Research Proposal

I found myself interested by one of the most cherished values of the United States- Individualism. This value is not only apparent from the rules and regulations concerning ownership in this country such as severe punishments for plagiarism in the academic world but also it is reflected in many different daily life values. Those daily life values can include the cherished need for personal space, privacy, freedom of expression amongst others. All those commonly held values play a very important role in shaping the morals and ethics of a people which on their own determine much about the constitution, systems of justice, immigration statues and different other political and socio-economic aspects. For these reasons, I want to know more about how individualism has affected personality traits of Americans and how it has affected empathy in general. Does Individualism as opposed to collectivism breed a more empathetic society? If so, how does that shape what we believe to be ethical? As the theme of my class is Empathy and Ethics, the way individualism impacts people’s ability to empathize and how that affects our justice and law making fits in this theme. We have had many discussions regarding what real empathy is, what people need to empathize with others, how empathy affects our systems of justice and law and so, relating that to one of the important values of Americans is just broadening the theme of the class.

Some of the important questions that are central to this topic are for example: Has our society become more and more individualistic? and if so, how did that affect empathy? How has our need for freedom shaped our personalities? Do some of the things we respect like one’s time make us more individualistic or collectivistic? How do our personalities affect our systems of laws?  As I dig deeper in the topic, more and more questions will surface. Answering those questions might not be simple most especially if some of them might have subjective answers but trying to find the general answers or at least the most accepted ones will help this topic. I will use of articles, journals and books to investigate individualism and to answer the questions central to my topic.  

MLA cited list:

Changming Duan , Meifen Wei, Lizhao Wang (2009). The Role of Individualism-Collectivism in Empathy:  An Exploratory Study,

Ghorbani, Nima, et al. “Individualist and Collectivist Values: Evidence of Compatibility in Iran and the United States.” Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 35, no. 2, 2003., pp. 431-447doi:10.1016/S0191-8869(02)00205-2.

Heinke, MS, and WR Louis. “Cultural Background and Individualistic-Collectivistic Values in Relation to Similarity, Perspective Taking, and Empathy.” JOURNAL OF APPLIED SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, vol. 39, no. 11, 2009., pp. 2570-2590doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2009.00538.x.

Robertson, Chris, and Paul A. Fadil. “Ethical Decision Making in Multinational Organizations: A Culture-Based Model.” Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 19, no. 4, 1999., pp. 385-392doi:10.1023/A:1005742016867.

Mattila, Anna S., and Paul G. Patterson. “Service Recovery and Fairness Perceptions in Collectivist and Individualist Contexts.” Journal of Service Research, vol. 6, no. 4, 2004., pp. 336-346doi:10.1177/1094670503262947.


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