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Monday, September 12, 2016

Nice places to live

Climate and the Emergence of Global Income Differences

Thomas Barnebeck Andersen, Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Pablo Selaya

Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
The latitude gradient in comparative development is a striking fact: as one moves away from the equator, economic activity rises. While this regularity is well known, it is not well understood. Perhaps the strongest correlate of (absolute) latitude is the intensity of ultraviolet radiation (UV-R), which epidemiological research has shown to be a cause of a wide range of diseases. We establish that UV-R is strongly and negatively correlated with economic activity, both across and within countries. We propose and test a mechanism that links UV-R to current income differences via the impact of disease ecology on the timing of the take-off to sustained growth.

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Economic Development and the Demographics of Criminals in Victorian England

Chris Vickers & Nicolas Ziebarth

Journal of Law and Economics, February 2016, Pages 191-223

Abstract:
We use a data set consisting of felony trials in London from 1835 to 1913 to analyze changing demographic patterns in the commission of crimes. We find that the average age of offenders in London increased substantially more than can be explained through increases in longevity or jurisdictional changes. Moreover, this increase is larger for crimes committed for economic gain than for crimes of violence. We build a model to explain the increase in the number of older offenders. As industrialization proceeded, older workers increasingly found their human capital unsuitable to the technology level, which forced some into crime. We then complement this time-series analysis with cross-sectional data from England and Wales from 1870, 1883, and 1910. In the cross sections, areas with higher rates of urbanization and industrialization had higher average ages of criminals and disproportionately more criminals from medium-skilled, artisan occupations.

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Long-Term Persistence

Luigi Guiso, Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales

Journal of the European Economic Association, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study whether a positive historical shock can generate long-term persistence in development. We show that Italian cities that achieved self-government in the Middle Ages have a higher level of civic capital today than similar cities in the same area that did not. The size of this effect increases with the length of the period of independence and its intensity. This effect persists even after accounting for the fact that cities did not become independent randomly. We conjecture that the Middle-Age experience of self-government fostered self-efficacy beliefs — beliefs in one's own ability to complete tasks and reach goals — and this positive attitude, transmitted across generations, enhances civic capital today. Consistently, we find that fifth-graders in former free city-states exhibit stronger self-efficacy beliefs and that these beliefs are correlated with a higher level of civic capital.

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Women's Liberation as a Financial Innovation

Moshe Hazan, David Weiss & Hosny Zoabi

Tel Aviv University Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
Property rights are at the heart of capitalism's ability to efficiently allocate resources. Historically, married women have been one of the groups with the greatest legal disabilities in this regard, to the benefit of their husbands. Starting in the second half of the 19th century, common law countries, which were entirely dominated by men, gave married women property rights. Before this "women's liberation," married women were subject to the laws of coverture. Coverture had detailed laws as to which spouse had ownership and control over various aspects of property both before and after marriage. These laws created a strong disincentive for women to invest in financial assets, such as stocks, bonds, and even bank deposits. This paper develops a general equilibrium model with endogenous determination of women's rights in which these laws affect portfolio choices, leading to inefficient allocations. We show how technological advancement eventually leads to men granting rights, and in turn how these rights affect development. Exploiting cross-state variation in the timing of rights, we show that increases in non-agricultural TFP predict the granting of rights. The granting of rights in turn leads to a dynamic labor reallocation towards the non-agricultural sector, representing further development. Finally, we show that women's rights are associated with lower interest rates and greater financial intermediation, consistent with an increase in the supply of credit.

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The Origins and Long-Run Consequences of the Division of Labor

Emilio Depetris-Chauvin & Ömer Özak

Southern Methodist University Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
This research explores the deep historical roots and persistent effects of the division of labor in pre-modern societies. It advances the hypothesis, and establishes empirically that population diversity had a positive causal effect on the division of labor. Based on a novel ethnic level dataset combining geocoded ethnographic, linguistic and genetic data, this research exploits the exogenous variation in population diversity generated by historical migratory patterns to causally establish that higher levels of population diversity were conducive to economic specialization (of labor) and the emergence of trade-related institutions that, in turn, translated into differences in pre-modern comparative development. Additionally, this research provides suggestive evidence that regions historically inhabited by pre-modern societies with higher levels of economic specialization have higher levels of contemporary occupational heterogeneity, economic complexity and development.

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Pre-Colonial Institutions and Socioeconomic Development: The Case of Latin America

Luis Angeles & Aldo Elizalde

Journal of Development Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study the effects of pre-colonial institutions on present-day socioeconomic outcomes for Latin America. Our thesis is that more advanced pre-colonial institutions relate to better socioeconomic outcomes today. We advance that pre-colonial institutions survived to our days thanks to the existence of largely self-governed Amerindian communities in rural Latin America. Amerindians groups with more advanced institutional capacity would have been able to organize and defend their interests in front of national governments; leading to better development outcomes for themselves and for the population at large. We test our thesis with a dataset of 324 sub-national administrative units covering all mainland Latin American countries. Our extensive range of controls covers factors such as climate, location, natural resources, colonial activities and pre-colonial characteristics - plus country fixed effects. Results strongly support our thesis.

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Unbundling the roles of human capital and institutions in economic development

Hugo Faria et al.

European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research uses predicted genetic diversity unadjusted for the ancestral composition of current populations, as a plausible source of exogenous variations for indicators of economic institutions. While genetic diversity has a robust, concave and significant effect on economic institutions, reduced-form regressions and numerous falsification tests ostensibly suggest that genetic diversity affects development only via indices of multidimensional measures of economic institutions. Second-stage results indicate that allowing for cognitive skills, latitude and ethno-diversity, economic institutions exert a positive and strongly statistically significant effect on development. These findings are robust to the inclusion of deep and proximate growth determinants, different measures of geography, institutions, and horse races between cognitive skills and economic freedom, as well as to the use of different estimators. Human capital, gauged by cognitive skills, in most specifications is not significant in the second stage; however, it is positive and a strong significant predictor of economic institutions in the first stage. The empirical evidence unveiled in this study lends credence to the primacy of economic institutions hypothesis to ignite long-term growth and highlights the crucial role of human capital in enhancing economic institutional quality.

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Land Reform and Violence: Evidence from Mexico

Tommy Murphy & Martín Rossi

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, November 2016, Pages 106–113

Abstract:
We document the connection between land reform and violent crime in Mexico using the counter-reform carried out in 1992 that liberalised the ejido sector. Using data at municipality level, we exploit the fact that municipalities have different exposure to the reform. We report a significant impact of the land reform on the number of murders: in those municipalities with a higher proportion of social land, and therefore more exposed to the land reform, the number of murders decreased more than in those municipalities less exposed to the land reform. Our results suggest that clearly specified and consistently enforced land rights reduce gains from violence, leading therefore to lower levels of violence, as measured by the number of murders.

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Does social diversity impede sound economic management? An empirical analysis, 1980–2012

Indra de Soysa & Krishna Chaitanya Vadlamannati

Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Several celebrated scholars argue that diverse preferences and coordination failure due to ethnic and cultural diversity hamper the social cohesion necessary for good economic management, leading to development failure. Using several measures of diversity, we find that higher levels of ethno-linguistic and cultural fractionalization are conditioned positively on higher economic growth by an index of economic freedom, which is often heralded as a good measure of sound economic management. High diversity in turn is associated with higher levels of economic freedom. We do not find any evidence to suggest that high diversity hampers change towards greater economic freedom and institutions supporting liberal policies. The effect of diversity, moreover, is conditioned positively by higher democracy. Our results raise serious doubt about the centrality of social diversity for explaining economic failure, nor is there evidence to suggest that autocratic measures are required under conditions of social diversity to implement growth-promoting policies. This is good news because history and culture seems to matter less than rational agency for ensuring sound economic management.

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Geopolitics, Aid, and Growth: The Impact of UN Security Council Membership on the Effectiveness of Aid

Axel Dreher, Vera Eichenauer & Kai Gehring

World Bank Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the effects of short-term political motivations on the effectiveness of foreign aid. Specifically, we test whether the effect of aid on economic growth is reduced by the share of years a country served on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in the period the aid is committed, which provides quasi-random variation in aid. Our results show that the effect of aid on growth is significantly lower when aid was committed during a country’s tenure on the UNSC. This holds when we restrict the sample to Africa, which follows the strictest norm of rotation on the UNSC and thus where UNSC membership can most reliably be regarded as exogenous. We derive two conclusions from this. First, short-term political favoritism reduces the effectiveness of aid. Second, results of studies using political interest variables as instruments for overall aid arguably estimate the effect of politically motivated aid and thus a lower bound for the effect of all aid.

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Health and hunger: Disease, energy needs, and the Indian calorie consumption puzzle

Josephine Duh & Dean Spears

Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
India's experience presents a puzzle at odds with a basic fact of household economics: amidst unprecedented economic growth, average per capita daily calorie consumption has declined in recent decades. Does an improving disease environment explain the calorie decline? A diminished burden of infectious disease could lower energy needs by increasing absorption and effective use of calories. We document a robust effect of disease exposure - measured as infant mortality and as poor sanitation - on calorie consumption. Similar effects are found using multiple datasets and empirical strategies. Disease can account for an important fraction (one-fifth or more) of India's calorie decline.

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Design and Evolution in Institutional Development: The Insignificance of the English Bill of Rights

Peter Murrell

Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper challenges a belief that is deeply embedded in mainstream economics — that 1688-1701 saw a fundamental transformation in England that sprang from changes in the highest-level institutions designed by those who understood how to effect productive reform. This is the design hypothesis. The alternative is that change occurred in many features of society over a long period and that the 1688-1701 reforms were just one element in a deep ongoing evolutionary process. The paper presents evidence of two distinct types. First, legal history shows that the high-level institutional measures of 1688-1701 can be characterized primarily as either durable and endorsing the status quo or path-breaking and ephemeral. This is evolutionary trial and error. Second, patterns in structural breaks in myriad data sets reveal that widespread socioeconomic change was under way before 1688 and continued thereafter. Because England's early development provides a popular paradigmatic example for economists, the paper's verdict on the nature of English history is pertinent to debates on transition and development, on the importance of critical junctures, and on the relative roles of culture and institutions.

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The Economic Consequences of the 1953 London Debt Agreement

Gregori Galofré-Vilà et al.

NBER Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
In 1953 the Western Allied powers implemented a radical debt-relief plan that would, in due course, eliminate half of West Germany’s external debt and create a series of favourable debt repayment conditions. The London Debt Agreement (LDA) correlated with West Germany experiencing the highest rate of economic growth recorded in Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. In this paper we examine the economic consequences of this historical episode. We use new data compiled from the monthly reports of the Deutsche Bundesbank from 1948 to the 1960s. These reports not only provide detailed statistics of the German finances, but also a narrative on the evolution of the German economy on a monthly basis. These sources also contain special issues on the LDA, highlighting contemporaries’ interest in the state of German public finances and public opinion on the debt negotiation. We find evidence that debt relief in the LDA spurred economic growth in three main ways: creating fiscal space for public investment; lowering costs of borrowing; and stabilising inflation. Using difference-in-differences regression models comparing pre- and post-LDA years, we find that the LDA was associated with a substantial rise in real per capita social expenditure, in health, education, housing, and economic development, this rise being significantly over and above changes in other types of spending that include military expenditure. We further observe that benchmark yields on long-term debt, an indication of default risk, dropped substantially in West Germany when LDA negotiations began in 1951 and then stabilised at historically low rates after the LDA was ratified. The LDA coincided with new foreign borrowing and investment, which in turn helped promote economic growth. Finally, the German currency, the deutschmark, introduced in 1948, had been highly volatile until 1953, after which time we find it largely stabilised.

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Social Constraints and Women's Education: Evidence from Afghanistan under Radical Religious Rule

Abdul Noury & Biagio Speciale

Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We analyze how growing up under Taliban rule affects Afghan women's educational attainments and subsequent labor market and fertility outcomes. While in power from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban ruled a large portion of the Afghan territory and introduced a ban on girls’ education. Using data from the National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment survey, we rely on the fact that, depending on their year of birth and province of residence, individuals differed in the number of years they were exposed to the Taliban government while of school age. Our difference-in-differences estimates show that an additional year of exposure to the Taliban occupation while of school age reduces a woman's probability of completing basic education by about two percentage points. The effects on educational outcomes are larger in Pashtun districts and rural areas. These findings are not due to the 1992 introduction of the provisional Islamist government that preceded the Taliban, cultural differences related to ethnicity, or varying emigration rates across provinces. The estimates are robust to differences across provinces in the number of violent events before, during, and after the Taliban occupation. Women exposed to the Taliban’s radical religious rule while they were of school age are also less likely to be employed outside of the household and more likely to have an agricultural job within the household. For fertility choices, exposure to the Taliban occupation increases total number of children and lowers age at first marriage. We discuss our empirical findings against theoretical economic literature on radical religious groups (e.g., Iannaccone, 1992; Berman, 2000).

