Uniquely Universal

Kevin Lewis

February 11, 2011

Church-state separation and redistribution

John Huber & Piero Stanig
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

We analyze how religion affects voting and redistribution. Our model directs attention away from the particular faith, belief or risk attitudes of religious individuals, and emphasizes instead how organized religion opens the door to standard group-based distributive politics. We argue that organized religion makes it possible for the rich and the religious poor to form electoral coalitions in favor of low taxes and limited redistribution. The losers are the secular poor. However, the material reward to the religious poor from supporting such electoral coalitions depends on the institutional context. As state financial support for religion increases, the ideological preferences of the religious poor become aligned with those of the secular poor in favor of parties that support high taxes. The analysis therefore shows that the redistributive preferences of religious individuals should vary with the institutional context, and that we can understand these preferences without assuming that religious individuals have specific core traits that differ from those of secular individuals.


Arab Islamist Parties: Losing on Purpose?

Shadi Hamid
Journal of Democracy, January 2011, Pages 68-80

Most major political parties contest elections with the aim of ultimately governing. Supposedly, Islamist parties are no different. However, a careful consideration of their electoral behavior suggests a surprising reality: Islamists deliberately lose elections. They run "partial slates," contesting on average only about one-third of total available parliamentary seats. This article considers the factors that lead Islamist parties to privilege self-preservation over political contestation. Democratic transitions require oppositions that are willing to both confront regimes and assume power. However, Islamists' deference to regimes suggests they may be obstacles to democratic reform. Since Islamist groups are the main opposition in most Arab countries, this has significant implications for the likelihood of real democratic change in the region.


On the Origins of Cultural Differences in Conformity: Four Tests of the Pathogen Prevalence Hypothesis

Damian Murray, Russell Trudeau & Mark Schaller
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, March 2011, Pages 318-329

What are the origins of cultural differences in conformity? The authors deduce the hypothesis that these cultural differences may reflect historical variability in the prevalence of disease-causing pathogens: Where pathogens were more prevalent, there were likely to emerge cultural norms promoting greater conformity. The authors conducted four tests of this hypothesis, using countries as units of analysis. Results support the pathogen prevalence hypothesis. Pathogen prevalence positively predicts cultural differences in effect sizes that emerge from behavioral conformity experiments (r = .49, n = 17) and in the percentage of the population who prioritize obedience (r = .48, n = 83). Pathogen prevalence also negatively predicted two indicators of tolerance for nonconformity: within-country dispositional variability (r = -.48, n = 33) and the percentage of the population who are left-handed (r = -.73, n = 20). Additional analyses address plausible alternative causal explanations. Discussion focuses on plausible underlying mechanisms (e.g., genetic, developmental, cognitive).


Presidential Popularity in a Hybrid Regime: Russia under Yeltsin and Putin

Daniel Treisman
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

In liberal democracies, the approval ratings of political leaders have been shown to track citizens' perceptions of the state of the economy. By contrast, in illiberal democracies and competitive autocracies, leaders are often thought to boost their popularity by exploiting nationalism, exaggerating external threats, and manipulating the media. Using time-series data, I examine the determinants of presidential approval in Russia since 1991, a period in which leaders' ratings swung between extremes. I find that Yeltsin's and Putin's ratings were, in fact, closely linked to public perceptions of economic performance, which, in turn, reflected objective economic indicators. Although media manipulation, wars, terrorist attacks, and other events also mattered, Putin's unprecedented popularity and the decline in Yeltsin's are well explained by the contrasting economic circumstances over which each presided.


The limits of self-governance when cooperators get punished: Experimental evidence from urban and rural Russia

Simon Gächter & Benedikt Herrmann
European Economic Review, February 2011, Pages 193-210

We report evidence from public goods experiments with and without punishment which we conducted in Russia with 566 urban and rural participants of young and mature age cohorts. Russia is interesting for studying voluntary cooperation because of its long history of collectivism, and a huge urban-rural gap. In contrast to previous experiments we find no cooperation-enhancing effect of punishment. An important reason is that there is punishment of contributors in all four subject pools. Thus, punishment can also undermine the scope for self-governance in the sense of high levels of voluntary cooperation that are sustained by sanctioning free riders only.


Self-Organization and Emergence in Social Systems: Modeling the Coevolution of Social Environments and Cooperative Behavior

Dirk Helbing, Wenjian Yu & Heiko Rauhut
Journal of Mathematical Sociology, January 2011, Pages 177-208

We demonstrate with computational simulation scenarios how social environments and individual behavior coevolve and how fundamentally different macro-effects emerge, when separate micromechanisms are combined. Our framework considers social interactions among agents on a spatial grid or in networks. In the Prisoner's Dilemma, neither imitation of more successful strategies nor the migration to more favorable locations can promote cooperation. However, when both microscopic mechanisms are combined, they cause the segregation of cooperators and defectors, and the self-organization of cooperative clusters on the macro-level. These are robust to randomness, while cooperation may break down in a "globalized society." The implications for the evolution of norms and institutions are discussed.


