Kevin Lewis

March 20, 2014

Conspicuous Consumption and Political Regimes: Evidence from East and West Germany

Tim Friehe & Mario Mechtel
European Economic Review, April 2014, Pages 62–81

This paper investigates the influence of political regimes on the relative importance of conspicuous consumption. We use the division of Germany into the communist GDR and the democratic FRG and its reunification in 1990 as a natural experiment. Relying on household data that are representative for Germany, our empirical results strongly indicate that conspicuous consumption is relatively more important in East Germany. Significantly, although we find some convergence, a considerable gap in conspicuous consumption expenditures remains even 18 years after the German reunification.


Observing culture: Differences in U.S.-American and German team meeting behaviors

Nale Lehmann-Willenbrock, Joseph Allen & Annika Meinecke
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, March 2014, Pages 252-271

Although previous research has theorized about team interaction differences between the German and U.S. cultures, actual behavioral observations of such differences are sparse. This study explores team meetings as a context for examining intercultural differences. We analyzed a total of 5,188 meeting behaviors in German and U.S. student teams. All teams discussed the same task to consensus. Results from behavioral process analyses showed that German teams focused significantly more on problem analysis, whereas U.S. teams focused more on solution production. Moreover, U.S. teams showed significantly more positive socioemotional meeting behavior than German teams. Finally, German teams showed significantly more counteractive behavior such as complaining than U.S. teams. We discuss theoretical and pragmatic implications for understanding these observable differences and for improving interaction in intercultural teams.


Exploring the Microfoundations of International Community: Toward a Theory of Enlightened Nationalism

Calvert Jones
International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

This paper challenges conventional wisdom about the drivers of international community at the individual level. Presenting new data and a novel natural experiment approach to the study of cross-border contact and international community, it tests some of the key microfoundations of international relations theory about how a sense of shared international community may arise and evolve among individuals. The hypotheses are tested using survey data from a large sample (n = 571) of American study abroad students in a range of universities across a treatment and a control group. Surprisingly, findings do not support the main hypothesis that cross-border contact fosters a sense of shared international community. However, the second hypothesis drawn from the liberal paradigm, suggesting that cross-border contact lowers threat perceptions, is strongly supported. The “Huntingtonian” hypothesis that cross-border contact heightens nationalism also garners wide support. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications for theory and future research, especially the potential of rethinking the drivers of international community at the individual level to rely less on a sense of shared identity and essential sameness, and more on a feeling of “enlightened nationalism” and appreciation for difference.


Superstition in the Housing Market

Nicole Fortin, Andrew Hill & Jeff Huang
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

We provide the first solid evidence that Chinese superstitious beliefs can have significant effects on house prices in a North American market with a large immigrant population. Using real estate data on close to 117,000 house sales, we find that houses with address number ending in “4” are sold at a 2.2% discount and those ending in “8” are sold at a 2.5% premium in comparison to houses with other addresses. These price effects are found either in neighborhoods with a higher than average percentage of Chinese residents, consistent with cultural preferences, or in repeated transactions, consistent with speculative behavior.


Cross-Cultural Differences in Categorical Memory Errors

Aliza Schwartz, Aysecan Boduroglu & Angela Gutchess
Cognitive Science, forthcoming

Cultural differences occur in the use of categories to aid accurate recall of information. This study investigated whether culture also contributed to false (erroneous) memories, and extended cross-cultural memory research to Turkish culture, which is shaped by Eastern and Western influences. Americans and Turks viewed word pairs, half of which were categorically related and half unrelated. Participants then attempted to recall the second word from the pair in response to the first word cue. Responses were coded as correct, as blanks, or as different types of errors. Americans committed more categorical errors than did Turks, and Turks mistakenly recalled more non-categorically related list words than did Americans. These results support the idea that Americans use categories either to organize information in memory or to support retrieval strategies to a greater extent than Turks and suggest that culture shapes not only accurate recall but also erroneous distortions of memory.


