The Impact of the Internet on Values in India: Shifts in Self-Enhancement and Self-Transcendence Amongst Indian Youth

The Impact of the Internet on Values in India: Shifts in Self-Enhancement and Self-Transcendence Amongst Indian Youth

Vicki R. Lane (University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO, USA), Jiban Khuntia (Department of Information Systems, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO, USA), Madhavan Parthasarathy (University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO, USA) and Bidyut B. Hazarika (Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/JGIM.2017070106
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Abstract

In this study, the authors examine how the internet is changing two critical personal value dimensions of India's youth. Based on values theory, and using data that spans a decade from 2004-2014, they contend that time spent on the internet is an influential factor in changing self-enhancement and self-transcendence values. Given the tremendous increase in exposure to western products, ideals, and people-to-people interaction via internet connectivity (India has over 275 million internet users who communicate in the English language), the authors posit that young Indian consumers would adopt values associated with self-enhancement and individualism, forsaking self-transcendence related ideals. Data pertaining to the Rokeach value scales were collected in New Delhi, and the results support the notion that these values have indeed changed substantially in such a short amount of time, largely due to IT as opposed to other media vehicles such as TV, and print media. Implications of this noteworthy change in values due to the internet in a relatively short period are discussed.
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Introduction

This paper explores the impact of internet subscription on two critical values dimensions, Self-Enhancement and Self-Transcendence, in India, a country that experienced explosive growth in internet subscription from 2004 – 2014. We compare the impact of the internet versus traditional media on the evolution of these values amongst Indian youth. While values are purported to be stable and slow to change (e.g., Rokeach, 1973, p.5), our study finds that important values have indeed changed significantly among Indian youth in the span of merely one decade, a rate of change far more rapid than heretofore measured, almost belying established “values” theory. Equally significant is that this value evolution was triggered largely by the internet, more so than traditional media. Since no prior studies have investigated the impact of the internet on changing values, perhaps because slow-changing values necessitate an inter-temporal data investigation (such as the decade-wide data span of this research), the results of this study are particularly novel.

This paper focuses on two overarching value dimensions, Self-Enhancement and Self-Transcendence (Schwartz et. al. 2001), that closely align with the more commonly used terms of Individualism and Collectivism, because they have substantial importance for businesses. The impact of the internet and media on these value systems is important because consumers often buy products and brands that reflect these values (Beatty et al., 1985; Chen et al., 1999; Hawkins and Mothersbaugh, 2010; Johnson, 2014; Wansink, 2000). Indeed, these values differentiate between various groups based on religion, age, as well as cultural, economic, and political variables (Braithwaite and Law, 1985), distinguish between various consumer behaviors (Beatty et al., 1985), and link to specific brand attributes and benefits (Wansink, 2000). In fact, these value dimensions influence consumer relationships with service providers (Patterson and Smith, 2001; Mattila and Patterson, 2004), consumer innovation (Steenkamp, Hofstede, and Wedel 1999; Yaveroglu and Donthu, 2002), consumer self-concept (Hawkins and Mothersbaugh, 2010), acceptance of foreign products (Gurhan-Canli and Maheswaran, 2000), reactions to marketing communication (Pornpitakpan and Francis, 2001; Choi, Lee, and Kim, 2005), preferences for various sources of information (Money, Gilly, and Graham, 1998), and consumption symbolism (Robinson 1996; Erdem, Swait, and Valenzuala, 2006; Sun, Horn, and Merritt, 2004). Further, self-enhancement and transcendence values, embodied in individualistic and collectivist traits respectively, affect innovativeness and the cross-cultural adoption of products (e.g., Forlani and Parthasarathy, 2003; Parthasarathy et al., 1995).

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