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Papazova, E., et al. (2008). Psychological thought, 6, 40-54.

VALUE DIMENSIONS OF CULTURE: COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS

Eva Papazova, Eliana Pencheva, Raymond Moody, Yuki Tsuzuki, John Bathurst

Institute of Psychology – BAS


University of Hawaii, USA
Seijo University, Japan
The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, New Zealand

The article traces out and analyzes the Schwartz cultural value dimensions. Some results of empirical cross-cultural
comparison between Schwartz cultural values with student samples from Bulgaria (N=253), USA (Hawaii) (N=245), Japan
(N=198) and New Zealand (N=102) are presented. Shalom Schwartz basic individual values questionnaire (SVS) is applied.
The results show certain cross-cultural specificity of Schwartz cultural values in the different samples is observed.
Notwithstanding of students cultural belongingness, the Egalitarianism is placed on a highest position and Hierarchy on a
lowest.

Russian. Статья анализирует и прослеживает измерения културных ценностей по Шварцу. Предствлены


резултаты крос-култьтурного емпирического сравнения культурных ценностей по Шаврцу полученные
извлечениями студентом из Болгарии (N=253), США (Хавай) (N=245), Японии (N=198) и Новой Зеландии (N=102).
Для измерения основных индивидуальных ценностей используется вопросник Шалома Шварца (SVS). Результаты
по Шварцу изсследования показывают, что наблюдается опрелеленная крос-культурная специфика в ценностных
приоритетах студентам. Независимо своей культурной принадлежности, студенты, включительно четырех
национальностей, приписывают самое высокое значение ценности Егалитаризм и самое ниское – ценности
Иерархия.

Every one of us function in a cultural environment, in which certain values, norms, attitudes and
practices are more or less dominant and serves as sources for socialization and social control. For
example, it is determined that individuals in collectivistic or egalitarian cultures distinguish more
properly behavior directed toward in-group relations, than individuals from individualistic or
autonomous cultures.
However, cultures are not completely coherent. Supplementary to the dominant culture
subgroups apprehend conflicting values. The dominant cultural orientation revises in accordance with
altering in-group relationships, but the reversal is slow.
An important aspect of cultural value orientations is that they are relatively stable (Schwartz,
Bardi & Bianchi, 2000). Some investigators have argued that some elements of culture persist more
than hundred years. For example, Kohn and Schooler (Kohn & Schooler, 1983) distinguished influence
of feudalism over today’s national and cultural variations as significant variations of autonomy versus
conformity.
The empirical investigations of value system cultural dimensions are of particular interest in the
contemporary psychology. Such investigation is conducted by the Israeli scientist and researcher
Shalom Schwartz during the 90’s years. The investigation is cross-cultural and involves large number
of countries.

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Papazova, E., et al. (2008). Psychological thought, 6, 40-54.

Shalom Schwartz’s cultural values theory

Schwartz consider culture as a rich complex of meanings, believes, practices, symbols, norms
and values that prevail among people in the society. The predominant values in society could be
distinguished as the most central traits of culture. These values expressed and shared the concept of
what is good and desired in certain culture, like cultural ideals.
The cultural value orientations are considered as questions or problems of society in human
activity regulation (Hofstede, 1980; Schwartz, 1994). The individuals have to distinguish these
problems, to plan their resolutions, and to motivate each other to cope with them. The ways in which
people answer to those basic questions serves as identification of dimensions, differentiating cultures
one by another.
The theory specifies the existence of three bipolar dimensions of culture, which are alternative
resolutions of three problems with whom the societies have came across: autonomy versus
conservatism (to what extent individuals are autonomous or dependant from the group they belongs),
hierarchy versus egalitarism (to what extent personal responsibility is guaranteed in order to preserve
the social order), mastery versus harmony (to what extent people value their relations with nature and
social world).
Value structure on a cultural level is result of multidimensional analysis. On a cultural level,
values form two basic dimensions. Values, placed in an upper left quadrant expressed conservatism or
perseverance of status quo. These values are opposed in their meaning to the values in the right lower
quadrant who expressed autonomy. Values from the right upper quadrant expressed self-transcendence.
They are opposed in their meaning to the values from the lower left quadrant, who expressed self-
enhancement (see Figure 1).

