Why did Americans vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential election? Social scientists have proposed a variety of explanations, including economic dissatisfaction, sexism, racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia. The current study establishes that, independent of these influences, voting for Trump was, at least for many Americans, a symbolic defense of the United States' perceived Christian heritage. Data from a national probability sample of Americans surveyed soon after the 2016 election shows that greater adherence to Christian nationalist ideology was a robust predictor of voting for 'Rump, even after controlling for economic dissatisfaction, sexism, anti-black prejudice, anti-Muslim refugee attitudes, and anti-immigrant sentiment, as well as measures of religion, sociodemographics, and political identity more generally. These findings indicate that Christian nationalist ideology-although correlated with a variety of class-based, sexist, racist, and ethnocentric views-is not synonymous with, reducible to, or strictly epiphenomenal of such views. Rather, Christian nationalism operates as a unique and independent ideology that can influence political actions by calling forth a defense of mythological narratives about America's distinctively Christian heritage and future.
Abstract This article studies the global variation in economic preferences. For this purpose, we present the Global Preference Survey (GPS), an experimentally validated survey data set of time preference, risk preference, positive and negative reciprocity, altruism, and trust from 80,000 people in 76 countries. The data reveal substantial heterogeneity in preferences across countries, but even larger within-country heterogeneity. Across individuals, preferences vary with age, gender, and cognitive ability, yet these relationships appear partly country specific. At the country level, the data reveal correlations between preferences and biogeographic and cultural variables, such as agricultural suitability, language structure, and religion. Variation in preferences is also correlated with economic outcomes and behaviors. Within countries and subnational regions, preferences are linked to individual savings decisions, labor market choices, and prosocial behaviors. Across countries, preferences vary with aggregate outcomes ranging from per capita income, to entrepreneurial activities, to the frequency of armed conflicts.
How much do cultural biases affect economic exchange? We answer this question by using data on bilateral trust between European countries. We document that this trust is affected not only by the characteristics of the country being trusted, but also by cultural aspects of the match between trusting country and trusted country, such as their history of conflicts and their religious, genetic, and somatic similarities. We then find that lower bilateral trust leads to less trade between two countries, less portfolio investment, and less direct investment, even after controlling for the characteristics of the two countries. This effect is stronger for goods that are more trust intensive. Our results suggest that perceptions rooted in culture are important (and generally omitted) determinants of economic exchange.
We develop a theory of moral behavior, individual and collective, based on a general model of identity in which people care about "who they are" and infer their own values from past choices. The model sheds light on many empirical puzzles inconsistent with earlier approaches. Identity investments respond nonmonotonically to acts or threats, and taboos on mere thoughts arise to protect beliefs about the "priceless" value of certain social assets. High endowments trigger escalating commitment and a treadmill effect, while competing identities can cause dysfunctional capital destruction. Social interactions induce both social and antisocial norms of contribution, sustained by respectively shunning free riders or do-gooders.
The origins of generalized trust remain unclear despite its importance to social, political, and economic functioning. Social capital theory and previous crosssectional research suggest that informal social ties may be a source of trust. Using the 2006-2008 General Social Survey panel, we assess the relationship between changes in informal social ties and changes in trust. As the first US longitudinal analysis to address this question, our fixed-effects analysis is not biased by time-invariant factors, such as personality, or other sources of unobserved heterogeneity. We further control for changes in religious attendance, television viewing, family structure, health status, and educational attainment. Our fixed-effects results, as well as results from an auxiliary cross-lagged analysis, yield support for the proposition that informal social ties enhance trust.
Religion deeply intersects with race, ethnicity, and class in the United States. In many cases, these "variables" cannot be separated. In other words, religion's relationship to other social structures is "complex"-a term which I borrow from a body of literature known as "complex inequality." If we accept this complexity, then a central question arises: what are we doing looking for independent effects of religion? Asking this question does not imply that religion is not worth studying sociologically. It also does not mean that we cannot figure out when and how religion matters on its own. But it does mean that we have some work to do-especially on our research designs and methods-if we want to understand religion in all of its complexity.
