Blog

 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Push and pull

Why Does Choice Enhance Treatment Effectiveness? Using Placebo Treatments to Demonstrate the Role of Personal Control

Andrew Geers et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In modern health care, individuals frequently exercise choice over health treatment alternatives. A growing body of research suggests that when individuals choose between treatment options, treatment effectiveness can increase, although little experimental evidence exists clarifying this effect. Four studies were conducted to test the hypothesis that exercising choice over treatment alternatives enhances outcomes by providing greater personal control. Consistent with this possibility, in Study 1 individuals who chronically desired control reported less pain from a laboratory pain task when they were able to select between placebo analgesic treatments. Study 2 replicated this finding with an auditory discomfort paradigm. In Study 3, the desire for control was experimentally induced, and participants with high desire for control benefited more from a placebo treatment when they were able to choose their treatment. Study 4 revealed that the benefit of choice on treatment efficacy was partially mediated by thoughts of personal control. This research suggests that when individuals desire control, choice over treatment alternatives improves treatment effectiveness by enhancing personal control.

----------------------

Freedom from constraints: Darkness and dim illumination promote creativity

Anna Steidle & Lioba Werth
Journal of Environmental Psychology, September 2013, Pages 67–80

Abstract:
Employee creativity is critical to organizational competitiveness. However, the potential contribution made by the workspace and the physical environment is not fully taken into account because, up to now, it has been rather unclear how aspects of the physical environment, especially light, can support creativity. Consequently, in six studies, the present research investigated the effect of light and darkness on creative performance. We expected that darkness would offer individuals freedom from constraints, enabling a global and explorative processing style, which in turn facilitates creativity. First, four studies demonstrated that both priming darkness and actual dim illumination improved creative performance. The priming studies revealed that the effect can occur outside of people's awareness and independent of differences in visibility. Second, two additional studies tested the underlying mechanism and showed that darkness elicits a feeling of being free from constraints and triggers a risky, explorative processing style. As expected, perceived freedom from constraints mediated the effect of dim illumination on creativity. Third, moderation analyses demonstrated the effects' boundary conditions: the darkness-related increase in creativity disappeared when using a more informal indirect light instead of direct light or when evaluating ideas instead of generating creative ideas. In sum, these results contribute to the understanding of visual atmospheres (i.e. visual messages), their importance for lighting effects, and their impact via conceptual links and attentional tuning. Limitations as well as practical implications for lighting design are discussed.

----------------------

Stereotype Threat and the Student-Athlete

Thomas Dee
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Achievement gaps may reflect the cognitive impairment thought to occur in evaluative settings (e.g., classrooms) where a stereotyped identity is salient (i.e., stereotype threat). This study presents an economic model of stereotype threat that reconciles prior evidence on how student effort and performance are influenced by this social-identity phenomenon. This study also presents empirical evidence from a framed field experiment in which students at a selective college were randomly assigned to a treatment that primed their awareness of a negatively stereotyped identity (i.e., student-athlete). This social-identity manipulation reduced the test-score performance of athletes relative to non-athletes by 12%. These negative performance effects were concentrated among male student-athletes who also responded to the social-identity manipulation by attempting to answer more questions.

----------------------

Beliefs about willpower determine the impact of glucose on self-control

Veronika Job et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 10 September 2013, Pages 14837-14842

Abstract:
Past research found that the ingestion of glucose can enhance self-control. It has been widely assumed that basic physiological processes underlie this effect. We hypothesized that the effect of glucose also depends on people’s theories about willpower. Three experiments, both measuring (experiment 1) and manipulating (experiments 2 and 3) theories about willpower, showed that, following a demanding task, only people who view willpower as limited and easily depleted (a limited resource theory) exhibited improved self-control after sugar consumption. In contrast, people who view willpower as plentiful (a nonlimited resource theory) showed no benefits from glucose — they exhibited high levels of self-control performance with or without sugar boosts. Additionally, creating beliefs about glucose ingestion (experiment 3) did not have the same effect as ingesting glucose for those with a limited resource theory. We suggest that the belief that willpower is limited sensitizes people to cues about their available resources including physiological cues, making them dependent on glucose boosts for high self-control performance.

----------------------

Power increases situated creativity

Sarah Gervais et al.
Social Influence, Fall 2013, Pages 294-311

Abstract:
The present paper examined whether power was linked with situated creativity. We proposed that powerful (vs powerless) people engage in creative thought when creativity contributes to contextual goals but avoid creative thought when creativity impedes contextual goals. Extending the Situated Focus Theory of Power (Guinote, 2007a; 2010) to creativity, we suggested that powerful people are better able to achieve situational goals because they can flexibly focus on cues that indicate what is required for success in a given context. Across three experiments, we found that powerful (vs powerless) people engaged in more creative thinking when creativity facilitated contextual goals. This was not the case when creativity hindered contextual goals. Further, neither affect (Experiment 2) nor effort (Experiments 1 and 3) contributed to these effects. However, local processing undermined creativity for powerful people, indicating that processing style may contribute to the link between power and situated creativity. These findings suggest that powerful people flexibly vary creativity in line with the situation.

----------------------

The Allometry of Metabolism and Stature: Worker Fatigue and Height In The Tanzanian Labor Market

Gregory Price
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
If the positive wage-height correlation is at least partially biological in origin, one plausible pathway is the effect of stature on energy expenditure in individuals. If metabolism scales proportionately with stature, then relative to short individuals, taller individuals can produce more energy for a given work task. This also suggests that end-of-the-workday fatigue, or lack of energy, varies inversely with stature. We test this hypothesis with data from the 2004 Tanzanian Household Worker Survey in which workers report the extent of their fatigue at the end-of-the-workday. Ordinal latent variable parameter estimates reveal that relative to short workers, taller workers are less likely to report being tired at the end-of-the-workday. This suggests that the positive wage-height relationship also has a biological foundation whereby the energy requirements and metabolic costs associated with work effort/tasks are inversely related to stature.

----------------------

Response to restrictive policies: Reconciling system justification and psychological reactance

Kristin Laurin et al.
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, November 2013, Pages 152–162

Abstract:
Here we propose a dual process model to reconcile two contradictory predictions about how people respond to restrictive policies imposed upon them by organizations and systems within which they operate. When participants’ attention was not drawn to the restrictive nature of the policy, or when it was, but their cognitive resources were restricted, we found evidence supporting a prediction based on System Justification Theory: Participants reacted favorably to restrictive policies, endorsing them and downplaying the importance of the restricted freedom. Only when we cued participants to focus their undivided attention on the restrictive nature of the policy did we find evidence supporting a prediction based on psychological reactance: Only then did participants display reactance and respond negatively to the policies.

----------------------

Stereotype threat can enhance, as well as impair, older adults’ memory

Sarah Barber & Mara Mather
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Negative stereotypes about aging can impair older adults’ memory; however, the mechanisms underlying this are unclear. In two experiments we tested competing predictions derived from two theoretical accounts: executive control interference and regulatory fit. Older adults completed a working memory test either under stereotype threat about their memory or not. Monetary incentives were manipulated such that recall either led to gains or forgetting led to losses. The executive control interference account predicts that threat decreases the availability of executive control resources and hence should impair working memory performance. The regulatory fit account predicts that threat induces a prevention focus. Because of this threat should impair performance when gains are emphasized but improve performance when losses are emphasized. Results were only consistent with the regulatory fit account. Although stereotype threat significantly impaired older adults’ working memory performance when remembering led to gains, it significantly improved performance when forgetting led to losses.

----------------------

Marking Time: Selective Use of Temporal Landmarks as Barriers Between Current and Future Selves

Johanna Peetz & Anne Wilson
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Temporal landmarks such as birthdays and significant calendar dates structure our perception of time. People might highlight temporal landmarks spontaneously in an effort to regulate connections between temporal selves. Five studies demonstrated that landmarks are used spontaneously to induce psychological separation from undesirable temporal selves. Participants were more likely to think of events that fell in between the current and the future self if an imagined future self was negative than if it was positive (Studies 1a, 1b, and 2). Furthermore, when a self-enhancement mindset was activated, participants were more likely to call to mind intervening temporal landmarks to protect themselves from a negative future self than when this mindset was not activated (Study 3). Finally, when psychological separations between the current self and a negative future self were introduced through alternate means, participants no longer selectively used landmarks to separate themselves from this future self (Study 4).

----------------------

To Do It or to Let an Automatic Tool Do It?: The Priority of Control Over Effort

François Osiurak et al.
Experimental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The aim of the present study is to provide experimental data relevant to the issue of what leads humans to use automatic tools. Two answers can be offered. The first is that humans strive to minimize physical and/or cognitive effort (principle of least effort). The second is that humans tend to keep their perceived control over the environment (principle of more control). These two factors certainly play a role, but the question raised here is to what do people give priority in situations wherein both manual and automatic actions take the same time – minimizing effort or keeping perceived control? To answer that question, we built four experiments in which participants were confronted with a recurring choice between performing a task manually (physical effort) or in a semi-automatic way (cognitive effort) versus using an automatic tool that completes the task for them (no effort). In this latter condition, participants were required to follow the progression of the automatic tool step by step. Our results showed that participants favored the manual or semi-automatic condition over the automatic condition. However, when they were offered the opportunity to perform recreational tasks in parallel, the shift toward manual condition disappeared. The findings give support to the idea that people give priority to keeping control over minimizing effort.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, September 13, 2013

Spirited debate

Exporting Christianity: Governance And Doctrine In The Globalization Of US Denominations

Gordon Hanson & Chong Xiang
Journal of International Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this paper we build a model of market competition among religious denominations, using a framework that involves incomplete contracts and the production of club goods. We treat denominations akin to multinational enterprises, which decide which countries to enter based on local market conditions and their own “productivity.” The model guides us in estimating how a denomination’s religious doctrine and governance structure affect its ability to attract adherents. Using data on the foreign operations of US Protestant denominations in 2005 from the World Christian Database, we find that (1) denominations with stricter religious doctrine attract more adherents in countries in which the risk of natural disaster or disease outbreak is greater and in which government provision of health services is weaker, and (2) denominations with a decentralized governance structure attract more adherents in countries in which the pastor cost of connecting with congregants is lower. These findings illuminate factors shaping the composition of religion within countries, helping account for the rise of new Protestant groups. They also provide empirical evidence for the recent theoretical developments in organization and trade.

----------------------

Loss of Control Increases Belief in Precognition and Belief in Precognition Increases Control

Katharine Greenaway, Winnifred Louis & Matthew Hornsey
PLoS ONE, August 2013

Abstract:
Every year thousands of dollars are spent on psychics who claim to “know” the future. The present research questions why, despite no evidence that humans are able to psychically predict the future, do people persist in holding irrational beliefs about precognition? We argue that believing the future is predictable increases one’s own perceived ability to exert control over future events. As a result, belief in precognition should be particularly strong when people most desire control – that is, when they lack it. In Experiment 1 (N = 87), people who were experimentally induced to feel low in control reported greater belief in precognition than people who felt high in control. Experiment 2 (N = 53) investigated whether belief in precognition increases perceived control. Consistent with this notion, providing scientific evidence that precognition is possible increased feelings of control relative to providing scientific evidence that precognition was not possible. Experiment 3 (N = 132) revealed that when control is low, believing in precognition helps people to feel in control once more. Prediction therefore acts as a compensatory mechanism in times of low control. The present research provides new insights into the psychological functions of seemingly irrational beliefs, like belief in psychic abilities.

----------------------

Are Muslims a Distinctive Minority? An Empirical Analysis of Religiosity, Social Attitudes, and Islam

Valerie Lewis & Ridhi Kashyap
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, September 2013, Pages 617–626

Abstract:
Scholarly and public discourses on Muslim immigrants in Europe have questioned if Islam is an impediment to sociocultural adaptation and whether Muslims are a distinctive group in their religiosity and social values. We use a new survey of 480 British Muslims in conjunction with the British Social Attitudes Survey to examine differences between Muslim and non-Muslim Britons on religiosity (practice, belief, salience) and moral and social issues regarding gender, abortion, and homosexuality. Muslims are more religious than other Britons, including both British Christians and religious “nones.” Muslims also are more conservative than other Britons across the range of social and moral attitudes. Multivariate analysis shows, however, that much of the difference on moral issues is due to socioeconomic disadvantage and high religiosity among Muslims. Although being a highly religious group in an otherwise secular country renders Muslims distinctive, factors that predict social conservatism among all Britons — high religiosity and low SES — apply similarly to Muslims.

----------------------

Different Effects of Religion and God on Prosociality With the Ingroup and Outgroup

Jesse Lee Preston & Ryan Ritter
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent studies have found that activating religious cognition by priming techniques can enhance prosocial behavior, arguably because religious concepts carry prosocial associations. But many of these studies have primed multiple concepts simultaneously related to the sacred. We argue here that religion and God are distinct concepts that activate distinct associations. In particular, we examine the effect of God and religion on prosociality toward the ingroup and outgroup. In three studies, we found that religion primes enhanced prosociality toward ingroup members, consistent with ingroup affiliation, whereas, God primes enhanced prosociality toward outgroup members, consistent with concerns of moral impression management. Implications for theory and methodology in religious cognition are discussed.

----------------------

Traditional Jewish Sexual Practices and Their Possible Impact on Jewish Fertility and Demography

Evyatar Marienberg
Harvard Theological Review, July 2013, Pages 243 286

"Why do Jews have such a low reproduction rate? And is this something that also characterized them in earlier periods?...I do not have an answer to the question as to whether Jews were always
characterized by a low rate of reproduction. This article will consider the possibility that, regardless of whether or not Jews had a relatively low number of offspring before the modern fertility transition, certain rabbinic rules contributed to a lower birth rate. I will explore the eventuality that these rabbinic rules may have had a demographic impact on certain traditional Jewish communities and perhaps contributed to a low rate of reproduction, sometimes despite the will of those involved."

----------------------

Priming Religious Belief and Religious Social Behavior Affects Support for Democracy

Pazit Ben-Nun Bloom & Gizem Arikan
International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Autumn 2013, Pages 368-382

Abstract:
The effects of religious belief and religious social behavior on support for democracy are investigated in a priming experiment conducted among Turkish Muslims and Israeli Jews. By varying the question order of World Values Survey (WVS) items, which measure religious belief and religious social behavior, it was demonstrated that priming religious social behavior facilitates, while priming religious belief impedes, support for democracy, compared with a control group of no prime. These results were independent of participants’ intensity of religious belief or the frequency of their religious social behavior and held for the most part across both religious affiliations and political contexts.

----------------------

Outsourcing Moral Authority: The Internal Secularization of Evangelicals’ Anti-Pornography Narratives

Jeremy Thomas
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, September 2013, Pages 457–475

Abstract:
Based on content analysis of the popular evangelical magazine Christianity Today, I show that while evangelicals' outward opposition to pornography has remained steady and robust across the period 1956 to 2010, nonetheless, during this same time, evangelicals' anti-pornography narratives have become increasingly secular. Through using and expanding Chaves's notion of internal secularization, I demonstrate how these narratives have become decreasingly legitimated through religious forms of moral authority such as scriptural prohibitions and derivative ideas about God's plan for society, and increasingly legitimated through secular forms of moral authority such as humanistic conceptions of individual rights and of psychological health. I refer to this type of internal secularization as the process of outsourcing moral authority, and I discuss the theoretical significance of this process for potential investigations of a range of other moral narratives.

----------------------

Reversing One’s Fortune by Pushing Away Bad Luck

Yan Zhang, Jane Risen & Christine Hosey
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Across cultures, people try to “undo” bad luck with superstitious rituals such as knocking on wood, spitting, or throwing salt. We suggest that these rituals reduce the perceived likelihood of anticipated negative outcomes because they involve avoidant actions that exert force away from one’s representation of self, which simulates the experience of pushing away bad luck. Five experiments test this hypothesis by having participants tempt fate and then engage in avoidant actions that are either superstitious (Experiment 1, knocking on wood) or nonsuperstitious (Experiments 2–5, throwing a ball). We find that participants who knock down (away from themselves) or throw a ball think that a jinxed negative outcome is less likely than participants who knock up (toward themselves) or hold a ball. Experiments 3 and 4 provide evidence that after tempting fate, engaging in an avoidant action leads to less clear mental representations for the jinxed event, which, in turn, leads to lower perceived likelihoods. Finally, we demonstrate that engaging in an avoidant action — rather than creating physical distance — is critical for reversing the perceived effect of the jinx. Although superstitions are often culturally defined, the underlying psychological processes that give rise to them may be shared across cultures.

----------------------

Searching for Control: Priming Randomness Increases the Evaluation of Ritual Efficacy

Cristine Legare & André Souza
Cognitive Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Reestablishing feelings of control after experiencing uncertainty has long been considered a fundamental motive for human behavior. We propose that rituals (i.e., socially stipulated, causally opaque practices) provide a means for coping with the aversive feelings associated with randomness due to the perception of a connection between ritual action and a desired outcome. Two experiments were conducted (one in Brazil [n = 40] and another in the United States [n = 94]) to evaluate how the perceived efficacy of rituals is affected by feelings of randomness. In a between-subjects design, the Scramble Sentence Task was used as a priming procedure in three conditions (i.e., randomness, negativity, and neutral) and participants were then asked to rate the efficacy of rituals used for problem-solving purposes. The results demonstrate that priming randomness increased participants' perception of ritual efficacy relative to negativity and neutral conditions. Implications for increasing our understanding of the relationship between perceived control and ritualistic behavior are discussed.

----------------------

The Existential Function of Intrinsic Religiousness: Moderation of Effects of Priming Religion on Intercultural Tolerance and Afterlife Anxiety

Daryl Van Tongeren et al.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, September 2013, Pages 508–523

Abstract:
Managing existential concerns is theorized to be a key function of religion. We posit that priming religion should be related to greater existential security for those high in intrinsic religiosity. In Experiment 1, priming religion increased intercultural tolerance among individuals who were highly intrinsically religious but decreased it for those low in intrinsic religiousness. In Experiment 2, intrinsic religiousness again moderated the effects of the prime, suggesting that priming religion resulted in attenuated afterlife anxiety for intrinsically religious individuals but greater anxiety for individuals low in intrinsic religiousness. Religious reminders appeared to provide existential security — evidenced by tolerance and reduced death anxiety — only to those high in intrinsic religiousness and can be threatening to those low in intrinsic religiousness. Existential outcomes are a specific case in which intrinsic religiousness can moderate the effects of religious primes, suggesting that religion plays a different existential role for different people.

