This article studies the degree of individualism and factors affecting it in the students of Ferdowsi University of Mashhad in 2006. To analyze the individualism, we made use of the sociological views of Max Weber, Durkheim, Habermas, Simmel, Merton and Mead. The research method in this study is survey and the data were collected through standard questionnaires. To analyze the data, we used bivariate regression analysis, multivariate regression analysis and the analysis of variance in accordance with research hypotheses. The sample consisted of 300 subjects selected through cluster, multistage, random, disproportionate stratified sampling and by means of Cochran’s formula from a population of 18152 students of Ferdowsi University of Mashhad. The results indicated an average individualism score of 3.4 out of 5, which is an upper-medium individualism score. The bivariate analysis showed that sex, permanent place of residence, role set, personal privacy, social relations system, traditionalism, social class and field of study affect the degree of individualism. Such variables as role set, personal privacy and social relations system had positive effect and traditionalism had negative effect. Masculine gender and residence in city had positive effect on the degree of individualism. Those who study theology or psychology showed lower individualism. bivariate analysis and path analysis indicated that the independent variable personal privacy (0.364) traditionalism (-0.289), sex (masculine 0.103), permanent place of residence (in city 0.122) role set (0.181) and fields of study (theology 0.146, psychology -0.127) appeared to affect the variable of individualism. The items of the individualism variable were formerly considered as three factors (independence, personal goals and competition). The results of the factor analysis also clustered the items in three factors.
Key words: individualism, traditionalism, role set, individual privacy, social relations system