Research Articles

A New Measure of Traditional Values Across Cultures: China and Russia Compared

Robert J. Taormina*a, Rail M. Shamionovb

Abstract

A new measure of adherence to traditional values was created with the objective of facilitating research within and across cultures and nations. The measure was tested in China (N = 321) and Russia (N = 314) and factor analysis of the data revealed two subscales named Personal Traditional Values (10 items) and Public Traditional Values (6 items). Empirical psychometric testing of the overall 16-item measure and the two subscales strongly supported the validity and reliability of all three measures. Means comparisons conducted to assess how well the measures could be used for cross-cultural comparisons revealed the Russians somewhat more than the Chinese living by traditional values overall, both nations about equal on living according to traditional values in their personal lives, and the Russians significantly more inclined to abide by traditional values in public. Also tested were several social and psychological variables as theoretical predictors of living by traditional values, and Life Satisfaction was tested as a possible correlate of living according to traditional values. Regression analyses on the combined data confirmed that Family Emotional Support, Conscientiousness, Collectivism, and Age were all significant positive predictors of living by traditional values. Additional regressions also found some unique predictors for each nation. These findings and the results of the parametric tests support the use of the new scales for measuring traditional values both within and across cultures.

Keywords: traditional values, measure, culture, China, Russia

Psychological Thought, 2016, Vol. 9(2), doi:10.5964/psyct.v9i2.202

Received: 2016-08-20. Accepted: 2016-09-12. Published (VoR): 2016-10-28.

Handling Editor: Marius Drugas, University of Oradea, Oradea, Romania

*Corresponding author at: University of Macau, Avenida da Universidade, Taipa, Macau, China. E-mail: Taormina@umac.mo

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Introduction [TOP]

The concept of culture, which includes traditional values, has been debated for many decades, among both lay people and expert academicians from all over the world, with the outcome often being a result of different people having different understandings, and researchers using different measures (see Triandis, 1996). And these problems are confounded by the complexity of the concept, as well as by the fact that there are so many different values and cultures in the world to be assessed.

While it would be difficult to definitively claim there are no “universal” values, it is far from certain that there is a single set of values that act as the main regulators of human behavior all around the world. There have been no investigations to establish that the exact same set of values exists in all cultures, and, to the extent that values are an essential component of culture, it may not be possible to identify “universal traditional values” because there is no “universal culture.”

To resolve this debate, it is necessary to develop a more precise, i.e., operational definition that will enable a clearer understanding of the term traditional values, which should allow more focused research on the topic. While the various manifestations of cultural values will continue to need attention, a clearer definition can provide a better organization of the values and conceptually related ideas. It then becomes possible to address the concern regarding how to measure values. Hence, the objectives of this paper are to (a) offer a clear definition of the term “values” and its related term “culture” in order to obtain a precise definition of “traditional values,” (b) describe the rationale for offering a new measure vis-à-vis a brief review of the existing measures of values, (c) describe the new measure of traditional values, and (d) empirically test the new measure in two nations with different cultures, namely, China and Russia.

Defining Traditional Values [TOP]

Clarifying the construct of traditional values involves three steps. The first is to define the term “values” as the central concept. The second is to place the concept into its ideational context. And the third step is to define the adjective that specifies the values as “traditional.”

The term “values” has been defined in a large number of ways by different researchers in several academic disciplines, including anthropology, psychology, and sociology. But this article does not recount the arguments over the adequacy of past discussions of the concept. Instead, based on explanations of this term that have been discussed in the literature, the definition used here is that values are “ideas, concepts, and qualities that are considered important in life” (Taormina & Gao, 2010, p. 1199). For example, as pointed out by Yang (1995), in Chinese society, great importance is placed on the closeness and well-being of one’s family. Another example, from western society, is the value of individual liberty, e.g., placing importance on every person’s freedom to think and behave according to his or her preferences (within, of course, the limits of the law).

To better understand what values are requires putting them into a conceptual context. Values belong to a broader construct known as “culture.” Unfortunately, the term culture has also been hotly debated for hundreds of years by sociologists, anthropologists, and other social scientists (see Kroeber & Kluckhohn, 1952, as noted by Triandis, 1996). Historically, for example, when western anthropologists visited tribes in distant lands in the 1800s, some returned with the mistaken idea that those people did not have culture. That was a gross error of judgment because they thought western cathedrals, portraiture, and symphonies were culture. What they did not realize is that those are only manifestations of values in their own cultures, while the mud-brick temples, totems, and folk songs were the respective manifestations of the values in the cultures they visited. Such misunderstandings remain today, which makes it imperative that a more exact and accurate definition of culture needs to be employed.

After noting the numerous different attempts by other authors to define culture, Triandis (1996) reviewed problems with those attempts in discussing his concept of cultural “syndromes” (i.e., patterns of behavior) and suggested that culture refers to “shared attitudes, beliefs, norms, role and self-definitions, and values” (p. 407). Based on the previous literature, and in order to avoid unnecessarily extending the debate, this paper views Triandis’ definition as closest to the best empirically workable approach to what culture is, and therefore operationally defines culture as “the values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that are shared by a group of people” (where beliefs are things thought to be true, attitudes are positive or negative evaluations of some object, and behaviors are actions that are performed).

This definition of culture helps clarify what may be assessed when studying “values,” namely, the definition specifies that values are not identical to beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors. Rather, values should be understood to be conceptually distinct from, not the equivalent of, the other facets of culture.

Finally, the adjectival term “traditional” may be defined from its etymological Latin roots, which means to “transmit across,” that is, to transmit something across a barrier or distance, including across generations. Thus, the term “traditional values” should be defined as “Ideas that are considered to be of great importance in life and that are, or have been, transmitted from one generation to succeeding generations.”

Previous Measures of Values [TOP]

It should be stated first that the intention here is not to deny the existing approaches to research on values, but rather to expand on the theory and provide an additional, original scale for more effective examination of people’s adherence to traditional values. It should also be noted that attempts to measure societal values have been troubled not only by the difficulty in defining values, but also by the immense diversity of their cultural settings, i.e., the values measure must be suited to the many different historical backgrounds of different societies.

The previous approach to measuring values was to identify the numerous values of each culture, i.e., a multiple-values approach. An alternate, but rarer, approach is to create a measure of adherence to traditional values that can be applicable to and usable in any culture. (The “adherence” approach is the essence of this article and is discussed subsequently).

The multiple-values approach was attempted by several authors, with three of the most notable being the Values Survey by Rokeach (1973), the Social Values Survey by Schwartz (1994), and the World Values Survey by Inglehart et al. (2000). Those approaches may be praised for their efforts, despite criticisms, and there is an extensive literature on each. But, to avoid lengthening this paper, those approaches (and criticisms) are only briefly described here.

Rokeach Values Survey (RVS) [TOP]

Rokeach (1973) was one of the first researchers to try to identify “universal” values by defining a value is “an enduring belief that a specific mode of conduct or end-state of existence is personally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of conduct or end-state of existence” (Rokeach, 1973, p. 5). Rokeach identified 36 values in two 18-item sets, i.e., “terminal” values (end-goals of existence); and “instrumental” values (behaviors) needed for achieving end-goals. Sample terminal values were inner harmony, happiness, freedom, family security, and world peace. Sample instrumental values were courage, politeness, honesty, independence, and obedience. The instructions tell respondents to rank every value on each of the two lists (separately) in order of importance. The results are supposed to portray the respondents’ feelings about what is important in their lives.

The RVS has been a popular measure, but has also had its critics. For example, Gorsuch (1970) criticized the use of single items to measure values. And, Gibbins and Walker (1993) questioned the validity of the items themselves, e.g., whether the items are values or ideals (e.g., “world peace”), which may reflect social desirability in the measures rather than deeply felt values.

Social Values Survey (SVS) [TOP]

Schwartz (1994) tried to identify universal social values, built his work on Rokeach’s (1973) approach, and complained of the difficulty both authors had in trying to reduce the vast number of values to a smaller, more manageable set. Schwartz (1994) defined values as “desirable transsituational goals, varying in importance, that serve as guiding principles in the life of a person or other social entity” that developed to address three universal requirements, i.e., “needs of individuals as biological organisms, requisites of coordinated social interaction, and requirements for the smooth functioning and survival of groups” (p. 21). He identified ten categories that grouped a larger set of motivational values (including some from the RVS), such as being responsible, honoring elders, loyalty, and social justice.