Background. Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) is one of few opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa to engage male adolescents in the healthcare system. Limited data are available on the level of parental communication, engagement, and support adolescents receive during the VMMC experience. Methods. We conducted 24 focus group discussions with parents/guardians of adolescents (N = 192) who agreed to be circumcised or were recently circumcised in South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. In addition, male adolescents (N = 1293) in South Africa (n = 299), Tanzania (n = 498), and Zimbabwe (n = 496) were interviewed about their VMMC experience within 7-10 days postprocedure. We estimated adjusted prevalence ratios (aPRs) using multivariable Poisson regression with generalized estimating equations and robust standard errors. Results. Parents/guardians noted challenges and gaps in communicating with their sons about VMMC, especially when they did not accompany them to the clinic. Adolescents aged 10-14 years were significantly more likely than 15- to 19-year-olds to report that their parent accompanied them to a preprocedure counseling session (56.5% vs 12.5%; P < .001). Among adolescents, younger age (aPR, 0.86; 95% confidence interval [CI], .76-.99) and rural setting (aPR, 0.34; 95% CI, .13-.89) were less likely to be associated with parental-adolescent communication barriers, while lower socioeconomic status (aPR, 1.37; 95% CI, 1.00-1.87), being agnostic (or of a nondominant religion; aPR, 2.87; 95% CI, 2.21-3.72), and living in South Africa (aPR, 2.63; 95% CI, 1.29-4.73) were associated with greater perceived barriers to parental-adolescent communication about VMMC. Parents/guardians found it more difficult to be involved in wound care for older adolescents than for adolescents <15 years of age. Conclusions. Parents play a vital role in the VMMC experience, especially for younger male adolescents. Strategies are needed to inform parents completely throughout the VMMC adolescent experience, whether or not they accompany their sons to clinics.
Though religion matters greatly to many U.S. adults, it is widely considered a touchy conversational topic. Understanding how religious issues are talked about with others can elucidate a key interpersonal manifestation of Americans' faith, yet existing research has largely overlooked the phenomena of religious discussion in social networks. This article considers which types of people talk about religion with their close ties, what relational factors underlie religious discussion, and what implications such discussion has for network turnover and stability. Applying multilevel regression methods to ego-centered networks measured in the Portraits of American Life Survey, I find that individual-and relational-level factors each predict the presence of religious discussion within close networks. Longitudinal analyses further reveal that for a large subset of Americans-namely evangelical and mainline Protestants and those involved in a congregation-religious discussion partners are especially likely to remain in the network over the course of 6 years. This association extended beyond other factors that could explain tie persistence, including relational closeness and multiple forms of homophily. Results point to several promising future directions for the study of religion and social networks.
Abstract Purpose in life is potentially a modifiable “health asset” that enhances health and well-being. However, the association between purpose and health in younger populations remains understudied. In this study, we prospectively examined an aspect of purpose in life—specifically having a sense of mission—and a wide range of outcomes related to psychosocial well-being, mental health, health behaviors, and physical health in young adults. Longitudinal data from the Growing Up Today Study (2007–2010 or 2007–2013, depending on outcome; mean baseline age = 22.97 years) were analyzed using generalized estimating equations. Sample sizes ranged from 6,323 to 7,463, depending on outcome. Bonferroni correction was used to correct for multiple testing. All models controlled for sociodemographic characteristics, religious service attendance, maternal attachment, and prior values of the outcome variables. Greater sense of mission was associated with greater psychological well-being (including life satisfaction, positive affect, self-esteem, emotional processing, and emotional expression), greater use of preventive health care, more volunteer activities, and possibly fewer depressive symptoms. However, there was little association with physical health or other behavioral outcomes. The formation of a sense of mission may provide a novel target for promoting multiple facets of psychological well-being, prosocial character, and possibly mental health among young adults.