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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Summer 2020

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation

Experimental Psychology Graduate Program

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Lehman, Barbara J.

Second Advisor

Scollon, Christie Napa

Third Advisor

Lemm, Kristi M., 1971-


In the U.S. social anxiety is commonly recognized as idiocentric, meaning it focuses on the fear of causing embarrassment to one’s self. In Japan an allocentric type of social anxiety, Taijin Kyofusho, is commonly recognized. Taijin Kyofusho is the fear of offending others with one’s actions or presence. This study examined the role of relational mobility and self-construal in explaining cultural differences in social anxiety. In societies with lower relational mobility and independent self-construal, such as Japan, people tend to value maintaining harmony in friend groups. The current study measured idiocentric and allocentric social anxiety after participants in Japan (n = 80) and the U.S. (n = 125) were asked to imagine scenarios with a friend and a stranger. Idiocentric social anxiety with a friend was lower than with a stranger in the U.S, while no difference was found between social partners in Japan. Those in the U.S. and Japan had less allocentric social anxiety with a friend than a stranger. However, the difference tended to be larger in the U.S. More allocentric social anxiety was reported in Japan than the U.S. Differences in independent self-construal fully mediated this effect. Relational mobility was greater in the U.S., but did not mediate in any cultural differences. Although allocentric social anxiety was more commonly recognized in Japan than the U.S., there was no cultural difference in allocentric social anxiety when statistically accounting for independent self-construal. These results demonstrate that cultural differences in social anxiety may be due to cultural differences in self-construal.




social anxiety, relational mobility, independent self-construal, interdependent self-construal, cross-cultural research


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Ethnopsychology; Social phobia--Japan; Social phobia--United States; Social interaction--Japan; Social interaction--United States




masters theses




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