Psychology Development in Chine
History and Systems of psychology PSYC 331 Dr. Bihan Al Qaimari Midterm Paper “Development of Psychology in China” Name: Ahmad Shiber Student number: 1071843 Introduction: When we started this class, we started learning the history of psychology, its theories, and its development. I couldn’t help but notice that the course curriculum is focused on European and American psychologists and their theories, which gives us a very westernized view of psychology and the nature of humans and their humanity.
or any similar topic only for you
Studying psychology from a western point of view also limits the horizons of applying psychology and how it explained since it will be connected to mainly western church ideologies and financial and political systems are in the west like capitalism and democracy. I developed an interest in far eastern cultures four years ago studying the common religions in that region basics of languages spoken there, and I even started studying the Japanese language as a second language.
Thus, I was interested of how these cultures saw psychology and compare their psychological thinking with Greek and Islamic psychological thinking and philosophy which was covered in class. I was amazed by the sheer amount of knowledge these cultures had offered in psychology and I was disheartened on how it is almost never mentioned in psychology classes or when mentioned it gets marginalized. Of all the cultures that constitute the Far East, I chose China.
In this paper I will discuss the development of psychology in this country from its historical roots till the modern day, along with all the ups and downs of this field. I hope to shed light on the amazing contributions to the psychology field in particular, and to humanity in general. Attachment: a brief description of Chinese culture of well being. The Historical Roots: Modern psychology was brought to China from the West in the late 1800s, but the study and discussion of psychological issues had a long history in ancient China.
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Early psychological thinking in China not only was contained in diverse philosophical, political, military, and other literature but was also expressed through various practices in education, medicine, and human resource management. The influence of Chinese culture on world psychology has been widely recognized in current literature in the field and is attracting more and more attention (Jing, 1994; Murphy & Kovach, 1972; Wang, 1993). In China a rich body of psychological thought existed in the writings of the ancient Chinese philosophers.
One of the most important figures was Confucius (551-479 B. C. ) whose teaching has, for centuries, exerted a profound influence on the development of China’s cultural history. Confucian thinking emphasized the discussion of human nature, education, human development, and interpersonal relationships. For example, when Confucius discussed human nature, he asserted that “human nature is the order of heaven” (Jing, 1994, p. 668). By this Confucius meant that our patterns of existence are determined by Nature or by God.
He did not address this issue in order to differentiate whether human nature was good or evil but proposed it as a common heritage upon which personal and mental development could be based through education: “By nature close to each other, but through practice far from each other” (Analects 17:2, Dawson, 1993). This means that people are similar when they are born but that they become different as a result of social molding; hence the importance of learning. Confucius was a famous teacher as well as a philosopher; he advocated that all people should be educated, irrespective of their abilities.
He categorized people into three types: superior, medium, and inferior and concluded that everyone should be educated according to their abilities. These ideas are in agreement with the modern idea of everyone’s right to an education and the concept of individual differences and the need to provide education in a suitable form for all to benefit, whatever their abilities. With regard to human development, Confucius viewed this as a life-long process as stated in the summary of his own life:. At fifteen I set my mind on learning, at thirty I became firm in my purpose; at forty I was free from doubts; at fifty I came to know fate; t sixty I could tell truth from falsehood by listening to other people; at seventy I followed my heart’s desire without trespassing the norm of conduct. (Analects 2:4; Tang, 1996). A distinctive feature of this outlook is an emphasis on the development of wisdom and social maturity at a later age. Contrary to some modern thinking that human development is primarily an early childhood process (as has been proposed by Freud or Piaget), Confucius gave new insight with the view that development is a life-long process. In addition to Confucianism, other Chinese philosophies such as Taoism and Zen Buddhism were also important.
