Questions to be addressed:

Core participants: Gulyás Attila, Janky Béla, Lakatos Zoltán, Szabari Vera, Szakadát István 


First meeting, 30 September 2016 

On the research proposal

Presenter: Tardos Róbert


From the proposal

Judging the poor: The key role of the concept of ‘deservingness’

Researches on justice beliefs in sociology have explored the structure of moral considerations in recent decades (Jasso 1979, 2006, Örkény & Székelyi 2010). However, it is an age-old question that where do non-selfish, or ideological considerations in welfare preferences come from? A recent line of research points to ‘deservingness’ as a key concept in voters’ minds: Individuals support policies which compensate for hardship due to bad luck, but oppose measures which, as they perceive, relieve distress stemming from lack of effort (Fong et al. 2005, Slothuus 2007, Petersen et al. 2011, Petersen et al. 2012). A great many findings of polls also indicate the explicit concern for deservingness (e.g., Gilens 1999, Lepianka et al. 2009).

Some of the most prominent analyses using this concept focus on the issues of poverty assistance and intragenerational redistribution (Gilens 1999, Fong et al. 2005). Note, however, that deservingness is also used to interpret attitudes towards transfers inducing intergenerational redistribution (Lepianka et al. 2009). Nonetheless, there are limits to generalization. For instance, theories focusing on deservingness are still to be reconciled with some sociological theories on moral considerations behind justice beliefs (c.f. Jasso 1979, Örkény & Székelyi 2010).

 Deservingness and general theories about human action

On the one hand, the concept of deservingness builds upon models about social preferences, which assume that humans have a general tendency to pursue fairness and reciprocity in their interactions with other humans (Fehr & Schmidt 1999, Gintis 2000). Principles of fairness and reciprocity indicate that welfare transfers are judged not only on recipients’ needs but also their efforts to minimize their dependency on public assistance (Fong et al. 2005). Those assumptions can be used to account for other types of policy preferences as well, but have been cited mainly in relation with attitudes towards poverty assistance so far.

On the other hand, the concept of deservingness also builds upon the logic of attribution theory, a psychological model which assumes that individuals always seek for responsibility before deciding about the right action to take (Weiner 1995). This model predicts that before forming opinions on welfare transfers, individuals have to update their beliefs about the responsibility for recipients’ material distress. The key question is whether the locus of control is external or internal. In other words, whether the poor persons have had any opportunity to escape poverty. Note that attribution theory, similarly to the models of social preferences, is a general theory about human actions and could be applied to any domain of social life (Weiner 1995).


A reviewer's critique

My biggest problem with the concept is that it interprets the field of moral judgments on welfare beneficiaries in a very narrow way. The key moral category of the concept on welfare distribution is ‘deservingness’, while other very important moral principles such as fairness, deserts, equity, equality, need, reciprocity, solidarity, human dignity, impartiality, or trust are missing from the analytical framework. I do not believe that a single moral category such as ‘deservingness’ helps to understand the complex patterns of the everyday thinking and justice judgements of the ordinary people. The public discourse, the elite influence, the framing, the political communication, and media effects also cannot be reduced to this single aspect. The moral frame how welfare policies and ideologies gain or lose legitimacy among people or by social institutions is a much more complex and multidimensional issue. Another problem of the research concept is, that the attitudes concerning to welfare beneficiaries is narrowed to one particular focus, namely to the poverty assistance. This is a narrow and unilateral approach. Social and moral attitudes for the poor people cannot be separated from the attitudes for other disadvantaged groups. I miss in the research project examining group situations such as Roma poverty, refugees, immigrants, elderly people, big families, children living in deprived social milieu, homeless or disabled people, or other disadvantageous population.



Robert's opinion is in line with the reviewer's critque. Major suggestions (about the study of general moral  values):


Second meeting,13 December 2016

The concept of deservingness and social policy attitudes

Presenter: Janky Béla


Presented readings


 Fong, C. M., Bowles, S., & Gintis, H. (2005). Reciprocity and the Welfare State. In Gintis, H. et al. (eds). Moral sentiments and material interests: The foundations of cooperation in economic life. MIT press. pp. 277-302.


Binmore, K. (2010). Social norms or social preferences?. Mind & Society, 9(2), 139-157.



Aarøe, L., & Petersen, M. B. (2014). Crowding out culture: Scandinavians and Americans agree on social welfare in the face of deservingness cues. The Journal of Politics, 76(03), 684-697.

Petersen, M. B., Sznycer, D., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (2012). Who deserves help? evolutionary psychology, social emotions, and public opinion about welfare. Political psychology, 33(3), 395-418.


