Prof James Liu staff profile picture

Contact details +64 (09) 414 0800  ext. 43279

Prof James Liu


School of Psychology

James is currently President of the Asian Association of Social Psychology (see website at after having previously served as its Secretary General and Treasurer. From 2008-2011 he was Editor-in-Chief of the Asian Journal of Social Psychology (he now serves as Senior Editor). Together with AASP President-Elect Allan Bernardo, he edits an annual Special Issue of the Journal of Pacific Rim Studies on the practice of social psychology for social change in Asia and the Pacific Rim. He is accomplished in cross-cultural and indigenous psychology, having thought a lot about how Chinese philosophy and culture influences the present day psychology and practices of Chinese people today (with several article written with his father, the eminent neo-Confucian philosopher Shu-hsien Liu). He is currently investigating the concept of “benevolent authority” as a cultural script for maintaining social order in higher power distance, collectivist societies.

James has more than 160 refereed publications at have been cited more than 5000 times, with edited volumes including New Zealand Identities: Departures and Destinations, Restorative Justice and Practices in New Zealand, and Progress in Asian Social Psychology, Volumes 2 and 6.  He has an H-statistic of 36 according to GoogleScholar. Among his most cited papers are "Social representations of history and their role on identity politics" co-authored with Denis Hilton for the British Journal of Social Psychology, and "Distance matters: Physical space and social impact" co-authored with Bibb Latane and Andrzej Nowak in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. He is also known for several papers using large cross-cultural data sets from 12-36 countries, published mainly in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology (e.g., "Social representations of events and people in world history across twelve cultures").

As the new Head of School of Psychology at Massey University, James has introduced Research, Service, and Teaching Clusters as a means for enhancing collaboration and applied &integrated RST practice among members of his School. He has a long term vision of psychology as an applied research practice with strong community service and teaching roots. He hopes to integrate the various clinics and professional programmes that distinguish Massey Psychology with undergraduate and graduate teaching in a research active culture that is strongly applied.

 A naturalized citizen of two countries, he describes himself as a “Chinese-American-New Zealander”.

James Hou-fu Liu is Professor of Psychology and Head of School at Massey University in New Zealand. He completed a PhD at UCLA, followed by a post-doc at Florida Atlantic University.  He taught at Victoria University of Wellington for twenty years, becoming Co-Director of its Centre for Applied Cross-Cultural Research (2010-2014).  His research is in cross-cultural, social, and political psychology, specializing in social representations of history and their relationship to identity, prejudice, and international relations. He has more recent interests in global consciousness and digital influence- how systems like liberal democracy and hierarchical relationalism function to create global social order.

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Contact details

  • Ph: +64 9 414 0800 ext 43279
    Location: 3.52, Albany Village, School of Psychology Private Bag 102904, North Shore Auckland 0745
    Campus: Albany

Prizes and Awards

  • Research Grant Reconfiguring the nation: Contesting history and identity in a globalizing world. Principal Investigator with Nora Fisher Onar and Mark Woordward. Asian Office of Aerospace Development (AOARD): Dec 2012-May 2014. $75,000 US. Description: A case study of a second wave of nation-building in a globalizing, post-colonial world in Turkey, Indonesia, and New Zealand. Through collaboration with a international relations specialist in political science, and an anthropologist specializing in religion, we examined historical trajectories for 3 states, examining when, why, and how did the transition to modernity and prosperity lend itself to political revisionism rather than preservation of the status quo? This resulted in a 2014 Special Issue of the International Journal of Intercultural Relations with 11 papers from authors around the world elaborating on the theory we developed from the grant called Critical Junctures Theory. - Asian Office of Aerospace Development (AOARD) (2012)
  • Research Grant Benevolent Authority Systems of Societal Organization. Principal investigator. Chiang Ching Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (CCK): July 2011-June 2014. $60,000 US Description: Empirical and theoretical investigations of top-down systems of authority typical in Chinese societies using cross-cultural comparisons to Western liberal institutions and belief systems, experimental studies in management, and longitudinal studies in China, Taiwan, New Zealand, the United States, and other countries. This resulted in 5 publications involving 20 co-authors (5 from Taiwan) in journals such as PLOS-ONE and Group and Organizational Management. - Chiang Ching Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (CCK) (2011)
  • Research Grant Implicit and Explicit Attitudes towards America in Socio-Digital Influence: Trust and Social Identity in Cyberspace (BAA-AFOSR-2013-0001) Asian Office of Aerospace Development (AOARD): (2015-2018). $750,000 US. Principle Investigator, supported by Colleen Ward and Homero Gil de Zuniga Description: A massive cross-cultural study on digital influence (the impact of mass media/internet usage on political attitudes, trust, and ideology) using representative samples of adults in 20 countries and 2 cities (N=22,000). More than 50 researchers (from every continent except Antarctica) are involved in a longitudinal, 4 Wave study involving 2 surveys, a social dilemma experiment (Trust Game) and a study of Implicit/Explicit attitudes towards America and Americans. The project aims to capture critical sources of variability in mass media/internet usage and its impact across and within cultures on a) implicit versus explicit attitudes towards America and Americans (compared to other powerful states), b) behavioral trust across cultures in on-line social exchange experiments involving money and power, and c) ideology and activity with respect to political ideology and selected social movements ranging from ecological to political. Personality, values, trust, mass media usage patterns, and political ideology are the critical variables measured. - Asian Office of Aerospace Developmetn (AOARD) (2015)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

Social Representations Theory, especially Social Representations of History

Cross-cultural Psychology

Indigenous Psychology, particularly Chinese indigenous psychology and its interconnectness to other high-power distance, collectivist socieities

Digital Influence (how mass media consumption influences attitudes, values, political ideology, and behaviour, and vice versa)


Prejudice and Intergroup Relations

Research Opportunities

  • Digital Influence  (06/06/2015) Consumption of different forms of mass media, especially new digital forms, are influencing not only culture, but people's attitudes, values, and behavior


21st Century Citizenship, Design – for Commerce, Community and Culture

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Psychology (170100): Psychology And Cognitive Sciences (170000): Social and Community Psychology (170113):
Studies In Human Society (160000)

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 1 5

Research Outputs

Consultancy and Languages


  • Chinese
    Last used: today
    Spoken ability: Excellent
    Written ability: Excellent

Teaching and Supervision

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Supervisor 3 1
Co-supervisor 3 0

Current Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • Sarah Choi - Doctor of Philosophy
    History and identity: An exploration of living memory and its impact on our national and political life
  • Robert Zhang - Doctor of Philosophy
    Dimensionality, interconnectedness, and cross-national comparability: Studies of the global trust in multi-national representative samples
  • Roosevelt Vilar Lobo De Souza - Doctor of Philosophy
    A cross-cultural investigation of the Functional Theory of Human Values: Examining its structure and prediction of external outcomes

Co-supervisor of:

  • Sophia Jia - Doctor of Philosophy
    Online behavior analysis
  • Nicole Gifford - Doctor of Clinical Psychology
    The Association Between Depression and Social Comparison on Instagram

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • 2019 - Moh Hakim - Doctor of Philosophy
    The socio-psychological aspects of the personalization of politics: Examining the process, conditional factors, and implications of parasocial relationships with political figures

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