Write about Self-concept in individualistic versus collectivistic cultures.
Individualism index rating has a moderate relationship with the group score.
Different cultures embrace different and specific values, ideas, and thoughts which they categorize as important or non-important. Such values and thoughts are highly influenced by the element of self-concept which is defined as the individuals’ beliefs about themselves including their individuals’ attributes of what and who the self is (MacLeod, 2008). MacLeod (2008) adds that the development of self-concept is based on two aspects; the categorical self and the existential self. The existential self is the fundamental scheme for self-concept and gives the person’s sense of being separate while the categorical self allows the individual to know the objects in the real world (Del Prado et al. 2007).
From this overview, the self-concept defines if a culture is individualistic or collectivism. Individualistic cultures view the persons as independent with the ability to succeed by themselves (Bochner, 2012). Also, the audiences to an individualistic society react positively to messages that speak to personal achievement and individuality. The main tenets of such a culture are self-reliance, freedom and individualism indicating that individualistic values are traced by the belief that freedom, self-determination, and independence are the key determinants of success (Oshi, Scimmack, Diener and Suh, 1998). On the other hand, a collectivistic culture depicts associates one’s identity with the large part, membership or participation of different roles within a group such as a family (Del Prado et al. 2007). Ideally, collectivism beliefs emphasizes on the embeddedness or involvement of an individual in a larger group within their social environment. A good example of such cultures includes the developing nations such as in Mexico and Philippines (Del Prado et al. 2007).
Lalwani, Shavitt and Johnson (2012) researched on how self-concept influenced cultural orientation between the collectivism and individualism cultural philosophies. The research found that collectivists had a high chance of engaging themselves in socially desirable responding and deception towards maintaining good relationships with other people. Individualists were portrayed as sincere and candid since they encouraged other people to be self-reliant. The study findings shed light on how self-concept varies across the two cultures and its social influence in determining the bonds of social relationships within a society (Lalwani et al. 2012).
A study by Bochner (2012) used a cross-cultural approach to identify how self-concept different across Malaysian (collectivists) and British (Individualists) based on idiocentric and allocentric self-references. Accordingly, idiocentric self-reference indicates individual’s behavior centered upon themselves or their own ways while the allocentric personality is a typical collectivistic behavior where people center their actions and attentions on other people. Through the Hofstede’s Model the study found that the collectivist group produced fewer idiocentric self-references than did the individualist group (Bochner, 2012).
The study aimed to investigate the self-perception or self-concept in different cultures and countries. Both idiocentric and allocentric scores for self-concept statement were tabulated, grouped and compared to Hofstede Individualism Index for different countries to determine the study findings
H1: An increase in individualism index rating has significant relationship with an increase in idiocentric statement scores.
H2: Individualism index rating has a moderate relationship with the group score
H3: Individualism index rating have a negative correlation with both group and allocentric scores.
The study selected 293 undergraduate psychology students from a particular university in Singapore through a convenient sampling technique. Out of 293 participants, 69 of them were males while 219 were females. Their mean age was 23.92 years with a standard deviation of 9.08 while the range was between 17 and 56 years. On the other hand, 18.4% of the participants were from Singapore, 57% from Australia and the rest (24%) from other different countries. The selection was voluntary and no incentive was given to the participants. Also, an informed consent was given to the participants to sign while the study design was subjected to the university’s Institution review Board for review.
The study made use of a seven-item questionnaire with questions oriented to assessing personal self-concept or self (questions began with “I am”). Further the questions aimed to measure participants’ self-description and they were designed to separate each of the respond into three categories; the idiocentric, group and allocentric as the references. From top to bottom, each statement written allocated a different score of 7 from the top in descending order, to 1 at the last statement.
The participants were recruited in their respective lecture room for both part-time and full-time classes. All the 293 participants were given a two-sided piece of paper with questions to be completed. The questions were in the form of “I am” question statements related to their experience within the curriculum period. Thereafter, the participants were told to form small groups of three and share individual’s responses of the “I am” question statements and also take turns to share their statements in class. The scores were recorded, tabulated and analyzed through the use of the Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) program.
The scores on individualism assessed the frequency of participants by countries based on their individualism rating. Accordingly the individualism rating of a country is based on a 100 – point scale and a low score indicates that the participant is collectivistic while high scores were associated with ideal individualism. 22.5% of the participants came from a country with a rating of 20/100 while 57% of the participants were from a country rated 90/100 on the individualism scale. 20.5% of the remaining participants were distributed across the other countries indicating that more participants were individualistic.