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Papazova, E., et al. (2008). Psychological thought, 6, 40-54.

Conservatism Self-transcendence

Harmony

Conservatism Egalitarism

Intellectual
autonomy
Hierarchy

Affective
Маstery
autonomy

Self-enhancement Autonomy

Figure 1. Structural model of Shalom Schwartz’s cultural values

The separate categories and values that form them are as follows:
1. Conservatism. This category includes values that underline the necessity of maintaining the
status quo and evasion of individual actions or aptitudes that could destroy traditional order. These
values are of particular significance for societies in which the personal interests are not seen as
different from those of the group. Those are centric society values that have high significance for
cultures in which the Self is perceived as part of the collective, e.g. it has autonomous and not
subordinate meaning.
2. Intellectual and affective autonomy. These values are important in societies that consider
individual as autonomous unity who determine his individual interests and desires alone. Two types of
autonomy have existed. Intellectual autonomy, which involves values directed towards independence
of ideas and individual right to follow its own judgments (creative work, curiosity and with wide view).
The affective autonomy unifies values that confirm individual independence in pursuit of positive
affective experience (varied life, exiting life, pleasure, enjoyment of life).
3. Hierarchy. This category includes values that confirm the legacy of hierarchical organization
of society and its resources (social power, wealth, authority, and influence). Value modest (self-

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controlled) also belongs to this category, which confirm the idea of direct interrelation with conformity
with law, hierarchical roles and distribution of wealth. This category is closer to conservatism than to
autonomy.
4. Маstery. Values that belong to this category express efforts for environmental and social
sphere change. It involves values independent (rely to yourself, rely to your own strength), fearless
(looking for adventures and risk-taking), independent (chose your own aims and intention), ambitious
(work hard, with high intensions), successful (accomplish his own aims), capable (competent, effective,
know how).
Mastery, autonomy, and some values from the category hierarchy presuppose pursue of
personal aims and could be considered as expression of individualism.
5. Еgalitarism. This category involves values that support transcendence of egocentric interests
in the name of other people. It is opposite to the categories hierarchy and mastery. Values that belong
to it express coming out of egocentric interests – social justice (elimination of injustices, care for the
weak ones), equality (equal possibilities for all), sympathy (work for the good of others), responsibility
(to rely on someone), and devotion (loyalty to friends and to certain group). These are voluntarily
accepted obligations to cooperate for well-being or prosperity of others.
6. Harmony. This category consists of values that underline harmony in interaction with
environment; for example unity with nature, protection of the environment, beauty. Values, that form
this category do not refer to individual autonomy, but are opposed to value categories that refer to
world amendment trough self-enhancement and exploitation of people and resources (Schwartz,
1994a).
Cross-cultural comparison of Schwartz’s value dimensions
Nearly all big, comparative and cross-cultural investigations treat nations as a cultural unity.
Researcher’s has postulate that if samples from different nations are matched (e.g. matched samples),
than the culture of that nations could be compared as well.
Nations, in which authority and high-standing people are oriented towards active participation
in government, are those who have high individualism, and are characterized with cultural autonomy,
egalitarism, low power distance, harmony and femininity. This is more typical for the West European
nations than for the United States of America. Vice versa, trust in authority and rules are associated not
only with collectivism, but with hierarchy, power distance, mastery and masculinity (Smith, Peterson &
Schwartz, 2000).
In contrast with dominant view that in West Europe and USA cultures are individualistic, it is
determined that West Europe and English speaking regions cultures are very different. In contrast with
the rest of the world, the culture of English speaking regions value particularly high mastery and
moderately intellectual autonomy and egalitarism. The American samples value mastery even more
than autonomy and egalitarism, in comparison with English speaking samples (Smith, Peterson &
Schwartz, 2000).
The influenced from Confucius Asia region, to whom belongs Japan, combine strong stress on
hierarchy and rejection of egalitarism. The region also accentuate on collectivism.
From other side, as bigger the number of the ethnic groups in a nation, as strong is the cultural
pressure on conservatism and mastery. That is the case in West Europe and USA today. And, this is the
reason why people identify and refer to each other in terms of ethnic groups and cultural diversity
(http://business.bilgi.edu.tr/doc/mapping_and_interpreting_cultural_differences_around_the_world.doc
).
The East European profile of culture accentuate on harmony and not as strong to mastery. The
result is interpreted as an adaptive orientation that includes escape of difficulties and restrain from
personal initiatives. In comparison with Central European cultures, in Bulgaria conservatism and
hierarchy are more important (Schwartz & Bardi, 1997).
The presented theoretical and empirical analysis provokes interest towards the following aim:

