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  • Table of Content
       , Volume 50 Issue 5 Previous Issue   
    For Selected: View Abstracts Toggle Thumbnails
     The stimulus representation of unconscious information and its temporal characteristics
    LUO Ting, QIU Ruyi, CHEN Bin, FU Shimin
    Acta Psychologica Sinica. 2018, 50 (5): 473-482.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00473
    Abstract   PDF (529KB) ( 211 )
     The current study reports three experiments to test whether and how unconscious activation of distractors with subliminal presentation, especially at stimulus level, affects response to targets in a letter flanker task. In each experiment, the flanker letters were made unconscious using visually backward masking letters. As classic Flanker tasks, the congruency between target letters and flankers were manipulated to form three conditions – conflicting at stimulus level, conflicting at response level, and non-conflicting. Stimulus conflict referred to trials in which the target and the flankers differed but linked to the same response key, indicating that the competition between the target and flankers occurs at stimulus level. In contrast, response conflict referred to trials where the target and flankers were not only different but also associated with distinct response keys, indicating that the competition between the target and flankers emerges at both the stimulus and response levels. Non-conflict referred to congruent target and flankers trials, used as a baseline condition. Accordingly, the stimulus conflict effect was the difference between stimulus conflict and non-conflict conditions, while the response conflict effect was the difference between response conflict and non-conflict condition. A total of fifty seven participants this study. Experiment 1A was a baseline experiment with supraliminal flankers, in which the classical effects of stimulus conflict and response conflict were observed. However, when the flankers were made unconscious in Experiment 1B using subliminal flankers, a reversed stimulus conflict effect emerged but the response conflict effect maintained. These results were replicated in Experiment 2 when symbolic stimuli were used to reduce the difficulty in forming a stimulus-response association. Likewise, the effects were observed in Experiment 3 with more stimuli and response types were introduced. Crucially, the effect of stimulus conflict dynamically varied along different time windows, while the effect of response conflict was stable across time windows. Altogether, the results provided systematically behavioral evidence for the subliminal activation of distractors that affects target performance at both the stimulus and response levels in a flanker task. The data indicated that the unconscious representation of distractors dynamically influences stimulus processing of targets over time but exerts a stable impact on responses. Our findings, especially the unconscious representation at stimulus level can clarify the mechanism and integrate previous contradicting conclusions of unconscious processing.
     Visual and auditory verbal working memory affects visual attention in the semantic matching
    LI Biqin, LI Ling, WANG Aijun, ZHANG Ming
    Acta Psychologica Sinica. 2018, 50 (5): 483-493.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00483
    Abstract   PDF (1514KB) ( 320 )
     Previous studies have showed that information held in working memory (WM) can guide or capture attention during visual search in a relatively automatic way, even when it is irrelevant and detrimental to current task performance. Some researchers have proposed that the semantic match between WM contents and distractors could also capture attention, as well as the perceptual match. As we known, the verbal WM contents can be stored in the visual and auditory inputs. Even though the automatic influence of visual verbal WM on visual attention have been demonstrated, it remains unknown whether the auditory verbal WM could automatically capture attention. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate the attention guidance by the verbal WM contents. The present study included two experiments to explore the questions presented above. In Experiment 1, the memory item was a verbal Chinese character that presented visually, denoting a color, such as “红”. The participants were instructed to remember the word and avoid the potential distractors. Subsequently, they completed a visual search task, in order to test whether the verbal WM contents could guide attention. The results showed that, compared with the control condition, the visual search RTs were longer in the perceptual-matching and semantic-matching conditions, and the same as the RTs in the fastest trials. With the memory item that never matched the target in the search task, we suggested that the verbal WM contents that were presented visually (vis-VWM) could capture attention at perceptual and semantic levels automatically. In Experiment 2, the memory item was presented by the auditory inputs via the headphones (audi-VWM). The results showed that the visual search RTs in the semantic-matching condition were shorter than RTs in the control and perceptual-matching conditions, and there was no significant difference in the other conditions. Meanwhile, compared the shortest RTs across the different conditions, the results showed that the RTs in the semantic-matching condition were longer than in the control condition, which suggested that the aurally presented verbal WM could capture attention at the semantic level in the fastest response trials. In conclusion, the present study demonstrated that the verbal working memory that presented visually could automatically capture attention at both perceptual and semantic levels, and also verified the hypothesis that the attention capture effect would occur at the early stages of attention. However, the contents of verbal working memory would always capture attention at the earlier processing stage and could only be rejected at the later processing stage when the contents were aurally presented. Due to the modality specificity, attentional resources would be distributed to different sensory modalities. The memory-matching distractors could be rejected at the later processing stage because of there were the sufficient cognitive resources.