While the SVS has been widely used, it has also been cited for weaknesses. For example, Davidov and colleagues (Davidov, 2008; Davidov & Schmidt, 2007) found that, in the Benelux countries, six of the ten values had low discriminant validity, i.e., values that were supposed to be dissimilar grouped together. Also, Peng, Nisbett, and Wong (1997) reported that for Americans and Chinese the ranking convergence was no different than chance.

World Values Survey (WVS) [TOP]

To find common values around the world, Inglehart et al. (2000) conducted surveys in 59 countries (with subsequent surveys in more countries) to assess support for and attitudes on such things as democracy, foreigners, religion, work, and family. The WVS focused on value change as a function of economics to prove that economic factors cause values to change (Flanagan, 1982). Sample questions included “How satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?” and “How satisfied are you with the financial situation of your household?”

The WVS has also been extensively used, and criticized. For example, Majima and Savage (2007) criticized the theory for not accurately reflecting certain countries, and for the type of data analyses used. Lakatos (2015) noted problems with item bias and (via reanalysis of the WVS data) argued that they do not represent Asian societies. Maseland and van Hoorn (2010) also argued that the WVS data analyses exaggerate marginal value preferences.

Rationale for the Traditional Values Survey [TOP]

The new Traditional Values Scale was created to supplement, not replace, the existing measures (despite criticisms and the difficulty proving that “universal” values exist). But whether there are universal values, or whether values remain different for every group, society, and nation, there is a strong and valid rationale for creating a scale that measures people’s adherence to traditional values.

The reason is that some researchers have argued that people’s behaviors do not match the values that they espouse. Peng et al. (1997), for example, discussed the low criterion validity regarding values, i.e., “there is increasing evidence that what people say is important to them does not necessarily reflect their actual behaviors or preferences” (p. 332) and cited empirical studies to support their statement. In addition, Meglino and Ravlin (1998) stated that “a person’s values do not necessarily reflect how he or she wants or desires to behave” (p. 354).

In other words, there is a need for a measure of adherence to traditional values because such a measure should increase the understanding of how people view their cultural values, and could also supplement studies that use the existing values scales. For example, the adherence to one’s cultural values might moderate the relationship between the values people claim to espouse and any number of other variables that are used in the research on values.

The Traditional Values Scale – Adherence to Values [TOP]

Rather than debate which values are relevant in different cultures, it was thought that an alternative to finding specific values would be to create a measure of “traditional values” (without naming specific values) that simply asks people how much they live their lives according to the traditional values of their own culture. While some authors criticize the use of a general measure, such a measure has advantages over surveys that use specific values. That is, the general measure avoids problems with specific measures mentioned by Gorsuch (1970) on whether a single item can measure a value, by Gibbins and Walker (1993) on the validity of the individual items, and by Davidov (2008) and Peng, Nisbett, and Wong (1997) on the low discriminant validity of specific items.

In other words, the advantage the general measure has is twofold. One is that it does not use specific items that are subject to the problems of representativeness and validity. The second advantage is that it recognizes that the adults in any nation know the values of their own culture, such that the measure can be used in practical ways to determine the extent to which living by (or not living by) traditional values is related to other variables, including personality and social factors.

Construction of the Traditional Values Scale [TOP]

The items of the Traditional Values Scale were all newly created statements about living by traditional values. To generate the items, it was theorized that the key to measuring adherence to traditional values was to focus on the reasons people live by their societies’ values and to assess the extent that they do so. The logic from the literature on anthropology, sociology, and culture guided the creation of reasons for living by traditional values. For example, Minc (1986) empirically demonstrated that clan survival over short-term (inter-annual) and long-term (pan-generational) time periods depended on lessons transmitted through oral tradition. Thus, the motivation to preserve the family, community, and society were included as statements for living by traditional values. Sample items were “I live by traditional values for the integrity of my family,” and “I live by traditional values because it benefits the community.”

Morality was another guiding concept. That is, since ancient times moral lessons have been transmitted across generations. For example, Malinowski (1926) contended that myth serves an important function for civilization because it expresses cultural beliefs, protects morality, and contains practical rules for mankind. Thus, sample items related to morality were “I live by traditional values to preserve morality,” and “I live by traditional values because it is ethically correct.”

Additional items were created to assess whether one lives by traditions in various settings, such that the more settings in which one lives by traditional values (e.g., while at work, playing sports, socializing, relaxing, etc.), the more the person may be assumed to adhere to those values. Sample items were “I live by traditional values at work,” and “I live by traditional values when playing sports or games.” In this way, a total of 16 items were created for the Traditional Values Scale. With regard to scoring, whereas all the statements could be agreed with or disagreed with, they may be used with a Likert-type response scale. All 16 items are shown in the Appendix.

The Research Model [TOP]

This study used the Traditional Values Scale as the central measure, and tested its correlations with selected social and psychological variables (as potential predictors). These were Family Emotional Support, Conscientiousness, Physiological Needs Satisfaction, Safety-Security Needs Satisfaction, Individualism, and Collectivism. Also included were Schwartz’s (1994) social values to assess the convergent validity of the Traditional Values measure. And Life Satisfaction was included as a theoretical “outcome” of living by traditional values. All these variables are explained below.

China and Russia Compared [TOP]

To test the Traditional Values Scale across cultures, two nations, namely, China and Russia, were chosen to assess how the measure would work in both cultures. Although it might not be obvious, China and Russia have been described as having cultures that are similar in some ways, e.g., Michailova and Hutchings (2006) noted that both countries have “vertical collectivist” cultures. That is, they have some similar social behaviors because they are dutiful in their service to, and in making sacrifices that help the in-group (i.e., one’s family members, close friends, and associates).

On the other hand, there are certain differences that exist between the two nations, with religious affiliation an obvious one. In Russia, 72% are Russian Orthodox (Christian), 18% unaffiliated, 5% Muslim, and 5% other (Pew Research, 2014); whereas in China 74% are unaffiliated/none, 18% Buddhist, 5% Christian, 2% Muslim, and 1% other (Pew Research, 2012). Thus, the majority of Russians follow an orthodox religion, while, in China, virtually the same percent of people claim no religious affiliation. Hence, one might assume that Russians would score higher on the Traditional Values Scale, but in China traditional values have deep historical roots in Confucian teachings, which would also suggest high scores on the Traditional Values measure. Consequently, as there could be innumerable culture-related similarities as well as differences between China and Russia, it was not feasible to propose any specific hypotheses regarding national differences on the new measure.

Independent Variables [TOP]

Demographics – To discern whether any demographics might be associated with living by traditional values, respondents were asked their gender, age, marital status, education completed, monthly income, religion, religious conviction, and residential area (i.e., rural, suburban, or urban).

Family Emotional Support – This refers to the affective care, concern, information, and advice provided to a person by family members. Attachment theory (Ainsworth, 1989; Bowlby, 1982) states that reassuring emotional attachment, particularly from parents, generates social competence. Regarding traditional values, they have been communicated via oral history from older to younger generations, especially from parents to children. As the definition of traditional values specifies that they are transmitted in this way, logically, this scenario could include emotionality. That is, when a child is worried about some aspect of life, parents would provide them not only emotional support, but could also include stories from their own lives recounting how traditional values helped them through difficult times. Furthermore, research has found that family emotional support increases coping with problems (Aroian, Spitzer, & Bell, 1996; Paterson, Pryor, & Field, 1995).

H(1): The more Family Emotional Support people have, the more they will live by their culture’s Traditional Values.

Conscientiousness – Conscientiousness is one of the Big Five personality measures (Costa & McCrae, 1992) and refers to being competent, orderly, dutiful, self-disciplined, and deliberative. There is research that suggests a relation between conscientiousness and traditional beliefs, e.g., Roberts, Chernyshenko, Stark, and Goldberg (2005) empirically identified six facets of conscientiousness by factor analyzing items from various personality measures, and labeled one “traditionalism.” Logically, conscientiousness could relate to traditional values because the established religions require their adherents to be conscientious in their morality and behaviors. That is, there are specific rites and ceremonies that must be carefully and dutifully practiced according to very specific prescriptions in order to preserve ideas that are valued in a culture. Thus, being conscientious may predispose people to live more by the traditional values of their culture.

H(2): The more Conscientiousness people have, the more they will live by their culture’s Traditional Values.

Physiological Needs Satisfaction – In Maslow’s (1943) theory of motivational needs, the physiological needs (for such things as food and water) are the most basic, such that when they are not sufficiently satisfied people cannot survive, and, thus, will be so preoccupied with satisfying their physiological needs that they forego satisfying other needs. For example, when people are starving, they will eat food from waste baskets, without regard for higher-level needs such as the need for esteem from other people.

