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Is the interdependent self more sensitive to question context than the independent self? Self-construal and the observation of conversational norms

Question answering requires close attention to the common ground to determine what the questioner wants to know. Because attentiveness to others is more likely to be a self-defining goal when the self is thought of as interdependent with others rather than independent of others, it was predicted that self-construal influences attentiveness to the common ground. In Experiment 1, 69 participants' temporary self-construal was manipulated through a priming technique. As predicted, interdependence-primed participants were more likely than independence-primed participants to take the recipient's knowledge into account and avoided providing redundant information in a self-administered questionnaire. Drawing on chronic differences in self-construal, Experiment 2 replicated these findings with 167 participants from independent (Germany) and interdependent (China) cultures. Throughout, participants' differential attentiveness to the common ground resulted in differential question order effects, raising important methodological issues for cross-cultural research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)