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Applications Of Indigenous Psychology: Educational Achievement

INTRODUCTION

We are living in the global era in which our lives are closely intertwined with each another. Our environment, economy, welfare, security, and future are closely interconnected. Although many people feel that globalization is a recent phenomenon, various forms of it have been with us for thousands of years. Two types of globalization can be identified in terms of its nature, process, and goal: unilateral and enlightened globalization. Unilateral globalization is based on the belief in the superiority of its own culture, values, and ideals and imposition of a single standard on all cultures. Historically, the unilateral globalization has been the typical mode, with one culture dominating and subjugating other cultures.

Enlightened globalization is based on understanding, dialogue, respect and integrating knowledge to foster cultural development. It recognizes that each culture has a different set of values, belief, skills, and resources and integrates diverse information to transform the world. In medieval Europe, for example, enlightened globalization freed Europeans from the grip of superstition, fear, and famines. During this time, civilization in other parts of the world flourished. Europeans were able to integrate this information to launch a new era known as the Renaissance.

With Marco Polo’s travel to Asia, Europeans awoke to new possibilities of wealth, knowledge, and technology. The West learned from China how to cultivate raw materials such as cotton, tea, spices, and paper. Paper allowed cheap and efficient distribution of information, which facilitated the rapid spread of knowledge. Cultivation of cotton, tea, and spices improved the quality of life. The desire to find a shorter route to the East led to the discovery of the Americas. Europeans came into contact with Muslim cultures and learned about Greek philosophy, democracy, mathematics, medicine, and science. The Enlightenment in Europe made modernization, democracy, and science possible, which in turn was made possible by the knowledge, technology, and resources obtained from the Middle East, Far East, Africa, and the New World (Kim, Aasen, & Ebadi, 2003).

The discovery and integration of knowledge during the Renaissance served as the foundation for the development of science, technology, and civil societies (Kim, Helgesen, & Ahn, 2002). The physical sciences (e.g., astronomy, chemistry, and physics) were first to develop. Newtonian physics provided a simple, elegant, and mechanical explanation of the physical world. Chemists discovered the basic elements, and these elements serve as building blocks for explaining the structure and formation of complex objects. Science provides the most accurate and universal understanding of the natural world, and this knowledge has been used to control and shape our environment.

Psychology developed in the late 19th century, attempting to emulate the success of the natural sciences. Psychology flourished as a discipline and became highly successful in terms of number of students, faculty members, research projects, funding, and professional organizations (Koch & Leary, 1985). In terms of its scientific status, however, U.S. psychology experienced a crisis in the early 1970s (Elms, 1975; Koch & Leary, 1985). During this time, scholars around the world questioned the universality of psychological theories, and many called for the development of indigenous psychologies (Kim & Berry, 1993; see chap. 2, this volume, for a review of the international history of psychology).

LIMITATIONS OF GENERAL PSYCHOLOGY

Scholars criticize general psychology as an example of unilateral globalization that has been imposed in Africa, Latin America, Asia, Oceania, and on peoples native to North America (Azuma, 1984; Enriquez, 1993; Kim & Berry, 1993; Nsamenang, 1995; Sánchez-Sosa, in press; Sinha, 1997; Yang, 2000; Yang, Hwang, & Yang, 2005; see chap. 4, this volume, on psychology in developing countries). Indigenous psychologists argue that each culture should be understood from its own frame of reference, including its own ecological, historical, philosophical, and religious context. They also point out that general psychology has ignored the rich academic and cultural traditions of non-Western countries that could have enriched and advanced the field. Indigenous psychologists reject the unilateral imposition of U.S. psychology and argue for the adoption of the enlightened approach in which psychological knowledge is generated based on dialogue, understanding, and scientific rigor (Kim & Berry, 1993; Kim, Yang, & Hwang, 2006).

Although psychological theories have been assumed to be objective, value-free, and universal, they are criticized for being limited in external validity (Kim & Berry, 1993; Shweder, 1991; see chap. 6, this volume, for a critique of the assumptions underlying Western psychology). Many scholars point out that psychological theories reflect the values, goals, and issues of the United States and Western Europe, and they are not universal (Azuma, 1984; Kim & Berry, 1993; Sinha, 1997). In Canada, Berry (1974) was critical of the culture-bound and culture-blind nature of psychology. In France, Moscovici (1972) pointed out that U.S. psychologists adopted “for its themes of research and for the contents of its theories, the issues of its own society” (p. 19). Even in the United States, psychologists recognize that psychological theories reflect the cultural values and goals of the United States (Koch & Leary, 1985; Sampson, 1977).

Scholars have pointed out the need to go beyond the focus on intra-individual processes and systematically analyze phenomena that are influenced by context, relationship, society, and culture (Azuma, 1984; Ho, 1986; Sinha, 1997; Yang, 2000; Yang et al., 2005). Psychologists around the world have contributed to the development of indigenous psychology and expansion of the domain and methodology of psychological research (see chap. 7, this volume, for a discussion of qualitative research methods). Table 5.1 lists psychologists who have contributed to the development of indigenous knowledge and to the theoretical, methodological, and empirical advancement of psychology.

Other scholars have questioned the internal validity of general psychology (Bandura, 1997; Harré, 1999; Kim, 1999; Koch & Leary, 1985). Psychology modeled after Newtonian physics was an attempt to develop objective, abstract, and universal theories, and it excluded the subjective aspects of human functioning (i.e., consciousness, agency, meaning, and beliefs). Although the concepts of agency and consciousness were central in theories developed by Wilhelm Wundt and William James, subsequent theorists have expunged them. Although psychology was founded and developed in Europe, it became indigenized and institutionalized in the United States (Kim & Park, 2005; Koch & Leary, 1985).

