Park, Y.S., Inha University, Korea
This presentation explores the concepts of human agency and meaning system by focusing parent-child relationship and subjective well-being in Confucian cultures. The first part of this presentation articulates theoretical and conceptual framework that outlines the factors that influence human agency and meaning system. Although the cumulative effort of the universalist approach has contributed to the progress of psychology to some extent, the lack of explicit examination of human agency and meaning system has limited the understanding human mind and behavior. Individuals in different cultures have developed different types of agency and meaning system and psychological phenomena must be interpreted within the cultural context. This becomes readily apparent when researchers examine parent-child relationship and subjective well-being. The parent- child relationship serves as the basis for the extension and expansion of the relationship to the other human relations such as teacher-student relationship, senior-junior relationship, and superior-subordinate relationship. In Confucian cultures, in additional to personal control, proxy control and collective control (to use Bandura's terminology) are highly developed and utilized. It is not by attachment, separation and individuation, but by finding oneself, discovering oneself, and asserting oneself in relationship and groups that one's identity and agency are discovered. In Confucian culture, the goal is to extend and expand one's self-identity through an ever increasing network of relationships and the parent-child relationship is viewed as the basis and the key for all relationship. The Korean parent-child relationship, which emphasizes unconditional acceptance and sacrifice of parents for their children, coupled the filial piety and indebtedness of the children for their parents, provides a basis phenomenal academic and economic achievements in Korea. Moreover, maintenance of close interpersonal relationship is the most significant predictor of subjective well-being and academic and economic achievement. The second part of this presentation will review empirical studies conducted in Korea that examine the relationship between parent-child relationship and various psychological and behavioral variables (such as academic achievement, delinquent behavior, life- satisfaction, stress, trust and distrust, self-identity, and interpersonal relationship).