Tag Archives: review

Belief in a Zero-Sum Game by Różycka-Tran, Boski & Wojciszke paper in JCCP, 2015 reviewed

Różycka-Tran, J., Boski, P., & Wojciszke, B. (2015). Belief in a zero-sum game as a social axiom: A 37-nation study. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 1, 24. pdf

A group of Polish psychologists has expanded the list of social axioms with a very intriguing one. They called it “belief in a zero-sum game” which is a belief that if someone gets anything it means someone else has lost it.
The concept of zero-sum game was adopted from game theory, but it’s not very popular in cross-cultural research. This is a very important concept in institutional economics, where the zero-sum game mimics the imperfect institutions that can shape how people behave. In the reviewed paper the authors were interested not in institutional conditions but rather in perceptions of these conditions. This issue matters particularly in relation to cultural barriers of economic development. Potentially, a production of  added value is problematic if no one believes it’s possible.
The previous findings from  Polish samples showed that people who believe that the game has zero-sum, are generally the ones who used to lose. This is a clear tendency of a personality to keep its psychological balance – “I didn’t win, because the others took my win” (not “because I wasn’t able to”).
Using psychology student samples from 37 nations the authors  measured this belief with a battery, including  8 items such as “when somebody gains, others have to lose”, “person wins only when others lose”,  and surprisingly “interests of different people are inconsistent” and “When someone does much for others, he or she loses.”
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Review of Polavieja's "Capturing Culture" ASR paper

update 10.08.2018. I have just discovered that the paper received critical comments which surprisingly do not overlap with mine. The difference is these comments were published in ASR and rejoined by the author.

Capturing Culture: A New Method to Estimate Exogenous Cultural Effects Using Migrant Populations by Javier G. Polavieja // American Sociological Review, February 2015, vol. 80, no. 1, pp. 166-191.  http://asr.sagepub.com/content/80/1/166.abstract

The paper is a bit hard to comprehend, so I spent a long time trying to understand and being very sceptical about it. But finally, I got the general idea and it seems pretty good.
In short, the paper is about how to construct a good instrumental variable for IV regression when you have endogeneity (i.e. – always) and use data from cross-country surveys.  The author suggests using country of migrants’ origin in constructing of the IV for a regression based on migrant samples. The characteristics of native populations are assigned to migrants and this variable is a good IV since it’s completely exogenous to the sample. After instrumenting, a regressor reflects only the variance that is due to differences in migrants’ country of origin.

What I disliked is a specific implementation of the idea.
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