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Work group emotions in Chinese culture settings.


With the globalisation of business, China becomes an appealing market for foreign investors. It is thus crucial to understand not only the culture, but also the emotionality in Chinese culture setting in order to conduct business in China successfully. In this paper, we suggest that emotions are best viewed as social phenomena, and group emotion is deeply affected by national culture. We specifically describe the formation of group emotions behind cultural context effects and offer an organising structure to examine the effect of national culture on these factors in groups. The relationship among emotions, interpersonal relations, and culture is discussed, and the Chinese culture and its roots are analysed. From the four aspects that affect the team emotion formation, namely, individual, dyad and group, antecedent events, subjective feeling and appraisal, and communication and behaviour, the influence of Chinese culture on the formation of team emotion is discussed.


The reform and open door policies instituted by the People's Republic of China's paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in 1978 have led the country to unparalleled economic growth. A key aspect of the strategies adopted by China to modernise and grow quickly has been to attract foreign investments, frequently in the form of joint ventures (De Keijzer, 1995), which require the foreigner to work directly and closely with their Chinese counterparts.

It is necessary to pay attention to the problems Chinese and westerners encounter once the business venture has been established and is in operation. Much has already been said about the difficulties encountered during the negotiation process when establishing a joint venture in China (Chen and Pan, 1993; De Keijzer, 1995; Pye, 1992; Seligman, 1989; Wik, 1984). The difficulties include language barriers, cultural barriers, and the complex structure of the Chinese state organisations.

It can be observed that most of the barriers faced by companies in China are caused by the neglect of cultural differences. Emotions are embedded in cultural institutions and practices, and on the cultural norms and scripts for the proper expression and experience of emotions. Emotions are interpreted based on the culture system. Cultures are sometimes equated with nations or societies, but more often a culture is restricted to a community of shared meanings. So, to those cross-national businesses, the correct management of the emotion of its Chinese work team is the key to doing business successfully in China.

Group Emotion

During the past century, much research attention has been devoted to understanding the structure and performance of small groups (Levine and Moreland, 1990). While it has been historically noted that groups possess both task and social/emotional components (Bales, 1950), attention has primarily been directed towards understanding these tasks rather than the emotional elements. The construct of group emotion and shared emotion among group members has been broadened in recent years.

While the concept of a group emotion has a long history, there is no common definition. Kelly and Barsade (2001) define group emotion as the group's affective state that arises from the combination of its "bottom-up" components--affective compositional effects--and its "top-down" components affective context (Barsade and Gibson, 1998). That is, group emotion results from both the combinations of individual-level affective factors that group members possess as well as from group- or contextual-level factors that define or shape the affective experience of the group. So in groups, norms for suitable emotions and their appropriate display may develop, and these norms can take the form of "display rules" (Ekman, 1973) that concern expectations about which emotions ought to be expressed, hidden or "feeling rules" (Hochschild, 1983) that concern expectations about what emotions ought to be experienced in a particular setting.

In this paper, we emphasise the "top-down" components, and discuss the effect of national culture on these affective factors during the formation of work group emotion. We specifically describe the formation of group emotion behind affective context effects and offer an organising structure within which to examine the effect of Chinese culture on these affective factors in groups (see Figure 1).


The model we present suggests that affective influences in groups can be described in a general input, process, and output form. Inputs refer to cultural affective antecedents to the group experience; Process refers to how culture affect emotion spread among other group members, which include subjective feeling and appraisal, communication and behaviour; output refers to the resulting group emotion and its effects on group life.

Based on this model and the analysis of Chinese culture and its roots, this paper address the effect of Chinese culture on the formation of group emotion from four aspects, which are individual, dyad and group, antecedent events, subjective feeling and appraisal, and communication and behaviour.

Emotions, Interpersonal Relations and Culture

We question the assumption that emotions are first and foremost individual reactions, and suggest that they are often best viewed as social phenomena. Many of the causes of emotions are interpersonally, institutionally or culturally defined. Emotions usually have consequences for other people, and they serve interpersonal as well as cultural functions in everyday life. Furthermore, many cases of emotion are essentially communicative rather than internal and reactive phenomena.

