Chinese Studies
2013. Vol.2, No.1, 1-7
Published Online February 2013 in SciRes
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 1
Key Dimensions and Validity of the Chinese Version of
the Individualism-Collectivism Scale
Huang Renzhi1, Yao Shuqiao2*, John R. Z. Abela3,
Fallyn Leibovitch3, Liu Mingfan4
1Teaching Science Department, Hunan First Normal University, Changsha, China
2Medical Psychological Research Center, Central South University,
Second Xiangya Hospital, Changsha, China
3Department of Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
4Psychology Department, Jiangxi Normal University, Nanchang, China
Email: *
Received November 12th, 2012; revised December 13th, 2012; accepted December 20th, 2012
A Chinese version of the Individualism-Collectivism Scale (ICS) to assess cultural dimensions was de-
veloped and its psychometric properties were evaluated. The English version of the ICS was translated
and back translated prior to its administration to 1760 participants who were divided into 5 age groups.
Results indicated that the ICS-C exhibited moderate to high internal consistency with Cronbach’s alpha
coefficients ranging from 0.64 to 0.83. The ICS-C also exhibited strong test-retest reliability with ICCs
from 0.45 to 0.80. Confirmatory factor Analyses found the four-factor model was the best fit of the data
across gender and age, thus supporting the multi-dimensional perspective of horizontal and vertical indi-
vidualism and collectivism. Furthermore, a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) revealed a sig-
nificant main effect of age and gender. A gradual increase is present in subjective perception of societal
emphasis on the cultural dimensions across five age groups, except age groups of 14 - 15 and 16 - 17 in
vertical individualism. With respect to gender effect, female students showed a higher perception of the
vertical collectivism than male students (p < 0.05). Thus, the results revealed that sufficient support for
the reliability and validity of the Chinese version of ICS.
Keywords: Individualism; Collectivism; Culture; Chinese Students
Culture is a concept that is widely used but difficult to define.
Researchers have accounted for behavioral disparities amongst
cultures by conceptualizing such differences in terms of dimen-
sions which act as parameters (Aaron & Anat, 2006; Voronov
& Singer, 2002; Triandis, 1996). Individualism and collectiv-
ism are often considered two of the most prominent examples
of such dimensions (Triandis, 2001). Whereas collectivism is
characterized by communal goals, interdependence, social
norms and relationships, individualism emphasizes personal
goals, independence, and autonomy (Triandis, 1996, 2001).
Individualists view the self as autonomous from one’s in-group,
and personal attitudes and perceived benefits shape the motiv-
tion for individualist action (Triandis, 2001). In contrast, col-
lectivists view the self as a part of one’s in-group, and collec-
tive beliefs and obligations shape behavior (Triandis, 2001).
Past research examining the operationalization of individual-
ism and collectivism has evolved in three distinct phases. First,
Hofstede, in 1984, proposed a uni-dimensional approach
whereby individualism and collectivism fell at opposite ends of
the same continuum (Charles, 2010; Gouveia, Clemente, &
Espinosa, 2003). Individualism and collectivism were charac-
terized as a single, bipolar construct and thus, endorsing indi-
vidualistic tendencies necessarily required rejecting collecti-
vistic ideals (Duan, Wei, & Wang, 2008; Freeman & Bordia,
2001). However, as many researchers believed this perspective
to be an oversimplification of a more complex phenomenon,
Kâgitçibasi, in 1987, proposed a bi-dimensional approach. In
doing so, individualism and collectivism were operationalized
dichotomously and were considered separate unipolar con-
structs (Freeman & Bordia, 2001). More specifically, collectiv-
ism emphasized interpreting the self as an extension of one’s in
group, and choosing in-group goals over personal goals. In
contrast, individualism interpreted the self as distinct from
one’s in-group, and focused on personally satisfying goals over
in-group goals. The fundamental difference between the two
perspectives is that while uni-dimensionality inherently requires
a given culture to be classified as either individualistic or col-
lectivistic, bi-dimensionality accepts the possibility of the si-
multaneous existence of individualistic and collectivistic ten-
dencies in a single context (Fauziah & Kamarnzaman, 2010;
Freeman & Bordia, 2001). Last, researchers proposed a multi-
dimensional approach in which horizontal and vertical dimen-
sions were added as subdivisions of individualism and collec-
tivism (Singelis, Triandis, & Gelfand, 1995; Triandis, 1996;
Triandis & Gelfand, 1998). While horizontality refers to an
inherent focus on egalitarianism, verticality stresses the princi-
ples of authority, power distance and hierarchy (Chiou, 2001;
Triandis, 1996, 2001). The inclusion of horizontality and verti-
cality accounts for the potential overlap between individualistic
and collectivistic tendencies within a single culture expands the
classifications to include: 1) horizontal individualism; 2) verti-
*Corresponding author.
