By Hoyt Edge and

A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Volition 1

Hoyt Edge, Philosophy Department, Rollins College

Luh Ketut Suryani, Department of Psychiatry, Udayana University



The concept of volition, or will, 2 has been central in Western philosophy, particularly in the Modern era. However, most non-Western (non-Euro-American) cultures have been described as collectivist, 3 in which the individual is subsumed within the group, as opposed to Western individualism. In such cultures, one may wonder if a legitimate concept of volition applies, and, if so, whether it is conceived differently from the Euro-American concept. Our research in Bali suggests that a robust notion of volition exists there, and that a cross-cultural comparison of Bali and the U.S. demonstrates that a cross-cultural component of volition exists, but there is also a significant difference between the two cultures in their views of volition, which mirrors a similar difference in their views of self. Indeed, a major function of this paper is to argue that although there is a consistent cross-cultural component to volition, we find a family of concepts—volition, self, and autonomy—that systematically relate to each other in the U.S. and in Bali, and that this family of ideas is different in the two cultures we examine. In turn, this finding suggests that the concept of volition varies from culture to culture.

Connecting the Concepts of Volition and Self

Descartes made the concept of will central in his philosophy and to subsequent Modern philosophy by defining the self (mind) in terms of will. He said: “What is a thinking being? It is a being which doubts, which understands, which conceives, which affirms, which denies, which wills, which rejects, which imagines also, and which perceives.” 4 For him, there was a distinction between “My arm is moving” and “I am moving my arm” based on the fact that I exert my will to raise my arm. Given Cartesian dualism, will was conceived as an exertion of mind upon body to causally carry out the intentions of the mind.

Even if one rejects the particulars of Cartesian dualism, as most philosophers after Descartes have, nevertheless the idea of the will, designating the active ingredient of the mind through which we act in the world (including our bodies), remains central in Western philosophy. The idea of will continues to be important for questions in philosophy; for instance, it is conceived as necessary for moral responsibility. If I am not able to act volitionally, then my behavior will be described as my arm moving, rather than my moving my arm; in such a case, we would be hard pressed to call a person morally responsible for the action. Hence, even if we reject traditional descriptions of volition that seem to imply a dualism of mind and body, nevertheless it is incumbent upon us to make sense of the concept of volition, as it seems to incorporate the fundamental idea of an agent acting in the world.

If we turn to the history of psychology, we find the same traditional interest in the concept of will, following its centrality in philosophy. As experimental psychology blossomed in the 1880s mainly in Germany, one of the important research topics was the will. 5   On the whole, these early experimental approaches depended upon introspection, but all introspective analyses were brought into question by the subsequent behaviorist paradigm, so research on the will virtually ceased in psychology for almost a century.

However, William James offered another approach in The Principles of Psychology. James’s ideomotor theory derived from his idea that “wherever movement follows unhesitatingly and immediately the notion of it in the mind, we have an ideo-motor action.” 6 For James, “We may then lay it down for certain that every representation of a movement awakens in some degree the actual movement which is its object; and awakens it in a maximum degree whenever it is not kept from so doing by an antagonistic representation present simultaneously to the mind.” 7 The theory that every representation in the mind is correlated with some bodily movement has been criticized on logical grounds; a particular bodily movement does not follow logically from a particular mental representation, as Hume correctly argued (based on his atomistic, associationalist paradigm).

Nevertheless, a good deal of recent empirical research lends support to James’s conception. For instance, it has been found that more people who imagined themselves subscribing to cable television, rather than merely listening to a persuasive message about how good it would be, actually subscribed to cable television. 8  Imagery has often been associated with improved performance on a task. 9  Further, research indicates that when a person imagines performing an action, there may be a slight change in the corresponding muscles. 10 Nevertheless, we do not wish to defend the ideomotor theory in general, but it is a particular aspect of James’s theory, related to the idea of volition, that is relevant here, and it is this aspect that contemporary psychology has shown an increasing interest in investigating. 11

For James, the self was the source of the will, and one could not understand volition unless one understood the centrality of the self. James wrote, “Volition is primarily a relation . . . between our Self and our own states of mind.” 12  In other words, James thought that in most cases of willing, there has to be a connection between the action and one’s concept of self. In order to exert will, one has to desire the object or action and identify with it in such a way that the object or action is connected with one’s own concept of oneself. It is when this implication occurs that the “electric connection” between will and action occurs, so that the will is effective. Nevertheless, we do not want to defend James’ attempt to explain how action results from an act of will. Rather, we want to focus on his idea that the concepts of volition and self are interconnected, even more intimately than Descartes proposed.