Probably, the most important objects in anyone's environment are other people. The things that people do and say are typically the things that affect us most, especially if we are involved in some kind of established relationship with them. If someone we care about abandons us, if someone says things that call our public status into question, if someone in authority congratulates us, if someone to whom we are attracted returns our attentions, then emotion is an obvious response. In all these cases, even if appraisal of some perfunctory kind is a logical necessity for counting the episode as an emotional one, the causes that make the real difference are social. Experiences in which other directed emotions such as love or hate seem simply to come over the person might happen in such a way, with neither party being conscious of their respective feelings resulting from any individual held intention. Of course, purely internal cognitive processes also necessarily play some part in these interpersonal processes but comprehensive explanation of the relevant emotional episodes additionally seems to require consideration of the unfolding social process.

The emotional importance of what is happening may become mutually apparent only as a function of an interpersonal reasoning process, conducted in coordinated verbal and non-verbal dialogue. Evidently, many of the things that people get emotional about relate to other people in some way. According to the appraisal account, the emotional significance of such objects and events depends on a private cognitive-interpretative process whereby their relevance for personal concerns is assessed. However, it is also possible that appraisal itself may be partly mediated by social interaction. For example, evaluations of personal relevance may develop over the course of conversations with others during which appraised conclusions are negotiated dynamically between interactants rather than formulated in either individual mental system.

Although many of the objects and causes of emotion are located mainly in the interpersonal world, their particular emotional significance is also defined by broader cultural value systems (for example, Lutz, 1988; Rosaldo, 1984). Correspondingly, the specific manner of our interpersonal negotiations of emotional significance depends partly on a background of socialised practices of interaction. Thus, cultural as well as interpersonal considerations make an important contribution to the social determination of emotion.

For example, many theories of emotion (including appraisal theory) assume that emotions depend on events that impact on the progress of personal projects (for example, Carver and Scheier, 1990; Frijda, 1986; Mandler, 1984), thus implying that the nature of these projects represents a determining factor in emotion causation. Many of the things people get emotional about depend on culturally influenced aims, such as wealth, reputation, freedom, and self-esteem. People from different cultures are socialised into putting different relative values on such considerations and thus react differently to events that promote or hinder their attainment. For example, it seems plausible that self-assertive emotions such as anger may be more common in individualist western cultures than in more communally oriented eastern societies (Markus and Kitayama, 1991).

In addition to supplying an evaluative frame of reference defining what evokes emotions, cultures and institutions also promote implicit and explicit expectations about interaction that may influence the ways in which emotional episodes are played out in the interpersonal arena. For example, the service industries commonly provide explicit training dictating the kind and degree of emotion that it is acceptable to feel or to show towards clients or customers (for example, Hochschild, 1983; Parkinson, 1991; Rafaeli and Sutton, 1987). At a broader cultural level, different societies have different conventions about the appropriateness of different emotions.

People are sometimes explicitly trained to appraise emotionally relevant situations in institutionally appropriate ways. At the same time, institutional and cultural rules about appropriate conduct guide the behaviour of the people around us and directly constrain or facilitate certain forms of emotion. Ideas about emotion permeate the very fabric of the institutions and the societies that surround us (Foucault, 1977). It is not only that certain emotions are encouraged or forbidden with respect to certain people, but also the physical organisation of our institutional and cultural world places concrete boundaries on what we can or cannot do emotionally.

Emotions vary across cultures. That is, there are cultural differences in the prevalent, modal, and normative emotional responses (Mesquita, in press; Mesquita, Frijda, and Scherer, 1997). This has important implications for the assessment of emotional management in different culture settings. Implicit in different cultures is the standard of comparison, the prevalent, modal, and normative practices of emotions. As these practices vary across different cultural contexts, we propose that emotional management is to some extent relative to the cultural emotion norms and practices that form their context (Jenkins, 1994, 1996).

Emotional Tenets in Chinese Culture Setting

Chinese behaviours are deeply rooted in the legacies left by the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551-479 BC). For more than 2,000 years, Confucius' disciples have worked to assure that his legacies become an integral part of the Chinese social, economic, and cultural inheritances. According to Chen and Pan (1993), encompassing and linking the key cultural tenets, which include respect for hierarchy and age, group orientation and preservation of face, is the "... Confucian imperative of working to achieve harmony, to which all other goals are subordinate".

Hofstede (1991) stated that the key principles of Confucian teaching are the following: The stability of society is based on unequal relationships between people. These relationships are based on mutual and complementary obligations. The junior partner owes the senior respect and obedience. The senior owes the junior partner protection and consideration. The family is the prototype of all social organisations. A person is not primarily an individual, rather, he or she is a member of a family ... Harmony is found in the maintenance of everybody's face in the sense of dignity, self-respect, and prestige. Virtuous behaviour towards others consists of treating others as one would like to be treated.

