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How Do the Romans Feel When Visitors 'Do as the Romans Do'?

How Do the Romans Feel When Visitors ‘Do as the Romans Do’? Diversity Ideologies and Trust in Evaluations of Cultural Accommodation

by Jaee Cho, Michael W. Morris, and Benjamin Dow

Past research finds foreign visitors who accommodate their behavior to local norms to a moderate degree are appreciated more than those who accommodate little, but more extreme accommodation does not always evoke positive evaluations. To understand why high accommodation is appreciated more in some contexts than others, we investigate the role of diversity ideologies, proposing that differing responses follow from multiculturalism (that cultural traditions are unique, separate legacies) versus polyculturalism (that cultures are interacting systems which contribute to each other). In two studies, U.S. participants evaluated a visiting Chinese businessman whose degree of cultural accommodation varied across conditions. In Study 1, participants’ endorsement of multiculturalism was associated with more critical evaluations of high accommodation, whereas their endorsement of polyculturalism was associated with positive evaluations of all levels of accommodation. In Study 2, we manipulated the salience of these two diversity ideologies. Compared to multiculturalism, polyculturalism increased positive evaluations of high accommodation but not moderate accommodation. Furthermore, the effect on high accommodation was mediated, as expected, by trust-related judgments. We discuss implications of these findings for the literatures on cultural accommodation, diversity ideologies, and trust.

Keywords: Cultural accommodation, diversity ideologies, polyculturalism, trustworthiness, intercultural Interactions

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