Cultural dimensions and individual values

Over the years, Hofstede, Schwartz, and Hall have given marketers three different cultural dimension typologies to consider when developing international marketing strategies. These typologies vary in the number of dimensions identified; however, many of the same cultural dimensions can be found within each researcher’s work, albeit with different labels.

Torelli, Ozsomer, Carvalho, Keh, and Maehle (2012) took these seminal research studies and attempted to map the dimensions to personal values at the individual level. They found that all three researchers have some type of individualism / collectivism dimension. Torelli et al. identified four main high-level value quadrants for this dimension:

On the individualism side:

  • Self-enhancement – This quadrant is related to social status and prestige, and personal success through demonstrating competence.
  • Openness to change – This quadrant is related to excitement, novelty, and challenges, as well as independent thought and action (being able to choose, create, and explore).

On the collectivism side:

  • Self-transcendence – This quadrant is related to understanding, appreciating, tolerating, and protecting all people, protection of the environment, and preservation and enhancement of the welfare of people with whom one is frequent personal contact
  • Conservation – This quadrant is related to respect, commitment, and acceptance of traditional customs and ideas, restraint of actions likely to upset or harm others, and safety, harmony, and stability of relationships.

Torelli et al. then identified the individual values that fell within each of these quadrants:

Self-enhancement – Power, comprising social power, authority and wealth. And achievement, comprising success, capability, ambition, and influence on people and events.

Openness to change – Stimulation, comprising daring, a varied and challenging life, and an exciting life. And self-direction, comprising creativity, freedom, curiosity, independence, and choosing one’s own goals.

Self-transcendence – Social concerns, comprising broad-mindedness, social justice, a world at peace, equality, and wisdom. Concerns with nature, comprising beauty of nature, unity with nature, and environmental protection. And benevolence, comprising helpfulness, honesty, forgiveness, loyalty, and responsibility.

Conservation – Tradition, comprising respect for tradition, humbleness, accepting one’s lot in life, devotion, and modesty. Conformity, comprising obedience, honoring parents and elders, self-discipline, and politeness. And security, comprising national security, family security, social order, cleanliness, and reciprocation of favors.

While it should never be assumed that all members of a collectivist culture, for example, will adhere strictly to the traits and personality implied by that dimension (after all, everyone is unique, regardless of the culture they live in), the type of individual values associated with a dimension could be useful for marketers attempting to create messages that will resonate in a particular culture.


Torelli, C., Ozsomer, A., Carvalho, S. Keh, H., & Maehle, N. (2012). “Brand concepts as representations of human values: do cultural congruity and compatibility between values matter?” Journal of Marketing. 76, pp. 92-108.


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