Discerning cultural shifts in China? Commentary on Hamamura et al. (2021).

Han-Wu-Shuang Bao, Huajian Cai, Zihang Huang

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By examining the changes in the conceptual associations between individualism–collectivism and 10 other concepts based on the Google Ngram Chinese Corpus from the 1950s to the 1990s, Hamamura et al. (2021) inferred (a) no rise in individualism; (b) continuing collectivism; and (c) no effect of modernization on individualism in contemporary China. We question the validity of these conclusions given the following issues in their research: (a) misinterpretation of statistical results; (b) improper calculation of cultural associations; and (c) inappropriate generalization of specific findings. Contrary to their original findings, our reanalysis of their data suggests that individualism has been increasingly accepted and associated with some positive (vs. negative) aspects of life (e.g., income vs. loss, richness vs. poverty) over recent decades in China. Future research should use more rigorous methods and diverse corpora to clarify and explain changes in individualism and collectivism in China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)786–788
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2022


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