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Culture, ambiguity aversion and choice in probability judgments.

Many recent cross-cultural studies have showed cultural differences in cognition between Westerners and Easterners. Nisbett and colleagues (Nisbett, 2003; Nisbett, Peng, Choi, & Norenzayan, 2001) have offered a model of two distinct modes of cognitive processing by Westerners and East Asians (Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans); these are, respectively, analytic cognition and holistic cognition. According to their definition, analytic cognition involves detachment of the object from its context, a tendency to focus on attributes of the object to assign it to categories, and a preference for using rules about the categories to explain and predict the object's behavior. In contrast, holistic cognition involves an orientation to the context or field as a whole, attention to relationships between a focal object and the field, and a preference for explaining and predicting events on the basis of such relationships. Cultures that differ in cognitive style (analytic vs. holistic cognition) also differ in social orientation. Western societies tend to be more independent, whereas East Asian societies tend to be more interdependent (Nisbett et al., 2001). The link between cognitive style and social orientation has been widely accepted (e.g., Markus & Kitayama, 1991b; Nisbett et al., 2001). It has also been reported that cognitive differences and differences in social orientation between Westerners and East Asians also hold true for differences in probability judgments and decision making (Choi, Choi, & Norenzayan, 2004).

In recent years, the cognitive processes involved in probability judgments and decision making have been investigated within the framework of cultural psychology (for a review, see Yates, Lee, Sieck, Choi, & Price, 2002). Although differences in probability judgments and decision making that have been demonstrated varies across cultures, research is lacking in several related areas. In particular, studies in cultural psychology have not examined ambiguity aversion (Ellsberg, 1961), which refers to the finding that people prefer options involving known probabilities (risk) to options involving ambiguous probabilities (ambiguity). Our present concern is whether or not the comparative ignorance hypothesis (Fox & Tversky, 1995) is common across cultures. According to this hypothesis, ambiguity aversion is seen when participants evaluate lotteries with both clear and ambiguous probabilities, whereas ambiguity aversion decreases, or disappears when they evaluate each lottery in isolation. Therefore, the present study first examined whether the effects of ambiguity are common across cultures. If they are common, the second problem is whether the comparative ignorance hypothesis can explain ambiguity aversion. We used French participants as samples of Westerners, and Japanese participants as samples of Easterners. Moreover, this study makes a distinction between self and other choice, in examining whether it is possible to support the comparative ignorance hypothesis by comparing French and Japanese participants. We attempted to enlarge the comparative ignorance hypothesis to include cross-cultural research on choice preference. We focus on the questions of how analytic versus holistic models of cognition can influence the processes of decision making.

Ambiguity Aversion, Competence, and Comparative Ignorance

One of the well-known paradigms that highlights of the difference between risk and ambiguity is Ellsberg's two-color problem (e.g., Ellsberg, 1961). Ellsberg's two-color problem involves two boxes, which contain red and black chips. Box 1 contains 50 red and 50 black chips, whereas Box 2 contains 100 red and black chips in a proportion unknown to the participant. People draw a chip from one of the boxes and win the drawing if they get a red chip. When asked which box they prefer to draw a chip from, most people don't express their preference for colors, however they prefer to bet on the 50:50 probability box (Box 1) rather than on the box with the unknown probability (Box 2). In fact, the probability of drawing a chip of either color is identical in the two boxes. This preference for betting on known probabilities rather than unknown probabilities is called ambiguity aversion (Ellsberg, 1961).

Einhorn and Hogarth (1985) pointed out the difference in the nature of the uncertainty between Box 1 and Box 2. In Box 1, one is at least certain about the uncertainty in the box. On the other hand, in Box 2, although one's best estimate of the probability may be .5, confidence in that estimate is low. The importance of Ellsberg's two-color problem lies in the difference in the nature of the uncertainty between Box 1 and Box 2. Thus, Box 1 is favored over Box 2 because the degree of uncertainty is known for Box 1, and the probability of success is judged to be higher than that for Box 2, which is more ambiguous. These effects can be explained by the competence hypothesis of Heath and Tversky (1991). Heath and Tversky (1991; Fox & Tversky, 1995) suggested that decisions made under uncertainty depend not only on the degree of uncertainty but also on its source. Participants preferred betting on their beliefs in situations where they felt particularly competent or knowledgeable, although they preferred betting on chance when they did not.

