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Sacred Values as cultural factors in collaboration and negotiation. Scott Atran (CUNY, University of Michigan) Jeremy Ginges (New School for Social Research, NYC) Baruch Fischhoff (Carnegie Mellon University) Consultant: Robert Axelrod (University of Michigan). Team.

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sacred values as cultural factors in collaboration and negotiation
Sacred Values as cultural factors in collaboration and negotiation
  • Scott Atran (CUNY, University of Michigan)
  • Jeremy Ginges (New School for Social Research, NYC)
  • Baruch Fischhoff (Carnegie Mellon University)
  • Consultant: Robert Axelrod (University of Michigan)
  • Social Psychology (Ginges), Anthropology (Atran), Judgement and decsion-making (Fischhoff), Political science (Axelrod)
  • Ethnically and linguistically diverse team of graduate students
    • Languages: Arabic, Urdu, Hindi, French, German, Polish, Hungarian
sacred values
Sacred Values
  • Research broadly examines the influence of sacred values (SVs) on judgement and decision-making
    • “I would not ___ no matter how great the benefit or cost”
  • Sacred values are things (issues, resources, beliefs, practices) that are infused, in the minds of specific groups of people, with moral, spiritual and often religious components
    • Land becomes “sacred”, buildings become “holy”
  • Product of “moral communities” (Tetlock, 2003) and so culturally bound
  • Moral intuitions (Haidt);Strong ties to the affective system
  • We suppose strong ties to individual identities
sacred values1
Sacred Values
  • Early research by Phil Tetlock and Jon Baron
  • Tetlock (2003) argued that SVs are merely “pseudo-sacred “and in a real world of scarce resources they are remarkably easily dodged to produce flexibility- we dispute this
  • Judgments and decisions about “sacred values” differ from judgment and decisions about mundane (marketplace) objects and behaviors
    • Taboo against measuring commitments along an instrumental scale/metric
  • Significantly impact collaborative versus adversarial choices in cross-cultural interactions.

What we know

  • Judgments and decisions over sacred values tend not to be instrumentally rational (lack cost-benefit characteristics) and tend to be influenced by instrumentally irrelevant but emotionally laden symbolism
    • This basic finding published in leading peer review journals PNAS, Science, Psychological Science
    • No framing effects (Tanner & Medin, 2004; Ginges 2007), insensitivity or hypersensitivity to scope (Bartels & Medin, 2007; Ginges, 2008)

Two other findings

  • When people have a strong preference for _____ (non-absolutists), offering material sweeteners leads to less anger/violence
  • When people hold _____ to be a SV (moral-absolutists), material sweeteners backfire
    • However symbolic gestures work well
better deals can produce worse results
Better deals can produceworseresults
  • Sample: 720 Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza.
  • Recruited across 14 campuses, individual interviews
  • Half members of Hamas or PIJ
  • Two experiments compared reactions of moral absolutists versus non absolutists
measuring svs
Measuring SVs
  • “Do you agree that there are some extreme circumstances where it would be permissible for the Palestinian people to compromise over ______ ….”
  • Yes Don’t Know/Unsure No
  • No indicates SV - moral absolutist
  • Don’t know/unsure - non absolutist
recognizing israel
Recognizing Israel
  • Taboo deal: “Suppose the United Nations organized a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians. Under this treaty Palestinians would recognize the sacred and historic right of the Jewish people to Israel. There would be two states - a Jewish state of Israel and a Palestinian state in 99% of the West Bank and Gaza.”
  • Taboo+: “On their part, Israel will pay Palestine 1 billion dollars a year for 10 years.’

Within subjects design

  • 102 Indonesian students at 4 madrassahs
  • One of the four schools, al-Islam, associated with Jemmah Islamiyah
  • Deals involved US recognition of Islamic party rule, compromise over sharia
    • trade agreement
replicable finding
Replicable finding
  • Other samples: Jewish settlers, Palestinian refugees, Indonesian madrassah students
  • Other topics: right of return (refugees), giving up land (settlers), sharia
  • Other material incentives: more money, life free of violence
value of symbolic concessions
Value of symbolic concessions
  • Surveyed rep sample of settlers in August ‘05, days before Gaza disengagement
  • Approx 50% of those surveyed were moral absolutists regarding the “Land of Israel” to be a SV

