2001 Student-Faculty Fellows: Illinois Wesleyan University
Indonesia: Individual Projects
Mentor: Doran C. French, Psychology
Students: Sara Ashleigh Cordes ’01; Jillian Mary Denoma ’01; Allison M. Lawton ’01; Kristina L. McDonald ’01
Abstracts of Reflections and/or Research
This fellowship will have a large impact on my teaching and scholarship. Three weeks into the semester, I find that this work already has a major impact on my teaching. I am teaching a class in cultural psychology and find myself structuring the course and the discussion around the experiences and methodological challenges that we experienced. Secondly, I am mentoring students on research that is a continuation of the work that we did this summer. This fellowship has already had an impact on my scholarship. First, it is likely that two or three publications and several conference papers on conflict and possession disputes will result from this project. This work will also establish a foundation for my future work. The work that we did this summer will allow us to expand the study of friendship and conflict in South Korea, work on a grant to study emotional control and regulation in Indonesia, and develop a grant to conduct a longitudinal study on possession disputes in the US and Indonesia.
Parent’s Beliefs Regarding Children’s Ownership and Possession
Traveling to Bali, Indonesia was a unique and life-changing experience. Living in a foreign country for nearly a month lead me to realize that every society has a unique culture that, despite whatever similarities it may have to the American lifestyle, requires a different lifestyle to be lead. All cultures need to be valued, not only in the countries they originate from, but also when they are brought to American society. Because the United States is home to a large population of people originating from various cultures, Americans should take advantage of the opportunity to benefit from the knowledge these cultures have retained for hundreds of years.
Relational Aggression and Indonesian Children’s Conflict
During the trip to Bali, I was able to apply my working knowledge of Asian collectivist communities to a research project aimed at examining the conflict resolution styles of children. I also had the opportunity to experience a plethora of cultural events such as native dancing, religious ceremonies, guided tours, and ethnic meals. These unique opportunities allowed me to gain a wiser understanding of the complex social structure of the Balinese while at the same time participate in a cross-cultural study that quantitatively appraised interpersonal interactions between peers. The trip caused me to gain a rich appreciation of this intriguing culture and a enlightening experience on the importance of quality psychological research.
Individual Difference Predictors of Indonesian Children’s Conflicts
Cultural principles shape interactions, and those unfamiliar with the operating principles must look deeply into every social interaction in order to determine the underlying meaning of the exchange. Indonesian principles, such as that of social harmony, create a framework for interpreting conflict that differs from the American view, and thus prescribes different actions within a conflict situation. I saw how this abstract principle affects daily life through my interactions with our Indonesian colleagues, by observing Balinese citizens, and coding Indonesian children’s conflicts. Through coding, it became obvious that our inability to categorize Indonesian behavior based on American concepts is at the heart of cross-cultural research. Recognizing and gathering new perspectives based on these differences adds to our understanding of Indonesian cultural framework as well as to our concepts of human behavior in conflict situations. In the process of completing our conflict research, I learned how to prepare and conduct my own research, and am now better prepared to work through graduate school. My future in cross-cultural research is possible largely due to the body of knowledge I gained in Indonesia not only about research, but also about how cultural frameworks shape behavior and feeling/thoughts.
Observations of Preschool Peers: Possession Behavior and Parental Interventions
The time I spent in Bali was extraordinary in that I was able to witness and do things that I have never done before. Our activities were usually spilt between research and cultural activities. We spent a great portion of our time coding children’s conflicts. The time we spent discussing social life with our Indonesian colleagues was invaluable to a true understanding of cultural values and social interactions. Their insight into our findings and the dynamics of Indonesian social interaction added great value to my experience. We found time to learn about Balinese history and tradition, took Balinese dancing lessons, made our own batik paintings, and grew to appreciate Balinese food. We went snorkeling, white water rafting, explored Balinese art, and learned how to bargain in a Balinese market. Being in Bali exposed me to a world that I had never seen before and confronted me with the idea of how unaware I was of Asian cultures. Prior to the trip, I had planned on going to graduate school to eventually become a professor. My experience in Bali motivated me to pursue programs that emphasize cross-cultural psychology. The month that I spent there, an appreciation of Indonesia grew within me and a deeper curiosity blossomed which has inspired me to continue this pursuit in graduate school Research findings: In the original proposal, we set out to accomplish four studies: 1) Predictors of individual differences in conflict behavior, 2) Relational aggression and conflict, 3) Prospective parents’ beliefs about appropriate intervention into children object conflicts, and 4) Observations of parents’ intervention into children’s object conflicts. We found, in our preliminary analyses of studies One and Two, that 1) Indonesian children reported conflicts that were similar in their precipitants to those of US children and most of these were with friends, lasted for short time periods, and were settled without aggression or outside intervention. 2) Indonesian children were more likely than US students to engage in a process of disengagement during the conflict and to resolve the conflict with disengagement 3) Indonesian children, however, were likely to disengage from the person, a process seldom seen in US children. 4) In both US and Indonesia, individual differences in conflict were associated with peer and teacher rating of aggression and social status, and 5) Girls in both countries exhibited more relational aggression during conflict than boy. Indonesian data collection was completed for Study Three and the responses translated. We are now collecting the US data and will have results to report by spring of 2002. Finally, data collection for Study Four will be delayed until December, but we hope to have results ready for the final report.
Venues for Sharing
- Presentation by Kristina McDonald in the annual Illinois Wesleyan Research Conference.
- Submit two or three papers from this work for publication. We anticipate presenting this work at two conferences this year.
- Present two papers at the meetings of the International Society for Behavioral Development in Ottawa this summer.
- Overview of our work will be presented by either myself or Sri Pidada at the International Cross-Cultural conference to he held in Indonesia this summer.