The prevalence of psychological health problems experienced by young people living in Western societies is increasing. Evidence suggests the cultural dynamism of individualism may play a role in this, but this evidence is conflicting. Here, we focus on both the concepts of individualism and collectivism, distinguishing between their horizontal and vertical dimensions. We examine the influence of these dimensions on the psychological wellbeing of a sample of 507 Australian emerging adults (aged 18–25). We found that orientations towards vertical (but not horizontal) individualism predicted lower levels of psychological wellbeing, while orientations towards horizontal (but not vertical) collectivism predicted higher psychological wellbeing. These findings add clarity to the way in which key Western social values play an understated role in the increasing prevalence of psychological health problems experienced by young people today. They also provide an understanding of how various traits embedded within these concepts relate to psychological wellbeing.
- mental health