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Monday, November 25, 2013

In need

Few Changes in Food Security and Dietary Intake From Short-term Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Among Low-income Massachusetts Adults

Cindy Leung et al.
Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, forthcoming

Objective: To examine whether short-term participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) affects food security and dietary quality among low-income adults recruited from a Massachusetts-wide emergency food hotline.

Methods: A 3-month, longitudinal study was conducted among 107 adults recruited at the time of SNAP application assistance. Outcomes included household food security (10-item US Department of Agriculture Food Security Survey Module), dietary intake (eg, grains, fruit) and diet quality (modified Alternate Healthy Eating Index). Data were analyzed using paired t tests and multivariable linear regression.

Results: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation was not associated with improved household food security over 3 months (P = .25). Compared with non-participants, SNAP participants increased refined grain intake by 1.1 serving/d (P = .02), from baseline to follow-up. No associations were observed with other foods, nutrients, or dietary quality.

Conclusion and Implications: Policies that simultaneously improve household food security and dietary quality should be implemented to support the health of low-income Americans participating in this crucial program.

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The Role of Workfare in Striking a Balance between Incentives and Insurance in the Labour Market

Torben Andersen & Michael Svarer
Economica, forthcoming

Abstract:
Unemployment insurance tends to distort incentives in the labour market, affecting job search and wage formation adversely. We show in a search-matching model that this moral hazard problem can be reduced by attaching a workfare requirement to the eligibility conditions for claiming unemployment benefits. Even when workfare has no effects on human capital or productivity, it is possible to improve labour market performance to create more jobs and lower unemployment by the introduction of workfare, and also to improve welfare. Hence the incentive structure in the labour market can be improved by workfare policies rather than benefit reductions.

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Unemployment Insurance and Cultural Transmission: Theory and Application to European Unemployment

Jean-Baptiste Michau
Journal of the European Economic Association, December 2013, Pages 1320–1347

Abstract:
This paper emphasizes the two-way causality between the provision of unemployment insurance and the cultural transmission of civicness. The returns to being uncivic are increasing in the generosity of unemployment insurance; but this generosity is decreasing in the number of uncivic individuals. In this context, I determine the evolution of preferences across generations and show that cultural heterogeneity is sustained over the long-run. The dynamics of cultural transmission can generate a long lag between the introduction of unemployment insurance and an increase in people's willingness to live off government-provided benefits. Hence, it offers an explanation to the ‘European unemployment puzzle’ due to the coexistence of generous unemployment insurance and low unemployment in the 1950s and 1960s.

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Perverse Consequences of Well Intentioned Regulation: Evidence from India's Child Labor Ban

Prashant Bharadwaj, Leah Lakdawala & Nicholas Li
NBER Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
While bans against child labor are a common policy tool, there is very little empirical evidence validating their effectiveness. In this paper, we examine the consequences of India’s landmark legislation against child labor, the Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986. Using data from employment surveys conducted before and after the ban, and using age restrictions that determined who the ban applied to, we show that child wages decrease and child labor increases after the ban. These results are consistent with a theoretical model building on the seminal work of Basu and Van (1998) and Basu (2005), where families use child labor to reach subsistence constraints and where child wages decrease in response to bans, leading poor families to utilize more child labor. The increase in child labor comes at the expense of reduced school enrollment. We also examine the effects of the ban at the household level. Using linked consumption and expenditure data, we find that along various margins of household expenditure, consumption, calorie intake and asset holdings, households are worse off after the ban.

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The Impact of Earnings Disregards on the Behavior of Low-Income Families

Jordan Matsudaira & Rebecca Blank
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates the impact of changes in earnings disregards for welfare assistance received by single mothers following welfare reform in 1996. Some states adopted much higher earnings disregards (women could work full-time and still receive substantial welfare benefits), while other states did not. We explore the effect of these changes on women's labor supply and income using several data sources and multiple estimation strategies. Our results indicate these changes had little effect on labor supply or income. We show this is because surprisingly few women used the earnings disregards. We discuss several explanations for why this might occur.

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Income Gains and Very Low-Weight Birth among Low-Income Black Mothers in California

Tim Bruckner, David Rehkopf & Ralph Catalano
Biodemography and Social Biology, Fall 2013, Pages 141-156

Abstract:
We test the hypothesis suggested in the literature that an acute income gain in the form of the earned income tax credit reduces the odds of a very low-weight birth among low-income non-Hispanic black mothers. We apply ecological time series and supplemental individual-level logistic regression methods to monthly birth data from California between 1989 and 1997. Contrary to our hypothesis, the odds of very low-weight birth increases above its expected value two months after mothers typically receive the credit. We discuss our findings in relation to the epidemiologic literature concerned with ambient events during pregnancy and recommend further investigation.

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Childhood Housing and Adult Earnings: A Between-Siblings Analysis of Housing Vouchers and Public Housing

Fredrik Andersson et al.
Census Bureau Working Paper, September 2013

Abstract:
Research on effects of living in voucher-assisted and public housing to date has largely focused on short-term outcomes, while data limitations and challenges of identification have been an obstacle to conclusive results. In contrast, this paper assesses effects of children’s housing on their later employment and earnings, uses national longitudinal data, and makes use of withinhousehold variation to mitigate selection issues. We combine several national datasets on housing assistance, teenagers and their households, and the subsequent earnings and employment outcomes, such that we are able to follow1.8 million children aged 13-18 in 2000 in over 800,000 households within many different assisted and unassisted housing settings, controlling for neighborhood conditions, and examine their labor market outcomes for the 2008-2010 period. By focusing on within-family variation in subsidy treatment, we remove a substantial source of unobserved heterogeneity affecting both a child’s selection into housing and their later outcomes. OLS estimates show a substantial negative effect of housing subsidies on earnings and employment outcomes. However, using within-household variation to control for selection issues attenuates these effects, and results in positive effects for some demographic groups. The large sample size allows us to study to what extent results vary by gender and race/ethnicity, and we find strong evidence of heterogeneous effects. Children in Black households who have lived in voucher-supported housing and public housing often benefit in terms of positive subsequent economic outcomes. Girls raised in Black households derive a considerable positive effect on later earnings from having lived in voucher-supported housing, and a somewhat lesser effect from having lived in public housing. Boys raised in Black households fare relatively worse than girls; in contrast, girls in White households tend to have relatively worse outcomes than boys.

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The poverty–vulnerability–resilience nexus: Evidence from Bangladesh

Sonia Akter & Bishawjit Mallick
Ecological Economics, December 2013, Pages 114–124

Abstract:
Vulnerability and resilience lie at the core of the new paradigm governing natural disaster risk management frameworks. However, empirical understandings of socio-economic resilience and its links with poverty and vulnerability are limited. This paper presents an empirical investigation of socio-economic resilience to natural disasters in a tropical cyclone-prone coastal community in Bangladesh. The results indicate that the cyclone in question had negative impacts on the community, particularly in terms of income, employment and access to clean water and sanitation. Consistent with the findings of the social vulnerability literature, our results also suggest that the poor were more vulnerable and suffered significantly higher economic, physical and structural damage. However, this high vulnerability did not necessarily lead to low resilience, as these individuals exhibited a greater ability to withstand the shock compared to their non-poor neighbors. This refutes the flip-side hypothesis of the link between vulnerability and resilience (i.e. vulnerability is the flip side of resilience). The findings imply that the increased risk of tropical cyclones is likely to reduce incomes and standards of living among the tropical coastal communities. However, the burden of these adverse impacts is unlikely to be disproportionally borne by the poorer segment of the society.

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The Economics of Slums in the Developing World

Benjamin Marx, Thomas Stoker & Tavneet Suri
Journal of Economic Perspectives, Fall 2013, Pages 187-210

Abstract:
The global expansion of urban slums poses questions for economic research as well as problems for policymakers. We provide evidence that the type of poverty observed in contemporary slums of the developing world is characteristic of that described in the literature on poverty traps. We document how human capital threshold effects, investment inertia, and a "policy trap" may prevent slum dwellers from seizing economic opportunities offered by geographic proximity to the city. We test the assumptions of another theory -- that slums are a just transitory phenomenon characteristic of fastgrowing economies -- by examining the relationship between economic growth, urban growth, and slum growth in the developing world, and whether standards of living of slum dwellers are improving over time, both within slums and across generations. Finally, we discuss why standard policy approaches have often failed to mitigate the expansion of slums in the developing world. Our aim is to inform public debate on the essential issues posed by slums in the developing world.

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Effects of childhood poverty and chronic stress on emotion regulatory brain function in adulthood

Pilyoung Kim et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 12 November 2013, Pages 18442-18447

Abstract:
Childhood poverty has pervasive negative physical and psychological health sequelae in adulthood. Exposure to chronic stressors may be one underlying mechanism for childhood poverty−health relations by influencing emotion regulatory systems. Animal work and human cross-sectional studies both suggest that chronic stressor exposure is associated with amygdala and prefrontal cortex regions important for emotion regulation. In this longitudinal functional magnetic resonance imaging study of 49 participants, we examined associations between childhood poverty at age 9 and adult neural circuitry activation during emotion regulation at age 24. To test developmental timing, concurrent, adult income was included as a covariate. Adults with lower family income at age 9 exhibited reduced ventrolateral and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex activity and failure to suppress amygdala activation during effortful regulation of negative emotion at age 24. In contrast to childhood income, concurrent adult income was not associated with neural activity during emotion regulation. Furthermore, chronic stressor exposure across childhood (at age 9, 13, and 17) mediated the relations between family income at age 9 and ventrolateral and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex activity at age 24. The findings demonstrate the significance of childhood chronic stress exposures in predicting neural outcomes during emotion regulation in adults who grew up in poverty.

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The Effects of Poverty on Childhood Brain Development: The Mediating Effect of Caregiving and Stressful Life Events

Joan Luby et al.
JAMA Pediatrics, forthcoming

Objective: To investigate whether the income-to-needs ratio experienced in early childhood impacts brain development at school age and to explore the mediators of this effect.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This study was conducted at an academic research unit at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis. Data from a prospective longitudinal study of emotion development in preschool children who participated in neuroimaging at school age were used to investigate the effects of poverty on brain development. Children were assessed annually for 3 to 6 years prior to the time of a magnetic resonance imaging scan, during which they were evaluated on psychosocial, behavioral, and other developmental dimensions. Preschoolers included in the study were 3 to 6 years of age and were recruited from primary care and day care sites in the St Louis metropolitan area; they were annually assessed behaviorally for 5 to 10 years. Healthy preschoolers and those with clinical symptoms of depression participated in neuroimaging at school age/early adolescence.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Brain volumes of children’s white matter and cortical gray matter, as well as hippocampus and amygdala volumes, obtained using magnetic resonance imaging. Mediators of interest were caregiver support/hostility measured observationally during the preschool period and stressful life events measured prospectively.

Results: Poverty was associated with smaller white and cortical gray matter and hippocampal and amygdala volumes. The effects of poverty on hippocampal volume were mediated by caregiving support/hostility on the left and right, as well as stressful life events on the left.

Conclusions and Relevance: The finding that exposure to poverty in early childhood materially impacts brain development at school age further underscores the importance of attention to the well-established deleterious effects of poverty on child development. Findings that these effects on the hippocampus are mediated by caregiving and stressful life events suggest that attempts to enhance early caregiving should be a focused public health target for prevention and early intervention. Findings substantiate the behavioral literature on the negative effects of poverty on child development and provide new data confirming that effects extend to brain development. Mechanisms for these effects on the hippocampus are suggested to inform intervention.

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The Effect of Safety Net Programs on Food Insecurity

Lucie Schmidt, Lara Shore-Sheppard & Tara Watson
NBER Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
Does the safety net reduce food insecurity in families? In this paper we investigate how the structure of benefits for five major safety net programs – TANF, SSI, EITC, food assistance, and Medicaid – affects low food security in families. We build a calculator for the years 2001-2009 to impute eligibility and benefits for these programs in each state, taking into account cross-program eligibility rules. To identify a causal effect of the safety net, we use simulated eligibility and benefits for a nationally representative sample as instruments for imputed eligibility and potential benefits. We also perform a two-sample instrumental variables estimation in which we use simulated benefits as instruments for actual reported benefits. Focusing on non-immigrant, single-parent families with incomes below 300 percent of the poverty line, the results suggest that each $1000 in cash or food benefits actually received reduces the incidence of low food security by 4 percentage points. These estimates imply that moving from the policies of the 10th percentile state of Kentucky to the 90th percentile state of Vermont would reduce low food security by 1.7 percentage points on a base incidence of 33 percent. We are unable to reject equivalent impacts of cash and food assistance. The results also highlight the importance of jointly considering a full range of safety net programs.

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The Local Economic Effects of Public Housing in the United States, 1940–1970

Katharine Shester
Journal of Economic History, December 2013, Pages 978-1016

Abstract:
Between 1933 and 1973 the federal government funded the construction of over 1 million units of low-rent housing. Using county-level data, I find that communities with high densities of public housing had lower median family income, lower median property values, lower population density, and a higher percentage of families with low income in 1970. However, I find no negative effects of public housing in 1950 or 1960, implying that long-run negative effects only became apparent in the 1960s. The effects found in 1970 are partially due to a decline in human capital.

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On intra-annual consumption-poverty in the U.S: Response to SNAP and the importance of within-year variation

Elton Mykerezi, Bradford Mills & Ilda Melo
Social Science Journal, December 2013, Pages 438–448

Abstract:
We use U.S. quarterly consumption data and decomposable poverty indexes to study consumption-based intra-annual poverty and its relationship to participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Intra-annual spells of consumption-poverty account for half of the incidence and one-third of the severity of all consumption-poverty among U.S. households. Households experiencing consumption-poverty for at least one quarter, but not for the whole year, are more likely to self-select into SNAP than the general population but less likely to do so than those who are poor for the year. SNAP participation, in turn, reduces annual and intra-annual poverty.

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Taking Up Social Benefits: A Cautionary Tale from an Unemployment Insurance Survey Experiment

Alexander Hertel-Fernandez & Jeffrey Wenger
University of Georgia Working Paper, September 2013

Abstract:
What role can information play in changing the take-up of social benefits? Using evidence from an online, large-scale survey experiment of American workers, the authors answer this question in the context of unemployment insurance (UI). Three treatments provided accurate, concise, and customized information about UI eligibility requirements, benefit generosity, and application procedures to respondents. The experimental results unambiguously show a statistically and substantively significant decline in workers’ self-reported willingness to apply for UI benefits after receiving information about program details. These declines were largest for workers who received information about the program’s eligibility requirements and application procedures. The analysis suggests that the information treatments countered pre-existing beliefs that unemployment benefits would be generous and easy to receive, thus lowering workers’ likelihood of applying once they had learned about the program’s actual rules. These results provide a cautionary lesson for policymakers seeking to broaden social benefit take-up through information interventions.

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Life Shocks and Homelessness

Marah Curtis et al.
Demography, forthcoming

Abstract:
We exploited an exogenous health shock — namely, the birth of a child with a severe health condition — to investigate the effect of a life shock on homelessness in large cities in the United States as well as the interactive effects of the shock with housing market characteristics. We considered a traditional measure of homelessness, two measures of housing instability thought to be precursors to homelessness, and a combined measure that approximates the broadened conceptualization of homelessness under the 2009 Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act (2010). We found that the shock substantially increases the likelihood of family homelessness, particularly in cities with high housing costs. The findings are consistent with the economic theory of homelessness, which posits that homelessness results from a conjunction of adverse circumstances in which housing markets and individual characteristics collide.

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Social Protection and Satisfaction with Democracy: A Multi-level Analysis

Kadri Lühiste
Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
The aim of this article is to examine the link between the quality of social protection and citizens' satisfaction with the functioning of democracy – an association that has received very limited attention in the rich body of empirical research on popular satisfaction with democracy. To test the hypothesis that social protection levels influence citizens' satisfaction with democracy, the article conducts a multi-level regression analysis using European Social Survey (2008/9) data from 24 countries. The results of the analysis demonstrate that between-country differences are linked to variation in social protection levels, and within-country differences depend on individual satisfaction with social provision, while controlling for other relevant factors. The findings indicate that people do expect democratic regimes to provide social protection along with economic performance and thus suggest that democratic governments face a challenge in meeting simultaneous demands for social protection and economic prosperity. Altogether, the study contributes to debates about the implications of welfare policies and citizen satisfaction with regime performance.

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The Effect of Long-Term Relocation on Child and Adolescent Survivors of Hurricane Katrina

Tonya Hansel et al.
Journal of Traumatic Stress, October 2013, Pages 613–620

Abstract:
The current study is designed to increase knowledge of the effects of relocation and its association with longer-term psychological symptoms following disaster. Following clinical observations and in discussions held with school officials expressing concerns about relocated students, it was hypothesized that students who relocated to a different city following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 would have more symptoms of posttraumatic stress compared to students who returned to New Orleans. The effect of Hurricane Katrina relocation was assessed on a sample of child and adolescent survivors in 5th through 12th grades (N = 795). Students with Orleans Parish zip codes prior to Hurricane Katrina were categorized into relocation groupings: (a) relocated to Baton Rouge, (b) returned to prior zip code, and (c) moved to a different zip code within Orleans Parish. Overall results revealed more trauma symptoms for relocated students. Results also revealed that younger relocated students had fewer symptoms compared to older students. The opposite was found for students who returned to their same zip code, with older students having fewer symptoms. This study supports the need for school-based services not only in disaster areas, but also in schools where survivors tend to migrate.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Work it out

Community Social Capital and Entrepreneurship

Seok-Woo Kwon, Colleen Heflin & Martin Ruef
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
The literature on social capital and entrepreneurship often explores individual benefits of social capital, such as the role of personal networks in promoting self-employment. In this article, we instead examine social capital’s public good aspects, arguing that the benefits of social trust and organization memberships accrue not just to the individual but to the community at large. We test these arguments using individual data from the 2000 Census that have been merged with two community surveys, the Social Capital Benchmark Survey and the General Social Survey. We find that individuals in communities with high levels of social trust are more likely to be self-employed compared to individuals in communities with lower levels of social trust. Additionally, membership in organizations connected to the larger community is associated with higher levels of self-employment, but membership in isolated organizations that lack connections to the larger community is associated with lower levels of self-employment. Further analysis suggests that the entrepreneurship-enhancing effects of community social capital are stronger for whites, native-born residents, and long-term community members than for minorities, immigrants, and recent entrants.

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Who's Naughty? Who's Nice? Experiments on Whether Pro-Social Workers are Selected Out of Cutthroat Business Environments

Mitchell Hoffman & John Morgan
University of California Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
Levitt and List (2007) conjecture that selection pressures among business people will reduce or eliminate pro-social choices. While recent work comparing students with various adult populations often fails to find that adults are less pro-social, this evidence is not necessarily at odds with the selection hypothesis, which may be most relevant for behavior in cutthroat competitive industries. To examine the selection hypothesis, we compare students with two adult populations deliberately selected from two cutthroat internet industries --- domain trading and adult entertainment (pornography). Across a range of indicators, business people in these industries are more pro-social than students: they are more altruistic, trusting, trustworthy, and lying averse. They also respond differently to shame-based incentives. We offer a theory of reverse selection that can rationalize these findings.

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Tryptophan Promotes Interpersonal Trust

Lorenza Colzato et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

"Pharmacological studies in rats and humans suggest that the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) plays a crucial role in promoting cooperative behavior...We tested whether mutual trust can be promoted by administering the food supplement L-tryptophan (TRP), the biochemical precursor of 5-HT. TRP is an essential amino acid contained in food such as fish, soybeans, eggs, and spinach...We investigated the link between TRP supplementation and interpersonal trust in 40 healthy adults exposed to an oral dose of either TRP or a neutral placebo...We then measured interpersonal trust by having each pair perform the Trust Game...As expected, participants transferred significantly more euros to their partners (whom they thought were trustees) in the TRP condition (M = €3.57, SD = €1.33) than in the placebo condition (M = €2.61, SD = €1.26), t(38) = 2.35, p = .024"

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Egocentrism Drives Misunderstanding in Conflict and Negotiation

John Chambers & Carsten De Dreu
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, March 2014, Pages 15–26

Abstract:
A key barrier to conflict resolution is that parties exaggerate the degree to which the other side’s interests oppose their own side’s interests. Here we examine egocentrism as a fundamental source of such biased conflict perceptions. We propose that parties rely on their own interests and priorities when estimating those of the other side, and ignore the other side’s true interests and priorities. Three experiments involving multi-issue negotiations provide strong evidence of such egocentric misperception. Participants judged their own important issues to be more important to their negotiation opponent, regardless of their opponent’s actual interests (Experiment 1). Furthermore, accuracy increased when attention was experimentally focused on the opponent’s interests rather than their own (Experiment 2), and perceptions of opponent’s interests were more closely related to own interests than to the opponent’s actual interests (Experiment 3). In the discussion, we highlight the broader implications of the egocentrism account for other areas of conflict.

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Targeted Social Mobilization in a Global Manhunt

Alex Rutherford et al.
PLoS ONE, September 2013

Abstract:
Social mobilization, the ability to mobilize large numbers of people via social networks to achieve highly distributed tasks, has received significant attention in recent times. This growing capability, facilitated by modern communication technology, is highly relevant to endeavors which require the search for individuals that possess rare information or skills, such as finding medical doctors during disasters, or searching for missing people. An open question remains, as to whether in time-critical situations, people are able to recruit in a targeted manner, or whether they resort to so-called blind search, recruiting as many acquaintances as possible via broadcast communication. To explore this question, we examine data from our recent success in the U.S. State Department's Tag Challenge, which required locating and photographing 5 target persons in 5 different cities in the United States and Europe – in under 12 hours – based only on a single mug-shot. We find that people are able to consistently route information in a targeted fashion even under increasing time pressure. We derive an analytical model for social-media fueled global mobilization and use it to quantify the extent to which people were targeting their peers during recruitment. Our model estimates that approximately 1 in 3 messages were of targeted fashion during the most time-sensitive period of the challenge. This is a novel observation at such short temporal scales, and calls for opportunities for devising viral incentive schemes that provide distance or time-sensitive rewards to approach the target geography more rapidly. This observation of ′12 hours of separation' between individuals has applications in multiple areas from emergency preparedness, to political mobilization.