     The influence of testimony’s confidence and exploration on 5-year-old children’s causal inference
    LIU Yanling, ZENG Xiaoqing, ZUO Ling, HUANG Lehui, CHEN Shuiping, HU Zhujing
    Acta Psychologica Sinica. 2018, 50 (5): 494-503.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00494
    Abstract   PDF (493KB) ( 119 )
     The knowledge of statistical information, experimental results and informant’s testimonies can provide important help for children to understand science world. In the past decade, the psychological mechanism of the interaction of the three kinds of information in children's scientific thinking has not been elucidated. In this study, research paradigm from Bridgers et al. (2016) had been used to explore the interaction of independent exploration and informant testimony on physical causal reasoning of 5-year-old children. Moreover, children's perception of testimony's reliability and informant's self-awareness had been analyzed simultaneously. The proposed approach is supported by two experiments which can be summarized as follows. Experiment 1 adopted a 2×2 completely randomized design. The independent variable is the confidence of testimony (two levels: self-confidence, not-confidence) and the number of children’s independent exploration (two levels: no-exploration, nine-exploration). The dependent variable is the frequency of children's choice of candidate cause. Informant's testimony (such as A is more likely to cause an effect than B) was given by an adult female in a laptop, and children played with a music box to get evidences contradicting testimony (B is more likely to cause an effect than A). In this paper, 84 preschool children (50 boys and 34 girls, mean age 63.7 months) took part in experiment 1. The results show that there are more children choose cause contradicting testimony in nine-exploration level than in no-exploration level, but the difference between treatments was not statistically significant. Moreover, children are not sensitive to the testimony's reliability and informant's self-awareness. Experiment 1 found that the evidences support cause B did not significantly improved child's choice of cause B, in condition that testimony support cause A. The possible reason is the amount of evidence that support cause B is too small. To test this hypothesis, Experiment 2 used a big amount of evidence that support cause B to explore the interaction of independent exploration and informant’s testimony. A single factor completely random experimental design was adopted in experiment 2, and the independent variable is the confidence of testimony (two levels: self-confidence, not-confidence). Experimental procedure is the same as the nine-exploration level in experiment 1. There were 54 preschool children (28 boys and 26 girls, mean age 63.9 months) took part in experiment 2, and each child independently played with a music box eighteen times. The results show that children are more likely to choose cause contradicting testimony in the eighteen-exploration level than in no-exploration level (experiment 1). Once again, children are not sensitive to testimony's reliability and informant's self-awareness. The results of two experiments indicate that 5-year-old children can integrate the evidence from independent exploration and the testimony from informant to infer causality relationship. The number of children who choose cause contradicting testimony is increased by the increase in the number of evidence contradicting testimony. The follow-up research should focus on the interaction effect between the exploration of preschool child, the results of adult’s experiment and the testimony from informants, and focus on how to motivate children to evaluate adult’s self-awareness and credibility.
