1989, Vol. 96, No. 3, 506-520
Copyright 1989 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Three aspects of the self (private, public, collective) with different probabilities in different kinds of
social environments were sampled. Three dimensions of cultural variation (individualism-collectiv-
ism, tightness-looseness, cultural complexity) are discussed in relation to the sampling of these three
aspects of the self. The more complex the culture, the more frequent the sampling of the public and
private self and the less frequent the sampling of the collective self. The more individualistic the
culture, the more frequent the sampling of the private self and the less frequent the sampling of the
collective self. Collectivism, external threat, competition with outgroups, and common fate increase
the sampling of the collective self. Cultural homogeneity results in tightness and in the sampling of
the collective self. The article outlines theoretical links among aspects of the environment, child-
rearing patterns, and cultural patterns, which are linked to differential sampling of aspects of the
self. Such sampling has implications for social behavior. Empirical investigations of some of these
links are reviewed.
The study of the self has a long tradition in psychology (e.g.,
1968; James, 1890/1950; Murphy, 1947; Schlenker, 1985;
Smith, 1980; Ziller, 1973), anthropology (e.g., Shweder & Le-
Vine, 1984), and sociology (e.g., Cooley, 1902; Mead, 1934; Ro-
senberg, 1979). There is a recognition in most of these discus-
sions that the self is shaped, in part, through interaction with
groups. However, although there is evidence about variations of
the self across cultures (Marsella, DeVos, & Hsu, 1985; Shweder
aspects of social behavior in different cultures is undeveloped.
This article will examine first, aspects of the self; second, di-
mensions of variation of cultural contexts that have direct rele-
vance to the way the self is defined; and third, the link between
culture and self.
For purposes of this article, the self consists of all statements
made by a person, overtly or covertly, that include the words
"I," "me," "mine," and "myself" (Cooley, 1902). This broad
definition indicates that all aspects of social motivation are
linked to the self. Attitudes (e.g., / like X), beliefs (e.g., / think
that X results in Y), intentions (e.g., / plan to do X), norms
group, people should act this way), roles (e.g., in
family, fathers act this way), and values (e.g., /think equality is
very important) are aspects of the self.
The statements that people make, that constitute the self,