Even an individual who can be described as a superior person must practise self-restraint. He must work to understand that as an individual, he is not important. Rather, it is the role played by the individual in the group is important. In addition, it is the family or group, and not the individual, which is the most important unit in Chinese society. Each member of the family/group is expected to know his place within the family setting. Therefore, he is expected to respect the vertical order or hierarchy. The father or leader is the absolute authority figure who must be revered by the clan without any questioning of his decisions. In return, he is to show benevolence towards the clan by protecting it. Harmony is sought through the "golden mean", which is why the issue of preserving the face is so important. The Chinese are taught to maintain harmony and face by always seeking a compromise, rather than a confrontation (O'Keefe and O'Keefe, 1997).

It has been widely accepted that cultural differences greatly affect human emotion and emotion practice and thus the work team in which people interact on the basis of shared values and emotion rule, so it is very important to understand the local emotion. Based on the model in Figure 1, we will address in four aspects of emotions of work teams in the Chinese cultural environment.

Individual, Dyad, and Group

Understanding emotionality in China is complicated and enriched by an array of slightly different interpretations. However, all of these take as their starting point a strong relationship between the self and a larger social group. According to Chinese thought, human life is realised in the collective.

Thus, an individual is not a system with clearly defined boundaries (Adler, Campbell and Laurent, 1989). Instead, one is made whole only by the exchange of hearts with other people; one is complete within a matrix of many others (Sun, 1991). Viewing the self in this way does not imply that the self is lost in the group or systematically weakened by cultural programming over time. Instead, the self is deepened through connection with others. The self is construed as the centre of relationships rather than as an autonomous unit, and through these relationships individual and spiritual development occurs (Chang and Holt, 1991).

The Chinese stress the importance of reciprocity and of cultivating good feelings as a social resource in relationships. Reciprocity involves not doing to others what you would not want done to you, being happy when others are happy, and sad when others are sad. Here again, individual development results from and is required to maintain harmonious in-group relationships that are guided by human feeling (Chang and Holt, 1991). In this sense, human feeling is managed instrumentally to ensure smooth interaction, to maintain face with in-group members, and to assist in achieving one's personal goals (Chang and Holt, 1991). Reciprocity is as much a factor in interpersonal relationships as it is in business dealings, and what it means, ultimately, is that the economy of favours between two individuals or units is expected to remain in rough balance over time. Reciprocity is the reason that Chinese people feel comfortable with those with whom they have guanxi; if they have done a favour for a friend, they feel they are owed a favour in return. Chinese will not only gladly grant favours to friends who request for them, they will sometimes do favours that are not requested, with the idea that they can use them to justify payback some time in the future.

Because the Chinese are more likely to have developed an interdependent sense of self, they might experience and express more other-focused emotions (for example, sympathy, shame). Available research (for example, Stipek, Weiner and Li, 1989) lends some support to this reasoning. For instance, when asked to describe a situation that caused them to feel angry, Chinese students described something happening to another as a cause of their anger significantly more often than American students did. American students described situations in which something happened to them as a cause of anger significantly more often than the Chinese students did.

As mentioned previously, maintaining face within interconnected groups is of great importance to the Chinese. The same degree of importance is not placed on maintaining harmonious out-group relationships, which some have described as "cold blooded" rather than "warm-hearted" (Chang and Holt, 1991). In-group harmony is maintained through restraining anger and communicating in other ways that avoid conflict (Hu and Grove, 1991). In China, although the "warmth of human feeling" is likely to prevail in relation to relatives, friends, and connections, sudden emotional outbursts can occur when faced with less familiar individuals (Sun, 1991). Thus, emotion management may intensify when relating to in-group as compared to out-group members. Practising emotional restraint while interconnected with others is construed as part of a spiritual journey and as a way to cultivate oneself in relation to others (Tu, 1985). In such cases, emotion is not so much suppressed and made unconscious as it is recognised but transcended as one moves toward the ultimate goal of self-realisation.

Antecedent Events

There are cultural differences in prevalent antecedent events. The differences in prevalent antecedent events may underlie some of the differences in emotions. A particular type of emotion may be prevalent due to a high rate of conditions that are conducive for those emotions, and similarly, other types of emotions may be rare because of the rare occurrence of their elicitors.

