Doing as one is told starts in the education system. Much learning is by rote and repetition. School uniforms are prolific. Independent thinking seems to be discouraged. So It's no surprise that, when adding Bt 20 and Bt 20 in a restaurant, the cashier will reach for a calculator.
Mothers tend to pamper their younger children to a point beyond reason in the West. It's fairly common for a mother to perform a teenage son's ablutions.
On the other hand, people down on their luck are pretty much out of luck as well. Social services are almost nonexistent. A Thai friend recently told me how surprised he was by the number of homeless Thais sleeping in Lumpini Park in Bangkok.
While Thailand has a growing middle class, make no mistake in understanding that "hi-so" rules. These are the handful of elite -- business owners, socialites, politicians, etc, .. and usually in Bangkok.
Saving & Losing Face in Thailand
Understanding "face" is difficult. The reasons that Thais engage in actions that may seem to westerners to be convoluted is often an assurance of saving face -- saving someone's face. That's because one of the greatest errors one can make is causing someone to lose face.(coming soon)