Visiting scholar @ Jacobs Uni

New status, next stage in research and teaching

As of 1.12.2020 I will continue my academic career as a visiting scholar to Prof. Klaus Boehnke, at the department of Psychology and Methdos of Jacobs University Bremen.

Prof. Boehnke is past president of the International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology-IACCP-and generally researchers on social cohesion, values, and developmental topics, among others.

With this position, we are planing on submitting a proposal at the German Funding Agency-DFG-for acquiring funding to develop a novel methodology for value research across cultures. This is a follow-up to our paper earlier this year @Frontiers with Prof. em. Erich H. Witte. (more on this here).

Also, for the coming period I am on the job market, and look to secure a position as a post-doctoral researcher or assistant professor to research and teach on themes combining social psychological, methodological, open science, and applied questions.

Preprint @ PsyArXiv

Index towards more accurate theoretical predictions in view of available data.

In this new preprint, we (EH Witte, F Zenker and myself) argue for better ways to evaluate our theoretical predictions in research, and become more aware of limitations of effect sizes measures (Cohen’s d). Preprint and supplement material available at 10.31234/osf.io/gdmvx

We argue for a direct evaluation of a theorized (expected) effect against the empirical (observed) effect. When the ratio between the two is apprx. 1 only then can we be certain that our prediction is adequate in view of data. Here, we introduce the Similarity Index as one way to achieve this (see formula 1 below).

Formula (1) describes the necessary factors needed in the calculation of the Similarity Index.

Based on simulation studies, we develop a similarity interval that can be used as a guideline for the decision a) whether to adjust the theoretical prediction, b) increase the sample size, or c) consider as impractical the expected effect.

Several applications to existent findings in (Social) Psychology are provided. Likewise, we provide a step-by-step guide that researchers can use in immediately applying the Similiarity Index in their work, and also ways of interpreting its coefficients.

Publication @ Ageing & Society

Values of self-transcendence provide motivational force toward the suppression of old age ageism in young adults. Findings across cultures.

Figure depicts mediation models at level-1 of analysis (ESS round 4 data).

In this publication at Ageing & Society, I use data of the 4th round of the European Social Survey and the 6th round of the World Value Survey to examine whether value systems provide motivational force towards suppression or justification of old age ageism among young adults across countries.

I argue that value preferences of young adults preced any threat perceptions and stereotypes towards older people and as a consequence they impact on young adults’ prejudice and discrimination against older people. Using a multilevel analytical approach, I tested complex mediation models at level-1 of analysis (see Figure above) and hypothesized that (a) self-transcendence will impact indirectly and negatively ageism levels and (b) self-enhancement will impact indirectly and positively ageism levels.

Findings show universal across countries evidence for the first hypothesis. Findings also indicate that in non-Western and collectivistic cultures self-enhancement might also contribute to the suppression of ageism in young adults.

The paper proposes a specific new way to combating ageism across cultures, one in which addressing value change in young adults might be more beneficial in the long term than solely focusing on the contact quantity and quality between younger and older members of society.

Stanciu, A. (2020). Value systems as motivational forces for the suppression of ageism towards older people amongst young adults: an analysis across countries. Ageing & Society, (online first). https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X20001257 [OPEN]
Study materials are open access: https://osf.io/4sfnb/

Joining the Editorial Board at JSPP

Excited about joining for an initial term of three years the Editorial Board at the Journal of Social and Political Psychology (JSPP)!

JSPP is a fully open access journal that publishes at the intersection of social and political psychology, and it focuses on particularly encouraging an equitable representation of the varying research contexts and languages while offering a number of services, like the Buddy system which is meant to provide, among other, language assistance to non-native authors. JSPP accepts theoretical, review, and original articles as well as it publishes commentaries and action teaching reports.

Publication @ Frontiers in Psycholgy

In this publication at Frontiers in Psychology – Cultural Psychology, we challenge the current state of the art in culture-level value research. We likewise suggest a re-conceptualization of cultural level values along an orthogonal structure defined by dimensions of Alteration/Preservation and Amenability/Dominance.