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Pyrrhic victories: The need for social status drives costly competitive behavior

Wouter van den Bos et al.
Frontiers in Neuroscience, October 2013

Abstract:
Competitive behavior is commonly defined as the decision to maximize one's payoffs relative to others. We argue instead that competitive drive derives from a desire for social status. We make use of a multi-player auction task in which subjects knowingly incur financial losses for the sake of winning auctions. First, we show that overbidding is increased when the task includes members of a rival out-group, suggesting that social identity is an important mediator of competitiveness. In addition, we show that the extent that individuals are willing to incur losses is related to affective responses to social comparisons but not to monetary outcomes. Second, we show that basal levels of testosterone predict overbidding, and that this effect of testosterone is mediated by affective responses to social comparisons. Based on these findings, we argue that competitive behavior should be conceptualized in terms of social motivations as opposed to just relative monetary payoffs.

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Similarity increases altruistic punishment in humans

Thomas Mussweiler & Axel Ockenfels
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Humans are attracted to similar others. As a consequence, social networks are homogeneous in sociodemographic, intrapersonal, and other characteristics — a principle called homophily. Despite abundant evidence showing the importance of interpersonal similarity and homophily for human relationships, their behavioral correlates and cognitive foundations are poorly understood. Here, we show that perceived similarity substantially increases altruistic punishment, a key mechanism underlying human cooperation. We induced (dis)similarity perception by manipulating basic cognitive mechanisms in an economic cooperation game that included a punishment phase. We found that similarity-focused participants were more willing to punish others’ uncooperative behavior. This influence of similarity is not explained by group identity, which has the opposite effect on altruistic punishment. Our findings demonstrate that pure similarity promotes reciprocity in ways known to encourage cooperation. At the same time, the increased willingness to punish norm violations among similarity-focused participants provides a rationale for why similar people are more likely to build stable social relationships. Finally, our findings show that altruistic punishment is differentially involved in encouraging cooperation under pure similarity vs. in-group conditions.

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The development of egalitarianism, altruism, spite and parochialism in childhood and adolescence

Ernst Fehr, Daniela Glätzle-Rützler & Matthias Sutter
European Economic Review, November 2013, Pages 369–383

Abstract:
We study how the distribution of other-regarding preferences develops with age. Based on a set of allocation choices, we classify each of 717 subjects, aged 8 to 17 years, as either egalitarian, altruistic, or spiteful. We find a strong decrease in spitefulness with increasing age. Egalitarianism becomes less frequent, and altruism much more prominent, with age. Females are more frequently classified as egalitarian than males, and less often as altruistic. By varying the allocation recipient as either an in-group or an out-group member, we also study how parochialism develops with age. Parochialism emerges significantly in the teenage years.

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Oxytocin Decreases Accuracy in the Perception of Social Deception

Salomon Israel, Einav Hart & Eyal Winter
Psychological Science, forthcoming

"Forty min after self-administration of oxytocin or the placebo, subjects viewed four clips of the Friend or Foe? game show. Each clip depicted two contestants (counterbalanced for gender) engaging in nonbinding discussions prior to making decisions of 'friend' (cooperation) or 'foe' (defection)...Rather than improving subjects’ inferences about others’ mental states, oxytocin impeded accurate assessments of trustworthiness in risky social exchanges. Oxytocin decreased prediction accuracy but did not increase predictions of cooperative behavior in general."

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Oxytocin does not make a face appear more trustworthy but improves the accuracy of trustworthiness judgments

Bruno Lambert, Carolyn Declerck & Christophe Boone
Psychoneuroendocrinology, February 2014, Pages 60–68

Abstract:
Previous research on the relation between oxytocin and trustworthiness evaluations has yielded inconsistent results. The current study reports an experiment using artificial faces which allows manipulating the dimension of trustworthiness without changing factors like emotions or face symmetry. We investigate whether (1) oxytocin increases the average trustworthiness evaluation of faces (level effect), and/or whether (2) oxytocin improves the discriminatory ability of trustworthiness perception so that people become more accurate in distinguishing faces that vary along a gradient of trustworthiness. In a double blind oxytocin/placebo experiment (N = 106) participants conducted two judgment tasks. First they evaluated the trustworthiness of a series of pictures of artificially generated faces, neutral in the trustworthiness dimension. Next they compared neutral faces with artificially generated faces that were manipulated to vary in trustworthiness. The results indicate that oxytocin (relative to a placebo) does not affect the evaluation of trustworthiness in the first task. However, in the second task, misclassification of untrustworthy faces as trustworthy occurred significantly less in the oxytocin group. Furthermore, oxytocin improved the discriminatory ability of untrustworthy, but not trustworthy faces. We conclude that oxytocin does not increase trustworthiness judgments on average, but that it helps people to more accurately recognize an untrustworthy face.

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The Name-Letter-Effect in Groups: Sharing Initials with Group Members Increases the Quality of Group Work

Evan Polman, Monique Pollmann & Andrew Poehlman
PLoS ONE, November 2013

Abstract:
Although the name-letter-effect has been demonstrated reliably in choice contexts, recent research has called into question the existence of the name-letter-effect–the tendency among people to make choices that bear remarkable similarity with the letters in their own name. In this paper, we propose a connection between the name-letter-effect and interpersonal, group-level behavior that has not been previously captured in the literature. Specifically, we suggest that sharing initials with other group members promotes positive feelings toward those group members that in turn affect group outcomes. Using both field and laboratory studies, we found that sharing initials with group members cause groups to perform better by demonstrating greater performance, collective efficacy, adaptive conflict, and accuracy (on a hidden-profile task). Although many studies have investigated the effects of member similarity on various outcomes, our research demonstrates how minimal a degree of similarity among members is sufficient to influence quality of group outcomes.

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Narcissism and Negotiation: Economic Gain and Interpersonal Loss

Sun Park et al.
Basic and Applied Social Psychology, November/December 2013, Pages 569-574

Abstract:
Successful negotiation involves satisfying two seemingly contradictory goals: maximizing personal gain while forming a positive interpersonal relationship with negotiation counterparts. We hypothesized that individuals high on narcissism would gain economically but loose interpersonally in a negotiation. Seventy MBA students engaged in a negotiation simulation, completed a measure of narcissism, reported their emotional states, evaluated their negotiation counterparts' emotional states, and evaluated how much they trusted and liked their counterparts. Consistent with the hypothesis, results revealed that in negotiations, narcissistic personality characteristics can lead to economic gain but are accompanied by interpersonal loss.

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Reputation Formation and the Evolution of Cooperation in Anonymous Online Markets

Andreas Diekmann et al.
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Theoretical propositions stressing the importance of trust, reciprocity, and reputation for cooperation in social exchange relations are deeply rooted in classical sociological thought. Today’s online markets provide a unique opportunity to test these theories using unobtrusive data. Our study investigates the mechanisms promoting cooperation in an online-auction market where most transactions can be conceived as one-time-only exchanges. We first give a systematic account of the theoretical arguments explaining the process of cooperative transactions. Then, using a large dataset comprising 14,627 mobile phone auctions and 339,517 DVD auctions, we test key hypotheses about the effects of traders’ reputations on auction outcomes and traders’ motives for leaving feedback. Our statistical analyses show that sellers with better reputations have higher sales and obtain higher prices. Furthermore, we observe a high rate of participation in the feedback system, which is largely consistent with strong reciprocity — a predisposition to unconditionally reward (or punish) one’s interaction partner’s cooperation (or defection) — and altruism — a predisposition to increase one’s own utility by elevating an interaction partner’s utility. Our study demonstrates how strong reciprocity and altruism can mitigate the free-rider problem in the feedback system to create reputational incentives for mutually beneficial online trade.

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Cooperators and reciprocators: A within-subject analysis of pro-social behavior

Aurelie Dariel & Nikos Nikiforakis
Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
We perform a within-subject analysis of pro-social behavior in the public-good and gift-exchange game. We find that participants classified as cooperators in the public-good game tend to reciprocate higher wages in the gift-exchange game with higher levels of effort. Non-cooperators do not exhibit such tendency. Both types offer similar wages.

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The gift of advice: Communication in a bilateral gift exchange game

David Cooper & John Lightle
Experimental Economics, December 2013, Pages 443-477

Abstract:
We augment a standard bilateral gift exchange game so employees can send messages at the same time as choosing an effort level. Employee effort (controlling for wages) is unaffected by allowing messages, but wages dramatically increase. Messages affect wages because employees give managers advice to set higher wages, usually explaining that this will result in higher effort. This advice prompts managers to try higher wages, helping them learn that raising wages increases their payoffs. In a follow-up experiment, we directly provide managers with additional information about the relationship between wages and effort. This too causes wages to increase, but to a lesser extent than allowing messages. Our results highlight the critical role of learning in generating gains from positive gift exchange.

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Don’t Grin When You Win: The Social Costs of Positive Emotion Expression in Performance Situations

Elise Kalokerinos et al.
Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
People who express positive emotion usually have better social outcomes than people who do not, and suppressing the expression of emotions can have interpersonal costs. Nevertheless, social convention suggests that there are situations in which people should suppress the expression of positive emotions, such as when trying to appear humble in victory. The present research tested whether there are interpersonal costs to expressing positive emotions when winning. In Experiment 1, inexpressive winners were evaluated more positively and rated as lower in hubristic — but not authentic — pride compared with expressive winners. Experiment 2 confirmed that inexpressive winners were perceived as using expressive suppression to downregulate their positive emotion expression. Experiment 3 replicated the findings of Experiment 1, and also found that people were more interested in forming a friendship with inexpressive winners than expressive winners. The effects were mediated by the perception that the inexpressive winner tried to protect the loser’s feelings. This research is the first to identify social costs of expressing positive emotion, and highlights the importance of understanding the situational context when determining optimal emotion regulation strategies.

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The cost of cowardice: Punitive sentiments towards free riders in Turkana raids

Sarah Mathew & Robert Boyd
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Models indicate that large-scale cooperation can be sustained by indirect reciprocity or direct punishment, but the relative importance of these mechanisms is unresolved. Unlike direct punishment, indirect sanctions can be meted out without cost to the sanctioner, but direct punishment is advantageous when the scale of cooperation exceeds the network size of individuals. It is of great interest to assess the importance of these mechanisms in small-scale acephalous groups in which people have lived for most of our evolutionary history. Here we evaluate sentiments towards free riders in combat among the Turkana, an acephalous nomadic pastoral society in East Africa who periodically mobilize for cattle-raids against neighboring ethnic groups. Using vignette studies, we probed participants’ motivation to sanction fictitious warriors who were cowards or deserters in a raid and compared it respectively to their reactions to an unskilled warrior or a warrior who turns back due to illness. Our results indicate that the Turkana are motivated to impose both indirect and direct sanctions on cowards consistent with indirect reciprocity and punishment models of cooperation. Our findings imply that both these mechanisms have shaped human cooperative psychology, and sheds light on how prestate societies solve the collective action problem in warfare.

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Initial Impressions Determine Behaviours: Morality Predicts the Willingness to Help Newcomers

Stefano Pagliaro et al.
Journal of Business Ethics, September 2013, Pages 37-44

Abstract:
Prior research has demonstrated the impact of morality (vs. competence) information for impression formation. This study examines behavioral implications of people’s initial impressions based on information about their morality vs. competence in a workplace. School teachers and employees (N = 79) were asked to form an impression of a new school manager (i.e. a prospective boss), who was presented as High vs. Low in Morality and High vs. Low in Competence. Results showed that morality information rather than competence information determined initial emotional responses to the new manager, which mediated willingness to help the newcomer adjust in task and social contexts. Results are discussed in terms of their theoretical and practical implications and future research directions are outlined.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Origin story

Upper Palaeolithic Siberian genome reveals dual ancestry of Native Americans

Maanasa Raghavan et al.
Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
The origins of the First Americans remain contentious. Although Native Americans seem to be genetically most closely related to east Asians, there is no consensus with regard to which specific Old World populations they are closest to. Here we sequence the draft genome of an approximately 24,000-year-old individual (MA-1), from Mal’ta in south-central Siberia, to an average depth of 1×. To our knowledge this is the oldest anatomically modern human genome reported to date. The MA-1 mitochondrial genome belongs to haplogroup U, which has also been found at high frequency among Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic European hunter-gatherers, and the Y chromosome of MA-1 is basal to modern-day western Eurasians and near the root of most Native American lineages. Similarly, we find autosomal evidence that MA-1 is basal to modern-day western Eurasians and genetically closely related to modern-day Native Americans, with no close affinity to east Asians. This suggests that populations related to contemporary western Eurasians had a more north-easterly distribution 24,000 years ago than commonly thought. Furthermore, we estimate that 14 to 38% of Native American ancestry may originate through gene flow from this ancient population. This is likely to have occurred after the divergence of Native American ancestors from east Asian ancestors, but before the diversification of Native American populations in the New World. Gene flow from the MA-1 lineage into Native American ancestors could explain why several crania from the First Americans have been reported as bearing morphological characteristics that do not resemble those of east Asians. Sequencing of another south-central Siberian, Afontova Gora-2 dating to approximately 17,000 years ago, revealed similar autosomal genetic signatures as MA-1, suggesting that the region was continuously occupied by humans throughout the Last Glacial Maximum. Our findings reveal that western Eurasian genetic signatures in modern-day Native Americans derive not only from post-Columbian admixture, as commonly thought, but also from a mixed ancestry of the First Americans.

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Early Human Speciation, Brain Expansion and Dispersal Influenced by African Climate Pulses

Susanne Shultz & Mark Maslin
PLoS ONE, October 2013

Abstract:
Early human evolution is characterised by pulsed speciation and dispersal events that cannot be explained fully by global or continental paleoclimate records. We propose that the collated record of ephemeral East African Rift System (EARS) lakes could be a proxy for the regional paleoclimate conditions experienced by early hominins. Here we show that the presence of these lakes is associated with low levels of dust deposition in both West African and Mediterranean records, but is not associated with long-term global cooling and aridification of East Africa. Hominin expansion and diversification seem to be associated with climate pulses characterized by the precession-forced appearance and disappearance of deep EARS lakes. The most profound period for hominin evolution occurs at about 1.9 Ma; with the highest recorded diversity of hominin species, the appearance of Homo (sensu stricto) and major dispersal events out of East Africa into Eurasia. During this period, ephemeral deep-freshwater lakes appeared along the whole length of the EARS, fundamentally changing the local environment. The relationship between the local environment and hominin brain expansion is less clear. The major step-wise expansion in brain size around 1.9 Ma when Homo appeared was coeval with the occurrence of ephemeral deep lakes. Subsequent incremental increases in brain size are associated with dry periods with few if any lakes. Plio-Pleistocene East African climate pulses as evinced by the paleo-lake records seem, therefore, fundamental to hominin speciation, encephalisation and migration.

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Experimental evidence for the influence of group size on cultural complexity

Maxime Derex et al.
Nature, 21 November 2013, Pages 389–391

Abstract:
The remarkable ecological and demographic success of humanity is largely attributed to our capacity for cumulative culture. The accumulation of beneficial cultural innovations across generations is puzzling because transmission events are generally imperfect, although there is large variance in fidelity. Events of perfect cultural transmission and innovations should be more frequent in a large population. As a consequence, a large population size may be a prerequisite for the evolution of cultural complexity, although anthropological studies have produced mixed results and empirical evidence is lacking. Here we use a dual-task computer game to show that cultural evolution strongly depends on population size, as players in larger groups maintained higher cultural complexity. We found that when group size increases, cultural knowledge is less deteriorated, improvements to existing cultural traits are more frequent, and cultural trait diversity is maintained more often. Our results demonstrate how changes in group size can generate both adaptive cultural evolution and maladaptive losses of culturally acquired skills. As humans live in habitats for which they are ill-suited without specific cultural adaptations, it suggests that, in our evolutionary past, group-size reduction may have exposed human societies to significant risks, including societal collapse.

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Sociality influences cultural complexity

Michael Muthukrishna et al.
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 7 January 2014

Abstract:
Archaeological and ethnohistorical evidence suggests a link between a population's size and structure, and the diversity or sophistication of its toolkits or technologies. Addressing these patterns, several evolutionary models predict that both the size and social interconnectedness of populations can contribute to the complexity of its cultural repertoire. Some models also predict that a sudden loss of sociality or of population will result in subsequent losses of useful skills/technologies. Here, we test these predictions with two experiments that permit learners to access either one or five models (teachers). Experiment 1 demonstrates that naive participants who could observe five models, integrate this information and generate increasingly effective skills (using an image editing tool) over 10 laboratory generations, whereas those with access to only one model show no improvement. Experiment 2, which began with a generation of trained experts, shows how learners with access to only one model lose skills (in knot-tying) more rapidly than those with access to five models. In the final generation of both experiments, all participants with access to five models demonstrate superior skills to those with access to only one model. These results support theoretical predictions linking sociality to cumulative cultural evolution.

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Earliest Stone-Tipped Projectiles from the Ethiopian Rift Date to >279,000 Years Ago

Yonatan Sahle et al.
PLoS ONE, November 2013

Abstract:
Projectile weapons (i.e. those delivered from a distance) enhanced prehistoric hunting efficiency by enabling higher impact delivery and hunting of a broader range of animals while reducing confrontations with dangerous prey species. Projectiles therefore provided a significant advantage over thrusting spears. Composite projectile technologies are considered indicative of complex behavior and pivotal to the successful spread of Homo sapiens. Direct evidence for such projectiles is thus far unknown from >80,000 years ago. Data from velocity-dependent microfracture features, diagnostic damage patterns, and artifact shape reported here indicate that pointed stone artifacts from Ethiopia were used as projectile weapons (in the form of hafted javelin tips) as early as >279,000 years ago. In combination with the existing archaeological, fossil and genetic evidence, these data isolate eastern Africa as a source of modern cultures and biology.

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No known hominin species matches the expected dental morphology of the last common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans

Aida Gómez-Robles et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 5 November 2013, Pages 18196-18201

Abstract:
A central problem in paleoanthropology is the identity of the last common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans ([N-MH]LCA). Recently developed analytical techniques now allow this problem to be addressed using a probabilistic morphological framework. This study provides a quantitative reconstruction of the expected dental morphology of the [N-MH]LCA and an assessment of whether known fossil species are compatible with this ancestral position. We show that no known fossil species is a suitable candidate for being the [N-MH]LCA and that all late Early and Middle Pleistocene taxa from Europe have Neanderthal dental affinities, pointing to the existence of a European clade originated around 1 Ma. These results are incongruent with younger molecular divergence estimates and suggest at least one of the following must be true: (i) European fossils and the [N-MH]LCA selectively retained primitive dental traits; (ii) molecular estimates of the divergence between Neanderthals and modern humans are underestimated; or (iii) phenotypic divergence and speciation between both species were decoupled such that phenotypic differentiation, at least in dental morphology, predated speciation.

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Correlations in the population structure of music, genes and language

Steven Brown et al.
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 7 January 2014

Abstract:
We present, to our knowledge, the first quantitative evidence that music and genes may have coevolved by demonstrating significant correlations between traditional group-level folk songs and mitochondrial DNA variation among nine indigenous populations of Taiwan. These correlations were of comparable magnitude to those between language and genes for the same populations, although music and language were not significantly correlated with one another. An examination of population structure for genetics showed stronger parallels to music than to language. Overall, the results suggest that music might have a sufficient time-depth to retrace ancient population movements and, additionally, that it might be capturing different aspects of population history than language. Music may therefore have the potential to serve as a novel marker of human migrations to complement genes, language and other markers.

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The First Modern Human Dispersals across Africa

Teresa Rito et al.
PLoS ONE, November 2013

Abstract:
The emergence of more refined chronologies for climate change and archaeology in prehistoric Africa, and for the evolution of human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), now make it feasible to test more sophisticated models of early modern human dispersals suggested by mtDNA distributions. Here we have generated 42 novel whole-mtDNA genomes belonging to haplogroup L0, the most divergent clade in the maternal line of descent, and analysed them alongside the growing database of African lineages belonging to L0’s sister clade, L1’6. We propose that the last common ancestor of modern human mtDNAs (carried by “mitochondrial Eve”) possibly arose in central Africa ~180 ka, at a time of low population size. By ~130 ka two distinct groups of anatomically modern humans co-existed in Africa: broadly, the ancestors of many modern-day Khoe and San populations in the south and a second central/eastern African group that includes the ancestors of most extant worldwide populations. Early modern human dispersals correlate with climate changes, particularly the tropical African “megadroughts” of MIS 5 (marine isotope stage 5, 135–75 ka) which paradoxically may have facilitated expansions in central and eastern Africa, ultimately triggering the dispersal out of Africa of people carrying haplogroup L3 ~60 ka. Two south to east migrations are discernible within haplogroup LO. One, between 120 and 75 ka, represents the first unambiguous long-range modern human dispersal detected by mtDNA and might have allowed the dispersal of several markers of modernity. A second one, within the last 20 ka signalled by L0d, may have been responsible for the spread of southern click-consonant languages to eastern Africa, contrary to the view that these eastern examples constitute relicts of an ancient, much wider distribution.

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Material Culture, Landscapes of Action, and Emergent Causation: A New Model for the Origins of the European Neolithic

John Robb
Current Anthropology, December 2013, Pages 657-683

Abstract:
After a century of research, there is still no widely accepted explanation for the spread of farming in Europe. Top-down explanations stress climate change, population increase, or geographic diffusion, but they distort human action reductionistically. Bottom-up explanations stress the local, meaningful choices involved in becoming a farmer, but they do not account for why the Neolithic transition in Europe was so widespread and generally unidirectional. The real problem is theoretical; we need to consider the transformative effects of human–material culture relationships and to relate humans, things, and environments at multiple scales. This article views the Neolithic as a set of new human-material relationships which were experimented with variably but which had unintended consequences resulting in an increasingly coherent, structured, and narrowly based social world. This interplay of local human action and emergent causation made the Neolithic transition difficult to reverse locally; the Neolithic was easy to get into but hard to get out of. On the continental scale, one consequence of this was its slow, patchy, but steady and ultimately almost complete expansion across Europe. As a metamodel, this accommodates current models of the local origin of farming while linking these to emergent large-scale historical patterns.

