... tight nations are more likely to have autocratic governing systems that suppress dissent, to have media institutions (broadcast, paper, Internet) with restricted content and more laws and controls, and to have criminal justice systems with higher monitoring, more severe punishment (e.g., the death penalty), and greater deterrence and control of crime.A team lead by psychologist Michele Gelfand (University of Maryland) surveyed people from 30 countries to assess how tight each country was. They were asked to rate statements like:
- “There are many social norms that people are supposed to abide by in this country”
- “In this country, if someone acts in an inappropriate way, others will strongly disapprove,”
- “People in this country almost always comply with social norms.”
They had more autocratic governments and less press freedom, fewer political rights and civil liberties, more police and less crime (at least, less reported crime).
They also (you won't be surprised to hear if you read this blog regularly), are more religious, with more people attending religious services and (to a lesser extent) more people rating god as being important in their lives.
Still, it's an interesting finding (assuming it's correct!). The authors argue that tight nations are religious because religion reinforces "adherence to moral conventions and rules that can facilitate social order and coordination".
That certainly gives an alternative perspective to the conventional rubric that people under threat turn to religion to help to alleviate their anxiety!
Gelfand MJ, Raver JL, Nishii L, & others (2011). Differences between tight and loose cultures: a 33-nation study. Science (New York, N.Y.), 332 (6033), 1100-4 PMID: 21617077
This article by Tom Rees was first published on Epiphenom. It is licensed under Creative Commons.