Abstract: Analyzing the Relationship of the Subjective Norms and Culture in Family Discussion of Blood Donation: The Case of Russia

◆ Maria Mordvinova, National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow)

Family discussion is an important communication process for studying, which helps to attract new blood donors. Subjective norms are regarded as a set of collectivist rules related to culture. The article considers the features of blood donation discussion between parents and young adults in Russia based on the cultural construct of individualism-collectivism (IC).
The framework of the culture-centered approach and the concept of IC guided the research. It is known that in countries like Russia where collectivism predominates, the role of the family is the highest, and the opinion of parents is of great importance for children. Thus, a research question was posed: «What is the role of subjective norms (perception of a parental attitude) related to blood donation in realm of IC for Russian young adults?»
I carried out 35 semi-structured interviews with students-nondonors of HSE (Moscow, Russia) at the age of 18 to 21 years old. The direct quality content analysis was applied. The attributes of IC were used as a code frame: (a) how individuals perceive themselves, (b) how they relate to others, (c) the goals they follow, (d) what concerns drive their behavior.
As for the first attribute, the young adults mostly perceived themselves as independent of their parents’ opinions (individualism). Meanwhile, collectivism was reflected in the opinions that parents are the only ones with whom they can and should discuss health issues.
Regarding the second attribute, an individualistic position prevailed among students that demonstrated a rational approach to the donation process. Students noted that a discussion within the family is inappropriate if there are no benefit-based reasons for this (no evidence of a need for blood, payment for donation, etc.). Relational and socio-emotional concerns as a common trigger for regular donation was not ubiquitous among the informants. Many of them spoke of a low empathy level and noted the inadequacy of the conditions for feeling compassion, which was caused by impersonality of help recipient.
The third attribute is reflected in the students' discourse about a non-conformist position regarding the decision to become a blood donor. Informants noted that if they wanted to become donors, then they acted agains the will of parents. Meanwhile, there were those who had the goals compatible with the group, which was manifested in the desire to bring a friend along to blood donation.
According to the fourth attribute, the preponderant opinion was that talking with parents was not a necessary condition for making a decision on becoming a blood donor, which was based on their personal attitudes. The influence of norms, and hence collectivism, reflected only the perception of donation by some students as a heroic act.
The research gives understanding of what subjective norms are and the ways in which they are tied with willingness of blood donation of cultural members. The research provided a grounding to planning health communication campaigns and suggest that they should be localized and targeted in accordance with the region and audience, and the established opinion about Russia as a collectivist country is no longer universal.