The Protestant Work Ethic in Barbados

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  • This article was downloaded by: [York University Libraries]On: 30 September 2013, At: 21:43Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK

    The Journal of SocialPsychologyPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/vsoc20

    The Protestant Work Ethic inBarbadosAdrian Furnham aa Department of Psychology, University CollegeLondonPublished online: 30 Jun 2010.

    To cite this article: Adrian Furnham (1991) The Protestant Work Ethic in Barbados,The Journal of Social Psychology, 131:1, 29-43, DOI: 10.1080/00224545.1991.9713822

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00224545.1991.9713822

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  • The Journal of Social Psychology, 131(1), 29-43

    The Protestant Work Ethic in Barbados

    ADRIAN FURNHAM Department of Psychology University College London

    ABSTRACT. This study first reviewed previous research on the cross-cultural differ- ences in the Protestant Work Ethic (PWE) as measured by psychometric question- naires. Second, it reported on a study of adolescents in Barbados, where over four hundred children completed eight different measures of the PWE. The different mea- sures were shown to be modestly significantly correlated, suggesting that they were measuring different dimensions of the PWE. Whereas there were no clear relation- ships between age, class position, and urban-rural residence in PWE scores, girls tended to have higher scores than boys. Overall, this sample of Barbados adoles- cents appeared to have higher PWE scores than comparable groups from developed countries.

    WHETHER ADHERENCE to the Protestant Work Ethic (PWE) as described by Weber (1905) by individuals or groups in a specific society or country actually predicts or in some sense leads to economic development in that so- ciety is an issue that has fascinated academic and lay people alike. Mc- Clelland (1961), for example, attempted to demonstrate how need-for- achievement beliefs were consistently related to numerous economic variables in various societies at different points in history.

    Psychological research on the PWE has been concerned mainly with de- vising psychometric questionnaires, investigating the relationship between PWE beliefs and work-related behaviors, and examining the relationship be- tween PWE beliefs and other individual differences measures of personality, values, and social attitudes (Furnham, 1982, 1983, 1984a,b,c,d, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988). Since PWE questionnaires were first developed over 15 years

    1 would like to thank Monica Payne and Earl Newton of the Faculty of Education, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill. Barbados, both for help in data collection and great hospital@ during my visit.

    Requests for reprints should be sent to Adrian Furnham, Department of Psy- choLogy, University College, London, 26 Bedford Way, London WCI . Great Britain.

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  • 30 The Journal of Social Psychology

    ago, over 50 empirical studies have been published on the topic (Chusmir & Koberg, 1988; Engel, 1988; Furnham, 1984a, 1990).

    People who believe in the PWE tend to have high internal locus of con- trol beliefs (Furnham, 1987; Lied & Pritchard, 1976; MacDonald, 1972; Mir- els & Garrett, 1971; Waters, Bathis, & Waters, 1975); conservative attitudes and beliefs (Furnham & Bland, 1982; Joe, 1974; MacDonald, 1971); high need for achievement (Furnham, 1987; McClelland, 1961); and individual- istic attribution styles (Furnham, 1982). Furthermore, as an individual differ- ence, independent variable PWE beliefs have been found to be powerful pre- dictors of work-related behavior (Greenberg, 1977, 1978, 1979; Merrens & Garrett, 1975).

    Although it remains unclear how or indeed whether PWE beliefs are re- lated to economic development, both academic and lay people have been par- ticularly concerned with the PWE beliefs of young people (Schab, 1978). Harris and Stokes (1978), for instance, found evidence that certain groups of Black youth had lower PWE beliefs than Whites, paradoxically because the Blacks had higher self-esteem as a function of being able to fulfill lesser am- bitions.

    Studies from numerous countries appear to show that young people re- main optimistic, highly motivated, and work oriented. In Belgium, Rosseel (1986) found they were instrumental and pragmatic in their choice of school subjects and that those who manifested an enterprising attitude, self- confidence, and optimism about the future developed an orientation to indi- vidualistic careerism. Similarly, in Australia in a study of nearly 1,000 young workers, Williams (1985) found strong adherence to the PWE. She argued that the PWE, measured by commitment to work, was stronger than ever because it provided ideological support for a system that still requires the discipline to labor. No doubt, until that changes, PWE beliefs are likely to remain high. In Great Britain, Breakwell and Fife-Schaw (1987) attempted to find which of a range of psychographic and demographic variables best predicted levels of motivation to use new technology in young people: The PWE came first, self-esteem second, year of school third, and fathers job fourth, with sex trailing behind and accounting for only a small, barely sig- nificant portion of variance in motivation.

