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Individualism versus Collectivism Essay

The concepts of individualism and collectivism apply to the description of societies and individuals within the society. Cultures vary in their levels of individualism/ collectivism while individuals within these specific cultures vary on the same dimension. Idiocentric and allocentric are constructs that are very important in differentiating consistent variations of an individual’s attitudes, beliefs, self-definition, normative behavior and self-definition. Individualism is termed as the person’s level of idiocentric while collectivism is the person’s level of allocentric (Udehn, 2001).

Idiocentric individuals emphasize more on their own goals and needs over those of the group to which they belong. They are much independent and self-reliant. On the other hand, allocentric individuals tend to be more cooperative, interdependent and they also have a stronger desire to partner with others. In addition allocentric and idiocentric individuals differ in their source of intimacy and companionship to satisfy their several needs and to strengthen their self-esteem. For instance, idiocentric obtains their social support from peers and best friends while allocentrics obtain their social support from their parents.

Individuals with allocentric tendencies have fewer daily but more in-depth discussions than individuals with idiocentric tendencies. People who express more allocentric or idiocentric tendencies vary in various ways. For instance, the people who tend to be more allocentric have good reliability and inter-correlation thus showing convergent validity. They are characterized with three main aspects which include individual to group goals, in-group as extension of the self and in-group identity. Individuals who are more idiocentric mainly use equity and need in distributing rewards.

Individuals who are more allocentric mainly emphasize on the values of cooperation, fairness and honesty while individuals who are more idiocentric put much emphasis on values of comfortable life, competition, pleasure and social recognition. Persons who are allocentric receive much and better quality social support while those who are more idiocentric are usually higher in achievement motivation, alienation and greater loneliness. The difference between collective and individualist cultures is mainly based on self.

In collectivist cultures, the self is more linked to in-group memberships while in individualist cultures; self-concept is obtained from independently groups which are based on the varying characteristics and contributions of the individual. In collectivists’ cultures, there is high adherence to the goals of the in-group and to in-group values and also the maintaining of in-group harmony (Lee & Kelly 1996). In individualistic societies, the aims and the goals of a particular individual are more important and less significance is attached to in-group harmony.

Nevertheless, individualism is mainly based on Western cultures while collectivism is related with Eastern cultures. Collectivistic cultures have lower rates of suicide, psychopathology and relatively higher marital satisfaction than individualistic cultures. I consider myself to be idiocentric. This is because I always concentrate on my own goals and achievement over those of the other people and I carry out my tasks independently. I normally display a different tendency towards the allocentric.

For instance, in making purchase of luxury brands, I purchase goods for my own sake pleasures ad interests while the allocentric purchase the luxury brands only with an aim of seeking social recognition (McCarthy, 2005). As a result of these differences, conflict and misunderstanding emerges. This is because as a personally motivated consumer, I will purchase the luxury brands for self-interests while on the other hand an allocentric individual who is socially motivated will make the purchase of luxury brands with an aim of seeking social recognition.


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