chapter  14
18 Pages

Cross-National Prevalence of Collectivism

However, we also acknowledge that, in determining the relation between the two selves, it is important to know the context. Any two cognitive structures can take on different relations, depending on context. For example, in a situation where a person has to choose between benefiting himself or herself versus benefiting his or her family, the individual and collective selves may push in opposite directions during the process of making a decision. In other situations, such as in school, when a person is deciding how much effort to put into studying for exams, the two selves might work as partners to push in the same direction; it might be a personal honor and an honor for the family if the person obtains high marks. In sum, when seen as cognitive structures, it seems that the individual self and collective self can have practically any kind of relation to each other, depending on context. Obviously, culture provides much of this context, and can emphasize or deemphasize individualism or collectivism. Thus, after some preliminary remarks about culture, the first part of this chapter will focus on the social psychological factors that increase or decrease individualism and collectivism, and the corresponding personality patterns, idiocentrism and allocentrism. In the second part, we consider broader factors such as historic, economic, geographic, religiOUS, and political influences.