Who we are vs. Who we think we are

Cross-cultural research focusing on Romania just became a whole lot more interesting with the publication of a new cognitive-experimental monograph by PhD Psychology professor Daniel David of the UBB Cluj.

His book, aptly called “The Psychology Of The Romanian People” (Polirom, 2015) is full of thought-provoking revelations:

  • for a nation, discrepancies between self-image and reality can lead to frustrations, tension and international incidents when other nations treat it not as it sees itself, but as it really is (as it really behaves)
  • countries with higher levels of individualism also exhibit a higher level of social and economic capital, stronger civic involvement and cooperation, interpersonal connections and trust; although this is counter-intuitive, research shows a greater correlation between individualism (self-agency) and a higher degree of interpersonal trust, cooperation and solidarity
  • contrary to common sense, collectivist cultures do get more lonely (or perhaps they only suffer from loneliness more, given their much higher benchmark for closeness and excessive/exclusive dependence on family?…)
  • the only collectivist cultures in the EU are Portugal, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria
  • according to Schwartz’s model, Romanians today exhibit lower levels of benevolence and higher levels of conformity than the Germans
  • the dominant values in Romania today are traditionalist and survivalist
  • Romanian children have happier childhoods than Germans or Americans, but with adulthood, their levels of frustration and rage (esp. for women) rise above those measured in the United States and Germany
  • Romanians show higher levels of workplace competitiveness and status orientation than their German and American counterparts, yet lower levels of perseverance and discipline (where perseverance is seen as carrying a task all the way through with a high degree of accuracy and quality).

In the author’s own words, Romanians “aim high, they want to be at the top, but often do not know how (there is not enough discipline) and give up easily or fail to reach the desired results” (or change their minds along the way, I might add). “Also, the socio-cultural environment in which we (Romanians) evolve, does not enable the transformation of competitiveness into efficiency”.

Quite fascinating and definitely worth a read.

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