Kevin Lewis

August 28, 2018

Heterogeneity of long-history migration predicts smiling, laughter and positive emotion across the globe and within the United States
Paula Niedenthal et al.
PLoS ONE, August 2018 


Recent findings demonstrate that heterogeneity of long-history migration predicts present-day emotion behaviors and norms. Residents of countries characterized by high ancestral diversity display emotion expressions that are easier to decode by observers, endorse norms of higher emotion expressivity, and smile more in response to certain stimuli than residents of countries that lack ancestral diversity. We build on the extant findings and investigate historical heterogeneity as a predictor of daily smiling, laughter, and positive emotion across the world’s countries and the states of the United States. Study 1 finds that historical heterogeneity is positively associated with self-reports of smiling, laughter, and positive emotions in the Gallup World Poll when controlling for GDP and present-day population diversity. Study 2 extends the findings to effects of long-history migration within the United States. We estimated the average percentage of foreign-born citizens in each state between 1850 and 2010 based on US Census information as an indicator of historical heterogeneity. Consistent with the world findings of Study 1, historical heterogeneity predicted smiling, laughter, and positive, but not negative, emotion. The relationships remained significant when controlling for per capita income and present-day population diversity of each state. Together, the findings further demonstrate the important role of long-history migration in shaping emotion cultures of countries and states, which persist beyond the original socio-ecological conditions, and open promising avenues for cross-cultural research.

Cultural Differences in “Saving the Best for Last”
Abby Yip & Corinna Löckenhoff
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming


We examined cross-cultural differences in preferences for sequences of realistic stimuli. Prior research on predominantly European American (EA) samples has found that people typically show a preference for improving sequences (i.e., saving the most positive or least intense stimuli for last). Based on cultural differences in ideal affect, regulatory focus, and dialecticism, we predicted that East Asians/East Asian Americans (AA) would prefer more balanced sequences, and intersperse stimuli of different intensities. EA and AA students (n = 170) were asked to select the order in which they wanted to experience a series of realistic stimuli (emotional pictures, aversive sounds, and physical effort) over the course of a short time interval. Compared with AAs, EAs showed a stronger preference for improving sequences and were more likely to group similar stimuli together. As hypothesized, sequence preferences were associated with affective goals, but we only found this effect among AAs and not among EAs. Regulatory focus and dialecticism were not associated with sequence preferences. Further research is required to examine the mechanisms behind cultural differences and their potential implications for time management and other real-life outcomes.

Global Determinants of Navigation Ability
Antoine Coutrot et al.
Current Biology, forthcoming


Human spatial ability is modulated by a number of factors, including age and gender. Although a few studies showed that culture influences cognitive strategies, the interaction between these factors has never been globally assessed as this requires testing millions of people of all ages across many different countries in the world. Since countries vary in their geographical and cultural properties, we predicted that these variations give rise to an organized spatial distribution of cognition at a planetary-wide scale. To test this hypothesis, we developed a mobile-app-based cognitive task, measuring non-verbal spatial navigation ability in more than 2.5 million people and sampling populations in every nation state. We focused on spatial navigation due to its universal requirement across cultures. Using a clustering approach, we find that navigation ability is clustered into five distinct, yet geographically related, groups of countries. Specifically, the economic wealth of a nation was predictive of the average navigation ability of its inhabitants, and gender inequality was predictive of the size of performance difference between males and females. Thus, cognitive abilities, at least for spatial navigation, are clustered according to economic wealth and gender inequalities globally, which has significant implications for cross-cultural studies and multi-center clinical trials using cognitive testing.

Are All Diversity Ideologies Creatively Equal? The Diverging Consequences of Colorblindness, Multiculturalism, and Polyculturalism
Jaee Cho, Carmit Tadmor & Michael Morris
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming


In three studies, we examined how diversity ideologies can differentially affect creativity. Building on past research establishing that embracing foreign ideas contributes to creativity in problem solving, we predicted that diversity ideologies would have consequences for cultural creativity through their differential impact on how people would make use of foreign knowledge. We found that colorblindness (the ethos of disregarding cultural differences) was associated with lower cultural creativity through reduced inclusion of foreign ideas. Polyculturalism (the ethos of fostering intercultural interaction) was associated with higher cultural creativity through greater inclusion of foreign ideas. Finally, we found that classical multiculturalism (the ethos of preserving separate cultural traditions) had no effects on creative problem solving. Results held across different populations of participants (Americans, Israelis), different measures of creativity (flexibility, novelty), and different ways of probing ideologies (individual differences, experimental priming). These results indicate that diversity ideologies not only affect how people treat foreign people but also how they treat foreign ideas, with implications for their creativity.