In addition to the competence hypothesis, Fox and Tversky (1995) proposed the more progressive comparative ignorance hypothesis. They argued that the production of ambiguity aversion in Ellsberg's two-color problem depends on a direct comparison of Box 1, in which the degree of uncertainty is certain, and Box 2, in which the ambiguity provides unreliable information. They also pointed out that prior research on ambiguity aversion had manipulated uncertainty as a within-subjects variable operating under conditions of certainty and ambiguity. In other words, Fox and Tversky (1995) suggested that research had looked only at situations in which a direct comparison of conditions is made, when the participants are provided with complete information and uncertain information. They hypothesized that if conditions of certainty and conditions of ambiguity were used as between-subjects variables, ambiguity aversion would decrease or disappear. In order to test the comparative ignorance hypothesis, Fox and Tversky (1995) designed an experiment using Ellsberg's two-color problem (Study 1). To investigate uncertainty, they created two groups: one group made decisions while directly comparing a certain box and an ambiguous box (variability within the participants), and the other group made decisions about the boxes individually (variability between the participants). The results revealed ambiguity aversion in the former (24.34 dollars for the certain box, 14.85 dollars for the ambiguous box), and no difference in the latter (17.94 dollars for the certain box, 18.42 dollars for the ambiguous box), therefore supporting the comparative ignorance hypothesis. Chow and Sarin (2001) and Fox and Weber (2002) obtained similar results. (1) Fox and Weber (2002) described the comparative ignorance hypothesis as follows:
   According to their comparative ignorance hypothesis, ambiguity
   aversion is driven by a comparison with more familiar sources of
   uncertainty or more knowledgeable people (which makes the notion of
   competence more salient), and is not as pronounced in the absence
   of such a comparison (where the notion of competence is less
   salient). (pp. 478-479)


This comparative ignorance hypothesis weighs whether people making probability judgments feel knowledgeable about their circumstances or competence in completing the given tasks.

The Provision of Choice and the Individual's Sense of Personal Control

Before testing the comparative ignorance hypothesis, we need to incorporate another variable. Decisions made under uncertainty are also influenced by the factor providing choice. However, Fox and Tversky's (1995) experiment using Ellsberg's two-color problem failed to take cultural differences in choice preference between Westerners and East Asians into consideration.

Psychological research on the provision of choice usually makes the assumption that choice is always beneficial and desirable. Some psychologists have postulated that the provision of choice or control will enhance intrinsic motivation (e.g., Deci, 1981; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Langer, 1975). Being offered a choice, even an illusionary or unimportant choice, has been shown to have strong motivational consequences (e.g., Langer, 1975; Langer & Rodin, 1976). Likewise, it has also been shown that the provision of choice can enhance an individual's sense of personal control (Taylor, 1989; Taylor & Brown, 1988).

However, several recent studies have shown that this preference for more choice is not universal. Cross-cultural research on providing personal choice or control indicates that East Asians are less confident than Americans about their personal ability to control the environment. For example, Heine and Lehman (1995) showed that Japanese students were less confident than Canadians in their personal ability to control situations. Ji, Peng, and Nisbett (2000) showed that a relationship between perceived personal control and task performance was observed among American, but not among Asian, participants. Iyengar and Lepper (1999) found that personal choice enhanced motivation more for European American than for Asian American participants. These findings suggest that a preference for one's own choice may be specific to Western people.

This hypothesis is reinforced by the suggestion of Markus and Kitayama (1991a, b) that a relationship between providing choice or control and intrinsic motivation might not be universally applicable. From Markus and Kitayama's (1991a, b) perspective, the self can have two construals: independent or interdependent. For those who possess an independent self, making a choice provides an occasion to show one's preferences, to promote one's autonomy, and to express one's uniqueness. In contrast, making choices may be much less important for members of more interdependent cultures of Asia and elsewhere. Use of personal choice may even be threatening to individuals belonging to interdependent cultures when the outcome of personal choice goes against the preference of the reference group.

Fox and Tversky's (1995) experiment using Ellsberg's two-color problem fails to take these differences into account. The task instructions specified that "you" (the participant) must decide on the color of a chip and then pull it out--conditions that enhance the individual's sense of personal control for members of an independent culture, but possibly not for those from interdependent cultures. Fox and Tversky's (1995) experiment did not include a "no-choice (lack of personal choice)" condition that provides a choice to someone other than the participants. Lack of choice would unnerve one's confidence for Westerners than for East Asians (e.g., Heine & Lehman, 1995; Ji et al., 2000; Markus & Kitayama, 1991b). Our research is designed as a cross-cultural study of Westerners (French participants) and East Asians (Japanese participants). In order to enlarge the comparative ignorance hypothesis proposed by Fox and Tversky (1995) to include cross-cultural research on choice preference, the present study made a distinction between a choice made by the self and by another person. Then, it examined whether comparing French and Japanese participants would support the hypothesis. In the no-choice (hereafter, the "competitor") condition, an unknown other (a competitor) made the choice for the participants. We expected that the competitor would be perceived as a usurper of an individual's right to choose more for French than for Japanese participants. Those of two conditions (self and other choice) replicated the basic design of the studies that have demonstrated effects of choice (e.g., Deci & Ryan, 1985; Langer, 1975).

