Construction of a Chineseness Values Scale and a Chineseness Ethnicity Scale



Citation:

Alvin M. Chan and John R. Rossiter (1998) ,"Construction of a Chineseness Values Scale and a Chineseness Ethnicity Scale", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3, eds. Kineta Hung and Kent B. Monroe, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 61-67.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3, 1998      Pages 61-67

CONSTRUCTION OF A CHINESENESS VALUES SCALE AND A CHINESENESS ETHNICITY SCALE

Alvin M. Chan, University of Western Sydney, Nepean, Australia

John R. Rossiter, University of New South Wales, Australia

INTRODUCTION

It is generally accepted that differences in consumers’ values will bring about differences in consumption behavior (e.g., Vinson, Scott and Lamont 1977; Pitts and Woodside 1984). The accurate measurement of consumers’ values is thus crucial in the prediction of consumer behavior. Realizing that many existing values inventories (e.g., Rokeach 1973; Kahle, Beatty and Homer 1986) are predominantly Western- or U.S.-based, there are calls for the development of original values inventories from the Oriental or Chinese perspective (e.g., The Chinese Culture Connection 1987). The primary objective of this study is to construct two "Chineseness" scales for measuring Chinese values and Chinese ethnicity separately. The secondary objective is to validate these scales through an empirical study to compare Chineseness values for different degrees of Chineseness ethnicity. This consists of a within-ethnicity comparison, namely high Chineseness ethnicity versus low Chineseness ethnicity, and a between-ethnicity comparison, namely high Chineseness ethnicity versus high Australianness ethnicity. The latter comparison is to examine whether Chineseness values are unique or "emic" to people of high Chineseness ethnicity.

In this paper, we first review the major existing Chineseness values scales. We then describe a theory-driven approach to the generation of relevant value items to form a new 30-item Chineseness values scale. For the measureent of different degrees of Chineseness ethnicity, we construct a new 9-item scale. After a pilot test, we then administer the 30 finalized Chineseness value items together with the Chineseness ethnicity items and socio-economic questions to university students via a bilingual (English and Chinese) questionnaire. We present and discuss the survey results, which are quite surprising, and offer post-hoc analysis to explain them. Finally, we suggest directions for future research.

The McCullough et al. (1986) Chineseness Study

The initial "Chineseness" study in consumer behavior originated in Singapore in 1982 as part of a study on family decision-making patterns. From a list of stereotypical Chinese belief statements generated by Chinese university students in Singapore, 10 items were selected by consensus in focus groups for measuring Chineseness (Tan and McCullough 1985; Ellis, McCullough, Wallendorf and Tan 1985; McCullough, Tan and Wong 1986). A 7-point agree-disagree Likert rating was used for each item. An additive index of Chineseness was compiled with the weights of each value item derived from a principal components factor analysis (Ellis et al. 1985).

This 10-item Chineseness scale was administered to ethnically Chinese consumers in Singapore and ethnically white consumers in the United States (McCullough et al. 1986). The researchers concluded that "ethnically white consumers living in the United States were as Chinese as ethnically Chinese consumers living in Singapore based on scores on the Chineseness scale. The Chineseness scale was no longer measuring uniquely Chinese characteristics, but an underlying construct common to both groups" (McCullough et al. 1986, p. 577). Unexpectedly, their study provides evidence that denies the relationship between a person’s ethnicity and his or her values.

Whereas the 10 "Chinese belief" statements were generated empirically, they were lacking a theoretical framework to justify their construct and content validities. The items were apparently not mutually exclusive, nor collectively exhaustive. We also suspect ambiguities about the underlying value(s) that each statement was supposedly representing. For example, while "Caring for one’s aged parent is the duty of every person" obviously represents the "filial piety" Chinese value, there is no clear indication as to the underlying value(s) represented by the statement "A woman’s place is in the home."

The Le Claire (1992) Chineseness Study

Drawing on the five universal value orientation dimensions classified by Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck (1961), Le Claire (1992) adopted eight of the 10 Chineseness scale items from the McCullough et al. (1986) scale and added three of his own items to come up with a new Chineseness scale with each of these 11 items classified as falling into one of the five Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck (1961) value orientation dimensions. A 7-point agree-disagree Likert rating was used for the 11 items, and a Chineseness score was compiled by unweighted averaging of the 11 items.