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Temporal Relationships Between Individualism–Collectivism and the Economy in Soviet Russia: A Word Frequency Analysis Using the Google Ngram Corpus

Agne Skrebyte, Philip Garnett & Jeremy Kendal

Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Collectivism and individualism are commonly used to delineate societies that differ in their cultural values and patterns of social behavior, prioritizing the relative importance of the group and the individual, respectively. Collectivist and individualist expression is likely to be intricately linked with the political and economic history of a society. Scholars have proposed mechanisms for both positive and negative correlations between economic growth and a culture of either individualism or collectivism. Here, we consider these relationships across the dramatic history of 20th- and early 21st-century Russia (1901-2009), spanning the late Russian Empire, the communist state, and the growth of capitalism. We sample Russian speakers to identify common Russian words expressing individualism or collectivism, and examine the changing frequencies of these terms in Russian publications collected in Google’s Ngram corpus. We correlate normalized individualism and collectivism expression against published estimates of economic growth (GDP and net material product [NMP]) available between 1961 and 1995, finding high collectivist expression and economic growth rate followed by the correlated decline of both prior to the end of Soviet system. Temporal trends in the published expression of individualism and collectivism, in addition to their correlations with estimated economic growth rates, are examined in relation to the change in economic and political structures, ideology and public discourse. We also compare our sampled Russian-language terms for individualism and collectivism with Twenge et al.’s equivalent collection from American English speakers.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Magnanimous

Prosocial behavior increases perceptions of meaning in life

Nadav Klein

Journal of Positive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Finding meaning in life is a fundamental personal need, and motivating prosocial behavior is a fundamental societal need. The present research tests whether the two are connected – whether helping other people can increase helpers’ perceptions of meaning in life. Evidence from a nationally representative data-set and two experiments support this hypothesis. Participants who engaged in prosocial behaviors – volunteering and spending money to benefit others – reported experiencing greater meaning in their lives (Studies 1–3). Study 3 also identifies increased self-worth as the mechanism – participants who spent money to benefit other people felt higher personal worth and self-esteem, and this mediated the effect of prosocial behavior on meaningfulness. The present results join other findings in suggesting that the incentives for helping others do not necessarily depend on the prospect of others’ reciprocity. Prosocial behavior can be incentivized through the psychological benefits it creates for prosocial actors.

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Common variant in OXTR predicts growth in positive emotions from loving-kindness training

Suzannah Isgett et al.

Psychoneuroendocrinology, November 2016, Pages 244–251

Abstract:
Ample research suggests that social connection reliably generates positive emotions. Oxytocin, a neuropeptide implicated in social cognition and behavior, is one biological mechanism that may influence an individual’s capacity to extract positive emotions from social contexts. Because variation in certain genes may indicate underlying neurobiological differences, we tested whether several SNPs in two genes related to oxytocin signaling would show effects on positive emotions that were context-specific, depending on sociality. For six weeks, a sample of mid-life adults (N = 122) participated in either socially-focused loving-kindness training or mindfulness training. During this timespan they reported their positive emotions daily. Five SNPs within OXTR and CD38 were assayed, and each was tested for its individual effect on daily emotions. The hypothesized three-way interaction between time, training type, and genetic variability emerged: Individuals homozygous for the G allele of OXTR rs1042778 experienced gains in daily positive emotions from loving-kindness training, whereas individuals with the T allele did not experience gains in positive emotions with either training. These findings are among the first to show how genetic differences in oxytocin signaling may influence an individual’s capacity to experience positive emotions as a result of a socially-focused intervention.

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The effect of charitable giving on workers’ performance: Experimental evidence

Gary Charness, Ramón Cobo-Reyes & Ángela Sánchez

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, November 2016, Pages 61–74

Abstract:
We investigate how donating worker earnings for voluntary extra work, a form of corporate social responsibility, affects worker behavior. Participants entered data for 60 minutes, with piece-rate pay. They could then stay for up to another 30 minutes; we varied the piece-rate pay and whether it was paid to the worker or to charity. When this piece-rate is high, workers produce more for own pay than when their earnings go to charity. However, with low piece-rates, this relationship reverses. There is also little difference in performance between paying workers a small amount and not paying anything at all.

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The congruency between moral foundations and intentions to donate, self-reported donations, and actual donations to charity

Artur Nilsson, Arvid Erlandsson & Daniel Västfjäll

Journal of Research in Personality, forthcoming

Abstract:
We extend past research on the congruency between moral foundations and morally relevant outcomes to ingroup- and outgroup-focused charitable giving. We measured intentions to donate to outgroup members (begging EU-migrants) and self-reported donations to ingroup (medical research) and outgroup (international aid) charity organizations in a heterogeneous sample (N = 1008) and actual donations to ingroup (cancer treatment) and outgroup (hunger relief) organizations in two experimental studies (N = 126; N = 200). Individualizing intuitions predicted helping in general across self-report and behavioral data. Binding intuitions predicted higher donations to ingroup causes, lower donations to outgroup causes, and less intentions to donate to outgroup members in the self-report data, and they predicted lower donations overall in the behavioral data.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Sensitivity training

Affective Beliefs Influence the Experience of Eating Meat

Eric Anderson & Lisa Feldman Barrett

PLoS ONE, August 2016

Abstract:
People believe they experience the world objectively, but research continually demonstrates that beliefs influence perception. Emerging research indicates that beliefs influence the experience of eating. In three studies, we test whether beliefs about how animals are raised can influence the experience of eating meat. Samples of meat were paired with descriptions of animals raised on factory farms or raised on humane farms. Importantly, the meat samples in both conditions were identical. However, participants experienced the samples differently: meat paired with factory farm descriptions looked, smelled, and tasted less pleasant. Even basic properties of flavor were influenced: factory farmed samples tasted more salty and greasy. Finally, actual behavior was influenced: participants consumed less when samples were paired with factory farm descriptions. These findings demonstrate that the experience of eating is not determined solely by physical properties of stimuli — beliefs also shape experience.

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Different Stories: How Levels of Familiarity With Literary and Genre Fiction Relate to Mentalizing

David Kidd & Emanuele Castano

Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, forthcoming

Abstract:
Our ability to infer and understand others’ thoughts and feelings, known as theory of mind (ToM), has important consequences across the life span, supporting empathy, pro-social behavior, and coordination in groups. Socialization practices and interpersonal interactions help develop this capacity, and so does engaging with fiction. Research suggests that lifetime exposure to fiction predicts performance on ToM tests, but little evidence speaks to the type of fiction most responsible for this effect. We draw from literary theory and empirical work to propose that literary fiction is more likely than genre fiction to foster ToM, describe the development of a new method for assessing exposure to literary and popular genre fiction, and report findings from 3 samples testing the specificity of the relation between exposure to literary fiction and ToM. Results indicate that exposure to literary but not genre fiction positively predicts performance on a test of ToM, even when accounting for demographic variables including age, gender, educational attainment, undergraduate major (in 2 samples), and self-reported empathy (in 1 sample). These findings offer further evidence that habitual engagement with others’ minds, even fictional ones, may improve the psychological processes supporting intersubjectivity. We discuss their implications for understanding the impacts of fiction, and for models of culture more generally.

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Nonprobative photos rapidly lead people to believe claims about their own (and other people’s) pasts

Brittany Cardwell et al.

Memory & Cognition, August 2016, Pages 883-896

Abstract:
Photos lead people to believe that both true and false events have happened to them, even when those photos provide no evidence that the events occurred. Research has shown that these nonprobative photos increase false beliefs when combined with misleading suggestions and repeated exposure to the photo or target event. We propose that photos exert similar effects without those factors, and test that proposition in five experiments. In Experiment 1, people saw the names of several animals and pretended to give food to or take food from each. Then people saw the animal names again, half with a photo of the animal and half alone, and decided whether they had an experience with each. The photos led people to believe they had experiences with the animals. Moreover, Experiments 2–5 provided evidence that photos exerted these effects by making it easier to bring related thoughts and images to mind — a feeling that people mistook as evidence of genuine experience. In each experiment, photos led people to believe positive claims about the past (but not negative claims), consistent with evidence that feelings of ease selectively increase positive judgments. Experiment 4 also showed that photos (like other manipulations of ease) bias people’s judgments broadly, producing false beliefs about other people’s pasts. Finally, in Experiment 5, photos exerted more powerful effects when they depicted unfamiliar animals, and thus could most help bring information to mind. These findings suggest that nonprobative photos can distort the past without other factors that encourage false beliefs, and that they operate by helping related thoughts and images come to mind.

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Disguising Superman: How Glasses Affect Unfamiliar Face Matching

Robin Kramer & Kay Ritchie

Applied Cognitive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Could a simple pair of glasses really fool us into thinking Superman and Clark Kent are two different people? Here, we investigated the perception of identity from face images with a task that relies on visual comparison rather than memory. Participants were presented with two images simultaneously and were asked whether the images depicted the same person or two different people. The image pairs showed neither image with glasses, both images with glasses, and ‘mixed’ pairs of one image with and one without glasses. Participants' accuracies, measured by both percentage correct and d′ sensitivity, were significantly lower for ‘mixed’ trials. Analysis of response bias showed that when only one face wore glasses, people tended to respond ‘different’. We demonstrate that glasses affect face matching ability using unconstrained images, and this has implications for both disguise research and authenticating identity in the real world.

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Blue-Black or White-Gold? Early Stage Processing and the Color of 'The Dress'

Jeff Rabin et al.

PLoS ONE, August 2016

Purpose: In Feb 2015 an image of a dress posted on Tumblr triggered an internet phenomenon: Is the Dress blue and black (BB) or white and gold (WG)? Many claim BB and others insist WG while the true colors are BB. The prevailing theory is that assumptions about the illuminant govern perception of the Dress with WG due to bluish lighting and BB due to yellowish. Our purpose was to determine if early stage optical, retinal and/or neural factors also impact perception of the Dress.

Methods: Thirty-nine subjects were categorized as BB or WG based on their initial perception of the Dress and their perception reported when viewing the Dress on iPhone 5, iPad, and 22” LCD displays. Macular pigment optical density (MPOD) measured with the QuantifEye™ MPS II and visual brainwaves (VEPs) in response to brief presentations of a transparency of the Dress illuminated by a flashing light were measured on each subject and compared between BB and WG groups. Additionally, CIE chromaticity (color) and luminance (brightness) were measured from multiple areas of the Dress image to determine cone stimulation and contrast.

Results: Mean MPOD was higher in the WG group (0.49) vs. the BB (0.41, p = 0.04) and median values were higher as well (WG = 0.46, BB = 0.36, p = 0.03). There was no difference in VEP amplitude between groups (p > 0.85) but mean VEP latency was longer in WG (130 msec.) vs. the BB group (107 msec., p = 0.0005). Colorimetry of the Dress showed significantly greater stimulation of blue cones (contrast = 73%) vs. red and green sensitive cones (contrast = 13%).

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that observers with denser MPOD may be predisposed to perceive the Dress as WG due to great absorption of blue light by the macular pigment. Moreover, the novel, substantial stimulation of blue cones by the Dress may contribute to ambiguity and dichotomous perception since the blue cones are so sparse in the retina. Finally, the delayed WG VEPs indicate distinct neural processing in perception of the consistent with fMRI evidence that the WG percept is processed at higher cortical levels than the BB. These results do not fully explain the dichotomous perception of the Dress but do exemplify the need to consider early stage processing when elucidating ambiguous percepts and figures.

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From the Bob/Kirk effect to the Benoit/Éric effect: Testing the mechanism of name sound symbolism in two languages

David Sidhu, Penny Pexman & Jean Saint-Aubin Acta

Psychologica, September 2016, Pages 88–99

Abstract:
Although it is often assumed that language involves an arbitrary relationship between form and meaning, many studies have demonstrated that nonwords like maluma are associated with round shapes, while nonwords like takete are associated with sharp shapes (i.e., the Maluma/Takete effect, Köhler, 1929/1947). The majority of the research on sound symbolism has used nonwords, but Sidhu and Pexman (2015) recently extended this effect to existing labels: real English first names (i.e., the Bob/Kirk effect). In the present research we tested whether the effects of name sound symbolism generalize to French speakers (Experiment 1) and French names (Experiment 2). In addition, we assessed the underlying mechanism of name sound symbolism, investigating the roles of phonology and orthography in the effect. Results showed that name sound symbolism does generalize to French speakers and French names. Further, this robust effect remained the same when names were presented in a curved vs. angular font (Experiment 3), or when the salience of orthographic information was reduced through auditory presentation (Experiment 4). Together these results suggest that the Bob/Kirk effect is pervasive, and that it is based on fundamental features of name phonemes.

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The warmth of our regrets: Managing regret through physiological regulation and consumption

Jeff Rotman, Seung Hwan (Mark) Lee & Andrew Perkins

Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research suggests that experiencing action regret induces a change in psychological and physical warmth, motivating individuals to ameliorate that change via interaction with objects that are perceived to be physically or psychologically opposite in temperature. Experiment 1 revealed individuals experiencing action regret felt more self-conscious emotions, and subsequently preferred cold (versus hot) drinks. Experiment 2 replicated this effect and ruled out arousal as a possible alternative explanation. Experiment 3 furthered this link by demonstrating that those feeling more self-conscious emotions felt warmer and subsequently preferred cold (versus hot) drinks. Finally, experiment 4 found that advertisements manipulated for temperature (e.g., cold climate) mitigated the psychological effects of action regret. We interpret the results of these four studies within the emerging field of embodied cognition, which argues that our understanding of emotional concepts is grounded in, and can be influenced by, physical experiences.

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Facial-Attractiveness Choices Are Predicted by Divisive Normalization

Nicholas Furl

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do people appear more attractive or less attractive depending on the company they keep? A divisive-normalization account — in which representation of stimulus intensity is normalized (divided) by concurrent stimulus intensities — predicts that choice preferences among options increase with the range of option values. In the first experiment reported here, I manipulated the range of attractiveness of the faces presented on each trial by varying the attractiveness of an undesirable distractor face that was presented simultaneously with two attractive targets, and participants were asked to choose the most attractive face. I used normalization models to predict the context dependence of preferences regarding facial attractiveness. The more unattractive the distractor, the more one of the targets was preferred over the other target, which suggests that divisive normalization (a potential canonical computation in the brain) influences social evaluations. I obtained the same result when I manipulated faces’ averageness and participants chose the most average face. This finding suggests that divisive normalization is not restricted to value-based decisions (e.g., attractiveness). This new application to social evaluation of normalization, a classic theory, opens possibilities for predicting social decisions in naturalistic contexts such as advertising or dating.

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Changing Perceptions and Efficacy of Generic Medicines: An Intervention Study

Sarah Colgan et al.

Health Psychology, forthcoming

Method: Seventy participants who experienced frequent tension headaches were randomized to receive an educational video about generic medicines or a control video. Participants then alternatively took branded and generic ibuprofen to treat their next two consecutive headaches. Changes in perceptions of generic medicines, pain relief and side effects were measured.