Traditional values often place importance on being honorable and ethical, which are learned from parents, schools, and religious organizations. Theoretically, if one’s basic needs are satisfied, that person might be more open to listening to and adopting the values being taught. But if one’s basic physiological needs are not being adequately satisfied, a person (according to Maslow) will be too preoccupied with trying to satisfy those basic needs, which implies the possibility that the person might suspend their traditional cultural values.

H(3): The more people’s Physiological Needs are satisfied, the more they will abide and live by their culture’s Traditional Values.

Safety and Security Needs Satisfaction [TOP]

Maslow (1943), in his theory of needs, also considered the Safety-Security Need, i.e., for protection and shelter from various types of dangers, to be a basic need. When this need is not adequately met, people will not endeavor to satisfy higher-level needs, such as esteem from others. For example, when people cannot afford to pay rent for a place to live, they contrive to protect themselves from the cold and rain, e.g., by sleeping in alleyways.

Similar to the physiological needs, if the safety-security needs are not satisfied people might be so preoccupied seeking safety and security that they would be less likely to abide by traditional values, which tell them to earn honor and respect from others. But, if people’s basic need for safety and security are met, they would be more likely to feel contented in life, and be more likely to attend religious ceremonies and listen to sermons about traditional values, and try to live according to them.

H(4): The more people’s Safety and Security Needs are satisfied, the more they will live by their culture’s Traditional Values.

Individualism-Collectivism [TOP]

Countries have been compared on several dimensions, including the Individualism-Collectivism dimension. According to Hofstede (1980), this is a single bipolar construct, on which countries range from being individualist on one end, i.e., living according to one’s individual wishes and desires and depending on oneself, to being collectivist on the other end, i.e., taking care of each other and suppressing individual desires in favor of benefitting the preferences of the group to which they belong. On that dimension, some research found Russia more individualist and China more collectivist (Giacobbe-Miller, Miller, Zhang, & Victorov, 2003; Tu, Lin, & Chang, 2011).

Other authors, however, argued that individualism and collectivism may be measured independently. Triandis (1996) viewed them as independent constructs and people can have “vertical” (i.e., hierarchical) and “horizontal” (i.e., equal) relationships to others. Hence, Triandis’ measures of “horizontal individualism” and “horizontal collectivism” were used in this study to assess the extent to which individualist or collectivist dimensions were associated with living by traditional values.

As some cultures stress being individualist while others stress being collectivist, it is theoretically possible that both facets may be positively related to living by traditional values. Furthermore, whereas traditional values have been used by societies for many millennia to preserve the existence of their people, it may be assumed that there will be a stronger positive correlation between collectivism and traditional values than between individualism and traditional values. This idea was tested.

H(5): Collectivism will be more strongly correlated than Individualism with living by Traditional Values.

Outcome Variable [TOP]

Life Satisfaction [TOP]

This was included to assess whether living by traditional values helps people deal with problems and succeed in life. Conceptually, Life Satisfaction was regarded as an “outcome” because, in theory, living by traditional values has helped people overcome hardships for many generations. Consequently, if traditional values build character and help people overcome difficulties, then people should be able to achieve more in their lives, and thus be more satisfied with what they have achieved.

H(6): The more people live by Traditional Values, the more Life Satisfaction they will have.

Comparative Variable [TOP]

Social Values [TOP]

Schwartz’s (1994) Social Values Scale (SVS) is a set of principles that he attempted to test for their universality. The items included personal ideals, such as “inner harmony,” and social ideals, such as “social justice.” Apart from whether those items are shared by all cultures, the research question in this study was whether those specific items (when averaged) would correlate with the Traditional Values measure, which focused on the extent to which people live according to traditional values. Thus, Schwartz’s (1994) SVS was included to assess the convergent validity of the two scales because some of those social values should be positively related to abiding by traditional values.

H(7): Social Values will be significantly and positively correlated with the extent to which people live by Traditional Values.

Method [TOP]

Respondents [TOP]

In total, there were 635 (379 female, 256 male) adult respondents in the two nations. From China there were 321 (167 females, 154 males), and from Russia there were 314 (212 females, 102 males). All were adults, aged 25 to 92 years (M = 46.07, SD = 14.35). For China, the ages were 25 to 92 (M = 47.31, SD = 13.52), and for Russia the ages were 25 to 84 (M = 44.80, SD = 15.06). For Education (combined data), 5 had none, 24 primary school, 200 secondary school, 337 a bachelor degree, and 69 a master degree or higher. For China, 4 had none, 18 primary school, 107 secondary school, 169 a bachelor degree, and 23 a master degree or higher. For Russia, 1 had none, 6 primary school, 93 secondary school, 168 a bachelor degree, and 46 a master degree or higher.

On Marital Status, 131 were single, 456 were married, and 38 were other (divorced, widowed). For China, 67 were single, 242 were married, and 12 were other. For Russia, 64 were single, 214 were married, and 36 were other. On Monthly Income, the data were not combined because of the different currencies, but the categories were created to depict five levels, i.e., very low, low, average, high, very high. For China (in RMB): 101 received less than 3,000; 84 had 3,000-4,999; 62 had 5,000-6,999; 35 had 7,000-8,999; and 39 had 9,000 or more; for Russia (in Rubles), 13 received less than 5,000, 136 had 5,000-14,999, 88 had 15,000-24,999, 46 had 25,000-34,999, and 31 had 35,000 or more.

For Area of Residence, for the pooled data, 111 lived in rural areas, 88 lived in suburban areas, and 436 lived in urban areas. In China, 38 lived in rural areas, 58 lived in suburban areas, and 225 lived in urban areas; while in Russia, 73 lived in rural areas, 30 lived in suburban areas, and 211 lived in urban areas.

Measures [TOP]

Age and Religion were recorded as given by the respondents. Dichotomous or increasing function “dummy coding” was used for the other demographics: Gender (0 = females, 1 = males), Education (0 = none, 1 = primary, 2 = secondary, 3 = bachelor degree, 4 = master degree or higher), and Marital Status (1 = single, 2 = married). For Monthly Income, a 5-point low-to-high scale was used with values that matched each economy, i.e., for China (in RMB): 1 = Less than 3,000; 2 = 3,000-4,999; 3 = 5,000-6,999; 4 = 7,000-8,999; and 5 = 9,000 or more. And for Russia (in Rubles): 1 = Less than 5,000; 2 = 5,000-14,999; 3 = 15,000-24,999; 4 = 25,000-34,999; and 5 = 35,000 or more. Religious Conviction was coded 1 = almost none, 2 = slight, 3 = average, 4 = strong, and 5 = very strong. Area of Residence was coded 1 = rural, 2 = suburban, and 3 = urban.

Also tested were Traditional Values, Family Emotional Support, Conscientiousness, Physiological Needs Satisfaction, Safety and Security Needs Satisfaction, Individualism, Collectivism, Life Satisfaction, and Social Values. For each variable (unless otherwise noted), respondents were asked whether the items described them (an [R] indicates a reverse-scored item). Answers were measured on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree. (All reliabilities reported are standardized Cronbach alpha values.)

The Traditional Values Scale – As described earlier in this article, this was a 16-item measure created for this study. A sample item was “I live by traditional values to preserve morality.” The question asked “How much do you live your life according to these traditional values?” and the responses were scored on a 5-point Likert scale that ranged from 1 (never) to 5 (always). The entire list of 16 items is shown in the Appendix. The reliabilities for the Traditional Values Scale were .95 for China, .93 for Russia, and .94 for the combined sample.

Other Assessed Variables [TOP]

Family Emotional Support – For this measure, 10 items were obtained from Procidano and Heller’s (1983) 20-item Perceived Family Social Support scale. Whereas it was expected that support received from (rather than given to) one’s family could influence one’s traditional values, only the 10 items that focused on received support were used. A sample item was ‘‘My family gives me the moral support I need.” The reliabilities for the 10-item scale in this study were .80 for China, .87 for Russia, and .84 for the combined sample.

Conscientiousness – To assess Conscientiousness, its Perfectionism subscale was deemed the most representative, but the items did not all exist in one scale. Thus, this 10-item scale was composed of four items from the Perfectionism scale of the HEXACO Personality Inventory (Lee & Ashton, 2004), two items from the Abridged Big-Five dimensional Circumplex Model (AB5C) (Hofstee, deRaad, & Goldberg, 1992), and one item from the revised version of the NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R; Costa & McCrae, 1992). To strengthen the “perfectionism” focus of the measure, three new items were added, i.e., “Dislike mistakes,” “Like things to be in order,” and “Am not bothered by mistakes” [R]. The reliabilities for this scale were .77 for China, .78 for Russia, and .80 for the combined sample.

