Need for Achievement and Related Variables in the Brahmin and Vaisha Castes of India

Frankel, Marvin

     This study is an application of McClelland's hypothesis that certain early child-rearing practices (independence training), typically associated with the Protestant Ethic, will produce individuals with a high need for achievement that will ultimately be reflected in risk-taking behavior and entrepreneurial activity. While McClelland has demonstrated a significant relationship between early independence training, high need achievement (n Ach), moderate risk-taking and entrepreneurial activity in a Western culture (the United States), it is important to duplicate such findings with a non-Western population to see if they can form the basis for a generalized psychological theory of economic growth . . . . The specific aims of this study are threefold: (1) to explore the relationship between child-rearing practices, high need achievement and risk-taking behavior in a traditional non-Western society (rural India); (2) to study the impact of modernization (defined in terms of urbanization, literacy, industrialization and the extension of the mass media), upon the need for achievement of traditional (caste) groups in India; (3) to explore the possibility that in a well-defined and hierarchically organized social system, such as India's, the impact of Western values will be differentially experienced according to the motivational structure and early socialization experience of particular caste groups.
     The hypotheses tested in this study are that (1) the independence training of Vaisha parents will be stressed earlier than those of Brahmin parents with respect to the variables demonstrated to influence n Ach by Winterbottom . . . ; (2) Vaisha children between the ages of five and nine in both urban and rural areas will show higher n Ach scores than Brahmin children of the same age . . . ; (3) in urban areas, because industrialization and Western values have made their greatest impact, differences in n Ach will be smaller between Brahmin and Vaisha children than in rural areas; (4) in urban areas, differences in n Ach between Brahmin and Vaisha children will grow smaller with age, because of the greater opportunity for Western values to affect both groups similarly over time. . . . ; (5) differences in n Ach will diminish and perhaps be indistinguishable between Vaisha and Brahmin children studying in English-type schools of the Western tradition.
     Used in this study were four groups constituted of Brahmin and Vaisha subjects randomly selected . . . from six schools in the town of Shamli, in Uttar Pradesh State, some sixty miles north of New Delhi. Four additional groups were selected from the Sardar Patel school in New Delhi, a Hindi-medium school; and two from the English-medium St. Columbus School, also in New Delhi.