Results: The intervention was effective in modifying and improving perceptions of generic medicines in the areas of understanding (p < .05), preference for a generic medicine to treat a serious illness (p < .05), and overall preference for generic medicines (p < .01). However, contrary to predictions, participants in the intervention group reported significantly less pain relief (p = .03) and more symptoms (p = .04) after taking generic ibuprofen compared with branded ibuprofen.

Conclusion: This study identified that an educational intervention is effective in modifying and improving perceptions of generic medicines but produced paradoxical effects on drug efficacy and side effects. These findings suggest that complex mechanisms are involved in the relationship between perceptions and drug efficacy and contradict the assumption that improving attitudes toward generic medicines will have a flow-on effect to improving health outcomes.

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Mistaking Minds and Machines: How Speech Affects Dehumanization and Anthropomorphism

Juliana Schroeder & Nicholas Epley

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Treating a human mind like a machine is an essential component of dehumanization, whereas attributing a humanlike mind to a machine is an essential component of anthropomorphism. Here we tested how a cue closely connected to a person’s actual mental experience — a humanlike voice — affects the likelihood of mistaking a person for a machine, or a machine for a person. We predicted that paralinguistic cues in speech are particularly likely to convey the presence of a humanlike mind, such that removing voice from communication (leaving only text) would increase the likelihood of mistaking the text’s creator for a machine. Conversely, adding voice to a computer-generated script (resulting in speech) would increase the likelihood of mistaking the text’s creator for a human. Four experiments confirmed these hypotheses, demonstrating that people are more likely to infer a human (vs. computer) creator when they hear a voice expressing thoughts than when they read the same thoughts in text. Adding human visual cues to text (i.e., seeing a person perform a script in a subtitled video clip), did not increase the likelihood of inferring a human creator compared with only reading text, suggesting that defining features of personhood may be conveyed more clearly in speech (Experiments 1 and 2). Removing the naturalistic paralinguistic cues that convey humanlike capacity for thinking and feeling, such as varied pace and intonation, eliminates the humanizing effect of speech (Experiment 4). We discuss implications for dehumanizing others through text-based media, and for anthropomorphizing machines through speech-based media.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, September 9, 2016

Getting things done

The Selective Enforcement of Government Regulation: Battleground States and the EPA

Huseyin Gulen & Brett Myers

Purdue University Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
This paper examines whether government regulation is selectively enforced. In the United States, the Electoral College system determines the outcome of presidential elections. This system creates incentives for politicians to direct policy favors to those states that represent the median voter in the Electoral College (so-called "battleground" or "swing" states). In this paper, we examine whether regulators treat battleground states more favorably than non-battleground states. Specifically, we examine the probability that the EPA will find a facility in violation of the Clean Water Act if it is located in a battleground state relative to those located in non-battleground states. We find that violation rates for facilities located in battleground states are significantly lower than those in non-battleground states. Identification is obtained by the analysis of the violation rates of similar facilities located across the border between battleground and non-battleground states using a number of analytical frameworks, including difference-in-difference estimates for facilities located in states that change battleground status.

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Forecasting the Senate vote on the Supreme Court vacancy

Scott Basinger & Maxwell Mak

Research & Politics, July 2016

Abstract:
This paper forecasts current senators' votes on Merrick Garland's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, in the unlikely case that a vote actually takes place. The forecasts are necessarily conditional, awaiting measurement of the nominee's characteristics. Nonetheless, a model that combines parameters estimated from existing data with values of some measurable characteristics of senators - particularly their party affiliations, party loyalty levels, and ideological positions - is sufficient to identify potential swing voters in the Senate. By accounting for a more nuanced and refined understanding of the confirmation process, our model reveals that if President Obama were to nominate almost any nominee (conservative or liberal) today, that nominee would be rejected if a vote was allowed to take place. So why nominate anyone at all? Obama's hope for a successful confirmation must come from the stochastic component, that is, from outside the traditional decision-making calculus.

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Political Lending

Ahmed Tahoun & Florin Vasvari

London Business School Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
Using a unique dataset provided by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), we document a direct channel through which financial institutions contribute to the net worth of members of the U.S. Congress, particularly those sitting on the finance committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives. These individuals report greater levels of leverage and new liabilities as a proportion of their total net worth, relative to when they are not part of the finance committee or relative to other congressional members. Politicians increase new liabilities by over 30% of their net worth in the first year of their finance committee membership. We do not find similar patterns for members of non-finance powerful committees. We find no evidence that finance committee members arrange new personal liabilities ahead of their appointments to the committees. Finance committee members also report liabilities with lower interest rates and longer maturities. Finally, focusing on banks that lend to U.S. Congress members, we find that the weaker performing financial institutions lend to more finance committee members and provide more new debt to these politicians. Our findings suggest that lenders may create political connections with finance committee members in an attempt to obtain regulatory benefits.

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Policy Uncertainty and the Economy

Kevin Hassett & Joseph Sullivan

American Enterprise Institute Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
This paper assesses the economics literature on policy uncertainty, addresses puzzles in that literature, and highlights pertinent empirical regularities. Although much progress has been made in identifying important correlations between uncertainty and economic activity, concerns about causal identification remain. However, new empirical measures of uncertainty allow economists to ask questions with a precision likely to advance enduring debates on sources of uncertainty and their effects. The implications of elevated political polarization offer the most parsimonious explanation of what are otherwise puzzling results on the economic effects of uncertainty. According to historical data, in the month of a United States presidential election, the odds of the U.S. entering a recession within the next 12 months are roughly twice what they are in a typical month.

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Seniority, political experience, and support for government spending in the US House: A culture of spending?

James Garand, Rebekah Myers & Renee Renegar

Public Choice, forthcoming

Abstract:
Payne (1991a) postulates that there is a "culture of spending" in the US Congress, whereby members of Congress are socialized to increase their roll-call support for more spending as a function of length of service and exposure to the Washington culture. In this article we develop and test an expanded model of roll-call voting on spending matters, focusing on two potential sources of socialization effects: (1) exposure to the Washington culture of spending, primarily through seniority and proximity to Washington, DC, and (2) previous political experiences developed before members are elected to Congress. Using data for US House members from the 93rd through the 107th Congresses, we estimate a series of models in which we explain National Taxpayer Union scores as a function of seniority, previous political experience, personal attributes, and a range of constituency variables. We find strong and consistent seniority and political experience effects, with senior members and those with extensive political experience more likely to support greater spending than other members. These findings withstand a range of robustness tests.

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Confirmation Wars, Legislative Time, and Collateral Damage: The Impact of Supreme Court Nominations on Presidential Success in the U.S. Senate

Anthony Madonna, James Monogan & Richard Vining

Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Presidents often see a Supreme Court nomination as an opportunity to leave a lasting mark on policy. Recent studies speculate that focusing on Supreme Court nominees affects presidential success beyond the confirmation process, but this has not been established systematically. We develop and test a hypothesis stating that presidents who get into a battle to promote a controversial Supreme Court nominee will see delays and failures in their efforts to promote their legislative agenda in the Senate and fill lower level judicial vacancies. We test our theory using data on presidential policy agenda items from 1967 to 2010 and lower level judicial nominations from 1977 to 2010. We find that increased efforts in promoting confirmation reduce the likelihood of timely Senate approval of important policy proposals and nominees to federal district courts.

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Evaluating Partisan Gains from Congressional Gerrymandering: Using Computer Simulations to Estimate the Effect of Gerrymandering in the U.S. House

Jowei Chen & David Cottrell

Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
What is the effect of gerrymandering on the partisan outcomes of United States Congressional elections? A major challenge to answering this question is in determining the outcomes that would have resulted in the absence of gerrymandering. Since we only observe Congressional elections where the districts have potentially been gerrymandered, we lack a non-gerrymandered counterfactual that would allow us to isolate its true effect. To overcome this challenge, we conduct computer simulations of the districting process to redraw the boundaries of Congressional districts without partisan intent. By estimating the outcomes of these non-gerrymandered districts, we are able to establish the non-gerrymandered counterfactual against which the actual outcomes can be compared. The analysis reveals that while gerrymandering affects the partisan outcomes of Congressional elections in some states, the net effect across the states is modest, creating no more than one new Republican seat in Congress. Therefore, the partisan composition of Congress can mostly be explained by non-partisan districting, suggesting that much of the electoral bias in Congressional elections is caused by factors other than partisan intent in the districting process.

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Political Attention and Corporate Influence: Evidence from Deepwater Horizon

Nimesh Patel

University of California Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
Using the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster as an exogenous shock to political attention, I find that publicly-traded oil companies with offshore operations increase their lobbying activity relative to non-oil companies. In contrast, oil companies operating primarily onshore slightly decrease their lobbying activity, consistent with a shift in political focus. Following the oil spill, the regulatory environment intensified in the offshore industry leading to a decrease in drilling permit supply. I find that post-spill lobbying is strongly predictive of successful drilling permit applications which in-turn are associated with a positive and significant 5-day 4-factor cumulative abnormal return and 4-factor alpha of around 0.85%. Overall, the results suggest that corporations actively adjust their level of political influence according to political attention and that this influence may be effective at mitigating regulatory concerns.

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The political economy of tax enforcement: A look at the Internal Revenue Service from 1978 to 2010

Sutirtha Bagchi

Journal of Public Policy, September 2016, Pages 335-380

Abstract:
This article looks at whether political ideology matters for enforcement of the nation's tax laws. An analysis of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) budget and personnel suggests that the party affiliation of the President makes no difference to the overall level of IRS resources. However, there are significant increases in the number of IRS employees devoted to criminal investigation and revenue collection under Democratic administrations. Audits of tax returns filed by corporations, individuals and estates are also significantly more likely under Democratic administrations. The body of evidence points in the direction that while Congress has a greater influence in determining the overall level of resources available to the IRS, the President has a more pronounced influence on the allocation of those resources.

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Divided we reform? Evidence from US welfare policies

Andreas Bernecker

Journal of Public Economics, October 2016, Pages 24-38

Abstract:
Divided government is often thought of as causing legislative deadlock. I investigate the link between divided government and economic reforms using a novel data set on welfare reforms in US states between 1978 and 2010. Panel data regressions show that, under divided government, a US state is around 25% more likely to adopt a welfare reform than under unified government. Several robustness checks confirm this counter-intuitive finding. Case study evidence suggests an explanation based on policy competition between governor, senate, and house.

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Policy risk, corporate political strategies, and the cost of debt

Daniel Bradley, Christos Pantzalis & Xiaojing Yuan

Journal of Corporate Finance, October 2016, Pages 254-275

Abstract:
We examine how political geography affects firms' cost of debt. Local policy risk, measured by proximity to political power reflected in firms' position in the country's political map, is positively related to firms' cost of debt. Employing a difference-in-difference-in-differences (DDD) estimation around presidential elections, we find that firms headquartered in states that become more aligned with the president after elections are exposed to more policy risk and thus incur higher yield spreads. Firms can manage policy risk by engaging in corporate political strategies. Consistent with the view that such political strategies protect firms against uncertainty about future policies, we find policy risk has less of an impact on a firm's cost of debt when the firm makes more PAC contributions or spends more money on lobbying.

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How Do Voters Matter? Evidence from US Congressional Redistricting

Daniel Jones & Randall Walsh

NBER Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
How does the partisan composition of an electorate impact the policies adopted by an elected representative? We take advantage of variation in the partisan composition of Congressional districts stemming from Census-initiated redistricting in the 1990's, 2000's, and 2010's. Using this variation, we examine how an increase in Democrat share within a district impacts the district representative's roll call voting. We find that an increase in Democrat share within a district causes more leftist roll call voting. This occurs because a Democrat is more likely to hold the seat, but also because - in contrast to existing empirical work - partisan composition has a direct effect on the roll call voting of individual representatives. This is true of both Democrats and Republicans. It is also true regardless of the nature of the redistricting (e.g., whether the redistricting was generated by a partisan or non-partisan process).

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Women's Issues and Their Fates in the US Congress

Craig Volden, Alan Wiseman & Dana Wittmer

Political Science Research and Methods, forthcoming

Abstract:
Significant scholarship indicates that female legislators focus their attention on "women's issues" to a greater extent than do male lawmakers. Drawing on over 40 years of bill sponsorship data from the US House of Representatives, we define women's issues in terms of those sponsored at a greater rate by women in Congress. Our analysis reveals that most (but not all) of the classically considered women's issues are indeed raised at an enhanced rate by congresswomen. We then track the fate of those issues. While 4 percent of all bills become law, that rate drops to 2 percent for women's issues and to only 1 percent for women's issue bills sponsored by women themselves. This pattern persists over time - from the early 1970s through today - and upon controlling for other factors that influence bills success rates. We link the bias against women's issues to the committee process, and suggest several avenues for further research.

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A Time to Make Laws and a Time to Fundraise? On the Relation between Salaries and Time Use for State Politicians

Mitchell Hoffman & Elizabeth Lyons

NBER Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
Paying higher salaries is often believed to enhance worker effort, leading workers to work harder to avoid getting fired. However, workers may also respond to higher salaries by focusing on tasks that most directly affect getting fired (as opposed to those that contribute most to productivity). We explore these issues by analyzing the relationship between the level of compensation and time use for US state legislators. Using data on time use and legislator salaries, we show that higher salary is associated with legislators spending more time on fundraising. In contrast, higher salary is also associated with less time spent on legislative activities and has no clear relation to time spent on constituent services. Subgroup analysis broadly supports our interpretation of the data.

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Delivering the Vote: The Political Effect of Free Mail Delivery in Early Twentieth Century America

Elisabeth Ruth Perlman & Steven Sprick Schuster

Journal of Economic History, September 2016, Pages 769-802

Abstract:
The rollout of Rural Free Delivery (RFD) in the early twentieth century dramatically increased the frequency with which rural voters received information. This article examines the effect of RFD on voters' and Representatives' behavior using a panel dataset and instrumental variables. Communities receiving more routes spread their votes to more parties; there is no evidence it changed turnout. RFD shifted positions taken by Representatives in line with rural constituents, including increased support for pro-temperance and anti-immigration policies. These results appear only in counties with newspapers, supporting the hypothesis that information flows play a crucial role in the political process.

