Local Concerns

Kevin Lewis

May 18, 2023

Trust and Strength of Family Ties: New Experimental Evidence
John Ermisch et al.
Social Psychology Quarterly, forthcoming 


We provide a conceptual replication of an experimental study that uncovered a robust correlation between the strength of individuals’ family ties and their distrust of strangers, striving to establish whether the link is causal. Using a different subjects pool and an online setting, we repeat the binary trust-game experiment from Ermisch and Gambetta and enrich it by manipulating the payoffs to create a low-trust and high-trust environment. The key finding is corroborated, but as expected, only in the high-trust environment. The two environments further allow us to impose a diff-and-diff design on the data, which rules out selection of low-trusting individuals into strong-tied families and gives us indirect evidence of causation, namely, that having strong family ties stunts the development of trust in strangers. Our findings support the emancipatory theory of trust proposed by Toshio Yamagishi and could be interpreted as uncovering the micro foundations of classic ethnographic studies, such as that by Edward Banfield, which described how subcultures fostering tight bonds within families or small groups make cooperation harder to be achieved.

Lethality and deterrence in affairs of honor: The case of the antebellum U.S. south
Tom Ahn, Paul Shea & Jeremy Sandford
Rationality and Society, forthcoming 


Duels remained an important and surprisingly common means of settling disputes in the American South until after the Civil War. We examine two historical puzzles. First, why did dueling persist as a preferred tool to resolve conflicts in the South? Second, why did duelers use relatively inaccurate weapons when deadlier weapons were available? We construct a game theoretic model and conduct simulation exercises to find the following results. One, when the public views dueling as an appropriate means of mitigating the effects of libel, then it encourages socially desirable behavior such as reduced libel and more moderate behavior. Two, a sufficiently high mortality rate may deter libel without resulting in many dueling deaths. Third, if mortality rates are too high, dueling is no longer an effective institution. We compile a novel data set of newspaper accounts of duels from digitized archives to present empirical evidence that buttresses our insights from the model.

Rice Farming and the Origins of Cooperative Behaviour 
Xiaoyu Zhou, Theodore Alysandratos & Michael Naef
Economic Journal, forthcoming 


This paper provides novel evidence for links between historic farming practices and current norms of cooperative behaviour. We hypothesise that the cooperation required in wetland rice farming gives rise to strong cultural norms of cooperativeness. We compare participants from prefecture cities that predominately practice wetland rice cultivation, to those from non-rice regions. A public goods game with and without punishment is the main measure for cooperative behaviour. Results indicate a strong and robust positive effect of wetland rice farming on cooperative behaviour and pro-social punishment. Complementary, consistent evidence from a natural field experiment and a survey further enriches our data.

When High Subjective Social Status Becomes a Burden: A Japan-U.S. Comparison of Biological Health Markers
Jiyoung Park, Shinobu Kitayama & Yuri Miyamoto
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming 


High subjective social status (SSS) is believed to protect health in the current literature. However, high SSS entails social responsibilities that can be stressful in collectivistic cultural contexts. Here, we tested the hypothesis that those socialized in collectivistic societies (e.g., Japan) recognize their high social status as entailing social duties difficult to ignore even when they are excessive. Using cross-cultural survey data (N = 1,289) and a measure of biological health risk (BHR) by biomarkers of inflammation and cardiovascular malfunction, we found that higher SSS predicted lower BHR for American males. In contrast, higher SSS predicted higher BHR for Japanese males, mediated by the perceived difficulty of disengaging from their current goals. In both cultural groups, females showed no association between SSS and BHR. These findings suggest that social status has differing health implications, depending on the relative salience of privileges and burden-producing responsibilities in different cultural contexts.

Population Diversity and Financial Risk-Taking
Manthos Delis, Evangelos Dioikitopoulos & Steven Ongena
Journal of Banking & Finance, forthcoming 


We hypothesize that financial risk-taking originates in preindustrial interpersonal population diversity. We use data on immigrants residing in the United States and show that controlling for all known determinants of portfolio decisions and more than 100 control variables, diversity in the country of immigrants’ origin positively affects stock market participation and the level of risky asset holdings. Our results remain robust when instrumenting diversity with plant variety. We also identify the channels through which the effect of diversity operates (mostly individualism and human capital), but also conclude that diversity exerts an independent effect.

Self, ethnicity, and ethnic composition: Variations in self among Asian Americans and White Americans
Greg Kim-Ju et al.
Asian American Journal of Psychology, forthcoming 


The purpose of this study was to explore the influence of context on the self-construal of Asian Americans and White Americans. Cross-cultural research has demonstrated differences in the self, including the independent self and interdependent self. However, less research has examined differences in the self within a culture and how differences may be related to situational factors. In the present study, we examined how Who Am I? (WAI) self-descriptions of 109 White Americans (28 men and 81 women) and 99 Asian Americans (36 men and 63 women) might vary depending on the ethnic composition in which they were situated (i.e., being in a minority vs. mixed vs. majority setting). Findings provided partial support for the three main hypotheses, with self-descriptions varying by ethnicity for WAI abstract, autonomous, and positive descriptions and by ethnic composition for WAI positive and novel descriptions, though no interaction between ethnicity and ethnic composition on our dependent variables emerged. Specifically, White Americans reported more WAI autonomous and abstract responses than did Asian Americans across contexts. However, with WAI positive and novel responses, ethnic composition mattered. White Americans and Asian Americans reported more WAI positive responses in the mixed and majority compositions compared to the minority composition. White American and Asian American participants provided more WAI novel responses in the ethnic minority and mixed compositions than in the ethnic majority composition.

