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New Publication on the Effects of Culture on Reactions to Financial Offenders and the Role of Type of Harm

Published: 04-04-2022

Kyriaki Fousiani and Jan-Willem Van Prooijen investigated how people's cultural values influence how people react to financial offenders. The researchers conceived individualism-collectivism not as a bipolar dimension but as a multidimensional variable that, when combined with power distance (high or low power distance) can paint a clearer picture of culture’s effects on people’s punishing reactions to financial offenders. Importantly they distinguished between active versus passive responses to crime, and instrumental versus symbolic types of harm. By showing that both of these distinctions matter, the studies presented in this paper underscore some of the subtle complexities that need to be appreciated for a full understanding of how culture shapes individuals’ responses to white-collar criminals.

The article was published open-access and can be found here.



In the present research, we examine how culture influences individuals’ reactions to financial offenders. We hypothesized that horizontal individualists deploy increased active reactions (i.e., punishment-oriented) whereas vertical collectivists deploy increased passive reactions (i.e., condemning beliefs) to financial offenders. Moreover, we hypothesized that horizontal individualists would react stronger to a financial offender when an offense has instrumental (i.e., related to material costs) as opposed to symbolic (i.e., related to one’s self-image) implications for a victim, while vertical collectivists would show the opposite pattern of results. In Studies 1 and 2 we directly compared British (i.e., a horizontal individualist culture) versus Greek (i.e., a vertical collectivist culture) participants. Study 3 aimed to replicate Studies 1 and 2 by measuring cultural values at the individual level. The results obtained in the three studies provided support for most of our hypotheses. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.