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Who is Punished? Conditions Affecting Voter Evaluations of Legislators Who Do Not Compromise

Nichole Bauer, Laurel Harbridge Yong & Yanna Krupnikov

Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
In American politics, legislative compromise is often seen as a necessary and desirable aspect of policymaking, yet people also value politicians who stick to their positions. In this article, we consider these conflicting expectations of legislators and ask two intertwined questions: what conditions lead people to punish legislators for not compromising (when legislative action is at stake) and, conversely, what conditions leave people more willing to overlook a legislator's unwillingness to engage in compromise? Relying on previous research, we suggest that legislator gender, legislator partisanship, and issue area may all affect which legislators are punished for not compromising. Relying on two national experiments, we demonstrate that the extent to which lawmakers are punished for not compromising is conditional on the intersection of the three factors in this study. In general, our results suggest that people may be most willing to overlook unwillingness to engage in compromise when party, gender and issue ownership align than when party, gender, and issue ownership are at odds.

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Congress as manager: Oversight hearings and agency morale

John Marvel & Robert McGrath

Journal of Public Policy, September 2016, Pages 489-520

Abstract:
Federal agencies perform many important tasks, from guarding against terrorist plots to mailing social security checks. A key question is whether Congress can effectively manage such a large and influential bureaucracy. We argue that Congress, in using oversight to ensure agency responsiveness to legislative preferences, risks harming agency morale, which could have negative long-run effects on performance and the implementation of public policy. More specifically, we argue that oversight's effects on agency morale are conditional on whether oversight is adversarial or friendly. We assess our claims using a novel data set of the frequency and tone of hearings in which federal agencies are called to testify before Congress from 1999 to 2011 and merge it with data on agency autonomy and job satisfaction. Our findings suggest that agency morale is sensitive to congressional oversight attention, and thus speak to questions regarding democratic accountability, congressional policymaking and the implementation of public policy.

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Term limits, time horizons and electoral accountability

Sebastian Leguizamon & George Crowley

Public Choice, July 2016, Pages 23-42

Abstract:
Term limits have been known to reduce electoral accountability by removing the possibility of reelection, thus affecting economic policy choices (i.e., the 'lame duck' effect). We show that the magnitude and statistical significance of this effect is influenced by the expected length of a future career. By using incumbent age as a proxy for expected career length, we find that the lame-duck effect is statistically observable only among those politicians with long careers ahead. Using data on US governors from 1950 to 2005, we find evidence that the influence of term limits is heterogeneous, primarily influencing young incumbents who hope to have long careers and thus have stronger incentives to remain accountable to voters. Indeed, we find little evidence of a lame-duck effect among older incumbents, suggesting that their already-shortened time horizons may offset the term limit effect.

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Presidential Appointments and Public Trust

Gary Hollibaugh

Presidential Studies Quarterly, September 2016, Pages 618-639

Abstract:
Despite their responsibility for federal policy implementation in the United States, little research has focused on how presidential nominees and appointees affect public opinion. This study offers the first systematic examination of this overlooked phenomenon. Using a survey with an embedded experimental manipulation, we find that perceived nominee competence is associated with increased trust in government in general, whereas perceptions of favoritism or patronage - characterized here as the nomination of campaign fundraisers - are associated with decreased levels of trust in the same. Notably, perceived nominee ideology has no perceptible effect on trust in government.

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What I Like About You: Legislator Personality and Legislator Approval

Jonathan Klingler, Gary Hollibaugh & Adam Ramey

University of Notre Dame Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
Recent work in the study of legislative politics has applied the Five Factor Model of personality traits to investigate a wide variety of phenomena in the United States Congress. Findings from this literature raise questions about the Big Five personality traits and political representation, specifically, whether voters are more likely to support legislators with similar personality traits to their own, or legislators with valence personality traits, regardless of congruence. Using data from the 2014 CCES, we predict voters' job approval of federal legislators using measures of personality congruence and personality valence. We find strong and consistent support in favor of personality valence over personality congruence as a determinant of job approval.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Jekyll and Hyde

From the Immoral to the Incorruptible: How Prescriptive Expectations Turn the Powerful Into Paragons of Virtue

Miao Hu, Derek Rucker & Adam Galinsky

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, June 2016, Pages 826-837

Abstract:
Ample evidence documents that power increases unethical behavior. This article introduces a new theoretical framework for understanding when power leads to more versus less unethical behavior. Our key proposition is that people hold expectations about power that are both descriptive (how the powerful do behave) and prescriptive (how the powerful should behave). People hold descriptive beliefs that the powerful do behave more unethically than the powerless, but they hold prescriptive beliefs that the powerful should behave more ethically than the powerless. Whichever expectation - descriptive or prescriptive - is salient affects how power influences one's behavior. Three experiments demonstrate that activating descriptive expectations for power leads the powerful to cheat more than the powerless, whereas activating prescriptive expectations leads the powerful to cheat less than the powerless. The current work offers new ideas for curbing unethical behavior by those with power: focus their attention on prescriptive expectations for power.

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When Meat Gets Personal, Animals' Minds Matter Less: Motivated Use of Intelligence Information in Judgments of Moral Standing

Jared Piazza & Steve Loughnan

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why are many Westerners outraged by dog meat, but comfortable with pork? This is particularly puzzling, given strong evidence that both species are highly intelligent. We suggest that although people consider intelligence a key factor in determining animals' moral status, they disregard this information when it is self-relevant. In Study 1, we show that intelligence plays a major role in the moral concern afforded to animals in the abstract. In Study 2, we manipulated the intelligence of three animals - pigs, tapirs, and a fictional animal - and find that only for pigs does this information not influence moral standing. Finally, in Study 3, we show that people believe that learning about pig intelligence will lead to high levels of moral concern, yet when they themselves learn about pig intelligence, moral concern remains low. These findings demonstrate an important, predictable inconsistency in how people think about minds and moral concern.

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A Sorrow Shared Is a Sorrow Halved: Moral Judgments of Harm to Single versus Multiple Victims

Daffie Konis et al.

Frontiers in Psychology, August 2016

Abstract:
We describe a bias in moral judgment in which the mere existence of other victims reduces assessments of the harm suffered by each harmed individual. Three experiments support the seemingly paradoxical relationship between the number of harmed individuals and the perceived severity of the harming act. In Experiment 1a, participants expressed lower punitive intentions toward a perpetrator of an unethical act that hurt multiple people and assigned lower monetary compensation to each victim than did those who judged a similar act that harmed only one person. In Experiment 1b, participants displayed greater emotional involvement in the case of a single victim than when there were multiple victims, regardless of whether the victims were unrelated and unaware of each other or constituted a group. Experiment 2 measured the responses of the victims themselves. Participants received false performance feedback on a task before being informed that they had been deceived. Victims who were deceived alone reported more negative feelings and judged the deception as more immoral than did those who knew that others had been deceived as well. Taken together, these results suggest that a victim's plight is perceived as less severe when others share it, and this bias is common to both third-party judges and victims.

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The role of mortality awareness in hero identification

Simon McCabe, Ryan Carpenter & Jamie Arndt

Self and Identity, November/December 2016, Pages 707-726

Abstract:
Three studies examine hypotheses derived from terror management theory to investigate the relationship between mortality concerns and hero identification. Study 1 found reminders of death, followed by a distraction task and a self-prime, led to greater inclusion of heroes in the self. Study 2 found that writing about a personal hero, but not other's heroes or acquaintances, led to lower death-thought accessibility after being reminded of mortality. Finally, Study 3 found that after death reminders, participants led to identify with a hero exemplifying traits of legacy and/or sacrifice showed lower death thought accessibility. Findings are discussed as generative for heroism research, informing a previously overlooked motivation underlying hero identification and the existential function of such identification.

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How Much Does Honesty Cost? Small Bonuses Can Motivate Ethical Behavior

Long Wang & Keith Murnighan

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although people generally try to avoid lying, the lure of potential monetary payoffs often leads to unethical behavior. The current research investigates whether small monetary rewards for honesty help people resist the temptations of larger incentives or whether they backfire and lead to even more dishonesty. Four experiments address these issues. Experiment 1 shows that a $1 bonus led people to act more honestly when they could have lied to obtain $4; an identical bonus, however, did not increase dishonesty. Experiment 2 uses a different context and again shows that a $1 bonus led people to act more honestly; it also finds no evidence that this small payoff crowded out subsequent altruistic behavior. Experiment 3 shows that a $1 bonus increased people's honesty even when the payoffs for lying increased to $8, $12, and $16, but not when the payoff for lying increased to $20. Experiment 4 finds that smaller bonuses for honesty still had an impact, although it tended to be somewhat weaker. In addition, compared with no bonus, the combined effect of several small monetary bonuses (1 dollar, 75 cents, 50 cents, and 25 cents) marginally reduced lying.

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Slow motion increases perceived intent

Eugene Caruso, Zachary Burns & Benjamin Converse

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 16 August 2016, Pages 9250-9255

Abstract:
To determine the appropriate punishment for a harmful action, people must often make inferences about the transgressor's intent. In courtrooms and popular media, such inferences increasingly rely on video evidence, which is often played in "slow motion." Four experiments (n = 1,610) involving real surveillance footage from a murder or broadcast replays of violent contact in professional football demonstrate that viewing an action in slow motion, compared with regular speed, can cause viewers to perceive an action as more intentional. This slow motion intentionality bias occurred, in part, because slow motion video caused participants to feel like the actor had more time to act, even when they knew how much clock time had actually elapsed. Four additional experiments (n = 2,737) reveal that allowing viewers to see both regular speed and slow motion replay mitigates the bias, but does not eliminate it. We conclude that an empirical understanding of the effect of slow motion on mental state attribution should inform the life-or-death decisions that are currently based on tacit assumptions about the objectivity of human perception.

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A Subjective Utilitarian Theory of Moral Judgment

Dale Cohen & Minwhoo Ahn

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Current theories hypothesize that moral judgments are difficult because rational and emotional decision processes compete. We present a fundamentally different theory of moral judgment: the Subjective Utilitarian Theory of moral judgment. The Subjective Utilitarian Theory posits that people try to identify and save the competing item with the greatest "personal value." Moral judgments become difficult only when the competing items have similar personal values. In Experiment 1, we estimate the personal values of 104 items. In Experiments 2-5, we show that the distributional overlaps of the estimated personal values account for over 90% of the variance in reaction times (RTs) and response choices in a moral judgment task. Our model fundamentally restructures our understanding of moral judgments from a competition between decision processes to a competition between similarly valued items.

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Effects of Experienced Disgust on Morally-Relevant Judgments

Bunmi Olatunji, Bieke David Puncochar & Rebecca Cox

PLoS ONE, August 2016

Abstract:
Although disgust has been implicated in moral judgments, the extent to which the influence of disgust on moral judgment is distinct from other negative affective states remains unclear. To address this gap in knowledge, participants in Study 1 were randomized to a disgust (hand submersion in imitation vomit), discomfort (hand submersion in ice water), or neutral (hand submersion in room temperature water) affect condition while moral judgments of offenses were simultaneously assessed. The results showed that participants in the discomfort condition made the most severe moral judgments, particularly for moderate offenses. To examine if disgust may have more of an effect on some moral violations than others, participants in Study 2 were randomized to similar affect inductions while judgments of purity and non-purity offenses were simultaneously assessed. The results showed that those who had their hand submerged in imitation vomit recommended harsher punishment for purity violations relative to moral violations unrelated to purity. The opposite was true for those who submerged their hands in ice water, whereas punishment ratings for purity and non-purity violations did not significantly differ for those who submerged their hands in room temperature water. The implications of these findings for further delineating the specific role of experienced disgust in moral decision-making are discussed.

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Promoting Forgiveness Through Psychological Distance

Sana Rizvi & Ramona Bobocel

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examined whether psychological distance from interpersonal transgressions can promote victim forgiveness via high-level construal. Participants responded to conflict vignettes. In Experiment 1, we found a positive effect of temporal distance on forgiveness, mediated by construal level. In Experiment 2, we found a positive effect of physical distance on construal level (2a) and a positive effect of construal level on forgiveness (2b). In Experiment 3, we found that construal level promotes forgiveness via reduced perceptions of transgression severity. Together, our experiments demonstrate that increasing victims' psychological distance from interpersonal transgressions promotes forgiveness due to high-level construal. Implications for construal level theory and for research on forgiveness are discussed.

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Overcoming the outcome bias: Making intentions matter

Ovul Sezer et al.

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, November 2016, Pages 13-26

Abstract:
People often make the well-documented mistake of paying too much attention to the outcomes of others' actions while neglecting information about the original intentions leading to those outcomes. In five experiments, we examine interventions aimed at reducing this outcome bias in situations where intentions and outcomes are misaligned. Participants evaluated an individual with fair intentions leading to unfavorable outcomes, an individual with selfish intentions leading to favorable outcomes, or both individuals jointly. Contrary to our initial predictions, participants weighed others' outcomes more - not less - when these individuals were evaluated jointly rather than separately (Experiment 1). Consequently, separate evaluators were more intention-oriented than joint evaluators when rewarding and punishing others (Experiment 2a) and assessing the value of repeated interactions with these individuals in the future (Experiment 2b). Third-party recommenders were less outcome-biased in allocating funds to investment managers when making separate evaluations relative to joint evaluations (Experiment 3). Finally, raising the salience of intentions prior to discovering outcomes helped joint evaluators overcome the outcome bias, suggesting that joint evaluation made attending to information about intentions more difficult (Experiment 4). Our findings bridge decision-making research on the outcome bias and management research on organizational justice by investigating the role of intentions in evaluations.