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Aim:
The aim of investigation is to trace out and analyze cross-culturally Schwartz’s value
dimensions with Bulgarian, Japan, New Zealand and Hawaii student’s samples.
Tasks:
- To compare cross-culturally Schwartz’s value dimensions with Bulgarian, Japan, New
Zealand and Hawaii student’s samples.
Hypothesis:
1. In cross-cultural perspective Schwartz’s value cultural dimensions will show the following
specificity:
 The students from New Zealand, as representatives of English speaking regions culture, will
value more strongly mastery, intellectual autonomy and egalitarism.
 The students from Japan will value more strongly hierarchy and most weakly egalitarism.
 The students from Hawaii, USA, where the number of the ethnic groups is large, will value
strongly conservatism and mastery.
(http://business.bilgi.edu.tr/doc/mapping_and_interpreting_cultural_differences_around_the_w
orld.doc).
 The students from Bulgaria will value more strongly conservatism and hierarchy (Schwartz &
Bardi, 1997).
Sample: The studied subjects are students from four different countries – Bulgaria, USA
(Hawaii), New Zealand and Japan. The whole sample consists of 798 subjects. From them, 253 are
students from Bulgaria, 245 are students from Hawaii (USA), 102 are students from New Zealand, and
198 are students from Japan. The data is gathered during the period January, 2006 – April, 2007, and is
part from an international project titled “Cultural values and type”, lead by Dr. Raymond Moody from
University of Hawaii, USA.
Method and procedures: Shalom Schwartz value survey questionnaire (Schwartz Values
Survey – SVS; Schwartz, 1992) which measure basic individual values both on individual and on
cultural level is applied. The questionnaire is adapted for Bulgaria by Papazova and Pencheva.
Results and discussion
The statistical analysis of data shows very good internal consistency of 56 items scale for
measurement of Schwartz’s values on a cultural level. The Cronbach’s alfa coefficient is =0.89.
Graph 1 represents the ranks of Schwartz’s cultural values with Bulgarian, Hawaii, New
Zealand and Japan students.
For rank calculation of the separate value categories is applied Student’s t-test for paired
samples for all pairs of value categories. That way is possible to identify those value categories that
distinguished in they intensity. Rank from 1 to 7 is ascribed to each category. The value category with
the highest mean score receives rank 1, and the one with the lowest mean score – rank 7. Categories
who do not show significant differences between their mean scores receive one and the same rank.

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0
Conservatis Intelectual Affective Еgalitarianis
Hierarchy Маstery Harmony
m autonomy autonomy m
Bulgaria 5,5 2,5 2,5 7 2,5 2,5 5,5
Hawaii, USA 5 3,5 3,5 7 1 2 6
New Zealand 5,5 1,5 4 7 1,5 3 5,5
Japan 4,5 1,5 3 7 1,5 4,5 6

