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Multimethod probes of individualism and collectivism


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culture are important in producing advertising; individualism and collectivism are part of the culture dimension.

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Multimethod probes of individualism and collectivism

  1. 1. By: Harry C. Triandis and Christopher McCusker Presented By: Omar Thabit Noorazlin Ani
  2. 2.  Individualism is very high in the United States, Britain, and British-influenced countries, such as Australia (Hofstede, 1980), and has been studied by diverse methods, both historical (Inkeles, 1983) and empirical (Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swidler, & Tipton, 1985).  In many samples from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, a contrasting cultural syndrome, called collectivism, has been identified.  Collectivists emphasize values that promote the welfare of their ingroup, whereas individualists emphasize values that promote individual goals.  Campbell (1986, p. 130) stated: "Innovation, validation, and cumulative growth in a research tradition are intrinsically incompatible goals, in that too much of one jeopardizes the others." He supports funding policies that place greater emphasis on replication that is "heteromethod/cross-cultural." The present studies use this approach.  Thus, the "new look" advocated by Campbell calls for multiple methods, both hard and soft, and replications under diverse conditions. It rejects both the extremes of positivism and constructionism, but uses elements of both approaches.
  3. 3.  Individualism-collectivism constructs have been popular in most of the social sciences for about a century. For example, the terms Gemeinschaft (community) and Gesellschaft (society), in sociology, or relational versus individualistic value orientation, in anthropology, have been used for some time.  These factors have been identified both in factor analyses where the culture was the unit of analysis and in factor analyses where the individual was the unit of analysis. However, the importance of these factors was different. Across cultures, Family Integrity and Distance From Ingroups accounted for more variance; within cultures, Self-Reliance and Interdependence and Sociability accounted for more variance. It is convenient to have different terms for dimensions that are measured across cultures and within cultures. Corresponding to individualism across cultures, we have a personality attribute we call idiocentrism; corresponding to collectivism across cultures, we have a personality attribute we call allocentrism (Triandis et al, 1985).
  4. 4.  In short, it seems that collectivism is best described by Family Integrity (the only factor that correlated with Hofstede's 1980, index) and individualism by Emotional Detachment; allocentrism is best described by Interdependence and Sociability and idiocentrism by Self-Reliance.
  5. 5.  Collectivism can best be defined by means of several attributes. A person is most likely to be a member of a collectivist culture if the person has each of the attributes.  Theoretically, one can classify people by means of multidimensional schemes that are based on similarities in patterns of having or not having particular attributes. This means that, in addition to "pure collectivism " there are also many intermediate types, as well as types with both individualist and collectivist attributes. The following section presents the attributes of the pure collectivist-individualist types.
  6. 6.  First, collectivists pay much attention to a certain ingroup and, compared with individualists, behave more differently toward members of that group than toward members of outgroups. The ingroup can best be defined by common fate. In prehistoric times the ingroup must have been the unit of survival, or the food community. If there was no food, all members of the ingroup starved together.  Individualists also have ingroups and outgroups, but they do not see as sharp a contrast between them and do not behave as differently toward ingroup and outgroup members as do collectivists. When there is conflict between ingroup and individual goals in collectivist cultures, ingroup goals have primacy over individual goals; in individualist cultures, personal goals have primacy over ingroup goals.
  7. 7.  Collectivists tend to think of groups as the basic unit of analysis of society (Nakane, 1970). Individualists tend to think of individuals as the basic unit of analysis.  This tendency will become even stronger in collectivist cultures because the emphasis on ingroup harmony requires ingroup members to conform and to be homogeneous.  In collectivist cultures there is great concern about what happens in the ingroup and to ingroup members. This is also true in individualist cultures, but in such cultures, the ingroup is narrow, consisting only of first-degree relatives and a few "best friends," and there is much emotional detachment from most larger ingroups. The self is defined as an appendage of the ingroup in collectivist cultures and as a separate and distinct entity in individualist cultures.
  8. 8.  Collectivist cultures have few stable ingroups, and people are influenced very much by these ingroups. Behavior in individualistic cultures is rarely greatly influenced by ingroups, because there are so many ingroups and they often make contradictory demands. The individual decides which group to pay attention to and "picks and chooses"  Vertical relationships (e.g, parent-child) that are in conflict with horizontal relationships (e.g, spouse-spouse) take priority in collectivist cultures, and vice versa in individualistic cultures.  Certain values such as achievement, pleasure, and competition are emphasized by individualists more than by collectivists, whereas family integrity, security, obedience, and conformity are valued more by collectivists.
