TRAMES 1/2, 3, 1999

Luule Kants and Anu Realo. Meta-level collectivism in Estonia and Finland

University of Tartu


During recent years, a fascinating question has appeared at the crossroads of data and theory in the study of individualism and collectivism: could it really be that Estonians, in a number of ways so close to the relatively individualistic Finns, are in fact the embodiments of conservative collectivism, as it has been implied in prominent cross-cultural writings (e.g., Schwartz 1994)? This study strove to find an answer to this question with a somewhat unorthodox method. First, Estonian, Finnish, and Russian (residing in Estonia) respondents answered to the Collectivism Scale (Realo and Allik, in press) items, getting scores on collectivism. The results showed no significant differences in the general collectivism scores for the Estonian and Finnish respondents and a remarkably and significantly higher collectivism score for the Russian sample. After that, the participants were asked to complete the Meta-Collectivism Scale by ranking their own and nine other nations along ten collectivistic statements. Among ten target nations, the Estonians were ranked rather low on collectivism - judges from three nations placed the Estonians on the seventh position between the Russians (the fourth position) and Finns (the tenth position). Thus, the results of the present study suggest abandoning the idea of Estonia as a landmark of collectivism.

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