A Psychological Inquiry into the Confucian Origins of East Asian Collectivism

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Cho, Geung Ho
Issue Date
Center for Social Sciences, Seoul National University
Korean Social Sciences Review(KSSR), Vol.1 No.1, pp. 37-103
Individualism-CollectivismView of Human BeingIndividual-centeredSelf ConstrualIndependent vs. InterdependentLiberalism Confucianism
Translated from the published article in Korean Journal of Social and Personality

Psychology 21(4): 21-53, 2007 with permission from the Korean Psychological

Compared with individualistic culture of Western countries (e.g. America, Canada,

Australia, Britain, France, Germany, and Netherlands etc.), East Asian countries (e.g.

Korean, Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore etc.) have the collectivistic

culture. People in these two cultures have different psychological and behavioral tendencies.

In individualistic culture, they place high values on the independence and autonomy,

frank expression of private feelings and needs, and stable consistency between personal

dispositions and behaviors. On the other hand, in collectivistic culture they strive to achieve

interdependence and harmony with others, to control the private feelings and needs, and

to change themselves in accordance with their situations and relations with others. On the

background of these differences, there lie different views of human being in general and selfconstrual.

That is, those living in the individualistic culture have individual-centered view of

human being and independent (and separate) self-construal; in contrast with this, those in

collectivistic culture have relation-centered view of human being and interdependent (and

holistic) self-construal. In this paper, the author tried to explicate the origins of these cultural

differences in the traditional system of thought in the Western and East Asian societies, and

their theories of ideal person derived from these systems. From these review, it was found

that the origin of Western individualism lies in the ideocentric liberalism, and that of East

Asian collectivism lies in the strong tradition of Confucianism.
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College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학)Center for Social Sciences (사회과학연구원)Korean Social Sciences Review (KSSR)Korean Social Sciences Review (KSSR) Vol.01, No.01 (2011)
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