Almås, I., Tungodden, B., & Cappelen, A. (2016). Cutthroat Capitalism versus Cuddly Socialism: Are Americans More Meritocratic and Efficiencyseeking than Scandinavians?. Unpublished Manuscript, Stockholm University.


Further readings

Binmore, K. (2014). Bargaining and fairness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(Supplement 3), 10785-10788.

Cavaillé, C. (2015). Deservingness and Material-Interest: Separating the Wheat from the Chaff.

Fehr, E., & Schmidt, K. M. (1999). A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation. Quarterly journal of Economics, 817-868.

Gilens, M. (1999). Why Americans hate welfare: Race, media, and the politics of antipoverty policy. University of Chicago Press.

Gintis, H. (2000). Strong reciprocity and human sociality. Journal of theoretical biology, 206(2), 169-179.

Jensen, C., & Petersen, M. B. (2016). The deservingness heuristic and the politics of health care. American Journal of Political Science.

Lepianka, D., Van Oorschot, W., & Gelissen, J. (2009). Popular explanations of poverty: A critical discussion of empirical research. Journal of Social Policy, 38(03), 421-438.

Petersen, M. B. (2012). The evolutionary psychology of mass politics. In. Roberts, S. C. (ed.) Applied evolutionary psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 115-130.

 Petersen, M. B., Slothuus, R., Stubager, R., & Togeby, L. (2010). Deservingness versus values in public opinion on welfare: The automaticity of the deservingness heuristic. European Journal of Political Research, 50(1), 24-52.

Slothuus, R. (2007). Framing deservingness to win support for welfare state retrenchment. Scandinavian Political Studies, 30(3), 323-344.

Weiner, B. (1995). Judgments of responsibility: A foundation for a theory of social conduct. Guilford Press.



Third meeting, 2 January 2017

Game-theoretic approaches to social norms

Presenter: Janky Béla


Presented reading

Paternotte, C., & Grose, J. (2012). Social Norms and Game Theory: Harmony or Discord?. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 64: 551-587.


Further readings 


 Fourth Meeting, 31 January 2017

Weber's theories on values (insights, inconsistencies and ideological spinoffs)

Presenter: Lakatos Zoltán

Intro (in Hungarian)

Presented readings

Lakatos, Zoltán. 2011. “Az elektív affinitás: A fogalom hanyagolásának okai és következményei a társadalomtudományban.” Elpis 5: 102–19.

Oakes, Guy. 2003. “Max Weber on Value Rationality and Value Spheres: Critical Remarks.” Journal of Classical Sociology 3: 27–45.

Turner, Bryan S. 2010. “Islam, Capitalism and the Weber Theses.” The British Journal of Sociology 61 Suppl 1: 147–60.

Turner, Bryan S. 2010. “Revisiting Weber and Islam.” The British Journal of Sociology 61 Suppl 1: 161–66.


Further readings

Chalcraft, David J., and Austin (eds.) Harrington. 2001. The Protestant Ethic Debate: Max Weber’s Replies to His Critics, 1907-1910. Translated by David J. Chalcraft and Austin Harrington. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. [Akit érdekel Weber teljes -- nemcsak a kanonizált -- protestáns etika tanulmánya: összesen négy cikk, melyből kettőt két kritikus két-két tanulmányára válaszul írt. Alapos kommentárokkal.]

Weber, Max. 1946. “Religious Rejections of The World and Their Directions.” In From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, edited by Hans Heinrich Gerth and Charles Wright Mills, 323–59.

Weber, Max. 1978. Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press. "I. Basic Sociological Terms" (3-62), "II. Sociological Categories of Economic Action" (63-211)

Weber, Max. 2002. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and Other Writings. New York: Penguin Classics. [Azért ezt az angol fordítást jelöltem meg, mert az "elektív affinitás" fogalma ebben már megjelenik -- az általam ismert, 1982-es magyar fordításban viszont nem]


Fifth meeting, 21 February


Presenter: Lakatos Zoltán

Intro (in Hungarian)

Presented readings

Schwartz, S. H. (1994). Are there universal aspects in the structure and contents of human values?. Journal of social issues, 50(4), 19-45.

Schwartz, Shalom H. 2006. “A Theory of Cultural Value Orientations: Explication and Applications.” Comparative Sociology 5: 137–82.

Davidov, Eldad, Peter Schmidt, and Shalom H. Schwartz. 2008. “Bringing Values Back In: The Adequacy of the European Social Survey to Measure Values in 20 Countries.” Public Opinion Quarterly 72: 420–45.

Further readings

Schwartz, Shalom H. 2013. “Rethinking the Concept and Measurement of Societal Culture in Light of Empirical Findings.” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 45: 5–13.

