February 02, 2015

The World at Seven: Comparing Situations Across 19 Countries with Riverside Situational Q-sort

David Funder, UC Riverside

Behavior is a function of the person and the situation, and understanding the "personality triad" of persons, situations and behaviors requires assessment instruments for all three. However, until recently tools for assessing situations were not available. The Riverside Situational Q-sort (RSQ) was developed to fill this gap, and has been applied in the study of cross-situational consistency in behavior, and also used to operationalize and test implications of situational types posited by evolutionary theory. Most recently, The International Situations Project was begun as the first attempt to quantitatively compare everyday situational experience across cultures. Collaborators from 19 cultures directed college student participants (total N = 3,287) to a website (www.internationalsituationsproject.com) where, using the 89 items of the Riverside Situational Q-sort (RSQ), they described the situation they experienced the previous evening at 7 pm. The average situational Q-sort profile for each culture was compared with all others. The most similar cultures were USA/Canada, and the least similar cultures were Korea/Denmark, Korea/Estonia, and Estonia/Australia. The culture with the most similar situational experience to the others, overall, was Canada; the most distinctive was South Korea. The RSQ item that varied the most across cultures was “People are disagreeing about something” (Czech Republic highest; Japan lowest); the second least varying item was “Members of the opposite sex are present.” In general, the items that varied the most across cultures described negative aspects of situational experience; the least varying items were more positive. The RSQ is shown to be versatile tool for assessing situations in diverse research contexts.