The Prototype Analysis of Ren: A Study on College Students’Implicit Theories of Ren

  •  Meiting Liu    
  •  Zhaoxu Li    
  •  Guangwen Song    
  •  Fang Kong    
  •  Jia Liu    


This paper reports a preliminary descriptive approach to the representation of the concept of Ren. According to the prototype theory, researchers collected items (words or phrases) including features and implications of Ren from 172 college students, after which the items were simplified and combined, then 145 prototypes were obtained. After that 78 prototypes with high frequency above 7 were selected and arranged randomly to make a questionnaire, then another 300 college students were made to rate centrality of every prototypes to the meaning of Ren in Likert-typed 5 point scale. A factor analysis was made based on the rate. In terms of the result of factor analysis together with content analysis, the prototypes were classified and coded. The result shows that there are 6 facets of the representation of Ren in college students’ mind:(1) righteousness and keeping faith; (2) wisdom and self-cultivation; (3) filial piety, fraternal duty, and treat others well; (4) policy of benevolence; (5) universal love and clemency; (6)political pioneers and righteous men. The result is helpful for moral education of college students from the microscopic aspect and also can be used for reference to develop China's spiritual civilization from macroscopic perspective.

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