Standing Out in Canada and Japan
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The need for separation or individuation is held to be a prime motive in Western psychology. Varied accounts of the meaning of selfhood in Japan indicate that separation may be much less important-or as important-for understanding the construction of self-identity in that culture. We focus here on personal distinctiveness, one vehicle for separation from others. We propose that the desire for distinctiveness is not absent or negligible in Japan, but is subject to more constrained expression than in the West. The results of two studies comparing Japanese and Canadian students suggest that Japanese are less desirous of standing out for their own sake and more likely to experience this form of distinctiveness as aversive. The results also suggest that although Japanese and Canadians derive positive distinctiveness from much the same sources, Japanese are less gratified by this type of experience.
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