Physiological Needs Satisfaction – This was measured with a 15-item scale developed by Taormina and Gao (2013) that assesses the degree to which people feel their needs are satisfied by asking how much they agree or disagree that they are satisfied with the basic physiological requirements for life (the items). A sample item was “The amount of food that I eat every day.” Responses were on a 5-point Likert scale that ranged from 1 (completely unsatisfied) to 5 (completely satisfied). The reliabilities for this scale were .87 for China, .89 for Russia, and .87 for the combined sample.

Safety and Security Needs Satisfaction – This was also measured with a 15-item scale (from Taormina & Gao, 2013) that assesses the degree to which respondents feel their needs are satisfied by asking how much they agree or disagree that they are completely satisfied with conditions (the items) that are basic requirements for feeling safe and secure. A sample item was “The safety of my neighborhood.” Responses were made on a 5-point Likert scale that ranged from 1 (completely unsatisfied) to 5 (completely satisfied). The reliabilities for this scale were .88 for China, .91 for Russia, and .92 for the combined sample.

Life Satisfaction – This was assessed with a 10-item scale from Sirgy et al. (1998), who developed their measure for a five-nation study. Respondents were asked to indicate how satisfied they were with their personal accomplishments in life by comparison with various perspectives (e.g., ‘‘How satisfied are you compared to what you feel you should have accomplished so far?”). The response measure was a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (extremely unsatisfied) to 5 (extremely satisfied). The reliabilities for this scale in this study were .87 for China, .88 for Russia, and .88 for the combined sample.

Social Values – For this variable, Schwartz’s (1994) 10-item SVS (short version) was used. The items were: Being responsible, Family security, Honoring elders, Loyalty, Politeness, Inner harmony, Respect for tradition, Self-respect, Social justice, and Social order. Reliabilities for this scale in this study were .92 for China, .85 for Russia, and .88 for the combined sample.

Individualism and Collectivism – To assess these factors, Triandis’ (1996) “horizontal individualism” and “horizontal collectivism” scales were used. Triandis created these as two separate measures, each of which contained four items. The Individualism items were: “I would rather depend on myself than others,” “I rely on myself most of the time, I rarely rely on others,” “I often do ‘my own thing’,” and “My personal identity is very important to me.” The reliabilities for this scale were .80 for China, .68 for Russia, and .75 for the combined sample.

The Collectivism items were: “If a coworker gets a prize, I would feel proud,” “To me, pleasure is spending time with others,” “The well-being of my coworkers is important to me,” and “I feel good when I cooperate with others.” The reliabilities for this scale in this study were .75 for China, .78 for Russia, and .77 for the combined sample.

Procedure [TOP]

Stratified random sampling was used to achieve quotas for age groups (the strata) that represent the populations of the countries. As children and most college students depend on their parents or guardians to satisfy many needs, and people past college age are more likely to experience the vicissitudes of life that engage their value systems, only people aged 25 years and over were sampled in each country, representing over 70% of the national (Chinese and Russian) populations. That is, for those ages: 69% are aged 25-54 years, 17% are aged 55-64 years, and 14% are 65 years of age and above (Central Intelligence Agency, 2015).

For random sampling, in both countries, research assistants were recruited and trained to use random selection to obtain data from shopping malls, parks, bus stops, apartment buildings, and sidewalks, where adults of all ages could be found. Randomness was achieved by using random numbers (e.g., every fifth person) to select people in the various locations (e.g. walking on the sidewalk). This method assumes there is no systematic order (of attitude, characteristic, or type) among people living in and/or walking around different parts of a city, and thus have an equal chance of being selected (Burns & Bush, 2005).

Guidelines of the British Psychological Society for ethical research were followed. Respondents were told the purpose of the study and asked to participate. They were informed verbally and in writing about their rights to refuse to participate or to withdraw from the study, that their names and personally identifying information were not being asked, and that their answers would be kept confidential so they could never be individually identified. Those who agreed were given a questionnaire, which took about 10 minutes to complete, and was collected on site when finished.

Results [TOP]

Parametrics of the Traditional Values Scale (TVS) [TOP]

Descriptive statistics for the 16 items of the Traditional Values Scale revealed a Mean of 3.86 (SD = 0.62; scale range = 1.88 to 5.00) on the 5-point scale. Overall skewness was -0.40, and, for the individual items, their skew averaged -0.69. Only one item, namely, “I live by traditional values for the integrity of my family,” exceeded ±0.84 skew (at -1.02), possibly because most respondents (71%) were married, and adherence to traditional values ​​in a family is the basis of its safety and integrity as the institution of the family is a translator and conductor of traditional values. Asymmetry of the remaining items was less than ±1, with similar standard errors (all < 0.10).

Together, the results showed relative symmetry of the data for the individual items and the overall scale, and a slight tendency for respondents in both nations to adhere to traditional values. Also, the standard deviations of all the items (range = 0.77 to 1.01) showed high differentiating force. Hence, further calculations were performed using parametric statistics.

Exploratory factor analysis (using principal components, varimax rotation, and Kaiser normalization) was also conducted on the new 16-item Traditional Values Scale for the pooled data (separate analyses for the nations had virtually identical results, so the data were combined for this test). The results yielded two factors that explained a total of 60.58% of the variance, and were significantly correlated (r = .73, p < .001). Factor 1 contained 10 items that explained 52.07% of the total dispersion, uniting Items 1 to 9, which reflected adherence to traditional values based on personal motives, with Item 10 (“I live by traditional values at home”). Factor 2 explained 8.51% of the total dispersion, and united Items 11 to 16, which characterize adherence to traditional values ​​in different public situations. Based on the item wording and loadings, the two factors were named “Personal Traditional Values” and “Public Traditional Values,” respectively. Further statistics were conducted for all three scales, namely: The overall scale with all 16 items, the 10-item scale of personal adherence to traditional values, and the 6-item scale of public adherence to traditional values. The factor analysis results are shown in Table 1.

Table 1

Factor Analysis on the 16 Items of the Traditional Values Scale

Items Factor 1 Factor 2
1. I live by traditional values to preserve society .72 .19
2. I live by traditional values to uphold social justice .77 .17
3. I live by traditional values for the integrity of my family .61 .26
4. I live by traditional values to preserve morality .73 .26
5. I live by traditional values because they are important .73 .36
6. I live by traditional values because it is the right thing to do .70 .26
7. I live by traditional values because I respect society .67 .37
8. I live by traditional values because it is ethically correct .66 .42
9. I live by traditional values because it benefits the community .61 .42
10. I live by traditional values at home .54 .49
11. I live by traditional values at work .36 .71
12. I live by traditional values when playing sports or games .19 .78
13. I live by traditional values when I am relaxing .25 .86
14. I live by traditional values when I am on vacation .26 .81
15. I live by traditional values when I am socializing .40 .68
16. I live my life according to traditional values at all times .45 .61
Variance explained (Total = 60.59%) 52.08% 8.51%

Note. The extraction was by principal components, with varimax rotation, and Kaiser normalization. Factor 1 = Personal Traditional Values; Factor 2 = Public Traditional Values. The cut-off score for item loadings was .50 (bold type).

Cronbach alpha reliabilities were computed to assess the internal consistencies of the full scale and the two subscales of Personal Traditional Values and Public Traditional Values. First, for all 16 items, the inter-item correlations were all significant and positive, which verifies their consistency. The reliability for the full 16-item TVS Scale was .94, while for the TVS Personal Scale it was .95, and for the TVS Public Scale it was .91. Thus, all the reliability values showed optimal internal consistency, namely, all alphas exceeded .90 (Schmitt, 1996). Also, the correlations between the 16-item TVS Scale and the TVS Personal Scale was .95, and between the 16-item TVS Scale and the TVS Public Scale was .90; and the correlation between the TVS Personal Scale and the TVS Public Scale was .73 (all ps < .001).

Split-half reliability was also tested by dividing the scale into even and odd items, and assessing the correlation between the two sets of items. Using the Spearman-Brown formula, the reliability indexes were: r = .96 for the 16-item TVS Scale; r = .94 for the TVS Personal Scale; and r = .91 for the TVS Public Scale (all ps < .001). These results suggest that all three scales have high reliabilities and are relatively free from measurement error.

