Not like that here

Kevin Lewis

February 08, 2018

Hypocrisy and culture: Failing to practice what you preach receives harsher interpersonal reactions in independent (vs. interdependent) cultures
Daniel Effron et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming


Failing to practice what you preach is often condemned as hypocrisy in the West. Three experiments and a field survey document less negative interpersonal reactions to misalignment between practicing and preaching in cultures encouraging individuals' interdependence (Asian and Latin American) than in those encouraging independence (North American and Western Europe). In Studies 1-3, target people received greater moral condemnation for a misdeed when it contradicted the values they preached than when it did not - but this effect was smaller among participants from Indonesia, India, and Japan than among participants from the USA. In Study 4, employees from 46 nations rated their managers. Overall, the more that employees perceived a manager's words and deeds as chronically misaligned, the less they trusted him or her - but the more employees' national culture emphasized interdependence, the weaker this effect became. We posit that these cultural differences in reactions to failures to practice what one preaches arise because people are more likely to view the preaching as other-oriented and generous (vs. selfish and hypocritical) in cultural contexts that encourage interdependence. Study 2 provided meditational evidence of this possibility. We discuss implications for managing intercultural conflict, and for theories about consistency, hypocrisy, and moral judgment.

Herding and Male Dominance
Anke Becker
Harvard Working Paper, November 2017


Unlike other forms of pre-industrial subsistence, herding is a predominantly male task. Herding capital is mobile and hence needs to be protected, and there is a pronounced segregation between the sexes. This paper tests the hypothesis that, as a result of these characteristics, herding as a form of subsistence generated a pattern of male dominance over women in pre-industrial societies that persists until today. First, it documents that in pre-industrial herding societies women indeed had less economic independence and a more subordinate position in their marriage. Moreover, kinship organization and cultural beliefs tended to favor men more with increased dependence on herding. Second, the paper provides empirical evidence for a persistence of female subordination induced by herding until today. Using contemporary individual-level data, I show that descent from a herding society is associated with a preference for sons and less bargaining power of women within marriage. Moreover, women whose ancestral ethnic group depended more on herding animals are more likely to have undergone the most invasive form of female genital cutting. Using data on ecological conditions measuring suitability for herding, the paper provides empirical support for a causal link between herding and male dominance.

Child-bride marriage and female welfare
Paola Suarez
European Journal of Law and Economics, February 2018, Pages 1-28


“Child-bride marriage” - the marriage of prepubescent girls to adult men - has well-known nefarious consequences for females in developing countries where such marriage is often practiced. To improve these outcomes, developing-world governments have adopted several policies aimed at raising female marriage age. This paper investigates the effects of these policies for females in developing countries where parents strongly prefer sons to daughters. I find that raising female marriage age in such countries may have the unintended consequence of increasing the prevalence of female infanticide and sex-selective abortion. Where parents strongly prefer sons to daughters, some parents seek to dispose of their unwanted daughters through child-bride marriage, female infanticide, or sex-selective abortion. By raising the cost of child-bride marriage relative to infanticide or abortion, policies that raise female marriage age induce such parents to substitute the latter disposal methods for the former. I evaluate one such policy in Haryana, India and find empirical support for this prediction. My analysis suggests that from the perspective of female welfare, child-bride marriage may be a second-best institution, or constrained optimum, in developing countries that exhibit strong son preference.

The personality of U.S. states: Stability from 1999 to 2015
Lorien Elleman et al.
Journal of Research in Personality, February 2018, Pages 64-72


Researchers have shown an interest in the aggregated Big Five personality of U.S. states, but typically they have relied on scores from a single sample (Rentfrow, Gosling, & Potter, 2008). We examine the replicability of U.S. state personality scores from two studies (Rentfrow et al., 2008; Rentfrow, Gosling, Jokela, & Stillwell, 2013) across a total of seven samples, two of them new. Same-trait correlations across samples are, on average, positive for all five traits, indicating score agreement. Additionally, three traits (Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness) show strongly consistent patterns of correlations with sociodemographic variables across samples. We find rank order stability in state personality scores for a 16-year period (1999-2015).

Witchcraft Beliefs as a Cultural Legacy of the Atlantic Slave Trade: Evidence from Two Continents
Boris Gershman
American University Working Paper, December 2017


This paper formally examines the hypothesis that the historic slave trade contributed to the propagation of persistent witchcraft beliefs on both sides of the Atlantic. As documented in archival records and case studies, the Atlantic slave trade, a source of hardship for millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa, was commonly perceived by the locals as a form of witchcraft, and its perpetrators were viewed as witches and cannibals. Furthermore, in response to the rising demand for slaves, witch trials became a common vehicle of supplying captives by condemning the accused individuals and their families to slavery. Consistent with these narratives, we find that representatives of ethnic groups which were more heavily exposed to the Atlantic slave trade in the past are more likely to believe in witchcraft today, thus establishing a link between historical trauma and contemporary culture. Exploring the role of the slave trade in cultural transmission across continents, we further show that Afro-descendants in Latin America are substantially more likely to believe in witchcraft relative to other racial groups. Moreover, accounting for race and other relevant factors, people residing in regions historically more reliant on African slave labor are also more likely to be witchcraft believers.

