Describing and testing a measure of Confucian self: a preliminary validity study
This study attempted to describe Confucian ethics by presenting its conceptual structures and comparing it with Western ethics, and to develop and test a measure of the Confucian self. The theoretical foundations for Confucian ethics and the Confucian self were formulated from the theoretical domains of Confucian philosophy, Western philosophy, and moral psychology. The study consisted of two phases. Phase one focused on pilot studies in which the psychometric properties of the Confucian self-measure were assessed with 43 Chinese undergraduate students' responses to surveys for identifying Confucian traits as priming items and evaluating contents of the instrument of the Confucian self. Phase two concentrated on formal studies in which nomological and predictive validities of the Confucian self-measure were examined, through testing its relationships with other moral constructs, including moral judgment, moral behavioral tendencies, and attitudes toward behavioral outcomes. The sample consisted of 380 Chinese and 250 American undergraduate students. The data revealed that the Confucian self was perceived as one unit (rather than the twofold one as defined in the literature) and equally described self-development for the contemporary young people regardless of nationality and Chinese regions. The findings provided evidence that the Confucian self independently influenced moral behavioral tendencies and attitudes toward behavioral outcomes across cultures. The American group demonstrated a stronger relationship between the Confucian self and moral behavioral tendencies than the Chinese group. Moral judgment demonstrated a stronger relationship with attitudes toward behavioral outcomes only for the Americans. For the Chinese subgroups (rural-town and urban cohorts), there were no significant relationships among the Confucian self, moral judgment, and moral behavioral tendencies and attitudes toward behavioral outcomes. Overall, this research provided evidence that supports the existence of the Confucian self as a moral construct. It demonstrated a good reliability and validity of the Confucian self-instrument and produced evidence of the relationships among the Confucian self, moral judgment, moral behavioral tendencies and attitudes toward behavioral outcomes. Implications, limitations, and future work were discussed as well.