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The Socio-Cultural and Psychological Factors of Economic Activity and Psychological Well-Being

Priority areas of development: sociology

Research Object: The sociocultural and psychological determinants of economic activity and psychological well-being.

Research Purpose: To study the relationships of socio-cultural and psychological factors with the complex of attitudes and perceptions that characterize economic activity.

The Empirical Base of the Research: 
The results of international surveys whose data is represented in general-use databases: European Social Survey, World Values ​​Survey, and International Social Survey Program,  as well as data from various databases, which allows us to study various macroeconomic indicators (the database of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Freedom House, Internet Center for Corruption Research, Economist Intelligence Unit, The Heritage Foundation, Economist Intelligence Unit, The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, etc).

Research Results:
The study allowed us to show Russians' growth in economic activity during the first decade of this century, combined with a reduction in the proportion of unemployed in the economically active population. Among the socio-demographic factors that had a significant impact on the status of economic activity were: age, gender, education level, marital status, number of minors, degree of residential urbanization, and level of migration activity.

The study helped to clarify existing ideas about the structure of social capital, which traditionally has been viewed as the most important factor in economic development at the macro level, and to detail the value of its individual components, for both socio-economic development and for the development of individual economic activity. The research has shown that indicators of social capital such as political activity (on the level of membership in a political party and signing petitions), respect for human rights, trust, and civic identity have an important influence on predicting the population's economic ideas. Also, there has been a refined understanding of the structure of civic identity in the context of its relationship to the population's economic activity. Three dimensions were identified: nationalism, pride in cultural achievements, and satisfaction with the country's socio-political system. It has been revealed that pride in the socio-political system is related to tolerant attitudes towards immigrants and to the most important aspects of economic activity, which is the attitude of economic independence. Nationalism leads to the formation of negative attitudes towards migrants and, therefore, to the formation of attitudes of economic independence as a "psychological defense" in a situation of sensitively perceived socio-economic competition.

The very significant role of values, moral evaluations, ​​and attitudes among culturally determined predictors of economic activity has been noticed. Radius and level of trust act as predictors of moral evaluations, and it is more for interpersonal and generalized trust than for institutional trust. Values are also​​ significant predictors of moral evaluations: "collectivist" values ​​help to strengthen moral evaluations​​, "individualist" ones lead rather to an increase in  loyalty in assessing illegal forms of economic behavior.

Among individual psychological characteristics, subjective well-being significantly affects economic activity (general life satisfaction and satisfaction with health). Relationships between subjective well-being and economic activity are interpreted by us as bilateral.

Cross-national comparisons demonstrated that Russians have the lowest level of psychological well-being, subjective evaluation of creativity in work, and job satisfaction.

Various correlations between studied variables -- psychological well-being, attitude toward work and individual values, both universal and culture-specific -- have been found. Specifically for Russia, we would like to highlight the connections within the higher order value of "Self-Enhancement" and other variables: this value is directly related to psychological well-being, the evaluation of creativity in work, self-organization, and job satisfaction. Thereby, values ​​that are included in "Self-Enhancement" -- Power, Achievement, and Hedonism (which has become increasingly important in Russia in recent years) -- and the possibility of their implementation became the main criterion of success and well-being for Russians, both at work and for life in general.

An analysis of data from WVS revealed the universal influence of the values that correspond to the type of work on life satisfaction. The study allowed us to come to the conclusion that correspondence of Secular-rational values ​​for intellectual work and values of Self-expression ​​for creative work are connected to high life satisfaction for the individual in the investigated cultures.

Implementation of the Research: The results obtained in this project can be used in the preparation and execution of reforms in the social sphere, in developing programs to optimize the mutual adaptation of migrants and the host population, in conducting modernization reforms, which require a consideration of the population's cultural and psychological characteristics, in developing programs, and in the process of stimulating the economic activity of the population, as well as in the education system.


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