So far we have made two points in this paper. The first is that the concept of volition is a fundamental one in Western philosophy, and even if we reject the Cartesian understanding of this notion, it remains central to our understanding of the self and to our understanding of moral responsibility. Secondly, we have investigated the connection between the concepts of self and volition in two ways: a) we have pointed to empirical research describing the intimate connection between concepts of self and volition, and b) we have referred to William James, who suggested that the idea of volition is best understood in terms of the concept of self.

For the remainder of the paper, we want to bring that connection between of volition and self to bear on a cross-cultural investigation of the concept of volition, and in so doing, we argue that this connection is displayed cross-culturally. A number of people have argued that the concept of self is different in different cultures. 13  If this is true, and if it is the case that the concept of volition depends on one’s own self-concept, then it would imply that the concept of volition is going to be interestingly different as it becomes culturally contextualized along with the idea of self. Indeed, we will find these two ideas vary systematically in two different cultures.

A Cross-Cultural Investigation of Volition

In both psychological anthropology and in cross-cultural psychology, a major distinction in a classification of cultures, as well as in concepts of self within the cultures, is made between individualism and collectivism. Triandis asserts that the individual self is viewed as primary in individualist cultures, while the self is viewed as subsumed within the collective, or at least as yielding to the desires of the group, in collectivist cultures. The distinction between the individualist and collectivist concepts of self is discussed in slightly different ways by a number of other authors. For instance, Edge has made the distinction between an atomic self and a relational self. 14  Others have portrayed the distinction in the following ways:


Authors Individualism Collectivism
Dumont 15 The individual is absolute; there is nothing over and above his legitimate demands. Holism: “Stress is placed on society as a whole, as collective Man.”
Schweder and Bourne 16 Egocentric self: “Society is imagined to have been created to serve the interests of some idealized, autonomous, abstract individual existing free of society, yet living in society.” Sociocentric self: Individual interests to take a second place “to some good of the collectivity.”
Marsella 17 An individuated self: “Independence, autonomy and differentiation.” The individual is “separate, detached, and self sufficient.” Unindividuated self: The non- Euro-American self is to include a wide variety of significant others.”
Kirkpatrick and White 18 Western self: “All psychological matters pertain to a single person.” Non-Western collective self: It is “the family, the community, and even the land” that is “a cultural unit with experiential capacities.”
Markus and Kitayama 19 Independent self: “An individual whose behavior is organized and made meaningful primarily by reference to one’s own internal repertoire.” Interdependent self: “ An individual whose behavior is organized and made meaningful primarily by reference to the thoughts, feelings and actions of others.”

All of these authors purport to show that there is a fundamental distinction in the nature of selves between these two types of cultures.

We have argued that the concept of volition is intimately tied to concepts of self. Since these concepts of self differ in significant ways between collectivist and individualist cultures, we would expect there to be cultural differences in their concepts of volition. The focus of some of our research in Bali, Indonesia, has been an attempt to investigate empirically the question of the universal, versus the culturally laden, aspects of volition, and this research will form the basis of our analysis in this paper.

Our research took place over a two-year period (1999-2000) as was sponsored by the Bial Foundation (Porto, Portugal). Colleagues at the University of Edinburgh had been developing a volitional competency questionnaire (VCQ), and our project attempted analogously to develop a Balinese volitional competency questionnaire (BVCQ). In this paper, it is not necessary to describe the procedures for developing it beyond noting that the questions come from two sources: (1) an examination of the literature on volition (especially Kuhl’s action vs. state orientation theory), psychology of action, motivation, self-control, self-regulation, conation, and competence, among others, and (2) our knowledge of Balinese culture. Through a process of offering earlier versions of the questionnaire with a large number of questions and receiving feedback on the adequacy of the questions, we reduced the questionnaire to 82 questions, 66 from the Edinburgh VCQ, and 16 additional ones.

To determine how the Balinese conceived of volition, we performed a factor analysis on the questionnaire data base, and it yielded eight factors that were intuitively consistent with an understanding of volition, but the statistical result was not stable enough for us to be fully confident in these findings independently. However, we found that if we analyzed only the 66 questions that overlapped both the Edinburgh VCQ, we found a remarkable consistency. The Edinburgh analysis yielded five factors, and we found that a five-factor analysis of the Balinese data was statistically plausible. Four of the five factors were virtually identical in the Balinese and Edinburgh data. These results can be seen in Table 1. The findings suggest that there are cross-cultural (if not universal) elements that we have located in volition revolving around these four factors.


