The Perception of Family, City, and Country Values is often Biased

Paul H.P. Hanel, Uwe Wolfradt, Gabriel Lins De Holanda Coelho, Lukas J Wolf, Roosevelt Vilar, Renan Pereira Monteiro, Valdiney V. Gouveia, Tom Crompton, Gregory R Maio

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People often make inferences about the values of other people in their families, cities, and countries, but there are reasons to expect systematic biases in these inferences. Across four studies (N = 1,763), we examined people’s perceptions of the values of their families, fellow citizens of the cities in which they live, and compatriots across three nations (Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom). Our results show that people systematically misperceive comparison groups’ values. People underestimate the importance that their compatriots ascribe to more important values and overestimate the importance of less important values. This occurs in comparison with their own values, the actual values of the people living in the same city and the actual values of their compatriots. The effect sizes were medium to large. Furthermore, the results occurred independently of participants’ culture, time spent in the culture, and the underlying value model used. These results consistently show that people’s speculations about values in their community and society are biased in a self- and family favoring direction. In addition, we found that the structure of values (e.g., as proposed by Schwartz) holds for perceived family, fellow citizens of the cities in which they live, and compatriots’ values. Overall, our findings suggest that the values of other people are more selfless than is often believed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-850
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number5
Early online date13 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • compatriots’ values
  • perceived values
  • sojourners
  • values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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