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Tuesday January 31, 2023

Study of 62 countries finds people react similarly to everyday situations

By News Report
June 12, 2020

California: A new study asserts the world population may have much more in common than it has differences. The researchers’ finding: ‘The difference among countries is smaller than expected; and the difference within countries is much greater.’ In other words, people from different countries aren’t that different, and people within the same country aren’t as similar as expected.

The cornerstone of discrimination is the belief that other people, including people of other races from other countries, are different. They experience life differently; they react differently. What if research could demonstrate that’s not true? A new study from UC Riverside asserts the world population may have much more in common than it has differences.

“Even though individuals within the same country have more similar experiences than those in different countries, the differences are barely noticeable,” said Daniel Lee, the lead author in the paper recently published by the Journal of Personality. “The world is a much more similar and unified place than we once thought.”

Lee said the research is the most far-reaching study of everyday situations ever, teaming with researchers across the globe to include 62 countries. The aim is determining whether the world’s population experiences life very much the same, or differently.

“This project is unprecedented. Very few international studies look at relationships between more than two countries, let alone 62,” Lee, a doctoral researcher in the lab of UCR Distinguished Professor David Funder, and the lead author of the paper “Situational Experience Around the World: A Replication and Extension in 62 Countries.”

What’s a situation? Everything we experience. Watching Netflix in the living room with your family. Or getting a sunburn. There are simple situations: being in a room that’s too warm. There are more complex situations, such as attending a social event where you encounter a potential romantic partner.

Whether people across the world report the same feelings and emotions in those situations, or vastly different ones, was the crux of the lab’s study. The study included data from 15,318 members of university and college communities, 10,771 of them females, 4,468 males. Seventy-nine did not choose a gender. Most participants were in their early to mid-20s. Answers were gathered using a 90-question assessment Funder previously developed called the Riverside Situational Q-Sort.

The current study is a much-expanded version of a 2015 study from Funder’s lab called “The World at 7:00: Comparing the Experience of Situations Across 20 Countries.” That study asked participants from 20 countries what they were doing at 7 p.m. the previous night. Then, researchers looked to see how people experienced them.

Their finding: “The difference among countries is smaller than expected; and the difference within countries is much greater.” In other words, people from different countries aren’t that different, and people within the same country aren’t as similar as expected.

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