Malaysia & the CollectivistCultureMalaysian StudiesName: ArfaAdlinaBintiAyobID: 7025Intake: July 2012Date of Submission: 4 September 2012
- 1 -ABSTRACTThis paper first introduced the term culture, collectivism and individualism. Malaysia being acollectivist country based on the Geert-Hofstede theory is then discussed and the extent towhich this is true. Examples of the contexts in which Malaysia depicts a collectivist countryare given, namely parenting style, self-esteem, organisational values, and communicationpractices. Collectivism is later evaluated in terms of its pros and cons.
- 2 -INTRODUCTIONIn the 20th century, "culture" emerged as a concept central to anthropology, encompassing allhuman phenomena that are not purely results of human genetics. Specifically, the term"culture" in American anthropology had two meanings: (1) the evolved human capacity toclassify and represent experiences with symbols, and to act imaginatively and creatively; and(2) the distinct ways that people living in different parts of the world classified andrepresented their experiences, and acted creatively.1Culture is a powerful human tool for survival, but it is a fragile phenomenon. It is constantlychanging and easily lost because it exists only in our minds. Our written languages,governments, buildings, and other man-made things are merely the products of culture. Theyare not culture in themselves. For this reason, archaeologists cannot dig up culture directly intheir excavations. The broken pots and other artifacts of ancient people that they uncover areonly material remains that reflect cultural patterns--they are things that were made and usedthrough cultural knowledge and skills.2People in different cultures have strikingly different construals of the self, of others, and ofthe interdependence of the two. These construals can influence, and in many cases determine,the very nature of individual experience, including cognition, emotion, and motivation. ManyAsian cultures have distinct conceptions of individuality that insist on the fundamentalrelatedness of individuals to each other. The emphasis is on attending to others, fitting in, andharmonious interdependence with them. American culture neither assumes nor values such anovert connectednessamong individuals. In contrast, individuals seek to maintain theirindependence from others byattending to the self and by discovering and expressing theirunique inner attributes. As proposedherein, these construals are even more powerful than1http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture2http://anthro.palomar.edu/culture/culture_1.htm
- 3 -previously imagined. Theories of the self from both psychology and anthropology areintegrated to define in detail the difference between a construal of the self as independent anda construal of the self as interdependent. Each of these divergent construals should have a setof specific consequences for cognition, emotion, and motivation; these consequences areproposed and relevant empirical literature is reviewed. Focusing on differences in self-construals enables apparently inconsistent empirical findings to be reconciled, and raisesquestions about what have been thought to be culture-free aspects of cognition, emotion, andmotivation.3Malaysia reflects a multi-racial and multi-religious country with a population of 29.18million. It includes three major ethnic groups namely Malay, Chinese, Indian and theindigenous tribal cultures. The proportion of Malays, Chinese and Indian in Malaysia are50.4%, 23.7%, and 7.1% respectively. The oldest inhabitants, the tribal peoples, constituteabout 5% of the total population and mainly live in East Malaysia/Borneo (Krishnan, 2004).Malaysia is also a multi- religious nation and in accord with the Department of StatisticMalaysia, (2001), Islam is the most extensively professed religion in Malaysia (60.4%)followed by other religions such as Buddhism (19.2%), Christianity (9.1%), Hinduism (6.3%)and Confucianism/ Taoism/other traditional Chinese religion (2.6%). 4It could be seen that inMalaysia religion is highly correlated with ethnicity.Although Malaysia is a multi-racial country, a large segment of the cultural dimensions of thedifferent races are similar. However, there are difference in terms of degree and priorities of3Culture and the Self: Implications for Cognition, Emotion, andMotivationhttp://www.iacmr.org/v2/Conferences/WS2011/Submission_XM/Participant/Readings/Lecture8A_JiaLin/Markus%20et%20al%20(1991)%20Culture%20and%20Self%20-%20Implications%20for%20Cognition%20Emotion%20and%20Motivation-8a.pdf4http://www.indexmundi.com/malaysia/demographics_profile.html