cal individualism; 3) horizontal collectivism; and 4) vertical
collectivism (Gouveia, Clemente, & Espinosa, 2003; Triandis,
1996, 2001; Triandis & Gelfand, 1998). Whereas horizontal
individualism refers to the addition of universalistic values to
individualism (Triandis, 1996) and denotes independence in
terms of the freedom to be unique, vertical individualism,
which is the addition of achievement orientations to individual-
ism (Triandis, 1996), emphasizes such independence and in
addition, places a premium on status and superiority relating to
the in-group as well as surrounding out-groups. In contrast,
Triandis (1996) defines horizontal collectivism as the inclusion
of benevolent ideologies to collectivistic tendencies and vertical
collectivism represents the addition of power to collectivism
(Triandis, 1996). More specifically, Oppenheimer (2004) sug-
gests that horizontal collectivists identify the self as a function
of their in-groups and stress equality amongst members. In
contrast, vertical collectivists emphasize the authoritarian
structure of their in-group, often to the point of self-sacrifice
and competition with out-groups (Oppenheimer, 2004; Triandis,
2001). Therefore, the multidimensional model is considered
superior to the uni-dimensional and bi-dimensional models, as
it is able to completely encompass constructs as complex as
culture, individualism and collectivism.
The Individualism & Collectivism Scale (ICS) is one of the
primary instruments used to assess the multi-dimensional
components of individualism and collectivism. Previous re-
search examining the reliability and validity of the ICS supports
the use of this scale cross-culturally and across ages (e.g. Op-
penheimer, 2004; Gouveia, Clemente, & Espinosa, 2003; Choiu,
2001). Across studies, the ICS has been found to possess mod-
erate to strong internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha ranging
from 0.63 to 0.89) (Anthony, Rosselli, & Caparyan, 2003;
Choiu, 2001; Gouveia, Clemente, & Espinosa, 2003; Oppen-
heimer, 2004; Singelis et al., 1995; Triandis & Gelfand, 1998).
Moreover, the ICS has demonstrated strong construct validity,
whereby distinct patterns of associations were found between
each of the four dimensions of individualism and collectivism,
and sociopolitical attitudes related to equality and inequality
(Strunk & Chang, 1999). The ICS has also demonstrated gener-
ally strong convergent and divergent validity (Triandis & Gel-
fand, 1998). More specifically, horizontal and vertical indi-
vidualism as well as horizontal and vertical collectivism were
negatively correlated. In addition, individuals who exhibited
vertical individualistic tendencies endorsed constructs including
competition and hedonism; however, individuals who empha-
sized horizontal individualism exhibited higher levels of
self-reliance without competition (Triandis & Gelfand, 1998).
Furthermore, whereas vertical collectivists scored highly on
measures of sociability and family integrity and low on emo-
tional distance from one’s in-group, horizontal collectivists
stressed interdependence and sociability but did not endorse
family integrity (Triandis & Gelfand, 1998).
From a developmental point of view, the subjective percep-
tions of culture dimensions were influenced and formed by the
individual’s early living environments and parenting received
from it (Oppenheimer, 2004). More specifically, When children
enter a competitive environment (i.e. an individual environ-
ment), for example, secondary schools or university, from the
protective environment of a family (i.e. a collective environ-
ment), it is expected that they would perceive the shift of em-
phasis from collectivism to individualism and make the corre-
sponding adaptation. Therefore, the initial influence of the col-
lectivism at the age of 14 would gradually decrease and be
replaced by the later perceived strong emphasis on individual-
ism. Similarly a shift from horizontality (i.e., equality) to verti-
cality (i.e., power distance based on competition) would have
taken place. Some researchers (Oppenheimer & Hitteling, 2004)
had observed that the parenting way of a family moved from
authoritarian with young children to authoritative, and finally to
permissive with older children across ages.