Concurrent validity was also tested by examining the TVS scales’ correlations with the Schwartz (1994) social values measure based on the idea that adherence to traditional values ​​should include a high regard for social values. The results yielded high positive correlations between the TVS scales and the SVS, namely: r = .34 for the overall 16-item TVS, r = .33 for the TVS Personal Scale, and r = .30 for the TVS Public Scale (all ps < .001), which indicate that adherence to traditional values includes specific social values. This congruence of the TVS with a similar independent criterion reflected the convergent validity of the TVS scales. ​

Test for Common Method Bias [TOP]

As a questionnaire was used, common-method bias was assessed with Harman’s (1960) factor analytic approach. This employs a maximum-likelihood factor analysis of all the variables (excluding the dependent variable because high correlations may be expected) and uses a forced, one-factor solution. The resultant Chi-square value is then divided by the degrees of freedom to assess whether the items fit into a single factor; that is, a ratio of less than 2.00:1 would indicate a single factor, reflecting common-method bias. For the present study, the ratio was 20.51:1, indicating that common-method bias was not a concern.

Demographics and Traditional Values [TOP]

Correlations for the combined country data were used to test the overall 16-item Traditional Values Scale with the demographics; except Religion, tested by ANOVA (for Marital Status only single and married categories were used). Gender and Education yielded no significance, but there were significant positive correlations for Age, r = .23 (p < .001), Marital Status, r = .19, (p < .001), Monthly Income, r = .14 (p < .005), Strength of Religious Conviction, r = .09 (p < .05), and Area of Residence (higher values meant higher population density), r = .15, (p < .001). For Religion, the ANOVA yielded no significant mean differences among any groups.

Tests of the Hypotheses [TOP]

To test Hypotheses 1 to 4, and 6 to 7, which predicted significant correlations between the TVS and six other variables, correlations were computed (whereas the hypotheses were directional, 1-tailed tests were used). For H(1), which stated that the more Family Emotional Support people have, the more they will live by Traditional Values, the correlation was r = .29, p < .001, which supported this hypothesis.

Regarding H(2), i.e., that the more Conscientiousness people have, the more they will live by Traditional Values, the result was r = .26, p < .001, which supported this hypothesis. For H(3), i.e., that the more people’s Physiological Needs are satisfied, the more they will live by Traditional Values, the correlation was r = .20, p < .001, which lent support to this hypothesis. And regarding H(4), namely, that the more one’s Safety and Security Needs are satisfied, the more they will live by Traditional Values, the correlation was r = .14, p < .001, which supported this hypothesis.

To test Hypothesis 5, which predicted that living by Traditional Values will be more strongly correlated with Collectivism than with Individualism, it was necessary to compare the strengths of the two correlations. As they are dependent correlations, this was done by converting each correlation coefficient into a z-score (using Fisher’s r-to-z transformation) and computing the asymptotic covariance of the estimates. The result for the combined data (using a 1-tailed test because the hypothesis specified a direction) was z = 3.58, p < .001. The score for China was z = 1.62, p < .05, and for Russia was z = 3.38, p < .001. Thus, all the results supported this hypothesis.

For H(6), i.e., the more people live by Traditional Values, the more Life Satisfaction they will have, the correlation was r = .29, p < .001, which supported this hypothesis. For H(7), i.e., that Social Values will be significantly and positively correlated with the extent to which people live by Traditional Values, the correlation was r = .34, p < .001, which supported this hypothesis. All the correlations are shown in Table 2.

Table 2

Means, SDs, and Correlations for the Traditional Values Scales With the Main Variables and Demographics (N = 365)

Variables M SD Traditional Values
Full Scale (16 items) Personal (10 items) Public (6 items)
1. Conscientiousness 3.60 0.51 .26**** .21**** .29****
2. Family Emotional Support 3.77 0.56 .29**** .28**** .25****
3. Physiological Needs Satisfaction 3.37 0.61 .20**** .16**** .21****
4. Safety-Security Needs Satisfaction 3.20 0.69 .14**** .14**** .13****
5. Individualism 3.94 0.59 .15**** .14**** .14****
6. Collectivism 3.86 0.58 .31**** .27**** .31****
7. Life Satisfaction 3.43 0.67 .29**** .25**** .30****
8. Social Values (Schwartz, 1994) 4.21 0.47 .34**** .33**** .30****
9. Gender 0.40 0.49 -.04 -.04 -.03
10. Age 46.07 14.35 .27**** .27**** .23****
11. Education 1.87 0.52 .07 .09* .03
12. Marital Status 2.69 0.74 .17**** .13*** .19****
13. Income (monthly) 2.64 1.23 .13*** .11** .14****
14. Religious Conviction 2.40 1.11 .10** .10** .09*
15. Area of Residence 2.51 0.78 .15**** .14**** .15****

Note. For demographic coding see the Measures section. For significance levels, 1-tailed tests were used for variables 1-8 because the hypotheses predicted their directions, and 2-tailed tests were used for the demographics (Variables 9-15).

*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .005. ****p < .001.

Cross-Cultural Means Comparisons [TOP]

Using t-tests, comparisons were computed between China and Russia on their mean scores for the 16-item Traditional Values Scale, and its two subscales of Personal Traditional Values and Public Traditional Values. For the 16-item scale, the difference between the Russian score (M = 3.91, SD = 0.62) and the Chinese score (M = 3.81, SD = 0.62) approached significance, p < .06. On the Personal Values subscale the difference was not significant. But on the Public Values subscale, the difference was significant, with the Russian score (M = 3.84, SD = 0.72) greater than the Chinese score (M = 3.68, SD = 0.72), p < .01.

Means comparisons were also run for differences on the remaining variables, with the Russian scores significantly higher on Personal Accomplishment, Family Emotional Support, Conscientiousness, and Collectivism, while the Chinese scores were significantly higher on Physiological Needs Satisfaction and Safety-Security Needs Satisfaction. There were no significant differences on Individualism, Social Values, or Life Satisfaction. See Table 3.

Table 3

Mean Differences Between China and Russia on the Three Traditional Values Scales (TVS) and the Main Variables

Variables Combined (N = 635)
China (N = 321)
Russia (N = 314)
t p
M SD M SD M SD
TVS entire scale (16 Items) 3.86 0.62 3.81 0.62 3.91 0.62 -1.90 .058
TVS Personal Values (items 1-10) 3.92 0.63 3.89 0.63 3.95 0.63 -1.12 .264
TVS Public Values (items 11-16) 3.76 0.72 3.68 0.72 3.84 0.72 -2.73 .007
Life Satisfaction 3.43 0.67 3.39 0.64 3.48 0.71 -1.69 .090
Family Emotional Support 3.77 0.56 3.69 0.52 3.85 0.60 -3.47 .001
Physiological Needs Satisfaction 3.37 0.61 3.42 0.56 3.32 0.66 2.22 .026
Conscientiousness 3.60 0.51 3.42 0.50 3.78 0.47 -9.37 .000
Safety-Security Needs Satisfaction 3.20 0.69 3.50 0.54 2.90 0.69 12.37 .000
Social Values 4.21 0.47 4.22 0.50 4.20 0.45 0.50 .619
Individualism 3.94 0.59 3.92 0.66 3.96 0.52 -0.86 .392
Collectivism 3.86 0.58 3.73 0.56 3.99 0.58 -5.67 .000

Regressions [TOP]

To assess the strengths of the correlations, nine stepwise multiple regressions were run to compare the independent and demographic variables for their abilities to predict scores on the three Traditional Values measures. The first three regressions were on the overall 16-item Traditional Values Scale for China, Russia, and their combined data. For China (N = 321), a total of 31% of the variance for the TVS was predicted by seven variables, F(7,313) = 21.94, p < .001, with the strongest predictors being Family Emotional Support for 17% of the variance, Safety-Security Needs Satisfaction for 6%, and Age for 3%. The remaining variance (5%) was explained by Conscientiousness, Physiological Needs Satisfaction, Collectivism, and Income.

For Russia (N = 314), 26% of the variance for the overall TVS was predicted by five variables, F(5,308) = 22.51, p < .001, with the strongest predictors being Collectivism for 10% of the variance, Age for 10%, and Family Emotional Support for 4%. The remaining variance (2%) was explained by Conscientiousness and Residence (living in a densely populated area).

For the combined country data (N = 635), 27% of the variance for the overall TVS was predicted by seven variables, F(7,627) = 34.32, p < .001, with the strongest predictors being Collectivism for 9% of the variance, Age for 7%, and Family Emotional Support for 6%. The remaining variance (5%) was explained by Conscientiousness, Income, Physiological Needs Satisfaction, and Residence. These results are shown in Table 4.

