Cultural Accounts

Kevin Lewis

January 19, 2023

Market exposure and human morality
Benjamin Enke
Nature Human Behaviour, forthcoming 


According to evolutionary theories, markets may foster an internalized and universalist prosociality because it supports market-based cooperation. This paper uses the cultural folklore of 943 pre-industrial ethnolinguistic groups to show that a society’s degree of market interactions, proxied by the presence of intercommunity trade and money, is associated with the cultural salience of (1) prosocial behaviour, (2) interpersonal trust, (3) universalist moral values and (4) moral emotions of guilt, shame and anger. To provide tentative evidence that a part of this correlation reflects a causal effect of market interactions, the analysis leverages both fine-grained geographic variation across neighbouring historical societies and plausibly exogenous variation in the presence of markets that arises through proximity to historical trade routes or the local degree of ecological diversity. The results suggest that the coevolutionary process involving markets and morality partly consists of economic markets shaping a moral system of a universalist and internalized prosociality.

Cultural Roots of Entrepreneurship: Evidence from Second-Generation Immigrants
Johannes Kleinhempel, Mariko Klasing & Sjoerd Beugelsdijk
Organization Science, forthcoming


Does national culture influence entrepreneurship? Given that entrepreneurship and the economic, formal institutional, and cultural characteristics of nations are deeply intertwined and co-vary, it is difficult to isolate the effect of culture on entrepreneurship. In this study, we examine the self-employment choices of second-generation immigrants who were born, educated, and currently live in one country, but were raised by parents stemming from another country. We argue that entrepreneurship is influenced by durable, portable, and intergenerationally transmitted cultural imprints such that second-generation immigrants are more likely to become entrepreneurs if their parents originate from countries characterized by a strong entrepreneurial culture. Our multilevel analysis of two independent samples -- 65,323 second-generation immigrants of 52 different ancestries who were born, were raised, and live in the United States and 4,165 second-generation immigrants of 31 ancestries in Europe -- shows that entrepreneurial culture is positively associated with the likelihood that individuals are entrepreneurs. Our results are robust to alternative non-cultural explanations, such as differences in resource holdings, labor market discrimination, and direct parent-child linkages. Overall, our study highlights the durability, portability, and intergenerational transmission of entrepreneurial culture as well as the profound impact of national culture on entrepreneurship.

Rice culture and the cushion hypothesis: Experimental evidence from incentivized risk taking tasks
Soo Hong Chew, Richard Ebstein & Yunfeng Lu
Economics Letters, forthcoming 


Cumulative evidence points to the validity of the Hsee and Weber (1999) cushion hypothesis suggesting that people in a collectivist society, such as China, have greater capacity to take on risks than members of an individualistic society such as the United States, because they are more likely to receive help if they are in need (i.e., they could be ‘cushioned’), and consequently, less risk averse than those in an individualistic society. Rice theory (Talhelm et al., 2014) points to a parallel between East-West difference and what differentiates the rice farming South from the wheat farming North in China in the individualism-collectivism dimension. These hypotheses jointly predict that people from China’s rice farming regions would be more risk tolerant than their counterparts from the wheat farming regions. Using incentivized decision making tasks, we find support for the cushion hypothesis being applicable within China in a large sample of subjects recruited in Beijing.

Threatened humanity in a tight world: Cultural tightness results in self-objectification 
Xijing Wang et al.
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, December 2022, Pages 2003–2020 


Self-objectification can be considered as a specific kind of self-dehumanization that consists of a perception of oneself as more instrument-like than human-like and a decreased self-attribution of mental states. Self-objectification is commonly observed, and its contributing factors need to be better understood. In the present research, we examined whether cultural tightness, which entails strong social norms and punishments for deviant behaviors, is an antecedent to self-objectification. Our hypotheses were confirmed by four studies, involving quasi-experiments and fully controlled experiments (N = 2,693). In particular, Chinese college students living in a region with a tight culture (compared to a loose culture, Study 1), American employees working in an industry with a tight corporate culture (compared to a loose culture, Study 2), American participants who were induced to support cultural tightness (vs. cultural looseness, Study 3), and those who were situated in a simulated tight culture (vs. a loose culture, Study 4) all showed increased levels of self-objectification. As such, they acknowledged their personhood less and focused more on their instrumentality. Implications are discussed.

Status cues and normative change: How the Academy Awards facilitated Chile's gender identity law
Carsten-Andreas Schulz & Cameron Thies
Review of International Studies, forthcoming 


This study explores how the Academy Award for A Fantastic Woman facilitated the adoption of Chile's Gender Identity Law. Approved in 2018 after languishing for over five years in Congress, the law establishes individuals’ right to modify their national identification documents without the need to change their physical appearance or receive prior court authorisation. While trans rights activists extensively lobbied for a law that guaranteed access to gender marker changes, conservatives rejected the initiative, framing their opposition in terms of Christian values and against the ‘gender ideology’ that purportedly informed the bill. We argue that this backlash dissipated in the wake of the award. International recognition made support for trans rights temporarily a matter of national pride, thereby opening a window of opportunity for the approval of the law. The case of Chile's Gender Identity Law illustrates how international status cues can foster normative change by mobilising affect in domestic audiences. It contributes to recent debates on status and domestic political change, and the role that emotion and affect play in world politics.