OVERVIEW OF THE RESEARCH

One of the purposes of this study was to test ambiguity aversion among French and Japanese participants. If ambiguity aversion was observed, the validity of the comparative ignorance hypothesis proposed by Fox and Tversky (1995) was to be tested across these two cultures. Finally, we examined whether making probability judgments was affected by availability or by lack of choice.

General Method

This study followed the method of Fox and Tversky (1995), using Ellsberg's two-color problem to investigate the amounts French and Japanese participants were willing to bet on boxes in which the degree of uncertainty is certain or ambiguous. The probability of success was 1/2 in the certain condition and unstated in the ambiguous condition. In Experiment 1 (within-subjects design), each participant evaluated lotteries with both clear and ambiguous probabilities. In Experiment 2 (between-subjects design), different participants evaluated each lottery in isolation. While this research design examined personal choice in the same way as Fox and Tversky's (1995) first experiment, the present study also introduced a competitor choice condition in which someone else drew the chip.

Hypotheses

Emergence of ambiguity aversion. If the comparative ignorance hypothesis is common across cultures, ambiguity aversion should be produced in comparative betting conditions (Experiment 1). On the other hand, ambiguity aversion should decrease or disappear in non-comparative betting conditions (Experiment 2).

Cross-cultural differences on the value of choice. We predicted that the French participants, who are assumed to have a more independent self and a more analytic cognition, would be more likely than the Japanese to bet larger sums of money in the personal choice conditions (Iyengar & Lepper, 1999; Ji et al., 2000). On the other hand, the Japanese participants, assumed to have a more interdependent self and a more holistic cognition, would be more likely than the French to bet larger sums of money in the competitor choice conditions (Ji et al., 2000; Markus & Kitayama, 1991b).

Choice effects within the culture. The French and Japanese participants would be more likely to place higher bets under personal choice conditions than under competitor choice conditions (Iyengar & Lepper, 1999; Ji et al., 2000; Langer, 1975; Taylor, 1989; Taylor & Brown, 1988). However, the difference between the personal choice and competitor choice conditions among French participants would likely be larger than among Japanese participants.

EXPERIMENT 1

The purpose of this experiment was to examine whether ambiguity aversion was driven by a comparison between the certain box and the ambiguous box (variability within the participants). We presented both the certain box and the ambiguous box to French and Japanese participants. The second purpose of current experiment was to examine whether cultural differences in choice preference demonstrated in previous studies (e.g., Ji et al., 2000; Markus & Kitayama, 1991b) was observed between French and Japanese participants and within each cultural group.

Method

Participants. The French participants consisted of one hundred and twenty undergraduate students majoring in psychology in their third year of study at the Universite Lyon 2. The Japanese participants consisted of one hundred and fourteen undergraduate students, enrolled at Kobe University, Kobe College, and Setsunan University and majoring in psychology, literature, business administration, or technology. The French participants' mean age was 21.5 years, and the Japanese participants' mean age was 20.3 years.

Materials. French and Japanese versions of Fox and Tversky's (1995) use of the Ellsberg's two-color problem were prepared. The problems of the personal choice conditions are shown as follows (2, 3)
   Imagine that there is a box on the table (Box A) filled with
   exactly 50 red poker chips and 50 black poker chips, and a second
   box (Box B) filled with 100 poker chips that are red and black, but
   you don't know their relative proportion. Suppose that you are
   offered a ticket to a game that is to be played as follows:

   First, you are to guess a color (red or black). Next, without
   looking, you are to draw a poker chip out of one of the boxes. If
   the color that you draw is the same as the one you predicted, then
   you will win 100 euros (10,000 yen for the Japanese version);
   otherwise you win nothing. What is the most that you would pay for
   a ticket to play such a game for each of the boxes? (From 0 euros
   to 100 euros in the French version, and from 0 yen to 10,000 yen in
   the Japanese version.)

   The most that I would be willing to pay for a ticket to Box A (50
   red; 50 black) is:

   The most that I would be willing to pay for a ticket to Box B (?
   red; ? black) is:


The problems of the competitor choice conditions are shown as follows:
   Imagine that there is a box on the table (Box A) filled with
   exactly 50 red poker chips and 50 black poker chips, and a second
   box (Box B) filled with 100 poker chips that are red and black, but
   you and a competitor don't know their relative proportion. Suppose
   that you are offered a ticket to a game that is to be played as
   follows:

   First, the competitor is to guess a color (red or black). Next
   without looking, this competitor is to draw a poker chip out of one
   the boxes. If the color that this competitor draws is the same as
   the one she or he predicted, then you will win nothing; otherwise
   you win 100 euros (10,000 yen for the Japanese version). What is
   the most that you would pay for a ticket to play such a game for
   each of the boxes? (From 0 euros to 100 euros in the French
   version, and from 0 yen to 10,000 yen in the Japanese version.)

