A needs-based perspective on cultural differences in identity formation

Christopher Lo, Charles C. Helwig, Xiaohua Sylvia Chen, Megumi M. Ohashi, Clara Michelle Cheng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This article proposes a needs-based perspective toward understanding cultural differences in the self-identification of strengths and weaknesses. The authors argue that individuals have basic psychological needs for relatedness and autonomy; and that, because collectivistic and individualistic cultures tend to prioritize one need over the other, identities incorporate an awareness of the unmet need. The study's 210 Eastern (Chinese and Japanese) and 194 Western (Canadian and American) participants reported on five of their positive and negative attributes. The findings confirm the study hypotheses that Westerners are more likely than Easterners to report attributes associated with separation from others as weaknesses and relatedness attributes as strengths; and that Easterners are more likely than Westerners to report attributes associated with a lack of autonomy as weaknesses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-230
Number of pages20
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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