As far as gender effect is concerned, Oppenheimer (2004)
has demonstrated that males show a significantly stronger and
rather stable perception of societal emphasis on individualism
than females (p < 0.05). In his study examining vertical and
horizontal individualism and collectivism in Netherlands, for
vertical individualism females indicated a significant increase
in their subjective perceptions while this was not the same case
for males. Only after the age of 22, males scored lower than
females on the subscale of vertical individualism. For subjec-
tive perceptions of horizontal individualism again a significant
increase is present for females across age, while all ages males
perceive a significant higher societal emphasis on horizontal
individualism than females. On that subscales of vertical and
horizontal collectivism scores did not reveal any significant
differences between male and female participants.
The objectives of the study were four-fold. First, we aimed to
develop a Chinese version of the ICS (ICS-C). Second, we
examined the reliability of the ICS-C, specifically internal con-
sistency and test-retest reliability. Third, we conducted confir-
matory factor analyses in order to determine whether the four-
factor model was the best fit of the data. Last, we examined age
and gender-related differences in individualism and collectiv-
ism as assessed by the ICS-C.
Participants were recruited from one university (Hunan
Normal University) and two high schools in Hunan Province,
China. The final sample consisted of 1760 students (51.4%
female and 48.6% male) ranging in age from 14 to 23 years
= 17.69, SDtotal = 2.10; males
= 17.42, SDmales = 1.08;
x = 17.83, SDfemales = 1.04). The sample was 91% Han
and 9% ethnic minority. With regard to family composition,
71% of children lived with their nuclear families, 22.3% with
their extended families, and 6.7% in single parent homes.
Prior to the initial assessment, letters of informed consent
were sent home with students detailing the aim of the present
study. More specifically, the informed consent detailed the
project aims which included developing a Chinese translation
of the ICS and examining the psychometric properties of the
questionnaire in a sample of Chinese students. It is important to
note that students were only permitted to participate if the pro-
ject coordinator received a signed informed consent form.
Moreover, if the participant was under the age of 18, a parent
was also required to sign the informed consent form. During the
initial assessment, students completed the Chinese version of
the ICS (ICS-C) with a demographics form. One month later,
the ICS-C was re-administered to a subset of the original sam-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 3
ple (n = 227) in order to examine test-retest reliability.
The ICS-C was developed using the back-translation method.
First, the original version was translated into Chinese by one
bilingual translator from the psychology department at Central
South University (Changsha, Hunan). Next, the Chinese ver-
sion was back-translated into English by another bilingual
translator from the psychology department at McGill University.
Finally, the original version of the ICS was compared with the
back-translation. If discrepancies arose in the back-translation,
translators worked cooperatively to make corrections to the
Chinese version.
The Individualism and Collectivism Scale (ICS; Singelis
et al., 1995)
The ICS is a 32-item self-report measure designed to assess
the following dimensions of culture: horizontal individualism,
vertical individualism, horizontal collectivism, and vertical
collectivism. The scale can be divided in order to separately
assess a participant’s endorsement of individualism and collec-
tivism, as well as further sub-divided in order to include the
sub-dimensions of horizontality and verticality. The first set of
sixteen questions represent individualism, whereby the first
eight items relate to horizontality and the next eight items relate
to verticality. The second set of sixteen questions represents
collectivism, whereby the first eight items relate to horizon-
tality and the next eight items relate to verticality. Examples of
questions include, “I often do my own thing (horizontal indi-
vidualism)”, “It annoys me when other people perform better
than I do (vertical individualism)”, “The well-being of my
co-workers is important to me (horizontal collectivism)”, and “I
would sacrifice an activity that I enjoy very much if my family
did not approve of it (vertical collectivism)”. Participants were
provided with a 7-point Likert scale ranging from totally agree
(1) to totally disagree (7), whereby lower scores on a given
subscale reflect the participant’s endorsement of that subscale.
In the current study, Cronbach’s alpha coefficients of the sub-
scale of the horizontal individualism, vertical individualism,
horizontal collectivism and vertical collectivism were 0.69,
0.64, 0.83 and 0.88 (p < 0.01), respectively, indicating strong
internal consistency. The ICS-C also exhibited strong test-retest
reliability with mean ICCs from 0.45 to 0.80 for the sample (n
= 227) at one month’s interval, p < 0.01.