Table 4

Stepwise Multiple Regressions for the Traditional Values Scale (16-Items)

China (N = 321)
Russia (N = 314)
Combined Data (N = 635)
Predictors Beta R2 Beta ΔR2 Beta ΔR2
Conscientiousness .14** .02 .13* .01 .13*** .01
Family Emotional Support .25**** .17 .20**** .04 .21**** .06
Physiological Needs Satisfaction .12* .01 .04 .09* .01
Safety-Security Needs Satisfaction .13* .06 .03 .05
Individualism .02 -.01 -.02
Collectivism .13* .01 .23**** .10 .19**** .09
Gender -.02 -.03 -.05
Age .18**** .03 .38**** .10 .30**** .07
Education .04 .00 .03
Marital Status .06 .02 .02
Income (Monthly) .12* .01 .06 .11*** .02
Religious Conviction .06 .05 .04
Area of Residence .04 .13* .01 .09* .01
Total R2 .31 .26 .27
Final F 21.94**** 22.51**** 34.32****
df 7,313 5,308 7,627

Note. For demographic coding see the Measures section.

*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .005. ****p < .001.

Regressions were also run for the 10-item Personal Traditional Values Scale for China, Russia, and their combined data. For China, 27% of the variance was predicted by five variables, F(5,315) = 24.91, p < .001, with the strongest predictor being Family Emotional Support for 18% of the variance, followed by Safety-Security Needs Satisfaction for 4%, and Age for 3%. The remaining variance (2%) was explained by Conscientiousness and Education.

For Russia, 23% of the variance for the Personal Traditional Values Scale was predicted by four variables, F(4,309) = 24.50, p < .001, with the strongest predictors being Age for 10% of the variance, Collectivism for 9%, and Family Emotional Support for 3%. The remaining variance (1%) was explained by Conscientiousness.

For the combined country data, 23% of the variance for the Personal Traditional Values Scale was predicted by seven variables, F(7,627) = 28.28, p < .001, with the strongest predictors being Age for 9% of the variance, Family Emotional Support for 7%, and Collectivism for 3%. The remaining variance (4%) was explained by Conscientiousness, Safety-Security Needs Satisfaction, Income, and Residence. These results are in Table 5.

Table 5

Stepwise Multiple Regressions for the Personal Traditional Values Scale

China (N = 321)
Russia (N = 314)
Combined Data (N = 635)
Predictors Beta ΔR2 Beta ΔR2 Beta ΔR2
Conscientiousness .10* .01 .11* .01 .09* .01
Family Emotional Support .31**** .18 .16*** .03 .23**** .07
Physiological Needs Satisfaction .08 .02 .03
Safety-Security Needs Satisfaction .21**** .04 .02 .08* .01
Individualism .05 .00 -.01
Collectivism .07 .24**** .09 .16**** .03
Gender -.03 -.01 -.06
Age .21**** .03 .41**** .10 .30**** .09
Education .11* .01 .04 .07
Marital Status .05 .01 -.00
Income (Monthly) .07 .07 .09* .01
Religious Conviction .09 .07 .07
Area of Residence .04 .08 .08* .01
Total R2 .27 .23 .23
Final F 24.91**** 24.50**** 28.28****
df 5,315 4,309 7,627

Note. For demographic coding see the Measures section.

*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .005. ****p < .001.

The last three regressions were run for the 6-item Public Traditional Values Scale for China, Russia, and for the pooled data. For China, 29% of the variance for the Public TVS was predicted by six variables, F(6,314) = 22.57, p < .001, with the strongest being Physiological Needs Satisfaction for 11% of the variance, Conscientiousness for 7%, Marital Status for 5%, and Collectivism for 3%. The remaining variance (3%) was explained by Family Emotional Support, and Safety-Security Needs Satisfaction.

For Russia, 21% of the variance for the Public TVS was predicted by five variables, F(5,308) = 17.86, p < .001, with the strongest predictors being Age for 7% of the variance, Collectivism for 6%, and Conscientiousness for 4%. The remaining variance (4%) was explained by Family Emotional Support, and Residence.

For the combined data, 25% of the variance for the Public TVS was predicted by seven variables, F(7,627) = 30.59, p < .001, the strongest predictors being Collectivism for 9% of the variance, Age for 5%, Conscientiousness for 4%, and Family Emotional Support for 3%. The remaining variance (4%) was explained by Physiological Needs Satisfaction, Income, and Residence. Results are in Table 6.

Table 6

Stepwise Multiple Regressions for the Public Traditional Values Scale

Predictors China (N = 321)
Russia (N = 314)
Combined Data (N = 635)
Beta ΔR2 Beta ΔR2 Beta ΔR2
Conscientiousness .21**** .07 .15*** .04 .17**** .04
Family Emotional Support .15*** .02 .20**** .02 .14**** .03
Physiological Needs Satisfaction .14* .11 .06 .12*** .01
Safety-Security Needs Satisfaction .12* .01 .05 .02
Individualism .01 -.02 -.04
Collectivism .15*** .03 .19**** .06 .19**** .09
Gender -.00 -.04 -.05
Age .07 .30**** .07 .25**** .05
Education -.01 -.04 -.02
Marital Status .21**** .05 .04 .07
Income (Monthly) .06 .07 .11*** .02
Religious Conviction .04 .03 .02
Area of Residence .01 .17*** .02 .09* .01
Total R2 .29 .21 .25
Final F 22.57**** 17.86**** 30.59****
df 6,314 5,308 7,627

Note. For demographic coding see the Measures section.

*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .005. ****p < .001.

Discussion [TOP]

Parametrics of the New Traditional Values Scale [TOP]

Psychometric analyses of the data for the new Traditional Values Scale were carried out using several methods. Results for the items showed normal distributions (with relatively minimal levels of asymmetry or excess), corresponding with the known rules for developing psychological measures. Internal consistency of the Traditional Values Scales was assessed by Cronbach alphas and correlations; and scale reliabilities were tested by the split-half method. All results displayed values that are well in accord with and satisfy accepted psychometric standards.

Furthermore, concurrent validity was tested on the basis of correlations between the Traditional Values Scales and the Social Values measure (Schwartz, 1994), which yielded significant positive associations, indicating congruence of all three Traditional Values Scales with a similar scale. Thus, the reliabilities, consistency, and validity of the Traditional Values Scales conformed well to psychometric standards (Anastasi & Urbina, 1997; Schmitt, 1996).

Demographic Differences on Traditional Values [TOP]

Of the eight demographics tested with the 16-item TVS Scale, Gender, Education, and Religion were not significant, but the other five demographics had significant positive correlations. For Age, living by traditional values increased with age. This may seem to imply that young people have given up traditional values, but that may not be the case. That is, Davis (2004), analyzed several generations from 1917 to 1990 and found liberal attitudes among young people in every generation, but also found return trends, suggesting that, later in life (i.e., after they start working) young people might discover how important traditional mores are for integrating into society.

For Marital Status, married persons were more likely to live by traditional values, which is logical because marriage is a traditional social institution (vis-à-vis living single or in an unmarried relationship). For Monthly Income, it is not readily discernable whether a higher income inclines a person to live more according to traditional values, or vice versa. Further research is needed to decipher this finding.

For Religious Conviction, many religions require their believers to carefully conduct ceremonies and rituals based in long historical traditions. Thus, people who are more religious are likely more conscious of their religious traditions. For Area of Residence, people in more densely populated locations lived more by traditional values. This may reflect a social influence to live by traditional values. That is, if one lives in an isolated place, other people might not notice one’s behavior (even if it is unusual). But in densely populated locations other people are more likely to observe one’s behavior, which could create social pressure to behave in socially approved, traditional ways.

Cross-Cultural Means Comparisons on Traditional Values [TOP]

The mean differences between China and Russia showed some interesting results, especially for the Personal Traditional Values and Public Traditional Values subscales. For the full 16-item TVS measure, the difference approached significance (p < .06), with Russians adhering somewhat more than the Chinese to traditional values. When the subscales were examined separately, the picture became clearer. That is, there was no difference across cultures for personal adherence to traditional values, but there was a significant difference for living by traditional values in public. The lack of a difference on Personal Traditional Values might ​​reflect an implicit understanding among individuals that preserving traditional values is important for maintaining a culture’s stability because these scores were high in both countries.

Regarding observance of traditional values in public, Russians scored significantly higher than the Chinese. Russians seem strongly concerned with public opinions about public behavior, which Triandis (1994) suggested is typical of countries with strong community traditions. This is especially true in Russia, e.g., Semenov (2015) noted that, in modern Russia, Orthodox-Russian and collectivist-socialist mentalities prevail among the people. This is known as “sobornost,” which Berdyaev (1946) regarded as a way of thinking that gives public interests priority over personal interests. The historical roots for this date to the start of Orthodox Christianity, circa 1054 AD (Efremenko & Evseeva, 2012), which stressed service to the community, or collectivity, to aid survival because people shared a common fate. As Laslett (1988) noted, in those times “The only sources from which support might be forthcoming were the extended kin – that is… the ‘collectivity’ – friends and neighbours, along with the church and charitable institutions, as well as the village” (p. 154). This could explain why collectivism is so important in Russia (see Lossky, 1951).

