Testing the parasite-stress theory of sociality based on the circular model of human values: A multilevel analysis approach

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Abstract

Little research has tested the parasite-stress theory of sociality based on a well-framed model of personal values using a multilevel analysis conducted on multinational samples. To robustly examined the validity of this novel theory of cultural evolution, this study used multilevel data of European Social Survey (from 2002 to 2016, 32 countries, N = 374,730) and World Values Survey (from 2005 to 2014, 80 countries, N = 173,540) to investigate the relationships between pathogen prevalence and the conflicting values dimensions (Conservation versus Openness to change; Self-enhancement versus Self-transcendence) of the circular model of human values, accounting for the micro- (age, sex, religious belief, education, and income) and macro-level predictors (modernization and cultural similarity). Results did not support the parasite-stress theory at both the country and individual levels when controlling for a composite index of modernization. Across all analyses, modernization remained a significant predictor of values even when controlling for cultural similarity. No conclusions changed when using an alternative parasite stress estimate. These findings support the modernization theory of value-change but challenge the roles of infectious diseases in cultural evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110277
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Volume168
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Circular model of human values
  • European Social Survey
  • Modernization
  • Multilevel analysis
  • Parasite-stress theory
  • World Values Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology

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