Understanding Thai society and behaviour

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Takiap
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Re: Understanding Thai society and behaviour

Post by Takiap » Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:31 am

404cameljockey wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:55 pm
Takiap wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 8:46 am
RCer wrote:
Mon Oct 23, 2017 5:48 pm
The me first fits nicely into the Ego category and pretty much matches any other place in the world.

Well, I must have been heavily sedated during all the years I live in my own country and in the UK because never before have I witnessed the sort of "me first" attitude I witness here numerous times a day. Driving on the roads here is just one glaringly obvious example.

And for the record, I don't have any sort of agenda and I am most definitely not nationalistic. I have long since accepted the Thai way of life, and as I have said so often on here, I would hate to see Thailand, or the Thai people change. After all, the Thai way of life is the only reason why I am still here.


Anyway, the point I was actually trying to make is that I don't think the study mentioned in this thread is of any great significance unless you a closet shrink. :thumb:

:cheers:
Driving is easy, and nothing to do with Thai mentality, only to do with accepted local standards (I was going to say "not European", but I've driven on the insane roads of Rome, Paris and Bari). I think maybe you're a little sheltered). If you are first to a junction or if you are in front on a road then you have right of way. Not hard to get a grip on. You do know about the '30 percent field of responsibility' (or something like that, I forget the precise detail), which I believe is even understood by the police as a rule of the road? Most people won't take responsibility for anything happening outside of their immediate field of view (forget wing mirrors). The people they can't see should be responsible for dangers in their own field of vision, and so on going back down the road.

I'm not saying I don't get furious occasionally, but I understand that I need to calm down. :D


Jokes aside mate, but what you have described, I learned more than a decade ago. I know exactly how things work on the roads over here, and I generally don't have a problem with it. However, Thai behavior on the roads certainly is connected to a "me first" attitude. On several occasions I've had other motorbikes know my mirrors because they have to get to the front of the queue. I've see two elderly Thai couples come off their bikes only because Somchai wanted to get past them regardless of the fact that there was not enough space.

Now, you can either blame Thai mentality, which is obviously a part of Thai culture, or you can blame things like this on a serious lack of IQ, which I would prefer not to do. Anyone who believe there is not a serious "me first" attitude in this country is living in Lala Land. And yes, I am fully aware of the fact that it is something which is not unique to Thailand.

I must have lived a sheltered life? Hahaha, if only you knew. Out of curiosity, where do you draw the line between cultural behaviors and mentality?

:cheers:
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Takiap
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Re: Understanding Thai society and behaviour

Post by Takiap » Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:55 am

404cameljockey wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:43 pm
caller wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:17 pm
STEVE G wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:56 am
Those who want to see anything else generally have an agenda that wants to highlight the differences for nationalistic reasons.
That's a pretty loaded, catch-all barbed comment.

As I said in my response, I see what I perceive as a 'me first' attitude here, but am also conscious I might be missing something in translation. Care to tell me what that is?

Because when I learn a mayor won't pay to finish a half-built 2km stretch of road that is basically a dust bowl, causing massive problems for those living along the road, food vendors, restaurant and those riding bikes and the like, all because he wants a bigger kick back, I'm not sure what I am meant to think?
I really don't think that has anything do to with a study on the general psyche of Thai people. Anyone sitting on the 'gravy train' can start to show signs of corruption in most countries around the globe.

I find a lot in the study that chimes with my experience of interacting with everyday Thai people; not police, not government officials, not HiSo's with their own set of social rules (what is usually called 'the don't you know who I am' complex).
Mate, I have been interacting and living in between ordinary Thai people ever since December 1997. In fact, since 2003, I have never been out of Thailand for a period of more than 3 or 4 days. Right this minute, I am in the midst of everyday Thais. I don't hang out with Farang. In the evenings when I venture out for a couple of beers, I do so alone or in the company of Thais, usually laborers and other everyday locals.
Please let me assure you that while many Thai will publicly denounce bribery and corruption, the vast majority still approve of it, as has been shown by several studies and surveys carried out by various Thai organizations over the years.

