Skip to main content

Cognitive discrepancy in Chinese “face”: Mian and lian, and their impact on cognition of country-of-origin image

Abstract

Chinese “face,” as a complex social and psychological phenomenon, has attracted much attention from the fields of sociology and psychology. However, in the field of consumer behavior, research about how mianzi (face) affects consumer behavior is lacking. Moreover, research on the connotations of sub-dimension of mianzi (face), that is, lian and mian as well as their influences on consumer behavior is seldom seen. Based on the grounded theory, using focus group interviews and the self-report method, this study extracted scenario sentences of lian and mian, initially forming a preliminary scale with 14 positive items and 20 negative items concerning lian and mian. Moreover, by using close-ended questionnaire originated from previous grounded theory in terms of Chinese face, this study validated the discrepancy between “mian” and “lian.” Besides the discrepancy between “mian” and “lian” also appeared in consumer perception about product category and country-of-origin image.

References

  1. Brockner, J., Rubin, J. Z., & Lang, E. 1981. Face-saving and entrapment. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 4: 68–79.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Brown, B. R. 1970. Face-saving following experimentally induced embarrassment. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 6: 255–271.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Chen, Z. 陈之昭. 1982. 面子心理的理论分析与实际研究 (Theoretical analysis and practical study of the face issue). In 中国社会心理学评论 (Chinese Social Psychological Review), X. Zhai 翟学伟 (Ed.), 2005(2): 107–160. 北京: 社会科学文献出版社 (Beijing: Social Science Academic Press).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Cheng, C. 成中英. 1986. 脸面观念及其儒学根源 (The concept of face and its Confucian roots). In 中国社会心理学评论 (Chinese Social Psychological Review), X. Zhai 翟学伟 (Ed.), 2005(2): 34–47. 北京: 社会科学文献出版社 (Beijing: Social Science Academic Press).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Chu, R. 朱瑞玲. 1987. 中国人的社会互动: 试论面子的运作 (Social interaction of Chinese people: On the issue of face). In 中国社会心理学评论 (Chinese Social Psychological Review), X. Zhai 翟学伟 (Ed.), 2005(2): 79–106. 北京: 社会科学文献出版社 (Beijing: Social Science Academic Press).

    Google Scholar 

  6. Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. 1967. The discovery of grounded theory. Chicago: Aldine.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Goffman, E. 1972. On face work: An analysis of ritual elements in social interaction. London: The Penguin Press.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, D. E., & Schwartz, J. L. K. 1998. Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: The implicit association test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74: 1464–1480.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Han, C. M. 1989. Country image: Halo or summary construct? Journal of Marketing Research, 28: 222–229.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Hu, H. C. 1944. The Chinese concept of “face.” USA Anthropologist, 46: 45–64.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Huang, K. K. 黄光国. 2004. 面子—中国人的权力游戏 (Face—Power game of chinese people). 北京: 中国人民大学出版社 (Beijing: Renmin University Press).

    Google Scholar 

  12. Jiang, C, F. 姜彩芬. 2008. 面子和消费—基于社会学的视角 (Face and consumption: Based on sociology viewpoint). Guangzhou: PhD dissertation of Sun Yat-sen University.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Kihlstrom, J. F. 1987. The cognitive unconscious. Science, 237: 1445–1458.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Klein. J. G., Richard, E., & Marlene, D. M. 1998. The animosity model of foreign product purchase: An empirical test in the people’s republic of china. Journal of Marketing, 61: 89–100.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Leung, T., & Chan, R. Y. K. 2003. Face, favor and positioning—A Chinese power game. European Journal of Marketing, 37: 1575–1598.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Li, J. J., & Su, C. T. 2006. How face influences consumption: A comparative study of American and Chinese consumers. International Journal of Market Research, 49: 237–256.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Lim, T. S., & Bowers, J. W. 1991. Facework: Solidarity, approbation, and tact. Human Communication Research, 17: 415–436.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Liu, F., & Murphy, J. 2007. A qualitative study of Chinese wine consumption and purchasing: Implication for Australian wines. International Journal of Wine Business Research, 19: 98–113.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Wang, Y. 王佚楠, & Yang, Z. 杨中芳. 2005. 中西方面子研究综述 (A literature review of face). 心理科学 (Psychological Science), 28: 398–401.

    Google Scholar 

  20. William, O. B., & Michael, J. E. 1982. Reference group influence on product and brand purchase decisions. Journal of Consumer Research, 9: 183–194.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Wong, N. Y., & Ahuvia, A. C. 1998. Personal taste and family face: Luxury consumption in Confucian and Western societies. Psychology & Marketing, 15: 423–441.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Wong, Y. H., & Chan, R. Y. K. 1999. Relationship marketing in China: Guanxi, favouritism and adaptation. Journal of Business Ethics, 22: 107–118.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Zhai, X. 翟学伟. 2004. 人情、 面子与权力的再生产 (Reproduction of favor, face and power). 社会学研究 (Sociological Research), (5): 48–57.

  24. Zhou, M. L. 周美玲, & Ho, D. Y. F. 何友晖. 1994. 从跨文化的观点分析面子的内涵及其在社会交往中的运作 (An analysis of meaning and work of face in social interaction from the cross-cultural perspective). In 中国社会心理学评论 (Chinese Social Psychological Review), X. Zhai 翟学伟 (Ed.), 2005(2): 34–47. 北京: 社会科学文献出版社 (Beijing: Social Science Academic Press).

    Google Scholar 

  25. Zhou, Z., & Nakamoto, K. 2001. Price perceptions: A cross-national study between American and Chinese young consumers. Advances in Consumer Research, 28: 161–168.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Zhuomin Shi.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Shi, Z., Ichiro, F. & Jin, C. Cognitive discrepancy in Chinese “face”: Mian and lian, and their impact on cognition of country-of-origin image. Front. Bus. Res. China 5, 163 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11782-011-0126-3

Download citation

Keywords

  • Chinese face
  • mian
  • lian
  • cognitive discrepancy
  • country of origin image