Monday, April 5, 2010

Thoughts Toward a Developmental Model of Masculine Identity, Part Four: Horizontal and Vertical Dimensions of Individualism and Collectivism

Alrighty then, time for another installment in this ongoing exploration of the possibilities for a developmental model of masculine identity. Part one looked at some racial identity models as a foundation for how to construct a gender identity model, part two looked at the existing literature of male development (and the lack of anything comprehensive), and part three looked at how attachment styles might impact masculine identity.

In this installment, I want to look at what is generally considered a cultural model of identity, with Western Europe, India, and the US being more individualistic and the rest of the world being more collectivist in their identities. And of course, it is never so easy as that.

So let's start with some definitions [I will try to list all articles cited in the material I am quoting in the references at the end for those who want to do their own reading]. The following series of quotes are from a literature review in this article:

Singelis, T.M., Triandis, H.C., Bhawuk, D.R., & Gelfand, M.J. (1995). Horizontal and Vertical Dimensions of Individualism and Collectivism: A Theoretical and Measurement Refinement. Cross-Cultural Research, Vol. 29 No. 3, August 1995; 240-275.

I have placed key terms in bold print.
For cultures, individualism versus collectivism is the broadest division, with numerous "species" of each, defined by culture specific attributes. This is not to say that any culture is purely one or the other, nor does it imply that members of a culture are automatons blindly and uniformly representing and reproducing the culture. (p. 243)
* * * *
The defining attributes of individualism and collectivism suggested in the Triandis (1995) monograph were as follows:

1. Collectivists define themselves as parts or aspects of a group; individualists focus on self-concepts that are autonomous from groups. Thus the contrast between interdependent and independent selves (Markus & Kitayama, 1991) is one of the defining attributes.

2. Collectivists have personal goals that overlap with the goals of their in-groups, and if there is a discrepancy between the two sets of goals, they consider it obvious that the group goals should have priority over their personal goals. Individualists have personal goals that may or may not overlap with the goals of their in-groups, and if there is a discrepancy between the two sets of goals, they consider it obvious that their personal goals should have priority over the group goals (Schwartz, 1990).

3. Among collectivists, social behavior is best predicted from norms and perceived duties and obligations (Bontempo & Rivero, 1992; Miller, 1994). Among individualists, social behavior is best predicted from attitudes and other such internal processes as well as contracts made by the individual.

4. Among collectivists, relationships are of the greatest importance, and even if the costs of these relationships exceed the benefits, individuals tend to stay with the relationship. Among individualists, when the costs exceed the benefits, the relationship is often dropped (Kim, Triandis, Kagitcibasi, & Yoon, 1994). (p. 243-244)
* * * *

There is a vertical and horizontal element to this polarity Triandis (1995), however, that adds a great deal of depth to the conception and makes the conceptualization a little more testable.
Horizontal collectivism (H-C) is a cultural pattern in which the individual sees the self as an aspect of an in-group. That is, the self is merged with the members of the in-group, all of whom are extremely similar to each other. In this pattern, the self is interdependent and the same as the self of others. Equality is the essence of this pattern.

Vertical collectivism (V-C) is a cultural pattern in which the individual sees the self as an aspect of an in-group, but the members of the in-group are different from each other, some having more status than others. The self is interdependent and different from the self of others. Inequality is accepted in this pattern, and people do not see each other as the same. Serving and sacrificing for the in-group is an important aspect of this pattern.

Horizontal individualism (H-I) is a cultural pattern where an autonomous self is postulated, but the individual is more or less equal in status with others. The self is independent and the same as the self of others. Vertical individualism (V-I) is a cultural pattern in which an autonomous self is postulated, but individuals see each other as different, and inequality is expected. The self is independent and different from the self of others. Competition is an important aspect of this pattern. For example, in a factor analysis of items relevant to the individualism-collectivism constructs, with American-generated items and American students, the most important factor (accounting for most of the variance) was called self-reliance with competition (Triandis et al., 1988).

