chapter
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Individualism

The distinction between individualism and collectivism was introduced to describe some of the differences between the cultures of East and West, for example China and the USA. In collectivist cultures “individuals may be induced to subordinate their own goals to the goals of some collective, which is usually a stable in-group (e.g. family, band, tribe)” (Triandis et al., 1988). There is a high level of cohesion, conformity and cooperation within groups such as families, and there is concern for group harmony. In individualist societies on the other hand people are more loosely attached to a number of different groups, and there is less conformity, cooperation and social support. In collectivist societies self-definition is mainly in terms of group membership: “Who am I?” leads to answers such as “a member of the volley ball team”, while in individualist societies the answer is more like “I am an extravert” (Markus and Kitayama, 1991).