----------------------

Religion and Returns in Europe

Julie Salaber
European Journal of Political Economy, December 2013, Pages 149–160

Abstract:
Drawing on social identity and social impact theory, this paper is the first to investigate the impact of religious preferences on share prices and expected returns at the country level. Using data from 12 European countries, our findings suggest that religion has a significant effect on the share price of companies whose activities are considered unethical, i.e., tobacco manufacturers and alcohol producers. The share price of these companies (called sin stocks) is depressed when they are located in a predominantly Protestant environment (relative to a Catholic environment). With investors in Protestant countries being more sin averse than in Catholic countries, they insist upon higher expected returns on sin stocks. Conversely, religious preferences do not have the same impact on the performance of other companies, e.g. socially responsible companies. Our results are robust to various methodologies and controlling for several firm-specific, industry-specific and country-specific characteristics.

----------------------

Religion and Mental Health Among Israeli Jews: Findings from the SHARE-Israel Study

Jeff Levin
Social Indicators Research, September 2013, Pages 769-784

Abstract:
This study investigates the impact of religiousness on mental health indicators in a population sample of Israeli Jews aged 50 or older. Data are from the Israel sample of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE-Israel), collected from 2005 to 2006. Of the 1,287 Jewish respondents, 473 (36.8 %) were native-born Israelis and 814 (63.2 %) were diaspora-born. Religious measures included past-month synagogue activities, current prayer, and having received a religious education. Mental health outcomes included single-item measures of lifetime depression and life satisfaction, along with the CES-D and EURO-D depression scales, the CASP-12 quality of life scale, and the LOT-R optimism scale. Participation in synagogue activities was found to be significantly associated with less depression, better quality of life, and more optimism, even after adjusting for effects of the other religious measures, for sociodemographic covariates, for the possibly confounding effect of age-related activity limitation, and for nativity. Findings for prayer were less consistent, including inverse associations with mental health, perhaps reflecting prayer’s use as a coping response. Finally, religious education was associated with greater optimism. These results underscore a modest contribution of religious participation to well-being among middle-aged and older adults, extending this research to the Israeli and Jewish populations.

----------------------

The minds of gods: A comparative study of supernatural agency

Benjamin Grant Purzycki
Cognition, October 2013, Pages 163–179

Abstract:
The present work is the first study to systematically compare the minds of gods by examining some of the intuitive processes that guide how people reason about them. By examining the Christian god and the spirit-masters of the Tyva Republic, it first confirms that the consensus view of the Christian god’s mind is one of omniscience with acute concern for interpersonal social behavior (i.e., moral behaviors) and that Tyvan spirit-masters are not as readily attributed with knowledge or concern of moral information. Then, it reports evidence of a moralization bias of gods’ minds; American Christians who believe that God is omniscient rate God as more knowledgeable of moral behaviors than nonmoral information. Additionally, Tyvans who do not readily report pro- or antisocial behavior among the things that spirit-masters care about will nevertheless rate spirit-masters’ knowledge and concern of moral information higher than nonmoral information. However, this knowledge is distributed spatially; the farther away from spirits’ place of governance a moral behavior takes place, the less they know and care about it. Finally, the wider the breadth of knowledge Tyvans attribute to spirit-masters, the more they attribute moral concern for behaviors that transpire beyond their jurisdiction. These results further demonstrate that there is a significant gulf between expressed beliefs and intuitive religious cognition and provides evidence for a moralization bias of gods’ minds.

----------------------

Believe it or not: Exploring the relationship between dogmatism and openness within non-religious samples

Daniel Gurney et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Personality and dogmatic thinking within religious individuals have been examined by previous research, but neglected for non-religious individuals. In this experiment, we distinguish between two types of non-religious groups; those who ascribe themselves to an identity (atheists) and those who do not (no beliefs in particular). A total of 103 non-religious individuals (36% atheists and 64% with no particular beliefs) completed an online questionnaire measuring dogmatism and openness traits, with an additional Christian group (n = 91) serving as a control. After confirming a relationship between identity salience and dogmatism, and validating a measure of dogmatism (DOG) in both non-religious groups, we note key personality differences between the two. Those with no beliefs in particular demonstrated a traditional negative correlation between openness and dogmatism (along with Christians) while these variables correlated positively for atheists (in particular, on ‘unconventionality’). This study is the first to establish differences between the relationship of dogmatism and openness within non-religious populations and explain these differences through group identity. Thus, identity strength and group belief systems are suggested to be key contributors to observed group differences between non-religious individuals.

----------------------

Experiments on the role of deleterious mutations as stepping stones in adaptive evolution

Arthur Covert et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 20 August 2013, Pages E3171-E3178

Abstract:
Many evolutionary studies assume that deleterious mutations necessarily impede adaptive evolution. However, a later mutation that is conditionally beneficial may interact with a deleterious predecessor before it is eliminated, thereby providing access to adaptations that might otherwise be inaccessible. It is unknown whether such sign-epistatic recoveries are inconsequential events or an important factor in evolution, owing to the difficulty of monitoring the effects and fates of all mutations during experiments with biological organisms. Here, we used digital organisms to compare the extent of adaptive evolution in populations when deleterious mutations were disallowed with control populations in which such mutations were allowed. Significantly higher fitness levels were achieved over the long term in the control populations because some of the deleterious mutations served as stepping stones across otherwise impassable fitness valleys. As a consequence, initially deleterious mutations facilitated the evolution of complex, beneficial functions. We also examined the effects of disallowing neutral mutations, of varying the mutation rate, and of sexual recombination. Populations evolving without neutral mutations were able to leverage deleterious and compensatory mutation pairs to overcome, at least partially, the absence of neutral mutations. Substantially raising or lowering the mutation rate reduced or eliminated the long-term benefit of deleterious mutations, but introducing recombination did not. Our work demonstrates that deleterious mutations can play an important role in adaptive evolution under at least some conditions.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Executive summary

Executives' "Off-The-Job" Behavior, Corporate Culture, and Financial Reporting Risk

Robert Davidson, Aiyesha Dey & Abbie Smith
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine how executives' behavior outside the workplace, as measured by their ownership of luxury goods (low "frugality") and prior legal infractions, is related to financial reporting risk. We predict and find that chief executive officers (CEOs) and chief financial officers (CFOs) with a legal record are more likely to perpetrate fraud. In contrast, we do not find a relation between executives' frugality and the propensity to perpetrate fraud. However, as predicted, we find that unfrugal CEOs oversee a relatively loose control environment characterized by relatively high and increasing probabilities of other insiders perpetrating fraud and unintentional material reporting errors during their tenure. Further, cultural changes associated with an increase in fraud risk are more likely during unfrugal (vs. frugal) CEOs' reigns, including the appointment of an unfrugal CFO, an increase in executives' equity-based incentives to misreport, and a decline in measures of board monitoring intensity.

----------------------

Demographics of Dividends

Gina Nicolosi
Journal of Corporate Finance, December 2013, Pages 54-70

Abstract:
Using seventeen observable demographic characteristics, we investigate the impact of six CEO profiles on dividend policy. Firms headed by married, Republican, Christian CEOs with children maintain higher dividend yields and are more likely to considerably increase their dividend payout. Following substantial dividend hikes, firms led by CEOs with these more traditional personal lives exhibit deteriorating performance. Potential explanations include managerial optimism coupled with dividend signaling and the possibility that CEO profiles proxy for an unobserved firm effect such as firm maturity. However, the associations above continue to persist in both mature firm and turnover sub-samples. Overall, this suggests that these relationships are related to characteristics of the CEOs themselves.

----------------------

Managerial Miscalibration

Itzhak Ben-David, John Graham & Campbell Harvey
Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a unique 10-year panel that includes more than 13,300 expected stock market return probability distributions, we find that executives are severely miscalibrated, producing distributions that are too narrow: realized market returns are within the executives' 80% confidence intervals only 36% of the time. We show that executives reduce the lower bound of the forecast confidence interval during times of high market uncertainty; however, ex post miscalibration is worst during periods of high uncertainty. We also find that executives who are miscalibrated about the stock market show similar miscalibration regarding their own firms' prospects. Finally, firms with miscalibrated executives seem to follow more aggressive corporate policies: investing more and using more debt financing.

----------------------

Governance and CEO Turnover: Do Something or Do the Right Thing?

Raymond Fisman et al.
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study how corporate governance affects firm value through the decision of whether to fire or retain the chief executive officer (CEO). We present a model in which weak governance - which prevents shareholders from controlling the board - protects inferior CEOs from dismissal, while at the same time insulates the board from pressures by biased or uninformed shareholders. Whether stronger governance improves retain/replace decisions depends on which of these effects dominates. We use our theoretical framework to assess the effect of governance on the quality of firing and hiring decisions using data on the CEO dismissals of large U.S. corporations during 1994-2007. Our findings are most consistent with a beneficent effect of weak governance on CEO dismissal decisions, suggesting that insulation from shareholder pressure may allow for better long-term decision making.

----------------------

Do cash stockpiles fuel cash acquisitions?

Lee Pinkowitz, Jason Sturgess & Rohan Williamson
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
U.S. firms currently hold a $2 trillion cash stockpile. We examine if cash stockpiles fuel cash acquisitions by studying the method of payment decision for cash-rich firms. Surprisingly, cash-rich firms are 23% less likely to make cash bids than stock bids, relative to firms that are not cash rich. We examine several potential explanations related to omitted variable bias and endogeneity and the result remains. More specifically, the results are robust to explanations related to agency, financial constraints, tax-related explanations, equity overvaluation, and capital structure. Our evidence implies that the link between cash stockpiles and cash acquisitions is not obvious.

----------------------

The Efficacy of Shareholder Voting: Evidence from Equity Compensation Plans

Christopher Armstrong, Ian Gow & David Larcker
Journal of Accounting Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines the effects of shareholder support for equity compensation plans on subsequent chief executive officer (CEO) compensation. Using cross-sectional regression, instrumental variable, and regression discontinuity research designs, we find little evidence that either lower shareholder voting support for, or outright rejection of, proposed equity compensation plans leads to decreases in the level or composition of future CEO incentive-compensation. We also find that in cases where the equity compensation plan is rejected by shareholders, firms are more likely to propose, and shareholders are more likely to approve, a plan the following year. Our results suggest that shareholder votes for equity pay plans have little substantive impact on firms' incentive-compensation policies. Thus, recent regulatory efforts aimed at strengthening shareholder voting rights, particularly in the context of executive compensation, may have limited effect on firms' compensation policies.

----------------------

The effect of corporate governance on CEO luck: Evidence from the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS)

Pandej Chintrakarn, Pornsit Jiraporn & J.C. Kim
Finance Research Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
CEOs are "lucky" when they receive stock option grants on days when the stock price is the lowest in the month of the grant, implying opportunistic timing. Extending the work of Bebchuk, Grinstein, Peyer (2010), we explore the effect of overall corporate governance quality on CEO luck. Provided by the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), our comprehensive governance metrics are much broader than those used in prior studies, encompassing more diverse aspects of corporate governance, such as audit, state laws, boards, ownership, and director education. We show that an improvement in governance quality by one standard deviation diminishes CEO luck by 14.77-21.06%. The governance standards recommended by ISS appear to be effective in deterring the opportunistic timing of option grants.

----------------------

Why Do Firms Pay Dividends?: Evidence from an Early and Unregulated Capital Market

John Turner, Qing Ye & Wenwen Zhan
Review of Finance, September 2013, Pages 1787-1826

Abstract:
Why do firms pay dividends? To answer this question, we use a hand-collected data set of companies traded on the London stock market between 1825 and 1870. As tax rates were effectively zero, the capital market was unregulated, and there were no institutional stockholders, we can rule out these potential determinants ex ante. We find that, even though they were legal, share repurchases were not used by firms to return cash to shareholders. Instead, our evidence provides support for the information-communication explanation for dividends, while providing little support for agency, illiquidity, catering, or behavioral explanations.

----------------------

Quadratic Vote Buying as Efficient Corporate Governance

Eric Posner & Glen Weyl
University of Chicago Law Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Shareholder voting is a weak and much criticized mechanism for controlling managerial opportunism. Among other problems, shareholders are often too uninformed to vote wisely, and majority and supermajority rule permits large shareholders to exploit small shareholders. We propose a new voting system called Quadratic Vote Buying (QVB), according to which shareholders are not given voting rights but may purchase votes, with the price of votes being a quadratic function of the number of votes purchased. QVB ensures that voting outcomes are efficient under reasonable conditions. We argue that corporations should implement QVB and that the law permits them to do so. Certain legal protections for shareholders, such as the appraisal remedy, are unnecessary if QVB is implemented.

----------------------

Keeping Up with CEO Jones: Benchmarking and Executive Compensation

Ron Laschever
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, September 2013, Pages 78-100

Abstract:
This paper seeks to understand the role that peer comparisons play in the determination of executive compensation. I exploit a recent change in the Securities and Exchange Commission's regulations that requires firms to disclose the peer companies used for determining the compensation of their top executives. Using a new dataset of S&P 900 companies' choice of benchmarking firms during two fiscal periods (2007 and 2008), I investigate what determines the choice of comparison firms. I find that companies have a preference for choosing higher-CEO-compensation firms as their benchmark. Though I find that companies prefer to choose as their benchmark peers with similar firm characteristics, for CEO compensation, this effect is countered by a preference for firms with higher-than-own CEO compensation. Using the complete map of firms' choices, I implement an instrumental variable strategy that uses the characteristics of peers-of-peers to estimate the effect of others' compensation on own compensation. For Fiscal Year 2007, I find an elasticity of 0.5.

----------------------

Unethical Culture, Suspect CEOs and Corporate Misbehavior

Lee Biggerstaff, David Cicero & Andy Puckett
NBER Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
We show that firms with CEOs who personally benefitted from options backdating were more likely to engage in other forms of corporate misbehavior, suggestive of an unethical corporate culture. These firms were more likely to overstate firm profitability and to engage in less profitable acquisition strategies. The increased level of corporate misbehaviors is concentrated in firms with suspect CEOs who were outside hires, consistent with adverse selection in the market for chief executives. Difference-in-differences tests confirm that the propensity to engage in these activities is significantly increased following the arrival of an outside-hire 'suspect' CEO, suggesting that causation flows from the top executives to the firm. Finally, while these suspect CEOs appear to have avoided market discipline when the market was optimistic, they were more likely to lose their jobs and their firms were more likely to experience dramatic declines in value during the ensuing market correction.

----------------------

Shareholder Democracy in Play: Career Consequences of Proxy Contests

Vyacheslav Fos & Margarita Tsoutsoura
University of Chicago Working Paper, July 2013

Abstract:
This paper shows that proxy contests have a significant adverse effect on careers of incumbent directors. Following a proxy contest, directors experience a significant decline in number of directorships not only in the targeted company, but also in other non-targeted companies. The results are established using the universe of all proxy contests during 1996-2010. To establish that this effect of proxy contests is causal, we use within-firm variation in directors' exposure to proxy contests and exploit the predetermined schedule of staggered boards that only allows a fraction of directors to be nominated for election every year. We find that nominated directors relative to non-nominated ones lose 45% more seats on other boards. We discuss that this pattern can be expected if proxy contest mechanism imposes a significant career cost on incumbent directors.

----------------------

Skill Differences in Corporate Acquisitions

Jeffrey Jaffe, David Pedersen & Torben Voetmann
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Are there skill differences in mergers and acquisitions? To investigate this question, we focus on persistence in the performance of corporate acquirers. We find persistence only when successive deals occur under the same CEO and conclude that skill differences in acquisitions reside with the CEO, not with the firm as a whole. These differences are economically meaningful. An acquirer that was successful in its last deal and kept its CEO earns 1.02% more on its next deal than does a previously-unsuccessful firm that kept its CEO. This percentage difference is equivalent to a $175 million difference in value creation.

----------------------

Boards, CEO entrenchment, and the cost of capital

James Dow
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Existing research on chief executive officer (CEO) turnover focuses on CEO ability. This paper argues that board ability is also important. Corporate boards are reluctant to replace CEOs, as this makes financing expensive by sending a negative signal about board ability. Entrenchment in this model does not result from CEO power, or from agency problems. Entrenchment is mitigated when there are more assets-in-place relative to investment opportunities. The paper also compares public and private equity. Private ownership eliminates CEO entrenchment, but market signals improve investment decisions. Finally, the model implies that board choice in publicly listed firms will be conservative.

----------------------

CEO Investment Cycles

Yihui Pan, Tracy Yue Wang & Michael Weisbach
NBER Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
This paper documents the existence of a CEO Investment Cycle, in which firms disinvest early in a CEO's tenure and increase investment subsequently, leading to "cyclical" firm growth in assets as well as in employment over CEO tenure. The CEO investment cycle occurs for both firings and non-performance related CEO turnovers, and for CEOs with different relationships with the firm prior to becoming CEO. The magnitude of the CEO cycle is substantial: The estimated difference in investment rate between the first three years of a CEO's tenure and subsequent years is approximately 6 to 8 percentage points, which is of the same order of magnitude as the differences caused by other factors known to affect investment, such as business cycles or financial constraints. We present a variety of tests suggesting that this investment cycle is best explained by a combination of agency-based theories: Early in his tenure the CEO disinvests poorly performing assets that his predecessor established and was unwilling to give up on. Subsequently, the CEO overinvests when he gains more control over his board. There is no evidence that the investment cycles occur because of shifting CEO skill or productivity shocks. Overall, the results imply that public corporations' investments deviate substantially from the first-best, and that governance-related factors internal to the firm are as important as economy-wide factors in explaining firms' investments.

----------------------

CEO Career Variety: Effects on Firm-level Strategic and Social Novelty

Craig Crossland et al.
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We introduce the concept of CEO career variety - defined as the array of distinct professional and institutional experiences an executive has had prior to becoming CEO. Using a longitudinal sample of Fortune 250 CEOs, we hypothesize, and find strong evidence, that CEO career variety is positively associated with firm-level strategic novelty - manifested in strategic dynamism (period-on-period change) and strategic distinctiveness (deviance from industry central tendencies). We also find mixed evidence that CEO career variety is positively associated with social novelty - manifested in top management team turnover and heterogeneity.