TABLE 5.1 Contributors to Indigenous Psychology

Researcher Nationality Topic
John Adair Canada Process of indigenization
Carl Marin Allwood Sweden Meta-analysis
Hiroshi Azuma Japan Socialization, child development, educational achievement
John Berry Canada Intelligence, ecological influence
Pawel Boski Poland Humanist values
Sang-Chin Choi Korea Indigenous concepts
Pierre Dasen Switzerland Cognitive development, intelligence
Padmal de Silva United Kingdom Buddhist psychology
Rogélio Díaz-Gurrero Mexico Ethnopsychology, personality
Rolando Díaz-Loving Mexico Ethnopsychology, conception of the self
Michale Durojaiye Nigeria Social intelligence
Carolyn Pope Edwards United States Parental ethnotheories
Lutz Eckensberger Germany Moral development
Virligio Enriquez Philppines Language, indigenous concepts
James Georgas Greece Ecological psychology, family
Heidi Fung Taiwan Child development
David Ho Hong Kong Child development, counseling, methodological relationalism
Kwang-Kuo Hwang Taiwan Confucianism, relationalism
Denise Jodelet France Social representation of body and self
Cidem Kaitc¸ibas¸i Turkey Socialization and parent-child relationship
Boris Lomov Russia Physiological psychology
Ramesh Mishra India Indigenous cognition
Bame Nsamenang Cameroon Child development
Young-Shin Park Korea Achievement, delinquency, quality of life
Kai-Ping Peng United States Taoist thought
Rogelia Pe-Pua Australia Indigenous methodology
José Miguel Salazer Venezuela National identity
Durganand Sinha India Hindu philosophy
J. B. P. Sinha India Leadership
Joseph Trimble United States Mental health, ethnic identity of Native peoples
Susumu Yamaguchi Japan Attachment, concept of control, indigenous concepts
Chung-Fang Yang Hong Kong Chinese conception of the self
Kuo-Shu Yang Taiwan Personality

INDIGENOUS PSYCHOLOGIES

Kim and Berry (1993) define indigenous psychology as “the scientific study of human behavior or mind that is native, that is not transported from other regions and that is designed for its people” (p. 2). Indigenous psychology advocates examining knowledge, skills, and beliefs people have about themselves and how they function in their cultural context. It represents a descriptive approach in which the goal of psychology is first to provide documentation of how human beings function in their ecological and cultural context. With this decriptive understanding as a foundation, theories, concepts, and methods are then developed and tested. The goal is to create a more rigorous, systematic, and universal science that can be theoretically and empirically verified (see chap. 6, this volume, for more on how emic description can lead to the discovery of etic constructs).

First, indigenous psychology emphasizes contextualized understanding rooted in a particular setting (e.g., ecological, political, historical, or cultural context). It emphasizes the discovery and use of natural taxonomies in search of regularities, general principles, and universal laws. It examines how people view themselves, relate to others, and manage their environment.

Second, contrary to popular misconception, indigenous psychologies are not limited to the study of native peoples, ethnic groups, or people living in distant lands. Indigenous research has often been equated with the anthropological analysis of “exotic” people living in distant lands. Although such studies are necessary, indigenous psychology is needed for all cultural, native, and ethnic groups, including economically developed countries (Kim & Berry, 1993; Kim et al., 2006).

Third, acceptance of indigenous psychology does not affirm or preclude the use of a particular method. Indigenous psychology is part of the scientific tradition in which an important aspect of the scientific endeavor is the discovery of appropriate methods for the phenomenon under investigation. Scientists should not and cannot be bound to a particular method (Boulding, 1980). The use of qualitative, quantitative, and multiple methods are recommended to increase our confidence that a particular finding is valid and not an artifact of research methodology (Enriquez, 1993; see chap. 7, this volume). Results from multiple methods should be integrated to provide a more comprehensive and robust understanding of psychological phenomena.

Fourth, it has been assumed that insiders have a better understanding of indigenous phenomena and that outsiders can have only a limited understanding. Although a person who has been born and raised in a particular community may have insights and understanding of indigenous phenomena, this may not be true in all instances. An outsider with an external point of view can call to attention what is assumed to be natural, but is actually cultural. Although an outsider may have a superficial understanding of indigenous phenomena found in other cultures, he or she may point out peculiarities, inconsistencies, and blind spots that insiders may have overlooked. Both internal and external points of view are necessary in providing a comprehensive and integrated understanding of psychological phenomena.

Also, with globalization many scholars from non-Western countries receive their training in the West. Although most psychologists continued to replicate Western theories (Sinha, 1997), the most vocal criticism comes from psychologists who have been trained in the West and have worked to establish psychology in their own country (e.g., Hiroshi Azuma in Japan, Sang-Chin Choi in South Korea, Rogélio Díaz-Guerrero in Mexico, Michael Durojaiye in Nigeria, Virgilio Enriquez and Alfred Lagmay of the Philippines, David Ho in Hong Kong, Bame Nsamenang in Cameroon, José Miguel Salazar in Venezuela, Durganand Sinha and Jai B. P. Sinha in India, and Kuo-Shu Yang and Kwang-Kuo Hwang in Taiwan) Bicultural psychologists, who have insights from two or more cultures, can point out bias in psychological research and contribute to the development of a truly universal psychology (Ho, 1995).

Fifth, many indigenous psychologists search philosophical and religious texts for explanations of indigenous phenomena. Too often, they use philosophical treatises (e.g., the Confucian classics) or religious text (e.g., the Koran or Vedas) as an explanation of psychological phenomena. We need to distinguish indigenous philosophies and religions from indigenous psychology. Philosophical and religious texts were developed for specific purposes several thousand years ago. In order to utilize these texts, we must first translate these philosophical or religious ideas into psychological concepts and empirically verify their validity. We cannot assume that, because a person is Chinese, he or she will necessarily live by Confucian values or that Hindu Dharma can explain the behavior of an individual because he or she is Indian. Psychologists have used these texts to develop psychological concepts (Paranjpe, 1998), but these analyses are more appropriately viewed as speculative philosophy and have yet to be supported by empirical evidence.

Sixth, as with other scientific traditions, one of the goals of indigenous psychology is the discovery of universal facts, principles, and laws. Psychological universals, however, must be theoretically and empirically verified, rather than assumed a priori.

