Cultural Beliefs About Societal Change: A Three-Mode Principal Component Analysis in China, Australia, and Japan

Paul G. Bain, Pieter M. Kroonenberg, Yoshihisa Kashima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (SciVal)


People’s beliefs about where society has come from and where it is going have personal and political consequences. Here, we conduct a detailed investigation of these beliefs through re-analyzing Kashima, Shi, et al.’s (Study 2, n = 320) data from China, Australia, and Japan. Kashima, Shi, et al. identified a “folk theory of social change” (FTSC) belief that people in society become more competent over time, but less warm and moral. Using three-mode principal component analysis, an under-utilized analytical method in psychology, we identified two additional narratives: Utopianism/Dystopianism (people becoming generally better or worse over time) and Expansion/Contraction (an increase/decrease in both positive and negative aspects of character over time). Countries differed in endorsement of these three narratives of societal change. Chinese endorsed the FTSC and Utopian narratives more than other countries, Japanese held Dystopian and Contraction narratives more than other countries, and Australians’ narratives of societal change fell between Chinese and Japanese. Those who believed in greater economic/technological development held stronger FTSC and Expansion/Contraction narratives, but not Utopianism/Dystopianism. By identifying multiple cultural narratives about societal change, this research provides insights into how people across cultures perceive their social world and their visions of the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-651
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number5
Early online date1 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • beliefs
  • measurement/statistics
  • social change
  • social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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