Constructing Interethnic Conflict and Cooperation: Why Some People Harmed Jews and Others Helped Them during the Holocaust in Romania

Diana Dumitru & Carter Johnson
World Politics, February 2011, Pages 1-42

The authors draw on a natural experiment to demonstrate that states can reconstruct conflictual interethnic relationships into cooperative relationships in relatively short periods of time. The article examines differences in how the gentile population in each of two neighboring territories in Romania treated its Jewish population during the Holocaust. These territories had been part of tsarist Russia and subject to state-sponsored anti-Semitism until 1917. During the interwar period one territory became part of Romania, which continued anti-Semitic policies, and the other became part of the Soviet Union, which pursued an inclusive nationality policy, fighting against inherited anti-Semitism and working to integrate its Jews. Both territories were then reunited under Romanian administration during World War II, when Romania began to destroy its Jewish population. The authors demonstrate that, despite a uniform Romanian state presence during the Holocaust that encouraged gentiles to victimize Jews, the civilian population in the area that had been part of the Soviet Union was less likely to harm and more likely to aid Jews as compared with the region that had been part of Romania. Their evidence suggests that the state construction of interethnic relationships can become internalized by civilians and outlive the life of the state itself.


Bribes, Lobbying, and Development

Bard Harstad & Jakob Svensson
American Political Science Review, forthcoming

When faced with a regulatory constraint, firms can either comply, bribe the regulator to get around the rule, or lobby the government to relax it. We analyze this choice, and its consequences, in a simple dynamic model. In equilibrium, when the level of development is low, firms are more inclined to bend the rule through bribery but they tend to switch to lobbying when the level of development is sufficiently high. Bribery, however, is associated with holdup problems, which discourage firms from investing. If the holdup problems are severe, firms will never invest enough to make lobbying worthwhile. The country may then be stuck in a poverty trap with bribery forever. The model can account for the common perception that bribery is relatively more common in poor countries, whereas lobbying is relatively more common in rich ones.


My Nation, My Self: Divergent Framings of America Influence American Selves

MarYam Hamedani, Hazel Rose Markus & Alyssa Fu
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, March 2011, Pages 350-364

Current public discourse calls for America to act more interdependently in the world or act more like a conjoint agent. America and American selves, however, are typically associated acting independently or disjoint agency. Since nation is a significant sociocultural source of self, the authors examine what happens to American selves if America is instead associated with conjoint agency. Study 1 surveyed participants in America and nine nations (N = 610) about America's role in the world and found that although people currently associate America with disjoint agency, they overwhelmingly prefer America to be a conjoint agent. Studies 2-4 demonstrated that framing America's role in the world with conjoint agency rather than disjoint agency led Americans to see themselves more positively (Studies 2 and 3) and be less individualistic in their self-descriptions and actions (Study 4). The results reveal how changes in the sociocultural context can catalyze a corresponding change in the selves that inhabit that context.


A theory of liberal churches

Michael Makowsky
Mathematical Social Sciences, January 2011, Pages 41-51

There is a counterintuitive gap in the club theory of religion. While it elegantly accounts for the success of strict sectarian religious groups in recruiting members and maintaining commitment, it is less satisfactory when attempting to account for groups requiring neither extreme nor zero sacrifice. Moderate groups are always a suboptimal choice for rational, utility maximizing agents within the original representative agent model. The corner solutions of zero and absolute sacrifice, however, are rarely observed empirically compared to the moderate intermediate. In this paper, we extend the original model to operate within an agent-based computational context, with a distribution of heterogeneous agents occupying coordinates in a two dimensional lattice, making repeated decisions over time. Our model offers the possibility of successful moderate groups, including outcomes wherein the population is dominated by moderate groups. The viability of moderate groups is dependent on extending the model to accommodate agent heterogeneity, not just within the population of agents drawn from, but heterogeneity within groups. Moderate sacrifice rates mitigate member free riding and serve as a weak screening device that permits a range of agent types into the group. Within-group heterogeneity allows agents to benefit from the differing comparative advantages of their fellow members.


Who Benefits from Religion?

Daniel Mochon, Michael Norton & Dan Ariely
Social Indicators Research, March 2011, Pages 1-15

Many studies have documented the benefits of religious involvement. Indeed, highly religious people tend to be healthier, live longer, and have higher levels of subjective well-being. While religious involvement offers clear benefits to many, in this paper we explore whether it may also be detrimental to some. Specifically, we examine in detail the relation between religious involvement and subjective well-being. We first replicate prior findings showing a positive relation between religiosity and subjective well-being. However, our results also suggest that this relation may be more complex than previously thought. While fervent believers benefit from their involvement, those with weaker beliefs are actually less happy than those who do not ascribe to any religion-atheists and agnostics. These results may help explain why - in spite of the well-documented benefits of religion - an increasing number of people are abandoning their faith. As commitment wanes, religious involvement may become detrimental to well-being, and individuals may be better off seeking new affiliations.


The infallibility of the pope

Mario Ferrero
Economics of Governance, March 2011, Pages 89-99

This paper tries to explain the Catholic dogma of papal infallibility as a rational choice that virtually forecloses future doctrinal change and thereby triggers the adoption of more loyal behavior by church members. The paper employs a model of a dynamic game with incomplete information, called the Reform game, and shows that under some conditions, closing the game and credibly pre-committing to a single strategy through the dogma may be a superior choice for the Church. Then it is shown that the model fits well the historical circumstances of the enactment of the dogma. Finally, an analogy of the dogma with the scriptural literalism of fundamentalist religious groups is suggested.


