Cross-cultural dimensions of meaning in the evaluation of events in world history? perceptions of historical calamities and progress in cross-cultural data from thirty societies


James H. Liu, Victoria University of Wellington
Dario Paez, University of the Basue Country
Katja Hanke, Victoria University of Wellington
Alberto Rosa, Autonomous University of Madrid
Denis J. Hilton, University of Toulouse
Chris G. Sibley, University of Auckland
Rosa Cabecinhas, University of Minho
Franklin Zaromb, Washington University
Ilya E. Garber, Saratov State Socio-economic University
Chan-Hoong Leong, National University of Singapore
Gail Moloney, Southern Cross UniversityFollow
Velichko Valchev, Tiburg University
Cecilia Gastardo-Conaco, University of the Philippines Diliman
Li-Li Huang, National Tsinghua University
Ai-Hwa Quek, University of Malaya-Kuala Lumpur
Elza Techio, Tiradentes University
Ragini Sen, Logistics
Yvette Van Osch, Tilburg University
Hamdi Muluk, University of Indonesia
Wolfgang Wagner, Johannes Kepler University of Linz
Feixue Wang, Sun-Yat-Sen University
Sammyh S. Khan, Victoria University of Wellington
Laurent Licata, Universite Libre de Bruxelles
Olivier Klein, Universite Libre de Bruxelles
Janos Laszlo, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Marta Fulop, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Jacky Chau-kiu Cheung, City University of Hong Kong
Xiaodong Yue, City University of Hong Kong
Samia Ben Youssef, Tunisia
Uichol Kim, Inha University
Youngshin Park, Inha University
Jen Puch-Bouwman, University of the South Pacific
Katayoun Hassall, University of the South Pacific
John Adair, University of Manitoba
Lauren Unik, University of Manitoba
Dario Spini, University of Lausanne
Karine Henchoz
Gisela Bohm, University of Bergen
Marcus Selart, NHH
Hans-Peter Erb, Helmut Schmidt University
Deborah Felicitas Thoben, Helmut Schmidt University
Giovanna Leone, University of Rome
Tiziana Mastrovito, University of Rome
Tomahide Atsumi, Osaka University
Ko-ichi Suwa, Osaka University

Document Type


Publication details

Liu, JH, Paez, D, Hanke, K, Rosa, A, Hilton, DJ, Sibley, CG, Cabecinhas, R, Zaromb, F, Garber, IE, Leong, C-H, Moloney, G, Valchev, V, Gastardo-Conaco, C, Huang, L-L, Quek, A-H, Techio, E, Sen, R, van Osch, Y, Muluk, H, Wagner, W, Wang, F, Khan, SS, Licata, L, Klein, O, Laszlo, J, Fulop, M, Cheung, JC-K, Yue, X, Youssef, SB, Kim, U, Park, Y, Puch-Bouwman, J, Hassall, K, Adair, J, Unik, L, Spini, D, Henchoz, K, Bohm, G, Selart, M, Erb, H-P, Thoben, DF, Leone, G, Mastrovito, T, Atsumi, T & Suwa, K 2012, 'Cross-cultural dimensions of meaning in the evaluation of events in world history? perceptions of historical calamities and progress in cross-cultural data from thirty societies', Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 251-272.

Published version available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022022110390926

Peer Reviewed



The universality versus culture specificity of quantitative evaluations (negative-positive) of 40 events in world history was addressed using World History Survey data collected from 5,800 university students in 30 countries/societies. Multidimensional scaling using generalized procrustean analysis indicated poor fit of data from the 30 countries to an overall mean configuration, indicating lack of universal agreement as to the associational meaning of events in world history. Hierarchical cluster analysis identified one Western and two non-Western country clusters for which adequate multidimensional fit was obtained after item deletions. A two-dimensional solution for the three country clusters was identified, where the primary dimension was historical calamities versus progress and a weak second dimension was modernity versus resistance to modernity. Factor analysis further reduced the item inventory to identify a single concept with structural equivalence across cultures, Historical Calamities, which included man-made and natural, intentional and unintentional, predominantly violent but also nonviolent calamities. Less robust factors were tentatively named as Historical Progress and Historical Resistance to Oppression. Historical Calamities and Historical Progress were at the individual level both significant and independent predictors of willingness to fight for one’s country in a hierarchical linear model that also identified significant country-level variation in these relationships. Consensus around calamity but disagreement as to what constitutes historical progress is discussed in relation to the political culture of nations and lay perceptions of history as catastrophe.