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Commentary On ‘Culture And The Self: Implications For Cognition, Emotion, And Motivation’

575 words - 3 pages

In their article “Culture and the Self: Implications for Cognition, Emotion, and Motivation”, Markus and Kitayama (1991) question the universality of notion of self as a “complete, whole, autonomous” (p.246) entity that is separate from others and the social contexts surrounding it' and propose that like many other concepts in psychology, it has a more complex and variable reality. They contend that anecdotes such as, in America, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” and in Japan, “the nail that sticks up gets pounded down” are indicative of striking cross-cultural differences in construction of the self, others, and the interdependence of the two. In particular, they draw a distinction between two views of self — an independent view of self and an interdependent view of self — and argue that each of these divergent construals of self have a set of clearly defined consequences for cognition, motivation, and emotion.

According to their theory, the independent construal of self is best exemplified by the North American and West European cultures, where the person is looked upon as a “bounded, unique, more or less integrated motivational and cognitive universe, a dynamic center of awareness, emotion, judgement and action organized into a distinctive whole and set contrastively both against other such wholes and against a social and natural background” (p.226). In contrast, the interdependent construal of self is most typical of Asian, African, Latin-American, and South European cultures which insist on “inseparability of … self and other, and person and situation” and so, feature the person “not as separate from the social context but as more connected and less differentiated from the others” (p.227). That is to say, the boundary between self and others is more permeable and “within each particular social situation, the...

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