Non-industrialized societies from centuries past have tightened or loosened their social rules depending on external threats, just as industrialized ones today do, a new study has found.
In research published last week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Distinguished University Professor Michele Gelfand and colleagues worked with anthropologists to test for the first time whether the psychology researcher’s “tightness-looseness” theory applies to such societies. Drawing from an ethnographic record known as the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample, researchers studied 86 non-industrialized groups that existed throughout the world between the 17th and 20th centuries.
“This suggests, as our other works show on industrialized nations, that it may be evolutionarily adaptive for groups to develop strong rules to coordinate survival of a collective threat,” Gelfand said.
Joshua Conrad Jackson from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill led the study, and Gelfand and Carol Ember from Yale University were co-authors of the paper.
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