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How do we navigate
the changes ahead?
How do we navigate
the changes ahead?
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Ying Yi Hong, Cultural & Social Psychology


Cultural & Social Psychology

Ying Yi Hong


Ying-yi Hong is Choh-Ming Li Professor of Management in the Business School of Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include culture and cognition, identity and intergroup relations. She seeks to use multi-methods to understand the impacts of multicultural exposure on identity, cognition, and prejudice and discrimination.

Transcription of the video


Which domain or aspect of social life will show the most significant positive societal and/or psychological change in response to the pandemic?

I think in response to the pandemic, you see that many people work together, cooperate together in order to prevent and protect themselves from the COVID-19. And indeed, what we find is that, for example, in some of the countries, for example, in mainland China, we have data to show that people become more… higher, they’ll hold higher identification with the nation. And also actually people who hold higher national identity engage more in preventive behaviors. So we see a reciprocal effect in terms of having higher national identity, they’re more likely to engage in preventive behaviors, and the more they engage in preventive behavior, the higher they become, the higher they identify with the nation. So we saw that in China, and I think there are some data coming out of New Zealand as well. But you know, other places might not necessarily be the same. But what we find so far is: Higher national identity is related to higher preventive behaviors towards COVID-19. So I think that might suggest that, in order to prevent the disease, people cooperate more. People are more likely to help out each other, and as a result increase the cohesion of the group.


Which domain or aspect of social life will show the most significant negative societal and/or psychological change in response to the pandemic?

On the one hand, it’s nice to have a higher group cohesion. But I also can see a downside of it if it’s too extreme. So if you are so nationalistic in the sense that you only favor your in-group, but not, I mean, wanting to help our-group. Actually, this is a classic phenomenon when there is a lot of disease around or there is a high probability of contracting infectious disease many groups become more closed-off. They don’t want to reach out to strangers, or people of the other group, people that they are not familiar with, because they are so afraid of contracting the disease. So some of this, actually, you might see happening when there are people from a place where the contagion, I mean the infection rate, is high. People might be more worried about people coming from those regions.


What kind of wisdom will people need to master to overcome major negative societal and/or psychological changes after the pandemic?

I think compassion is very important under this time. Compassion towards not only your own in-group but also compassion to people from the other group, people that you don’t know of. Also, nowadays, we can communicate. I think technology is coming to our rescue or coming, to rescue us a lot, under this widespread pandemic, people are, very afraid to travel with you, many of us cannot move from country to country. But still, because of the technology, I can talk to you now. Through zoom, or through this internet platform. So instead of really meeting people in person, you can see, we can still rely on the technology to communicate, I think, one very important thing is to keep communicating with other people, and especially people from other countries, other cultures.


What piece of wisdom do people need to make it through the pandemic?

I think being compassionate and being understanding, and don’t stop communicating. And also, don’t stop communicating with people that you are not familiar with, or people who have different views. And I think this is the time when many people are under stress and under insecurity, and it’s very easy to shut other people off, especially those one who you are not familiar with or who have very different views.

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