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Social status and prosociality: A cross-cultural study in four selected countries

English title Social status and prosociality: A cross-cultural study in four selected countries
Applicant Liebe Ulf
Number 169286
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Department of Sociology University of Warwick
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Sociology
Start/End 01.07.2017 - 30.09.2021
Approved amount 285'933.00
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Keywords (5)

Social Status; Culture; Survey; Experiments; Prosociality

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Das Projekt untersucht auf Basis einer ländervegleichenden Umfrage, in die Verhaltensexperimente zu Altruismus und Reziprozität integriert werden, inwieweit Personen mit einem hohen sozialen Status prosozialer Handeln als Personen mit einem niedrigen sozialen Status.
Lay summary

Seit 2010 hat die Frage, ob und inwieweit sich Statusgruppen in ihrem prosozialen Handeln unterscheiden, zunehmend Aufmerksamkeit in den Sozialwissenschaften erfahren. Allerdings ist die Forschung bisher daran gescheitert, gesichert herauszufinden, ob Akteure mit hohen sozialen Status mehr oder weniger prosozial handeln als Akteure mit geringen sozialen Status. Deshalb zielt dieses Projekt primär darauf ab, belastbare empirische Evidenzen zum Zusammenhang von sozialen Status und Prosozialität bereitzustellen. Zu diesem Zweck werden experimentelle Methoden in Bevölkerungsbefragungen integriert. Drei Varianten des Diktatorspiels werden eingesetzt, um drei zentrale Spielarten der Prosozialität, nämlich Altruismus, direkte und generalisierte Reziprozität, zu messen. Weil zugleich sozioökonomischer Status und subjektiver Status in den Umfragen erhoben werden, erlaubt dieses Projekt den Zusammenhang von sozialen Status und Prosozialität mit großen Fallzahlen zu untersuchen. Ein weiteres Ziel dieses Forschungsprojekts besteht darin, konkurrierende Theorien zur Erklärung von Prosozialität zu testen. Dazu werden verschiedene theoretische Determinanten von Prosozialität in den Umfragen gemessen. Schließlich untersucht dieses Projekt, ob und inwieweit der Zusammenhang von Status und Prosozialität durch kulturelle Eigenschaften bedingt ist. Die mitunter starke Divergenz in den Ergebnissen vorangehender Studien könnte durchaus auch damit erklärbar sein, dass unterschiedliche Populationen mit divergierenden kulturellen Eigenschaften untersucht wurden. Da sowohl Einstellungen bezüglich sozialer Schichtung, Status und Macht als auch prosoziales Handeln kulturell bedingt sind, ist es sehr plausibel, dass auch der Zusammenhang zwischen Status und Prosozialität zwischen kulturellen Umgebungen variiert. Um dies empirisch zu untersuchen, werden die Umfragen und die darin integrierten Experimente in vier Ländern, nämlich Deutschland, USA, Schweden und Polen, durchgeführt.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 17.05.2017

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Opposing Effects of Objective and Subjective Social Status on Prosociality: Theory and Quasi-Experiment
TuticAndreas, LiebeUlf (2021), Opposing Effects of Objective and Subjective Social Status on Prosociality: Theory and Quasi-Experiment, in Tutic Andreas, Raub Werner, Krumpal Ivar (ed.), Springer VS, Wiesbaden, 221-244.
Contact Heterogeneity as a Mediator of the Relationship between Social Class and Altruistic Giving
Tutić Andreas, Liebe Ulf (2020), Contact Heterogeneity as a Mediator of the Relationship between Social Class and Altruistic Giving, in Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, 6, 2378023120-2378023120.
Sozialer Status, Altruistisches Geben und Reziprozität: Befunde aus einem Quasi-Experiment mit Probanden aus den USA
Tutić Andreas, Liebe Ulf (2019), Sozialer Status, Altruistisches Geben und Reziprozität: Befunde aus einem Quasi-Experiment mit Probanden aus den USA, in Zeitschrift für Soziologie, 48(3), 176-189.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof. Sandra Marquart-Pyatt, Michigan State University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Antoni Sulek, Ph.D. University of Warsaw Poland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Annette Schnabel, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and Umeå University Sweden (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Abstract

Since approx. 2010 the question if and to what extent status groups differ regarding prosocial behavior has received increasing attention from sociologists, social psychologists, and economists. Unfortunately, the existing empirical evidence is rather inconclusive. Strikingly, the literature even disagrees on the very basic question, which social strata lean more towards prosocial behavior. On the one hand, influential social psychologists make the case that high-status actors are more egoistic and less prosocial than low-status actors. On the other hand, there is also a considerable amount of evidence for a positive relationship between social status and prosociality. For example, the applicants demonstrated that high-status students in Germany are more altruistic in the dictator game than low-status students and also replicated their finding in other social settings such as hospitals.Against this background of inconclusive evidence, this project primarily aims at providing reliable empirical evidence on the relationship between social status and prosociality. To achieve this, the project combines representative surveys with experimental methods. Three variants of dictator games will be integrated in surveys allowing to directly measure three important forms of prosociality, i.e. altruism, direct reciprocity, and indirect reciprocity, on an incentivized, behavioral level, as recommended by the methodological guidelines of experimental economics. Since SES and subjective social status will be measured in the surveys, this allows to explore the empirical relationship between social status and prosociality on a large-scale level.The second goal of the proposed study is to test conflicting theoretical models regarding the explanation of prosociality. Economic approaches regarding social preferences, various sociological theories such as status expectancy theory, exchange theory, and interaction ritual theory as well as diverse social-psychological concepts regarding empathy, social identity, and in-group bias provide a variety of predictions regarding the interplay of social status and prosociality. Measuring the theoretically suggested determinants of prosociality in surveys and comparing the predictions to the behavioral measure of prosociality obtained via the integrated experiments allows putting these theories to a comparative empirical test.Third, the project will explore if and to what extent the observed relationship between social status and prosociality depends on cultural differences. The mixed evidence from previous studies might to a considerable degree be explained by the fact that data stems from different populations carrying divergent cultural traits. Comparative cultural studies clearly demonstrate that nations differ with respect to predominantly held values, norms, and attitudes regarding for example inequality, power, individualism, and contest. Since both attitudes towards social hierarchy, status, and power as well as patterns of prosocial behavior vary drastically among cultural environments, it is highly likely the cultural traits also affect the relationship between social status and prosociality. To empirically examine the role of culture on the status-prosociality nexus, the proposed research project will conduct surveys with integrated experiments in four countries, i.e., Germany, Sweden, Poland, and the US. These four countries were selected on the basis of Hofstede's work on cultural dimensions. More specifically, Sweden, Poland, and the US are very similar on two of the three most relevant Hofstede dimensions of culture, i.e., power distance, individualism, and masculinity, and differ drastically with respect to the third. Hence, this selection of countries allows separating the effects of these three cultural dimensions.
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