11 May 2014

American exceptionalism

I came across this book chapter by Uhlmann and colleagues about American exceptionalism and its ties to unconscious cultural beliefs. The main thesis is basically that all Americans are ultra-Puritain Protestants (in terms of their unconscious beliefs, at least) whether they want to be or not. I've put an outline of the article below for those interested.

Exception nature of American values based on Puritan-Protestant heritage
1. Extreme valorization of individual merit
- Partly due to Protestantism
- More Americans believe that people have what they deserve.

2. Maintenance of religious and traditional values in spite of industrialization
- The U.S. is much more religious than most advanced countries.
- Unlike in most countries, the situation hasn’t been changing.

Moral values are typically
·         unconscious
·         socially ingrained

Traditional values have strong influence on the implicit level.

National culture explains much more of variability than personal religion does. (An interesting and somewhat depressing fact!)

It wasn't a great read, but it did have some good pointers to other related literature that I wasn't aware of. One worrisome aspect of the article is that it relies heavily on the social priming literature that is currently under attack on methodological grounds and the failure of so many studies to replicate.


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