Parent–child relationships are fundamental human relationships in which specific norms govern proper parent–child interactions. Such norms, or filial ethics, have been observed in different cultures, including in the United States and Taiwan, but important differences may exist in how filial practices are viewed across cultures. From a traditional view of power as domination over others, if filial relationships are viewed to reflect power differentials between parents and children, actors who follow filial ethics should be viewed as less powerful than actors who do not follow filial ethics for maintaining or enhancing positive parent–child relationships. Alternatively, power can be conceptualized as the ability to meet one's needs (e.g., for communal care and trust), and actors who follow filial ethics should be viewed as more powerful and trustworthy than actors who do not follow filial ethics because they have the ability to maintain or enhance positive parent–child relationships. Based on a power–trust model, we compared American and Taiwanese perceptions of actors in an experiment using vignettes describing filial behaviours. We conducted a path analysis with a sample of 112 American and 74 Taiwanese participants to test the proposed relations. Results showed that both Taiwanese and Americans rated actors more favourably (i.e., as more powerful and trustworthy) when actors behaved according to filial ethics than when they did not. Some cross-cultural differences were also observed: Taiwanese attributed trust-traits to actors who performed filial practices to a larger degree than did Americans. We discuss implications for the implicit nature of filial relationships and conceptualization of power cross-culturally.
International Journal of Psychology, 47(3), 161-168