Being part of a culture means knowing what to expect in most everyday situations –with the implication that something may be awry if unfolding situation mismatches culture-based expectation. We tested the prediction that culture-based mismatches challenge people's sense that current patterns (e.g. the color of money, the taste of toothpaste) represent a natural order, calling into question whether social categories have stable essences. To do so, we asked people in China, Israel, and the U.S. (N = 1803) to rate products (e.g., breakfast plates, wedding photographs, Valentines) then complete unrelated scales, randomly assigning them to products that matched or mismatched their respective cultural expectations. Exposure to mismatch reduced psychological inherence –the feeling that existing patterns in the world reflect how things ought to be in unrelated domains and this reduced cultural essentializing (the feeling that cultures have fixed essences that cannot change). Effects were small-to-moderate-sized and consistent across countries.
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