A theoretical analysis of Chinese ingratiation

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Literature about ingratiation has mainly focused on non-Chinese societies with a Western viewpoint, which regards ingratiation as an attraction-seeking behavior. However, the viewpoint may not reflect accurately the meanings of ingratiation in Chinese societies, because ingratiation is a culture-specific behavior. Therefore, there is a limited understanding about the natures, motives, consequences and patterns of Chinese ingratiation. Since Chinese ingratiation is an everyday and everywhere occurrence affecting every social actor in Chinese societies, it is necessary to pay much attention to Chinese ingratiation. Therefore, this article attempts to theoretically analyze Chinese ingratiation from the guanxi perspective and then propose a theoretical framework of Chinese ingratiation for further studies. According to the guanxi perspective, Chinese ingratiation is regarded as a guanxi management strategy and defined as a set of social behaviors designed to establish, maintain and promote guanxi through the exercises of renqing, mianzi and attraction. Moreover, this article proposes Chinese ingratiation has three dimensions: renqing orientation, mianzi orientation and attraction orientation. Finally, the pattern of Chinese ingratiation is identified as the follows: (1) The ingratiatory intention decreases progressively along the direction from familiar persons to family and then to strangers in normal situations and (2) renqing and mianzi orientations would be more likely to occur than attraction orientation within familiar persons; attraction and mianzi orientations would be more likely to occur than renqing orientation within family; attraction orientation would be more likely to occur than renqing and mianzi orientations within strangers. Copyright © 2016 Kwok Kuen Tsang.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-63
Journal Journal of Social Sciences
Issue number1
Early online dateNov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


Tsang, K. K. (2016). A theoretical analysis of Chinese ingratiation. Journal of Social Sciences, 12(1), 55-63. doi: 10.3844/jssp.2016.55.63


  • Ingratiation
  • Guanxi
  • Renqing
  • Mianzi
  • Attraction


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