Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Collectivism promotes bribery

From Mazar and Aggarwal:
Why are there national differences in the propensity to bribe? To investigate this question, we conducted a correlational study with cross-national data and a laboratory experiment. We found a significant effect of the degree of collectivism versus individualism present in a national culture on the propensity to offer bribes to international business partners. Furthermore, the effect was mediated by individuals’ sense of responsibility for their actions. Together, these results suggest that collectivism promotes bribery through lower perceived responsibility for one’s actions.
later note: I forgot to put the link to this article, it's now added.


  1. Anonymous2:22 AM

    You did not provide a link, so hard to evaluate, but offhand I'd ask: "Cannot an interpretation be that collectivist cultures, with general higher levels of shared responsibility (nobody would do such a thing!), paradoxically allow individualists (with low senses of responsibility for their actions- 'I'm getting filthy rich, why should I care about how much I'm polluting the atmosphere?') to bribe more and get away with it easier?"

    More broadly, I'd question the whole enterprise of characterizing societies by one indicator, and then saying any behaviors correlated with that indicator are likely "caused" by it (correlation implies causation in the mind of the reader, everyone knows).

    Moreover, I'd be willing to bet the authors's think of themselves as individualists, and I wouldn't be surprised that research findings are strongly biased by author self-image.

  2. sorry, the link is now there. I can send the whole article if you wish.