Is the use of averaging in advice taking modulated by culture?

Hugo Mercier*, Hiroshi Yama, Yayoi Kawasaki, Kuniko Adachi, Jean Baptiste Van Der Henst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract Many recent experiments have explored the way people take advice into account. It has been observed that in so doing participants often rely on one of the two following strategies: averaging between the different opinions or choosing one of the opinions, as opposed to using more complex weighting strategies. While several factors that affect strategy choice have been investigated, no attention has been paid to potential cultural variations. Among the many relevant cross-cultural differences, results have show that Easterners tend to favor compromise more than Westerners, a difference that could translate into a greater preference for averaging in Eastern population. In Experiment 1, we confronted Japanese and French participants to two pieces of advice and asked them to form an aggregate answer. In Experiment 2, participants had to aggregate their own opinion and a piece of advice. In neither of the experiments were the Japanese more likely to use averaging than the French. Explanations for this robust absence of difference are suggested. The only difference that emerged was that the Japanese were more likely to choose the advice and less likely to choose their own answer than the French. Different interpretations of this result are discussed, including the possibility that it is an artefact of a theoretically irrelevant difference between the populations under study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cognition and Culture
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Advice taking
  • averaging
  • choosing
  • cross-cultural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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