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Violence and Character: A CuPS (Culture X Person X Situation) Perspective
Human Aggression and Violence: Causes, Manifestations, and Consequences
  • Dov COHEN, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Angela K. Y. LEUNG, Singapore Management University
Publication Type
Book Chapter
Publication Date
Individual-differences and cultural approaches to the study of violence have both contributed greatly to our understanding, but both approaches face some inherent difficulties. A cultural approach that ignores individual differences can explain differences between cultures in rates of violence, but it has difficulty predicting who will be violent and what this means for the violent individuals’ behavior in other contexts. Two problems with an individual-difference approach that ignores culture are that (a) it may fail to explain differences in rates of violence between societies and (b) perhaps more problematically, it may discover “truths” about violence that hold in only one cultural context but do not hold, or even reverse, in others. In this chapter we argue for the value of combining an individual-differences approach with a cultural differences approach in a way that treats both individual differences and cultural differences seriously. Specifically, we argue for taking culture seriously by examining differences between cultural logics. Such logics structure behaviors, situations, scripts, and values in ways that makes sense to people within a culture – even if they do not make sense to people outside that culture. We also argue for taking individual differences seriously by treating people as more than cultural robots who mechanically follow cultural dictates. In the combined approach advocated here, the key notion is that individuals are always in a culture, though they are not always of it. We outline this combined approach – called the CuPS approach (Culture X Person X Situation) – and demonstrate its value by describing experiments conducted with three different cultural groups.
  • Aggressiveness,
  • Violence,
  • Psychology
Shaver, Phillip R.; Mikulincer, Mario
American Psychological Association
City or Country
Washington, DC
Additional URL

Edited by Phillip R. Shaver and Mario Mikulincer

Citation Information
Cohen, Dov and Angela K. Y. Leung. 2011. "Violence and Character: A CuPS (Culture X Person X Situation) Perspective." In Human Aggression and Violence: Causes, Manifestations, and Consequences, edited by Phillip R. Shaver and Mario Mikulincer, 187-200. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.