Their way

Kevin Lewis

June 07, 2018

It’s Raining Men! Hallelujah? The Long-Run Consequences of Male-Biased Sex Ratios
Pauline Grosjean & Rose Khattar
Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming


We document the short- and long-run effects of male-biased sex ratios. We exploit a natural historical experiment where large numbers of male convicts and far fewer female convicts were sent to Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries. In areas with more male-biased sex ratios, women were historically more likely to get married and less likely to work outside the home. In these areas today, both men and women continue to have more conservative attitudes towards women working, and women work fewer hours outside the home. While these women enjoy more leisure, they are also less likely to work in high-ranking occupations. We demonstrate that the consequences of uneven sex ratios on cultural attitudes, labor supply decisions, and occupational choices can persist in the long run, well after sex ratios are back to the natural rate. We document the roles of vertical cultural transmission and marriage homogamy in sustaining this cultural persistence.

Culture and social hierarchy: Self- and other-oriented correlates of socioeconomic status across cultures
Yuri Miyamoto et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming


Current theorizing on socioeconomic status (SES) focuses on the availability of resources and the freedom they afford as a key determinant of the association between high SES and stronger orientation toward the self and, by implication, weaker orientation toward others. However, this work relies nearly exclusively on data from Western countries where self-orientation is strongly sanctioned. In the present work, we predicted and found that especially in East Asian countries, where other-orientation is strongly sanctioned, high SES is associated with stronger other-orientation as well as with self-orientation. We first examined both psychological attributes (Study 1, N = 2,832) and socialization values (Study 2a, N = 4,675) in Japan and the United States. In line with the existent evidence, SES was associated with greater self-oriented psychological attributes and socialization values in both the U.S. and Japan. Importantly, however, higher SES was associated with greater other orientation in Japan, whereas this association was weaker or even reversed in the United States. Study 2b (N = 85,296) indicated that the positive association between SES and self-orientation is found, overall, across 60 nations. Further, Study 2b showed that the positive association between SES and other-orientation in Japan can be generalized to other Confucian cultures, whereas the negative association between SES and other-orientation in the U.S. can be generalized to other Frontier cultures. Implications of the current findings for modernization and globalization are discussed.

Effects of Cultural Tightness–Looseness and Social Network Density on Expression of Positive and Negative Emotions: A Large-Scale Study of Impression Management by Facebook Users
Pan Liu et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming


Using data from 13,789 Facebook users across U.S. states, this study examined the main effects of societal-level cultural tightness–looseness and its interaction effects with individuals’ social network density on impression management (IM) in terms of online emotional expression. Results showed that individuals from culturally tight (vs. loose) states were more likely to express positive emotions and less likely to express negative emotions. Meanwhile, for positive emotional expression, there was a tightness–looseness by social network density interaction effect. In culturally tight states, individuals with dense (vs. sparse) networks were more likely to express positive emotions, while in culturally loose states this pattern was reversed. For negative emotional expression, however, no such interaction was observed. Our findings highlight the influence of cultural norms and social network structure on emotional expressions as IM strategies.

The Cultural Divide
Klaus Desmet & Romain Wacziarg
NBER Working Paper, May 2018


This paper conducts a systematic quantitative study of cultural convergence and divergence in the United States over time. Using the General Social Survey (1972-2016), we assess whether cultural values have grown more or less heterogeneous, both overall and between groups. Groups are defined according to 11 identity cleavages such as gender, religion, ethnic origin, family income quintiles, geographic region, education levels, etc. We find some evidence of greater overall heterogeneity after 1993 when averaging over all available values, yet on many issues heterogeneity changes little. The level of between-group heterogeneity is extremely small: the United States is very pluralistic in terms of cultural attitudes and values, but this diversity is not primarily the result of cultural divides between groups. On average across cleavages and values, we find evidence of falling between-group heterogeneity from 1972 to the late 1990s, and growing divides thereafter. We interpret these findings in light of a model of cultural change where intergenerational transmission and forces of social influence determine the distribution of cultural traits in society.

Democracy, Autocracy, and Direction of Lethal Violence: Homicide and Suicide
Don Soo Chon
Homicide Studies, forthcoming


Using the framework of civilizing theory and attributional style of blame theory, the present researcher examines the role of democracy in rates of homicide and suicide. The regression analyses, which were based on information from 120 countries, indicated that democracy is related to a reduced homicide rate and an increased suicide rate. This finding implies that people in a democratic nation are likely to direct violence inward rather than outward, blaming themselves for their failures and frustrations. By contrast, those in ideal autocratic nations are likely to use violence toward others, directing blame outwards for personal failures and frustrations.