Table 1: Cross-Cultural Factors in the Balinese and Edinburgh Data:


BVCQ08 8. I find it difficult to stick to my decisions
BVCQ22 22. I rarely take the initiative.
BVCQ23 23. I often have a hard time having my views taken seriously by others.
BVCQ30 30. My opinions often change
BVCQ34 34. I have little persistence
BVCQ44 44. I find it hard to make decisions, even if they are minor ones.
BVCQ55 55. I have little influence on others’ values and beliefs
BVCQ61 61. I rarely win games with competitive partners.
BVCQ27 27. I have little self-discipline
BVCQ52 52. I readily become absorbed in my own thoughts


Helping/Influencing Others

BVCQ37 37. I am not very good at helping others solve their problems.
BVCQ15 15. Others rarely ask my advice when they are in a difficult situation.
BVCQ20 20. I am good at influencing others’ course of action.
BVCQ26 26. I am good at helping others avoid stress.
BVCQ28 28. I can influence my close friends when appropriate.
BVCQ31 31. I am good at making other people happy.
BVCQ45 45.I am good at helping others recognize stress.
BVCQ63 63. I am good at helping others develop mentally.


Positive Self-image/Self-confidence

BVCQ02 2. I have strong determination
BVCQ14 14. I am generally full of energy and vitality.
BVCQ17 17. I generally choose the right time to take action.
BVCQ21 21. I am in control of my habits.
BVCQ24 24. I am generally self-confident.
BVCQ25 25. I keep myself in good physical shape.
BVCQ29 29. I act with a firm sense of duty to society.
BVCQ32 32. I am generally free of unwanted habits.
BVCQ36 36. I consider myself a lucky person.
BVCQ39 39. I find it easy to improve myself.
BVCQ40 40. I can focus all my attention on one thing.
BVCQ60 60. I have a good memory.
BVCQ64 64. I am able to change my mind when appropriate.
BVCQ58 58. I am good at controlling my emotions.


Handling Outside Influence

BVCQ19 19. I do not cope well with stress.
BVCQ38 38. I often let things in my life get out of control.
VCQ42 42. I find it hard to relax mentally.
VCQ49 49. I do not deal effectively when fearful for my physical well-being.
VCQ59 59. I have difficulty eliminating bad habits.
VCQ62 62. I do not deal effectively with psychological fear.
VCQ65 65. I am impatient.

Both cultures emphasize the ability to initiate and persist in action. This is the core concept of agency, without which we would question whether we were dealing with volition. Further, respondents from both cultures identified two other factors as important that relate more to qualities that would enhance or undercut one’s ability to initiate action. The first is seeing oneself as a capable person. Psychologically, one needs to have the confidence in one’s own ability to initiate and carry out the action in order to do so. This is the general condition of being able to identify the action with the self. If I do not have the self-image of myself being successful in the action, I cannot connect my self-identity with it. This is an important aspect of James’s connection between self-concept and action.

Secondly, I must see myself as being able to handle negative outside influences successfully, those that would keep me from carrying out the action. 20

Comparisons of American and Balinese Data

However, the focus of this paper concerns differences in the cultures as much as similarity, and not simply that there seems to be a cross-cultural element to volition. To approach this question, we gave the Balinese Volitional Competency Questionnaire (in English) to a group of 162 Americans. Samples were comparable in age and sex to the Balinese sample; they differed in education, but this difference reflects differences in the educational level of the general populations. See Table 2.

Table 2: Demographic Data





Numbers 162 282
Male 35% 37%
Female 45% 43%
Age:        Range 18-85 years old 16-73 years old
Average 36.5 years 32.5 years
None 0 1
Primary 1 5
Junior High 25 25
High School 1 104
Nursing, etc. 12 60
University 118 87


When we compare the differences between the results of the two samples (see Table 3), two points emerge. First, two of the five questions that show the greatest difference between Balinese and American responses seem to question the idea that the Balinese have a strong sense of volitional competence.