  9. 9.  As people become affluent, they become financially independent and independent from their ingroups. Affluence  is also usually associated with industrialization and is related to cultural complexity (indexed by such variables as the number of distinct occupations, levels of political organization, and population density). Complex cultures tend to be more individualistic than simple cultures because there are many potential ingroups and individuals have an opportunity to choose whether to stay in or leave these ingroups.  Affluence is related to having small families, including having only one child. Small families allow parents to raise their children individualistically, and children of such families tend to be idiocentric.
  10. 10.  In agricultural cultures there is more collectivism and conformity (Berry, 1979) because it is more functional to conform to authorities while public works (e.g, building of irrigation canals) are being performed  Exposure to the modern mass media also increases the shift from collectivism to individualism, because most television programs are produced in the individualistic cultures.  Social mobility and geographical mobility also contribute to individualism. Those who have migrated to other countries are more individualistic. Movement from rural to urban centers also is correlated with individualism.  Child-rearing practices that characterize individualist cultures emphasize the child's autonomy, creativity, self-reliance, and independence from family. In collectivist cultures obedience, duty, and sacrifice for the ingroup are emphasized.
  11. 11.  Socialization can be conceived of as both an antecedent and consequence of individualism. Individualists raise their children to be self-reliant and independent, but self-reliance and independence also create individualism. Thus, circular causation is involved between the cultural syndrome and socialization. Among the consequences, the most important concern social behavior.
  12. 12.  Collectivists behave toward their friends and coworkers with more intimacy (e.g, revealing personal information), and toward their outgroups with less intimacy, than do individualists. The hierarchical structure of collectivist cultures means that there is more subordination and less superordination toward ingroup members in collectivist than in individualist cultures; also, there should be less subordination and more superordination of outgroups by collectivists than by individualists. Because individualists must enter and leave many ingroups, they develop superb skills for superficial interactions, but do not have very good skills for intimate behaviors. Some of the data for these statements can be found in reports by Triandis et al.(1986, 1988), and a review of the literature can be found in Triandis (1990).
  13. 13.  Method 1: Social Content of the Self  To test this hypothesis, we asked subjects in both collectivist and individualists cultures to respond to the Kuhn and McPartland (1954) "I am . . ." method. Subjects were required to complete 20 sentences that began with the words "I am. . ." as if they were talking to themselves and not paying attention to logic. Their responses were content analyzed by considering whether each response was linked to a group or a demographic category with which the subject might experience common fate. For example, "I am a son" refers to family, "I am Roman Catholic" refers to religion, "I am living in New York" refers to location, and so on.  We noted the percentage of the subject's responses that were linked to a social entity and called this the %S score. In addition, we noted how many responses referred to a particular social category. For example, if three of the responses were linked to family, the availability of family was 3. Finally, we noted how early in the hierarchy of 20 responses the family was mentioned. This measure was called accessibility (Higgins & King, 1981). If, for example, the family was the first response, the family category had an accessibility of 20; if it was the last response, it had an accessibility of 1.
  14. 14.  Method 1: Social Content of the Self  For the Hawaii samples, we also had information about the cultural background of their 10 best friends, and we used that information to estimate their degree of collectivism. If they were foreign students from East Asia whose friends were also from East Asia, they were given a score of 1. If they were Americans of European background with friends who were Americans of European background, they were given a score of 7. The intermediate values were given to different combinations of background and friend's background (e.g, second-generation American of East Asian background, with many American friends of European background: a score of 4). This rating correlated with the subject's %S - .24 (based on N = 183,  Thus, it appears that %S is a satisfactory measure of collectivism. Collectivists do indeed define themselves more in ingroup terms than do individualists. Incidentally, this individual differences score varies from zero to 100%, but individuals with a zero %S score were found only in the United States, and individuals with a 100% %S score were found only in the PRC.
