Independent Cultural Perspective
The independent or individualistic cultural perspective refers to the idea that the individual is the focal point of their self-concept and their social relationships. “When an independent schema of self organizes behavior, the primary referent is the individual’s own thoughts, feelings, and actions… These interactions are guided by culturally prescribed tasks that require and encourage the development and reification of individual preferences, goals, beliefs, and abilities and the use of these attributes as referents and guides for action” (Markus & Kitayama, 2010, p. 423)
In the United States, our culture is devoted to the promotion of independence beginning with our youth who are taught from a young age to think for themselves, handle problems themselves, and be independent. Excellence and achievement are applauded, whereas lack of achievement is disparaged, and commonality is ignored.
One aspects of my self-concept that is independent or individualistic oriented is with respect to business/economics. The older I get the more economically pragmatic I become. Further exacerbating this practicality is my experience working as legal assistant where I have learned to discern potential legalities for varying situational contexts. Recently, I used my understanding of legal statutes and the art of applying pressure in the form of a strongly worded letter to ensure my ex-landlord returned my entire security deposit. On the negative side, I felt badly about doing it. I would have preferred to resolve our differences without threatening to take the landlord to small claims court. Sometimes, I feel as though exposure to legal wrangling on a daily basis forcibly drains the compassion from a person’s soul.
The second context in which I recognize an egocentric or individualistic tendency occurs when I am in participatory meetings such as Weight Watchers. I typically sit up front and participate very actively regarding any successes I have for the week.
Intradependent Cultural Perspective
The interdependent or collectivist cultural perspective “assumes that individuals are inherently connected and made meaningful through relationships with others… When an interdependent schema of self organizes behavior, the immediate referent is the thoughts, feelings, and actions of others with whom the person is in relationship” (Markus & Kitayama, 2010, p. 423).
Many of my interpersonal relationships are guided by collectivistic behaviors and thoughts. For instance, as I have mentioned in other posts, I live with my father, husband, and son. A large part of who I am and how I feel about myself has to do with their happiness and our communal relationship being in harmony. Further, in my extended relationships with friends and my boss (one individual) I have a tendency to seek harmony and solidarity, rather than individuality.
Overall, as much as I would like to stake a claim to a predominant interdependent perspective, I am probably not an accurate perceiver of that aspect of my personality. I do know that I often suffer from the disease to please, so to speak, often putting others’ needs ahead of my own. This would seem to indicate more collectivist sociality, but on the other hand, I know there are times that my husband would like me to watch more television or go to a movie and I will beg off because I have homework or would rather finish the chores around the house. Depending on your point of view, that behavior could be considered individualistic because I am seeking to meet my own goals and preferences. In addition, I know I am quite bossy and individualistic when it comes time to pick the one television show I am going to watch. My father is nice enough to let me pick, but sometimes he grumbles.
Kitayama, S., & Markus, R. H. (1998, January). The cultural psychology of personality. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 29(1), 630-. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/002202219829
Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (2010). Cultures and selves: A cycle of mutual constitution. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5(4), 420-430. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1745691610375557