A new empirical approach to intercultural comparisons of value preferences based on Schwartz’s theory is an empirically-driven article (uses two rounds of the European Social Survey) that highlights shortcomings of the available approach of arriving at cultural level value preferences from individual level value preferences, the so-called averaging approach. The fictitious middle individual on which the averaging approach is based is, we argue, an improper empirical reproduction at the cultural level of the true value profiles of individuals of a country. As in scale construction, where one must demonstrate that scale-items reliably pertain to one common latent factor, so is the case in constructing a culture-level construct from individual-level observations – one needs to show that there is sufficient homogeneity between value profiles of people in a country before averaging over them to arrive at a culture-level concept. This, however, is not the case in practice. Moreover, we also know from past research that in some cases there are negative correlations between individual-level observations that are otherwise disregarded in the averaging approach. We propose the distribution approach as an alternative.

This method facilitates via an unfolding technique a direct reproduction at the cultural level of the individual level values. Observed value profiles of individual members of a country are compared against theoretical relations of value compatibility-incompatibility (circumplex value model unfolded as ideal value profiles, Table 1), comparisons which subsequently serve to classify each case into one of eleven value classes, 10 as theorized by Shalom Schwartz and 1 as non-classified.

Table 1. Ideal Value Types Based on the Rank Order of Values.
Note. The main diagonal is not to be confused with the main diagonal in a table of intercorrelations; numbers in every line correspond to value rank-orders which are based on value proximities among sectors of the circumplex model proposed by Shalom H. Schwartz; the column ‘Ideal Value Types’ provides the label for the row specified rank orders of the ten value types – each row corresponds to the theorized rank order of a specific value type; number ‘1’ is the starting value type of a theorized rank order; CO = Conformity; TR = Tradition; SE = Security; PO = Power; AC = Achievement; HE = Hedonism; ST = Stimulation; SD = Self-Direction; UN = Universalism; BE = Benevolence.

After a value class is assigned to each individual, we calculate frequencies of value classes in each country which are then transformed into rank-orders. Based on the rank-transfored distribution of value profiles we then perform Principal Component Analysis and extract as substantially meaningful two components – two ways in which value profiles of individuals organize collectively at the cultural level (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Depiction of culture-level value dimensions Alteration/Preservation (blue) and Amenability/Dominance (red).
Note. Numbers correspond to value rank order of importance. The stronger emphasized colors correspond to value typologies with a higher weight on the respective dimension. The weaker emphasized colors correspond to value typologies with a lower weight on the respective dimension. To arrive at the value structure of a culture, one requires the weights of the respective culture (factor loadings) on the two dimensions.

Finally, using these two newly found dimensions we can predict each country’s cultural-level value preferences from indices of societal challenges (education, religiosity, ethnic fractionalization, etc.) (Figure 2).

Figure 2. The Position of European Countries along Two Dimensions of Cultural Values as Informed by the Distribution Approach.
Note. Alteration/Preservation value rank order: (+) Universalism, Self-Direction, Benevolence, and Stimulation vs. Achievement, Security, Power, Hedonism, Traditionalism, and Conformity (‑); Amenability/Dominance reversed value rank order: (+) Self-Direction, Power, Achievement, Universalism, and Stimulation vs. Conformity, Traditionalism, Benevolence, Security, and Hedonism (-); 20 countries were available in both rounds of the ESS, namely: Belgium (BE), Switzerland (CH), Czech Republic (CZ), Germany (DE), Denmark (DK), Estonia (EE), Spain (ES), Finland (FI), France (FR), Great-Britain (GB), Hungary (HU), Israel (IL), Ireland (IE), Lithuania (LT), the Netherlands (NL), Norway (NO), Poland (PL), Portugal (PT), Sweden (SE), and Slovenia (SI), nine countries were available only in Round 6 of the ESS, namely: Albania (AL), Bulgaria (BG), Cyprus (CY), Iceland (IS), Italy (IT), Russian Federation (RU), Slovakia (SK), Ukraine (UA), and Kosovo (XK). One country was only available in Round 7 of the ESS, namely Austria (AT).

