Implications of Amae for HIV Risk in Japanese Young Adults

Article excerpt

Amae (from the Japanese verb amaeru), translated as the strong desire to maintain lasting social bonds with peers and significant others, is a major characteristic of the Japanese people (Munakata & Onuoha, 1998). Amae is found in most Japanese homes, schools, and the workplace. At home, siblings are socialized to talk less and listen more, to respect seniority and social hierarchy. At school, the values are reinforced through curricula that emphasize conformism, social equilibrium, and order. This norm continues in the workplace where employees work beyond the obligatory hours to please their managers. Worker activism to assert rights in the workplace is taboo.

Doi (1986) employed two terms to describe amae: kadawari, the inward discomfort over poor relationships with others; and sumanai, the self-fulfillment derived from being of help to others. These two psychosocial concepts combined--the first precipitating the second-provide the social meaning of amaeru, i.e., to be at peace with oneself through cooperative, harmonious relationships with others.

Munakata (1988) further defined the concept as laboring to be a "good" girl/boy through self-repression. Assertive tendencies by adolescent Japanese are considered a reproach (Doi, 1974); yet assertive tendencies have been reported to correlate with HIV risk avoidance (Millan & Ross, 1987; Kelly & St. Lawrence, 1988; Zamboni et al., 2000). The present study investigated the implications of amae for HIV risk avoidance in young Japanese college adults.

METHOD

Study Design

The study applied the within-group cross-sectional design. Subjects were 262 students in a Japanese national university (mean age = 21). The instruments were the Self-Regression Scale (Munakata, 1988) to estimate amae, and AIDS Assertiveness Inventory (Onuoha & Munakata, 1999) that estimated HIV-risk avoidance.

Self-Repression Scale

This scale has 10 items that include: I put up with any difficulty. I don't like disturbing others, and I am the kind of person who controls spontaneous emotions (see Table 1).

AIDS Assertiveness Inventory

This 31-item inventory has two subscales, social and sexual. The social estimates alcohol/STD/HIV disclosure, and contact with AIDS patient confidence (18 items). The sexual evaluates interaction with condoms and negotiation with partner confidence (13 items). Items on the social subscale include perceived confidence to: visit at home and hospital a friend who has AIDS, hug a family member who has AIDS, and tell one's parents/friends/lover that one has AIDS. The sexual subscale items include the perceived confidence to: go to the drug store to acquire condoms, carry condoms, refuse to have sex with a lover if she/he would not agree to condom use (see Table 2).

Response choices in the AIDS Assertiveness Inventory range from 1 (yes) to 3 (no). Similarly, choices in the Self-Repression Scale are 1 (always so) to 3 (not so). All items in both scales were progressively scored such that a high score represented high prevalence of the variable. Both scales showed acceptable internal reliability (alpha coefficients greater than .70).

Data Analysis

The research problem was to determine the association of amae with HIV risk avoidance. Four analyses were performed: First, mean scores of self-repression and AIDS assertiveness to estimate the degree of students' amae and HIV risk avoidance. Second, the Pearson's correlation of self-repression and AIDS assertiveness to estimate whether the association was positive or negative. Third, the scatter plot of the two variables to graphically examine the Pearson's coefficient outcome. Finally, the ANOVA of AIDS assertiveness (as the dependent variable) with "low" and "high" amae students to inferentially differentiate the two groups on the AIDS assertiveness inventory. The low-amae group were students whose self-repression scores fell below the median; scores for the high-amae group fell at and above the median. …