ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

This article introduces a novel concept, Belief in a Zero-Sum Game (BZSG), proposed as another belief dimension in the family of social axioms. We conceptualize BZSG as a belief system about the antagonistic nature of social relations—that one person's gain is possible only at the expense of other persons. It appears on a level of personal convictions and as a cultural worldview ideology. We found that persons or nations who believe in a zero-sum game engage in win-lose social exchanges over limited resources. Psychometric evidence for the universality of the BZSG scale in a large pancultural project of 37 nations is presented, where individual and cultural-level predictors of BZSG were tested, followed by their multilevel analyses. BZSG, which shows a conceptual and empirical affinity with societal cynicism, is moderated by previously described cultural dimensions and by objective socioeconomic indices. The exploration and identification of universal dimensions of human cultures are the basis of cross-cultural psychology. Values have served as the most popular units of measurement and outcomes in cross-cultural psychology research (Gelfand et al. Bond suggest that some dimensions of axioms may have been overlooked (Leung et al., 2002). Thus, in this article, we introduce a novel concept, Belief in a Zero-Sum Game (BZSG), which exhibits all the features of an axiomatic belief system, though it has not been found among the five dimensions outlined by the cited authors. We treat the BZSG as Apart from the three main authors mentioned above, other authors have also contributed to this article by collecting data in different countries. Their details are appearing under " Authors' Note " in the end of this article.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
2015, Vol. 46(4) 525 –548
© The Author(s) 2015
Reprints and permissions:
sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav
DOI: 10.1177/0022022115572226
jccp.sagepub.com
Article
Belief in a Zero-Sum Game
as a Social Axiom: A 37-Nation
Study
Joanna Różycka-Tran
1
, Paweł Boski
2
, and Bogdan Wojciszke
3
Abstract
This article introduces a novel concept, Belief in a Zero-Sum Game (BZSG), proposed as
another belief dimension in the family of social axioms. We conceptualize BZSG as a belief
system about the antagonistic nature of social relations—that one person’s gain is possible only
at the expense of other persons. It appears on a level of personal convictions and as a cultural
worldview ideology. We found that persons or nations who believe in a zero-sum game engage
in win-lose social exchanges over limited resources. Psychometric evidence for the universality
of the BZSG scale in a large pancultural project of 37 nations is presented, where individual
and cultural-level predictors of BZSG were tested, followed by their multilevel analyses.
BZSG, which shows a conceptual and empirical affinity with societal cynicism, is moderated by
previously described cultural dimensions and by objective socio-economic indices.
Keywords
Belief in a Zero-Sum Game, social axioms, cross-cultural psychology
The exploration and identification of universal dimensions of human cultures are the basis of
cross-cultural psychology. Values have served as the most popular units of measurement and
outcomes in cross-cultural psychology research (Gelfand et al., 2011; Hofstede, 1980; House,
Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004; Inglehart, 1997; Schwartz, 1992; Van de Vliert,
2011). To explain cross-cultural differences and their psychological manifestations, Leung and
Bond identified five social axioms at the individual level (Bond, Leung, Au, Tong, & Chemonges-
Nielson, 2004; Leung, Au, Huang, Kurman, Nitt, & Nitt, 2007; Leung & Bond, 2004; Leung
et al., 2002), which were later reduced to two axioms at the cultural level (Bond, Leung, Au,
Tong, De Carrasquel et al., 2004; Leung & Bond, 2008, 2009).
However, Leung and Bond suggest that some dimensions of axioms may have been over-
looked (Leung et al., 2002). Thus, in this article, we introduce a novel concept, Belief in a Zero-
Sum Game (BZSG), which exhibits all the features of an axiomatic belief system, though it has
not been found among the five dimensions outlined by the cited authors. We treat the BZSG as
Apart from the three main authors mentioned above, other authors have also contributed to this article by collecting
data in different countries. Their details are appearing under “Authors’ Note” in the end of this article.
1
University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland
2
University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw, Poland
3
University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Sopot, Poland
Corresponding Author:
Joanna Różycka-Tran, Institute of Psychology, University of Gdansk, Bażyńskiego 4, 80-952 Gdansk, Poland.
Email: psyjrt@ug.edu.pl
572226JCCXXX10.1177/0022022115572226Journal of Cross-Cultural PsychologyRóżycka-Tran et al.
research-article2015
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
526 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 46(4)
an independently discovered dimension (which is not a factor in Leung and Bond’s model and
measurement inventory, SAS) and tested it on a cross-cultural sample of 37 nations.
The Concept of Social Axioms
The field of social axioms refers to the epistemological aspect of culture, in contrast to the axi-
ological issue inherent in values (Boski, 2009a). Social axioms have been defined as “general-
ized beliefs about oneself, the social and physical environment, or the spiritual world, which
form an assertion about the relationship between two entities or concepts” (Bond, Leung, Au,
Tong, De Carrasquel et al., 2004, p. 553; Leung et al., 2002, p. 289). A typical social axiom has
the structure “A is related to B,” where the relationship may be causal or functional. The concept
of a social axiom is different from individual belief domains, which are very specific and appli-
cable only to a narrow range of situations and actors. In contrast, social axioms may be viewed
as “generalized expectancies,” which are highly abstract and related to social behavior across a
variety of contexts, targets, and time periods. As Boski and his colleagues have demonstrated,
social axioms do indeed possess a structure of general rather than specific or situationally con-
strained beliefs: People endorse belief statements of unrestricted character more readily than
those confined to specific classes of relationships (Boski, Henne, & Więckowska, 2009).
General beliefs were labeled axiomatic because they are often assumed to be true as a result
of personal and culturally shared experiences and are transferred through socialization without
being questioned (Leung et al., 2002). They serve four major functions: goal attainment (instru-
mental), ego defense, value expression, and understanding of the world (Leung & Bond, 2004).
Similarly diverse are the domain characteristics of social axioms: psychological attributes
(expressing characteristics of individuals), orientation toward the social world (characteristics of
groups, organizations, and societies), social interactions (declaring how people interact with each
other), and the environment (describing aspects of the environment that have implications for
social behavior; Leung et al., 2002). Because research has reported five individual-level axiom
dimensions (social cynicism, reward for application, social complexity, fate control, and religios-
ity) and two societal-level dimensions (dynamic externality and societal cynicism), our goal is to
propose another one.
BZSG
It’s not a question of enough, pal. It’s a zero-sum game, somebody wins, and somebody loses. Money
itself isn’t lost or made; it’s simply transferred from one person to another. (Gordon Gekko, Wall
Street, 1987)
BZSG is a general belief system about the antagonistic nature of social relations, shared by
people in a society or culture and based on the implicit assumption that a finite amount of goods
exists in the world, in which one person’s winning makes others the losers, and vice versa.
The main inspiration for BZSG comes from classic game theory (Von Neumann & Morgenstern,
1944), which claims that human behavior is driven by the interplay of self-interests and other-
interest. Logically, these two classes of interests are orthogonal: whether an action in question
serves the interests of other people is independent of whether it serves the interests of the self
(Gerbasi & Prentice, 2013). Behaviors can serve self-interests but dwarf the interests of other peo-
ple (selfishness or competition), maximize interests of both the self and others (mutuality or coop-
eration), maximize interests of others at the expense of the self (altruism or accommodation), and
minimize interests of both the self and others (spite), but the latter is most likely infrequent and
short-lived because it is hard to see any mechanism that would instigate and maintain such behav-
iors. The orthogonal nature of self- and other-interest is universally recognized in various areas of
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
życka-Tran et al. 527
psychology, such as interdependence and social value orientations (Rusbult & Van Lange, 2003),
individual differences (Gerbasi & Prentice, 2013), social dominance orientation (Pratto, Sidanius,
Stallworth, & Malle, 1994), egocentric bias or attribution egotism (Boski, 1983; Epley & Caruso,
2004), and evolutionary analysis of social interactions (Barrett, Dunbar, & Lycett, 2002).
Nevertheless, there are several classes of circumstances where the assumption of orthogonal-
ity ceases to be true or requires caveats. The most prominent case is a conflict over scarce
resources, which has the structure of a zero-sum game (my win is your loss; your win is my loss).
In such a situation, self- and other-interests become incompatible. Instead of constituting inde-
pendent dimensions, self- and other-interests collapse into opposite poles of a single dimension.
The main difference is that in classic game theories, people’s interests are interdependent,
whereas BZSG conceptualizes zero-sum game in broader, more generalized terms of beliefs
about the nature of social relations rather than using situational fluctuating matrices.
Before the concept of BZSG was outlined by Wojciszke (Wojciszke, Baryła, & Różycka,
2009), other researchers proposed similar constructs. Bar-Tal (2007) used the idea of zero-sum
game in the context of intergroup strife as an attitude that occurs in intractable conflicts, where
both sides insist on their incompatible aspirations. Next, in a double-interest analysis of conflict
situations (Esses, Jackson, & Armstrong, 1998), zero-sum game was presented as a cognitive
mechanism for perceiving group interests as antagonistic, where others’ gain is perceived as a
personal loss and where feelings of uneasiness and fear are the emotions typical for this biased
orientation. An antagonistic perception of interest also appeared in the theory of cooperation and
competition, which was based on the idea of target dependence on people involved in the situa-
tion (Deutsch, 2005).
Another construct close to BZSG is a decision bias orientation called the “fixed pie bias” in
the domain of negotiations. The assumption of a “fixed pie” (Bazerman, 1983) is rooted in social
norms and leads people to interpret most conflicts as win-lose situations. Negotiators who tend
to assume that negotiation tasks are fixed-sum (the mythical fixed pie) tend to miss opportunities
for mutually beneficial trade-offs between parties; to escalate commitment to a previously
selected course of action when it is no longer the most reasonable alternative; to overlook valu-
able, available information by failing to consider the opponent’s perspective; and to retroactively
devalue any concession made by one’s opponent (Ross & Stillinger, 1991). As a result of such
beliefs, most negotiators implicitly or explicitly assume that the opponent’s gain is their own
loss, and vice versa. This bias can also manifest itself in the inability of conflicted parties to
detect common interests (Paese, Yonker, & Louis, 2001; Thompson & Hrebec, 1996) and in the
hostile media phenomenon where impartial representations of conflict are accused of being
biased by all parties involved (Vallone, Ross, & Lepper, 1985). Much research has shown that the
perception of a certain situation can be biased by firm convictions of the involved parties (Brycz,
2011; Nisbett & Ross, 1980).
What is even more interesting is that perceptions of the ultimatum game situation are heavily
influenced by culture, as shown by a cross-cultural study of behavior in ultimatums, public good,
and dictator games in 15 small-scale agriculturalist societies (Henrich et al., 2001). This sample
consisted of three foraging societies, six societies that practiced slash-and-burn horticulture, four
herding nomad groups, and three sedentary, small-scale societies. The large variations found
across these different cultural groups suggest that economic preferences or expectations are
affected by group-specific conditions, such as social institutions or cultural fairness norms. For
example, striking differences were revealed between the Lamalera, who make very generous
offers in the ultimatum game, and the Tsimane and the Machigenga, who make very low offers.
The reason seems to lie in different perceptions of money exchange. The Lamalera, being collec-
tive hunters, tend to see money as a good jointly owned by the proposer and the recipient. In
contrast, the Tsimane and the Machigenga, who are solitary horticulturalists, see money as their
individual property and therefore feel entitled to keep it. In addition to their own material
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
528 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 46(4)
payoffs, many participants appeared to care about fairness and reciprocity. They were willing not
only to change the distribution of material outcomes at a personal cost and to reward those who
acted in a cooperative manner but also to punish those who did not cooperate, even when punish-
ment was costly to them. Recent work has revealed this tendency for “hyper-fair rejections,”
which were not previously observed in WEIRD (Western Educated Industrialized Rich
Democratic) populations (Henrich, Heine, & Norenzayan, 2010). In all, the canonical assump-
tion held by economists that individuals are entirely self-interested received no support.
