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, Dario Paez, Katja Hanke, Alberto Rosa, Denis J. Hilton, Chris G. Sibley, Rosa Cabecinhas, Franklin Zaromb, Ilya E. Garber, Chan Hoong Leong, Gail Moloney, Velichko Valchev, Cecilia Gastardo-Conaco, Li Li Huang, Ai Hwa Quek, Elza Techio, Ragini Sen, Yvette van Osch, Hamdi Muluk, Wolfgang WagnerFeixue Wang, Sammyh S. Khan, Laurent Licata, Olivier Klein, János László, Márta Fülöp, Jacky Chau kiu Cheung, Xiaodong Yue, Samia Ben Youssef, Uichol Kim, Youngshin Park, Jen Puch-Bouwman, Katayoun Hassall, John Adair, Lauren Unik, Dario Spini, Karine Henchoz, Gisela Böhm, Marcus Selart, Hans Peter Erb, Deborah Felicitas Thoben, Giovanna Leone, Tiziana Mastrovito, Tomohide Atsumi, Ko ichi Suwa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-272
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2012


  • Historical Calamities
  • Historical Progress
  • Historical Resistance to Oppression
  • World History Survey
  • cross-cultural dimensions of meaning
  • evaluation o.h.storical events
  • perceptions o.h.story
  • willingness t.f.ght for one's country


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