, America and China were used to compare these different values. After reading further I wondered if there was a lot of variety within these two countries, and how these values have changed over time. While United States culture is a prime example of individualism, it is also a very large country, with different sets of values and attitudes within each region. This is also true of China, which has historically been a very collectivist nation, but is also a very large country with a lot of diversity between regions. These attitudes shape how we view ourselves, our community and our families, and it is important to understand these different values and how they motivate people we encounter who may come from a very different background.
Historically, societies were built alongside agriculture, and one theory is that different regions value collectivism or individualism more because of differences in agricultural practices. For instance, rice requires many hands, complex irrigation, shared water and a collective effort, so a society that evolved around the farming of rice will be more collective. On the other hand, wheat requires drier land and half of the effort. A society built around the farming of wheat will lean more towards individualism because farmers are more able to depend on themselves. Rice and wheat are very broad examples, and seem to run parallel with the thinking that eastern countries are more collective than western countries. However, if you delve deeper, you’ll find that not all regions within
China are suitable for growing rice. There is a lot of variety in the farming practices which may have shaped our different cultures.
Rice has been grown in southern China for thousands of years, and has shaped their culture into one that is more interdependent. In northern China, wheat is a primary crop, and the culture is more individualistic. Chinese people have been aware of their own cultural differences for some time, where the country is divided by the Yangtze
River into northern and southern regions. People in the north are typically thought of as more aggressive and independent. A recent study from 2014 of Chinese college students in six different cities across the country now supports this belief. Students in northern cities, such as Beijing, were more individualistic than those in southern cities
(Rice or Wheat).
However, in China there are also exceptions to the rule. Another study, which focused on 227 students in Hong Kong found that 13.7% of student described themselves in terms of their social roles, and 84.6% of students described themselves in terms of their individual personality traits. Geographically, Hong Kong is located in the South China
Sea. Although technically located in southern China, Hong Kong’s colonial history has exposed the area to both eastern and western influences. This study was also published recently, and could also be illustrating a shift in cultural behaviors and attitudes in this area.
The recent study in Hong Kong used the Twenty Statements test, which has been used in the United States to test changes in selfconcept since the 1950’s. When questioned, individualists will make statements about personal qualities, attitudes and beliefs where collectivists will define themselves in…