The cultural morphospace of ritual form: Examining modes of religiosity cross-culturally

Quentin Atkinson & Harvey Whitehouse
Evolution and Human Behavior, January 2011, Pages 50-62

Ethnographic, historical, archaeological and experimental work suggests the existence of two basic clusters of ritual dynamics or 'modes of religiosity' - a low-frequency, high-arousal cluster linked to the formation of small cohesive communities (imagistic mode) and high-frequency, low-arousal cluster associated with larger, more centralized social morphology (doctrinal mode). Currently, however, we lack a large-scale survey of ritual variation on which to test such predictions. Here, we compile data on 645 religious rituals from 74 cultures around the globe, extracted from the Human Relations Area Files, revealing that the cultural morphospace of ritual form favours rituals that are indeed either low-frequency and highly dysphorically arousing or high-frequency with lower arousal and that these ritual dynamics are linked to group size and structure. These data also suggest that low dysphoric arousal, high-frequency rituals may have been tied to the advent of agriculture and subsequent emergence of the first large-scale civilizations.


What Predicts Religious Participation and Giving? Implications for Religion in the United States

Casey Borch, Shane Thye, Chris Robinson & Matthew West
Sociological Spectrum, January 2011, Pages 86-113

In this article, we test whether or not positive/negative sanctioning increases religious behavior. Using data from the 1998 congregational module of the General Social Survey we find that, net of other predictors, immediate positive sanctions (receiving help from the congregation) and immediate negative sanctions (receiving criticism from the congregation) significantly increase the amount of money given by respondents to religious organizations. Our results also indicate that sanctions promised in the future (belief in Heaven and belief in Hell) have little to no effect on religious giving. Furthermore, we find that immediate positive and negative sanctions as well as future negative sanctions predict greater participation in religious organizations, while future positive sanctions show no such effects. The results are discussed in the context of the emerging trend of waning religious involvement in the contemporary United States.


Islamic Banks and Financial Stability: An Empirical Analysis

Martin Čihák & Heiko Hesse
Journal of Financial Services Research, December 2010, Pages 95-113

The relative financial strength of Islamic banks is assessed empirically based on evidence covering individual Islamic and commercial banks in 19 banking systems with a substantial presence of Islamic banking. We find that (a) small Islamic banks tend to be financially stronger than small commercial banks; (b) large commercial banks tend to be financially stronger than large Islamic banks; and (c) small Islamic banks tend to be financially stronger than large Islamic banks, which may reflect challenges of credit risk management in large Islamic banks. We also find that the market share of Islamic banks does not have a significant impact on the financial strength of other banks.


A multidimensional approach to identity: Religious and cultural identity in young Jewish Canadians

Reeshma Haji, Richard Lalonde, Anna Durbin & Ilil Naveh-Benjamin
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, January 2011, Pages 3-18

This study used an online questionnaire to explore the relations among different dimensions of religious and cultural Jewish identity in young Canadian adults (N = 258). We investigated the extent to which three aspects of Jewish identity-religious identity, cultural identity, and identity salience- predicted openness to interfaith relationships and sociopolitical attitudes related to Israel. Results showed that compared to participants who self-identified as cultural Jews, those who self-identified as religious Jews or as both religious and cultural Jews scored higher on measures of cultural and religious identification. Moreover, relative to culturally identified Jews, religious and religious/cultural Jews were less open to interfaith relationships, endorsed more right-wing political attitudes with respect to Israel's foreign policy, and reported that their Jewish identity was more salient than their Canadian identity in identity-relevant situations. Similarly, relative to Jews of other denominations, Orthodox Jews reported higher levels of Jewish identification, greater salience of their Jewish identity, and advocated more right-wing political views.


The great escape: World War II, neo-Freudianism, and the origins of U.S. psychocultural analysis

Edward Gitre
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, Winter 2011, Pages 18-43

Psychocultural analysis stands as a signal accomplishment of the 1930s U.S. assimilation of European refugee-intellectuals. Scholars in the U.S. had been moving toward a kind of psychocultural analysis well in advance of the Great Migration - the U.S. was not an intellectual vacuum or wasteland - nevertheless, it was through their interdisciplinary collaboration, fueled by the specter of war, that these international peers stimulated one of the most wide-ranging, dynamic, and productive exchanges of ideas of the century. Through the lens of Erich Fromm's Escape from Freedom, this article explores psychoculturalism's emergence in the interstices between cultures, nations, ideas, and disciplines - between Europeans and Americans, psychoanalysts and social scientists.


Can Bad Governance be Good for Development?

Sam Wilkin
Survival, February 2011, Pages 61-76

Very few of the world's most rapidly developing countries have enjoyed good governance during their periods of rapid growth - China is only the most recent example. This is not a coincidence. Bad governance is, in some cases, good for development. This has broad implications for the design of effective foreign aid programmes.


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