    These results suggest that young peoples PWE beliefs are highly adap- tive in the modem world. Indeed, having low PWE beliefs seems to be asso- ciated with low self-esteem, poor well-being, and reactionary views. It is all the more important, then, according to numerous observers, that adolescents be inculcated with PWE beliefs. Nearly all the studies on PWE beliefs among young people have been conducted in developed countries, with two excep- tions. Munroe and Munroe (1986) found that school children in Kenya who were educated within the Quaker tradition held stronger PWE beliefs than those educated in nonreligious schools. Stones (1988), in his study of South

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  • Furnham 31

    African school children, also emphasized the role of religion, in this case Calvinism, in the development of PWE beliefs. He found, as predicted, that Whites had stronger PWE beliefs than Blacks.

    Some of the studies that have examined PWE beliefs in young people have looked at which demographic factors in socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and religion seem to determine PWE beliefs (Harris & Stokes, 1978; Schab, 1978; Stones, 1988), whereas others have looked at the consequences of hav- ing these beliefs (Breakwell & Fife-Schaw, 1987). However, these studies appear to have two major, significant drawbacks. The first concerns how the PWE is measured. Many studies purporting to measure the PWE have used highly diffuse and often unreliable and invalid measures. Indeed, it is only the minority of studies mentioned above that have used psychometrically val- idated questionnaires (Breakwell & Fife-Schaw; Stones), though as Furnham (1984a, 1990) pointed out, there are numerous self-report measures, all of which have slightly different psychometric properties. To measure PWE be- liefs comprehensively, combining more than one measure, would seem ideal (Furnham & Koritsas, 1990).

    Second, although the studies have been conducted in many different countries, few attempts have been made to compare results systematically. By far the most popular measure has been the Mirels and Garrett (1971) ques- tionnaire, which has been used in Africa (Heaven, 1980; Philbrick, 1976; Vandewiele & Philbrick, 1976); America (Beit-Hallahmi, 1979; Dorst, Leon, & Philbrick, 1978; Eisenberger & Shank, 1985; Ganster, 1980, 1981; Goiten & Rosenberg, 1977; Gonsales & Bernard, 1983; Greenberg, 1977, 1978, 1979; Hooker & Ventis, 1982; Iso-Ahola & Buttimer, 1982; Kidron, 1978; Lied & Pntchard, 1976; MacDonald, 1971; Merrens &Garrett, 1975; Stake, 1983; Waters et al., 1975; Australia (Feather, 1982, 1983 a,b, 1984, 1985); Belgium (Rosseel, 1986); Britain (Breakwell & Fife-Schaw, 1987; Furnham, 1983, 1984 a,b,c,d, 1985, 1986, 1987; Wagstaff, 1983); Israel (Shamir, 1985, 1986); Malaysia (Furnham & Muhuideen, 1984); and Taiwan (Ma, 1986). Table 1 illustrates some of these studies, which by virtue of the fact that they provide some means and standard deviations allow for numerical comparison.

    Less well-known and frequently used measures have also been used in different countries, such as the Blood (1969) measure in America (Aldag & Brief, 1975; Armerakis, Field, Bederan, & Ledbetter, 1977; Greenberg, 1978; Iso-Ahola & Buttimer, 1982; Wanous, 1974); Britain (Furnham, 1987); and Israel (Rim, 1977). Although there are clearly problems of comparison because of the unrepresentative nature of the sampling, problems with ensur- ing comparative samples, and the fact that the studies have been conducted at different points in time, comparing results allows one to test the hypothesis that PWE beliefs lead to capitalistic enterprise put forward by Weber (1905) and supported by McClelland ( 196 1).

