Understanding Distress: The Role of Face Concern Among Chinese Americans, European Americans, Hong Kong Chinese, and Mainland Chinese

Winnie W.S. Mak, Xiaohua Sylvia Chen, Amy G. Lam, Venus F.L. Yiu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


To explore the cultural mechanisms underlying the distress experience among Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese, Chinese Americans, and European Americans, this investigation examined the role of face concern in psychological distress through a series of studies in both college students and community samples. Face concern refers to one's concern over maintaining or enhancing one's social position and worth that are earned through the fulfillment of specific social roles. Study 1 confirmed the single-factor structure of face concern among Chinese Americans and European Americans. Face concern was significantly and positively related to distress above and beyond age, gender, and ethnicity. Study 2 deconstructed face concern into a two-factor model among Hong Kong Chinese and Mainland Chinese university students (self-face and other-face) with discriminant predictive power. In Study 3, the two-factor model of face concern was further supported in the community samples of Hong Kong Chinese and Mainland Chinese. Self-face was found to be positively associated with distress. These findings highlighted the importance of attending to specific cultural dynamic of face concern in counseling services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-248
Number of pages30
JournalThe Counseling Psychologist
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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