The Art of Choosing Part 1

Go to The Art of Choosing Part 2

In America, when a paying customer makes a reasonable request based on her preferences, she has every right to have that request met. In Japan, it's one's duty to protect people from making the wrong choice to help them save face.

If a choice affects you, then you should be the one to make it. 
This is the only way to ensure that your preferences and interests will be most fully accounted for.
It is essential for success.

In America, the primary locus of choice is the individual, people must choose for themeselves
This is what's called "being true to yourself."
Do all individuals benefit from taking this approach to choice?

In a study, Anglo-American children did two times better at an activity they were able to choose themseleves, as compared to chosen by an authority or their mother.
Asian-American children did best at activities picked by their mother, next best at of their own choosing, and least best as chosen by an outside authority (teacher)

In the immigrant children's group success was just as much about pleasing key figures as it was about satisfying one's own preferences.
The individual preferences were shaped by preferences of specific others.

The assumption that we do best when the individual self chooses only holds when that self is clearly divided from others.
When in contrast two or more individuals see their choices and outcomes as intimitely connected, they may amplify one anothers' success by turning choosing into a collective act.
To insist that they choose independently might actually compromise their performance and their relationships.

Yet that is what the american paradigm demands.
It leaves little room for interdependence or an acknowledgement of individual fallibility.
It requires that everyone treat choice as a private and self-defining act.
It is a mistake to assume that everyone thrives under the pressure of choosing alone.