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  • TABL

    E 1

    Mea

    ns a

    nd S

    tand

    ard

    Dev

    iatio

    ns of

    PW

    E Sc

    ores

    in P

    ublis

    hed

    Pape

    rs

    Scor

    e Lo

    catio

    n St

    udy

    Subj

    ects

    M

    SD

    Quo

    te

    Afr

    ica

    East

    Afr

    ica

    Philb

    rick

    (197

    6)

    Sout

    h A

    fric

    a H

    eave

    n (1

    980)

    Wes

    t Afr

    ica

    Van

    dew

    iele

    &

    Philb

    rick

    (198

    6)

    Am

    eric

    a M

    irels

    & G

    arre

    tt (1

    971)

    Mer

    rens

    & G

    arre

    tt ( 1

    975)

    60 B

    lack

    stu

    dent

    s (a

    ge 2

    0.7,

    all

    mal

    es)

    99 W

    hite

    stu

    dent

    s (a

    ge 1

    6.7,

    all

    mal

    es)

    163

    Bla

    ck sc

    hool

    chi

    ldre

    n (a

    ge 1

    9.6,

    hal

    f mal

    es)

    54 m

    ale

    stud

    ents

    55

    fem

    ale s

    tude

    nts

    40 m

    ale

    and

    fem

    ale

    stud

    ents

    103.

    57

    91.4

    8

    85.0

    85.7

    85

    .5

    86.5

    7

    1 1.0

    3 A

    n ex

    amin

    atio

    n of

    res

    pons

    es s

    ugge

    sts

    a st

    rong

    iden

    tific

    atio

    n w

    ith h

    ard-

    w

    ork,

    ent

    erpr

    ise,

    am

    bitio

    n, g

    oal-

    dire

    cted

    act

    ivity

    , com

    petit

    ion,

    su

    cces

    s-or

    ient

    atio

    n an

    d ac

    hiev

    emen

    t ne

    ed. T

    his

    Afr

    ican

    elit

    e a

    re

    man

    ifest

    ly o

    ut-P

    rote

    stan

    ting

    the

    Prot

    esta

    nt (

    p. 1

    75).

    9.71

    13.7

    1 Ea

    rlier

    rese

    arch

    in w

    hich

    Uni

    vers

    ity

    stud

    ents

    had

    a v

    ery

    high

    mea

    n sc

    ore

    cann

    ot b

    e ge

    nera

    lized

    to W

    est

    Afr

    ica

    (p. 4

    46).

    15.5

    16

    .2

    Res

    ults

    for t

    he fe

    mal

    e sa

    mpl

    e pa

    ralle

    l th

    e fin

    ding

    s for

    mal

    es a

    nd s

    uppo

    rt a

    sim

    ilar a

    ttrib

    utio

    n of

    cha

    ract

    eris

    tics

    to w

    omen

    who

    are

    incl

    ined

    to

    acce

    pt th

    e Pr

    otes

    tant

    Eth

    ic (p

    . 44)

    . Th

    e hi

    gh P

    rote

    stan

    t Eth

    ic g

    roup

    spe

    nt

    sign

    ifica

    ntly

    mor

    e tim

    e w

    orki

    ng o

    n a

    task

    and

    pro

    duce

    d si

    gnifi

    cant

    ly

    mor

    e ou

    tput

    (p.

    125

    )

    13.5

    5

    W

    N

    Do w

    n lo a

    d ed

    b y [ Y

    o rk U

    n i ve r s

    i t y L

    i b ra r i

    e s] a

    t 21 : 4

    3 30 S

    e pt e m

    b er 2

    0 13

  • Gre

    enbe

    rg (1

    978)

    D

    orst

    , Leo

    n, &

    Ph

    ilbric

    k (1

    978)

    Gon

    sale

    s &

    Ber

    nard

    (198

    3)

    Hoo

    ker &

    Ven

    tis

    (1 98

    4)

    Aus

    tralia

    Fe

    athe

    r (19

    84)

    Feat

    her (

    1982

    )

    Taiw

    an

    Ma

    (198

    6)

    128

    fem

    ale s

    tude

    nts

    Stud

    ents

    12

    6, C

    alifo

    rnia

    Sta

    te

    184,

    Ariz

    ona

    Stat

    e 63

    , Uni

    vers

    ity of

    92, N

    ew M

    exic

    o St

    ate

    Haw

    aii

    21- A

    fro-

    Am

    eric

    ans

    20 A

    fro-

    Car

    ibbe

    ans

    76 re

    tired

    peo

    ple

    (age

    69.

