••• consumer psychology

Analysis of a new dataset in combination with country-level data shows that witchcraft beliefs differ between countries according to various cultural, institutional, psychological and socioeconomic factors. For instance, witchcraft beliefs are linked to weak institutions, low levels of social trust and low innovation, as well as conformist culture and higher levels of in-group bias – the tendency for people to favor others who are similar to them.

As compiled by Boris Gershman of American University in Washington, D.C., and presented in the open-access journal PLOS ONE in November 2022, this analysis suggests that, while beliefs cut across socio-demographic groups, people with higher levels of education and economic security are less likely to believe in witchcraft.

The new dataset captures beliefs among more than 140,000 people from 95 countries and territories, drawing from face-to-face and telephone surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center and professional survey organizations between 2008 and 2017 which included questions about religious beliefs and belief in witchcraft.

Understanding people’s witchcraft beliefs can be important for policymaking and other community engagement efforts. According to the dataset, over 40% of survey participants said they believe that “certain people can cast curses or spells that cause bad things to happen to someone.” Witchcraft beliefs appear to exist around the world but vary substantially between countries and within world regions. For instance, 9% of participants in Sweden reported belief in witchcraft, compared to 90% in Tunisia.

••• financial services research

Whether sender or receiver, users of money transfer services say their respective economic situations will fuel more use of the systems, according to a Western Union study. Seventy-seven percent of senders said cost-of-living increases in the country they s...