Self-construal scales lack validity

Academic Article


  • Self-construal is thought to mediate and explain the effects of culture on a wide variety of outcome variables. A meta-analysis of published cross-cultural self-construal research is reported in this article, and the results across studies suggests that the evidence for the predicted cultural differences is weak, inconsistent, or nonexistent. The results of 3 priming experiments (N = 121, N = 99, and N = 361) suggest that (a) priming does not account for the inconsistent results observed in the meta-analysis, (b) that scores on a self-construal scale appear to be measuring trait-like constructs that are not sensitive to priming, and (c) that measures of self-construals lack convergent validity. The results of several measurement studies (N = 122, 223, 230, 323, 214, 206, 126, 204, 148, 141, and 150) were inconsistent with the a priori two-factor measurement model in every case. Self-construal scales were found to be radically multidimensional and highly unstable within and across cultures. These results lead us to conclude that catastrophic validity problems exist in research involving the use of self-construal scales in cross-cultural research.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Levine TR; Bresnahan MJ; Park HS; Lapinski MK; Wittenbaum GM; Shearman SM; Lee SY; Chung D; Ohashi R
  • Start Page

  • 210
  • End Page

  • 252
  • Volume

  • 29
  • Issue

  • 2