Psychology, Public Affairs, & China: “Getting inside their heads”

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A presentation aimed at public affairs professionals in China, delivered at a public affairs conference in Beijing (2011).

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  • 1. Psychology, Public Affairs, & China: Getting inside their heads Don Kilburg, Ph.D.

2. Psychological studies of Chinese (vs. Americans) show Chinese are : 1. More influenced by others opinions and by appeals to social relationships (Han & Shavitt, 1994). 2. More restrained in emotional expression and less likely to report high & low moods (Matsumoto, 2008). 3. More likely to argue for both sides of a debate rather than just one (Bond, 2010). 4. More likely to blame both parties in a conflict rather than one or the other (Briley et al, 2000). 5. More prone to compromise in interpersonal conflicts within in-groups (Wang et al, 2008). 6. More likely to refuse gifts from out-groups (Shen et al, 2009). 7. More likely to believe that social face is more important than moral face (Liang et al, 2007). 8. More likely to be persuaded by ads emphasizing harmony, family interactions, and in-group benefits; and by other-focused emotion (e.g. empathy) vs. ego-focused emotion (e.g. pride) (Han & Shavitt, 1994). 9. More inclined to take situational factors into account when judging motives (Morris & Peng, 1994). 10. More influenced by past experience/events when drawing conclusions from premises (Guo & Ji, 2008). SPOILER ALERT!!! 3. Psychological studies of Chinese (vs. Americans) show Chinese are : 11. More likely to categorize images based on themes versus physical similarities (Ji et al, 2004). 12. More often visual processors of information & better recallers of text information (Cheung, 2011, Tavassoli, 1999). 13. More influenced by context features and by visual information (Park, 1999). 14. More likely to believe change is cyclical rather than linear (Ji et al, 2001). 15. More influenced by authority figures and people of higher status (Shavitt et al, 2006). 16. More likely to express trust in government regardless of its performance (Tang, 2005). 17. More likely to have a paternalistic leadership style (Redding, 1990). 18. More likely to be persuaded by ads with status symbols and celebrities (Choi, 2005, Shavitt et al, 2006). 19. More un-willing to risk negative consequences, when primed on group memberships, (Yates & Lee, 1996). 20. More willing to buy losing stocks and hold on to them longer; and when stock prices are rising, less willing to buy and more willing to sell (Ji et al, 2008). SPOILER ALERT!!! 4. Roadmap for the session 1. Sweeping view of Psychology 2. How Psychology might bear on Public Affairs work 3. China-specific research findings Goal: to gain a psychological framework for winning hearts & minds with Public Affairs work 5. I. Sweeping view of Psychology Structuralism & Functionalism Gestalt Psychology Psychoanalysis Behaviorism Humanistic Psychology Cognitive Psychology Biological Psychology Evolutionary Psychology 1879 to the Present 6. (BUT, no discipline is perceived without the brain/mind.) How people think about, influence, & relate to one another 7. Psychology as a Science Hypothesis testing, correlational studies, controlled experiments, interventions 8. Philosophy of Mind What is the relationship between the mind and the body? Thousands of years of philosophy Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, etc. 9. Development of Psychology 1879, Wilhelm Wundt (Structuralism) first psych lab tried to quantify consciousness measured judgments about size, intensity, duration of stimuli 1890, William James (Functionalism) wrote Principles of Psychology applied Darwin to mind mind serves organism in adapting to its environment (memory, imagination, feeling, judgment) 10. Gestalt Psychology 1910, Max Wertheimer Mind is active processor whole greater than sum of parts 11. Psychoanalysis 1917, Sigmund Freud Case studies of patients Unconscious mind influences behavior Defense mechanisms Repression Rationalization Projection Reaction Formation Etc. Freudian slips Catharsis 12. Freuds idea of the minds structure Id Superego Ego Conscious mind Unconscious mind 13. 1927, Ivan Pavlov, Classical Conditioning Before Conditioning During Conditioning After Conditioning UCS (food in mouth) Neutral stimulus (tone) No salivation UCR (salivation) Neutral stimulus (tone) UCS (food in mouth) UCR (salivation) CS (tone) CR (salivation) Behaviorism 14. 1953, B.F. Skinner, Operant Conditioning We learn to associate a response and its consequence Response: Pushing vending machine button Consequence: Receiving a candy bar 15. Humanistic Psychology 1954, Abraham Maslow, Hierarchy of Needs 16. Cognitive Psychology 1967, Ulric Neisser the study of mental activities (logical or illogical) How do we: form concepts, solve problems, make decisions, and form judgments? 