The study which was mentioned in the thread, places "ego" as the most important value, as I am sure you will have noticed. Now, regardless of what you may believe, there certainly is a "me first" attitude here, and 99% of Thais have no problem with that and will gladly even admit to it.

The "do you know who I am" mindset is DEFINITELY no restricted to officials and Hi-So clowns. It is the norm in Thailand, as this study has pointed out.

Relax mate, nobody is bashing Thais in this thread.

:cheers:
Don't try to impress me with your manner of dress cos a monkey himself is a monkey no less - cold fact

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Re: Understanding Thai society and behaviour

Post by 404cameljockey » Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:50 pm

Thanks for the replies Takiap. As I said, this driving mentality exists in many places, even Southern European ones. I just don't accept that it's a cultural thing. As you mention, a 'devil-may-care' attitude can also be compounded by lack of education (I agree with you - not low IQ as many say and without justification). Another example is that Indians and Filipinos taking driving lessons in the UAE will be taught most of the bad things and almost nothing good. They then take a 5 minutes test (in a car with a few other hopefuls taking turns) and then get passed or failed. With this level of education, defensive driving is not in their mentality (I don't say culture). Add the Thai fatalism and you get not a 'me first' thing but a mai pen rai thing. I'd like you to consider attributing the bad driving more to Buddhist belief in preordination ( I accept that is cultural), but also lack of education, and copying the behaviour of others seen on the roads, rather than 'me first' aggression.

Approving of corruption, again and as someone else said above is also not a cultural thing. In the UK during WWII anyone who could would try to wangle extra coupons or some under the counter beef, silk stockings, etc.. It's simply that those that have a lot often still want more and those that don't have need a little. The words to describer it are 'human nature'. Approval of corruption isn't what you mentioned before though, only an official taking a backhander. Corruption is a force of nature, humans are acquisitive. So, it's unavoidable (even to an extent acceptable) in small doses but must be stamped on when it destroys lives or even countries.

Re your question about culture/mentality, obviously mentality is informed by a nation's culture, there's no getting around it. But mentality can deviate from cultural roots in very specific ways under certain circumstances. Driving being a particularly strong motivator to behave differently and this is the same worldwide. Psychology acknowledges that once someone gets into a little tin box they feel more isolated from the world around them and are likely to behave abnormally. More aggressive reactions being just one outcome. You can also see this at work when you see a person looking into their rear-view mirror and deeply excavating their nose without any attempt to hide it. I've never seen a driver do that with a passenger on board though. :D Psychology is in play here; a change of mentality, but nothing to do with culture IMO.

I believe the same occurs on a larger scale when people lose themselves in cities rather than towns (even villages). This doesn't reflect the culture of a single nation, only immediate circumstances.

Of course I acknowledge your long experience but also take into account the views I read from others and my own experience.

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Re: Understanding Thai society and behaviour

Post by caller » Wed Oct 25, 2017 4:32 pm

STEVE G wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 8:03 pm
You don't have to go back that far in British history to find that kind of corruption going on, in the 19th century it was quite normal. I don't think there is any national trait that makes one nationality more corrupt than another.
I wasn't really talking of corruption, although I accept that is a large part of my scenario - he backed down by the way - too many complaints went way above him, his arse was duly kicked and a few weeks later work resumed. I used to live off of that road. But the fact is that his own kick back was more important to him, despite his elected position and mayoral responsibilities, than the suffering his actions caused to so many. Maybe face played a part in it as well?

There might not be a trait that makes one nationality more corrupt than another, but there is an ethos in certain Countries that determines whether they are more or less corrupt than others. It's to do with education, teaching right from wrong and having clearly defined and understood rules that are enforced when needed. I don't think much of that applies to Thai society in the same way it is understood in Northern Europe, for example.
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