The notion of goodness is implicitly central to the discourse relating to person perception. To date, no empirical research has focused solely upon understanding the notion of goodness and how it’s perceived and discerned in others. Utilizing focus group interviews, this paper explores how people perceive and interpret goodness in collectivist cultures of Malaysia and China. Findings revealed that Malaysian and Chinese participants had somewhat similar notions about goodness. “Concern for others’ welfare” was found to have the most resonance across the two nationalities as a key element in discerning goodness in others. Another category emerging from the findings was labelled as “Goodness a subjective notion” which encapsulated additional interpretations surrounding goodness. Directions for future research are discussed.


Goodness, Morality, Collectivist Culture, Person Perception, Focus Group Interview, China, Malaysia

Author Bio(s)

Madiha A. Hashmi has recently completed her PhD in Human Communication from Universiti Putra Malaysia. She received her B.S from the College of New Jersey (U.S.) and her Masters from City University of New York (U.S.). Her research interests focus on the role of nonverbal cues in person perception; political discourses in news media and cross-cultural communication. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: hashmi11@gmail.com.

Moniza Waheed is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia. She received her M.A in Communication from Western Illinois University (U. S.) and her PhD in Political Communication from the University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands). Her research interests include Political Communication, Intercultural Communication, and Journalism. She has published several articles in journals including the Journal of Intercultural Communication, Journalism Studies, International Communication Gazette, and the Journal of European Communication Research. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: monizawaheedupm@gmail.com.

Ezhar Tamam is a Professor of Communication at the Department of Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia. He received his M.A. from Michigan State University (U.S.) and PhD from University of Oklahoma (U.S.). His research interest includes intercultural communication and the role of communication in development. He has published several book chapters and articles in journals, including Journal of College Student Development, Asia Pacific Journal of Education, Mass Communication and Society, Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, and Asia Pacific Education Review. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: ezhartamam@gmail.com.

Steven Eric Krauss is a Research Fellow with the Youth Social Health and Well-being Laboratory in the Institute for Social Science Research, Universiti Putra Malaysia. He originates from the United States and has been living and working in Malaysia since 2001. His current research focuses on applications of positive youth development in diverse cultural settings with a particular interest in intergenerational partnership as a support for youth development. He is also involved in a nationwide initiative for professionalizing Malaysian youth work, as well as national studies on youth-community engagement and youth social entrepreneurship. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: abd_lateef@hotmail.com.

Abdul Muaati Ahmed is an Associate Professor and Dean at the Department of Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia. He received his M.A from Western Illinois University, USA and his Doctorate in Speech Communication and Rhetoric from the University of Malaya, Malaysia. His recent publications include Psychology of Communication (Kuala Lumpur: DBP 2015), Penninsular Malay Keris – An introduction (2015) Penerbit UPM and Five decades of the Malays (Shah Alam: UPENA 2012). He is currently completing a study on the relationship between the Malay self-esteem and local wisdom. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: abmuati@upm.edu.m.


Acknowledgement: The current study comes from data collected for the author's dissertation research directed by Professor Ezhar Tamam at University Putra Malaysian, UPM.

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