English title: Values and Behaviour in the Context of Culture - The moderating effect of cultural tightness-looseness on value-behaviour associations in 18 European countries

Author(s): Camilla Sigrid Lönnqvist -

Language: English

Type: Thesis / dissertation

Year: 2015


The relationship between personal values and behaviour constitutes an important part of social psychological research as values have been found to predict behaviour. Despite the abundance of research on values, and the increase of cross-cultural research in psychology, the understanding of culture’s influence on value-behaviour associations remains limited. As social norms have been found to affect certain value-behaviour associations, it is plausible that normative aspects of a society may moderate the relationship on a macro-contextual level (Bardi & Schwartz, 2003; Roccas & Sagiv, 2010). Cultural tightness-looseness (Pelto, 1968) refers to how strong and pervasive social norms are in a society, and to what degree deviant behaviour is tolerated. The objective of the present study was to examine the moderating effect of tightness-looseness on the relationship between personal values and behaviour. Placed within the theoretical framework of the Schwartz (1992) value theory, the study assessed the relative strength of the value-behaviour association in 18 national samples of the European Social Survey (Round 2), and conducted a cross-cultural comparison between three groups of countries with differing degrees of tightness-looseness. The national samples were categorized as either low (loose), average or high (tight) in cultural tightness according to an index developed by Gelfand et al. (2011). Strength of value-behaviour associations for each national sample was established by regression analysis. Variances in value-behaviour associations between the three tightness-looseness level groups were assessed by repeated measures analysis of variance, independent t-tests, and nonparametric analysis by chi-square test. The results from regression analyses of a wide range of behaviours indicated that value-behaviour associations were in general weak. Comparison of the three tightness-looseness level groups showed no moderating effect of cultural tightness-looseness on value-behaviour associations. However, failure to detect a moderator effect may have been due to the weak main-effect of value-behaviour associations. The results suggest that further examination of the nature of value-behaviour associations, in particular for value-ambivalent behaviours (Lönnqvist et al., 2013) is needed. Methods of systematically assessing value-behaviour associations on a broad scale need to be developed to better facilitate the study of cultural-level contextual moderators.


Awarding institution: University of Helsinki

Number of pages: 94

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