Culturally grounded

Kevin Lewis

March 27, 2012

Parasite-stress promotes in-group assortative sociality: The cases of strong family ties and heightened religiosity

Corey Fincher & Randy Thornhill
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, April 2012, Pages 61-79

Throughout the world people differ in the magnitude with which they value strong family ties or heightened religiosity. We propose that this cross-cultural variation is a result of a contingent psychological adaptation that facilitates in-group assortative sociality in the face of high levels of parasite-stress while devaluing in-group assortative sociality in areas with low levels of parasite-stress. This is because in-group assortative sociality is more important for the avoidance of infection from novel parasites and for the management of infection in regions with high levels of parasite-stress compared with regions of low infectious disease stress. We examined this hypothesis by testing the predictions that there would be a positive association between parasite-stress and strength of family ties or religiosity. We conducted this study by comparing among nations and among states in the United States of America. We found for both the international and the interstate analyses that in-group assortative sociality was positively associated with parasite-stress. This was true when controlling for potentially confounding factors such as human freedom and economic development. The findings support the parasite-stress theory of sociality, that is, the proposal that parasite-stress is central to the evolution of social life in humans and other animals.


Do Economic Equality and Generalized Trust Inhibit Academic Dishonesty? Evidence From State-Level Search-Engine Queries

Lukas Neville
Psychological Science, forthcoming

What effect does economic inequality have on academic integrity? Using data from search-engine queries made between 2003 and 2011 on Google and state-level measures of income inequality and generalized trust, I found that academically dishonest searches (queries seeking term-paper mills and help with cheating) were more likely to come from states with higher income inequality and lower levels of generalized trust. These relations persisted even when controlling for contextual variables, such as average income and the number of colleges per capita. The relation between income inequality and academic dishonesty was fully mediated by generalized trust. When there is higher economic inequality, people are less likely to view one another as trustworthy. This lower generalized trust, in turn, is associated with a greater prevalence of academic dishonesty. These results might explain previous findings on the effectiveness of honor codes.


Social Class Predicts Generalized Trust But Only in Wealthy Societies

Takeshi Hamamura
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, April 2012, Pages 498-509

This research examined the relationship between social class and generalized trust, or a belief that others have a benign intention in social interactions, in a diverse set of societies represented in the World Values Survey. The strength of the relationship varied significantly across societies: Although social class was a positive predictor of generalized trust in wealthy countries, as reported in past research, among less wealthy countries social class was uncorrelated with trust. These results indicate that resources available to individuals of high social class may make a trusting belief more rewarding; nevertheless, in less wealthy societies, the socio-political-economic infrastructure that supports generalized trust is unavailable, and therefore even individuals of high social class are reluctant to trust others. This finding extends prior theorizing on trust in finding the interactive relationship between an individual-level factor and a society-level factor in shaping individuals' inclination toward trust.


The Correlation between Human Capital and Morality and its Effect on Economic Performance: Theory and Evidence

David Balan & Stephen Knack
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

In this paper we analyze the relationship between the correlation between morality and human capital ("ability") on the one hand and aggregate economic performance on the other. Morality is defined as an aversion to consuming goods obtained through appropriative rather than productive activities. In our empirical analysis we adapt the well-known regression framework of Rodrik, Subramanian and Trebbi (2004), using the World Values Survey as a source of proxies for morality. Using our preferred proxy, we find evidence that higher within-country correlation between morality and ability, holding constant the levels of morality and ability, increases per-capita income levels. Under our preferred specification, a one-standard-deviation increase in the correlation between morality and ability raises the log of per-capita income by about one-fourth of a standard deviation, equal to approximately $3600 for the median income country in our sample. Results are robust to correcting for endogeneity and to changes in sample and specification. Results are mixed when we use alternative morality proxies, but the coefficient on the morality-ability correlation is still usually positive and statistically significant. We also develop a simple static general equilibrium model to serve as a possible framework for understanding the empirical results.


Culture and the body: East-west differences in visceral perception

Christine Ma-Kellams, Jim Blascovich & Cade McCall
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, April 2012, Pages 718-728

This research investigated cross-cultural differences in the accuracy of individuals' perceptions of internal visceral states. We conducted 4 studies to test the hypothesis that Asians are less sensitive to internal physiological cues relative to European Americans. Studies 1 and 2 assessed cultural differences in visceral perception via tests of misattributions of arousal: Study 1 involved false heart rate feedback during an emotionally evocative slideshow and examined subsequent self-reported affective changes; Study 2 manipulated apparent physiological arousal and measured its effects on attraction via an immersive virtual environment. Study 3 directly assessed visceral perception using a heartbeat detection task. All 3 studies found Asians to be less viscerally perceptive than European Americans. Study 4 examined one possible cultural mechanism for the observed difference and found evidence for contextual dependency as a mediator of the culture-visceral perception link.