Psychometri c E va l uation
Analyses were conducted using SPSS 12.0 and AMOS 5.0
software. In order to evaluate the internal consistency of the
ICS-C, we calculated the Cronbach’s alpha coefficients. Pear-
son’s correlations were used to analyze the inter-correlations
across subscales and the intra-class correlation coefficients
were utilized as test-retest reliability. When examining the four-
factor model of the Chinese culture, we utilized maximum-
likelihood confirmatory factor analyses. one- and two-way
analyses of variance (MANOVA) were conducted to evaluate
the gender-, age-related effects and interaction of the two inde-
pendent variables. Given the large numbers of participants, an
alpha of 0.01 was used. The related data on descriptive statistics,
means and deviations across gender and reliability of the ICS-C
are displayed in Tables 1-3.
Confirmatory Fact or Analysis
As the ICS-C was translated from the English version, we
expected to have 1) four first-order factors and 2) one second-
order factor. Maximum likelihood confirmatory analysis (CFA)
was performed to determine how well the original four-factor
model fit the Chinese data. One and two factor models were
also examined. To evaluate model fit, four indices were ana-
lyzed (values in parentheses denote goodness-of-fit standards):
1) the comparative fit index (CFI > 0.90); 2) the Tucker-Lewis
non-normed fit index (NNFI > 0.90); 3) the root means square
error of approximation (RMSEA 0.08); and 4) the goodness-
of-fit index (GFI > 0.90) (Bollen, 1989; Browne & Cudeck,
1993). These fit indices are presented in Table 4. The chi-
square statistic was significant for all three models (p < 0.001),
indicating the sensitivity of this statistic to sample size. Degrees
of freedom of the three models were 20 (one-factor model), 19
(two-factor model), and 14 (four-factor model). The chi-square
of freedom ratios were 36.86 (one-factor model), 29.96 (two-
factor model) and 12.54 (four-factor model). While none of the
ratios were satisfactory, the four-factor model yielded the best
ratio, compared to the one and two-factor models. With respect
to GFI, the indices of the three models all exceeded 0.90, and
were thus considered satisfactory. Moreover, the GFI of the
four-factor model (0.98) was especially higher than those of the
other two models. When NNFI and CFI were included in the
analysis, the four-factor model (NNFI = 0.92, CFI = 0.93) was
superior to the other two models, followed by the two-factor
model (NNFI = 0.75, CFI = 0.75), and then the one-factor
(NNFI = 0.67, CFI = 0.67). RMSEA values were 0.14 (one-
factor model), 0.13 (two-factor model), and 0.08 (four-factor
model). As an acceptable RMSEA value must be less than or
equal to 0.08, the one and two-factor models did not fit, thus
Table 1.
Descriptive statistics for the ICS-C by gender.
Total (n = 1760) Male (n = 855) Female (n = 905)
Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD
Horizontal individualism 5.09 0.74 5.14 0.75 5.04 0.73 0.14
Vertical individualism 4.43 0.79 4.43 0.79 4.42 0.79 0.01
Horizontal collectivism 5.40 0.78 5.41 0.79 5.38 0.77 0.04
Vertical collectivism 4.88 0.72 4.80 0.74 4.96 0.70 0.24
Note: ICS-C = Individualism & Collectivism Scale: Chinese Version. η2 indicates effect size. *p < 0.05, **p < 0.01, ***p < 0.001.
Table 2.
Means and standard deviations of five age groups in the ICS-C (N = 1760).
Horizontal individualism Vertical individualism Horizontal collectivism Vertical collectivism
Age groups Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD
14 - 15 4.94 0.75 4.32 0.84 5.33 0.81 4.82 0.72
16 - 17 5.07 0.77 4.43 0.82 5.37 0.84 4.82 0.77
18 - 19 5.12 0.64 4.42 0.71 5.40 0.66 4.92 0.67
20 - 21 5.15 0.74 4.48 0.75 5.44 0.69 4.98 0.65
22 - 23 5.30 0.78 4.49 0.89 5.68 0.71 5.07 0.65
Note: ICS-C = Individualism and Collectivism Scale: Chinese Version.
Table 3.
Reliability of the ICS-C (N = 1760).