Although the Le Claire (1992) Chineseness scale "looks" very similar to the original McCullough et al. (1986) Chineseness scale (8 of the 11 items in the Le Claire study are from the original Chineseness scale), they are fundamentally different in conception. The original McCullough et al. (1986) Chineseness scale was dimension-free; the items were not generated based on predetermined underlying value dimensions but rather to represent a single overall dimension of "Chineseness." After partitioning the original 10 items into the Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck framework, Le Claire dropped two redundant statements and added three other statements. However, we contend that Le Claire’s classification was not sufficient to represent Chineseness value dimensions. This became clear when we compared Le Claire’s items with Yau’s (1994) classification of Chinese cultural values in which heidentified (sub)dimensions of Chinese values built on the same Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck (1961) framework.

The Yau (1994) Chinese Values Scale

Yau (1994) provided lengthy descriptions of 12 sub-dimensions of Chinese cultural values expanded from the five universal dimensions classified by Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck (1961). To operationalize these sub-dimensions, Yau collected 100 Chinese sayings (proverbs) from three sources and asked three Chinese academics in Hong Kong to judge them. If two or more judges agreed that a saying was relevant to at least one of the 12 sub-dimensions, that item was included in the questionnaire. This judgmental screening resulted in 66 candidate items. Through a pilot test, those 66 items were reduced to 45, of which Yau used 40 for the final scale (Yau 1994).

However, whereas the Chinese sayings no doubt reflect Chinese cultural values, we contend that in many cases there are problems in identifying which underlying value sub-dimension each saying is reflecting, and the reverse problem that one saying may be reflecting multiple sub-dimensions. No factor-analytic proof of correspondence between sub-dimensions and items was put forward by Yau.

The Chinese Culture Connection’s (1987) Chinese Value Survey

A group of scholars describing themselves as the Chinese Culture Connection (1987) published a survey instrument called the Chinese Value Survey (CVS). The items for this instrument were generated initially by several Chinese academics in Hong Kong and went through an iterative expert judgment process to generate 40 Chinese values items in Chinese (with English translations). The items were rated by asking respondents to indicate on a 9-point scale how important each of the value items was to them personally, where a score of 1 meant "of no importance at all" and a score of 9 meant "of supreme importance." However, whereas the 40 items in the Chinese Values Survey (CVS) were specifically generated from the Chinese culture, they are not theory-driven and may be missing or, conversely, over-representing some underlying Chinese cultural value dimensions.

In the following section, we will firstly discuss the theoretical basis of Chinese values according to Yau’s (1994) framework. We then, as the basis for a new Chineseness values scale, re-evaluate the CVS items by partitioning or modifying the relevant ones into the theoretical framework and add extra items as necessary to represent all sub-dimensions of the framework.

DIMENSIONAL SPECIFICATION OF A NEW CHINESENESS VALUES SCALE

After evaluating Yau’s (1994) 12 Chinese value sub-dimensions, we recommend that two sub-dimensions be further split, making a total of 14 sub-dimensions to represent Chineseness values. We refer to "sub-dimensions" (italicized below) because they are nested under Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck’s (1961) five universal value dimensions (capitalized below). Following are summary descriptions of the sub-dimensions. They would appear theoretically to have very high content validity in capturing the major Chineseness values.

1. MAN-NATURE ORIENTATION: WHAT IS THE RELATION OF MAN TO NATURE (AND SUPERNATURE)?

The Chinese man-nature orientation is greatly influenced by Taoism and Buddhism.

1.1 Harmony with nature: The Chinese man-nature orientation is based on the non-being doctrine of Taoism (Le Claire 1992, Yau 1994), which is the belief that nature has the "Way" (Tao) which cannot be told; instead of trying to master nature, man should learn how to adapt to nature so as to reach harmony.