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To Cheat or Not To Cheat: Tryptophan Hydroxylase 2 SNP Variants Contribute to Dishonest Behavior

Qiang Shen et al.

Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, May 2016

Abstract:
Despite the considerable role of heredity in explaining individual differences in deceptive behavior, few studies have investigated which specific genes contribute to the heterogeneity of lying behavior across individuals. Also, little is known concerning which specific neurotransmitter pathways underlie deception. Toward addressing these two key questions, we implemented a neurogenetic strategy and modeled deception by an incentivized die-under-cup task in a laboratory setting. The results of this exploratory study provide provisional evidence that SNP variants across the tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (TPH2) gene, that encodes the rate-limiting enzyme in the biosynthesis of brain serotonin, contribute to individual differences in deceptive behavior.

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The Wages of Dishonesty: The Supply of Cheating under High-Powered Incentives

Parasuram Balasubramanian, Victor Manuel Bennett & Lamar Pierce

Washington University in Saint Louis Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
We use a novel design to identify how dishonesty changes through a broad reward range that, at the high end, exceeds participants' average daily wages. Using a sample of online Indian workers who earn bonuses based on six simultaneous coin flips, we show that the relationship between dishonesty and financial rewards depends on the incentive range. We find two novel effects as incentives exceed those used in prior research. First, dishonesty increases and reaches its maximum as rewards increase from $0.50 to $3 per reported head and as earnings reach $15, indicating that rewards can indeed motivate more cheating when large enough. More importantly, we show that dishonesty declines at the highest reward levels (up to $5 per head) as individuals appear to engage in lower magnitudes of dishonesty. We explain how our results could be explained by a reference-dependent utility with internal costs of dishonesty that are convex in the magnitude of the lie, and show survey and simulation-based evidence that support this explanation.

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Justice Without Borders: The Influence of Psychological Distance and Construal Level on Moral Exclusion

Avital Mentovich et al.

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present research examines how psychological distance influences the weight given to individuating information about targets of justice judgments. Drawing on construal level theory, which links psychological distance to levels of construal, we hypothesize that increasing psychological distance from justice judgments reduces people's sensitivity to specific features of targets, thereby minimizing the extent to which applications of justice are influenced by target-specific information. Psychological proximity, by contrast, enhances the salience of targets' idiosyncratic characteristics, thereby leading to applications of justice that are more sensitive to targets' identity. Six studies, examining various justice principles, support these conclusions. Studies 1 to 3 show that psychological distancing reduces the weight of target-specific features in justice judgments. Supporting the role of construal level in driving these results, Studies 4 to 6 demonstrate parallel patterns when construal level is manipulated directly. This work offers a novel outlook on the role of construal and target characteristics in moral exclusion.

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Replacing the Moral Foundations: An Evolutionary-Coalitional Theory of Liberal-Conservative Differences

Jeffrey Sinn & Matthew Hayes

Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) explains liberal-conservative differences as arising from different moral intuitions, with liberals endorsing "individualizing" foundations (Harm and Fairness) and conservatives also endorsing "binding" foundations (Authority, Respect, and Purity). We argue these labels misconstrue ideological differences and propose Evolutionary-Coalitional Theory (ECT) as an alternative, explaining how competitive dynamics in the ancestral social environment could produce the observed ideological differences. We test ECT against MFT across three studies. Study 1 shows the so-called "binding" orientation entails the threat-sensitivity and outgroup antagonism predicted by ECT; that is, an authoritarian motive. Similarly, Study 2 shows the so-called "individualizing" orientation is better described as a universalizing motive, one reflecting a broader set of moral commitments (e.g., to nature) and a broader sociality than the egocentrism implied by MFT. Study 3 provides a factor analysis reducing "binding" to authoritarianism and "individualizing" to universalism, with the latter loading against social dominance orientation (SDO). A hierarchical regression then provides additional evidence for ECT, showing this dominating motive (SDO) accounts for variance in conservatism that MFT leaves unexplained. Collectively, these three studies suggest that ECT offers a more accurate and precise explanation of the key psychological differences between liberals and conservatives.

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Good Without Knowing it: Subtle Contextual Cues can Activate Moral Identity and Reshape Moral Intuition

Keith Leavitt, Lei Zhu & Karl Aquino

Journal of Business Ethics, September 2016, Pages 785-800

Abstract:
The role of moral intuition (i.e., a set of implicit processes which occur automatically and at the fringe of conscious awareness) has been increasingly implicated in business decisions and (un)ethical business behavior. But troublingly, because implicit processes often operate outside of conscious awareness, decision makers are generally unaware of their influence. We tested whether subtle contextual cues for identity can alter implicit beliefs. In two studies, we found that contextual cues which nonconsciously prime moral identity weaken the implicit association between the categories of "business" and "ethical," an implicit association which has previously been linked to unethical decision making. Further, changes in this implicit association mediated the relationship between contextually primed moral identity and concern for external stakeholder groups, regardless of self-reported moral identity. Thus, our results show that subtle contextual cues can lead individuals to render more ethical judgments, by automatically restructuring moral intuition below the level of consciousness.

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Please be Honest and Provide Evidence: Deterrents of Deception in an Online Insurance Fraud Context

Sharon Leal et al.

Applied Cognitive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present experiment examined whether people could be deterred from lying in an online insurance claim setting. A total of 96 participants were asked to submit a theft insurance claim. Reflecting real life, submitting a claim that went beyond the actual costs of the stolen items was associated with advantages and disadvantages. Two deterrence factors were introduced: asking claimants to provide evidence that they actually owned the stolen items (Evidence Instruction, often used by insurers) and asking participants to read out before starting to submit the claim that they will be truthful (Honesty Statement, not often used by insurers). We also examined at what stage of the interview claimants embedded their lies in their otherwise truthful stories. The honesty statement but not the evidence instruction made claimants more honest, and participants lied more as the interview progressed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Down on their luck

Progress on Poverty? New Estimates of Historical Trends Using an Anchored Supplemental Poverty Measure

Christopher Wimer et al.

Demography, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines historical trends in poverty using an anchored version of the U.S. Census Bureau's recently developed Research Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) estimated back to 1967. Although the SPM is estimated each year using a quasi-relative poverty threshold that varies over time with changes in families' expenditures on a core basket of goods and services, this study explores trends in poverty using an absolute, or anchored, SPM threshold. We believe the anchored measure offers two advantages. First, setting the threshold at the SPM's 2012 levels and estimating it back to 1967, adjusted only for changes in prices, is more directly comparable to the approach taken in official poverty statistics. Second, it allows for a better accounting of the roles that social policy, the labor market, and changing demographics play in trends in poverty rates over time, given that changes in the threshold are held constant. Results indicate that unlike official statistics that have shown poverty rates to be fairly flat since the 1960s, poverty rates have dropped by 40 % when measured using a historical anchored SPM over the same period. Results obtained from comparing poverty rates using a pretax/pretransfer measure of resources versus a post-tax/post-transfer measure of resources further show that government policies, not market incomes, are driving the declines observed over time.

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The impact of homelessness prevention programs on homelessness

William Evans, James Sullivan & Melanie Wallskog

Science, 12 August 2016, Pages 694-699

Abstract:
Despite the prevalence of temporary financial assistance programs for those facing imminent homelessness, there is little evidence of their impact. Using data from Chicago from 2010 to 2012 (n = 4448), we demonstrate that the volatile nature of funding availability leads to good-as-random variation in the allocation of resources to individuals seeking assistance. To estimate impacts, we compare families that call when funds are available with those who call when they are not. We find that those calling when funding is available are 76% less likely to enter a homeless shelter. The per-person cost of averting homelessness through financial assistance is estimated as $10,300 and would be much less with better targeting of benefits to lower-income callers. The estimated benefits, not including many health benefits, exceed $20,000.

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Do Minimum Wage Increases Influence Worker Health?

Brady Horn, Joanna Catherine Maclean & Michael Strain

NBER Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
This study investigates whether minimum wage increases in the United States affect an important non-market outcome: worker health. To study this question, we use data on lesser-skilled workers from the 1993-2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Surveys coupled with differences-in-differences and triple-difference models. We find little evidence that minimum wage increases lead to improvements in overall worker health. In fact, we find some evidence that minimum wage increases may decrease some aspects of health, especially among unemployed male workers. We also find evidence that increases reduce mental strain among employed workers.

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Effects of the Minimum Wage on Infant Health

George Wehby, Dhaval Dave & Robert Kaestner

NBER Working Paper, June 2016

Abstract:
The minimum wage has increased in multiple states over the past three decades. Research has focused on effects on labor supply, but very little is known about how the minimum wage affects health, including children's health. We address this knowledge gap and provide an investigation focused on examining the impact of the effective state minimum wage rate on infant health. Using data on the entire universe of births in the US over 25 years, we find that an increase in the minimum wage is associated with an increase in birth weight driven by increased gestational length and fetal growth rate. The effect size is meaningful and plausible. We also find evidence of an increase in prenatal care use and a decline in smoking during pregnancy, which are some channels through which minimum wage can affect infant health.

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Effects of Higher EITC Payments on Children's Health, Quality of Home Environment, and Noncognitive Skills

Susan Averett & Yang Wang

Public Finance Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
In 1993, the benefit levels of the earned income tax credit (EITC) were changed significantly based on the number of children in the household. Exploiting this policy change and employing a difference-in-differences plus mother fixed effects framework, we find significantly improved home environment quality for children of unmarried mothers, regardless of their race/ethnicity, and lowered probabilities of having accidents and improved mother-rated health for children of married white mothers. Children of unmarried black and Hispanic mothers also had better mother-rated health. Our results provide new evidence of positive spillover effects of the 1993 EITC expansion and therefore have important policy implications.

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Why Don't Housing Choice Voucher Recipients Live Near Better Schools? Insights from Big Data

Ingrid Gould Ellen, Keren Mertens Horn & Amy Ellen Schwartz

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
Housing choice vouchers provide low-income households with additional income to spend on rental housing in the private market. The assistance vouchers provide is substantial, offering the potential to dramatically expand the neighborhoods - and associated public schools - that low-income households can reach. However, existing research on the program suggests that housing choice voucher holders live in neighborhoods with schools that are no better than those accessible to other households with similar incomes. Households, in other words, do not seem to spend the additional income provided by the voucher to access better schools. In this analysis we rely on a large-scale administrative data set to explore why voucher households typically do not live near to better schools, as measured by school-level proficiency rates. We combine confidential administrative data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development on 1.4 million housing choice voucher holders in 15 states, with school-level data from 5,841 different school districts, to examine why the average housing voucher holder does not live near to higher-performing schools than otherwise similar households without vouchers. Specifically, we use the large-scale administrative data set to test whether voucher holders living in areas with good schools nearby and slack housing markets move toward better schools when schools become salient for them - that is, when their oldest child becomes school eligible. We take advantage of the thick sample of households with young children provided through our administrative data to implement both a household fixed effects and a regression discontinuity design. Together these analyses shed light on whether voucher households are more likely to move toward better schools when schools are most relevant, and how market conditions shape that response. We find that families with vouchers are more likely to move toward a better school in the year before their oldest child meets the eligibility cutoff for kindergarten, suggesting salience matters. Further, the magnitude of the effect is larger in metropolitan areas with a relatively high share of affordable rental units located near high-performing schools and in neighborhoods in close proximity to higher-performing schools. Results suggest that, if given the appropriate information and opportunities, more voucher families would move to better schools when their children reach school age.

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Old, Sick, Alone, and Poor: A Welfare Analysis of Old-Age Social Insurance Programmes

Anton Braun, Karen Kopecky & Tatyana Koreshkova

Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
All individuals face some risk of ending up old, sick, alone, and poor. Is there a role for social insurance for these risks and, if so, what is a good programme? A large literature has analysed the costs and benefits of pay-as-you-go public pensions and found that the costs exceed the benefits. This article, instead, considers means-tested social insurance (MTSI) programmes for retirees such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income. We find that the welfare gains from these programmes are large. Moreover, the current scale of MTSI in the U.S. is too small in the following sense. If we condition on the current Social Security programme, increasing the scale of MTSI by 1/3 benefits both the poor and the affluent when a payroll tax is used to fund the increase.

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Income Instability and the Response of the Safety Net

Bradley Hardy

Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the response of safety net transfer and tax programs to earnings and income shocks across recessions since the early 1980s. Safety net programs in the United States are designed to dampen economic instability and maintain basic needs for families. Such programs, including TANF, SNAP (food stamps), and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), have been tested during and between recessions of the past 30 years, including the recent 2007-2009 Great Recession. I use matched data in the March Current Population Survey (CPS) from 1980 to 2012 to estimate pre- and post-transfer income instability over the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, as well as across recessions. The results are disaggregated by family structure, race, income, and education. Transfer programs are associated with lowered instability levels and flatter trend growth from 1980 to 2012 among socioeconomically disadvantaged subgroups, while the tax system reduces income instability for families in the top 40th percentile of the income distribution. Although the largest instability reductions occur among the poor, since 1980 the safety net appears less responsive to instability for the bottom income quintile, female-headed families, and black families.

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Poverty Concentration and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit: Effects of Siting and Tenant Composition

Ingrid Ellen, Keren Horn & Katherine O'Regan

Journal of Housing Economics, December 2016, Pages 49-59

Abstract:
New evidence on the effects of growing up in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty has heightened policy interest in understanding the role housing programs may play in shaping the distribution of poverty. In particular, as the nation's largest source of funding for the construction of affordable rental housing, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) could play a critical role in shaping the distribution of poverty. This paper examines whether the LIHTC affects the concentration of poverty by examining who lives in tax credit developments in different neighborhoods, and how neighborhoods and metropolitan areas change after LIHTC developments are built. Through assessing both the effects of siting and tenant composition, we find little evidence that the LIHTC is increasing the concentration of poverty - and we find some evidence that it is reducing poverty rates in high-poverty neighborhoods. We also make suggestions for states who want to use LIHTC to do more to deconcentrate poverty.