Variable Subscale Sum of squares df Mean squares F p
Horizontal individualism 9.04 4 2.26 4.158** 0.002
Vertical individualism 3.839 4 0.960 1.534 0.190
Horizontal collectivism 7.481 4 1.870 3.101* 0.015
Age group
Vertical collectivism 11.646 4 2.911 5.702*** 0.000
Horizontal individualism 3.479 1 3.479 6.401* 0.011
Vertical individualism 5.684E02 1 5.684E02 0.091 0.763
Horizontal collectivism 0.116 1 0.116 0.192 0.662
Vertical collectivism 12.145 1 12.145 23.786*** 0.000
Note. ICS-C = Individualism and Collectivism Scale: Chinese Version. *p < 0.05, **p < 0.01, ***p < 0.001.
Table 4.
Model fit statistics for the ICS-C.
Model χ2 df GFI NNFI CFI RMSEA (CI for 90%)
One-factor model 737.28 20 0.90 0.67 0.67 0.14 (0.13 - 0.15)
Male 287.85 20 0.92 0.74 0.75 0.13 (0.11 - 0.14)
Female 471.88 20 0.88 0.60 0.61 0.16 (0.15 - 0.17)
Two-factor model 569.15 19 0.92 0.75 0.75 0.13 (0.12 - 0.14)
Male 230.16 19 0.93 0.79 0.80 0.11 (0.10 - 0.13)
Female 359.82 19 0.90 0.69 0.70 0.14 (0.13 - 0.15)
Four-factor model 175.60 14 0.98 0.92 0.93 0.08 (0.07 - 0.09)
Male 94.54 14 0.97 0.91 0.92 0.08 (0.07 - 0.10)
Female 83.98 14 0.98 0.93 0.94 0.08 (0.06 - 0.09)
Age group 1 (14 - 15) 41.12 14 0.97 0.90 0.92 0.08 (0.06 - 0.10)
Age group 2 (16 - 17) 43.59 14 0.96 0.92 0.93 0.08 (0.06 - 0.09)
Age group 3 (18 - 19) 48.57 14 0.98 0.91 0.92 0.08 (0.07 - 0.10)
Age group 4 (20 - 21) 44.50 14 0.96 0.92 0.91 0.08 (0.07 - 0.09)
Age group 5 (22 - 23) 46.95 14 0.95 0.92 0.91 0.08 (0.07 - 0.09)
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 5
indicating that the four-factor model was again superior. Fur-
thermore, the analysis yielded a reasonable fit (x2(14) = 175.60,
p 0.00, GFI = 0.98, CFI = 0.93) between the four-factor
model and the data. The four-factor model was also applicable
to both gender groups, as well as the five age groups, with
fairly desirable fit indices, as seen in Table 4.
ICS-C Subscale Correlations by Gender
The two and four-factor model correlation coefficients by
gender are displayed in Table 5. The correlation matrices for
girls and boys were generally comparable. In the two-factor
model, the correlations between individualism and collectivism
were 0.31 (male) and 0.25 (female), respectively (p < 0.05). In
the four-factor model, the correlation coefficients ranged from
0.07 to 0.45 (male) and 0.01 to 0.31 (female). All of the corre-
lation coefficients were statistically significant (p < 0.01), with
the exception of the correlation between vertical individualism
and horizontal collectivism (p > 0.05).
Age Differences
A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was per-
formed on the subscale score of ICS-C as dependent variables
and age groups as the independent variable to examine the ex-
tent to which the scale captured the age difference among the
participants. The results indicated that there was an overall
significant effect of age (Wilks’lambda = 0.978, df = 16, F =
2.471, p < 0.01) for the four subscales. Univariate tests further
indicated that there were significant age differences in partici-
pants’ ratings on all four subscales: Horizontal Individualism
(F(4, 1753) = 2.615, p < 0.05), Vertical Individualism (F(4,
1753) = 2.716, p < 0.05). Horizontal Collectivism (F(4, 1753 =
4.681, p < 0.001)) and Vertical Collectivism (F(4, 1753) =
3.058, p < 0.05). Post hoc tests using Scheffe’s criteria revealed
that for the Horizontal Collectivism subscales, the mean scores
of the five age groups were higher than the mean scores of the
other three subscales. For the main effect of age, age group 1
was found to rate the horizontal individualism lower signifi-
cantly than both age group 4 (mean difference = 0.2093, p <
0.05) and age group 5 (mean difference = 0.3633, p < 0.05),
while age group 2 - 5 did not differ from each other. With re-
gard to vertical individualism, results demonstrated that the five
Table 5.
