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Social Adaptation during Young Adulthood: A Cultural Psychological Investigation of Hikikomori and NEETs
(Modern Life Ways Research Domain)

Project Leader
Yukiko Uchida, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University

Collaborative Research Affiliates
Vinai Norasakkunkit, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Minnesota State University, JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow for Foreign Researchers (Cultural Psychology, Clinical Psychology)

Collaborative Research Affiliates
Megumi Kondo, Assistant Professor, Tenri Health Care University (Developmental Psychology)

Collaborative Project Researchers
Shima Morisaki, Doctoral Student, Graduate School of Education, Kyoto University (Clinical Psychology)

Ineptness and lack of communications skills during adolescence and young adults have become a recognized social problem in contemporary Japan. Hikikomori (socially isolated individuals who do not leave their homes) and NEETs (young adults Not in Education, Employment, or Training) in particular have been investigated from the perspectives of sociology, psychiatry, and clinical psychology. This research will investigate the interactions between Japanese culture (cultural practices, cultural goals, norms, and values), Japanese society (globalization influences, institutional practices, inequalities in the labor market structures, etc.), Japanese families, and Japanese youth to explain the social psychological processes of hikikomori and NEET from cultural psychological perspective. This investigation will also include attempts to assess the effects of existing intervention strategies in Japan. Quantitative and qualitative analyses will be performed using experiments, surveys, and interviews.

Specifically, there are three main intended objectives of this research. First, a questionnaire will be administered to university students and NEET or hikikomori youth in order to compare them on their self-perceptions as well as their relationships and interactions with family members, . Second, the relationships among social factors (Japanese culture, social structures), motivational patterns, emotional patterns, and communication patterns will be compared between university students and working adults. Also the degree to which the processes which afford NEET and hikikomori are specific to Japanese culture and the degree to which they can be generalized more universally with the potential for cross-cultural comparisons will be considered. Third, outcome studies will be conducted to compare NPOs and other youth support organizations on their philosophically divergent intervention strategies.

By gathering data on self-concept, attitudes, emotional patterns, and motivational patterns and interpreting the findings from social and cultural psychological perspectives, appropriate approaches for dealing with social withdrawal and NEETs in Japan will be considered. It is hoped that these finding will contribute to the knowledge gained to society, including NPOs and public agencies, about the phenomena of NEET and hikikomori.