Seventh, indigenous psychology represents a transactional scientific paradigm in which individuals are viewed as agents of their own action and collective agents through their culture (Bandura, 1997; Harré, 1999; Kim, 2000; Kim & Berry, 1993). In human sciences, we are both the subject and the object of investigation, and we communicate our understanding to other people. Although the objective, third person viewpoint is necessary in psychology, it is not sufficient. We need to supplement it with a first-person perspective (i.e., incorporating agency, meaning, and intention; (Bandura, 1997) and a second-person analysis (e.g., discourse analysis; (Harré, 1999). We need to derive an integrated understanding of first-person, second-person, and third-person perspectives in order to construct a complete picture of human functioning. Research is a creative and generative enterprise in search of a probabilistic understanding of human action, rather than a deterministic search for objective knowledge (Bandura, 1997). Research topics and stimuli must be meaningful and contextualized.

Eighth, psychologists have criticized indigenous psychologies for accumulating idiosyncratic data, fragmentation, reverse ethnocentrism, and moving against the trend of globalization (Hermans & Kempen, 1998; Ho, Peng, Lai, & Chan, 2001; Triandis, 2000). Speculative analysis of indigenous concepts has been presented as a prime example of indigenous psychology. The concepts of amae in Japan (indulgent dependence; Doi, 1973) and kapwa in the Philippines (shared identity with other; Enriquez, 1993) have been introduced. It is difficult to evaluate the scientific merit of these indigenous concepts since very little empirical evidence exists to support the anecdotal accounts of how they operate. This has been among the main criticisms of indigenous psychology.

The Japanese concept of amae has been a focus of international attention; it was first described by Doi (1973). Yamaguchi and Ariizumi (2006) pointed out that both Japanese and U.S. scholars have erroneously interpreted the concept of amae as an example of dependence (Doi, 1973; Johnson, 1993; Rothbaum, Weisz, Pott, Miyake, & Morelli, 2000). This assertion was made without a clear definition of amae or empirical evidence to support the underlying assumption. Kim and Yamaguchi (1995) administered an open-ended questionnaire to 841 respondents living in various parts of Japan (237 middle-school students, 224 high-school students, 243 university students, and 137 adults) to explore various facets of amae. The results indicated that amae involves an exchange between two people: one person who requests a specific favor and another person who grants the request. Amae occurs in close relationships, and the special request, which is often demanding and unreasonable, is granted because of the close relationship.

Yamaguchi and Ariizumi (2006) conducted a series of experiments to analyze different facets of amae. They defined amae as the “presumed acceptance of one’s inappropriate behavior or request” (pp. 164–165). They developed scenarios containing instances of amae and carried out studies with a sample of Japanese, U.S. and Taiwanese students. They found that respondents engage in amae in order to obtain a desired goal through the help of a powerful other (i.e., proxy control) as well as to affirm the close relationship. They found that the U.S. and Taiwanese respondents were more likely than Japanese respondents to engage in amae. They concluded that although amae is an indigenous Japanese concept, the psychological features of amae can be found in other cultures. Thus, a series of empirical studies have helped to clarify the confusion that was initially created by Japanese and U.S. scholars. These studies outline key features of amae, which could potentially challenge some of the precepts of attachment theory (Yamaguchi & Ariizumi, 2006).

A TRANSACTIONAL MODEL OF SCIENCE

Human behavior is shaped by the goals people set for themselves, the skills that they develop, and the outcomes that shape their actions. Similar to indigenous psychology, Bandura (1997) pointed out that people are agents of their own action, motivated to control their lives in order to attain desirable goals and attach meaning to them. Although our body and brain provide the basis for our behavior, they do not determine them. They are used to control the environment and to realize our goals. Bandura pointed out that the human mind and behavior are not just reactive, but they are generative, creative, and proactive.

The method by which we exert control over the environment can be direct or indirect and exerted by an individual or in concert with other people (Bandura, 1997; Kim & Park, 2005). Two types of direct control can be identified: primary control and collective control. If a person exerts direct control over the environment, it is an example of primary control. If people work together in concert to manage their environment, it is an example of collective control (e.g., democracy). Two types of indirect control can be identified: secondary control and proxy control. If a person obtains assistance from another person in managing the environment, it is an example of proxy control. If a person adjusts to a given environment and regulates himself or herself in order to adapt to the environment, it is an example of secondary control. Western theories have emphasized direct control over the environment through the use of primary and collective control. As will be shown subsequently, East Asian cultures emphasize the maintenance of harmony and use of indirect control (i.e., secondary control through self-regulation and proxy control by obtaining social support).

Bandura (1997, 2004) has applied social cognitive theory to help people take control of their lives and to change their lifestyles. This theory forms the basis for interventions to teach diabetic children to manage their health, workers to reduce their cholesterol levels, patients with coronary artery disease to implement lifestyle changes, and patients with arthritis to manage their pain. The theory has also been used to develop television dramas that promote society-wide changes in health and AIDS prevention in India, Mexico, and Tanzania and to reduce the birth rate and elevate the rights of women in China. Consistent with the position advocated by indigenous psychology, Bandura (1997, 2004) has demonstrated that a more rigorous and universal general theory of human functioning can be developed if researchers are willing to integrate human agency, intention, meaning, and context into their research designs.

A STARTING POINT FOR RESEARCH

Enriquez (1993) identified two approaches to indigenous psychology: indigenization from without and indigenization from within. Indigenization from without involves taking existing psychological theories and methods, and modifying them to fit the local cultural context. The approaches advocated by some cultural and cross-cultural psychologists are examples of indigenization from without (e.g., Triandis, 2000). Rather than assuming that a particular theory is universal a priori, researchers modify and adapt psychological theories and integrate them with the local cultural knowledge. Those aspects that can be verified across cultures are retained as possible cultural universals.