Violence: Settlers

  • Taboo: “Israel would give up 99% of Judea and Samaria. Israel will not absorb ANY refugees. There would be two states - a Jewish state of Israel and a Palestinian state.”
  • + Symbolic: “On their part, Palestinians will give up any claims to the “right of return” - which is sacred to them”
characteristics of research
Characteristics of research
  • Not just students but participants in actual conflicts
  • Not made-up “toy” hypotheticals but real problems important to our participants
  • Product of development of research partnerships over long term
    • Challenges of this type of research (trust, developing of real collaborations with trained or trainable local partners; dealing with suspicious populations
  • We know that judgments and decisions over SVs are different to those over material values
  • Yet we have little empirical knowledge over purported social identity functions, or whether the category “SV” hides a complex taxonomy of SVs
  • While we have done some cross cultural replication -Indonesia, India - this is still in relative infancy
  • Need to develop more precise predictions and policy recommendations concerning cross-cultural collaboration/negotiation when SVs are implicated
    • need to investigate SVs in real time experiments (online, simulations) in addition to hypotheticals
key goals
Key goals
  • Investigate identity functions & taxonomy of SVs across cultures (1st Wave)
  • Develop more precise descriptive theory for methods of achieving cooperation in contexts involving clashing or threatened SVs (2nd Wave)
  • Research sites: Palestine, Turkey, Morocco*
  • * Possibility of extending to Lebanon, India, Indonesia, Egypt
data collection strategy
Data Collection Strategy
  • Staggered phases of data collection
  • Begin each wave in Palestine, followed by other sites
  • Wave 1 of data collection will focus on defining SVs of interest within different communities & developing taxonomy
  • Subsequent waves include studies on judgement/decision-making in cross cultural negotiations
key goals1
Key goals
  • Investigate identity functions of SVs
  • Group identity part of self identity (Turner, Tajfel), to the extent that things are important to group identity they tend to be valued more (Ledgerwood, Liviatan, Carnevale, 2007)
  • SVs may be essential to group identity thus moral commitments and non-instrumental behavior
  • Hypothesis: SVs may play key roles in specific proximate identity mechanisms that lead to non-instrumental behavior in defense of the collective (essentialism, entitativity and sharp group boundaries).
  • We will probe whether different types of SVs are associated with these three mechanisms and thus with different aspects of social identity
investigating identity functions of svs
Investigating identity functions of SVs
  • We will proceed in 4 phases
  • Semi-structured interviews. Participants will be asked to nominate values, ideas and practices that are important to them as ______, and that distinguish their group from other relevant groups. We will then probe content domain, consequences (cognitively available information)
  • Moral Categorization Use of spontaneous sorting of scenarios into kinds to infer how SVs are conceptualized.
  • Identity function probes. Based on the interview and sorting tasks we will generate a set of SVs and directly probe their identity functions using scenarios (e.g., adoption task)
  • Population surveys
key goals2
Key goals
  • Develop more precise descriptive theory for methods of achieving cooperation in contexts involving clashing or threatened SVs
    • We know that reasoning over SVs differs from reasoning over material values; clear implications for collaborations/negotiations across cultures
    • We need to know more about the precise circumstances that influence outcomes in cross-cultural interactions that implicate SVs
achieving cooperative outcomes in interactions implicating svs
Achieving cooperative outcomes in interactions implicating SVs
  • During second wave of data collection
    • Specific questions to be investigated:
      • Specific emotional mediators (anger/humiliation)
      • Domain importance
      • Apologies
      • Order effects
      • Psychological distance
      • Asymmetries in mutual mis/perceptions in moral universes
domain importance
Domain importance
  • Modes of symbolic/moral compromise. Symbolic compromises may work best when they are in the same domain as the SV trade-off our participants are being asked to make.
    • e.g., if participants are being asked to trade-off an-in group distinctive SV, the adversary must compromise the same type of SV for their symbolic compromise to be most effective.
  • Violation - reaction. Outrage at violation of SV may depend on domain (e.g., what type of identity is being threatened? to what extent). While reaction to violation is likely dictated (somewhat) by specific cultures, but perhaps also by type of violation.
  • Apologies. Pilot research shows that people tend to judge their own morality through introspection (“what were my intentions”), but the morality of others through observable behaviors (“what did they do?”) (See Pronin, 2008).
  • Discontinuities like these might prove barriers in the use of apologies to facilitate political compromises. People may apologize to others by claiming a lack of intention, but expect the apologies of others to focus on effects of wrongdoings.
  • Studies will present scenarios dealing with wrong-doings (in one set of studies) and apologies (in another set). Scenarios will vary between subjects: (a) whether the subject is in- or out-group; and (b) whether focus is on intentions of behaviors. Rate morality/immorality of subject & efficacy of apologies. Will probe for emotional reactions.
order effects
Order effects
  • In Ginges et al (2007) symbolic adversarial compromises decreased opposition to compromise over SVs. In these studies, compromise was simultaneous.
  • In the real-world compromises are often sequential. Ginges & Malhotra (2003): in between group interactions initial compromise often backfires
  • We will examine the effect of sequential compromises, such as a symbolic (e.g., Nasser visiting Jerusalem) or material compromise (e.g., offering to increase economic opportunities) on willingness to compromise over SVs.
psychological distance
Psychological distance
  • Unclear how psychological distance (time/space) will influence cross-cultural interactions that implicate SVs
    • On the one hand, greater psychological distance leads to more abstract construals (e.g., desirability) than concrete construals (e.g., means ends) (Trope, Liberman - multiple studies); thus greater distance may lead to greater activation of SVs
    • On the other, riming perceptions of psychological distance (e.g., spatial difference) tends to decrease subsequent affective reactions (e.g., feelings of connectedness with family and hometown; Williams & Bargh, in press).
  • In one set of studies we plan to prime spatial distance prior to measuring aversive reactions over SVs.
  • In a second set of studies we will directly manipulate spatial and temporal distance by asking people to imagine they are negotiating in the distant versus near future or in a spatially distant or spatially close location.
  • Another Q: are SVs a product (or cause) of long term thinking?
  • If these experiments are effective when run with the normal population, we will replicate them in interviews with leaders and militants