When determining whether someone did something intentionally, should it matter whether the action had positive or negative consequences? Logically, the downstream consequences of an action should be irrelevant to such judgments, but research reveals that U.S. Americans are far more likely to see actions with harmful side-effects as intended than identical actions with helpful ones.
Several years ago, I was traveling in Thailand. They call it “the land of smiles,” and that sure seemed true to me. I remember seeing a passenger on the back of a motorbike make eye contact with me and smile. I smiled back.
Two days later, I landed in Kunming, southwestern China. Thailand had gotten me into the habit of smiling at people, so as I walked in a local market, I smiled at anyone who made eye contact with me. What happened in response is what I’d call confusion, mild negativity, and sometimes a furrowed brow.
How to be a healthy eater depends on culture. A recent study shows that in the U.S. and Japan, people who fit better with their culture have healthier eating habits. The results appear in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.