Saturday, August 14, 2010

All in the Mind - Challenging Stereotypes: culture, psychology and the Asian Self (Part 2 of 2)

Here is part 2 of this excellent discussion - in my repost of part 1, I included some background information to offer a frame of reference, so I will include that here as well.

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Some definitions might help - all of the following information comes from this excellent article:
Oyserman, D., Coon, H.M., & Kemmelmeier, M. (2002). Rethinking Individualism and Collectivism: Evaluation of Theoretical Assumptions and Meta-Analyses. Psychological Bulletin; Vol. 128, No. 1, 3–72. DOI: 10.1037//0033-2909.128.1.3
I'm not sure if this is available online for free access or not - I can't find it in an open access search.

And these come from the same article, but are more general definitions, and not based on a research model (as is the chart above, which gives sample items for a measure).
The core element of individualism is the assumption that individuals are independent of one another. From this core, a number of plausible consequences or implications of individualism can be discerned. One question we explore further is whether research has empirically validated these plausible consequences or implications and whether these plausible consequences are, in fact, universally part of individualism.

Hofstede (1980) defined individualism as a focus on rights above duties, a concern for oneself and immediate family, an emphasis on personal autonomy and self-fulfillment, and the basing of one’s identity on one’s personal accomplishments. Waterman (1984) defined normative individualism as a focus on personal responsibility and freedom of choice, living up to one’s
potential, and respecting the integrity of others. Schwartz (1990) defined individualistic societies as fundamentally contractual, consisting of narrow primary groups and negotiated social relations, with specific obligations and expectations focusing on achieving status. These definitions all conceptualize individualism as a worldview that centralizes the personal—personal goals, personal uniqueness, and personal control—and peripheralizes the social (Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swidler, & Tipton, 1985; Hsu, 1983; Kagitcibasi, 1994; U. Kim, 1994; Markus & Kitayama, 1991; Sampson, 1977; Triandis, 1995).

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The core element of collectivism is the assumption that groups bind and mutually obligate individuals. From this core, theorists discern a number of plausible consequences or implications of collectivism. One question we explore further is whether research has empirically validated these plausible consequences or implications cross-culturally and whether these plausible consequences are, in fact, universal consequences of collectivism.

Although sometimes seen as simple opposites, it is probably more accurate to conceptualize individualism and collectivism as worldviews that differ in the issues they make salient (Kagitcibasi, 1987, 1997; Kwan & Singelis, 1998). According to Schwartz (1990), collectivist societies are communal societies characterized by diffuse and mutual obligations and expectations based on ascribed statuses. In these societies, social units with common fate, common goals, and common values are centralized; the personal is simply a component of the social, making the in-group the key unit of analysis (e.g., Triandis, 1995). This description focuses on collectivism as a social way of being, oriented toward in-groups and away from out-groups (Oyserman, 1993). Because in-groups can include family, clan, ethnic, religious, or other groups, Hui (1988) and Triandis (1995), among others, have proposed that collectivism is a diverse construct, joining together culturally disparate foci on different kinds and levels of referent groups. In this way, collectivism may refer to a broader range of values, attitudes, and behaviors than individualism.

Plausible consequences of collectivism for psychology—self-concept, well-being, attribution style, and relationality—are easily discerned. First, with regard to the self, collectivism implies that (a) group membership is a central aspect of identity (Hofstede, 1980; Hsu, 1983; U. Kim, 1994; Markus & Kitayama, 1991) and (b) valued personal traits reflect the goals of collectivism, such as sacrifice for the common good and maintaining harmonious relationships with close others (Markus & Kitayama, 1991; Oyserman, 1993; Triandis, 1995). Second, with regard to well-being and emotional expression, collectivism implies that (a) life satisfaction derives from successfully carrying out social roles and obligations and avoiding failures in these domains (U. Kim, 1994; Kwan & Singelis, 1998; Markus & Kitayama, 1991) and (b) restraint in emotional expression, rather than open and direct expression of personal feelings, is likely to be valued as a means of ensuring in-group harmony.