New publication – Family matters: Rethinking the Psychology of human social motivation

What motives do people prioritize in their social lives? Historically, social psychologists, especially those adopting an evolutionary perspective, have devoted a great deal of research attention to sexual attraction and romantic-partner choice (mate seeking). Research on long-term familial bonds (mate retention and kin care) has been less thoroughly connected to relevant comparative and evolutionary work on other species, and in the case of kin care, these bonds have been less well researched. Examining varied sources of data from 27 societies around the world, we found that people generally view familial motives as primary in importance and mate-seeking motives as relatively low in importance. Compared with other groups, college students, single people, and men place relatively higher emphasis on mate seeking, but even those samples rated kin-care motives as more important. Furthermore, motives linked to long- term familial bonds are positively associated with psychological well-being, but mate-seeking motives are associated with anxiety and depression. We address theoretical and empirical reasons why there has been extensive research on mate seeking and why people prioritize goals related to long-term familial bonds over mating goals. Reallocating relatively greater research effort toward long-term familial relationships would likely yield many interesting new findings relevant to everyday people’s highest social priorities.

Access @ https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1745691619872986
Open [preprint] @ https://kar.kent.ac.uk/75338/1/Ko%20et%20al.%28in%20press%29%2C%20Perspectives.pdf

New publication – Evidence for stereotype accommodation as an expression of immigrants’ socio-cognitive adaptation

Screenshot 2019-08-14 at 15.14.32

New article coauthored with Christin-Melanie Vauclair and Rodda Nicole will be shortly published at International Journal of Intercultural Relations.

(here you can download a pre-edit copy)

Through intercultural contact, immigrants can change the stereotypes they had previously held about the majority ethnic group in their host cultures. Other undocumented processes of socio-cognitive adaptation following migration are also possible; immigrants’ preexisting stereotypes about social groups (e.g., politicians, older people), for example, may change because of host-cultural learning. This article examines the stereotype accommodation hypothesis, which states that differences in cultural stereotypes between immigrants’ host and origin cultures are a source of inconsistent stereotype-relevant information that immigrants may or may not incorporate into their preexisting beliefs. Support for this hypothesis is found in two studies of locals in Romania, Germany, and France (N = 532), and Romanian immigrants in Germany and in France (N = 225). Length of stay in the host culture and acculturation orientation predict the stereotype accommodation regarding politicians, the only social group for which stereotypes substantially differ between origin and host cultures. The results represent the first step in a research agenda for studying migrants’ socio-cognitive adaptation beyond the question of inter-ethnic stereotype change. The article thus discusses future avenues for the study of behavior and discrimination from the perspective of immigrants as agentic individuals.

Announcement of research agenda “Perceiving old age”

Research agenda "Perceiving old age"

In the in-house colloquium of the Institute for Gerontology, University of Vechta, I announced what my research agenda on the topic of perception of old age is. The goal of this research agenda is to examine how older people are perceived across cultures, which, I expect, has consequences for how younger people behave towards this age group. These have been addressed in the literature, however a program that seeks to identify and integrate the links between individual, societal and life-transition factors is still missing.

My approach is three-fold:
1. Investigate person-centered factors that motivate and guide the perception of old age. Under this umbrella-term, I seek to examine factors such as personal value preferences and worries, as well as threat perception and personality attributes. My expectation is that there other relevant person-centered factors that in the current literature are under-researched (for example values and worries) but can provide additional explanation to why and how people perceive old age.
2. Consider society-related factors that shape and form the identity, personality and other psychological traits of individuals in order to further understand the reasons for a rather ageist image of older people. Under this overall term, I expect that cultural characteristics, such as culture-relevant value preferences and cultural particularities like individualism or long-term orientation, and traits of the society itself, such as breadth of macro worries, will add to the holistic explanation of ageism.
3. Examine varying life-transition scenarios and in which way and degree is the perception of older people modified by them. This line of studies is limited to three main scenarios, namely, migration, the aging process itself, and inter-generational interactions. My expectation is that changes, the core process of these life-transition scenarios, will either reinforce or weaken any existing negative images of older people. The more intriguing question is however, what elements exactly in these three scenarios are responsible for such adjustments/adaptation in perception of old age.

