Ministry of Culture

Kevin Lewis

November 05, 2020

Cultural Differences in the Construal of Suffering and the COVID-19 Pandemic
Li-Jun Ji et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming


The present research examines how suffering is construed across cultures. Study 1 (N 1 = 264; N 2 = 745) asked participants to provide free associations for suffering. Chinese individuals generated more positive associations than did Euro-Canadians. Study 2 (N = 522) had participants create a hypothetical potion of suffering to represent what people would experience while suffering. Chinese participants added more positive ingredients and fewer negative ingredients than Euro-Canadians did. How would cultural differences in the construal of suffering matter in a real-life negative situation? Study 3 (N = 608) showed that Chinese participants generated a greater proportion of potential positive outcomes for the COVID-19 outbreak and reported more positive affect during the pandemic than did Euro-Canadians. Thus, Chinese construe suffering more positively than Euro-Canadians. These findings are consistent with previous research on cultural differences in dialectical thinking and lay theory of change and have implications for coping and resilience.

Subjective social status and inflammation: The role of culture and anger control
Jose Yong, Andree Hartanto & Jacinth Tan
Health Psychology, forthcoming

Objective: Research on subjective social status (SSS) and inflammation risk suffers from a lack of cross-cultural data as well as inconsistent findings between SSS and the biomarker C-reactive protein (CRP). The current study addressed these issues by examining possible cultural differences in the SSS-CRP link with anger control as an underlying mechanism while controlling for potential confounds such as wealth, education, and health factors.

Method: Participants comprised 1,435 adults from the Biomarker Project of the MIDUS (American) and MIDJA (Japanese) studies. Participants’ SSS and tendency to control anger were assessed through surveys, and their CRP levels were measured through fasting blood samples.

Results: Results showed that for Americans, CRP levels increased as SSS decreased, but for the Japanese, there was no relationship between SSS and CRP. Furthermore, this moderating effect of culture was mediated by anger control such that Americans controlled their anger less as SSS decreased, which then predicted higher levels of CRP, whereas the Japanese controlled their anger less as SSS increased, but this relationship did not predict CRP levels. These findings were specific to anger control (and not other varieties of anger) and robust to adjustment for a variety of potential confounds.

Gender stereotypes are reflected in the distributional structure of 25 languages
Molly Lewis & Gary Lupyan
Nature Human Behaviour, October 2020, Pages 1021–1028


Cultural stereotypes such as the idea that men are more suited for paid work and women are more suited for taking care of the home and family, may contribute to gender imbalances in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, among other undesirable gender disparities. Might these stereotypes be learned from language? Here we examine whether gender stereotypes are reflected in the large-scale distributional structure of natural language semantics. We measure gender associations embedded in the statistics of 25 languages and relate these to data on an international dataset of psychological gender associations (N = 656,636). People’s implicit gender associations are strongly predicted by gender associations encoded in the statistics of the language they speak. These associations are further related to the extent that languages mark gender in occupation terms (for example, ‘waiter’/‘waitress’). Our pattern of findings is consistent with the possibility that linguistic associations shape people’s implicit judgements.

The Culture of Time Inventory: Comparison of Time Attitudes Pertaining to Timed Testing in Russian and American Adults
Anna Agranovich, Zarui Melikyan & Abigail Panter
Cross-Cultural Research, forthcoming


A measure of time attitudes, Culture of Time Inventory—33 items (COTI-33), was developed and validated in English and Russian on 560 American and 517 Russian respondents. The study aim was to examine and assess culturally relevant time attitudes that may affect performances on timed psychological and neuropsychological tests. A stable and comparable five-factor model emerged across samples, revealing the following dimensions of time attitudes: (1) planning; (2) punctuality; (3) time management; (4) event-time orientation; and (5) time-limited tests. Cultural differences emerged in COTI-33 factor scores where Americans rated planning and punctuality significantly higher than Russians. Discriminant validity of the scale was examined against the Big Five Personality Inventory. COTI-33 was established to have high reliability and construct validity and may serve as a valuable instrument for assessing the influence of time attitudes on timed psychological test performances in both clinical and non-clinical settings.

The rise of prosociality in fiction preceded democratic revolutions in Early Modern Europe
Mauricio de Jesus Dias Martins & Nicolas Baumard
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming


The English and French Revolutions represent a turning point in history, marking the beginning of the modern rise of democracy. Recent advances in cultural evolution have put forward the idea that the early modern revolutions may be the product of a long-term psychological shift, from hierarchical and dominance-based interactions to democratic and trust-based relationships. In this study, we tested this hypothesis by analyzing theater plays during the early modern period in England and France. We found an increase in cooperation-related words over time relative to dominance-related words in both countries. Furthermore, we found that the accelerated rise of cooperation-related words preceded both the English Civil War (1642) and the French Revolution (1789). Finally, we found that rising per capita gross domestic product (GDPpc) generally led to an increase in cooperation-related words. These results highlight the likely role of long-term psychological and economic changes in explaining the rise of early modern democracies.

Individualism and political instability
Roberto Ezcurra
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming


This paper examines the relationship between the individualism-collectivism dimension of culture and political instability using a dataset covering around 100 countries. To shed light on the causal effect of culture on political instability, the identification strategy exploits the variation in historical pathogen prevalence and the information provided by the genetic distance between countries. The results reveal that individualism has a negative and statistically significant impact on the degree of political instability, which means that this cultural trait contributes to making the political environment more stable. This finding is robust to the inclusion in the analysis of a substantial number of controls that may be correlated with both individualism and political instability, including other cultural dimensions. In fact, the relationship between individualism and political instability does not depend either on the specific measures used to quantify the level of individualism and political instability within the various countries or the estimation strategy adopted. The estimates also show that part of the observed effect of individualism is due to the impact of institutional quality, which acts as a transmission channel linking this cultural trait and political instability.