Analogously, BZSG seems to be influenced by culture, that is, people who believe that life goes
like zero-sum game (my interest is opposite to the interest of others) appears in different socio-
economic and cultural conditions.
Zero-sum game beliefs can also be understood from the perspective of climbing up or down
the social stratification ladder. Societies are hierarchical in terms of stable positions and dynamic
aspirations, and sociologists investigate objective stratification and its mechanisms, which may
assume zero-sum game characteristics (e.g., Marxist theories). Social scientists are also inter-
ested in popular attributions of wealth and poverty at the societal level. This is particularly impor-
tant and interesting in periods of deep societal changes, such as the post-communist transformation,
when new classes of rich and poor emerged. Studying post-communist societies, Stephenson
(2000) and Kreidl (2000) found that the rich perceived wealth as a fruit of their own labor and
attributed success to internal factors (ability, talent, hard work), whereas the poor attributed their
lot to external factors, such as the rich, the system, society, or bad luck, and considered them-
selves victims of these evil forces. Attributing one’s own losses to external factors (such as the
success of another person) obviously protects self-esteem because it helps one to avoid accepting
responsibility for his or her own inadequacies and failures.
The present work addresses the possibility of a relatively permanent and general conviction
that social relations are like a zero-sum game. People who share this conviction believe that suc-
cess, especially economic success, is possible only at the expense of other people’s failures. We
hypothesize that both individuals and cultures differ widely in their shared beliefs that social
interactions, social networks, and even life in general have a zero-sum game structure.
BZSG Scale Construction
To measure the belief that life is conceived as a zero-sum game, the BZSG scale was developed
(Wojciszke et al., 2009). The BZSG scale, which emerged from that study, is presented in Table 1.
This scale was first used in the study on a Polish national sample (N = 1,133), where a principal
components analysis revealed one dominant factor that loaded on all 12 items, and the scores
revealed a normal distribution.
1
To test the validity and reliability of the BZSG scale, several
experimental and correlational studies were conducted on different Polish samples. Those initial
studies found that BZSG correlated with a host of behavioral, emotional, and judgmental vari-
ables, as listed in Table 2. To test whether zero-sum game belief is not merely an indigenous Polish
phenomenon but also holds across other countries, we decided to test BZSG as an individual and
cultural dimension in a large pancultural project of 37 nations.
A 37-Nation Study
Our idea for running the large comparative study was to introduce BZSG as a pancultural social
axiom, analyzing relations between BZSG and other variables, also between and within cultures
in multilevel modeling.
In the study, we measured zero-sum game beliefs in a sample of students from 37 countries.
We introduced four additional individual variables: social trust, balance of social exchange (per-
ceived satisfaction from social exchange), self-esteem and subjective socio-economic status
(SES) to assess the zero-sum game beliefs across different countries.
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
życka-Tran et al. 529
Social trust is the belief that most people are fair, helpful, and trustworthy. Research shows
that social trust is an important component of social capital, defined as social connectedness
based on dense networks of engagement and reciprocity (Putnam, 2000). Social capital, in turn,
is viewed as a basic precondition of the development of modern societies (Fukuyama, 1995).
Social trust invites cooperation and mutual confidences beyond a circle of close others, and it
appears to be a major asset for facilitating social and economic development. As evidenced by
survey data, high social trust is accompanied by enhanced social participation and altruistic activ-
ities, such as registering to vote, working on community projects, giving to charity, volunteering,
and even having more close friends and confidants (Putnam, 2000).
Balance of social exchange is a subjective assessment of the gains and costs involved in inter-
actions with others. The more positive the interpersonal balance, the more gains are perceived as
prevailing over the costs. Although both trust and balance refer to global attitudes toward people,
trust is more universal because it refers to others in general (including strangers to be met in the
future), whereas interpersonal balance is more specific because it refers to individuals personally
met in the past and the effects of interacting with them.
Table 1. Items of the BZSG Scale.
Item Zero-Sum Game Belief Scale
1. Successes of some people are usually failures of others.
2. If someone gets richer, it means that somebody else gets poorer
3. Life is so devised that when somebody gains, others have to lose.
4. In most situations, interests of different people are inconsistent.
5. Life is like tennis game—A person wins only when others lose.
6. When some people are getting poorer, it means that other people are getting richer
7. When someone does much for others, he or she loses.
8. The wealth of a few is acquired at the expense of many.
9. When a person does much for the good of others, he or she profits as well.
a
10. Those who give much to others receive much from them.
a
11. People who do much for their own good frequently benefit others as well.
a
12. When the number of rich people increases in the country, the poorer people benefit as well.
a
Note. BZSG = Belief in a Zero-Sum Game; MCFA = multilevel confirmatory factor analysis.
a
Negative items are inverse scored; as these four negatively worded items created independent factor (see: MCFA),
only eight positively framed items of the scale were used in cross-cultural comparisons
Table 2. Social Consequences and Correlates of BZSG (Polish Samples).
Negative vision of the social world (Wojciszke, Baryła, & Różycka, 2009)
Belief in the injustice of the social world (Wojciszke et al., 2009)
Sadness, anxiety, and a tendency to rumination (Wojciszke et al., 2009)
Pessimism and distrust (Różycka, 2008)
Withdrawing from social exchange and cooperation avoidance (Różycka, 2008)
Negative but not positive reciprocity norm (Różycka, 2008)
Delegitimization of the social system (Wojciszke et al., 2009)
Perception of antagonism in interests (Różycka & Wojciszke, 2009)
External locus of control and dependence on others (Różycka & Wojciszke, 2010)
Perceived imbalance between help given and help received from others (Wojciszke, 2010)
Feeling a loser in social exchange (Wojciszke, 2010)
Interpersonal conflicts and low life satisfaction (Różycka, 2012)
Entitlement attitudes (Żemojtel-Piotrowska & Piotrowski, 2012)
Note. BZSG = Belief in a Zero-Sum Game.
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
530 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 46(4)
We also used a self-esteem scale as a diagnostic tool to link BZSG to personality and find out
if the construct served as protection against lower self-esteem by justifying one’s own awkward-
ness and liberating oneself from the liability for failure.
Measuring the subjective SES, we wanted to see the relation between BZSG and the perceived
comparative economic status and also to diagnose the discrepancy between subjective and objec-
tive economic status.
Assumptions and Hypotheses
Our main assumption is that BZSG functions as a universal social axiom. Specific hypotheses con-
cern the universal nature of BZSG and its relations with other individual and cultural variables.
Because we previously found (with Polish samples) that people who believed in the zero-sum
game did not trust others, we expected social trust to be a negative predictor of BZSG at the indi-
vidual level. People who view life as a zero-sum game should focus on costs rather than rewards
associated with interpersonal relationships; thus, we expected interpersonal balance and self-
esteem to be negative predictors of BZSG. We also predicted that people who believe in the zero-
sum game would subjectively perceive themselves as being in a worse economic situation than
others; thus, we expected SES to be negative predictor across samples from different cultures.
Next, we formulated hypotheses about cultural-level relationships. We expected BZSG to be
related to cultural dimensions such as individualism (because individualistic societies are more
disposed to egoistic and materialistic competition for resources) and socio-economic indices
such as gross domestic product (GDP) or income disparity (conditions conductive to competi-
tion). We hypothesized that GDP, the Gini Index, and individualism would be significant predic-
tors of BZSG at a cultural level. We also expected two-way interactions between the individual
(Level 1) and cultural (Level 2) predictors. If significant, the interaction effects would indicate
moderation effects of the cultural variables (such as individualism or GDP) on relations between
BZSG and trust, interpersonal balance, self-esteem, and SES.
Of all the axioms identified so far, societal cynicism seems to be especially close to BZSG.
Whereas societal cynicism arises from political conditions as a discrepancy between propaganda
(promises, ideologies, etc.) and actions (Boski et al., 2009), BZSG appears to be the result of
social interactions shaped by the economic situation of limited resources—but both axioms rep-
resent a negative vision of the social world, as a response to a fundamental requirement for sur-
vival and adaptation in the society; therefore, we predicted that societal cynicism is a positive
predictor of BZSG at the cultural level.
Method
Participants
University students were recruited from 37 countries from all continents (N = 6,138), 62.5% of
whom were women. The mean age was 21.57, SD = 3.80. Most participants studied psychology
(35%) or other social and humanities fields (14%), 7% studied business and management, 3%
studied law and 20% were from other disciplines. Information on the samples is given in Table 3
along with the basic psychometric properties of the scales used in the different countries.
Measures
The BZSG scale was the basic measure (see Table 1), but we also used three additional scales.
The Interpersonal Trust Scale, which consists of 7 items that attribute prosocial orientations to
people in general and promote such expectations upon contact with strangers (e.g., “Most people
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
życka-Tran et al. 531
Table 3. Sample Information in 37 Countries, Subjective Socio-Economic Status (SES) and BZSG.
Sample size Female % Age M
Language of
research SES
subjective
M GDP
a
US$ BZSG M
Angola 219 46 23.47 Portuguese 3.52 2.758 4.90
Argentina 98 60 24.72 Spanish 5.06 4.730 3.60
Belgium 260 92 18.42 French 4.51 35.590 3.22
Brazil 119 29 24.88 Portuguese 4.19 4.288 3.40
Bulgaria 100 80 22.14 Bulgarian 4.43 3.419 3.83
Canada 84 24 22.86 English 5.01 38.951 3.61
Chile 131 63 20.87 English 5.59 6.832 3.63
China 300 50 21.79 Chinese 3.88 1.532 3.85
Czech 124 63 21.99 Czech 4.59 11.971 3.02
Dominican 100 48 22.65 Spanish 4.05 3.271 4.13
Finland 105 85 23.44 English 4.54 36.798 3.36
Georgia 100 79 20.01 Russian 4.09 1.450 3.65
Germany 303 83 22.30 German 4.49 33.799 3.31
Greece 115 92 20.22 Greek 4.59 20.252 3.99
Honduras 118 82 22.77 Spanish 4.02 1.213 3.89
Hungary 116 68 21.60 Hungarian 4.07 10.818 3.57
India 104 40 23.01 English 5.75 725 3.83
Israel 125 75 24.02 English 5.06 19.279 2.93
Japan 212 51 20.82 Japanese 3.13 35.593 3.89
Lithuania 113 91 20.27 Lithuanian 4.43 3.030 3.95
Mexico 236 49 24.39 Spanish 4.31 7.179 4.05
Norway 109 62 23.33 Norwegian 4.69 63.960 3.79
Philippines 108 65 20.75 English 4.28 1.175 3.88
Poland 198 60 21.48 Polish 4.34 7.526 3.27
Portugal 73 33 19.30 Portuguese 4.25 17.466 3.99
Russia 221 86 19.61 Russian 4.45 5.348 3.09
Serbia 200 50 Serbian 3.99 4.220 3.64
Singapore 108 57 20.97 English 4.23 26.996 3.99
Slovakia 186 72 21.42 Slovak 4.30 8.594 3.51
South Africa 190 25 19.67 English 5.01 1.809 3.61
Spain 141 78 19.22 Spanish 4.27 26.114 3.90
Taiwan 298 32 21.55 Chinese 4.38 15.482 4.34
Turkey 103 46 20.51 Turkish 5.70 4.954 3.48
United Kingdom 163 81 20.10 English 4.68 44.149 3.52
Ukraine 311 68 18.75 Ukrainian 4.14 1.757 4.17
United States 454 66 23.04 English 5.29 41.768 3.31
Vietnam 93 59 20.37 Vietnamese 4.34 630 4.23
M 166 62.5 21.57 4.48 15.011 3.61
Note. BZSG = Belief in a Zero-Sum Game; GDP = gross domestic product.
a
GDP per capita in $ (United Nations Statistics Division, 2006).
can be trusted” and “Most people are able to selflessly help a person in need”). The Balance of
Social Exchange Scale was used to measure satisfaction with social exchange and consists of 12
items that refer to gains and costs that result from personal interactions with others (e.g., “I ben-
efit from most of my social contacts” and “My friends want to take more from me than they are
willing to give to me”—and the reverse). The Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965), used to
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
532 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 46(4)
measure general self-esteem, consists of 10 items that refer to self-esteem as a personal trait (e.g.,
“I feel that I’m a person of worth, at least on an equal plane with others” and “I take a positive
attitude toward myself”). In addition, we measured subjective SES with a single question: “How
would you describe your family’s economic status?” Answers ranged from 1 (much below aver-
age) to 7 (much above average).