----------------------

Group Polarization in Board Decisions About CEO Compensation

David Zhu
Organization Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines how chief executive officer (CEO) compensation decisions may be influenced by a major group decision-making tendency referred to as group polarization among outside directors. I start by explaining why outside directors on average tend to support relatively high (low) CEO compensation when they previously witnessed relatively high (low) CEO compensation across different boards. Group polarization theory then suggests that when outside directors on average tend to support relatively high (low) CEO compensation prior to board discussions, they will support even higher (lower) focal CEO compensation after the discussions. In addition, this study proposes three important moderators of the group polarization effect. Specifically, (1) demographic homogeneity among outside directors and (2) the similarity of the minority's prior decision context are proposed to weaken the group polarization effect, whereas (3) outside directors' power relative to inside directors is predicted to strengthen it. Longitudinal analyses (1995-2006) of Fortune 500 CEOs' compensation provide support for these theoretical predictions. This study contributes to corporate governance research on CEO compensation by advancing a novel group decision-making approach to examining this important decision.

----------------------

Who Says Yes When the Headhunter Calls? Understanding Executive Job Search Behavior

Peter Cappelli & Monika Hamori
NBER Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
We examine an aspect of job search in the important context of executive-level jobs using a unique data set from a prominent executive search firm. Specifically, we observe whether or not executives pursue offers to be considered for a position at other companies. The fact that the initial call from the search firm, which we observe, is an exogenous event for the executive makes the context particularly useful. We use insights from the Multi-Arm Bandit problem to analyze the individual's decision as it emphasizes assessments of future prospects in the decision process, which are particularly relevant for executive careers. More than half the executives we observe were willing to be a candidate for a job elsewhere. Executives are more likely to search where their current roles are less certain and where their career experience has been broader. Search is more likely even for broader experience within the same employer. In the latter case, the array of likely opportunities is also broader, making search more useful.

----------------------

Human capital, capital structure, and employee pay: An empirical analysis

Thomas Chemmanur, Yingmei Cheng & Tianming Zhang
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We test the predictions of Titman (1984) and Berk, Stanton, and Zechner (2010) by examining the effect of leverage on labor costs. Leverage has a significantly positive impact on cash, equity-based, and total compensation of chief executive officers (CEOs). Compensation of new CEOs hired from outside the firm is positively related to prior-year firm leverage. In addition, leverage has a positive and significant impact on average employee pay. The incremental total labor expenses associated with an increase in leverage are large enough to offset the incremental tax benefits of debt. The empirical evidence supports the theoretical prediction that labor costs limit the use of debt.

----------------------

Asymmetric Benchmarking of Pay in Firms

Bill Francis et al.
Journal of Corporate Finance, December 2013, Pages 39-53

Abstract:
This paper examines whether asymmetric benchmarking of pay exists for vice presidents (VPs). Using ExecuComp data for 1992-2007, we find that companies reward VPs for good luck but do not penalize them for bad luck. However, asymmetric benchmarking of VP pay is mitigated by governance, power, gender, and industry factors. The presence of asymmetric benchmarking of pay could suggest that managers are involved in skimming, or it could mean that firms insulate managers from poor firm performance to prevent them from accessing outside opportunities. We also find that unlike CEOs, asymmetric benchmarking of pay for VPs is not consistent with the skimming hypothesis.

----------------------

CEO compensation and corporate risk: Evidence from a natural experiment

Todd Gormley, David Matsa & Todd Milbourn
Journal of Accounting and Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the two-way relationship between managerial compensation and corporate risk by exploiting an unanticipated change in firms' business risks. The natural experiment provides an opportunity to examine two classic questions related to incentives and risk - how boards adjust incentives in response to firms' risk and how these incentives affect managers' risk-taking. We find that, after left-tail risk increases, boards reduce managers' exposure to stock price movements and that less convexity from options-based pay leads to greater risk-reducing activities. Specifically, managers with less convex payoffs tend to cut leverage and R&D, stockpile cash, and engage in more diversifying acquisitions.

----------------------

Duration of Executive Compensation

Radhakrishnan Gopalan et al.
Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Extensive discussions on the inefficiencies of "short-termism" in executive compensation notwithstanding, little is known empirically about the extent of such short-termism. We develop a novel measure of executive pay duration that reflects the vesting periods of different pay components, thereby quantifying the extent to which compensation is short-term. We calculate pay duration in various industries and document its correlation with firm characteristics. Pay duration is longer in firms with more growth opportunities, more long-term assets, greater R&D intensity, lower risk, and better recent stock performance. Longer CEO pay duration is negatively related to the extent of earnings-increasing accruals.

----------------------

The harder they fall, the faster they rise: Approach and avoidance focus in Narcissistic CEOs

Pankaj Patel & Danielle Cooper
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Drawing on theoretical underpinnings of approach-avoidance motivation and CEO narcissism, we provide a framework examining stronger approach focus (motivation towards desirable outcomes) and weaker avoidance focus (motivation away from undesirable outcomes) in narcissistic CEOs using a quasi-natural experimental setting - the economic crisis beginning in 2007. Because highly narcissistic CEOs possess lower avoidance motivation in the pre-crisis period, their firms face greater declines in the onset of the crisis. However, their greater tendency towards approach motivation enables narcissistic CEOs to increase firm performance in the post-crisis period. While narcissistic CEOs are less likely to protect against potential shocks, they are adept at helping firms quickly recover from such shocks. Using a sample of 392 CEOs representing 2,352 CEO-firm-years, we find support for the proposed framework.

----------------------

Board structure and role of monitoring committees

Arun Upadhyay, Rahul Bhargava & Sheri Faircloth
Journal of Business Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Regulators and researchers alike have focused significant attention on the structure of the corporate board. In general, the results of prior empirical studies suggest that larger boards are costly to firms because of communication and co-ordination problems. How firms use committees to mitigate these costs, however, has not received as much attention. Since boards delegate authority for specific tasks to monitoring committees with independent directors, we re-examine the impact of board structure on firm performance by specifically focusing on the number of monitoring committees. Using ROA and EVA, we find that board size is positively associated with firm performance when firms use more than three monitoring committees. We also find that the previously documented negative association between board size and Tobin's Q disappears when a firm uses more than three monitoring committees. Overall, the results suggest that firms use monitoring committees to mitigate the costs associated with larger boards.

----------------------

How Do Public Companies Adjust Their Board Structures?

David Cicero, Babajide Wintoki & Tina Yang
Journal of Corporate Finance, December 2013, Pages 108-127

Abstract:
We show that public companies frequently changed their board structures before implementation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, with two-thirds of firms changing board size or independence during an average two-year period. Board changes were associated with changes in firm-specific fundamentals, but the rate of change toward predicted structures was negatively associated with the level of CEO influence. Companies changed board structures in either direction as underlying firm fundamentals changed, consistent with the pursuit of economically efficient board structures. However, board changes have become less frequent since the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was enacted. We provide some evidence that companies became less likely to decrease board independence when changes in fundamentals suggested they should, which may reflect a loss of economic efficiency.

----------------------

Effect of Decision Makers' Education Level on their Corporate Risk Taking

Yonghai Wang, Wei Zhou & Ke-Chiun Chang
Social Behavior and Personality, August 2013, Pages 1225-1229

Abstract:
We examined whether or not the education level of corporate decision makers helps explain their level of corporate risk taking. Using a sample population of listed companies in China, we documented a significant negative correlation between decision makers' education level and their level of corporate risk taking. Corporations run by more highly educated decision makers were found to have lower leverage and less volatile earnings. These results have important implications for corporate governance and educational choices.

----------------------

Which U.S. Market Interactions Affect CEO Pay? Evidence from UK Companies

Joseph Gerakos, Joseph Piotroski & Suraj Srinivasan
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines how different types of interactions with U.S. markets by non-U.S. firms are associated with higher levels of CEO pay, greater emphasis on incentive-based compensation, and smaller pay gaps with U.S. firms. Using a sample of CEOs of UK firms and using both broad cross-sectional and narrow event-window tests, we find that capital market relationship in the form of a U.S. exchange listing is related to higher UK CEO pay; however, the effect is similar when UK firms have a listing in any foreign country, implying a foreign listing effect not unique to the United States. Product market relationships measured by the extent of sales in the United States by UK companies are associated with higher pay, greater use of U.S.-style pay arrangements, and a reduction in the U.S.-UK pay gap. The product market effect is incremental to the effect of a U.S. exchange listing, the extent of the firm's non-U.S. foreign market interactions, and the characteristics of the executive. The U.S-UK CEO pay gap reduces in UK firms that make U.S. acquisitions. Furthermore, the firm's use of a U.S. compensation consultant increases the sensitivity of UK pay practices to U.S. product market relationships.

----------------------

Should Entrepreneurially Oriented Firms Have Narcissistic CEOs?

Andreas Engelen, Christoph Neumann & Susanne Schmidt
Journal of Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
Extant research has shown that firms with high levels of entrepreneurial orientation (EO) outperform competitors. The present study sheds light on this performance relationship in large, publicly listed high-tech firms by examining whether the strength of this relationship depends upon the CEO's narcissism, an executive personality trait recently debated controversially in both academic and practitioner publications. A theoretically derived research model is empirically validated by means of multisource secondary data for 41 S&P 500 firms from 2005 to 2007. Findings indicate that narcissistic CEOs usually weaken the EO-performance relationship, although the opposite is true under some conditions, such as in highly concentrated and dynamic markets.

----------------------

Directors' and officers' liability insurance and loan spreads

Chen Lin et al.
Journal of Financial Economics, October 2013, Pages 37-60

Abstract:
We analyze the effect of directors' and officers' liability insurance (D&O insurance) on the spreads charged on bank loans. We find that higher levels of D&O insurance coverage are associated with higher loan spreads and that this relation depends on loan characteristics in economically sensible ways and is attenuated by monitoring mechanisms. This association between loan spreads and D&O insurance coverage is robust to controlling for endogeneity (because both could be related to firm risk), including instrumental variable specifications, change regressions, and regressions using an exogenous regulatory event that increases managerial liability. Our evidence suggests that lenders view D&O insurance coverage as increasing credit risk (potentially via moral hazard or information asymmetry). Further analyses show that higher levels of D&O insurance coverage are associated with greater risk taking and higher probabilities of financial restatement due to aggressive financial reporting. While greater use of D&O insurance appears to raise the cost of debt financing, the purchase of D&O insurance might not necessarily be harmful to shareholders. We find some evidence that D&O insurance coverage appears to improve the value of investment in firms with better internal and external governance.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Focus on the family

Testicular volume is inversely correlated with nurturing-related brain activity in human fathers

Jennifer Mascaro, Patrick Hackett & James Rilling
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite the well-documented benefits afforded the children of invested fathers in modern Western societies, some fathers choose not to invest in their children. Why do some men make this choice? Life History Theory offers an explanation for variation in parental investment by positing a trade-off between mating and parenting effort, which may explain some of the observed variance in human fathers’ parenting behavior. We tested this hypothesis by measuring aspects of reproductive biology related to mating effort, as well as paternal nurturing behavior and the brain activity related to it. Both plasma testosterone levels and testes volume were independently inversely correlated with paternal caregiving. In response to viewing pictures of one’s own child, activity in the ventral tegmental area — a key component of the mesolimbic dopamine reward and motivation system — predicted paternal caregiving and was negatively related to testes volume. Our results suggest that the biology of human males reflects a trade-off between mating effort and parenting effort, as indexed by testicular size and nurturing-related brain function, respectively.

----------------------

Family Welfare Cultures

Gordon Dahl, Andreas Ravndal Kostol & Magne Mogstad
NBER Working Paper, July 2013

Abstract:
Strong intergenerational correlations in various types of welfare use have fueled a long standing debate over whether welfare dependency in one generation causes welfare dependency in the next generation. Some claim a culture has developed in which welfare use reinforces itself through the family, because parents on welfare provide information about the program to their children, reduce the stigma of participation, or invest differentially in child development. Others argue the determinants of poverty or poor health are correlated across generations, so that children's welfare participation is associated with, but not caused by, parental welfare use. However, there is little empirical evidence to sort out these claims. In this paper, we investigate the existence and importance of family welfare cultures in the context of Norway's disability insurance (DI) system. To overcome the challenge of correlated unobservables across generations, we take advantage of random assignment of judges to DI applicants whose cases are initially denied. Some appeal judges are systematically more lenient, which leads to random variation in the probability a parent will be allowed DI. Using this exogenous variation, we find strong evidence that welfare use in one generation causes welfare use in the next generation: when a parent is allowed DI, their adult child's participation over the next five years increases by 6 percentage points. This effect grows over time, rising to 12 percentage points after ten years. Using our estimates, we simulate the total reduction in DI participation from a policy which makes the screening process more stringent; the intergenerational link amplifies the direct effect on parents at the margin of program entry, leading to long-run participation rates and program costs which are substantially lower than would otherwise be expected. The detailed nature of our data allows us to explore the mechanisms behind the causal intergenerational relationship; we find suggestive evidence against stigma and parental investments and in favor of children learning from a parent's experience with the DI program.

----------------------

Childhood adversity as a risk for cancer: Findings from the 1958 British birth cohort study

Michelle Kelly-Irving et al.
BMC Public Health, August 2013

Background: To analyse whether Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) are associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Methods: The National child development study (NCDS) is a prospective birth cohort study with data collected over 50 years. The NCDS included all live births during one week in 1958 (n = 18558) in Great Britain. Self-reported cancer incidence was based on 444 participants reporting having had cancer at some point and 5694 reporting never having cancer. ACE was measured using reports of: 1) child in care, 2) physical neglect, 3) child’s or family’s contact with the prison service, 4) parental separation due to divorce, death or other, 5) family experience of mental illness & 6) family experience of substance abuse. The resulting variable had three categories, no ACEs/ one ACE/ 2 + ACEs and was used to test for a relationship with cancer. Information on socioeconomic characteristics, pregnancy and birth were extracted as potential confounders. Information on adult health behaviours, socioeconomic environment, psychological state and age at first pregnancy were added to the models. Multivariate models were run using multiply-imputed data to account for missing data in the cohort.

Results: The odds of having a cancer before 50 y among women increased twofold for those who had 2+ ACEs versus those with no ACEs, after adjusting for adult factors and early life confounders (OR: 2.1, 95% CI: 1.42-3.21, p < 0.001).

Conclusion: These findings suggest that cancer risk may be influenced by exposure to stressful conditions and events early on in life. This is potentially important in furthering our understanding of cancer aetiology, and consequently in redirecting scientific research and developing appropriate prevention policies.

----------------------

Maternal and Paternal Psychological Control as Moderators of the Link between Peer Attitudes and Adolescents’ Risky Sexual Behavior

Barbara Oudekerk et al.
Journal of Early Adolescence, forthcoming

Abstract:
Maternal and paternal psychological control, peer attitudes, and the interaction of psychological control and peer attitudes at age 13 were examined as predictors of risky sexual behavior before age 16 in a community sample of 181 youth followed from age 13 to 16. Maternal psychological control moderated the link between peer attitudes and sexual behavior. Peer acceptance of early sex predicted greater risky sexual behaviors, but only for teens whose mothers engaged in high levels of psychological control. Paternal psychological control demonstrated the same moderating effect for girls; for boys, however, high levels of paternal control predicted risky sex regardless of peer attitudes. Results are consistent with the theory that peer influences do not replace parental influences with regard to adolescent sexual behavior; rather, parental practices continue to serve an important role either directly forecasting sexual behavior or moderating the link between peer attitudes and sexual behavior.

----------------------

The Great Recession, genetic sensitivity, and maternal harsh parenting

Dohoon Lee et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 20 August 2013, Pages 13780-13784

Abstract:
Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, this study examined the effects of the Great Recession on maternal harsh parenting. We found that changes in macroeconomic conditions, rather than current conditions, affected harsh parenting, that declines in macroeconomic conditions had a stronger impact on harsh parenting than improvements in conditions, and that mothers’ responses to adverse economic conditions were moderated by the DRD2 Taq1A genotype. We found no evidence of a moderating effect for two other, less well-studied SNPs from the DRD4 and DAT1 genes.

----------------------

The Effect of Maternal Employment on Children's Academic Performance

Rachel Dunifon et al.
NBER Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
Using a Danish data set that follows 135,000 Danish children from birth through 9th grade, we examine the effect of maternal employment during a child’s first three and first 15 years on that child’s grade point average in 9th grade. We address the endogeneity of employment by including a rich set of household control variables, instrumenting for employment with the gender- and education-specific local unemployment rate, and by including maternal fixed effects. We find that maternal employment has a positive effect on children’s academic performance in all specifications, particularly when women work part-time. This is in contrast with the larger literature on maternal employment, much of which takes place in other contexts, and which finds no or a small negative effect of maternal employment on children’s cognitive development and academic performance.

----------------------

Does Adolescent Family Structure Predict Military Enlistment? A Comparison of Post–High School Activities

Naomi Spence, Kathryn Henderson & Glen Elder
Journal of Family Issues, September 2013, Pages 1194-1216

Abstract:
This article investigates the link between adolescent family structure and the likelihood of military enlistment in young adulthood as compared with alternative post–high school activities. The authors use data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and multinomial logistic regression analyses to compare the odds of military enlistment with college attendance or labor force involvement. They find that alternative family structures predict enlistment relative to college attendance. Living in a single-parent household during adolescence increased odds of military enlistment, but the effect is accounted for by socioeconomic status and early feelings of social isolation. Living with a stepparent or with neither biological parent more than doubles the odds of enlistment, independent of socioeconomic status, characteristics of parent–child relationships, or feelings of social isolation. Although college attendance is widely promoted as a valued post–high school activity, military service may offer a route to independence and a greater sense of belonging.

----------------------

How and Why Does the 5-HTTLPR Gene Moderate Associations Between Maternal Unresponsiveness and Children's Disruptive Problems?

Patrick Davies & Dante Cicchetti
Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study tested the 5-HTTLPR gene as a moderator in the relation between maternal unresponsiveness and child externalizing symptoms in a disadvantaged, predominantly Black sample of two hundred and one 2-year-old children and their mothers. Using a multimethod, prospective design, structural equation model analyses indicated that maternal unresponsiveness significantly predicted increases in externalizing symptoms 2 years later only for children possessing the LL genotype. Moderation was expressed in a “for better” or “for worse” form hypothesized in differential susceptibility theory. In examining why the risk posed by maternal unresponsiveness differed across the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism, mediated moderation analyses showed that children's angry reactivity to maternal negativity partly accounted for the greater susceptibility of homozygous L carriers to variations in maternal unresponsiveness.