Do Happy Events Love Company? Cultural Variations in Sharing Positive Events With Others
Hyewon Choi et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming


The present study examined cultural differences in the act of sharing positive events with others, called capitalization attempts. The first three studies tested whether capitalization attempts differ between two cultures using multiple methods: self-reports (Study 1), children’s storybooks (Study 2), and Facebook (Study 3). We found that Koreans are less likely to share their positive events with others than European Americans. Study 4 further examined the antecedents and consequences of capitalization attempts. We replicated the earlier findings that Koreans are hesitant to share their positive events and demonstrated that this is because Koreans are more concerned about the potential negative consequences for social relationships. Moreover, we found that the cultural differences in capitalization attempts partly account for mean-level differences in well-being between cultures. Implications for capitalization, culture, and well-being are discussed.

Cultural Values Moderate the Impact of Relative Deprivation
Heather Smith et al.
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming


Relative deprivation (RD) is the judgment that one or one’s ingroup is worse off compared with some relevant standard coupled with feelings of dissatisfaction, anger, and resentment. RD predicts a wide range of outcomes, but it is unclear whether this relationship is moderated by national cultural differences. Therefore, in the first study, we used national assessments of individual-collectivism and power distance to code 303 effect sizes from 31 different countries with 200,578 participants. RD predicted outcomes ranging from life satisfaction to collective action more strongly within individualistic nations. A second survey of 6,112 undergraduate university students from 28 different countries confirmed the predictive value of RD. Again, the relationship between individual RD and different outcomes was stronger for students who lived in more individualistic countries. Group-based RD also predicted political trust more strongly for students who lived in countries marked by lower power distance. RD effects, although consistent predictors, are culturally bounded. In particular, RD is more likely to motivate reactions within individualistic countries that emphasize individual agency and achievement as a source of self-worth.

Coming Out of the Penumbras: World Culture and Cross-National Variation in Divorce Rates
Cheng-Tong Lir Wang & Evan Schofer
Social Forces, forthcoming


This paper extends the comparative literature on divorce by theorizing how international institutions and norms influence societal divorce rates. Drawing on developmental idealism and world society theory, the paper argues that global institutions legitimize cultural principles such as individualism, human rights, and gender equality, which reshape “modern” understandings of marriage and family relations. Formal international institutions and treaties do not explicitly proclaim or codify the right to divorce, but we suggest that new norms regarding divorce emerge from the “penumbras” of world culture and diffuse globally. Panel regression models covering 84 countries between 1970 and 2008 find a strong association between global cultural influence and divorce rates, controlling for other factors. Results highlight the effects of world society on the private lives of individuals, and suggest that world society affects a wider set of outcomes than the conventional literature would predict.

Which is Better in Fat Times and in Lean Times: the Macho Man vs. the Nice Guy? Priming Effects on Polish and Norwegian Students’ Mate Preferences
Natasza Kosakowska-Berezecka & Tomasz Besta
Current Psychology, September 2018, Pages 568–573


Gender stereotypes serve as psychological tools that justify and maintain social inequality and reinforce the widely recognized status quo. Agency and anti-femininity are two widely prescribed qualities for men across cultures, leading them to refrain from engaging in household duties and parental roles (also referred to as communal roles). Several studies have documented backlash against men who engage in communal roles, but little attention has been given to the cultural and contextual cues influencing the perceptions of men who violate gender-norm prescriptions. Our study was conducted in two countries differing with regard to gender equality indices relating to extent to which men are allowed to manifest gender atypical behavior and influencing mate preferences of women. Polish (N = 106) and Norwegian (N = 77) female students were first presented with information which either a) threatened the stability of their country or b) highlighted the prosperity of their country. The participants were then asked to rate their romantic interest in the dating profiles of agentic (gender typical) and communal (gender atypical) men. Polish women who were provided with system-prosperity information found communal men to be more attractive than agentic men. This effect was not observed in the Norwegian sample; however, when provided with system-threat information, Norwegian students preferred agentic men over communal ones. Our results indicate that there exist certain contextual cues that might change perceptions of gender typical and gender atypical behavior.


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