In indigenization from within, theories and methods are developed internally and local information is considered to be a primary source of knowledge (Enriquez, 1993). For example, one of the core values and assumptions that psychologists from East Asia are questioning is that of individualism (Ho et al., 2001). In East Asia, human relationships occupy center stage in defining interactions within family, school, work settings, and society (Azuma, 1986; Ho et al., 2001; Kim & Park, 2005). Recently, both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies have yielded results that confirm the importance of close relationships in South Korea that are highly reliable, valid, and applicable (Kim & Park, 2005; Park & Kim, 2004). Although psychological theories have emphasized individualism, research indicates that relationships are central to understanding human development and functioning in different parts of the world (Helgesen & Kim, 2002; House, Landis, & Umberson, 1988; Kim et al., 1994).

CULTURE

Culture is not a variable, quasi-independent variable, category, or mere sum of individual characteristics. Culture represents the collective utilization of natural and human resources to achieve desired outcomes (Kim, 2001b). Differences in cultures can exist if we pursue different collective goals, utilize different methods and resources to realize these goals, and attach different meaning and values to them. Researchers have found that the majority of Americans and Europeans emphasize the values of individual rights, personal freedom, and open debate, whereas the majority of East Asians are likely to emphasize an orderly society, harmony, and self-discipline (Hofstede, 1991).

Although our physiology is the basis for all our actions, it is culture that shapes, directs, and modifies our actions. To use an analogy, computers consist of hardware and software. Our physiology is like the hardware of a computer and culture is like the software (Hofstede, 1991). A computer operates differently depending of the type of software that is downloaded. When children are born, although they have the potential to learn any language, they usually learn one language. Language represents symbolic knowledge that provides a cultural community with the collective ability to organize, express, communicate, and manage ideas.

People have a capacity for self-reflection and creativity that computers do not possess. Computers must be programmed to operate. Human beings have the capability of changing themselves, others, and their environment. Without culture, human beings would be like other animals, reduced to basic instincts. Culture allows us to know who we are, define what is meaningful, communicate with others, and manage our environment. It is through culture that we think, feel, behave, and manage our reality (Shweder, 1991). Just as we use our eyes to see the world, we use our culture to understand our world. For a person born and raised in a particular culture, his or her own culture feels supremely natural. Because we filter events and experience through our culture, it is difficult, but not impossible to recognize our own culture (Shweder, 1991).

Cultures undergo dramatic transformations. At the turn of the century, East Asian societies were far behind in science and technology, lacking in educational, economic, and political infrastructure and experiencing national turmoil. Despite limited natural resources, East Asian governments and companies were able to design appropriate educational, political, and economic systems to transform latent human resources into powerful nations. Currently, Japan is the second largest economy in the world. South Korea (abbreviated hereafter as Korea) and Taiwan have two of the fastest growing economies in the past 30 years. China is emerging as a major international player with a rapidly expanding economy. The purpose of the following section is to provide an indigenous analysis of educational and economic achievement in East Asia.

UNDERSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN EAST ASIA: AN INDIGENOUS AND CULTURAL ANALYSIS

The phenomenal economic growth in East Asia has been spurred by educational transformations (Kim & Park, 2005). In Korea, for example, high-school enrollment is at 99%, and more than 80% of students enroll in a college or university (Park & Kim, 2004). The economic miracle of East Asia is closely tied to the educational aspirations and investment made by adolescents and their parents.

In international comparisons of academic achievement of middle-school students (National Center for Educational Statistics [NCES], 2000; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD], 2003), East Asian students are the top achievers in mathematics, science, and reading literacy. Students from Singapore are the top performers in mathematics, followed by those from Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan (NCES, 2000). In the sciences, Taiwanese students are the top performers, followed by students from Singapore, Hungary, Korea, and Japan. According to the OECD (2003), Japanese students are at the top in mathematics, Korean students are at the top in sciences, and both are near the top in reading literacy (Korea is ranked 6th and Japan 8th). U.S. students are ranked 19th in mathematics and 18th in sciences (NCES, 2000). According to the OECD (2003) survey, they are ranked 15th in reading literacy, 19th in mathematical literacy, and 14th in scientific literacy.

In Western countries, there are significant variations. In Europe, Finnish students do as well as East-Asian students and German students perform as poorly as American students. In North America, Canadian students perform much better than American students. Follow-up studies conducted in 2003 indicate a similar pattern of results (NCES, 2004; OECD, 2004). These findings baffle many psychologists since they are inconsistent with existing psychological theories. Traditional psychological and educational theories that emphasize biology (e.g., innate ability and IQ), individualistic values (e.g., intrinsic motivation, ability attribution, and self-esteem), and structural features (e.g., high educational spending, small class size, and individualized instruction) cannot explain the relatively poor performance of American students and high performance of East-Asian students.

First, although the U.S. government spends more money per student than its East-Asian counterparts, and although Americans schools have smaller classes, American students perform far below their East Asian counterparts. Second, although students in the United States perform poorly in mathematics and science, they have high self-esteem for these subjects. They are ranked first in self-esteem for science and fourth for mathematics (NCES, 2000). By contrast, East-Asian students have relatively low self-esteem: Korean students are ranked 32nd in self-esteem for mathematics and 21st for self-esteem in science, Japanese students are ranked 34th and 16th, respectively, and Taiwanese students 30th and 18th. A similar pattern of results has been found in follow-up studies (NCES, 2004; OCED, 2004), forcing researchers to question current conceptions of self-esteem and the validity of self-esteem measurements.

Third, as to the motivation for studying math, 41% of U.S. students strongly agreed with the statement that it is “to get the desired job.” However, only 10% of Korean students and 12% of Japanese students strongly agreed with this motivation (NCES, 2000). For Korean students, 85% agreed that it is to “enter a desired university” (social motivation) and 62% agreed that it is “to please their parents” (relational motivation). For Korean students, relational and social motivations outweighed personal motivation.

Fourth, in developmental psychology, Freudian, Piagetian, behavioral, and humanistic theories do not adequately examine the role played by parents. Attachment theory does examine the role of parents, with separation and individuation seen as necessary for the emergence of secure attachment (Rothbaum et al., 2000). In East Asia, parents play a central role in child development by defining the goals of socialization, teaching children the necessary cognitive, linguistic, relational, and social skills, and providing them with a supportive family environment. Parents play an important role throughout a child’s life, and maintenance of strong familial relationships is the key to education, economic success, and quality of life.