Cieciuch, Jan, Eldad Davidov, M. Vecchione, C. Beierlein, and Shalom H. Schwartz. 2014. “The Cross-National Invariance Properties of a New Scale to Measure 19 Basic Human Values: A Test Across Eight Countries.” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 45: 764–76.

Cieciuch, Jan, Eldad Davidov, Michele Vecchione, and Shalom H. Schwartz. 2014. “A Hierarchical Structure of Basic Human Values in a Third-Order Confirmatory Factor Analysis.” Swiss Journal of Psychology 73: 177–82.

Vecchione, Michele, Shalom H. Schwartz, Gian Vittorio Caprara, Harald Schoen, Jan Cieciuch, Jo Silvester, Paul Bain, et al. 2015. “Personal Values and Political Activism: A Cross-National Study.” British Journal of Psychology 106: 84–106.


Fischer, R., & Boer, D. (2015). Motivational Basis of Personality Traits: A Meta‐Analysis of Value‐Personality Correlations. Journal of personality, 83(5), 491-510.

Schwartz, S. H., & Bilsky, W. (1987). Toward a universal psychological structure of human values. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53(3), 550.



Sixth meeting, 28 February


Presenter: Lakatos Zoltán

Intro (in Hungarian)


Presented readings

Inglehart, Ronald. 1971. “The Silent Revolution in Europe: Intergenerational Change in Post-Industrial Societies.” The American Political Science Review 65: 991–1017.

Inglehart, Ronald. 1981. “Post-Materialism in an Environment of Insecurity.” The American Political Science Review 75: 880–900.

Inglehart, Ronald, and Scott C. Flanagan. 1987. “Value Change in Industrial Societies.” The American Political Science Review 81: 1289–1319.

Inglehart, R., & Baker, W. E. (2000). Modernization, cultural change, and the persistence of traditional values. American sociological review, 65(1): 19-51.


Further readings

Schwartz, Shalom H. 2006. “A Theory of Cultural Value Orientations: Explication and Applications.” Comparative Sociology 5: 137–82.


Dobewall, H., & Rudnev, M. (2013). Common and unique features of Schwartz's and Inglehart's value theories at the country and individual levels. Cross-Cultural Research, 1069397113493584.
Dobewall, H., & Strack, M. (2014). Relationship of Inglehart's and Schwartz's value dimensions revisited. International Journal of Psychology, 49(4), 240-248.



 Summary notes on value theories (Szaki et al)


Seventh meeting, 20(?) March


Presenter: Janky Béla


Presented readings


Haidt, J., & Joseph, C. (2004). Intuitive ethics: How innately prepared intuitions generate culturally variable virtues. Daedalus, 133(4), 55-66.

Haidt, J., & Graham, J. (2007). When morality opposes justice: Conservatives have moral intuitions that liberals may not recognize. Social Justice Research, 20(1), 98-116.


Graham, J., Haidt, J., & Nosek, B. A. (2009). Liberals and conservatives rely on different sets of moral foundations. Journal of personality and social psychology, 96(5), 1029.

Graham, J., Nosek, B. A., Haidt, J., Iyer, R., Koleva, S., & Ditto, P. H. (2011). Mapping the moral domain. Journal of personality and social psychology, 101(2), 366.


Further readings


Moral domains, framing and political attitudes

Day, M. V., Fiske, S. T., Downing, E. L., & Trail, T. E. (2014). Shifting liberal and conservative attitudes using moral foundations theory. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40(12), 1559-1573.

Papers citing Day et al.

Eighth meeting, date TBA

Game-theoretic approaches to framing

Presenter: Janky Béla


Preliminary reading-list

Bacharach, M., & Bernasconi, M. (1997). The variable frame theory of focal points: An experimental study. Games and Economic Behavior, 19(1), 1-45.


Ninth meeting, date TBA

Cognitive science and biology on morality

Presenters: Gulyás Attila and/or Szakadát István



Tenth meeting, date TBA

Values and attitudes

 Presenter: Janky Béla


Preliminary reading-list

Boer, D., & Fischer, R. (2013). How and when do personal values guide our attitudes and sociality? Explaining cross-cultural variability in attitude–value linkages. Psychological Bulletin, 139(5), 1113.

Dalton, R. J. (2012). Apartisans and the changing German electorate. Electoral Studies, 31(1), 35-45.

Kuntz, A., Davidov, E., Schwartz, S. H., & Schmidt, P. (2015). Human values, legal regulation, and approval of homosexuality in Europe: A cross‐country comparison. European Journal of Social Psychology, 45(1), 120-134.