Eastern and Western cultures can differ on a variety of aspects. Some of them
are: Value system, their orientation toward time and their respective thought
Both the cultures can be divided on the
basis of the value systems that are
prevalent in each culture. The westerners are inclined towards individualistic
living while the easterners towards collectivistic living. In individualistic
cultures the main focus is on the single person. Individual’s achievement and
goals are given much importance as compared to the goals of the society in
general. They value ideas like personal freedom and autonomy. Whereas, in
collectivistic culture however, the group spirit is valued and cooperation is
accentuated. They value interdependence within the groups. An example would be,
in individualistic culture the person who “stand on his own two feet” is seen
as possessing strength within this worldview. While in Eastern culture such
assertiveness on behalf of the self would not be considered favorable. Value is
placed on staying out of conflict and “going with the flow” with the Eastern
way of thinking.
Differences are also seen in both the
cultures in terms of orientation of time.
The Westerners are more likely to look towards the future i.e. focus on future
oriented thinking. Some of the strengths that are valued most like hope, self-
efficacy reflect future oriented thinking. On the other hand, the Eastern
culture is past oriented and value the strength of looking backwards and
recognize the wisdom of their elders.
process tends to differ among both the cultures. The Western cultures give
high priority to the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness while
the goals of the Easterner might have a different focus. For example, the
approach toward life and achieving happiness. In this case a westerner whose
goal is happiness draws a straight lie to his goal, looking carefully for
obstacles and finding possible ways around them. His goal is to achieve eternal
happiness. However, for the Easterner the goal of happiness may not make sense.
The Easterner might have the goal to balance happiness and suffering rather
than having a goal of achieving one’s happiness. He might trust on the fact that
although great sufferings occur in one’s lifetime they will be balanced with
western values, Rugged Individualism and Hope for personal and individual goals
is necessary. It includes Goal-focused thinking for a positive future where as
for eastern values, compassion and harmony is essential for life balance. There
are different approaches within the field of positive psychology. There are two
different cultures or ways to view positive psychology of personal strengths
i.e. focus and balance culture. In focus culture, individuals are focus on building
their own strengths. Balance culture is concerned with balancing and bringing
harmony within oneself and amongst others. However, neither is “better”
than the other. When it comes to evaluating the strengths of different culture,
we must use culture as a lens to consider whether a particular characteristic
must be considered a strength or a weakness within a particular group.
To conclude, there are a number of
similarities as well as substantial differences that can be drawn from the
aforementioned two approaches. While the similarities include the type of human
qualities and experiences that are valued, the differences explain which of the
traits are specifically valued. Broadly, these differences can be separated
into three major categories such that in the value system, orientation of time
and thought process. The western philosophies support individualism, future and
forward oriented strengths, and believe in right to life, liberty and pursuit
of happiness respectively. Contrarily, the eastern philosophies assign more
weight to collectivism, past experiences and actions, and that of balance, i.e.
more the suffering, more will be the happiness later respectively.
Snyder, C. R., Lopez, S. J., & Pedrotti,
J. T. (2010). Positive psychology: The scientific and practical explorations of
human strengths (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.