In my psych class, we are currently talking about individualistic vs. collectivist cultures. In general, industrialized Western cultures will value individualism over collectivism. Asian and Third World countries, however, place more emphasis on collectivism. For those unfamiliar, individualistic cultures “give more priority to self-reliance and personal well-being than to social identity,” while collectivist cultures “give more priority to the goals and welfare of their groups- family, clan, and work group.” For reference, we learned the United States values individualism more than any other country, according to various surveys.
In an article we recently read*, there was an interesting piece about an earthquake that hit Japan in 1995. I quote, “When Kobe, Japan, was struck by the devastating 1995 earthquake, Western reporters were struck by the absence of looting and the orderly way in which people lined up for relief supplies- ‘as if they were lining up for a bus.’”
I don’t know the exact details of this earthquake and how its devastation ranks with Katrina, but I still think this is an interesting take on the looting. Any thoughts? Can the looting be considered a negative aspect of our individualistic culture?
*(This article appeared in “Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology.” The editors are Kahneman, Diener, and Schwarz. The author is David Myers. The copyright year is 1999. I don’t have a proper citation as this article is just one of many in a larger class booklet)