Developmental Feature and Current Status of Theories of the Chinese Self
Abstract: The self is an important concept in the research of personality psychology and social psychology. Since the rise of cultural psychology in recent decades, many Chinese indigenous psychologists are involved in constructing a Chinese self-theory that fits the characteristics of Chinese society, history, and culture. The existing Chinese self-theories or self-models can be divided into three categories: individualism/ collectivism oriented Chinese self-theories, differential pattern oriented Chinese self-theories, and protogenetic symbol oriented Chinese self-theories.The individualism/ collectivism oriented Chinese self-theories inherited from the individualism/collectivism dimension in culturology, in the same line with the self-construal theory that divided the cultural self-construal into the independent self and interdependent self, which emerged from the comparison with the western mainstream modern civilization. The most representative individualism/ collectivism oriented Chinese self-theories include the four-part theory of Chinese self proposed by Yang Kwo-Shu, the dual-cultural self-theory suggested by Hong Ying-Yi, and the composite self-theory proposed by Lu Luo. These theories generally nested the individual orientation and social orientation, and the independent self and interdependent self to construct the modern Chinese self that is now expanding into a multicultural convergence theory of the self.The differential pattern oriented Chinese self-theories developed from Fei Xiao-Tongs differential pattern theory, which described the Chinese traditional social structure. From a psychological point of view, the differential pattern of social form is a kind of internalized psychological differential pattern, the connotation of which is that under the premise of individual-centeredness, other people around the individual are given different values and meanings and pulled into the concentric circles of self-identity, forming a self-centered form with differential order. On this basis, Yang Chung-Fang, Yang Yi-Yin, Zhai Xue-Wei, and so on, made further development. These theories lean in the direction of sociological research, focusing on the extrapolation of the Chinese self in the context of ethical structures and social relations.The protogenetic symbol oriented Chinese self-theories took a different approach and tried to construct a theory or model of the Chinese self by using typical symbols or illustrations with symbolic meanings in traditional Chinese culture, the most representative of which are the Mandala model of self proposed by Hwang Kwang-Kwo and the Taiji model of self proposed by Wang Feng-Yan et al.The theoretical research of the Chinese self has shown the features: (1) the self theories have grown from nothing and expanded from one-way to diversified; (2) the self theories have developed from imitation to innovation; and (3) the tools to research about the self are gradually diversified, but the theory and empirical studies still need to be further combined. An understanding of the outline of the developmental process of the Chinese self-theories will help to understand the rich connotation of the Chinese self-view and lay a solid foundation for further research on the Chinese self.
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