The dialectical self: The internal consistency, cross-situational consistency, and temporal stability of self-conception

Sylvia Xiaohua Chen, Julie Spencer-Rodgers, Kaiping Peng

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Originating in East Asian epistemologies, naïve dialecticism gives rise to contradictory, ever-changing, and interrelated perceptions of all entities, including the self. It influences the self in three fundamental ways, specifically, by affecting the (1) internal consistency, (2) cross-situational consistency, and (3) temporal stability of the content and structure of people's self-conceptions. This chapter reviews the cross-cultural research that shows that Westerners possess more consistent and stable self-conceptions over time and across situations, whereas East Asians possess more variable and contextualized self-views, at both an explicit and implicit level. The chapter further discusses some of the consequences of the dialectical self (e.g., in bilingual/bicultural contexts) and presents directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Psychological and Cultural Foundations of East Asian Cognition
Subtitle of host publicationContradiction, Change, and Holism
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages32
ISBN (Print)9780199348541
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2018


  • Cross-cultural differences
  • Dialecticism
  • East Asian self-views
  • naïve dialecticism
  • Self-concept
  • Self-perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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