For instance, Chinese Taoist scholars considered that opposition exists everywhere in the universe and that the synthesis of contrary systems operates to form an integrated unity that is a manifestation of the power and operation of the Yang and the Yin, the alternating forces expressive of light and darkness, birth and decay, male and female. These powers, which in their combined operation form the Tao, the Way, the great principle of the universe, are the mainspring of every activity, the mechanism of constant change and balance, which maintains the harmony of the cosmos. (Fitzgerald, 1976, p. 220). According to Lao-tzu (570-490 B.
C. ), the reputed founder of Taoism, nature keeps a proper balance in all its working. If any activity moves to an extreme in one direction, sooner or later a change occurs to swing it back toward the opposite. This thinking may have influenced Jungian psychology, for “Jung discovered the self from Eastern philosophy and characterized it ‘as a kind of compensation for the conflict between inside and outside ” (Jung, as cited in Kuo, 1971, p. 97). In addition, recent findings indicate that the self-actualization theories of Rogers and Maslow bear certain similarities to concepts in Taoism and Zen Buddhism (e. . , Chang ; Page, 1991; Ma, 1990). The practice of naive psychology was widespread in ancient China, and many present-day psychology applications could trace their roots to thousands of years ago. For instance, in Medical Principles of the Yellow Emperor, the first Chinese encyclopedia of medicine, published about 2,000 years ago, links between brain pathology and psychological problems were described, and a bio-psycho-social model was the main approach to medical and mental treatment (Wang, 1993).
Another famous ancient Chinese text, Sun-tzu’s classic book The Art of War, was written 2,500 years ago. It is a treatise on strategies of warfare containing an analysis of human nature, organization, leadership, the effects of the environment, and the importance of information and may have influenced the development of modern organizational psychology. The most important contribution of Chinese culture to the application of psychology is that of mental testing. It is common to think of testing as both a recent and a Western development. The origins of testing, however, are neither recent nor Western.
The roots of psychological testing can be traced back to the concepts and practices of ancient China for some 3,000 years (Anastasi, 1988; Kaplan & Saccuzzo, 1993). Various methods for measuring talent and behavior were popular, such as observing traits from behavioral changes, identifying intelligence by response speed, eliciting personality across situations, and measuring mental attributes through interviews (Lin, 1980). The purpose of all these tests was to allow the Chinese emperor to assess his officials’ fitness for office. By the time of the Han Dynasty (206 B. C. to A. D. 20), the use of test batteries (two or more tests used in conjunction) was quite common in the civil service examination system (Zhang, 1988) with essay writing and oral exams in topics such as civil law, military affairs, agriculture, revenue, and geography. Tests had become quite well developed by the time of the Ming Dynasty (A. D. 1368-1644). During this period, there was a national multi-stage testing program that involved local and regional testing centers equipped with special testing booths. Those who did well on the test at the local level went on to the provincial capital for more extensive essay examinations.
After this second testing, those with the highest test scores went on to the nation’s capital for a final round of examinations. Only those who passed this third set of tests were eligible for public office. It is probable that the Western world learned about these national testing programs through exposure to the Chinese during the 19th century. Reports by British missionaries and diplomats encouraged the British East India Company to copy the Chinese system in 1832 as a method for selecting employees for overseas duty.
Testing programs worked well for the company, and the British government adopted a similar system of testing for its civil service in 1855. Later, French, German, and American governments in succession endorsed it, and the testing movement in the Western world has grown rapidly since then (Kaplan & Saccuzzo, 1993). Testing was also well developed in ancient Chinese folk culture. An article written by a scholar, Yen (531-590), indicated that, the so-called “testing the child at one year of age” was a popular custom in southern China.
On a child’s first birthday, he/she would be placed on a large table full of food, clothing, paper, pens, jewelry, toys, books with, in addition, an arrow and sword for the boys, and needle and thread for the girls. The baby was encouraged to crawl freely and pick up the item he or she liked best. By observing what the baby grasped first, the proud parents projected the baby’s intelligence, personality characteristics and aptitude by the things taken from the table. This custom lasted until the 20th Century. (Zhang, 1988, p. 02). Although clearly not a test by modern standards, it does illustrate a willingness to assess individual differences by concrete means. Zhang (1988) also noted that Lin Xie, a well-known 6th century scholar, designed what appeared to be the first experimental psychological test in the world. He asked people to draw a square with one hand and at the same time draw a circle with the other. His aim was to show that, with interference from the attempt to do the second task, neither task could be done correctly.