Procedure
A questionnaire called the Questionnaire of Opinions on the Social World, which consists of a
BZSG scale and other scales, was first translated from Polish into nine languages, including
English (10 countries), Spanish (6 countries), Portuguese (2 countries), Russian (2 countries),
and French, Greek, Vietnamese, German, and Ukrainian (1 country each). The questionnaires
were translated by bilingual individuals who work in the field of psychology or at the university
level. Participants filled out all scales in one package, and answers to all questions ranged from
1 (definitely disagree) to 7 (definitely agree). The participants also reported their economic sta-
tus, age, and sex.
Results
First, to check the structure of BZSG at the cultural level, we conducted multilevel confirmatory
factor analysis (MCFA) of the BZSG scale. To establish the cultural meaning of BZSG as a soci-
etal axiom dimension, we decided to correlate it with a wide variety of country-level indices.
BZSG correlations with well-known cultural dimensions should establish both the degree of its
conceptual distinctiveness and its convergent validity, and correlations with other country-level
indices should help elucidate the meaning of BZSG as an axiom (see Bond, Leung, Au, Tong, De
Carrasquel et al., 2004; Leung et al., 2012). Those analyses served as preliminary analyses for
multilevel modeling (MML). Finally, multilevel modeling of BZSG was conducted at the indi-
vidual and cultural level as well as between the levels.
MCFA of BZSG Scale
In the MCFA of the 12 BZSG items, the total covariance matrix was decomposed into between-
country matrices and pooled within-country matrices. The value of the chi-square test statistic
for the multilevel one-factor MCFA model, χ
2
(108) = 2,180.30, p < .001, indicated a significant
lack of fit of the model. Alternative indices of fit that were less sensitive to sample size also
indicated that the one-factor model was not acceptable for the data. The comparative fit index
(CFI) compares the fit of a model to a more restricted baseline model, and CFI values between
.90 and .95 or larger indicate an acceptable model fit (Hu & Bentler, 1999). The root mean
square error of approximation (RMSEA) reflects the degree to which a model fits the population
covariance matrix; a model with an RMSEA <.05 is considered a good fit and a model with an
RMSEA between .05 and .08 is considered a reasonable fit (Hu & Bentler, 1999). The standard-
ized root mean square residual (SRMR) compares the sample variances and covariances to the
estimated variances and covariances; a model with an SRMR below <.05 is considered a good
fit and a model with an SRMR <.08 is considered a reasonable fit. In one-factor model, CFI =
.863 did not reach the cutoff value of .95. RMSEA = .057, SRMR (within) = .059, and SRMR
(between) = 1.164, exceeding their cut off values of 0.05 for model acceptance (see Hu &
Bentler, 1999). We also found too much variability in the factor loadings. Consequently, a two-
factor model was considered: 8 positively worded items loaded on the first factor and 4 items
that were originally negatively worded loaded on the second factor. The two-factor specification
represented a significant improvement in fit over the one-factor model, χ
2
(106) = 1,216.67, and
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
życka-Tran et al. 533
yielded marginally acceptable values of the alternative fit indices: CFI = .927, RMSEA = .04,
SRMR (within) = .04, and SRMR (between) = .145.
2
However, we found very low correlation
between factors at the individual level (r = .19) and zero correlation at the country level (r =
−.03), which indicates that our scale, which was originally conceived as unipolar (high and low
as opposite ends of the BZSG), should instead be thought of as consisting of two separate
continua.
In light of the marginally acceptable fit of the two-factor model and the relatively low correla-
tion between the two factors, we decided to reduce the BZSG scale to 8 items (see Table 4). The
complexity of the emerging factorial structure when some of the items in the measuring instru-
ment are positively worded and other items are negatively worded is not uncommon. For exam-
ple, in the area of self-esteem, Zimprich, Perren, and Hornung (2005) reviewed evidence that
mixtures of positively and negatively worded items lead to method factors that may cloud the
factorial structure of the measured construct. To exclude cultural response style (that the nega-
tively worded items could be biased culturally by acquiescence bias; see Smith, 2004), we note
that the 12-item BZSG scale is not significantly correlated with the acquiescence index con-
structed by Smith (r = .107, p = .64, n = 21) nor are the 5-item (r = .27, p = .23) or 4-negatively
worded items (r = −.27, p = .23) scales.
In other words, the two factors of the BZSG scale measure two different beliefs: one is the
zero-sum game and the other can be called joint profit exchange (e.g., “Those who give much to
others receive much from them” and “When the number of rich people increases in the country,
the poorer people benefit as well”). Because of our theoretical interests in the zero-sum game, we
decided to concentrate only on items that directly describe that construct.
Results for the one-factor MCFA model (eight items) with factor loadings freely estimated
across levels indicated an acceptable fit of the model to the data. As expected with a sample size
of this magnitude, the χ
2
= 694.23 with df = 40 was significant (p < .001). However, the RMSEA
of .052 and the CFI of .952 indicated an acceptable overall model fit. The SRMR indices at each
level indicate that the overall fit of the within-country (Level 1) part was better than the fit of the
between-country (Level 2) part of the model (the SRMR = .032 at Level 1 and SRMR = .097 at
Level 2). All estimates of factor loadings (in a standardized form) had the same positive sign and
were statistically significant (p < .001), as reported in Table 4.
Table 4. Multilevel Confirmatory Factor Analysis: Eight-Items Model Factor Loadings in Standardized
Form and Item Squared Multiple Correlations.
Level 1
(individuals)
Level 2
(countries)
Item Loading R
2
Loading R
2
1. Successes of some people are usually failures of others. 0.530*** .281 0.664*** .450
2. If someone gets richer, it means that somebody else gets poorer. 0.758*** .574 0.698*** .487
3. Life is so devised that when somebody gains, others have to lose. 0.756*** .571 0.902*** .814
4. In most situations, interests of different people are inconsistent.
a
0.215*** .046 0.490*** .240
5. Life is like tennis game—A person wins only when others lose. 0.676*** .457 0.928*** .862
6. When some people are getting poorer, it means that other
people are getting richer.
0.743*** .551 0.938*** .879
7. When someone does much for others, he or she loses. 0.387*** .150 0.447*** .200
8. The wealth of a few is acquired at the expense of many. 0.588*** .345 0.739*** .546
a
Even though this item has low loading, it is still significant and theoretically important.
***p < .001.
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
534 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 46(4)
As observed in Table 4, this model shows that individual and cultural aspects of BZSG have the
same structure, suggesting that BZSG is an isomorphic scale that indicates the same psychological
meaning at the individual and cultural levels (see Van de Vijver, van Hemert, & Poortinga, 2008).
All subsequent multilevel analyses were conducted on the reduced (eight-item) BZSG scale.
3
Characteristics of BZSG at the Individual and Cultural Levels
Sample information of the data, gathered in 37 countries, can be observed in Table 3. The mean
SES and mean BZSG in every country are also reported. Simple and partial correlations (con-
trolled for GDP) between BZSG and a host of country-level dimensions were an intermediary
step that led to multilevel modeling analyses. To conduct this analysis, we created citizen score
indices, following the example of Schwartz (2004), Leung and Bond ( 2004), and Boski (2009a).
Then, country-level BZSG scores were related to the well-known pancultural dimensions (cf.
Gelfand et al., 2011; Hofstede, 1980; House et al., 2004; Inglehart, 1997; Leung & Bond, 2002;
McCrae, 2002; Schwartz, 1992; Suh, Diener, Oishi, & Triandis, 1998; Van de Vliert, 2011). We
report these results because it is common to establish the validity of new measurements when
introducing them (see the appendix, Table A1).
What we found interesting was a negative correlation of BZSG with the individualism-collec-
tivism dimension (which opposed our hypothesis) and the positive correlation with societal cyni-
cism (as hypothesized). To test the relationships between BZSG and objective macro-societal
indices, we used many different measures (see the appendix, Table A2). We found BZSG to have
a negative correlation with the GDP and Human Development Index, but a positive one with the
inflation rate. As for political indicators, BZSG correlated negatively with the democracy index,
especially with pluralism (whether national elections are free and fair), functioning of govern-
ment (whether democratically based decisions are implemented), and political participation
(whether the active, freely chosen citizens participate in public life). However, all these correla-
tions disappeared when GDP was controlled for.
Multilevel Modeling of BZSG
Multilevel analyses were conducted next to test the relationships between BZSG and other indi-
vidual-level constructs, moderated by cultural level–variables selected from previous correlation
analyses (HLM 7 Hierarchical Linear and Nonlinear Modeling, Scientific Software International,
Inc. (c) 2000 was used; see Nezlek, 2011.) Three theoretically driven individual-level variables
(interpersonal trust, satisfaction with social exchange, self-esteem
4
) and country-level variables
that strongly correlated with BZSG in previous analyses (GDP and individualism) were chosen
for this purpose.
As a preliminary step to test multilevel analyses, the “null” model was found to fit the data.
The null model contains the eight-item BZSG response variable and the intercept. The results
obtained for this model serve as a baseline for the evaluation of more complex models.
5
The estimated between-country variance
τ
00
= .104 in BZSG is statistically significant at the
.01 level, as is the estimate of the within-country variance
σ
2
= 1.072. As a consequence, the
estimate of the intraclass correlation is
ρ
= .089, which indicates that there is a moderate amount
of within-country clustering and that performing ordinary regression while ignoring the hierar-
chical structure of the data would yield misleading results.
Effects of individual-level predictors. The first model tested was a Level 1 model (persons nested
within countries) in which BZSG was the dependent variable and trust and in which balance and
self-esteem were the individual individual-level model . The parameter estimation of fixed effects
and variance components of the model are shown in Table 5.
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
życka-Tran et al. 535
The upper part of Table 5 shows results for the fixed parameters of this model. As expected,
all three individual-level predictors were negatively related to BZSG within countries. People
who differed by 1 point in trust also differed by 0.077 points in BZSG, with higher trust scores
leading to lower scores on BZSG. Analogously, people who differed by 1 point in balance (or
self-esteem) differed by 0.331 (or 0.139) points in BZSG, with higher balance (or self-esteem)
scores leading to lower scores on BZSG. The lower part of Table 5 provides estimates of the vari-
ances of the random effects for this model. As observed, all variance components are statistically
significant, indicating that Level 2 predictors may be significant between-country variation in the
intercept and slope coefficients for trust, balance, and self-esteem. Moreover, it is notable that the
estimate of the individual-level within-country variance is
σ
2
= .907, which represents a reduc-
tion in variance or “variance explained” at the individual level equal to 15.4% (e.g., [1.072 −
.907] / 1.072 = .154 × 100%). As a consequence, we can conclude that trust, balance, and
self-esteem jointly explain 15.4% of the within-country variance in BZSG.