Factor inter-correlations for the two and four-factor models of the
Two-factor model 1 2
1. Individualism - 0.31*
2. Collectivism 0.25* -
Four-factor model 1 2 3 4
1. Horizontal individualism - 0.22** 0.34** 0.24**
2. Vertical individualism 0.21** - 0.07 0.18**
3. Horizontal collectivism 0.31** 0.01 - 0.45**
4. Vertical collectivism 0.17** 0.20** 0.40** -
Note: ICS-C = Individualism and Collectivism Scale: Chinese Version. Correla-
tions that appear above the diagonal denote males, and those below the diagonal
denote females. *p < 0.05, **p < 0.01, ***p < 0.001.
age groups also did not differ from each other. In the subscale
of horizontal collectivism, only age group 5 scored higher than
age group 1 (mean difference = 0.3561, p < 0.05). Moreover,
the participants of age group 4 tended to rate the scores higher
on the vertical collectivism subscale compared with the par-
ticipants of age group 1 (mean difference = 0.1519, p < 0.05).
These results indicated that he scale was capturing age effects
among the participants.
Gender Differences
To examine age difference between those male and female
participants with respect to their subjective perception on cul-
tural dimensions, a one-way MANOVA was performed on the
participants’ four subscales scores as dependent variables and
their gender as the independent variable. The mean and stan-
dard deviations of the sample for each subscales are presented
in Table 4. The results showed that there was an overall effect
of gender (Wilks’lambda = 0.977, df = 4, F = 10.149, p < 0.001)
for the ICS-C. Univariatge tests indicated significant effects for
one of the four subscales, the vertical collectivism subscale
(F(1, 1756) = 1.117, p < 0.05), with those female students
showing a higher perception of the vertical collectivism. Those
male and female participants did not differ in their ratings on
the other three subscales (p > 0.05).
Additional Tests for the Robustness of the ICS-C
To seek further evidence for the robustness of this scale in
capturing age effects, additional MANOVAs were run across
the demographic variable of gender, therefore, separate two-
way MANOVAs were run for age group and gender. Wilk’s
criteria was performed with age group and gender serving as
the independent variables and the four subscales serving as the
dependent variables. Except for the significant main effect that
found for age group and gender, no interaction was found dur-
ing this analysis.
In summary, the findings revealed that the 32-item ICS-C is
a reliable measure that captures the anticipated age differences.
Further analysis was conducted to examine the relationship
between the demographic variables (gender and age) and par-
ticipants’ subscale scores. Results indicated that main age and
gender-related effects did exist while the interaction was not
The results of the current study indicate that the ICS-C is a
reliable measure of individualism and collectivism. More spe-
cifically, the alpha coefficients for each of the four subscales
were acceptable, indicating moderate to strong internal consis-
tency. Moreover, the intraclass correlation coefficients for each
of the four subscales ranged from satisfactory to excellent, in-
dicating moderate to strong test-retest reliability. This suggests
that individualism and collectivism, as measured by the ICS-C,
are relatively stable constructs.
The results of this study also indicate that the ICS-C exhibits
high levels of validity. All correlations of the total scales were
statistically significant, and with the exception of vertical indi-
vidualism to horizontal collectivism, all correlations among the
four subscales were significant. The correlation between hori-
zontal and vertical individualism were small, but significant,
and the correlation between vertical and horizontal collectivism
was moderate. This indicates that individualism, collectivism
and their horizontal and vertical sub-dimensions are independ-
ent yet related constructs. The case of low correlation of verti-
cal individualism to horizontal collectivism has also been found
in a cross-cultural study conducted by Chiou and colleagues
As predicted, the results of the current study revealed four
first-order factors and one second-order factor. Maximum like-
lihood confirmatory factor analysis supported the four-factor
model as superior to the one and two-factor models. While the
one and two-factor models were satisfactory in terms of fit with
the Chinese data, the four-factor was the best fit. The four-
factor model was also found to apply to all groups, yielding
fairly desirable fit indices for each of the five age groups, as
well as both gender groups. Furthermore, although none of the
chi-square ratios were significant, the ratio of the four-factor
model was better, compared to the ratios of the one and
two-factor models. The RMSEA values are also noteworthy, as
the value of the four-factor model was significant, whereas the
values of the one and two-factor models were not. Therefore,
the results of the current study indicate that the four-factor
model is superior to the one and two-factor models. Moreover,
the ICS-C subscale correlations in the four factor model were
superior to those of the two-factor model. All of the correla-
tions were significant, with the exception of vertical individual-
ism and horizontal collectivism. Thus, the results of the current
study support the four factors of individualism and collectiv-
The results provide support for the viewpoint that the ICS-C
was capturing age effects among the student participants.
