A Cross-Cultural Validation of Adolescent Self-Concept in Two Cultures: Japan and Sweden

Article excerpt

The psychometric properties of the SDQII (Self-Description Questionnaire II; Marsh, 1992) were examined, and the extent to which Japanese and Swedish adolescents differ in their self-concepts and actual-ideal discrepancies was investigated. Further gender differences were explored. The SDQII and Actual-Ideal Questionnaires (designed for this study) were administered to 144 Japanese and 96 Swedish adolescents (range = 14 to 15 years). The main results show that the psychometric properties of the SDQII were satisfactory in both cultures, making these instruments useful in further investigations. Japanese adolescents generally reported a lower self-concept (with the exception of physical and math self-concepts) and higher self-discrepancies than did the Swedish adolescents. In addition, the gender differences were smaller compared to the influence of the cultural effect.

Keywords: self-concept, self-discrepancy, Self-Description Questionnaire II, cross-cultural, adolescence.

The constructs of self-concept, self-image and self-esteem play key roles in the integration of personality, which unconsciously and automatically influences our feelings, thoughts, and actions. In attempting to define and distinguish these constructs, self-concept is viewed as the cognitive - descriptive aspects of selfknowledge, and self-esteem as the emotional - evaluative components. Since it is difficult to distinguish emotional and cognitive aspects from each other, the term self-concept is usually regarded as including both aspects. Our self-construal, however, differs by culture. Scholars have distinguished between individualism and collectivism (Hofstede, 1983), or independent and interdependent self (Markus & Kitayama, 1991). Western culture places a somewhat greater value on individuals being competent and self-sufficient, while the Eastern culture focuses on fitting in harmoniously with others and gaining a sense of belongingness and interdependence with others (e.g., Markus & Kitayama). One study showed that Sweden was more individualistic, while Japan was more collectivistic (Suh, Diener, Oishi, & Triandis, 1998). Recent studies (e.g., Gudykunst et al., 1996; Matsumoto, 1999) show that the definition of the individualism-collectivism dimension becomes very complex if used for explaining cultural differences in self-construal.

For years there has been a debate in self-concept research about the usefulness of a single one-dimensional global perspective of self-concept such as selfesteem (e.g., Rosenberg, 1965), and a multidimensional perspective of selfconcept based on relatively distinct components of self-concept (e.g., emotional, social, academic, physical, etc.) (Shavelson, Hubner, & Stanton, 1976). One of the widely used instruments for one-dimensional assessment, the Rosenberg SeIfEsteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965) is concerned with how individuals feel about themselves in general, but places little emphasis on social or specific situations. Currently, the multidimensional construct is widely accepted in different psychology disciplines (e.g., social and educational psychology).

The Self-Description Questionnaire II (SDQII) (Marsh, 1992) is a selfreporting instrument for adolescents that originated with the multifaceted and hierarchical self-concept model (Shavelson et al., 1976). This instrument has been widely used hi such countries as China (Yeung & Lee, 1999), Hong Kong (Marsh, Hau, & Kong, 2002), Germany (Marsh, Koller, & Baumart, 2001), and France (Guérin, Marsh, & Framose, 2003), and they have been found to provide sufficient psychometric properties. A study of Japanese children using a junior version of the SDQ instrument (SDQI) demonstrated the multidimensionality of self-concept among Japanese children (Inoue, 2004).

Kashima et al. (1995) stated that gender differences in self-concept were best summarized by the extent to which people regard themselves as emotionally related to others, while cultural differences were most pronounced on the individualistic dimension of the self, that is, the extent to which individuals see themselves acting and expressing their opinions on their own. …