Furthermore, as Russians are characterized by strong collectivism, it is not surprising to find a strong positive correlation between Collectivism and Public Traditional Values for Russia (r = .26, p < .001). Also, despite some recent research that suggests a strengthening of individualistic tendencies in Russia, especially among young people (Pochebut & Beznosov, 2013), the present results indicate that collectivistic cultural orientations are still strong. That is, the mean scores for Russian Individualism and Collectivism were both high.

Predictors of Traditional Values Across Cultures [TOP]

In the regressions, the predictor variables showed commonalities and differences across the countries. For the regression on the overall TVS, Conscientiousness, Family Emotional Support, Collectivism, and Age were significant positive predictors in both nations, suggesting that these factors play an important role in the decision to live by traditional values. Some differences also were found, i.e., Physiological Needs Satisfaction, Safety-Security Needs Satisfaction, and Income were predictors in China but not in Russia, while Residence was a predictor in Russia but not in China.

A comparison of the regressions for the different nations on the Personal and Public Values subscales was also revealing. In the regressions for Personal Traditional Values, Conscientiousness, Family Support, Collectivism, and Age were again all positive predictors for both nations. And for China, Safety-Security Needs Satisfaction and Education were also predictors but not for Russia (Russia had no additional predictors). In China, the feeling of security invariably comes from the home, which reinforces abiding by traditional values in private. Also, highly educated Chinese people would likely be familiar with their cultural history and traditions, and thus be more likely to understand and personally abide by them.

For Traditional Public Values, Conscientiousness, Family Support, and Collectivism were positive predictors in both nations. Physiological Needs Satisfaction, Safety-Security Needs Satisfaction, and Marital Status were predictors for China but not Russia; while Age and Residence were predictors for Russia, but not China. For Russia, Area of Residence might be a predictor of living by traditional values in public because (a) one is more likely to be observed in urban settings, and (b) the strong collectivist orientation in Russia prescribes public display of commitment to traditional values. As older people are the principal carriers of traditional values, this result is supported by the fact that older people in the Russian sample lived in more densely populated areas (for Age-by-Residence, r = .30, p < .001), which concurs with Russian population statistics, i.e., the urban population is 73.70% (Russian Census, 2010).

For China, the reason Age was not a predictor of Public Values might be explained by the fact that, from early childhood, children are socialized to abide by traditional values in most situations in order for the family to not lose face (Ho, 1981). For example, children must show respect for elders in public and in private. And location would not matter in China because society requires abiding by traditional mores in all situations. Also for China, the fact that Physiological and Safety-Security Needs Satisfaction were predictors supports Maslow’s (1943) theory that these factors predict higher needs, such as esteem (Taormina & Gao, 2013). For Marital Status, in China, marriage strongly connects people to their in-law families, thus requiring them to demonstrate that they abide by traditional values in a larger public arena.

Conclusions [TOP]

The main objective of this research was to create and empirically confirm the validity and reliability of a new measure for traditional values that could be used across cultures. The measure was tested in two nations with different cultures, i.e., China and Russia, and the data confirmed the structural and criterion validities of the new Traditional Values Scale. Factor analysis revealed two subscales, namely, Personal Traditional Values and Public Traditional Values, and their significant positive correlations allow them to be used separately or in combination to measure adherence to traditional values. Also, the internal consistencies were excellent. Thus, the new Traditional Values Scales had fine psychometric results, making them suitable for measuring traditional values, and for scientific and practical purposes.

Use of the Traditional Values Scales for making national comparisons was effectively demonstrated by comparing the mean scores on each scale across cultures. The countries were also compared on a selected set of variables theorized as possible predictors of living by traditional values. There was a slight tendency for Russians to abide by traditional values overall, and they were significantly more likely than the Chinese to live by traditional values in public, even though there was no difference in living by personal traditional values.

Of interest was the recurrence of some variables in predicting the extent to which people live by traditional values. Specifically, Family Emotional Support, Conscientiousness, Collectivism, and Age predicted abiding by traditional values overall in both Russia and China. The pattern repeated for the subscales, except that Collectivism was not a predictor for Personal Values in China, and Age was not a predictor for Public Values in China.

Future Research [TOP]

As the main objective of this research was to create a new, valid, and reliable scale to measure traditional values across countries and cultures, as well as within any given culture, and the results strongly confirmed the viability of the overall scale and its subscales, the Traditional Values measures can now be used for extended empirical purposes. The most obvious is to compare various other nations on the extent to which their people live according to traditional values.

Another use of the new measure would be to investigate variables that are related to, or that might influence, the extent to which people live according to traditional values. For example, in the present study, receiving emotional support from one’s family was found to be a significant predictor of the extent that people live according to traditional values in both China and Russia. Other variables that may be studied in relation to traditional values could include more of the Big Five personality characteristics, i.e., agreeableness, extraversion, neuroticism, and openness.

Future research could also examine the extent to which living by traditional values might have an impact on certain life outcomes. For example, in the present study, the full Traditional Values Scale and both subscales were positively and significantly related to feelings of life satisfaction. Future studies could investigate the extent to which living by traditional values might impact outcomes such as feelings of belongingness, esteem, or self-actualization (Maslow, 1943), or influence people’s personal resilience, i.e., the ability to recover from traumatic events. Thus, the new Traditional Values Scale could stimulate many areas of ground-breaking research.

Funding [TOP]

The authors have no funding to report.

Competing Interests [TOP]

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Acknowledgments [TOP]

The authors have no support to report.

References [TOP]

  • Ainsworth, M. S. (1989). Attachments beyond infancy. The American Psychologist, 44(4), 709-716. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.44.4.709

  • Anastasi, A., & Urbina, S. (1997). Psychological testing (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA: Prentice Hall.

  • Aroian, K. J., Spitzer, A., & Bell, M. (1996). Family stress and support among former Soviet immigrants. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 18(6), 655-674. doi:10.1177/019394599601800604

  • Berdyaev, N. A. (1946). The Russian idea. Paris, France: YMCA-Press.

  • Bowlby, J. (1982). Attachment and Loss: Vol. 1. Attachment (2nd ed.). New York, NY, USA: Basic Books.

  • Burns, A., & Bush, R. (2005). Marketing research (6th ed.). New York, NY, USA: Prentice Hall.

  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (2015). World Factbook. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/print/country/countrypdf_ch.pdf

  • Costa, P. T., Jr., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). NEO-PI-R professional manual. Odessa, FL, USA: Psychological Assessment Resources.

  • Davidov, E. (2008). A cross-country and cross-time comparison of the human values measurement with the second round of the European Social Survey. Survey Research Methods, 2(1), 33-46. doi:10.18148/srm/2008.v2i1.365

  • Davidov, E., & Schmidt, P. (2007). Are values in the Benelux comparable? In G. Loosveldt, M. Swyngedouw, & B. Cambré (Eds.), Measuring meaningful data in social research (pp. 373-386). Leuven, Belgium: Acco.

  • Davis, J. A. (2004). Did growing up in the 1960s leave a permanent mark on attitudes and values? Evidence from the General Social Survey. Public Opinion Quarterly, 68(2), 161-183. doi:10.1093/poq/nfh010

  • Efremenko, D., & Evseeva, Y. (2012). Studies of social solidarity in Russia: Tradition and modern trends. The American Sociologist, 43(4), 349-365. doi:10.1007/s12108-012-9165-2

  • Flanagan, S. C. (1982). Changing values in advanced industrial societies: Inglehart’s silent revolution from the perspective of Japanese findings. Comparative Political Studies, 14(4), 403-444. doi:10.1177/0010414082014004001

  • Giacobbe-Miller, J. K., Miller, D. J., Zhang, W., & Victorov, V. I. (2003). Country and organizational-level adaptation to foreign workplace ideologies: A comparative study of distributive justice values in China, Russia and the United States. Journal of International Business Studies, 34(4), 389-406. doi:10.1057/palgrave.jibs.8400040

  • Gibbins, K., & Walker, I. (1993). Multiple interpretations of the Rokeach Value Survey. The Journal of Social Psychology, 133(6), 797-805. doi:10.1080/00224545.1993.9713941

  • Gorsuch, R. L. (1970). Rokeach’s approach to value systems and social compassion. Review of Religious Research, 11(2), 139-143. doi:10.2307/3510277

  • Harman, H. H. (1960). Modern factor analysis. Chicago, IL, USA: University of Chicago Press.

