Expanding the Measurement of Culture with a Sample of Two Billion Humans

55 Pages Posted:

See all articles by Nick Obradovich

Nick Obradovich

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Center for Humans and Machines

Ömer Özak

Southern Methodist University - Department of Economics; IZA

Ignacio Martín

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid - Department of Telematic Engineering

Ignacio Ortuno-Ortin

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid - Department of Economics

Edmond Awad

University of Exeter Business School - Department of Economics

Manuel Cebrián

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Center for Humans and Machines

Ruben Cuevas

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Klaus Desmet

Southern Methodist University (SMU); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Iyad Rahwan

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Center for Humans and Machines

Ángel Cuevas

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Date Written: September 8, 2020

Abstract

Culture has played a pivotal role in human evolution. Yet, the ability of social scientists to study culture is limited by the currently available measurement instruments. Scholars of culture must regularly choose between scalable but sparse survey-based methods or restricted but rich ethnographic methods. Here, we demonstrate that massive online social networks can advance the study of human culture by providing quantitative, scalable, and high-resolution measurement of behaviorally revealed cultural values and preferences. We employ publicly available data across nearly 60,000 topic dimensions drawn from two billion Facebook users across 225 countries and territories. We first validate that cultural distances calculated from this measurement instrument correspond to traditional survey-based and objective measures of cross-national cultural differences. We then demonstrate that this expanded measure enables rich insight into the cultural landscape globally at previously impossible resolution. We analyze the importance of national borders in shaping culture, explore unique cultural markers that identify subnational population groups, and compare subnational divisiveness to gender divisiveness across countries. The global collection of massive data on human behavior provides a high-dimensional complement to traditional cultural metrics. Further, the granularity of the measure presents enormous promise to advance scholars’ understanding of additional fundamental questions in the social sciences. The measure enables detailed investigation into the geopolitical stability of countries, social cleavages within both small and large-scale human groups, the integration of migrant populations, and the disaffection of certain population groups from the political process, among myriad other potential future applications.

Keywords: Culture, Cultural Distance, Identity, Regional Culture, Gender Differences

JEL Classification: C80, F1, J1, O10, R10, Z10

Suggested Citation

Obradovich, Nicholas and Özak, Ömer and Martín, Ignacio and Ortuno-Ortin, Ignacio and Awad, Edmond and Cebrián, Manuel and Cuevas, Ruben and Desmet, Klaus and Rahwan, Iyad and Cuevas, Ángel, Expanding the Measurement of Culture with a Sample of Two Billion Humans (September 8, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=

Nicholas Obradovich

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Center for Humans and Machines ( email )

Berlin
Germany

Ömer Özak (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University - Department of Economics ( email )

Dallas, TX 75275
United States
+1-214-768-2755 (Phone)
+1-214-768-1821 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://omerozak.com

IZA

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Ignacio Martín

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid - Department of Telematic Engineering ( email )

CL. de Madrid 126
Madrid, Madrid 28903
Spain

Ignacio Ortuno-Ortin

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid - Department of Economics ( email )

Calle Madrid 126
Getafe, 28903
Spain

Edmond Awad

University of Exeter Business School - Department of Economics ( email )

Streatham Court
Exeter, EX4 4RJ
United Kingdom

Manuel Cebrián

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Center for Humans and Machines ( email )

Berlin
Germany

Ruben Cuevas

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid ( email )

CL. de Madrid 126
Madrid, Madrid 28903
Spain

Klaus Desmet

Southern Methodist University (SMU) ( email )

6212 Bishop Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75275
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Iyad Rahwan

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Center for Humans and Machines ( email )

Berlin
Germany

Ángel Cuevas

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid ( email )

CL. de Madrid 126
Madrid, Madrid 28903
Spain

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
5
Abstract Views
16
PlumX Metrics