     The effect of central executive load on strategy utilization of computational estimation in children with mathematics learning difficulties
    YANG Weixing, ZHANG Tangzheng, LI Hongxia, ZHANG Jiajia, SI Jiwei
    Acta Psychologica Sinica. 2018, 50 (5): 504-516.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00504
    Abstract   PDF (491KB) ( 130 )
     An important aspect of human cognition is that performance depends on the strategies that people use in a wide range of cognitive domains. In the field of arithmetic cognition, the performance of strategy utilization is influenced by many factors among which central executive functions (central executive functions, EFs) are involved and play critical roles. In previous studies, researchers tended to focus on the impact of central executive load on the use of arithmetic strategy in children or adults with typically development (TD) of mathematical ability, whereas children with mathematics difficulties (MD) had been out of consideration. Consequently, the present study used the choice/no-choice paradigm to investigate the influence of central executive load on the strategy utilization of children with MD during arithmetic processing. Seventy-four sixth graders consisting of 36 MD and 38 TD were selected in accordance with previous studies strictly. All participants were asked to finish a two-digit addition computational estimation task with rounding-up or rounding-down strategy and a secondary task at the same time. The task consisted of two parts, strategy execution and strategy choice. Meanwhile, we manipulated varying central executive load as a secondary task by requiring participants to memorize five (high central executive load) or three (low central executive load) digits presented randomly in sequence at the beginning of each trial and ranked them with descending order or no digit (no central executive load). Results showed that: (1) In terms of the strategy executive, the accuracy rate of MD was significantly lower than TD under the three central executive load conditions. The reaction time of MD was significantly longer than TD under both “no” and low central executive load conditions but not for high central executive loaded condition. With the increasing of central executive load, the MD had distinct manifestation compared with TD on strategy executive; (2) In the case of strategy selection, the accuracy rate of MD was significantly lower than TD and the reaction time of MD was significantly longer than that of TD under three central executive loaded conditions. Compared with TD, the strategy selection of MD was more heavily influenced by the levels of central executive load. Likewise, the performance of MD was influenced by growing central executive load on strategy selection other than TD; (3) For the adaptivity of strategy choice, the higher of the central executive load level was, the worse the adaptivity of strategy choice of participants became, and the adaptivity of strategy choice of MD was significantly worse than TD under all of three central executive load conditions. These findings have important theoretical and practical significance for the profound understanding of the potential mechanism of MD with worse strategy utilization. In conclusion, the strategy utilization of MD is worse than TD during arithmetic processing. Though strategy utilization of both the MD and TD is getting worse as a function of the levels of central executive load, MD are more heavily influenced by central executive load. The adaptivity of strategy choice of two groups is affected by the strength of central executive load and the adaptivity of strategy choice of MD is always worse than TD. Moreover, the present study contributes to explore how the central executive load influences the process of strategy utilization clearly. Combining with event-related potential (ERP) as well as functional magnetic resonance imaging technology (fMRI), future research should further explore the changes of individuals’ ERP components or brain regions activated under different levels of central executive load.
     Maternal control strategies and children’s compliance among urban and rural-to-urban migrant families
    WU Meng, CHEN Xinyin, ZHANG Ying, LU Shan, WANG Zhengyan
    Acta Psychologica Sinica. 2018, 50 (5): 517-527.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00517
    Abstract   PDF (424KB) ( 149 )
     An important issue in early socialization and human development is how parents exert control in parent-child interaction and how children comply with parental direction. Moreover, it is commonly believed that maternal control strategies may be affected by social-cultural contexts and their changes. Due to the dramatic social change in urban China over the past decades, for example, compared with their counterparts in the 1990s, contemporary parents may use less coercive or power-assertive control strategies to encourage child autonomy. As a result, there may exist differences between urban parents and migrant parents with a rural background in their control behaviors. Nevertheless, little is known about migrant parents’ control strategies and their relations with children’s compliance behaviors. Thus, the primary purpose of the present study was to examine the control strategies used by urban and migrant mothers and their relations with children’s compliance. We were also interested in gender effects given that urban mothers might be more likely than migrant mothers to emphasize gender equality in childrearing. The participants in the study included 122 mother-child dyads (46 from migrant families). Mother-child interactions and maternal and child behaviors in a clean-up sessions in the laboratory were videotaped. Maternal control strategies (gentle control, direct control, forceful control) and children’s compliance behaviors (committed compliance, situational compliance, noncompliance) were coded. Repeated measure, MANOVA, correlation analysis, and hierarchical regression analysis were conducted. The results first showed that both urban and rural-to-urban migrant mothers used more direct control strategies than other strategies. Migrant mothers used more forceful control and less gentle control than urban mothers. The results also showed that maternal control strategies were significantly correlated to children’s situational compliance in the two groups. Specifically, migrant mothers’ gentle control and direct control strategies were positively related to children’s situational compliance, and urban mothers’ gentle control and forceful control were positively related to children’s situational compliance. Finally, family type and gender had moderating effects on the relations between maternal forceful control strategies and children’s compliance behaviors. Simple slope analysis showed that migrant mothers’ forceful control was positively associated with committed compliance in boys and negatively associated with committed compliance in girls. Migrant mothers’ forceful control was also negatively associated with noncompliance in boys. The relations between urban mothers’ forceful control and their children’s compliance behaviors were not moderated by child gender. These results suggest that social, economic, and cultural background factors may play a significant role in shaping parental control strategies and their functions in child development. Parenting practices interventions should take into account the economic and cultural features of the group the parents belong to, and also the children’s characteristics (e.g., gender).