  • Ho, D. Y. (1981). Traditional patterns of socialization in Chinese society. Acta Psychologica Taiwanica, 23(2), 81-95.

  • Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values. Beverly Hills, CA, USA: Sage.

  • Hofstee, W. K., deRaad, B., & Goldberg, L. R. (1992). Integration of the Big Five and circumplex approaches to trait structure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63(1), 146-163. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.63.1.146

  • Inglehart, R., et al. (2000). World Values Surveys and European Values Surveys, 1981-1984, 1990-1993, and 1995-1997. Ann Arbor, MI, USA: Institute for Social Research.

  • Kroeber, A. L., & Kluckhohn, C. (1952). Culture: Critical review of concepts and definitions. Cambridge, MA, USA: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

  • Lakatos, Z. (2015). Traditional values and the Inglehart constructs. Public Opinion Quarterly, 79, (S1), 291-324. doi:10.1093/poq/nfv005

  • Laslett, P. (1988). Family, kinship and collectivity as systems of support in pre-industrial Europe: A consideration of the “nuclear-hardship” hypothesis. Continuity and Change, 3(2), 153-175. doi:10.1017/S026841600000093X

  • Lee, K., & Ashton, M. C. (2004). Psychometric properties of the HEXACO personality inventory. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 39(2), 329-358. doi:10.1207/s15327906mbr3902_8

  • Lossky, N. O. (1951). Istorija rossijskoj Filosofii [History of Russian philosophy]. New York, NY, USA: International Universities Press.

  • Majima, S., & Savage, M. (2007). Have there been culture shifts in Britain? A critical encounter with Ronald Inglehart. Cultural Sociology, 1(3), 293-315. doi:10.1177/1749975507082050

  • Malinowski, B. (1926). Myth in primitive psychology. London, United Kingdom: Norton.

  • Maseland, R., & van Hoorn, A. (2010). Values and marginal preferences in international business. Journal of International Business Studies, 41, 1325-1329. doi:10.1057/jibs.2010.24

  • Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-396. doi:10.1037/h0054346

  • Meglino, B. M., & Ravlin, E. C. (1998). Individual values in organizations: Concepts, controversies, and research. Journal of Management, 24(3), 351-389. doi:10.1177/014920639802400304

  • Michailova, S., & Hutchings, K. (2006). National cultural influences on knowledge sharing: A comparison of China and Russia. Journal of Management Studies, 43(3), 383-405. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6486.2006.00595.x

  • Minc, L. D. (1986). Scarcity and survival: The role of oral tradition in mediating subsistence crises. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 5(1), 39-113. doi:10.1016/0278-4165(86)90010-3

  • Paterson, J., Pryor, J., & Field, J. (1995). Adolescent attachment to parents and friends in relation to aspects of self-esteem. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 24(3), 365-376. doi:10.1007/BF01537602

  • Peng, K., Nisbett, R. E., & Wong, N. Y. (1997). Validity problems comparing values across cultures and possible solutions. Psychological Methods, 2(4), 329-344. doi:10.1037/1082-989X.2.4.329

  • Pew Research. (2012). Global religious futures: China. Retrieved from http://www.globalreligiousfutures.org/countries/china#/?affiliations_religion_id=0&affiliations_year=2010&region_name=All%20Countries&restrictions_year=2012

  • Pew Research. (2014). Russians return to religion, but not to church. Retrieved from http://www.pewforum.org/2014/02/10/russians-return-to-religion-but-not-to-church

  • Pochebut, L. G., & Beznosov, L. S. (2013). Psihologicheskij analiz social’nyh predstavlenij Russkih [Psychological analysis of social representations of Russians]. Vestnik of Pushkin Leningrad State University, 5(2), 15-23.

  • Procidano, M. E., & Heller, K. (1983). Measures of perceived social support from friends and family: Three validation studies. American Journal of Community Psychology, 11(1), 1-24. doi:10.1007/BF00898416

  • Roberts, B. W., Chernyshenko, O. S., Stark, S., & Goldberg, L. R. (2005). The structure of conscientiousness: An empirical investigation based on seven major personality questionnaires. Personnel Psychology, 58(1), 103-139. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.2005.00301.x

  • Rokeach, M. (1973). The nature of human values. New York, NY, USA: The Free Press.

  • Russian Census. (2010). Informacionnye materialy ob okonchatel’nyh itogah Vserossijskoj perepisi naselenija 2010 goda [Results of the 2010 national census]. Retrieved from http://www.gks.ru/free_doc/new_site/perepis2010/perepis_itogi1612.htm

  • Schmitt, N. (1996). Uses and abuses of coefficient alpha. Psychological Assessment, 8(4), 350-353. doi:10.1037/1040-3590.8.4.350

  • Schwartz, S. H. (1994). Are there universal aspects in the structure and contents of human values? The Journal of Social Issues, 50(4), 19-45. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4560.1994.tb01196.x

  • Semenov, V. E. (2015). Sociokul’turnaja poljarizacija i obshhestvennoe soglasie v kontekste koncepcii rossijskoj polimental’nosti [Socio-cultural polarization and social consent in the context of the concept of Russian polymentality]. Trudy Sankt-Peterburgskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta kul’tury i iskusstv, 206, 92-100.

  • Sirgy, M. J., Lee, D.-J., Kosenko, R., Meadow, H. L., Rahtz, D., Cicic, M., . . . Wright, N., (1998). Does television viewership play a role in the perception of quality of life? Journal of Advertising, 27(1), 125-142. doi:10.1080/00913367.1998.10673547

  • Taormina, R. J., & Gao, J. H. (2010). A research model for Guanxi behavior: Antecedents, measures, and outcomes of Chinese social networking. Social Science Research, 39(6), 1195-1212. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2010.07.003

  • Taormina, R. J., & Gao, J. H. (2013). Maslow and the motivation hierarchy: Measuring satisfaction of the needs. The American Journal of Psychology, 126(2), 155-177. doi:10.5406/amerjpsyc.126.2.0155

  • Triandis, H. C. (1994). Culture and social behavior. New York, NY, USA: McGraw-Hill.

  • Triandis, H. C. (1996). The psychological measurement of cultural syndromes. The American Psychologist, 51(4), 407-415. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.51.4.407

  • Tu, Y.-T., Lin, S.-Y., & Chang, Y.-Y. (2011). A cross-cultural comparison by individualism/collectivism among Brazil, Russia, India, and China. International Business Research, 4(2), 175-182. doi:10.5539/ibr.v4n2p175

  • Yang, K. S. (1995). Chinese social orientation: An integrative analysis. In T. Y. Lin, W. S. Tseng, & E. K. Yeh (Eds.), Chinese societies and mental health (pp. 19-39). Hong Kong, China: Oxford University Press.

Appendix [TOP] [TOP]

The 16 items of the Traditional Values Scale (Items 1 to 10 compose the Personal Values subscale, and Items 11 to 16 compose the Public Values subscale).

  1. I live by traditional values to preserve society.

  2. I live by traditional values to uphold social justice.

  3. I live by traditional values for the integrity of my family.

  4. I live by traditional values to preserve morality.

  5. I live by traditional values because they are important.

  6. I live by traditional values because it is the right thing to do.

  7. I live by traditional values because I respect society.

  8. I live by traditional values because it is ethically correct.

  9. I live by traditional values because it benefits the community.

  10. I live by traditional values at home.

  11. I live by traditional values at work.

  12. I live by traditional values when playing sports or games.

  13. I live by traditional values when I am relaxing.

  14. I live by traditional values when I am on vacation.

  15. I live by traditional values when I am socializing.

  16. I live my life according to traditional values at all times.

Note. The question was “How much do you live your life according to these traditional values?” and the responses were scored on a 5-point scale: 1 = never, 2 = rarely, 3 = sometimes, 4 = usually, and 5 = always.

About the Authors [TOP]

Robert J. Taormina, Ph.D. (Psychology), is an Emeritus Full Professor of the Psychology Department, and Senior Advisor to the Rector's Office on Research Ethics at the University of Macau. His research interests include applied social psychology, organizational socialization, leadership, and cross-cultural comparisons.

Rail M. Shamionov, Doctor of Sciences (Psychology), Professor, Head of the Chair of Social Psychology of Education and Development, Saratov State University (Russia). His research interests include social psychology of personality, socialization, subjective well-being, and cross-cultural comparisons.