Table 3: Comparison of American and Balinese Responses to Volition Questions

Means Means
American Balinese Question
4.10 2.58 51. I am good at willing my mind to perform at a high level when needed.
3.92 2.50 66. To accomplish a future goal, I can will myself to do things that I would rather not do.
3.74 3.72 6. I can resist being influenced by other people.
3.85 4.16 48. I am in control of my own destiny.
2.05 2.18 46. I find taking responsibility difficult when in a group.
2.17 2.11 47. I find it difficult to keep striving as long as necessary.
1.99 2.09 18. I find it hard to resist negative influences on me.
1.76 1.98 77. I feel that others are running my life for me.
3.60 3.88 21. I am in control of my habits.
3.53 3.60 58. I am good at controlling my emotions.
4.25 3.90 82. I follow my conscience in doing many things.
2.52 2.83 81. I do anything I am convinced of without considering others’ opinions, whether they agree with me or not.
3.45 4.38 79. I worry a lot about offending or hurting someone close to me.
2.96 3.98 80. I worry about shaming myself.
4.08 4.47 7. I act with a firm sense of duty toward my family.
3.60 4.14 29. I act with a firm sense of duty to society.
4.12 3.82 2. I have strong determination.
2.79 2.74 11. I often yield to temptations in pursuit of a future goal.
1.91 2.13 22. I rarely take the initiative.
1.91 2.52 27. I have little self-discipline.
1.69 2.31 34. I have little persistence.
4.14 4.56 35. I develop and maintain strong beliefs.
2.10 2.29 38. I often let things in my life get out of control.
3.32 4.57 70. Do you believe that events in your life are directed by a superior power/being?
4.31 3.95 71. Do you feel you have much influence over the direction of your life (events, successes, etc.)?
3.35 2.99 76. Do you think that you can control the events and things around you?
1.80 3.24 78. I feel that whether or not I am successful it is just a matter of luck and chance, rather than of my own doing.


Americans overwhelmingly answer more positively to the two questions: (1) I am good at willing my mind to perform at a high level when needed (#51), and (2) to accomplish a future goal I can will myself to do things that I would rather not do (#66). The low Balinese responses to these two questions seem to indicate that the Balinese cannot control their wills or persist to accomplish goals, two of the things that are at the heart of volition, and this fact seems to contradict the results we just discussed concerning the cross-cultural factors that were consistent between the Balinese and the Scots.

Our view is that these responses are due primarily to the way the two questions are phrased: these are the only two questions that specifically ask about one’s ability to will something, to exert one’s will. If you look at other questions, Balinese respond with a high level of volitional competence. For instance, they can resist being influenced by other people equally as well as Americans (# 6), and they respond that they have strong determination (# 2). They also believe that they have control over their lives (#s 48, 77, 21, 58, 38, 76). Furthermore, if you look at how they assess their own behavior, one notices that they have great determination and self-control (#s 2, 6, 18, 21, 58, 11, 38). As an illustration, they may save for years, denying themselves all sorts of possessions, in order to be able to have the money to cremate a parent. Further evidence that they can be persistent in achieving their goals comes from the fact that they also respond that they can keep striving as long as it necessary and that they can resist negative influences on them.

Thus, the responses to these two questions seem to be anomalous. We believe the difference between the Balinese and the American responses results from the questions specifically asking about willing, the only two such questions in the entire questionnaire. Americans have placed the notion of willing so central in its tradition, and put so much value on it (making it central to the idea of autonomy) that it becomes a high value for Americans to focus on exerting the will. The individualist (Euro-American) culture, with its isolated mind, defined traditionally as having a faculty of will, and which views action as resulting from a direct exertion of the will, focuses on this quality, and in so responding reifies the individualist mind. At the heart of our folk psychological theory is the idea of the mind acting through the will. Among collectivist cultures, however, such a conception is not valued. To be sure, one is able to act and persist in action in these cultures, but the focus is not on exerting the individual, private will. (We will describe below an alternative concept of volition that does not place so much weight on an individualist self.) As we have indicated before, in individualist cultures, the self identifies with itself and the faculty of will, but in collectivist cultures, the self identifies with others, so what needs to be emphasized and valued in such a culture is not control over one’s individual will, but the relationship with others. Thus, one difference between individualist and collectivist cultures (or at least the Balinese culture) is that individualist cultures find it natural to talk about exerting the will towards one’s end, while collectivist cultures do not.

