Cultural Values in Collectivistic Cultures

Collectivism and individualism were among the cultural constructs and dimensions that early cross-cultural psychologists identified and elaborated on in the 1980s and 1990s (Hofstede, 1980/1984; Marsella et al., 1985; Triandis, 1995). Since then, researchers have widely used the cultural parameters of collectivism and individualism in their cross-cultural studies. The characteristics of societies as collectivistic or individualistic have been the most popular among researchers in many social, economic, cultural, and psychological disciplines.

What Is Collectivism?

The key attributes of collectivism and individualism are

  • The normative relations between an individual and a group and
  • The degree to which people in a society are integrated into groups.

Societies are characterized as collectivistic or individualistic when these value orientations characterize the majority of their members (Hui & Triandis, 1986). People within a given society certainly vary in their personal cultural orientations, either collectivism or individualism.  The degree of collectivism and individualism can also vary across different types of interpersonal relationships. People can be more or less collectivistic and individualistic in their relationships with their kin, parents, neighbors, friends, and coworkers (Karandashev, 2021a).

What Are Collectivistic Cultures?

People in collectivist cultures are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, such as extended families. A paramount value of a collectivistic society is an individual’s loyalty to a group. The group in turn protects an individual’s interests and well-being while opposing other groups.

Collectivistic cultures prioritize in-group beliefs over individual beliefs. In terms of personal motivation, individuals subordinate their goals to group goals. Group goals take precedence over individual goals. In-group norms are higher in value than individual pleasures and personal motivation. In order to facilitate mutual support and shared experiences, the group encourages individuals to follow certain norms of emotional experience, expression, and behavior. The value of personal privacy is low and can be violated. One’s place in a group determines an individual’s sense of personal identity. People are emotionally dependent on a group.

The Values of People in Collectivistic Societies

The key collectivistic values emphasize:

  • interpersonal bonds,
  • unity, loyalty, and integrity,
  • group harmony and solidarity,
  • family relationships and obligation,
  • awareness of and responsiveness to the needs of others,
  • emotional interdependence,
  • and a sense of interconnectedness.

(Hofstede, 1980/1984; 2011; Hui & Triandis, 1986; Gelfand, et al., 2000; Kashima, et al., 1995; Triandis, 1995 ; Triandis, Bontempo, Villareal, Asai, & Lucca, 1988).

The central tenets of collectivist beliefs are group cooperation, a sense of obligation, duty toward the group, and in-group harmony (Oyserman, Coon, & Kemmelmeier, 2002).

In-group versus Out-group Bias in Collectivistic Cultures

People in collectivistic cultures feel highly embedded in their relationships. Relationships with kin, family, and friends develop early in their lives.

People in collectivistic cultures tend to strongly differentiate their behavior toward in-group versus out-group members. They have different standards for members of their in-groups and out-groups. (Hofstede, 1980/1984; Smith&Bond, 1999).

Men and women are collectivistic in their interactions with in-group members (family, friends, etc.), but individualistic in their interactions with out-group members (strangers, people from other cultural groups).