From The Rotarian:
We live in an interconnected world, and the cultural currents can be hard to navigate. In Clash! How to Thrive in a Multicultural World (Plume, 2014), Hazel Rose Markus and Alana Conner focus on what causes the most cross-cultural heartbreak.
“As cultural psychologists,” the authors write, “we study how different cultures help create different ways of being a person – what we call different selves.” They define the independent self as “individual, unique, influencing others and their environments, free from constraints, and equal (yet great!).” The interdependent self, meanwhile, sees its position as “relational, similar to others, adjusting to their situations, rooted in traditions and obligations and ranked in pecking orders.”
These are not fixed traits – the authors call them “styles of self.” But they are powerful in shaping how we act, how we feel, and what we expect from those around us. Clash! is filled with fascinating examples of how this plays out, such as the story of the English teacher in Japan who couldn’t understand why his students were failing despite all his pep talks and praise. As soon as he started criticizing them and telling them how poorly the students were doing, they improved.