   The most that I would be willing to pay for a ticket to Box A (50
   red; 50 black) is:

   The most that I would be willing to pay for a ticket to Box B (?
   red; ? black) is:


Design. The design was a 2 (nationality: French, Japanese) by 2 (choice: personal choice, competitor choice) by 2 (degree of uncertainty: certain, ambiguity) mixed-model design, with the first and the second factors between the participants.

Procedure. The experiment was performed in regular classes in the respective universities. The French and Japanese participants were randomly assigned to two groups. In the personal choice group, 61 French participants and 57 Japanese participants themselves decided the target color of the chip to be drawn. In the competitor choice group, with 59 French participants and 57 Japanese participants, the target color was decided by someone else and that person drew the chip. Each participant was given a problem that included instructions describing the two tasks on the same page. One task described a box in which the degree of uncertainty was certain (hereafter, the "certainty condition"), and the second task described a box in which the degree of uncertainty was ambiguous (hereafter, the "ambiguity condition"). The order in which the boxes were presented was counterbalanced. The questions in the personal choice and the competitor choice conditions are stated above. The participants evaluated the most that they would be willing to pay for a ticket to the clear bet and the ambiguous bet from 0 euros to 100 euros in the French version, and from 0 yen to 10,000 yen in the Japanese version. The amount of money that could be bet corresponded to the currency and range used by Fox and Tversky (1995), 0 U.S. dollars to 100 U.S. dollars. The economic disparity between the U.S., France, and Japan is not large enough to influence the probability judgments.

Results and Discussion

The average amounts that participants were willing to pay under each condition are shown in Table 1. An analysis of variance was carried out on the three factor design. (4) (5) The main effect of degree of uncertainty was significant (M = 28.27 vs. 15.94), F(1, 230) = 64.98, p < .001, [[eta].sup.2] = .06; indicating that ambiguity aversion emerged. The main effects of nationality (M = 21.53 vs. 22.72) and choice (M = 19.53 vs. 24.71) were not significant, F < 1, ns, [[eta].sup.2] = .001, and F(1, 230) = 3.38, p = .07, [[eta].sup.2] = .01, respectively.

The two-way interaction of nationality and choice was significant, F(1, 230) = 4.13, p < .05, [[eta].sup.2] = 01. The two-way interactions of nationality and degree of uncertainty, as well as choice and degree of uncertainty, were not significant, F(1, 230) = 1.62, ns, [[eta].sup.2] = .002, and F < 1, ns, [[eta].sup.2] = .000, respectively. The three-way interaction of nationality, choice, and degree of uncertainty was not significant, F(1, 230) = 3.21, p = .07, [[eta].sup.2] = .003.

An analysis of simple main effects from the two-way interaction between nationality and choice revealed that the French placed higher bets than the Japanese in the personal choice condition (M = 21.80 vs. 17.27), F(1, 230) = 4.40, p < .05, r = .11; but lower bets in the competitor choice condition (M = 21.26 vs. 28.17), F(1, 230) = 10.27, p < .01, r = .26. The Japanese in the competitor choice group placed higher bets than the Japanese in the personal choice group (M = 28.17 vs. 17.27), F(1, 230) = 25.52,p < .01, r = .63. However, no significant difference was found between the amounts the French bet under the personal and competitor choice conditions (M = 21.80 vs. 21.26), F < 1, ns, r = .002.

In summary, ambiguity aversion appeared for both French and Japanese participants. This indicates that all participants preferred betting on known probabilities to unknown probabilities. As expected, the French participants placed higher bets than the Japanese participants under personal choice conditions, whereas the Japanese participants placed significantly higher bets than the French participants in the competitor choice condition. These findings are consistent with cultural differences in the value of choice between Westerners and East Asians. For those who possess a more independent self, personal choice may be deeply implicated in the sense of self-identity (Iyengar & Lepper, 1999; Ji et al., 2000). On the other hand, use of personal choice may pose a threat to individuals belonging to interdependent cultures (Ji et al., 2000; Markus & Kitayama, 1991b).

However, inconsistent with our prediction, Japanese participants placed significantly higher bets under competitor choice conditions than personal choice conditions. Although we predicted that the French participants would be more likely to place higher bets under personal choice conditions than competitor choice conditions, no significant difference was found between the amounts they bet under these two conditions. Within the Western cultural sphere, the French did not put as much weight on personal choice as did Americans in Fox and Tversky's (1995) study (e.g., Choi, et al., 2004; Yates, et al., 2002). These unexpected findings regarding Japanese and French participants are discussed below in the general discussion section.