- 4 -values. For instance, the Malays ranked honesty as first in their list of values, the Chineseplace courtesy as number one,and the Indians family5.Individualism/collectivism is thought to have widespread influence onhow the relationshipbetween the self and others is conceptualized. Collectivists consider themselves as similar tomembers of their ingroup(Iyengar, Lepper, & Ross, 1999), and make a strong boundarybetween ingroup and outgroup. Individualists see themselves as more differentiated andseparate from other people, including family and friends. Individualists frequently think ofself-reliance as being able to pursue their own goals, while for collectivists, self-reliancemeans not being a burden on one’s ingroup (Triandis, 2001).6Collectivism, more precisely is a term used to describe any moral, political, or social outlook,that stresses human interdependence and the importance of a collective, rather than theimportance of separate individuals. Collectivists focus on community and society, and seek togive priority to group goals over individual goals. It supports the view that the whole isgreater than the sum of its parts/pieces. Society as a whole can be seen as having moremeaning or value than the separate individuals that make up that society.Collectivism can be divided into horizontal collectivism and vertical collectivism. Horizontalcollectivism stresses collective decision-making among relatively-equal individuals, and isthus usually based on decentralization. Vertical collectivism is based on hierarchicalstructures of power and on moral and cultural conformity, and is therefore based oncentralization. A cooperative enterprise would be an example of horizontal collectivism,whereas monarchy would be an example of vertical collectivism.5Fontaine R, Richardson S, and Yeap P The tropical Fish Problem Revisited : A Malaysian Perspective Journal ofCross-Cultural Management 60-706When Personality and Culture Clash: The Psychological Distress of Allocentrics in an Individualist Culture andIdiocentrics in a Collectivist Culture
- 5 -In his book Cultures Consequences, Geert Hofstede proposed four dimensions on which thedifferences among national cultures can be understood: Power Distance (PDI), Individualism(IDV), Masculinity (MAS), Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI). If we explore the Malaysianculture through the lens of the 4-D Model, we can get a good overview of the deep drivers ofMalaysian culture relative to other world cultures.The fundamental issue addressed by dimension of individualism is the degree ofinterdependence a society maintains among its members Malaysia, with a score of 26 is acollectivistic society. This is manifest in a close long-term commitment to the ―member‖group, be that a family, extended family or extended relationships. Loyalty in a collectivistculture is paramount and overrides most other societal rules and regulations. Such a societyfosters strong relationships, where everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of theirgroup. In collectivistic societies, offence leads to shame and loss of face. Employer/employeerelationships are perceived in moral terms (like a family link), hiring and promotion takeaccount of the employee’s in-group. Management is the management of groups.7A research was done, comparing participants of British nationality and of Malaysiannationality, all full-time students at the University of Wales, Cardiff. The results suggest thatMalaysian students are more collectivist than their British counterparts, specifically withrespect to the tendency to defer to the guidance or direction of relatives as well as in regard tofeelings of connectedness with parents. However, on the dimension of confiding in others,Malaysians might actually be less collectivist.The inconsistency also suggests that whereasMalaysianshave been found to express clear collectivist leanings in a range ofcontexts7
- 6 -(Bochner, 1994; Burns & Brady, 1992; Furnham&Muhiudeen, 1984;Shumacher&Barraclough, 1989), they might well appear as individualist in select others.88http://www.psych.utoronto.ca/users/tafarodi/Papers/JCCP99.pdf
- 7 -PARENTING STYLEAs Malaysia represents a collectivist culture (Burns & Brady, 1992; Bochner, 1994), valuessuch as cooperation, helpfulness, obedience, dependence and interpersonal relationships arepromoted in child socialization (Kling, 1995). Family socialization begins as a processthrough which children practice and learn rituals, traditions, religion, and activities in theirdaily life (Krishnan, 2004). This practice is consistent with Baumrind (1980) who indicatedthat socialization is the process that prepares children to obtain habits and values that helpthem to adapt to their culture. In addition, these values are achieved through insight, training,and imitation. 