“That’s bitter!”: Culture-specific effects of gustatory experience on judgments of fairness and advancement
Jialiang Xu, Fang Wan & Norbert Schwarz
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming


In English, unfair treatment and social injustice are often described as “bitter” experiences, whereas “eating bitterness” refers to endurance in the face of hardship in Chinese. This suggests that bitter taste may ground experiences of adversity in both cultures, but in culture-specific forms. We tested this possibility by assessing Canadian and Chinese participants’ responses to fairness and achievement scenarios after incidental exposure to bitter or neutral tastes. Tasting something bitter increased self-reported motivation and intention to invest effort for Chinese participants, but not Anglo-Canadian participants (Studies 1, 4, 5). Tasting something bitter decreased perceived fairness for Anglo-Canadian participants (Studies 1–3) but not Chinese participants living in China (Study 2). The fairness judgments of Chinese participants living in Canada shed light on adaptation to the host culture: Bitter taste decreased these participants’ fairness judgments after living in Canada for 4 years or more (Study 4), provided they were tested in English (Studies 3–4), but exerted no influence when they were tested in Chinese (Study 4). The observed cultural differences are compatible with a relatively higher emphasis on self-improvement in China versus self-enhancement in Canada. Supporting this conjecture, the fairness judgments of Chinese students in Canada followed the Anglo-Canadian pattern when primed with a self-enhancement motive and the effort judgments of Anglo-Canadian students followed the Chinese pattern when primed with a self-improvement motive (Study 5). This suggest that a universal aversive experience (bitter taste) grounds thought about adversity in ways compatible with cultural orientations and reflected in culture-specific metaphors.

Sex differences in moral judgements across 67 countries
Mohammad Atari, Mark Lai & Morteza Dehghani
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, October 2020


Most of the empirical research on sex differences and cultural variations in morality has relied on within-culture analyses or small-scale cross-cultural data. To further broaden the scientific understanding of sex differences in morality, the current research relies on two international samples to provide the first large-scale examination of sex differences in moral judgements nested within cultures. Using a sample from 67 countries (Study 1; n = 336 691), we found culturally variable sex differences in moral judgements, as conceptualized by Moral Foundations Theory. Women consistently scored higher than men on Care, Fairness, and Purity. By contrast, sex differences in Loyalty and Authority were negligible and highly variable across cultures. Country-level sex differences in moral judgements were also examined in relation to cultural, socioeconomic, and gender-equality indicators revealing that sex differences in moral judgements are larger in individualist, Western, and gender-equal societies. In Study 2 (19 countries; n = 11 969), these results were largely replicated using Bayesian multi-level modelling in a distinct sample. The findings were robust when incorporating cultural non-independence of countries into the models. Specifically, women consistently showed higher concerns for Care, Fairness, and Purity in their moral judgements than did men. Sex differences in moral judgements were larger in individualist and gender-equal societies with more flexible social norms. We discuss the implications of these findings for the ongoing debate about the origin of sex differences and cultural variations in moral judgements as well as theoretical and pragmatic implications for moral and evolutionary psychology.

Creating Europe through culture? The impact of the European Song Contest on European identity
Tom Coupe & Natalia Chaban
Empirica, November 2020, Pages 885–908


The UK’s Brexit vote marked a major institutional crisis for the EU and re-opened both the scholarly and the popular debate about the importance and drivers of a “European identity”. We use quasi-experimental data to estimate the immediate impact of the biggest pan-European cultural event, the Eurovision Song Contest, on whether people in Europe consider themselves to be Europeans. Using data from several Eurobarometer surveys with tens of thousands of observations, we find little evidence that the contest at current provides a sizeable immediate boost to the share of Europeans who feel European, feel EU citizens, or have a positive image of the EU.

How Do Some Iranian Grooms React if There is not Any Sign of Blood Stained Bed Sheets?
Fatemeh Niki Rashidi, Zohreh Ghorashi & Shayesteh Esmaeilzadeh
Sexuality & Culture, December 2020, Pages 2056–2064


“Blood stained bed sheets” is considered as an index of virginity for the brides in most areas of Iran. The present study was conducted to determine the prevalence of bleeding at the first intercourse in brides who claimed to be virgin in Kerman city, Kerman province, Iran. Practices of the grooms encountering lack of bleeding were investigated. Totally, 52.5% of the brides reported bleeding at the first penile-vaginal intercourse. Among the grooms who encountered no bleeding at the first intercourse, half of them had a violent reaction. Findings of the study revealed that valuing bleeding as a virginity index will damage the couple’s relationship and sexual life of young brides, highlighting the need for more attention and education.

Names and behavior in a war
Štěpán Jurajda & Dejan Kovač
Journal of Population Economics, January 2021, Pages 1–33


We implement a novel empirical strategy for measuring and studying a strong form of nationalism — the willingness to fight and die in a war for national independence — using name choices corresponding to a previous war leader. Based on data on almost half a million soldiers, we first show that having been given a first name that is synonymous with the leader(s) of the Croatian state during World War II predicts volunteering for service in the 1991–1995 Croatian war of independence and dying during the conflict. Next, we use the universe of Croatian birth certificates and the information about nationalism conveyed by first names to suggests that in ex-Yugoslav Croatia, nationalism rose continuously starting in the 1970s and that its rise was curbed in areas where concentration camps were located during WWII. Our evidence on intergenerational transmission of nationalism is consistent with nationalist fathers purposefully reflecting the trade-off between within-family and society-wide transmission channels of political values. We also link the nationalist values we proxy using first name choices to right-wing voting behavior in 2015, 20 years after the war.


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