Eastern versus Western control beliefs at work : an investigation of secondary control, socioinstrumental control, and work locus of control in China and the US

Paul E. SPECTOR, Juan I. SANCHEZ, Oi Ling SIU, Jesus SALGADO, Jianhong MA

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

60 Citations (Scopus)


Research and theory concerning beliefs (locus of control) and perceptions of control suggest that Asians tend to be lower and more passive than Americans, but this work has been conducted mainly with US-developed constructs and scales that assess primary control (i.e. changing the environment to adapt to the self). An international research team expanded the notion of control beliefs by developing scales to assess secondary control beliefs (i.e. adapting the self to the environment) and the new construct of socioinstrumental control beliefs (i.e. control via interpersonal relationships), both of which were thought to better fit the control beliefs of collectivist cultures than Western-developed control scales. We expected that, when culturally appropriate scales were employed, Americans would not show higher control beliefs than Asians. Hypotheses were partially confirmed that Americans would be lower than Chinese (Hong Kong and PR China) on these new scales. It is suggested that views of Asians as passive avoiders of control at work may be incorrect and due to the overlooking of socioinstrumental control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-60
Number of pages23
JournalApplied Psychology: An International Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


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