  15. 15.  Method 2: Judgments of the Homogeneity of Ingroups and Outgroups  We presented to subjects from collectivist and individualist cultures the names of ethnic groups commonly found in their social environment. We asked them to judge "how much agreement you think there is about what people ought to do, what goals people should have, and what standards should be used to judge if a behavior is good or bad, among members of the following communities." Their judgments were made on a 10-point scale ranging from total dissimilarity of views (0) to total similarity of views (9).  In addition, the same stimulus groups were used to measure the perceived psychological distance of the self from these groups. This was done by rating the "distance" between each subject and each group on a scale ranging from we are as similar as possible (1) to we are as different as possible (9). Our theoretical notions lead to the expectation that collectivists will see their ingroups as more homogeneous than their outgroups; hence, the greater the distance between self and the group, the more heterogeneous the group would be judged to be.
  16. 16.  Method 2: Judgments of the Homogeneity of Ingroups and Outgroups  Table 1 presents the homogeneity ratings from Hawaii and Illinois.  According to our hypothesis, collectivists will perceive their ingroups as more homogeneous than their outgroups, whereas individualists will perceive their ingroups as more heterogeneous than their outgroups. Table 1 shows that the Hawaii collectivist samples support the prediction (Chinese-background subjects—only one outgroup was more homogeneous than the ingroup, binomial test, p < .01; Filipino-background subjects —only one again, binomial test, p < .01; Japanese-background subjects—no case where an outgroup was perceived to be more homogeneous than the ingroup, p < .001). The individualist samples tended to be in the opposite direction, but did not reach significance.  The Illinois Whites, in 11 of 15 cases, rated the outgroup as more homogeneous than the ingroup. In the case of Blacks, the outgroup was seen as more homogeneous than the ingroup in only 2 of the IS cases (p < .001), so they responded like the collectivists.
  17. 17.  Method 2: Judgments of the Homogeneity of Ingroups and Outgroups  Table 2 presents the same data obtained in the PRC.  Table 2 is important because it indicates that the Chinese, who are not a minority in their own country, also perceive ingroups as more homogeneous than outgroups. In this case we have 4 ingroups (residents of different Chinese provinces) and 10 outgroups. The means fall perfectly in the expected pattern.  Note also, in Table 2, that the more distance between the perceiver and a group, the more likely that group is to be perceived as heterogeneous. That was determined separately for each of the 39 Chinese subjects. In the case of 31 of the 39 subjects, the greater the distance, the greater the perceived heterogeneity. This was significant at p < .001 by means of a binomial test.  In addition, the 39 rank-order correlations were converted to z scores, and the z scores were averaged and reconverted into correlations. The results indicated a correlation of—.57 (p < .0001). Thus, the greater the perceived distance, the more heterogeneous the group is perceived to be.
  18. 18.  Method 2: Judgments of the Homogeneity of Ingroups and Outgroups  Table 3 shows the distance data from Hawaii and Illinois. As expected, from common sense, the ingroup means show less distance than the outgroup means. For all groups, the number of cases of the ingroup being closer to the self than the outgroup was highly significant (p < .002).  However, we were interested in the possibility that the ratio of distances from outgroups versus ingroups might be larger for the collectivist than the individualist samples. The outcome was equivocal. In the case of the Chinese, the ratio was 1.53. For the Filipinos and Japanese, the ratios were 2.5 and 2.38, respectively; for the European- background Hawaii sample, the ratio was 1.79; and for the Illinois Whites and Illinois Blacks, the ratios were 1.9 and 2.6, respectively. Thus, there is a tendency in the expected direction, but it does not reach significance (p <. 14).
  19. 19.  Method 3: Attitude Items  Attitude items analyzed in previous studies (Triandis et al, 1986, 1988), both across and within cultures, were used with some of the samples. The hypothesis was that the more collectivist the sample, the more agreement there will be with the items of the Family Integrity factor.
  20. 20.  Method 3: Attitude Items  Table 4 presents the means of the standard scores obtained from each sample. The differences between idiocentrics and allocentrics on the Self-Reliance and Distance From Ingroups factors should be ignored, because they are artifacts of the way allocentrics and idiocentrics were denned.  If the standard scores of the two collectivist cultures, on the left, are consistently different from the standard scores of the two individualist samples, on the right, it would be appropriate to assume that there is a difference between collectivists and individualists on those items. Inspection of the table shows that the collectivists are somewhat higher on Self-Reliance; substantially higher on Family Integrity, as was hypothesized; slightly higher on Interdependence; and quite a bit lower on Distance From Ingroups than the individualist samples. The hypothesis was based on previous work (Triandis et al, 1986), but the additional findings fall rather neatly into the general theoretical framework, with the exception of the collectivist emphasis on self-reliance, which may be a reflection of modernization pressures in both the PRC and Hong Kong.