----------------------

Maternal Multipartnered Fertility and Adolescent Well-being

Cassandra Dorius & Karen Guzzo
University of Michigan Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
Over the past decade, there has been an emerging body of research focusing on multipartnered fertility, where a parent has children by more than one partner. The growth in union dissolution and nonmarital childbearing has increased the prevalence of multipartnered fertility, altered the circumstances in which it occurred, and fostered concern over the implications for families, particularly children .However, it is not clear if concern over multipartnered fertility, in and of itself, is warranted. We draw on 24 waves (1979-2010) of nationally representative data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Study of Youth main youth interviews to create detailed relationship histories of mothers and then link these data to self-reported assessments of adolescent well-being found in 9 waves (1994-2010) of the young adult (NLSY79-YA) supplement. Preliminary OLS and Logit regression models suggest that maternal multipartnered fertility has a significant direct and moderating effect on adolescent drug use and sexual debut net of cumulative family instability and exposure to particular family forms like marriage, cohabitation, and divorce. Moreover, maternal multipartnered fertility remained a significant predictor of both drug use and the timing of first sex even after accounting for selection into this family form and controlling for the adolescent’s experience of poverty, unemployment, and educational disadvantage at the time of birth and throughout childhood.

----------------------

Is Resource Dilution a Law? Sibship Size and Educational Outcomes Across Time and Group

Douglas Downey, Benjamin Gibbs & Joseph Workman
Ohio State University Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
One of the most consistent patterns in the social sciences is the relationship between sibship size and educational outcomes: those with fewer siblings outperform those with many. The most prominent explanation for this pattern is resource dilution — parents’ resources are finite and spread more thinly as the number of children in the family increases. This theoretical claim is provocative because it transcends place and time, suggesting a universal law. Studies beyond the United States, however, indicate another possibility — that the relationship between sibship size and educational outcomes may depend on context. With a focus on historical and contextual patterns in the U.S. setting, we extend tests of the dilution model in two ways with data from the General Social Surveys 1972-2010. First, we find that the effect of sibship size on educational outcomes has slowly declined during the twentieth century, but has also shown signs of uptick among the most recent cohorts, a pattern that resembles the broader patterns of inequality exhibited in Kuznets Curve. Second, large sibships are less detrimental among individuals that identify as Mormon than for other religious groups, highlighting the way in which broader social norms influence the consequences of sibship size.

----------------------

Authoritarianism, Anger, and Hostile Attribution Bias: A Test of Affect Displacement

Michael Milburn, Miho Niwa & Marcus Patterson
Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Past research has supported the hypothesis that the relationship between harsh childhood punishment and adult political attitudes is due to the displacement of negative emotions that arise onto punitive public policies, e.g., support for the death penalty (Milburn, Conrad, Sala, & Carberry, 1995). Cognitions associated with childhood punishment may also impact adult political attitudes, yet their effects have not yet been examined, despite research that shows that punitive childhood experiences increase the tendency to attribute hostility to others. Thus, we investigated whether the tendency to make hostile attributions about others' behavior influences a person's authoritarianism, controlling for their parents' political orientation. Respondents completed an online survey concerning their childhood punishment experiences, their parents' political orientation, their trait anger, their level of hostile attribution bias (HAB), and their authoritarianism. Multiple regression analyses and structural equation modeling (SEM) found that higher childhood punishment has a significant direct effect on higher levels of authoritarianism, even after controlling for parents' political orientation, and that trait anger and HAB appear to mediate the effects of childhood punishment experiences on authoritarianism. These results support the process of affect displacement as an important influence on adult punitiveness and political orientation.

----------------------

Mitigating the Effects of Low Birth Weight: Evidence from Quasi-Randomly Assigned Adoptees

Brian Beach & Martin Hugo Saavedra
University of Pittsburgh Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
Infants who are underweight at birth earn less, score lower on tests, and become less educated as adults. Does socioeconomic status mitigate these effects? Previous studies have found mixed results, but they also differed in how they measure socioeconomic status. In this paper, we reconcile these findings using a unique data-set in which adoptees were quasi-randomly assigned to families. This data-set allows us to use five prevalent measures of socioeconomic status: mother’s education, father’s education, family income, family size, and neighborhood income. We find that zip code income mitigates the effects of low birth weight, as in Currie and Morreti (2007), whereas other family characteristics do not, as in Currie and Hyson (1999) and Black et al (2007).

----------------------

Evidence of a nesting psychology during human pregnancy

Marla Anderson & M.D. Rutherford
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
In altricial mammals, “nesting” refers to a suite of primarily maternal behaviours including nest-site selection, nest building and nest defense, and the many ways that nonhuman animals prepare themselves for parturition are well studied. In contrast, little research has considered pre-parturient preparation behaviours in women from a functional perspective. Reports in the popular press assert that women experience “nesting” urges, in the form of cleaning and organizing behaviours. Anthropological data suggest that having control over the environment is a key feature of childbirth preparation in humans, including decisions about where birth will take place, and who will be welcome in the birthing environment. Here, we describe the results of two studies, a large online study comparing pregnant and non-pregnant women, and a longitudinal study tracking women throughout pregnancy and into the postpartum period and comparing non-pregnant women at similar time intervals, using a nesting questionnaire that we developed. We found that women exhibit nesting behaviours, including space preparation and social selectivity, which peak in the third trimester of pregnancy. As is the case with nonhuman mammals, nesting in women may serve a protective function.

----------------------

Family Structure and the Economic Wellbeing of Children in Youth and Adulthood

Leonard Lopoo & Thomas DeLeire
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
An extensive literature on the relationship between family structure and children’s outcomes consistently shows that living with a single parent is associated with negative outcomes. Few U.S. studies, however, examine how a child’s family structure affects outcomes for the child once he/she reaches adulthood. We directly examine, using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, whether family structure during childhood is related to the child’s economic wellbeing both during childhood as well as during adulthood. We find that living with a single parent is associated with the level of family resources available during childhood. This finding persists even when we remove time invariant factors within families. We also show that the family structure is related to the child’s education, marital status, and adult family income. Once we control for the child’s demography and economic wellbeing in childhood, however, the associations into adulthood become trivial in size and statistically insignificant, suggesting that the relationship between family structure and children’s long-term, economic outcomes is due in large part to the relationship between family structure and economic wellbeing in childhood.

----------------------

School Calendars, Child Care Availability and Maternal Employment

Jennifer Graves
Journal of Urban Economics, November 2013, Pages 57–70

Abstract:
A year-round calendar redistributes schools days around the year. This paper studies how this redistribution of school days, and therefore child care days available through school, affects maternal employment. The presence of year-round calendars in a district could be correlated with other district level attributes that might affect female employment rates. I therefore use a differencing method that compares the influence of district year-round enrollment on the employment rates of women with school-aged children relative to women whose eldest child is pre-school-aged. Unobserved district factors should affect employment rates of women with school-aged and pre-school-aged children similarly, yet only women with school-aged children should be directly impacted by school calendar. I find that redistributing child care days available through school into shorter intervals over time negatively impacts maternal employment. Among those women with school-aged children, those also having pre-school-aged children have the hardest time adjusting to differences in existing availability.

----------------------

Associations between Parenting Style, Physical Discipline, and Adjustment in Adolescents' Reports

Marjorie Lindner Gunnoe
Psychological Reports, June 2013, Pages 933-975

Abstract:
Recollections of physical discipline as absent, age-delimited (ages 2–11), or present into adolescence were associated with youths' evaluations of their mothers' and fathers' parenting styles and their own adjustment. Data were from the Portraits of American Life Study–Youth (PALS–Y) a diverse, national sample of 13- to 18-year-olds (N = 158). The modal experience of youth with authoritative parents was age-delimited spanking; the modal experience of youth with permissive parents was no spanking; the modal experience of youth with authoritarian or disengaged parents was physical discipline into adolescence. The age-delimited group reported the best adjustment (less maladjustment than the adolescent group; greater competence than both other groups). The positive association between fathers' age-delimited spanking and youths' academic rank persisted even after accounting for parenting styles. The eschewing of spanking should not be listed as a distinguishing characteristic of authoritative parenting, which was more often associated with age-delimited spanking than with zero-usage.

----------------------

The Impact of Parental Death on Child Well-being: Evidence from the Indian Ocean Tsunami

Ava Cas et al.
NBER Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
Identifying the impact of parental death on the well-being of children is complicated because parental death is likely to be correlated with other, unobserved, factors that affect child well-being. Population-representative longitudinal data collected in Aceh, Indonesia, before and after the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami are used to identify the impact of parental deaths on the well-being of children who were age 9 through 17 years old at the time of the tsunami. Exploiting the unanticipated nature of parental death due to the tsunami in combination with measuring well-being of the same children before and after the tsunami, models that include child fixed effects are estimated to isolate the causal effect of parental death. Comparisons are drawn between those children who lost one parent, both parents and those whose parents survived. Shorter-term impacts on school attendance and time allocation a year after the tsunami are examined as well as longer-term impacts on education trajectories and marriage. Shorter- and longer-term impacts are not the same. Five years after the tsunami, there are substantial deleterious impacts of the tsunami on older boys and girls whereas the effects on younger children are more muted.

----------------------

Children, spousal love, and happiness: An economic analysis

Shoshana Grossbard & Sankar Mukhopadhyay
Review of Economics of the Household, September 2013, Pages 447-467

Abstract:
In this paper we examine how children affect happiness and relationships within a family by analyzing two unique questions in the National Longitudinal Study of Youth’s 1997 cohort. We find that (a) presence of children is associated with a loss of spousal love; (b) loss of spousal love is associated with loss of overall happiness; but (c) presence of children is not associated with significant loss of overall happiness. If children reduce feelings of being loved by the spouse but do not reduce reported happiness even though spousal love induces happiness, then it must be the case that children contribute to parental happiness by providing other benefits. After ruling out some competing compensation mechanisms we infer that loss of spousal love is compensated with altruistic feelings towards children.

----------------------

Risk of Suicide Attempt in Adopted and Nonadopted Offspring

Margaret Keyes et al.
Pediatrics, forthcoming

Objecitve: We asked whether adoption status represented a risk of suicide attempt for adopted and nonadopted offspring living in the United States. We also examined whether factors known to be associated with suicidal behavior would mediate the relationship between adoption status and suicide attempt.

Methods: Participants were drawn from the Sibling Interaction and Behavior Study, which included 692 adopted and 540 nonadopted offspring and was conducted at the University of Minnesota from 1998 to 2008. Adoptees were systematically ascertained from records of 3 large Minnesota adoption agencies; nonadoptees were ascertained from Minnesota birth records. Outcome measures were attempted suicide, reported by parent or offspring, and factors known to be associated with suicidal behavior including psychiatric disorder symptoms, personality traits, family environment, and academic disengagement.

Results: The odds of a reported suicide attempt were ∼4 times greater in adoptees compared with nonadoptees (odds ratio: 4.23). After adjustment for factors associated with suicidal behavior, the odds of reporting a suicide attempt were reduced but remained significantly elevated (odds ratio: 3.70).

Conclusions: The odds for reported suicide attempt are elevated in individuals who are adopted relative to those who are not adopted. The relationship between adoption status and suicide attempt is partially mediated by factors known to be associated with suicidal behavior. Continued study of the risk of suicide attempt in adopted offspring may inform the larger investigation of suicidality in all adolescents and young adults.

----------------------

Longitudinal Links Between Fathers’ and Mothers’ Harsh Verbal Discipline and Adolescents’ Conduct Problems and Depressive Symptoms

Ming-Te Wang & Sarah Kenny
Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study used cross-lagged modeling to examine reciprocal relations between maternal and paternal harsh verbal discipline and adolescents’ conduct problems and depressive symptoms. Data were from a sample of 976 two-parent families and their children (51% males; 54% European American, 40% African American). Mothers’ and fathers’ harsh verbal discipline at age 13 predicted an increase in adolescent conduct problems and depressive symptoms between ages 13 and 14. A child effect was also present, with adolescent misconduct at age 13 predicting increases in mothers’ and fathers’ harsh verbal discipline between ages 13 and 14. Furthermore, maternal and paternal warmth did not moderate the longitudinal associations between mothers’ and fathers’ use of harsh verbal discipline and adolescent conduct problems and depressive symptoms.

----------------------

Early life stressors and suicidal ideation: Mediation by interpersonal risk factors

Megan Puzia et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Childhood abuse is a major public health concern that has been consistently associated with many deleterious outcomes, including suicidal ideation (SI) and behavior. The processes through which early abuse experiences confer risk for suicidality are unclear. Drawing on Joiner’s (2005) interpersonal theory of suicide, we hypothesized that the relationship between SI and childhood abuse would be specific to childhood emotional abuse, and that this relationship would be mediated by thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness. Participants (n = 189) with moderate to severe childhood abuse completed measures of childhood abuse, perceived burdensomeness, and lack of belongingness at the baseline assessment, and a measure of SI at a 7-week follow-up assessment. We found partial support for the study hypotheses. Childhood emotional abuse, but not childhood physical or sexual abuse, was found to be prospectively associated with SI. Perceived burdensomeness but not thwarted belongingness mediated this relationship. These findings suggest that the relationship between SI and childhood abuse may be specific to emotional abuse, and that this abuse subtype confers risk for ideation through increasing the individual’s sense of hindering or burdening to others within the social network. Implications of these findings are discussed.

----------------------

Early deprivation impairs the development of balance and bilateral coordination

Barbara Roeber, Megan Gunnar & Seth Pollak
Developmental Psychobiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined balance and bilateral coordination skills in a sample of internationally adopted, post-institutionalized (PI) children. We compared the performance of these PI children to two age-matched groups. One was a group of children who were internationally adopted from foster care (FC). The second group consisted of non-adopted children being raised in their birth families, who served as controls (Control). Both PI and FC children scored lower than control children on balance, while PI children scored lower than both FC and control children on bilateral coordination. These results suggest that aspects of institutional rearing impact the development of bilateral coordination, while factors common to internationally adopted children other than institutionalization impact the development of balance. Region of birth (Asia, Latin/South America, Russia/Eastern Europe) did not moderate associations between institutional duration and bilateral coordination.

----------------------

Early developmental emergence of human amygdala–prefrontal connectivity after maternal deprivation

Dylan Gee et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Under typical conditions, medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) connections with the amygdala are immature during childhood and become adult-like during adolescence. Rodent models show that maternal deprivation accelerates this development, prompting examination of human amygdala–mPFC phenotypes following maternal deprivation. Previously institutionalized youths, who experienced early maternal deprivation, exhibited atypical amygdala–mPFC connectivity. Specifically, unlike the immature connectivity (positive amygdala–mPFC coupling) of comparison children, children with a history of early adversity evidenced mature connectivity (negative amygdala–mPFC coupling) and thus, resembled the adolescent phenotype. This connectivity pattern was mediated by the hormone cortisol, suggesting that stress-induced modifications of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis shape amygdala–mPFC circuitry. Despite being age-atypical, negative amygdala–mPFC coupling conferred some degree of reduced anxiety, although anxiety was still significantly higher in the previously institutionalized group. These findings suggest that accelerated amygdala–mPFC development is an ontogenetic adaptation in response to early adversity.

----------------------

Do Socialization Goals Explain Differences in Parental Control Between Black and White Parents?

Scott Richman & Jelani Mandara
Family Relations, October 2013, Pages 625–636

Abstract:
African American and White parents differ in their use of parental control strategies. This study examined the degree to which these differences are related to socialization goals or socioeconomic factors. Using a sample of 320 parents, the authors found that socialization goals for child independence, cultural connection and respect for elders (i.e., cultural-filial piety), and financial success explained most of the ethnic differences in parental strictness. Ethnic differences in autonomy granting were more related to economic factors. It was concluded that African American parents scoring higher on measures of strictness than White parents is related to having different socialization goals and cultural beliefs about child obedience and respect for elders. However, African American parents seem to provide less autonomy than White parents, perhaps due to sociocontextual factors such as greater neighborhood dangers.

----------------------

Genetic variation in oxytocin rs2740210 and early adversity associated with postpartum depression and breastfeeding duration

Wibke Jonas et al.
Genes, Brain and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Mothers vary in duration of breastfeeding. These individual differences are related to a variety of demographic and individual maternal factors including maternal hormones, mood and early experiences. However, little is known about the role of genetic factors. We studied single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the OXT peptide gene (rs2740210; rs4813627) and the OXT receptor gene (OXTR rs237885) in two samples of mothers from the Maternal adversity, Vulnerability and Neurodevelopment study (MAVAN), a multicenter (Hamilton and Montreal, Canada) study following mothers and their children from pregnancy until 7 years of age. Data from the Hamilton site was the primary sample (n = 201) and data from Montreal the replication sample (n = 151). Breastfeeding duration, maternal mood (measured by the CES-D scale) and early life adversity (measured by the CTQ scale) were established during 12 months postpartum. In our primary sample, polymorphisms in OXT rs2740210, but not the other SNPs, interacted with early life adversity to predict variation in breastfeeding duration (overall F (8,125) = 2.361, p = .021; interaction effect b = -8.12, t = -2.3, p = .023) and depression (overall F(8, 118) = 5.751, p ≤ .001; interaction effect b = 6.06, t = 3.13, p = .002). A moderated mediation model showed that higher levels of depression mediated the inverse relation of high levels of early life adversity to breastfeeding duration, but only in women possessing the CC genotype (effect a’ = -3.3401, 95%CI=-7.9466 to -.0015) of the OXT SNP and not in women with the AA/AC genotype (a’ = -1.2942, ns). The latter findings (moderated mediation model) were replicated in our Montreal sample (a’ = -.277, 95%CI=-.7987 to -.0348 for CC; a’ = -.1820, ns, for AA/AC).

----------------------

Family Formation and Offspring Mortality in Sweden: Evidence From Intergenerational Data on Sibling Groups

Jan Saarela, Fjalar Finnäs & Mikael Rostila
Journal of Family Issues, October 2013, Pages 1317-1334

Abstract:
Using multigenerational population register data that cover the total Swedish population, we studied relative mortality of offspring whose parents had formed a new family with children. These primarily adult-age children are found to have lower death risks than those with divorced parents who did not form a new family, which highlights that the link between parental family formation and offspring health may be attributed not only to causal factors associated with family disruption but also to social selection in parents. The association differs notably according to whether sibling groups are determined according to the mother or the father. This finding is interpreted as reflecting varying environmental exposure, because most minor children who experience parental divorce remain with the mother. We approximate that parental social selection, which maliciously affects offspring health, raises the offspring mortality risk by 20%.

