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Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


Individualism and Collectivism of Japanese Superheros in Human andSuper Form

Individualism and Collectivism of Japanese Superheros in Human and Super Form by timtak
Individualism and Collectivism of Japanese Superheros in Human and Super Form, a photo by timtak on Flickr.

As predicted, the alter-egos of Japanese superheroes are more individualistic than their super human forms, in the extent to which they will not sacrifice themselves for their groups and the extent to which they go their own way. It is the superheroes in their super form who are more conformist, more respectful of the needs of others.

The same tendency was found among Western super heroes from a Japanese perspective. The most commonly chosen Western superhero was Spiderman, who is encouraged to realise that "with great power comes great responsibility." Perhaps Spiderman is rather Japanese.

It would be ne interesting to do the survey among Westerners who know more unharmonious Western superheroes such as the Hulk and the darker side of Batman. In spite of the data collected in Japan, I still predict that many Western Superheroes are individualistic to the point of being anti-heroic in the 'go against the grain' sense, while often their alter-egos are at least pretending to be conformists. I.e. that in the images beneath the graph above, the individualists are on the right.

Unfortunately I do not have access to Western data but I predict that Western superheros may seem more individualistic than their human alter-egos to Westerners.

This data taken together with a previous study, may support the notion that, while Japanese superheroes are more collectivist than Western ones (by all appraisals) this may represent the socially desired norm, rather than the social reality. Or, more strongly, Japanese admire collectivists because they aren't, and Westerners admire individualists because they 'wanna be'.

With thanks to Taku Shimonuri who suggested comparing the ind/col of superheroes and Yasuko Takemoto who pointed out that one needed to be an individualist to become a Japanese superhero.

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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.