Collectivism Vs Individualism

by Phebe Sim (5170 views)
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Individualism and collectivism are opposing views of concept of society. Individualism focuses on individual goals and rights while collectivism focuses on group goals and building personal relationships.


Individualists are motivated by personal benefits. They set goals and objectives for themselves,  are very comfortable working alone and do not need to be part of a group.


Collectivists are motivated by group goals, value long-term relationships, and can sacrifice themselves for the success of the team. They would feel uncomfortable being isolated and viewed separately from the group.


As an example, you may be gay in a collectivist culture, but you will still be expected to marry a woman and to hide your sexual orientation from the public eye. Whereas in an individualistic culture, a person is encouraged to celebrate their sexual orientation.  




In a collectivist culture, the chances of forming meaningful relationships with people of one's own choosing are restricted due to low degrees of relational mobility. As a result of the long-lasting relationships collectivists have, forming bonds with new people can be difficult, especially because it's hard to meet them.


Paradoxically, this means that individualists are more devoted to maintaining close relationships as their relationships are less stable and require more effort to maintain.


Because of cultural differences, collectivists tend to have more difficult time accepting someone from another culture; whereas individualists generally have a better understanding of public relations and are more open to other ideologies.





The way that individualists describe themselves is very different from how collectivists describe themselves. Individualists usually describe themselves in terms of their unique personal characteristics. For example, one might say “I am analytical, fun and punctual”. However, a collectivist is more likely to say something like “I am a devoted family man and reliable friend”.



Pros and Cons of Individualism


Pros :

  • Awarded and recognized for personal achievements
  • Have personal freedom
  • Life enjoyment
  • Focus on self



  • Lack of social support networks
  • Weak mental health
  • Too much freedom
  • Self-centeredness 
  • Lesser options to seek help from others


Pros and Cons of Collectivism



  • Selfless and willing to help others in a group
  • Playing a supportive role to other members of a group
  • Stability of relationships


  • Lack of personal goals
  • No personal ideologies
  • Not receptive to changes
  • Encourage laziness
  • Lack of variety in problems faced in a group



People living in individualistic culture should not be assumed to be individualist, and vice versa. A person’s cultural background should not automatically imply if they are individualist or collectivist as everyone has different ideologies and mindset. Even within a very collectivist culture, there will be people who have an individualist mindset. It is also possible that people shift along the spectrum of individualist-collectivist, leaning towards one over another depending on the situation. Both individualist and collectivist cultures are good in their own way, and it may be important for us to be adaptable to our environment, to adopt various cultural frames and learn to apply them in different cultural settings.