Difference makers

Kevin Lewis

April 06, 2017

"Going Out" of the Box: Close Intercultural Friendships and Romantic Relationships Spark Creativity, Workplace Innovation, and Entrepreneurship
Jackson Lu et al.
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

The present research investigates whether close intercultural relationships promote creativity, workplace innovation, and entrepreneurship - outcomes vital to individual and organizational success. We triangulate on these questions with multiple methods (longitudinal, experimental, and field studies), diverse population samples (MBA students, employees, and professional repatriates), and both laboratory and real-world measures. Using a longitudinal design over a 10-month MBA program, Study 1 found that intercultural dating predicted improved creative performance on both divergent and convergent thinking tasks. Using an experimental design, Study 2 established the causal connection between intercultural dating and creativity: Among participants who had previously had both intercultural and intracultural dating experiences, those who reflected on an intercultural dating experience displayed higher creativity compared to those who reflected on an intracultural dating experience. Importantly, cultural learning mediated this effect. Extending the first 2 studies, Study 3 revealed that the duration of past intercultural romantic relationships positively predicted the ability of current employees to generate creative names for marketing products, but the number of past intercultural romantic partners did not. In Study 4, we analyzed an original dataset of 2,226 professional repatriates from 96 countries who had previously worked in the U.S. under J-1 visas: Participants' frequency of contact with American friends since returning to their home countries positively predicted their workplace innovation and likelihood of becoming entrepreneurs. Going out with a close friend or romantic partner from a foreign culture can help people "go out" of the box and into a creative frame of mind.

Language Shapes People's Time Perspective and Support for Future-Oriented Policies
Efrén Pérez & Margit Tavits
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Can the way we speak affect the way we perceive time and think about politics? Languages vary by how much they require speakers to grammatically encode temporal differences. Futureless tongues (e.g., Estonian) do not oblige speakers to distinguish between the present and future tense, whereas futured tongues do (e.g., Russian). By grammatically conflating "today" and "tomorrow," we hypothesize that speakers of futureless tongues will view the future as temporally closer to the present, causing them to discount the future less and support future-oriented policies more. Using an original survey experiment that randomly assigned the interview language to Estonian/Russian bilinguals, we find support for this proposition and document the absence of this language effect when a policy has no obvious time referent. We then replicate and extend our principal result through a cross-national analysis of survey data. Our results imply that language may have significant consequences for mass opinion.

Relational mobility and close relationships: A socioecological approach to explain cross-cultural differences
Mie Kito, Masaki Yuki & Robert Thomson
Personal Relationships, March 2017, Pages 114-130

This article reviews how behaviors and psychological tendencies in close relationships differ between cultures, and proposes a socioecological framework to understand those differences. Our review of the literature finds that paradoxically, people in individualistic cultures are more actively engaged in close relationships (e.g., higher levels of social support, self-disclosure, intimacy, and love) than those in collectivistic cultures. From an adaptationist perspective, we argue that one reason for these differences is higher levels of relational mobility in individualistic cultures. In societies with high relational mobility, where relationships are relatively more fragile, more active engagement in close relationships helps individuals to impress potential, and retain current, partners. We emphasize the importance of examining socioecologies to better understand close relationships.

The Impact of Culture and Identity on Emotional Reactions to Insults
Angela Maitner et al.
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

People from honor cultures show heightened emotional responses to insults to their social image. The current research investigates whether people from honor cultures also show heightened protection of social identities. We find that honor concerns may be embedded in some social identities but not others, and that those identities associated with honor concerns are defended more than identities not associated with honor. Three experiments investigated participants' emotional responses to insults to their ethnic or student identity. Results showed that compared with dignity culture (British) participants, participants from an honor culture (Arab) reported stronger anger responses both across and within cultures when their Arab identity, an identity explicitly linked to honor concerns, was insulted. In contrast, responses did not differ between dignity (American) and honor (Arab) cultures when participants received an insult to their student identity, a non-honor-oriented identity. These findings suggest that overarching cultural values are not applied to all identities, and therefore, that cultural variables influence psychological outcomes differently for different identities.

A bio-cultural approach to the study of food choice: The contribution of taste genetics, population and culture
Davide Risso et al.
Appetite, forthcoming

The study of food choice, one of the most complex human traits, requires an integrated approach that takes into account environmental, socio-cultural and biological diversity. We recruited 183 volunteers from four geo-linguistic groups and highly diversified in terms of both genetic background and food habits from whom we collected genotypes and phenotypes tightly linked to taste perception. We confirmed previous genetic associations, in particular with stevioside perception, and noted significant differences in food consumption: in particular, broccoli, mustard and beer consumption scores were significantly higher (Adjusted P = 0.02, Adjusted P < 0.0001 and Adjusted P = 0.01, respectively) in North Europeans, when compared to the other groups. Licorice and Parmesan cheese showed lower consumption and liking scores in the Sri Lankan group (Adjusted P = 0.001 and Adjusted P < 0.001, respectively). We also highlighted how rs860170 (TAS2R16) strongly differentiated populations and was associated to salicin bitterness perception. Identifying genetic variants on chemosensory receptors that vary across populations and show associations with taste perception and food habits represents a step towards a better comprehension of this complex trait, aimed at improving the individual health status. This is the first study that concurrently explores the contribution of genetics, population diversity and cultural aspects in taste perception and food consumption.

