Ubuntu is an African humanist philosophy described by the Nguni aphorism “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” which translates as a person is a person through other people. While Ubuntu has been a domain of extensive scholarly research, to date almost all of this work has been philosophical or conceptual; by contrast, there is a dearth of empirical research examining the nature of Ubuntu. Scholars provide indicator values, namely descriptive abstract nouns, of Ubuntu with no consistency in how the indicator values were derived because the concept lacks a clear definition. The challenges arising from the lack of a clear definition of Ubuntu can be attributed to the fact that there is no empirical research that has been conducted to develop a reliable and valid measure of Ubuntu.
This research operationalised Ubuntu by developing a psychometrically reliable and valid scale for measuring Ubuntu. The research established the underlying dimensions of Ubuntu. This thesis develops and validates a scale to measure Ubuntu using a mixed-methods, multiple study approach. First, a literature review identifies 82 indicator values of Ubuntu. Next, using focus groups, depth interviews, and q-sorting, three nascent components of Ubuntu emerge: humanness, interconnectedness, and compassion. Finally, across three quantitative studies, the scale is purified to seventeen items which exhibit a three-factor structure that is psychometrically reliable and valid. The Ubuntu scale has discriminant validity relative to a collectivism scale and demonstrates predictive validity in terms of charitable and altruistic behaviours.
This study contributes towards the development of theory through conceptualisation of Ubuntu. The current study utilised large sample sizes to replicate the factor structure, reliability, and construct validity of the measure including nomological validity assessment and measurement invariance.