The mean score for idiocentric scores was 17.36 with a standard deviation of 5.48 with maximum score of 24 and a minimum score of 2. The mean tells that more participants were idiocentric which is a measure of individualism. The highest score for Group scores was 22.0 with the lowest identified as 0.00 (M = 9.314, SD = 4.46). For the allocentric scores the lowest score was 0.00 while the highest was 7 (M = 1.167, SD = 1.76) – indicating that very few participants were collectivistic.
The correlation analysis focused on assessing the size and direction of the relationship between Individualism Index Rating (IIR) with personal scores on the three category scores for idiocentric, group and allocentric. The Pearson’s correlation (a parametric test) was used in the analysis. The study found that there was a moderate positive correlation between the IIR and idiocentric statement score (r (291) = 0.56, P < 0.01, 2 tailed). The result supported the first hypothesis (H1) that the individual idiocentric statement score increase with increase in Individualism Index Rating.
The study found a moderate negative correlation between IIR and the Group statement scores (r (291) = -0.56, P < 0.01, 2 tailed) hence supporting the H2 which claimed that the number of group answers decreases as the Individualism Index Rating increases. Lastly, there was a weak negative relationship between the IIR and the allocentric statement score (r (291) = -0.28, P < 0.01, 2 tailed) hence, the result never supported the H3 that the two variables had no relationship. The result indicates that as the number of allocentric answers decrease, the IRR increased.
The study successfully investigated how individuals’ self-concept is integrated into the collectivistic and individualistic cultures. The idiocentric, allocentric and group related question statements are effective tools used to assess how the participants associated themselves with individualism and collectivism philosophies. There was significant relationship between the IIR and idiocentric statements indicating that countries that embrace individualistic culture (characterized with high IIR score) had most of their participants identifying themselves as idiocentric. Therefore, as the IIR score increased, individualistic statements increased as revealed in the data – 57% of the participants belonged to a country with IIR of 90 which could have resulted to the high mean score for the idiocentric statements (M = 17.36) when compared to the Group and Allocentric scores.
The correlation result was statistically significant at 1% significance level. Therefore, it can be concluded that self-concept of being either allocentric or idiocentric influenced the participants cultural orientation. Also, the group answers decreased as the IIR increased indicating that most participants had their self-concept attached to individualism philosophy or culture in their respective countries. As found by Lalwani et al. (2012) individualists would show a low chance in engaging themselves in socially desirable responses. Therefore, as many of the participants were individualists, group answers would then decrease as the IIR increased – indicating that individualists do not engage themselves in socially desirable responses.
Similarly, allocentric answers decreased with IIR – indicating that individuals with allocentric self-concept are more attached to collectivism philosophy, however, as many of the participants were individualists they would rather act as self-independent than sharing their responses on these questions. Such an aspect explains why the scores for allocentric scores decreased with the IIR score. Future studies may consider a larger sample size evenly distributed across the selected countries, and a more comprehensive scale to measure self-concept.
Bochner, S. (2012). Cross-Cultural Differences in the Self-Concept: A Test of Hofstede’s Individualism/Collectivism Distinction. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 25(2), 273-283
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Dalsky, D. (2010). Individuality in Japan and the United States: A cross-cultural priming. InternationalJournal of Intercultural Relations, 34(11), 429-435.
delPrado,A, M., Church, A, T., Katigbak, M, S., Miramontes, L, G., Whitty, M, T., Curtis, G, J., …Reyes, J, A, S. (2007). Culture, method, and the content of self-concepts: Testing traits, individual-self-primacy, and cultural psychology perspectives. Journal of Research in Personality, 41, 1119- 1160.
McLeod, S. (2008). Self-Concept. Simply Psychology. Accessed from https://www.simplypsychology.org/self-concept.html
Lalwani, A.K., Shavitt, S., & Johnson, T. (2006). What Is the Relation Between Cultural Orientation and Socially Desirable Responding? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(1), 165-178.
Oishi, S., Schimmack, U., Diener, E., & Suh, E, M. (1998). The Measurement of Values and Individualism- Collectivism. Society of Personality and Social Psychology, Inc, 24(11), 1177-1189.
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