The changing psychology of culture in German‐speaking countries: A Google Ngram study

Authors:
Nadja Younes, Ulf‐Dietrich Reips
Published Online:
05 May 2017
DOI:
10.1002/ijop.12428
Volume/Issue No:
Early View Articles

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This article provides evidence for the long‐term affiliation between ecological and cultural changes in German‐speaking countries, based on the assumptions derived from social change and human development theory. Based on this theory, the increase in urbanisation, as a measure of ecological change, is associated with significant cultural changes of psychology. Whereas urbanisation is linked to greater individualistic values and materialistic attitudes, rural environments are strongly associated with collectivistic values like allegiance, prevalence of religion, and feelings of belonging and benevolence. Due to an increase in the German urbanisation rate over time, our study investigates whether Germany and the German‐speaking countries around show the presumed changes in psychology. By using Google Books Ngram Viewer, we find that word frequencies, signifying individualistic (collectivistic) values, are positively (negatively) related to the urbanisation rate of Germany. Our results indicate that predictions about implications of an urbanising population for the psychology of culture hold true, supporting international universality of the social change and human development theory. Furthermore, we provide evidence for a predicted reversal for the time during and after World War II, reflecting Nazi propaganda and influence.

© 2017 International Union of Psychological Science