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Welfare Reform and the Intergenerational Transmission of Dependence

Robert Paul Hartley, Carlos Lamarche & James Ziliak

University of Kentucky Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
We estimate the effect of welfare reform on the intergenerational transmission of welfare participation using a long panel of mother-daughter pairs over the survey period 1968-2013 in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Because states implemented welfare reform at different times starting in 1992, the cross-state over time variation permits us to quasi-experimentally separate out the effect of mothers' participation on daughters' welfare choice in the pre- and post-welfare reform periods. Our empirical framework also addresses potential biases in identifying a causal pathway from parent to child that arise from correlated unobservables in welfare decisions, misclassification error in survey reports, life-cycle differences in measuring the parent and child's age of welfare usage, and cross-state mobility. Our instrumental variables estimates show that a mother's welfare participation increased her daughter's odds of participation as an adult by about 40 percentage points, but that welfare reform attenuated this transmission by at least 50 percent, or about 30 percent of the baseline odds of participation. However, when we broaden the definition of welfare received by the daughter to also include assistance from means-tested food or disability assistance, then the transmission from mother to daughter does not substantively change after welfare reform. This seems to be a consequence of persistence in intergenerational poverty status.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Eat it up

Tempting foods and the affordability axiom: Food cues change beliefs about the costs of healthy eating

Sarah Hill et al.

Appetite, December 2016, Pages 274–279

Abstract:
Many consumers report that healthy eating is more expensive than unhealthy eating (the affordability axiom). However, research suggests that healthy foods can be at least as cost-effective as unhealthy foods, raising the possibility that this belief might have more to do with one's food consumption goals than knowledge of food prices. We tested this hypothesis in three studies. Study 1 revealed that the affordability axiom is associated with poorer eating habits and higher Body Mass Index (BMI). Study 2 found that the presence of a tasty food cue in the environment increased endorsement of affordability axiom. Study 3 found that these effects were moderated by one's food intake goals. Food cues led non-dieters to increase endorsement of the affordability axiom, but had the opposite effect among those seeking to restrict their calorie intake. The affordability axiom might persist as a means of validating unhealthy food choices.

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Calorie Labeling in Chain Restaurants and Body Weight: Evidence from New York

Brandon Restrepo

Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study analyzes the impact of local mandatory calorie labeling laws implemented by New York jurisdictions on body weight. The analysis indicates that on average the point-of-purchase provision of calorie information on chain restaurant menus reduced body mass index (BMI) by 1.5% and lowered the risk of obesity by 12%. Quantile regression results indicate that calorie labeling has similar impacts across the BMI distribution. An analysis of heterogeneity suggests that calorie labeling has a larger impact on the body weight of lower income individuals, especially lower income minorities. The estimated impacts of calorie labeling on physical activity, smoking, and the consumption of alcoholic beverages, fruits, and vegetables are small in magnitude, which suggests that other margins of adjustment drive the body-weight impacts estimated here.

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Normal weight children have higher cognitive performance – Independent of physical activity, sleep, and diet

Mads Hjorth et al.

Physiology & Behavior, 15 October 2016, Pages 398–404

Background/objectives: Aside from the health consequences, observational studies indicate that being overweight may also negatively affect cognitive function. However, existing evidence has to a large extent not controlled for the possible confounding effect of having different lifestyles. Therefore, the objective was to examine the independent associations between weight status and lifestyle indicators with cognitive performance in 8–11 year old Danish children.

Subjects/methods: The analyses included 828 children (measured in 2011–2012) each having one to three measurement occasions separated by approximately 100 days. Dietary intake, physical activity, sedentary time, and sleep duration were measured using dietary records and accelerometers. The Child Sleep Habits Questionnaire was used to access sleep problems and the Andersen test was carried out to estimate cardio-respiratory fitness (CRF). Weight status (underweight, normal weight, and overweight/obese) was defined according to body mass index and cognitive performance was assessed using the d2-test of attention, a reading test, and a math test. A linear mixed model including a number of fixed and random effects was used to test associations between lifestyle indicators as well as BMI category and cognitive performance.

Results: After adjustment for demographics, socioeconomics, and multiple lifestyle indicators, normal weight children had higher cognitive test scores than overweight/obese and underweight children of up to 89% and 48% of expected learning within one school year (P < 0.05). Daily breakfast consumption, fewer sleep problems, higher CRF, less total physical activity, more sedentary time, and less light physical activity were associated with higher cognitive performance independently of each other in at least one of the three cognitive tests (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Normal weight children had higher cognitive performance compared to overweight/obese as well as underweight children, independent of multiple lifestyle indicators.

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Genes and the Intergenerational Transmission of BMI and Obesity

Timothy Classen & Owen Thompson

Economics & Human Biology, December 2016, Pages 121–133

Abstract:
This paper compares the strength of intergenerational transmission of body mass index (BMI) and obesity in a sample of adoptees relative to a matched sample of biological children with similar observable characteristics. We find that BMI and obesity are strongly correlated among biological parent-child pairs, but there are no significant intergenerational associations in these health traits among adoptive parent-child pairs. The intergenerational elasticity of BMI for children to their parents is 0.2 in the matched biological sample, but indistinguishable from zero for adopted children with a standard error more than three times as large as the coefficient. Under reasonable assumptions, these findings indicate that the intergenerational transmission of BMI and obesity occurs primarily through genetic mechanisms. Additional analyses of transmission rates by parental gender and among step-parents and step-children support this conclusion. The role of determinants of BMI and obesity in the household environment in relation to our findings is discussed. Given the negative consequences of obesity on earnings and other economic measures, our results suggest that the genetic transmission of weight problems contributes substantially to intergenerational persistence in economic outcomes.

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Relationship between body mass index and moral disapproval rating for ethical violations

Carmelo Vicario & Robert Rafal

Personality and Individual Differences, January 2017, Pages 8–11

Abstract:
Evidence documents a direct relationship between disgust processing and Body Mass Index (BMI). People with high BMI tend to have a lower disgust sensitivity (DS) threshold, while this trait is more accentuated in people with low BMI. Here we provide new insights to this issue by exploring the relationship between BMI and the experience of moral disgust. Results document a significant negative correlation between BMI and moral disapproval rating (MDR) for ethical violations, in that the higher the BMI the lower the MDR. In concordance with previous investigations, we also found that BMI correlates with DS, as measured with a standard test, in that the higher the BMI the lower the DS. Overall, the main result of this paper, which might have direct implication for research in social justice, highlights the relevance of BMI, as an individual variable, in predicting ethical behavior.

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Body mass index and all-cause mortality among older adults

Feon Cheng et al.

Obesity, forthcoming

Methods: The association between BMI (both as a categorical and continuous variable) and all-cause mortality was investigated using 4,565 Geisinger Rural Aging Study participants with baseline age 74.0 ± 4.7 years (mean ± SD) and BMI 29.5 ± 5.3 kg/m2 over a mean of 10.9 ± 3.8 years of follow-up.

Results: The relationship between BMI (as a continuous variable) and all-cause mortality was found to be U-shaped (P nonlinearity <0.001). Controlling for age, sex, smoking, alcohol, laboratory values, medications, and comorbidity status, underweight (BMI <18.5 kg/m2) individuals had significantly greater adjusted risk of all-cause mortality than persons of BMI 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2 (reference range). Participants with overweight (BMI 25.0–29.9 kg/m2) and class I obesity (BMI 30.0–34.9 kg/m2) had significantly lower adjusted-risk of all-cause mortality. Those with classes II/III obesity (BMI ≥ 35.0 kg/m2) did not have significantly greater adjusted-risk of all-cause mortality. Findings were consistent using propensity score weights and among never-smokers with 2- and 5-year lag analysis and among those with no identified chronic disease.

Conclusions: A U-shaped association was observed between BMI and all-cause mortality with lower risk among older persons with overweight and class I obesity in comparison with those with BMI 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2.

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Licence to eat: Information on energy expended during exercise affects subsequent energy intake

Duncan McCaig, Lydia Hawkins & Peter Rogers

Appetite, December 2016, Pages 323–329

Abstract:
An acute bout of exercise, compared with no exercise, appears to have little influence on subsequent energy intake (EI), resulting in short-term negative energy balance. Whereas the labelling of food is evidenced to influence EI, little research has focused on how EI is affected by framing acute exercise in different ways. To explore this, 70 healthy, mostly lean, male and female participants in the current study completed a set amount of exercise (estimated energy expenditure (EE) 120 kcal), but were informed on three occasions before and after the exercise that they had expended either 50 kcal or 265 kcal. An ad libitum test meal, comprising orange juice, tortilla chips and chocolate chip cookies, was then presented after a 10-min break to assess subsequent EI. Measures of hunger and dietary restraint were also completed. Greater EI, primarily driven by chocolate chip cookie consumption (p = 0.015), was observed in participants receiving 265 kcal EE information. Hunger ratings were significantly lower in the 265 kcal EE information group than in the 50 kcal group following the test meal (p = 0.035), but not immediately after the exercise. These results support an interpretation that higher EE information (265 kcal) provides participants with a greater ‘license to eat’ when palatable foods are accessible. Tentative evidence for a moderating effect of dietary restraint was observed, indicating a greater influence of EE information in participants with lower restraint. The findings of the current study suggest that the provision of EE information (e.g., through mobile device apps) could be counter-productive to healthy weight management.

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Policy and marketing changes to help curb childhood obesity: Government ban vs. industry self-regulation

Claudia Dumitrescu, Renée Shaw Hughner & Clifford Shultz

International Journal of Consumer Studies, September 2016, Pages 519–526

Abstract:
Childhood obesity has become a public health crisis requiring action from government and food marketers. Building on attribution theory, this study advances understanding of how parents respond to information about policies intended to restrict sales promotion (i.e. toy premiums) paired with children's fast food meals, the consumption of which is often linked to obesity. This research uses experimental design to test the effects of two types of sales promotion restrictions on parents’ attitudes and behavioural intentions: industry self-regulated restrictions and restrictions arising from government-mandated policies. The results show that a toy premiums ban may lead to higher satisfaction with, and behavioural intentions toward, less-healthy food products. These responses are explained by parents’ minimized tendency to blame the food marketers for less-healthy meals. The contributions of this research have theoretical and practical implications for policy makers, food marketers and consumer researchers.

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Effects of U.S. Public Agricultural R&D on U.S. Obesity and its Social Costs

Julian Alston, Joanna MacEwan & Abigail Okrent

Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, September 2016, Pages 492-520

Abstract:
How much has food abundance, attributable to U.S. public agricultural R&D, contributed to high and rising U.S. obesity rates? In this paper we investigate the effects of public investment in agricultural R&D on food prices, per capita calorie consumption, adult body weight, obesity, public healthcare expenditures related to obesity, and consumer welfare. We find that a 10% increase in the stream of annual U.S. public investment in agricultural R&D in the latter half of the twentieth century would have caused a modest increase in the average daily calorie consumption of American adults, resulting in small increases in public healthcare expenditures related to obesity. On the other hand, such an increase in spending would have generated very substantial consumer benefits, and net national benefits, given the very large benefit-cost ratios for agricultural R&D. This implies that current policy objectives of revising agricultural R&D priorities to pursue obesity objectives are likely to be comparatively unproductive and socially wasteful. Moreover, R&D lags of decades mean that such an approach would be totally ineffective in the immediate horizon.

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Observed self-regulation is associated with weight in low-income toddlers

Alison Miller et al.

Appetite, October 2016, Pages 705–712

Abstract:
Obesity emerges in early childhood and tracks across development. Self-regulation develops rapidly during the toddler years, yet few studies have examined toddlers' self-regulation in relation to concurrent child weight. Further, few studies compare child responses in food and non-food-related tasks. Our goal was to examine toddlers' observed behavioral and emotional self-regulation in food and non-food tasks in relation to their body mass index z-score (BMIz) and weight status (overweight/obese vs. not). Observational measures were used to assess self-regulation (SR) in four standardized tasks in 133 low-income children (M age = 33.1 months; SD = 0.6). Behavioral SR was measured by assessing how well the child could delay gratification for a snack (food-related task) and a gift (non-food-related task). Emotional SR was measured by assessing child intensity of negative affect in two tasks designed to elicit frustration: being shown, then denied a cookie (food-related) or a toy (non-food-related). Task order was counterbalanced. BMIz was measured. Bivariate correlations and regression analyses adjusting for child sex, child race/ethnicity, and maternal education were conducted to examine associations of SR with weight. Results were that better behavioral SR in the snack delay task associated with lower BMIz (β = −0.27, p < 0.05) and lower odds of overweight/obesity (OR = 0.66, 95% CI 0.45, 0.96), but behavioral SR in the gift task did not associate with BMIz or weight status. Better emotional SR in the non-food task associated with lower BMIz (β = −0.27, p < 0.05), and better emotional SR in food and non-food tasks associated with lower odds of overweight/obesity (OR = 0.65, 95% CI 0.45, 0.96 and OR = 0.56, 95% CI 0.37, 0.87, respectively). Results are discussed regarding how behavioral SR for food and overall emotional SR relate to weight during toddlerhood, and regarding early childhood obesity prevention implications.

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Evidence of Polygenic Adaptation in the Systems Genetics of Anthropometric Traits

Renato Polimanti et al.

PLoS ONE, August 2016

Abstract:
Many signals of natural selection have been identified in the human genome. However, except for some single-locus mechanisms, most molecular processes generating these adaptation signals are still unknown. We developed an approach that integrates datasets related to genome-wide association studies (GWAS) with information about systems biology and genetic signatures of natural selection to identify evidence of polygenic adaptation. Specifically, we focused on five anthropometric measurements: body mass index (BMI), height, waist-to-hip ratio adjusted for BMI (WHR), and waist circumference adjusted for BMI (WC), and sex differences for WHR and WC. We performed an enrichment analysis for signals of natural selection in protein interaction networks associated with anthropometric traits in European populations. The adaptation signals-enriched gene networks associated highlighted epistatic interactions in the context of polygenic selection for the investigated traits. These polygenic mechanisms indicated intriguing selective mechanisms related to the anthropometric traits: adult locomotory behavior for BMI, infection resistance for height, interplay between lipid transport and immune systems for WHR, and female-specific polygenic adaptation for WHR and WC. In conclusion, we observed evidence of polygenic adaptation in the context of systems genetics of anthropometric traits that indicates polygenic mechanisms related to the natural selection in European populations.