From such considerations, Triandis (1995) suggested that the United States and France provide examples of V-I; Sweden and Australia, examples of H-I; India and traditional Greece, examples of V-C; the Israeli kibbutz and many monastic orders, examples of H-C. (p. 244-245)
* * * *
Fiske (1990,1992) has identified four patterns of social relationship related to the universal need to distribute resources in a society In communal sharing, if one belongs to the group, one is entitled to share in the resources of the group, according to need. In authority ranking, the resources are shared according to rank. Rank has its privileges. The higher the rank the higher the share. In equality matching, resources are shared equally. One person, one vote; one person, one lot. In market pricing, resources are shared according to the contribution of each member. The more a member contributes, the more the member receives. Thus the equity principle (Berkowitz & Walster, 1976) is used. (p. 245)
According to Singelis, H-C includes communal sharing and equality matching; V-C includes communal sharing and authority ranking; H-I includes market pricing and equality matching; and V-I includes market pricing and authority ranking.

However, the authors are clear that no culture is pure in any way, and that there is only a general tendency in one direction or another. Individuals within a culture are likely to score all over the place on the various measures, none of which are horribly accurate (which is part of the problem).

Singelis, et al, were seeking in their article to highlight key issues in the current measures of individualism vs. collectivism. They single out a few key ideas and approaches that help generate greater validity and reliability.

Not everyone is on board with this whole approach, however.

Voronov & Singer (2002) offered an article critical of the entire concept, "The Myth of Individualism–Collectivism: A Critical Review." Here are a few of their objections, which to me suggest avenues for better understanding of the model rather than reasons to abandon it completely.
It is crucial to evaluate I–C critically, for it has become, arguably, the most widely used construct in cross-cultural psychology. It has been used to explain cultural differences in family dynamics (Kim, 1997), preferred methods of conflict resolution (Leung, Au, Fernandez-Dols, & Iwawaki, 1992; Leung & Fan, 1997), resource allocation (Leung & Bond, 1982), leadership styles (Offermann & Hellmann, 1997), and communication styles (Ambady, Koo, Lee, & Rosenthal, 1996; Holtgraves, 1997). Furthermore, cultural variation in I–C has served as the underlying assumption for several other noted theories, such as the self-construal theory (Markus & Kitayama, 1991). (p. 462)
* * * * *

Part of the criticism comes from studies in which Japanese people, who are assumed to come from a collectivist society, are more than willing to act within the definitions of individualism when there is no risk of social sanction:
Yamagishi (1988b) conducted an experiment in the United States and Japan in which participants played a prisoner’s-dilemma game. Each participant in the experiment had the option either (a) to contribute money to the group and, thus, risk being exploited if the partners did not contribute or (b) not to contribute money and to gain potentially more if the partners contributed. In one of the conditions, participants were given the option to develop a sanctioning mechanism that would punish the defector. Yamagishi found that, in the absence of a sanctioning system, Japanese participants were less likely to cooperate with the group than were the American participants. Once the opportunity for mutual sanctioning became available, the Japanese participants’ cooperation increased from 44.4% to 74.6% (30 percentage points), whereas the American participants’ cooperation increased from 56.2% to 75.5% (19 percentage points). (p. 463)
From my perspective, however, this demonstrates how powerful a cultural bias toward collectivism can be in shaping and determining individual behaviors. Nearly the opposite is true in the United States, again in my opinion. We are a fiercely individualist society in our rhetoric and philosophy, yet given the opportunity, most people will sacrifice their own needs for the benefit of the in-group.

For example, in a follow-up study . . .
Yamagishi found that both American and Japanese participants were more likely to exit from the group when the exit cost became lower. In the high exit-cost condition—in which participants made less money if they exited than if they remained in the group—the Japanese participants were actually more likely to exit the group than were the American participants. “Japanese subjects exited from the group despite the loss in their earnings because they were dissatisfied with the equal allocation of rewards; American subjects, on the other hand did not exit because they did not dislike the equal reward allocation as much as Japanese subjects did” (Yamagishi, 1988a, p. 540). (p. 463-464)
In this study, the Americans were willing to make less money so that the income was more equal among participants (sounds more than a little like socialism).

They make the argument based on these and other studies, that "collectivism is explainable not in terms of a fundamentally different cognitive organization of the self but because it is advantageous to the self in the long run" (p. 464). However, it is also likely that collectivism is not necessarily a cognitive organization or disposition, but is rather a shared cultural value that shapes behavior and dictates social agreements.