Interestingly, Binet in the 1890s developed a similar test as part of the early psychological work on the effect of distraction (internal and external) on mental tasks (Pillsbury, 1929; Woodworth & Marquis, 1949). Binet may have been aware of the Chinese history. This review is only a brief discussion of the historical background of Chinese psychology. However, psychology in China did not develop into a systematic discipline, despite the fact that the concepts of psychology have deep roots in Chinese civilization dating back almost 2,500 years.
Furthermore, few empirical studies have been done in this area of knowledge in China, compared with studies done in the Western world. Thus, Chinese psychology has lacked a scientific basis because of the belief that Chinese scholars should only concern themselves with “book learning, literature, history and poetry–but not with science” (Fitzgerald, 1976, p. 274). When Chinese intellectuals began the reform movement in the early 1900s, they promoted an uncompromising rejection of Chinese traditions (especially those with Confucian roots) and advocated total or whole-hearted Westernization, in terms of science.
Chinese psychology became a graft product of Western and Soviet psychology (Barabanshchikova & Koltsova, 1989). Early Chinese psychologists had adopted the Western ideas of behaviorism, psychoanalysis, and gestalt psychology, and the works of Pavlov, Bekhterev, and Komilov were translated from the Russian. Nowadays, however, more and more scholars taking the cross-cultural view of psychology (e. g. , Matsumoto, 2000) have realized that it is not appropriate simply to apply Western theories to explain the behavior of the Chinese or any other cultural group.
Although the collection process has not been fully carried out, some Chinese psychologists (such as Gao, 1986) have started their exploration of the old studies and literature to search for the roots of Chinese psychology. Those valuable assets of the old civilization, when thoroughly explored, may give us new insights into the understanding of contemporary psychology. For example, researchers are studying early writings on traditional Chinese medicine and translating their conclusions into testable hypotheses of therapeutic effectiveness (Lee & Hu, 1993; Li, Xu, & Kuang, 1988; Tseng, 1973).
This kind of work is also significant in cross-cultural studies and has particular relevance in the Chinese context. Development of Modern Chinese Psychology: Chinese psychology began a long time ago, but the modern scientific method is only recent. However, the era of modern Chinese psychology commenced in the late 1800s with the dissemination of Western psychology in China along with other Western influences. Chinese students who had studied in the West brought back ideas fundamental to modern psychology and translated Western books.
In 1889, Yan Yongjing translated a Japanese version of Joseph Haven’s Mental Philosophy (1875), which was regarded as the first Western psychology book to be published in China (Kodama, 1991). Psychology as an independent scientific discipline was first taught in some Chinese pedagogical institutions at the turn of this century. The Chinese educational reformer, Cai Yuanpei, who studied psychology at Wilhelm Wundt’s Laboratory in Leipzig and who later became president of Beijing University, set up the first psychology laboratory at Beijing University in 1917 (Jing, 1994).
In 1920, the first psychology department was established in South Eastern University in Nanjing (Li, 1994). In August 1921, the Chinese Psychological Society was formally founded. Unfortunately, its activities were interrupted by the Sino-Japanese war. Meanwhile, some Chinese scholars finished their studies in Western universities and returned to China to teach and do research in psychology. They played important roles in laying the foundation for the development of modern Chinese psychology. One of the most widely known Chinese psychologists from that period was R. Y.
