Read our latest blog-post for students currently studying psychology for the IBDP from Pamoja teacher, Peter Anthony

Globalisation has increased dramatically in its scope and reach in the last several decades. To understand the positive and negative influences on individual behaviour, psychologists have investigated how East Asian students have adapted to the educational practices of European/American cultural contexts.

Another approach is to focus on workplace practices of multinational companies based in an individualist culture who set up branch offices in countries with more collectivist orientation. Ogihara and Uchida (2014) took both approaches in their investigation of the negative effects of individualism on interpersonal relationship and happiness.

This post will focus on their Study 1.

Aim: To investigate the adverse effects of individualism in an East Asian culture by examining the relationship between individualistic values, subjective well-being (SWB), and the number of close relationships in Japan and the U.S.

Type of Study: Survey

Hypotheses: Individualistic values would be associated with a significant decrease in the number of close friends and SWB in Japan, but not to close friends and SWB in the U.S.

Participants: One hundred and fourteen undergraduate students at Kyoto University in Japan and 62 undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the U.S.

Procedures: The study used various instruments to measure participants’ individualist and collectivist orientation, their subject well-being and the number of close friends (see the study for a description of these instruments).

Results: The individualistic orientation score was significantly higher for the U.S. participants than for Japanese participants. The collectivistic orientation score was not significantly different across cultures.

In Japan, an individualistic orientation negatively affected SWB. However, a collectivistic orientation did not affect SWB.

In contrast, in the U.S., a collectivistic orientation negatively affected SWB, but an individualistic orientation did not affect SWB.

In Japan, an individualistic orientation was associated with fewer close friends, but this relationship was not found in the U.S.

Conclusions: An individualistic orientation in Japan is associated with fewer close friends and lower subjective well-being.

The researchers argued that:

“In a more globalised world, culture matters more than ever before. Therefore, the effect of globalisation (in particular, the effects of individualism) on individuals and nations should be examined from a cultural perspective in more detail in the future.”


Find out more about the IBDP Psychology SL and IBDP Psychology HL with Pamoja.