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AbstractIncludes bibliographical references (p. 37-39)
In group situations, others' differences can evoke powerful reactions. People have positive or negative perceptions of others who are different from them in holding different opinions, believing in different things, or following a different life style. The initial attempt to develop a scale assessing perception of intergroup differences (POD) included 5 factors. Later, this scale was revised into a 3-factor structure, including threat, acceptance, and tolerance. The present study extended the initial research on perception of intergroup differences to cross-cultural context, comparing perception of inter-group differences in China and the United States. I proposed 3 hypotheses: (1) there should be no cultural variances in the basic 3-dimension structure of the POD scale. Also, in both cultures, Chinese and American, the three subscales should correlate with the existing measures in the pattern indicative of the POD scale validity; (2) in comparison to Americans, Chinese would score higher on the threat subscale but lower on the acceptance and tolerance subscales; (3) both Americans and Chinese would score lower on the acceptance subscale than the tolerance subscale. Participants were recruited from San Diego State University (N=598), Zhejiang Normal University (N=300), and one high school in China (N=160). Students in all three samples responded anonymously to the POD scale and a series of existing scales deemed relevant to establish convergent and divergent validity of the POD scale. All instruments were translated from English to Mandarin and then back translated to English by another bilingual individual. The process was repeated until both versions were comparable in meaning that was expressed in accordance with the linguistic standards of the respective cultures. The 3-dimension POD was replicated in the American sample; however, contrary to my hypothesis, it was not replicated in the Chinese samples. Instead, a simpler 2-factor structure emerged in both Chinese samples: Positive and Negative perception of differences. As hypothesized, Chinese did score lower than Americans on the positive perception dimension. However, they did not score higher on the negative perception dimension as I anticipated. In addition to cultural variances in perception, there also emerged age and gender differences. Within the American sample, females, compared to males, had higher scores on tolerance and acceptance dimensions but lower scores on the threat dimension. Within the Chinese samples, adults, compared to adolescents, scored higher on the positive perception dimension. The results are interpreted in the context of societal differences in history, education, and traditional philosophy, including Confucianism.