No strong evidence for universal gender differences in the development of cooperative behaviour across societies
Bailey House, Joan Silk & Katherine McAuliffe
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 16 January 2023 


Human cooperation varies both across and within societies, and developmental studies can inform our understanding of the sources of both kinds of variation. One key candidate for explaining within-society variation in cooperative behaviour is gender, but we know little about whether gender differences in cooperation take root early in ontogeny or emerge similarly across diverse societies. Here, we explore two existing cross-cultural datasets of 4- to 15-year-old children's preferences for equality in experimental tasks measuring prosociality (14 societies) and fairness (seven societies), and we look for evidence of (i) widespread gender differences in the development of cooperation, and (ii) substantial societal variation in gender differences. This cross-cultural approach is crucial for revealing universal human gender differences in the development of cooperation, and it helps answer recent calls for greater cultural diversity in the study of human development. We find that gender has little impact on the development of prosociality and fairness within these datasets, and we do not find much evidence for substantial societal variation in gender differences. We discuss the implications of these findings for our knowledge about the nature and origin of gender differences in cooperation, and for future research attempting to study human development using diverse cultural samples.

Electromagnetic and climatic foundations of human aggression
Federico León
Journal of Environmental Psychology, forthcoming 


Heat is associated with human aggression in field research, assumedly by affecting emotions, but it is not in laboratory experiments. Since this may be so because temperature functions as a proxy for UV radiation in field settings, not in the laboratory, this research tested, across 126 countries, whether temperature loses its predictive capacity when the electromagnetic variable is controlled. Temperature presented null statistical effects when UV radiation was controlled, although it exhibited a tangential contribution in mediation analyses. The results revealed strong direct effects of UV radiation on Van de Vliert and Daan's (2017) aggression composite scores, and strong indirect effects on homicide rate. Economic inequality emerged as a strong mediator related to homicide rate, not to the aggression composite, while steady rain, pathogen prevalence, per capita income and cognitive performance contributed to the explanation of human aggression. These findings suggest that the heat-aggression paradigm has outlived its usefulness and that global warming should not be expected to increase aggression via emotions. Future studies must address UV radiation's effects across routine activity patterns, strengthen the construct validity of measures of aggression, target omitted variables, and confirm the theorized role of testosterone as a mediator using field and, especially, laboratory studies.

Likely Electromagnetic Foundations of Gender Inequality
Federico León
Cross-Cultural Research, forthcoming


Cross-country variation of gender inequality is attributed to cultural, evolutionary, epidemiological, social, and psychological variables, but recent research has shown decreased inequality with proximity to the poles, suggesting that such variables may convey effects of electromagnetics and climate. This study evaluated two mediation models across 98 countries. In the successful model, ultraviolet radiation impaired cognitive performance with the final result of increasing gender inequality; cross-cultural research should pay attention to this three-part connection and specify the process in greater detail. Additionally, gender inequality emerged directly related to ultraviolet radiation with positive sign, suggesting actions of testosterone; field and laboratory studies that address the specific mediating roles of sex hormones are needed. Pathogen prevalence and the ACP1*B allele played complementary roles that are consistent with the literature. The model was robust to post-1500 European ancestry and the radiation - cognitive performance - gender inequality nexus, but not other paths, were reliable across continents.

The Role of Conflict in Sex Discrimination: The Case of Missing Girls
Astghik Mavisakalyan & Anna Minasyan
Economic Development and Cultural Change, forthcoming 


Conflicts between ethnic groups can threaten group survival and exacerbate son preference in conformity with the traditional role of men as group defenders. We study the impact of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region on the subnational variation of sex ratios among children in Armenia that has one of the world’s highest sex ratios at birth. Difference-in-differences analysis shows that communities closer to the conflict region have higher sex ratio among children relative to the communities farther away. The findings from household surveys show that fear of war is associated with a stronger son preference at the individual level.

Sex and age differences in “theory of mind” across 57 countries using the English version of the “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” Test
David Greenberg et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 3 January 2023 


The “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” Test (Eyes Test) is a widely used assessment of “theory of mind.” The NIMH Research Domain Criteria recommends it as one of two tests for “understanding mental states.” Previous studies have demonstrated an on-average female advantage on the Eyes Test. However, it is unknown whether this female advantage exists across the lifespan and across a large number of countries. Thus, we tested sex and age differences using the English version of the Eyes Test in adolescents and adults across 57 countries. We also tested for associations with sociodemographic and cognitive/personality factors. We leveraged one discovery dataset (N = 305,726) and three validation datasets (Ns = 642; 5,284; and 1,087). The results show that: i) there is a replicable on-average female advantage in performance on the Eyes Test; ii) performance increases through adolescence and shallowly declines across adulthood; iii) the on-average female advantage is evident across the lifespan; iv) there is a significant on-average female advantage in 36 out of 57 countries; v) there is a significant on-average female advantage on translated (non-English) versions of the Eyes Test in 12 out of 16 countries, as confirmed by a systematic review; vi) D-scores, or empathizing-systemizing, predict Eyes Test performance above and beyond sex differences; and vii) the female advantage is negatively linked to “prosperity” and “autonomy,” and positively linked to “collectivism,” as confirmed by exploratory country-level analyses. We conclude that the on-average female advantage on the Eyes Test is observed across ages and most countries.


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