9In Malay culture, parents have very important roles in directing the children toward the rightbehavior and attitude. Parents are also responsible for transmitting the teachings of religionand culture to their children. Malay parents are regarded as clear authority figures and areobeyed without question. They pay attention to the spiritual growth in the development of thechildren. The exposure of worldwide culture by the media which introduces Westernbehavior to the young, have challenged Malay traditional parents. For these parents who aremostly trained by traditional norms, Western behaviors are unacceptable practice. Although amajority of Malay parents tend to uphold this tradition, there are however, some who may nottotally reject the Western behaviour pattern (Kling, 1995). Nonetheless, Malays continue toemphasize values such as unity, sharing, and caring for others.10Among Chinese families, interactions between parent and child differ from one age period toanother. Parents tend to be more lenient toward infants and young children because they areconsidered as tung-shih or too young to understand things. In contrast, parents treat olderchildren in a harsh and strict manner and also expect them to control their emotions and9Parenting Style in a Collectivist Culture of Malaysia, European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 10, Number1 (2009)10Ibid
- 8 -impulses. Beginning around middle childhood and early adolescence children encountersome difficulties and conflicts with their parent’s increasing expectations towards them.Amazingly, the term ―storm and stress‖ which is notable in the period of adolescence inWestern societies, has not been observed in Chinese adolescence (Ho, 1981). Carlson et al.(2004) showed an agreement among Chinese-Malaysians that Chinese medium schoolstudents are more disciplined, obtained higher academic scores and value their Chinesecultural beliefs. For the Chinese, dependency has been sustained when reaching the age oftung-shih. Parents have to approve the major decisions of their children such as career andmarriage. Shek (1998) found that there are some differences in parenting of the childrenaccording to their gender. Parents seem to have an authoritarian relationship with their sons;fathers also have firm rules as well as demand teaching for their sons than daughters.11The structure of the Indian families has been described as patriarchal, patrilineal, andpatrilocal (Sheth, 1995). Indian parents tend to stress on respect, obedience and highacademic achievement in their children. Furthermore, they encourage their children to controlthemselves, be patient and not yield to passion (Sala, 2002). Child’s independence isconsidered as a threat to the parents. In Indian families, parents have different behaviorstowards their sons and daughters. Parents protect their female children more than males.Additionally, children, particularly girls, are inhibited from showing assertive behaviour andautonomy.12Malaysian parents are from the collectivist group and accept the collectivist values.Consequently, most of them tend to use authoritarian parenting as normative for rearing theirchildren and to promote optimal development. In this collectivist group, authoritarianparenting does not necessarily reflect a negative style of parenting. In contrast, authoritarian11Parenting Style in a Collectivist Culture of Malaysia, European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 10,Number 1 (2009)12Ibid
- 9 -parenting in individualistic society represents a negative style of parenting since it isinconsistent with its culture’s norms. Thus, the meaning of the parenting styles is more likelyto be based on the norm in one’s own culture.1313Parenting Style in a Collectivist Culture of Malaysia, European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 10,Number 1 (2009)
- 10 -SELF-ESTEEMSpeculative explanations of substantively lower self-esteem in collectivists have pointed tofactors such as cultural tightness, less willingness to disregard failure and shortcomings,attributional style, lack of choice in behavioral investment, greater tendency for guilt andshame, and pessimism (Bond & Cheung, 1983; Chiu, 1993; Kitayama, Markus, &Lieberman, 1995; Triandis,1995). In considering this issue, it is important to avoid the fallacyof assuming that lower self-esteem, at either the cultural or individual level, is similarlyreflective of maladjustment across cultures. Cultural differences in self-understanding are theresult of extended social evolution. Therefore, their interpretation must take into accountculture-specific adaptive significance. Even so, it appears somewhat odd that collectivistcultures, with their common emphasis on social integration and support—factors known topromote self-esteem in Western cultures (Bettencourt & Dorr, 1997; Coopersmith, 1967;Rosenberg, 1979)—should be uniformly associated with lower self-esteem. To make sense ofthis, Tafarodi and Swann (1996) offered an alternative account, suggesting that collectivismand individualism entail inverse costs and benefits for self-esteem. Accordingly, theycharacterized the influence of I-C on self-valuation as a ―cultural trade-off‖ whereby thesame cultural elements that promote the development of one dimension of self-esteem inhibitthe development of another. If so, then collectivism is not uniformly related to lower self-esteem as has been assumed.