Whereas a gradual increase is present in subjective perception
of societal emphasis on vertical and horizontal individualism
and collectivism across five age groups, only the participants
with age of 14 - 15 did the subjective perception of vertical
individualism scored a little lower than those with age of 16 -
17. For a developing participant, culture is not a stable and
ordered entity with fixed characteristics. Our findings suggest
that during adolescence, and also during adulthood, participants
continue to construe their understanding of culture. The subjec-
tive perception of culture is a dynamic process that is informed
by the interaction between the environments in which individu-
als directly function and their level emotional and cognitive
development such as co-construction (Nachiketa, Sonia, &
Jezdimir, 2010; Thao & Gary, 2005; Valsiner, 1998; Valsiner et
al., 1997).
In Chinese society, the progressive understanding of societal
characteristics is most evident for perceived societal emphasis
on horizontal collectivism. Or, to put it another way, with in-
creasing age, student participants perceive that society puts
higher demands on interdependence and egalitarian. With re-
spect to individualism, our findings also demonstrated that by
the age 14, individualism within the Chinese culture is per-
ceived and understood to be emphasized which increased from
that age on. Neither vertical individualism nor horizontal indi-
vidualism were perceived increasingly, which was definitely
different from the findings of the Dutch study (Oppenheimer,
2004). In comparison to subjective perceptions of collectivism,
the Dutch adolescents and adults became progressively more
aware of societal appeals on individualism. This implies that
the understanding and interpretation of culture will and never
can be identical to any objective characterization of society
because individual, subjective variables modify such features.
The results of the current study also indicated noteworthy
gender differences in the subscales of the ICS-C. Whereas fe-
males scored higher than males on the vertical collectivism
subscale, males scored higher than females on the three re-
maining subscales. However, only the vertical collectivism
gender difference was statistically significant. These findings
are curious, as they are in contrast with those found in Oppen-
heimer’s (2004) American sample. A possible explanation is
that this might reflect a difference found in Chinese culture,
whereby Chinese girls might emphasize power distance, or
endorse a more hierarchical perspective within their in-groups
than Chinese boys. Perhaps Chinese girls are more socialized
than Chinese boys during their growth. Some researchers (e.g.
Chiu, 1999, Kasser & Ryan, 1993; Landis & Koch, 1977;
Singelis, 1994; Shrout & Fleiss, 1979) have pointed out that
China is not just an “other-directed” society whose members
are sensitive to the expectations and preferences of others, but a
target-specific society whereby there are different expectations
of social behavior for different relationships. Thus, the Chinese
girls might be ready to sacrifice their personal and individualis-
tic goals and needs for the sake of the in-group. Further inves-
tigation should be conducted in order to extrapolate the root
causes of this difference.
The use of self-report measures as the primary more of data
collection might be considered a limitation of the current study,
which was criticized by psychologists for the shortcoming of
not reflecting actual behavior. However, the aim of the current
study was to accrue the participants’ subjective perceptions of
these cultural dimensions, as opposed to measuring objective
behaviors. Therefore, self-report measures were valuable tools
in this study.
Overall, the results of the current study indicate that the
ICS-C is a reliable and valid measure of the constructs of indi-
vidualism and collectivism, as well as their sub-dimensions in
the mainland of China. With regard to future research, the next
logical step would be conducting studies using the ICS-C in a
non-student population. Additionally, such studies should be
conducted in a number of other regions of China, outside of the
Hunan Province. These studies would enable researchers to
better evaluate the ICS-C on a broader spectrum within the
Chinese culture.
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