Social Capital, Economic Development, and Homicide: A Cross-National Investigation

Blaine Robbins & David Pettinicchio
Social Indicators Research, February 2012, Pages 519-540

This article draws from an ongoing debate over explanations of homicide. Within this debate, we investigate the pro-social effects of civil society and social capital. Few cross-national studies explore whether elements of social capital either increase or decrease homicide. The cross-national work that does is often characterized by small, homogeneous samples and the use of inappropriate statistical techniques. Replicating elements of Lederman et al.'s (Econ Dev Cult Change 50:509-539, 2002) original study but with wave IV World Values Survey data and negative binomial regression, we find weak support for the beneficial consequences of social capital on homicide. One dimension of social capital, however, does exhibit a significant negative association with homicide rates, net of other influences: social activism. We also fail to support the Durkheimian hypothesis that the negative effect of social capital on homicide is conditional on modernization. We explore the implications of the findings along with avenues for future research.


Personality and place

Garry Gelade
British Journal of Psychology, forthcoming

This paper examines the distribution of national personality dimensions in geographical space. The relationship between geographical location and aggregate personality in a wide range of nations is quantified using spatial autocorrelation, and it is found that the personalities of nations that are geographical neighbours are more similar than those that are far apart. The five factors of both the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and the Big Five Inventory (BFI), all show a significant degree of spatial organization. The personality factors most strongly associated with geographical location are NEO-PI-R extraversion and BFI conscientiousness; both vary with position around the globe about as much as the physical climate. These findings support previous research suggesting associations between aggregate personality and geography, and imply that the sources of variation in national personality are themselves geographically organized.


The Influence of World Societal Forces on Social Tolerance. A Time Comparative Study of Prejudices in 32 Countries

Markus Hadler
Sociological Quarterly, Spring 2012, Pages 211-237

Societal variation in xenophobia, homophobia, and other prejudices is frequently explained by the economic background and political history of different countries. This article expands these explanations by considering the influence of world societal factors on individual attitudes. The empirical analysis is based on survey data collected within the World Value Survey and European Values Study framework between 1989 and 2010. Data are combined to a three-wave cross-sectional design including about 130,000 respondents from 32 countries. Results show that xenophobia and homophobia are influenced by the national political history, societal affluence, and the presence of international organizations. Global forces, however, are of particular importance for homophobia.


Culture, Visual Perspective, and the Effect of Material Success on Perceived Life Quality

Derrick Wirtz & Christie Napa Scollon
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, April 2012, Pages 367-372

Is a life characterized by material success one that will be seen favorably by others? In two studies, we explored the effect of a target person's material success on perceptions of the target's life quality. Participants viewed a survey ostensibly completed by another person - which experimentally varied the target's material success in the form of income - before globally rating the target's life. Study 1 provided a cross-cultural comparison, finding that Singaporeans, but not Americans, rated a target high in material success as having a life of greater quality than a target low in material success. Study 2 investigated the moderating effect of visual perspective among Singaporeans, hypothesizing that adopting another's perspective emphasizes the shared belief that material success is an indicator of life quality. Consistent with this reasoning, participants who adopted a third-person visual perspective rated a target high in material success as having a life of greater quality than a target low in material success, but those who adopted a first-person visual perspective did not rate targets differently based on material success.


The structure of cross-cultural musical diversity

Tom Rzeszutek, Patrick Savage & Steven Brown
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 22 April 2012, Pages 1606-1612

Human cultural traits, such as languages, musics, rituals and material objects, vary widely across cultures. However, the majority of comparative analyses of human cultural diversity focus on between-culture variation without consideration for within-culture variation. In contrast, biological approaches to genetic diversity, such as the analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) framework, partition genetic diversity into both within- and between-population components. We attempt here for the first time to quantify both components of cultural diversity by applying the AMOVA model to music. By employing this approach with 421 traditional songs from 16 Austronesian-speaking populations, we show that the vast majority of musical variability is due to differences within populations rather than differences between. This demonstrates a striking parallel to the structure of genetic diversity in humans. A neighbour-net analysis of pairwise population musical divergence shows a large amount of reticulation, indicating the pervasive occurrence of borrowing and/or convergent evolution of musical features across populations.