- 11 -Collectivism and individualism entail inverse costs and benefits to self-esteem. Self-competence insofar as it is reality bound, implies actual competence, a socially rewardedquality. Hence, those high in social-competence tend to enjoy greater social acceptance andapproval. Although interpersonal feedback is primarily a determinant of self-liking, it alsomay indirectly affect self-competence. This is because an accepting social milieu providesopportunities for and otherwise supports the emergence of actual personal competence. Aloving parent, for example, often feeds both aspects of the child’s self-esteem. Highcollectivism or individualism, therefore, should not be viewed as uniformly inhibitory for thedevelopment of either dimension of self-esteem because pathways of indirect influencemoderate any loss attributable to cultural challenge.The interdependent self, in contrast derives its identity essentially from relations with others.The Self is not a separate identity but is embedded in a larger social group and can beunderstood only in relation to that larger group. From the point of view of the interdependent
- 12 -self, individual behaviour is derived from one’s role in different social contexts and from theperception of others’ reaction to one’s behaviour as well as from the perceived effect of one’sown actions on others.The independent self, in contrast derives its identity only from theinner attributes of the individual. These attributes are considered to reflect the essence of theindividual, to be stable across time and context and the combination of these attributes is seenas unique to the individual. These individual inner attributes are significant for defining,regulating and thus predicting the behaviour of an individual.Different concepts of the self lead to differences in the degree of self-consistency. Theindependent self puts great emphasis on self-consistency and considers the latter importantfor self-esteem, even if it comes at the cost of rigidity. Indeed, absence of self-consistencywould signal a flawed self which would be hurting self-esteem. In contrast, theinterdependent self emphasizes adjustment to contexts and flexibility at the cost of self-consistency. It is this adaptability that is crucial for self-esteem, in line with the concept ofinterdependent self.
- 13 -ORGANISATIONAL VALUESA research was done on Individualism-Collectivism and Organisational Value Types. Datawas collected by questionnaire from middle managers in a total of 18 organisations inSelangor, Malaysia.The results showed that Malaysian managers have significantly highlevels of horizontal and vertical collectivism. Vertical collectivism has significant positiverelationships with collegial, meritocratic, and leadership organisational values.Horizontalcollectivism as a cultural pattern in which the individual sees the self as an aspect of an in-group. That is, the self is merged with the members of the in-group, all of whom areextremely similar to each other. Equality is the essence of this pattern. Vertical collectivism,on the other hand, is a cultural pattern in which the individual sees the self as an aspect of anin-group, but the members of the in-group are different from each other, some having morestatus than others. Inequality is accepted in this pattern, and people do not see each other asthe same. Serving and sacrificing for the in-group is an important aspect of this pattern. Theresults of this study support the contention that Malaysian society is a collectivistic society.14There is no significant difference between Malaysian male and female managers in terms ofindividualism-collectivism dimensions.Raja Rohana (1991) noted that the hardships of WorldWar II had led to a willingness to allow women in Malaysia to take external jobs. Prior tothat, women in Malaysia generally worked on the cultivation of crops and the tending ofdomestic animals, except for a small number of women who worked in the market place andin small businesses (Halinah, 1975). Malaysia‟ s Independence from the British rule in 1957had gradually but profoundly affected women‟ s lives throughout Malaysia. The NewEconomic Policy, implemented 13 years after Independence, resulted in more schools andmore jobs. There were scholarships for women to pursue education in local and foreign14Individualism-Collectivism And Organisational Value Types:A Case Of Malaysian Managers, InternationalBusiness & Economics Research Journal – April 2009
