Exploring Repressive Suffering Construal as a Function of Collectivism and Social Morality

Daniel L Sullivan, Sheridan A. Stewart, Mark J. Landau, Shi Liu, Qian Yang, Joseph Diefendorf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Prior research demonstrated that an experimentally primed collectivist orientation increased repressive suffering construal (RSC): interpretation of suffering as being caused by deviance and having the purpose of maintaining social order. Furthermore, the effect of collectivism on RSC was mediated by social morality: the belief that society dictates morality. The current research provides the first cross-cultural empirical evidence for the links between RSC, collectivism, and social morality. In an investigation of religious subcultures, collectivist Mennonites endorsed RSC to a greater degree than individualist Unitarian Universalists and undergraduates, and this difference was mediated by collectivism. Examining the RSC construct in greater detail, two additional studies compared participants from China and the United States. Chinese participants scored higher on RSC’s teleological component—the belief that suffering upholds society—but not its causal component—the belief that suffering is caused by deviance. This difference was mediated by social morality endorsement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)903-917
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Mennonites
  • culture
  • morality
  • religion
  • suffering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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