ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2020, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (10): 1599-1618.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2020.01599

• Editor-In-Chief Invited •     Next Articles

The psychological change of the Chinese people over the past half century: A literature review

CAI Huajian1,2(), HUANG Zihang1,2, LIN Li3, ZHANG Mingyang1,2, WANG Xiaoou1,2, ZHU Huijun1,2, XIE Yiping1,2, YANG Ying1,2, YANG Ziyang1,2, JING Yiming1,2   

  1. 1Center for Personality and Social Psychology, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    2Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3Zhejiang Institute of Educational Sciences, Hangzhou 310012, China
  • Received:2020-04-07 Online:2020-10-15 Published:2020-08-24
  • Contact: CAI Huajian


China has undergone unprecedented societal transformations over the past decades. A large body of research has examined the impacts of the rapid societal change on Chinese culture and psychology, including values, personality, self, emotion, motivation, parenting, trust, Guanxi, happiness, mental health, and other social attitudes and behaviors. On the one hand, individualism in general was on the rise. On the other hand, while collectivism in general is declining, as manifested in diverse values, self-construals, personalities, parenting styles and social attitudes, some traditional values persist (e.g. filial piety). Some specific findings include that 1) general trust declined; 2) negative emotions, motivation to avoid failure, and the importance of Guanxi were on the rise; 3) mental health overall was on the rise but it was getting worse for some specific groups (e.g. students in elementary and middle schools); 4) subjective well-being was decreasing in 1990s and started to rise recently. Many changes, however, varied across time and people with different demographic and social backgrounds, suggesting co-existence of multi-cultures. These findings have important theoretical and practical implications. Future study needs to extend the current research scope and examine the causes, outcomes, and mechanisms of the changes.

Key words: cultural change, cultural psychology, individualism, collectivism, modernity, traditionality

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