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Cross-Cultural Differences in the Structure of Moral Values: A Factorial Analysis

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The relatively high similarity in the factorial structure of the Middle Eastern and American moral values in Factors A and C support the view that the moral judgments of college students of the two cultures studied here are not very dissimilar. In fact, these two factors account for approximately 66 per cent and 55 per cent, respectively, of the explained item variance in each sample. It is worth noting, however, that the bipolar Factor C (family morality) has high negative loadings in the Middle Eastern group, whereas among American students, the high loading items are positive. It seems, therefore, that the Middle Eastern Factor C specifies the more general and broad functions of the family rather than the primary functions of this dimension. For example, divorce (item 33), use of birth control (item 32), girls smoking (item 6), a man not marrying a girl inferior to him (item 50), and a doctor allowing a deformed baby to die when he could save its life (item 8), are issues specifically related to practices of the American family which are emphasized by Middle Eastern students as general concerns of the family. The structure of Factor B (economic morality) does not differ greatly in the two samples. Apparently in both transitional and industrial societies, the identification of a separate economic code of morality is at least moderately similar. Nevertheless, a few differences can be noticed. For example, the high positive loadings in the Middle Eastern group on items 6 (girls smoking), 11 (betting on horse races), and 35 (living on inherited wealth) do not seem to be meaningful in the economic sense among American students; instead, these items are subsumed under Factors E and C. On the other hand, the high positive loadings that occur in the American group on items 5 (breaking promises), 12 (dealing unjustly with a weaker nation), and 29 (charging interest above a fair rate) suggest social welfare and religious sources (Factors F and D) for Middle Eastern students. Perhaps these slight differences explain, in part, why this dimension is only moderately invariant in structure. The invariance coefficient in Factor F (social welfare) is equally moderate. Despite the similarity in structure, it appears that the issues are interpreted slightly differently in the two cultures. The high loading items in the Middle Eastern group have negative or zero loadings in the American group and vice versa. For example, killing a person in self-defense (item 1), kidnapping (item 2), failing to keep promises (item 5), a nation dealing unjustly with a weaker nation (item 12), a man deserting a girl (item 48), a man not marrying a girl inferior to him (item 50), are condemned actions in the Middle Eastern group, whereas American students judge such issues as either not pertinent or accepted moral codes. On the other hand, living beyond one's means (item 14), using profane speech (item 37), being disagreeable to members of the family (item 38), misrepresenting value of an investment (item 42), are emphasized by American students and are less important for those from the Middle East. The differences in emphasis on issues relating to the same dimension support the notion that cultures are different in degree rather than in kind. The religious factor (D) occupies a more prominent position among Middle Easterners than among American students. In the former group, the religious factor encompasses moral judgments pertaining to adultry (item 16), charity (item 20), disbelief in God (item 49), charging interest above a fair rate (item 29), use of poison gas (item 46), forging (4), and working conditions detrimental to worker's health (item 7), while for American students some of the same issues are of a low priority and a few others are assumed under separate dimensions. In part, the obtained low invariance in the structure of Factor D may be primarily the result of a strict religious moral system known to characterize the Middle Eastern society. In contrast, the continued growth of technology, urbanization, military power and economic progress in the American society, are likely to weaken religious morality. Moreover, the individual in the American society finds himself free of restrictions due to certain unique elements of his society, such as its recruitment from Europe and its lack of any feudal past which carry with it the implications of tradition and authority-a historical antecedent for the Middle East.1 The most striking difference in the factorial structure of both cultural groups becomes apparent in Factor E which delineates anti-exploitive issues in the Middle Eastern group and which is not exceeded in prominence by other dimensional issues. The same moral codes are not highly condemned by

10.1163/156854270X00020
/content/journals/10.1163/156854270x00020
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/content/journals/10.1163/156854270x00020
1970-01-01
2016-12-08

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