ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

心理科学进展 ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (2): 159-172.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2023.00159

• 研究方法 •    下一篇


蔡华俭1,2(), 张明杨3, 包寒吴霜1,2, 朱慧珺1,2, 杨紫嫣1,2, 程曦1,2, 黄梓航4, 王梓西1,2   

  1. 1中国科学院心理研究所行为科学重点实验室, 北京 100101
    2中国科学院大学心理学系, 北京 100049
    3清华大学新闻与传播学院, 北京 100084
    4成都大学心理健康教育中心, 成都 611730
  • 收稿日期:2022-06-26 出版日期:2023-02-15 发布日期:2022-11-10
  • 通讯作者: 蔡华俭
  • 基金资助:

Examining societal change from the perspective of psychology: Research design and analytic techniques

CAI Huajian1,2(), ZHANG Mingyang3, BAO Han-Wu-Shuang1,2, ZHU Huijun1,2, YANG Ziyan1,2, CHENG Xi1,2, HUANG Zihang4, WANG Zixi1,2   

  1. 1CAS Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    2Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3School of Journalism and Communication, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
    4Centre for Mental Health Education, Chengdu University, Chengdu 611730, China
  • Received:2022-06-26 Online:2023-02-15 Published:2022-11-10
  • Contact: CAI Huajian


近年来, 社会变迁导致的文化、心理与行为变化及其相互建构已经成为心理学的研究热点。社会变迁研究通常涉及和变迁相关的时间效应、时代效应以及和变迁无关的年龄效应。在考察变迁趋势及其影响因素时, 常用的研究设计有跨时间比较、跨代际比较、跨地区比较(历史重构)等方法; 常用的分析方法有传统的相关和回归分析和现代的时间序列分析(比如交叉滞后相关和格兰杰因果检验)等。由于每一种设计都有其优点和不足, 在具体研究中, 研究者要根据研究的问题和可操作性选择合适的方法; 如果可能, 最好同时采用多种方法, 以寻求基于不同方法的聚合证据。

关键词: 社会变迁, 文化变迁, 时间序列分析, 格兰杰因果检验, 年龄效应, 时间效应, 时代效应


In recent years, impacts of societal changes on human culture and psychology have become a cutting-edge research area in cultural psychology. The research from the perspective of psychology mainly concerns psychological and behavioral changes as well as their potential drives, which often involves three kinds of effect, that is, age/maturation effect, period/time effect, and cohort/generation effect. Time effect refers to effects caused by socioecological changes in a certain period (e.g., the influences of modernization on Chinese people since 1980s). Age effect refers to development growth caused by individual maturation (e.g., developmental growth during a specific period). Cohort effect refers to effects associated with a specific born year (e.g., enduring effect of modernization on 1970 generation in China). Among these effects, time effect and cohort effect are related to socioecological change, whereas age effect usually constitutes a confounder.

In examining psychological changes as well as their drives, widely used research designs includes cross-time comparison, cross-generation comparison, and cross-region comparison (or historical reconstruction). By examining psychology and behaviors of people in different times, cross-time comparison allows researchers to infer how surveyed psychology and behaviors have changed with time. This examination usually involves cross-temporal analysis of published data, archive data and survey data. The survey data may be resulted from diverse designs, including cross-sequential design, longitudinal design, revolving panel design, total population design and retrospective panel design. These designs vary in difficulty of data collection.

Cross-generation comparison allows researchers to infer the changes of psychology and behaviors across time by examining differences across people born in different cohorts. The cohort can be decided based on special years (e.g., 1980s, 1990s and so on) or special events (e.g., China’s opening up and reform; China’s joining in WTO). In doing this, research can compare representative samples born in different cohorts. A special case is to compare grandparents, parents, and youngest generation within a family. Cross-generation comparison within a family also allows to examine similarities and dissimilarities of different generations.

Cross-regional comparison allows researchers to infer the changes of psychology and behavior by examining differences across regions at different modernization levels. A typical example is to infer psychological changes by comparing people from rural areas with those from urban areas. In this case, rural areas represent the past or tradition, whereas urbane areas represent current or modern time. Thus, rural-urban differences can be mapped onto tradition-modern differences.

In examining psychological changes as well as their drives, widely used data analysis methods includes classic correlation and regression analyses, and modern time series analysis. In exploring possible causal relationships, cross-lagged correlation analysis and Granger causal test are often used. In doing correlation and regression analysis, researchers usually use year or potential socioeconomic factors to predict targeted psychological outcomes, thereby inferring the psychological trends as well as their covariations with diverse socioecological factors. Cross-lagged correlation analysis allows us to infer the direction of the covariation. Granger causal test may provide further causality test while controlling for potential influences of autoregression. Vector autoregression has received increasing attention in recent years, which can be used to model multivariate time-series data. Despite salient advances in data analysis technique, how to decompose and estimate the age effect, period effect, and cohort effect is still a challenge. More studies are needed to tackle this issue.

In summary, we summarized the main research designs and data analysis techniques in studying culture, psychology, and behavior changes. It is notable that each design has specific pros and cons, researchers need to choose suitable design in terms of research question and data collection possibility. If possible, it is highly recommended to pursue convergent evidence by conducting multiple studies with diverse research designs.

Key words: social change, cultural change, time series analysis, Granger causality test, age effect, time effect, cohort effect