To further develop and bring into fruition these research topics, I have reached out to colleagues who are experts in their field.
The current collaborations are:
1. With Jorge Vala (ICS, Lisbon), for a project on the role of threat in the perception of older people. The goal is to take a dual-culture approach (Germany and Portugal) in identifying experimentally the effects of threat perception on varying behavioral measurements related to old age discrimination.
2. With Melanie Vauclair (ISCTE, Lisbon) and Maksim Rudnev (ISCTE, Lisbon & HSE, Russia), for a project on the implications of culture-level value typologies on explaining why seemingly there is discrepancy in the stereotypes of older people that individuals subjectively hold and their culture-relevant stereotypes of older people.

Independently, I am working on two additional projects:
1. ‘Horizontal transmission of stereotypes of older people from native population to immigrants’, a project that seeks to answer the research question whether immigrants can incorporate the stereotype-information concerning older people that they learn in their host cultures into their existing beliefs. The manuscript has been submitted.
2. ‘(Dis)Agreeing with my country’s stereotypes of older people’, a project that seeks to understand whether personal value preferences and worries can provide explanation to the seeming discrepancy between what people subjectively believe and what the prevailing cultural beliefs of older people are in their cultures and subsequently whether there are cross-cultural differences in this discrepancy. A manuscript is in preparation.

Presentation at SPARC Group, ICS Lisbon

stanciu vortrag sparc groupUpcoming presentation at the SPARC research group at ICS, Lisbon based on our currently under review manuscript – Witte, Stanciu & Boehnke / A new empirical approach to inter-cultural comparisons of value preferences based on Schwartz’s theory.

The presentation will first provide an overview of the current methodology to arrive from individual level value preferences at culture level value preferences – the averaging approach. Next, we point out a number of critical issues in this methodology and suggest an alternative approach, one whereby culture level value preferences represent frequency scores of the ten individual level value preferences. Throughout the presentation, we use data of two rounds of the European Social Survey (ESS) to document our claims and methodological procedure. We show parallels between results of the two methods and also the relevant differences. The talk ends with a suggestion regarding using a methodological sound approach to measure culture values and be skeptical of one that does not meet basic assumptions from a theory of measurement stand-point.

Two successful conferences, the Annual CRS (Birmingham) and the 51st DGPs (Frankfurt am Main)

September was a busy month, with two presentations in two countries less than 30 hours apart. Both were successful in terms of networking and reception.

For the first time ever, I presented at a meeting of political researchers. The Annual Conference of the Conflict Research Society (CRS) in Birmingham, UK, was small, vivid nevertheless. My contribution was to the social psychology panel organized by H.Blumberg. I was the representative of our research team (Oscar Smallenbroek, Regina Arant, and Klaus Boehnke) and gave a report of our work on how value development trajectories into adulthood can have an impact on political engagement in mid-adulthood (more on the project here).

CRS_screen shot slide

One of the findings can be seen in the image above. In our longitudinal data, we find that value preferences change from 1999 to 2017 in a sample of German adolescents and teenagers. In a subsequent model we show that this value trajectory chance can predict political behavior, however, the evidence is inconclusive. We are optimistic that this work will soon be submitted for publication.

Also for the first time ever, I attended the congress of the German association for psychology (DGPs). The meeting in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, was massive, accommodating approximately 2,800 colleagues. My contribution was to the paper session “D27 Interkulturelle und lebenslange Gruppenprozesse [intercultural and life long group processes].” I represented the work group that includes Erich H. Witte and Klaus Boehnke and gave a report on our attempt to provide an alternative methodology to arrive at values at the culture level.

DGPs_screen shot slide

Our main argument is that in the literature there has been a need for an alternative methodology. Yet, the status quo of interpreting the average scores over individuals in a country as culture level indicators of values has remained without a ‘competitor.’ We suggest an approach that uses frequencies of all ten individual level value types as a more adequate description of values at the culture level from a theory of measurement point of view. Above, the image illustrates these frequencies and their rank order in Germany in 2012, based on the 6th round of ESS data. Clearly, a high proportion of Germans (33.7%) could not be classified according to the theory of value preferences at the individual level. We are hopeful that this method will soon be published.