Voronov & Singer do present one very interesting study that on the surface seems to suggest the common assumptions on individualism vs. collectivism may not be valid on a national level either.
Arguably, the most devastating blow to the typical classification of countries along the I–C dimension was delivered by Schwartz (1994), who administered a value survey to 86 teacher and student samples drawn from 41 cultural groups in 38 nations.(2) Using the Guttman–Lingoes smallest space analysis, he derived seven factors, or culture-level value types: Conservatism, Intellectual Autonomy, Affective Autonomy, Hierarchy, Mastery, Egalitarian Commitment, and Harmony. Several of those value types approximate I–C.(3) Individualism was positively correlated with Autonomy (Affective and Intellectual) and Egalitarian Commitment and negatively correlated with Conservatism.

Schwartz’s (1994) data “do not support a view of the United States as a highly individualistic nation, if individualism refers to a conception of the person as autonomous relative to the group” (p. 110, italics in the original). The U.S. sample scored neither high on autonomy nor low on conservatism. According to those data, if one defines a collectivist society as one where a person is inseparable from the group, then China is hardly a prototypical collectivist society. The Chinese sample scored average on the autonomy–conservatism dimension and low on the importance of egalitarian commitment. The Western European nations (e.g., France), on the one hand, came closest to the ideal of an individualistic country. The French respondents scored high on autonomy, low on conservatism, and high on egalitarian commitment. Singapore, on the other hand, came closest to fitting the profile of a pure collectivist nation. The Singaporean respondents scored high on conservatism and hierarchy and low on autonomy and mastery. As for the United States versus Japan comparison, the two samples were rather similar. They had similar conservatism scores, the U.S. respondents scored higher than the Japanese respondents on affective autonomy, and the Japanese respondents scored higher than the U.S. respondents on intellectual autonomy.
(2) Unlike Hofstede (1980), Schwartz (1994) derived both culture-level and individual-level dimensions; however, we have focused exclusively on the culture-level values.
(3) The aggregation of Schwartz’s (1994) value types to thus approximate I–C actually provides a more accurate index of “pure” I–C, as distinct from national wealth. Whereas Hofstede (1980) obtained a correlation of .82 between gross national product (GNP) per capita and individualism, GNP accounted for much less variance in the value types (Autonomy–Conservatism) most similar to I–C, .40 and .57 for the teacher and the student subsets, respectively. (p. 465)
I remain unconvinced that the seven traits Schwartz looked at in this study (Conservatism, Intellectual Autonomy, Affective Autonomy, Hierarchy, Mastery, Egalitarian Commitment, and Harmony) are relevant to the I-C/V-H axes. Their conclusion here seems to contradict the earlier conclusions about Japanese individualism. For example, individualism may be the primary cognitive style in Japan, as long as everyone is being individual together (collectivism as the cultural level).

My other issue with this is that they are comparing apples, oranges, cabbages, and carrots. Intellectual and affective are developmental lines, where autonomy would suggest higher stage attainment in ANY line. Conservatism is a personality characteristic (part of temperament?), while hierarchy is a form of structuralism, and harmony and egalitarian commitment are both elements of a specific worldview (postmodernism).

In reality, then, these qualities have very little to do with the I-C/H-V perspectives they seek to refute. At this point, I suspect it's fair to move on to other research on this topic.

One of the most common names one will see in research on individual and collectivism is Harry Triandis.

In "Individual-Collectivism and personality," Triandis (2001) begins his look at the I-C spectrum and how it relates to personality with some definitions of both culture and personality, setting a necessary foundation for the rest of his discussion.

First a definition of culture:
One way to think about culture is that “culture is to society what memory is to individuals” (Kluckhohn,1954). It includes what “has worked” in the experience of a society that was worth transmitting to future generations. Language, time, and place are important in determin­ing the difference between one and another culture (Triandis, 1994), since language is needed to transmit culture and it is desirable to have the same historical period and geography to do so efficiently. Sperber (1996) used the analogy of an epidemic. An idea (e.g., how to make a tool) that is useful is adopted by more and more people and becomes an element of culture.

Elements of culture are shared standard operating procedures, un­stated assumptions, tools, norms, values, habits about sampling the environment, and the like. Since perception and cognition depend on the information that is sampled from the environment, the latter elements are of particular interest to psychologists. Cultures develop conventions about what to pay attention to and how much to weigh the elements that are sampled. For example, people in hierarchical cultures are more likely to sample clues about hierarchy than clues about aesthetics.