     Affective diathesis of Chinese contemporary graduate students
    LU Jiamei, LIU Wei, HE Wen, WANG Junshan, CHEN Nianqu, XIE Dengfen, LEI Kaichun
    Acta Psychologica Sinica. 2018, 50 (5): 528-538.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00528
    Abstract   PDF (468KB) ( 217 )
     Affective diathesis refers to an individual’s emotional psychological quality. It is a series of relatively stable psychological traits that are formed from the combination of both genes and the environment. In recent years, China's graduate student enrollment has increased each year. However, few studies have examined graduate students’ affective diathesis. A large-scale research study on the affective diathesis of Chinese contemporary graduate students is a significant, though challenging, endeavor. We analyzed affective diathesis of Chinese contemporary graduate students and its influencing factors using the self-developed “College Students’ Affective Diathesis Questionnaire” and “Affecting Factor Inventory.” The college students’ affective diathesis questionnaire has six sub-questionnaires (moral affection, rational affection, aesthetic affection, interpersonal affection, life affection, and emotional intelligence), including 33 different kinds of affects. The affecting factor inventory has 35 items in personal, family, school, and social respects. The questionnaires were administered to 10,056 graduate students from 51 colleges and universities in 14 major cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Changchun, Zhengzhou, Xi'an, Wuhan, Xining, Lanzhou, Guiyang, Nanning, Haikou, Kunming, and so on). The geographical regions included well-developed, developing, and less-developed regions in China. The results revealed the following. First, the affective diathesis of Chinese contemporary graduate students is generally positive. The development levels of life affection and moral affection were relatively high; the development levels of interpersonal affection, aesthetic affection, and emotional intelligence were relatively low. For the specific affections, the development levels of patriotism, responsibility, credibility, self-reliance, self-esteem, achievement, aesthetic for nature, and emotional understanding ability were relatively high; the development levels of integrity, forgiveness, aesthetic for humanity, and emotional expression ability were relatively low. Second, the results revealed that there was a structural difference between males and females. The development levels of integrity and exploration for males were higher than those for females; the development levels of intimacy, emotionally appealing, gratefulness, self-esteem, cherish, aesthetic for nature, and aesthetic for deportment for females were higher than those for males. Additionally, those who received awards had higher levels of affective diathesis, including all of the six sub-affections and nearly all of the specific affections. Further, the development levels of exploration and aesthetics for science in students majoring in science were higher than those for students majoring in liberal arts. Third, the factors that influence the development of affective diathesis in the graduate students fell into four categories: individuals, families, schools, and society. Sound moral values, more public awareness, strong interpersonal relationships, high self-expectations, and so on had a positive impact on graduate students’ affective diathesis. Finally, graduate student's development levels of public benefit, self-improvement, exploration, learning happiness, major interest, self-confidence, aesthetic for humanity, and aesthetic for science were higher than those of undergraduates. Further, the negative influence of school pressure and time spent online on affective diathesis in undergraduate students was greater than it was in the graduate students. The results from this investigation provide educators with abundant first-hand information on how to improve graduate students’ affective diathesis, as well as for academics on the theoretical implications for affective diathesis research.