- 14 -universities. Today, women in Malaysia work in offices and have professional careers.Education has given Malaysian women freedom and knowledge and skills necessary to havea career outside the home. Malaysian women‟ s participation in the labour force may leadinevitably to lower commitment to marriage and the home environment, which―individualises‖ women. This might explain the lack of difference between the Malaysianmales and females in relations to individualism-collectivism.15Malaysian male managers appeared to perceive their organisation to have a higher level ofleadership organisational value type than their female counterparts. The leadership valuetype, while unequal in its distribution of power, rewards and resources seeks to buildintegration through the creation of a system of leadership and teamwork throughout theorganisation by having a loyal band of leaders below the apex, who are delegated somepower (Kabanoff, 1993). The male Malaysian managers‟ perception that their organisationshave the leadership organisational value type could be because superiors in theirorganisations prefer to delegate powers to the male rather than to the female managers,believing that male managers are more qualified, physically and mentally, to do the job. Thisundermining of the female managers ability and capability to do their jobs is still prevalent inorganisations in Malaysia. Since the leader-focused value type places a heavy emphasis onperformance evaluation and reward systems, the favoured male managers would have a morefavourable performance evaluation results than their female counterparts and would receivehigher rewards. The occurrence of this type of situation may have influenced the malemanagers in Malaysia to perceive their organisations to have a higher level of leadershiporganisational value type than their female colleagues.1615Individualism-Collectivism And Organisational Value Types: A Case Of Malaysian Managers, InternationalBusiness & Economics Research Journal – April 200916Ibid
- 15 -Being educated locally in one’s country means being constantly exposed to and exhibiting thelocal culture, be it individualism or collectivism, in a person’s daily life. Those managerswho were educated in Asian countries perceived their organisation to have more collegial,leadership, and meritocratic organisational value types than those who were educated inwestern countries. One possible explanation for this could be the Malaysians strong affinityfor group affiliation (Abdullah & Singh, 1992). Malaysians derive their identity from beingpart of a collectivity. Malaysians are motivated by their affiliations to groups, families,friends, hometown and nation. They respect efforts to improve productivity if they can seebenefits accruing not only to the organisation but also to their family, community and nation.Most Malaysians are interested with building and maintaining good relationships with thosethey work with. They are often contented at work if they have the opportunity to show andreceive appropriate recognition and respect from their superiors, peers and subordinates.Three of the four types of organisational values (collegial, meritocratic and leadership) haveaffiliation as a value that is strongly espoused by the organisation. Since, Malaysians have astrong affinity for group affiliation, this could perhaps explain why Malaysian managers,educated locally and in other Asian countries, perceived their organisations to have higherlevels of collegial, meritocratic and leadership organisational value types.17Malaysian managers who have Westerners as their top management officers appear to have ahigher level of horizontal individualism than those who have Asians as their top managementofficers. Westerners are often cited in the literature as having individualistic characteristics(see Hofstede, 1980, Triandis, 1995; Schwartz, 1994). The „secular spirituality‟ of the west17Individualism-Collectivism And Organisational Value Types: A Case Of Malaysian Managers, InternationalBusiness & Economics Research Journal – April 2009
- 16 -resulted in self-responsible individuals acting, not in terms of laws from the outside, but interms of a developing realisation of self-worth (Triandis, 1995).18Furthermore, most of the people of the West are characterised by individualism in everydaylife, and these individualistic elements may have been introduced into the organisationalculture which, in turn, may influence the characteristics of the employees to a certain extent.Collectivists tend to change themselves to fit into situations (Diaz-Guerrero, 1979, 1991;Diaz-Guerrero and Diaz-Loving, 1990). Malaysian managers learn to change themselves tofit into the environment created by their Western top management officers and, therefore,embrace some of the individualist characteristics. Whether such an influence affects only thework situations, or extends to social/family situations, will require further study.1918Individualism-Collectivism And Organisational Value Types: A Case Of Malaysian Managers, InternationalBusiness & Economics Research Journal – April 200919Ibid