Triandis (1989) argued that people in individualist cultures, such as those of North and Western Europe and North America, sample, with high probability, elements of the personal self (e.g., “I am kind”). People from collectivist cultures, such as those of Asia, Africa and South America, tend to sample elements of the collective self (e.g., “my family thinks I am kind”). (p. 908)

And now a take on defining personality:
Funder (1997) defined personality as “an individual’s char­acteristic pattern of thought, emotion, and behavior, together with the psychological mechanisms—hidden or not—behind those patterns” (pp. 1–2). Characteristic sampling of the information in the environment, which corresponds to the sampling that occurs in different cultures, can be one of the bases of individual differences in personality.

Another way of discussing personality is that it is a configuration of cognitions, emotions, and habits which are activated when situations stimulate their expression. They generally determine the individual’s unique adjustment to the world. (p. 908)

From there he goes on to define individualism, collectivism, vertical, horizontal, and a few other terms that were mentioned earlier in this article. One important addition to the terminology, however, is allocentric and idiocentric:
Triandis, Leung, Villareal, and Clack (1985) proposed the use of idiocentrism and allocentrism to correspond at the personality level to individualism and collectivism. Smith and Bond (1999), and many others, adopted this terminology. They used it consistently in their social psychology textbook. This allows us to discuss the behavior of idiocentrics in collectivist cultures and allocentrics in individualist cultures. The former find their culture stifling and try to escape it. The latter join groups, gangs, unions, and other collectives. There are more allocentrics than idiocentrics in collectivist and more idiocentrics than allocentrics in individualist cultures.

We can link the cultural and individual levels of analysis by noting that customs are aspects of culture and habits aspects of personality. Thus, we hypothesize a correspondence between customs, norms, and values on the one hand and habits and patterns of individual behavior on the other hand. (p. 910)
This is an excellent distinction - the previous article, in my opinion, willfully ignored the finer points in the theoretical approach. Here are a few more relevant distinctions and their cultural contexts.
The more complex the culture, the more individualist it is likely to be (Triandis, 1994, 1995). Cultures differ in complexity (Chick, 1997). The most contrast is found between hunters and gatherers on the one hand and service-information societies on the other hand. Gross national product per capita, although not sufficient, is one index of cultural complexity. Other indices include the percent of the population that is urban, the size of cities, personal computers per capita, and so forth. Obviously, in complex cultures (e.g., urban rather than rural environment), there are more choices and lifestyles. Thus, it is understandable that people in individualist cultures desire to have more choices and are motivated more when they have many choices than people in collectivist cultures (Iyengar & Lepper, 1999).

In collectivist cultures, child rearing emphasizes conformity, obedience, security, and reliability; in individualist cultures, child rearing emphasizes independence, exploration, creativity, and self-reliance. (p. 911-912)
Complexity is an important distinction - we know that as cultures evolve, and with them their citizens, greater complexity is the general trend. With this theory (since it is still conjecture until fully proven) Western Europe, North America, Japan, and (increasingly) India should all foster individualistic citizens. However, in both Japan and India, and even in parts of Northern Europe, there is still a strong social structure of collectivism (and you will find this beneath the skin of many Americans, as well).

They offer a simple sort of equation that is actually quiet useful:
A serviceable, though overly simple, theoretical framework is that ecology shapes culture, which includes child-rearing patterns, which influence personality. Ecology includes features of the geography, resources, and the history of a society. (p. 911)
I might expand this a little: environment (their ecology) shapes culture, which shapes personality - AND environment shapes biology, which shapes the psyche and impacts the culture. Furthermore, personality/psyche shapes the body as well as the culture, and the body, the psyche, and the culture all shape the environment. And on and on for each of the four major realms (quadrants) of body/behavior, psyche/intention, culture/values, and environment/society.
This is the basic quadrant map of integral theory (Wilber, 2007), and as always, it's useful in looking at how individuals and collectives relate to each other. The equation above is getting at what the diagram simplifies so elegantly.