Graph 1. Cross-cultural comparison of the Schwartz’s cultural values dimensions

The cross-cultural comparison of separate cultural dimensions ranks with the four sub samples
show that in contrast with the hypothesis students from New Zealand put mastery on a third place in
their value hierarchy (students from Hawaii put it on a second place), and egalitarism and intellectual
autonomy share one and the same rank of significance – 1,5 (see Graph 1). With other words, the
hypothesis has been confirmed partly. Self-enhancement that aims elaboration, change of natural and
social environment, and accomplishment of group and individual aims (mastery) step beck in
significance before the pursuit of own ideas and directions (intellectual autonomy) and the
transcendence of selfish interests in the name of others (egalitarism) for the New Zealand students.
Similarly, opposite to our expectations, students from Japan put hierarchy on last 7 place in
their value hierarchy (this is applicable for the whole studied contingent), and the egalitarism share one
and the same relatively high rank of significance with this of New Zealand students – 1,5. Other value
with equal and highest rank of significance for the Japanese students, besides egalitarism, is intellectual
autonomy. With other words, the hypothesis for the Japan students has been rejected. It is presumable
that value hierarchy, characterized with law conformity, hierarchical roles and distribution of resources,
notwithstanding cultural belongingness of the students, is the least important for them. Moreover, they
might have negative attitude towards it.
The hypothesis for Hawaii students has been confirmed partly. Mastery is the most significant
cultural value in comparison with the students from the other three countries. The students from Hawaii
put it on a second place in their value hierarchy. On a first place they put the value egalitarism. In
return, conservatism is put on a fifth place. With other words, the necessity for maintaining the status
quo and escape of action or aptitude which could break the traditional order is not of particular
significance for the students from Hawaii.
The hypothesis for the Bulgarian students has been fully rejected. They put on a last 7th place
hierarchy, and the conservatism is with rank 5,5, which is with the same significance for New Zealand
students. The Bulgarian students value model represents part take of one and the same high rank (2,5)
of four cultural values – affective autonomy, intellectual autonomy, egalitarism and mastery. With
other words, Bulgarian students value autonomy of ideas, reflections and affective experience,
voluntarily excepted obligations to cooperate for the well-being of others, and efforts for social
environment change.

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Discussion and conclusions:


The results from investigation show that:
1. In cross-cultural perspective, Schwartz’s cultural values dimensions reveal significant
differences in value priorities of the studied Bulgarian, Hawaii (USA), New Zealand and Japan
students:
- The priority values for New Zealand students are intellectual autonomy and
egalitarism.
- Like their coevals from New Zealand, the students from Japan value mostly
egalitarism and intellectual autonomy.
- The students from Hawaii, USA, value highly egalitarism and mastery.
- The Bulgarian students’ pay highest significance on affective autonomy, intellectual
autonomy, egalitarism and mastery.
2. Notwithstanding of their cultural belongingness, the students from the four nationalities
ascribe highest significance to value egalitarism. Results from this investigation shows that the
transcendence of selfish interests and acceptance of volunteer duties to cooperate for the well-being and
prosperity of others could be considered as value probably more developmentally determined, than
culturally specific.
3. Similarly, the students from the four nationalities ascribe lowest significance to value
hierarchy. The conformity with law, hierarchical roles and distribution of resources is probably at least
significant for them, as they have negative attitude towards it.
The bipolar dimension of the culture that occurs to be of a highest importance for the behavior
regulation for Bulgarian, Hawaii (USA), New Zealand and Japan students is hierarchy versus
egalitarism. The guarantee of a responsible behavior that preserves social order and structure,
considered as opposition of self-enhancement versus self-transcendence of personality, is the highest
important social problem for the youngsters from the four cultures. According to the value ideology of
the modern youths, people should take individual responsibility for their actions and decisions, based
on their personal understanding of situations, at the expense of declination of hierarchical systems and
ascribed roles that ensure responsible behavior.

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REFERENCES

1. Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values.


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2. http://business.bilgi.edu.tr/doc/mapping_and_interpreting_cultural_differences_around_the_wo
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Authors:
Junior researcher Eva Boyanova Papazova, Ph.D., Institute of Psychology – BAS, е-mail:
papazovae@hotmail.com, тел. 979-30-56
Senior researcher Eliana Stankova Pencheva, Ph.D., Institute of Psychology – BAS, е-mail:
eli@anetbg.net, тел. 979-30-56
Dr. Raymond Moody, University of Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, e-mail: moody@hawaii.edu
Dr. Yukie Tsuzuki, Seijo University, Tokyo, Japan, e-mail: tsuzuki100@mac.com
Dr. John Bathurst, The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, New Zealand, e-mail:
john.bathurst@openpolytechnic.ac.nz

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