Individualism in American Society

American individualism can be best used when tempered with collectivism.

Individualism can be both positive and negative, and moderation is best.


Individualism can be both positive and negative, and moderation is best.

Sripriya Srinivas, Columnist

A key American value is that of individualism, the belief that focuses on self-reliance and independence. Its opposite is collectivism, which relies on working together as a group. There are pros and cons to both of these ideologies, so it is important to note that extremes of any kind are harmful. Instead, combining certain traits of both of these beliefs can be helpful to maximizing autonomy, freedom, compassion, empathy, and unity.

On one hand, individualism leads to personal growth, encourages self-expression, and celebrates diversity. However, it can also lessen unity and lower empathy for others’ experiences. According to MasterClass, collectivism gives the opposite results, but can hurt a person’s sense of independence. The ideal would be to take the best elements of both individualism and collectivism in our behavior.

Globalization, the increase of connectedness between countries and culture, has an effect on these values. Pew Research Center states that American communities, workplaces, and schools tend to be diverse and contain many different cultural groups. According to IB Psychology, other cultures have become more individualistic as Western ideals and values spread. This reaction to American and European culture enhances and spreads diversity around the world, but it can also be problematic. It can tend to increase competition between cultures and even within cultures to dominate. It can also lead to the spread of more harmful values, such as colorism, racism, or homophobia.

Individualism and collectivism have their own benefits. Valuing certain characteristics from both ideals would be most beneficial to society. Creativity, self-expression, and self-improvement are important traits to have; however, so is unity and higher empathy for individuals. Working together to accomplish a goal is an important skill for all people around the world, especially with the many issues we are facing in the world today.