At the individual level, higher SES appeared to be a significant predictor of lower BZSG. The
effect of SES was assessed in MML and showed that people who differed by 1 point in SES, dif-
fered by 0.051 points in BZSG, with higher SES leading to lower scores on BZSG (see Table 6).
Effects of country-level predictors. The unconditional means (null) model and the Level 1 model
indicated that a between-country variability that may be explained by country-level (Level 2)
variables.
Table 5. Individual-Level (Level 1) Model of BZSG (n = 5,322 Persons in 33 Countries).
Fixed effects Coefficient SE t df
Intercept 3.644 0.057 63.36*** 32
Trust −0.077 0.028 −2.67* 32
Balance −0.331 0.029 −11.23*** 32
Self-esteem −0.139 0.023 −5.85*** 32
Random effects Variance component SD χ
2
df
Intercept 0.105 0.032 684.38*** 32
Trust 0.019 0.137 94.87*** 32
Balance 0.013 0.114 61.60** 32
Self-esteem 0.011 0.114 68.88*** 32
Residual 0.907 0.952
Note. BZSG = Belief in a Zero-Sum Game.
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
Table 6. Individual-Level (Level 1) Model of BZSG (N = 6,138 Persons in 37 Countries).
Fixed effects Coefficient SE t df
Intercept 3.713 0.064 57.420*** 36
SES −0.051 0.017 −3.04** 36
Random effects Variance component SD χ
2
df
Intercept 0.151 0.388 1,026.30*** 36
Residual 1.052 1.026
Note. BZSG = Belief in a Zero-Sum Game.
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
536 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 46(4)
From all country-level variables, that is, cultural dimensions and socio-economic indices,
only GDP and individualism were statistically significant predictors of BZSG. In the next step of
the analysis, the country level and the moderating effects of these two variables on BZSG were
assessed. The results of fitting this model are summarized in Table 7.
As observed in Table 7, the (fixed) effects of these two country level–variables are statistically
significant. Countries that differ by one thousand dollars in GDP differ by 0.011 in BZSG, with
lower income leading to higher scores on BZSG. BZSG is higher in poorer countries (e.g.,
Angola, Vietnam, Ukraine) and lower in economically advanced countries (e.g., USA, Germany,
Canada). Correspondingly, countries that differ by 1 point in individualism differ by 0.148 points
in BZSG, with higher individualism scores leading to lower scores on BZSG.
Furthermore, as observed from Table 7, the between-country variance of the BZSG country
means (the intercept variances) is now estimated to be
τ
00
= .046, having diminished markedly
from the estimate of this parameter (
τ
00
= .104) in the null model. This drop indicates that GDP
and individualism jointly explain a relatively large proportion of the country-to-country variation
in BZSG scores. As indicated by Bryk and Raudenbush (1992,), the drop can be gauged as (.104
− .046) / .104 × 100%, which gives 55.8% of the true between-country variance in BZSG
accounted for by GDP and individualism country mean scores.
To test the hypothesis of the close relationship between BZSG and societal cynicism, the
effect of societal cynicism was assessed in MML and showed that countries that differ by 1 point
in societal cynicism differ by 0.597 points in BZSG, with higher societal cynicism leading to
higher scores on BZSG (see Table 8).
Moderating relationships. To verify our predictions about the interaction effects that would indi-
cate moderation effects of culture variables, we considered a full model that included trust,
Table 7. Country-Level (Level 2) Model of BZSG (n = 5,322 persons in 33 countries).
Fixed effects Coefficient SE t df
Intercept 3.554 0.048 74.38*** 24
GDP −0.011 0.004 2.54* 24
Individualism −0.148 0.027 4.10*** 24
Random effects Variance component SD χ
2
df
Intercept 0.046 0.215 212.35*** 24
Residual 1.082 0.023
Note. GDP in thousand dollars. BZSG = Belief in a Zero-Sum Game; GDP = gross domestic product.
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
Table 8. Country-Level (Level 2) Model of BZSG (n = 3,545 Persons in 21 Countries).
Fixed effects Coefficient SE t df
Intercept 1.821 0.869 2.09* 20
Societal cynicism 0.597 0.295 2.02* 20
Random effects Variance component SD χ
2
df
Intercept 0.114 0.331 421.94*** 20
Residual 1.001 1.001
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
życka-Tran et al. 537
balance, and self-esteem as Level 1 and country-level means, treating GDP and individualism as
the Level 2 variables and all two-way interaction terms between the Level 1 and Level 2 predic-
tors. None of the two-way interactions appeared statistically significant. That is, trust, balance,
and self-esteem were correlates of BZSG irrespective of the country’s GDP and individualism.
We found only a marginally significant effect of income disparity (Gini Index), which seems
to be an indirect macro-social indicator of the conflict over economic resources. Two-level mul-
tilevel regression models were estimated to examine the moderating role of income inequality in
the relations of BZSG with trust and self-esteem (balance was not significant.) The results of
fitting this model are summarized in Table 9.
As observed in Table 9, income inequality does not directly influence BZSG (p = .38), but it
significantly moderates the relation between BZSG and trust (p = .033) and self-esteem on the
tendency level (p = .06).
6
If income inequality rises, then the relation between BZSG and trust
becomes stronger (more negative), but the relation between BZSG and self-esteem disappears
(on a tendency level).
General Discussion
In this article, we first introduced the belief in life as a zero-sum game as a candidate for another
social axiom. Next, we presented psychometric evidence for the BZSG scale as an individual-
and cultural-level dimension in a large pancultural study of 37 nations. Finally, individual- and
cultural-level predictors of BZSG were tested, followed by their multilevel analyses. We wish to
concentrate on the final discussion on these main problems.
Psychometric Evidence for Eight-Item BZSG Scale
When a 12-item scale, originally designed for research in Poland, was applied to our large data
set, it was reduced with MCFA to an 8-item instrument. The value test statistic and other indices
for a one-factor 12-item MCFA model indicated a significant lack of fit for the model. Then, a
two-factor model (in addition to a one-factor model for the individual level and a two-factor
model for the cultural level) was considered in which the originally negatively worded items
loaded on one factor and the positively worded items loaded on the second factor. This two-factor
Table 9. Moderating Relationships Model of BZSG (n = 5,422 people in 34 countries).
Fixed effects Coefficient SE t df
For trust
Intercept −0.160 0.028 −5.67*** 32
Gini Index 0.006 0.002 2.22* 32
For self-esteem
Intercept −0.216 0.023 −9.01***
Gini Index −0.003 0.001 −1.95
32
Random effects Variance component SD χ
2
df
Intercept 0.111 0.333 675.38*** 32
Trust 0.020 0.142 102.99*** 32
Self-esteem 0.012 0.110 82.74*** 32
Residual 0.951 0.975
Note. BZSG = Belief in a Zero-Sum Game.
p = .06. *p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
538 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 46(4)
specification represented a significant improvement in fit over the one-factor model, yielding
marginally acceptable values. However, in light of the relatively low correlation between the two
factors, we decided to reduce the BZSG scale to 8 positively worded items. The fit of a one-factor
model for the remaining 8 items was acceptable. This suggests that our scale, theoretically treated
as unipolar, is better thought of as two separate continua that measure two different beliefs: zero-
sum game versus joint profit exchange. The four items that were found to be separate from BZSG
measure the beliefs of exchange actors’ joint interests: It is profitable to give others because they
will pay off reciprocally, or becoming better off helps others, too (cf. Table 1).
In contrast to the zero-sum game ideology, which presents an essential conflict between rival
actors, the belief in joint profit exchange stresses the possibility for consensual or cooperative
relations. What is essential is that the items that form the second scale are not prone to a simple
reversal (in scoring and meaning) of BZSG, which is not constituted by any reversal of the joint
profit orientation. We may speculate about the reasons for this to have happened. Because the
reason is not acquiescence, it is likely that both beliefs may refer to separate domains of human
activity. For the time being, if the four remaining items were to make up the BZSG scale (as
intended), their framing should have changed from a reversal of “When the number of rich peo-
ple increases in the country, the poorer people benefit as well” to an affirmative statement, such
as “When the rich in the country get richer, the poor become even poorer,” and so on. Our results,
and those obtained with cross-cultural studies on self-esteem, clearly show that researchers
should abstain from using items intended to be later reversed in the computation of their mea-
surements. The logic of such procedures is dubious, and this long tradition in test construction
was never given any serious attention. When people deny the truth of a statement “When a person
does much for the good of others, he or she profits as well,” it is not necessarily that they affirm
a zero-sum game alternative; it may equally be a sense of moral obligation, regardless of
self-interest.
In accordance with all empirical evidence, we should regard BZSG as a unipolar dimension
that is different from the belief in joint profit exchange. Because MCFA showed that the eight-
item BZSG has the same structure at the individual and cultural level, BZSG as a shared indi-
vidual belief is isomorphic with zero-sum game cultural ideology (Van de Vijver & Leung,
1997; Van de Vijver, van Hemert, & Poortinga, 2008). This ideology is expressed in such state-
ments as the Hobbesian homo homini lupus est and is present in popular, man-of-the-street
philosophies.
BZSG at Individual and Cultural Levels of Analysis
Results support our idea of considering BZSG as a personal belief at the individual level and as
a societal axiom at the cultural level. We found that people or nations who believe in zero-sum
game participate in win-lose social exchange relations over limited resources (which are per-
ceived subjectively, depending mostly on cultural norms; see Henrich et al., 2010).
BZSG as an individual mentality. At the individual level (within countries), interpersonal trust,
satisfaction with social exchange (balance), self-esteem, and SES were found to be negative
predictors of BZSG. Previous studies showed that BZSG positively correlated with an external
locus of control and dependence on others, pessimism, negative vision of the social world, dele-
gitimization of social systems, belief in the injustice of the social world, sadness, anxiety, low
satisfaction with life, and a tendency to ruminate (see Table 2). Therefore, we can conclude that
game believers perceive themselves as losers in the world of social exchange and relationships.
It is well known that even when gains and losses are of the same objective value, losses have a
greater subjective value (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979). In general, people respond more strongly
to negatives than positives, which is in line with the rule of thumb: “Bad is stronger than good”
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
życka-Tran et al. 539
(Baumeister, Bratslavsky, Finkenauer, & Vohs, 2001; Keysar, Converse, Wang, & Epley, 2008).
Thus, the zero-sum game belief provides an easy and self-serving way to explain one’s own fail-
ures (“I failed because selfish others have stolen my success”), but it does not offer such a handy,
self-serving explanation of one’s own winnings (nobody thinks “I succeeded because I stole the
successes of others”). This is consistent with the findings that personal successes are explained
in internal, stable, and global terms, such as abilities (cf. Mezulis, Abramson, Hyde, & Hankin,
2004, for meta-analysis), rather than in external terms, such as good luck and when personal suc-
cesses are an explanation of wealth or success but not of poverty or failure (cf. Kreidl, 2000;
Stephenson, 2000).
However, some results show that these relations do not apply to economists. Data have shown
that business/economy students uphold BZSG more than humanists, but do not feel like losers in
social exchange relations (Różycka, 2008; Wojciszke, 2010). The same tendency was observed
in the present study, but when differences between students at the individual level were examined
with a multilevel modeling, results appeared insignificant. However, training students in eco-
nomics reflects the assumption that “the average human being is approximately 95 percent self-
ish in the narrow sense of the term” (Frank, Gilovich, & Regan, 1993, p. 160). To be successful
in business, one must take for granted the life-is-a-zero-sum-game belief and the accompanying
vision of the social world. Indeed, an increasing amount of research shows that economists con-
tribute less to social charity causes than those from other professions (Frank et al., 1993).