Population structured by witchcraft beliefs
Ruth Mace et al.
Nature Human Behaviour, January 2018, Pages 39-44


Anthropologists have long argued that fear of victimization through witchcraft accusations promotes cooperation in small-scale societies. Others have argued that witchcraft beliefs undermine trust and therefore reduce social cohesion. However, there are very few, if any, quantified empirical examples demonstrating how witchcraft labels can structure cooperation in real human communities. Here we show a case from a farming community in China where people labelled zhu were thought capable of supernatural activity, particularly poisoning food. The label was usually applied to adult women heads of household and often inherited down the female line. We found that those in zhu households were less likely to give or receive gifts or farm help to or from non-zhu households; nor did they have sexual partnerships or children with those in non-zhu households. However, those in zhu households did preferentially help and reproduce with each other. Although the tag is common knowledge to other villagers and used in cooperative and reproductive partner choice, we found no evidence that this assortment was based on cooperativeness or quality. We favour the explanation that stigmatization originally arose as a mechanism to harm female competitors. Once established, fear that the trait is transmissible may help explain the persistence of this deep-rooted cultural belief.

Perceived cultural acceptability and comfort with affectionate touch: Differences between Mexican Americans and European Americans
Mary Burleson et al.
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming


Ethnographic descriptions suggest that cultures differ in the extent to which they value physical touch and its acceptability in different kinds of social relationships. For example, compared to European American (EA) culture, Mexican culture is described as placing greater emphasis on warm interpersonal interactions, in which touch may play an important part. We tested this notion empirically by assessing attitudes about touch among 271 Mexican American (MA; 208 female) and 578 EA (434 female) college students. Specifically, we examined potential ethnic group differences in (1) participants’ perception of the acceptability of affectionate touch (AT) within their cultures, depending on the relationship (close others vs. acquaintances) and setting (private vs. public) in which the touch occurs; and (2) participants’ own personal comfort with AT. Among MAs, we examined associations between touch attitudes and acculturation. As predicted, MAs reported greater cultural acceptability of AT with acquaintances (but not close others) and in public (but not private) settings than did EAs. Participants’ own comfort with AT was greater for both MA men and EA women than for EA men. Further, higher perceived cultural acceptability of AT predicted greater personal comfort with AT in both ethnic groups. Finally, among MAs, greater acculturation predicted less comfort with AT. Together, these results lend support to the notion that MA ethnocultural norms encourage AT in nonintimate contexts to a greater degree than EA norms, particularly for men, and that personal attitudes about AT are largely congruent with these norms. They also call attention to cross-cultural similarities in attitudes about touch in more intimate contexts.

Agency Beliefs Over Time and Across Cultures: Free Will Beliefs Predict Higher Job Satisfaction
Gilad Feldman, Jiing-Lih Farh & Kin Fai Ellick Wong
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, March 2018, Pages 304-317


In three studies, we examined the relationship between free will beliefs and job satisfaction over time and across cultures. Study 1 examined 252 Taiwanese real-estate agents over a 3-months period. Study 2 examined job satisfaction for 137 American workers on an online labor market over a 6-months period. Study 3 extended to a large sample of 14,062 employees from 16 countries and examined country-level moderators. We found a consistent positive relationship between the belief in free will and job satisfaction. The relationship was above and beyond other agency constructs (Study 2), mediated by perceived autonomy (Studies 2-3), and stronger in countries with a higher national endorsement of the belief in free will (Study 3). We conclude that free-will beliefs predict outcomes over time and across cultures beyond other agency constructs. We call for more cross-cultural and longitudinal studies examining free-will beliefs as predictors of real-life outcomes.

Cross-national in-group favoritism in prosocial behavior: Evidence from Latin and North America
Susann Fiedler et al.
Judgment and Decision Making, January 2018, Pages 42-60


As individuals from different nations increasingly interact with each other, research on national in-group favoritism becomes particularly vital. In a cross-national, large-scale study (N = 915) including representative samples from four Latin American nations (Chile, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela) and the USA, we explore differences regarding nationality-based in-group favoritism. In-group favoritism is assessed through differences in prosocial behavior toward persons from the own nation as compared to persons from other nations in fully incentivized one-shot dictator games. We find strong evidence for national in-group favoritism for the overall sample, but also significant differences among national subsamples. Latin Americans show more national in-group favoritism compared to US Americans (interacting with Latin Americans). While US Americans mainly follow an equal split norm (for both in- and out-group interactions), Latin Americans do so only in in-group interactions. The magnitude of in-group favoritism increases with social distance toward the out-group.

