How do Japanese Perceive Individualism? Examination of the Meaning of Individualism in Japan
Y. Ogihara, Y. Uchida, & T. Kusumi
It has been suggested that individualistic systems have been recently employed in Japan, and Japanese people have become more individualistic. However, previous research suggested that such cultural changes have negative associations with interpersonal relationships and happiness for Japanese (Ogihara & Uchida, 2014). In the present research, to demonstrate a negative aspect of individualism in Japan, we examined the meaning of individualism which Japanese people hold. Japanese participants aged 16 to 69 reported their evaluation to the word "individualism" and their perception of an "individualistic person." We found that individualism was regarded as being neutral and ambivalent, including both the positive aspect of being "with independence and freedom" and the negative aspect of being "without positive interpersonal relationships." In contrast, participants predicted others' evaluation of individualism to be more negative than their own evaluation, since they presumed that others would not consider the positive aspect of independence and freedom.

Key words: individualism, meaning, independence, interpersonal relationships, discrepancy between own attitude and predicted others' attitude