Fifth, concepts such as guilt have quite a different connotation and use in East Asia (Azuma, 1986; Park & Kim, 2004). In many, but not all Western psychological theories, guilt is presumed to reflect irrational beliefs, neurotic fears, or forbidden wishes. The extensive experience of guilt is believed to cause developmental problems in adolescence. In East Asia, it is considered appropriate for children to feel guilty or indebted to their parents for all of the devotion, indulgence, sacrifice, and love that they have received (Azuma, 1986; Ho, 1986; Park & Kim, 2004). Children feel indebted to their parents because they cannot repay their parents for what their parents have bestowed upon them. Guilt in East Asia is viewed as an important interpersonal emotion that promotes filial piety, achievement motivation, and relational closeness.

Educational Achievement

The phenomenal educational attainment in East-Asian societies has been systematically documented (Park & Kim, 2004; Stevenson, Azuma, & Hakuta, 1986; Stevenson & Lee, 1990). The main factor responsible for high academic performance lies in socialization practices that promote and maintain a strong relational and emotional bond between parents and children. It is the role of parents to provide a positive family environment for children and to pressure children to succeed. Children learn to discipline themselves and to develop their academic skills with the help of their parents. This type of socialization facilitates the development of proxy control. A second major factor is the emphasis on self-regulation, especially the belief in the importance of persistent effort. The third major factor is the compatibility of values between familial and school environment that promotes collective efficacy.

Interdependence and Proxy Control. The parent–child relationship provides the basis for the development of the self. Parental devotion, sacrifice, and support are important features of the traditional socialization that still operates in modern East Asia (Azuma, 1986; Ho, 1986, Park & Kim, 2004). In East Asia, a mother remains close to her child to make the child feel secure, to set a minimal boundary between herself and the child, and to meet all the needs of the child. Children’s strong dependency needs, both emotional and physical, are satisfied by their mother’s indulgent devotion, even if that involves tremendous sacrifice on her own part.

A mother’s job is to use the close relationship with her children to encourage them to discipline themselves and to succeed in school. She becomes a mediator between the home environment and the school environment by socializing appropriate values and normative behavior. As children mature, they are expected to extend and transfer their interdependent identification and loyalty from their mothers to their teachers.

In East Asia, the relationship between teachers and their students is seen as an extension of the parent–child relationship. The typical climate in schools pressures the student to strive for personal excellence and encourages students to cooperate in a group. Children are motivated to please the teacher, and their attention is focused on the teacher. Even in a class size as large as 40 to 60, East-Asian students are more attentive, less disruptive, and more dedicated to their schoolwork than are students in the West (Park & Kim, 2004; Stevenson & Lee, 1990).

Self-Regulation The second important value is that of self-regulation, especially the emphasis on persistent effort. Excellence in performance provides evidence that a child has developed moral character through perseverance. It is a visible demonstration that a child has deeper abilities to become a virtuous adult. Holloway, Kasgiwagi, and Azuma (1986) pointed out that “the emphasis on individual effort includes a sense of responsibility to the group to which one belongs” (p. 272). In Confucian-heritage societies, individuals are pressured to contribute to the group through hard work, and success is collectively defined and shared. Whereas natural talent and ability are emphasized in parts of the West, in East Asia effort and self-cultivation are highly valued.

Lebra (1976) found in a free-association task that over 70% of Japanese respondents, both young and old, men and women, attributed success to diligence, effort, and endurance whereas only 1% attributed it to ability. Other researchers (Holloway et al., 1986; Park & Kim, 2004; Stevenson & Lee, 1990) also found that East-Asian students, parents, and teachers attribute poor performance in school to a lack of effort rather than ability. European-American students, parents, and teachers are most likely to attribute failure to innate ability.

Collective Control. In East Asia, there is a greater congruence of achievement values in the family, school, and society than in the West. In the West, individualistic values are often in conflict with a relatively hierarchical classroom structure, curriculum, and teacher–student relationship (White & LeVine, 1986). In the West, development of one’s talent, whether in sports, music, or the arts is emphasized, and academic achievement may not be considered a primary goal (White & LeVine, 1986). The diversity of viewpoints is considered to be a strength of individualistic societies, but it can lead to conflict among the students, parents, and teachers when manifested in academic settings.

In East Asia, students, parents, and teachers unanimously agree that academic achievement is the primary goal for children and adolescents, and they work together toward this goal. There is considerable agreement among all parties concerning the goals of education and the methods for realizing academic achievement. This collective agreement among family, school, and society promotes collective efficacy and is a key factor in motivating students to attain a high level of achievement (Park & Kim, 2004).

The importance of self-regulation, parental support, and collective control is not unique to East-Asian students. In the U.S., Asian-American students are high achievers since they possess the above characteristics (Farkas, Grobe, Sheehan, & Shuan, 1990; Kim & Chun, 1994). Similarly, socialization practices and the emphasis on education in Finland closely parallel those values found in East Asia, which may be partially responsible for the high level of educational achievement among Finnish students (Helgesen & Kim, 2002).

Delinquency and School Violence. Although East Asian students are high achievers, there are costs. When Korean students were asked in 1996 to describe the most stressful aspect of their lives, 28% report pressure to achieve academically, followed by a personal relationship (20%), and family life (15%; Park & Kim, 2004). During the economic crisis of 1999, 44% of students reported pressure to achieve academically as being the most stressful, followed by a personal relationship (16%), and family life (14%; Park & Kim, 2004). The pressure to succeed academically is the main source of stress, interpersonal problems, and delinquency for East-Asian students (Park & Kim, 2004; Tsuneyoshi, 2001). Even with this pressure and stress, when East-Asian students succeed academically, it brings economic, relational, and social rewards.

East-Asian societies have not successfully dealt with those students who cannot adjust to the rigid school system, cope with the pressures to achieve, those who fail to do well academically, or engage in delinquent behavior (Park & Kim, 2004; Tsuneyoshi, 2001). The rate of students who refuse to attend school and the level of delinquency and school violence have been increasing rapidly in recent years. In Korea, nearly half of the teachers and students report that teachers and administrators have to some degree lost the leadership and authority to teach and regulate students, and more than half of primary-, middle-, and high-school students reported experiencing school violence (Park & Kim, 2004). Similar findings have been found in Japan (Tsuneyoshi, 2001).

