Dr Chen, Fang Fang
- Cultural dimension of individualism and collectivism
- Roles of culture, in-group/out-group membership, and attitude similarity on interpersonal attraction
- Relation of culture and gender to the effectiveness of self-presentation
- Methodological issues in cross-cultural research, particularly in the area of measurement invariance
Dr. Chen is interested in the cultural dimension of individualism and collectivism. In the United States, people tend to start a sentence with “I,” whereas in the People’s Republic of China, folks like to begin a sentence with “We.” How can we capture the mechanisms that underlie these cultural differences? Individualism and collectivism has been proposed as such a construct. However, a psychometrically sound instrument has yet to be developed. Her recent work suggests that it is important to measure the specific components of this construct with respect to reference groups as the pattern of relationships between the components of individualism and collectivism changes as social distance varies.
The second line of research investigates the roles of culture, in-group/out-group membership, and attitude similarity on interpersonal attraction. What happens when a member of an in-group is discovered to disagree with our opinions? What happens when a member of an out-group is found to share beliefs with us? Her work conducted in the U.S. indicates that attitude dissimilarity produces stronger repulsion effects for in-group members, and attitude similarity produces greater increments in attraction for out-group members, if socially undesirable characteristics are not associated with the out-group. How would this relationship differ in a collectivistic culture such as China where the distinction between in-group and out-group is sharp and in-group loyalty is stressed?
The third line of research examines the relation of culture and gender to the effectiveness of self-presentation. What’s the best way to present oneself to an audience? Past research suggests that self-enhancing increases perceived competence, whereas self-effacing increases likeability. How can one be perceived as competent and likable at the same time? What happens in a culture where modesty is rewarded? In what way does gender matter? Does the order of engaging self-enhancing or self-effacing make a difference?
Dr. Chen is also interested in methodological issues in cross-cultural research, particularly in the area of measurement invariance. Suppose we were interested in comparing self-esteem between Chinese students in the People’s Republic of China and Caucasian students in the United States. Could we simply use Rosenberg’s self-esteem scale to measure self-esteem in both groups and then compare the results? To make valid comparisons across different cultural or ethnic groups, an important question we need to address is “Are we comparing apples and oranges?” Her recent simulation work has focused on investigating biases in means and regression slopes when groups are compared based on instruments that do not measure the same construct. Based on a series of Monte Carlo studies examining the sensitivity of goodness of fit indices to varying levels of invariance, new statistical criteria have been proposed for testing measurement invariance.
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