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Simulating the Evolution of the Human Family: Cooperative Breeding Increases in Harsh Environments

Paul Smaldino et al.
PLoS ONE, November 2013

Abstract:
Verbal and mathematical models that consider the costs and benefits of behavioral strategies have been useful in explaining animal behavior and are often used as the basis of evolutionary explanations of human behavior. In most cases, however, these models do not account for the effects that group structure and cultural traditions within a human population have on the costs and benefits of its members' decisions. Nor do they consider the likelihood that cultural as well as genetic traits will be subject to natural selection. In this paper, we present an agent-based model that incorporates some key aspects of human social structure and life history. We investigate the evolution of a population under conditions of different environmental harshness and in which selection can occur at the level of the group as well as the level of the individual. We focus on the evolution of a socially learned characteristic related to individuals' willingness to contribute to raising the offspring of others within their family group. We find that environmental harshness increases the frequency of individuals who make such contributions. However, under the conditions we stipulate, we also find that environmental variability can allow groups to survive with lower frequencies of helpers. The model presented here is inevitably a simplified representation of a human population, but it provides a basis for future modeling work toward evolutionary explanations of human behavior that consider the influence of both genetic and cultural transmission of behavior.

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Teeth and Human Life-History Evolution

Tanya Smith
Annual Review of Anthropology, 2013, Pages 191-208

Abstract:
Modern humans differ from wild great apes in gestation length, weaning age, interbirth interval, sexual maturity, and longevity, but evolutionary anthropologists do not know when these distinctive life-history conditions evolved. Dental tissues contain faithful records of birth and incremental growth, and scholars suggest that molar eruption age, tooth wear, growth disturbances, tooth chemistry, and/or tooth calcification may provide insight into the evolution of human life history. However, recent comparative approaches and empirical evidence demonstrate that caution is warranted when inferring hominin weaning ages or interbirth intervals from first molar eruption, tooth wear, or growth disturbances. Fine-scaled studies of tooth chemistry provide direct evidence of weaning. Early hominin tooth calcification is more ape-like than human-like, and fully modern patterns appear only after Neanderthals and Homo sapiens diverged, concurrent with changes in cranial and postcranial development. Additional studies are needed to relate these novel calcification patterns to specific changes in life-history variables.

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Dynamics of Green Sahara Periods and Their Role in Hominin Evolution

Juan Larrasoaña, Andrew Roberts & Eelco Rohling
PLoS ONE, October 2013

Abstract:
Astronomically forced insolation changes have driven monsoon dynamics and recurrent humid episodes in North Africa, resulting in green Sahara Periods (GSPs) with savannah expansion throughout most of the desert. Despite their potential for expanding the area of prime hominin habitats and favouring out-of-Africa dispersals, GSPs have not been incorporated into the narrative of hominin evolution due to poor knowledge of their timing, dynamics and landscape composition at evolutionary timescales. We present a compilation of continental and marine paleoenvironmental records from within and around North Africa, which enables identification of over 230 GSPs within the last 8 million years. By combining the main climatological determinants of woody cover in tropical Africa with paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic data for representative (Holocene and Eemian) GSPs, we estimate precipitation regimes and habitat distributions during GSPs. Their chronology is consistent with the ages of Saharan archeological and fossil hominin sites. Each GSP took 2–3 kyr to develop, peaked over 4–8 kyr, biogeographically connected the African tropics to African and Eurasian mid latitudes, and ended within 2–3 kyr, which resulted in rapid habitat fragmentation. We argue that the well-dated succession of GSPs presented here may have played an important role in migration and evolution of hominins.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, November 22, 2013

Come and go

The Effects of U.S. Immigration on the Career Trajectories of Native Workers, 1979–2004

Jeremy Pais
American Journal of Sociology, July 2013, Pages 35-74

Abstract:
While earlier work primarily examines the point-in-time effects of immigration on the earnings of native workers, this article focuses more broadly on the effects of immigration on native workers’ career trajectories. Cross-classified multilevel growth-curve models are applied to 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and U.S. Census Bureau data to demonstrate how people adjust to changing local labor market conditions throughout their careers. The key findings indicate that substitution and complementary effects depend on the stage of the worker’s career. At entry into the labor market, high levels of immigration have a positive effect on the career paths of young native-born adults. However, negative contemporaneous effects to natives’ earnings tend to offset positive point-of-entry effects, a finding that suggests job competition among natives is greater in areas of high immigrant population concentration. These results raise questions about whether foreign-born workers need to be in direct competition with natives for there to be substitution effects.

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The Effect of Birthright Citizenship on Parental Integration Outcomes

Ciro Avitabile, Irma Clots-Figueras & Paolo Masella
Journal of Law and Economics, August 2013, Pages 777-810

Abstract:
The integration of immigrants is the subject of ongoing public debate, and devising measures to enable the assimilation of newcomers ranks high on the political agendas of many countries. This paper focuses on the legal institution of citizenship and analyzes the consequences of birthright citizenship introduced in Germany. We use the exogenous variation provided by the 1999 reform of the German nationality law to study the effect of children’s legal status on the integration of immigrant parents. We find that foreign-born parents are most likely to interact with the local community and use the German language if their children are entitled to German citizenship at birth.

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Enforcement and Immigrant Location Choice

Tara Watson
NBER Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
This paper investigates the effect of local immigration enforcement regimes on the migration decisions of the foreign born. Specifically, the analysis uses individual level American Community Survey data to examine the effect of recent 287(g) agreements which allow state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce Federal immigration law. The results suggest that one type of 287(g) agreement – the controversial local “task force” model emphasizing street enforcement – nearly doubles the propensity for the foreign-born to relocate within the United States. The largest effects are observed among non-citizens with college education, suggesting that aggressive enforcement policies may be missing their intended targets. No similar effect is found for the native born. After the extreme case of Maricopa County is excluded, there is no evidence that local enforcement causes the foreign-born to exit the United States or deters their entry from abroad. Rather, 287(g) task force agreements encourage the foreign born to move to a new Census division or region within the United States.

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What is the Contribution of Mexican Immigration to U.S. Crime Rates? Evidence from Rainfall Shocks in Mexico

Aaron Chalfin
American Law and Economics Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper identifies a causal effect of Mexican immigration on crime using an instrument that leverages temporal variation in rainfall in different regions in Mexico as well as persistence in regional Mexico–U.S. migration networks. The intuition behind the instrument is that deviations in Mexican weather patterns isolate quasi-random variation in the assignment of Mexican immigrants to U.S. cities. My findings indicate that Mexican immigration is associated with no appreciable change in the rates of either violent or property crimes in U.S. cities.

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America's Deadly Export: Evidence From Cross-Country Panel Data Of Deportation And Homicide Rates

Garfield Blake
International Review of Law and Economics, March 2014, Pages 156–168

Abstract:
Changes in US Immigration laws between the mid-1980s to the late 1990s led to a sharp increase in criminal deportations. During the same years many poor countries, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean, experienced a sharp increase in homicides. Using panel data for a sample of 38 developed and developing countries, I find a statistically significantly positive relationship between an increase in the number of criminal deportees received by a country and a corresponding increase in that country's homicide rate, and I establish causality through instrumental variables. My analysis suggests that about 23 percent of the increase in the homicide rate in developing countries between 1985 and 1996 can be attributed to the increase in the inflow of criminal deportees from the United States.

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Latino Immigration, Interaction, and Homicide Victimization

Raymond Barranco
Sociological Spectrum, November/December 2013, Pages 534-553

Abstract:
As Latinos spread across the United States, many Americans have begun to fear that their arrival will spark an increase in crime. Unfortunately, early explanations of the immigration-crime link, which found that immigrants disorganized communities, focused on the experience of Eastern European immigrants. This article updates previous literature by focusing on the experience of Latino immigrants. I find that (1) Latino immigration is linked to crime only in new Latino destinations, (2) this link is mitigated by increased interaction among Latinos, and (3) Latino interaction lowers victimization regardless of destination.

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Addition by Subtraction? A Longitudinal Analysis of the Impact of Deportation Efforts on Violent Crime

Jacob Stowell et al.
Law & Society Review, December 2013, Pages 909–942

Abstract:
Contemporary criminological research on immigration has focused largely on one aspect of the immigration process, namely, the impact of in-migration (i.e., presence or arrival) of foreign-born individuals on crime. A related but understudied aspect of the immigration process is the impact that the removal of certain segments of the foreign-born population, and specifically undocumented or deportable aliens, has on aggregate levels of criminal violence. In an effort to cast new light on the association between forced out-flows of immigrants and crime, we begin with descriptive analyses of patterns of deportation activity across the continental United States over an eleven-year period (1994–2004). We then examine the relationship between deportation activity and violent crime rates in a multilevel framework wherein Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) are situated within border patrol sectors. The results of dynamic regression modeling indicate that changing levels of deportation activity are unrelated to changing levels of criminal violence for the sample of MSAs for the national at large. However, we also detect significant interactions by geographic location for selected violent offenses. For MSAs within sectors along the Mexican border, the deportation measure exhibits a significant negative effect on one indicator of criminal violence — the aggravated assault rate. For MSAs within non-border sectors, the effect of the deportation measures is significantly positive for the violence crime index and the aggravated assault rate. Overall, our analyses indicate that the relationship between deportation and criminal violence is complex and dependent on local context.

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Who Crossed the Border? Self-Selection of Mexican Migrants in the Early 20th Century

Edward Kosack & Zachary Ward
University of Colorado Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
We explore the self-selection of Mexican migrants to the United States in 1920. We hand-collect data for migrants from manifest lists for towns along the United States-Mexico border. Officials recorded the heights of migrants, a measure that we use to proxy migrant quality and measure self-selection into migration. Migrants, despite being relatively more unskilled than stayers, came from the middle to upper portion of the height distribution in Mexico, and so were positively selected. The result holds within skill group, suggesting that the United States received the best unskilled, skilled and professional workers.

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Educational Attainment of Children of Immigrants: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth

Freddy Siahaan, Daniel Lee & David Kalist
Economics of Education Review, February 2014, Pages 1–8

Abstract:
This study investigates the educational attainment of children of immigrants in the United States. By employing a more detailed classification of children of immigrants,we examine whether a foreign place of birth for either parent or child affects the child's educational attainment. Our results indicate that the full-second generation (U.S.-born children with both foreign-born parents) achieves the highest educational attainment, while the full-first generation (foreign-born children with both foreign-born parents) achieves the second highest educational attainment compared to other groups of children of immigrants and native children. Full-first and full-second generation females also achieve higher educational attainment than their native female peers. The results support the optimism theory of assimilation in which the educational attainment of children of immigrants relies on the combination of their foreign-born parents’ strong values on education and the children's English proficiency.

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Immigrant Economic Assimilation: Evidence from UK Longitudinal Data between 1978 and 2006

Sara Lemos
Labour Economics, October 2013, Pages 339–353

Abstract:
Using the underexplored, sizeable and long Lifetime Labour Market Database (LLMDB) we estimate the immigrant-native earnings gap at entry and over time for the UK between 1978 and 2006. That is, we attempt to separately estimate cohort and assimilation effects. We also estimate the associated immigrant earnings growth rate and immigrant-native earnings convergence rate. Our estimates suggest that immigrants from more recent cohorts fare better than earlier ones at entry. Furthermore, the earnings of immigrants from more recent cohorts catch up faster with natives' earnings. While the convergence took over 30 years for those entering in the post-war, it only took half as long for those entering in the early 2000s. This earnings growth is fastest in the first 10 years, and it considerably slows down after 30 years.

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The mover’s advantage: The superior performance of migrant scientists

Chiara Franzoni, Giuseppe Scellato & Paula Stephan
Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
Migrant scientists outperform domestic scientists. The result persists after instrumenting migration for reasons of work or study with migration in childhood to minimize the effect of selection. The results are consistent with theories of knowledge recombination and specialty matching.

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Right-Wing Extremism and the Well-Being of Immigrants

Andreas Knabe, Steffen Rätzel & Stephan Thomsen
Kyklos, November 2013, Pages 567–590

Abstract:
This study analyzes the effects of right-wing extremism on the well-being of immigrants based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) for the years 1984 to 2006 merged with state-level information on election outcomes. The results show that the life satisfaction of immigrants is significantly reduced if right-wing extremism in the native-born population increases. Moreover, the life satisfaction of highly educated immigrants is affected more strongly than that of low-skilled immigrants. This supports the view that policies aimed at making immigration more attractive to the high-skilled have to include measures that reduce xenophobic attitudes in the native-born population.

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Xenophobia and immigrant contact: French public attitudes toward immigration

Seth Jolly & Gerald DiGiusto
Social Science Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
How does the presence of immigrants in a local community affect xenophobic attitudes? Does contact with immigrants ameliorate or exacerbate anti-immigrant attitudes among citizens? Synthesizing public opinion, economic, and demographic data from France, we test hypotheses concerning the relationship between the presence of immigrant populations and xenophobic sentiments. Supportive of the contact theory, we find that larger immigrant populations decrease xenophobic attitudes. This finding challenges much of the country-level research on immigrant concentration and xenophobia and offers some hope for those who are concerned about the rise of xenophobia and the radical right in the midst of diverse European polities.

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Migration to the US and Marital Mobility

Rebekka Christopoulou & Dean Lillard
NBER Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
We combine survey data on British and German immigrants in the US with data on natives in Britain and Germany to estimate the causal effect of migration on educational mobility through cross-national marriage. To control for selective mating, we instrument educational attainment using government spending on education in the years each person was of school-age. To control for selective migration, we instrument the migration decision using inflows of immigrants to the US during puberty and early adulthood. We find that migration causes women to marry up and men to marry down, in line with cross-country differences in the availability of educated spouses and migrant-native differentials in the timing of marriage and financial maturity. However, the way migrants self-select into migration and marriage dampens down these effects.

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Networks of capital, networks for migration: Political–economic integration and the changing geography of Mexico–US migration

Matthew Sanderson
Global Networks, forthcoming

Abstract:
While economic globalization has altered the geography of international migration and introduced an array of new sources and destinations, our understanding of the specific mechanisms that link economic globalization to migration remains limited. In this article, I attempt to extend previous research by undertaking an empirical case study of Mexican migration to the USA. Using a unique dataset, I construct multivariate models to test whether, in the context of economic integration, occupations channel migration between similar sectors of the Mexican and US economies. I focus on the food-processing sector because of its role in the geographic dispersal of Mexican immigration. The results show a strong channelling of Mexican immigration along an occupational line linking the Mexican and US food-processing sectors. The implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which ushered in a period of intensive political and economic integration, strengthened this occupational channel. By seeing the changing geography of Mexico—US migration in the context of economic globalization, this study casts light on the microlevel foundations of the globalization—migration nexus.

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Does Residence in an Ethnic Community Help Immigrants in a Recession?

Pengyu Zhu, Cathy Yang Liu & Gary Painter
Regional Science and Urban Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on how the residential segregation of immigrant populations has impacted their labor market outcomes presents many challenges because of the fact that immigrants often choose to locate near co-ethnics to share resources and cultural amenities. Because not all immigrants choose to live in these ethnic communities, identification of a causal effect on living in an ethnic community is problematic. The estimation of the effect of living in these ethnic communities is also difficult because it is ambiguous whether such residence will help or harm the labor market outcomes of immigrants. This study implements a number of approaches to help identify a causal effect, including using sample of adults whose residential location is plausibly exogenous with respect to their labor market outcomes and using the current recession as a source of exogenous variation. Results suggest that residence in an ethnic community after the recession increases the likelihood of working, albeit with longer commutes.

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Neighborhood Hispanic composition and depressive symptoms among Mexican-descent residents of Texas City, Texas

Alyssa Marie Shell, Kristen Peek & Karl Eschbach
Social Science & Medicine, December 2013, Pages 56–63

Abstract:
Substantial research shows that increased Hispanic neighborhood concentration is associated with several beneficial health outcomes including lower adult mortality, better self-rated health, and fewer respiratory problems. Literature on the relationship of Hispanic composition and depressive symptoms is more equivocal. In addition, few studies have directly investigated hypothesized mechanisms of this relationship. This study uses data from a probability sample of 1,238 Mexican-descent adults living in 48 neighborhoods in Texas City, Texas. Multilevel regression models investigate whether Hispanic neighborhood composition is associated with fewer depressive symptoms. This study also investigates whether social support, perceived discrimination, and perceived stress mediate or moderate the relationship, and whether results differ by primary language used at home. We find that individuals living in high Hispanic composition neighborhoods experience fewer depressive symptoms than individuals in low Hispanic composition neighborhoods. In addition, we find that these beneficial effects only apply to respondents who speak English. Social support, perceived discrimination, and perceived stress mediate the Hispanic composition-depressive symptoms relationship. In addition, discrimination and stress moderate the relationship between Hispanic composition and depressive symptoms. Our findings support theories linking higher neighborhood Hispanic composition and better mental health, and suggest that Spanish language use, social support, discrimination and stress may play important roles in the Hispanic composition-depressive symptoms relationship.

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Acculturation-Related Stress and Mental Health Outcomes Among Three Generations of Hispanic Adolescents

Richard Cervantes et al.
Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, November 2013, Pages 451-468

Abstract:
Stress associated with acculturation and minority status among Hispanic youth is understudied. Using survey data from the Hispanic Stress Inventory–Adolescent Version (HSI-A), we examined psychosocial stress across eight domains including family economic stress and acculturation-gap stress in a national sample of three generations (first, second, and third or higher) of Hispanic adolescents (N = 1,263). Research questions addressed generation differences in frequency of stressor events (i.e., discrimination), appraisal of these events, and mental health symptoms. Results indicated that experiences of different categories of stress were significantly related to generation status. The first generation reported more stressors and greater stress appraisal than the third-generation adolescents. Similar levels of discrimination stress were reported by participants regardless of generation. The second-generation participants reported a greater number of Acculturation Gap Stressors than the third generation, and more delinquent and aggressor behaviors than first-generation participants. An acculturation paradox was found with greater stress exposure and stress appraisals in the first-generation youth, but with lower mental health symptoms than later generations. Family integrity and more traditional family values may buffer the negative impact of greater stressor exposure among immigrants and second-generation youth when compared with third-generation adolescents.

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Ethnic Segregation and Radical Right-Wing Voting in Dutch Cities

Jeroen van der Waal, Willem de Koster & Peter Achterberg
Urban Affairs Review, September 2013, Pages 748-777

Abstract:
Previous studies have linked anti-immigrant voting and other indications of ethnic animosities to ethnic segregation, yielding different results. In this study, we focus on the locally strongly diverging support for Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid [PVV]) in the Dutch national parliamentary elections of 2006 and 2010 to assess how it can be understood that the effect of ethnic segregation on anti-immigrant voting varies, and how this can be theoretically interpreted. Our analyses on 50 Dutch cities demonstrate that ethnic segregation leads to PVV voting, and that this positive effect is stronger in cities with a more tolerant cultural atmosphere and lower levels of unemployment. This positive effect is at odds with ethnic threat theory, and our contextualization informed by the cultural and economic conditions of cities enables empirically distinguishing between contact theory and concentration theory. Whereas both predict a positive effect, only contact theory is corroborated by our results.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Local yokels

Social Status and Anger Expression: The Cultural Moderation Hypothesis

Jiyoung Park et al.
Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Individuals with lower social status have been reported to express more anger, but this evidence comes mostly from Western cultures. Here, we used representative samples of American and Japanese adults and tested the hypothesis that the association between social status and anger expression depends on whether anger serves primarily to vent frustration, as in the United States, or to display authority, as in Japan. Consistent with the assumption that lower social standing is associated with greater frustration stemming from life adversities and blocked goals, Americans with lower social status expressed more anger, with the relationship mediated by the extent of frustration. In contrast, consistent with the assumption that higher social standing affords a privilege to display anger, Japanese with higher social status expressed more anger, with the relationship mediated by decision-making authority. As expected, anger expression was predicted by subjective social status among Americans and by objective social status among Japanese. Implications for the dynamic construction of anger and anger expression are discussed.

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Naming Patterns Reveal Cultural Values: Patronyms, Matronyms, and the U.S. Culture of Honor

Ryan Brown, Mauricio Carvallo & Mikiko Imura
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Four studies examined the hypothesis that honor norms would be associated with a pronounced use of patronyms, but not matronyms, for naming children. Study 1 shows that men who endorse honor values expressed a stronger desire to use patronyms (but not matronyms) for future children, an association that was mediated by patriarchal attitudes. Study 2 presents an indirect method for assessing state patronym and matronym levels. As expected, patronym scores were significantly higher in honor states and were associated with a wide range of variables linked previously to honor-related dynamics. Study 3a shows that following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, patronyms increased in honor states, but not in non-honor states. Likewise, priming men with a fictitious terrorist attack (Study 3b) increased the association between honor ideology and patronym preferences. Together, these studies reveal a subtle social signal that reflects the masculine values of an honor culture.

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Delineating groups for cultural comparisons in a multicultural setting: Not all Westerners should be put into the same melting pot

Richard Lalonde et al.
Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, October 2013, Pages 296-304

Abstract:
When conducting cross-cultural studies, researchers often rely on generalised categorisations (e.g., East–West), frequently assuming homogeneity within each of the cultural groups being compared. We argue that such broad categorisations may be misleading and that careful demarcation of cultural groups that takes into consideration their specific sociohistorical realities is necessary to produce knowledge that is both meaningful and realistic. We illustrate this contention by examining preferred mate attributes among four different cultural groups in Canada. In line with predictions, we found that Italians, who are ordinarily considered Western European, demonstrated preferences for status and traditional characteristics in a mate that differed from those preferred by the rest of the Western Europeans (not including Italians). Instead, Italians were similar to the more “Eastern” South Asians and Chinese in their preferences for status traits and to South Asians in their preferences for traditional traits. Importantly, the pattern of cultural differences changed when Italians were included in the Western European category. Lastly, we showed that the influence of culture on preferences for traditional and status traits was differentially transmitted through family connectedness and identification with mainstream Canadian culture. Implications for cross-cultural research are discussed.