Implications of 43 Years of Sociodemographic Change in Mexico for the Socialization of Achievement Behavior: Two Quasi-Experiments
Camilo Garcia et al.
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

In this article, we explore theory-driven hypotheses linking ecological change with changing patterns of socialization. These studies are part of a larger project begun by Garcia in 2004; it aims to assess the effects of social change on Millard Madsen's experimental findings concerning social behavior and socialization strategies in different regions of Mexico in the 1960s and 1970s. The present two studies apply Greenfield's theory of social change and human development to maternal socialization in San Vicente, Baja California, Mexico. As San Vicente's population, commercial activity, modern technology, and connections (through immigration and television) to the United States grew, maternal socialization shifted. Mothers' behavior as their children played two beanbag games developed by Madsen and Kagan revealed that, over a 43-year period, San Vicente mothers became less giving while augmenting their use of achievement-promoting behavior in several ways: In Study 1, mothers in 1972 were more generous in giving their children rewards, compared with mothers in 2015; the 2015 mothers had also become more selective in preferentially rewarding children's successes rather than failures. In Study 2, mothers in 2015 set higher goals for their children than did mothers 43 years earlier.

When No Bad Deed Goes Punished: Relational Contracting in Ghana versus the UK
Elwyn Davies & Marcel Fafchamps
NBER Working Paper, February 2017

In relational contracting the threat of punishment in future periods provides an incentive not to cheat. But to what extent do people actually carry out this punishment? We compare relational contracting patterns in Ghana and the United Kingdom by conducting a repeated principal agent lab experiment, framed in a labour market setting. Each period, employers make offers to workers, who can choose to accept or reject this offer and, after accepting and being paid, what effort to exert. The employers and workers interact repeatedly over several periods. In the UK, subjects behave in line with theoretical predictions and previous experiments: high effort is rewarded and low effort punished. However, we do not find evidence for the use of such incentives in Ghana. As a result, employers fail to discipline a subgroup of "selfish" workers, resulting in a low average effort and low employers' earnings. Set identification of Fehr-Schmidt preferences of the Ghanaian and British workers also shows that the share of "selfish" workers in our experiment in Ghana is not substantially different from the UK. Introducing competition for workers or a reputation mechanism do not significantly improve workers' effort.

Cross-cultural regularities in the cognitive architecture of pride
Daniel Sznycer et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 21 February 2017, Pages 1874-1879

Pride occurs in every known culture, appears early in development, is reliably triggered by achievements and formidability, and causes a characteristic display that is recognized everywhere. Here, we evaluate the theory that pride evolved to guide decisions relevant to pursuing actions that enhance valuation and respect for a person in the minds of others. By hypothesis, pride is a neurocomputational program tailored by selection to orchestrate cognition and behavior in the service of: (i) motivating the cost-effective pursuit of courses of action that would increase others' valuations and respect of the individual, (ii) motivating the advertisement of acts or characteristics whose recognition by others would lead them to enhance their evaluations of the individual, and (iii) mobilizing the individual to take advantage of the resulting enhanced social landscape. To modulate how much to invest in actions that might lead to enhanced evaluations by others, the pride system must forecast the magnitude of the evaluations the action would evoke in the audience and calibrate its activation proportionally. We tested this prediction in 16 countries across 4 continents (n = 2,085), for 25 acts and traits. As predicted, the pride intensity for a given act or trait closely tracks the valuations of audiences, local (mean r = +0.82) and foreign (mean r = +0.75). This relationship is specific to pride and does not generalize to other positive emotions that coactivate with pride but lack its audience-recalibrating function.

The Fish is the Friend of Matriliny: Reef Density and Matrilineal Inheritance
Ariel BenYishay, Pauline Grosjean & Joe Vecci
Journal of Development Economics, forthcoming

This paper studies the influence of marine ecology on social institutions of inheritance and descent. In a sample of 79 small-scale horticultural fishing communities in the Solomon Islands, and in samples of 186 to 1,265 societies across the world, we find that coral reef density systematically predicts the prevalence of matrilineal inheritance. Moreover, this result likely reflects adaptation of institutions to ecological conditions, as it holds within ethno-linguistic groups. Reef density explains as much as 10% of the variation in inheritance rules across villages in the Solomon Islands. Explanations based on the sexual division of labor and on inclusive fitness arguments support our results. We also document some of the demographic consequences of matrilineal inheritance, including smaller household and village population size, but find at best weak evidence that matrilineal inheritance translates into higher female economic or political agency.

