May 16, 2018
Haines 279

Please join the Computational Sociology and Knowledge and Cognitive Systems working groups next Wednesday (at 10:30 in Haines 279) for the following talk:

Amir Goldberg Stanford Graduate School of Business

Deciphering the Cultural Code: Cognition, Behavior, and the Interpersonal Transmission of Culture

From the schoolyard to the boardroom, the pressures of cultural assimilation pervade all walks of social life. Why are some people more successful than others at cultural adjustment? Research on organizational culture has mostly focused on value congruence as the core dimension of cultural fit. We develop a complementary conceptualization of cognitive fit---perceptual accuracy, or the degree to which a person can decipher the group's cultural code. We demonstrate that the ability to read the cultural code, rather than identification with the code, matters for contemporaneous behavioral conformity. We further show that a person's behavior and perceptual accuracy are both influenced by observations of others' behavior, whereas value congruence is less susceptible to peer influence. Drawing on email and survey data from a mid-sized technology firm, we use the tools of computational linguistics and machine learning to develop longitudinal measures of cognitive and behavioral cultural fit. We also take advantage of a reorganization that produced quasi-exogenous shifts in employees' interlocutors to identify the causal impact of peer influence. We discuss implications of these findings for research on cultural assimilation, the interplay of structure and culture, and the pairing of surveys with digital trace data.

​​The Irene Flecknoe Ross Lecture Series is made possible by a gift from Ray Ross in memory of his wife.