1.2 Yuarn: Yuarn resembles the Buddhist meaning of Karma, hich is belief in predetermined relations with other things or individuals. When Yuarn ends, couples will divorce, and friendships will end. The concept of Yuarn can be viewed a particular case of causal attribution, in which people attribute their failures to external forces (Yau 1994).

2. HUMAN NATURE ORIENTATION: WHAT IS THE CHARACTER OF INNATE HUMAN NATURE?

The Chinese human nature orientation to a great extent reflects the child-rearing practices of Chinese families.

2.1 Abasement: The child-rearing practices of Chinese families teaches many Chinese to believe in modesty and self-effacement, generally characterized as abasement.

2.2 Situation orientation: Hsu (1963) describes the Chinese as situation-oriented and pragmatic. Yau (1994) attributes this to the extended family structure in the Chinese community whereby the child is taught by not only the parents, but also uncles and aunts and other adults in the extended family. The child is exposed to many viewpoints and learns that compromise is in many cases inevitable. Yau (1994) concludes that the Chinese are thus less dogmatic and tend to be more flexible depending on the situation.

3. RELATIONAL ORIENTATION: WHAT IS THE MODALITY OF MAN’S RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER MEN?

The Chinese relational orientation reflects the Chinese tradition of collectivism.

3.1 Respect for authority: The Chinese have a strong respect for authority, without questioning it. The Chinese tend to address other people in hierarchical terms (Yau 1994).

3.2 Interdependence: Yau (1994) points out that the underlying principle used by the Chinese in dealing with interpersonal relations is the principle of "doing favors." We divided this into the two sub-dimensions that follow.

3.2.1: The principle of li: The importance of quanxi (relationship) and gift-giving in the Chinese culture is well-known. Yau (1994) points out that the Chinese practice of presenting gifts is a manifestation of the Chinese concept of li (rites). Apart from gift-giving, the principle of li also governs how one should treat one’s parents (with filial piety), siblings (with benevolence), friends (with trust), and emperor (with loyalty). The principle of li requires the individual to behave according to what is prescribed by ritual. In other words, while practising li, one thinks of obligations (socially acceptable behaviors) rather than rights (Yang 1989).

3.2.2.: The concept of pao: Although not identified in the Yau (1994) framework, pao is a very important concept used by the Chinese in dealing with interpersonal relations and should be included as a separate sub-dimension of Chinese values. The Chinese concept of pao is best described by Yang (1957): "The Chinese believe that reciprocity of action (favor and hatred, reward and punishment) between man and man, and indeed between men and supernatural beings, should be as certain as a cause and effect relationship, and, therefore, when a Chinese acts, he normally anticipates a response on return" (p. 291).

3.3 Face: The concept of face is one of the most prevailing values in the Chinese culture. By analysing 200 Chinese proverbs, Hu (1944) classified face into two types: lien and mien-tsu. While Yau (1994) addressed these two types of faces in the Chinese culture, he did not treat them as separate constructs. Given their very different nature, we suggest that lien and mien-tsu should be treated as separate sub-dimensions.

3.3.1 Lien: Lien "represents the confidence of society in the integrity of ego’s moral character, the loss of which makes it impossible for him to function properly within the community" (Hu 1944). The English translation of "having a sense of shame" is closest to the Chinese concept of lien. Lien is closely related to the Chinese word ch’ih (which literally means shame). It is meaningful to speak only of losing lien, not of gaining lien. The loss of lien is more serious than the loss f mien-tsu; if lien is lost, an individual’s integrity of character is destroyed.

3.3.2 Mien-tsu: Mien-tsu "stands for the kind of prestige that is emphasized ... a reputation achieved through getting on in life, through success and ostentation" (Hu 1944). Mien-tsu can be lost or gained. It can be gained by obtaining favorable comments from the interacting group or community; it can be lost when conduct falls below acceptable standards. The concern for mien-tsu is mutual to each member of the social network. Apart from not losing your own mien-tsu, the Chinese try to protect others from losing mien-tsu (Yau 1994).