Kuo, who went to the University of California at Berkeley in 1918 and returned to China in 1929. As a behaviorist, his major contributions were in the field of the developmental analysis of animal behavior and the nervous system (Brown, 1981). Another influential figure was P. L. Chen, known as the founder of Chinese industrial psychology, who carried out field studies in Chinese factories after studying under Charles Spearman of University College London. Later, Chen’s study on the G factor was translated and noted as an achievement in the developing understanding of intelligence (Wang, 1993).
Another was S. Pan, who obtained his Ph. D. in Chicago in 1927, having worked with Carr on the influence of context on learning and memory. He later became president of the Chinese Psychological Society when it was re-established in 1955 after the People’s Republic of China was founded. In short, from the 1920s through the 1940s, Chinese psychology was oriented mainly toward Western psychology and in fact was not different from the latter. Experimental approaches were emphasized, and Chinese psychologists were strongly influenced by the schools of functionalism, behaviorism, and the Freudians.
Psychology was basically an imported product whose general development was slow because of the unstable social environment in China during this period. After the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, psychology was reestablished under the auspices of the Communist Party. The new psychology took Marxism-Leninism and Mao’s thought as the basic philosophy underlying its psychological theory. For instance, Marxism’s materialist dialectics saw psychology (apart from experimental psychology) as entirely hypothetical and, therefore, not materialist and not permitted.
Although the Western psychology of the 1930s was well known, it was rejected after 1949 because of its capitalist nature. Chinese psychology during the mentioned time period was guided by the slogan “Learn from the Soviet Psychology” (Barabanshchikova ; Koltsova, 1989, p. 118), and books by Soviet psychologists (Pavlov, Luria, Sechenov, etc. ) were translated into Chinese; Chinese students and postgraduates began to study in Russia rather than in the United States (Barabanshchikova ; Koltsova). Soviet psychology focused on the relationship between psychology nd the workings of the central nervous system, especially as shown in the work of Pavlov with animals, whereas Western psychology with its emphasis on individual differences was seen as a “tool of the bourgeoisie,” which contradicted the Marxist doctrine that states that people are primarily shaped by their social class. Jing (1994) noted that as in the Soviet Union in the 1940s and in 1950s, there were no independent departments of psychology in Chinese universities. Psychology was a secondary discipline in the departments of philosophy or education. It was only 30 years later, after the Chinese Cultural Revolution, that independent departments of psychology were reestablished in Chinese universities). (p. 670). Psychology had a preliminary development in the 1950s and early 1960s. In 1958, the Institute of Psychology was set up as a part of the Chinese Academy of Science, where, because it was classified as a science, its funding was more favorable than that of other social sciences. About half of the 3,000 Chinese psychologists then worked in normal universities or pedagogical institutes in the fields of developmental and educational psychology (Jing, 1994).
Some basic psychological studies were also carried out on perception, conceptual development, memory, and physiological psychology. The publication of three important Chinese textbooks in the early 1960s reflected a significant development of teaching and research during that period: general psychology (Cao, 1963), educational psychology (Pan, 1964), and child psychology (Zhu, 1962). However, the development of psychology was not smooth because of the ebb and flow of political movements. Even though it is a science, psychology could be construed as an ideology and hence a threat to the doctrine promulgated by the ruling regime or by influential segments of society,” noted Leung and Zhang (1995, p. 694). Jing (1994) gave an explanation for this statement. He described the 1958 campaign against the “bourgeois direction in psychology” that criticized the “globalization” and “abstractionism” of psychology. This criticism was aimed at basic research with controlled experiments. In China, confounding political matters with academic ones led to the suppression of certain subfields in psychology.
For example, social psychology and psychological testing were abolished “on the grounds that the former ignored the class nature of social groups, and the latter stressed too heavily individual differences rather than social differences” (Jing, 1994, p. 671). The only social psychology articles then published were criticisms of the bourgeois and idealist values of Western psychology. As Brown (1983) noted, Western theories were viewed as a tool for exploiting the working class and a false bourgeois science, which contradicted the Marxist framework of historical materialism.
