Sun, C.R., Chung Yuan University, Taiwan
Past research has indicated that people all have a need to maintain a positive self-evaluation. Tesser (1988) has proposed the self-evaluation maintenance model to demonstrate how this system works. According to this model, when a person outperforms the self on a high self-relevant task, the closer the person the greater the threat to self-evaluation. On the other hand, one will experience the reflected positive self-evaluation and emotions when a close other outperforms the self on a low self-relevant task. In other words, one's emotion and self-evaluation will vary with the interaction of task's self- relevance and the closeness with the comparison person. However, the evidence supported this model was basically collected from the Western societies. Markus & Kitayama (1991) suggest that individuals in East cultures have very different self-construal of self, and as a consequence, have very different kind of emotional experience. Therefore, in the present study, the author redefined the self-relevance and manipulated the closeness of the other. Subjects were randomly assigned to a 2 (task category: independent vs. interdependent) X 2 (importance of the task: important vs. not important) X (closeness: friend vs. stranger) conditions. The major dependent measures were the extent to which they experienced each of 12 different emotions and their self-evaluation in each condition. Results clearly indicated when subjects were outperformed by a close other on an important interdependent task, they often felt shame and mei-mianzi (i.e., lose-face), which are typical Chinese other-focused emotions. On the other hand, when subjects were outperformed by a close other on an important independent task, they experienced ego-focused emotions, such as sadness and frustration. Other implications were also discussed.