Does one’s culture influence self-regard?
This article by CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange) suggests that it actually informs it.
Everyone bases their success or level of achievement on the dominant values of their culture.
Even if a person’s personal values differ from the norm, their self-esteem is often based on fulfilling cultural values.
Let’s see why.
Fulfilling one’s personal values has long been viewed in psychology as the greatest influence on self-esteem.
But that may not be the case.
A global study, conducted by social psychologist, Maja Becker, at the CLLE (Laboratoire Cognition, Langue, Langages, Ergonomie) department of the Université de Toulouse II-Le Mirail, surveyed 5,000 teenagers and young adults from 19 different countries.
200 young people from countries in Eastern and Western Europe, South America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East took part.
Questions in the survey covered personal and cultural values and to what degree they impacted the students’ self-esteem.
Key Factors of Cultural Influence
What the survey found was that four key factors drove self-esteem in all cultures:
- Earning social status
- Fulfilling one’s duty
- Controlling one’s life
- Benefitting others
The study also found that the students’ own personal values had little to do with their level of self-esteem.
Rather, self-esteem is measured against our ability to fulfill dominant cultural values.
Fulfillment of Values = Self-Esteem
Each culture places different degrees of importance on these four factors.
For instance, those from Middle Eastern, African, or Asian cultures that value tradition and conformity might place more importance on doing one’s duty and benefitting others.
Thus, individuals in such cultures derive their self-esteem from demonstrating this fulfillment of duties.
And those from Western cultures whose values lie in individualism and freedom might place more importance on controlling one’s life.
Thus, individuals in such cultures derive their self-esteem from demonstrating such control.
Even if one doesn’t personally subscribe to their own culture’s values, they are still influenced by them on a deeply personal level.
Subtly, societal expectations can make or break an individual’s psyche and self-worth.
Next week, we’ll discuss how a culture’s time perspective might also influence self-esteem.