EXPERIMENT 2

In Experiment 2, conditions of certainty and ambiguity were used as between-subjects variables, in order to examine whether ambiguity aversion occurs even in these conditions. Consequently, we examined whether the comparative ignorance hypothesis is common across cultures or varies across cultures. If the comparative ignorance hypothesis is common across cultures, ambiguity aversion should decrease or disappear in non-comparative betting conditions. The second purpose of this experiment was to examine whether cultural differences in choice preference demonstrated in previous studies (e.g., Ji et al., 2000; Markus & Kitayama, 1991b) was observed between French and Japanese participants and within each cultural group.

Method

Participants. The French participants consisted of 174 undergraduate students majoring in psychology from the Universite Lyon 2. The Japanese participants consisted of 168 students, enrolled at Kobe University, Kobe College, and Setsunan University majoring in psychology, literature, business administration, or technology. The French participants' mean age was 21.3 years, and the Japanese participants' mean age was 19.9 years.

Materials. French and Japanese versions of Fox and Tversky's (1995) use of the Ellsberg's two-color problem were prepared. However, only one of the two boxes was presented at a time to the participants. Four different problems are shown in the Appendix.

Design. The design was a 2 (nationality: French, Japanese) by 2 (choice: personal choice, competitor choice) by 2 (degree of uncertainty: certain, ambiguity) design between participants.

Procedure. The procedure was basically identical to that in Experiment 1; however, in this case, only one of the two boxes was presented to the each participant. The French and Japanese participants were randomly assigned to four groups. In the personal choice group, 86 French participants (42 in the certain condition and 44 in the ambiguous condition) and 84 Japanese participants (42 in the certain condition and 42 in the ambiguous condition) themselves decided the target color of the chip to be drawn. In the competitor choice group, with 88 French participants (44 in the certain condition and 44 in the ambiguous condition) and 84 Japanese participants (42 in the certain condition and 42 in the ambiguous condition), the target color was decided by someone else and that person drew the chip. They were given a problem and instructions that described only one of the two tasks, either one in which the degree of uncertainty was certain or one in which the degree of uncertainty was ambiguous. These four different kinds of problems are shown in the Appendix.

Results and Discussion

The average amounts participants were willing to pay under each condition are shown in Table 2. A three-factor analysis of variance revealed only a significant main effect of uncertainty (M = 23.40 vs. 14.23), F(1, 334) = 12.08, p < .001, [[eta].sup.2] = .04. All other main effects and interactions were not significant, all Fs < 1, ns, all [[eta].sup.2] < .004. (6) Contrary to the predictions derived from the comparative ignorance hypothesis, ambiguity aversion did not disappear in this experiment.

Briefly stated, ambiguity aversion emerged when the French and Japanese participants compared the two boxes in Experiment 1 and when they made decisions concerning each box separately in Experiment 2. These results indicate that the comparative ignorance hypothesis was not valid across French and Japanese participants. (7) Our current study shows that ambiguity aversion differs in participants from Western cultures--Americans in Fox and Tversky's (1995) study in particular. It is unclear why we failed to observe a cross-cultural difference in the value of choice between French and Japanese participants and no differences in the value of choice within each cultural group.

GENERAL DISCUSSION

Is the Comparative Ignorance Hypothesis Common across Cultures?

Ambiguity aversion was observed both in comparative betting conditions (Experiment 1) and in non-comparative betting conditions (Experiment 2). Consequently, the comparative ignorance hypothesis cannot explain ambiguity aversion for French and Japanese participants. However, the comparative ignorance hypothesis should not be completely rejected. Tests of the sizes of the uncertainty main effect across Experiments 1 and 2 revealed a smaller effect size in Experiment 2 ([[eta].sup.2] = .04) than in Experiment 1 ([[eta].sup.2] = .06). The comparative ignorance hypothesis may therefore have some validity. C. R. Fox (personal communication, September, 22, 2007) asserts that there is a strong version of the comparative ignorance effect (e.g., Fox & Tversky, 1995), which entails a total absence of ambiguity aversion in non-comparative conditions, and a weak version (e.g., Chow & Sarin, 2001; Fox & Weber, 2002) that entails ambiguity aversion in non-comparative conditions, which is less extreme than in the comparative conditions. The weak version of the comparative ignorance is a reduced extent of ambiguity aversion in the non-comparative conditions relative to the comparative conditions. Chow and Sarin (2001) found that the strong result obtained by Fox and Tversky's (1995) comparative ignorance hypothesis was more fragile and the complete disappearance of ambiguity aversion in non-comparative condition might not be as robust as Fox and Tversky had supposed. We thus suggest that the results of this study support the weak version of the comparative ignorance effect (Chow & Sarin, 2001; Fox & Weber, 2002).

