The Cultured World

Kevin Lewis

May 14, 2010

Pop Internationalism: Has A Half Century of World Music Trade Displaced Local Culture?

Fernando Ferreira & Joel Waldfogel
NBER Working Paper, May 2010

Advances in communication technologies over the past half century have made the cultural goods of one country more readily available to consumers in another, raising concerns that cultural products from large economies - in particular the US - will displace the indigenous cultural products of smaller economies. In this paper we provide stylized facts about the global music consumption and trade since 1960, using a unique data on popular music charts from 22 countries, corresponding to over 98% of the global music market. We find that trade volumes are higher between countries that are geographically closer and between those that share a language. Contrary to growing fears about large- country dominance, trade shares are roughly proportional to country GDP shares; and relative to GDP, the US music share is substantially below the shares of other smaller countries. We find a substantial bias toward domestic music which has, perhaps surprisingly, increased sharply in the past decade. We find no evidence that new communications channels - such as the growth of country-specific MTV channels and Internet penetration - reduce the consumption of domestic music. National policies aimed at preventing the death of local culture, such as radio airplay quotas, may explain part of the increasing consumption of local music.


The Michelle Markup: The First Lady's impact on stock prices of fashion companies

David Yermack
NYU Working Paper, April 2010

I analyze changes in apparel company stock prices when Michelle Obama wears designer outfits at major events. The First Lady's selections can create value exceeding $100 million for companies that design and market her clothing. The effect is approximately $2.3 billion during a 2009 European trip that the media labeled a "fashion faceoff" with her French counterpart Carla Bruni. However, firms whose clothing she chooses not to wear see their stock prices drop, and her net impact upon the industry amounts to a redistribution of value among firms. The First Lady's influence on fashion firms represents a private benefit of public office, similar to private benefits of control obtained by corporate managers.


When in Rome...Learn Why the Romans Do What They Do: How Multicultural Learning Experiences Facilitate Creativity

William Maddux, Hajo Adam & Adam Galinsky
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Research suggests that living in and adapting to foreign cultures facilitates creativity. The current research investigated whether one aspect of the adaptation process-multicultural learning-is a critical component of increased creativity. Experiments 1-3 found that recalling a multicultural learning experience: (a) facilitates idea flexibility (e.g., the ability to solve problems in multiple ways), (b) increases awareness of underlying connections and associations, and (c) helps overcome functional fixedness. Importantly, Experiments 2 and 3 specifically demonstrated that functional learning in a multicultural context (i.e., learning about the underlying meaning or function of behaviors in that context) is particularly important for facilitating creativity. Results showed that creativity was enhanced only when participants recalled a functional multicultural learning experience and only when participants had previously lived abroad. Overall, multicultural learning appears to be an important mechanism by which foreign living experiences lead to creative enhancement.


Activation and Automaticity of Colonial Mentality

E.J.R. David & Sumie Okazaki
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, April 2010, Pages 850-887

Among Filipino Americans, colonial mentality (CM) is characterized by automatic preference for anything American and automatic rejection of anything Filipino that may be manifested overtly and covertly. Thus, 3 studies were conducted to test CM's theorized covertness and automaticity. Study 1 attempted to activate and capture the existence of CM-consistent cultural knowledge schemas; Study 2 investigated whether CM may be automatically activated using a lexical decision task; and Study 3 tested whether Filipino Americans have associated pleasantness with anything American, and unpleasantness with anything Filipino using the Implicit Association Test. The results suggest that many Filipino Americans hold a CM-consistent cultural knowledge schema, and that CM may be conceptualized as a set of automatic associations that cannot be consciously controlled.


Are scarce products always more attractive? The interaction of different types of scarcity signals with products' suitability for conspicuous consumption

Heribert Gierl & Verena Huettl
International Journal of Research in Marketing, forthcoming

This study examines the effects of two types of scarcity on the attitudes of consumers toward products. We consider scarcity due to supply (e.g., "limited edition") and scarcity due to demand (e.g., "only a few units remain"). The data obtained from two surveys show that the appearance of a positive scarcity effect depends on the product's suitability for conspicuous consumption. If a product is used for conspicuous consumption, signals of scarcity due to limited supply are advantageous compared to signals of scarcity due to high demand. On the contrary, if a product is not used for conspicuous consumption, signals of scarcity due to high demand result in more favorable product evaluations.


