Academic journal article Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling

The Self Group Distinction Scale: A New Approach to Measure Individualism and Collectivism in Adolescents

Academic journal article Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling

The Self Group Distinction Scale: A New Approach to Measure Individualism and Collectivism in Adolescents

Article excerpt

Individualism and collectivism (I/C) are widely used constructs to explain differences in social behaviour between people living in different cultural contexts. Most studies have been conducted with adults while studies on adolescents are rather sparse. The main goal of the present paper is to introduce a new approach to measure I/C in adolescents.

Usually, individualism and collectivism (I/C) have been broadly defined referring to several content domains. For instance, Kim, Triandis, Kagitcibasi, Choi and Yoon (1994) proposed four main defining attributes and identified 60 additional attributes. Some instruments captured I/C as a uni-dimensional, bipolar construct (e.g., Hui, 1988), while others distinguished several independent I/C constructs (e.g., Singelis, Triandis, Bhawuk, & Gelfand, 1995). Furthermore, Oyserman, Coon and Kemmelmeier (2002) identified six content domains capturing individualism and eight content domains capturing collec- tivism. To date, I/C has most often been measured with a selection from these content domains while no agreement on a core definition on I/C has been achieved.

Studies that compared Japanese adults with adults stemming from individualistic coun- tries (e.g., Austria; Hofstede, 2001) regarding several content domains (see Oyserman, et al., 2002) produced inconclusive results. For instance, there is an ongoing debate about whether people with Japanese origin should be considered collectivistic or not (Markus & Kitayama, 1991; Takano & Sogon, 2008). We assume that these inconsistencies partly stem from the heterogeneity of content domains investigated in the different studies. Clearly, there is the need for a focused definition of I/C and a new measurement ap- proach which does not solely rely on an arbitrary selection of different content domains. Therefore, the main goals of the present study are (1) to propose a focused definition of I/C and (2) to develop a new measurement approach.

We define the I/C construct as group orientation characterized by the degree of the as- sumed convergence of an individual's opinion with an anchor group opinion. In other words we define "individualism" / "collectivism" as a psychological process in which self-group distinction is existent (= individualism) or negligible (= collectivism). Thus, we conceptualize I/C as an uni-dimensional, bipolar construct.

Development of a new measurement approach

To begin with, it is necessary to use an adequate measurement strategy to represent the essence of the proposed definition of I/C. One option is to rely on the subjective assess- ment of the distinction between self and group opinion based on a relevant anchor group, for example "Compared with my group, I am ...". This direct approach to measure a possible self-group distinction has several limitations. For instance, participants have to consider their own opinion and the anchor group opinion simultaneously which requires a high level of abstract thinking. In addition, this way of asking might be affected by social desirability when respondents consciously intend to minimize the difference be- tween their personal and an assumed group opinion. Other answering biases located in the individual might also be at work if a direct self-group distinction measurement ap- proach is applied. Another option is to rely on an indirect measurement approach by asking the participants separately about their own opinion and a relevant anchor group opinion and to subsequently calculate difference scores between these two items. Exam- ple items would consist of a combination of the item "I am ..." and the item "My group is ...". Such an indirect approach substantially reduces the cognitive complexity of the items and is more suitable for children and adolescents. This indirect approach to meas- ure self-group distinction can also be expected to be less influenced by social desirability biases. Consequently, the indirect approach represents a more objective estimate of the perceived distinction between self and group opinion than the direct approach. …

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