Alternative interpretation. We would like to submit an alternative interpretation, from the perspective of cultural psychology. In Experiment 2, the Japanese participants under conditions of ambiguity seem to have been comparing the box in which the degree of uncertainty is ambiguous with the other one in which the degree of uncertainty is certain. We infer that probability judgments the Japanese participants did about the ambiguous box have implications for holistic cognition of the field and the object. Some studies (e.g., Ji, et al., 2000; Masuda & Nisbett, 2001) have been reported that East Asians pay more attention to the field as a whole than to the focal object and are more attuned to the relationship between the object and the field than Westerners. In contrast, Westerners have analytic cognition that involves detachment of the object from its context, a tendency to focus on attributes of the object to assign the object to categories, and a preference for using rules about the categories to explain and predict the object's behavior (e.g., Ji, et al., 2000; Masuda & Nisbett, 2001). The Japanese participants may compare betting on unknown probabilities (i.e., the focal object) with known probabilities (i.e., the field) when the ambiguous box was presented to them. Because of holistic cognition, it may have been difficult for our Japanese participants to avoid comparing the two boxes. Unfortunately, there is no conclusive evidence in the present study whether or not Japanese participants actually compared the certain box and the ambiguous box. However, they may have been more likely than the Westerners in Fox and Tversky's (1995) study to spontaneously make a mental comparison to the box with some degree of uncertainty.

Yet why did the French participants, who share with Americans the same sphere of Western culture, exhibit ambiguity aversion when they did not directly compare the two types of box? These French findings in the present study offer evidence in support of unexpected or counterintuitive cross-cultural findings in decision judgments (Choi, et al., 2004). These results suggest that differing thought styles exist even within a single cultural sphere (Choi, et al., 2004; Nisbett et al., 2001; Schwartz, 2000).

Choice in Probability Judgments

Cross-cultural differences in the value of choice. In Experiment 1, the French placed higher bets than the Japanese under the personal choice conditions, and the Japanese placed higher bets than the French under the competitor choice conditions. Some cross-cultural studies have been reported that Westerners possess a sense of personal control to a greater degree than East Asians (e.g., Heine & Lehman, 1995; Iyengar & Lepper, 1999; Ji et al., 2000; Yamaguchi, Gelfand, Ohashi & Zemba, 2005). This study revealed differences between the French and Japanese ways of feeling personal control. Therefore, the differences in probability judgments and decision making found here were consistent with those of previous studies (e.g., Heine & Lehman, 1995; Ji et al., 2000).

Disappearance of choice effects. In Experiment 1, as for the French participants, we predicted that they would be more likely to place higher bets under personal choice conditions than under competitor choice conditions (Iyengar & Lepper, 1999; Ji et al., 2000; Langer, 1975; Taylor, 1989; Taylor & Brown, 1988). However, no significant differences were found in the amounts the French bet under the personal and competitor choice conditions. This finding for French participants may suggest that within the Western cultural sphere, the French do not place as great an importance on personal choice as did Americans in Fox and Tversky's (1995) study. Alternatively, it might be valid, particularly for Americans, that the provision of choice enhances an individual's sense of personal control. Iyengar and Lepper (1999) described the value of choice in American culture as follows:
   Americans cherish choice. "Liberty," after all, is enshrined,
   subordinate only to life itself in our Declaration of Independence.
   Even today, the provision and the rhetorical appeal of choice
   permeates [sic] American life--from the plethora of options
   available in our grocery stores, where there is often an entire
   aisle devoted solely to potato chips or to soft drinks, to the use
   of the label pro-choice by abortion advocates as a persuasive
   device in current political debate. (p. 349)


Secondly, in Experiment 2, we failed to observe a cross-cultural difference in choice, between French and Japanese participants, or within each cultural group. It is unclear as to why the choice effects disappeared in the non-comparative context. One possible explanation is that these results, in particular related to French participants, may have been the result of a debiasing strategy of the illusion of personal choice, resulting from the experimental manipulation of non-comparative context.

Again unexpectedly, in Experiment 1, the Japanese participants bet more money under the competitor choice conditions than under the personal choice conditions. It is unclear as to why Japanese participants preferred a choice made by competitors, than by themselves. In Japan, many people may believe it is more probable that leaving a decision up to an unknown other (the competitor) brings them luck. Japanese participants, who value interpersonal harmony, may prefer choices provided indirectly, as in the competitor choice conditions, rather than direct choices (Markus & Kitayama, 1991b). We expected that the competitor would be perceived as a usurper of the individual's right to choose. In this sense, similar to previous studies, it was reasonable that this condition was considered to be a "no-choice (lack of personal choice)" condition (e.g., Heine & Lehman, 1995; Iyengar & Lepper, 1999; Ji et al., 2000; Markus & Kitayama, 1991b). The results of this study suggest the need to reconsider whether the dichotomy between personal and competitor choice truly reflects cultural differences in choice preferences, as claimed by previous studies (e.g., Heine & Lehman, 1995; Iyengar & Lepper, 1999; Ji et al., 2000; Markus & Kitayama, 1991b). It is also suggested that more research is needed to evaluate the adequacy of our manipulation.