----------------------

Infant interest in their mother's face is associated with maternal psychological health

Rebecca Jones et al.
Infant Behavior and Development, December 2013, Pages 686–693

Abstract:
Early experience can alter infants’ interest in faces in their environment. This study investigated the relationship between maternal psychological health, mother–infant bonding, and infant face interest in a community sample. A visual habituation paradigm was used to independently assess 3.5-month old infants’ attention to a photograph of their mother's face and a stranger's face. In this sample of 54 healthy mother–infant pairs, 57% of mothers (N = 31) reported symptoms of at least one of stress response to trauma, anxiety, or depression. Interest in the mother-face, but not stranger-face, was positively associated with the mother's psychological health. In regression analyses, anxiety and depression predicted 9% of the variance in looking to the mother-face. Anxiety was the only significant predictor within the model. No direct associations were found between mother–infant bonding and infants’ face interest. Taken together, these findings indicate that infant's visual engagement with their mother's face varies with maternal symptoms of emotional distress, even within a community sample.

----------------------

Former Foster Youth as Fathers: Risk and Protective Factors Predicting Father–Child Contact

Jennifer Hook & Mark Courtney
Family Relations, October 2013, Pages 571–583

Abstract:
This study uses longitudinal data from the Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth to examine father–child contact between fathers who aged out of foster care and their children (N = 287 children of 150 fathers). The authors examine the effect of remaining in foster care after age 18 and find that it is positively associated with father–child contact when fathers are age 26. Some of this relationship is explained by positive associations between remaining in care, employment, and men's coresidence with the child's mother, and a negative association with criminal conviction. Even among involved fathers, however, criminal convictions and unemployment are common. Findings suggest that extending care from age 18 to 21 benefits young men, and their children, when they become fathers. Child welfare policies and practice should attend to the needs of young men who become fathers, before and after they exit care.

----------------------

Early Life Stress and Physical and Psychosocial Functioning in Late Adulthood

Hanna Alastalo et al.
PLoS ONE, July 2013

Background: Severe stress experienced in early life may have long-term effects on adult physiological and psychological health and well-being. We studied physical and psychosocial functioning in late adulthood in subjects separated temporarily from their parents in childhood during World War II.

Methods: The 1803 participants belong to the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study, born 1934–44. Of them, 267 (14.8%) had been evacuated abroad in childhood during WWII and the remaining subjects served as controls. Physical and psychosocial functioning was assessed with the Short Form 36 scale (SF-36) between 2001 and 2004. A test for trends was based on linear regression. All analyses were adjusted for age at clinical examination, social class in childhood and adulthood, smoking, alcohol intake, physical activity, body mass index, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Results: Physical functioning in late adulthood was lower among the separated men compared to non-separated men (b = −0.40, 95% confidence interval [95% CI]: −0.71 to −0.08). Those men separated in school age (>7 years) and who were separated for a duration over 2 years had the highest risk for lower physical functioning (b = −0.89, 95% CI: −1.58 to −0.20) and (b = −0.65, 95% CI: −1.25 to −0.05), respectively). Men separated for a duration over 2 years also had lower psychosocial functioning (b = −0.70, 95% CI: −1.35 to −0.06). These differences in physical and psychosocial functioning were not observed among women.

Conclusion: Early life stress may increase the risk for impaired physical functioning in late adulthood among men. Timing and duration of the separation influenced the physical and psychosocial functioning in late adulthood.

----------------------

Mothers’ Parenting and Child Sex Differences in Behavior Problems Among African American Preschoolers

Melissa Barnett & Laura Scaramella
Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Sex differences in rates of behavior problems, including internalizing and externalizing problems, begin to emerge during early childhood. These sex differences may occur because mothers parent their sons and daughters differently, or because the impact of parenting on behavior problems is different for boys and girls. In this study, we examined whether associations between observations of mothers’ positive and negative parenting and children’s externalizing and internalizing behaviors vary as a function of child sex. The sample consisted of 137 African American low-income families with one sibling approximately 2 years old and the closest-aged older sibling who was approximately 4 years old. Results from fixed-effects within-family models indicate clear sex differences regardless of child age. Mothers were observed to use less positive parenting with sons than with daughters. Higher levels of observed negative parenting were linked to more externalizing behaviors for boys, whereas lower levels of positive parenting were linked to more externalizing behaviors for girls. No child sex differences emerged regarding associations between observed positive and negative parenting and internalizing behaviors.

----------------------

Is volunteer labor part of household production? Evidence from married couples

Eleanor Brown & Ye Zhang
Review of Economics of the Household, September 2013, Pages 341-369

Abstract:
Volunteer labor is generally modeled as an individualistic pursuit, akin to leisure or to human capital accumulation. Some activities labeled as volunteering, however, may be more usefully thought of as quid pro quo time commitments that are part of securing services for family members. Parents are frequently expected to volunteer, for example, when their children participate in youth sports leagues or school marching bands. In such cases, volunteering is essentially an instance of household production undertaken outside the home. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we divide volunteering into three categories — youth-related, religious, and non-youth-related secular — according to the likelihood that an instance of volunteering in the category represents household production. We find evidence that husbands and wives respond to one another’s time pressures such that youth-related volunteering looks like a task for which husbands’ and wives’ time inputs substitute for one another. Further, we find this pattern for housework, and not for other forms of volunteering. An increase in either spouse’s hours of market work will significantly reduce that spouse’s likelihood of volunteering for youth-related activities while raising the partner’s likelihood of volunteering. A similar pattern holds for hours volunteered to youth-related activities, with the wife’s responses achieving statistical significance.

----------------------

Correlations of Media Habits Across Time, Generations, and Media Modalities

Grace Yang & Rowell Huesmann
Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Summer 2013, Pages 356-373

Abstract:
This study investigates media uses and preferences across two generations and across television and video games. Path analyses using data from 335 families show that the number of hours of television viewed by the first generation (parents at age 30) positively predicts the amount of television use by their offspring in the second generation 18 years later, as well as their own amount of television viewing at that time. The analyses also show that the amount of video game playing among offspring is significantly related to their own as well as their parents' concurrent TV use. While there is no similar longitudinal correlation between a preference for violent television by parents at age 30 and that of their offspring 18 years later, parents' violent television preferences at age 48 are positively correlated with their offspring's concurrent preference for violent television content. Additionally, the violent television preferences of offspring are positively correlated with their own preferences for violent video games. These effects were found while controlling for SES, intellectual achievement, and offspring gender. These results suggest that the amount of time devoted to media use and preferences for violent media generalize across media modalities and are transmitted across generations.

----------------------

The evolved development niche: Longitudinal effects of caregiving practices on early childhood psychosocial development

Darcia Narvaez et al.
Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Fall 2013, Pages 759–773

Abstract:
Using an evolutionary developmental systems approach, we examined the effects of early care on children's psychosocial development. Our framework for early care is the set of parenting practices that emerged with the catarrhine mammals more than 30 million years ago, which were slightly altered in what we call the evolved developmental niche (EDN). Using an existing dataset of 682 families, we assessed four characteristics of EDN care — maternal responsivity, breastfeeding, touch, and maternal social support — and examined their effects longitudinally (prenatal to age 3) on children's prosociality (cooperation and social engagement), behavior problems (internalizing/externalizing), and cognitive ability (intelligence, auditory comprehension, and verbal expression) over three years. The EDN variables significantly and differentially affected child outcomes at different time points, even after controlling for maternal education, age, and income-to-needs ratio. Most significant findings were also retained when maternal responsivity was controlled. In summary, EDN-consistent behaviors in infancy provide necessary support for positive social and cognitive development in early childhood.

----------------------

Predicting developmental changes in internalizing symptoms: Examining the interplay between parenting and neuroendocrine stress reactivity

Kate Kuhlman, Sheryl Olson & Nestor Lopez-Duran
Developmental Psychobiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this study, we examined whether parenting and HPA-axis reactivity during middle childhood predicted increases in internalizing symptoms during the transition to adolescence, and whether HPA-axis reactivity mediated the impact of parenting on internalizing symptoms. The study included 65 children (35 boys) who were assessed at age 5, 7, and 11. Parenting behaviors were assessed via parent report at age 5 and 11. The child's HPA-axis reactivity was measured at age 7 via a stress task. Internalizing symptoms were measured via teacher reports at age 5 and 11. High maternal warmth at age 5 predicted lower internalizing symptoms at age 11. Also, high reported maternal warmth and induction predicted lower HPA-axis reactivity. Additionally, greater HPA-axis reactivity at age 7 was associated with greater increases in internalizing symptoms from age 5 to 11. Finally, the association between age 5 maternal warmth and age 11 internalizing symptoms was partially mediated by lower cortisol in response to the stress task. Thus, parenting behaviors in early development may influence the physiological stress response system and therefore buffer the development of internalizing symptoms during preadolescence when risk for disorder onset is high.

----------------------

Early childhood television viewing and kindergarten entry readiness

Linda Pagani, Caroline Fitzpatrick & Tracie Barnett
Pediatric Research, September 2013, Pages 350–355

Background: Using a large population-based sample, this study aims to verify whether televiewing at 29 mo, a common early childhood pastime, is prospectively associated with school readiness at 65 mo.

Methods: Participants are a prospective longitudinal cohort of 991 girls and 1,006 boys from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development with parent-reported data on weekly hours of televiewing at 29 mo of age. We conducted a series of ordinary least-squares regressions in which children’s scores on direct child assessments of vocabulary, mathematical knowledge, and motor skills, as well as kindergarten teacher reports of socioemotional functioning, were linearly regressed on early televiewing.

Results: Every SD increase (1.2 h) in daily televiewing at 29 mo predicted decreases in receptive vocabulary, number knowledge scores, classroom engagement, and gross motor locomotion scores, as well as increases in the frequency of victimization by classmates.

Conclusion: Increases in total time watching television at 29 mo were associated with subsequent decreases in vocabulary and math skills, classroom engagement (which is largely determined by attention skills), victimization by classmates, and physical prowess at kindergarten. These prospective associations, independent of key potential confounders, suggest the need for better parental awareness and compliance with existing viewing recommendations put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Thought process

Physical Order Produces Healthy Choices, Generosity, and Conventionality, Whereas Disorder Produces Creativity

Kathleen Vohs, Joseph Redden & Ryan Rahinel
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Order and disorder are prevalent in both nature and culture, which suggests that each environ confers advantages for different outcomes. Three experiments tested the novel hypotheses that orderly environments lead people toward tradition and convention, whereas disorderly environments encourage breaking with tradition and convention — and that both settings can alter preferences, choice, and behavior. Experiment 1 showed that relative to participants in a disorderly room, participants in an orderly room chose healthier snacks and donated more money. Experiment 2 showed that participants in a disorderly room were more creative than participants in an orderly room. Experiment 3 showed a predicted crossover effect: Participants in an orderly room preferred an option labeled as classic, but those in a disorderly room preferred an option labeled as new. Whereas prior research on physical settings has shown that orderly settings encourage better behavior than disorderly ones, the current research tells a nuanced story of how different environments suit different outcomes.

----------------------

The grim reasoner: Analytical reasoning under mortality salience

Bastien Trémolière, Wim De Neys & Jean-François Bonnefon
Thinking & Reasoning, forthcoming

Abstract:
The human species enjoys uniquely developed capacities for analytical reasoning and rational decision making, but these capacities come with a price: They make us aware of our inevitable physical death. Drawing on terror management theory and dual-process theories of cognition, we investigate the impact of mortality awareness on analytical reasoning. Two experiments show that experimentally induced thoughts of death impair analytical reasoning performance, just as cognitive load would. When made aware of their own mortality, reasoners allocate their executive resources to the suppression of this disturbing thought, therefore impairing their performance on syllogisms that require analytic thought. This finding has consequences for all aspects of rational thinking that draw on executive resources, and calls for an integrated approach to existential psychology and the psychology of rational thought.

----------------------

Sight over sound in the judgment of music performance

Chia-Jung Tsay
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 3 September 2013, Pages 14580-14585

Abstract:
Social judgments are made on the basis of both visual and auditory information, with consequential implications for our decisions. To examine the impact of visual information on expert judgment and its predictive validity for performance outcomes, this set of seven experiments in the domain of music offers a conservative test of the relative influence of vision versus audition. People consistently report that sound is the most important source of information in evaluating performance in music. However, the findings demonstrate that people actually depend primarily on visual information when making judgments about music performance. People reliably select the actual winners of live music competitions based on silent video recordings, but neither musical novices nor professional musicians were able to identify the winners based on sound recordings or recordings with both video and sound. The results highlight our natural, automatic, and nonconscious dependence on visual cues. The dominance of visual information emerges to the degree that it is overweighted relative to auditory information, even when sound is consciously valued as the core domain content.

----------------------

Is Poker a Game of Skill or Chance? A Quasi-Experimental Study

Gerhard Meyer et al.
Journal of Gambling Studies, September 2013, Pages 535-550

Abstract:
Due to intensive marketing and the rapid growth of online gambling, poker currently enjoys great popularity among large sections of the population. Although poker is legally a game of chance in most countries, some (particularly operators of private poker web sites) argue that it should be regarded as a game of skill or sport because the outcome of the game primarily depends on individual aptitude and skill. The available findings indicate that skill plays a meaningful role; however, serious methodological weaknesses and the absence of reliable information regarding the relative importance of chance and skill considerably limit the validity of extant research. Adopting a quasi-experimental approach, the present study examined the extent to which the influence of poker playing skill was more important than card distribution. Three average players and three experts sat down at a six-player table and played 60 computer-based hands of the poker variant “Texas Hold’em” for money. In each hand, one of the average players and one expert received (a) better-than-average cards (winner’s box), (b) average cards (neutral box) and (c) worse-than-average cards (loser’s box). The standardized manipulation of the card distribution controlled the factor of chance to determine differences in performance between the average and expert groups. Overall, 150 individuals participated in a “fixed-limit” game variant, and 150 individuals participated in a “no-limit” game variant. ANOVA results showed that experts did not outperform average players in terms of final cash balance. Rather, card distribution was the decisive factor for successful poker playing. However, expert players were better able to minimize losses when confronted with disadvantageous conditions (i.e., worse-than-average cards). No significant differences were observed between the game variants. Furthermore, supplementary analyses confirm differential game-related actions dependent on the card distribution, player status, and game variant. In conclusion, the study findings indicate that poker should be regarded as a game of chance, at least under certain basic conditions, and suggest new directions for further research.

----------------------

Haunted by a Doppelgänger: Irrelevant Facial Similarity Affects Rule-Based Judgments

Bettina von Helversen, Stefan Herzog & Jörg Rieskamp
Experimental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Judging other people is a common and important task. Every day professionals make decisions that affect the lives of other people when they diagnose medical conditions, grant parole, or hire new employees. To prevent discrimination, professional standards require that decision makers render accurate and unbiased judgments solely based on relevant information. Facial similarity to previously encountered persons can be a potential source of bias. Psychological research suggests that people only rely on similarity-based judgment strategies if the provided information does not allow them to make accurate rule-based judgments. Our study shows, however, that facial similarity to previously encountered persons influences judgment even in situations in which relevant information is available for making accurate rule-based judgments and where similarity is irrelevant for the task and relying on similarity is detrimental. In two experiments in an employment context we show that applicants who looked similar to high-performing former employees were judged as more suitable than applicants who looked similar to low-performing former employees. This similarity effect was found despite the fact that the participants used the relevant résumé information about the applicants by following a rule-based judgment strategy. These findings suggest that similarity-based and rule-based processes simultaneously underlie human judgment.

----------------------

Making Limited Discretionary Money Last: Financial Constraints Increase Preference for Material Purchases by Focusing Consumers on Longevity

Stephanie Tully, Hal Hershfield & Tom Meyvis
NYU Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
When deciding how to spend their limited discretionary money, one of the most basic trade-offs consumers must make is between spending on material versus experiential purchases, a trade-off with substantial consequences for well-being. We propose that financially constrained consumers will recognize that a purchase today may inhibit a purchase tomorrow — and that this will heighten their focus on a purchase’s longevity. Across five studies, we find that the consideration of financial constraints shifts consumers’ preferences toward more material (rather than experiential) purchases, and that this systematic shift is due to an increased concern about the longevity of the purchase. Moreover, such preferences persist even when the material options are more frivolous than the experiential ones, indicating that the effect is not driven by an increased desire for sensible and justifiable purchases. Finally, analysis of aggregate U.S. consumer expenditure data indicates that this shift has macro-level consequences on consumer spending.

----------------------

Haste makes waste, but not for all: The speed-accuracy trade-off does not apply to neurotics

James Bell, Lauren Mawn & Rosemary Poynor
Psychology of Sport and Exercise, forthcoming

Objectives: To examine if neurotics are the exception to the speed-accuracy rule and in fact are more accurate when making faster decisions.

Method: One hundred and ninety-six elite young cricketers completed measures of neuroticism before performing a cricket-specific computer-based decision-making task.

Results: Neuroticism significantly moderated the relationship between decision-making time and decision-making accuracy such that decreases in response time were associated with improvements in decision-making accuracy for individuals with high levels of neuroticism. Conversely, decreases in response time were associated with decrements in accuracy for individuals with low levels of neuroticism.

Conclusions: The study presents the first data that confirm that speed accuracy trade-offs do not occur across all individuals; individuals with high levels of neuroticism benefit from making faster decisions.

----------------------

It’s Simple and I Know It!: Abstract Construals Reduce Causal Uncertainty

Jae-Eun Namkoong & Marlone Henderson
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
When negative events occur (e.g., a mass shooting, product failure, breakup), individuals naturally ask themselves why such things happen. Indeed, the search for explanations appears to be a fundamental aspect of humanity. The present research explores the role that more abstract, higher level construals play in individuals’ feelings of causal uncertainty. Specifically, we demonstrate that participants who were led to construe a negative event in a more abstract manner felt less uncertain about why that event happened (Experiments 1 and 2). Further, we demonstrate that participants who were led to construe a negative event more abstractly exhibited a more simplified understanding of the event (Experiment 3a) and that adopting a more simplified understanding of an event decreased participants’ causal uncertainty about the event (Experiment 3b). Finally, we discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.

