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The Changing Chinese Dragon: Implications for (Cross-) Cultural Psychology in a Globalized World Open Access


Other title
sociocultural change
Chinese culture
intersubjective culture
cultural differences
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Zhang, Rui
Supervisor and department
Noels, Kimberly (Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Chiu, Chi-yue (Business)
Hasmath, Reza (Political Science)
Schimel, Jeff (Psychology)
Noels, Kimberly (Psychology)
Masuda, Takahiko (Psychology)
Department of Psychology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Applying a hybridization framework that conceptualizes culture as a dynamic and open system, the overall objective of this dissertation is to illuminate some psychological consequences of sociocultural change in contemporary China. Although (cross-) cultural psychology tends to portray China as an archetype of collectivistic cultures, there is some evidence for a cultural shift in contemporary China in a more individualistic direction propelled by socioeconomic transition and intercultural contact, changes commonly associated with globalization processes in academic discourse. Seven studies were conducted to test this general premise. Study 1a, Study1b, and Study 2 were informed by the intersubjective approach to culture (Chiu, Gelfand, Yamagishi, Shteynberg, & Wan, 2010) and measured intersubjective culture in terms of basic values (Schwartz, 1992). Chinese students’ perception of contemporary Chinese values corresponded with the direction of sociocultural change in China. Contemporary Chinese values were perceived to shift away from traditional Chinese values, yet remain distinct from Western values. Study 3a and 3b examined change in personal values. Chinese students’ personal values were consistently more congruent with perceived Western and contemporary Chinese values than perceived traditional Chinese values (Study 3a). Study 3b cast a wider net in the three-wave (1994-2007) Chinese datasets from the World Values Survey and found both cultural stability and cultural change in personal values and other empirically validated indicators of individualism-collectivism. Moreover, Study 4a and 4b investigated the effect of sociocultural change on the tendency to make self-enhancing social comparisons (Alicke & Govorun, 2005), which is typically seen in individualistic cultures. Employing experimental priming and survey methods and two different operationalizations, the last two studies provided evidence for the rising self-enhancement tendency in contemporary China. Finally, comparisons with Chinese Canadians (Study 2 and Study 4b) provided additional support that the demonstrated psychological consequences were unique to China. Implications of these findings for existing approaches to culture and cultural change were discussed.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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