Comparative Psychological Research in East Asia: An Opportunity for East Asian Studies Scholars

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Abstract

East Asian cultures are often labelled as ‘collectivistic’, ‘dialectical’ or ‘Confucian’ in comparative psychological research. This tendency is used to justify the generalisation of results found in one East Asian culture to all East Asian cultures and leads to an absence of psychological research comparing different East Asian cultures. In this paper I first show two examples of illdefined psychological constructs-Geert Hofstede’s individualism and collectivism, and Richard E. Nisbett’s and Peng Kaiping’s dialectical thinking. Then I review the content of two main psychological journals with a focus on how often results from one East Asian culture are generalised to all East Asian cultures. Finally I offer a solution to the problem of neglected research comparing psychological differences among East Asian cultures. I state that lack of diversity in research teams and the under-representation of scholars from other than English-speaking countries in teams undertaking psychological research about East Asia contribute to this process. I suggest that East Asian scholars from non-English speaking countries should persuade psychologists from their universities to engage with East Asia.

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