The Kantian tradition, especially, has emphasized the individual will, with its autonomy, as defining our most human quality. An example in political philosophy of taking this robust view of the individual self and its autonomy is found in Robert Paul Wolff’s small book, In Defense of Anarchism, in which he argues that if we take such a notion of autonomy purely, we cannot have any legitimate state. He says: “If the individual retains his autonomy by reserving to himself in each instance the final decision whether to cooperate [with the state], he thereby denies the authority of the state.” 21 In other words, the self is defined so narrowly, so bound up in its atomistic self, which has no connection with others that mediates its isolation, that there is only one choice for the moral individual—she must either exert her narrow, atomistic will or lose her autonomy. Wolff’s conclusion follows only when one does not have a defining relationship with others; if one does, the obligations found within the relationship are fundamentally part of the self and are not viewed as forced on her from the Other, from outside the self. Such an expansion of the concept of self and autonomy takes us to our next point.

The second finding that arises from our investigation involves a cultural difference in volitional focus dealing with the ends toward which one should exert the will. When the individual self is primary, as it is in individualist cultures, the focus of volitional control is on changing the world to conform to its desires, since the atomistic self is primary, while in collectivist cultures, where the self is identified with others—or, more specifically, when others are part of one’s self- concept—the self will attempt to a greater degree to exert control to integrate with others and the world. In our interpretation, we depend on the idea that there are two kinds of volitional control, primary control and secondary control, a distinction made by Rothbaum, Weisz, and Snyder. 22 In primary control, individuals attempt to change the world so that it conforms to their needs and desires, while in secondary control, the person tries to fit in with the world and “flow” with it. Our view is that the notion of primary control mainly fits in individualist cultures, with a focus on individual selves, while people in collectivist cultures exercise secondary control to a greater degree, which emphasizes connection and relationship with others.

Relying on this distinction, we believe that there is a different complex of ideas in which the concepts of self, volition, and autonomy logically complement each other in individualist cultures, and a different set of these three concepts in collectivist cultures. In other words, the individualist/collectivist distinction marks differences not only in conceptions of self, but in different concepts of volition and autonomy.

Our conclusions agree with the findings of Oerter, et al. In a significant study investigating American, Indonesian, Korean, and Japanese cultures, Oerter, et al. interviewed individuals in these cultures, asking two things: (1) what an adult should be like, and (2) how they would solve two dilemmas, one representing an interpersonal conflict, and the other an intrapersonal conflict. Based on a content analysis of the responses, they offer two conclusions. In terms of their first conclusion, Oerter, et. al. found that even collectivist cultures possess and value a notion of autonomy, “verbally expressed as being independent, having one’s own opinion, deciding independently and having economic independence.” 23  Further, they said, “Every subject tested used the term ‘responsibility’ to characterize the autonomous personality.” 24 Thus, interdependent (relational, collectivist) selves retained the notions both of autonomy and moral responsibility, so that one can expand (although we will not pursue this point) the family connection of concepts to a four-term cognitive complex of self/volition/autonomy/responsibility that was present in both independent/individualist and interdependent/collectivist cultures, but it was a different complex in the two kinds of cultures.

The second conclusion of Oerter, et al., is that individuals in both kinds of cultures talked about having control in their lives as important, and we found this in our data. The Balinese reject, for instance, the idea that others are running their lives for them (# 77), and to an even greater degree than Americans, they answer that they are in control of their habits (# 21). Likewise, they answer as strongly as Americans that they are good at controlling their emotions (# 58).

Further, the Balinese have no trouble talking about striving for their personal goals. For instance, they affirm, in almost the same proportion as Americans, that they do what they want in most situations (# 31), and they affirm to a high degree that they follow their conscience in doing many things (# 82). Furthermore, they respond even more than Americans in saying that they do anything they are convinced of without considering others’ opinions, whether or not they agree (# 81).

The difference between primary control and secondary control in volition revolves around whether or not people want to change the world, or whether or not they feel it more important to adapt to the world. Several of our questions relate to this distinction, with the Balinese clearly coming down on the side of secondary control. In two of the questions that produced the greatest difference between American and Balinese responses, to an overwhelming degree the Balinese responded that they believed that events in their lives were directed by a Superior Power/Being (# 70), and thought that whether or not they were successful was a matter of luck and chance rather than their own doing (# 78). At first glance, these responses may seem at odds with the notion that they have high volition and that they are in control of their lives. But it points to secondary control, as opposed to primary control, as the kind of control that is emphasized in Bali. Although they feel that they are in control of their own emotions (# 58), and they do not feel that others control their lives (# 77); nevertheless, they have a strong belief that they live in a spiritual world infused with divine forces. In such a world, it is more important that one adapts, that one accepts the influence of Karma or the influence of the Ancestors, or the influence of Divine forces. The notion of harmony with others and with the world is fundamental to Balinese thought.