However, what has been missing in integral theory in terms of understanding the unique individual is that we can talk about "collectivist individuals" and "individualist collectives." Cultural psychology, which is largely absent from integral psychology, accounts for many of these differences that we are discussing here.

Further, using Triandis et al (1985), we can then talk about, as they mention, "idiocentrics in collectivist cultures and allocentrics in individualist cultures," as well as the awareness that there "are more allocentrics than idiocentrics in collectivist and more idiocentrics than allocentrics in individualist cultures," as quoted above.

Relating I-C/H-V to Masculinity

If we are to develop a truly integrated model of masculinity development, we have to acknowledge that some people are more inclined toward individualism and others are more inclined toward collectivism, even if it is only the culture that shapes those behaviors.

Further, it is useful to distinguish those who operate in a vertical awareness of hierarchical differences (for example, H-I, the person is part of an in-group with equal status, yet remains a semi-autonomous individual; on the other hand, a V-I perspective in which "an autonomous self is postulated, but individuals see each other as different, and inequality is expected" (Singelis, et al, 245). Likewise, it is important to see the other variations as possible behaviors (more than as types of cognitive structure, I would argue).

If we can take a stance of multiple I-positions, as is done in Dialogical Self Theory (see Stam, 2006), then we can see how different "selves" might take different perspectives. We then are looking at "center of gravity" rather than a simple typology. Triandis (2000) makes the same general point:
Allocentrism and idiocentrism are best conceived as situation-specific dispositions. This is clear from studies that randomly assigned idiocentrics and allocentrics to situations that were individualist or collectivist. (p. 912)
They do, however, allow for a transituational expression of allocentrism and idiocentrism:
Nevertheless, personality does include, as well, elements that are transituational. Allocentrics, even in individualistic cultures, will try to make relationships more intimate; idiocentrics, even in collectivist cultures, will be more likely to use individual goals to determine their behavior. In short, we see allocentrism and idiocentrism as having a transituational component, as well as a situation-specific component. Future research should examine the amount of variance that is deter-mined by each of these components. At this writing it appears that the situational component accounts for more variance than the transituational one. (Triandis, 2000, p.913)
A couple of more definitions from Triandis (2000). First up, some more details about the allocentric experience;
Allocentrics tend to define themselves with reference to social entities. Traditional samples who have acculturated to individualist cultures show this tendency less, especially when they are highly educated. For example, Altrocchi and Altrocchi (1995) found that the least acculturated Cook Islanders used about 57% social content in describing themselves, whereas Cook Islanders born in New Zealand used 20% and New Zealanders used 17% social content. Similarly Ma and Schoeneman (1997) reported 84% social content for Sumbaru Kenyans, 80% for Maasai Kenyans, but only 12% for American students, and 17% for Kenyan students.

* * *

Allocentrics often have internalized the norms of their in-groups, so they enjoy doing what their in-groups expect them to do (Bontempo, Lobel, & Triandis, 1990). Allocentrics receive much social support and are less likely to be lonely than idiocentrics. (Triandis, Bontempo, Villareal, Asai, & Lucca, 1988)

* * *

The self-esteem of allocentrics is more based on “getting along” than on “getting ahead” (Whatley, submitted), whereas vertical idiocentrics are especially interested in getting ahead and being the best. (p. 913-914)
They also add a little more to our understanding of the idiocentric perpsective and experience, largely in comparison to the allocentric experience.
Idiocentrics tend to use traits in describing other people (Duff & Newman, 1997) and focus on internal dispositions in making attributions (Menon, Morris, Chiu, & Hong, 1999). Compared to idio-centrics, allocentrics making attributions use the context, the situation, and group disposition (Choi, Nisbett, & Norenzayan, 1999; Menon et al., 1999), and tend to be more field dependent and to think more holistically.

* * *

There is also evidence that idiocentrics think of the self as stable and the environment as changeable (e.g., if you do not like your job, you change jobs), whereas allocentrics think of the social environment as stable (duties, obligations) and the self as changeable (ready to fit into the environment).

