Exploring Ethnic Group and Geographic Differences in Social Axioms in the USA

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Book Chapter

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Ethnic Group, Confirmatory Factor Analysis, Cultural Dimension, Geographic Difference, Social Complexity

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This study investigates the dimensionality of a recently developed measure of social beliefs—the Social Axioms Survey (SAS) for American respondents. Ethnic group and geographical differences in the endorsement of social beliefs were also assessed with the SAS with samples of college and noncollege students in eight locations in the USA (N = 2,164). Results of exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses supported the five-factor structure found previously in international samples (Leung & Bond, 2004). Differences among ethnic groups showed that African Americans scored higher on the belief dimension of religiosity than did Asian or Caucasian Americans. Asian Americans were more inclined toward socially cynical beliefs than were other ethnic groups and believed more in fate control than did Caucasian or Hispanic Americans. Differences in social beliefs across locations were limited to religiosity beliefs when only Caucasian American respondents were considered. Implications for comparisons of samples from the USA with other countries are discussed.

A persistent problem in cross-cultural research has been finding ways to describe cultures in ways that allow for comparison among them. The most common cultural comparison uses the individualism—collectivism dimension (IC) (Hofstede, 1980; Triandis, 1995) and self-construal as the individual-level or psychological indicator (Markus & Kitayama, 1991; Singelis, 1994). Among all the dimensions available, none has generated the research that has accrued to the IC dimension (see Oyserman, Coon, & Kemmelmeier, 2002 for a review and critique). In an effort to add to the cultural dimensions available to scholars wishing to compare and understand cultures, an SAS was recently developed (Leung et al., 2002). The dimensions identified in the survey are based on beliefs rather than values or self-construals.

The results of this initial study suggested that five social axioms factors may be universal: Fate Control, Reward for Application, Cynicism, Religiosity, and Social Complexity. The pan-cultural dimensionality was confirmed in a larger, subsequent study (Leung & Bond, 2004). The purpose of the current study was to explore ethnic group and geographical variations in social beliefs with the SAS in a population from the USA. In addition, we sought to assess the dimensionality of the SAS in this population with a large enough sample to ensure the stability of the factor structure obtained.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Exploring Ethnic Group and Geographic Differences in Social Axioms in the USA, in K. Leung & M. H. Bond (Eds.), Psychological Aspects of Social Axioms, Springer, p. 81-93