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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cultural change fast and slow : a novel measure of the speed of cultural change Kay, Nick


What cross-national patterns of variation in the speed of cultural change exist? And what explains this variation? Prior research on cultural change has tended to focus on describing and explaining changes along narrow dimensions of culture, while leaving these questions about broader patterns of cultural change unaddressed. Due to this dimension-focused approach, cultural psychology has yet to develop any adequate methods for measuring cross-national variation in the speed of cultural change. To address the gap in the literature, we repurpose statistical tools conventionally used to measure cross-national cultural distance and develop an index measuring country-level rates of cultural change over the last 20 years: the cultural change index. We present our approach to building this index and provide an analysis of its statistical properties and robustness. We perform exploratory analyses that examine the correlation between the cultural change index and a wide range of variables that prior research has identified as potentially having a causal impact on the speed of cultural change. We find correlations with the cultural change index across five classes of predictor variables— socioeconomic development, globalization, gender equality, cultural orientations, and ecological factors. To conclude, we discuss limitations of the present research and make recommendations for how future research on this topic can build upon our measurement techniques and analytical approaches.

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