Collectivism and the meaning of suffering

Daniel L Sullivan, Mark J. Landau, Aaron C. Kay, Zachary K. Rothschild

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

People need to understand why an instance of suffering occurred and what purpose it might have. One widespread account of suffering is a repressive suffering construal (RSC): interpreting suffering as occurring because people deviate from social norms and as having the purpose of reinforcing the social order. Based on the theorizing of Emile Durkheim and others, we propose that RSC is associated with social morality-the belief that society dictates morality-and is encouraged by collectivist (as opposed to individualist) sentiments. Study 1 showed that dispositional collectivism predicts both social morality and RSC. Studies 2-4 showed that priming collectivist (vs. individualist) self-construal increases RSC of various types of suffering and that this effect is mediated by increased social morality (Study 4). Study 5 examined behavioral intentions, demonstrating that parents primed with a collectivist self-construal interpreted children's suffering more repressively and showed greater support for corporal punishment of children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1023-1039
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume103
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

collectivism
morality
Punishment
social order
Social Norms
Psychological Stress
penalty
parents
Parents

Keywords

  • Collectivism
  • Individualism
  • Moral foundations
  • Repressive suffering construal
  • Suffering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Psychology

Cite this

Collectivism and the meaning of suffering. / Sullivan, Daniel L; Landau, Mark J.; Kay, Aaron C.; Rothschild, Zachary K.

In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 103, No. 6, 12.2012, p. 1023-1039.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Sullivan, Daniel L ; Landau, Mark J. ; Kay, Aaron C. ; Rothschild, Zachary K. / Collectivism and the meaning of suffering. In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2012 ; Vol. 103, No. 6. pp. 1023-1039.
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