Compared with other majors, students of economics show a stronger tendency toward free-riding
(Marwell & Ames, 1981), exploiting others in the ultimatum bargaining game (Carter & Irons,
1991), defecting in the prisoners dilemma game, and believing that people are dishonest (Frank
et al., 1993).
It is also very likely that psychology students are brought up in an intellectual culture
where “love each other” or “win-win” axioms reign and that is totally opposite of the culture
of economic science and the business world, where winning against others is essential for
survival. However, we must be careful with any conclusions; humanists dominated our sam-
ple, and humanists are likely to be a part of the WEIRD population (Henrich et al., 2010).
Thus, more studies comparing the cultures of humanists and economists are needed in this
regard.
BZSG as a cultural variable. At the cultural level, BZSG showed some relations with both other
cultural dimensions and with socio-economic indicators. Because only individualism and GDP
survived as significant predictors within MML, we will concentrate on these relations.
The most notable finding seems to be the negative relation between BZSG and GDP. The
belief in zero-sum game seems to arise in countries with lower income, where resources are
scarce. Similar results were found in the analysis of values (in the context of Schwartz’s theory),
based on the data of European Social Survey from 31 European countries (Magun & Rudnev,
2012). These authors report a very high negative correlation (r = −.81) between GDP and the
self-enhancement values of personal success, power, and wealth. Thus, relatively poor societies
(e.g., in post-communist Europe) are more inclined to make wealth their life priority and to pres-
ent their social world as an arena for a fierce fight for that wealth. Economically deprived coun-
tries are thus more economically minded.
Culture-biased perception of limited resources. The most surprising result was the reversal of
the hypothesized relation between BZSG and individualism. It was collectivism that was found
to be a strong predictor of BZSG. Some explanations can be extrapolated from studies on the
ultimatum game (Henrich et al., 2001; Henrich et al., 2010), which clearly show that in tradi-
tional, poverty ridden societies, there is a tendency to minimize the shares offered to partners,
and such offers are accepted. This suggests not only the win-lose strategy but also an acceptance
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
540 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 46(4)
of such an “order of the social world.” Henrich et al. (2001) found in a regression that both
payoffs to cooperation (How important and how large is a group’s payoff from cooperation in
economic production?) and market integration (How much do people rely on market exchange
in their daily lives?) were highly significant predictors of generous offers in the ultimatum
game—their (positive) normalized regression coefficients were large in magnitude (approxi-
mately 0.3), jointly explaining 68% of the variance (Henrich et al., 2001). This indicates that
with little cooperative production, there is little necessity to share returns and that those whose
livelihood depends on large-scale cooperation must develop ways of sharing the joint surplus
(just to survive). In addition, the more frequently people experience market transactions, the
more they will also experience sharing principles concerning behaviors toward strangers. Col-
lectivist societies rely much more on social interdependence networks than individualistic soci-
eties, where a group’s payoff from cooperation in economic production is much higher and
people rely more on market exchanges in their daily life. Drastically skewed distributions of
monetary rewards in traditional, isolated societies reported by ultimatum game researchers sug-
gest that in conditions of extremely low resources, there is a tendency not only to maximize
self-interests but also to accept anything that has a survival value.
Another possible explanation is the positive link between collectivism and power distance,
which clearly defines the “pecking order” in traditional, less affluent societies. The BZSG can
be interpreted, then, as an axiomatic worldview where groups rather than individuals are actors
of win-lose social relations. These groups can be based on ethnic, religious, seniority, or social
class criteria, each of which would be sufficient to create in-group favoritism in social
competition.
Climate, affluence, and collectivism. The negative relationship found between BZSG and both
GDP and collectivism is consistent with the theory of in-group favoritism (Van de Vliert,
2011). In-group favoritism is conceived as a cultural orientation of advantageous treatment
of own-group members compared with outsiders. It is a combined measure of compatriotism
(favoritism shown to fellow nationals by giving them easier access to scarce jobs), nepotism
(favoritism shown to relatives by giving them organizational positions because of their rela-
tionship rather than on their merits), and familism (favoritism shown to one’s nuclear fam-
ily members through mutually beneficial exchanges of time, effort, and feelings of pride).
An economic analysis has led to the conclusion that national baselines of in-group favorit-
ism are higher in lower income countries with more demanding climates, which evolve as
“survival cultures.” In addition, in-group favoritism is lower when natural demands occur in
high-income countries. Greater demands coupled with unavailable or inadequate economic
resources to meet the demands impair psycho-social functioning because the actors cannot
control the threatening and stressful situations. If the climatic demands are negligible, econom-
ics are also of less importance for psycho-social functioning. Greater mismatches of climate-
based demands by wealth-based resources in lower income countries appear to come with more
life stress, more egoistic enculturation of children, more destructive leadership, and stronger
rejection of out-groups. In contrast, greater national wealth provides more individual resources
for inhabitants to create cultural solutions for the demands of a harsh climate (Van de Vliert,
2011). It is not a new idea that most collectivist countries have colder- or hotter-than-temperate
climates. This makes collectivist and poorer countries in inhospitable climates fertile ground
for a zero-sum game belief.
Distrust, competition, and collectivism. Other studies have also shown that economic disparity
in social relations produces biased self-perception (Loughnan et al., 2011) and interpersonal
distrust, especially among groups. A negative correlation between collectivism and trust (Allik
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
życka-Tran et al. 541
& Realo, 2004; Gheorghiu, Vignoles, & Smith, 2009; Yamagishi, Nobuhito, & Miller, 1998)
explains why people in collectivist cultures perceive the social world as an antagonistic arena
of between-group conflicts. The problem, of course, remains as to whether BZSG controls only
intergroup competition or it also affects in-group exchanges, breaking collective cohesion and
harmony. After all, in a concentric system of social entities, the in- versus out-group distinction
is relative, not an absolute. It depends on context whether a particular group will be regarded as
an outer or inner unit of hierarchical social life (e.g., a neighboring commune may be an out-
group when competing for local resources but becomes part of the in-group in a broader clash
with another tribe).
All in all, our results belong to the growing body of findings that question such psycho-social
benefits of collectivism as harmony, communal feelings, and prosocial involvement. Schwartz
(1992) long ago disputed the sense of this broad cultural dichotomy, which confounds conserva-
tism with self-transcendence. This argument returns, suggesting an interpretation of collectivism
as conservative life priorities, but it is not only that; rather, the essence is the hierarchical nature
of a collectivist society, a combination of collectivism and power distance. There, exclusive eth-
nic, religious, political, and territorial groups fight over limited resources in a zero-sum game-
like fashion.
Although the multilevel model confirmed significant predictors of BZSG both on the indi-
vidual and cultural levels, there were no interactions between the levels (and the between-level
model did not show an improvement over simpler models). The lack of interactions and modera-
tions between levels suggests isomorphism of the BZSG construct, as tested with MCFA. This
interpretation is strengthened by an isomorphic relationship with other variables, where BZSG
was negatively predicted by subjective SES at the individual level and by objective GDP at the
macro level. Thus, BZSG is isomorphic on two counts: It has the same psychological meaning on
the individual and cultural levels, and it shows similar relations with other variables on both
levels.
Taking into account these results, we can conclude that cultural BZSG emerges in hierarchical
collectivist societies with an economic disparity of scarce resources. Whereas at the individual
level, people fight over limited resources, similar phenomena are encountered at cultural level
between groups and nations.
BZSG and Soci(et)al Cynicism: How Similar and Different Are They?
Our findings confirmed the hypothesis that BZSG would have a conceptual and empirical
affinity with soci(et)al cynicism at both the individual
7
and cultural levels. However, despite
their many similarities, BZSG and societal cynicism as social axioms differ in the economic
and political conditions that shape them. Both axioms describe negative beliefs about the
social world, where social interactions are accompanied by minimal trust as a response to a
fundamental requirement for survival and adaptation in a social world. However, social cyni-
cism (corruption by power, a biased view against some groups of people, a mistrust of social
institutions) and societal cynicism (reflecting the perceived hostility of the social system
toward its members) have a more political background, whereas BZSG describes the eco-
nomic domain (struggle for limited resources). Societal cynicism is an important characteris-
tic of the post-communist mentality (Boski, 2009b), whereas BZSG depends more on the
subjective perception of limited resources and economy. Recent developments in Schwartz’s
value theory (Schwartz et al., 2012), where the initial structure of 10 value types has been
expanded to 19 more specific domains, serve as an example. Thus, we propose that the set of
social axioms may also be enlarged so that soci(et)al cynicism and BZSG are accommodated
as sober beliefs about non-idealistic motives.
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
542 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 46(4)
In our opinion, BZSG is a pancultural dimension that may be used to compare individuals and
cultures within and across societies. This possibility is exciting because cultural dimensions
using psychological constructs are currently based mainly on values. A number of BZSG’s char-
acteristics would allow it to be considered a pancultural social axiom: Its isomorphic structure
and reliability were confirmed in many cultures, and so were its predictors on both the individual
and cultural levels. A study on the nature of the relations between the societal mentality (social
axioms) and economy is also of paramount importance because it reveals that certain beliefs are
conducive to economic growth and that others may impair it. The century-old analyses by Max
Weber (1904) of the growth of capitalism in terms of Protestant ethics need to be restored with
new evidence from our times.
Limitations and Future Research
The first and most important limitation of the present study is that the samples consist of students
and are not representative of any society as a whole. Moreover, students of psychology and other
social sciences and humanities were overrepresented in all samples (49%); consequently, there
were more female (63%) than male participants. However, reliance on student samples is typical
for many international projects, such as Schwartz (1992), Bond and Leung (2004), or Inglehart
(1997). Future research should endeavor to create other non-student samples that include sex and
field equality. More studies comparing the cultures of humanists and economists are also needed
in this regard because these domains generate opposite theories and implicit beliefs about human
nature.
Although the strength of the present research is the large number of countries it encompasses,
investigating all types of cultures is also a limitation. In addition, it goes without saying that not
every country in the world took part in our project. We wanted to collect data from all continents,
but we did not give sufficient attention to the climatic criterion, especially to compare rich and
poor countries within the harsh climate zone.
In modern cross-cultural psychology, using individual-level aggregates to describe cultures,
where within-country variance dominates between-country variance (and present measure in no
exception) is questionable. But such situations often happens for a new measure or scale aspires
as a cultural variable about which data are collected.
A further opportunity for study would be research with an international scope. The results
obtained indicate that BZSG influences thinking and behavior on a national level. An important
avenue for future research would be to verify the hypothesis of BZSG’s negative influence on
international cooperation (in countries without equal economic status of citizens). Further
research could help clarify the reasons why some countries become involved in arms races,
despite their danger to the entire planet, and establish the cause of numerous international
conflicts.
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
życka-Tran et al. 543
Appendix
Table A1. Correlations (r Pearson) Between Eight-Item BZSG (Citizen Scores) and Other Cultural
Dimensions, Also With GDP as Controlling Variable (for Citizen Scores), in n Countries.