Kuo (1971) gave some interesting examples of how Western-style psychological research was seen to be politically dominated. For example, Kretch and Crutchfield’s proposed social psychology program for factory managers to help eliminate conflict between workers and factory owners was described as actually intended “to iron out the class struggle, to diminish the proletarian’s fighting will for revolution, and to sacrifice the proletarian basic profits in order to meet the need of capitalists” (p. 100).
For these reasons, between 1966 and 1976, during the period of the Cultural Revolution, psychology was attacked by the extreme leftist revolutionaries as a “bourgeois pseudo-science” and was uprooted completely as a scientific discipline. Leading psychologists were labelled as “reactionary academic authorities,” scientific research and teaching institutions were dissolved, and psychologists were dispatched to remote areas of the country to work on the farms. The disaster lasted until the termination of the Cultural Revolution in 1976. (Jing, 1994, p. 72). In a later article (1995) Jing commented that this was a “dark period” for psychology in China and lamented the “great price to be paid for political interference in science” (p. 719). Happily, Chinese economic reform launched an open-door policy to the outside world in the late 1970s, and psychology was rehabilitated as a scientific discipline. Both the Chinese Psychological Society (CPS) and Institute of Psychology have resumed their academic activities; research in, and application of, psychology is being carried out all over China.
With increased international exchanges, new ideas and areas of research such as cognitive psychology and counseling psychology have become popular. For example major cities now have counseling telephone hot lines (Xu, Guo, Fang, & Yan, 1994), many high schools have their own counselors, and cognitive behavior therapy is a popular new approach to psychiatric problems. Chinese counseling models have to adapt to the characteristics of Chinese clients and counselors (Wang, 1994). Many Chinese psychologists visited other countries, and psychologists from abroad visited China and lectured in China’s universities.
Thus began a more favorable environment for the present development of Chinese psychology. Wang (1993) gave a good picture of the current scene: By 1991, the CPS had more than 2,900 members, two thirds of whom were developmental and educational psychologists. The CPS has 11 special divisions of psychology, including educational, developmental, medical, general-experimental, industrial, sports, physiological, judicial psychology, and psychological measurement. Each province has its own psychological association such as counseling (Wang, 1993, p. 92).
Because psychology restored its momentum in the late 1970s, Chinese psychologists have reached a consensus on building psychology with Chinese characteristics (Chen, 1993; Shi, 1989). Yue (1994) reflected on the need for Chinese psychologists to strengthen their theoretical roots and bind their work closely to life in China. Wang (1993) concluded that much recent Chinese psychological research has been closely linked with economic and social reform, technological developments, and applications of psychology (e. g. , the design of Chinese language computers, the effects of the single-child policy).
Bond (1996) and the Chinese Culture Connection (1987) noted that Chinese society is still shaped by Confucian values such as filial piety and industriousness, the saving of face, and the networks of personal relationships. Even in 1922, Chinese psychologists were exhorted to unearth existing Chinese materials, investigate new materials from overseas, and based on these two sources, invent our own theories and experiments … the content must be appropriate to the national situation, and the form, must insofar as is possible, be of a Chinese nature. Jing ; Fu, 1995, p. 723). In experimental psychology, the Chinese language with its ideographic characters has become a subject of great interest (see Bond, 1986, for some examples). Extensive studies are being carried out in this field, including ideographic and sound characteristics of Chinese characters; the relationship between Chinese languages and Western languages; the hemispheric laterality of information processing of the Chinese language; and reading and comprehension of the Chinese language.
Because of the importance of the application of these studies to school education, artificial intelligence, and industrial technology, many Chinese psychologists are collaborating in their research efforts in the hope of finding some answers, such as how to simplify the typing of Chinese characters on computers (Tan ; Peng, 1991; Yu, Feng, ; Cao, 1990; Zhang ; Shu, 1989; Zhang, Zhang, ; Peng, 1990). Developmental psychology is another area of intensive study.