The association between uneven sex ratios and violence: Evidence from 6 Asian countries
Nadia Diamond-Smith & Kara Rudolph
PLoS ONE, June 2018


It has been hypothesized that uneven sex ratios in the population could lead to increased violence. The objective of this analysis is to explore the relationship between uneven sex ratios in the population and violence. This analysis uses data collected from men in six Asian countries about their experiences and perpetration of violence. We combine this with region- and age specific sex ratios calculated from Census data to explore the relationship between sex ratios and violence using multilevel models. We find that men from region-age brackets with higher ratios of men to women are significantly more likely to report ever having raped a woman, having perpetrated intimate partner violence, or having used a weapon. We find no evidence for an association between sex ratios and reports of ever having raped a man.

Investigating the link between television viewing and men's preferences for female body size and shape in rural Nicaragua
Tracey Thornborrow et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming


The different levels of media access in otherwise very similar villages in rural Nicaragua provided a natural laboratory to explore the effect of television (TV) access on men's preferences for female body size and shape. In study 1 we compared the female body ideals of men from three discrete villages who experienced different levels of TV but otherwise inhabited a similar ecological and sociocultural environment. 3D modelling software enabled participants to create their ideal female body with more precision than simply choosing a figure from a limited range of 2D images. In study 2 we further explored local men's perceptions of female physical attractiveness and attitudes towards television using focus group discussions. Results from study 1 showed that men in the high TV villages preferred significantly slimmer bodies compared to those in the low TV village. Regression analyses showed TV access to be a significant predictor of ideal body size and upper body shape, but not of ideal lower body shape. The central theme to emerge from study 2 was the importance of the relationship between lower body shape, movement and sex, in the men's judgments of female attractiveness: the curvaceous body was perceived by the men to be a reliable cue to potential sexual promise, rather than valued simply for its visual aesthetic. Overall, findings suggest that TV access is linked to rural Nicaraguan men's perceptions of ideal female body weight and breast size, but preferences for a curvaceous lower body shape may be driven primarily by judgments of female sexual promise.

The Long-lasting Effects of Propaganda on Financial Risk-Taking
Christine Laudenbach, Ulrike Malmendier & Alexandra Niessen-Ruenzi
University of California Working Paper, April 2018


We analyze the long-term effects of living under communism and its political propaganda in East Germany (former GDR) for financial risk-taking. Utilizing comprehensive German brokerage data, we show that, decades after reunification, East Germans still invest significantly less in the stock market. Consistent with communist friends-and-foes propaganda, they are more likely to hold stocks of companies in communist countries (China, Russia, Vietnam), and are particularly unlikely to invest in American companies or the financial industry. Effects are stronger for individuals for whom we expect stronger emotional priming, for example those living in communist “showcase cities” or cities of Olympic gold medalists. In contrast, East Germans with negative experiences invest more in the stock market today, e. g., those experiencing environmental pollution and suppression of religious beliefs and those without access to (Western) TV entertainment. Election years appear to have trigger effects inducing East Germans to reduce their stock-market investment further. We also provide evidence of negative welfare consequences, as indicated by investment in more expensive actively managed funds, less diversified portfolios, and lower risk-adjusted returns.

On the nature of nurture. The malleability of gender differences in work preferences
Miriam Beblo & Luise Görges
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, July 2018, Pages 19-41


We study the malleability of gender-specific preferences for work by exploiting the German division and reunification as a natural experiment. We test whether the two political systems have shaped gender gaps in preferences differentially, based on German-General-Social-Survey data from 1991, 1998 and 2012, an extensive set of register data and historical data from the 19th and early 20th century. Our analyses reveal a substantial East-West difference in the gender gap directly after reunification and no convergence thereafter. A cohort analysis illuminates the mechanism, as the effect is driven by cohorts who grew up during separation, and suggests that institutions, not cultural legacy, are the decisive component.

Institutions, parental selection, and locus of control
Kristin Kleinjans & Andrew Gill
Applied Economics Letters, Fall 2018, Pages 1041-1044


Locus of control, that is, people’s perception of how much influence they have over their lives, is an important predictor for economic outcomes – earnings, health and education, to name a few. This article uses difference-in-differences analysis to investigate the importance of the institutional environment for the development of locus of control, using the fall of the Berlin Wall as exogenous shock to the educational system in East Germany. Using data from the German Socioeconomic Panel (SOEP), we find that women showed less external locus of control following the fall of the Berlin Wall but less clear results for men.

