The social contract revisited: a re-examination of the influence individualistic and collectivistic value systems have on the psychological wellbeing of young people

Ashley Humphrey (Lead / Corresponding author), Ana Maria Bliuc, Pascal Molenberghs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-169
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Volume23
Issue number2
Early online date8 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2020

Keywords

  • collectivism
  • culture
  • Individualism
  • mental health

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