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For judgments of value about collectivism and individualism, see individualism and collectivism. This article regards how 'collectivist' and 'individualist' are used descriptively in anthropology and the cultural psychology.

Cultures are typically divided into two categories: collectivist and individualist. Individualist cultures, such as those of the United States and Western Europe, emphasize personal achievement regardless of the expense of group goals, resulting in a strong sense of competition. Collectivist cultures, such as those of China, Korea, and Japan, emphasize family and work group goals above individual needs or desires.

Collectivism and individualism deeply pervade cultures. In the United States, everything from self-serve buffet tables to corporate structure payment card rules reflects the deeply ingrained individualism.

Both collectivist and individualistic cultures have their failings. People in individualist cultures are susceptible to loneliness, and people in collectivist cultures can have a strong fear of rejection. Individualistic people are self-assured and very independent people. They are quiet and realistic, very rational, extremely matter of fact people. They strongly cultivate their individualism and enjoy applying their abilities to new tasks. However, they are also very spontaneous and impulsive people who like to follow their sudden inspirations.

Traits of Collectivism

  • Each person is encouraged to be an active player in society, to do what is best for society as a whole rather than themselves.
  • The rights of families, communities, and the collective supersede those of the individual.
  • Rules promote unity, brotherhood, and selflessness.
  • Working with others and cooperating is the norm; everyone supports each other.
  • As a community, family or nation more than as an individual
  • Strong cohesive group

Traits of Individualism

  • "I" identity.
  • Promotes individual goals, initiative and achievement.
  • Individual rights are seen as being the most important. Rules attempt to ensure self-importance and individualism.
  • Independence is valued; there is much less of a drive to help other citizens or communities than in collectivism.
  • Relying or being dependent on others is frequently seen as shameful.
  • People are encouraged to do things on their own; to rely on themselves
  • People strive for their own successes

Examples of Countries with Generally Collectivist Cultures

  • Egypt
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Indonesia
  • Iraq
  • Afghanistan
  • Cyprus
  • Ghana
  • Nepal
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Belarus
  • Brazil
  • Ethiopia
  • Bulgaria
  • Guatemala
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Mexico
  • Georgia
  • Kazakhstan
  • Morocco
  • Myanmar (Burma)
  • Korea
  • Lebanon
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Ukraine
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Turkey
  • Vietnam
  • Nigeria
  • Zambia 
  • Kenya 
  • Uganda
  • Somalia
  • Poland
  • Philippines
  • Japan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Azerbaijan
  • Polynesia
  • Greece
  • Cuba

Examples of Countries with Generally Individualistic Cultures

  • United States
  • Australia
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • Netherlands
  • Hungary (post-communist generation)
  • New Zealand
  • Italy
  • France
  • Belgium
  • Ireland
  • Switzerland
  • Germany
  • South Africa
  • Luxembourg
  • Czech Republic (post-communist generation)
  • Austria
  • Israel
  • Slovakia (post-communist generation)
  • Poland (post-communist generation)
  • Lithuania
  • Latvia
  • Estonia

Attribution is the process of understanding the actions of others based on limited information. Since the process is inexact, large errors often creep in. In individualistic cultures, there is a strong bias towards attributing a person's behavior to the characteristics of that person, instead of to the situation that person is in. This is called the fundamental attribution error. People in collectivist cultures have this bias to a much lesser degree.

Personality Types

In contrast, a 'good person' in individualist cultures is more independent, free-willed, honest, authentic, innate, solitary, assertive, unique, outstanding, determined, decisive, self-assured, strong-willed, perfectionistic, knowledgeable, dominant, leadership, objective, precise, data-wise, pragmatic, emotionally stable, and so on characteristics favoured for competing, or solitude, or both.

The stereotype of a 'good person' in collectivist cultures is reliant, generous, altruistic, politically correct, yielding, sensitive, hesitant, responsive, held accountable by others, disciplined, uniformed, peer pressured, outgoing, agreeable, and fellowship-seeking.

However, ‘people of community’ or ‘‘get every people punished too due to just one member doing wrong’’, ‘‘get one held accountable or blamed for others’ fault’’ concepts overhauled by the collectivists is usually objected in individualist cultures.

Collectivism and individualism in Chinese culture

In Chinese society, collectivism has a long tradition based on Confucianism, where being ‘‘people of community’’ (qúntǐ de fènzǐ) (群体的分子) or someone with a ‘‘socialized personality’’ (shèhuì de réngé) (社会的人格) is valued. Additionally, there is the (shìgu) (世故) personality type, which you are worldly and committed to family.

Individualist thinking in China was formed by Lao Zi and Taoism. He taught that individual happiness is the basis of a good society and saw the state, with its "laws and regulations more numerous than the hairs of an ox," as the persistent oppressor of the individual, "more to be feared than fierce tigers." He was an opponent of taxation and war, and his students and the tradition that followed him were consistently individualistic.

See also

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