The Triple Package | Amy Chua

Summary of: The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America
By: Amy Chua


Peek into the secret behind the rise and fall of cultural groups in America by exploring the book ‘The Triple Package,’ authored by Amy Chua. Discover the three forces that successful groups share and how they contradict fundamental aspects of American thinking. Learn how groups such as Indian Americans, Taiwanese, and Jewish Americans have excelled and how the Triple Package influences their success. Dive deep into the fascinating concepts of superiority complex, insecurity, and impulse control forming the Triple Package, and how they balance each other to ultimately drive success.

Rising Above The Pack

Successful US groups share three key traits that have helped them attain success. These traits include a superiority complex, insecurity, and impulse control.

Success is a term that means different things to different people. And while achieving success can be greatly influenced by the station of one’s parents, the American dream of being able to move from poverty to riches is still a possibility, particularly for immigrants. There are groups in America that excel above others in road to success, and this depends on your definition of the term. For instance, Indian Americans have the highest median household income of all census-tracked ethnic groups at $90,500 annually, with Taiwanese coming in a close second.
Jewish Americans are also successful, having earned numerous Pulitzer Prizes, Nobel Prizes, and Tony Awards. Although they constitute a small fraction of the population, they earn huge amounts from hedge funds. There are also groups whose success has waned over time. For example, Protestants, which were once at the top of the American economy, hold less than the average amount of the country’s wealth.

So, what makes some communities rise above others? The answer lies in the triple package, a combination of three forces: a superiority complex, insecurity, and impulse control. The first one is the deep-seated belief that the group you belong to is better than others. This belief may be based on religious supremacy, such as with Mormons; the group’s historical significance as with the Chinese; or having been told that you’re the chosen group, as with Jews. The second factor is insecurity, which many immigrants, in particular, experience as they navigate social and economic anxieties. Finally, impulse control, which is the ability to resist temptation particularly in challenging conditions. All successful American groups share these three traits.

The Triple Package

The Triple Package is the combination of three traits: superiority, insecurity, and impulse control. It produces success in America despite contradicting liberal beliefs and psychology’s understanding of insecurity. This trio of qualities paired with tension creates a need to prove oneself, driving individuals to succeed. The “can’t you do better than everyone else?” mentality exemplifies this. Psychology armor built from the superiority complex and impulse control produces strength to persevere, leading to increasing endurance.

Side Effects of Success

The Triple Package, a combination of three specific traits, can lead to success but also has its downsides. One of its consequences is the disappearance of groups as they assimilate into American culture and intermarry. Another is decline, which manifests in a sense of security and declining academic performance. The third effect is reinvention, which can boost creativity but also cause members to feel like outsiders in both their cultural group and in broader US society. Rejecting a typical understanding of success can help avoid these side effects. The Amish provide an example of a group that avoids them by maintaining isolation from the mainstream. However, the impoverishment of certain American minorities is not due to a lack of the Triple Package but rather systematic exploitation, discrimination, and macroeconomic factors.

Traits That Make Cultural Groups Successful

Cultural groups that share values, beliefs, and practices passed down through generations tend to be more successful, including Jews, Cuban exiles, Iranians, Armenians, Kurds, Turks, the Lebanese, Asians, West Indians, and African groups like Nigerians. However, one group that stands out for its success in income, academic achievement, corporate leadership and professional development are Mormons. Mormons now occupy powerful positions in the upper echelons of American business and government. The real symbol of the Mormon ability to concentrate wealth is their church, known as the Church of Latter-day Saints or the LDS Church, which has an estimated asset of $25-30 billion and an annual revenue of $5-6 billion. However, not all subgroups of successful cultural groups have achieved equal success. For example, insular fundamentalist Mormon groups have struggled despite sharing many cultural similarities with mainstream Mormonism.

Superiority Complexes

Some groups believe in their own exceptionalism, with a Jewish claim of being God’s chosen people and Cuban exiles believing themselves to be special and privileged. Black Americans have been denied a claim to superiority due to slavery, but recent African immigrants use an “ethnic armor” defense to handle discrimination. Some African tribes, such as the Igbo and Yoruba, have had success in West Africa, strengthening their superiority complexes.

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