College Students' Perception of Social Responsibility in Three Societies
Group-based, wide connectedness is believed to be predominant in the US, whereas relationship-based, secure connectedness characterizes East Asian societies. Such cross-cultural differences might interact with individuals’ social engagement and interpersonal networks in shaping their social responsibility. This idea is tested in an online study with 525 college students (351 females) from three countries (the United States [US], China, and Japan). They responded to a series of hypothetical scenarios eliciting their perceived obligations to help a stranger with various levels of needs and measures assessing their social connectedness (i.e., social distance from outgroups and altruistic contribution) and personal connectedness (i.e., kin and friend support). We predicted that US college students would exhibit lower social distance, more altruistic contribution, less kin support, and more friend support than the East Asian college students. Moreover, we predicted that the associations between social distance and reduced social responsibility, and between friend support and increased social responsibility, would be more prominent among the US participants than among East Asian participants. Except for the fact that US participants actually indicated greater kin support than Chinese participants, these predictions were largely supported in situations involving extreme needs and in some cases supported in situations involving moderate needs. The original data for the study is available in SPSS data file. We also included the list of measures used in the study (please see the word document).