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Chapter summary

In this chapter, I argued that creative behavior is task-involved and free, while uncreative behavior is ego-
involved and controlled. Westerners are more likely to behave in a creative and task-involved manner,
because their individualistic culture encourages them to pursue their own chosen goals in life. In contrast,
Asians are more likely to behave in an uncreative and ego-involved manner, because their collectivistic
culture encourages them to be face-consious to seek the approval of the social group by pursuing material
wealth. Research has shown that an obsessive pursuit of wealth has negative effects on psychological
health. But in spite of the fact that money is no guarantee of happiness, many Asians still strive after it.
The reader who reads the article might get the impression that Asians are an unkind and ungracious group
people in comparison with their Western counterparts. However, I would like to temper this harsh critique
of the Asians way of life with the caveats. First, not all Asians behave in this manner not at all Asians are
excessively corncerned about enhancing their own face in the community by the acquisition of material
goods it dependson how the individual Asian has been socialized from young .
For example, if the Asian grows up in a family which promotes an inquisitive rather tha a materialistic
mindset, then he will probably be task-involved and creative or if the grows up in family which promotes
love and harmonies living, the he will probably be kind-hearted and agreeable. Here, I am reminded of a
good friend in Singapore, who took no-pay leave from his organization to assist in the relief operation for
the victims of the recent earthquake in central Taiwan. He went in spite of the fact that it wasnot
completely safe to do so. There were many aftershock tremors in the disaster area. What’s more he went
with his wife’s blessing, even though she had just given birth to their first child.
The second caveat is this not all Western behave in task-involved and creative manner, it depends on how
the individual Westerner has been socialized from young. For example, if he grows up in a family which
promotes a hedonistic streak in the character, then he will probably be egoistic and self-centred. Indeed
the western emphasis on individual rights and freedoms has the potential not only to nurture individuals
who are task-involved and creative but also who are egoistic and self-centred. This has led to many social
problems in Western society, including a high divorce rate, single parenthood, juvenile delinquency.
These problems have cost much individuals and collective anguish within Western society and occupy the
hearts and minds of its intellectuals and policy-makers.
In making these two caveats, I wish to impress upon the reader one thing, I am not trying to take sides
with the East or the West in this book. In my view, both sides have their good and bad points, they have
lessons to offer each other, corncerning the twin challenges of how a society should be organized and how
the individuals should live in society. Since I am an Asian who is interested in promoting creativity in my
society, I will focus on what we in the East can learn from our counterparts in the West. Perhaps one day,
a learned scholar from the West will write a similar book about what his or her society can learn from my
kind of society in the East. This mutual attitude of learning from each other is in my opinion more
laudable than the high-politicised and value-laden discourse which characterizes communication between
ideological foes in the East and West.