Westernization of self-perception in modern affluent Indonesian school children





self-perception, social status, westernization, cultural dependence



Subjective Social Status is used as an important predictor for psychological and physiological findings, most commonly measured with the MacArthur Scale (Ladder Test).  Previous studies have shown that this test fits better in Western cultures. The idea of a social ladder itself and ranking oneself “higher” or “lower” is a concept that accords to the Western thinking.


We hypothesize that in a culture where only the elites have adapted to a Western lifestyle, the test results reflect a higher level of accuracy for this stratum. We also expect that self-perception differs per sex.

Sample and Methods

We implemented the Ladder Test in a study of Indonesian schoolchildren aged between 5 and 13 years (boys N = 369, girls N= 364) from non-private and private schools in Kupang in 2020. 


Our analysis showed that the Ladder Test results were according to the Western expectations only for the private school, as the Ladder Scores significantly decreased with age (LM: p = 0.04). The Ladder Test results are best explained by “Education Father” for the non-private school pupils (p = 0.01) and all boys (p = 0.04), by “School Grades” for the private school cohort (p = 0.06) and by “Household Score” for girls (p =0.09).


This finding indicates that the concept of ranking oneself “high” or “low” on a social ladder is strongly implicated with Western ideas.  A ladder implies social movement by “climbing” up or down.  According to that, reflection of self-perception is influenced by culture.


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How to Cite

Boeker, S., Hermanussen, M., & Scheffler, C. (2021). Westernization of self-perception in modern affluent Indonesian school children. Human Biology and Public Health, 1. https://doi.org/10.52905/hbph.v1.4