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Friday, July 18, 2014

Tightness and Looseness: A New Way to Understand Differences in the US

By Jesse Harrington and Michele Gelfand
Scientific American
Originally posted July 2, 2014

Here is an excerpt:

Tighter states—those with stronger rules and greater punishment for deviance—are located primarily in the South and the Midwest, while looser states are located in the North East, the West Coast, and some of the Mountain States. We calculated state tightness with a composite index, compiling multiple variables. This includes items that reflect the strength of punishments in states, including the legality of corporal punishment in schools, the percentage of students hit/punished in schools, the rate of executions from 1976 to 2011, and the severity of punishment for violating laws, as well as the degree of permissiveness or deviance tolerance in states, which includes the ratio of dry to total counties per state and the legality of same-sex civil unions. The index also captures the strength of institutions that constrain behavior and enforce moral order in states, including state-level religiosity and the percentage of the total state population that is foreign, an indicator of diversity and cosmopolitanism.

The entire article is here.

The original research is here.