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Is “Huh?” a Universal Word? Conversational Infrastructure and the Convergent Evolution of Linguistic Items

Mark Dingemanse, Francisco Torreira & N.J. Enfield
PLoS ONE, November 2013

Abstract:
A word like Huh? – used as a repair initiator when, for example, one has not clearly heard what someone just said – is found in roughly the same form and function in spoken languages across the globe. We investigate it in naturally occurring conversations in ten languages and present evidence and arguments for two distinct claims: that Huh? is universal, and that it is a word. In support of the first, we show that the similarities in form and function of this interjection across languages are much greater than expected by chance. In support of the second claim we show that it is a lexical, conventionalised form that has to be learnt, unlike grunts or emotional cries. We discuss possible reasons for the cross-linguistic similarity and propose an account in terms of convergent evolution. Huh? is a universal word not because it is innate but because it is shaped by selective pressures in an interactional environment that all languages share: that of other-initiated repair. Our proposal enhances evolutionary models of language change by suggesting that conversational infrastructure can drive the convergent cultural evolution of linguistic items.

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Economic interactions and social tolerance: A dynamic perspective

Roy Cerqueti, Luca Correani & Giuseppe Garofalo
Economics Letters, September 2013, Pages 458–463

Abstract:
We propose an evolutionary game to analyse the dynamics of tolerance among heterogeneous economic agents. We show that: (i) intolerance is much more persistent than tolerance; (ii) a fully tolerant society assures prosperity; (iii) cultural integration should precede economic integration.

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National Differences in Personality and Predictability of Gender From Personal Names

Herbert Barry & Aylene Harper
Cross-Cultural Research, November 2013, Pages 363-371

Abstract:
This article reports a test of the hypothesis that national differences in personality traits are expressed by national differences in how accurately the final letter of the personal name designates the female or male gender. The names were obtained from lists of more than 80 popular names in each nation, separately for females and males. Gender designation was more accurate for female than male names. In nations with more accurate gender designation of the final letter of first names, four personality traits self-reported more often by inhabitants are high uncertainty avoidance (UA), high power distance (PD), low individualism (Ind), thereby high collectivism, and a low proportion who are very happy (VH).

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Work Values Ethic, GNP Per Capita and Country of Birth Relationships

Adela McMurray & Don Scott
Journal of Business Ethics, September 2013, Pages 655-666

Abstract:
Workplaces around the world have experienced extraordinary changes to the composition of their workforces and the nature of work. Few studies have explored workers from multiple countries of birth, with multiple religious orientations, working together within a single country of residence. Building on and extending the Work Values Ethic (WVE) literature, we examine 1,382 responses from employees working in three manufacturing companies. Differences were found in the mean WVE scores of groups of respondents from 42 countries of birth. Their WVE scores were strongly associated with their birth countries’ per capita Gross National Product (GNP), and the means of these scores did not change with variations in the respondents’ length of residence in a different country. These results have implications for developing cross-cultural management practices and for improving relationships with employees, with opportunities for increased commitment and, potentially, productivity.

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Physical Objects as Vehicles of Cultural Transmission: Maintaining Harmony and Uniqueness Through Colored Geometric Patterns

Keiko Ishii et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examined how cultural values of harmony and uniqueness are represented and maintained through physical media (i.e., colorings of geometric patterns) and how individuals play an active role in selecting and maintaining such cultural values. We found that colorings produced by European American adults and children were judged as more unique, whereas colorings produced by Japanese adults and children were judged as more harmonious, reflecting cultural differences in values. Harmony undergirded Japanese participants’ preferences for colorings, whereas uniqueness undergirded European American participants’ preferences for colorings. These cultural differences led participants to prefer own-culture colorings over other-culture colorings. Moreover, bicultural participants’ preferences acculturated according to their identification with their host culture. Furthermore, child rearers in Japan and Canada gave feedback about the children’s colorings that were consistent with their culture’s values. These findings suggest that simple geometric patterns can embody cultural values that are socialized and reinforced from an early age.

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Confucianism and Preferences: Evidence from Lab Experiments in Taiwan and China

Elaine Liu, Juanjuan Meng & Joseph Tao-yi Wang
NBER Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
This paper investigates how Confucianism affects individual decision making in Taiwan and in China. We found that Chinese subjects in our experiments became less accepting of Confucian values, such that they became significantly more risk loving, less loss averse, and more impatient after being primed with Confucianism, whereas Taiwanese subjects became significantly less present-based and were inclined to be more trustworthy after being primed by Confucianism. Combining the evidence from the incentivized laboratory experiments and subjective survey measures, we found evidence that Chinese subjects and Taiwanese subjects reacted differently to Confucianism.

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Superstition and “Lucky” Apartments: Evidence from Transaction-level Data

Matthew Shum, Wei Sun & Guangliang Ye
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a sample of apartment transactions during 2004-2006 in Chengdu, China, we investigate the impact of superstitions in the Chinese real estate market. Numerology forms an important component of Chinese superstitious lore, with the numbers 8 and 6 signifying good luck, and the number 4 bad luck. We find that secondhand apartments located on floors ending with “8” fetch, on average, a 235 RMB higher price (per square meter) than on other floors. For newly constructed apartments, this price premium disappears due to uniform pricing of new housing units, but apartments on floors ending in an “8” are sold, on average, 6.9 days faster than on other floors. Buyers who have a phone number containing more “8”’s are more likely to purchase apartments in a floor ending with “8”; this suggests that at least part of the price premium for “lucky” apartments arises from the buyers’ superstitious beliefs.

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Neurophysiological marker of inhibition distinguishes language groups on a non-linguistic executive function test

M. Fernandez et al.
Brain and Cognition, December 2013, Pages 330–336

Abstract:
Successful interaction with the environment depends on flexible behaviors which require shifting attention, inhibiting primed responses, ignoring distracting information, and withholding motor responses. These abilities, termed executive function (EF), are believed to be mediated by inhibitory processes in the frontal lobes. Superior performance on EF tests (i.e., faster reaction times (RT), and fewer errors) has been shown in bilinguals compared to monolingual speakers. However, findings are inconsistent, and no study has directly linked this bilingual advantage to frontal lobe inhibitory processes. To clarify this uncertainty, we concomitantly tested neural inhibitory processes and behavioral responses on an EF test in bilinguals and monolinguals. Specifically, we compared English monolinguals (N = 15) to Spanish/English bilinguals (N = 13) on event-related brain potentials (ERP) during a non-linguistic, auditory Go/NoGo task, a task linked to non-motor, cognitive inhibition in monolinguals. Participants responded with a button press on trials in which target tone-pairs (Go trials) were presented and withheld their responses on non-target trials (NoGo trials). Results revealed significantly greater inhibition (i.e., greater mean N2 amplitude) in bilinguals compared to monolinguals during NoGo trials even though both groups performed the task equally well (i.e., withheld a motor response). On Go trials where participants pressed a response button, neither ERPs nor RT distinguished the groups. Additionally, scores on a second language proficiency test (i.e., English in our bilingual group) were positively correlated with N2 amplitude. These findings are the first to directly link this bilingual advantage to a neural correlate of inhibition and to reveal that inhibition in bilinguals is moderated by second language proficiency. Results are discussed in the context of plasticity, and we propose that evaluating bilinguals at varying levels of second-language proficiency may serve as a model of human neuroplasticity.

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Face Color and Sexual Attractiveness: Preferences of Yali People of Papua

Piotr Sorokowski, Agnieszka Sorokowska & Dominika Kras
Cross-Cultural Research, November 2013, Pages 415-427

Abstract:
Skin color is one of the first features that we notice in another person and, therefore, it plays a significant role in the mate selection process as well as in the assessments of attractiveness of others. However, almost all modern research showing a preference for lighter skin tone (particularly in women) was conducted within populations of relatively light skin color. The current study was conducted among the Yali people, who are dark-skinned and native to the isolated highlands of West Papua. We found that for both males (n = 53) and females (n = 53) preferred skin tone was either average or slightly lighter than the average. At the same time, we found that the male preference for lighter skin tone in females was correlated with contact with other cultures. We discuss our results in the context of social and biological theories explaining skin tone preferences.

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Digital Language Death

András Kornai
PLoS ONE, October 2013

Abstract:
Of the approximately 7,000 languages spoken today, some 2,500 are generally considered endangered. Here we argue that this consensus figure vastly underestimates the danger of digital language death, in that less than 5% of all languages can still ascend to the digital realm. We present evidence of a massive die-off caused by the digital divide.

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Population Redistribution and Language Spread in the Medieval Muslim World

Ghada Osman
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Between the seventh and eighth centuries, a remarkable linguistic phenomenon took place: the Arabic language, which had been mainly the tongue of a few isolated tribes in Western Arabia, became the spoken and written language of a vast region that spanned from the Oxus River in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west. Virtually overnight, speakers of other languages had to become conversant and literate in Arabic in order to maintain their positions throughout the Arabic-speaking Muslim Empire. This article explores one factor that enabled the spread of Arabic in such an unprecedented manner: the mass population movement of Arabic speakers and others that occurred as a result of the expansion of the Muslim Empire. The article traces and analyses three categories of movement: initial settlement by the conquest armies; later voluntary movement due to scholarship, alliance building and intermarriage; and ruler-instigated population movement.

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Cultural sensitivity or cultural stereotyping? Positive and negative effects of a cultural psychology class

Emma Buchtel
International Journal of Intercultural Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Cultural psychology ultimately aims to increase intercultural understanding, but it has also been accused of reifying stereotypes. Can learning about cultural psychology research cause students to increase their cultural sensitivity, or does it increase stereotyped and rigid thinking about cultural others? Students in an undergraduate cultural psychology course (N = 34) were compared to students in control psychology courses (N = 20) in pre- and post-course measures of cultural awareness, cultural intelligence, essentialistic thinking, prejudice, moral relativism, and endorsement of stereotypes and sociotypes. Compared to students in the control courses, cultural psychology students increased in cultural awareness, moral relativism, and meta-cognitive cultural intelligence, but students who received lower grades in the course also increased their endorsement of stereotypes that were not endorsed by cultural psychology research. Implications for intercultural training and the communication of research on cultural differences are discussed.

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Nothing succeeds like moderation: A social self-regulation perspective on cultural dissimilarity and performance

Yves Guillaume, Daan van Knippenberg & Felix Brodbeck
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Addressing inconsistencies in relational demography research, we examine the relationship between cultural dissimilarity and individual performance through the lens of social self-regulation theory, which extends the social identity perspective in relational demography with the analysis of social self-regulation. We propose that social self-regulation in culturally diverse teams manifests itself as performance monitoring (i.e., individuals' actions to meet team performance standards and peer expectations). Contingent on the status associated with individuals' cultural background, performance monitoring is proposed to have a curvilinear relationship with individual performance and to mediate between cultural dissimilarity and performance. Multilevel moderated mediation analyses of time-lagged data from 316 members of 69 teams confirmed these hypotheses. Cultural dissimilarity had a negative relationship with performance monitoring for high cultural status members, and a positive relationship for low cultural status members. Performance monitoring had a curvilinear relationship with individual performance that became decreasingly positive. Cultural dissimilarity thus was increasingly negatively associated with performance for high cultural status members, and decreasingly positively for low cultural status members. These findings suggest that cultural dissimilarity to the team is not unconditionally negative for the individual but in moderation may in fact have positive motivational effects.

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Effects of witnessing fat talk on body satisfaction and psychological well-being: A cross-cultural comparison of Korea and the United States

Hye Eun Lee et al.
Social Behavior and Personality, September 2013, Pages 1279-1295

Abstract:
We examined how witnessing fat talk on Facebook influenced the body satisfaction and psychological well-being of Korean and U.S. young women. Korean (n = 137) and U.S. (n = 159) women completed an online questionnaire after viewing a randomly assigned mock-up Facebook page where body size of the profile owner and the messages from her peers were manipulated. Findings showed that (a) Koreans witnessing an underweight peer's fat talk reported lower body satisfaction than did those witnessing an overweight peer's fat talk, but the peer's body size did not affect the U.S. women, and (b) Koreans witnessing messages discouraging weight loss reported greater psychological well-being than did those witnessing messages promoting weight loss, whereas peers' comments did not influence the U.S. women.

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Establishing Commonality Versus Affirming Distinctiveness: Patterns of Personality Judgments in China and the United States

Kenneth Locke, Dianhan Zheng & Juliane Smith
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We predicted that members of Chinese groups would tend to express personality judgments that establish commonalities among members, whereas members of American groups would tend to express judgments that affirm how members differ. We had groups of five acquaintances (23 groups at one U.S. university, 28 groups at three Chinese universities) rate their own and each other’s traits and subjected the round-robin data to social relations model and social accuracy model analyses. As hypothesized, Chinese were more likely to portray their peers as similar to themselves and to each other as indicated by greater perceived self-other similarity and less variance in target ratings; conversely, Americans were more likely to express a shared understanding of what distinguished each group member from others, as indicated by greater distinctive agreement and target variance (consensus). Collectivistic values mediated effects of country on perceived similarity; individualistic values mediated effects of country on consensus and perceived similarity.

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Enculturation to musical pitch structure in young children: Evidence from behavioral and electrophysiological methods

Kathleen Corrigall & Laurel Trainor
Developmental Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Children learn the structure of the music of their culture similarly to how they learn the language to which they are exposed in their daily environment. Furthermore, as with language, children acquire this musical knowledge without formal instruction. Two critical aspects of musical pitch structure in Western tonal music are key membership (understanding which notes belong in a key and which do not) and harmony (understanding which notes combine to form chords and which notes and chords tend to follow others). The early developmental trajectory of the acquisition of this knowledge remains unclear, in part because of the difficulty of testing young children. In two experiments, we investigated 4- and 5-year-olds' enculturation to Western musical pitch using a novel age-appropriate and engaging behavioral task (Experiment 1) and electroencephalography (EEG; Experiment 2). In Experiment 1 we found behavioral evidence that 5-year-olds were sensitive to key membership but not to harmony, and no evidence that 4-year-olds were sensitive to either. However, in Experiment 2 we found neurophysiological evidence that 4-year-olds were sensitive to both key membership and harmony. Our results suggest that musical enculturation has a long developmental trajectory, and that children may have some knowledge of key membership and harmony before that knowledge can be expressed through explicit behavioral judgments.

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Cultural influences on the neural correlate of moral decision making processes

Hyemin Han, Gary Glover & Changwoo Jeong
Behavioural Brain Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study compares the neural substrate of moral decision making processes between Korean and American participants. By comparison with Americans, Korean participants showed increased activity in the right putamen associated with socio-intuitive processes and right superior frontal gyrus associated with cognitive control processes under a moral-personal condition, and in the right postcentral sulcus associated with mental calculation in familiar contexts under a moral-impersonal condition. On the other hand, American participants showed a significantly higher degree of activity in the bilateral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) associated with conflict resolution under the moral-personal condition, and in the right medial frontal gyrus (MFG) associated with simple cognitive branching in non-familiar contexts under the moral-impersonal condition when a more lenient threshold was applied, than Korean participants. These findings support the ideas of the interactions between the cultural background, education, and brain development, proposed in the field of cultural psychology and educational psychology. The study introduces educational implications relevant to moral psychologists and educators.

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Effects of culture and social cynicism on anxious attachment transference from mother to partner

Yueran Wen, Liu Liu & Chunyong Yuan
Social Behavior and Personality, September 2013, Pages 1253-1265

Abstract:
We examined the role of culture and social cynicism beliefs in the transference of an anxious attachment style from mother to romantic partner among a group of undergraduates from the US (n = 200) and Hong Kong (n = 147). The results showed that anxious attachment to mother and to partner was moderately correlated among both cultural groups. However, social cynicism beliefs were found to moderate the relationship between anxious attachment to mother and attachment to partner among U.S. but not Hong Kong Chinese participants. This observed differential effect of social cynicism beliefs could be explained by differences in self-direction values across the 2 cultural groups. The findings in the study are of theoretical significance as they provide insights for further research on the influences of cultural variables and personal beliefs on attachment transference.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

First class

Growing Up in a Recession

Paola Giuliano & Antonio Spilimbergo
Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does the historical macroeconomic environment affect preferences for redistribution? We find that individuals who experienced a recession when young believe that success in life depends more on luck than effort, support more government redistribution, and tend to vote for left-wing parties. The effect of recessions on beliefs is long-lasting. We support our findings with evidence from three different datasets. First, we identify the effect of recessions on beliefs exploiting time and regional variation in macroeconomic conditions using data from the 1972–2010 General Social Survey. Our specifications control for nonlinear time-period, life-cycle, and cohort effects, as well as a host of background variables. Second, we rely on data from the National Longitudinal Survey of the High School Class of 1972 to corroborate the age-period-cohort specification and look at heterogeneous effects of experiencing a recession during early adulthood. Third, using data from the World Value Survey, we confirm our findings with a sample of 37 countries whose citizens experienced macroeconomic disasters at different points in history.

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Hunger Games: Fluctuations in Blood Glucose Levels Influence Support for Social Welfare

Lene Aarøe & Michael Bang Petersen
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Social-welfare policies are a modern instantiation of a phenomenon that has pervaded human evolutionary history: resource sharing. Ancestrally, food was a key shared resource in situations of temporary hunger. If evolved human psychology continues to shape how individuals think about current, evolutionarily novel conditions, this invites the prediction that attitudes regarding welfare politics are influenced by short-term fluctuations in hunger. Using blood glucose levels as a physiological indicator of hunger, we tested this prediction in a study in which participants were randomly assigned to conditions in which they consumed soft drinks containing either carbohydrates or an artificial sweetener. Analyses showed that participants with experimentally induced low blood glucose levels expressed stronger support for social welfare. Using an incentivized measure of actual sharing behavior (the dictator game), we further demonstrated that this increased support for social welfare does not translate into genuinely increased sharing motivations. Rather, we suggest that it is “cheap talk” aimed at increasing the sharing efforts of other individuals.

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Material Welfare and Changing Political Preferences: The Case of Support for Redistributive Social Policies

Lindsay Owens & David Pedulla
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
The relationship between political preferences and material circumstances has stimulated one of the most vibrant discussions in the social sciences. However, the verdict is still out on the extent to which political preferences are a function of material circumstances, stable ideological commitments, or some combination thereof. Drawing on new panel data from the General Social Survey, we further this debate by examining whether becoming unemployed or losing income affects individuals' preferences for redistribution. Using individual-level fixed-effects models, we show that preferences for redistribution are malleable, rather than fixed, corresponding to predictions offered by a materialist perspective. Individuals want more redistribution when they experience unemployment or lose household income. Ultimately, we contribute new empirical insights that further the sociological understanding of the forces shaping political preferences.

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Economic Inequality and Democratic Support

Jonathan Krieckhaus et al.
Journal of Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does economic inequality influence citizens’ support for democracy? Political economy theory suggests that in a country with high inequality, the majority of the population will support democracy as a potential mechanism for redistribution. Much of the survey and area-studies literature, by contrast, suggests that inequality generates political disillusion and regime dissatisfaction. To clarify this disagreement, we distinguish between prospective versus retrospective evaluations as well as between egocentric versus sociotropic evaluations. We test the resulting hypotheses in a multilevel analysis conducted in 40 democracies. We find that citizens are retrospective and sociotropic, meaning that higher levels of economic inequality reduce support for democracy amongst all social classes. We also find a small prospective egocentric effect, in that the reduction in democratic support in highly unequal countries is slightly less severe amongst the poor, suggesting they believe that democracy might increase future redistribution.

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Economic Elites, Investments, and Income Inequality

Michael Nau
Social Forces, December 2013, Pages 437-461

Abstract:
Stratification research documents that income inequality is on the rise. Common explanations include changes in technology, demography, and labor market institutions. This study documents an additional driver of inequality that has been critical to the concentration of income among elites: income from investments. As they have turned to their investment portfolios for income, economic elites have become less reliant on the returns to labor. This finding indicates that the current debate over elite incomes, which tends to focus on the rise of “the working rich,” needs to be expanded to include the role of income-producing wealth. Additionally, such changes have left a dramatic imprint on the entire income distribution, with investment income contributing to a growing share of overall income inequality. While family structure, labor markets, and technological change remain important topics in the study of income inequality, the findings presented here underscore the additional importance of wealth and property ownership.

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Decomposing Trends in Income Volatility: The “Wild Ride” at the Top and Bottom

Bradley Hardy & James Ziliak
Economic Inquiry, January 2014, Pages 459–476

Abstract:
We use 2-year panels from the Current Population Survey to provide a detailed accounting of family income volatility from 1980 to 2009. Volatility doubled overall, and the increase was most pronounced among the top 1% of the income distribution, but in any given year the level of volatility among the bottom 10% exceeds that of the top. The increased volatility comes from higher instability of head and spouse earnings, other nonlabor income, and from reduced covariance between these income sources with the tax system. This suggests that current tax policy is less effective in mitigating income shocks than previous decades.

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Rising Inequality: Transitory or Persistent? New Evidence from a Panel of U.S. Tax Returns

Jason Debacker et al.
Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Spring 2013, Pages 67-142

Abstract:
We use a new, large, and confidential panel of tax returns to study the persistent-versus-transitory nature of rising inequality in male labor earnings and in total household income, both before and after taxes, in the United States over the period 1987-2009. We apply various statistical decomposition methods that allow for different ways of characterizing persistent and transitory income components. For male labor earnings, we find that the entire increase in cross-sectional inequality over our sample period was driven by an increase in the dispersion of the persistent component of earnings. For total household income, we find that most of the increase in inequality reflects an increase in the dispersion of the persistent income component, but the transitory component also appears to have played some role. We also show that the tax system partly mitigated the increase in income inequality, but not sufficiently to alter its broadly increasing trend over the period.

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Congress Promotes Perpetual Trusts: Why?

