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Understanding Collective Discontents: A Psychological Approach to Measuring Zeitgeist.

van der Bles AM, Postmes T, Meijer RR - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: Across these studies we found support for a hypothesized latent factor Z, underlying collective-level perceptions of society.These results provide a first step in operationalizing and (ultimately) understanding the concept of Zeitgeist: collectively shared ideas about society.Implications for policy are discussed.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Social Psychology, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands.

ABSTRACT
Over the last decade, several countries around the world developed a collective sense of doom and gloom: Their Zeitgeist could be characterized as one of decline. Paradoxically, in some countries, such as the Netherlands, this collective discontent with society seems to exist despite high levels of individual well-being. Current psychological research informs us about why individuals would feel unduly optimistic, but does not account for a collective sense of decline. The present research develops a novel operationalization of Zeitgeist, referred to as a general factor Z. We conceptualize Zeitgeist as a collective global-level evaluation of the state (and future) of society. Three studies confirm that perceptions of the same societal problems at the personal and collective level differed strongly. Across these studies we found support for a hypothesized latent factor Z, underlying collective-level perceptions of society. This Z-factor predicted people's interpretation of new information about society that was presented through news stories. These results provide a first step in operationalizing and (ultimately) understanding the concept of Zeitgeist: collectively shared ideas about society. Implications for policy are discussed.

No MeSH data available.


Conceptual model of Zeitgeist.
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pone.0130100.g001: Conceptual model of Zeitgeist.

Mentions: Putting both these elements together, one could operationalize Zeitgeist as a general factor (or “Z”) that predicts a range of distinct collective judgments (cf. the top half of Fig 1). Statistically, this approach can be compared with the g-factor in intelligence research where G is an underlying “general intelligence” factor that predicts performance on particular IQ tests [29]. In our approach, Z is an underlying “general (dis)content” factor that predicts particular societal discontents and satisfactions.


Understanding Collective Discontents: A Psychological Approach to Measuring Zeitgeist.

van der Bles AM, Postmes T, Meijer RR - PLoS ONE (2015)

Conceptual model of Zeitgeist.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4482588&req=5

pone.0130100.g001: Conceptual model of Zeitgeist.
Mentions: Putting both these elements together, one could operationalize Zeitgeist as a general factor (or “Z”) that predicts a range of distinct collective judgments (cf. the top half of Fig 1). Statistically, this approach can be compared with the g-factor in intelligence research where G is an underlying “general intelligence” factor that predicts performance on particular IQ tests [29]. In our approach, Z is an underlying “general (dis)content” factor that predicts particular societal discontents and satisfactions.

Bottom Line: Across these studies we found support for a hypothesized latent factor Z, underlying collective-level perceptions of society.These results provide a first step in operationalizing and (ultimately) understanding the concept of Zeitgeist: collectively shared ideas about society.Implications for policy are discussed.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Social Psychology, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands.

ABSTRACT
Over the last decade, several countries around the world developed a collective sense of doom and gloom: Their Zeitgeist could be characterized as one of decline. Paradoxically, in some countries, such as the Netherlands, this collective discontent with society seems to exist despite high levels of individual well-being. Current psychological research informs us about why individuals would feel unduly optimistic, but does not account for a collective sense of decline. The present research develops a novel operationalization of Zeitgeist, referred to as a general factor Z. We conceptualize Zeitgeist as a collective global-level evaluation of the state (and future) of society. Three studies confirm that perceptions of the same societal problems at the personal and collective level differed strongly. Across these studies we found support for a hypothesized latent factor Z, underlying collective-level perceptions of society. This Z-factor predicted people's interpretation of new information about society that was presented through news stories. These results provide a first step in operationalizing and (ultimately) understanding the concept of Zeitgeist: collectively shared ideas about society. Implications for policy are discussed.

No MeSH data available.