Third, with regard to judgment, causal reasoning, and attributions, definitions of collectivism suggest that (a) social context, situational constraints, and social roles figure prominently in person perception and causal reasoning (Miller, 1984; Morris & Peng, 1994) and (b) meaning is contextualized and memory is likely to contain richly embedded detail. Last, with regard to relationality, definitions of collectivism imply that (a) important group memberships are ascribed and fixed, viewed as “facts of life” to which people must accommodate; (b) boundaries between in-groups and out-groups are stable, relatively impermeable, and important; and (c) in-group exchanges are based on equality or even generosity principles (U. Kim, 1994; Morris & Leung, 2000; Sayle, 1998; Triandis, 1995).
That should provide some background for the discussion in today's show from All in the Mind.

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Challenging Stereotypes: culture, psychology and the Asian Self (Part 2 of 2)

Listen Now - 2010-08-14 |Download Audio - 14082010

We can't escape our cultural heritage, and yet it's more malleable than you might think. It's there in everything we do and say -- from the boardroom tables of big business to conversations with your GP. How are scientists getting inside our cultural mindsets to study them? Brain scans have entered the fray.

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Transcripts are published on Wednesdays, and audio on Saturdays after broadcast.


Professor Steven Heine
Department of Psychology
University of British Columbia, Canada

Professor Daphna Oyserman
Department of Psychology
University of Michigan, United States

Professor Shihui Han
Director, Cultural and Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory
Peking University, China

Assistant Professor Takahiko Masuda
Department of Psychology
University of Alberta, Canada

Dr Deborah Ko
Department of Psychology
University of Hong Kong

Further Information

All in the Mind blog with Natasha Mitchell
A place to engage, or you can add your comments directly above too (look for Add Your Comment). Features extra audio this week of blog only interviews on the individualist / collectivist dichotomy, on differences in approaches to learning, and in various cultural assessments of what it means to be human.

Challenging Stereotypes: culture, psychology and the Asian Self (Part 1 of 2)
Part 1 of this 2 part series

XXth Congress of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology
Held in Melbourne, Australia, 2010.


Title: Cultural difference in neural mechanisms of self-recognition
Author: Sui, J., Liu, C. H., Han, S.
Social Neuroscience, (2009) (in press)

Title: The bi-cultural self and the bi-cultural brain
Author: Ng. S. H., Han, S., in Wyer, R. S., Chiu, C.-y., & Hong, Y.-y (Eds.)
'Problems and solutions in cross-cultural theory, research and application', New York: Psychology Press, pp 329-342, New York: Psychology Press

Title: Cultural differences in the self: From philosophy to psychology and neuroscience
Author: Zhu, Y., Han, S.
Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2, 2008, pp 1799-1811 Note: The link is a PDF

Title: Culture-sensitive neural substrates of human cognition: A transcultural neuroimaging approach
Author: Zhu, Y., Han, S.
Publisher: Nature Review Neuroscience, 9, 2008, pp 646-654
Note: The link is a PDF

Title: Cognition, communication, and culture: Implications for the survey response process
Author: Schwarz, N., Oyserman, D., & Peytcheva, E.
Publisher: in 'Survey Methods in Multinational, Multiregional, and Multicultural Contexts' edited by Harkness et al, John Wiley and Sons Inc, 2010.

Title: Connecting and Separating Mind-Sets: Culture as Situated Cognition
Author: Daphna Oyserman, Nicholas Sorensen, Rolf Reber, Sylvia Xiaohua Chen
Publisher: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 97, No. 2, 2009, pp 217-235

Title: Does Culture Influence What and How We Think? Effects of Priming Individualism and Collectivism
Author: Daphna Oyserman and Spike W. S. Lee
Publisher: Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 134, No. 2, 2008, pp 311-342

Title: Is there a Universal Need for Positive Self Regard?
Author: Steven J. Heine, Darrin R. Lehman, Hazel Markus, Shinobu Kitayama
Publisher: Psychological Review, 106 (4), pp. 766-794, 1999.
Note: The link is a PDF file.


Natasha Mitchell

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