Culturally Divergent Consequences of Receiving Thanks in Close Relationships
Ning Zhang et al.
Emotion, forthcoming


We investigated consequences of receiving thanks in close relationships across cultures. Chinese reported more negative feelings than Euro-Canadians after a close other said thanks to them. Likewise, Chinese participants predicted, more than Euro-Canadians did, that a close other would experience negative feelings after receiving thanks from them. No cultural difference was found when receiving thanks from an acquaintance. On the other hand, when not receiving thanks from close others after helping them, Euro-Canadians experienced more negative feelings than did Chinese. We showed that beliefs about saying thanks in close relationships accounted for cultural differences in emotions. Implications for intercultural communication, relationship maintenance, and directions for future research are discussed.

Passion, Relational Mobility, and Proof of Commitment: A Comparative Socio-Ecological Analysis of an Adaptive Emotion in a Sexual Market
Junko Yamada, Mie Kito & Masaki Yuki
Evolutionary Psychology, December 2017


Although monogamy, the exclusive bonding with a specific partner, is one characteristic of modern human mating, long-term romantic relationships inherently possess the commitment problem, which is the conflict between maintaining a relationship with a certain partner and seeking attractive alternatives. Frank has argued that love and passion help solve this problem because they make individuals commit voluntarily to the relationship, leading the other party to also be committed with less concern over being cheated on or rejected. Combining this idea with the comparative socio‐ecological approach, we hypothesize that passion will be more pronounced in social environments in which people have greater freedom to choose and replace their partners (i.e., high relational mobility) than in societies in which relationships tend to be more stable and hard to change (i.e., low relational mobility). To test this hypothesis, we compared Americans (living in a society with high relational mobility) and Japanese (living in a society with low relational mobility). As predicted, Americans were more passionate toward their romantic partners than Japanese, and this cultural difference was partially explained by the levels of perceived relational mobility in participants’ local ecology. Moreover, more intense passion was found to lead to greater commitment behaviors in both societies. The importance of taking socioecological factors into consideration for the theory of the adaptive function of interpersonal emotions is also discussed.

Humiliated fury is not universal: The co-occurrence of anger and shame in the United States and Japan
Alexander Kirchner et al.
Cognition and Emotion, forthcoming


It has been widely believed that individuals transform high-intensity shame into anger because shame is unbearably painful. This phenomenon was first coined “humiliated fury,” and it has since received empirical support. The current research tests the novel hypothesis that shame-related anger is not universal, yet hinges on the cultural meanings of anger and shame. Two studies compared the occurrence of shame-related anger in North American cultural contexts (where shame is devalued and anger is valued) to its occurrence in Japanese contexts (where shame is valued and anger is devalued). In a daily-diary study, participants rated anger and shame feelings during shame situations that occurred over one week. In a vignette study, participants rated anger and shame in response to standardised shame vignettes that were generated in previous research by either U.S. or Japanese respondents. Across the two studies, and in line with previous research on humiliated fury, shame predicted anger for U.S. participants. Yet, neither in the daily diary study nor for the Japanese-origin vignettes, did we find shame-related anger in Japanese participants. Only when presented with U.S.-origin vignettes, did Japanese respondents in the vignette study report shame-related anger. The findings suggest that shame-related anger is a culture-specific phenomenon.

Simpler grammar, larger vocabulary: How population size affects language
Florencia Reali, Nick Chater & Morten Christiansen
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 31 January 2018


Languages with many speakers tend to be structurally simple while small communities sometimes develop languages with great structural complexity. Paradoxically, the opposite pattern appears to be observed for non-structural properties of language such as vocabulary size. These apparently opposite patterns pose a challenge for theories of language change and evolution. We use computational simulations to show that this inverse pattern can depend on a single factor: ease of diffusion through the population. A population of interacting agents was arranged on a network, passing linguistic conventions to one another along network links. Agents can invent new conventions, or replicate conventions that they have previously generated themselves or learned from other agents. Linguistic conventions are either Easy or Hard to diffuse, depending on how many times an agent needs to encounter a convention to learn it. In large groups, only linguistic conventions that are easy to learn, such as words, tend to proliferate, whereas small groups where everyone talks to everyone else allow for more complex conventions, like grammatical regularities, to be maintained. Our simulations thus suggest that language, and possibly other aspects of culture, may become simpler at the structural level as our world becomes increasingly interconnected.

Behavioral Adjustment Moderates the Link Between Neuroticism and Biological Health Risk: A U.S.-Japan Comparison Study
Shinobu Kitayama et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming


Neuroticism, a broad personality trait linked to negative emotions, is consistently linked to ill health when self-report is used to assess health. However, when health risk is assessed with biomarkers, the evidence is inconsistent. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the association between neuroticism and biological health risk is moderated by behavioral adjustment, a propensity to flexibly adjust behaviors to environmental contingencies. Using a U.S.-Japan cross-cultural survey, we found that neuroticism was linked to lower biological health risk for those who are high, but not low, in behavioral adjustment. Importantly, Japanese were higher in behavioral adjustment than European Americans, and as predicted by this cultural difference, neuroticism was linked to lower biological health risk for Japanese but not for European Americans. Finally, consistent with prior evidence, neuroticism was associated with worse self-reported health regardless of behavioral adjustment or culture. Discussion focused on the significance of identifying sociocultural correlates of biological health.

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