This research was supported by the Dissertation Founders Fellowship, Institute for Social Research, and a grant by the Department of Psychology, University of Michigan to the first author. Thanks to Agnieszka Rogozinska and Grzegorz Król for their help in collecting and coding the data of Study 1, and Ramona Kenntner and Katharina Seidler for their help with Study 2.
Individualism, Authoritarianism, and Attitudes Toward Assisted Death: Cross-Cultural, Cross-Regional, and Experimental Evidence1
Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume 32, Issue 1, pages 60–85, January 2002
How to Cite
Kemmelmeier, M., Wieczorkowska, G., Erb, H.-P. and Burnstein, E. (2002), Individualism, Authoritarianism, and Attitudes Toward Assisted Death: Cross-Cultural, Cross-Regional, and Experimental Evidence. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 32: 60–85. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2002.tb01420.x
- Issue published online: 31 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
We hypothesized that in individualistic cultures, individualism predicts positive attitudes toward assisted death, whereas authoritarianism is negatively associated with favorable views of this issue. Study 1 confirmed this hypothesis in a Polish sample (n= 100). Study 2, using a German sample (n= 102), found the predicted relationships only for forms of assisted death that involved the individual self-determination of a terminally ill patient. In Study 3 (n= 72), we found experimental evidence that priming individualistic aspects of the self-concept results in more favorable views of physician-assisted suicide. Using a representative sample (n= 1158), Study 4 found that across the United States, regional levels of individualism are reflected in corresponding patterns of support for assisted suicide. Our research confirms that individualism shapes positive views of assisted suicide. The discussion focuses on assisted suicide as a cultural phenomenon and explores the implications of growing levels of individualism for public opinion and policy on assisted suicide.