     The relationship between the perceived climate of team Cha-xu and employee silence: Research on affective commitment and traditionality
    ZHU Yu, XIE Binbin
    Acta Psychologica Sinica. 2018, 50 (5): 539-548.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00539
    Abstract   PDF (453KB) ( 171 )
     Employee silence, referring to the deliberately withholding of important ideas, suggestions and opinions about their work, has become a critical issue to organizational development and management. Thus how to reduce and break employee silence has been increasingly emphasized by academics and practitioners. Few previous studies have explored the effect of Chinese contextual factors on employee silence behavior. This study attempts to explore the effect of Chinese contextual variables (the perceived climate of team Cha-xu and traditionality) on silence. Depending on the theory of social exchange, we also hypothesize that affective commitment mediates the effect between the perceived climate of team Cha-xu and silence. We collected data from the main city of South China enterprises participants. Data were collected in two stages in order to avoid common method bias. At time 1, the perceived climate of team Cha-xu, affective commitment and traditionality were measured and reported by employees. At time 2, about three months later, employee silence was rated. The final sample size was 247. We used Mplus 7.4 and SPSS 23.0 to analyze the data. First, we assessed the discriminate validity of the key variables through a series of confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) and examined the common method variance, and then we used cluster robust standard error analysis and bias-corrected bootstrap to test our theoretical hypotheses. In order to better understand the mechanisms of silence, we proposed and tested a mediated moderation model in which the perceived climate of team Cha-xu influenced employees silence, with affective commitment as a mediator and traditionality as a moderator. The results showed that: (1) the perceived climate of team Cha-xu was positively related to employee silence (β = 0.14, p < 0.05); (2) the perceived climate of team Cha-xu was negatively related to affective commitment (β = –0.28, p < 0.001); (3) affective commitment partially mediated the relationship between the perceived climate of team Cha-xu and employee silence (β = 0.03, p < 0.05); (4) Traditionality moderated the relationship between the perceived climate of team Cha-xu and affective commitment (β = 0.11, p < 0.001). That is, the lower the traditionality, the stronger the mediated relationship was. Furthermore, we referred to the SPSS procedure of Preacher et al. (2007) to test the mediated moderation effect. At the different levels of traditionality, the indirect relationship between the perceived climate of team Cha-xu and employee silence is significant, indicating that the mediating moderation effect exists. Those conclusions enrich the silence literature, and the main theoretical contributions are as follows: First, according to the theory of social exchange, this study investigates the effects of the perceived climate of team Cha-xu on employees’ silence and fully considers the effect of affective commitment on silence. In addition, this research reveals the moderating role of traditionality on the mechanism, which provides a new perspective to better understand silence based on the traditional Chinese cultural context. Beyond the theoretical contributions, this paper also provides some useful implications for managers and practitioners to break the silence. Our findings suggest that managers should pay attention to the team Cha-xu climate and strengthen the justice climate within the organization, in order to reduce the subordinates’ negative emotions. Moreover, the employees’ affective commitment is key to whether they will break the silence and speak out. Thus, managers should also attach importance to their affective commitment.
