SGS Celebrates Graduate Student Winners of Federal Tri-Council Awards – Kyoungsil Nah

Author: Andrea

Posted on Jul 14, 2021

Category: Student Stories , Money Matters

Profile of Kyoungsil Nah

Award Received: Canada Graduate Scholarship, Doctorate (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council)

Awarded for the project: Cultural Differences in Achievement Attributions and the Underlying Mechanism

Faculty: Arts

Department: Psychology

Project supervised by: W. Q. Elaine Perunovic, PhD

My research explores cultural differences in interpreting personal achievement. We often question and evaluate why we experience success or failure. Previous research suggests that people tend to attribute success to internal factors and failure to external factors. Though researchers thought this tendency was universal, as a cross-cultural researcher, I question this assumption and examine the psychological mechanism underlying these cultural differences. My research looks at how Koreans and Canadians interpret and explain success and failure. Do Koreans place more value in effort? Might Canadians, particularly those with European backgrounds, place more emphasis on ability and talent? I seek to establish a causal relationship between mindset and attribution style using experimental design. My research extends previous research on achievement attribution at the unconscious level. Using an implicit measure (i.e., implicit reaction time test), I will rule out the possibility of social desirability or impression management on attribution differences across cultures. This research will help understand cultural differences in the social cognitive mechanism behind how people interpret and understand achievement, important in a multicultural society like Canada. Success and failure are a part of life, and understanding how different people attribute success and failure ultimately helps individuals and communities thrive.