212 The trait approach Psychologists have often sought to explain cross

212 the trait approach psychologists have often

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complementary rather than conflicting ways of achieving an understanding. 2.1.2 The trait approach Psychologists have often sought to explain cross-cultural differences in individual behaviour as differences rooted in the cultures’ positions on a small collection of pan-cultural dimensions (e.g. individualism vs. collectivism, see below) and have drawn on concepts of personality psychology. According to this notion, cultures can be traced to a few cultural traits-general, stable characteristics. Within psychology, the most influential model of cultural traits has been Hofstede’s dimensional analysis. Based on the results of a cross- national survey of values in the workplace, Hofstede (1989) placed 50 nations into a 4- dimensional hyperspace. The U.S. is high in individualism, whereas Japan is characterised by high collectivism. The initial impressive evidence coming out of this research has helped establishing the etic approach as the paradigmatic approach to studying culture. Following this paradigm, several generations of researchers have documented how people from cultures located on different anchors of a particular dimension react differently to similar situations (see Fiske, Kitayama, Markus, & Nisbett, 1998 for an overview). In apparent contradiction to the global scale of social transformation and corresponding complexities and dynamics in structures of society, many researchers in cross-cultural psychology have been working and continue to work on the premise that cultural differences can be conceptualised in terms of cultural dichotomies. Typically, these dichotomies have been presented as contrasts between “the West vs. the Rest” (Hermans, 2001a, p. 267). Different terms for dichotomous distinctions have been used to characterise Western culture or self against non-Western culture or self as a whole, e.g. ‘egocentric’ vs. ‘sociocentric’ (Shweder & Bourne, 1984), ‘primary control’ vs. ‘secondary control’ (Azuma, 1984; Weisz, Rothbaum, & Blackburn, 1984), ‘individualism’ vs. ‘collectivism’ (Singelis, Triandis, Bhawuk, & Gelfand, 1995; Triandis, 1989; Triandis, 1994b; Triandis, 1995; Triandis,
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Theories and models of cross-cultural psychology 12 Bontempo, Villareal, Asai, & Lucca, 1988) and ‘independence’ vs. ‘interdependence’ (Kitayama & Markus, 1994; Markus & Kitayama, 1991; see Kagitçibasi & Poortinga, 2000 for an overview). 2.1.2.1 Individualism vs. collectivism Triandis and his colleagues (Triandis, 1989; Triandis, 1994b; Triandis, 1995; Triandis et al., 1998) distinguish groups on the basis of individualist and collectivist values and distinguish individuals on the basis of two personality dimensions, idiocentrism and allocentrism, that correspond to the cultural dimensions of individualism and collectivism, respectively. Idiocentrics tend to place particular value on independence, competition, and superiority, whereas allocentrics tend to place particular importance on interdependence, in- group harmony, and solidarity and can be characterised by a subordination of personal goals to those of their in-group. These multidimensional “cultural syndromes” are seen in “shared
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