Fragility of information cascades: An experimental study using elicited beliefs

Anthony Ziegelmeyer, Frédéric Koessler, Juergen Bracht & Eyal Winter
Experimental Economics, June 2010, Pages 121-145

This paper examines the occurrence and fragility of information cascades in two laboratory experiments. One group of low informed participants sequentially guess which of two states has been randomly chosen. In a matched pairs design, another group of high informed participants make similar guesses after having observed the guesses of the low informed participants. In the second experiment, participants' beliefs about the chosen state are elicited. In equilibrium, low informed players who observe an established pattern of identical guesses herd without regard to their private information whereas high informed players always guess according to their private information. Equilibrium behavior implies that information cascades emerge in the group of low informed participants, the belief based solely on cascade guesses is stationary, and information cascades are systematically broken by high informed participants endowed with private information contradicting the cascade guesses. Experimental results show that the behavior of low informed participants is qualitatively in line with the equilibrium prediction. Information cascades often emerge in our experiments. The tendency of low informed participants to engage in cascade behavior increases with the number of identical guesses. Our main finding is that information cascades are not fragile. The behavior of high informed participants differs markedly from the equilibrium prediction. Only one-third of laboratory cascades are broken by high informed participants endowed with private information contradicting the cascade guesses. The relative frequency of cascade breaks is 15% for the situations where five or more identical guesses are observed. Participants' elicited beliefs are strongly consistent with their own behavior and show that, unlike in equilibrium, the more cascade guesses participants observe the more they believe in the state favored by those guesses.


Direct Versus Indirect Questioning: An Application to the Well-Being of Farm Animals

Jayson Lusk & Bailey Norwood
Social Indicators Research, May 2010, Pages 551-565

Recent events suggest people are increasingly concerned not just with their own well-being but that of animals as well. However, there is little systematic evidence on people's willingness-to-trade their own well-being and quality of life for improvements in the well-being of farm animals. In this paper, we utilize a straightforward and unobtrusive technique to mitigate socially desirability effects and gage the publics' opinion about farm animal welfare: indirect questioning. In survey of United States households, we find sharp differences between direct and indirect questions related to farm animal welfare. For example, whereas only 15.6% of the public said they think low meat prices are more important than the well-being of farm animals, 67.5% said the average American thinks low meat prices are more important than the well-being of farm animals. This finding, coupled with the extant literature on indirect questioning, suggests that people's concerns for farm animal welfare are actually much lower than what they say they are.


Changes in Social Values in the United States, 1976-2007: "Self-Respect" Is on the Upswing as "A Sense of Belonging" Becomes Less Important

Eda Gurel-Atay, Guang-Xin Xie, Johnny Chen & Lynn Richard Kahle
Journal of Advertising Research, Spring 2010, Pages 57-67

The list of values (LOV) was administered in a national survey in 2007 to monitor social values across key demographic variables in the United States (Kahle, 1983). The results were compared and contrasted with those in two previous national surveys in 1976 and 1986. This study provides a rare glimpse into the changes in social values in America for the last three decades. We find that deficit values are being replaced by excess values over time in America. This suggests that some of the more traditional advertising approaches that relied on deficit values may need to be replaced by newer tactics that tap into excess values.


The Impact of National Cultural Distance on the Number of Foreign Web Site Visits by U.S. Households

Sjoerd Beugelsdijk & Arjen Slangen
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, April 2010, Pages 201-205

We investigate how national cultural distance, defined as the extent to which the shared values and norms in one country differ from those in another, affect the number of Web site visits. Based on a sample of 2,654 U.S. households visiting Web sites in 38 countries over 25 different Web site categories, we find that cultural distance has a negative and significant effect on the number of taste-related foreign Web site visits. In the case of Web sites containing sexually explicit material, we obtain a significantly positive effect of cultural distance. Our findings suggest that cultural distance can be both a source of attraction and a source of repulsion in explaining the number of Web site visits depending on the nature of the Web site.


East is East, and West is West? Currency iconography as nation-branding in the wider Europe

Jacques Hymans
Political Geography, February 2010, Pages 97-108

This article considers European banknote iconography as an indicator of national branding choices from the early twentieth century up to the present. Systematic quantitative content analysis demonstrates that the values and ontologies expressed on Central/East European banknotes have historically tracked closely with the trends visible on their West European counterparts. This pattern is evident not just since the end of the Cold War, but indeed right from the founding of the modern Central/East European states about a century ago. Even during the Cold War, it did not take long for the trends on Western banknotes to appear on Central/East European banknotes as well. Thus, contrary to the conventional assumption of a deep-rooted normative gulf separating the national identity discourses of so-called "New" and "Old" Europe, the article underscores the fact of intense, longstanding normative cross-pollination between them.


from the


A weekly newsletter with free essays from past issues of National Affairs and The Public Interest that shed light on the week's pressing issues.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.