I/C: Individualism/collectivism or individuate/categorise?

James S. Uleman

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


The “common view” is that the Japanese are more collectivist than are Americans, and that American are more individualist than are the Japanese. This commentary briefly summarises Y. Takano and E. Osaka (1999, Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 2, pp. 311–341; 2018, Asian Journal of Social Psychology pp. 301-316) Literature reviews have shown that research does not support this common view. There is no reliable difference on individualism/collectivism (I/C). Further, there are several reasons to question the coherence of I/C itself. There also are multiple difficulties with the utility of global dispositions. The conditional nature of global dispositions such as I/C is illustrated by the author's published and unpublished attempts to create yet another I/C scale. Possible reasons for the persistence of the erroneous common view that the Japanese are more collectivistic than are Americans are discussed in terms of Western perceivers’ stereotypes and the alternative of perceivers individuating/categorising (I/C) other people. Last, research on cultural differences in spontaneous social inferences, which has been framed in I/C terms, is reviewed and recast.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-323
Number of pages7
JournalAsian Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Japan
  • U.S
  • automatic
  • global traits
  • scale reliability
  • spontaneous inferences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • General Social Sciences


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