Disentangling the Effects of Gratitude and Optimism: A Cross-Cultural Investigation
Liudmila Titova, Audrey Wagstaff & Acacia Parks
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Previous research finds cultural differences in response to activities designed to increase happiness, or Positive Psychological Intervention (PPIs). The goal of the present study is to explore why different cultural groups respond differently to PPIs. Specifically, we examined responsiveness to PPIs in three cultural groups-Anglo-American, Asian American, and Indian (living in India)-both quantitatively and qualitatively. Participants (n = 469) were recruited and participated in the study via Amazon Mechanical Turk and were randomly assigned to a 15-min writing task focused on gratitude, optimism, or daily activities (control). As expected, we observed a culture by condition interaction whereby Anglo-Americans experienced increases in positive emotion with both gratitude and optimism tasks, but Indian participants experienced increases in both positive emotion and negative emotion when practicing gratitude, but not optimism. Qualitative analyses revealed possible causes for variability in success of PPIs in different cultures, and suggest possible adjustments that could be made to improve their efficacy. In summary, we observed differences in response to gratitude, but not optimism, which may be fueled by an adverse affective response among non-Anglo-American participants-Gratitude makes them feel good, but also sad and guilty.

The Patriarchy Index: A New Measure of Gender and Generational Inequalities in the Past
Mikołaj Szołtysek et al.
Cross-Cultural Research, forthcoming

This article presents a new measure of family-driven age- and gender-related inequalities. This composite measure, which we call the Patriarchy Index, combines a range of variables related to familial behavior that reflect varying degrees of sex- and age-related social inequality across different family settings. We demonstrate the comparative advantages of the index by showing how 266 historical populations from the Atlantic coast of Europe to Moscow scored on the patriarchy scale. We then compare the index with contemporary measures of gender discrimination, and find a strong correlation between historical and current inequality patterns. Finally, we explore how variation in patriarchy levels across Europe is related to the socioeconomic and institutional characteristics of the regional populations, and to variation across these regions in their degree of demographic centrality and environmental conditions. The results confirm previous findings that family organization is a crucial generator of social inequality, and point to the importance of considering the historical context when analyzing the current global contours of inequality.

How do the Romans feel when visitors 'do as the Romans do'? Diversity ideologies and trust in evaluations of cultural accommodation
Jaee Cho, Michael Morris & Benjamin Dow
Academy of Management Discoveries, forthcoming

Past research finds foreign visitors who accommodate their behavior to local norms to a moderate degree are appreciated more than those who accommodate little, but more extreme accommodation does not always evoke positive evaluations. To understand why high accommodation is appreciated more in some contexts than others, we investigate the role of diversity ideologies, proposing that differing responses follow from multiculturalism (that cultural traditions are unique, separate legacies) versus polyculturalism (that cultures are interacting systems which contribute to each other). In two studies, U.S. participants evaluated a visiting Chinese businessman whose degree of cultural accommodation varied across conditions. In Study 1, participants' endorsement of multiculturalism was associated with more critical evaluations of high accommodation, whereas their endorsement of polyculturalism was associated with positive evaluations of all levels of accommodation. In Study 2, we manipulated the salience of these two diversity ideologies. Compared to multiculturalism, polyculturalism increased positive evaluations of high accommodation but not moderate accommodation. Furthermore, the effect on high accommodation was mediated, as expected, by trust-related judgments. We discuss implications of these findings for the literatures on cultural accommodation, diversity ideologies, and trust.

Emotions are understood from biological motion across remote cultures
Carolyn Parkinson et al.
Emotion, April 2017, Pages 459-477

Patterns of bodily movement can be used to signal a wide variety of information, including emotional states. Are these signals reliant on culturally learned cues or are they intelligible across individuals lacking exposure to a common culture? To find out, we traveled to a remote Kreung village in Ratanakiri, Cambodia. First, we recorded Kreung portrayals of 5 emotions through bodily movement. These videos were later shown to American participants, who matched the videos with appropriate emotional labels with above chance accuracy (Study 1). The Kreung also viewed Western point-light displays of emotions. After each display, they were asked to either freely describe what was being expressed (Study 2) or choose from 5 predetermined response options (Study 3). Across these studies, Kreung participants recognized Western point-light displays of anger, fear, happiness, sadness, and pride with above chance accuracy. Kreung raters were not above chance in deciphering an American point-light display depicting love, suggesting that recognizing love may rely, at least in part, on culturally specific cues or modalities other than bodily movement. In addition, multidimensional scaling of the patterns of nonverbal behavior associated with each emotion in each culture suggested that similar patterns of nonverbal behavior are used to convey the same emotions across cultures. The considerable cross-cultural intelligibility observed across these studies suggests that the communication of emotion through movement is largely shaped by aspects of physiology and the environment shared by all humans, irrespective of differences in cultural context.


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