What values do you consider “collectivist”? How about “individualist”?
If you had to explain your own values, under which headline would they fall?
This study examines the values of American, Indian, and Japanese populations.
The intent of this cross-cultural research was to measure the individualist, collectivist, and mixed values in each culture to see where they fell.
First off, what constitutes an “individualist” versus a “collectivist” value?
The researchers used the theory of a universal structure of human values, proposed by Schwartz and Bilsky in 1987 (revised in 1992).
Each value is labeled individualist, collectivist, or mixed and are as follows:
- Power: Attainment of social status, dominance, and control. (Individualist)
- Achievement: Personal success and competence. (I)
- Hedonism: Pleasure and enjoyment. (I)
- Stimulation: Excitement, novelty, and a thrilling life. (I)
- Self-Direction: Independent thought, action, and autonomy. (I)
- Benevolence: Preserving and improving the welfare of others. (Collectivist)
- Tradition: Respect for and acceptance of cultural customs and traditions. (C)
- Conformity: Restraint of behaviors to maintain social order and harmony. (C)
- Universalism: Understanding, tolerance, and protection for the welfare of all. (Mixed)
- Security: Stability of self, relationships, and society. (M)
- Spirituality: Finding meaning, inner harmony, and having a spiritual life. (M)
These values encompass a range of motivations and goals that individuals may prioritize in their lives.
Along with these value types were subcategories of value traits.
And of these value traits, Americans, Indians, and Japanese participants were compatible in 14 of the 22 individualist values.
Of the collectivist values, participants were compatible in 13 out of 15.
Lastly, of the mixed values, there was compatibility in 9 out of 15 (and absolutely none regarding spiritual values).
The American participants, as expected, scored high on individualist values and mixed types. They had a preference for standing out from the crowd.
Indians, on the other hand, were drawn to collectivist and mixed values. They believed in the power of unity.
The Japanese students threw a bit of a curveball. They didn’t follow any clear pattern of individualism or collectivism.
This study suggests that no country – including the United States, India, or Japan – can be neatly labeled as just individualist or collectivist. Each has a melting pot of values.
Independent variables like gender, race, income, or media usage may also help us understand why individualistic and collectivist orientations coexist in the same cultures.