Communication Behavior and Relationship Satisfaction Among American and Chinese Newlywed Couples

Hannah Williamson et al.
Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Most research on couple communication patterns comes from North America and Europe and suggests cross-cultural universality in effects, but emerging studies suggest that couple communication takes different forms depending on the cultural context in which it occurs. The current study addressed this discrepancy by comparing the observed social support behaviors of 50 newlywed American couples and 41 newlywed Mainland Chinese couples, first on mean levels of positivity and negativity and second on behavior-satisfaction associations. Consistent with predictions derived from observational work by Tsai and Levenson (1997), Chinese couples were observed displaying significantly more negative behavior than American couples, even after controlling for relationship satisfaction; the 2 groups did not differ in observed positive behaviors. Tests of the moderating role of culture on behavior-satisfaction associations showed that positivity was significantly related to relationship satisfaction only for American husbands, whereas negativity was significantly associated with relationship satisfaction only for Chinese husbands. We speculate that cultural contexts may influence the display and evaluation of behavior in intimate relationships, suggesting the need for caution when generalizing models and associated interventions to non-Western couples.


Motivation and social contexts: A cross-national pilot study of achievement, power, and affiliation motives

Xiaoyan Xu et al.
International Journal of Psychology, March/April 2012, Pages 111-117

Previous research suggests that there is a relationship between social contexts (e.g., economic growth, engagement in wars) and motives within populations. In particular, high achievement motive is associated with subsequent economic growth, which in turn increases power motive. Increased national achievement and power motives have been argued to precede social changes that lead to decreased affiliation motives, and engagement in wars. The present study aimed to examine differences in achievement, power, and affiliation motives between 266 college students in China (a nation with sustained high economic growth) and 255 college students in the USA (a nation with previously strong but now slowing economic growth, and engaged in war). Analysis of personal strivings suggested that Chinese college students showed significantly higher levels of achievement motive than the American college students, but American college students showed significantly higher levels of affiliation motive than Chinese college students. Overall, males exhibited higher achievement motivation than females. No significant interaction effects were found for gender by location for any of the three motives. The findings are discussed in relation to previous research.


The Chinese Classroom Paradox: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Teacher Controlling Behaviors

Ning Zhou, Shui-Fong Lam & Kam Chi Chan
Journal of Educational Psychology, forthcoming

Chinese classrooms present an intriguing paradox to the claim of self-determination theory that autonomy facilitates learning. Chinese teachers appear to be controlling, but Chinese students do not have poor academic performance in international comparisons. The present study addressed this paradox by examining the cultural differences in students' interpretation of teacher controlling behaviors. Affective meanings of teacher controlling behaviors were solicited from 158 Chinese 5th graders and 115 American 5th graders. It was found that the same controlling behaviors of teachers had different affective meanings for different cultural groups (Chinese vs. American) and for groups with different levels of social-emotional relatedness with teachers (high vs. low). Chinese children perceived the behaviors as less controlling than American children and, in turn, reported that they were more motivated in their teachers' class than American children. Regardless of culture, children with high social-emotional relatedness with teachers perceived the behaviors as less controlling than children with low social-emotional relatedness with teachers. It was also found that internalization mediated the relation between social-emotional relatedness and children's learning motivation in both cultures. The findings revealed cultural differences as well as similarities in the psychological process of internalization.


Culture and Stereotype Communication: Are People From Eastern Cultures More Stereotypical in Communication?

Victoria Wai Lan Yeung & Yoshihisa Kashima
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, April 2012, Pages 446-463

This article presents an ecological approach to communication of stereotype-relevant information. We propose that communicating more stereotype-consistent (SC) and less stereotype-inconsistent (SI) information is a default strategy used by Easterners to fulfill their culturally installed goal - namely, to maintain harmonious relationships with others. And communicating informative information (both SC and SI information, and even more SI information) is a default strategy used by Westerners to fulfill their culturally installed goal - namely, to be accurate. When Easterners and Westerners were asked to communicate a firsthand stereotype-relevant story to a purported (Study 1) and a real (Study 2) communication partner without specifying a clear communication goal, they resorted to their cultural default strategy. However, when they were instructed to have a clear communication goal indicating the inappropriateness of the use of the default strategy, their communication pattern changed (Study 3). Results are discussed in terms of societal constraints of individualistic and collectivistic societies.


Socioeconomical and sociopolitical correlates of interpersonal forgiveness: A three-level meta-analysis of the Enright Forgiveness Inventory across 13 societies

Katja Hanke & Ronald Fischer
International Journal of Psychology, forthcoming

We report a meta-analysis on the country-level correlates of the Enright Forgiveness Inventory (EFI), to address (1) whether there are differences in forgiveness between societies, (2) what society-level context variables can account for these differences, and (3) whether conceptual relationships of forgiveness found at the individual level can be replicated at the societal level. We found sizeable differences between societies that are associated with democracy, peacefulness, socioeconomic development, and postmaterialism indices of a society. Replicating individual-level results, subjective wellbeing was positively related to forgiveness. We discuss the importance of macro-level contextual variables for understanding levels of forgiveness.