3.4 Group orientation: Chinese and other Asian people are often regarded as collectivistic (e.g., Hofstede 1980), but this is more correctly interpreted as group orientation. Of the five fundamental human relations defined by Confucius, three are related to family relations: parents and child, husband and wife, and brother and sister. The Chinese definition of family usually includes extended family members of various generations. The implication of this strong familism in affecting a Chinese individual’s behavior is that an individual’s behavior is a result of a consensus or compromise between the individual’s and his family members’ preferences (Yang 1989). The Chinese are group-oriented only towards the social units with which they interact.

4. TIME ORIENTATION: WHAT IS THE TEMPORAL FOCUS OF HUMAN LIFE?

It is generally agreed that the Chinese have a strong past-time orientation and sense of continuity.

4.1 Past-time orientation: The strong past-time orientation of the Chinese is well-documented in the literature. For example, Yau (1994) quoting Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck (1961): "Historical China was a society which gave first-order preference to the past-time orientation. ... So also was the Chinese attitude that nothing new ever happened in the Present or would happen in the Future; it had all happened in the far distant Past."

4.2 Continuity: The Chinese believe in long-term relationships. "Once a relation is established, it can hardly be broken" (Yau 1994, p. 79). The Chinese concept of continuity is reflected particularly by perseverance and patience.

5. ACTIVITY ORIENTATION: WHAT IS THE MODALITY OF HUMAN ACTIVITY?

The Chinese activity orientation is contained within the "doctrine of the mean," leading to moderation and harmony with others.

5.1 Moderation: The exact Chinese concept is the principle of chung yung, which can be literally translated as the principle of centrality and commonality and loosely interpreted as the doctrine of the mean (moderation). According to Confucius’ teachings, chung yung is "without inclination to either side." The principle of chung yung prevents people from going overboard on free self-expression.

5.2 Harmony with others: Chung yung also applies in social relationships. Moderation, or seeking of the mean, tends to promote interpersonal harmony.

For the 14 Chineseness value sub-dimensions identified above, we selected 2 items to represent each sub-dimension (with the exception of two sub-dimensions where 3 items were thought to be needed to represent them). Where suitable items could not be selected from the Chinese Culture Connection’s (1987) CVS list, new ones were generated based on Chinese literature and personal judgments. In the values survey instrument, respondents were asked to rate each item on how important it is "AS A GUIDING PRINCIPLE IN YOUR LIFE," where 0=not important at all, and 10=of supreme importance. To avoid a possible halo effect, the 2 items (or 3 for two of the sub-dimensions) measuring the same Chineseness value sub-dimension were placed apart to form essentially two sub-scales of Chineseness values items, with the items in each sub-scale further randomized by location in the final questionnaire.

CONSTRUCTION OF A CHINESENESS ETHNICITY SCALE

Ethnicity is both an automatic characteristic of racial group membership and a process of group identification (Rossiter and Chan, 1998). It is mainly in the latter sense that ethnicity is relevant to "cultural" values.

With a long history of migration, inter-racial marriages, and different degrees of acculturation in the host countries or exposure to influences from other cultures, it is almost impossible to use a simple indicator to measure Chineseness ethnicity correctly. So, instead of using a dichotomous classification (i.e., Chinese vs Non-Chinese), we developed a 9-item, 3-point scale to measure the degree of Chineseness ethnicity; the higher the score on each item the higher the degree of Chineseness ethnicity (Table 1).

Respondents were classified into different degrees of Chineseness ethnicity based on their total scores on the 9 Chineseness ethnicity items:

Degrees of Chineseness ethnicity                 Total scores on the 9 items

High Chineseness                                              22B27

Moderate Chineseness                                      15B21

Low Chineseness                                              10B14

"No" Chineseness                                                 9

The "No" Chineseness group consists of a wide variety of other ethnic groups, which would make inter-ethnic comparisons meaningless. Therefore, a sub-group of the "No" Chineseness group was identified as a "high Australianness" group who were born in Australia, with both parents born in Australia, usually speak English, mainly speak English at home, and claimed that they belong to the "Australian" ethnic group.

HYPOTHESES

It was expected that the perceived importance of Chineseness values would be positively related to the degree of Chineseness ethnicity. Thus, the rated importance of Chineseness values among the high Chineseness ethnicity group should be significantly greater than that of the low Chineseness group (a within-ethnicity comparison). It was also logical to expect that the rated importance of Chineseness values among the high Chineseness ethnicity group should be significantly greater than that of the high Australianness group (a between-ethnicity comparison).