17. Priming--Awakening Associations 18. Cognitive Dissonance 19. Attribution How we explain someones behavior affects how we react to it Negative behavior Situational attribution Maybe that driver is ill. Dispositional attribution Crazy driver! Tolerant reaction (proceed cautiously, allow driver a wide berth) Unfavorable reaction (speed up and race past the other driver, give a dirty look) 20. Reframing 21. Biological Psychology 1980s, Neuro-imaging (CAT, PET, MRI) PET: Normal vs. Murderer MRI: Normal vs. Schizophrenic 22. Brain Activity when Hearing, Seeing, and Speaking Words (MRI studies) 23. The Cerebral Cortex Plans Judgments Hearing Vision Sensation 24. Nature and Nurture 25. Environmental Influence at Neurological level A trained brain (neuroplasticity) 26. Evolutionary Psychology 2000s, the study of the evolution of behavior using the principles of natural selection Men everywhere preferred attractive physical features suggesting youth and health, i.e. fertility; and 70% hip/waist 27. Newborns Preference for Faces 28. The Brains Shortcut for Emotions: Gut Reaction (the Brains Switchboard) (fight/flight activation) 29. II. How Psychology might bear on Public Affairs work 30. American Public Diplomacy Mission: Support the achievement of U.S. foreign policy goals and objectives, advance national interests, enhance national security by: informing and influencing foreign publics expanding and strengthening the relationship between the people and government of the United States and citizens of the rest of the world. (Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Ann Stock) 31. How do we inform and influence people? How do we expand and strengthen relationships? 32. To inform & influence people, and expand & strengthen relationships, can we? (Yes, we can). 1. generate testable hypotheses and refine our theories of what works with our audience? (psychological science) 2. engage our audience in more actively processing information? (Gestalt psychology) 3. alleviate our audiences defense mechanisms? (Psychoanalysis) 4. condition and reinforce our audiences desirable behavior? (Behaviorism) 5. nurture our audiences esteem and self-actualization? (Humanistic psychology) 6. prime our audience to attribute and reframe their perspectives favorably? (Cognitive psychology) 7. appeal to the way their brains process information? (Biological psychology) 8. better understand the nature-nurture context of their behavior? (Evolutionary psychology) 33. Social Psychology: is the scientific study of how people think about, influence, and relate to one another. includes a wide range of topics like: the self, identity, beliefs, judgment, attitudes, conformity, persuasion, group influence, prejudice, aggression, attraction & love, altruism, conflict & peacemaking. 34. A Sample of how Social Psychology relates to Public Affairs: Persuasion research shows 1. Reciprocation: When you give someone something or do something for someone, they will tend to reciprocate. E.g., free samples lead people to buy. 2. Consistency: We want to be consistent, so if you can get someone to declare a belief in something, they will tend to act in line with that belief. E.g. Agreeing a cause is important and then donating money. 3. Social Validation: We are more likely to do something if we see that many other people like us have also done it. E.g. fashion trends are contagious. 4. Liking: If you like someone, you are more likely to agree to his/her request. If the person is attractive or compliments you, you are even more likely to agree. 5. Authority: We tend to obey authority figures. E.g., If 4 out of 5 dentists recommend a toothpaste, we are more likely to buy it. 6. Scarcity: If we think something is rare, limited, or in demand, we want it that much more. E.g., You are more likely to buy the last item on the shelf than if the shelf is full. 35. To inform & influence people, and expand & strengthen relationships, can we? (Yes, we can). 1. Give our audience something in order to get something? (Reciprocation) 2. Get commitment from our audience on something in order to get later action on something? (Consistency) 3. Convince our audience that everybody is doing it? (Social Validation) 4. Show that we like our audience so that they like us back? (Liking) 5. Convince our audience that they should follow the leading authority on something? (Authority) 6. Give our audience the impression that what we are offering is a unique opportunity? (Scarcity) 36. III. China-Specific Research Findings 37. Power Distance Index (PDI) that is the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. Major Dimensions of Cross-Cultural Variation 1980, Geert Hofstede Individualism (IDV) vs. collectivism is the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups. Masculinity (MAS) versus its opposite, femininity, refers to the distribution of traditional roles between the genders. Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) deals with a society's tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. Indicates extent to which a culture programs its members to feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured or new situations. Long-Term Orientation (LTO) deals with Virtue regardless of Truth. Includes thrift, perseverance, respect for tradition, fulfilling social obligations, and protecting one's 'face'. 38. Genetic collectivism? Recently at Northwestern U. in Chicago, a cultural neuroscientist named Joan Chiao looked at 29 countries and isolated a short allele in the serotonin transporter gene that about 80% of East Asians carry but is not as common in Caucasians, who are equally likely to have the short and long version of this allele (Chiao, 2011). She believes the allele boosted fitness to diseases known in East Asia and therefore emerged through natural selection over millennia. The collectivism mechanism she posits is that the short allele causes East Asians to be less likely to stray from the pack and catch something. If true, this may be an example of a clear link between genes and culture. 39. Major Dimensions of Cross-Cultural Variation Chinese are relatively high in Long-term orientation (LTO) and power distance (PDI); moderate in Masculinity (MAS), somewhat low uncertainty avoidance (UAI), and very low in Individualism (IDV) i.e., they are high in Collectivism. 40. Country PDI IDV MAS UAI LTO China 80 20 66 40 118 United States 40 91 62 46 29 1-20 21-40 41-60 61-80 81-100 101- 120 High end 41. More influenced by others opinions and by appeals to social relationships (Han & Shavitt, 1994). More restrained in emotional expression and less likely to report high & low moods (Matsumoto, 2008). More likely to argue for both sides of a debate rather than just one (Bond, 2010). More likely to blame both parties in a conflict rather than one or the other (Briley et al, 2000). More prone to compromise in interpersonal conflicts within in-groups (Wang et al, 2008). More likely to refuse gifts from out-groups (Shen et al, 2009). More likely to believe that social face is more important than moral face (Liang et al, 2007). More likely to be persuaded by ads emphasizing harmony, family interactions, and in-group benefits; and by other-focused emotion (e.g. empathy) vs. ego-focused emotion (e.g. pride) (Han & Shavitt, 1994). More unwilling to risk negative consequences, when primed on group memberships, (Yates & Lee, 1996). Collectivism explains these findings. (Also, Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism) Chinese are 42. More inclined to take situational factors into account when judging motives (Morris & Peng, 1994). More influenced by past experience/events when drawing conclusions from premises (Guo & Ji, 2008). More likely to categorize images based on themes versus physical similarities (Ji et al, 2004). More often visual processors of information & better recallers of text information (Cheung, 2011, Tavassoli, 1999). More influenced by context features and by visual information (Park, 1999). More likely to believe change is cyclical rather than linear (Ji et al, 2001). More willing to buy losing stocks and hold on to them longer; and when stock prices are rising, less willing to buy and more willing to sell (Ji et al, 2008). Long-term orientation explains these findings. (Also, Holistic thinking, (Zhongyong) or Midway thinking). Chinese are 43. More influenced by authority figures and people of higher status (Shavitt et al, 2006). More likely to express trust in government regardless of its performance (Tang, 2005). More likely to have a paternalistic leadership style (Redding, 1990). More likely to be persuaded by ads with status symbols and celebrities (Choi, 2005, Shavitt et al, 2006). Power Distance explains these findings. (Also, Confucianism & Collectivism) Chinese are 44. Take Away: Figure out how you can appeal to your Chinese audiences: Propensity to be influenced by social relationships, in- group benefits, mutual blame & compromise, social face, affinity for empathy vs. pride. Inclination to look at situational factors, to categorize based on themes, and to process visually. Appreciation for past experience & cyclical change. Deference to authority and consciousness of status. Unwillingness to avoid negative consequences when primed for in-groups. Desire to maintain and enhance face with parents, teachers, classmates, and coworkers. Can you couch your message and provide value along the lines of these terms? If so, research shows your audience will be more receptive.