Assimilation and Contrast Effects of Culture Priming Among Hong Kong Chinese: The Moderating Roles of Dual Cultural Selves

Ting Kin Ng*, Sik Hung Ng, Shengquan Ye

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

4 Citations (Scopus)


Although culture priming research has established consistently that individuals from a bicultural background shift toward one or the other culture that has been primed (assimilation effect), the opposite contrast effect is less clear. We postulated a general explanation covering both effects in terms of the moderation due to the strength of dual cultural selves, and tested it on a sample of Westernized Chinese in Hong Kong (N = 416), whose Chinese and Western cultural selves varied in strength. To test the effects, we measured self-esteem as the dependent variable under three conditions: Chinese, Western, and neutral priming. The general expectation was that strong Chinese and Western selves would, respectively, engender assimilation to Chinese and Western priming, whereas weak Chinese and Western selves would engender contrast. The results showed that under Chinese priming, participants assimilated (lowered their self-esteem) or contrasted (raised their self-esteem) depending on their Chinese self as predicted. Similarly, Western self moderated the impact of Western priming, but only when Chinese self was strong. Implications of the current study and possible explanations for the unexpected findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)540-557
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes



  • assimilation effect
  • biculturalism
  • contrast effect
  • culture priming
  • dual cultural selves

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