The impact of culture and gender on sexual motives: Differences between Chinese and North Americans

Nu Tang, Lisamarie Bensman & Elaine Hatfield
International Journal of Intercultural Relations, March 2012, Pages 286-294

Recently, social scientists have begun to investigate the myriad of reasons why young men and women engage in sexual activities. As yet, however, they have not begun to investigate the impact of culture on people's sexual motivations. In this paper, we will address three questions: Does culture have an impact on sexual motives? Does gender have an impact? Do culture and gender interact in shaping sexual motives? In this study, we asked Chinese and North American college students to indicate the extent to which communal and individualistic sexual motives had influenced their decision to participate in sexual activities. As predicted, both culture and gender had an impact on young people's endorsement of various sexual motives. In a few cases the findings were not entirely as we had predicted, however.


Blinded by taboo words in L1 but not L2

Katie Colbeck & Jeffrey Bowers
Emotion, forthcoming

The present study compares the emotionality of English taboo words in native English speakers and native Chinese speakers who learned English as a second language. Neutral and taboo/sexual words were included in a Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) task as to-be-ignored distracters in a short- and long-lag condition. Compared with neutral distracters, taboo/sexual distracters impaired the performance in the short-lag condition only. Of critical note, however, is that the performance of Chinese speakers was less impaired by taboo/sexual distracters. This supports the view that a first language is more emotional than a second language, even when words are processed quickly and automatically.


Influencing and adjusting in daily emotional situations: A comparison of European and Asian American action styles

Michael Boiger et al.
Cognition & Emotion, February 2012, Pages 332-340

Emotions are for action, but action styles in emotional episodes may vary across cultural contexts. Based on culturally different models of agency, we expected that those who engage in European-American contexts will use more influence in emotional situations, while those who engage in East-Asian contexts will use more adjustment. European-American (N=60) and Asian-American (N=44) college students reported their action style during emotional episodes four times a day during a week. Asian Americans adjusted more than European Americans, whereas both used influence to a similar extent. These cultural differences in action style varied across types of emotion experienced. Moreover, influencing was associated with life satisfaction for European Americans, but not for Asian Americans.


Trust in Uzbekistan

Eric Gleave, Blaine Robbins & Beth Kolko
International Political Science Review, March 2012, Pages 209-229

Although trust is a lively area of research, it is rarely investigated in countries outside of commonly available cross-national public-opinion datasets. In an effort to fill this empirical void and to draw conclusions concerning the general determinants of trust, the current article employs detailed survey data from a frequently overlooked Central Asian country, Uzbekistan, to test the relationship between particularized trust and demographic traits previously identified as influential. While a number of Uzbek demographic characteristics coincide with previously identified determinants of trust, age and education yield negative effects not previously found. Interestingly, individual-level demographic variables become insignificant when controlling for regional, religious, and linguistic variation. We conclude with a discussion of the theoretical implications.


Cattle Cults of the Arabian Neolithic and Early Territorial Societies

Joy McCorriston et al.
American Anthropologist, March 2012, Pages 45-63

At the cusp of food production, Near Eastern societies adopted new territorial practices, including archaeologically visible sedentism and nonsedentary social defenses more challenging to identify archaeologically. New archaeological and paleoenvironmental evidence for Arabia's earliest-known sacrifices points to territorial maintenance in arid highland southern Yemen. Here sedentism was not an option prior to agriculture. Seasonally mobile pastoralists developed alternate practices to reify cohesive identities, maintain alliances, and defend territories. Archaeological and paleoenvironmental evidence implies cattle sacrifices were commemorated with a ring of more than 42 cattle skulls and a stone platform buried by 6,400-year-old floodplain sediments. Associated with numerous hearths, these cattle rites suggest feasting by a large gathering, with important sociopolitical ramifications for territories. A GIS analysis of the early Holocene landscape indicates constrained pasturage supporting small resident human populations. Cattle sacrifice in southern Arabia suggests a model of mid-Holocene Neolithic territorial pastoralism under environmental and cultural conditions that made sedentism unsustainable.


Emotion and support perceptions in everyday social interaction: Testing the "less is more" hypothesis in two cultures

Konstantinos Kafetsios & John Nezlek
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, March 2012, Pages 165-184

The study examined emotional experience and perceived social support during naturally occurring social interactions in Greece and Britain. Multilevel analyses found that people in Greece (a more interdependent culture) perceived less support and experienced less positive and more negative affect in social interactions than those in the UK (a more independent culture). Positive relationships between positive affect and perceptions of support were stronger in Greece than in the UK. Global perceptions of social support did not differ between the two samples, and global perceptions were weakly related to perceived support in interaction. The results support the "less is more" hypothesis (Oishi, S., Diener, E., Choi, D. W., Kim-Prieto, C., & Choi, I. (2007). The dynamics of daily events and well-being across cultures: When less is more. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 685-698) concerning cultural differences in social support and distal and proximal antecedents of interaction-level relational processes.


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