Collectivist and Individualist Cultures

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Collectivist cultures tend to use an authoritarian parenting style to instill cultural values or beliefs in the children. On the other hand, individualist cultures may use an authoritarian style to instill discipline, but they also want to teach their children to be independent and self-reliant.

Collectivist cultures are stricter in what behaviors are found to be acceptable, and they place a big emphasis on obedience. Shiraev & Levy (2013) declares, “Cultural traditions of collectivism are positively correlated with the authoritarian style of parenting, which is based on strict demands, behavioral control, and sanctions” (p.193).

In collectivist cultures, the views of the group as a whole are expressed and acknowledged, while individualist cultures encourages individual opinions and decision making.

Individualist cultures uses an authoritarian parenting style with other methods to give a well-rounded parenting style, while collectivist cultures solely relies on utilizing the authoritarian parenting style. Rudy & Grusec (2006) states, “In individualist contexts, authoritative parenting, with its emphasis on negotiation and responsiveness to children’s input, may be appropriate” (p.68).

Children are given a voice in decision-making which may be viewed as leading them to become confident and taking on leadership roles when they reach adulthood. The couple from a collectivist culture would expect their children to make the best decision for the group as a whole, and emphasizes respecting authority figures

. The couple from an individualist culture would expect their children to learn how to make their own decisions, and they make decisions that are in the best interests of the individual and not the group.

The points of conflict that would arise between the collectivist parents and individualist children are: intense power struggles between the different cultures, and differing cultural lifestyles.

The collectivist parents would expect the children to conform to their societal expectations, and it would be culture shock for the individualist children. The collectivist parents in that instance might react in a confrontational manner if the children refuse to conform to their expectations because they expect obedience as it is a norm in their culture.

It is human nature to not respond well to change because it is not something that a person is accustomed to. Neither side would be able to understand the other’s stance, and that might lead to conflict. The individualist parents might be confused by the collectivist children, and perceive their submissive attitude in a negative manner.

They might try to get the children to participate in decision-making, but the kids may either react in a confused state because they are not used to having that kind of power. On the other hand, the collectivist children might embrace the decision-making role because it places them in a position of power. In both scenarios, cultural differences could create a huge rift and misunderstanding.

Another important aspect to consider is the role of the grandparents in each culture. Grandparents are highly revered within the collectivist culture, but they are often disrespected and frowned upon because of their age in the individualist culture. Grandparents are viewed as useful for seeking advice and wisdom in collectivist cultures.

In contrast, the elderly are commonly viewed as “washed up” in individualist cultures, which I think is a shame. This would create a lot of conflict when the parents are swapped because the grandparents in the collectivist culture might feel disrespected by the individualist parents. In turn, this could create more conflict with the collectivist children because they are taught to respect authority figures.

This also creates role confusion for the children because they see two different messages being displayed to them. They were taught to respect their elders, but then witnesses them being disrespected by other adults so it is a conflicting message.

On the other hand, individualist grandparents may be pleasantly surprised to be treated with the utmost respect. Collectivist parents may end up teaching individualist children the importance of respect. However, it could create conflict with individualist children, as they may feel like certain viewpoints are being forced on them.

In both scenarios, the parents may want to force their cultural dynamics on the new family. The collectivist family may force the individualist children to adopt collectivist practices such as, restricting their activities or behaviors to what they feel is appropriate.

Individualist parents might attempt to change collectivist practices by mandating that the children are active participants in decision-making, and giving them more freedom.

In conclusion, I think the show would end with both sides learning to appreciate their own culture, and other cultures as well. I think the individualist children will learn more about respecting authority figures, and will adjust their beliefs. Everyone else will probably continue with their current beliefs.


Shiraev, E. B., & Levy, D. A. (2013). Cross-cultural psychology: Critical thinking and contemporary applications (5th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Rudy, D. & Grusec, J. (2006). Authoritarian parenting in individualist and collectivist groups: Associations with maternal emotion and cognition and children’s self-esteem. Journal of Family Psychology, Vol.20, No.1, 68-78.Retrieved from:

Cite this page: Danielle Bosley, "Collectivist and Individualist Cultures," in, July 28, 2017, (accessed November 26, 2022).