* * *

Allocentrics are often more ethnocentric than idiocentrics, have very positive attitudes about their in-groups, and report negative attitudes toward their out-groups (Lee & Ward, 1998). Triandis (1972) observed that collectivists see more of a difference between in-group and out-group than do individualists. (p. 914)

* * *

Idiocentrics tend toward dominance, whereas allocentrics tend to be agreeable (Moskowitz, Suh, & Desaulniers, 1994). The motive structure of collectivists reflects receptivity to others, adjustment to the needs of others, and restraint of own needs and desires. The basic motive structure of individualists reflects their internal needs, rights and capacities, including the ability to withstand social pressures (Markus & Kitayama, 1991). (p. 914-915)

* * *

In studies by Dion and Dion (1996), idiocentrism was related to less intimacy and poorer adjustment in romantic love relationships. Specifically, among idiocentrics, self-actualization, which is a prototypical individualist construct, was shown to be related to more gratification with love, yet less love for the partner, and less caring for the needs of the partner, suggesting that idiocentrism may be a factor in the high divorce rate of individualist countries (Dion & Dion, 1996).

Watson, Sherbak, and Morris (1998) found that allocentrism was correlated with social responsibility and negatively with normlessness; idiocentrism was correlated with self-esteem and normlessness. Singelis, Bond, Sharkey and Lai (1999) found that allocentrism is related to embarrassability and low self-esteem. Yamaguchi, Kuhlman, and Sugimori (1995) found that in the United States, Japan, and Korea allocentrics show greater tendencies toward affiliation, higher sensitivity to social rejection, and a lower need for uniqueness than idiocentrics. Lay et al. (1998) found a relationship between allocentrism and depression. People who experienced a lot of hassles were more depressed. This relationship was stronger in the case of those who were low in allocentrism than those who were high in allocentrism. (p. 915)
I could keep citing more and more information, and if you do a literature search, you will see how much material is available.

I'm sure that, based on this review of the literature, it's clear how these ideas should help shape an conception of identity development (for masculinity or otherwise). There is more to read in this field, as well is other fields of identity development theory.

I'm there is a lot more to discuss before I get to finally proposing my model.


References:
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Ambady, N., Koo, J., Lee, F., & Rosenthal, R. (1996). More than words: Linguistic and nonlinguistic politeness in two cultures.
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Berkowitz, L., & Walster, E. (1976). Equity theory: Toward a general theory of social interaction.
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2 comments:

Stan said...

Why a linear developmental model at all? The fate of Wilbur's silly color scheme should be a clue about how they're always constructed: the writer positions himself in the penultimate category--yellow, say--and fantasizes one stage beyond, like Nirvana. That's a sign of his humility, see. Even he has room to progress! Everybody else in the world is relegated into an inferior stage--on the way to developing into the author. If they work hard enough.

Not that he's condescending to them or anything.

Why not a model drawn from, say, Deleuze & Guattari's poetic *1000 Plateaus*? Imagine a series of concentric circles. You start at the conformist center, move outward, pass through a couple of 'bands' of vaguely common development at first, and then progress further into a singular identity unlike anyone else's, even if your remain co-ordinated with others who are reaching their own escape velocities going in different directions, always fleeing the center? Your task is discover the nature of your own unique "line of flight."

True development is then unpredictable, nonhierarchical, actually generative of novelty, not a mere passage through a series of already-known "stages." That's very appealing. By comparison, linear models are pretty dreary, fascistic, moralizing, confining.

WH said...

Thanks for the comment Stan,

And I agree about Wilber and his scheme.

On the other hand, I am not trying to found a "movement" or market anything.

I want to truly understand how men develop a unique, mature masculine identity - by whatever method that happens.

I could easily generate an "integrally-based" model right now based on Wilber's work and some references to Piaget and Erickson, but that would be dishonest.

My sense, right now, is that developmental is non-linear, possibly hierarchical (although I am not tied to that idea beyond the initial stages of embeddedness & dissonance), quite possibly recursive, and if there is a "final stage" it is closer to Gebser's sense of integral than it is to Wilber's version (which is a little self-serving):

This structure is difficult to describe since it depends to a great deal on experience, not just that we have them, but on how intense they are and what we glean from them for now and the future. Intensity is a key characteristic of this mode of consciousness. By intensity, I do not mean simply an emotional relationship to experience or the feeling or deepening of emotion itself. This would be a magical response not an integral one.

I like that, the openness to it being defined by experience.

Anyway - I am seeking to understand how men develop, not to impose my own structure on other men.

Peace,
Bill