Unlike American’s top values which tend to focus on self-actualization, ambition, and achievement, the Thai also place high value on a group of “other-directed” social interaction values, designed to project a picture of smooth, kind, pleasant, no-conflict interpersonal interactions, in short, the surface harmony observed by many.
This orientation is characterized by the preference for a non-assertive, polite, and humble type of personality (expressed through appearance, manners, and interpersonal approach), as well as the preference for relaxed, and pleasant interaction which accounts for the smiling and friendly aspects of the Thai people that fascinates most foreign visitors.
The persons demonstrating these are caring and considerate; kind and helpful; responsive to situations and opportunities; self-controlled, tolerant, and restrained; polite and humble; calm and cautious; contented; and socially-related.
This group of values is significant for three reasons:
First, five out of about eight interpersonal related values emerged on the Thai value list but not on the American value list.They are: caring and considerate, responsive to situations and opportunities, calm and cautious, contented, and socially-related.
Second, some of the “social smoothing” values have consistently secured the Thai significantly high rankings in the Thai value system.
Third, this finding means these values are deeply internalized and functional in the everyday life of the Thai.
By knowing these five values, missionaries and Thai Christians are able to learn how to manage the interaction stage in intercultural communication because the Thai are intuitive at observing and practicing these subtle social rules.
– From a study done by Dr. Suntaree Komin, a Thai psychologist and a Fulbright scholar, who wrote a publication entitled Psychology of the Thai People: Values and Behavioral Patterns.