Individualism vs. Collectivism in the West vs. East

3 min readJun 14, 2021


Below are some ramblings on individualism in the West compared to collectivism in the East.

For example, asking for help such as driving to the airport. Spending the night or two at friends house instead of a hotel or airBnb. The majority of young people feeling depressed and lonely. Are we aware of the pernicious Individualism that penetrates our culture. What about cultures that are more community oriented such as Latin America?

The Western world to be very individualistic when it comes to alleviating suffering and personal development and improvement. This is probably most prominent in this article “The mindfulness conspiracy” — “It is sold as a force that can help us cope with the ravages of capitalism, but with its inward focus, mindful meditation may be the enemy of activism. By Ronald Purser”

People in more collectivist societies tend to be more ‘holistic’ in the way they think about problems, focusing more on the relationships and the context of the situation at hand, while people in individualistic societies tend to focus on separate elements, and to consider situations as fixed and unchanging.

The participants were also asked to take a social reasoning test, which asked them to discuss a baseball player using performance-enhancing drugs. [Collectivist attitudes discussed things like] the pressure to succeed — [and individualistic attitudes were more likely] to blame the player’s personality or a flaw in his moral character. Again, this tendency to blame personal attributes is characteristic of an individualistic society, and much closer to the average Americans’ responses.

For example, in countries like Vietnam a lot of the younger generation moves away from the countryside to the city to make a living. Is this capitalism at work instilling individualistic values?

Is extreme individualism a form of narcism / greed / egoism. What about extreme collectivism? I guess anything that is “extreme” has its downfalls.


  • “I”
  • Individuals responsible for their own well being
  • Individuals take care of themselves
  • Individual success
  • Express individual identity.
  • The task first and the relationships second.
  • “autonomy of the individual, emotional independence, personal initiative, privacy, and the clear awareness of his “I””
  • independence and personal identity
  • Focus on self
  • Emotions (encourages expression)
  • Equality
  • Uniqueness
  • Challenge authority
  • [T]he “independent,” individualistic self stresses uniqueness, defines itself via inherent attributes such as its traits, abilities, values, and preferences, and tends to see things in isolation


  • “We”
  • Making decisions for the group.
  • The group will take care of each other.
  • Success is primarily attributed to the group. (If an individual makes the winning shot in the game, its in part due to team effort)
  • Restraint self to fit in with the group.
  • Relationships first and the task second.
  • “emotional dependence, group solidarity, and the tendency to comply with the decision of the group.”
  • unity and selflessness
  • Focus on family/group
  • Emotions (encourages restraint)
  • Hierarchy
  • Conformity
  • Obedience to authority
  • the “interdependent,” collectivist self — stresses commonality, defines itself via its place, roles, loyalties, and duties, and tends to see things in context.

The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again by Robert D. Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett

27 min and 56 min and 1:05:00




Buddhism, mixed with my current interests in economics, privilege, immigration, etc. Email <my username>