----------------------

The Performance Heuristic: A Misguided Reliance on Past Success When Predicting Prospects for Improvement

Clayton Critcher & Emily Rosenzweig
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
In estimating whether they are likely to improve on a performance task, people lean on a performance heuristic. That is, people rely on their previous performance success as a positive cue when estimating their prospects for performance improvement. Participants whose initial performance was better — either at a darts game (Study 1) or an anagram task (Study 2) — bet more money (Study 1) or estimated a higher subjective likelihood (Study 2) that their subsequent performance would show a specified amount of improvement. Reliance on the heuristic was unwise, for initial performance did not positively predict (and, in fact, negatively predicted) performance improvement. Study 2 suggests that the performance heuristic emerges because forecasters engage in attribute substitution, naturally focusing on their demonstrated performance instead of whether they have already maxed out their potential for improvement on the task. Self-assessments of their initial performance mediated the performance heuristic, but focusing participants on how much performance potential lay before them disrupted it (Study 2). Study 3 showed that the performance heuristic is a general-purpose heuristic that is used not merely to predict one’s own prospects for improvement, but the prospects for other improvement (e.g., mutual funds’ rate of return) as well.

----------------------

Conservative When Crowded: Social Crowding and Consumer Choice

Ahreum Maeng, Robin Tanner & Dilip Soman
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Might the mere crowdedness of the environment affect individuals' choices and preferences? In six studies, the authors show that social crowdedness not only leads to greater accessibility of safety-related constructs, but also results in individuals showing a greater preference for safety-oriented options (e.g., preferring to visit a pharmacy to a convenience store), being more receptive towards prevention (rather than promotion) framed messages, and being more risk averse with real money gambles. Supporting the authors' underlying avoidance motivation perspective, these effects are mediated by participants' net-prevention focus and are attenuated when the crowd in question consists of in-group members. Both practical and theoretical implications are discussed.

----------------------

Reference Points and Contractual Choices: An Experimental Examination

Yuval Feldman, Amos Schurr & Doron Teichman
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, September 2013, Pages 512–541

Abstract:
This article focuses on the influence of framing on the way people understand their contractual obligations. A large body of both psychological and economic studies suggests that people treat payoffs framed as gains and payoffs framed as losses distinctly. Building on these studies, we hypothesize that the ways parties understand their duties are affected by the way in which they are framed. More specifically, we expect that promisors will tend to adopt a more self-serving interpretation when they are making decisions in the domain of losses. To test this prediction, we run a series of four experiments that are all based on a between-subject design. The first two studies utilize experimental surveys that measure and compare participants' attitudes toward a contract interpretation dilemma. The third and fourth studies are incentive-compatible experiments, in which participants' actual interpretive decisions determine their payoff. All four experiments confirm our basic hypothesis and show that framing contractual payoffs as losses rather than as gains raises parties' tendency to interpret their obligations selfishly. These findings refine some of the previous understanding regarding the ability of penalties to optimize parties' contractual behavior, especially in situations in which monitoring is limited. Based on these findings, the article revisits some of the basic questions of contract law, shedding new light on an array of issues such as the law of liquidated damages and the optimal design of contracts.

----------------------

People believe that they are prototypically good or bad

Michael Roy, Michael Liersch & Stephen Broomell
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, November 2013, Pages 200–213

Abstract:
People have been shown to view their beliefs as being prototypical (modal) but their abilities as (falsely) unique (above or below average). It is possible that these two viewpoints – self as prototypical and self as unique – can be reconciled. If the distribution of ability for a given skill is skewed such that many others have high (low) ability and few others have low (high) ability, it is possible that a majority of peoples’ self-assessments can be above (below) average. Participants in 5 studies demonstrated an understanding that various skills have skewed ability distributions and their self-assessments were related to distribution shape: high when negatively skewed and low when positively skewed. Further, participants tended to place themselves near the mode of their perceived skill distribution. Participants were most likely to think that they were good at skills for which they thought that most others were also good.

----------------------

Bias neglect: A blind spot in the evaluation of scientific results

Brent Strickland & Hugo Mercier
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Experimenter bias occurs when scientists' hypotheses influence their results, even if involuntarily. Meta-analyses have suggested that in some domains, such as psychology, up to a third of the studies could be unreliable due to such biases. A series of experiments demonstrates that while people are aware of the possibility that scientists can be more biased when the conclusions of their experiments fit their initial hypotheses, they robustly fail to appreciate that they should also be more sceptical of such results. This is true even when participants read descriptions of studies that have been shown to be biased. Moreover, participants take other sources of bias — such as financial incentives — into account, showing that this bias neglect may be specific to theory-driven hypothesis testing. In combination with a common style of scientific reporting, bias neglect could lead the public to accept premature conclusions.

----------------------

Moving to Solution: Effects of Movement Priming on Problem Solving

K. Werner & M. Raab
Experimental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Embodied cognition theories suggest a link between bodily movements and cognitive functions. Given such a link, it is assumed that movement influences the two main stages of problem solving: creating a problem space and creating solutions. This study explores how specific the link between bodily movements and the problem-solving process is. Seventy-two participants were tested with variations of the two-string problem (Experiment 1) and the water-jar problem (Experiment 2), allowing for two possible solutions. In Experiment 1 participants were primed with arm-swing movements (swing group) and step movements on a chair (step group). In Experiment 2 participants sat in front of three jars with glass marbles and had to sort these marbles from the outer jars to the middle one (plus group) or vice versa (minus group). Results showed more swing-like solutions in the swing group and more step-like solutions in the step group, and more addition solutions in the plus group and more subtraction solutions in the minus group. This specificity of the connection between movement and problem-solving task will allow further experiments to investigate how bodily movements influence the stages of problem solving.

----------------------

Evolutionary justifications for non-Bayesian beliefs

Hanzhe Zhang
Economics Letters, November 2013, Pages 198–201

Abstract:
This paper suggests that the evolutionarily optimal belief of an agent’s intrinsic reproductive ability is systematically different from the posterior belief obtained by the perfect Bayesian updating. In particular, the optimal belief depends on how risk averse the agent is. Although the perfect Bayesian updating remains evolutionarily optimal for a risk-neutral agent, it is not for any other. Specifically, the belief is always positively biased for a risk-averse agent, and the more risk-averse an agent is, the more positively biased the optimally updated belief is. Such biased beliefs align with experimental findings and also offer an alternative explanation to the empirical puzzle that people across the population appear overconfident by consistently overestimating their personal hereditary traits.

----------------------

Rational Inattentiveness in a Forecasting Experiment

Henry Goecke, Wolfgang Luhan & Michael Roos
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
While standard theory assumes rational, optimizing agents under full information, the latter is rarely found in reality. Information has to be acquired and processed — both involving costs. In rational-inattentiveness models agents update their information set only when the benefit outweighs the information cost. We test the rational-inattentiveness model in a controlled laboratory environment. Our design is a forecasting task with costly information and a clear cost-benefit structure. While we find numerous deviations from the model predictions on the individual level, the aggregate results are consistent with rational-inattentiveness and sticky information models rejecting simpler behavioral heuristics.

----------------------

The Malleable Influence of Social Consensus on Attitude Certainty

Joshua Clarkson et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, November 2013, Pages 1019–1022

Abstract:
People often reflect on the opinions of others and express greater attitude certainty when they perceive their attitudes to be shared by others (high attitude consensus). The present research tests the possibility that either high or low attitude consensus can increase attitude certainty depending on people’s salient social identification needs. In particular, high attitude consensus with a target group is found to be more validating when people seek to belong to the group, as this identification motive promotes a search for similarities between themselves and the group. In contrast, low attitude consensus with a target group is found to be more validating when people seek to be unique from a group, as this identification motive promotes a search for dissimilarities between themselves and the group. Two experiments support these hypotheses, offering insight into the intra-personal motives that alter the diagnostic value of social consensus information.

----------------------

Separating the confident from the correct: Leveraging member knowledge in groups to improve decision making and performance

Bryan Bonner & Alexander Bolinger
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, November 2013, Pages 214–221

Abstract:
Groups often struggle to distinguish expert members from others who stand out for various reasons but may not be particularly knowledgeable (Littlepage & Mueller, 1997). We examined an intervention designed to improve group decision making and performance through instructing group members to search for information they already possessed that was relevant to a problem. Participants estimated values and expressed their confidence in their estimates individually and then a second time either individually or in a group. This was done with or without the intervention. Results indicated that: (1) groups were more confident than, and out-performed, individuals, (2) group decision making was best captured by models predicting more influence for more accurate members when the intervention was used and more influence for more confident members in its absence, and (3) groups that received the intervention out-performed groups that did not.

----------------------

Sensitivity to reward and punishment: Horse race and EGM gamblers compared

S.R.S. Balodis, A.C. Thomas & S.M. Moore
Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Horse race and electronic gaming machine (EGM) gambling are popular forms of gambling, however the key motivational drivers to participation in these different forms are not clear. and Reward Sensitivity theory (RST) and Blaszczynski and Nower’s (2002) cognitive behavioural pathways model of pathological gambling (PG) provide potential frameworks for examining these drivers. The aim of this study was to explore the relationships between gambling choice, gambling frequency and personality factors deriving from the models of Gray (sensitivity to reward, sensitivity to punishment), and Blaszczynski and Nower (sensation seeking, impulsivity, escapist motivation). The sample comprised 118 current gamblers who gambled twice or more per year on either horse racing or EGMs (77 male, 41 female, Mage 26.93 years). Horse race and EGM gamblers showed very different patterns of correlates. Horse race gambling frequency was independently predicted by male gender and sensitivity to reward, while the significant independent predictors of EGM gambling were escapist motivation and sensitivity to punishment. Results provide support for conceptualising frequent gamblers as a heterogeneous group with respect to their motivational drivers, with gambling preferences offering an important indicator of underlying motivations for gambling.

----------------------

Evaluating the Message or the Messenger? Implications for Self-Validation in Persuasion

Jason Clark et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Characteristics of persuasive message sources have been extensively studied. However, little attention has been paid to situations when people are motivated to form an evaluation of the communicator rather than the communicated issue. We postulated that these different foci can affect how a source validates message-related cognitions. Participants focused on the source (Studies 1 and 2) or the issue (Study 2) while reading weak or strong message arguments. Later, the communicator was described as low or high in credibility. When focused on the source, highly motivated participants were more confident and their attitudes were more reflective of thoughts when argument quality matched (e.g., weak arguments-low credibility) rather than mismatched (e.g., weak arguments-high credibility) source credibility. Conversely, when participants were focused on the issue, self-validation was greater when credibility was high rather than low — regardless of argument quality. Implications of these findings for the study and practice of persuasion are discussed.

----------------------

Do Framing Effects Reveal Irrational Choice?

David Mandel
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Framing effects have long been viewed as compelling evidence of irrationality in human decision making, yet that view rests on the questionable assumption that numeric quantifiers used to convey the expected values of choice options are uniformly interpreted as exact values. Two experiments show that when the exactness of such quantifiers is made explicit by the experimenter, framing effects vanish. However, when the same quantifiers are given a lower bound (at least) meaning, the typical framing effect is found. A 3rd experiment confirmed that most people spontaneously interpret the quantifiers in standard framing tests as lower bounded and that their interpretations strongly moderate the framing effect. Notably, in each experiment, a significant majority of participants made rational choices, either choosing the option that maximized expected value (i.e., lives saved) or choosing consistently across frames when the options were of equal expected value.

----------------------

A big fish or a small pond? Framing effects in percentages

Meng Li & Gretchen Chapman
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, November 2013, Pages 190–199

Abstract:
This paper presents three studies that demonstrate people’s preference for a large percentage of a small subset over a small percentage of a large subset, when the net overall quantity is equated. Because the division of a set into subsets is often arbitrary, this preference represents a framing effect. The framing effect is particularly pronounced for large percentages. We propose that the effect has two causes: A partial neglect of the subset information, and a non-linear shaped function in the way people perceive percentages.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, September 9, 2013

Malefactor

The Effect of Police Contact: Does Official Intervention Result in Deviance Amplification?

Stephanie Wiley & Finn-Aage Esbensen
Crime & Delinquency, forthcoming

Abstract:
Current police policies are based on assumptions that proactive policing strategies will not only deter crime but will also improve police-community relations. Deterrence theorists argue that general and specific deterrence can be achieved through such policing strategies. Labeling proponents, however, maintain that juveniles stopped and/or arrested by the police, rather than be deterred, will actually engage in more delinquency as a result of this contact. Research to date has provided mixed evidence. The current study seeks to inform this debate by examining the effect of being stopped or arrested on subsequent delinquent behavior and attitudes. Relying on three waves of data from a multisite sample of youth, we use propensity score matching to control for preexisting differences among youth who have and have not experienced police contact. Our findings reveal that being stopped or arrested not only increases future delinquency but also amplifies deviant attitudes.

----------------------

For Whom Do Sanctions Deter and Label?

Robert Morris & Alex Piquero
Justice Quarterly, September/October 2013, Pages 837-868

Abstract:
Deterrence and labeling theories make opposing predictions regarding the effect of sanctions on subsequent crime. Deterrence anticipates that sanctions deter, while labeling anticipates that sanctions amplify future crime. The knowledge base with respect to this question is vast, and while a handful of studies provide evidence of a deterrent effect, the majority of studies indicate a null effect. Our study examines whether an arrest leads to an increase in subsequent crime, but extends the knowledge base by considering whether an arrest has the same effect across offender trajectories and by employing techniques that deal with sample selection bias. Thus, we assess for whom sanctions deter or exacerbate subsequent offending. Results indicate that for greater risk youth, arrest amplifies subsequent delinquency, net of other effects, but not among lower risk youth. Thus, experiencing an arrest aggravates subsequent delinquency among some but not all persons. Implications and directions for future research are identified.

----------------------

The Deterrent Effect of the Castle Doctrine Law on Burglary in Texas: A Tale of Outcomes in Houston and Dallas

Ling Ren, Yan Zhang & Jihong Solomon Zhao
Crime & Delinquency, forthcoming

Abstract:
From 2005 through 2008, 23 states across the nation have enacted laws generally referred to as "castle doctrine" laws or "stand your ground" laws. A castle doctrine law gives a homeowner the legal right to use force (even deadly force) to defend himself or herself and the family against an intruder. No study, however, has been conducted to evaluate its deterrent effects. The State of Texas enacted its castle doctrine law on September 1, 2007, and the subsequent Joe Horn shooting incident in Houston in November, 2007, served to publicize the Texas law to a great extent. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the deterrent effect of the Texas castle doctrine law and the subsequent Horn shooting on burglary in the two largest cities in Texas, Houston and Dallas. Daily data of residential and business burglary, over the period from January 1, 2007, to August 31, 2008, were obtained from the Houston Police Department and the Dallas Police Department. Interrupted time-series designs were employed in the study to analyze the intervention effects. The findings reported suggest a place-conditioned deterrent effect of the law and the Horn shooting; both residential and business burglaries were reduced significantly after the shooting incident in Houston, but not in Dallas.

----------------------

Cause or Catalyst: The Interaction of Real World and Media Crime Models

Ray Surette
American Journal of Criminal Justice, September 2013, Pages 392-409

Abstract:
The effect of exposure to media content containing criminal models is unresolved with two perspectives currently competing. One perspective perceives media provided models of crime functioning as direct causes of criminality or as crime triggers; the other sees media crime models serving as crime forming catalysts or as crime rudders. A study of copycat crime provided an opportunity to simultaneously weigh evidence for both models by examining the comparative roles of real world versus media provided crime models. Data obtained from the anonymous surveys of 574 male and female correctional inmates was employed. Results show that individual offenders, particularly young males, exposed to both real world and media crime model sources were at higher risk for copying criminal behaviors. While both real world and media sources contributed to predicting past inmate copycat behaviors, they also interacted significantly. With the additional enhancement of real world models, the media appear to form crime by providing instructional models to inclined individuals. The results did not support strong direct media exposure effects and the model of media as stylistic catalysts for crime was more supported. The media remains best perceived as a rudder for crime more than as a trigger.

----------------------

Assessing the Cost of Electronically Monitoring High-Risk Sex Offenders

Marisa Omori & Susan Turner
Crime & Delinquency, forthcoming

Abstract:
In addition to housing, employment, and registration restrictions, sex offenders have been subjected to electronic monitoring with the idea that they may be either surveilled or deterred from committing additional crime. This study evaluated the supervision costs of placing high-risk sex offender parolees on Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) monitoring as part of a pilot program by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Using a quasiexperimental design, the study tracked parolees' costs of supervision and their parole violations for 1 year. GPS was not cost-effective; the overall cost of parolees on GPS was greater than parolees not on the monitoring, the two groups committed similar parole violations, and parolees on GPS were retained on parole longer.

----------------------

Estimating a Dose-Response Relationship Between Time Served in Prison and Recidivism

Benjamin Meade et al.
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, forthcoming

Objectives: Estimate the dose-response relationship between time served in prison and offenders' odds of recidivism.

Methods: Using a large, representative sample of adult offenders released from prison under postrelease supervision in the state of Ohio, we examine the relationship between the length of time these offenders served in prison and their odds of recidivism during the year following their release. Multivariate logistic regression and analyses involving propensity score matching for ordered doses are both used to estimate the time served-recidivism relationship.

Results: Analyses of these data revealed that offenders confined for longer periods of time had lower odds of recidivism, but these odds were only substantively lower for those offenders who served the longest periods of time in prison. Findings suggest the inverse effect of time served was not realized until after offenders have been confined for at least five years.

Conclusion: Study findings indicate that the specific deterrent effect of prison sentences may be limited, and sentences less than five years may be reduced in order to save costs without a substantial threat to public safety.

----------------------

Does the "Community Prosecution" Strategy Reduce Crime? A Test of Chicago's Experience

Thomas Miles
American Law and Economics Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
A new strategy of criminal prosecution, called "community prosecution," emerged in the past two decades. The strategy breaks with the traditional approach to prosecution in which a prosecutor works in an office adjacent to a criminal court, processes a large volume of cases, and measures success with conviction rates and sentence lengths. In community prosecution, a prosecutor works directly in a neighborhood, develops relationships with local groups, aligns enforcement priorities with residents' public safety concerns, and seeks solutions to prevent crime. This article presents the first estimates of community prosecution's impact on crime. Over a fifteen-year period, Chicago's top prosecutor twice applied the community prosecution strategy in some (but not all) neighborhoods, and this sequence of two "off/on" policy episodes permits plausible identification of the strategy's impact. Differences-in-differences estimates show that community prosecution reduced certain categories of crime, such as aggravated assault, but had no effect on other categories, such as larceny. The diversity of practices under the rubric of community prosecution makes generalization difficult, but the estimates from Chicago show that the strategy has the potential to produce cost-justified reductions in crime.