Lawrence Waggoner
University of Michigan Working Paper, September 2013

Abstract:
By unwittingly granting a tax exemption for perpetual trusts, Congress undermined state perpetuity law and promoted private trusts that can last and remain tax exempt for many centuries and maybe forever. As a direct result of Congress’s action, and then of lobbying by financial institutions and other interest groups to convince state legislatures to remove the obstacle of perpetuity law, the very wealthy can now create tax-exempt private trusts for generations upon generations of their descendants. And they are massively taking advantage of the opportunity. Congress as an institution has known of its blunder for years, but has failed — so far — to remedy its mistake. The author asks why. There is no federal interest in promoting perpetually tax-exempt trusts and, in fact, the federal interest cuts the other way. Tax revenues are lost by Congress’s action and subsequent inaction. A plausible explanation for Congress’s persistent indifference to the problem is that the revenue gain by correcting the oversight would be a long way off. Congress is not known for giving a high priority to problems of that sort. The longer Congress procrastinates, however, the amount of wealth that is safely sheltered in perpetually tax-exempt trusts — already estimated to be in the billions of dollars — continues to grow. The Treasury Department has a proposal before Congress for remedying the situation, but the Treasury’s proposal is not nearly as effective as it could and should be. The author proposes a remedy that would be entirely effective and would be consistent with the original purpose of the tax law.

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Wage dispersion and team performance: A theoretical model and evidence from baseball

Robert Breunig et al.
Applied Economics, Winter 2014, Pages 271-281

Abstract:
We develop a general theoretical model of the effect of wage dispersion on team performance which nests two possibilities: wage inequality may have either negative or positive effects on team performance. A parameter which captures the marginal cost of effort, which we estimate using game-level data from Major League Baseball, determines whether wage dispersion and team performance are negatively or positively related. We find low marginal cost of effort; consequently, wage disparity is negatively related to team performance. Game and season-level regressions also indicate a negative relationship between inequality and performance. We discuss a variety of interpretations of our results.

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Multi-Generational Income Disadvantage and the Educational Attainment of Young Adults

Patrick Wightman & Sheldon Danziger
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use data from three generations of participants of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine the association between intergenerational socio-economic mobility and young adult outcomes. In particular, we investigate whether parents’ childhood conditions are associated with the educational attainment of their young adult children, conditional on young adults’ own childhood conditions. We examine the degree to which different paths leading to the same socio-economic position may differentially influence the outcomes of children raised under otherwise similar circumstances. We find some evidence that, conditional on young adults’ own adolescent conditions, the adolescent conditions of their parents influence their household environment and by extension their educational attainment. This association appears to be concentrated among low-income households.

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The Relativity of Decreasing Inequality Between Countries

Kristof Bosmans, Koen Decancq & André Decoster
Economica, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study the evolution of population-weighted between-country inequality in the period 1980–2009. Whereas previous studies almost exclusively focused on relative inequality measures, we consider relative, absolute and intermediate versions of the Lorenz dominance criterion and of the S-Gini and generalized entropy classes of inequality measures. The analysis yields robust evidence for increasing absolute inequality. Moreover, this conclusion is preserved for intermediate views substantially in the direction of the relative view. In contrast, robust evidence for decreasing inequality — be it relative, absolute or intermediate — is virtually absent. These findings challenge the widely accepted claim of decreasing between-country inequality.

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The World Distribution of Income And Its Inequality, 1970–2009

Paolo Liberati
Review of Income and Wealth, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper provides a full decomposition of world inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, in the period 1970–2009. In particular, using the Analysis of Gini (ANOGI), the paper describes the evolution of between inequality, within inequality, and the impact of overlapping on both factors. While there is evidence that between inequality in the last decade significantly declined due to the rapid Chinese growth, within inequality and overlapping went in the opposite direction. Furthermore, with the exception of some Asian countries, the rest of the world has not moved significantly. As a result, world inequality remains high by any standard.

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Age at Childbearing over Two Generations and Grandchildren's Cognitive Achievement

Paula Fomby, Patrick Krueger & Nicole Wagner
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine whether grandparents’ and parents’ ages at birth are associated with grandchildren's early cognitive achievement, and whether grandparents’ or parents’ socioeconomic status, health, and marital status mediate those associations. Our analysis is based on data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and its Child Development Supplement. A grandparent's age at the birth of their own children is robustly and positively associated with grandchildren's verbal achievement, but not with grandchildren's applied mathematics achievement, after controlling for parents’ age at the grandchild's birth. The associations are similar in magnitude for grandmothers and grandfathers. A variety of indicators of social class in the grandparent and parent generations did not mediate this age effect. However, many of those indicators of grandparents’ social class were directly or indirectly related to grandchildren's achievement.

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The Influence of Major Life Events on Economic Attitudes in a World of Gene-Environment Interplay

Peter Hatemi
American Journal of Political Science, October 2013, Pages 987–1007

Abstract:
The role of “genes” on political attitudes has gained attention across disciplines. However, person-specific experiences have yet to be incorporated into models that consider genetic influences. Relying on a gene-environment interplay approach, this study explicates how life events, such as losing one's job or suffering a financial loss, influence economic policy attitudes. The results indicate genetic and environmental variance on support for unions, immigration, capitalism, socialism, and property tax is moderated by financial risks. Changes in the magnitude of genetic influences, however, are temporary. After two years, the phenotypic effects of the life events remain on most attitudes, but changes in the sources of individual differences do not. Univariate twin models that estimate the independent contributions of genes and environment on the variation of attitudes appear to provide robust baseline indicators of the sources of individual differences. These estimates, however, are not event or day specific. In this way, genetic influences add stability, while environment cues change, and this process is continually updated.

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Capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) fail to show inequality aversion in a no-cost situation

Mark Sheskin et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although humans show robust equality concerns across a variety of situations, there is ongoing debate regarding the extent to which any nonhuman species is inequality averse. In the current research, we test non-human primates’ reactions to conspecifics receiving equal and unequal payoffs using a “no-cost” method in which subjects can respond to inequality without rejecting food. Specifically, we gave capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) the opportunity to trade with one of two experimenters, each of whom offered the subject an identical reward, but had different histories of trading with the subject and a conspecific partner. An “equal” experimenter had previously given a conspecific the same reward that the subject had received, whereas the other experimenter was either an “advantageous trader” for the subject (giving the conspecific an inferior reward) or a “disadvantageous trader” for the subject (giving the conspecific a superior reward). By offering subjects a choice between experimenters, we removed several competing demands that may have masked the expression of robust equality preferences in previous studies. Even though there was no cost associated with expressing an equality preference, we found no evidence that capuchins differentiated between equal and unequal experimenters.

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Government quality, egalitarianism, and attitudes to taxes and social spending: A European comparison

Stefan Svallfors
European Political Science Review, November 2013, Pages 363-380

Abstract:
The paper analyses how perceptions of government quality – in terms of impartiality and efficiency – impact on attitudes to taxes and social spending. It builds on data from the European Social Survey 2008 from 29 European countries. The paper shows a large degree of congruence between expert-based judgments and the general public's perceptions of the quality of government. It also shows that the quality of government has a clear, independent effect on attitudes to taxes and spending, so that people who perceive institutions as efficient and fair want higher taxes and spending. But government quality also conditions the impact of egalitarianism on attitudes to taxes and spending: in high-quality-of-government egalitarianism has a clearly stronger impact on these attitudes. It is concluded that government quality is an important and so far neglected factor in explaining attitudes to welfare policies.

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Welfare States and the Redistribution of Happiness

Hiroshi Ono & Kristen Schultz Lee
Social Forces, December 2013, Pages 789-814

Abstract:
We use data from the 2002 International Social Survey Programme, with roughly 42,000 individuals nested within twenty-nine countries, to examine the determinants of happiness in a comparative perspective. We hypothesize that social democratic welfare states redistribute happiness among policy-targeted demographic groups in these countries. The redistributive properties of the social democratic welfare states generate an alternate form of “happiness inequality” in which winners and losers are defined by marital status, presence of children, and income. We apply multilevel modeling and focus on public social expenditures (as percentage of GDP) as proxy measures of state intervention at the macro level, and happiness as the specific measure of welfare outcome at the micro level. We find that aggregate happiness is not greater in the social democratic welfare states, but happiness closely reflects the redistribution of resources in these countries. Happiness is redistributed from low-risk to high-risk individuals. For example, women with small children are significantly happier, but single persons are significantly less happy in the welfare states. This suggests that the pro-family ideology of the social democratic welfare states protects families from social risk and improves their well-being at the cost of single persons. Further, we find that the happiness gap between high- versus low-income earners is considerably smaller in the social democratic welfare states, suggesting that happiness is redistributed from the privileged to the less privileged.

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Class Origin and Elite Position of Men in Business Firms in Sweden, 1993–2007: The Importance of Education, Cognitive Ability, and Personality

Erik Bihagen, Magnus Nermo & Charlotta Stern
European Sociological Review, October 2013, Pages 939-954

Abstract:
Using Swedish registry data, we study the impact of class origin on becoming part of the business elite between 1993 and 2007 for men aged 35–44 years. The elite is defined as the top 1 per cent of wage earners within large firms. We find a clear working class disadvantage and, with time, a polarization between those of working class origin and others. Decomposition analyses indicate that differences in educational attainment levels cause a large part of the gap, but less so over time. Differences in personality traits measured at around the age of 18 years also help explain the class origin differentials, and more so over time. The decomposition analyses indicate that the net effect of cognitive abilities is small. The results suggest a change in the value of education and personality in the labour market over time, but as men of working class origins have disadvantages in both domains, the relative disadvantage of coming from the working class was rather stable during the period 1993–2007.

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Money, Well-Being, and Loss Aversion: Does an Income Loss Have a Greater Effect on Well-Being Than an Equivalent Income Gain?

Christopher Boyce et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Higher income is associated with greater well-being, but do income gains and losses affect well-being differently? Loss aversion, whereby losses loom larger than gains, is typically examined in relation to decisions about anticipated outcomes. Here, using subjective-well-being data from Germany (N = 28,723) and the United Kingdom (N = 20,570), we found that losses in income have a larger effect on well-being than equivalent income gains and that this effect is not explained by diminishing marginal benefits of income to well-being. Our findings show that loss aversion applies to experienced losses, challenging suggestions that loss aversion is only an affective-forecasting error. By failing to account for loss aversion, longitudinal studies of the relationship between income and well-being may have overestimated the positive effect of income on well-being. Moreover, societal well-being might best be served by small and stable income increases, even if such stability impairs long-term income growth.

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The Tertiary Tilt: Education and Inequality in the Developing World

Lloyd Gruber & Stephen Kosack
World Development, February 2014, Pages 253–272

Abstract:
Education is widely perceived to be a tonic for the rising inequality that often accompanies development. But most developing-country governments tilt their education spending toward higher education, which disproportionately benefits elites. We find that in countries with high “tertiary tilts,” rising primary enrollment is associated a decade later with far higher inequality — not the lower Gini coefficients many would expect. Since most developing countries tilt their spending toward higher education, our analysis suggests that efforts that concentrate only on expanding mass education, such as the UN’s Millennium Campaign, could end up raising inequality in much of the developing world.

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Policy Representation, Social Representation and Class Voting in Britain

Oliver Heath
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why does the strength of class voting vary over time? Recent research has emphasized factors related to the structure of political choice at the party level. This article examines different aspects of this choice, and investigates whether voters are more likely to respond to the social or policy cues that parties send voters. The results from the British context suggest that the former are more important than the latter. The central implication of this finding is that social representation matters, and that the social background of political representatives influences how voters relate to political parties.

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Intra-generational social mobility and educational qualifications

Ian Plewis & Mel Bartley
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, forthcoming

Abstract:
The relation between intra-generational social class mobility of parents and their children's subsequent educational qualifications, and the implications of this relation for educational stratification, is explored by fitting statistical models to data from two UK longitudinal datasets: one based on the UK Census (ONS LS) and the 1970 birth cohort study (BCS70). Children whose parents are upwardly mobile gain higher educational qualifications than their peers in their class of origin, but obtain lower qualifications than their peers in their class of destination. The reverse pattern is observed for the downwardly mobile. These results mirror those obtained for the relation between adult intra-generational social mobility and a number of widely used measures of health. The implications of the findings for different explanations of the social class gradient in educational attainment are examined. The findings provide greater support for theoretical explanations of educational inequalities that are based on differences in economic circumstances between social classes than they do for explanations based on social class variations in the levels of cultural capital and aspirations. This conclusion is strengthened by the fact that the overall pattern of results from these analyses is unchanged after statistically controlling for levels of parental education. The findings also have methodological implications for measuring the social class gradient in attainment and qualifications.

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Class mobility across three generations in the U.S. and Germany

Florian Hertel & Olaf Groh–Samberg
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, forthcoming

Abstract:
Based on data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and the Socio-economic Panel, we study the class mobility of three concurrent generations in the U.S. and Germany. We find that, in both countries, the grandfathers’ class is directly associated with their grandchildren's social position. We propose three possible mechanisms which could explain the observed multigenerational mobility patterns. First, we consider the role of class-specific resources for mobility strategies. Second, we suggest a more general explanation by integrating grandparents’ class into the reference frame for mobility decisions. Third, we argue that multigenerational class associations could be the result of categorical inequality based on race or ethnicity. We find that outflow mobility rates differ across grandfathers’ class positions. Three-generational immobility is most frequent in lower and higher class positions. Log-linear analyses show that, in both countries, significant grandfather effects foster immobility within most classes and limit mobility between the working and service classes in Germany specifically. These effects partially lose significance if we only study white Americans and native Germans. Combining the two national mobility tables, we find that the pattern of three-generational mobility is similar in both countries.

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Inequality across Three and Four Generations in Egalitarian Sweden: 1st and 2nd Cousin Correlations in Socio-Economic Outcomes

Martin Hällsten
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper estimates intergenerational associations in outcomes across more than two generations using cousin correlations. These correlations account for both observed and unobserved factors that cousins share, i.e., the joint influence of family and the community they are exposed to. The results show 1st cousin correlations in GPA, cognitive ability, and years of education above .15. For occupational prestige, the correlations was found to be close to .10. Accounting for detailed parental socio-economic characteristics reduces the correlations by merely one third to one half, which suggest that grandparents contribute over and above parents. For 2nd cousins, sample restriction allows only the study of correlations in 9th grade GPA. The 2nd cousin correlation is estimated to .07 unadjusted and .05 after adjusting for detailed parental characteristics. For 1st and 2nd cousins of grandparent with great economic wealth, the correlations double or triple, and remain very large even after parental characteristics are controlled for. In sum, this indicates strong persistence of inequality across at least four generations in contemporary Sweden.

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Intergenerational Determinants of Income Level in Finland

Outi Sirniö, Pekka Martikainen & Timo Kauppinen
Social Forces, December 2013, Pages 463-490

Abstract:
This study estimates the level of intergenerational transmission of income in Finland and assesses the contribution of parental and personal socioeconomic and demographic characteristics to this relationship. We used a longitudinal register-based data set covering two decades and selected cohorts born between 1973 and 1976 for analysis. The results demonstrate strong intergenerationality, with those from the lowest and highest income quintiles being the most probable to remain in the same income quintile in adulthood. Approximately half of these associations are attributable to parental characteristics among men and by personal characteristics among women. Our results further show complex interactive effects, with higher-income parents unable to entirely protect their offspring from the negative impact that unemployment, single parenting, and living alone has on personal income levels. These findings demonstrate significant and multifaceted intergenerational continuities in income level even in a Nordic welfare state such as Finland.

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Expanding the Inner Circle: How Welfarist Norms Escape In-Groups

Alex Jakle
University of Michigan Working Paper, July 2013

Abstract:
I explore the influence of social mechanisms by which welfarist norms come to be appropriate by those outside the social group for which they were developed, and how they lead to patterned deviance from the law. Drawing on literature from law and society, law and economics, political science, social theory, and other fields, I use original research from a qualitative study of amateur baseball players to analyze the interplay between norms, groups, and deviance. Relationships with agents is widespread, despite being against both NCAA Bylaws and most players economic incentives. To explain this seemingly irrational pattern of rule-breaking, I argue that agent use arose to serve the economic interests of elite players and agents, and so became a badge of elite status. Players wishing to act as an elite appropriate this behavior despite variation in their incentives. I explain how players' narrative identities, psychological self-deception, aspirational behavior, and social roles lead them to adopt elite behavior and perpetuate a norm that does not serve their own material or economic ends.

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A Satisfactory Minimum Conception of Justice: Reconsidering Rawls's Maximin Argument

Alexander Kaufman
Economics and Philosophy, November 2013, Pages 349-369

Abstract:
John Rawls argues that it is possible to describe a suitably defined initial situation from which to form reliable judgements about justice. In this initial situation, rational persons are deprived of information that is ‘irrelevant from the standpoint of justice’. It is rational, Rawls argues, for persons choosing principles of justice from this standpoint to be guided by the maximin rule. Critics, however, argue that (i) the maximin rule is not the appropriate decision rule for Rawls's choice position; (ii) the maximin argument relies upon an imprecise account of the satisfactory minimum to be secured under the maximin rule; or that (iii) Rawls relies upon unrealistic assumptions about diminishing marginal value. These critics, I will suggest, argue from a number of assumptions that are confused or false. The satisfactory minimum that choosers in the original position – employing the maximin rule – seek to achieve is not a minimum level of primary goods, nor is the satisfactory minimum sought under the maximin rule supplied by the difference principle. I will argue that the maximin argument is more robust than has generally been recognized and that this argument performs a number of important functions in clarifying the nature and implications of Rawls's argument for justice as fairness.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Child support

What Is the Case for Paid Maternity Leave?

Gordon Dahl et al.
NBER Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
Paid maternity leave has gained greater salience in the past few decades as mothers have increasingly entered the workforce. Indeed, the median number of weeks of paid leave to mothers among OECD countries was 14 in 1980, but had risen to 42 by 2011. We assess the case for paid maternity leave, focusing on parents' responses to a series of policy reforms in Norway which expanded paid leave from 18 to 35 weeks (without changing the length of job protection). Our first empirical result is that none of the reforms seem to crowd out unpaid leave. Each reform increases the amount of time spent at home versus work by roughly the increased number of weeks allowed. Since income replacement was 100% for most women, the reforms caused an increase in mother's time spent at home after birth, without a reduction in family income. Our second set of empirical results reveals the expansions had little effect on a wide variety of outcomes, including children's school outcomes, parental earnings and participation in the labor market in the short or long run, completed fertility, marriage or divorce. Not only is there no evidence that each expansion in isolation had economically significant effects, but this null result holds even if we cumulate our estimates across all expansions from 18 to 35 weeks. Our third finding is that paid maternity leave is regressive in the sense that eligible mothers have higher family incomes compared to ineligible mothers or childless individuals. Within the group of eligibles, the program also pays higher amounts to mothers in wealthier families. Since there was no crowd out of unpaid leave, the extra leave benefits amounted to a pure leisure transfer, primarily to middle and upper income families. Finally, we investigate the financial costs of the extensions in paid maternity leave. We find these reforms had little impact on parents' future tax payments and benefit receipt. As a result, the large increases in public spending on maternity leave imply a considerable increase in taxes, at a cost to economic efficiency. Taken together, our findings suggest the generous extensions to paid leave were costly, had no measurable effect on outcomes and regressive redistribution properties. In a time of harsh budget realities, our findings have important implications for countries that are considering future expansions or contractions in the duration of paid leave.

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Origins of children's externalizing behavior problems in low-income families: Toddlers' willing stance toward their mothers as the missing link

Grazyna Kochanska, Sanghag Kim & Lea Boldt
Development and Psychopathology, November 2013, Pages 891-901

Abstract:
Although children's active role in socialization has been long acknowledged, relevant research has typically focused on children's difficult temperament or negative behaviors that elicit coercive and adversarial processes, largely overlooking their capacity to act as positive, willing, even enthusiastic, active socialization agents. We studied the willing, receptive stance toward their mothers in a low-income sample of 186 children who were 24 to 44 months old. Confirmatory factor analysis supported a latent construct of willing stance, manifested as children's responsiveness to mothers in naturalistic interactions, responsive imitation in teaching contexts, and committed compliance with maternal prohibitions, all observed in the laboratory. Structural equation modeling analyses confirmed that ecological adversity undermined maternal responsiveness, and responsiveness, in turn, was linked to children's willing stance. A compromised willing stance predicted externalizing behavior problems, assessed 10 months later, and fully mediated the links between maternal responsiveness and those outcomes. Ecological adversity had a direct, unmediated effect on internalizing behavior problems. Considering children's active role as willing, receptive agents capable of embracing parental influence can lead to a more complete understanding of detrimental mechanisms that link ecological adversity with antisocial developmental pathways. It can also inform research on the normative socialization process, consistent with the objectives of developmental psychopathology.

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Prenatal Music Exposure Induces Long-Term Neural Effects

Eino Partanen et al.
PLoS ONE, October 2013

Abstract:
We investigated the neural correlates induced by prenatal exposure to melodies using brains' event-related potentials (ERPs). During the last trimester of pregnancy, the mothers in the learning group played the ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’-melody 5 times per week. After birth and again at the age of 4 months, we played the infants a modified melody in which some of the notes were changed while ERPs to unchanged and changed notes were recorded. The ERPs were also recorded from a control group, who received no prenatal stimulation. Both at birth and at the age of 4 months, infants in the learning group had stronger ERPs to the unchanged notes than the control group. Furthermore, the ERP amplitudes to the changed and unchanged notes at birth were correlated with the amount of prenatal exposure. Our results show that extensive prenatal exposure to a melody induces neural representations that last for several months.

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Positive parenting predicts the development of adolescent brain structure: A longitudinal study

Sarah Whittle et al.
Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Little work has been conducted that examines the effects of positive environmental experiences on brain development to date. The aim of this study was to prospectively investigate the effects of positive (warm, supportive) maternal behavior on structural brain development during adolescence, using longitudinal structural MRI. Participants were 188 (92 female) adolescents, who were part of a longitudinal adolescent development study that involved mother-adolescent interactions and MRI scans at approximately 12 years old, and follow-up MRI scans approximately 4 years later. FreeSurfer software was used to estimate the volume of limbic-striatal regions (amygdala, hippocampus, caudate, putamen, pallidum, and nucleus accumbens) and the thickness of prefrontal regions (anterior cingulate and orbitofrontal cortices) across both time points. Higher frequency of positive maternal behavior during the interactions predicted attenuated volumetric growth in the right amygdala, and accelerated cortical thinning in the right anterior cingulate (males only) and left and right orbitofrontal cortices, between baseline and follow up. These results have implications for understanding the biological mediators of risk and protective factors for mental disorders that have onset during adolescence.

