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Chapter VII
National character in the Thai Nine Value Clusters


Taken from: Suntaree Komin, Psychology of the Thai People: Values and Behavioral Patterns, National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA), Bangkok 1991, ISBN 974-85744-8-2, pp. 1-2. References and tables are available in the original. Typing errors edited.


Conceptually, value systems, as relatively stable structure of culture held by representative members of the culture, can reflect to quite some extent, the national character of that culture. The Thai value systems derived from the empirical data from two national samples which show a remarkable overall consistency over time and across groups, have provided some highly consistent and culturally meaningful data, indicating the cognitive dimensions underlying the Thai social system. This, consequently, enables the researcher to further identify the 9 value clusters, based on the relative correlations among values and through use of inter-subjectivity method from the priority of importance, representing the dimensions whereby characteristics of individuals (group) and national character can be meaningfully described.

Characterizing a national culture, of course, does not mean that every person in the culture has all the characteristic dimensions arranged in the same order of importance. Therefore, in describing the Thai national characteristics, we are referring to the common characteristic elements within the Thai culture—the national norms, or group norms in case of describing part


The grouping of the 9 value clusters for explaining the Thai national character is based more on the Instrumental values—the common means for the relatively varying goals, due to its nature as well as to its findings. By nature, Instrumental values, as modes of behaviours serving as means, instrumental to the attainment of the gals, reflected effective social interaction patterns of a culture. Logically, different cultures may have subtlely socialized different means to attain goals. Therefore, the finding of Thai Instrumental values should be able to reveal the culturally learned patterns of social interactions, whereby Thai people learn to use them to survive and function effectively in Thai society. The value ranking results clearly suggest so. While there were variations in Terminal values, there was almost no significant variation found among the top and bottom Instrumental value ranking. Among those top values were some of those indigenous Thai values that were not found in the American value list. Together with in-depth studies, research data rend support to the overall picture that the Thai social system is first and foremost a hierarchically structured society where individualism and interpersonal relationship are of utmost importance. And it is reflected in the following 9 value clusters on a continuum of psychological importance from high to low, as presented in Table 7.1. It should be bore in mind that the higher the order, the closer to the self and more likely to be activated to guide actions. And under each value cluster, descriptions of behavioural patterns are provided. Ther merits of these descriptions and internpretations are recognizable by the Thai.

icular group. This should be kept in mind when interpreting the 9 value clusters in the following section.


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