Kertesz, M., Offer, D., Ostrov, E., & Howard, K.I. (1986). Hungarian adolescents’ self-concept. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 15(3), 275.
Using the Offer Self-Image Questionnaire (OSIQ), researchers studied the self-concept of Hungarian youth in Budapest.
In the past several decades Hungary has transformed from a primarily agrarian economy to a primarily urbanized, industrial economy. This metamorphosis has both positively and negatively affected Hungarian society. The growth of urbanization has been dramatic. The traditional extended family structure has fractured, and now the nuclear family structure dominates. As a result of urbanization, most women work. Standards of living have improved within nearly all families, yet every fourth marriage ends in divorce or separation. Urbanization has also accelerated biological maturation, as 12.6 years is now the mean menarche age. Hungarian people have developed increased expectations of and more positive attitudes toward higher education; they now spend more years in educational institutions. Finally, Hungarian adolescents have been living in a society that led to the development of a separated teenage subculture with many problems of adjustment and identity. (p. 276)
This study compared cross-cultural variations in self-concept of highly urbanized Hungarian and American adolescents.
Approximately 600 male and 600 female adolescents (total 1,163) between ages 13-19 were studied using a Hungarian translation of the OSIQ. The male and female groups were further subdivided by age into younger and older teens (ages 13-15 and ages 16-19). Teens were questioned in two academic high schools with kids who came from the neighborhoods and the schools. Also, teens were questioned in two technical secondary high schools. This drew students throughout Budapest and the outskirts of the city. The results of these tests were compared with a similar study done on urbanized American youth using similar age and gender comparisons.
- Overall, there are many commonalties in the responses of adolescents living in urbanized settings in the U.S. and in Hungary.
- Younger Hungarian boys and girls are more well adjusted in six scales than Americans.
- Older Hungarian adolescents in both gender subgroups are generally less well adjusted than younger Hungarians.
- Hungarian teenagers are less well adjusted than the Americans in all age-by-sex groups with respect to body image and vocational and educational goals.
- Hungarians in all age and sex categories report three times more often than Americans that they get violent if they do not get their way.
- All Hungarian teenagers reveal that their feelings are hurt less often than Americans.
- Fewer Hungarians express confidence that they will be proud about their future profession. (American percentage on the average is very high, 90%; Hungarian 68%.)
- Half as many Hungarians as Americans feel they are superior students, but the Hungarians find dealing with new subjects less challenging than Americans. All groups find dealing with new subjects more challenging as they grow older.
- Hungarians, half as often as Americans, believe that dirty jokes, told at certain times, are acceptable. Older Hungarian and American males say that dirty jokes are more acceptable than the younger males note.
- Hungarians tend to blame others when they themselves are at fault less often than Americans do. Blaming others decreases with increasing age for Americans and remains very low for Hungarians.
- Half as often as Americans, Hungarians feel like leaders and believe other kids can learn from them. All groups show an increase in this feeling of leadership as they grow older.
- Hungarian youth describe themselves as "so very anxious" half as often as Americans.
- Hungarians are less proud of their bodies than Americans. American females suggest that they are not as proud of their bodies as the males.
- Hungarian females’ sense of pride in their bodies decreases with age while American females’ increases.
- The opinions of others do not matter as much to Hungarians as they do to Americans.
- In both cultures, females less frequently become violent if they do not get their way. For females this violent response decreases with age, while in males it increases.
- Females’ feelings are more easily hurt than males in both cultures.
- In both cultures the picture of oneself in the future is less satisfying as teens grow older.
- In both cultures boys show a greater increase in leadership feelings as they age. The females’ attitudes change little.
- Association with kids who "hit below the belt" (who do not play by the rules of the prevailing peer group) is considered by both cultures and in all ages to be bad and unappealing.
- Females in both cultures, as they age, feel they will be less of a source of future pride to their parents.
- All groups, except American females, tend to take undeserved blame more often as they grow older.
Results indicate that there are many more similarities than differences in Hungarian and American adolescents’ responses.
The differences may be due to the variance in the cultures’ socialization systems. In Hungary, the Board of Education stresses the importance of academic subjects in the classroom at the expense of physical education. In the United States, time spent by teenagers studying both in the classroom and at home is less than in other technologically advanced societies (Csikszentmihalyi and Larson, 1984). Hungarian adolescents, especially the younger boys and girls, express better relations toward their parents than do their American counterparts. In Hungary, despite urbanization, the traditional family bonds seem stronger than those in the United States. Among older males, however, those bonds are questioned. (p. 284)
The Hungarian sample was substantial enough to establish the "normal standard profiles" for age and gender subgroups respectively. Research should continue in order to specify proper ways to carry out preventative activities such as health education. (p. 285)
CRITIQUE AND EVALUATION
The findings stated in the article nicely summarized the data from the OSIQ. However, the more specific analysis was insightful for understanding adolescent self-concept in the different cultures, between the sexes, and between early and late teens.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
- What are some of the similarities between the Hungarian and American youth? Differences?
- What cultural institutions or traditions support these similarities and differences?
- Why do Hungarian youth seem to have more confidence and stronger self-images than American youth?
- What benefits do you see in reading studies such as this that compare youth from such diverse backgrounds?
- In this global age, it is increasingly necessary to be knowledgeable about youth in other countries.
- The understanding of youth throughout the world is only beneficial. If one tracks the information, it will provide insight into how today’s kids around the globe will affect the world when becoming their countries’ leaders. Their background, upbringing, and history are all very important.
- There is always great benefit to note worldwide similarities and differences between today’s kids. One can glean great insight into strengths and weaknesses in cultures by observing the cultures’ youth. Learning from such studies enables one to make the environment stronger and richer for kids.
Robert G. Ause and Anne Montague cCYS