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Modernization is Associated with Intensive Breastfeeding Patterns in the Bolivian Amazon

Amanda Veile et al.
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
For many traditional, non-industrialized populations, intensive and prolonged breastfeeding buffers infant health against poverty, poor sanitation, and limited health care. Due to novel influences on local economies, values, and beliefs, the traditional and largely beneficial breastfeeding patterns of such populations may be changing to the detriment of infant health. To assess if and why such changes are occurring in a traditional breastfeeding population, we document breastfeeding patterns in the Bolivian Tsimane, a forager-horticulturalist population in the early stages of modernization. Three predictions are developed and tested to evaluate the general hypothesis that modernizing influences encourage less intensive breastfeeding in the Tsimane: 1) Tsimane mothers in regions of higher infant mortality will practice more intensive BF; 2) Tsimane mothers who are located closer to a local market town will practice more intensive BF; and 3) Older Tsimane mothers will practice more intensive BF. Predictions were tested using a series of maternal interviews (from 2003-2011, n=215) and observations of mother-infant dyads (from 2002-2007, n=133). Tsimane breastfeeding patterns were generally intensive: 72% of mothers reported initiating BF within a few hours of birth, mean (± SD) age of CF introduction was 4.1±2.0 months, and mean (± SD) weaning age was 19.2±7.3 months. There was, however, intra-population variation in several dimensions of breastfeeding (initiation, frequency, duration, and complementary feeding). Contrary to our predictions, breastfeeding was most intensive in the most modernized Tsimane villages, and maternal age was not a significant predictor of breastfeeding patterns. Regional differences accounted for variation in most dimensions of breastfeeding (initiation, frequency, and complementary feeding). Future research should therefore identify constraints on breastfeeding in the less modernized Tsimane regions, and examine the formation of maternal beliefs regarding infant feeding.

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Are Stepparents Always Evil? Parental Death, Remarriage, and Child Survival in Demographically Saturated Krummhörn (1720–1859) and Expanding Québec (1670–1750)

Kai Willführ & Alain Gagnon
Biodemography and Social Biology, Fall 2013, Pages 191-211

Abstract:
Parental death precipitates a cascade of events leading to more or less detrimental exposures, from the sudden and dramatic interruption of parental care to cohabitation with stepparents and siblings in a recomposed family. This article compares the effect of early parental loss on child survival in the past in the Krummhörn region of East Frisia (Germany) and among the French Canadian settlers of the Saint Lawrence Valley (Québec, Canada). The Krummhörn region was characterized by a saturated habitat, while the opportunities for establishing a new family were virtually unlimited for the French Canadian settlers. Early parental loss had quite different consequences in these dissimilar environments. Event history analyses with time-varying specification of family structure are used on a sample of 7,077 boys and 6,906 girls born between 1720 and 1859 in the Krummhörn region and 31,490 boys and 33,109 girls whose parents married between 1670 and 1750 in Québec. Results indicate that in both populations, parental loss is associated with increased infant and child mortality. Maternal loss has a universal and consistent effect for both sexes, while the impact of paternal loss is less easy to establish and interpret. On the other hand, the effect of the remarriage of the surviving spouse is population-specific: the mother's remarriage has no effect in Krummhörn, while it is beneficial in Québec. In contrast, the father's remarriage in Krummhörn dramatically reduces the survival chances of the children born from his former marriage, while such an effect is not seen for Québec. These population-specific effects appear to be driven by the availability of resources and call into question the universality of the “Cinderella” effect.

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Strategic Parenting, Birth Order and School Performance

Joseph Hotz & Juan Pantano
NBER Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
Fueled by new evidence, there has been renewed interest about the effects of birth order on human capital accumulation. The underlying causal mechanisms for such effects remain unsettled. We consider a model in which parents impose more stringent disciplinary environments in response to their earlier-born children’s poor performance in school in order to deter such outcomes for their later-born offspring. We provide robust empirical evidence that school performance of children in the NLSY-C declines with birth order as does the stringency of their parents' disciplinary restrictions. And, when asked how they will respond if a child brought home bad grades, parents state that they would be less likely to punish their later-born children. Taken together, these patterns are consistent with a reputation model of strategic parenting.

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The making of Darth Vader: Parent–child care and the Dark Triad

Peter Jonason, Minna Lyons & Emily Bethell
Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does the quality of the relationship one has with their parents influence the development of “dark” personality traits? We examined (N = 352) the Dark Triad traits (i.e., narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism) and their components in relation to a measure of parental care and a measure of attachment. Machiavellianism was the most susceptible to variance associated with low quality or irregular parental care and attachment patterns. Low quality parental care for narcissism and psychopathy had effects localized to components of each trait and specific to the sex of the parent. Path modeling suggests the quality of parental care leads to attachment patterns which may then lead to different aspects of the Dark Triad.

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Observed parenting behaviors interact with a polymorphism of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene to predict the emergence of oppositional defiant and callous–unemotional behaviors at age 3 years

Michael Willoughby et al.
Development and Psychopathology, November 2013, Pages 903-917

Abstract:
Using the Durham Child Health and Development Study, this study (N = 171) tested whether observed parenting behaviors in infancy (6 and 12 months) and toddlerhood/preschool (24 and 36 months) interacted with a child polymorphism of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene to predict oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and callous–unemotional (CU) behaviors at age 3 years. Child genotype interacted with observed harsh and intrusive (but not sensitive) parenting to predict ODD and CU behaviors. Harsh–intrusive parenting was more strongly associated with ODD and CU for children with a methionine allele of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene. CU behaviors were uniquely predicted by harsh–intrusive parenting in infancy, whereas ODD behaviors were predicted by harsh–intrusive parenting in both infancy and toddlerhood/preschool. The results are discussed from the perspective of the contributions of caregiving behaviors as contributing to distinct aspects of early onset disruptive behavior.

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Childhood maltreatment is associated with altered fear circuitry and increased internalizing symptoms by late adolescence

Ryan Herringa et al.
Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Maltreatment during childhood is a major risk factor for anxiety and depression, which are major public health problems. However, the underlying brain mechanism linking maltreatment and internalizing disorders remains poorly understood. Maltreatment may alter the activation of fear circuitry, but little is known about its impact on the connectivity of this circuitry in adolescence and whether such brain changes actually lead to internalizing symptoms. We examined the associations between experiences of maltreatment during childhood, resting-state functional brain connectivity (rs-FC) of the amygdala and hippocampus, and internalizing symptoms in 64 adolescents participating in a longitudinal community study. Childhood experiences of maltreatment were associated with lower hippocampus–subgenual cingulate rs-FC in both adolescent females and males and lower amygdala–subgenual cingulate rs-FC in females only. Furthermore, rs-FC mediated the association of maltreatment during childhood with adolescent internalizing symptoms. Thus, maltreatment in childhood, even at the lower severity levels found in a community sample, may alter the regulatory capacity of the brain’s fear circuit, leading to increased internalizing symptoms by late adolescence. These findings highlight the importance of fronto–hippocampal connectivity for both sexes in internalizing symptoms following maltreatment in childhood. Furthermore, the impact of maltreatment during childhood on both fronto–amygdala and –hippocampal connectivity in females may help explain their higher risk for internalizing disorders such as anxiety and depression.

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Genetic vulnerability interacts with parenting and early care and education to predict increasing externalizing behavior

Shannon Lipscomb et al.
International Journal of Behavioral Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current study examined interactions among genetic influences and children’s early environments on the development of externalizing behaviors from 18 months to 6 years of age. Participants included 233 families linked through adoption (birth parents and adoptive families). Genetic influences were assessed by birth parent temperamental regulation. Early environments included both family (overreactive parenting) and out-of-home factors (center-based Early Care and Education; ECE). Overreactive parenting predicted more child externalizing behaviors. Attending center-based ECE was associated with increasing externalizing behaviors only for children with genetic liability for dysregulation. Additionally, children who were at risk for externalizing behaviors due to both genetic variability and exposure to center-based ECE were more sensitive to the effects of overreactive parenting on externalizing behavior than other children.

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Pity or peanuts? Oxytocin induces different neural responses to the same infant crying labeled as sick or bored

Madelon Riem et al.
Developmental Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The neuropeptide oxytocin plays an important role in mother–infant bonding. However, recent studies indicate that the effects of oxytocin on prosociality are dependent on perceived social context. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we examined differential effects of intranasally administered oxytocin on neural responding to 500 and 700 Hz crying that was indicated as emanating from a sick infant and 500 and 700 Hz crying emanating from a bored infant. We found that oxytocin significantly increased insula and inferior frontal gyrus responding to sick infant crying, but decreased activation in these brain regions during exposure to crying of an infant that was labeled as bored. In addition, oxytocin decreased amygdala responding to 500 Hz crying, but increased amygdala responding to 700 Hz crying. These findings indicate that labeling the same infant crying as ‘sick’ or as ‘bored’ drastically changes neural activity in response to intranasal oxytocin administration. Oxytocin increases empathic reactions to sick infants' crying, but lowers the perceived urgency of crying of an infant perceived as bored, thus flexibly adapting adult responses to infant crying labeled in various ways.

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Too much of a good thing: Evolutionary perspectives on infant formula fortification in the United States and its effects on infant health

Elizabeth Quinn
American Journal of Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recently, there has been considerable debate regarding the appropriate amount of iron fortification for commercial infant formula. Globally, there is considerable variation in formula iron content, from 4 to 12 mg iron/L. However, how much fortification is necessary is unclear. Human milk is low in iron (0.2–0.5 mg/L), with the majority of infant iron stores accumulated during gestation. Over the first few months of life, these stores are depleted in breastfeeding infants. This decline has been previously largely perceived as pathological; it may be instead an adaptive mechanism to minimize iron availability to pathogens coinciding with complementary feeding. Many of the pathogens involved in infantile illnesses require iron for growth and replication. By reducing infant iron stores at the onset of complementary feeding, infant physiology may limit its availability to these pathogens, decreasing frequency and severity of infection. This adaptive strategy for iron regulation during development is undermined by the excess dietary iron commonly found in infant formula, both the iron that can be incorporated into the body and the excess iron that will be excreted in feces. Some of this excess iron may promote the growth of pathogenic, iron requiring bacteria disrupting synergistic microflora commonly found in breastfed infants. Evolutionarily, mothers who produced milk with less iron and infants who had decreased iron stores at the time of weaning may have been more likely to survive the transition to solid foods by having limited iron available for pathogens. Contemporary fortification practices may undermine these adaptive mechanisms and increase infant illness risk.

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The male advantage in child facial resemblance detection: Behavioral and ERP evidence

Haiyan Wu et al.
Social Neuroscience, November/December 2013, Pages 555-567

Abstract:
Males have been suggested to have advantages over females in reactions to child facial resemblance, which reflects the evolutionary pressure on males to solve the adaptive paternal uncertainty problem and to identify biological offspring. However, previous studies showed inconsistent results and the male advantage in child facial resemblance perception, as a kin detection mechanism, is still unclear. Here, we investigated the behavioral and brain mechanisms underlying the self-resembling faces processing and how it interacts with sex and age using event-related potential (ERP) technique. The results showed a stable male advantage in self-resembling child faces processing, such that males have higher detectability to self-resembling child faces than females. For ERP results, males showed smaller N2 and larger late positive component (LPC) amplitudes for self-resembling child faces, which may reflect face-matching and self-referential processing in kin detection, respectively. Further source analysis showed that the N2 component and LPC were originated from the anterior cingulate cortex and medial frontal gyrus, respectively. Our results support the male advantage in self-resembling child detection and further indicate that such distinctions can be found in both early and late processing stages in the brain at different regions.

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Oxytocin and Vasopressin Support Distinct Configurations of Social Synchrony

Yael Apter-Levi, Orna Zagoory-Sharon & Ruth Feldman
Brain Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Social synchrony - the coordination of behavior between interacting partners during social contact – is learned within the parent-infant bond and appears in a unique form in mothers and fathers. In this study, we examined hormonal effects of OT and AVP on maternal and paternal behavioral patterns and detail the processes of parent-infant social synchrony as they combine with hormonal activity. Participants included 119 mothers and fathers (not couples) and their 4–6 month-old infants. Baseline OT and AVP were collected from parents and a 10-minute face-to-face interaction with the infant was filmed. Interactions were micro-coded for parent-child contact, social signals, and social- versus-object focused play. Proportions and lag-sequential patterns of social behaviors were computed. Mothers provided more affectionate contact, while fathers provided more stimulatory contact. Parents with high OT levels displayed significantly more affectionate contact compared to parents with low OT and constructed the interaction towards readiness for social engagement by increasing social salience in response to infant social gaze. In contrast, parents with high AVP engaged in stimulatory contact and tended to increase object-salience when infants showed bids for social engagement. OT levels were independently predicted by the amount of affectionate contact and the durations of gaze synchrony, whereas AVP levels were predicted by stimulatory contact, joint attention to objects, and the parent increasing object salience following infant social gaze. Results further specify how synchronous bio-behavioral processes with mother and father support the human infant's entry into the family unit and prepare the child for joining the larger social world.

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Different early rearing experiences have long-term effects on cortical organization in captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

Stephanie Bogart et al.
Developmental Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Consequences of rearing history in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) have been explored in relation to behavioral abnormalities and cognition; however, little is known about the effects of rearing conditions on anatomical brain development. Human studies have revealed that experiences of maltreatment and neglect during infancy and childhood can have detrimental effects on brain development and cognition. In this study, we evaluated the effects of early rearing experience on brain morphology in 92 captive chimpanzees (ages 11–43) who were either reared by their mothers (n = 46) or in a nursery (n = 46) with age-group peers. Magnetic resonance brain images were analyzed with a processing program (BrainVISA) that extracts cortical sulci. We obtained various measurements from 11 sulci located throughout the brain, as well as whole brain gyrification and white and grey matter volumes. We found that mother-reared chimpanzees have greater global white-to-grey matter volume, more cortical folding and thinner grey matter within the cortical folds than nursery-reared animals. The findings reported here are the first to demonstrate that differences in early rearing conditions have significant consequences on brain morphology in chimpanzees and suggests potential differences in the development of white matter expansion and myelination.

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Changes in Bedtime Schedules and Behavioral Difficulties in 7 Year Old Children

Yvonne Kelly, John Kelly & Amanda Sacker
Pediatrics, November 2013, Pages e1184-e1193

Objectives: Causal links between disrupted sleep and behavioral problems in nonclinical populations are far from clear. Research questions were as follows: Are bedtime schedules associated with behavioral difficulties? Do effects of bedtime schedules on behavior build up over early childhood? Are changes in bedtime schedules linked to changes in behavior?

Methods: Data from 10 230 7-year-olds from the UK Millennium Cohort Study, with bedtime data collected at 3, 5, and 7 years, and behavioral difficulties scores as rated by mothers and teachers were analyzed.

Results: Children with nonregular bedtimes had more behavioral difficulties. There was an incremental worsening in behavioral scores as exposure through early childhood to not having regular bedtimes increased: mother rated (nonregular any 1 age, β = 0.53; nonregular any 2 ages, β = 1.04; nonregular all 3 ages, β = 2.10, P < .001) and teacher rated (β = 0.22, β = 0.73, β = 1.85, P < .001). Difference in differences analysis showed that for children who changed from nonregular to regular bedtimes there were clear nontrivial, statistically significant improvements in behavioral scores: A change between age 3 and 7 corresponded to a difference of β = −0.63, and a change between age 5 and 7 corresponded to a difference of β = −1.02). For children who changed from regular to nonregular bedtimes between ages 5 and 7 there was a statistically significant worsening in scores, β = 0.42.

Conclusions: Having regular bedtimes during early childhood is an important influence on children’s behavior. There are clear opportunities for interventions aimed at supporting family routines that could have important impacts on health throughout life.

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Reciprocal Relations Between Children’s Sleep and Their Adjustment Over Time

Ryan Kelly & Mona El-Sheikh
Developmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Child sleep and adjustment research with community samples is on the rise with a recognized need of explicating this association. We examined reciprocal relations between children’s sleep and their internalizing and externalizing symptoms using 3 waves of data spanning 5 years. Participants included 176 children at Time 1 (M = 8.68 years; 69% European American, 31% African American), 141 children at Time 2 (M = 10.70 years), and 113 children at Time 3 (M = 13.60 years). Children were from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Sleep was measured subjectively via self-reports and objectively via actigraphy and adjustment was assessed with parent and child reports. Cross-lagged panel models indicated that reduced sleep duration and worse sleep quality predicted greater depression, anxiety, and externalizing symptoms over time. To a lesser extent but supportive of reciprocal relations, adjustment predicted changes in sleep. Findings illustrate the reciprocal nature of relations between sleep and adjustment difficulties in otherwise typically developing youth.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, November 18, 2013

Securities and exchange

Chinese superstition in US commodity trading

Richard Chung, Ali Darrat & Bin Li
Applied Economics Letters, Winter 2014, Pages 171-175

Abstract:
We examine the potential effect of Chinese superstition on the prices of four commodities traded in the US commodity market using daily data from January 1994 to September 2012. We focus on market responses to days that Chinese traders superstitiously deem as either lucky or unlucky. Our results suggest that day 4 in the month (considered unlucky) is associated with significantly lower returns for three commodities (copper, cotton and soybean). The evidence controls for the possible effects of other anomalies and emerges despite the fact that China buys only about half of the US total exports of these commodities. These results seem in conflict with an efficient US commodity market as it opens the possibility for formulating profitable trading rules based on day 4 trading.

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Valuing Private Equity

Morten Sorensen, Neng Wang & Jinqiang Yang
NBER Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
We investigate whether the performance of Private Equity (PE) investments is sufficient to compensate investors (LPs) for risk, long-term illiquidity, management and incentive fees charged by the general partner (GP). We analyze the LP's portfolio-choice problem and find that management fees, carried interest and illiquidity are costly, and GPs must generate substantial alpha to compensate LPs for bearing these costs. Debt is cheap and reduces these costs, potentially explaining the high leverage of buyout transactions. Conventional interpretations of PE performance measures appear optimistic. On average, LPs may just break even, net of management fees, carry, risk, and costs of illiquidity.

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Information Asymmetry and Insider Trading: Evidence from Exogenous Changes in Analyst Coverage

Wei Wu
University of Chicago Working Paper, September 2013

Abstract:
I investigate the impact of the brokerage closure-related termination of analyst coverage, which increases the information asymmetry of the affected firms, on insider trading. Using a difference-in-differences approach, I find that after the termination of analyst coverage, corporate insiders obtain significantly higher abnormal returns and larger abnormal profits. Insiders' trading volume and transaction value remain unchanged in illiquid stocks, whereas they increase significantly in liquid stocks. The effects are more pronounced in firms with fewer analysts, and stronger prior to the adoption of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Overall, my findings establish a causal link between information asymmetry and insider trading.

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Analyst Recommendations, Mutual Fund Herding, and Overreaction in Stock Prices

Nerissa Brown, Kelsey Wei & Russ Wermers
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper documents that mutual funds "herd" (trade together) into stocks with consensus sell-side analyst upgrades, and herd out of stocks with consensus downgrades. This influence of analyst recommendation changes on fund herding is stronger for downgrades, and among managers with greater career concerns. These findings indicate that career-concerned managers are incentivized to follow analyst information, and that managers have a greater tendency to herd on negative stock information, given the greater reputational and litigation risk of holding losing stocks. Furthermore, starting in the mid-1990s (when aggregate mutual fund equity ownership is significantly higher), stocks traded by career-concerned herds of fund managers in response to analyst recommendation changes experience a significant same-quarter price impact, followed by a sharp subsequent price reversal. Our evidence suggests that analyst recommendation revisions induce herding by career-concerned fund managers, and that this type of trading has become price destabilizing with the increasing level of mutual fund ownership of stocks.

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Abrupt rise of new machine ecology beyond human response time

Neil Johnson et al.
Scientific Reports, September 2013

Abstract:
Society's techno-social systems are becoming ever faster and more computer-orientated. However, far from simply generating faster versions of existing behaviour, we show that this speed-up can generate a new behavioural regime as humans lose the ability to intervene in real time. Analyzing millisecond-scale data for the world's largest and most powerful techno-social system, the global financial market, we uncover an abrupt transition to a new all-machine phase characterized by large numbers of subsecond extreme events. The proliferation of these subsecond events shows an intriguing correlation with the onset of the system-wide financial collapse in 2008. Our findings are consistent with an emerging ecology of competitive machines featuring 'crowds' of predatory algorithms, and highlight the need for a new scientific theory of subsecond financial phenomena.

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Do Stock Markets Catch the Flu?

Brian McTier, Yiuman Tse & John Wald
Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, June 2013, Pages 979-1000

Abstract:
We examine the impact of influenza on stock markets. For the United States, a higher incidence of flu is associated with decreased trading, decreased volatility, decreased returns, and higher bid-ask spreads. Consistent with the flu affecting institutional investors and market makers, the decrease in trading activity and volatility is primarily driven by the incidence of influenza in the greater New York City area. However, the effect of the flu on bid-ask spreads and returns is related to the incidence of flu nationally. International data confirm our findings of a decrease in trading activity and returns when flu incidence is high.

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The Impact of Venture Capital Monitoring: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Shai Bernstein, Xavier Giroud & Richard Townsend
Stanford Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
We examine whether venture capitalists contribute to the innovation and success of their portfolio companies, or merely select companies that are already poised to innovate and succeed. To do so, we exploit exogenous reductions in monitoring costs stemming from the introduction of new airline routes between venture capital firms and their existing portfolio companies. Within an existing relationship, we find that reductions in travel time are associated with an increase in the number of patents and number of citations per patent of the portfolio company, as well as an increase in the likelihood of an eventual IPO or acquisition. These results are robust when controlling for local shocks that could potentially drive the introduction of the new airline routes. We further document that the effect is concentrated in routes that connect lead VCs with portfolio companies, as opposed to other investors. Overall, these results are consistent with the monitoring channel and hence indicate that venture capitalists' physical presence at their portfolio companies is an important determinant of innovation and success.