     Fate control and problem lottery playing: The perspective of meaning maintenance
    HU Yue, WANG Bin, MA Hongyu, LI Gai
    Acta Psychologica Sinica. 2018, 50 (5): 549-557.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00549
    Abstract   PDF (431KB) ( 96 )
     Problem lottery playing has received increasing attention nowadays. Previous studies reveal that lottery-specific beliefs, such as lottery attitudes, risk perception, and irrational belief, play significant roles in the development and maintenance of problem lottery playing which are mostly based on social-cognitive theory or theory of planned behavior. Few studies have investigated the relationship between general belief and problem lottery playing. Fate control, as an important general belief, provides an account of our experiences and is also a form of meaning. Studies have shown that fate control is correlate with various psychological indicators (e.g., negative affect, study intention, and problem gambling), and it is particularly strong in Asian cultures. However, little is known about the effect of fate control on problem lottery playing and its mediators explaining this relationship. In the perspective of meaning maintenance model, this study aimed to examine the effect of fate control on problem lottery playing, and the mediating roles of avoidance motivation, illusion of control, and expectation deviation. A sample of 2241 sport lottery players (1592 male, 649 female) were recruited for the study. They were required to complete a battery of self-report questionnaires. Fate control was measured by the subscales of Social Axioms Survey. Avoidance motivation was measured by subscales of lottery playing motivation adapted from five-factor gambling motivation scale. Illusion of control and expectancy were measured by subscales of lottery related cognitions adapted from Gambling Related Cognitions Scale. Problem Gambling Severity Index was adapted to access problem lottery playing. Data was analyzed by using SPSS 17.0 and MPLUS 7.0 which was specifically developed for assessing the complex models with the bias-corrected percentile Bootstrap method. The results of the study showed that fate control, avoidance motivation, illusion of control, expectancy were positively related to problem lottery playing; fate control was positively related to avoidance motivation, illusion of control, expectancy; avoidance motivation was positively related to illusion of control and expectancy. Structure equation modeling revealed significant prediction of fate control on avoidance motivation, illusion of control, expectancy and problem lottery playing. Avoidance motivation, illusion of control and expectancy mediated the relationship between fate control and problem lottery playing. Moreover, avoidance motivation could mediate the relationship among fate control, illusion of control and expectancy. The mediating effect contained five paths: the mediating effect of avoidance motivation, of illusion of control, and of expectancy, the serial mediating effect of avoidance motivation and the serial mediating effect of illusion of control, avoidance motivation and expectancy. The present study offers the following major contributions. First, we investigated the effects of fate control on avoidance motivation, illusion of control, expectancy and problem lottery playing, which support the negative side of fate control. Second, the present study explored the meaning maintenance mechanism of fate control on problem lottery playing by identifying the central role of avoidance motivation based on meaning maintenance model, which broadens the research perspectives of problem lottery playing. Third, this study revealed that general fate control belief could indirectly facilitate problem lottery playing through lottery- specific beliefs.
     When will bystanders support collective actions? The roles of claim legitimacy, protest tactic and expectations of achieving goals
    YIN Rong
    Acta Psychologica Sinica. 2018, 50 (5): 558-571.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00558
    Abstract   PDF (478KB) ( 182 )
     The success of protest in achieving its original aims may depend primarily on the events’ extent which shape public opinion. Collective action may play a significant and indirect role in influencing social change through changing public opinion. Partly, the success of a movement may derive from mobilizing the public to perceive a current context as illegitimate and turning bystanders into supporters. Though there is vast literature on the psychological factors promoting collective action, little is known about how collective actions influence a broader non-protesting community. The obtained articles mainly focus on the processes or mechanisms underpinning bystanders’ support for the social movement. We explored the effects of three key factors in shaping bystanders’ endorsements. This paper contains three experiments conducted to examine our hypothesis that participants were presented in a news article describing an instance of social protest during these studies. The details of the news were different in each group. Study1 was a 2(claim legitimacy: high vs. low) × 2 (protest tactics: violent vs. non-violent) design. Study2 was a 2(claim legitimacy: high vs. low) × 2 (protest tactics: violent vs. non-violent) × 2(expectation of achieving goals: high vs. low) design. Participants were asked to indicate their perceptions of the claim legitimacy, their support for the protests and other questions. Study 3 followed the pattern of Study2, but the background event was different. Results of Study1 showed that protests with legitimate claims were more supported than those with illegitimate claims in contexts of non-violent tactics. Meanwhile, there was only marginal difference of endorsements between participants in high-legitimacy group and low-legitimacy group when collective actions were violent. Study2 showed that in context of violent tactics, participants’ expectations of achieving goals could moderate the relation between claim legitimacy and their endorsements for collective actions. Participants’ supports for violent actions were positively predicted by claim legitimacy when there were little possibilities to achieve goals. However, this effect didn’t exist when possibilities of achieving goals were high. While in contexts of non-violent tactics, expectations of achieving goals did not affect participants’ endorsements for collective action. Only the factor of claim legitimacy was effective. The results of sStudy3 revalidated the results of Study2. The conclusions of the research is as following. First, legitimacy of the claims is the primary factor affecting bystanders’ support for collective action. Only when the protest’s aims accord with moral standards of the public will it gain the endorsements of public. Second, the use of violent tactics could even reduce bystanders’ endorsements of those protests with very legitimate claims. Violence may be seen as an action of alienation from the mainstream,which undermines the broader perceived legitimacy of a movement. Third, low possibility of achieving goals could inspire bystanders’ endorsements of violent collective actions when the claims are legitimate. Bystanders will lower their hostilities toward violence when they expect it will be very hard to achieve legitimate claims.