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First come, first served. Does pouring sequence matter for consumption?

Nanette Stroebele-Benschop, Anastasia Galasso & Carolin Hilzendegen

Appetite, October 2016, Pages 731–736

Abstract:
Various environmental factors associated with eating and drinking affect people's food choice and food intake. Lately, the role of tableware has been studied in more detail. The aim of this study was to determine whether pouring sequence of food components affects portion size. Study 1 invited participants to pour a beverage containing both apple juice and sparkling water. Pouring apple juice first increased juice by almost 25% compared to pouring water first. Pouring water first increased water by almost 19% compared to pouring juice first confirming our hypothesis that pouring sequence affects the ratio poured. Study 2 asked participants to prepare themselves a snack containing cereals with milk. Within-subject comparisons revealed that pouring milk before cereals significantly increased both milk and cereal amounts resulting in larger overall portion size compared to pouring cereals before adding milk. Habitual tendencies for preparing foods causing a perception bias or a perception bias itself could be possible explanations for the divergent study findings. These findings show for the first time the influence of pouring and preparation sequence on portion size.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, September 5, 2016

Productive

Overconfidence in personnel selection: When and why unstructured interview information can hurt hiring decisions

Edgar Kausel et al.

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, November 2016, Pages 27-44

Abstract:
Overconfidence is an important bias related to the ability to recognize the limits of one's knowledge. The present study examines overconfidence in predictions of job performance for participants presented with information about candidates based solely on standardized tests versus those who also were presented with unstructured interview information. We conducted two studies with individuals responsible for hiring decisions. Results showed that individuals presented with interview information exhibited more overconfidence than individuals presented with test scores only. In a third study, consisting of a betting competition for undergraduate students, larger overconfidence was related to fewer payoffs. These combined results emphasize the importance of studying confidence and decision-related variables in selection decisions. Furthermore, while previous research has shown that the predictive validity of unstructured interviews is low, this study provides compelling evidence that they not only fail to help personnel selection decisions, but can actually hurt them.

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Do Bags Fly Free? An Empirical Analysis of the Operational Implications of Airline Baggage Fees

Mariana Nicolae et al.

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In 2008, the majority of U.S. airlines began charging for the second checked bag, and then for the first checked bag. One of the often cited reasons for this action by the airlines' executives was that this would influence customers to travel with less baggage and thus improve cost and operational performance. A popular customer belief, however, is that airline departure delays got worse due to an increase and size of customer carry-on baggage. A notable exception to the charging for checked bags trend was Southwest Airlines, which turned their resistance to this practice into a "Bags Fly Free" marketing campaign. Using a publicly available database of the airlines' departure performance, we investigate whether the implementation of checked bag fees was really associated with better operational performance metrics. At the aggregate level, using all publicly recorded U.S. flights from May 1, 2007, to May 1, 2009, we find that the airlines that began charging for checked bags saw a significant relative improvement in their on-time departure performance in the time periods after the baggage fees were implemented. Surprisingly, we also find that airlines that did not charge for checked bags also saw an improvement, although not as big, when competing airlines flying the same origin-destination city markets implemented the fees. The improvement in on-time departure performance was the largest for flights during peak evening departure time blocks.

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Can Social Information Affect What Job You Choose and Keep?

Lucas Coffman, Clayton Featherstone & Judd Kessler

American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We show that the provision of social information influences a high-stakes decision and this influence persists over time. In a field experiment involving thousands of admits to Teach For America, those told about the previous year's matriculation rate are more likely to accept a teaching job, complete training, start, and return a second year. To show robustness, we develop a simple theory that identifies subgroups where we expect larger treatment effects and find our effect is larger in those subgroups. That social information can have a powerful, persistent effect on high-stakes behavior broadens its relevance for policy and theory.

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Performance and Management in the Public Sector: Testing a Model of Relative Risk Aversion

Sean Nicholson-Crotty, Jill Nicholson-Crotty & Sergio Fernandez

Public Administration Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research has demonstrated that management influences the performance of public organizations, but almost no research has explored how the success or failure of a public organization influences the decisions of those who manage it. Arguing that many decisions by public managers are analogous to risky choice, the authors use a well-validated model of relative risk aversion to understand how such choices are influenced by managers' perceptions of organizational performance. They theorize that managers will be less likely to encourage innovation or give discretion to employees when they are just reaching their goals relative to other performance conditions. Analyses of responses to the 2011 and 2013 Federal Employee Viewpoint Surveys provide considerable support for these assertions. The findings have significant implications for our understanding of the relationship between management and performance in public organizations.

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Do First Impressions Last? The Impact of Initial Assessments and Subsequent Performance on Promotion Decisions

Dirk Black & Marshall Vance

University of Southern California Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
This paper examines supervisors' use of performance measures to update initial beliefs about employee ability over time. Using archival performance and job assignment data, we examine the weighting for promotion decisions of assessments made before employees begin working, and objective performance measures collected over time. We find that employers' initial assessments about employee ability predict workers' future career attainment. While economic theory predicts signals should be weighted according to informativeness, our results suggest the importance of initial assessments in subsequent promotion decisions is driven instead by confirmation bias. Controlling for performance, managers continue to rely on initial assessments for promotion decisions for at least six years after the initial assessment was made. However, after the first year on the job, initial assessments of ability have no predictive value for future performance. Moreover, the relative weight on the initial assessment vs. observed performance for promotion decisions is significantly greater than the corresponding relative weight for future performance up to eight years after the initial assessment was made. Thus, it appears that managers in our setting over-rely on initial assessments long after they are useful for sorting employees on ability. Prior research has documented career "fast tracks," whereby firms identify high-quality employees early and promote these workers quickly. Our findings suggest that workers may be placed on fast tracks even before they start working and are promoted more quickly, at least in part, due to biased performance evaluations and not on merit alone.

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Challenges for Global Supply Chain Sustainability: Evidence from Conflict Minerals Reports

Yong Kim & Gerald Davis

Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
The vertically-integrated corporation of the 20th century has been replaced by disaggregated global supply chains across many industries. Dis-integration can reduce costs but also limits the ability to monitor and control critical processes, including labor practices and the sourcing of supplies. This article asks: What organizational factors distinguish corporations that are able to vouch for their supply chains from those that are not? The Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 gave companies over three years to determine and report on whether their products contained "conflict minerals" from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) area. Our analysis of every conflict minerals report submitted to the SEC by over 1,300 corporations found that 80% admitted they were unable to determine the country of origin of such materials, and only 1% could certify themselves conflict-free with certainty beyond reasonable doubt. Internationally diversified firms and those with large and more dispersed supply chains were less likely to declare their products conflict-free: complexity reduces the visibility of a firm's supply chain. Our results suggest that widespread outsourcing may have reduced the corporate sector's capacity to account for the practices that yield its products.

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Managing perceptions of distress at work: Reframing emotion as passion

Elizabeth Baily Wolf et al.

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, November 2016, Pages 1-12

Abstract:
Expressing distress at work can have negative consequences for employees: observers perceive employees who express distress as less competent than employees who do not. Across five experiments, we explore how reframing a socially inappropriate emotional expression (distress) by publicly attributing it to an appropriate source (passion) can shape perceptions of, and decisions about, the person who expressed emotion. In Studies 1a-c, participants viewed individuals who reframed distress as passion as more competent than those who attributed distress to emotionality or made no attribution. In Studies 2a-b, reframing emotion as passion shifted interpersonal decision-making: participants were more likely to hire job candidates and choose collaborators who reframed their distress as passion compared to those who did not. Expresser gender did not moderate these effects. Results suggest that in cases when distress expressions cannot or should not be suppressed, reframing distress as passion can improve observers' impressions of the expresser.

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When Does Corporate Social Responsibility Reduce Employee Turnover? Evidence from Attorneys Before and After 9/11

Seth Carnahan, David Kryscynski & Daniel Olson

Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study places important boundary conditions on the generally accepted notion that CSR will reduce turnover. Our primary argument is that CSR will be most effective at reducing turnover that is motivated by a preference for more meaningfulness at work. We find empirical support for this idea using microdata on attorneys employed by large law firms. We find that firms with higher levels of CSR have moderately lower rates of turnover to startup law firms and through occupation changes, moves which are more likely to be motivated by a preference for meaningfulness than moves to non-startup law firms. Strikingly, the retention benefits of CSR are much stronger after attorneys experience mortality-related shocks that cause them to re-evaluate their jobs (i.e., for New York City-born attorneys following the 9/11 attacks). To our surprise, we also find that firms with higher levels of CSR experience higher turnover rates to non-startup law firms. In addition to our arguments about the importance of meaningfulness, the study provides two important extensions to work examining CSR and turnover: (1) it may be useful to view the CSR-turnover relationship through a risk-management lens, and (2) investments in CSR may increase employee departures from organizations under certain conditions.

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Are employee-friendly workplaces conducive to innovation?

Jie Chen, Woon Sau Leung & Kevin Evans

Journal of Corporate Finance, October 2016, Pages 61-79

Abstract:
We find strong evidence that firms with employee-friendly workplaces achieve greater innovative success, particularly in industries where innovation is more difficult to achieve. Furthermore, employee-friendly firms were also more inclined to sustain R&D investment during the recent crisis. These findings are consistent with the view that an employee-friendly workplace helps to develop tolerance for failure, which encourages engagement in innovation. We find no support for alternative explanations, such as employee-friendly workplaces helping to attract and retain talented employees and reducing career concerns of executives, which could nurture innovation.

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A Field Experiment in Motivating Employee Ideas

Michael Gibbs, Susanne Neckermann & Christoph Siemroth

Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study a field experiment at a large technology company. Employees were encouraged to submit ideas on process and product improvements. The company randomly assigned 19 teams into treatment and control groups. Treatment team employees received rewards if their ideas were approved. Nothing changed for control team employees. Our main finding is that rewards substantially increased the quality of ideas. Rewards increased participation in the suggestion system but decreased ideas per participating employee, with zero net effect on the quantity of ideas. Broader participation persisted after the reward was discontinued, suggesting habituation. We find no evidence for motivational crowding out.

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When "Embedded" Means "Stuck": Moderating Effects of Job Embeddedness in Adverse Work Environments

David Allen, Vesa Peltokorpi & Alex Rubenstein

Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Job embeddedness is predominately assumed to benefit employees, work groups, and organizations (e.g., higher performance, social cohesion, and lower voluntary turnover). Challenging this assumption, we examined the potentially negative outcomes that may occur if employees are embedded in an adverse work environment - feeling "stuck," yet unable to exit a negative situation. More specifically, we considered two factors representing adverse work conditions: abusive supervision and job insecurity. Drawing from conservation of resources theory, we hypothesized that job embeddedness would moderate the relationship between these conditions and outcomes of voluntary turnover, physical health, emotional exhaustion, and sleep quality/quantity, such that employees embedded in more adverse environments would be less likely to quit, but would experience more negative personal outcomes. Results from two independent samples, one in Japan (N = 597) and one in the United States (N = 283), provide support for the hypothesized pattern of interaction effects, thereby highlighting a largely neglected "dark side" of job embeddedness.

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Outside employment opportunities, employee productivity, and debt discipline

Jayant Kale, Harley Ryan & Lingling Wang

Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a sample of over 99,000 firm year observations encompassing > 13,800 firms from 1978 to 2007, we analyze how changes in labor market conditions influence the disciplining effect of debt on employee productivity. We document that better (worse) outside employment opportunities weaken (strengthen) the disciplinary effect of debt on employee output. The influence of outside employment options on leverage-output relation is robust to various controls for endogeneity, including using instrumental variables, a quasi-natural experiment, both firm and industry-level analysis, alternative model specifications, and controls for employees' work conditions and changes in work efficiencies. Altogether, our findings highlight the importance of labor market conditions on the efficacy of corporate financial policies and our understanding of how these policies influence economic outcomes.

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The Strength of Weak Ties in MBA Job Search: A Within-Person Test

Jason Greenberg & Roberto Fernandez

Sociological Science, May 2016

Abstract:
Whether and how social ties create value has inspired substantial research in organizational theory, sociology, and economics. Scholars generally believe that social ties impact labor market outcomes. Two explanatory mechanisms have been identified, emphasizing access to better job offers in pecuniary terms and the efficacy of non-redundant information. The evidence informing each theory, however, has been inconsistent and circumstantial. We test predictions from both models using a rich set of job search data collected from an MBA student population, including detailed information about search channels and characteristics of job offers. Importantly, we can compare offers made to the same student derived via different search channels while accounting for industry, function, and non-pecuniary characteristics. We find that contrary to conventional wisdom, search through social networks typically results in job offers with lower total compensation (-17 percent for referrals through strong ties and -16 percent for referrals via weak ties vs. formal search). However, our models also show that students are considerably more likely to accept offers derived via weak ties. They do so because they are perceived to have greater growth potential and other non-pecuniary value. On balance, our tests are consistent with Granovetter's argument that networks provide value by facilitating access to information that is otherwise difficult to obtain, rather than providing greater pecuniary compensation.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Team players

Cross-Cultural Sex Differences in Post-Conflict Affiliation following Sports Matches

Joyce Benenson & Richard Wrangham

Current Biology, 22 August 2016, Pages 2208-2212

Abstract:
The nature of ancestral human social structure and the circumstances in which men or women tend to be more cooperative are subjects of intense debate. The male warrior hypothesis proposes that success in intergroup contests has been vital in human evolution and that men therefore must engage in maximally effective intragroup cooperation. Post-conflict affiliation between opponents is further proposed to facilitate future cooperation, which has been demonstrated in non-human primates and humans. The sex that invests more in post-conflict affiliation, therefore, should cooperate more. Supportive evidence comes from chimpanzees, a close genetic relative to humans that also engages in male intergroup aggression. Here we apply this principle to humans by testing the hypothesis that among members of a large community, following a conflict, males are predisposed to be more ready than females to repair their relationship via friendly contact. We took high-level sports matches as a proxy for intragroup conflict, because they occur within a large organization and constitute semi-naturalistic, standardized, aggressive, and intense confrontations. Duration or frequency of peaceful physical contacts served as the measure of post-conflict affiliation because they are strongly associated with pro-social intentions. Across tennis, table tennis, badminton, and boxing, with participants from 44 countries, duration of post-conflict affiliation was longer for males than females. Our results indicate that unrelated human males are more predisposed than females to invest in a behavior, post-conflict affiliation, that is expected to facilitate future intragroup cooperation.