There are other aspects of the culture that point to Bali being a collectivist, or interdependent, culture where secondary control is valued. For instance, the Balinese (Anak Agung Gde Kaleran, private communication) describe lek as one of the prime motivating factors for them, which can be translated as “shame,” but Geertz 25 has described it as stage fright, the fear of not playing their part well enough so that the merely particular aspect of themselves will show. In effect, it is a relatively low-grade but constant worry that they will not act properly toward someone else in the community or toward a group of people. Our data supports this view: one of the five questions that showed the greatest difference between American responses and Balinese responses was that the Balinese admit that they worry a lot about offending or hurting someone close to them (# 79). There is also a great disparity in the responses to a question asking whether or not they worry about shaming themselves, with the Balinese scoring much higher than the Americans (# 80). Furthermore, one of the highest scores given by the Balinese was to the question, “I act with a firm sense of duty toward my family” (#7). To a lesser degree, but still very strong in the response, the Balinese also affirmed that they act with a firm sense of duty to society (# 29). Thus, a sense of control (of self and of the world) is part of their sense of volition, as in the U.S., but their concept of volition differs in that it aims at secondary control, at fitting into the world and adapting to others (out of a sense of duty).


We believe that our data supports the view that the concept of self is fundamentally connected to the concepts of volition and autonomy. As we can talk about two fundamentally different kinds of cultures, an independent (individualist) one and an interdependent (collectivist/relational) one, with different notions of self, we can talk about two different views of volition and autonomy (we plan to publish a much more thorough analysis of the different concepts of autonomy later). The traditional Western concept assumes that there is an independent, atomistic self, and it places emphasis on the ability of the individual to make decisions independently of others and it exerts primary volitional control, attempting to change the external world to conform to one’s own needs and desires. Likewise, autonomy is expressed when nothing outside of the atomistic self has any legitimate obligatory power.

This kind of volition is not sought as strongly in Bali. The Balinese certainly pursue their own interests within a circumscribed area—so long as it does not conflict with group harmony, or with adat (local custom)—and they show a great deal of self-control and persistence. The ideas of initiating action and pursuing them with strong determination seem to apply to both cultures. However, identifying with others in their self-concept means that they do not primarily seek to change others or the world to conform to their individual needs and desires, but when there is a conflict between self and the others, they will use their self-control to harmonize themselves with the group. 26 Thus, the good of the group becomes a value, since self-identity is tied to the group. Thus, secondary control fits with their notion of a relational self, where they identify themselves with others. In such a culture, autonomy is not viewed as acting in isolation, since there is no self that is in isolation. The relationship with others always mediates one’s actions and one’s obligations.

While there are some aspects of volition that seem to hold cross-culturally, we need to understand volition as also culturally contextualized. The cross-cultural elements of volition seem to consist of those elements that relate to an ability to initiate and persist in action, so long as one has personal qualities (e.g., self-confidence) that psychologically shore up one’s decisions. But other aspects of volition seem to be culturally contextualized, at least in our data sample. These aspects relate to whether it is important to focus on the will as a function of mind, and on whether one primarily seeks to control the world, or to fit into the world. Finally, we have attempted to show that these differences in volition related to different concepts of self, which, themselves, are culturally contextualized. Thus, it is not possible to discuss volitional (or autonomy) in a context that ignores concepts of self. Indeed, these three ideas are interdependent. A collectivist idea of volition and of autonomy is related to a collectivist notion of self. Conversely, the traditionally Euro-American emphasis on and understanding of volition makes sense only in a context of an individualist notion of self.

