A (nascent) list of interesting analyses of social change and culture. I'll probably add more over time.
- The Origins of WEIRD Psychology. "We propose that much of this variation arose as people psychologically adapted to differing kin-based institutions—the set of social norms governing descent, marriage, residence and related domains. We further propose that part of the variation in these institutions arose historically from the Catholic Church’s marriage and family policies, which contributed to the dissolution of Europe’s traditional kin-based institutions, leading eventually to the predominance of nuclear families and impersonal institutions."
- Global Evidence on Economic Preferences. "This paper presents the Global Preference Survey (GPS), the first global survey focused on measuring a set of fundamental economic preferences: risk preference, time preference, positive and negative reciprocity, altruism, and trust. The paper shows that these preferences differ substantially across countries, but heterogeneity within countries is even more pronounced. The preferences vary systematically with plausibly exogenous individual characteristics – gender, cognitive ability, age, and cultural differences as captured by language structure – as well as country-level characteristics like geography. " Figures 2 and 3 are very interesting.
- Religious change preceded economic change in the 20th century. "The decline in the everyday importance of religion with economic development is a well-known correlation, but which phenomenon comes first? Using unsupervised factor analysis and a birth cohort approach to create a retrospective time series, we present 100-year time series of secularization in different nations, derived from recent global values surveys, which we compare by decade to historical gross domestic product figures in those nations. We find evidence that a rise in secularization generally has preceded economic growth over the past century. Our multilevel, time-lagged regressions also indicate that tolerance for individual rights predicted 20th century economic growth even better than secularization. These findings hold when we control for education and shared cultural heritage."
- The weirdest people in the world?. "Behavioral scientists routinely publish broad claims about human psychology and behavior in the world’s top journals based on samples drawn entirely from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies. [...] Overall, these empirical patterns suggests that we need to be less cavalier in addressing questions of human nature on the basis of data drawn from this particularly thin, and rather unusual, slice of humanity."
Recommendations always welcome.