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THE ONE; THE MANY… Individualism and collectivism: Cross-cultural perspectives on self-ingroup relationships Triandis, et. Al Leah Brown, Elizabeth Flockhart, Denise Rye, Celeste Smith, Amy Sturm. Background. “Behavior never occurs in a vacuum”(211) Examples Personal space Friendship

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THE ONE; THE MANY…Individualism and collectivism: Cross-cultural perspectives on self-ingroup relationshipsTriandis, et. AlLeah Brown, Elizabeth Flockhart, Denise Rye, Celeste Smith, Amy Sturm


  • “Behavior never occurs in a vacuum”(211)

  • Examples

    • Personal space

    • Friendship

    • Parenting styles

    • Family dynamics


  • Theory: Individualism-Collectivism Model

    • Used to explain large amounts of variation seen in human behavior, social interaction, and personality

    • Explain differences in people and/or groups

  • How?

    • Collectivist Cultures: individual needs, desires, etc. are secondary to those of the group (Asia)

    • Individualistic Cultures: Higher value on the needs and accomplishments of the individual rather than the group (United States)


  • Three studies

  • Self-report questionnaires

  • Hypothetical vignettes

Study #1

  • 300 Psych. Undergrads from U of Chicago

  • 158 item questionnaire measuring tendency toward collectivism vs. individualistic beliefs and behaviors

  • Five scenarios-hypothetical social situations


  • 50% of variation in responses explained by three factors

    • Self-reliance

    • Competition

    • Distance from in-groups

  • 14% explained by “concern for ingroup”

  • There is more concern for an individual’s own self than for the group

Study # 2

  • 91 students from U. of Chicago

  • 97 Puerto Rican students

  • 150 Japanese students

  • 106 older Japanese individuals

Study #2

  • 144 item questionnaire measuring collectivist characteristics

  • Items from questionnaire show previous studies deal with three collectivist-related tendencies

    • Concern for in-group

    • Closeness of self to in-group

    • Subordination of own goals to in-group goals


  • Japanese students more concerned with opinions of friends and coworkers in relation to U. of Chicago. No relation between Puerto Rican students and others

  • Japanese students found less conformity than Chicago students because of Westernizing

    • Evidence that this has changed: the 106 older Japanese individuals showed more conformity

Warnings for Study #2

“Conclusions about collectivist and individualistic cultures shouldn’t be overly sweeping and must be carefully applied to selective, specific behaviors, situations, and cultures”(216)

Study #3

  • Attempt to restrict and sharpen research focus

  • Extending previous findings

  • 72 items, 100 subjects

  • Comparison between U. of Chicago and U. of Puerto Rico

  • Answered questions about perceived amount of social support and perceived amount of loneliness


  • Collectivism was positively correlated with social support

  • Collectivism was negatively associated with loneliness

  • American students most variance resulted from “self-reliance with competition”

  • Puerto Ricans were influenced by “affiliation”

The studies supported the theory, but there were changes in the definition of collectivism and individualism

Individualism and collectivism previously seen as opposites, but Triandis explains it as a continuum

In Summary…

Collectivist-individualistic cultural continuum


  • A little discussion…

    • What significance do you find from Triandis’ findings?

  • Health

  • Education

  • Childrearing & Parenting

Recent Applications

  • This study cited in over 200 other articles in a variety of scientific fields

  • Theory applied to self-esteem studies

  • Theory applied in a cross-cultural approach to look at children’s reactions to people with disabilities

Important Application of Theory

Theory doesn’t only have to be applied to comparisons between countries, but can be applied within countries

More Discussion…

  • What states would you predict have more collectivist or more individualistic tendencies?

  • Do you see any possible faults with this study? What could you do to improve it?

  • Do these findings apply to you, and do you think you can be categorized as an individualistic or collectivist?

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