Bio Professor at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Current editor of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Cultural Neuroscience: Building on Asian Social Psychology
Over the past three decades, we witnessed various proposals to enrich our understanding of culture, including, for example, cross-cultural psychology, indigenous psychology, and cultural psychology. To this, we may now add a new one, cultural neuroscience. Although different in emphasis, these approaches share in common the assumption that culture is fundamentally significant in human adaptation. In this lecture, I will build on the premise that culture is composed of various scripted behavioral patterns designed to achieve each culture’s core values (called “cultural tasks”). As people grow up, they develop their identities by adopting specific values from their group and, by so doing, select some subset of the cultural tasks relevant to their identities, and repeatedly engage in them. This process will eventually yield neural pathways that are optimally attuned to carry out the selected cultural tasks, with their brains undergoing plastic re-wiring. These culturally mediated neural changes will enable each person to perform his or her cultural tasks automatically, even without conscious awareness or monitoring, thereby promoting both social and biological adaptation. Recent evidence for the plastic change of brain structure through participation in culture will be reviewed.
Michele J. Gelfand
Bio Professor at University of Maryland
A Hundred-Year Journey of Progress in Cross-Cultural Psychology
I take a hundred-year journey to examine how the science of cross-cultural psychology has evolved, with particular emphasis on social/organizational psychology. Broad trends can be identified across 4 main periods: the early years (1917–1949), the middle 20th century (1950–1979), the later 20th century (1980–2000), and the 21st century (2000 to the present). Within each period, I discuss key historical and societal events that influenced the development of the science of cross-cultural psychology and important milestones and breakthroughs achieved. I will then highlight exciting new directions and opportunities for growth in the field, focusing on multi-level and multi-disciplinary perspectives.
Bio Professor at Brown University
Li (禮) and Self-Cultivation
Recent research in human development has identified three kinds of learning across cultures: instrumental learning, testimonial learning, and norm/ritual learning. Instrumental learning is done by analysis, logic, and often creativity (e.g., how to solve a math problem). Testimonial learning depends on children’s trust for being told about things they can never observe with the naked eye (e.g., historical events or germs). Finally, norm/ritual learning takes place by imitation and participation. This latter learning is learning of cultural norms, conventions, and rituals (e.g., eating food with chopsticks and bowing to an elder). Children rarely, if at all, ask adults why; instead they just follow the convention. Chinese culture has been known for millennia for its high value of ritual propriety (li, 禮) toward social/moral self-cultivation. As such, ritual propriety is an important psychological domain. Yet, little research and theory exist on what Chinese ritual propriety is, what function it serves, and how children learn it. This presentation focuses on interpersonal ritual propriety and is an initial step to describe such ritual propriety and its functions. Future research in ritual propriety will be discussed.
Bio Professor at Kaohsiung Medical University and the Emeritus Professor at National Taiwan University
An Epistemological Strategy for Constructing Culture-inclusive Theories
Allwood’s (2018) monograph The Nature and Challenges of Indigenous Psychologies, consists of two parts: The first part described general social conditions for the development of indigenous psychologies (IPs) in various areas all over the world. The second part discussed challenges faced by IPs in terms of scientific studies, namely, the meaning of indigenization and IP, definition of culture, views on the philosophy of science, generalizations, the issues of isolation and independence, and the issue of scientific standards. Thus, he presented a series of unresolved problems and controversial issues faced by indigenous psychologists at each level of his discussion.
Kuo Shu Yang Medal Presentation
Bio Emeritus Professor at University of Tokyo
Importance of Indigenous Perspectives in Asian Social Psychology: A legacy of Prof. Kuo-Shu Yang.
The importance of indigenous perspectives in Asian Social Psychology cannot be overemphasized. The late Prof. Kuo-Shu Yang was a champion of indigenous psychology movements in Asia. Unfortunately, however, such perspectives have not been prevalent in the current Asian social psychology. In my presentation, I will reiterate his message based on my own experience as a former EIC of the Asian Journal of Social Psychology. In discussing the need for indigenous perspectives, I will refer to my own research with my collaborators on such topics as super-ordinary bias (i.e., exaggerated sense of being ordinary) and modesty, which may appear to be unique among Japanese or Asians. The apparently unique social psychological phenomena in Japan and Asian cultures in general point to the existence of unique cultural milieu rather than unique nature of Japanese or Asian mentality.
Bio Professor at Sungkyunkwan University
A new model of IND-COL that suggests us what to do within and between groups
The nature of the relationship between the individual and the group has been at the core of research on individualism-collectivism (IND-COL). This past work has produced a massive body of comparative knowledge on, for example, how the West and the East differ from each other. Although informative, this sort of descriptive work does not give us a coherent answer to the question of what people might do in the era of cultural convergences. Indeed, the more recent work on IND-COL suggests that asking whether one form of culture is better than the other may be too simplistic and even dangerous. More importantly, a simple dichotomy between IND-COL does not adequately capture the dynamic changes in Asian countries where people must negotiate their experiences between the traditional collectivistic values and the Western notion of independence. In this presentation, I will introduce a new model that specifies joint positive effects of collectivistic values and independent self-views within and between groups (SYM-COIN). With this, I will discuss directions for future research and how we Asian scholars can contribute to the advancement of social psychology.
Bio Professor at University of Missouri
Prosocial Development in Latino/a Immigrant Youth
Across the world, immigrant populations have dramatically increased over the past several decades. These populations move for various reasons and, oftentimes, face serious challenges in adapting to their new cultures. Latino/as constitute the largest ethnic minority population in the U.S. and Latino/a heritage persons represent one of the largest immigrant populations in the U.S. Despite their numbers, Latino/a immigrant youth have difficulties integrating and adjusting to their new communities. Traditional theories and early research on this ethnic minority group has promoted deficit- and pathology-based conceptions of development. However, recent attention has shifted to understanding the complex interplay of intrapersonal and interpersonal factors that predict health and well being in these youth. This presentation will summarize research devoted to understanding the correlates of positive social behaviors in U.S. Latino/a immigrant youth. Conceptual models and empirical findings will be presented that assert the need to incorporate culture-specific and immigration-related mechanisms into mainstream developmental models and to study positive behavioral outcomes (rather than maladjustment and pathology) to provide a more holistic understanding of immigrant youth development.
Bio Professor at the University of British Columbia
Psychology's WEIRD challenge: The nature of the problem and possible solutions
Psychology suffers from the problem of studying a narrow database: the vast majority of psychological research is conducted on samples that are from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic societies. The problem is both that many psychological phenomena appear differently across cultures, and that WEIRD samples are psychological outliers on many dimensions. I will review some evidence that reveals the extent of cultural diversity in various psychological processes. In addition I will discuss the evidence of the field’s progress, or the lack thereof, in responding to this problem. I’ll consider some of the problematic implications for the field when it relies so much on this narrow and unusual database, and, in particular how it intersects with the replicability crisis in psychology. I’ll conclude by discussing some ideas about ways that the field could move forward, including an initiative by the Society of Personality and Social Psychology to make efforts to diversify that particular organization.