----------------------

Collection of Delinquent Fines: An Adaptive Randomized Trial to Assess the Effectiveness of Alternative Text Messages

Laura Haynes et al.
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
The collection of delinquent fines is a vast and ongoing public administration challenge. In the United Kingdom, unpaid fines amount to more than 500 million pounds. Managing noncompliant accounts and dispatching bailiffs to collect fines in person is costly. This paper reports the results of a large randomized controlled trial, led by the UK Cabinet Office's Behavioural Insights Team, which was designed to test the effectiveness of mobile phone text messaging as an alternative method of inducing people to pay their outstanding fines. An adaptive trial design was used, first to test the effectiveness of text messaging against no treatment and then to test the relative effectiveness of alternative messages. Text messages, which are relatively inexpensive, are found to significantly increase average payment of delinquent fines. We found text messages to be especially effective when they address the recipient by name.

----------------------

Deterrence and Macro-Level Perceptions of Punishment Risks: Is There a "Collective Wisdom"?

Gary Kleck & J.C. Barnes
Crime & Delinquency, October 2013, Pages 1006-1035

Abstract:
Prior research indicates that individual perceptions of the risk of punishment for criminal behavior are unrelated to actual risks of punishment in the areas in which individuals reside. It could be argued, however, that the relevant policy question is whether variation in actual punishment levels affects average perceptions of risk among aggregates. Scholars have argued that there is "collective wisdom" in the perceptions of collectivities of humans, even if the views of individuals are inaccurate. This thesis is tested using survey data on individual perceptions of the risks of legal punishment for crimes, aggregated up to the level of county populations. The authors find that the aggregate perceptions of county populations are generally not related to actual county levels of the certainty, severity, and swiftness of punishment. Thus, neither the perceptions of individuals nor the average perceptions of populations have any significant association with actual risks of punishment.

----------------------

Tried as an Adult, Housed as a Juvenile: A Tale of Youth From Two Courts Incarcerated Together

Jordan Bechtold & Elizabeth Cauffman
Law and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research has questioned the wisdom of housing juveniles who are convicted in criminal court in facilities with adult offenders. It is argued that minors transferred to criminal court should not be incarcerated with adults, due to a greater likelihood of developing criminal skills, being victimized, and attempting suicide. Alternatively, it has been suggested that the other option, housing these youth with minors who have committed less serious crimes and who are therefore adjudicated in juvenile courts, might have unintended consequences for juvenile court youth. The present study utilizes a sample of youth incarcerated in one secure juvenile facility, with some offenders processed in juvenile court (n = 261) and others processed in adult court (n = 103). We investigate whether youth transferred to adult court engage in more institutional offending (in particular, violence) and experience less victimization than their juvenile court counterparts. Results indicate that although adult court youth had a greater likelihood of being convicted of violent commitment offenses than juvenile court youth, the former engaged in less offending during incarceration than the latter. In addition, no significant differences in victimization were observed. These findings suggest that the concern about the need for separate housing for adult court youth is unfounded; when incarcerated together, those tried in adult court do not engage in more institutional violence than juvenile court youth.

----------------------

Offenders have higher delay-discounting rates than non-offenders after controlling for differences in drug and alcohol abuse

Joana Arantes et al.
Legal and Criminological Psychology, September 2013, Pages 240-253

Purpose: Do criminal offenders discount future rewards more rapidly than non-offenders? Theories of criminality assume that impulsivity is a key predictor of offending and suggest an affirmative answer, but there are no prior relevant studies with adult offenders and the only previous study with juveniles failed to find that offenders discounted delayed rewards more steeply than controls (Wilson & Daly, 2006).

Method: We measured rates of delay discounting for adult offenders incarcerated in two medium-security facilities in New Zealand (n= 63) and non-offender controls (n= 70) using a questionnaire which asked participants to nominate an indifference point - an amount of money to be received after a delay that was equal in value to an immediate amount - for immediate rewards varying from $500 to $4,000. Indifference points were converted to annual discounting rates. Self-reported measures of alcohol and drug abuse were also obtained.

Results: Offenders discounted future rewards substantially more than non-offenders, and rates varied systematically with amount and delay for both groups, consistent with previous research. The difference in delay discounting between offenders and controls remained significant after controlling for self-reported drug and alcohol use. There were no significant gender differences.

Conclusions: These results suggest that offenders have a deficit in delay discounting, likely appearing in late adolescence or early adulthood, which may lead them to make suboptimal choices.

----------------------

Depictions of correctional officers in newspaper media: An ethnographic content analysis

Samuel Vickovic, Marie Griffin & Henry Fradella
Criminal Justice Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
The public relies on the media for most of its information about the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, media depictions of justice actors are not always accurate which, in turn, can lead to distorted images about the system and its operations. Using ethnographic content analysis to analyze 489 articles from major newspapers across the United States, this study seeks to discern how correctional officers and the jobs that they perform are portrayed in print media. The results suggest that correctional officers are overwhelmingly portrayed negatively, with 79.6% of the articles in the research sample presenting one of six distinct negative themes. A typology of these themes is explored in detail, along with its implications for societal support for corrections and correctional officers, especially with regard to the media's potential contributions to officers' job stress, burnout, and job dissatisfaction.

----------------------

The Effect of Sanctions on Police Misconduct

Christopher Harris & Robert Worden
Crime & Delinquency, forthcoming

Abstract:
Police disciplinary systems are predicated on the notion of deterrence, particularly that officers more severely sanctioned for misconduct will be less likely to repeat those behaviors compared with less severely or unsanctioned officers. Using retrospective, longitudinal data from a large police department in the northeastern United States, we explore whether this fundamental assumption of police disciplinary systems is supported. Specifically, we examine both the likelihood and timing of complaints filed against officers who had obtained at least one complaint in their career that was sustained (i.e., upheld in an investigation), and compare outcomes of sanction severity on future sustained complaints. The results demonstrate that while a few demographic and complaint characteristics significantly affect the likelihood and timing of future misconduct in expected ways, officers who received more severe sanctions were actually more likely to obtain an additional sustained complaint when compared with nonsanctioned officers. Why this is the case is unclear from the data, but the most plausible explanation is that the perceived injustice of the disciplinary system may actually promote officer deviance.

----------------------

Estimating the Impact of Mental Illness on Costs of Crimes: A Matched Samples Comparison

Michael Ostermann & Jason Matejkowski
Criminal Justice and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study uses a propensity scoring and matching approach to compare the costs of crimes committed by former inmates with mental illness (MI) and without MI. Our findings indicate that the recidivism costs of those with MI over the course of 3 years of follow-up are nearly 3 times as large as similar reintegrating former inmates without MI. However, prior to matching on mental health indicators, the costs of the reoffense patterns of the average reintegrating individual with MI are less than half those of the average former prisoner without MI. Our discussion centers on the identification of relevant groups that corrections officials should focus their rehabilitative resources on and whether those with MI should be a group they focus on during this process.

----------------------

Genetic and Nonshared Environmental Factors Predict Handgun Ownership in Early Adulthood

J.C. Barnes, Brian Boutwell & Kevin Beaver
Death Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Handgun ownership has been the focus of much criminological research due to the overinvolvement of handguns in violent crime. This literature has, however, overlooked the potential role genetic factors play in the decision to purchase a handgun. The current study analyzed the genetic and environmental influences on handgun ownership among a large sample of young adult twins from the United States. Analyses revealed a stronger concordance for gun ownership among identical twins as compared to fraternal twins and univariate ACE model results indicated genetic (57%) and nonshared environmental (43%) factors explained the variance in handgun ownership. A mediation analysis was performed and the results indicated a portion of the genetic influence on handgun ownership may be mediated by victimization experiences.

----------------------

Using Bayes' theorem in behavioural crime linking of serial homicide

Benny Salo et al.
Legal and Criminological Psychology, September 2013, Pages 356-370

Purpose: The study extends research by Santtila et al. (2008) by investigating the effectiveness of linking cases of serial homicide using behavioural patterns of offenders, analysed through Bayesian reasoning. The study also investigates the informative value of individual behavioural variables in the linking process.

Methods: Offender behaviour was coded from official documents relating to 116 solved homicide cases belonging to 19 separate series. The basis of the linkage analyses was 92 behaviours coded as present or absent in the case based on investigator observations on the crime scene. We developed a Bayesian method for linking crime cases and judged its accuracy using cross-validation. We explored the information added by individual behavioural variables, first, by testing if the variable represented purely noise with respect to classification, and second, by excluding variables from the original model, one by one, by choosing the behaviour that had the smallest effect on classification accuracy.

Results: The model achieved a classification accuracy of 83.6% whereas chance expectancy was 5.3%. In simulated scenarios of only one and two known cases in a series, the accuracy was 59.0 and 69.2%, respectively. No behavioural variable represented pure noise but the same level of accuracy was achieved by analysing a set of 15, as analysing all 92 variables.

Conclusion: The study illustrates the utility of analysing individual behavioural variables through Bayesian reasoning for crime linking. Feasible applied use of the approach is illustrated by the effectiveness of analysing a small set of carefully chosen variables.

----------------------

Situational Causes of Offending: A Fixed-Effects Analysis of Space-Time Budget Data

Wim Bernasco et al.
Criminology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Situational theories of crime assert that the situations that people participate in contain the proximal causes of crime. Prior research has not tested situational hypotheses rigorously, either for lack of detailed situational data or for lack of analytical rigor. The present research combines detailed situational data with analytical methods that eliminate all stable between-individual factors as potential confounds. We test seven potential situational causes: 1) presence of peers, 2) absence of adult handlers, 3) public space, 4) unstructured activities, 5) use of alcohol, 6) use of cannabis, and 7) carrying weapons. In a two-wave panel study, a general sample of adolescents completed a space-time budget interview that recorded, hour by hour over the course of 4 complete days, the activities and whereabouts of the subjects, including any self-reported offenses. In total, 76 individuals reported having committed 104 offenses during the 4 days covered in the space-time budget interview. Using data on the 4,949 hours that these 76 offenders spent awake during these 4 days, within-individual, fixed-effects multivariate logit analyses were used to establish situational causes of offending. The findings demonstrate that offending is strongly and positively related to all hypothesized situational causes except using cannabis and carrying weapons.

----------------------

Jail Inmates' Perceived and Anticipated Stigma: Implications for Post-release Functioning

Kelly Moore, Jeffrey Stuewig & June Tangney
Self and Identity, September/October 2013, Pages 527-547

Abstract:
Research shows that offenders perceive stigma, but the accuracy of these perceptions has not been assessed, nor their impact on successful reintegration. In a longitudinal study, jail inmates (N = 168) reported perceptions of stigma toward criminals and anticipated stigma just prior to release. A diverse college sample completed a parallel survey assessing stigmatizing attitudes toward criminals. Inmates' perceived stigma was significantly higher than students' stigmatizing attitudes. Perceived stigma positively predicted post-release employment for African-American inmates, but not for Caucasians. Anticipated stigma negatively predicted arrests for Caucasian inmates, but not for African Americans. Perceived and anticipated stigma may have different implications for reintegration, and these implications may vary across race.

----------------------

Sexual offenders' views of Canadian sex offender registries: A survey of a clinical sample

Lisa Murphy & J.P. Fedoroff
Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, July 2013, Pages 238-249

Abstract:
High profile crimes involving child sexual abuse in Canada and the United States has evoked shock and anger among community members. Sex offender registries (SORs) were created to provide police with an investigative tool to assist in solving sex crimes and increase public safety. There is no published research assessing sexual offenders' views about being on Canada's two SORs. Ways that Canadian SORs could be improved to ensure maximum benefit to the public, the police, and registrants have never been investigated. In this study we collected sociodemographic information and used open-ended questionnaires to examine the accounts of 30 registered sex offenders with regard to their experiences of being a registrant on the National SOR and/or the Ontario SOR. Based on anecdotal reports of some registrants to the authors, it was hypothesised that sex offenders' opposition to SORs may be related primarily to the administration of conditions rather than specific features of the SOR. Results of this study indicated that the majority of registrants were not opposed to being on an SOR. Sixty-two percent of participants (13/21) felt that being on an SOR was not an onerous or intrusive experience. In fact 48% of participants (10/21) indicated registration was only a "minor irritant" or "slight inconvenience." Furthermore, 66% of participants (15/22) on SORs felt they understand the rationale and the need for a properly utilized system of registration. More research needs to be completed on Canadian SORs so that researchers and criminal justice officials can have a more comprehensive understanding of the impact and outcomes of registration from the perspective of the registrants, law enforcement, and the community.

----------------------

The Contribution of Illegal Activities to National Income in the Netherlands

Brugt Kazemier et al.
Public Finance Review, September 2013, Pages 544-577

Abstract:
Illegal activities such as smuggling, prostitution, and the production and sales of illicit drugs contribute to the national income of a country. In practice, however, they are not included in the statistics, because there are hardly any reliable estimates about these activities. Recently, Statistics Netherlands has started research into the share of illegal activities in the national income. This article presents the estimates for 1995 through 2008. The total contribution of illegal activities to the national income of the Netherlands increased from 1,800 million euro in 1995 to almost 3,500 million euro in 2008, equaling 0.6 percent of gross domestic product. Drugs accounted for more than 50 percent of the total income from illegal activities in 2001. In 2008, this was down to less than 40 percent, whereas finding illegal employment rose from about 10 percent in 1995 to 33 percent in 2008.

----------------------

Suburban neighbourhood design: Associations with fear of crime versus perceived crime risk

Sarah Foster et al.
Journal of Environmental Psychology, December 2013, Pages 112-117

Abstract:
Strategies that reduce fear of crime may contribute to improved health outcomes; however interventions require a better understanding of the neighbourhood correlates of both emotional responses to crime (i.e., fear of crime) and cognitive assessments of crime (i.e., perceived crime risk). This study explored the association between objective measures of suburban design and two safety outcomes: perceived crime risk and fear of crime, for participants who lived in new suburban housing developments in Perth, Western Australia. The characteristics of a walkable neighbourhood, particularly retail land, were associated with less fear of crime, but greater perceived crime risk. One interpretation is that 'strangers', attracted to the neighbourhood by diverse land-uses, might influence the emotional and cognitive aspects of 'fear of crime' differently. Researchers interested in the impact of the built environment on 'fear of crime', and any subsequent influence of these perceptions on health, should be mindful that the environment appears to impact these constructs differently.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Of sound mind

Cognitive emotion regulation fails the stress test

Candace Raio et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Cognitive emotion regulation has been widely shown in the laboratory to be an effective way to alter the nature of emotional responses. Despite its success in experimental contexts, however, we often fail to use these strategies in everyday life where stress is pervasive. The successful execution of cognitive regulation relies on intact executive functioning and engagement of the prefrontal cortex, both of which are rapidly impaired by the deleterious effects of stress. Because it is specifically under stressful conditions that we may benefit most from such deliberate forms of emotion regulation, we tested the efficacy of cognitive regulation after stress exposure. Participants first underwent fear-conditioning, where they learned that one stimulus (CS+) predicted an aversive outcome but another predicted a neutral outcome (CS−). Cognitive regulation training directly followed where participants were taught to regulate fear responses to the aversive stimulus. The next day, participants underwent an acute stress induction or a control task before repeating the fear-conditioning task using these newly acquired regulation skills. Skin conductance served as an index of fear arousal, and salivary α-amylase and cortisol concentrations were assayed as neuroendocrine markers of stress response. Although groups showed no differences in fear arousal during initial fear learning, nonstressed participants demonstrated robust fear reduction following regulation training, whereas stressed participants showed no such reduction. Our results suggest that stress markedly impairs the cognitive regulation of emotion and highlights critical limitations of this technique to control affective responses under stress.

----------------------

The happy cyclist: Examining the association between generalized authoritarianism and subjective well-being

Cara MacInnis et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, October 2013, Pages 789–793

Abstract:
Although authoritarianism can negatively impact others (e.g., by predicting prejudiced intergroup attitudes), implications for the self are mixed and require clarification. Extending previous research, we examined the association between generalized authoritarianism (GA, indicated by right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation) and subjective well-being (SWB, indicated by positive affect, negative affect, and life satisfaction) by testing simultaneously the general-level association between GA and SWB as well as specific residual associations between GA and SWB components, independent of basic personality dimensions. We observed a significant general-level association between GA and SWB whereby heightened authoritarianism predicted greater SWB. No residual associations were found between specific GA and SWB components. Despite being “bad” for others, generalized authoritarianism may be “good” for the self.

----------------------

Firearms and Suicide in the United States: Is Risk Independent of Underlying Suicidal Behavior?

Matthew Miller et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
On an average day in the United States, more than 100 Americans die by suicide; half of these suicides involve the use of firearms. In this ecological study, we used linear regression techniques and recently available state-level measures of suicide attempt rates to assess whether, and if so, to what extent, the well-established relationship between household firearm ownership rates and suicide mortality persists after accounting for rates of underlying suicidal behavior. After controlling for state-level suicide attempt rates (2008–2009), higher rates of firearm ownership (assessed in 2004) were strongly associated with higher rates of overall suicide and firearm suicide, but not with nonfirearm suicide (2008–2009). Furthermore, suicide attempt rates were not significantly related to gun ownership levels. These findings suggest that firearm ownership rates, independent of underlying rates of suicidal behavior, largely determine variations in suicide mortality across the 50 states. Our results support the hypothesis that firearms in the home impose suicide risk above and beyond the baseline risk and help explain why, year after year, several thousand more Americans die by suicide in states with higher than average household firearm ownership compared with states with lower than average firearm ownership.

----------------------

Association of suicide rates, gun ownership, conservatism and individual suicide risk

Augustine Kposowa
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, September 2013, Pages 1467-1479

Objectives: The purpose of the study was to examine the association of suicide rates, firearm ownership, political conservatism, religious integration at the state level, and individual suicide risk. Social structural and social learning and social integration theories were theoretical frameworks employed. It was hypothesized that higher suicide rates, higher state firearm availability, and state conservatism elevate individual suicide risk.

Method: Data were pooled from the Multiple Cause of Death Files. Multilevel logistic regression models were fitted to all deaths occurring in 2000 through 2004 by suicide.

Results: The state suicide rate significantly elevated individual suicide risk (AOR = 1.042, CI = 1.037, 1.046). Firearm availability at the state level was associated with significantly higher odds of individual suicide (AOR = 1.004, CI = 1.003, 1.006). State political conservatism elevated the odds of individual suicides (AOR = 1.005, CI = 1.003, 1.007), while church membership at the state level reduced individual odds of suicide (AOR = 0.995, CI = 0.993, 0.996). The results held even after controlling for socioeconomic and demographic variables at the individual level.