East-Asian students, teachers, and parents have low efficacy when responding to delinquency and school violence, perhaps explaining why they appear unable to stem the rising tide of these twin social problems (Park & Kim, 2004; Tsuneyoshi, 2001). Although East-Asian societies have been able to foster the development of self-, proxy, and collective control in promoting high academic achievement, they have yet to develop the necessary control needed to slow the dropout rate, delinquency, and school violence.

Organizational Culture. In East Asia, researchers note that capitalism, industrialization, and urbanization have not significantly altered the underlying cultural value system that emphasizes human-relatedness (Hwang, 1998; Kim, 1998; Misumi, 1985). The phenomenal economic progress of East-Asian countries has been achieved in part due to the maintenance of human-relatedness. Capitalism itself became modified to fit underlying East-Asian cultural values that emphasize human-relatedness (Kim, 1994; Misumi, 1985).

Contrary to the Western emphasis on individual rights, competition, and contractual relationship between employees and employers, many organizations in East Asia are managed as an extension of a family (Kim, 1998; Hwang, 1998). In these societies, companies and governments encourage paternalism, cooperation, and contribution to the group. Employees in a company are looked after like parents look after their children. In turn, employees are expected to be loyal, committed, and hard-working. In a national survey of personnel managers from mining and manufacturing firms in Korea, over 80% strongly endorsed the ideas of paternalism and collectivism (Kim, 1994). These companies provide occupational and welfare services to their employees to foster paternalism, in-group solidarity, and collectivism, which were found to increase production, efficiency, solidarity, loyalty, job satisfaction, and social control (Kim, 1994).

In comparative studies of U.S. and Japanese managers, the nature and role of a group are viewed very differently (Sullivan, Suzuki, & Kondo, 1986). Managers in the United States tend to give rewards based on individual performance and provide greater rewards when an employee works alone. For American managers, the successful person working alone should receive the highest reward. Japanese managers, by contrast, tend to distribute rewards equally and give greater rewards to individuals who worked in a group and who had been influenced by the group. Japanese managers see groups as facilitating the enhancement of productivity. Consistent with this belief, Japanese managers reward individuals who work with their group in an interdependent manner and are highly influenced by the group’s attitudes and advice, regardless of their level of performance. Similarly, Gabrenya, Wang, and Latané (1985) found that for meaningful, skill-related tasks, U.S. students who worked in a group tended to loaf (i.e., engage in social loafing), whereas Chinese students tended to work harder in a group (i.e., engage in social striving).

Justice and Organizational Effectiveness. In decision-making and negotiation theories developed in the West, a quid pro quo strategy is considered to be the most effective (Axelrod & Hamilton, 1981). In other words, if your partner cooperates, then you cooperate with your partner. If your partner does not cooperative, then you are not expected to cooperate (i.e., lex talionis, or “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”). Systematic research suggests that this is the most effective strategy in inducing cooperation and positive outcomes in the West, and that this model has been widely used in economic, political, and social arenas (Axelrod & Hamilton, 1981).

The quid pro quo strategy and equity theory are effective in individualistic cultures. In East Asia, the norm of seniority prevails. Within this framework, reward is not based on individual performance, but rather how long a person has been with the group. In a typical university in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, senior professors are paid much more than junior professors. They have the largest offices and have access to the greatest amount of resources, even though a junior professor may be much more productive than their senior counterparts. Moreover, a junior professor is expected to show respect, serve a senior professor, and handle much of the administrative burdens. It creates a temporal imbalance, with senior professors receiving larger and more numerous benefits than junior professors. Equity can only be achieved when junior professors become senior professors, since they are then eligible for all benefits, including junior professors who will serve them. From a long-term relational perspective, justice and equity are maintained. This phenomenon is not unique to East Asia, and has been documented in different parts of the word (Aycan, 2006).

In the relational perspective, individuals are motivated to maintain the group. Since senior professors receive benefits beyond their contribution, they are motivated to remain in the group and maintain the group. Junior professors will receive more substantial benefits only if they remain in the group long enough to become senior professors. As a result, they are motivated to preserve the group. Empirical studies indicate that the seniority norm enhances group solidarity, commitment, and loyalty, and it has been widely adopted in East Asia (Kim, 1994; Kim, 1998; Yuki & Yamaguchi, 1996). However, since the reward is not directly linked to performance, it could also lead to incompetence, corruption, and nepotism (Kim, 1998, 2001a).

In addition to the norm of seniority, East Asians interact with others differently depending on the nature of the partner. If Person A contributes 70% to the overall outcome and Person B contributes 30%, an equitable distribution would be to give $70 to Person A and $30 to Person B. In the West, this type of distribution is considered fair and just (Kim, Park, & Suzuki, 1990; Leung & Bond, 1984). In East Asia, if Person A contributes 70% and Person B contributes 30%, the reward is distributed equitably if the partner is an outgroup member. If, however, the partner is an in-group member, the high performer will divide the reward equally (i.e., 50/50; Kim et al., 1990; Leung & Bond, 1984). In other words, the high performer will share his or her own reward with a less achieving in-group member. The sacrificial behavior of the high performer can promote a sense of gratitude, loyalty, and harmony. Although there is a temporary imbalance, the high performer can expect future benefits from the friend or from the group (Yamagishi, Jin, & Miller, 1998). This type of distribution is based on the indigenous parent–child model, in which it is the role of parents to sacrifice for their children and for children to feel indebted to their parents (Park & Kim, 2004).

East-Asian parents willingly sacrifice for their children since their own parents cared for them unconditionally when they were young (Park & Kim, 2004). Children are expected to return their sense of gratitude to the parents, but not the favor. They are expected to raise their own children with the same degree of sacrifice, devotion, and love as did their parents. This flow of sacrifice, devotion, and love is what binds family members together through generations and keeps them strong. What is valued in East Asia is the flow of obligation from one generation to another, not a quid pro quo exchange.

