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Taiwan vs. America: Differences and Similarities


Cultural comparisons tend to put one in hot water because they often incur accusations of overgeneralizing and stereotyping. Nevertheless, patterns and differences in culture and people DO EXIST and are demonstratable. So in the name of truth, I do not fear offending others and will merely call it as I see it.




- Taiwanese are more group and family oriented (collectivist), while America is more individual oriented. For example, a person marrying someone that their parents disapprove of would not care in the US, but in Taiwan the parents’ feelings would be a strong factor. However, some say that this is changing in Taiwan.

- The Taiwanese are more subtle and indirect in their communication. They prefer dropping hints and cues rather than being upfront. On the other hand, Western communication is more assertive, articulate and direct.

- On the exterior, Taiwanese people are more reserved and cold toward strangers. They are less apt to smile or make eye contact. But once you get to know them, they become more hospitable and generous. Americans smile and chat politely with strangers easily, but do not invite you into their homes or personal lives easily.

- Taiwanese are taught to be modest, humble and obedient, rather than outspoken, aggressive or assertive. American culture teaches the opposite, that assertiveness is a valuable communication skill in one’s personal and professional life. Being quiet, submissive and obedient is seen in the US as a weakness that allows others to walk all over you. Bullies see such types as easy targets to bully. But in Asia, no one will make fun of such types.

- Confidence is not taught as a good attribute in Taiwan, nor is it encouraged (at least not the western version of confidence). Instead, Taiwanese think that it is better to live in fear and worry, and yield to others to avoid trouble. Compliance, respect and hard work are the attributes of their ideal citizen. But in America, confidence is seen as power, and the key ingredient behind image, hence the slogan “Image is everything”.

- Lighter skin is seen as more attractive in Asia, so that darker Asians prefer to whiten their skin. But in America, having a slight tan is seen as healthier and more attractive than being too pale.

- Girls in Taiwan are more shy and introverted than their western counterparts, but they are more feminine, tender and caring toward their family and partners as well.




- American and Taiwanese cultures are VERY workaholic. They share an inherent belief that humans were created to work. Thus they “live to work” and feel empty and purposeless without it. Most Taiwanese work 6 or 7 days a week. Having too much free time or vacation time is seen as dysfunctional, unstable and deviant in the eyes of the corporate mentality. Being a slave to your job is seen as a good thing. Most have little or no interests outside of their work. People are conditioned this way to serve the economic interests of their corporatocracy.

- Both cultures are very materialistic in their values, and teach that wealth and acquisition of assets are the keys to happiness and success. They program you to work and consume in order to fill your emptiness. Rather than cultivate inner assets (spirituality, holistic qualities, intellectual life) they focus solely on outer assets. Thus there is a lot of misery and depression in both countries. Suicide rates are high in both cultures as well.

- In general, people don’t talk to strangers in both countries unless it’s business related. Most people make friends through school, work, or other friends. And they date within those limited circles too. The internet is a new way of meeting people nowadays, but the general attitude is still the same. There is a paranoia toward strangers, which is unjustified since both countries are relatively safe and violence is rare.

- People in both countries are not generally educated or informed about the rest of the world. Instead, they harbor stereotypes about other countries that aren’t true, largely due to Hollywood movies, myths and propaganda.

- Citizens of both cultures do not tend to be good at critical thinking. Instead, they blindly believe whatever they are told by their government and media like zombies. They forget the fact that their governments have lied many times in the past, sacrificed innocent lives for diabolical purposes, and started wars based on false pretenses. Instead, they live passively and assume that authority = truth, and do not seek alternative views and explanations.

- Their education system is rigged so that if you conform, you become a robot (rewarded with pay), but if you don’t you become a bum. Thus defying the system brings suffering and makes it difficult to live a good life. Essentially, they want you to be smart enough to perform in a job, but not to think too critically, deeply or “out of the box”.


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