Schouten, B.C. (2008). Compliance behavior and the role of ethnic background, source expertise, self-construals and values. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 32(6), 515-523.

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine whether source expertise and type of compliance-gaining strategy influence compliance behavior differently for people of individualistic versus collectivistic cultures. In addition, the mediating role of people’s self-construal and individual values was assessed. It was hypothesized that people are more willing to comply with a high expertise source than with a low expertise source, in particular so among people belonging to a collectivistic culture. In addition, we hypothesized that different compliance gaining strategies will be differentially effective for people of individualistic versus people of collectivistic cultures. And last, we hypothesized that self-construals and values will mediate between people’s ethnic background and compliance behavior. Data were collected from 325 university students in the Netherlands (231 Dutch, 65 Turkish and 28 Moroccan students). They filled out a questionnaire assessing their values (individualistic and collectivistic) and self-construals (independent and interdependent). In addition, two scenarios were used to assess their compliance behavior with a low and high expertise source, making use of five different compliance-gaining strategies (i.e. consistency, social proof, reciprocity, authority and liking). Results show that a source high in expertise induced more compliance among the Dutch, Turkish and Moroccan group than a source low in expertise, partially supporting our first hypothesis. The authority strategy was most effective in inducing compliance in all three ethnic groups. We did not find much evidence for the hypothesis that different compliance gaining strategies are differentially effective for people of individualistic versus collectivistic cultures. Instead, it was found that in case of the low expertise source, the Turkish and Moroccan groups were significantly more compliant across all strategies than the Dutch group. The hypothesized mediating effect between cultural individualism-collectivism on compliance behavior of values (but not of self-construals) emerged in case of the low expertise source but not in case of the high expertise source. Results of the present study imply two important things. First, the positive influence of a high expertise source on compliance seems to be universal. Second, cultural differences in compliance behavior are to a greater extent a function of the source than of the compliance-gaining strategy. That is, Moroccan and Turkish people are more compliant with a request from a low expertise source than Dutch people, regardless of the strategy used.