H1:  The perceived importance of Chineseness values of the high Chineseness ethnicity group is greater than that of the low Chineseness ethnicity group (HC>LC).

H2:  The perceived importance of Chineseness values of the high Chineseness ethnicity group is greater than that of the high Australianness ethnicity group (HC>HA).

METHOD

Pilot Test

A pilot test with a bilingual (English and Chinese) questionnaire administered to 59 university students resulted in the refinement of 6 of the initial 29 Chineseness value items by improving their English descriptions to achieve translation equivalence. We also split an obviously double-barrelled item into 2 items, making the final list of items 30. The 30 value items used in the final questionnaire can be found in Table 2 arranged in accordance with the underlying sub-dimensions they are hypothesized to represent.

Main Survey

The final version of the bilingual (English and Chinese) questionnaire was administered to university students enrolled in three Marketing Principles classes and in two other advanced marketing classes at an Australian university. A total of 297 questionnaires were completed with 290 of them usable. Six questionnaires were not used due to incomplete responses and another one was discarded because of the student’s self-report of "not well" in reading English and Chinese. The numbers of respondents in each of the Chineseness ethnicity classifications were: 25 high Chineseness, 20 moderate Chineseness, 23 low Chineseness, and 140 "No" Chineseness. Of the 140 "No" Chineseness respondents, 25 were classified in the high Australianness group based on the above-mentioned selection criteria.

TABLE 1

THE CHINESENESS ETHNICITY SCALE

RESULTS

Independent sample t-tests for differences between means were carried out to test the two hypotheses. Table 2 presents the results (item comparisons and total score comparisons). Also included in Table 2 are results of a post-hoc comparison between the low Chineseness ethnicity group and the high Australianness group (H2*).

The following summarizes the tests of the two hypotheses:

                                                                           H1: HC>LC                                                         H2: HC>HA

Not significant                                                      13 value items                          13 value items & Total Chineseness values score

Significant in the hypothesized direction                  2 value items                                                        8 value items

Significant in the reverse direction              15 value items & Total Chineseness values score              9 value items

DISCUSSION

Regarding Hypothesis 1, where we expected to find a significantly higher total Chineseness values score among the high Chineseness ethnicity group compared with the low Chineseness ethnicity group, a significant result was found in the opposite direction (at the .05 level, 1-tailed). The two obvious post-hoc explanations for this unexpected result are that the Chineseness ethnicity scale is not valid or that the Chineseness values scale is not valid. Of course, both explanations could be true and we discuss the second explanation separately later.

It is highly likely the Chineseness ethnicity scale is valid. To score highly on this scale (the high Chineseness ethnicity group), an individual would have to exhibit virtually all of the following characteristics: born in China or parents born in China, usually speak Chinese, usually speak Chinese at home, speak Chinese very wel, read Chinese very well, self-designated as Chinese, and have been exposed to Chinese culture since birth. We do not believe that this could possibly be invalid as far as Chineseness ethnicity is concerned.

However, an unforeseen possibility occurred to us after the fact. The high Chineseness ethnicity student sample was born during or slightly after the Cultural Revolution in mainland China (1967-1976) during which the traditional Chinese value system was severely criticized. It is possible that this particular "cohort" of high Chineseness ethnicity students was taught explicitly not to endorse traditional Chinese values. The Cultural Revolution attempted to replace traditional (Confucian) values with Communist values. This explanation for the reversal of results for H1 remains speculative. The only way to investigate this explanation is to repeat the study with a broader sample of age groups or among those who can be specifically shown to have escaped the influence of the attempted change in traditional Chinese values. We have a likely sample of the latter in our study: the low Chineseness ethnicity group, all of whom self-identified as Chinese but were born in countries other than China.

