How Societies Mind the Gap: Generating Comparative Data

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Fiske will speak on her coauthored paper, "Nations' Income Inequality Predicts Ambivalence in Stereotype Content: How Societies Mind the Gap," published in the British Journal of Social Psychology in 2013. Global contact requires accurate cultural maps, just as much as accurate geographic maps. The Stereotype Content Model, already validated in more than three dozen samples across 25 countries, maps how groups in a society relate to each other, in terms of perceived alliances and status hierarchies. These two universal dimensions—a group’s perceived warmth (intentions, trustworthiness) and competence (status, capability)—describe shared cultural stereotypes, not only how groups think about each other but also how they feel and act. Mapping these groups is a useful, efficient way to acquire some rapid initial cultural insight. For example, more unequal countries identify more groups in ambivalent terms, high on either warmth or competence but not both. These mixed images help “explain” income inequality (for example, disabled but deserving, rich but cold). In recent data from six Middle Eastern countries, Fiske and her coauthors examined a new type of cultural comparison: degree of conflict within the country. What happens as groups polarize in a civil war? Indicators of societal conflict and disorder generate both general principles and case-study descriptions.
Susan T. Fiske, Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology, Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs

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