Since the seminal unravelling of culture was provided by Hofstede (1980, 1991), which ascertain that the "Chineseness" of Chinese culture lay in their relatively high power distance, low individualism, and high Confucian work dynamism, there have been few cross-cultural studies that examine Chinese emotional responses is a function of varying stimulus conditions. Those that have done so generally begin with the conceptual distinctions provided by collectivism and power distance to argue that people so socialised are predisposed to react with greater or lesser strength to a given input (Bond, Wan, Leung, and Giacalone, 1985).

The Chinese, who live in collectivist cultures, underline meeting social obligations and responsibilities in order to maintain interpersonal relationships and group harmony (Elliott, Chirkov, Kim and Sheldon, 2001). It is different with westerners who affected by individualist cultures, put emphasis on standing out and becoming distinguished from others through self-sufficiency and personal accomplishment. So events that positively reflect on the self are found to be more frequent in a US context, whereas events that keep the individual modest or self-critical are found to be more frequent in a Chinese cultural context.

Cultural models may also affect which aspects of antecedent events that are the focus of attention. Individualist cultures emphasise the approach of positive outcomes, whereas Chinese culture, as a kind of collectivist models, focuses on the avoidance of bad outcomes (for example, Elliott et al, 2001; Lee, Aaker and Gardner, 2000). American culture emphasises strengthening good qualities and thus becoming autonomous and unique. Chinese culture models, on the other hand, emphasise the importance of living up to obligations and responsibilities, and the main focus is thus on the prevention of bad outcomes (that is, not living up to the standards). Higgins, Shah, and Friedman (1997) found evidence that a prevention focus fosters relaxation or relief when the goals are achieved, and anxiety when the goals are not reached. On the other hand, these authors found that a promotion focus affords feelings of happiness when the goals are achieved, and feelings of sadness, when the goals are not met.

In a cross-cultural vignette study on success and failure, Lee et al (2000) found that the American group, consistent with what should be hypothesised on the basis of their cultural focus on promotion, reported a higher intensity of happiness/depressed emotions than relief/anxiety emotions. Conversely, a Chinese group, consistent with their focus on prevention, reported a higher intensity of relief/anxiety than happiness/depressed emotions. The different emphases on promotion/approach or prevention/avoidance give rise to differences in the salience of certain events, and thus to differences in the prevalent types of emotions.

In Ellsworth's (Swanbrow, 1998) studies of Chinese and American children and adults, she began with the idea that differences in how Chinese and Americans reacted emotionally to various situations involving groups and individuals would differ systematically. This is because the American and Chinese cultures place very different emphases on the value of individuals and groups. Because scenarios presented by means of language and visual representations would inevitably introduce gender, ethnicity, body language, facial expression, and other cues that would muddy the conceptual waters, Ellsworth used fish as an example for her illustration. "Their fins move a little," said Ellsworth, "but that's the extent of their emotional behaviour." In one scenario, a school of computerised fish of different colours swims onscreen, pauses, and then one fish (the blue fish) swims ahead, leaving the group behind. In another version, the fish again swim together, and then the school swims off, leaving the blue fish behind. In a third version, the blue fish is in the centre of the screen, and other fish converge on it from both sides.

When the blue fish leaves the group behind, Americans are likely to say the blue fish is angry, and that it's leaving because it wants to get away from the group. The Chinese are likely to say the blue fish is sad, and feels lonely and rejected. Their interpretation is that the group has kicked the blue fish out. In the situation in which other fish converge on the blue fish, 90 per cent of the Chinese said the blue fish was feeling happy. For Americans, the dominant emotion attributed to the blue fish was fear. When asked what the group was feeling, Chinese subjects were more likely to agree with each other than American subjects would. Attending to the feelings of the group, after all, is an important aspect of Chinese culture. But when Americans were asked what the blue fish was feeling, they were more likely to agree with each other, suggesting the tendency of Americans to pay attention to the feelings of individuals.

Subjective Feeling and Appraisal

An important dimension of subjective experience is that of valence: pleasure and displeasure. However, cultures appear to differ with regard to the preferred state on that dimension in ways that can be understood from the cultural models.

From the interdependent view of self in Chinese culture, several interpretations of Chinese emotionality emerge. One view intimates that the Chinese learn to neutralise inner feeling and to restrain its overt expression to maintain face and group harmony (Bond, 1986). Cultural roles prescribe avoiding the expression of negative feelings and toning down the expression of positive ones. Emotionality is expected to be diffused into less intense channels or otherwise sidetracked from its direct target. In general, individuals subdue their emotions as they perform their "duty" within a human network (Sun, 1991).

