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Asian lens on diverse societies and how we interact

Asian lens on diverse societies and how we interact

The need for deeper, Asian-informed cross-cultural understandings – relevant in an age of globalisation and high immigration – underpins an international conference at Massey University this weekend.

The Asian Association of Social Psychology’s biennial conference at Massey’s Auckland campus brings together social psychologists and experts in cross-cultural studies from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Topics include health and wellbeing, education, elder care, media, moral and social dilemmas, relationships and individualism vs collectivism.

Conference chair and head of Massey’s School of Psychology Professor James Liu says the world is growing more interconnected, and Asian societies are increasingly able to play leading roles in global society. “However, Asian psychologists and social scientists have yet to draw from their cultural roots to create social sciences able to make a difference in their home societies.”

He says the conference papers will address diverse issues affecting Asian migrant groups in many societies, and their host communities. Issues such as migration and adaptation, the role of traditional cultural values and their impact on happiness, education, health and work are among presentations for the conference themed: ‘Making a Difference with Social Science: Teaching and Research that Addresses Social Issues and Cultivates Self Refinement.’

With Asians making up nearly one quarter of Auckland’s population and 12 per cent of New Zealand’s total, many of the conference papers are highly relevant locally, says Professor Liu, who is presenting a paper on the role of Eastern philosophical traditions (such as ‘intellectual intuition’ or direct knowledge) as a more human-centred approach to social science.

Other topics include the impact of climate change in heightening cultural tensions and terrorism to understanding the different meanings of bragging behaviour in China and Japan. In her presentation, Yumi Inoue, Chinese University of Hong Kong, will discuss why behaviours which Japanese consider as bragging are well accepted by the Chinese culture, and vice versa.

“In Japan, one is not supposed to share interesting stories of an overseas trip with colleagues or friends who cannot afford such a trip, talk about her children’s academic achievements to other mothers, or show off his/her knowledge even on something trivial,” she says. “For Chinese, sharing stories of a trip, and children’s achievements are not considered as bragging. It is even considered useful to inform friends or business acquaintances subtly on how well he/she and his/her family members are doing financially, physically, or academically. It is important to understand this cultural difference, yet little is known about differences in bragging behaviours in these two cultures.”

The conference promotes social science for social good, enabling teachers and researchers to build collaborative relationships across disciplines and topics that enhance lifelong learning, says Professor Liu.

With 223 individual papers, 139 posters as well as 30 symposia and attendance by more than 300 delegates (271 presenting research) from 20 countries including Japan, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand, he hopes the event will generate enriching exchanges of knowledge and ideas crossing numerous cultural, social and academic boundaries.

The Asian Association of Social Psychology (AASP) was established in 1995 with an inaugural conference in Hong Kong. Its mission is to provide scholars in Asia and the Pacific with a collaborative forum for the discussion, promotion, capabilities building, and publication of their research. It promotes research on Asian traditions, philosophies, and ideas that have scientific merit and practical applications, and expands the boundary, substance, and direction of social psychology by supplementing and integrating Western psychology’s focus on intra-individual processes with a broader and more holistic view from culture and society.

Keynote speakers:

Chi-Yue Chiu is the new Dean of Social Science at Chinese University of Hong Kong and a world leading expert in the areas of globalization, creativity, and polyculturalism. His lecture is titled: Toward an integrated positive social science: The case of ednovation.

William D. Crano, PhD, is the Oskamp Professor of Psychology at Claremont Graduate University, where he has taught for the past 19 years. His keynote is: Social psychology’s contribution to positive parenting, adolescent drug prevention, and social well-being”

Ying-yi Hong is Choh-Ming Li Professor of Marketing at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). She was winner of the 2015 Ursula Gielen Global Psychology Book Award for The Oxford Handbook of Multicultural Identity. Her lecture is: Applying Psychology to understand world events: Take “Why would global warming intensify intergroup conflicts and terrorism?” as an example.

Emiko Kashima is Associate Professor in School of Psychology and Public Health at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, lecturing on: The Social Psychology of Human Mobility: Worldviews, Meaning, and Cultural Learning.

Linda Waimarie Nikora, Director of the Māori & Psychology Research Unit at the University of Waikato, is dedicated to fulfilling the psychological needs, aspirations, and priorities of Māori people, through indigenous psychology and through community-engaged research. Her keynote is entitled: Indigenous Psychologies in Aotearoa/New Zealand - A Momentary Pause.

Guy Standing, is author of The Precariate: The New Dangerous Class, and advocate for universal basic income. His lecture is: The Precariat under Rentier Capitalism: The Psychological Dimensions and Class Differentiation by Rights.

The conference runs from August 26-28 at the Sir Neil Waters Lecture Theatre Building, Massey University, Albany. Click here for conference programme details.


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