Sex Differences in Self-Construal and in Depressive Symptoms: Predictors of Cross-National Variation

Peter B. SMITH*, Matthew J. EASTERBROOK, Heyla AL-SELIM, Vivian Miu Chi LUN, Yasin KOC, Pelin GUL, Dona PAPASTYLIANOU, Lusine GRIGORYAN, Claudio TORRES, Maria EFREMOVA, Bushra HASSAN, Abd Halim AHMAD, Ahmed AL-BAYATI, Joel ANDERSON, Susan E. CROSS, Gisela Isabel DELFINO, Vladimer GAMSAKHURDIA, Alin GAVRELIUC, Dana GAVRELIUC, Ceren GUNSOYAnna HAKOBJANYAN, Siugmin LAY, Olga LOPUKHOVA, Ping HU, Diane SUNAR, Maria Luisa Mendes TEXEIRA, Doriana TRIPODI, Paola Eunice DIAZ RIVERA, Yvette VAN OSCH, Masaki YUKI, Ammar ABBAS, Natsuki OGUSU, Catherine T. KWANTES, Rolando DIAZ-LOVING, Lorena PEREZ-FLORIANO, Trawin CHALEERAKTRAKOON, Phatthanakit CHOBTHAMKIT

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Sex differences in aspects of independent versus interdependent self-construal and depressive symptoms were surveyed among 5,320 students from 24 nations. Men were found to perceive themselves as more self-contained whereas women perceived themselves as more connected to others. No significant sex differences were found on two further dimensions of self-construal, or on a measure of depressive symptoms. Multilevel modeling was used to test the ability of a series of predictors derived from a social identity perspective and from evolutionary theory to moderate sex differences. Contrary to most prior studies of personality, sex differences in self-construal were larger in samples from nations scoring lower on the Gender Gap Index, and the Human Development Index. Sex differences were also greater in nations with higher pathogen prevalence, higher self-reported religiosity, and in nations with high reported avoidance of settings with strong norms. The findings are discussed in terms of the interrelatedness of self-construals and the cultural contexts in which they are elicited and the distinctiveness of student samples.
Original languageEnglish
Article number002202212093965
Pages (from-to)616-635
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number7-8
Early online date5 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The work of Maria Efremova was supported by the framework of the HSE Basic Research Program. Aside from this, the authors received no financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article.


  • self-construal
  • gender differences
  • gender equality
  • religiosity
  • independence versus interdependence


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