In a large experience-sampling study, Mesquita and Karasawa (2002) sampled the emotions of American, Chinese, and Japanese students for the duration of a week, it was found that, on average, American students appraised the emotional situations in their lives as positively different from neutral, whereas Chinese and Japanese students evaluated their lives on average as neither positive nor negative.

There is other evidence indicating that pleasure is a more important source of motivation in individualist than collectivist cultures. Suh, Diener, Oishi, and Triandis (1998) found that emotion was the best predictor of life satisfaction in countries with individualist cultural models. Emotion predicted much less variance in life satisfaction for countries with collectivist cultural models. In these countries, the normative amount of life satisfaction (that is, "How satisfied would an ideal person be?") accounted as much for life satisfaction as the emotions an individual experienced in the past week. In other words, individualist cultural models set the criterion for "a good life" as the frequency of pleasure minus the frequency of displeasure. Pleasure and displeasure seem to be less central to the quality of life in other more collectivist cultural contexts.

A major aspect of current emotion theories is the notion that emotional experience is constituted by the individual's appraisal of the eliciting events (Scherer, Schorr, and Johnston, 2001). Cultural differences in the prevalence of certain appraisals can be understood from cultural models. Cultural models can be thought to facilitate and render desirable certain appraisals of events, while making the occurrence of others less likely and less valued.

Agency is an attribution of responsibility for and control over the event. The attribution may be made to the self, a particular other, fate, God, all circumstances together, or nobody in particular. Most of the cross-cultural research on appraisal has investigated attribution to a specific agent: self or other (for an exception see Oettingen, Little, Lindenberger, and Baltes, 1994).

Chinese culture stresses fate, and the multi-determination of events and the interdependence of an individual and his/her (social) environment (Fiske, Kitayama, Markus, and Nisbett, 1998; Heine et al, 1999; Nisbett, Peng, Choi, and Norenzayan, 2001). Personal agency has very limited applicability. When dealing with authority figures, the Chinese as a rule fulfill their obligations to authority by being obedient. They emphasise vertical relationships and would not risk offending authority by cutting horizontally across functional or business lines to resolve an issue. They see themselves as following the correct protocol and demonstrating the correct behaviour, which in fact have been clearly proscribed in the Confucian principles. Consistently, Chinese culture emphasises secondary control or adjustment to the situation, as situations are not considered subject to personal influence (Morling and Kitayama, 1999; Weisz, Rothbaum, and Blackburn, 1984).

Emotional Communication and Behaviour

Cultural models may be thought of as influencing the relative salience of different behavioural options. Expressions and behaviors that are consistent with cultural models tend to have a high rate of occurrence whereas responses that are contrary to cultural models tend to be infrequent.

Conventional Chinese wisdom advises that "A man without a smiling face should not open a store." It hardly requires a reading of The Art of War to realise that the Chinese appreciate the subtleties of strategic impressions management. They certainly vary their attributions, their impressions of others, their counter-aggression, and so forth, as a function of an audience and of its identity (Bond, Hewstone, Wan, and Chiu, 1985; Bond and Venus, 1991). Such careful self-presentation is especially important in a culture characterised by large inequalities of discretionary power and by socialisation for group responsibility (Bond, Wan, Leung, and Giacalone, 1985; King and Bond, 1985).

In China, the emphasis is on relational harmony which presupposes that individuals should take their proper place. These cultural models discourage individuals from occupying too much space in the relationship, both figuratively and literally. Thus, expansive behaviour, like general somatic activity, is a signal that the individual is taking more than his proper space. Chinese American couples that discussed a conflict area in their relationship displayed less general somatic activity than did European American couples (Tsai and Levenson, 1997).

Getting in touch with and expressing inner feelings is relatively unimportant to self and relational development in China (Markus and Kitayama, 1991; Sun, 1991). A cultural emphasis on group conformity stresses the importance of expressing overt behaviour that develops and maintains harmonic relationships with others rather than expressing inner feelings (Markus and Kitayama, 1991). Under these conditions, the inner experience of emotion is less relevant to constructing and maintaining the collective than is an openly expressed willingness to adapt to the group (Markus and Kitayama, 1991; Sun, 1991). Although independent selves may feel inauthentic when acting inconsistently with their inner feelings, interdependent selves are less likely to be guided by their inner feelings and less troubled if their outer actions contradict their inner emotional experience (Markus and Kitayama, 1991). In fact, such inconsistencies may even be viewed as an opportunity, for it is only through the process of being sensitive and responsive to others that self-realisation, life's ultimate purpose, is achieved (Tu, 1985). For the Chinese, acting consistently with one's inner feelings can undermine the relationships that give both the individual and a group their identity and sense of security (Hu and Grove, 1991). An inability or unwillingness to adapt to group expectations results in a loss of face that embarrasses oneself, others, and disrupts the group's stability (Hu and Grove, 1991).