     Questioning the Rice Theory: Also on the internal and external causes of Chinese preference for holistic thinking
    WANG Fengyan
    Acta Psychologica Sinica. 2018, 50 (5): 572-582.   DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00572
    Abstract   PDF (517KB) ( 219 )
     Based on the significant differences between rice and wheat cultivation, Talhelm et al. (2014) divided the Chinese culture into two types, respectively: rice culture and wheat culture. The former is closer to East Asian culture, and the latter to Western culture. Although the “Rice Theory” provides a novel perspective, it remains to be tested before it’s established. For example, why is holistic-thinking prevalent in China? The “Rice Theory” argues that agricultural types result into cultural differences. Specifically, a long history of rice cultivation should make people live in the rice area more interdependent and thus prefer holistic-thinking, while that of wheat cultivation should make people live in the wheat area more individualistic and thus prefer analytical-thinking. Although the “Rice Theory” provides a new perspective in explaining the differences between rice culture and wheat culture and the prevalence of holistic-thinking in China, the real reason for Chinese, especially ancient Chinese, preferring holistic-thinking may not be a long history of rice cultivation. This paper focuses on explaining this new theory in details. Two contradictions come out when explaining Chinese preference for holistic-thinking by the “Rice Theory”. (1) Before the Southern Sung Dynasty (1127-1279), the majority of Chinese, who lived in wheat-growing area for a long time, used holistic-thinking, barely with any analytic-thinking. Moreover, the holistic-thinking had already reached a high degree no later than the Chhun Chhiu and Warring States Period (770-221 BC). (2) There is no firm evidence insofar to support that the wheat-growing northern Chinese are more culturally Western, no sufficient evidence to support that northerners were more analytical than southerners, or southerners were more holistic than northerners. In fact, northerners are also good at holistic-thinking. The founders and main representatives of “the hundred schools of thought” in pre-Qin period, who have largely influenced Chinese culture and holistic-thinking mode after the Qin and Han dynasties (221-220 BC), were mostly from the northern wheat region. Overall, these two contradictions suggested that the “Rice Theory” was invalid. The external reasons for the prevalence of holistic-thinking in China is probably the enlightenments and inspirations derived from flood control practices, especially the contrast between Yu’s success and Gun’s failure in flood control, which made the Chinese ancients intuitively realized the importance of the harmony between man and nature, and thus considering beings comprehensively (the prototype of holistic-thinking) in solving complicated problems. And the internal reasons is probably the proposal and acceptance of the Yin-Yang theory which contains the thought of Yin-Yang, the Five Elements theory which contains the thought of Five Elements, and the combined Yin Yang-Five Elements theory which contains the thought of Yin-Yang and Five Elements. They provide a complete set of thinking methods to utilize the holistic-thinking for Chinese. Due to the logical and systematic explaining of the birth, growing, sickness and death of the universe, these theories were regarded the rule of thinking by ancient Chinese. They also promoted ancient Chinese to use the holistic, dynamic, and self-adaptive thinking model to explain manifold natural and social phenomena. To sum up, (1) the “Rice Theory” is invalid to explain preference of holistic thinking among Chinese, due to its lack of cultural and ecological validity. (2) It is the flood control practice together with the Yin-Yang thinking, Five Elements thinking, and combined Yin Yang-Five Elements theory that lead to the holistic thinking of ancients Chinese. Insofar, the habit of using holistic thinking to understand and solve problems by Chinese is indestructible.
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