How could pro-social behavior ever emerge without powerful pressures to conform to the set of roles that are there to make sure social life goes along without a hitch?
Well, as it turns out the Anglophone countries are dramatically more pro-social than more conformist, formal, and ritualistic countries such as Japan, Spain, Italy, and -- yes -- France. The OECD recently released a bunch of data on social indicators in the rich countries, one subset of which deal with social cohesion. Only one of these indicators measures a costly action rather than cheap beliefs, so we'll look at that one. At the link, go to section 8 and find the spreadsheet for "Pro- and anti-social behavior." They've already made a visually simple chart that I won't paste here since it would get shrunken too much to be legible.
Their pro-social indicator is just the percent of people who in the past month either volunteered their time, gave money, or helped out a stranger. The average for the OECD is 39% making these small but helpful sacrifices. America leads the world at 60%, with Ireland just a shade behind, followed by Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Canada, who score from 54% to 59%. (There is a large drop-off with the next group of countries.) The more formal countries mentioned earlier are much less pro-social: only 31% of the French sacrifice in these ways, 30% of Spaniards, 27% of Italians, and 26% of Japanese.
Is this pattern general? Yes. The OECD report also has a good-enough measure of conformity -- the percent of communities that report some degree of tolerance for minorities, gays, etc. It's not perfect, but it is a measure of how much deviation from the norm is sanctioned. Among the developed countries, here is the relationship between pro-social behavior and tolerance:
The fit is very tight. Spearman's rank correlation is +0.74 (two-tailed p less than 1 x 10^(-7) ).
Friday, May 20, 2011
Publicada por Miguel Madeira em 08:43