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Individualism-Collectivism Norms


A normative measure of individualism-collectivism

Individualism-collectivism (IndCol) has been a core dimensions of cross-cultural research. This scale conceptualizes IndCol as a bipolar normative construct, which is group-specific. We assume that individual and groups have a tendency to either follow their own self-interests or subjugate their interests to the group, but that these tendencies depend on the specific group (family, friends, work mates, religious groups, etc.). We conceptualize IndCol as bipolar, because you can’t be simultaneously individualistic and collectivistic in relation to the same group (but it is possible that you follow your personal interests with one group, but you pay attention to group needs with another group). There are four major dimensions, which we developed based on the four defining attributes of IndCol as defined by Triandis.

The scale was initially developed in a number of stages with students from 11 cultures. In these studies, we showed that the scale has good statistical properties at both individual and cultural level. The scale has now been used with working adults in more than 20 countries and has been adopted by researchers from around the world for measuring normative IndCol. Download the full scale.

Cite as:

Fischer, R., Ferreira, M.C., Assmar, E., Redford, P., Harb, C., Glazer, S., Cheng, B. S., Jiang, D.Y., Wong, C., Kumar, N., Kärtner, J., Hofer, J. & Achoui, M. (2009). Individualism-collectivism as descriptive norms: Development of a subjective norm approach to culture measurement. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 40, 187-213.


The development and validation of a new instrument for measuring the descriptive norms related to individualism-collectivism (IC) is presented. IC is conceptualized as a group-specific unidimensional cultural construct with four defining attributes (Triandis, 1995). Three studies are reported showing the dimensionality and validities at individual and cultural levels across samples from 11 cultures. The new instrument has good statistical properties with identical structures at individual and culture level, good reliabilities at the individual level, adequate agreement within cultures and demonstrates first signs of convergent and discriminant validity. Correlations at the cultural level also indicate that the measure has the potential to add to research by integrating previously untapped attributes of IC. Finally, normative IC explains variance in self-reported over and above self-referenced behaviour. Implications and opportunities for norm-oriented research and scale refinement are discussed.

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