The self-concept is also heavily influenced by cultural factors. In America, it is said that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”; in Japan, it is said that “the nail that stands out gets pounded down.” Thus, American parents try to raise their children to be independent, self-reliant, and assertive (a “cut above the rest”), whereas Japanese children are raised to fit into their groups and community.
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Differences in Cultural Orientation The preceding example illus- trates two contrasting cultural orientations. One values individualism and the virtues of independence, autonomy, and self-reliance. The other orientation values collectivism and the virtues of interdependence, cooperation, and social harmony. Under the banner of individualism, one’s personal goals take priority over group allegiances. In collectivist cultures, by contrast, a person is first and foremost a loyal member of a family, team, company, church, and state, motivated to be part of a group—not different, better, or worse. In what coun- tries are these orientations the most extreme? In a worldwide study of 116,000 employees of IBM, Geert Hofstede found that the most fiercely individualistic people were from the United States,