Dimensions BZSG n GDP controlled
Hofstede (1980)
Power distance .270 29 .060
Individualism-collectivism −.515** 29 −.531*
Suh, Diener, Oishi, and Triandis (1998)
Individualism −.539** 27 −.711*
Van de Vliert (2011)
In-group favoritism .34* 37 .017
Schwartz (2004)
Harmony .204 32 .376
Embeddedness .339** 32 .180
Hierarchy .149 32 .258
Mastery .156 32 .244
Affective autonomy −.377* 32 .238
Intellectual autonomy −.271 32 .318
Egalitarianism −.083 32 .325
Inglehart (1997)
Traditional/secular-rational −.094 33 .002
Survival/self-expression −.237 33 .120
Leung and Bond (2002)
Social cynicism .380* 22 .252
Social complexity .289 24 .053
Reward for application .173 24 .201
Religiosity/spirituality .086 24 .118
Fate control .005 24 .286
Dynamic externality .291 23 .226
Societal cynicism .341* 23 .128
House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, and Gupta (2004)
Performance orientation .269 24 .011
Future orientation .165 24 .212
Uncertainty avoidance .158 24 .184
Power distance .149 24 .257
Family collectivism .468* 24 .524*
Institution collectivism .105 24 .096
Assertiveness −.203 24 .399
Gender equality −.112 24 .291
Human orientation .205 24 .153
McCrae (2002), McCrae and Terracciano (2005)
Neuroticism −.353 21 .192
Extraversion .029 21 .175
Openness to experiences −.031 21 .162
Agreeableness −.431* 21 .147
Conscientiousness .197 21 .257
Gelfand et al. (2011)
Tightness-Looseness .287 19 .301
Note. BZSG = Belief in a Zero-Sum Game; GDP = gross domestic product per capita (United Nations Statistics
Division, 2006).
*p < .05. **p < .01.
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
544 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 46(4)
Authors’ Note
The following authors also contributed to this paper by gathering data in different countries: Georgios
Abakoumkin, University of Patras, Greece; Michael Ashton, Brock University, Canada; Eveline M. L.
Assmar, Salgado de Oliveira University, Brazil; Brad J. Bushman, Ohio State University, USA; Gillian
Finchilescu, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; Cecilia Gastardo-Conaco, University of the
Philippines, Philippines; Roberto Gonzalez, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Chile; JitkaGurnakova,
Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovakia; Klaus Helkama, University of Helsinki, Finland; Sofija Hrabovska,
University of Lviv, Ukraine; Thea Kacharava, Institute of Psychology, Georgia; Zahide Karakitapoglu
Aygun, Bilkent University, Turkey; Nicolas O. Kervyn, Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium; Yechiel
Klar, Tel-Aviv University, Israel; Stepan Konecny, Masaryk University, Czech Republic; Tomohiro
Kumagai, Tohoku University, Japan; Miguel Moya, University of Granada, Spain; Nguyen Huu Thu,
University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam; Sabine Pahl, University of Plymouth, UK; Kristina
Petkova, Bulgarian Academy of Science, Bulgaria; Marianna Sachkova, Moscow City University, Russia;
Rozzana Sanchez Aragon, Universidad Nacional Autonona de Mexico, Mexico; Gloria Seben, University
of Pecs, Hungary; Ramadhar Singh, National University of Singapore, Singapore; Russell Spears, Cardiff
University, UK; Thomas Li-Ping Tang, Middle Tennessee State University; Karl H. Teigen, University of
Oslo, Norway; Truong Thi Khanh Ha, University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam; Feixue
Wang, Sun Yat-Sen University, China; Gang Zheng, Chinese Academy of Science, China.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or
publication of this article.
Table A2. Correlates of BZSG (Citizen Scores) With Socio-Economic-Political Indicators, Also With
GDP as a Controlled Variable, in n Countries.
BZSG n GDP controlled
GDP −.432** 35
Inflation rate .371** 37 .037
Corruption level .188 35 .214
Income disparity .127 34 .184
Human Development Index −.556** 35 .078
Democracy index −.451* 36 .061
Pluralism −.455* 36 .060
Functioning of government −.352* 36 .053
Political participation −.513*** 36 .201
Political culture .260 36 .285
Civil liberty −.287* 36 .223
Subjective well-being −.412* 29 .146
Note. GDP = gross domestic product per capita in purchasing power parity terms in U.S. dollars divided by mid-year
population (United Nations Statistics Division, 2006); Inflation rate (The World Factbook, 2006); Corruption level,
which ranges from 0 (high public-sector corruption) to 10 (no public-sector corruption; Transparency International,
2006); Gini index as measure of income disparity (the extent to which the distribution of income among individuals
or households within a country deviates from a perfectly equal distribution, where a value of 0 represents absolute
equality and 100 absolute inequality, that is, where one person owns everything with the remainder having no income
at all; Human Development Report, 2006); Human Development Index which measures average achievement in three
basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge, and a decent standard of living
(Human Development Report, 2006); Democracy index, based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil
liberties, the functioning of government, political participation, and political culture (Kekic, 2007); an index of life
satisfaction and the subjective well-being which measures people’s cognitive and effective evaluations of their lives (using
national samples; Diener, Diener, & Diener, 1995; Veenhoven, 2006). BZSG = Belief in a Zero-Sum Game.
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
życka-Tran et al. 545
Funding
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Notes
1. The Belief in a Zero-Sum Game (BZSG) scale construction procedure and other psychometric charac-
teristics of the scale are described in detail in another article (Różycka & Wojciszke, 2010).
2. A model with one factor on the individual level but two factors on the cultural level was tested, but it
significantly lacked fit to the model.
3. The structural equivalence of BZSG eight-item scale (Tucker φ) showed that all of 37 samples have
very high coefficients (only 1 was below .95 and 33 were .98 or above). The reliability indices
(Cronbach’s α) were acceptable for all cases (26 of the αs were above .80 and 5 were above .85).
4. Sex was also included, but it was not significant (p = .13).
5. The individual-level (Level 1) covariates were expressed in deviation form from its respective country
means, and the country-level (Level 2) covariates were expressed in deviation form from its respective
grand means. This type of centering has been recommended by Enders & Tofighi, 2007.
6. The comparison of this estimate to the estimated within-country variance obtained for the Level 1
model and Level 2 model indicates that this model with interactions does not represent an improve-
ment over simpler random-coefficient models.
7. A separate study was conducted on a Polish sample of students (N = 118) who completed both the
Belief in Zero-Sum Game Scale and the Social Cynicism Scale, r(118) = .47, p < .001.
References
Allik, J., & Realo, A. (2004). Individualism-collectivism and social capital. Journal of Cross-Cultural
Psychology, 35, 29-49.
Barrett, L., Dunbar, R., & Lycett, J. (2002). Human evolutionary psychology. Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press.
Bar-Tal, D. (2007). Społeczno-psychologiczne podstawy nierozwiązywalnych konfliktów [Socio-
psychological aspects of unsolved conflicts]. In K. Skarżyńska, U. Jakubowska, & J. Wasilewski
(Eds.), Konflikty międzygrupowe. Przejawy, źródła i metody rozwiązywania [Intergroup conflicts.
Manifestations, sources and methods of solving] (pp. 83-107). Warsaw, Poland: SWPS Academica
Press.
Baumeister, R. F., Bratslavsky, E., Finkenauer, C., & Vohs, K. D. (2001). Bad is stronger than good. Review
of General Psychology, 5, 323-370. doi:10.1037//1089-268
Bazerman, M. H. (1983). Negotiator judgment: A critical look at the rationality assumption. American
Behavioral Scientist, 27, 618-634.
Bond, M. H., Leung, K., Au, A., Tong, K. K., & Chemonges-Nielson, Z. (2004). Combining social axioms
with values in predicting social behaviors. European Journal of Personality, 18, 177-191. doi:10.1002/
per.509
Bond, M. H., Leung, K., Au, A., Tong, K. K., De Carrasquel, S. R., Murakami, F., . . . Lewis, J. R. (2004).
Culture level dimensions of social axioms and their correlates across 41 cultures. Journal of Cross-
Culture Psychology, 35, 548-570. doi:10.1177/0022022104268388
Boski, P. (1983). Egotism and evaluation in self and other attributions for achievement-related outcomes.
European Journal of Social Psychology, 13, 287-304.
Boski, P. (2009a). Kulturowe ramy zachowań społecznych [Social behavior in cultural framework.
Handbook of cross-cultural psychology].Warsaw, Poland: Polskie Wydawnicwto Naukowe Press.
Boski, P. (2009b). Komunizm jako źródło cynizmu i braku zaufania społecznego – czynników sprawc-
zych niskiego dobrostanu [Communism as a source of cynicism and lack of social trust—Two factors
decreasing welfare]. In U. Jakubowska & K. Skarżyńska (Eds.), Między przeszłością a przyszłością.
Szkice z psychologii politycznej [Between the past and the future. Essays from political psychology]
(pp. 117-142). Warsaw: Polish Academy of Sciences Press.
Boski, P., Henne, M., & Więckowska, J. (2009). Cynicism in love and in politics. In K. Leung & M. H.
Bond (Eds.), Psychological aspects of social axioms (pp. 239-267). New York, NY: Springer.
Brycz, H. (2011). Perception accuracy of biases in self and in others. Psychology Research, 1, 203-215.
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
546 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 46(4)
Bryk, A. S., & Raudenbush, S. W. (1992). Hierarchical linear models. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Carter, J. R., & Irons, M. D. (1991). Are economists different, and if so, why? Journal of Economic
Perspectives, 5, 171-177.
Deutsch, M. (2005). Współpraca i rywalizacja [Cooperation and competition]. In M. Deutsch & P. T.
Coleman (Eds.), Rozwiązywanie konfliktów, Teoria i praktyka [The handbook of conflicts resolution:
Theory and practice] (pp. 21-40). Krakow, Poland: Jagiellonian University Press.
Diener, E., Diener, M., & Diener, C. (1995). Factors predicting the subjective well-being of nations. Journal
of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 851-864.
Enders, C. K., & Tofighi, D. (2007). Centering predictor variables in cross-sectional multilevel models: A
new look at an old issue. Psychological Methods, 12, 121-138.
Epley, N., & Caruso, E. M. (2004). Egocentric ethics. Social Justice Research, 17, 171-187.
Esses, V. M., Jackson, L. M., & Armstrong, T. L. (1998). Intergroup competition and attitudes toward
immigrants and immigration: An instrumental model of group conflict. Journal of Social Issues, 54,
699-724.
Frank, R. H., Gilovich, T., & Regan, D. T. (1993). Does studying economics inhibit cooperation? Journal
of Economic Perspectives, 7, 159-171.
Fukuyama, F. (1995). Trust: The social virtues and the creation of prosperity. New York, NY: Free Press.
Gelfand, M. J., Raver, J. L., Nishii, L., Leslie, L. M., Lun, J., Lim, B. C., . . . Yamaguchi, S. (2011).
Differences between tight and loose cultures: A 33-nation study. Science, 332, 1100-1104. doi:10.1126/
science.1197754
Gerbasi, M. E., & Prentice, D. A. (2013). The Self- and Other-Interest Inventory. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 105, 495-514.
Gheorghiu, M. A., Vignoles, V. L., & Smith, P. B. (2009). Beyond the United States and Japan: Testing
Yamagishi’s emancipation theory of trust across 31 nations. Social Psychology Quarterly, 72, 365-383.
Henrich, J., Boyd, R., Bowles, S., Gintis, H., Camerer, C., Fehr, E., & McElreath, R. (2001). In search of
homo economicus: Experiments in 15 small-scale societies. American Economic Review, 91, 73-78.
Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world? Behavioral and Brain
Sciences, 33, 1-75. doi:10.1017/S0140525X0999152X
Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values. Beverly
Hills, CA: Sage.
House, R. J., Hanges, P. J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P. W., & Gupta, V. (2004). Culture, leadership, and
organizations: The GLOBE study of 62 societies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Hu, L. T., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indices in covariance structure analysis:
Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 1-55.
Human Development Report. (2006). Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis.
Retrieved from http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/
Inglehart, R. (1997). Modernization and postmodernization. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1979). Prospect theory: An analysis of decision under risk. Econometrica,
47, 263-292.