Neither Eastern nor Western: Patterns of independence and interdependence in Mediterranean societies
Ayse Uskul et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming


Social science research has highlighted “honor” as a central value driving social behavior in Mediterranean societies, which requires individuals to develop and protect a sense of their personal self-worth and their social reputation, through assertiveness, competitiveness, and retaliation in the face of threats. We predicted that members of Mediterranean societies may exhibit a distinctive combination of independent and interdependent social orientation, self-construal, and cognitive style, compared to more commonly studied East Asian and Anglo-Western cultural groups. We compared participants from eight Mediterranean societies (Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus [Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities], Lebanon, Egypt) to participants from East Asian (Korea, Japan) and Anglo-Western (the United Kingdom, the United States) societies, using six implicit social orientation indicators, an eight-dimensional self-construal scale, and four cognitive style indicators. Compared with both East Asian and Anglo-Western samples, samples from Mediterranean societies distinctively emphasized several forms of independence (relative intensity of disengaging [vs. engaging] emotions, happiness based on disengaging [vs. engaging] emotions, dispositional [vs. situational] attribution style, self-construal as different from others, self-directed, self-reliant, self-expressive, and consistent) and interdependence (closeness to in-group [vs. out-group] members, self-construal as connected and committed to close others). Our findings extend previous insights into patterns of cultural orientation beyond commonly examined East–West comparisons to an understudied world region.

Golden tears: A cross-country study of crying in the Olympics
Alex Krumer & Andrew Musau
Emotion, forthcoming 


This article studies tears of joy by exploring data on the behavior of gold medalists of all 450 individual events at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympic Games at the end of the medalists’ respective competitions and during the medal ceremonies. We find that women cry more than men, older athletes cry more than younger athletes, athletes from the host country cry more at the end of the competition, and athletes cry more when they receive information on their victory immediately after completing their task. When looking at the socioeconomic characteristics of athletes’ countries, we find that men from countries with larger female labor force participation rates cry more than men from countries with lower female labor force participation, and athletes from countries with higher religious fractionalization cry less than those from countries with lower fractionalization. Finally, we find no relationship between the wealth of a country and the propensity of its athletes of any gender to cry. We discuss possible mechanisms that drive our results and suggest future directions for observational studies on emotions.

Does the frame of an artwork matter? Cultural framing and aesthetic judgments for abstract and representational art
Kohinoor Darda, Alexander Christensen & Anjan Chatterjee
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, forthcoming 


Art is often thought to reflect the culture from which it comes. We tested the hypotheses that viewers’ aesthetic experiences of art are modulated by cultural labels as expressed by artist names and by sociocultural content depicted in the artwork. We predicted that people would prefer artworks from their own culture compared to another -- an ingroup bias. Across three preregistered experiments, we explored Northern American and Indian participants’ aesthetic judgments and preferences for abstract and representational artworks. Contrary to our predictions, no evidence was found for an ingroup bias in Experiment 1 when American abstract artworks were assigned with fictional American, Indian, Chinese, or Turkish artist names. Aesthetic ratings for artworks were similar across Indian and American participants, irrespective of the cultural label they were assigned. Similarly, no differences in preferences across Indian and American participants were found in Experiment 2 when participants had to make a forced choice between two artworks attributed to Indian and American artists. We found slightly higher shared preferences for Indian artworks among Indian participants compared to American artworks and participants. An ingroup preference for Indian and American/European representational artworks was found in Experiment 3 -- participants preferred artworks depicting content from their own culture compared to another. Effects across all experiments persisted when controlling for participants’ age, education, art experience, and openness to experience. The modulation of art perception and appreciation by contextual information may be flexible and more influenced by cultural content depicted in artworks than simple cultural framing.

Do some languages sound more beautiful than others?
Andrey Anikin, Nikolay Aseyev & Niklas Erben Johansson
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 25 April 2023 


Italian is sexy, German is rough -- but how about Páez or Tamil? Are there universal phonesthetic judgments based purely on the sound of a language, or are preferences attributable to language-external factors such as familiarity and cultural stereotypes? We collected 2,125 recordings of 228 languages from 43 language families, including 5 to 11 speakers of each language to control for personal vocal attractiveness, and asked 820 native speakers of English, Chinese, or Semitic languages to indicate how much they liked these languages. We found a strong preference for languages perceived as familiar, even when they were misidentified, a variety of cultural-geographical biases, and a preference for breathy female voices. The scores by English, Chinese, and Semitic speakers were weakly correlated, indicating some cross-cultural concordance in phonesthetic judgments, but overall there was little consensus between raters about which languages sounded more beautiful, and average scores per language remained within ±2% after accounting for confounds related to familiarity and voice quality of individual speakers. None of the tested phonetic features -- the presence of specific phonemic classes, the overall size of phonetic repertoire, its typicality and similarity to the listener’s first language -- were robust predictors of pleasantness ratings, apart from a possible slight preference for nontonal languages. While population-level phonesthetic preferences may exist, their contribution to perceptual judgments of short speech recordings appears to be minor compared to purely personal preferences, the speaker’s voice quality, and perceived resemblance to other languages culturally branded as beautiful or ugly.


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