This long-term relational perspective among in-group members, rather than the short-term quid pro quo strategy, is accepted as being just, fair, and effective in East Asia since it promotes group solidarity, loyalty, and harmony. The long-term relational perspective is a cultural norm and it is widely expressed in East-Asian schools, organizations, and companies since it promotes harmony and group solidarity. This principle is behind the Sunshine Policy that president Kim Dae-jung has pursued with North Korea (Kim, 2001a). It is, however, not without its problems.

There are two possible outcomes for organizations adopting the long-term relational perspective. As noted, in East Asia a low-performing employee will receive the same benefits as a high-performing employee. In the ideal situation, the low-performing employee should feel a sense of shame, indebtedness, and gratitude and work harder to contribute to the group. This will create synergy and organizational dynamism that appears to be responsible for the high level of productivity in East Asia. If, however, the low-performing employee simply accepts a reward without the intention or motivation to contribute to the group, then it will lead to organizational ineffectiveness and discontent (Yamagishi et al., 1998).

High-performing employees expect to be rewarded in the long run. If they are not so rewarded, they will leave the organization (Kim, 1998; Yamagishi et al., 1998). Thus, if the long-term contingency is not fulfilled, high-performing employees will leave a company and the fate of that company is left to low-performing “free riders” who do not contribute. As a result, such a company will face financial and moral bankruptcy. This is one reason for the Asian economic crisis that has plagued Japan, Korea, and Taiwan (Kim, 1998, 2001a).

The long-term relational perspective has contributed to phenomenal educational and economic progress in East Asia. It has, however, also contributed to incompetence, nepotism, and corruption. Strong leaders like Park Chung-hee, Lee Kwan Yew, and Mohamad Mahathir used the long-term relational perspective to justify their policies. In order for the long-term relational perspective to be effective in companies, organizations, and society, people must trust the specific system in which it operates. Institutions in East-Asia are not trusted because they lack accountability, integrity, and transparency (Helgesen & Kim, 2002). Although East-Asian countries have developed economically, they are ranked low in transparency: Japan was ranked 24th, Korea 47th, Taiwan 35th, and China 71st in 2004 (Transparency International, 2004).

The problem can be resolved when the system becomes transparent and everyone knows who the high and low performers are (Kim, 1998). The low performer will be compelled to work harder or leave the group since he or she will experience a sense of shame. The high performer will be rewarded equitably in the long run. Transparency is also necessary to ensure that every member of the group will behave with integrity. Finally, individuals need to be held accountable for their behavior. Without accountability, integrity, and transparency, individuals and groups will not be motivated to work hard and contribute to the group, and corruption and conflict could emerge.

Many East Asians criticize the long-term relational perspective and advocate for the adoption of a Western system in which rewards are allocated on the basis of individual performance (Kim, 1988). The optimal solution has been neither the short-term or long-term perspective, since each approach has its merits and weaknesses. Many East-Asian companies have opted to blend both strategies, rewarding individual performance in order to enhance self-efficacy, while at the same time rewarding group performance in order to enhance collective efficacy (Kim, 1988). The key to organization management and effectiveness in East Asia is to provide accurate feedback based on transparency and to allocate reward based on both short-term and long term perspectives (Kim, 1988).

CONCLUSION

Indigenous psychology represents a transactional model of science in which agency, meaning, intentions, and goals are incorporated into research design. It advocates examining the knowledge, skills, and beliefs people have about themselves and how they function in their cultural context. It represents an approach in which the content (i.e., agency, meaning, and beliefs) and context (i.e., family, society, culture, and ecology) are explicitly incorporated into the research design. With theoretical, conceptual, and empirical descriptions, ideas are developed and tested to explain observed regularities. The goal is to achieve a more rigorous, systematic, and universal science that can be theoretically and empirically verified. The goal of indigenous psychology is similar to general psychology, but the means to realizing this goal differs markedly.

We must be cautious of external impositions that may distort our understanding of human beings. Initially, many psychologists imposed the natural-sciences paradigm to study human beings. In the rush to become an independent branch of science, early psychologists tailored the discipline to fit the natural-science paradigm. Although psychologists were able to achieve a modest degree of methodological sophistication, psychological knowledge became distorted. Psychologists have discarded central constructs (e.g., agency, consciousness, intentions, meaning) in the quest for an objective science.

The second imposition is the a priori assumption of the universality of psychological theories. With very little conceptual development and empirical testing, psychological theories have been assumed to be universal. This assumption is particularly troublesome since most theories are developed in the United States and tested mainly on university students in laboratory settings. We do not know very much about people in other cultures, and erroneous conclusions have been drawn about other cultures because psychologists have assumed that their theories were universal.

Third, experts have imposed their views on the lay public. Psychologists have been premature in developing theories and methods without fully understanding the phenomena in question. Psychology has largely failed to describe psychological phenomena from the inside, that is, from the perspective of the experiencing person. Instead, psychologists have dissected the world into behavior, cognition, emotion, and motivation, whereas in reality these elements are interlaced components of experience rather than units of experience. Psychology can best be described as the psychology of psychologists. It represents the way psychologists have come to understand people and not necessarily the way in which people understand themselves and the world.

Finally, indigenous psychology advocates for the development of more rigorous theories based on epistemological and scientific grounds. We have focused most of our attention on internal or external validity, and not on practical validity (Kim, 2001b). In a practical sense, perhaps the greatest psychologist was William Shakespeare. He was not an analyst like Freud or Piaget, and he did not conduct experiments like Skinner, but he was able to capture human drama on paper and stage. His dramas have been performed over the past centuries in many cultures and are loved throughout the world. In a similar vein, the greatest therapists may have been composers, such as Ludwig van Beethoven or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose music is able to soothe frazzled nerves and ease the frustrations of daily life. Walt Disney could be considered the most notable developmental psychologist. He was able to capture the hearts and minds of children and the young-at-heart. We may not think of these people as psychologists, but they have captured and reproduced human psychology on stage, film, tapes, and paper for centuries and across cultures. We need to learn from them and to translate their phenomenological knowledge into systematic conceptual and empirical forms. Psychology is a discipline that can link humanities (which focus on human experience and creativity) with social sciences (which focus on analysis and verification).