Kekic, L. (2007). Economist Intelligence Unit’s index of democracy. The World In 2007. Retrieved from
http://www.economist.com/media/pdf/DEMOCRACY_INDEX_2007_v3.pdf
Keysar, B., Converse, B. A., Wang, J., & Epley, N. (2008). Reciprocity is not give and take. Asymmetric
reciprocity to positive and negative acts. Psychological Science, 19, 1280-1286.
Kreidl, M. (2000). Perceptions of poverty and wealth in western and post-communist countries. Social
Justice Research, 13, 151-176.
Leung, K., Au, A., Huang, X., Kurman, J., Nitt, T., & Nitt, K. K. (2007). Social axioms and values: A cross-
cultural examination. European Journal of Personality, 21, 91-111. doi:10.1002/per.615
Leung, K., & Bond, M. H. (2004). Social axioms: A model for social beliefs in multi-cultural perspective.
In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 36, pp. 122-197). San Diego,
CA: Elsevier Academic Press.
Leung, K., & Bond, M. H. (2008). Psycho-logic and eco-logic: Insights from social axiom dimensions. In
F. J. R. Van de Vijver, D. A. van Hemert, & Y. H. Poortinga (Eds.), Multilevel analysis of individuals
and culture (pp. 201-221). New York, NY: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Leung, K., & Bond, M. H. (Eds.). (2009). Psychological aspects of social axioms. New York, NY: Springer.
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
życka-Tran et al. 547
Leung, K., Bond, M. H., Reimel de Carrasquel, S., Munoz, C., Hernandez, M., Murakami, F., . . . Singelis,
T. M. (2002). Social axioms: The search for universal dimensions of general beliefs about how the
world functions. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 33, 286-302.
Leung, K., Lam, B. C. P., Bond, M. H., Conway, L. G., Gornick, L. J., Amponsah, B., . . . Zhou, F.
(2012). Developing and evaluating the social axioms survey in eleven countries: Its relation-
ship with the five-factor model of personality. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 43, 833-857.
doi:10.1177/0022022111416361
Loughnan, S., Kuppens, P., Allik, J., Balazs, K., de Lemus, S., Dumont, K., . . . Haslam, N. (2011).
Economic inequality is linked to biased self-perception. Psychological Science, 22, 1254-1258.
doi:10.1177/0956797611417003
Magun, V., & Rudnev, M. (2012). Basic values of Russians and other Europeans. Problems of Economic
Transition, 54, 31-64. doi:10.2753/PET1061-1991541003
Marwell, G., & Ames, R. E. (1981). Economists free ride, does anyone else? Experiments on the provision
of public goods. Journal of Public Economics, 15, 295-310.
McCrae, R. R. (2002). NEO-PI-R data from 36 cultures: Further intercultural comparisons. In A. J. Marsella,
R. R. McCrae, & J. Allik (Eds.), The five-factor model across cultures (pp. 105-125). Amsterdam, The
Netherlands: Kluwer Academic.
McCrae, R. R., & Terracciano, A. (2005). Personality profiles of cultures: Aggregate personality traits.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 407-425.
Mezulis, A. H., Abramson, L. Y., Hyde, J. S., & Hankin, B. L. (2004). Is there a universal positivity bias in
attribution? A meta-analytic review of individual, developmental and cultural differences in the self-
serving attributional bias. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 711-747.
Nezlek, J. B. (2011). Multilevel modeling for social and personality psychology. London, England: Sage.
Nisbett, R. E., & Ross, L. (1980). Human inference: Strategies and shortcomings of social judgment.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Paese, P. W., Yonker, R. D., & Louis, S. (2001). Toward a better understanding of egocentric fairness judg-
ments in negotiation. The International Journal of Conflict Management, 12, 114-131.
Pratto, F., Sidanius, J., Stallworth, L. M., & Malle, B. F. (1994). Social dominance orientation: A personal-
ity variable predicting social and political attitudes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67,
741-763.
Pressman, E. R. (Producer), & Stone, O. (Director). (1987). Wall Street. United States: American
Entertainment Partners Amercent Films.
Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York, NY:
Simon & Schuster.
Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Ross, L., & Stillinger, C. (1991). Barriers to conflict resolution. Negotiation Journal, 7, 389-404.
Różycka, J. (2008). Wiara w życie jako grę o sumie zerowej: wyznaczniki i konsekwencje społeczne [Zero-
Sum Game Belief: Determinants and social consequences] (Unpublished doctoral thesis). Polish
Academy of Sciences, Warsaw.
Różycka, J. (2012). Życie społeczne jako Gra. Kontekst międzykulturowy [Social life as a Game in cross-
cultural context]. Gdansk, Poland: Gdansk University Press.
Różycka, J., & Wojciszke, B. (2009). Dlaczego ludzie myślą, że życie jest grą o sumie zerowej?
Uwarunkowania i konsekwencje społeczno - ekonomiczne w Polsce i na świecie [Why do people think,
that life goes like a zero-sum game? Determinants and socio-economic consequences, in Poland and in
the world]. In K. Skarżyńska (Ed.), Przekonania w życiu jednostek, grup, społeczności [Convictions of
individuals, groups and community] (pp. 67-83). Warsaw, Poland: SWPS Academica Press.
Różycka, J., & Wojciszke, B. (2010). Skala wiary w grę o sumie zerowej [A Zero-Sum Game Belief Scale].
Studia Psychologiczne, 48, 33-44.
Rusbult, C. E., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (2003). Interdependence, interaction and relationships. Annual
Review of Psychology, 54, 351-375.
Schwartz, S. H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empiri-
cal tests in 20 countries. Advances in Experimental and Social Psychology, 25, 1-65.
Schwartz, S. H. (2004). Mapping and interpreting cultural differences around the world. In H. Vinken, J.
Soeters, & P. Estes (Eds.), Comparing cultures: Dimensions of culture in a comparative perspective
(pp. 43-73). Leiden,The Netherlands: Brill.
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
548 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 46(4)
Schwartz, S. H., Cieciuch, J., Vecchione, M., Davidov, E., Fischer, R., Beierlein, C., . . . Konty, M. (2012).
Refining the theory of basic individual values. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 103,
663-688.
Smith, P. B. (2004). Acquiescent response bias as an aspect of cross-cultural communication style. Journal
of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 35, 50-61.
Stephenson, S. (2000). Public beliefs in the causes of wealth and poverty and legitimization of inequalities
in Russia and Estonia. Social Justice Research, 13, 83-100.
Suh, E., Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Triandis, H. (1998). The shifting basis of life satisfaction judgments across
cultures: Emotions versus norms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 482-493.
Thompson, L., & Hrebec, D. (1996). Lose-lose agreements in independent decision making. Psychological
Bulletin, 120, 396-409.
Transparency International. (2006). Annual report. Retrieved from http://www.transparency.org/what
wedo/publication/transparency_international_annual_report_2006
United Nations Statistics Division. (2006). Statistical databases. Retrieved from http://unstats.un.org/unsd/
default.htm
Vallone, R., Ross, L., & Lepper, M. (1985). The hostile media phenomenon: Biased perception and percep-
tions of media bias in coverage of the Beirut massacre. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
49, 577-585.
Van de Vijver, F. J. R., & Leung, K. (1997). Methods and data analysis for cross-cultural research.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Van de Vijver, F. J. R., van Hemert, D. A., & Poortinga, Y. H. (2008). Conceptual issues in multilevel
models. In F. J. R. Van de Vijver, D. A. van Hemert, & Y. H. Poortinga (Eds.), Multilevel analysis of
individuals and culture (pp. 3-26), New York, NY: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Van de Vliert, E. (2011). Climato-economic origins of variation in in-group favoritism. Journal of Cross-
Cultural Psychology, 42, 494-515.
Veenhoven, R. (2006). Quality of life in modern society, measured with happy life years. In Y.-K. Ng &
L. S. Ho (Eds.), Happiness and public policy: Theory, case studies and implications (pp. 19-44). New
York, NY: Palgrave-Macmillan.
Von Neumann, J., & Morgenstern, O. (1944). Theory of games and economic behavior. Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press.
Weber, M. (1904). The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. London, England: Unwin Hyman.
Wojciszke, B. (2010). Sprawczość i wspólnotowość. Podstawowe wymiary spostrzegania społecznego
[Agency and communion. Basic dimension of social perception]. Gdansk, Poland: GWP Press.
Wojciszke, B., Baryła, W., & Różycka, J. (2009). Wiara w życie jako grę o sumie zerowej [Zero-Sum Game
Belief]. In U. Jakubowska & K. Skarżyńska (Eds.), Między przeszłością a przyszłością. Szkice z psy-
chologii politycznej [Between the past and the future. Essays from political psychology] (pp. 179-188).
Warsaw: Polish Academy of Sciences Press.
World Factbook. (2006). GDP—per capita (PPP). Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/
the-world-factbook/rankorder/2004rank.html
Yamagishi, T., Nobuhito, J., & Miller, A. S. (1998). In-group bias and culture of collectivism. Asian Journal
of Social Psychology, 1, 315-328.
Zimprich, D., Perren, S., & Hornung, R. (2005). A two-level confirmatory factor analysis of a modified
self-esteem scale. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 65, 465-481.
Żemojtel-Piotrowska, M., & Piotrowski, J. (2012). Entitlement and belief in zero-sum game in the organiza-
tional context. In M. Lipowski & Z. Nieckarz (Eds.), Empirical aspects of psychology of managements.
Gdynia, Poland: Wyższa Szkoła Administracji i Biznesu.
by guest on April 8, 2015jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
... First, past work has often focused on the argument that people who are ideologically opposed to equality perceive that it symbolically harms their group. Prejudice toward disadvantaged outgroups (23), political conservatism (24), support for the idea that society is zero-sum (25), ideological support for the status quo (26), and preference for social hierarchies between groups (27,28) have all been associated with feeling threatened by equality policies. Although we, too, expect that antiegalitarian ideologies increase perceptions that equality-enhancing policies harm advantaged groups, we predict that misperceptions also occur independently of these ideologies. ...
... Future research would benefit from understanding how people in disadvantaged groups perceive equality-enhancing policies. While some research indicates that everyone is susceptible to perceiving the world through a zerosum lens (25,38), it is possible that disadvantaged group members are motivated to construe equality-enhancing policies as non-zerosum. Recent work shows that, whereas white Americans believe that they are hurt by university diversity policies that mutually benefit white and non-white applicants, Black Americans accurately see these polices as helping everyone (12). ...
Article
Nine preregistered studies ( n = 4197) demonstrate that advantaged group members misperceive equality as necessarily harming their access to resources and inequality as necessarily benefitting them. Only when equality is increased within their ingroup, instead of between groups, do advantaged group members accurately perceive it as unharmful. Misperceptions persist when equality-enhancing policies offer broad benefits to society or when resources, and resource access, are unlimited. A longitudinal survey of the 2020 U.S. voters reveals that harm perceptions predict voting against actual equality-enhancing policies, more so than voters’ political and egalitarian beliefs. Finally two novel-groups experiments experiments reveal that advantaged participants’ harm misperceptions predict voting for inequality-enhancing policies that financially hurt them and against equality-enhancing policies that financially benefit them. Misperceptions persist even after an intervention to improve decision-making. This misperception that equality is necessarily zero-sum may explain why inequality prevails even as it incurs societal costs that harm everyone.
... However, in the study by Meegan [50], zero-sum bias is more likely to be employed by some people rather than all humans. In other words, because individuals have different levels of zero-sum bias [55], the lay theory about resource allocation is not always appropriate for all consumers. This study predicts that people with a high level of zero-sum bias are more likely to assume resources are allocated from taste to positive cues, and consumers who are low in zero-sum bias are in contrast. ...