There are 300 million children in China, and any new knowledge acquired in the field would have important implications for the education of this next generation (Jing, 1994). For example, Mei (1991) demonstrated that the remote rural minority people’s tradition of keeping their babies propped up in sandbags for most of their first 6 months resulted in lower IQ scores up to the age of 16. Much has been published on concept development, language development, the development of thinking, personality, and moral development, gifted children, and slow learners (see Dong, 1989; Liu, 1982; Zhu & Lin, 1986).
These findings have been applied to improve the teaching and testing of children, such as the development of the standardized Higher Education Entrance Examination. In addition, since the national family planning and birth control program was implemented in the mid-1980s the characteristics of the only-child policy have been a hot topic (Chen, 1985; Falbo & Poston, 1993; Jing, 1995). For example, Ying and Zhang (1992) found that rural Chinese still expected their children rather than the government to support them in their old age. This will clearly be a burden on a single child with four dependent grandparents.
Psychologists are concerned with the school achievement and social development of these only children as well as the social psychological effects and personality problems that may be encountered in the future. Within this area, cross-cultural psychology studies among China’s minority groups offer an important new prospect (Hong ; Wang, 1994; Xie, Zhang, Yu, ; Jui, 1993). In the field of medical and clinical psychology, besides the introduction of Western psychotherapeutic methods (behavior modification, group therapy, psychoanalysis, etc. ), the demonstration of the effectiveness of some traditional Chinese medical treatments (e. . , acupuncture, see Ng, 1999a) and therapies (e. g. , qigong ; taichi, see Ng, 1999b) has been a significant development (San, 1990; Sun, 1984; Wang, 1979). Moreover, many psychologists are also involved in the process of modernization in industrial, military, and educational areas, playing important roles in policy making. For example, psychometricians helped to initiate the standardization of college entrance examinations. In personnel selection for the Air Force, psychologists are widely consulted and are actively participating in the design of selection procedures (Hao, Zhang, Zhang, ; Wang 1996).
Industrial psychologists also make their contribution to the establishment of color standards of industrial illumination as well as to the developments of signs and symbols for technical products. The role of psychology has become increasingly prominent in China’s rapid modernization and economic and social development. Disadvantageous Factors that May Impede the Development of Psychology: Although psychology is recognized by the Chinese government and is enjoying apparent prosperity at the moment, its future status is questionable.
The development of psychology is contingent on economic growth. Compared with the other natural sciences (such as mathematics, physics, and chemistry), the development of psychology depends especially on the resources and prevailing intellectual practices of that country. It was reported in the mid-1980s that there were well over 60,000 psychologists who belonged to the American Psychological Association (Mays, Rubin, Sabourin, & Walker, 1996), whereas there were fewer than 3,000 registered members in the Chinese Psychological Society by 1991 (Wang, 1993).
The ratio of psychologists to the general population is higher in developed countries than in developing countries. China has fewer than 2 psychologists for every million people (Jing & Fu, 1995). A developing country has to provide for its people’s basic needs–food, shelter, health–before it can afford to provide for their “higher” psychological needs. When a country is underdeveloped, the more important problems of developing industry, commerce, and agriculture receive more attention because of the need to improve basic living conditions for everyone.
In China today, with its economic pressures and its huge population problem, the further development of psychology cannot be seen as a top national priority. However, the Chinese government has begun to recognize that economic progress ultimately depends on the talents of the managers and workers and now sees the value of investing in modern management selection and training (e. g. , the setting up in 1999 of the Beijing Senior Management Selection Centre; personal communication, Gu Xiang Dong, January, 1999). Because the Chinese Government employs almost all the psychologists in the country, the future of the profession depends n its support (Jing ; Fu, 1995). In practical terms, lack of funding in developing countries means that psychologists cannot afford to attend international conferences, buy expensive books and journals, or experiment with highly technical equipment. Jing and Fu noted,. As China’s market-oriented reform continues, people in academic circles are adjusting their ways of making a living. The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the main organizational body of scientific research in China, started its reform in the middle 1980s to satisfy the market need for applied technology. p. 721). In 1993, the CAS elected to move 70% of its staff into research related to economic development and thus more than 50,000 people began to conduct research in areas relevant to the market economy (Wang, 1995). It is also known that a further 10,000 of the original CAS staff have become businessmen or managers as a result of the expansion of private business enterprises (Jing & Fu, 1995). Budgetary difficulties are a more immediate problem for reform. In developed countries, psychology can rely on private funding.