TABLE 2

SUMMARY LIST OF CHINESE VALUES AND HYPOTHESIS-TESTING RESULTS

Because the low Chineseness ethnicity group scored higher than the high Chineseness ethnicity group in the test of Hypothesis 1, we post-hoc tested Hypothesis 2 using the low Chineseness ethnicity group compared with the high Australianness ethnicity group. The results are shown as H2* in Table 2 earlier. There was a significant (at the .01 level, 1-tailed) difference in the total Chineseness values score consistent with ethnicity, supporting H2. This result fails to replicate the earlier McCullough et al. (1986) finding of no difference in endorsement of Chinese values between Singaporean Chinese and ethnically white Americans (all non-students). Our replication used a considerably broader representation of Chineseness values. Nevertheless, the small practical difference (11% difference in the mean total scores, HA=205 and LC=227) does not concur with the large differences in Chinese and Western values often noted by experienced and politically liberal reporters (e.g., Sheridan 1997).

Given the relatively poor performance of the total Chineseness values scale to "behave" in the expected manner, there seemed to be little point in conducting a factor analysis to check on the items’ correspondence with the hypothesized sub-dimensions. All the items were written to reflect Chineseness and there did not seem to be any particular pattern to the items that "caused" the reversal of results for the first hypothesis. The absence of an explanatory pattern of individual items is lent further confirmation by the results of standardized-item comparisons, not reported here, using within-subject standardization to remove any response style differences that may have been present in the various groups. The standardized results showed no evidence of systematic differences in the pattern of responding by any of the ethnicity groups.

We are still left with the second major post-hoc explanation: that extant survey instruments purporting to measure Chineseness values may not be valid. This of course includes our own, which was based on the Chinese Culture Connection’s CVS scale.

The large number of values items showing non-significant results may indicate that many of the items are socially desirable "truisms" in both cultures (for both Chinese and Australian ethnic groups). This is especially likely with proverbs and single words which were the basis of many of the items. Social desirability bias, as pointed out by Marin, Triandis, Betancourt and Kashima (1983), remains an unsolved problem in cultural values research.

FUTURE RESEARCH

The present study attempted to develop a theoretically justifiable and comprehensive measure of Chineseness" values. To provide discriminant validity for the values scale, a "Chineseness" ethnicity scale was also developed, its purpose being to classify respondents into groups that should logically exhibit differences in endorsement of Chinese values. The study failed to produce strong differences. One problem, we believe, is with the measuring instrument used to represent values. Whereas we studied only "Chinese" values here, we would venture that all "cultural values" instruments have the problem of potential contamination by social desirability bias. A second common problem is the scales’ use of simplistic item-statements that may not be sensitive enough to capture people’s actual possession of values.

Another class of problems relating to the testing and validation of cultural values instruments derives from the typical use of student samples. Students tend to be an unusually mobile segment of the population with probable complex effects on their value systems. For instance, although we invoked value change as a possible explanation for the unexpected results among high Chineseness ethnicity students, a counter-tendency may also be present in the form of "ethnic affirmation" (Yang and Bond 1980) by low Chineseness ethnicity students who nevertheless regard themselves as Chinese. This tendency may be likely to emerge in an instrument that "primes" the self-identity concept, such as a bilingually worded value survey.

Future research in the area of cultural values and consumer behavior, we believe, will have to address the apparent problems with the construct validity of values measures and with the subject groups used for item validation.

REFERENCES

Ellis, Seth, James McCullough, Melanie Wallendorf and Chin Tiong Tan (1985), "Cultural Values and Behavior: Chineseness within Geographic Boundaries," in Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 12, eds. Elizabeth C. Hirschman and Morris B. Holbrook, Ann Arbor, MI: Association for Consumer Research, 126-128.

Hofstede, Geert (1980), Culture’s Consequences, London: Sage.

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Kahle, Lynn R., Sharon E. Beatty and Pamela Homer (1986), "Alternative Measurement Approaches to Consumer Values: The List of Values (LOV) and Values and Life Style (VALS)," Journal of Consumer Research, 13 (December), 405-409.

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Yau, Oliver H.M. (1994), Consumer Behaviour in China: Customer Satisfaction and Cultural Values, London: Routledge.

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Authors

Alvin M. Chan, University of Western Sydney, Nepean, Australia
John R. Rossiter, University of New South Wales, Australia



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3 | 1998



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