There is some indication that the expression of happiness, another expansive behaviour, is also rare in cultures that place an emphasis on harmony in relationships. Happiness expressions are seen as potentially disruptive because they may painfully contrast with the emotional state of others, or be seen to indicate the plausibility of an individual challenging social obligations and evading responsibilities (Lutz, 1987).

When dealing with non-Chinese co-workers on day-to-day business issues, the Chinese tend to be passive and polite in their communications. They will follow closely the discussions in the business or operations meetings, usually maintaining a friendly demeanor. However, the communication process tends to be one way, with the Chinese co-workers responding to the initiatives of others. For example, when asked for a status report on the repair of a piece of machinery, their answer would tend to be subtle and somewhat circuitous, rather than a direct one which clearly describes the problem with the machine, what has been done to date and what remains to be accomplished to bring it back into operation (O'Keefe and O'Keefe, 1997).

The Chinese do not often show anger; to do so would fly in the face of Confucian virtues. They do, however, get even, and try to use indirect ways to avoid direct and open conflict (Pan and Zhang, 2004). And while active confrontation would be viewed as unacceptable behavior on the part of the superior man, passive aggression is always fair. The Chinese, in fact, are masters of the art. It can take different forms, but often appears as "inability" to accomplish something they know you wish to get done, or failure to show up at an appointed time with an obviously fabricated excuse. At no point, however, is etiquette likely to be breached.

The Chinese cultural model emphasises maintenance of relationships (Yeung and Tung, 1996). The individual's focus should be on restoring internal balance and contributing to the relationship. The most prevalent Chinese behaviour was blaming the self, a behaviour that can be seen as opposite to blaming the other, thus saving the relationship rather than the self. Consistently, the Chinese justify the behaviour of the other person, and tries to actively re-mediate the situation. They seek to be closer to the person who offended or humiliated them. Finally, in the situation of offence, the most prevalent response was to do nothing, and to de-emphasise the importance of one's feelings. Internal balance is thus sought, rather than influence on the other person or on the situation. In the Chinese context, the social networks of individuals tend to make decisions for them anyway, and passivity on the part of the individual does not interfere in decisive ways with their functioning.


In this paper, we suggest that emotions are best viewed as social phenomena, and group emotion is deeply affected by national culture. Emotions are shaped by historical and economic factors, and are embedded in cultural institutions and practices. The cultural norms and scripts affect the proper expression and experience of emotions in a group.

We specifically describe the formation of group emotion behind cultural context effects and offer an organising structure within which to examine the effect of Chinese culture on these affective factors in groups. The relationship among emotions, interpersonal relation and culture is discussed, and the Chinese culture and its rootstock are analysed. From four aspects that affect the group emotive formation, namely individual, dyad and group, antecedent events, subjective feeling and appraisal, and communication and behaviour, we discussed the influence of Chinese culture on the formation of team emotion

To summarise, the practice of emotional restraint among the Chinese is strongly motivated by harmony, face concerns, the idea of spiritual development, and the instrumental need to attain goals, all with in an interconnected web of relationships. Further, the Chinese may be more likely to report experiencing other-focused rather than self-focused emotion. The communal Confucian maintains that the forest is more important than the trees, bushes, or wild life that thrive in it, and believe that the essence of anything consists of dual opposite ("yin" and "yang"), which must be united in order for harmony to exist. In Chinese eyes, a gentleman should be modest, even self-depreciating; he is moderate in habits, generous, and given to compromise and conciliation rather than direct confrontation. He has no need to parade his belongings or his accomplishments before others. He is driven by a well-developed sense of duty. He endeavours to make others comfortable and is solicitous of guests. He never loses his balance or his temper, and remains poised no matter what the situation.

To the Chinese, getting and keeping face simply occupies a much higher priority for a Chinese. In order to save face, the Chinese think it is acceptable to withhold or colour information, avoid making commitments, covering up, or simply doing nothing. The unavoidable need to preserve both surface harmony and face at all times is largely responsible for the Chinese penchant for using intermediaries to carry unpleasant news.


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Qu Renjun Zhang Zigang College of Management HuaZhong University of Science and Technology Wuhan, Hubei
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Date:Jan 1, 2005
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