• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

Socio-Cultural Studies of Economic Attitudes and Behavior

2010

The main purpose of the researchwas to develop a theoretical concept and culturally-sensitive methodology of studying socio-cultural factors of economic attitudes and behavior.The subject of the research: socio-cultural factors influencing economic attitudes and behavior. 

Methods of the research:   

I. Theoretical analysis of inter-disciplinary approaches to studying economic attitudes and behavior.

II. Method of socio-psychological survey, including the following methods:

1) Schwartz value surveys (SVS57) translated by N. Lebedeva (Lebedeva, 2000).

2) Methods of economic behavior scenarios developed by Scientific-Educational Laboratory of Socio-Psychological Research at SU-HSE.

3) Methods of measuring significance of religious identity (M. Efremova, N. Lebedeva).

4) Social capital was evaluated using questions aimed at measuring inter-personal trust and tolerance that had been tested in previous studies of the International Scientific-Educational Laboratory of Socio-Psychological Research at SU-HSE.

5) Attitudes to innovations were studied using Innovative Quality of Personality methods (Lebedeva, Tatarko, 2009).

6) Economic attitudes were studied using a standardized program of the Laboratory of Social and Economic Psychology of Psychology Institute at RAS (Zhuravlev, 2002).

The theoretical analysis identified 11 bipolar dimensions of economic behavior, which underlies the methodology of behavioral scenarios aimed at measuring attitudes to certain types of economic behavior. With this technique, we carried out a socio-psychological survey in three regions of Russia: Moscow and Moscow region, Chukotka Autonomous District, the North Caucasus federal district (Chechnya, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria), with a total sample of 630 people.

The results of the empirical study demonstrated:

1. Inter-group (inter-ethnic and inter-religious) differences in economic behavior scenarios.

We identified a large degree of difference between Russian respondents and representatives of the Caucasus peoples in attitudes to different types of economic behavior. Most of the revealed differences reflect stereotypical beliefs about the behavior of people with the same ethnic background in these situations (i.e. in typicality evaluations of the models of economic behavior). Representatives of the Caucasus peoples demonstrate a greater tendency to economic paternalism and economic passivity on an emotional and behavioral level compared to Russians. Distribution of financial benefits on the basis of fairness is more often accepted by Russians than Caucasians on an emotional level, and the willingness to follow this model of behavior is also more often exhibited by Russians. Based on the results of the survey, the religious affiliation of respondents has a weaker impact on their economic behavior than their ethnic background.

Inter-regional comparisons demonstrated that attitudes to economic paternalism have a greater intensity in other Russian regions than in Moscow. Attitudes to a short-term perspective in economic behavior are more characteristic of the inhabitants of Russian regions. Attitudes to economic indifference (a weak interest in economic developments) are also more common among residents of regions than among residents of the Russian capital. Greater economic passiveness and a stronger reluctance to take advantage of bank loans are also shown by residents of these regions. At the same time, the orientation towards greater priority of profit rather than lawful behavior is more characteristic of Moscow residents than those in Russian regions. In allocation of financial remuneration, Moscow residents are more oriented towards the “fairness” principle rather than the “equality” principle.

2. Economic beliefs and monetary attitudes. Analysis of the findings of the study, using methods of economic behavior scenarios demonstrated that Russians, in general, reveal negative attitude to economic paternalism and economic passivity despite high estimates of their typicality in Russia; they prefer distribution of labor compensation in accordance with each other’s contribution (i.e. based on the fairness principle rather than equality), they prefer to save time than money (strive for professionalism), they have a drive for long-term potential in economic behavior. These are favorable phenomena of economic consciousness and behavior which demonstrates the need for economic activity, welfare growth and the desire for fairness in economic relations. In addition, respondents show a preference for making profit rather than obeying the law, are not ready to take advantage of bank loans and give greater priority to the material component of the work rather than its creative part. It demonstrates the greater importance of the material part of life of our contemporaries and some conservatism (distrust in banks, risk aversion and the desire to “have one’s feet on the ground”).

The structure of monetary attitudes of Russians and Caucasians differs. For Russians, it includes the following factors: “Financial anxiety”, “Higher importance of money”, “Extravagance”, “Thrift”.For Caucasians, they include: “High importance of money”, “Money as a source of pride”, “Money as a source of anxiety”, “Unwillingness to spend money”, “Free and easy attitude to money”.The principally new and different factor in the North Caucasus sample is “Money as a source of pride”. This factor demonstrates that for Caucasians, money has a greater personal importance compared with Russians.

The results of the interaction between money-related associations and models of economic behavior demonstrate that beliefs about money as an achievement is related to activity and responsibility in economic behavior. People who associate money with fairness are characterized by higher economic independence. Perceiving money as an achievement, comfort, entertainment and freedomis attributed to developing long-term plans in economic behavior, associating money with unscrupulousnesscreates an environment for the short-term potential of economic behavior.

3. The role of perceptions of fairness, innovative qualities, social capital in economic behavior .

When evaluating the fairness of remuneration and social benefit distribution, Russians are predominantly guided by differentiating norms of fairness that take into account the work done by the person and his/her efforts, including years in the profession. Compliance with non-differentiating norms – equality and, especially, distribution according to needs – is usually deemed unfair. This trend is especially pronounced among Russian and Orthodox people of Russia. At the same time, Caucasian peoples and Muslims put a greater emphasis on equality and distribution according to needs.

Personality innovativeness (positive attitudes to innovations), based on the values of Independence, Stimulation and Achievement, are inter-related with the long-term potential; economic independence and activity; interest in economics; economy of time rather than money; priority of creativity over money remuneration in job; desire to distribute financial remuneration according to the fairness principle – i.e. with productive types of economic behavior. These relations are more common in the modernized Russian culture compared with the more traditional cultures of North Caucasus and for representatives of the Russian culture compared with the Muslim culture.

The social capital of Russians and representatives of Caucasian people is mostly related to their attitudes to productive economic behavior: in both groups it is negatively related to profit priority over law, the size of remuneration over creativity in work. For Russians, it is negatively related to economic indifference and among representatives of Caucasus with attitudes to economic paternalism and short-term potential in economic behavior. In both groups, inter-personal trust is negatively related with the attitudes to profit priority over law. Therefore, social capital facilitates law abidance in economic behavior in both cultural groups, i.e. is a universal socio-cultural factor of productive economic behavior for society.