Baseball, which exemplifies a domain where strategic decision making has observable consequences, can demonstrate the power of culture through the actions and preferences of players and fans alike. Chapter 2 examined whether socioeconomic status played a role in college students’ motivations and decision-making. Study 1 examined whether socioeconomic status predicted people’s decision-making processes and strategies, and whether this association would be partly explained by the socioeconomic differences in approach and avoidance motivations. While socioeconomic status predicted certain decision-making process and strategy, these associations were not explained by approach and avoidance motivations. Study 2 investigated whether gain (approach)/loss (avoidance) message framing vary in their effectiveness in promoting academic related interactions for college students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Different from hypothesized, loss message framing was not more effective for students of lower socioeconomic status, and gain message framing was not more effective for students of higher socioeconomic status. Both chapters aimed to demonstrate the importance of understanding the role of sociocultural background in the study of decision-making and motivation.

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