Year of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

MFA: Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating

Directing Professor

Elizabeth O. Dulemba


In an individualist society, the usefulness of collectivist ideas can often be overlooked. This is potentially because individualism and collectivism have been incorrectly framed as oppositional. This thesis examines themes of individualism and collectivism in children's’ picture books by using the psychological concepts of individualism, collectivism, idiocentrism and allocentrism. Picture books examined include: The Lorax and Horton Hears a Who!, by Dr. Seuss, Swimmy, by Leo Lionni, What Do People Do All Day?, by Richard Scarry, and Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister. This thesis studies how individualism and collectivism interact with each other within a story, and proposes using a psychological framework called collectivistic independence to create an intentional balance of these themes in children’s picture books. Collectivistic independence is a term coined by psychologists Hoon-Seok Choi, Jeong-Gil Seo, Jeewon Hyun, and Myriam N. Bechtoldt, that describes a combination of individualist self-representation and collectivist value orientation to gain the most effective results in group cooperation. By applying this lens to picture books, authors can have an easily understandable framework to create stories that promote cooperation through collectivist themes without coming into conflict with individualist themes.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of preserving this thesis document is to provide a definitive record of student progress upon completion of the degree. This text will not reflect any revisions to the manuscript made after degree completion. For the most current version of the work, please contact its author.

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