Manipulation of choice conditions. The present study didn't introduce another lack of personal choice conditions in which someone considered by participants to be worthy of their trust and close in relationship drew the chip. In fact, some research showed that the provision of personal choice was more important to Westerners (with independent selves) than to East Asians (with interdependent selves); however, having choices made by relevant in-group others was more important to East Asians than to Westerners (e.g., Iyengar & Lepper, 1999; Yamaguchi et al., 2005).

We expected that participants would regard the "competitor" mentioned in the instructions under the competitor choice conditions as a person belonging to the out-group and that leaving the choice to someone who belongs to the out-group would reduce participants' confidence. The present experiments did not address the possibility that East Asians prefer a choice made by a person trusted authority figures or peers (belonging to the in-group) to that made themselves or by a person belonging to the out-group (e.g., Iyengar & Lepper, 1999). One of the reasons for this could be that in this study, we emphasized ambiguity aversion and culture over the provision of choice made by people belonging to the out-group vs. the in-group. Further research should examine whether making probability judgments is affected by having choices made by relevant in-group others and would focus on the questions how analytic versus holistic models of cognition can influence the processes of decision making.

Kuniko Adachi, Hiroshi Yama

Osaka City University, Japan

Jean-Baptiste Van der Henst,

Institut de Sciences Cognitives, France

Hugo Mercier

University of Pennsylvania, USA

Minoru Karasawa and Yayoi Kawasaki

Nagoya University, Japan Nihon University, Japan

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Kuniko Adachi, Urban-Culture Research Center, Graduate School of Literature and Human Sciences, Osaka City University, Sugimoto, Sumiyoshi, Osaka, 558-8585, Japan. E-mail: k-adachi@osa.att.ne.jp

This research has been supported by a CHORUS grant from the French Ministry of Research and the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Sciences and by a grant-in-aid from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Sciences (No. 19202012; Project leader: Yukinori Takubo). We thank Craig Fox, Kimihiko Yamagishi, David McCullough, Wai-Ling Lai and Yuriko Zemba for helpful comments on this article, Yasuko Morinaga, Sayaka Kuranaka, Akira Mukai, Koji Kazai, Tetsuji Hirano, Nobutaka Doe, and Miwa Nishioka, for their help in collecting the data

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APPENDIX: PROBLEMS USED IN EXPERIMENT 2

In the personal choice group the certain condition. Imagine that there is a box on the table filled with exactly 50 red poker chips and 50 black poker chips. Suppose that you are offered a ticket to a game that is to be played as follows:

First, you are to guess a color (red or black), Next, without looking, you are to draw a poker chip from that box. If the color that you draw is the same as the one you predicted, then you will win 100 euros (10,000 yen for the Japanese version); otherwise you win nothing. What is the most that you would pay for a ticket to play such a game for the box? (From 0 euros to 100 euros in the French version, and from 0 yen to 10,000 yen in the Japanese version.)

The most that I would be willing to pay for a ticket to the box is:

In the competitor choice group the certain condition. Imagine that there is a box on the table filled with exactly 50 red poker chips and 50 black poker chips. Suppose that you are offered a ticket to a game that is to be played as follows:

First, a competitor is to guess a color (red or black). Next without looking, this competitor is to draw a poker chip from that box. If the color that this competitor draws is the same as the one she or he predicted, then you will win nothing; otherwise you win 100 euros (10,000 yen for the Japanese version). What is the most that you would pay for a ticket to play such a game for the box? (From 0 euros to 100 euros in the French version, and from 0 yen to 10,000 yen in the Japanese version.)

The most that I would be willing to pay for a ticket to the box is:

Note. The underlined words are to show the difference between the personal choice group and the competitor choice group in the certain conditions.

In the personal choice group the ambiguity condition. Imagine that there is a box on the table filled with 100 poker chips that are red and black, but you don't know their relative proportion. Suppose that you are offered a ticket to a game that is to be played as follows:

First, you are to guess a color (red or black). Next, without looking, you are to draw a poker chip from that box. If the color that you draw is the same as the one you predicted, then you will win 100 euros (10,000 yen for the Japanese version); otherwise you win nothing. What is the most that you would pay for a ticket to play such a game for the box? (From 0 euros to 100 euros in the French version, and from 0 yen to 10,000 yen in the Japanese version.)

The most that I would be willing to pay for a ticket to the box is:

In the competitor choice group the ambiguity condition. Imagine that there is a box on the filled with 100 poker chips that are red and black, but you and a competitor don't know their relative proportion. Suppose that you are offered a ticket to a game that is to be played as follows:

First, the competitor is to guess a color (red or black). Next without looking, this competitor is to draw a poker chip from that box. If the color that this competitor draws is the same as the one she or he predicted, then you will win nothing; otherwise you win 100 euros (10,000 yen for the Japanese version). What is the most that you would pay for a ticket to play such a game for the box? (From 0 euros to 100 euros in the French version, and from 0 yen to 10,000 yen in the Japanese version.)