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CEO Interviews on CNBC

Han (Andy) Kim & Felix Meschke
University of Kansas Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
We investigate whether media attention systematically affects stock prices through the trading of individual investors by exploiting the substantial discrepancy between perceived and actual information content of 6,937 CEO interviews on CNBC. The average cumulative abnormal stock return over the [-2, 0] trading day window is 1.62%, yet prices exhibit strong reversion of 1.08% over the following ten trading days. The magnitude of price response is positively correlated with the viewership as well as the language tone of the CEO. We find that individual investors are net buyers on the interview days, and that they keep on buying if the interview was both carried out by attractive anchorwoman and was watched by more male viewers. The price reversal is attributable to abnormal short-selling volume on interview day. Moreover, we find that the price run-up before the interviews is largely driven by individual investors that are excited even at the pre-announcement of the interview. We also find evidence of asymmetric attention cascade coming from CNBC interview upon the tone of media coverage of the firm, tilted towards the negative.

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Uninvited U.S. Investors? Economic Consequences of Involuntary Cross-listings

Peter Iliev, Darius Miller & Lukas Roth
Journal of Accounting Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study the economic consequences of a recent SEC securities regulation change that grants foreign firms trading on the U.S. OTC market an automatic exemption from the reporting requirements of the 1934 Securities Act. We document that the number of voluntary (sponsored) OTC cross-listings did not increase following the regulation change, suggesting that it did not achieve its intended purpose of increasing voluntary OTC cross-listings through a reduction in compliance costs. We do find that the design of the regulation allowed financial intermediaries to create an unprecedented number of involuntary (unsponsored) OTC ADRs: 1,700 unsponsored ADR programs for 920 firms were created for companies that had previously chosen not to cross-list in the United States. Our difference-in-differences analysis based on a matched sample approach documents that foreign firms forced into the U.S. capital markets experience a significant decrease in firm value, and we further show that the decrease in firm value is related to an increase in U.S. litigation risk. We also find that depositary banks' propensity to involuntarily cross-list firms is positively related to banks' expected fee revenue, and that banks chose firms that incur high costs when involuntarily cross-listed. Our results provide evidence that securities regulation can be exploited for private gain and result in costly unintended consequences.

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The Aggregate Effects of Decentralized Knowledge Production: Financial Bloggers and Information Asymmetries in the Stock Market

Gregory Saxton & Ashley Anker
Journal of Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
New media have markedly enhanced individuals' capacity to produce and disseminate original knowledge; however, the literature has not extensively examined the broad effects of such decentralized production processes. This study thus focuses on a unique context - the stock market - in which it is possible to test the aggregate impact of blog-based information production. Using data on 150 top financial bloggers and stock returns from the S&P 500, this study supports the hypothesis that financial blogging activity diminishes harmful information asymmetries between key market investors. This study thus adds to the "media effects" literature, highlights the societal relevance of bloggers, and shows how economic concepts and financial market settings can be employed for powerfully testing communication theories.

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Home Bias and Local Contagion: Evidence from Funds of Hedge Funds

Clemens Sialm, Zheng Sun & Lu Zheng
NBER Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
This paper analyzes the geographical preferences of hedge fund investors and the implication of these preferences for hedge fund performance. We find that funds of hedge funds overweight their investments in hedge funds located in the same geographical areas and that funds of funds with a stronger local bias exhibit superior performance. However, this local bias of funds of funds adversely impacts the hedge funds by creating excess comovement and local contagion. Overall, our results suggest that while local funds of funds benefit from local performance advantages, their local bias creates market segmentation that could destabilize financial markets.

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Voluntary Disclosure and Information Asymmetry: Evidence from the 2005 Securities Offering Reform

Nemit Shroff et al.
Journal of Accounting Research, December 2013, Pages 1299-1345

Abstract:
In 2005, the Securities and Exchange Commission enacted the Securities Offering Reform (Reform), which relaxes "gun-jumping" restrictions, thereby allowing firms to more freely disclose information before equity offerings. We examine the effect of the Reform on voluntary disclosure behavior before equity offerings and the associated economic consequences. We find that firms provide significantly more preoffering disclosures after the Reform. Further, we find that these preoffering disclosures are associated with a decrease in information asymmetry and a reduction in the cost of raising equity capital. Our findings not only inform the debate on the market effect of the Reform, but also speak to the literature on the relation between voluntary disclosure and information asymmetry by examining the effect of quasi-exogenous changes in voluntary disclosure on information asymmetry, and thus a firm's cost of capital.

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Sending Mixed Messages: Investor Interpretations of Disclosures of Analyst Stock Ownership

Ahmed Taha & John Petrocelli
Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, forthcoming

Abstract:
Sell-side securities analysts who recommend stocks that they own have a conflict of interest. If investors buy the stocks in response to the analysts' recommendations, the stocks' prices will rise, increasing the analysts' personal wealth. Thus, analysts are legally required to disclose financial interests in securities of companies they cover. However, investors might view this disclosure favorably - for example, as a sign of the analyst's confidence in the stock - rather than unfavorably as the law intends. This article presents the results of an experiment indicating that investors view analyst stock ownership more unfavorably than favorably. In addition, the experiment's results suggest that disclosures that also briefly explain why analyst stock ownership creates a conflict of interest would lead investors to view it even more unfavorably.

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In the Mind of the Market: Theory of Mind Biases Value Computation during Financial Bubbles

Benedetto De Martino et al.
Neuron, 18 September 2013, Pages 1222-1231

Abstract:
The ability to infer intentions of other agents, called theory of mind (ToM), confers strong advantages for individuals in social situations. Here, we show that ToM can also be maladaptive when people interact with complex modern institutions like financial markets. We tested participants who were investing in an experimental bubble market, a situation in which the price of an asset is much higher than its underlying fundamental value. We describe a mechanism by which social signals computed in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex affect value computations in ventromedial prefrontal cortex, thereby increasing an individual's propensity to 'ride' financial bubbles and lose money. These regions compute a financial metric that signals variations in order flow intensity, prompting inference about other traders' intentions. Our results suggest that incorporating inferences about the intentions of others when making value judgments in a complex financial market could lead to the formation of market bubbles.

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Mood and the Market: Can Press Reports of Investors' Mood Predict Stock Prices?

Yochi Cohen-Charash et al.
PLoS ONE, August 2013

Abstract:
We examined whether press reports on the collective mood of investors can predict changes in stock prices. We collected data on the use of emotion words in newspaper reports on traders' affect, coded these emotion words according to their location on an affective circumplex in terms of pleasantness and activation level, and created indices of collective mood for each trading day. Then, by using time series analyses, we examined whether these mood indices, depicting investors' emotion on a given trading day, could predict the next day's opening price of the stock market. The strongest findings showed that activated pleasant mood predicted increases in NASDAQ prices, while activated unpleasant mood predicted decreases in NASDAQ prices. We conclude that both valence and activation levels of collective mood are important in predicting trend continuation in stock prices.

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Do Private Equity Fund Managers Earn Their Fees? Compensation, Ownership, and Cash Flow Performance

David Robinson & Berk Sensoy
Review of Financial Studies, November 2013, Pages 2760-2797

Abstract:
We study the relations between management contract terms and performance in private equity using new data for 837 funds from 1984-2010. We find no evidence that higher fees or lower managerial ownership are associated with lower net-of-fee performance. Nevertheless, compensation rises and shifts to performance-insensitive components during fundraising booms. Further, the behavior of distributions around contractual fee triggers is consistent with an underlying agency conflict between investors and fund managers. Our evidence suggests that managers with higher fees deliver higher gross performance, and highlights that agency costs are an inevitable consequence of the information frictions endemic to agency relationships.

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What a Difference a Ph.D. Makes: More than Three Little Letters

Ranadeb Chaudhuri et al.
Indiana University Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
Several hundred individuals who hold a Ph.D. in economics, finance, or others fields work for institutional money management companies. The gross performance of domestic equity investment products managed by individuals with a Ph.D. (Ph.D. products) is superior to the performance of non-Ph.D. products matched by objective, size, and past performance for one-year returns, Sharpe Ratios, alphas, information ratios, and the manipulation-proof measure MPPM. Fees for Ph.D. products are lower than those for non-Ph.D. products. Investment flows to Ph.D. products substantially exceed the flows to the matched non-Ph.D. products. Ph.D.s' publications in leading economics and finance journals further enhance the performance gap.

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What causes the favourite-longshot bias? Further evidence from tennis

Jiří Lahvička
Applied Economics Letters, Winter 2014, Pages 90-92

Abstract:
In sports betting markets, bets on favourites tend to have a higher expected value than bets on longshots. This article uses a data set of almost 45 000 professional single tennis matches to show that the favourite-longshot bias is much stronger in matches between lower-ranked players, in later-round matches and in high-profile tournaments. These results cannot be solely explained by bettors being locally risk-loving or overestimating chances of longshots, but are consistent with bookmakers protecting themselves against both better informed insiders and the general public exploiting new information.

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Signaling Organizational Virtue: An Examination of Virtue Rhetoric, Country-Level Corruption, and Performance of Foreign IPOs from Emerging and Developed Economies

Tyge Payne et al.
Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, September 2013, Pages 230-251

Abstract:
Extending signaling theory by discussing rhetoric in terms of cost and observability, we examine the relationship between organizational virtue rhetoric in prospectuses and the performance of foreign IPOs from 35 different countries. We also explore how the nature of this relationship is contingent upon the level of perceived corruption for each IPO firm's home country, a pervasive and costly problem for emerging economy countries due to its impact on economic growth and national governance. Our results indicate that signaling organizational virtue in prospectuses leads to higher levels of foreign IPO performance, which is positively moderated by perceived home country corruption.

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Are Analysts' Recommendations Informative? Intraday Evidence on the Impact of Time Stamp Delays

Daniel Bradley et al.
Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
We demonstrate that time stamps reported in I/B/E/S for analysts' recommendations released during trading hours are systematically delayed. Using newswire-reported time stamps, we find 30-minute returns of 1.83% (-2.10%) for upgrades (downgrades), but for this subset of recommendations we find corresponding returns of -0.07% (-0.09%) using I/B/E/S-reported time stamps. We also examine the information content of recommendations relative to management guidance and earnings announcements. Our evidence suggests that analysts' recommendations are the most important information disclosure channel examined.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, November 18, 2013

Call me crazy

Divided We Stand: Three Psychological Regions of the United States and Their Political, Economic, Social, and Health Correlates

Peter Rentfrow et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
There is overwhelming evidence for regional variation across the United States on a range of key political, economic, social, and health indicators. However, a substantial body of research suggests that activities in each of these domains are typically influenced by psychological variables, raising the possibility that psychological forces might be the mediating or causal factors responsible for regional variation in the key indicators. Thus, the present article examined whether configurations of psychological variables, in this case personality traits, can usefully be used to segment the country. Do regions emerge that can be defined in terms of their characteristic personality profiles? How are those regions distributed geographically? And are they associated with particular patterns of key political, economic, social, and health indicators? Results from cluster analyses of 5 independent samples totaling over 1.5 million individuals identified 3 robust psychological profiles: Friendly & Conventional, Relaxed & Creative, and Temperamental & Uninhibited. The psychological profiles were found to cluster geographically and displayed unique patterns of associations with key geographical indicators. The findings demonstrate the value of a geographical perspective in unpacking the connections between microlevel processes and consequential macrolevel outcomes.

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Embodied Terror Management: Interpersonal Touch Alleviates Existential Concerns Among Individuals With Low Self-Esteem

Sander Koole, Mandy Tjew A Sin & Iris Schneider
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Individuals with low (rather than high) self-esteem often struggle with existential concerns. In the present research, we examined whether these existential concerns may be alleviated by seemingly trivial experiences of both real and simulated interpersonal touch. A brief touch on the shoulder by a female experimenter led individuals with low self-esteem to experience less death anxiety (Study 1) and more social connectedness after a death reminder (Study 2). Reminding individuals with low self-esteem of death increased their desire for touch, as indicated by higher value estimates of a teddy bear, a toy animal that simulates interpersonal touch (Study 3). Finally, holding a teddy bear (vs. a cardboard box) led individuals with low self-esteem to respond to a death reminder with less defensive ethnocentrism (Study 4). Individuals with high self-esteem were unaffected by touch (Studies 1-4). These findings highlight the existential significance of embodied touch experiences, particularly for individuals with low self-esteem.

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Race and Schizophrenia Diagnoses in Four Types of Hospitals

Arnold Barnes
Journal of Black Studies, September 2013, Pages 665-681

Abstract:
Overdiagnosis of schizophrenia is a mental health disparity that negatively affects Black clients in terms of increased risk of hospitalization and incorrect drug therapy. The present study investigated the extent of overdiagnosis in four different types of hospitals and client characteristics associated with this disparity. Data on 1,641 inpatient clients from a national survey were analyzed. Results revealed that in each type of hospital, Black clients were more likely than White clients to be diagnosed with schizophrenia rather than a mood disorder. After controlling for the influence of client clinical and demographic variables, client race was the most significant predictor of schizophrenia diagnoses in the hospitals collectively. These findings further document the need for initiatives to address this disparity.

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Relationships of choice: Can friendships or fictive kinships explain the race paradox in mental health?

Dawne Mouzon
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
African Americans typically exhibit similar or better mental health outcomes than whites, an unexpected pattern given their disproportionate exposure to psychosocial stressors. The "race paradox in mental health" has been attributed to presumed stronger social ties among blacks but there is scarce empirical research in this regard. Using data from the 2001-2003 National Survey of American Life (N = 4,086), I test whether more abundant and higher quality friendships and fictive kin relationships among African Americans (if they exist) account for the race paradox in mental health. I find few race differences in the quantity and quality of friendships and fictive kinships and these differences did not explain the race paradox in mental health. Future research should investigate other potential resilience mechanisms among African Americans to explain their relatively positive mental health outcomes.

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Antidepressant Use and Method of Suicide in the United States: Variation by Age and Sex, 1998-2007

Julie Phillips & Colleen Nugent
Archives of Suicide Research, Fall 2013, Pages 360-372

Abstract:
This study examines the association between antidepressant use and suicide rates, by sex, age, and method of suicide, between 1998 and 2007 in the United States. Overall suicide rates for the young and elderly declined but rates for the middle-aged increased. All age groups experienced increases in antidepressant use. The elderly exhibited the largest increase in antidepressant usage and biggest declines in suicide rates. Firearm suicides for men and women declined but suicide by drug poisoning rose, particularly for women. For young males and elderly males and females, better treatment of severe depression may have contributed to declining suicide rates. However, rising rates of prescription drug use are associated with higher levels of suicide by drug poisoning.

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Human genome-guided identification of memory-modulating drugs

Andreas Papassotiropoulos et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 12 November 2013, Pages E4369-E4374

Abstract:
In the last decade there has been an exponential increase in knowledge about the genetic basis of complex human traits, including neuropsychiatric disorders. It is not clear, however, to what extent this knowledge can be used as a starting point for drug identification, one of the central hopes of the human genome project. The aim of the present study was to identify memory-modulating compounds through the use of human genetic information. We performed a multinational collaborative study, which included assessment of aversive memory - a trait central to posttraumatic stress disorder - and a gene-set analysis in healthy individuals. We identified 20 potential drug target genes in two genomewide-corrected gene sets: the neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction and the long-term depression gene set. In a subsequent double-blind, placebo-controlled study in healthy volunteers, we aimed at providing a proof of concept for the genome-guided identification of memory modulating compounds. Pharmacological intervention at the neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction gene set led to significant reduction of aversive memory. The findings demonstrate that genome information, along with appropriate data mining methodology, can be used as a starting point for the identification of memory-modulating compounds.

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Saving Can Save from Death Anxiety: Mortality Salience and Financial Decision-Making

Tomasz Zaleskiewicz, Agata Gasiorowska & Pelin Kesebir
PLoS ONE, November 2013

Abstract:
Four studies tested the idea that saving money can buffer death anxiety and constitute a more effective buffer than spending money. Saving can relieve future-related anxiety and provide people with a sense of control over their fate, thereby rendering death thoughts less threatening. Study 1 found that participants primed with both saving and spending reported lower death fear than controls. Saving primes, however, were associated with significantly lower death fear than spending primes. Study 2 demonstrated that mortality primes increase the attractiveness of more frugal behaviors in save-or-spend dilemmas. Studies 3 and 4 found, in two different cultures (Polish and American), that the activation of death thoughts prompts people to allocate money to saving as opposed to spending. Overall, these studies provided evidence that saving protects from existential anxiety, and probably more so than spending.

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Written Exposure Therapy for Veterans Diagnosed with PTSD: A Pilot Study

Denise Sloan et al.
Journal of Traumatic Stress, forthcoming

Abstract:
There is a need to identify alternative treatment options for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially among veterans where PTSD tends to be more difficult to treat and dropout rates are especially high. One potential alternative is written exposure therapy, a brief intervention shown to treat PTSD among civilians effectively. This study investigated the feasibility and tolerability of written exposure therapy in an uncontrolled trial with a sample of 7 male veterans diagnosed with PTSD. Findings indicated that written exposure therapy was well tolerated and well received. Only 1 of the 7 veterans dropped out of treatment, no adverse events occurred during the course of treatment, and veterans provided high treatment satisfaction ratings. Clinically significant improvements in PTSD symptom severity were observed for 4 veterans at posttreatment and 6 veterans at the 3-month follow up. Moreover, 5 of the 7 veterans no longer met diagnostic criteria for PTSD 3 months following treatment. These findings suggest that written exposure therapy holds promise as a brief, well tolerated treatment for veterans with PTSD. However, additional research using randomized controlled trial methodology is needed to confirm its efficacy.

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Casual Sexual Relationships and Mental Health in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood

Sara Sandberg-Thoma & Claire Kamp Dush
Journal of Sex Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Casual sexual relationships are relatively common in emerging adulthood. Yet the mental health implications of engaging in these relationships are unclear; past research has found negative associations, positive associations, or no association with mental health. In addition, little research has accounted for mental health status prior to entering casual sexual relationships. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 12,401), we measured mental health prior to engaging in casual sexual relationships and subsequent mental health after engaging in these relationships. We found that suicidal ideation and depressive symptoms in adolescence were associated with entrance into casual sexual relationships in emerging adulthood. Furthermore, casual sexual relationships were associated with an increased likelihood of reporting suicidal ideation in emerging adulthood.

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Sex Differences and Emotion Regulation: An Event-Related Potential Study

Elyse Gardener et al.
PLoS ONE, October 2013

Abstract:
Difficulties in emotion regulation have been implicated as a potential mechanism underlying anxiety and mood disorders. It is possible that sex differences in emotion regulation may contribute towards the heightened female prevalence for these disorders. Previous fMRI studies of sex differences in emotion regulation have shown mixed results, possibly due to difficulties in discriminating the component processes of early emotional reactivity and emotion regulation. The present study used event-related potentials (ERPs) to examine sex differences in N1 and N2 components (reflecting early emotional reactivity) and P3 and LPP components (reflecting emotion regulation). N1, N2, P3, and LPP were recorded from 20 men and 23 women who were instructed to "increase," "decrease," and "maintain" their emotional response during passive viewing of negative images. Results indicated that women had significantly greater N1 and N2 amplitudes (reflecting early emotional reactivity) to negative stimuli than men, supporting a female negativity bias. LPP amplitudes increased to the "increase" instruction, and women displayed greater LPP amplitudes than men to the "increase" instruction. There were no differences to the "decrease" instruction in women or men. These findings confirm predictions of the female negativity bias hypothesis and suggest that women have greater up-regulation of emotional responses to negative stimuli. This finding is highly significant in light of the female vulnerability for developing anxiety disorders.

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Differential susceptibility in longitudinal models of gene-environment interaction for adolescent depression

James Li, Michele Berk & Steve Lee
Development and Psychopathology, November 2013, Pages 991-1003

Abstract:
Although family support reliably predicts the development of adolescent depression and suicidal behaviors, relatively little is known about the interplay of family support with potential genetic factors. We tested the association of the 44 base pair polymorphism in the serotonin transporter linked promoter region gene (5-HTTLPR), family support (i.e., cohesion, communication, and warmth), and their interaction with self-reported depression symptoms and risk for suicide in 1,030 Caucasian adolescents and young adults from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. High-quality family support predicted fewer symptoms of depression and reduced risk for suicidality. There was also a significant interaction between 5-HTTLPR and family support for boys and a marginally significant interaction for girls. Among boys with poor family support, youth with at least one short allele had more symptoms of depression and a higher risk for suicide attempts relative to boys homozygous for the long allele. However, in the presence of high family support, boys with the short allele had the fewest depression symptoms (but not suicide attempts). Results suggest that the short allele may increase reactivity to both negative and positive family influences in the development of depression. We discuss the potential role of interactive exchanges between family support and offspring genotype in the development of adolescent depression and suicidal behaviors.

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The risk of unintended pregnancy among young women with mental health symptoms

Kelli Stidham Hall et al.
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
Depression and stress have been linked with poor contraceptive behavior, but whether existing mental health symptoms influence women's subsequent risk of unintended pregnancy is unclear. We prospectively examined the effect of depression and stress symptoms on young women's pregnancy risk over one year. We used panel data from a longitudinal study of 992 U.S. women ages 18-20 years who reported a strong desire to avoid pregnancy. Weekly journal surveys measured relationship, contraceptive use and pregnancy outcomes. We examined 27,572 journal surveys from 940 women over the first study year. Our outcome was self-reported pregnancy. At baseline, we assessed moderate/severe depression (CESD-5) and stress (PSS-4) symptoms. We estimated the effect of baseline mental health symptoms on pregnancy risk with discrete-time, mixed-effects, proportional hazard models using logistic regression. At baseline, 24% and 23% of women reported moderate/severe depression and stress symptoms, respectively. Ten percent of young women not intending pregnancy became pregnant during the study. Rates of pregnancy were higher among women with baseline depression (14% vs. 9%, p=0.04) and stress (15% vs. 9%, p=0.03) compared to women without symptoms. In multivariable models, the risk of pregnancy was 1.6 times higher among women with stress symptoms compared to those without stress (aRR 1.6, CI 1.1,2.7). Women with co-occurring stress and depression symptoms had over twice the risk of pregnancy (aRR 2.1, CI 1.1,3.8) compared to those without symptoms. Among women without a prior pregnancy, having co-occurring stress and depression symptoms was the strongest predictor of subsequent pregnancy (aRR 2.3, CI 1.2,4.3), while stress alone was the strongest predictor among women with a prior pregnancy (aRR 3.0, CI 1.1,8.8). Depression symptoms were not independently associated with young women's pregnancy risk. In conclusion, stress, and especially co-occurring stress and depression symptoms, consistently and adversely influenced these young women's risk of unintended pregnancy over one year.

