April 1980

Cultural Determinants of Achievement, Aggression, and Psychological Distress

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Psychiatry (Dr Gorney) and Anthropology (Mr Long), UCLA, Los Angeles.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1980;37(4):452-459. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1980.01780170094011

• We present a cross-cultural exploration of the interrelationships among six concepts: achievement (ie, cultural attainment), aggression, psychological distress, competition, interpersonal intensity (strength of passionate attachments), and social synergy (patterned behavior that simultaneously benefits both individual and society). Of interest is the proposition that levels of achievement, aggression, and psychological distress are partly determined by corresponding levels of competition and interpersonal intensity; however, in the presence of high levels of social synergy, aggression and psychological distress are lowered without affecting the level of achievement. We have tested the implied linear relationships, using blind ratings (of five variables assessed from ethnographic extracts) obtained from ten crosscultural scholars, and a Social Development Index (from Tatje and Naroll) to indicate achievement. A sample of 58 societies was employed in correlation and multivariate analysis of variance.