Attitudes Towards Self-change: A Comparison of Japanese and American University Students

David S. Crystal, Kazuo Kato, Sheryl Olson, Hirozumi Watanabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined attitudes related to the possibility of changing cognitions and behaviours among samples of college students in the United States and Japan. Students were asked to identify three things about themselves that they wanted to change, the method they would use to effect these changes, how difficult they thought making such changes would be, and how much they desired to make the changes. Japanese and US students differed significantly in the frequency with which they mentioned all seven aspects of the self that were targeted for change. Students in the United States expressed a desire to improve their sociability, academic achievement and cognitive abilities, physical appearance, and sense of individuality. Students in Japan were most concerned about enhancing their relationships with others, self-control and motivation, and ability to manage practical affairs. In addition, US respondents were more likely than their Japanese counterparts to use behaviour-oriented strategies, to believe it was easy to make self-changes, and to indicate a strong desire to improve the self. The findings are discussed in the context of theories describing different cultural construals of self, and of empirical research on differences between collectivistic and individualistic cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-593
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1995
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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