Ever since Max Weber (1930) uncovered the cultural origins of capitalism, a common denominator for explanations of economic development is that "individualistic values" provide a more favourable background for promoting the wealth of nations. This paper investigates the impact of individualist values on personal attitudes towards government intervention, as a potential link of culture and formal institutions. We consider two key components of an "individualistic culture" to be particularly relevant for attitude formation, namely values related to self-direction and self-determination. Results indicate that both elements of individualistic values are associated negatively with interventionist preferences. Interestingly, effects of self-direction values on intervention attitudes are much weaker though, than the effects of a strong belief in self-determination. Moreover, the effects of self-direction on intervention preferences are mitigated through higher trust in state actors and lower confidence in major companies, while that does not appear to be the case for self-determination values.
individualism self-direction self-determination government intervention institutional trust preference formation