... The items of zero-sum bias include "I think people are more likely to excel at something when they put all their effort into it", "I think it is better to gain professional knowledge by focusing on one skill rather than dabbling in many skills", "I think if a product claims to have multiple functions, it is likely that each function is not very effective", and "I think, if a product claims to provide only one function, then it is more likely to be the best in this function" (1 = not at all, 7 = very much so). These measurement items were adjusted from Różycka-Tran, Boski, and Wojciszke [55] and Burleigh et al. [65]. In addition, participations were asked to report their information of organic products and original countries. ...
Article
Full-text available
(1) Background: Labeling is one of the significant strategies to guide sustainable consumption behaviors. Nowadays, multi labels being displayed on the front-of-pack of food products is a common phenomenon. However, labels seldom operate solo, and competition or complement effects may be exerted on different labels. Therefore, the research objective is to explore the interaction effect when nutrition and low-carbon labels appear simultaneously; (2) Methods: Across four scenario-based experiments, including ice cream, yogurt, steak, and toast, this study manipulated the separate and joint occurrences of low-carbon and nutrition labels, the interaction effect of joint labels was tested, and the serial mediation model, which includes resource allocation and anticipated enjoyment of food consumption, was verified; (3) Results: Results show that people have a positive preference for the nutrition label and the carbon label, respectively, while these two labels working simultaneously attenuate the positive effect of the single label. When facing nutrition and carbon labels simultaneously, people would infer partial resources are allocated to healthy and environmental aspects so they have a lower anticipated enjoyment from food consumption. Thus, these two labels working simultaneously attenuate the positive effect of the single label, and consumers have a lower evaluation of food products. In addition, the joint backfire on the effect is only exerted on people with a higher level of zero-sum bias and only when joint labels have a high consistency of labels; (4) Conclusions: This study solved the contradictory problem of the joint effect of positive labels. The findings in this research contribute to promote sustainable food consumption. We suggest that similar labels should be avoided in the same front-of-pack of food, and manufacturers need to use ads to bring down consumers’ zero-sum bias.
... It could be that a similar pattern might be observed when people attempt to capitalize on a success that directly hurts a responder. Thus, the capitalization theory might be further investigated from the games theory perspective and zero-sum games in particular (Różycka-Tran et al., 2015). It could be that a similar pattern might be observed when people attempt to capitalize on a success that directly hurts a responder. ...
Article
Full-text available
Capitalization is an interpersonal process in which individuals (capitalizers) communicate their accomplishments to others (responders). When these attempts to capitalize are met with enthusiastic responses, individuals reap greater personal and social benefits from the accomplishment. This research integrated the interpersonal model of capitalization with moral foundations theory to examine whether accomplishments achieved through immoral (vs. moral) means disrupt the interpersonal processes of capitalization. We hypothesized that an accomplishment achieved through immoral (vs. moral) means would suppress the positive affective response often reaped from capitalizing on good news. We conducted two, mixed-methods experiments in which individuals interacted with a stranger (Study 1) or with their romantic partner (Study 2). We found that responders exhibited greater self-reported negative emotions, avoidance motivation, and arousal when reacting to capitalizers' immoral (vs. moral) accomplishments. In turn, greater negative affect predicted less enthusiastic verbal responses to capitalization attempts. In Study 2 we found that immoral accomplishments increased avoidance motivation, which contrary to our expectations, increased expressions of happiness. These studies reveal that the moral means by which accomplishments are achieved can disrupt the interpersonal process of capitalization. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
... Systematic cross-country analysis finds a positive relationship between the prevalence of witchcraft beliefs and zero-sum worldview, as shown in figure 11. The chart in panel (a) is based on a multi-item scale of belief in a zero-sum game constructed to capture the notion that one person's gain is only possible at the expense of others (Różycka-Tran et al., 2015). ...
... In line with principles of incremental science (Hofstee, 2003), we additionally tested the vulnerability of our model to confounding by other known predictors of attitudes toward immigrants. People's attitudes have been shown to be influenced by their national identification (Roccas et al., 2008), which affects how much they value their ingroup status and regard foreigners as outgroup individuals, and zero-sum beliefs (Różycka-Tran et al., 2015), which influence people's tendency to have an antagonistic view of social relationsthat one person's gain can happen only at the expense of others. Thus, we controlled for national identification and zero-sum beliefs to ascertain whether instrumentality predicts threats and attitudes independently of other known attitudinal factors. ...
Article
Full-text available
Although threat perceptions are commonly used to explain attitudes toward immigrants, the psychological factors underlying threat are surprisingly understudied. Drawing from goal pursuit and self-determination theory, we examined the perceived instrumentality of immigrants as an antecedent of locals’ threat and attitudinal perceptions. Through four studies (N = 1,372) with different configurations of local population segments and target immigrant groups, we investigated the impact of immigrants’ instrumentality in terms of hindrances to locals’ autonomy, belonging, and competence needs. Including hindrances to our proposed model of threat and attitude led to an improvement in the overall fit with the data, allowed for a better specification of the threats-to-attitudes pathways, and elucidated the complexity and a downstream consequence (endorsement of pro-immigration policies) of attitudes. The present findings underscore the utility of goal-driven approaches to studying intergroup conflicts. Implications for understanding and improving locals’ attitudes toward immigrants are discussed.
... Management education characterized by intense competition with huge stakes to succeed leads students to indulge in zero-sum game activities-one's benefit at the expense of others (Różycka-Tran et al. 2015). ST induced by YBP entails a sense of unity with others, thereby facilitating cooperation and healthy interpersonal relationships. ...
Article
Full-text available
Broader outlook, ethics, and social responsibility have been long-standing concerns in business practices and management. In this regard, an effective management education would play a pivotal role in instilling an ethical grounding among management students, who represent the future management practitioners. Therefore, going beyond the self-oriented perspective and promoting altruistic behavior among them would be significant in establishing broader, socially responsible considerations in organizations. However, little research has investigated how to increase altruistic behavior. To address this need, we propose that Yoga-based practices (YBP) can build-up altruistic behavior by enhancing subjective vitality (SV), self-transcendence (ST), and psychological capital (PsyCap). We report two studies to test this hypothesis. In Study 1, a survey-based study (n = 342), we examine the impact of SV and ST on altruistic behavior mediated by PsyCap. The results from structural equation modeling supported the hypothesized model. In study 2, we examine the impact of YBP on SV and ST using longitudinal randomized controlled experiment design (n = 109). The findings of study 2 suggest that YBP enhanced both SV and ST and that YBP are effective, efficient, and sustainable training tools for building altruistic behavior among management students. We discuss the significance and implications of these findings for organizations, management education, and leadership development. We consider the limitations of our study and suggest directions for future research.
... This could explain why this heuristic has been promoted by the display of the opponent score. The use of such heuristic could also be due to an underlying zero-sum bias 64,75 : considering wrongfully that a greater profit for its opponent is necessarily a profit loss for itself, a firm could decide to make its choice only considering the profit difference. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
Through three studies, this thesis aims to explore the cognitive micro-foundations of economics. In a first study, I investigate the role of the information for coordination on a unique medium of exchange, that is to say money emergence. Relying on the search theoretical models (Kiyotaki & Wright, 1989, and Iwai, 1996), the goal of this study is to challenge the assumption that an exhaustive information is a necessary condition for money emergence. In a second study, I tackle the role of the information in duopoly competition. Using a model a-la-Hotelling (1929), we test the hypothesis that varying the amount of information available by consumers substantially impacts market’s dynamics. In a third study, I am interested in decision-making under risk in rhesus monkeys. Based on the prospect theory (Kahneman & Tversky, 1989, 1992), the main purpose is to assess to what extent macaques exhibit an asymmetric treatment of gains and losses similar to that of humans.
... These factors represent a cross-section of indicators encompassing social development, levels of political and economic engagement, as well as the degree to which the internal workings of the countries are corrupt and tumultuous. As societies "advance" they create safer spaces, more equality, and less competition between citizens over scarce resources (Inglehart et al., 2004;Różycka-Tran et al., 2015). ...
Article
Abstract Objectives: The Dark Triad traits (i.e., narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism) capture individual differences in aversive personality to complement work on other taxonomies, such as the Big Five traits. However, the literature on the Dark Triad traits relies mostly on samples from English-speaking (i.e., Westernized) countries. We broadened the scope of this literature by sampling from a wider array of countries. Method: We drew on data from 49 countries (N = 11,723; 65.8% female; AgeMean = 21.53) to examine how an extensive net of country-level variables in economic status (e.g., Human Development Index), social relations (e.g., gender equality), political orientations (e.g., democracy), and cultural values (e.g., embeddedness) relate to country-level rates of the Dark Triad traits, as well as variance in the magnitude of sex differences in them. Results: Narcissism was especially sensitive to country-level variables. Countries with more embedded and hierarchical cultural systems were more narcissistic. Also, sex differences in narcissism were larger in more developed societies: Women were less likely to be narcissistic in developed (vs. less developed) countries. Conclusions: We discuss the results based on evolutionary and social role models of personality and sex differences. That higher country-level narcissism was more common in less developed countries, whereas sex differences in narcissism were larger in more developed countries, is more consistent with evolutionary than social role models. Keywords: Narcissism; Psychopathy; Machiavellianism; Dark Triad; Cultural Values; Cross-cultural
Article
The study of authoritarianism has a long history in the field of psychology; however, much of this research focuses on Western countries, especially the United States. In effort to better understand authoritarianism cross-culturally, we explore the current state of authoritarianism in an important cultural context: Russia. Thus, the current paper explores large-scale research of right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation in the modern Russian context. Six studies (total N = 1358) included personality traits, basic human values, social beliefs, and intergroup attitudes that allowed us to comprehensively consider authoritarian attitudes in Russia. The results showed that personological profile and pattern of reaction to threat among Russian authoritarians is similar to Western authoritarians. However, economic views inherited from Soviet ideology make Russians differ in their view on economic conservatism supported by Western authoritarians. These data provide insight into the psychology of authoritarianism as well as explore novel aspects of Russian culture.
Chapter
Full-text available
The human species has lived for most of its time in simple hunter-gatherer societies. Agrarian societies developed less than 5000 years ago and it is only in the last 200 years that a “modern” industrial society has come into being. Today this industrial society is rapidly transforming into a global information society.
Article
Full-text available
Three studies showed that the group of observers accurately recognized biases in other people’s behaviors while the group of actors was unable to detect the same biases in their own behaviors. The logic and inevitability of biases influenced the estimations of the former. Biases which were positive, beneficial, logical and non-threatening for the self but at the same time uncontrollable were perceived as more accurate by the group of actors. The correlations among the characteristics of biases themselves and between characteristic of biases and the accuracy are suggested as possible explanations. The theoretical background of the studies is embodied as well in tendency-oriented theories (Kahneman, Tversky, 1973 OK; Fiske & Taylor, 1984; Kruglansky,1989 OK) as in new stream of accuracy theories (Haselton & Buss, 2000; Funder, 1995; Levesque, 1997; Simpson, Ickes, & Grich, 1999 OK) Keywords: accuracy, actor-observer asymmetry, biases
Article
High levels of worldwide migration paired with increasingly negative attitudes toward immigrants and immigration in host countries indicate that it is crucial to gain an understanding of the bases of these attitudes. This article discusses one determinant of negative attitudes toward immigrants and immigration: perceived competition for resources. We present our instrumental model of group conflict, which suggests that competition for resources, and attempts to remove this competition, are important determinants of intergroup attitudes and behavior. We then review relevant research on perceived competition and attitudes toward immigrants and immigration. We conclude by discussing the implications of this research for attempts to alleviate tension between immigrants and members of host populations, and for our more general model of group conflict.
Article
The authors use mainly data from the European Social Survey carried out in 2008 to compare Russian basic values and the values of the thirty-one other European countries as measured by the Schwartz Portrait Values Questionnaire.