|Abstract or Summary
- The purpose of this study was to explore American and Chinese college student
underlying cultural assumptions, which influence their perceptions and behaviors in various
domains of life. The objectives of this study were to: (a) To generate timely knowledge of
Chinese and American youth's cultural images, meanings, and frame of reference. (b) To
evaluate the extent and nature of psycho-cultural difference between American and Chinese
population samples. (c) To increase the cross-cultural awareness of both cultural groups and
offer deeper insights of perceptions and belief system of their contemporaries. (d) To
examine how the economic, social and political changes affect people's images and cultural
frame of reference. (e) To provide a better tool to prepare future study abroad students.
The methodology employed in this research includes Associate Group Analysis (AGA),
focus groups, and participant observation. The data derived from 73 returned surveys on 25
stimulus words (42 from Chinese respondents and 31 from American respondents). These
were analyzed using AGA. Focus groups and participant observation were used as follow-up
research methods to clarify, extend, and qualify findings on the topics explored in the
The findings revealed that American self-image and their attitudes towards family,
education, values, conscience and other domains of life showed strong individualistic traits
with an emphasis placed on self-reliance. Compared to American students, Chinese
students' cultural assumptions are related to broad cultural factors derived from Chinese
traditional beliefs about self-control and group harmony. Under the influence of western
culture, Chinese youth have undergone certain changes in their perceptions and practices.
They are experimenting with independent thinking and more concerned with developing
their interests and potentials. They readily visualize their material goals and struggle for
more personal freedom. However, in spite of the strong pull of western culture and
materialism, Chinese students still hold the traditional aspirations of "group harmony,"
"reciprocity," "mutual obligation" and "self-cultivation," reflecting the stability of
community norms over time.