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IACCP Research Heroes: Michael Harris Bond

Author: 
Elina Halonen

Michael Harris Bond has a Ph.D in Psychology from Stanford University 1970 and is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong where he taught social psychology for the past three and a half decades. He currently teaches management at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong. 

His key publications include Handbook of Chinese Psychology (1996) and Social Psychology Across Cultures (1993), and he has also edited a book of autobiographical reflections on doing cross-cultural research (Working at the interface of cultures: 18 lives in social science). His most recent work includes Psychological Aspects of Social Axioms (2009) with Kwok Leung. 

Michael Harris Bond1. I got into cross-cultural psychology because...

I arrived in Japan, 1971, wanting to continue my work as a social psychologist and had to figure out how to do sensible research in Japan. Who were these Japanese, psychologically speaking, and how was I going to establish their cultural identity? That would require learning the tools of the cross-cultural trade.

2. I wish someone had told me at the beginning of my career...

If we can begin my career in grad school, then I wish someone had told me that i should be taking courses in anthropology, sociology and political science - they would have prepared me intellectually for my future work as a cross-cultural psychologist. Of course, at that stage of my career, I had no inkling that I might live and work on the other side of the Pacific for the rest of my life!

3. I most admire Harry Triandis academically because...

He faithfully responded to my mail (and still does!), giving me feedback on my research ideas, providing me with copies of his articles (no "soft copies" in those days!), agreeing to speak in symposiums that i organized at IACCP meetings, contributing to books I edited (e.g., a superb, rarely-cited article in "The cross-cultural challenge to social psychology", 1988, Sage), received me into his and Pola's home for dinner at the University of Illinois, writing data-anchored, theoretically ground-breaking, state-of-the-art research. He's my Ulysses, and Greek, too!

4. The best research project I have worked on during my career is...

The Chinese Culture Connection (JCCP, 1987) and its follow-up in JPSP (1988). It was an innovative idea, ably carried through for the primitive 80's, and opened my mind to the problem of levels of analysis and how to make it tractable for psychologists.

5. The worst research project I have worked on during my career...

Every project, even those that are rarely cited, has taught me something useful. every ensuing journal review was appreciated and most often helpful. as someone once said, "Nothing succeeds like failure!"

6. The most amazing or memorable experience when I was doing research….

 ...graphing economic growth over a 25-year period in 22 different nations against their scores on Confucian Work Dynamism and seeing that .73. correlation slowly appear - so gratifying!

7. The one story I always wanted to tell but never had a chance…

 I have found a way to tell any story that I thought was worth the telling. I speak it all out, within the limits of Canadian decency training.

8. A research project I wish I had done...

I tried to get into that Osgood data set described in his "Universals in affective meaning" (1975) with current statistical tools for analysis.

And why did I not do it…

 I tried to retrieve the data which was supposed to be held at the University of Illinois, but even with Harry Triandis' help, Osgood's co-authors and others supposedly stewarding the data could not find it!

9. If I wasn't doing this, I would be...

 A medical researcher or a supreme court judge.

10. The biggest challenge for cross-cultural psychology in the next 10 years is...

 Developing testable theories about how cultural variation affects individual social functioning. i am currently doing my bit to make this problem tractable.

11. My advice for young researchers at the start of their career is...

Find a topic that interests you, that puzzles you, and for which you want answers, for whatever reason. Don't psychologiize your motives for doing so, but rather follow the threads of your curiosity. Find something intellectually worth going for, and go for it! Celebrate your gift of time and intellect!

 

Full profile: http://michael.bond.socialpsychology.org/

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