individual vs collective culture: How the individual can survive in a group


Kevin Mangelschots

Today we’ll be talking about individual vs collective culture. We’re going to explore and give tips on how the individual can survive in a group.

People are social animals. As a result, each individual is bound to wind up in multiple groups, with each group consisting of multiple different people.

This way, each individual can talk with one another and work together, effectively sharing the load. Let’s take a look at why we should cherish and nurture our individuality and how this is beneficial to a group.

How can the individual survive in a group?

Illustration of a yellow colored stick man stepping out of the group.

  • Stay true to yourself

    Individualism can survive in collectivism when the people don’t try to pretend to be something or someone they’re not.

    There’s no way you can keep this up forever without being exposed. And even if you could, it will corrupt your soul and your mental state will start to regress because you know you are deceiving others, and you know that you shouldn’t be lying about who you are.

    Every single individual has their unique strengths and weaknesses, and it’s to a group’s advantage to use each individual’s specific strengths.

  • Every single individual should govern the other group members

    If you experience or see other group members taking a turn for the worse, then you should confront them to keep them in check.

    This should be done by every individual that resides in the group. Make sure to intervene as fast as possible when people stray from the right path. If you don’t, then the whole group is at risk of turning malevolent. Possibly to the point of no return.

    Always remain skeptical to prevent groupthink. Keep thinking for yourself!

    Illustration of different group members.

On a side note, groups without a decent portion of morality will need a lot of constant governing to prevent the group dynamics from turning malevolent.

The reason is people without or with little morality don’t care what happens to the other individuals in their group. People without morality care only about their feelings, goals, and motivations and disregard the feelings and personal goals of others.

This is why some people only think and care about themselves in a pathological workplace. Not caring about the feelings or needs of the other individuals in the group.

Benefits of individualism

Image of a man making a selfie while skiing.

Although collectivism has many perks, there are a large number of positive effects of individualism, such as:

  • We all have personal reasons, motivations, and goals to pursue in life. Putting yourself first to contrary beliefs is not necessarily selfish.
  • The group might be a limiting factor for pursuing your own goals, interests, and motivations.
  • We must think individually to keep a group from participating in group thinking. Groupthink can potentially lead to malevolence with disastrous results.
  • You have to learn and become more efficient to survive as an individual compared to in a group. This gives you the benefit of acquiring multiple vital life skills.
  • You don’t have to consider other people as much.
  • Not so much outside pressure as you would have if you were in a group.
  • Another one of the benefits of individualism is that you’re your boss, so your life is your responsibility. You are free to shape it as you see fit.

Dangers of individualism

Image of a calculator with the word “risk” written on it in the right corner.

Still, there are some potential negative effects of individualism:

  • Reduced social support
  • Less community integration
  • Cut back social ties
  • One of the dangers of individualism is an increased amount of loneliness
  • Increased isolation
  • More estrangement

Benefits of collectivism

Young woman giving a double thumbs up.

There are many positive effects of collectivism.

The group has the best chance at survival. There’s real power in numbers. More so in ancient times, but it even holds true today. Historically, it has always been the individualistic vs collective self.

Survival of the human species was, and still is, essentially the goal of every individual human being. That’s why we keep organizing ourselves in groups.

  • The biggest benefit of collectivism is protecting the other group members from other malevolent individuals, groups, and animals.
  • Looking out for each other and each other’s children.
  • Holding each other warm in cold times.
  • Working together means more chances of success and survival.
  • People are stronger in a group. Multiple people together are stronger than a single individual and can cause more harm when protection is needed.
  • You can motivate each other.
  • Stronger unity and harmony.

Dangers of collectivism

Picture showing four blindfolded men following each other walking towards the edge of a cliff to symbolize groupthink.

There’s a catch, though. Group dynamics are very different from the dynamics of an individual since collectivist values are very different from the values of individuals.

  • Increased chance for groupthink

    Groupthink is a danger of collectivism.

    When groups get too large, there comes a point where the individual becomes less and less important and the group identity takes the most prominent role. This becomes especially dangerous if the group dynamics become malevolent.

    This is dangerous because people in groups display a decreased ability to critically think for themselves compared to individuals outside a group. Thus, making it harder to see the harm the group might potentially be causing.

  • Less inspiration

  • Decreased incentive for individual responsibility

  • Working for the sake of the group instead of the individual’s best interest

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is an individual?

An individual is a single human being separate from a group.

All the people alive are individuals with their own personal goals, interests, and motivations.

This means that every group consists of multiple individuals. This is why we have to take into account that each person has different needs, even when they are functioning in a group!

What is a group?

Picture showing four blindfolded men following each other walking towards the edge of a cliff to symbolize groupthink.A group is several individuals or things which are located, gathered, or classed together.

Individuals are part of a variety of different groups during their lives. Although the groups we reside in can vary during our lifetime. For instance at work, your social circle, and in your family.

Groups can have social, survival, and productive functions. And sometimes all these purposes at the same time.

What is individualism?

Individualism promotes and prioritizes the exercise of one’s goals, and desires, and advocates that these interests of the individual should be prioritized over a social group or state.

Individuality emphasizes the worth and priority of the person over the group.

What is collectivism?

The differences between individualists and collectivists explained.

Collectivism means the principle and practice of giving priority to a group over the precedence of each individual in the group.

Socialism emphasizes cohesiveness among individuals and prioritization of the group over the individual.

Examples of different kinds of groups

Image of the word “example” being written with a blue marker by someone's hand.

  • You are in a social group when you are playing together with your peers in team sports like volleyball or soccer. Team dynamics can vary from sport to sport.
  • You are probably in a social group that consists of your best friends. It’s also possible that you reside in multiple different groups of friends. The group dynamics likely change a bit depending on which group of friends you reside in at that given moment.
  • You are also in a group, albeit a different one, with your co-workers when you are working.
  • You are also in a different group with your family. Where each family member often takes on a different role or responsibility. This role is typically based on age and gender.

Is collectivism or individualism better?

A man questioning whether something is good or bad.
Whether collectivism or individualism is better depends on the way you measure it.
More individualistic people are more inclined to be rational compared to those who are more collectivistic. They are autonomous, and place being unique at the top of the value hierarchy.
On the other hand, those who are more collectivistic tend to feel less lonely, experience a stronger sense of unity, and protect each other.

What is an example of individual vs. collectivism?

The word “example” written in red letters on a white background.
A possible example of individual vs. collectivism could be that employees in an individualistic culture are inclined to value their well-being over that of the group as a whole.
On the flip side, workers part of a collectivist culture are more likely to sacrifice their prosperity for the welfare of the group.

Can a person be individualistic and collectivistic?

A person is either individualistic or collectivistic since they have contrasting perspectives. You can’t be both at the same time. There will be those who are more collectivistic, even within an individualistic culture, and vice versa.

It’s possible to shift along this range during our lifetime since people aren’t static entities. As such, we change, and so do our preferences and beliefs.


“Born to stand out” written on a piece of paper with a puzzle piece lying next to it.

Both the individual and the group have their unique advantages and disadvantages. That’s why the collective vs individual is such a tricky thing to balance.

Living on your own without being in groups would make most people feel lonely and isolated because we are social animals who work together at our core.

Keeping your individuality in groups is of vital importance. Not only for your health but also to keep the group spirit benevolent rather than malevolent.

Nietzsche said it best with the following quote: “In individuals, insanity is rare. But in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule.”