Collectivism vs. Individualism: A cultural comparison between Native Americans and non-ethnic Americans on social connectedness and happiness

Thumbnail Image
McDonald, Danielle
Issue Date
Alternative Title
Research shows that certain cultures are either collectivisitic (value family) or individualistic (value independence) (Triandis, 1995). America is an individualistic nation (Triandis, 1995; 2001). However, there are sub-populations within the United States which are collectivisitic, while still living in the bigger individualistic culture. Although studies have looked at Mexican-Americans and Asian-Americans, none have researched Native Americans who share the cultural values of family and community found among traditionally collectivistic countries. In addition, research shows that this social connectedness of family and community is tied to happiness (Kim, Sherman, & Taylor, 2008). Thus, the purpose of this study was to compare Native Americans in the Kansas region to Caucasian Americans with regard to their individualistic and collectivistic tendencies and their connectedness and happiness. Our results show that Native Americans were not more collectivistic than Caucasians. However, men, overall, were more individualistic than women, except among Native Americans. Native American men did not differ from other men, but Native American women were more individualistic than other women. In addition, individuals, across race, who were categorized as collectivistic were more connected.
Collectivism: A social pattern consisting of closely linked individuals who see themselves as parts of one or more collectives (Triandis, 1995) Values: Family, community and tradition Individualism: A social pattern that consists of loosely linked individuals who view themselves as independent of collectives Values: Creativity, uniqueness, and freedom •Asian and Mexican sub-populations are collectivistic with ↑levels of Connectedness = ↑ levels of Happiness I I C C I C Who’s Who? Though the U.S.A is an Individualistic nation, sub-populations exist • Research has studied: • Asian Americans (Hume et al., 2003) • Mexican Americans (Shkodriani & Gibbons, 1995) • Native Americans are one population which has not been studied Collectivism vs. Individualism: A cultural comparison between Native Americans and non- ethnic Americans on levels of Happiness and Social Connectedness Danielle McDonald, Washburn University Faculty Advisor, Joanne D. Altman I Collectivistic- Mexico South Am. Africa China Japan India Individualistic- U.S.A Europe Australia Purpose Compare Native Americans (NA) in KS to Caucasian Americans (CA) with regard to their collectivistic tendencies, connectedness, and happiness Hypothesis NA’s will be more collectivistic than the majority population and thus be more connected to their community and family, thus happier *Includes: Hispanic, Asian & Other Participants: N = 79 NA CA *Other 13 9 9 21 18 9 Materials •Demographic questionnaire & 3 surveys- Individualism & Collectivism Scale Social Connectedness Scale-Revised Oxford Happiness Questionnaire Procedure •Surveys were counter balanced for order •Packet of surveys took less than 30 min. to complete Collectivism & Individualism are terms commonly used to describe societal attitudes of cultures around the world. • 2 (sex) x 3 (race) between group ANOVAs on Happiness, Connectedness, and Collectivism found no significant main effects or interaction • Native Americans were not different • Thus, a 2 (sex) x 3(race) ANOVA was conducted on Individualism scores Sex → F (1,73) = 16.805, p < .001 Sex x Race → F (2,73) = 3.318, p = .042 Race → F (2,73) = 0.180, p = .835 Individualism 40 42 44 46 48 50 52 54 Native Am. Caucasian Other Male Female Mean Individual Scores Racial Groups Post-hoc t- tests (p< .05) Participants were then categorized as either Individualistic or Collectivistic One factor ANOVAs on Connectedness and Happiness •Individualistic n = 24 Collectivistic n = 48 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 100 Individualism Collectivism Connectedness 127 128 129 130 131 132 Individulaism Collectivism Happiness Significant Not Significant Hypothesis •Native Americans will be more collectivistic than the majority- •Not Supported oIn fact, NA women were more individualistic than other women •People who are more collectivistic will be more connected to their community and family, thus happier-oMore connected oHappier (in the expected direction) •Unexpected finding: oStrong sex differences in individualism & collectivism oThis may not be surprising due to standard gender differences oThe degree of collectivism among sample oPerhaps attitudes have changed since 2001 Limitations •Too few participants •Not a lot of diversity in KS •Native Americans hesitant to participate •I was viewed as an outsider •Selection Bias- NA women were generally formally educated Future Research •Gain better compliance from NA community •Obtain bigger sample of both populations •Re-evaluate theory Americans are so highly individualistic •The main difference is the gender difference •CA and Other men are more independent than women except among the NA •NA women are more individualistic than all other women