  21. 21.  Method 4: Value Items  The 56 value items developed by Schwartz (see Schwartz & Bilsky, 1987) were used with some of the individualist and collectivist samples. This instrument consists of 30 values presented in uppercase letters with a synonym in parentheses, such as, EQUALITY (equal opportunity for all), and 26 attributes, such as, INDEPENDENT (self-reliant, self-sufficient).  The subjects judged these stimuli on the extent to which they constituted "a guiding principle in my life" on a scale ranging from not important (0) to of supreme importance (7) (an option of/ am opposed to i7 —f 1 ] was available for those who wanted it).  The hypothesis was that the more collectivist the sample, the more they would emphasize values that promote the welfare of the ingroup (e.g., FAMILY, SECURITY, TRUE FRIENDSHIP, and HONORING PARENTS AND ELDERS), and the more individualist the sample, the more subjects would emphasize values that promote individual goals (e.g., EXCITING LIFE, INDEPENDENT, DARING, and CHOOSING OWN GOALS).
  22. 22.  Method 4: Value Items  The Schwartz values instrument was used only with the U.S. allocentrics and idiocentrics (described earlier) and the PRC sample. Table 5 presents the means. The hypothesis was that collectivists will endorse values that promote the welfare of an ingroup, whereas individualists will favor values that promote individual goals. Of special interest are data patterns that show that both US. samples are either higher or lower than the Chinese, especially if the allocentrics are closer to the Chinese than are the idiocentrics.  The values SOCIAL ORDER, NATIONAL SECURITY, SOCIAL RECOGNITION, and ACCEPTING MY POSITION IN LIFE fall into this pattern. Continued..
  23. 23.  Method 4: Value Items  Both the PRC and the allocentrics are higher than the idiocentrics on these values, AN EXCITING LIFE and A VARIED LIFE fall into the pattern where the PRC and allocentrics are lower than the idiocentrics. In addition, we can examine the cultural differences that are not parallel to the personality differences. They show that the Americans are higher than the Chinese on FREEDOM, SENSE OF BELONGING, RESPECT FOR TRADITION, TRUE FRIENDSHIP, LOYAL, ENJOYING LIFE, and DEVOUT, whereas the Chinese are higher than the Americans on A SPIRITUAL LIFE and CREATIVITY.  The hypothesis has received some support, because freedom, exciting life, varied life, enjoying life, and devout are very individual values, and social order, national security, and accepting my position in life serve the ingroup.  However, unexpectedly, the Americans were higher than the Chinese on values that imply a "social connection" (sense of belonging, respect for tradition, true friendship, and loyal). Perhaps the drive toward modernization erodes first those values that connect people, and only after a culture becomes modern can these values be emphasized again.