Culture and Decision Making: Influence of Analytic Versus Holistic Thinking Style on Resource Allocation in a Fort Game
Liman Man Wai Li et al.
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming


People have to make different decisions every day, in which culture affects their strategies. This research examined the role of analytic versus holistic thinking style on resource allocation across cultures. We expected that, analytic thinking style, which refers to a linear view about the world where objects’ properties remain stable and separate, would make people concentrate their resource allocation corresponding to the current demand, whereas holistic thinking style, which refers to a nonlinear view that people perceive change to be a constant phenomenon and the universe to be full of interconnected elements, would encourage people to spread out their resource allocation. In Study 1, Hong Kong Chinese, a representative group of holistic cultures, and European Canadians, a representative group of analytic cultures, completed a resource allocation task (i.e., fort game). The results showed that the allocation pattern of European Canadians was more concentrated than that of Hong Kong Chinese and holistic thoughts predicted a less concentrated allocation pattern. To test causality, thinking styles were manipulated in Study 2, in which mainland Chinese were primed with either holistic thinking style or analytic thinking style. The results showed that the allocation pattern was more concentrated in the analytic condition than that in the holistic condition, which was explained by greater perceived predictability in the analytic condition. Implications of these findings on cross-cultural decision-making research and applied research were discussed.

Universals and cultural diversity in the expression of gratitude
Simeon Floyd et al.
Royal Society Open Science, May 2018


Gratitude is argued to have evolved to motivate and maintain social reciprocity among people, and to be linked to a wide range of positive effects—social, psychological and even physical. But is socially reciprocal behaviour dependent on the expression of gratitude, for example by saying ‘thank you’ as in English? Current research has not included cross-cultural elements, and has tended to conflate gratitude as an emotion with gratitude as a linguistic practice, as might appear to be the case in English. Here, we ask to what extent people express gratitude in different societies by focusing on episodes of everyday life where someone seeks and obtains a good, service or support from another, comparing these episodes across eight languages from five continents. We find that expressions of gratitude in these episodes are remarkably rare, suggesting that social reciprocity in everyday life relies on tacit understandings of rights and duties surrounding mutual assistance and collaboration. At the same time, we also find minor cross-cultural variation, with slightly higher rates in Western European languages English and Italian, showing that universal tendencies of social reciprocity should not be equated with more culturally variable practices of expressing gratitude. Our study complements previous experimental and culture-specific research on gratitude with a systematic comparison of audiovisual corpora of naturally occurring social interaction from different cultures from around the world.

Contemporary parasite stress curvilinearly correlates with outgroup trust: Cross-country evidence from 2005 to 2014
Jinguang Zhang
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming


General trust is trust extended to people from outside one's immediate social network. Two studies have tested a parasite stress explanation of general trust using cross-cultural data, showing a linear negative correlation between parasite stress and trust in “most people.” However, recent studies suggest that 1) trust in most people as a measure of general trust confounds ingroup trust and outgroup trust in cross-cultural surveys and 2) parasite stress can curvilinearly correlate with variables of ingroup embeddedness and outgroup avoidance. Using data from the World Value Survey (WVS) Waves 5 and 6 (N = 117,370 from 80 countries and geopolitical regions), we found no evidence that parasite stress — measured either as contemporary non-sexually-transmitted-disease (non-STD) stress or as historical pathogen prevalence — curvilinearly correlated with ingroup trust. However, parasite stress significantly curvilinearly correlated with outgroup trust, and the two-line test confirmed that the correlation was U-shaped. This research extends previous work on parasite stress and trust, informs the recent debate on whether parasite stress relates to outgroup avoidance, and suggests directions for developing the parasite stress theory of values and sociality.

Gender and corruption: The neglected role of culture
Julia Debski et al.
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming


Empirical findings of a negative association between female participation in politics and the labor market, and levels of corruption have received great attention. We reproduce this correlation for 177 countries from 1998 to 2014. However, once taking account of country-specific heterogeneity via fixed effects, these negative associations disappear, both in terms of statistical significance and magnitude. This suggests that female participation rates in politics and the labor market are not directly linked to lower corruption. Exploiting country-specific dimensions of culture, we then present evidence from pooled estimations suggesting that power distance and masculinity are systematically associated with both corruption and female participation rates. In fact, these two cultural characteristics are sufficient to fully explain the link between gender and corruption. Therefore, culture is an important dimension to consider when analyzing the relationship between female participation in society and corruption since the omission of cultural characteristics can produce a spurious correlation between increased female participation rates alone and reduced corruption levels.

A Sense of Obligation: Cultural Differences in the Experience of Obligation
Emma Buchtel et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming


In this investigation of cultural differences in the experience of obligation, we distinguish between Confucian Role Ethics versus Relative Autonomy lay theories of motivation and illustrate them with data showing relevant cultural differences in both social judgments and intrapersonal experience. First, when judging others, Western European heritage culture (WEHC) participants (relative to Confucian heritage culture [CHC] participants) judged obligation-motivated actors more negatively than those motivated by agency (Study 1, N = 529). Second, in daily diary and situation sampling studies, CHC participants (relative to WEHC participants) perceived more congruency between their own agentic and obligated motivations, and more positive emotional associations with obligated motivations (Study 2, N = 200 and Study 3, N = 244). Agentic motivation, however, was universally associated with positive emotions. More research on a Role Ethics rather than Relative Autonomy conception of agency may improve our understanding of human motivation, especially across cultures.

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