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  1. We would like to thank the Bial Foundation of Porto, Portugal, for their support in this project. 
  2. We do not distinguish in this paper between volition and will. Indeed, we employ the terms broadly, meaning simply the agency responsible for initiating and continuing actions.
  3. Harry Triandis, Individualism and Collectivism (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995).
  4. René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Educational Publishing, 1951) 27. 
  5. N. Ach, Űber die Willenstatigkeit und das Denken (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1905). See also A. Michotte, Etude Experimental sur le Choix Volontaire (Louvain: 1910).  
  6. William James, The Principles of Psychology, 2 vols. (New York: Dover Publications, 1918/1890) Vol. II 526. 
  7. James, Vol. II 522. 
  8. W.L. Gregory, R.B. Ciandini, and K.M. Carpenter, “Self-relevant Scenarios as Mediators of Likelihood Estimates and Compliance: Does Imagining Make It So?” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 43 (1982): 89-99.  
  9. A. Richardson, “Mental Practice: A Review and Discussion, Part I,” Research Quarterly 38 (1967): 95-107. 
  10. E.R. Korn and K. Johnson, Visualizaton: The Uses of Imagery in the Health Professions (Homewood, IL: DowJones-Irwin, 1983). See also D.G. Mackay, “The problem of Rehearsal or Mental Practice,” Journal of Motor Behavior 13 (1981): 274-285. 
  11. Susan E. and Hazel Rose Markus Cross, “The Willful Self,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 14.4 (1990): 726-742.
  12. James, Vol. II 567-8.
  13. Hoyt Edge, “Individuality In a Relational Culture: A Comparative Study,” Tribal Epistemologies: Essays in the Philosophy of Anthropology, ed. Helmut Wautischer (England: Ashgate Publishing, 1998) 31-9.
  14. Hoyt Edge, A Constructive Postmodern Perspective on Self and Community: From Atomism to Holism (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen, 1994).
  15. Louis Dumont, Homo Hierarchicus (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1970) 4, 8. 
  16. Richard A. Shweder and Edmund J. Bourne, “Does the Concept of the Person Vary Cross-Culturally?” Culture Theory Essays on Mind, Self, and Emotion, eds. Richard A. Shweder and Robert A. LeVine (New York: Cambridge UP, 1984) 190.  
  17. Anthony Marsella, “Culture, Self, and Mental disorder,” Culture and Self: Asian and American Perspectives, eds. Anthony Marsella, George DeVos, and Francis Hsu (New York: Travistock Publications, 1985) 209.  
  18. John Kirkpatrick and Geoffrey M. White, “Exploring Ethnopsychologies,” Exploring Pacific Ethnopsychologies, eds. Geoffrey White, M. and John Kirkpatrick (Berkeley: U of California P, 1985) 11.  
  19. H. Markus and S. Kitayana, “Culture and the Self: Implications for Cognition, Emotion, and Motivation,” Psychological Review 98 (1991) 226. 
  20. The fact that the questions asked in this factor are stated in a negative way should not be a problem. For methodological reasons, many of the questions on the questionnaire had to be asked negatively. Presumably, volitionally competent people would rate these negatively stated questions low, thus asserting that they are competent in these abilities. The final category, Helping/Influencing Others, is not central in our discussion now and seems to be simply one consistent avenue of expressing volition.
  21. Robert Paul Wolff, In Defense of Anarchism (New York: Harper and Row, 1970) 40. 
  22. F. Rothbaum, J.R. Weisz, and S.S. Snyder, “Changing the World and Changing the Self: A Two-process Model of Perceived Control,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 42.1 (1982) 27.
  23. Rolf Oerter and Rosemarie Oerter, Hendriati Agostiani, Hye-On Kim, and Sutji Wibowo, “The Concept of Human Nature in East Asia: Etic and Emic characteristics,” Culture and Psychology 2 (1996) 27. 
  24. Oerter 28.
  25. Clifford Geertz, “Person, Place and Conduct in Bali,” The Interpretation of Culture, ed. Clifford Geertz (New York: Basic Books, 1973).
  26. Interview data, too extensive to discuss here, confirm this position.

Hoyt Edge and

Hoyt Edge is the Hugh F. and Jeannette G. McKean Professor of Philosophy, and the Associate Dean of the Faculty, at Rollins College. He has published an edited book and a co-authored book, as well as written A Constructive Postmodern Perspective on Self and Community: From Atomism to Holism. His background is in philosophical psychology, and his research interests focus primarily on Australian Aboriginal culture and the Balinese culture.

Luh Ketut Suryani is Professor of Psychiatry and head of the Department of Psychiatry at Udayana University, Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia. She has published a number of books, including The Balinese People and Trance in Possession in Bali, both coauthored with Gordon Jensen (published by Oxford University Press); Cultural Factors, Religious Beliefs and Mental Illness in Bali; and Meditation. She also serves as Chairperson for such organizations as The Bali Aging Foundation, The Indonesian Cultural Psychiatric Association, and The Youth Foundation.