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Symposium for Asian Association for Social Psychology, Kunming, China, July 28-31, 2011  

Indigenous and Cultural Psychology: Harmonization and Differentiation in Theory and Practice 

Organizer: Professor James Liu, Victoria University of Wellington

Indigenous and cultural psychology share an interest in probing into the dynamics of social interaction that follow the logic and emotion of culturally embedded theories, scripts,and patterns. Three papers in this symposium focus on how indigenous Chinese notions of harmony may be used in the domains of general philosophy, interpersonal relations, and organizational behavior in teams to illuminate not only local behavior, but general theories and psychological phenomena in these areas. All three papers focus on not just harmony, but differentiating notions of harmony theoretically and in different contexts. The final paper focuses more on cultural practices of diverse households with respect to the practice and location of medications. This paper examines how medications come to be transformed into socio-cultural objects that are woven into the very fabric of everyday life. Thus the symposium overall situates social and personality psychology within the context of indigenous concepts and cultural scripts for everyday living.

Email: James.liu@vuw.ac.nz

Emails: louiselu@frontiernet.net; lilyhg2@mx.nthu.edu.tw; pli.int@cbs.dk; dhdgetts@waikato.ac.nz

Paper 1.

Chinese Notions of Harmony, with Implications for the Development of Indigenous Psychology

Dr. Louise Sundararajan
Rochester Psychiatrist Center
Email: louiselu@frontiernet.net 

The stereotyped notion of harmony as found in cross cultural literature defines the term along the lines of keeping the status quo.  This does not do justice to the Chinese notion of harmony.  The difference between these two notions of harmony falls along the divide between dissimilar and similar others.  Cross cultural studies paint a static picture of harmony among dissimilar others, characteristic of the market place.  By contrast, harmony among similar others, characteristic of small villages, is not a static order, but an emergent resonance among individuals of kindred spirit.  These different conceptualizations of harmony predict different responses.  The harmony among dissimilar others requires self-effacement--suppressing one's individuality in order to maintain group Harmony.  The harmony among similar others, in contrast, calls for responsiveness to and affirmation of individual expressions. Using harmony as an example, my paper reiterates the reasons why Indigenous Psychology is needed.

Licensed psychologist, Rochester Psychiatrist Center, NY.
691 French Road, Rochester, NY, 14618, USA.

Paper 2.

Emotion Sharing in Superficial Harmony Friendships

Li-Li Huang
National Tsing-Hua University, Taiwan

Hsiao-Ping Huang,
National Taiwan University


Most research on friendship usually follows the ?ocial Penetration Theorythat considers the interacting dyad progressively disclose their selves each other in daily interaction and gradually develop intimacy. Huang's theory (1999/2006) suggests paying attention to the superficially harmonious side of friendship. Friends under superficial harmony may conceal their disagreements and not really like each other, even though they call the other as friend They also wont be willing to get close to each other voluntarily. According to self-disclosure theory, superficial friendship seems to stay in this state forever. But is it really true? Three studies examine whether the automatic process of the social sharing of emotion(Rime, 1991) may result in a change or a breakthrough out of superficial harmony friendship to something more genuine in Taiwan.

In Study 1, questionnaire data showed that the social sharing of emotion happened in both superficial and genuine harmony friendships. All kinds of emotion were shared and then affected the friendship quality after sharing. Study 2 found that emotion sharing in superficial harmony showed lower frequencies in study 1 and in-depth interviews found that emotion sharing in superficial friendship could diminish the superficial part in relationship. Finally in Study 3 experimental stories manipulated emotions such as sadness, happiness, guilt, affection, and one control condition of non emotion sharing. Results indicated that friendship quality was affected by emotion sharing and the change was moderated by previous harmony type. Furthermore, in superficial friendship, the effect of negative emotion sharing on friendship quality was mediated by ?eeling of secret sharing but positive emotion sharing was not the same. In conclusion, when encountering emotional arousal, someone may share one's emotion with a superficial friend by accident, and this may lead the friendship from superficial to genuine harmony.

Keywords: social sharing of emotion, superficial harmony, friendship

Paper 3.

THE DUALITIES OF DIVERSITY-IN-UNITY AND CONFLICT-IN-HARMONY: To Open the Black-Box of Team Design toward a Duality Theory

Dr. Peter Ping Li
Copenhagen Business School
Email: pli.int@cbs.dk


There exists no integrated framework of team design. To open the black-box of team design toward a duality theory, I extend the self-categorization theory as well as integrate the similarity-attraction paradigm with the variation-evolution paradigm. First, I apply the duality of diversity-in-unity to attribute classification for a typology of attribute category. Second, I apply the duality of conflict-in-harmony to attribute configuration for a typology of attribute structure. The two typologies delineate a duality theory of team design.

Keywords: Diversity, Unity, Conflict, Harmony, Team, Duality

Dr. Peter Ping Li
Professor of Chinese Business Studies
Asia Research Center
Department of International Economics and Management
Copenhagen Business School
Dalgas Have 15, DK2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark
Tel.: + 45) 3815-5642; Fax: +45 3815-2500; E-mail: pli.int@cbs.dk

Paper 4.

The socio-cultural life of medications across culturally diverse domestic settings

Darrin Hodgetts, Kerry Chamberlain and Linda Nikora

Professor Darrin Hodgetts,
University of Waikato
Email: dhdgetts@waikato.ac.nz


Today, as in the past, people regularly maintain their own health and the health of others through the use of various forms of medication. This presentation draws on ethnographic fieldwork within 15 culturally-diverse households in New Zealand. These Chinese, Tongan, Zimbabwean and Maori households contain a range of Medicative forms, including prescription drugs, traditional remedies, dietary supplements and enhanced foods. This presentation explores similarities and differences in the types of medication and practices surrounding the use of these substances across the various household groups. We demonstrate that, the location and use of these substances reflects various culturally-patterned domestic practices and relationships. As well as being pharmacological objects, medications come to be transformed into socio-cultural objects that are woven into the very fabric of everyday life.