    6)

    144

    stud

    ents

    (a

    ge 2

    0.45

    , 66

    mal

    es)

    39 e

    mpl

    oyed

    mal

    es

    32 u

    nem

    ploy

    ed m

    ales

    39

    em

    ploy

    ed fe

    mal

    es

    37 u

    nem

    ploy

    ed fe

    mal

    es

    707

    stud

    ents

    (age

    20.

    34)

    3 12

    mal

    es

    395

    fem

    ales

    79.2

    81

    .3

    79.0

    82.3

    86

    .3

    84.8

    0 80

    .46

    92.1

    2

    82.2

    8

    82.7

    2 72

    .41

    82.6

    2 84

    .65

    70.7

    3 69

    .68

    9.85

    14

    .6

    15.1

    14.6

    15

    .5

    13.5

    1 13

    .40

    13.3

    3

    Beh

    avio

    ur se

    ems t

    o be

    situ

    atio

    n sp

    ecifi

    c-th

    e su

    bjec

    t doe

    s not

    ap

    pear

    to ri

    gidl

    y m

    anife

    st a

    pr

    eocc

    upat

    ion

    with

    , pre

    fere

    nce

    for

    and

    disp

    ositi

    on to

    wor

    k, a

    nd to

    al

    low

    this

    tend

    ency

    to g

    ener

    aliz

    e ac

    ross

    situ

    atio

    ns (p

    . 19

    0).

    Such

    find

    ings

    und

    ersc

    ore

    the

    need

    for

    ad

    ditio

    inal

    rese

    arch

    on

    spec

    ific c

    lass

    re

    late

    d en

    dors

    emen

    t of t

    he

    Prot

    esta

    nt E

    thic

    thes

    is a

    nd la

    rger

    gr

    oups

    of

    subj

    ects

    (p. 6

    46).

    13.7

    Une

    mpl

    oyed

    mal

    e su

    bjec

    ts h

    ad lo

    wer

    Pr

    otes

    tant

    Eth

    ic s

    core

    s and

    rep

    orte

    d th

    at g

    ood

    and

    bad

    outc

    omes

    acro

    ss a

    ra

    nge

    of s

    ituat

    ions

    wer

    e le

    ss

    impo

    rtant

    to th

    em w

    hen

    com

    pare

    d w

    ith e

    mpl

    oyed

    mal

    e su

    bjec

    ts.

    The

    lack

    of

    sign

    ifica

    nce o

    f re

    ligio

    us

    varia

    bles

    for t

    he P

    WE

    scal

    e is

    in

    terp

    rete

    d as in

    dica

    ting

    that

    the

    Prot

    esta

    nt E

    thic

    is n

    ot u

    niqu

    ely

    Prot

    esta

    nt a

    mon

    g co

    llege

    stud

    ents

    in

    Taiw

    an, r

    athe

    r, it

    may

    rep

    rese

    nt a

    ge

    nera

    l wor

    k or

    ient

    atio

    n se

    tting

    ac

    ross

    all g

    roup

    s, in

    clud

    ing

    relig

    ious

    gro

    ups (

    p. 2

    19).

    7.95

    7.

    18

    Do w

    n lo a

    d ed

    b y [ Y

    o rk U

    n i ve r s

    i t y L

    i b ra r i

    e s] a

    t 21 : 4

    3 30 S

    e pt e m

    b er 2

    0 13

  • 34 The Journal of Sociul Psychology

    The present study examined PWE beliefs among young people in Bar- bados in the West Indies. It had three major aims: The first was to examine the relationship between different measures of the PWE in the same sample, which has been reported elsewhere only by Waters et al. (1975) and Furnham and Koritsas (1990). It was predicted that all measures would be highly sig- nificantly correlated and that the pattern of correlations would match the con- tent analysis of the various measures (Furnham, 1990). Second, it was pre- dicted that various demographic factors, such as sex, age, religion, and urban-rural residence, would determine PWE bel