Chi-yue (C.Y.) Chiu (赵志裕)
Toward an integrated positive social science
In my address, I will share my personal experiences in developing an integrated positive social science at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). According to Martin Seligman, the goal of positive social science is to “become a positive force for understanding and promoting the highest qualities of civic and personal life.” At CUHK, we practice positive social science through our attempts to meet five grand challenges in Asia. Specifically, we construct Asian models of successful aging in response to demographic changes; (2) build humanized and sustainable future communities in response to rapid urbanization and climate changes; (3) promote sustainable innovations to address the threat of middle income trap in some rapidly transforming economies; (4) make evidence-based recommendations to address the issue of social cohesion in the face of global rise of localism; and (5) understand and promote eudaimonic and social well-being to counter the rise of alienation and depersonalization in post-industrial societies. The positive social science agenda blurs the arbitrary boundaries between education, research and services; and supports a model of co-learning, co-creation and co-development. In my presentation, I will also reflect on the psychological, cultural and institutional obstacles of advancing a positive social science, and discuss possible ways to go forward.
Applying Psychology to understand world events: Take “Why would global warming intensify intergroup conflicts and terrorism?” as an example.
A major theme of the current conference is to find ways to “Make a Difference with Social Science.” To answer this call, the present talk will use psychological research on intergroup relations to speculate the links between global warming and terrorism. Global warming poses a threat worldwide as it has brought extreme weather. Indeed, the natural disasters that were caused by climate changes have doubled in the past three decades and are still increasing. To cope with such impeding threat, it is ever more important for people to work cooperatively. However, threat can both enhance and impede cooperation. Our experiments revealed that, on the one hand, people show more ingroup favoritism and cohesion toward their ingroup members under a high threat than low threat situation. On the other hand, threat could intensify pre-existing intergroup animosity. Moreover, people feeling uncertain under threat would be more likely to endorse extreme ideologies, and reduce tolerance of mixing one’s own culture with another culture. These processes could contribute to terrorism. Implications of these findings for curbing intergroup conflicts and terrorism will be discussed.
The Social Psychology of Migration: Worldviews, Meaning, and Cultural Learning
Human movement across cultural boundaries continues to rise. In 2015, nearly quarter of a billion people lived outside of their homeland as international immigrants; 200 million people in China and 400 million in India lived in a region outside of their place of origin as internal migrants; 60 million fled their homeland as refugees and asylum seekers; and one million youths crossed the boundaries of culture to gain education as international students. These figures are overwhelming, and to think of potential impacts of these movements, perplexing. Still, how can our discipline contribute to a better understanding of human mobility—the processes experienced by individuals, families, and communities? In my response I wish to highlight the critical importance of cultural learning, for three reasons. For newcomers to adapt psychologically in the new environment, the competence in the new culture and the sense of self-efficacy are essential. For newcomers and old-timers in the host community to avoid a feeling of threat and build relationships a recognition of shared common ground is crucial. For cross-cultural contacts to leave long-term benefits for the groups, knowledge from both cultures must be available for cultural mixing and increased creativity. Relevant new data will be presented.
Regulating emotion to improve physical health through the amygdala
Historically the most popular opinion on the body-mind problem is the dualism that the body and mind are distinct substances, and the body is a machine-like entity separate from the mind. Owing to the dominance of this tradition of dualism in modern medical practices, physical health and mental health are viewed as separate entities, leading to the avoidance of considering mental constructs as a critical factor in physical health. In recent years, however, the opinion of mind-body interaction has been increasingly acknowledged, as exemplified by accumulating evidence indicating that physical health (body) is associated with emotion and emotion regulation (mind), echoing the traditional Chinese philosophy of monism. Yet the neural basis linking emotion regulation with physical health remains largely uninvestigated. Here we used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to investigate the neural basis of this pathway in a large population of healthy young adults. With a systematic study revealing the association of self-reported physical health and emotion traits of personality and general affective experiences, we further demonstrated that, for better physical health, individuals needed to regulate their emotion more effectively. Importantly, individuals who had larger gray matter (GM) volume in the amygdala reported not only a higher ability of emotion regulation but also better physical health. Further, GM volume in the amygdala mediated the correlation between emotion regulation ability and physical health. Our findings suggest that the amygdala plays a critical role in the neural circuit through which emotion regulation may influence physical health. Therefore, our study takes the first step towards exploring the neuroanatomical basis for body-mind interaction, and may inform interventions aimed at promoting physical health by augmenting skills of emotion regulation.
Linda Waimarie Nikora
Indigenous Psychologies in Aotearoa/New Zealand - A Momentary Pause
Linda Waimarie Nikora is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. Her training is in social, community and ethnopsychology. Her Maori tribal affiliations are to Te Aitanga a Hauiti and Ngai Tuhoe. As one of the first Maori appointed to a School of Psychology in this country, she was charged with developing Maori perspectives and analyses of psychology, developing curriculum resources and supporting colleagues in their teaching and research. She, with colleagues, has been engaged in this work for over twenty five years. In this presentation, she pauses to reflect on progress and to consider the questions - If we were to start again a) What would an indigenous Maori psychology look like? b) What would be its foundational domains of activity? c) What contribution would such a psychology make to cultural continuity? d) What difference would it make in the lives of those it is intended for? How might what we do here make a contribution to the development of indigenous psychologies elsewhere? She argues for a creative, positive and strengths based approach to evolving an indigenous Maori Psychology.
The Precariat under Rentier Capitalism: The Psychological Dimensions
As a new global class structure takes shape, a precariat class has emerged in all parts of the world, including China and all parts of Asia. This presentation will concentrate on the psychological aspects of being in the precariat, stemming from the existential insecurities, the sense of alienation and status frustration. It will give special attention to the impending transformation of labour transactions through crowd labour. It will also highlight the peculiar economic system – rentier capitalism – that is intensifying the forms of exploitation impinging on the precariat.
It will conclude by considering the policy agenda that has been taking shape in response to the precariat dilemmas, and in particular in response to the rise of neo-fascist populism aimed at the atavistic part of the precariat.
A Cultural Psychological Analysis of Cultural Change
Life experience appears to be transforming in contemporary societies, with changes taking place in Asia being particularly substantial. There is strong public interest to understand how these changes are affecting individuals psyches. Scientific understanding of this issue, however, has not kept the pace. Accumulated research findings from Western societies, the United States in particular, provide a model for understanding patterns of cultural change in Asia though the model’s applicability in this region requires a critical examination. This presentation provides an overview of the available evidence. The aim of this presentation is to stimulate interests in this research area within the community of Asian social psychologists as our Asia-based insights have much to contribute to the fundamental research question at stake, nature of the interplay between changing social ecology, cultural environment, and participating psyches.