Is self-esteem a universal need? Evidence from The People's Republic of China

Asian Journal of Social Psychology, Vol. 12, No. 2, Pg. 104 - 120.

 Huajian Cai, Qiuping Wu, Jonathon D. Brown


In a provocative article, Heine et al. concluded that self-esteem needs are less important in collectivistic, East Asian countries than in individualistic, Western ones. Their conclusion was based, in part, on evidence that: (i) self-esteem scores are less positively biased in Japan than in Western countries; and that (ii) low self-esteem is less predictive of psychological distress in Japan than in Western countries. The present research examined whether these cultural differences occur in another collectivistic culture: The People's Republic of China. Two meta-analyses were conducted. Study 1 found that, for young and old alike, self-esteem was positively biased, with most participants reporting high levels of self-esteem. Study 2 found that low self-esteem in China is associated with three indicators of psychological distress: depression, anxiety and low subjective well-being. These findings are consistent with results in Western samples and suggest that high self-esteem may indeed be a universal psychological imperative.


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(My publication)Posted: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 by nick stock
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