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Hierarchical Individualist Test

Yale researcher Dan Kahan studied the personalities and cultural differences of Americans and found a fascinating, distinct cluster: white hierarchical individualistic men are different from everyone else.

Making up around 17% of the population, this cluster has markedly different views on risk, guns, the environment, and more. Kahan's fascinating research solidifies that differences in views are fundamentally motivated by differences in personality and values.

Are you a hierarchical individualist or an egalitarian collectivist? To take the test, indicate your agreement with each of the following statements below.

Question 1 of 30

People who are successful in business have a right to enjoy their wealth as they see fit.



The IDRlabs Hierarchical Individualist Test was based on the work of Yale researcher Dan Kahan's Research on Hierarchical Individualism.

In the age of information overload, understanding how people process information, particularly regarding complex risks like climate change, is crucial. Dan Kahan, a prominent researcher at Yale Law School, delves into this very topic through his work on cultural cognition. His research on hierarchical individualism sheds light on how our cultural values subtly shape our perception of risk.

Hierarchical Individualism: A Cultural Lens

Imagine two people, Sarah and Michael, reading about climate change. Sarah emphasizes individual responsibility and reducing her carbon footprint. Michael, on the other hand, focuses on the potential economic impact of regulations. This difference in perspective might be explained by their cultural values. Kahan's research suggests that people high in hierarchical individualism tend to view the world through a specific lens.

Here's what that lens looks like:

  • Social Order and Authority: Hierarchical individuals value a well-defined social hierarchy with clear lines of authority. They respect established institutions and see them as essential for maintaining order.
  • Individual Achievement: This cultural value emphasizes personal responsibility, hard work, and individual success. People with this mindset believe in pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.

The Skepticism Link: How Values Influence Risk Perception

Kahan's studies propose a fascinating connection between hierarchical individualism and risk perception. Individuals scoring high on this value system might be more skeptical of certain risks, even when presented with scientific evidence. Climate change, with its emphasis on large-scale systemic change and potential regulations, can be particularly challenging for them.

Here's why:

  • Rejection of Authority Imposition: Proposals for tackling climate change often involve regulations and interventions. Hierarchical individuals who value established authority might perceive these actions as an infringement on individual freedom or an overreach by external forces.
  • Focus on Individual Responsibility: The emphasis on individual actions to reduce carbon footprints may resonate less with hierarchical individualists who prioritize social order and large-scale solutions.

Beyond Climate Change: A Broader Impact

It's important to note that Kahan's research isn't limited to climate change. Hierarchical individualism can influence perceptions of various risks, such as gun control or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). For instance, those high in this value system might view gun control regulations as a threat to individual liberties, even if presented with data on gun violence.

The Cultural Cognition Hypothesis: Not Just Knowledge Gaps

Traditionally, public skepticism about scientific issues has often been attributed to a lack of knowledge. However, Kahan's work on cultural cognition proposes a different explanation. He suggests that people aren't simply ignorant; rather, they interpret information through the filter of their cultural values. This "cultural availability" hypothesis implies that even with increasing scientific literacy, individuals high in hierarchical individualism might remain skeptical of risks that clash with their values.

The Importance of Understanding Cultural Values

Kahan's research offers valuable insights for effective communication. Simply presenting scientific data might not be enough to bridge the gap when cultural values are at play. Here are some potential strategies:

  • Tailoring Communication: Framing messages in a way that resonates with the target audience's values could be more effective. For instance, emphasizing the economic benefits of clean energy might appeal more to hierarchical individualists than focusing on individual responsibility for carbon reduction.
  • Building Trust in Authority: Highlighting the role of established institutions like scientific bodies in addressing complex risks could build trust and encourage acceptance of necessary regulations.

While hierarchical individualism is a key concept in Kahan's research, it's important to acknowledge the existence of other cultural values that shape risk perception. Egalitarianism, for example, emphasizes equality and social justice, and people high in this value system might prioritize collective action to address risks like climate change.

Understanding the interplay of cultural values and risk perception is crucial for fostering informed public discourse on complex issues. By acknowledging the role of cultural cognition, we can move beyond simply presenting facts and explore ways to bridge the gap between science and public perception.

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Hierarchical Individualist Test

Why Use This Test?

1. Based on Yale Research. This test is based on research conducted at Yale University.

2. Statistical controls. Test scores are logged into an anonymized database. Statistical analysis of the test is conducted to ensure maximum accuracy and validity of the test scores.

3. Made by professionals. The authors of this free online IQ test are certified in the use of numerous personality tests and have worked professionally with typology and personality testing.