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Gregory Coates, Gina Magyar-Russell, Ph.D.

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Ebenezer Scrooge is a paradigm of the stingy individualist; but do individualist attitudes and behaviors necessarily result in selfish and uncharitable behavior? Collectivism, the opposite side of the coin from individualism, places emphasis on relationships and identity in and through community. Will collectivist attitudes and behavior necessarily result in religious coping that seeks assistance from clergy and community in times of need?

This study investigated two hypotheses: first, that individualism is negatively correlated to altruism; and second, that collectivism will demonstrate a strong relationship to positive religious coping for women, but not for men. The participants in this study (N = 134) were recruited as a cross-sectional convenience sample of adults in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. The participant mean age was 41 years (SD = 13.6, range 18 - 72 years). Women represented a larger proportion of the sample (61%; n = 82) than men (39%; n = 52). The sample consisted of 63% Caucasian (n = 85), 22% African American (n = 30), 2% Hispanic (n = 3), 2% Middle Eastern (n = 2), and 5% Other (n = 7).

The result of a Pearson correlation demonstrated that individualism was not significantly related to altruism (r = -.05, n = 130, p = .29). Hierarchical regression analysis was employed to test the second hypothesis. Step 1 of the analysis included gender and Individualism/Collectivism and did not reach statistical significance (R2 = .013, p = .44). Step 2 increased the amount of variance by two-tenths of one percent; thus, the overall model was not significant (R2 = .015, p = .614)).  The results suggest that collectivism does not demonstrate a relationship to positive religious coping, and gender does not moderate the relationship. While both hypotheses appear theoretically plausible as evidenced in the literature review, neither hypothesis demonstrated significance through the scales employed in this study. Future studies of these hypotheses should consider utilizing other appropriate scales.

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