INTRODUCTION

We are living in the global era in which our lives are closely intertwined with each another. Our

environment, economy, welfare, security, and future are closely interconnected. Although many

people feel that globalization is a recent phenomenon, various f

orms of it have been with us for

thousands of years. Two types of globalization can be identified in terms of its nature, process, and

goal: unilateral and enlightened globalization. Unilateral globalization is based on the belief in the

superiority of its

own culture, values, and ideals and imposition of a single standard on all cultures.

Historically, the unilateral globalization has been the typical mode, with one culture dominating

and subjugating other cultures.

Enlightened globalization is based on un

derstanding, dialogue, respect and integrating

knowledge to foster cultural development. It recognizes that each culture has a different set of

values, belief, skills, and resources and integrates diverse information to transform the world. In

medieval

Eur

ope, for example, enlightened globalization freed Europeans from the grip of

superstition, fear, and famines. During this time, civilization in other parts of the world flourished.

Europeans were able to integrate this information to launch a new era known

as the Renaissance.

With Marco Polo’s travel to Asia, Europeans awoke to new possibilities of wealth, knowledge,

and technology. The West learned from China how to cultivate raw materials such as cotton, tea,

spices, and paper. Paper allowed cheap and eff

icient distribution of information, which facilitated

the rapid spread of knowledge. Cultivation of cotton, tea, and spices improved the quality of life.

The desire to find a shorter route to the East led to the discovery of the Americas. Europeans came

in

to contact with Muslim cultures and learned about Greek philosophy, democracy, mathematics,

medicine, and science. The Enlightenment in Europe made modernization, democracy, and science

possible, which in turn was made possible by the knowledge, technology

, and resources obtained

from the Middle East, Far East, Africa, and the New World (Kim, Aasen, & Ebadi, 2003).

The discovery and integration of knowledge during the Renaissance served as the foundation

for the development of science, technology, and civil

societies (Kim, Helgesen, & Ahn, 2002).

The physical sciences (e.g., astronomy, chemistry, and physics) were first to develop. Newtonian

physics provided a simple, elegant, and mechanical explanation of the physical world. Chemists

discovered the basic el

ements, and these elements serve as building blocks for explaining the

structure and formation of complex objects. Science provides the most accurate and universal

understanding of the natural world, and this knowledge has been used to control and shape ou

r

environment.

Psychology developed in the late 19

th

century, attempting to emulate the success of the natural

sciences. Psychology flourished as a discipline and became highly successful in terms of number

of students, faculty members, research projects, funding, and professional organizations (Koch &

Leary

, 1985). In terms of its scientific status, however, U.S. psychology experienced a crisis in the

early 1970s (Elms, 1975; Koch & Leary, 1985). During this time, scholars around the world

questioned the universality of psychological theories, and many calle

d for the development of

indigenous psychologies (Kim & Berry, 1993; see

chap. 2

, this volume, for a review of the

international history of psychology).

LIMITATI

ONS OF GENERAL PSYCHOLOGY

INTRODUCTION

We are living in the global era in which our lives are closely intertwined with each another. Our

environment, economy, welfare, security, and future are closely interconnected. Although many

people feel that globalization is a recent phenomenon, various forms of it have been with us for

thousands of years. Two types of globalization can be identified in terms of its nature, process, and

goal: unilateral and enlightened globalization. Unilateral globalization is based on the belief in the

superiority of its own culture, values, and ideals and imposition of a single standard on all cultures.

Historically, the unilateral globalization has been the typical mode, with one culture dominating

and subjugating other cultures.

Enlightened globalization is based on understanding, dialogue, respect and integrating

knowledge to foster cultural development. It recognizes that each culture has a different set of

values, belief, skills, and resources and integrates diverse information to transform the world. In

medieval Europe, for example, enlightened globalization freed Europeans from the grip of

superstition, fear, and famines. During this time, civilization in other parts of the world flourished.

Europeans were able to integrate this information to launch a new era known as the Renaissance.

With Marco Polo’s travel to Asia, Europeans awoke to new possibilities of wealth, knowledge,

and technology. The West learned from China how to cultivate raw materials such as cotton, tea,

spices, and paper. Paper allowed cheap and efficient distribution of information, which facilitated

the rapid spread of knowledge. Cultivation of cotton, tea, and spices improved the quality of life.

The desire to find a shorter route to the East led to the discovery of the Americas. Europeans came

into contact with Muslim cultures and learned about Greek philosophy, democracy, mathematics,

medicine, and science. The Enlightenment in Europe made modernization, democracy, and science

possible, which in turn was made possible by the knowledge, technology, and resources obtained

from the Middle East, Far East, Africa, and the New World (Kim, Aasen, & Ebadi, 2003).

The discovery and integration of knowledge during the Renaissance served as the foundation

for the development of science, technology, and civil societies (Kim, Helgesen, & Ahn, 2002).

The physical sciences (e.g., astronomy, chemistry, and physics) were first to develop. Newtonian

physics provided a simple, elegant, and mechanical explanation of the physical world. Chemists

discovered the basic elements, and these elements serve as building blocks for explaining the

structure and formation of complex objects. Science provides the most accurate and universal

understanding of the natural world, and this knowledge has been used to control and shape our

environment.

Psychology developed in the late 19

th

century, attempting to emulate the success of the natural

sciences. Psychology flourished as a discipline and became highly successful in terms of number

of students, faculty members, research projects, funding, and professional organizations (Koch &

Leary, 1985). In terms of its scientific status, however, U.S. psychology experienced a crisis in the

early 1970s (Elms, 1975; Koch & Leary, 1985). During this time, scholars around the world

questioned the universality of psychological theories, and many called for the development of

indigenous psychologies (Kim & Berry, 1993; see chap. 2, this volume, for a review of the

international history of psychology).

LIMITATIONS OF GENERAL PSYCHOLOGY

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