- 17 -COMMUNICATION PRACTICESAs an extension to the need to maintain harmonious relations, Malaysians rely on non-verbalcommunication (i.e. facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, etc). Such acommunication style tends to be subtle and indirect. In making a request, it would appearoutright to make it direct. Malays, particularly talk around what they intend to convey in thehope that the message is understood. What appears to be important is to maintain therelationship. Indirectness can also be observed in a social setting, like a marriage. Intraditional Malay custom, the proposal is conveyed in poetic verses and rhymes to expresstheir intention to have the girl’s hand in marriage for their son.Malays may hint at a point rather than making a direct statement, since that might cause theother person to lose face. Rather than say "no", they might say, "I will try", or "I’ll see what Ican do". This allows the person making the request and the person turning it down to saveface and maintains harmony in their relationship. If there is a strong need to correct a mistakeimmediately, it would be done in a subtle way by adding, not criticising.Silence is an important element of Malaysian communication. Pausing before responding to aquestion indicates that they have given the question appropriate thought and considered theirresponse carefully. Silence is also a practice to show respect for the seniority, knowledge andexperience.In negotiation, the Malays’ compromising and obliging conflict handling styles are probablymanifestations of their collective nature who prioritise group over personal interest. Incompromising and obliging styles, negotiators are more concerned with maintainingrelationship and safeguarding their partners feeling, hence in seemingly considered as ―weakstyle‖ in goal-orientated negotiation. To the Malays, even though achieving their negotiation
- 18 -goal is important, their values in preserving harmony and respect for elders take precedencein the negotiation process.The art of communal dining is a great example of a collectivism culture such as Malaysia.Eating in Malaysia is often marked as a communal affair–be it theMalay’s Kenduri, ChineseNew Year’s Eve reunion dinner, or Indian celebrations. During the feast friends and familiescome together under the same roof–eating, socializing, and mingling. Never mind thedifferent ethnic origins or walks of life, when it comes to communal dining events, there is nobarrier as we speak the same language of food.
- 19 -EVALUATIONTo the point of living in collectivist society, it is good to know your own neighbour andcloser to your own colleagues and there is a strong sense of brotherhood. Yet, there arenegative elements that are inevitably still rooted like gossiping and backbiting that should notbe a common theme of an issue in everyday life. The society lacks environment where peoplefocus on improving their own lives and not worried about the judgement of society. Thesenses of complex inferiority and the feeling of superiority are also among the causes thatbecame a stumbling block in realizing the first class mind. To the extent that collectivism isimportant to maintain good relations between friends and fellows, but this unhealthy elementwill be indirectly obliterated this process.A collectivist society has more brain power and creative juices contributing to a task ordiscussion. When a group is working as a whole they have many different perspectives andexperiences that they bring to each meeting. Each person is an individual which brings thingsto the collective whole.A flaw of a collectivist society is that people might not speak out because theyre afraid ofother individuals reprimanding them. This is rather obvious in the Malaysian society, aspeople tend not to speak out their minds, particularly in public talks. Malaysia studentsarguably are passive learners due to the fact that speaking out might lead to shame andnegative feedback from others. Thus, people might not have their voices heard.Collectivism allows people to benefit from all different points of views. Willingness tocompromise and pay attention to others opinion perhaps leads to a more rational decisionmade in a more democratic manner. Individualism, however allows people to have more ofan independent state of mind. They can make decisions more easily than in a group. As for
