Models and mosaics: Investigating cross-cultural differences in risk perception and risk preference

Elke U. Weber, Christopher K. Hsee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


In this article, we describe a multistudy project designed to explain observed cross-national differences in risk taking between respondents from the People's Republic of China and the United States. Using this example, we develop the following recommendations for cross-cultural investigations. First, like all psychological research, cross-cultural studies should be model based. Investigators should commit themselves to a model of the behavior under study that explicitly specifies possible causal constructs or variables hypothesized to influence the behavior, as well as the relationship between those variables, and allows for individual, group, or cultural differences in the value of these variables or in the relationship between them. This moves the focus from a simple demonstration of cross-national differences toward a prediction of the behavior, including its cross-national variation. Ideally, the causal construct hypothesized and shown to differ between cultures should be demonstrated to serve as a moderator or a mediator between culture and observed behavioral differences. Second, investigators should look for converging evidence for hypothesized cultural effects on behavior by looking at multiple dependent variables and using multiple methodological approaches. Thus, the data collection that will allow for the establishment of conclusive causal connections between a cultural variable and some target behavior can be compared with the creation of a mosaic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-617
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1999
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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