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Almost Human: Anthropomorphism Increases Trust Resilience in Cognitive Agents

Ewart de Visser et al.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, forthcoming

Abstract:
We interact daily with computers that appear and behave like humans. Some researchers propose that people apply the same social norms to computers as they do to humans, suggesting that social psychological knowledge can be applied to our interactions with computers. In contrast, theories of human-automation interaction postulate that humans respond to machines in unique and specific ways. We believe that anthropomorphism - the degree to which an agent exhibits human characteristics - is the critical variable that may resolve this apparent contradiction across the formation, violation, and repair stages of trust. Three experiments were designed to examine these opposing viewpoints by varying the appearance and behavior of automated agents. Participants received advice that deteriorated gradually in reliability from a computer, avatar, or human agent. Our results showed (a) that anthropomorphic agents were associated with greater trust resilience, a higher resistance to breakdowns in trust; (b) that these effects were magnified by greater uncertainty; and c) that incorporating human-like trust repair behavior largely erased differences between the agents. Automation anthropomorphism is therefore a critical variable that should be carefully incorporated into any general theory of human-agent trust as well as novel automation design.

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How chimpanzees cooperate in a competitive world

Malini Suchak et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Our species is routinely depicted as unique in its ability to achieve cooperation, whereas our closest relative, the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), is often characterized as overly competitive. Human cooperation is assisted by the cost attached to competitive tendencies through enforcement mechanisms, such as punishment and partner choice. To examine if chimpanzees possess the same ability to mitigate competition, we set up a cooperative task in the presence of the entire group of 11 adults, which required two or three individuals to pull jointly to receive rewards. This open-group set-up provided ample opportunity for competition (e.g., freeloading, displacements) and aggression. Despite this unique set-up and initial competitiveness, cooperation prevailed in the end, being at least five times as common as competition. The chimpanzees performed 3,565 cooperative acts while using a variety of enforcement mechanisms to overcome competition and freeloading, as measured by (attempted) thefts of rewards. These mechanisms included direct protest by the target, third-party punishment in which dominant individuals intervened against freeloaders, and partner choice. There was a marked difference between freeloading and displacement; freeloading tended to elicit withdrawal and third-party interventions, whereas displacements were met with a higher rate of direct retaliation. Humans have shown similar responses in controlled experiments, suggesting shared mechanisms across the primates to mitigate competition for the sake of cooperation.

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Ownership Status Influences the Degree of Joint Facilitatory Behavior

Merryn Constable et al.

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
When engaging in joint activities, humans tend to sacrifice some of their own sensorimotor comfort and efficiency to facilitate a partner's performance. In the two experiments reported here, we investigated whether ownership - a socioculturally based nonphysical feature ascribed to objects - influenced facilitatory motor behavior in joint action. Participants passed mugs that differed in ownership status across a table to a partner. We found that participants oriented handles less toward their partners when passing their own mugs than when passing mugs owned by their partners (Experiment 1) and mugs owned by the experimenter (Experiment 2). These findings indicate that individuals plan and execute actions that assist their partners but do so to a smaller degree if it is the individuals' own property that the partners intend to manipulate. We discuss these findings in terms of underlying variables associated with ownership and conclude that a self-other distinction can be found in the human sensorimotor system.

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Group-Level Selection Increases Cooperation in the Public Goods Game

Catherine Eckel et al.

PLoS ONE, August 2016

Abstract:
When groups compete for resources, some groups will be more successful than others, forcing out less successful groups. Group-level selection is the most extreme form of group competition, where the weaker group ceases to exist, becoming extinct. We implement group-level selection in a controlled laboratory experiment in order to study its impact on human cooperation. The experiment uses variations on the standard linear public goods game. Group-level selection operates through competition for survival: the least successful, lowest-earning groups become extinct, in the sense that they no longer are able to play the game. Additional control treatments include group comparison without extinction, and extinction of the least successful individuals across groups. We find that group-level extinction produces very high contributions to the provision of the public good, while group comparison alone or individual extinction fail to cause higher contributions. Our results provide stark evidence that group-level selection enhances within-group cooperation.

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Group-Level Events are Catalysts in the Evolution of Cooperation

Burton Simon & Michael Pilosov

Journal of Theoretical Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Group-level events, like fission and extinction, catalyze the evolution of cooperation in group-structured populations by creating new paths from uncooperative population states to more cooperative states. Group-level events allow cooperation to thrive under unfavorable conditions such as low intra-group assortment and moderate rates of migration, and can greatly speed up the evolution of cooperation when conditions are more favorable. The time-dependent effects of fission and extinction events are studied and illustrated here using a PDE model of a group-structured population based loosely on populations of hunter-gatherer tribes. By solving the PDE numerically we can compare models with and without group-level events, and explicitly calculate quantities associated with dynamics, like how long it takes a small population of cooperators to become a majority, as well as equilibrium population densities.

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The Sources of the Communication Gap

Simin He, Theo Offerman & Jeroen van de Ven

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Face-to-face communication drastically increases cooperation rates in social dilemmas. We test which factors are the most important drivers of this communication gap. We distinguish three main categories. First, communication may decrease social distance. Second, communication may enable subjects to assess their opponent's cooperativeness ("type detection") and condition their own action on that information. Third, communication allows subjects to make promises, which create commitment for subjects who do not want to break a promise. We find that communication increases cooperation very substantially. In our experiment, we find that commitment value is an important factor, but the largest part of the increase can be attributed to type detection. We do not find evidence that social distance plays a role.

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No unique effect of intergroup competition on cooperation: Non-competitive thresholds are as effective as competitions between groups for increasing human cooperative behavior

Matthew Jordan, Jillian Jordan & David Rand

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Explaining cooperation remains a central topic for evolutionary theorists. Many have argued that group selection provides such an explanation: theoretical models show that intergroup competition could have given rise to cooperation that is costly for the individual. Whether group selection actually did play an important role in the evolution of human cooperation, however, is much debated. Recent experiments have shown that intergroup competitions do increase human cooperation, which has been taken as evidence for group selection as a mechanism for the evolution of cooperation. Here we challenge this standard interpretation. Competitions change the payoff structure by creating a threshold effect whereby the group that contributes more earns an additional prize, which creates some incentive for individuals to cooperate. We present four studies that disentangle competition and thresholds, and strongly suggest that it is thresholds - rather than competitions per se - that increase cooperation. Thus, prior intergroup competition experiments provide no evidence of a unique or special role for intergroup competition in promoting human cooperation, and shed no light on whether group selection shaped human evolution.

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Fear or greed? Oxytocin regulates inter-individual conflict by enhancing fear in men

Huimin Zheng, Keith Kendrick & Rongjun Yu

Hormones and Behavior, September 2016, Pages 12-18

Abstract:
People may choose non-cooperation in social dilemmas either out of fear (if others choose to defect) or out of greed (when others choose to cooperate). Previous studies have shown that exogenous oxytocin motivates a "tend and defend" pattern in inter-group conflict in which oxytocin stimulates in-group cooperation and out-group defense. Using a double-blind placebo-controlled design combined with a modified Prisoner's dilemma game (PDG), we examined the effect of oxytocin on social motivations in inter-individual conflict in men. Results showed that compared with the placebo group, oxytocin-exposed participants were less cooperative in general. Specifically, oxytocin amplified the effect of fear on defection but did not influence the effect of greed. Another non-social control study confirmed participants' decisions were sensitive to social factors. Our findings suggest that even when social group conflict is removed, oxytocin promotes distrust of strangers in "me and you" inter-individual conflict by elevating social fear in men.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Check yourself

Loss of Control and Self-Regulation: The Role of Childhood Lessons

Noah VanBergen & Juliano Laran

Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper demonstrates that a loss of personal control leads to an increase in self-regulatory behavior. This occurs because a loss of control puts consumers at a deficit relative to one of the major lessons they learn during their childhood, which is to have control over the outcomes of their actions. This deficit triggers a compensatory process focused on following other lessons consumers believe they learned during their childhood. As exerting self-regulation is another major lesson parents emphasize, consumers engage in self-regulatory behavior to compensate for a loss of personal control. However, when consumers believe their parents emphasized self-regulation less strongly during childhood (i.e., they believe their parents had a more permissive style), a loss of control can reduce self-regulatory behavior. These findings have implications for what we know about the effects of childhood experiences on adult consumer behavior, the importance of individuals' beliefs about childhood experiences in determining adult behavior, the consequences of low personal control, and the antecedents of self-regulatory behavior.

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The Role of Social Novelty in Risk Seeking and Exploratory Behavior: Implications for Addictions

Simon Mitchell et al.

PLoS ONE, July 2016

Abstract:
Novelty preference or sensation seeking is associated with disorders of addiction and predicts rodent compulsive drug use and adolescent binge drinking in humans. Novelty has also been shown to influence choice in the context of uncertainty and reward processing. Here we introduce a novel or familiar neutral face stimuli and investigate its influence on risk-taking choices in healthy volunteers. We focus on behavioural outcomes and imaging correlates to the prime that might predict risk seeking. We hypothesized that subjects would be more risk seeking following a novel relative to familiar stimulus. We adapted a risk-taking task involving acceptance or rejection of a 50:50 choice of gain or loss that was preceded by a familiar (pre-test familiarization) or novel face prime. Neutral expression faces of males and females were used as primes. Twenty-four subjects were first tested behaviourally and then 18 scanned using a different variant of the same task under functional MRI. We show enhanced risk taking to both gain and loss anticipation following novel relative to familiar images and particularly for the low gain condition. Greater risk taking behaviour and self-reported exploratory behaviours was predicted by greater right ventral putaminal activity to novel versus familiar contexts. Social novelty appears to have a contextually enhancing effect on augmenting risky choices possibly mediated via ventral putaminal dopaminergic activity. Our findings link the observation that novelty preference and sensation seeking are important traits predicting the initiation and maintenance of risky behaviours, including substance and behavioural addictions.

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Early School Adjustment and Educational Attainment

Katherine Magnuson et al.

American Educational Research Journal, August 2016, Pages 1198-1228

Abstract:
Although school attainment is a cumulative process combining mastery of both academic and behavioral skills, most studies have offered only a piecemeal view of the associations between middle-childhood capacities and subsequent schooling outcomes. Using a 20-year longitudinal data set, this study estimates the association between children's academic skills, antisocial behaviors, and attention problems - all averaged across middle childhood - and their long-term educational outcomes. After adjusting for family and individual background measures, we find that high average levels of math and reading achievement, and low average levels of antisocial behavior problems, are positively associated with later attainment. Associations between attention problems and attainment are small. Associations are attenuated somewhat when sibling differences in these skills and behaviors are related to sibling differences in attainment outcomes.

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Alcohol-Related Genes Show an Enrichment of Associations With a Persistent Externalizing Factor

James Ashenhurst et al.

Journal of Abnormal Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research using twins has found that much of the variability in externalizing phenotypes - including alcohol and drug use, impulsive personality traits, risky sex, and property crime - is explained by genetic factors. Nevertheless, identification of specific genes and variants associated with these traits has proven to be difficult, likely because individual differences in externalizing are explained by many genes of small individual effect. Moreover, twin research indicates that heritable variance in externalizing behaviors is mostly shared across the externalizing spectrum rather than specific to any behavior. We use a longitudinal, "deep phenotyping" approach to model a general externalizing factor reflecting persistent engagement in a variety of socially problematic behaviors measured at 11 assessment occasions spanning early adulthood (ages 18 to 28). In an ancestrally homogenous sample of non-Hispanic Whites (N = 337), we then tested for enrichment of associations between the persistent externalizing factor and a set of 3,281 polymorphisms within 104 genes that were previously identified as associated with alcohol-use behaviors. Next, we tested for enrichment among domain-specific factors (e.g., property crime) composed of residual variance not accounted for by the common factor. Significance was determined relative to bootstrapped empirical thresholds derived from permutations of phenotypic data. Results indicated significant enrichment of genetic associations for persistent externalizing, but not for domain-specific factors. Consistent with twin research findings, these results suggest that genetic variants are broadly associated with externalizing behaviors rather than unique to specific behaviors.

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The Effects of Financial Education on Impulsive Decision Making

William DeHart et al.

PLoS ONE, July 2016

Abstract:
Delay discounting, as a behavioral measure of impulsive choice, is strongly related to substance abuse and other risky behaviors. Therefore, effective techniques that alter delay discounting are of great interest. We explored the ability of a semester long financial education course to change delay discounting. Participants were recruited from a financial education course (n = 237) and an abnormal psychology course (n = 80). Both groups completed a delay-discounting task for $100 during the first two weeks (Time 1) of the semester as well as during the last two weeks (Time 2) of the semester. Participants also completed a personality inventory and financial risk tolerance scale both times and a delay-discounting task for $1,000 during Time 2. Delay discounting decreased in the financial education group at the end of the semester whereas there was no change in delay discounting in the abnormal psychology group. Financial education may be an effective method for reducing delay discounting.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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