- 20 -collectivists, maintaining harmonious relations can reduce an individual’s independence ofviewpoint and excessively complicate decision-making.The incidence of criminal and violent behaviour is lower in cultures with collectivisttraditions (Hwu, Yeh, Chang, &Yeh, 1989). However, the picture is mixed regarding majorpsychiatric disorders (Tanaka-Matsumi&Draguns, 1997). Collectivist and traditional culturesmay create conditions which foster depression and anxiety. Collectivist socializationpractices increase dependency and decrease autonomy. Persons are encouraged tosubordinate personal goals to group agendas.20Internalizing problems may arise when children are sensitive to parents’ high level of control.Externalizing problems can be viewed as problems of under-control, as children areinsufficiently sensitive to social expectations. Lower reports of subjective wellbeing in somecollectivist cultures may reflect dissatisfaction with the burden of doing one’s duty and theobstacles to achieving self-actualization. The negative consequence of collectivism is thusthat being controlled by shame and guilt leads to anxiety about whether one can meet socialobligations, and to depression, because shame and guilt interfere with pursuing one’s owngoals.21In a collectivist culture, having a personality which is discrepant from societal values is astressor. Children who are competitive, self-reliant and aloof from others may find theirpersonalities tolerated or even rewarded in an individualist society, thus fostering healthydevelopment of an adultpersona. In a collectivist society, the competitive, self-reliant, aloofchildmay fail to develop culturally appropriate relations with others, leading torejection by20When Personality and Culture Clash: ThePsychological Distress of Allocentrics in an Individualist Culture andIdiocentrics in a Collectivist Culture21Ibid
- 21 -peers and harsh treatment by adults. Peer rejection is well known as a risk factor for thedevelopment of psychiatric problems.Personal sacrifice brings a sense of satisfaction for individuals who live in collectivistcultures (Triandis et al., 1988). Allocentric persons in collectivist cultures feel positive aboutaccepting ingroup norms. In contrast, idiocentric persons in collectivist cultures feelambivalent and even bitter about acceptance of ingroup norms. They wonder if this or thatnorm is necessary, or if they should comply with it. Consequently, where allocentricpersonsin collectivist cultures may experience consistency among the behavioral, affective, andcognitive elements of their social behavior, idiocentricsmay experience discrepancies. Theymay comply with societal norms, while questioning their validity. This feeling of discrepancymay be a stressor which detracts from psychological health.There is some evidence that individualist vs. collectivist values influence life satisfaction byinfluencing personality. Collectivist vs. individualist dispositions influenced the expression ofbasic personality dispositions, and these influenced subjective wellbeing. Havingindividualistic values correlated positively with openness and extraversion, and negativelywith neuroticism. These personality traits predicted self-esteem and satisfaction with friends,which then influenced life satisfaction. In contrast, persons with collectivist dispositions hadhigh life satisfaction if they had family satisfaction.Collectivism makes collective action easier because individuals internalize group interests toa greater degree. However, it also encourages conformity and discourages individuals fromstanding out. Because individualist culture gives social status rewards to people who standout, it may give a special, culturally motivated, incentive for innovation that is separate fromthe standard monetary incentive. On the other hand, individualism can make collective actionmore difficult because individuals pursue their own interest without internalizing collective
- 22 -interests. This framework implies that individualism should encourage innovation more, butcollectivism should have an advantage in coordinating production processes and in variousforms of collective action.
- 23 -CONCLUSIONBased on the Geert-Hofstedecultural dimensions, Malaysia scores 26, is considered as ahighly collectivistic society. However, there are limitations to this.The difference in terms ofpriorities of values between different races in Malaysia perhaps requires them to bedeliberated separately. Being less collectivist in thedimension of confiding in others showsthat there are aspects that are pointing towards the individualist culture.Looking at the current Malaysian society, the culture has changed particularly at urban areas.Some individualistic elements are being incorporated into the culture, perhaps due toglobalisation and western education. This trend is very likely to continue growing in thefuture. The argument as to whether this pattern leads to a more developed society or thetraditional collectivist culture should be preserved remains questionable.Adaptation to the changesthat are happening globally is very important to survive in thiscompetitive world. Perhaps these changes might need to include some individualistic valuesin order to develop a society with a balance of self-reliance and community coordination.However I think we should be proud of the collectivist society that has lasted for generations.Emphasis on harmony and interdependence should be preserved.