For example, the ratio of private to government funding in the United States was as high as 1 to 10 in 1990 (see Rosenzweig, 1992), whereas in China there is little private funding to which psychologists can turn. If such funding does exist, psychology is rarely on the list for support. The lack of funding for research has had an adverse impact on basic research. In an analysis of 2,274 studies between 1979 and 1988 in developmental and educational psychology involving 362,665 participants, Shi (1990) found that 48. 9% of the studies were applied research whereas only 8% were described as basic research. The rest were more or less repetitions or adaptations of previous studies or instruments. ) Psychologists in China are predominantly concerned with applied problems, and research that addresses economic and social problems. This situation was aptly described by Long (1987): “The pressing need … was a technocrat in a factory, not a rat in a Skinner box” (p. 232). An applied orientation is understandable in the light of the heavy emphasis placed on economic development. It may be expected that psychology will play an important role in the attainment of China’s present goal to modernize industry, agriculture, science, and technology.
The main problems for Chinese psychologists are how to help the nation accomplish these important tasks with minimal funding and lack of facilities (Jing ; Fu, 1995). The development of psychology is based on having a sufficient number of people with advanced training, and universities are the main source of training for psychologists. Bachelor degree courses in psychology are similar to those in the United States, but Chinese lecturers have far heavier teaching commitments than their Western counterparts, and they are often required to teach topics well outside their specialist areas.
The lack of educational funding also limits access to leading journals and books in the field. Universities in China can afford to subscribe to only a few American and European journals, and most newly published English language books are not available in the library or if they are, their use may be restricted. Thus “psychological knowledge transmitted to China falls behind the times and is less sophisticated than that in the West” (Jing ; Fu, 1995, p. 725).
At present, there are only six psychology departments and four psychology institutions among all the institutions of higher education, although all normal universities and teachers’ colleges have psychology curricula and established psychology teaching and research groups. This provision is clearly inadequate for future needs. In addition, students often teach in the universities in which they received their degree, leading to a restricted perspective of the discipline. To a certain extent, China must depend on the developed world for the training of its psychologists (Jing & Fu, 1995).
This dependence comes through the importation of foreign experts as well as the training abroad of Chinese psychologists at the postgraduate level and the subsequent brain drain, as many of the latter do not return to China. Another serious problem affecting the development of psychology is that there are no specific career paths for students who major in psychology. There is no organized postgraduate professional psychology training, and psychology graduates are often trapped in low-income jobs. Thus, uncertain career prospects have turned away many talented students.
Unfortunately many students who chose psychology as a major have turned to unrelated professions on graduation. Future Perspective The field of psychology has a long road to travel before it will reach its maturity in China. Despite the difficulties mentioned here, recent developments have revealed some directions for the future. As we have seen, the development of Chinese psychology is closely linked with the social environment and with government policy, such as the influence of the family planning program and the open door policy. This link will continue and will orient most psychological research toward practical applications.
Given the poor resources in research and the limited number of psychologists, the nationwide and collaborative approach will greatly facilitate research, teaching, and the practical application of psychology. Chinese psychology has attracted tremendous interest from all over the world in recent years. The reason for this sinophilia (Leung & Zhang, 1995, p. 696) “is because of the increasing importance of China world-wide, both politically and economically. ” In the next few years, more emphasis will be put on the mutual communication and exchange of ideas with the rest of the world.
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