The most that I would be willing to pay for a ticket to the box is:

Note. The underlined words are to show the difference between the personal choice group and the competitor choice group in the ambiguity conditions.

(1) In these studies, ambiguity aversion was observed both in comparative conditions and in noncomparative conditions. The results in these studies support the weak version of the comparative ignorance hypothesis. The weak version of the comparative ignorance is a reduced extent of ambiguity aversion in the non-comparative conditions relative to the comparative conditions. Fox and Weber (2002) note that the presence of ambiguity aversion in non-comparative contexts does not necessarily contradict the comparative ignorance hypothesis.

(2) All materials in Experiment 1 and Experiment 2 were first written in English, translated into French and Japanese, and then back-translated into English. All discrepancies were resolved and the texts were checked once again.

(3) The underlined words show the difference between the personal choice conditions and the competitor choice conditions.

(4) The analysis was carried out on 1/100 of the Japanese yen value.

(5) In this study, we emphasized ambiguity aversion and culture over gender differences. Therefore, we did not include gender in our analysis. Moreover, there were a few cells with small sample sizes for French males. However, recent studies have demonstrated gender differences in both ambiguity aversion and personal choice in decision making. For example, Borghans, Golsteyn, Heckman and Meijers (2009) have showed that ambiguity aversion in Ellsberg's two-color problem was stronger for women than for men. Ji et al. (2000) and Yamaguchi et al. (2005) have reported that personal choice is less important for both American and Japanese women, as compared to men, regardless of their cultural context. Despite the fact that there were less than 10 French male participants in the competitor choice condition, we performed an analysis that included gender as one factor. A four-factor analysis of variance revealed that main effect of gender was not significant, F < 1, ns, [[eta].sup.2] = .000, (16 males, 89 females, 15 sex specification omissions for French, 38 males and 76 females for Japanese; M = 24.27 vs. 21.53).

(6) In this study, we emphasized ambiguity aversion and culture over gender differences. Therefore, we did not include gender in our analysis. Moreover, there were a few cells with small sample sizes for French males. Despite the fact that there were less than 10 French male participants in the competitor choice condition, we performed an analysis that included gender as one factor. A four-factor analysis of variance revealed that main effect of gender was not significant, F < 1, ns, [[eta].sup.2] = .000, (21 males, 119 females, 34 sex specification omissions for French, 64 males and 104 females for Japanese; M = 20.01 vs. 19.13).

(7) The degree of uncertainty in Experiment 1 was a within-subjects variable; in Experiment 2, it was a between-subjects variable. In the former, the error within individuals can be excluded. In the latter, where such exclusion is impossible, significant differences are more easily obtained, and this must be considered a potential research design flaw.
Table 1
Results of Comparative Bets in Experiment 1

                                Certain box     Ambiguous box

                               Values    SD     Values    SD

French     Personal     N=61   28.00    26.30   15.59    22.59
group      choice

           Competitor   N=59   29.29    27.75   13.22    17.22
           choice

Japanese   Personal     N=57   24.26    24.10   10.27    11.06
group      choice

           Competitor   N=57   31.53    29.55   24.81    29.54
           choice
                               28.27    27.18   15.94    21.93

Note. The amount of money bet ranged from 0 euros to 100
euros n the French version, and from 0 yen to 10,000 yen in
the Japanese version. The analysis was carried out on 1/200
of the Japanses yen value

Table 2
Result of Noncomparative Bets in Experiment 2

                                 Certain box

                                Values      SD

French     Personal     N=42     20.45     26.54
group      choice
           Competitor   N=44     26.82     28.98
           choice

Japanese   Personal     N=42     22.98     20.63
group      choice
           Competitor   N=44     23.20     29.60
           choice
                                 23.40     26.88

                                Ambiguous box

                                Values      SD

French     Personal     N=44     16.07     23.05
group      choice
           Competitor   N=44     12.50     17.07
           choice

Japanese   Personal     N=42     14.57     20.47
group      choice
           Competitor   N=42     13.76     16.25
           choice
                                 14.23     19.53

Note. The amount of money bet ranged from 0 euros to 100
euros n the French version, and from 0 yen to 10,000 yen in
the Japanese version. The analysis was carried out on 1/200
of the Japanses yen value
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Author:Adachi, Kuniko; Yama, Hiroshi; Van der Henst, Jean-Baptiste; Mercier, Hugo; Karasawa, Minoru; Kawasa
Publication:The International Journal of Creativity and Problem Solving
Date:Oct 1, 2013
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