Frogs, ponds, and culture: Variations in entry decisions

By: , Stephen M. Garcia, Kaidi Wu

Wu, K., Garcia, S. M., & Kopelman, S. (2018). Frogs, ponds, and culture: Variations in entry decisions. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 9(1), 99-106. Doi:


Would you rather be the big frog in a small pond or the small frog in a big pond? In three studies, we demonstrate that the entry preference depends on culture. Study 1 found a higher big pond preference for East Asian, versus European American, students. Studies 2A and 2B replicated this big pond preference in behavioral intent across educational and organizational settings for Chinese, as compared to United States, working adults. Study 3 demonstrated cultural variation in frog–pond decisions was not explained by comparison processes that characterize postentry self-regard but rather by concerns for prestige. Together, findings highlight how a cultural lens informs psychological processes that shape entry decision-making.