Richer in Money, Poorer in Relationships and Unhappy? Time Series Comparisons of Social Capital and Well-Being in Luxembourg

Francesco Sarracino
Social Indicators Research, January 2014, Pages 561-622

The worrying decline of social capital (Putnam in Bowling alone: the collapse and revival of American community. Simon and Schuster, New York, 2000) and the disappointing trends of subjective well-being characterising the US (Easterlin in Nations and households in economic growth. Academic Press, New York, 1974; Easterlin and Angelescu in Happiness and growth the world over: time series evidence on the happiness-income paradox, 2009; Easterlin et al. in Proc Natl Acad Sci 107:22463–22468, 2010) raise urgent questions for modern societies: is the erosion of social capital a feature of the more developed and richer countries or is it rather a characteristic aspect of the American society? To test the hypothesis that the erosion of social capital and declining well-being are not a common feature of richer countries, present work focuses on Luxembourg. The main results are: (1) the erosion of social capital is not a legacy of the richest countries in the world; (2) between 1999 and 2008, people in Luxembourg experienced a substantial increase in almost every proxy of social capital; (3) both endowments and trends of social capital and subjective well-being differ significantly within the population. Migrants participate less in social relationships and report lower levels of well-being; (4) the positive relationship between trends of subjective well-being and social capital found in previous literature is confirmed.


The Country's Crime Rate Moderates the Relation Between Authoritarian Predispositions and the Manifestations of Authoritarianism: A Multilevel, Multinational Study

Michele Roccato, Alessio Vieno & Silvia Russo
European Journal of Personality, January/February 2014, Pages 14–24

We performed a multilevel, multinational test of Stenner's model on authoritarianism using the 2008 European Values Survey dataset (N = 55 199, nested in 38 nations). We focussed on the effects exerted on four authoritarian manifestations (racial intolerance, political intolerance, negative attitudes towards immigrants, and moral intolerance) by the cross-level interaction between participants' authoritarian predispositions (assessed in terms of childrearing values) and their country's crime rate. Associations between authoritarian predispositions and racial intolerance, political intolerance, negative attitudes towards immigrants, and moral intolerance were significantly stronger among participants living in countries characterised by high crime rates than those among participants living in countries with low crime rates. Limitations, implications, and future directions of this study are discussed.


Cultural differences in responses to real-life and hypothetical trolley problems

Natalie Gold, Andrew Colman & Briony Pulford
Judgment and Decision Making, January 2014, Pages 65–76

Trolley problems have been used in the development of moral theory and the psychological study of moral judgments and behavior. Most of this research has focused on people from the West, with implicit assumptions that moral intuitions should generalize and that moral psychology is universal. However, cultural differences may be associated with differences in moral judgments and behavior. We operationalized a trolley problem in the laboratory, with economic incentives and real-life consequences, and compared British and Chinese samples on moral behavior and judgment. We found that Chinese participants were less willing to sacrifice one person to save five others, and less likely to consider such an action to be right. In a second study using three scenarios, including the standard scenario where lives are threatened by an on-coming train, fewer Chinese than British participants were willing to take action and sacrifice one to save five, and this cultural difference was more pronounced when the consequences were less severe than death.


Culture and the Role of Exchange vs. Communal Norms in Friendship

Joan Miller et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

We conducted three studies among European-American and Hindu Indian populations examining cultural differences in the norms underlying social support in friend relationships. Study 1 investigated the role of communal norms as compared with reciprocal exchange in real life helping interactions among friends; Study 2 compared respondents’ evaluations of contrasting modes of reciprocating help; while Study 3 experimentally tested whether reciprocation reduces readiness to respond to future need. We found that Indians give greater emphasis to communal norms in friend relationships than do Americans, with this effect unrelated to socioeconomic status; and that Americans place greater emphasis on reciprocal exchange, a relaxed form of exchange that is compatible with close interpersonal ties. Our results point to cultural variation in the strength of communal relationships and imply that reciprocal exchange assumes a more prominent role in close relationships than has been previously observed in the communal/exchange tradition.


