Vytis Silius, Vilius Dranseika, Renatas Berniūnas (Vilnius University, Lithuania) “Cross-cultural Normative Psychology: Mapping the Space of Evaluative Concepts in Everyday Lithuanian, English, and Chinese”


The aim of our study is to gather empirical data that would enable to map the normative space of evaluative concepts in everyday Lithuanian, Chinese, and English. Western philosophical tradition, at least since the Enlightenment, emphasizes the autonomous character of the moral sphere. Moral sensibilities are believed to be distinct and qualitatively different from the aesthetic, etiquette or legal responsibility judgments, thus requiring a specific normative vocabulary. On the other hand, Chinese intellectual tradition seemingly does not emphasize differences of various normative realms of human experience. It is still an open empirical question whether the Chinese differentiate between moral and non-moral normative domains in everyday evaluative judgments. There is very little empirical evidence to suggest that the Chinese do make this distinction. On the contrary, there seems to be some evidence suggesting the opposite. Furthermore, current moral psychological literature in the West has little to say about people’s explicit normative judgments across different domains (moral, aesthetic, etiquette). Therefore, given this shortage of empirical data, it is reasonable to doubt that an established English moral vocabulary (and the direct translations thereof) that prevails in the academic literature on ethics is the adequate tool for describing the everyday normative judgments of different cultures (maybe not even that of the English speakers).

Our hypothesis is that there will be a significant overlap of different kinds of normative concepts among Chinese participants, while US participants will tend to differentiate these different normative domains, with Lithuanians somewhere in between.
In this conference we propose to discuss our preliminary findings from the study (Chinese data will be gathered in March 2016).