ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2017, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (2): 370-380.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2017.00370

• Regular Articles • Previous Articles    

Social change in the eyes of laypersons: How they perceive society’s past, present, and future

CHEN Weiyang; XIE Tian   

  1. (Department of Psychology, School of Philosophy, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China)
  • Received:2016-06-30 Online:2017-02-15 Published:2017-02-15
  • Contact: XIE Tian, E-mail:


The layperson’s perspective in social change research focuses on laypersons’ perception and understanding of society’s past, present, and future, the relationship among them, as well as their impact on individual’s practical actions. Related theories include historical representation theory and social change perception theory. Historical representation refers to a stock of ideas and beliefs about history among the members of a group that have the characteristics of sharing, diversity, and dynamics. Historical representation is influenced by conflict and identity positioning, while its mechanisms include anchoring and objectification, it can also affect an individual’s practical actions and attitudes. Social change perception refers to laypersons’ folk perception of societal development. This kind of perception can be affected by beliefs, social events, and economic factors and can affect an individual’s practical actions and attitudes. Future studies on layperson’s perspective of social change could pay more attention to the effects of collective memory on historical representation and the influence of cultural factors on social change perception. Furthermore, research needs to examine the social reality of China, to study the historical representation and future representation of Chinese people, to measure laypersons’ social change perception from diverse perspectives, and perhaps also to construct a general theory of the layperson’s perspective.

Key words: social change, historical representation, historical representation theory, social change perception theory