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Purpose in Life Predicts Better Emotional Recovery from Negative Stimuli

Stacey Schaefer et al.
PLoS ONE, November 2013

Abstract:
Purpose in life predicts both health and longevity suggesting that the ability to find meaning from life's experiences, especially when confronting life's challenges, may be a mechanism underlying resilience. Having purpose in life may motivate reframing stressful situations to deal with them more productively, thereby facilitating recovery from stress and trauma. In turn, enhanced ability to recover from negative events may allow a person to achieve or maintain a feeling of greater purpose in life over time. In a large sample of adults (aged 36-84 years) from the MIDUS study (Midlife in the U.S., http://www.midus.wisc.edu/), we tested whether purpose in life was associated with better emotional recovery following exposure to negative picture stimuli indexed by the magnitude of the eyeblink startle reflex (EBR), a measure sensitive to emotional state. We differentiated between initial emotional reactivity (during stimulus presentation) and emotional recovery (occurring after stimulus offset). Greater purpose in life, assessed over two years prior, predicted better recovery from negative stimuli indexed by a smaller eyeblink after negative pictures offset, even after controlling for initial reactivity to the stimuli during the picture presentation, gender, age, trait affect, and other well-being dimensions. These data suggest a proximal mechanism by which purpose in life may afford protection from negative events and confer resilience is through enhanced automatic emotion regulation after negative emotional provocation.

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Stress and the healthy adolescent brain: Evidence for the neural embedding of life events

Barbara Ganzel et al.
Development and Psychopathology, November 2013, Pages 879-889

Abstract:
Little is known about the long-term neural consequences of adverse life events for healthy adolescents, and this is particularly the case for events that occur after a putative stress-sensitive period in early childhood. In this functional magnetic resonance imaging study of healthy adolescents, we found that prior exposure to severe adverse life events was associated with current anxiety and with increased amygdala reactivity to standardized emotional stimuli (viewing of fearful faces relative to calm ones). Conjunction analyses identified multiple regions, including the amygdala, insula, and prefrontal cortex, in which reactivity to emotional faces covaried with life events as well as with current anxiety. Our morphometric analyses suggest systemic alterations in structural brain development with an association between anxiety symptoms and global gray matter volume. No life events were reported for the period before 4 years of age, suggesting that these results were not driven by exposure to stress during an early sensitive period in development. Overall, these data suggest systemic effects of traumatic events on the dynamically developing brain that are present even in a nonclinical sample of adolescents.

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A Person-by-Situation Approach to Emotion Regulation: Cognitive Reappraisal Can Either Help or Hurt, Depending on the Context

Allison Troy, Amanda Shallcross & Iris Mauss
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Emotion regulation is central to psychological health. For instance, cognitive reappraisal (reframing an emotional situation) is generally an adaptive emotion-regulation strategy (i.e., it is associated with increased psychological health). However, a person-by-situation approach suggests that the adaptiveness of different emotion-regulation strategies depends on the context in which they are used. Specifically, reappraisal may be adaptive when stressors are uncontrollable (when the person can regulate only the self) but maladaptive when stressors can be controlled (when the person can change the situation). To test this prediction, we measured cognitive-reappraisal ability, the severity of recent life stressors, stressor controllability, and level of depression in 170 participants. For participants with uncontrollable stress, higher cognitive-reappraisal ability was associated with lower levels of depression. In contrast, for participants with controllable stress, higher cognitive-reappraisal ability was associated with greater levels of depression. These findings support a theoretical model in which particular emotion-regulation strategies are not adaptive or maladaptive per se; rather, their adaptiveness depends on the context.

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Mortality salience biases attention to positive versus negative images among individuals higher in trait self-control

Nicholas Kelley, David Tang & Brandon Schmeichel
Cognition & Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Death is inevitable. One way people cope with awareness of death is to focus on the positive things in life. Consistent with this idea, reminders of personal mortality have been found to increase optimism and tune attention towards positive information. The current research tested the hypothesis that persons higher in trait self-control are especially likely to attend to positive (versus negative) stimuli under mortality salience (MS). Participants completed a measure of trait self-control, contemplated their own mortality or a control topic, and then viewed positive and negative affective images while their gaze patterns were recorded. MS increased the attention to positive (versus negative) images among participants higher in trait self-control, whereas those lower in trait self-control exhibited a non-significant trend in the opposite direction. Thus, participants higher in trait self-control showed a positivity bias after contemplating death, which may help explain why they tend to enjoy more positive outcomes in life.

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Unemployment, Medicaid provisions, the mental health industry, and suicide

Lawrence Pellegrini & Rosa Rodriguez-Monguio
Social Science Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines the association between unemployment, Medicaid provisions, the mental health industry, and adult suicides in nine US northeastern states from 1999 to 2009. Results show that increased unemployment is associated with more Medicaid beneficiaries and higher health care spending per beneficiary with no significant relationship with Medicaid mental health spending. The Medicaid beneficiary rate is positively associated with the number of mental health clinics, mental health and substance abuse social workers, mental health counselors, and psychiatrists, with no significant association with mental health physician offices or psychologists. Unemployment is also related with increasing suicide rates for the overall population and White non-Hispanics, aged 16-64, with the worst association for White non-Hispanic males. The composition of the mental health industry is also associated with suicide rates. Maintaining an appropriate mix of mental health facilities and professionals to prevent, diagnose, and treat mental health disorders remains a critical public health challenge.

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Heterogeneity of defensive responses after exposure to trauma: Blunted autonomic reactivity in response to startling sounds

Wendy D'Andrea et al.
International Journal of Psychophysiology, October 2013, Pages 80-89

Abstract:
Research on threat responses, particularly among trauma-exposed individuals, has traditionally focused on increased autonomic arousal and reactivity. However, clinical features associated with trauma exposure, such as dissociation (e.g., shutting down or "spacing out") manifest as the opposite pattern: non-reactivity and blunted arousal. These clinical features suggest that the possibility of threat responses other than fight/flight, namely, immobilization may be undergirded by hyper- or hypo-arousal. The goal of this paper is to examine autonomic responses to a stressful stimulus (acoustic startle) using analytic approaches which have been previously used to examine defensive responses before: heart rate acceleration, heart rate deceleration, and skin conductance response. We examined these responses in relation to symptoms (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, and dissociation) and trauma exposure (cumulative exposure, age of onset) in a sample of trauma-exposed college students. We found evidence of blunted reactivity, with decreased acceleration and skin conductance, but with increased deceleration, particularly among individuals who had significant symptoms and early exposure to multiple types of trauma. However, individuals with sub-clinical symptoms and more attenuated exposure had large heart rate acceleration and skin conductance responses during the task. Taken together, these findings suggest that moderate symptoms and trauma exposure are related to exaggerated autonomic responses, while extreme symptoms and trauma exposure are related to blunted autonomic responses. These findings further suggest heterogeneity of stress responses within individuals with PTSD and with trauma exposure.

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Cortisol at the emergency room rape visit as a predictor of PTSD and depression symptoms over time

Kate Walsh et al.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, November 2013, Pages 2520-2528

Background: Dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, typically reflected by alterations in cortisol responsivity, has been associated with exposure to traumatic events and the development of stress-related disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

Methods: Serum cortisol was measured at the time of a post sexual assault medical exam among a sample of 323 female victims of recent sexual assault. Analyses were conducted among 235 participants who provided data regarding history of previous assault as well as PTSD and depression symptoms during at least one of the three follow-ups.

Results: Growth curve models suggested that prior history of assault and serum cortisol were positively associated with the intercept and negatively associated with the slope of PTSD and depression symptoms after controlling for covariates. Prior history of assault and serum cortisol also interacted to predict the intercept and slope of PTSD and depression symptoms such that women with a prior history of assault and lower ER cortisol had higher initial symptoms that decreased at a slower rate relative to women without a prior history and those with higher ER cortisol.

Conclusions: Prior history of assault was associated with diminished acute cortisol responsivity at the emergency room visit. Prior assault history and cortisol both independently and interactively predicted PTSD and depression symptoms at first follow-up and over the course a 6-month follow-up.

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The efficacy of interpersonal psychotherapy for depression among economically disadvantaged mothers

Sheree Toth et al.
Development and Psychopathology, November 2013, Pages 1065-1078

Abstract:
A randomized clinical trial was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) for ethnically and racially diverse, economically disadvantaged women with major depressive disorder. Non-treatment-seeking urban women (N = 128; M age = 25.40, SD = 4.98) with infants were recruited from the community. Participants were at or below the poverty level: 59.4% were Black and 21.1% were Hispanic. Women were screened for depressive symptoms using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale; the Diagnostic Interview Schedule was used to confirm major depressive disorder diagnosis. Participants were randomized to individual IPT or enhanced community standard. Depressive symptoms were assessed before, after, and 8 months posttreatment with the Beck Depression Inventory-II and the Revised Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression. The Social Support Behaviors Scale, the Social Adjustment Scale-Self-Report, and the Perceived Stress Scale were administered to examine mediators of outcome at follow-up. Treatment effects were evaluated with a growth mixture model for randomized trials using complier-average causal effect estimation. Depressive symptoms trajectories from baseline through postintervention to follow-up showed significant decreases among the IPT group compared to the enhanced community standard group. Changes on the Perceived Stress Scale and the Social Support Behaviors Scale mediated sustained treatment outcome.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Out-of-body experience

The world can look better: Enhancing beauty experience with brain stimulation

Zaira Cattaneo et al.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Aesthetic appreciation is part of our everyday life: it is a subjective judgment we make when looking at a painting, a landscape, or - in fact - at another person. Neuroimaging and electrophysiological evidence suggests that the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (lDLPFC) plays a critical role in aesthetic judgments. Here we show that the experience of beauty can be artificially enhanced with brain stimulation. Specifically, we show that aesthetic appreciation of representational paintings and photographs can be increased by applying anodal (excitatory) transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on the left DLPFC. Our results thus show that beauty is in the brain of the beholder, and offer a novel view on the neural networks underlying aesthetic appreciation.

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Hoody, goody or buddy? How travel mode affects social perceptions in urban neighbourhoods

Birgitta Gatersleben, Niamh Murtagh & Emma White
Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, November 2013, Pages 219-230

Abstract:
When travelling through a new environment people can and do make very quick judgments about the local conditions. This paper explores the idea that such judgments are affected by the travel mode they use. We hypothesise that drivers generate a more superficial impression of the things they observe than those who walk because they are exposed to less information. This prediction is based on social psychological research that demonstrates that information that becomes available in "thin slices" affects superficial judgments. A survey study (n = 644) demonstrated that perceptions of a less affluent area are indeed negatively related to more driving and positively related to more walking, but only for those who do not live there. Perceptions of a neighbouring affluent area are positively related to more driving. Two experimental studies (n = 245 and n = 91) demonstrated that explicit (but not implicit) attitudes towards a group of young people in an ambiguous social situation are more negative when they are viewed from the perspective of a car user in particular in relation to a pedestrian perspective. These findings suggest that mode use may affect communities by influencing social judgments.

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Tablets, Touchscreens, and Touchpads: How Varying Touch Interfaces Trigger Psychological Ownership and Endowment

Adam Brasel & James Gips
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
As mouse-driven desktop computers give way to touchpad laptops and touchscreen tablets, the role of touch in online consumer behavior has become increasingly important. This work presents initial explorations into the effects of varying touch-based interfaces on consumers, and argues that research into the interfaces used to access content can be as important as research into the content itself. Two laboratory studies using a variety of touch technologies explore how touchscreen interfaces can increase perceived psychological ownership, and this in turn magnifies the endowment effect. Touch interfaces also interact with importance of product haptics and actual interface ownership in their effects on perceived product ownership, with stronger effects for products high in haptic importance and interfaces that are owned. Results highlight that perceptions of online products and marketing activities are filtered through the lens of the interfaces used to explore them, and touch-based devices like tablets can lead to higher product valuations when compared to traditional computers.

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Virtually numbed: Immersive video gaming alters real-life experience

Ulrich Weger & Stephen Loughnan
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
As actors in a highly mechanized environment, we are citizens of a world populated not only by fellow humans, but also by virtual characters (avatars). Does immersive video gaming, during which the player takes on the mantle of an avatar, prompt people to adopt the coldness and rigidity associated with robotic behavior and desensitize them to real-life experience? In one study, we correlated participants' reported video-gaming behavior with their emotional rigidity (as indicated by the number of paperclips that they removed from ice-cold water). In a second experiment, we manipulated immersive and nonimmersive gaming behavior and then likewise measured the extent of the participants' emotional rigidity. Both studies yielded reliable impacts, and thus suggest that immersion into a robotic viewpoint desensitizes people to real-life experiences in oneself and others.

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Gustatory pleasure and pain: The offset of acute physical pain enhances responsiveness to taste

Brock Bastian, Jolanda Jetten & Matthew Hornsey
Appetite, January 2014, Pages 150-155

Abstract:
The idea that pain may serve to produce pleasurable states has been noted by theorists and, more recently, substantiated by empirical findings. We explored the possibility that, beyond producing positive hedonic states, the offset of pain may serve to enhance the capacity for gustatory pleasure. Across three studies we examined whether pain offset may enhance responsiveness to taste. In Study 1 participants enjoyed chocolate more after the experience of pain compared to completing a similar but non-painful task. In Study 2, pain offset increased the perceived intensity of a range of tastes, both pleasant and unpleasant, indicating that the effects of pain offset are not limited to the processing of positive hedonic stimuli. In Study 3, pain offset increased sensitivity to different flavors. The findings suggest that the offset of acute pain increases awareness of, and therefore sensitivity to, gustatory input, thereby enhancing the capacity for gustatory pleasure.

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Nonconscious Learning From Crowded Sequences

Anne Atas et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Can people learn complex information without conscious awareness? Implicit learning - learning without awareness of what has been learned - has been the focus of intense investigation over the last 50 years. However, it remains controversial whether complex knowledge can be learned implicitly. In the research reported here, we addressed this challenge by asking participants to differentiate between sequences of symbols they could not perceive consciously. Using an operant-conditioning task, we showed that participants learned to associate distinct sequences of crowded (nondiscriminable) symbols with their respective monetary outcomes (reward or punishment). Overall, our study demonstrates that sensitivity to sequential regularities can arise through the nonconscious temporal integration of perceptual information.

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Dentists Make Larger Holes in Teeth Than They Need to If the Teeth Present a Visual Illusion of Size

Robert O'Shea, Nicholas Chandler & Rajneesh Roy
PLoS ONE, October 2013

Background: Health care depends, in part, on the ability of a practitioner to see signs of disease and to see how to treat it. Visual illusions, therefore, could affect health care. Yet there is very little prospective evidence that illusions can influence treatment. We sought such evidence.

Methods and Results: We simulated treatment using dentistry as a model system. We supplied eight, practicing, specialist dentists, endodontists, with at least 21 isolated teeth each, randomly sampled from a much larger sample of teeth they were likely to encounter. Teeth contained holes and we asked the endodontists to cut cavities in preparation for filling. Each tooth presented a more or less potent version of a visual illusion of size, the Delboeuf illusion, that made the holes appear smaller than they were. Endodontists and the persons measuring the cavities were blind to the parameters of the illusion. We found that the size of cavity endodontists made was linearly related to the potency of the Delboeuf illusion (p<.01) with an effect size (Cohen's d) of 1.41. When the illusion made the holes appear smaller, the endodontists made cavities larger than needed.

Conclusions: The visual context in which treatment takes place can influence the treatment. Undesirable effects of visual illusions could be counteracted by a health practitioner's being aware of them and by using measurement.

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Rough primes and rough conversations: Evidence for a modality-specific basis to mental metaphors

Michael Schaefer et al.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
How does our brain organize knowledge? Traditional theories assume that our knowledge is represented abstractly in an amodal conceptual network of formal logic symbols. The theory of embodied cognition challenges this view and argues that conceptual representations that constitute our knowledge are grounded in sensory and motor experiences. We tested this hypothesis by examining how the concept of social coordination is grounded metaphorically in the tactile sensation of roughness. Participants experienced rough or smooth touch before being asked to judge an ambiguous social interaction. Results revealed that rough touch made social interactions appear more difficult and adversarial, consistent with the rough metaphor. This impact of tactile cues on social impressions was accompanied by a network including primary and secondary somatosensory cortices, amygdala, hippocampus, and inferior prefrontal cortex. Thus, the roughness of tactile stimulation affected metaphor-relevant (but not metaphor-irrelevant) behavioral and neural responses. Receiving touch from a rough object seems to trigger the application of associated ontological concepts (or scaffolds) even for unrelated people and situations (but not to unrelated or more general feelings). Since this priming was based on somatosensory brain areas, our results provide support for the theory that sensorimotor grounding is intrinsic to cognitive processes.

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Brain white matter structural properties predict transition to chronic pain

Ali Mansour et al.
Pain, October 2013, Pages 2160-2168

Abstract:
Neural mechanisms mediating the transition from acute to chronic pain remain largely unknown. In a longitudinal brain imaging study, we followed up patients with a single sub-acute back pain (SBP) episode for more than 1year as their pain recovered (SBPr), or persisted (SBPp) representing a transition to chronic pain. We discovered brain white matter structural abnormalities (n=24 SBP patients; SBPp=12 and SBPr=12), as measured by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), at entry into the study in SBPp in comparison to SBPr. These white matter fractional anisotropy (FA) differences accurately predicted pain persistence over the next year, which was validated in a second cohort (n=22 SBP patients; SBPp=11 and SBPr=11), and showed no further alterations over a 1-year period. Tractography analysis indicated that abnormal regional FA was linked to differential structural connectivity to medial vs lateral prefrontal cortex. Local FA was correlated with functional connectivity between medial prefrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens in SBPr. As we have earlier shown that the latter functional connectivity accurately predicts transition to chronic pain, we can conclude that brain structural differences, most likely existing before the back pain-inciting event and independent of the back pain, predispose subjects to pain chronification.

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Relationship between oxytocin receptor genotype and recognition of facial emotion

Martin Melchers et al.
Behavioral Neuroscience, October 2013, Pages 780-787

Abstract:
The ability to understand thoughts and feelings of another person is an important prerequisite for successful social interaction. One part of this ability is the recognition of emotions in the face of the counterpart. Knowledge on genetic contributions to emotion recognition is still scarce. In the present study, 105 healthy participants were experimentally tested for their ability to recognize complex emotions in faces. As prior studies outlined the importance of the oxytocin system for emotion recognition, the functional rs2268498 polymorphism on the OXTR-gene was investigated. Although there were no differences in reaction times between genotype groups, carriers of the T-allele exhibited more accurate recognition skills than subjects carrying the CC-genotype. There was no influence of gender or age. Results support recent findings, demonstrating the importance of the oxytocin system for affect processing and related social behavior.

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The Effect of Intranasal Oxytocin on Perceiving and Understanding Emotion on the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT)

Christopher Cardoso, Mark Ellenbogen & Anne-Marie Linnen
Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Evidence suggests that intranasal oxytocin enhances the perception of emotion in facial expressions during standard emotion identification tasks. However, it is not clear whether this effect is desirable in people who do not show deficits in emotion perception. That is, a heightened perception of emotion in faces could lead to "oversensitivity" to the emotions of others in nonclinical participants. The goal of this study was to assess the effects of intranasal oxytocin on emotion perception using ecologically valid social and nonsocial visual tasks. Eighty-two participants (42 women) self-administered a 24 IU dose of intranasal oxytocin or a placebo in a double-blind, randomized experiment and then completed the perceiving and understanding emotion components of the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test. In this test, emotion identification accuracy is based on agreement with a normative sample. As expected, participants administered intranasal oxytocin rated emotion in facial stimuli as expressing greater emotional intensity than those given a placebo. Consequently, accurate identification of emotion in faces, based on agreement with a normative sample, was impaired in the oxytocin group relative to placebo. No such effect was observed for tests using nonsocial stimuli. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that intranasal oxytocin enhances the salience of social stimuli in the environment, but not nonsocial stimuli. The present findings support a growing literature showing that the effects of intranasal oxytocin on social cognition can be negative under certain circumstances, in this case promoting "oversensitivity" to emotion in faces in healthy people.

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Thin slices of creativity: Using single-word utterances to assess creative cognition

Ranjani Prabhakaran, Adam Green & Jeremy Gray
Behavior Research Methods, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigated the hypothesis that individual differences in creative cognition can be manifest even in brief responses, such as single-word utterances. Participants (n = 193) were instructed to say a verb upon seeing a noun displayed on a computer screen and were cued to respond creatively to half of the nouns. For every noun-verb pair (72 pairs per subject), we assessed the semantic distance between the noun and the verb, using latent semantic analysis (LSA). Semantic distance was higher in the cued ("creative") condition than the uncued condition, within subjects. Critically, between subjects, semantic distance in the cued condition had a strong relationship to a creativity factor derived from a battery of verbal, nonverbal, and achievement-based creativity measures (β= .50), and this relation remained when controlling for intelligence and personality. The data show that creative cognition can be assessed reliably and validly from such thin slices of behavior.

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Enhanced threat detection in experienced riot police officers: Cognitive evidence from the face-in-the-crowd effect

Ljubica Damjanovic et al.
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We explored how varying levels of professional expertise in hostile crowd management could enhance threat detection capabilities as assessed by the face in the crowd paradigm. Trainee police officers and more experienced police officers specialized in, and having extensive experience with, riot control, were compared with participants with no experience in hostile crowd management on their search times and accuracy levels in detecting angry and happy face targets against a display of emotional and neutral distractor faces. The experienced officers relative to their trainee counterparts and nonpolice controls showed enhanced detection for threatening faces in both types of display along with a greater degree of inhibitory control over angry face distractors. These findings help to reinforce the ecological validity of the face in the crowd paradigm and provide a new theoretical link for the role of individual differences on the attentional processing of socially relevant stimuli.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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