Character strengths in 75 nations: An update

Robert McGrath
Journal of Positive Psychology, forthcoming

This study represents an extension of Park, Peterson, and Seligman, who found substantial convergence across 54 nations and all 50 US states in the self-report of character strengths. Though their overall sample was substantial, some countries were represented by as few as 20 cases. The present study updates their work, using a sample of 1,063,921 adults who completed the Values in Action Inventory-Inventory of Strengths online between 2002 and 2012. The results for 75 nations each represented by at least 150 respondents suggest substantial cross-cultural similarity in endorsement of the strengths. The most highly endorsed character strengths were Honesty, Fairness, Kindness, Judgment, and Curiosity, while the least endorsed were Self-Regulation, Modesty, Prudence, and Spirituality. Though the participants probably represent a biased sample for many of the countries examined in the study, these results suggest grounds exist for cross-cultural dialog on how to advance the development of good character.


An economic–genetic theory of corporate corruption across cultures: An interactive effect of wealth and the 5HTTLPR-SS/SL frequency on corporate corruption mediated by cultural endorsement of self-protective leadership

Dejun Tony Kong
Personality and Individual Differences, June 2014, Pages 106–111

Corruption research largely rests on institutional and economic theories. Biological, psychological, and anthropological theories and research can provide unique insights on corporate corruption. Following the emerging perspective of gene–environment interaction in cross-cultural research, the current research presents an economic–genetic theory of corporate corruption across cultures. By examining 30 societies, I found a positive interactive effect of wealth and the 5HTTLPR-SS/SL frequency on corporate corruption mediated by cultural endorsement of self-protective leadership (CESPL). Additionally, the 5HTTLPR-SS/SL frequency moderated the positive effect of CESPL on corporate corruption and CESPL mediated the wealth effect on corporate corruption in societies with low 5HTTLPR-SS/SL frequencies. These findings shed novel light on research on corporate corruption and cross-cultural leadership.


Shared Burdens, Personal Costs on the Emotional and Social Consequences of Family Honor

Patricia Rodriguez Mosquera, Leslie Tan & Faisal Saleem
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, April 2014, Pages 400-416

We present two studies on the consequences of threats to family honor. In Study 1, 99 Pakistanis (67 females, 30 males, 2 undisclosed) and 134 European-Americans (65 females, 69 males) reported a recent insult to their family where the offender was either a family or a non-family member. The insults targeted the family as collective or individual family members other than parents. Across targets, insults to one’s family had more negative emotional (e.g., more intense anger, shame) and social (greater relationship strain) consequences for Pakistanis than for European-Americans. Study 2 examined whether these effects extend to insults to parents. Fifty-one Pakistanis (29 females, 22 males) and 58 European-Americans (30 females, 28 males) responded to an insult-to-parents or an insult-to-self scenario. Insults-to-parents and insults-to-self elicited similar emotional responses among Pakistanis. By contrast, European-Americans responded more negatively (e.g., more intense anger) to an insult-to-self than to an insult-to-parents.


Cultural Relativity in Perceiving Emotion From Vocalizations

Maria Gendron et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

A central question in the study of human behavior is whether certain emotions, such as anger, fear, and sadness, are recognized in nonverbal cues across cultures. We predicted and found that in a concept-free experimental task, participants from an isolated cultural context (the Himba ethnic group from northwestern Namibia) did not freely label Western vocalizations with expected emotion terms. Responses indicate that Himba participants perceived more basic affective properties of valence (positivity or negativity) and to some extent arousal (high or low activation). In a second, concept-embedded task, we manipulated whether the target and foil on a given trial matched in both valence and arousal, neither valence nor arousal, valence only, or arousal only. Himba participants achieved above-chance accuracy only when foils differed from targets in valence only. Our results indicate that the voice can reliably convey affective meaning across cultures, but that perceptions of emotion from the voice are culturally variable.


No one likes a copycat: A cross-cultural investigation of children’s response to plagiarism

F. Yang et al.
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, May 2014, Pages 111–119

Copying other people’s ideas is evaluated negatively by American children and adults. The current study investigated the influence of culture on children’s evaluations of plagiarism by comparing children from three countries — the United States, Mexico, and China — that differ in terms of their emphasis on the protection of intellectual property and ideas. Children (3- to 6-year-olds) were presented with videos involving two characters drawing pictures and were asked to evaluate the character who drew unique work or the character who copied someone else’s drawing. The study showed that 5- and 6-year-olds from all three cultures evaluated copiers negatively compared with unique drawers. These results suggest that children from cultures that place different values on the protection of ideas nevertheless develop similar concerns with plagiarism by 5-year-olds.


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