  24. 24.  Method 4: Value Items  The differences between the allocentrics and idiocentrics suggest that this personality difference fits the general theoretical framework of the Appendix.  The idiocentrics are high on EQUALITY, SOCIAL JUSTICE, INDEPENDENT, DARING, PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT, and CHOOSING OWN GOALS, whereas the allocentrics are higher on SENSE OF BELONGING, FAMILY, SECURITY, TRUE FRIENDSHIP, LOYAL, HUMBLE, HONORING PARENTS AND ELDERS, ACCEPTING MY POSITION IN LIFE, and PRESERVING MY PUBLIC IMAGE. It may well be the case that the better support for the framework of the Appendix with the American data reflects the fact that the framework is an American creation. But it could also be that the translations were not perfect, and hence the Chinese data are not as good as the American data. Certainly, sample sizes for the American data are more adequate, and this suggests that a larger set of Chinese data would be desirable. Continued…
  25. 25.  Method 4: Value Items  Another way to look at the data is to simply examine those cases where the Chinese and the allocentrics are similar in their responses, or the Chinese are different from both American samples. From that perspective, individualist values are EQUALITY, FREEDOM, AN EXCITING LIFE, A VARIED LIFE, and ENJOYING LIFE. Collectivist values are SOCIAL ORDER, SELF-DISCIPLINE, SOCIAL RECOGNITION, HUMBLE, HONORING PARENTS AND ELDERS, ACCEPTING MY POSITION IN LIFE, and PRESERVING MY PUBLIC IMAGE. This perspective seems to fit the framework of the Appendix quite well. So, perhaps these are the "quintessential" values of individualists and collectivists
  26. 26.  Method 5: Perceptions of Social Behavior as a Function of Social Distance  The method of direct estimation (Stevens, 1966) was used so that each subject could construct personal social distance, association, dissociation, intimacy, formality, superordination, and subordination scales. We did not wish to make the assumption that association is a mirror image of dissociation, and so on. We allowed each subject to generate a personal scale for each attribute.  The method of direct estimation uses a standard against which subjects make psychophysical judgments. In the case of social distance, the subjects were asked to "consider the person with whom you feel closest" and to use 1 point to reflect their social distance toward that person. They were then presented with 20 stimuli (e.g, father, the religious group you like least) and asked to estimate their social distance toward these stimuli, using the same units of measurement as for the closest person. Because people use numbers differently, each subject's ratings were divided by the geometric mean of all of their judgments. Continued…
  27. 27.  Method 5: Perceptions of Social Behavior as a Function of Social Distance  This, in effect, standardizes the ratings on the scale and brings them to a common metric. This was apparently achieved, because the social distance judgments obtained from different samples were highly similar for most stimuli.  The six qualities are (e.g., associative behaviors are positive behaviors, such as to help, support, show liking, admiration, respect, and so forth for someone [e.g, to kiss]). Again, the values of the eight social behavior stimuli for each scale were divided by their geometric mean to standardize the scale values.
  28. 28.  Method 5: Perceptions of Social Behavior as a Function of Social Distance  The perceptions of social behavior as a function of social distance are reflected in Figures 1-5. Whenever curves are to be compared, it is important to establish that the positions of the stimuli on one axis are more or less equivalent. Table 6 presents the social distance positions of the stimuli used in the PRC and the United States. As can beseen, the range of the stimuli is about the same. Many of the stimuli have the same scale values. When a difference in scale value is shown, it can be explained from other known factors.  For example, the larger social distance toward "roommate" in the PRC than the Illinois samples reflects the fact that roommates in the PRC are assigned by the authorities rather than selected by the individual, and there are usually six or so roommates in each university dormitory room. Continued…
  29. 29.  Method 5: Perceptions of Social Behavior as a Function of Social Distance  Figures 1-6 show the perceived Association, Dissociation, Intimacy, Formality, Superordination, and Subordination as a function of social distance curves. The PRC curves come from the same sample of 34 responding to two sets of stimuli—one given to them by the experimenter (imposed etic) and one generated by themselves (emic). The Illinois sample of 99 allocentrics and 106 idiocentrics was defined earlier. The graphs showthe mean curves of the subjects, as well as the mean curves obtained from the two types of stimuli from the PRC sample. Campbell (1964) has emphasized the importance of placing cultural differences in the context of similarities; otherwise, one is not sure that the subjects have responded to the same task. Thus, it is most gratifying that many of the curves are not different from each other. Specifically, there are no cultural differences in the Association = /(social distance) and Formality = /(social distance) curves.
  30. 30.  Method 5: Perceptions of Social Behavior as a Function of Social Distance  Thus, there is partial support for the hypothesis that collectivists will behave more differently toward outgroups than ingroups than is the case for individualists. Although the data do not support the hypothesis for Association and Formality, they do support it for Dissociation, Subordination, and Superordination. In particular, the collectivists show more subordination toward ingroups and less toward outgroups than the individualists, and more superordination and dissociation toward outgroups than do the individualists.  Graphs such as those in Figures 1-6 were plotted by each student for him- or herself and for his or her subject. The graphs were later averaged. The mean graphs of subjects from collectivist cultures showed sharper differences between ingroups and outgroups than the graphs of individualists on the dimensions of Association, Dissociation, Intimacy, Subordination, and Superordination. On Formality, the data from the collectivist subjects were consistently higher than the data from the individualist subjects. Thus, again, the general pattern of findings suggests that the curves can be replicated and reflect cultural differences in the perception of social behavior consistent with the theoretical framework of the Appendix.
  31. 31. Conclusion