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Article

Values and Corruption: Do Postmaterialists Justify Bribery?

Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. 2017. Vol. 48. No. 2. P. 225-242.

Using World Values Survey data from several dozen countries around the world, this article analyzes the relationship between postmaterialist values and bribery (dis)approval in a multilevel framework. We find that people, who place stronger emphasis on postmaterialist values, tend to justify bribery more. However, the “ecological” effect of postmaterialism operates in the exactly opposite direction: A higher prevalence of postmaterialist values induces more bribery disapproval, and especially among postmaterialists themselves. In our view, this happens because the large number of people who internalized postmaterialist values generate positive social externalities which strengthen negative attitudes toward corruption. We outline a theoretical framework that explains why and how these externalities may emerge. Our results contribute to the literature on the sociocultural factors of corruption, provide a better understanding of the complex nature of postmaterialism, and also might be interesting in the light of ongoing discussions on whether moral attitudes are culturally universal or culturally specific.