Differences of Individualistic and Collectivist Cultures in Shaping Behaviors
Culture is defined as the amalgamation of values, beliefs and norms that a specific group of people shares. The fact that culture is shared among a group of people, it influences that way in which people learn, live and behave (Hagger, Rentzelas & Koch, 2014). Some theorists posit that culture is criticalv in shaping a person’s personality. That is why it is asserted that people who are born and bred in within an environment that embodies the same culture share common personality traits. The purpose of this task is to explore the differences in culture and how individualism and collectivism culture influence people’s behaviours. The task will mainly in focus on the collectivism in oriental cultures and individualism in western cultures and determine how the two cultural approaches differ and their impact on the behaviour of those who ascribe to them.
Culture and Self-construal
The interpretation of cultural differences is mainly explained using the concept of self-construal. Self-construal depicts how an individual perceives and understands her/himself. For instance, Western culture promotes the independent self-construal where an individual is perceived as a separate entity from other individuals in the society and emphasizes the value of self’s independence and uniqueness. On the other hand, the East Asian cultures promote the aspects of interdependent self-construal (collectivism) with a self that is more interconnected with others and operates rationally and harmoniously in society. Researchers have provided a glimpse of the connection between the self-construal, brain and interpretation of culture. Studies have established that self is formed based on the context of cultural script and practices and increased involvement in cultural tasks that reflect the values of independent (individualism) and interdependent (collectivism) self-construal (Gavreliuc & Ciobotă, 2013). Therefore, the way a person behaves is culturally patterned since culture plays a critical role in the establishment of the construction of self. A study by Ames and Fiske (2010) established that culture also shapes the brain’s functional anatomy and neural activity. The study was based on the participants from America (Western Culture) and China (Collective culture). Both groups were asked to think about themselves and their mothers or a public person. The fMRI data indicated that parts of the brain were activated when both of the groups were asked to think about themselves. However, the Chinese participants’ parts of the brain were activated when asked to think about their mothers. That indicates the influence of the collective culture on the brain neural activity and behaviour of the Chinese participants. Evidently, culture has a significant impact on the way people represents themselves in the context of their daily lives. It has been established that when the neurons fire is repeatedly scripted in a way for a prolonged time, brain pathways can be reinforced and established to promote seamless execution and cultural tasks and enhance the biological adaptation of culture.
Some of the theorists posit that personality is gained through culture and not biology. According to the cultural relativism theory, the differences between people in various societies usually stems from the cultural differences installed during childhood. The personality development of a person is set during early childhood development based on unique cultural traits (Park, Norasakkunkit & Kashima, 2017). The personality differences are attributed to the differences in childrearing which indicates significant similarities between childrearing and adult personality types.
On the other hand, the human social order as a normative order postulates that social system is saddled with reciprocal roles that are shared by members of the social group and acquired from a previous generation. The reciprocal roles are critical in satisfying society functional requirements of adaptation, adjustment and integration. According to the human social order, human characteristics are not acquired through learning but through but based on the norms and rules in the environment that an individual occupies. The norms and rules provide accustoms a person with the way of behaving. Custom in anthropology is depicted as the socially acquired behaviour pattern widely performed by society members or a constituent group social group. Without the customs rules, human behaviours can only be interpreted as individual action through social interactions. Therefore, customs significantly impact how an individual behaves since that contains rules and norms that guide the proper performance of actions among people sharing a common culture. The values in culture are unconscious, and they are only realizable when meeting a person who is different from you. The tendency to judge others based on one’s culture lens increases the propensity to raise conflict.
Differences Between Individualistic and Collectivist Cultures
As aforementioned, culture is one aspect that influences how people think and behave in a social setting. Significant differences exist between individualistic and collectivist cultures that impact human behaviours differently. On the one hand, the individualistic culture stresses the needs of the individual over the group needs (Li, Vazsonyi & Dou, 2018). In the individualistic culture, people are viewed as independent and autonomous. The social behaviours of individuals tend to be dictated by the attitudes and preferences of individuals. The individual rights take centre stage, being dependent on others is considered shameful, people tend to be self-reliant, rights of individuals tend to take higher precedence, and people take greater emphasis on standing out and being unique (Okely, Weiss & Gale, 2018). Unlike in the collectivist culture where people are considered important for being generous dependable and helpful to others, the individualistic culture considers a person great for being self-reliant, strong, assertive, and independent.
People in the individualistic culture tend to go alone even when faced by challenges in life. They rarely turn to their families and close friends for help to overcome their challenging life situation. Subsequently, self-sufficiency is considered as an important aspect in promoting the independence or uniqueness of an individual in the individualistic culture. Therefore, many of the individuals in the individualistic culture are selfish and are in continuous competition to control resources that would give them autonomy and self-sufficiency in society (Zha et al., 2006). For instance, in the individualistic culture, a person cannot forego individual comfort for the good of another person. The individualistic culture teaches that a person should have his own well-being over the good of the group. The high sense of identity and autonomy that is promoted in the individualistic culture plays a critical role in influencing the way people behave ranging from the career that a person chooses, the products that a person buys, the social issues and a wide range of other things (Volkema et al., 2016). Individualistic culture promotes the elements of materialism where people try to attain independence by controlling as much wealth as possible.
Relationships in the individualistic culture are mainly controlled by the value that one brings in the relationship. The relationship is viewed as voluntary, and it can be ended any time one party perceives that it is not beneficial for both parties. In the individualistic culture, there is no burden of being close to others. Relationships are not intended to be permanent and stable since the benefits that the parties involved in the relationship gain are what controls the value of the relationship.
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