More individualism means more altruism – Reason.com
The countries with the most individualistic values are also the countries with the highest levels of altruism, according to a upcoming study in the review Psychological science. A team of Georgetown and Harvard psychologists came to this conclusion after analyzing data from around the world on subjective well-being, individualistic and collectivistic cultural values, and various measures of altruism, ranging from charitable giving to aid. to strangers to donation of living organs to animal treatment.
Researchers include latest data (from 2019) in Charities Aid Foundation annual report Global Giving Index, which surveys people around the world to ask if, in the past month, they have helped a stranger, donated to charity, or donated time to an organization. “The United States of America has been the most generous country in the world for the past 10 years,” the 2019 report notes. The others in the top 10 are Myanmar, New Zealand, Ireland, Ireland. ‘Australia, United Kingdom and Canada.
China is the least generous country in the world. Others in the bottom 10 include Greece, Yemen, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Russia.
Researchers then correlate altruistic tendencies and six measures national cultural differences devised by Dutch social psychologist Geert Hofstede and his associates. One of these measures is individualism, which expresses the degree of interdependence that a society maintains among its members. “In individualistic societies, people are only supposed to take care of themselves and their direct family. In collectivist societies, people belong to “groups” which take care of themselves in return for unconditional loyalty. observed The Hofstede Hofstede Insights consultancy. United States scores highest on individualism, followed by Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and New Zealand. China’s rank is down.
The researchers find that “the variable most consistently associated with altruism at the individual and geographic level is subjective well-being (SWB)”. They also note that “individualistic cultural values reliably predict an increase in SWB at the national level”. In other words, individualistic values tend to enhance subjective well-being, which in turn promotes altruistic behavior.
Subjective fulfillment is measured by asking respondents to rate their current and expected (next five years) life satisfaction on a scaled scale, with zero representing the worst possible life and 10 the best possible life.
Researchers find that higher individualism improves subjective well-being by promoting engagement in inherently meaningful behaviors, including those that improve the well-being of others. Further, they suggest that individualism makes people look beyond their tribes and tribal values and fosters a more cosmopolitan outlook that encourages people to consider the needs of outsiders and offer them help. .
“To the extent that a strong, positive geographic relationship between individualism and altruism seems counterintuitive, it may reflect the common confusion between individualism and selfishness,” the authors note. “However, present the results with previous job can resolve this apparent paradox, as individualistic cultural values are reliably associated with SWB, which promotes altruism. Thus, the researchers report that their “findings provide assurance that there may not be an inherent conflict between doing well and doing good.”
Georgetown researcher Abigail Marsh summarizing her research and that of her colleagues in a New York Times editorial, observed that political liberals “often express their concern that individualism breeds selfishness, but they may not realize that individualism in fact promotes the values they value most, as opposed to the values” binding ”more traditional such as obedience to authority and loyalty within the group. “
An unfortunate result is that the tribalist collectivism inherent in contemporary progressives’ obsession with identity politics will result in less rather than more altruism in the United States.