ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (10): 1890-1900.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2018.01890

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Theory of self-cultivation extracted from Confucianism: A reflection and supplement to social exchange paradigm

DUAN Jinyun(), XU Yue, YU Linhan   

  1. Department of Psychology, Soochow University, Suzhou 215123, China
  • Received:2017-11-07 Online:2018-10-15 Published:2018-08-27
  • Contact: DUAN Jinyun


The indigenous research on Chinese management is emerging, but there is still a lack of proper indigenous theories to support such empirical studies. The theme of this paper is to extract cultivation thought from Confucianism mainly, and try to construct self-cultivation theory that rooted in Chinese traditional philosophy in order to provide a new explanation to those indigenous phenomena. Firstly, this paper tried to describe the background of constructing self-cultivation theory which could be generalized into two aspects, one is the difference and similarity of assumption about human nature and the other one is the distinction about external and internal control towards human’s behavior in western and Chinese society. Secondly, this paper analyzed pre-Qin’s cultivation-related discourse and then summarized their similarities to give a definition towards the thought of self-cultivation which refers to the process of a person pursuing ideal personality and high level of moral standard. Self-cultivation emphasizes self-conscious, initiative, selfless and includes self-reflection, self-discipline, self-study, self-improvement and self-dedication that reflects an ideal realm of “Chun Tzu”. Thirdly, a comparison between self-cultivation and social exchange paradigm was done to better understand self-cultivation thought on account of the widely use of social exchange paradigm in illustrating organization behaviors. Finally, the paper tried to make a list of the potential contributions and applications of self-cultivation in indigenous research of Chinese organization behaviors.

Key words: self-cultivation, social exchange paradigm, Confucianism, assumption of human nature, self-discipline and contract