Identity and the Way Individuals Shape Their Identities for Themselves Essay

Identity and the Way Individuals Shape Their Identities for Themselves Essay

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Identity and the Way Individuals Shape Their Identities for Themselves


One of the central issues of psychology is identity and the way individuals shape their identities for themselves. People live in different regions all around the globe and are consequently exposed to a distinct type of culture, religion, education, family values and media. These influences instill certain rigid values in people from birth, which configures their self-concept and the way they perceive other individuals in the society they interact with.
In many Western societies, the importance of personal achievement and glory are inculcated in people from early childhood. Hazel Markus and Shinobu Kitayama (1991) observed in a study that the culture in the North America values an identity that is focused on individual motivations, attributes and goals. A sense of self-reliance and independence are considered normal and desirable. Markus and Kitayama (1995) further noticed that most Asians cultures emphasize and identity that is based on conforming to the ideals of the community, religion and family. The importance of collective efforts and association with a group are instilled in Asian cultures. The Japanese and Chinese cultures encourage children to value and cherish collective honors through group work and to be modest about their personal distinctions (Kitayama & Markus, 1992). In other words, Western cultures encourage individuals to strive hard to stand out and develop a distinct image for themselves, whereas Asian cultures expect people to mould their personalities to adjust and blend into norms and practices of the community.
The object of this experiment is to explore how cultures may influence the way one perceives his or her identity. ...


... middle of paper ...


...ikely to concentrate on their self-focused role in life and on individual endeavors.
As noticed by Enns (1994), it is important for people to understand that individuals in alien cultures may develop differently from them. The international students and foreigners who come from group-oriented cultures should be aware of the individualistic nature of personalities of Americans. It should not bother foreigners if they associate with Americans who are critically different from them in the sense that they do not care as much about religion or ethnic background, and that they have not developed family value as strong as theirs. Similarly, Americans should also respect people from different nations and cultures who may not seem as ambitious and self-reliant as they are. This mutual understanding is likely to reduce cross-cultural tensions within the same environment.

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