ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 49 ›› Issue (8): 1072-1079.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2017.01072

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 The situational primacy of Chinese individual self, relational self, collective self: Evidence from ERP

 WANG Pei1; CHEN Qingwei2; TANG Xiaochen1; LUO Junlong1; TAN Chenhao1; GAO Fan1   

  1.  (1 Department of Psychology, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai 200234, China.) (2 School of Psychology, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China)
  • Received:2014-08-10 Published:2017-08-25 Online:2017-06-25
  • Contact: WANG Pei, E-mail:; CHEN Qingwei, E-mail:; TAN Chenhao, E-mail: E-mail: E-mail:; E-mail:; E-mail:
  • Supported by:

Abstract:  Self has always been the hot topic in various fields. The tripartite model of self-construal has been the dominating theory at present. According to the tripartite model of self-construal, self is divided into individual self, relational self and collective self based on the relationship between self and others. As to the primacy of individual self, relational self and collective self, different scholars hold different opinions. They proposed four hypotheses as to this issue: individual self primacy hypothesis, relational self primacy hypothesis, collective self primacy hypothesis and situational primacy hypothesis. Each hypothesis has its own behavioral and neuroscience evidence. However, more and more evidence support the individual self primacy hypothesis recently. The present study employed the variant of priming paradigm for the first time to explore the processing of Chinese individual self, relational self and collective self with ERP. We employed 3 (Reference Target: self, familiar other form same country, familiar other from other country) ×3 (Reference Level: individual self, relational self, collective self) within-subject design. 19 paid volunteers participated in this study. Participants were asked to watch the center of the screen where would present a series of word pairs. The prime word and the target word are both names which were collected by the pilot questionnaire. Each trial consisted of the following sequence of events. A prime word was presented for 1000~1200 ms randomized, followed by a 250~350 ms randomized fixation cross, after which a blank screen came for 250~350 ms randomized. After that, a target word came about and lasted until the participants responded. If there was no response, then the target word would disappear after 2000 ms. The inter-trial interval (ITI) was 1000 ms long. There are 1000 trials in total, and participants could have a break after 200 trials. The participants were asked to indicate whether the prime and the target referred to the same person, whether they belonged to the same family, or whether they were from the same country. If the answer was yes, then press the “Consistent” key, otherwise press the “Inconsistent” key. Behavioral results showed that RT of individual self was significantly shorter than that of relational self and collective self and RT of relational self was significantly shorter than that of collective self when the reference target was self. ERPs results indicated that which self became the primary one depended on the specific processing stage. In the early (P2) stage, collective self became the primary one. In the late (P3) stage, individual self turned to be the primary one. In terms of N2, there was no difference as to primacy among them. The results support the situational primacy hypothesis. The present study expands the studies of tripartite model of self-construal and provides the cognitive neuroscience evidence for the debate of primacy. Future studies should be done from different perspective to support situational primacy hypothesis.

Key words:  self, tripartite model of self-construal, individual self, relational self, collective self

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