Conclusion: It was concluded that the observed association between individual suicide odds and national suicide rates, and firearm ownership cannot be discounted. Future research ought to focus on integrating individual level data and contextual variables when testing for the impact of firearm ownership. Support was found for social learning and social integration theories.

----------------------

Does Household Gun Access Increase the Risk of Attempted Suicide? Evidence From a National Sample of Adolescents

Adam Watkins & Alan Lizotte
Youth & Society, September 2013, Pages 324-346

Abstract:
The aim of this research is to assess if home firearm access increases the risk of nonfatal suicidal attempts among adolescents. Such a gun focus has largely been limited to case-control studies on completed suicides. This line of research has found that household gun access increases the risk of suicide due to features of available firearms (e.g., provide little time for rescue). We extend this “risk factor” perspective to the study of nonfatal suicide attempts among a national sample of adolescents. Current findings reveal that home handgun access, but not long gun only access, is associated with an increased risk of attempted suicide in cross-sectional models. In panel models, however, we find no significant association between home firearm access (of any gun type) and risk of attempted suicide. The implications of these findings for research on suicidal behavior among adolescents are discussed.

----------------------

Adolescents With Greater Mental Toughness Show Higher Sleep Efficiency, More Deep Sleep and Fewer Awakenings After Sleep Onset

Serge Brand et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Purpose: Mental toughness (MT) is understood as the display of confidence, commitment, challenge, and control. Mental toughness is associated with resilience against stress. However, research has not yet focused on the relation between MT and objective sleep. The aim of the present study was therefore to explore the extent to which greater MT is associated with objectively assessed sleep among adolescents.

Methods: A total of 92 adolescents (35% females; mean age, 18.92 years) completed the Mental Toughness Questionnaire. Participants were split into groups of high and low mental toughness. Objective sleep was recorded via sleep electroencephalograms and subjective sleep was assessed via a questionnaire.

Results: Compared with participants with low MT, participants with high MT had higher sleep efficiency, a lower number of awakenings after sleep onset, less light sleep, and more deep sleep. They also reported lower daytime sleepiness.

Conclusions: Adolescents reporting higher MT also had objectively better sleep, as recorded via sleep electroencephalograms. A bidirectional association between MT and sleep seems likely; therefore, among adolescence, improving sleep should increase MT, and improving MT should increase sleep.

----------------------

Unmet Aspirations as an Explanation for the Age U-Shape in Human Wellbeing

Hannes Schwandt
Princeton Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
A large literature in behavioral and social sciences has found that human wellbeing follows a U-shape over age. Some theories have assumed that the U-shape is caused by unmet expectations that are felt painfully in midlife but beneficially abandoned and experienced with less regret during old age. In a unique panel of 132,609 life satisfaction expectations matched to subsequent realizations, I find people to err systematically in predicting their life satisfaction over the life cycle. They expect -- incorrectly -- increases in young adulthood and decreases during old age. These errors are large, ranging from 9.8% at age 21 to -4.5% at age 68, they are stable over time and observed across socio-economic groups. These findings support theories that unmet expectations drive the age U-shape in wellbeing.

----------------------

Against All Odds: Genocidal Trauma Is Associated with Longer Life-Expectancy of the Survivors

Abraham Sagi-Schwartz et al.
PLoS ONE, July 2013

Abstract:
Does surviving genocidal experiences, like the Holocaust, lead to shorter life-expectancy? Such an effect is conceivable given that most survivors not only suffered psychosocial trauma but also malnutrition, restriction in hygienic and sanitary facilities, and lack of preventive medical and health services, with potentially damaging effects for later health and life-expectancy. We explored whether genocidal survivors have a higher risk to die younger than comparisons without such background. This is the first population-based retrospective cohort study of the Holocaust, based on the entire population of immigrants from Poland to Israel (N = 55,220), 4–20 years old when the World War II started (1939), immigrating to Israel either between 1945 and 1950 (Holocaust group) or before 1939 (comparison group; not exposed to the Holocaust). Hazard of death – a long-term outcome of surviving genocidal trauma – was derived from the population-wide official data base of the National Insurance Institute of Israel. Cox regression yielded a significant hazard ratio (HR = 0.935, CI (95%) = 0.910–0.960), suggesting that the risk of death was reduced by 6.5 months for Holocaust survivors compared to non-Holocaust comparisons. The lower hazard was most substantial in males who were aged 10–15 (HR = 0.900, CI (95%) = 0.842–0.962, i.e., reduced by 10 months) or 16–20 years at the onset of the Holocaust (HR = 0.820, CI (95%) = 0.782–0.859, i.e., reduced by18 months). We found that against all odds genocidal survivors were likely to live longer. We suggest two explanations: Differential mortality during the Holocaust and “Posttraumatic Growth” associated with protective factors in Holocaust survivors or in their environment after World War II.

----------------------

The Effect of Sex Ratios on Suicide

Masanori Kuroki
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Whereas sex ratios are likely to affect the likelihood of marriage, how sex ratios affect health and survival is underexplored. This study uses suicide as a measure of mental health and examines how suicides are affected by sex ratios. As women tend to marry men older than themselves, shrinking populations will lead to higher sex ratios (i.e., higher proportions of men) in the marriage market. Using data from Japan, I find that high sex ratios, both early-life and current, are correlated with higher male suicide rates, whereas female suicide rates are generally not affected. The results of this study have important implications for public health in countries where imbalanced sex ratios are a concern.

----------------------

Elevated self-esteem 12 months following a 10-day developmental voyage

John Hunter et al.
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The following article examined elevated self-esteem as a function of a 10-day developmental voyage. Two studies were conducted. Study 1 demonstrated that participants who completed the voyage experienced elevated self-esteem. Study 2 replicated and extended these results insofar as it revealed that (a) elevated self-esteem was maintained 12 months following the voyage; and (b) increasing levels of perceived self-efficacy and belonging (as assessed on the last day of the voyage), but not social support, each made a unique contribution to these effects. Together, these findings provide converging evidence to suggest that a 10-day developmental voyage upon the Spirit of New Zealand promotes elevated self-esteem that is maintained over time, and that perceived self-efficacy and belonging contribute to this outcome.

----------------------

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

Julie Phillips & Colleen Nugent
Archives of Suicide Research, forthcoming

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.

----------------------

Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life

Roy Baumeister et al.
Journal of Positive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Being happy and finding life meaningful overlap, but there are important differences. A large survey revealed multiple differing predictors of happiness (controlling for meaning) and meaningfulness (controlling for happiness). Satisfying one’s needs and wants increased happiness but was largely irrelevant to meaningfulness. Happiness was largely present oriented, whereas meaningfulness involves integrating past, present, and future. For example, thinking about future and past was associated with high meaningfulness but low happiness. Happiness was linked to being a taker rather than a giver, whereas meaningfulness went with being a giver rather than a taker. Higher levels of worry, stress, and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness. Concerns with personal identity and expressing the self contributed to meaning but not happiness. We offer brief composite sketches of the unhappy but meaningful life and of the happy but meaningless life.

----------------------

Outcomes of Prolonged Exposure Therapy for Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Jason Goodson et al.
Journal of Traumatic Stress, August 2013, Pages 419–425

Abstract:
Prolonged Exposure (PE) is an evidenced-based psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that is being disseminated nationally within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with promising initial results. Empirical evidence, however, regarding the effectiveness of PE for treatment of PTSD in military veterans is limited. Building on previous treatment outcome research, the current study investigated the effectiveness of PE in a diverse veteran sample. One-hundred fifteen veterans were enrolled in PE at an urban VA medical center and its surrounding outpatient clinics. PTSD and depression symptoms as well as quality of life were measured before and after treatment. Several baseline patient characteristics were examined as predictors of treatment response. Eighty-four participants completed treatment. Participants experienced a 42% reduction in PTSD symptoms, a 31% reduction in depression symptoms, and an increase in quality of life following PE. Veterans not prescribed psychotropic medication reported greater PTSD symptom reduction than veterans prescribed such medication. The implications of these results for treatment programs targeting PTSD in veterans are discussed.

----------------------

Community Violence Exposure and Adolescents’ School Engagement and Academic Achievement Over Time

Larissa Borofsky et al.
Psychology of Violence, forthcoming

Objective: This study examined the relationships between community violence exposure and two related, but meaningfully distinct, academic outcomes: school engagement and academic achievement (grade point average, GPA). Psychological symptoms were investigated as mediators of these relationships.

Method: One-hundred and eighteen youth reported on community violence exposure and school engagement twice during adolescence, and both parents and adolescents reported on psychological symptoms. Cumulative GPA was also acquired from participants. A path model and hierarchical multiple regression analyses were used to assess these relationships longitudinally.

Results: Earlier community violence exposure inversely predicted later school engagement, but earlier school engagement did not predict later community violence exposure. School engagement mediated the association between community violence exposure and school GPA. Internalizing and externalizing symptoms, but not posttraumatic stress symptoms, mediated the association between community violence and school engagement.

Conclusions: When adolescents are exposed to community violence, they may become vulnerable to a cascade of events including psychological symptoms and decreased connectedness to school, which ultimately can lead to overall poor academic achievement. The more proximal, changeable experiences of school connectedness and psychological symptoms offer targets for interventions offsetting long-term adverse academic consequences in violence-exposed youth.

----------------------

Internalizing and Externalizing Behaviors Predict Elevated Inflammatory Markers in Childhood

Natalie Slopen, Laura Kubzansky & Karestan Koenen
Psychoneuroendocrinology, forthcoming

Background: Children with behavior problems, such as internalizing or externalizing disorders, are at increased risk for poorer physical health in adulthood. Inflammation has been posited as a potential biological mediator underlying this association. However, it is unclear how early in development associations between behavior problems and inflammation may be detected, and whether associations are present for both internalizing and externalizing behaviors in pre-pubertal children.

Methods: Using data from children in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, we examined associations between behavior problems at age 8 (assessed via the parent-report Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire) and inflammatory markers assessed at age 10. Inflammatory markers included C-reactive protein (CRP; n = 4069) and interleukin-6 (IL-6; n = 4061). We further evaluated whether body mass index (BMI) mediated associations, and tested for potential reverse causality by considering whether age 10 inflammation was associated with changes from initial levels to age 12 behavior problems.

Results: After adjusting for relevant covariates, age 8 externalizing behaviors were associated with elevated CRP at age 10, and age 8 internalizing and externalizing behaviors were associated with elevated IL-6 at age 10 (p's<.05). We found no evidence that observed associations were mediated by BMI or that inflammatory markers at age 10 were associated with increased internalizing or externalizing behavior problems at age 12.

Conclusions: These findings document an association between behavior problems and elevated concentrations of CRP and IL-6 at 10 years. Heightened inflammation in childhood may be a pathway through which early behavior problems increase risk for adult chronic diseases.

----------------------

Assessing programs designed to improve outcomes for children exposed to violence: Results from nine randomized controlled trials

Laura Hickman et al.
Journal of Experimental Criminology, September 2013, Pages 301-331

Objectives: The study tests whether participation in interventions offered by a subset of sites from the National Safe Start Promising Approaches for Children Exposed to Violence initiative improved outcomes for children relative to controls.

Methods: The study pools data from the nine Safe Start sites that randomized families to intervention and control groups, using a within-site block randomization strategy based on child age at baseline. Caregiver-reported outcomes, assessed at baseline, 6 and 12 months, included caregiver personal problems, caregiver resource problems, parenting stress, child and caregiver victimization, child trauma symptoms, child behavior problems, and social-emotional competence.

Results: Results revealed no measurable intervention impact in intent-to-treat analyses at either 6- or 12-month post-baseline. In 6-month as-treated analyses, a medium to high intervention dose was associated with improvement on two measures of child social-emotional competence: cooperation and assertion. Overall, there is no reliable evidence of significant site-to-site effect variability, even in the two cases of significant intervention effect.

Conclusions: Since families in both the intervention and control groups received some degree of case management and both groups improved over time, it may be advantageous to explore the potential impacts of crisis and case management separately from mental health interventions. It may be that, on average, children in families whose basic needs are being attended to improve substantially on their own.

----------------------

Health Insurance and Treatment of Adolescents With Co-Occurring Major Depression and Substance Use Disorders

Laura DiCola et al.
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, September 2013, Pages 953–960

Objective: The goals of this study were to identify treatment rates among adolescents with co-occurring major depressive episode (MDE) and substance use disorder (SUD), and to examine the role of health insurance in the treatment of these disorders.

Method: Seven years of cross-sectional data (2004–2010) were pooled from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health to derive a nationally representative sample of 2,111 adolescents who had both a past-year MDE and SUD and whose insurance status was known. The associations of public and private insurance with MDE and SUD treatment were examined using multinomial logistic regressions that controlled for health status and sociodemographic variables.

Results: Less than one-half (48%) of adolescents received any form of MDE treatment in the past year, and only 10% received any form of SUD treatment. Only 16% of adolescents who received MDE treatment also received SUD treatment. Relative to no insurance, public insurance was associated with an increased likelihood of receiving MDE treatment alone, but not with an increased likelihood of receiving both MDE and SUD treatment. Involvement in the criminal justice system was the major factor affecting the likelihood that an adolescent would receive both MDE and SUD treatment, as opposed to either no treatment or treatment for MDE alone.

Conclusions: Exceptionally low rates of SUD treatment were observed in this high-risk sample. Study findings highlight a missed opportunity to assess and to treat SUD among adolescents with cooccurring MDE and SUD who have received some form of MDE treatment in the past year.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I spy

Relieving the Burdens of Secrecy: Revealing Secrets Influences Judgments of Hill Slant and Distance

Michael Slepian, E.J. Masicampo & Nalini Ambady
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent work demonstrates that harboring secrets influences perceptual judgments and actions. Individuals carrying secrets make judgments consistent with the experience of being weighed down, such as judging a hill as steeper and judging distances to be farther. In the present article, two studies examined whether revealing a secret would relieve the burden of secrecy. Relative to a control condition, thinking about a secret led to the judgments of increased hill slant, whereas revealing a secret eliminated that effect (Study 1). Additionally, relative to a control condition, thinking about a secret led to judgments of increased distance, and again, revealing a secret eliminated that effect (Study 2). Sharing secrets with others might relieve the perceived physical burden from secrecy.

----------------------

The influence of red on impression formation in a job application context

Markus Maier et al.
Motivation and Emotion, September 2013, Pages 389-401

Abstract:
Recent research has shown that the color red can influence psychological functioning. In the present research we tested the hypothesis that red influences impression formation related to another person's abilities. We conducted three experiments examining the influence of red on the evaluation of male target persons. In Experiment 1, participants viewing red, relative to green, on the shirt of a person presented on a photograph perceived him to be less intelligent. This effect was strongest in a job application context compared to other contexts. In Experiment 2, focusing solely on the job application context, participants viewing red, relative to blue, on an applicants' tie perceived him to have less earning and leadership potential. In Experiment 3, participants viewing red, relative to green, on a job applicants' tie rated him as less likely to be hired, and perceptions of ability and leadership potential mediated this effect. Both the conceptual and applied implications of these findings are discussed.

----------------------

The effect of subliminal priming on sleep duration

Mitsuru Shimizu, Jesse Sperry & Brett Pelham
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Two experiments primed college students with either sleep-related or neutral words and then assessed sleep during a 25 minute nap period. Both experiments showed that participants primed with sleep-related words reported having slept longer than did those primed with neutral words. Furthermore, both experiments showed that sleep-primed participants exhibited lower heart rate. Experiment 2 also revealed that the effect of the priming manipulation was especially strong among participants who had trouble sleeping. This suggests that priming might be a cost-effective treatment for inducing sleep among people with sleep problems.

----------------------

The Weight of a Guilty Conscience: Subjective Body Weight as an Embodiment of Guilt

Martin Day & Ramona Bobocel
PLoS ONE, July 2013

Abstract:
Guilt is an important social and moral emotion. In addition to feeling unpleasant, guilt is metaphorically described as a "weight on one's conscience." Evidence from the field of embodied cognition suggests that abstract metaphors may be grounded in bodily experiences, but no prior research has examined the embodiment of guilt. Across four studies we examine whether i) unethical acts increase subjective experiences of weight, ii) feelings of guilt explain this effect, and iii) whether there are consequences of the weight of guilt. Studies 1-3 demonstrated that unethical acts led to more subjective body weight compared to control conditions. Studies 2 and 3 indicated that heightened feelings of guilt mediated the effect, whereas other negative emotions did not. Study 4 demonstrated a perceptual consequence. Specifically, an induction of guilt affected the perceived effort necessary to complete tasks that were physical in nature, compared to minimally physical tasks.

----------------------

More than meets the eye: Implicit perception in legally blind individuals

Alan Brown, Michael Best & David Mitchell
Consciousness and Cognition, September 2013, Pages 996-1002

Abstract:
Legally blind participants (uncorrected vision of 20/200+) were able to identify a visual stimulus attribute (clock hand position) in the absence of consciously identifying its presence. Specifically, participants - with their corrective lenses removed - correctly guessed the hour-hand position above chance (8%) on a clockface shown on a computer screen. This occurred both when presented in a 1-clockface display (28%), as well as when shown a display containing 4 clockfaces (21%), in which only 1 face contained a hand. Even more striking, hand identification accuracy in the 4-clockface condition was comparable whether the clockface containing the hand was (21%) or was not (20%) correctly identified. That legally blind individuals are capable of identifying stimulus attributes without conscious awareness provides an additional vehicle for exploring implicit perception. Consistent with previous research, the visualsystem can apparently cope with degraded visual input through information available through a(n unconscious) secondary pathway via the superior colliculi.

----------------------

What color is my arm? Changes in skin color of an embodied virtual arm modulates pain threshold

Matteo Martini, D. Perez-Marcos & M.V. Sanchez-Vives
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, July 2013

Abstract:
It has been demonstrated that visual inputs can modulate pain. However, the influence of skin color on pain perception is unknown. Red skin is associated to inflamed, hot and more sensitive skin, while blue is associated to cyanotic, cold skin. We aimed to test whether the color of the skin would alter the heat pain threshold. To this end, we used an immersive virtual environment where we induced embodiment of a virtual arm that was co-located with the real one and seen from a first-person perspective. Virtual reality allowed us to dynamically modify the color of the skin of the virtual arm. In order to test pain threshold, increasing ramps of heat stimulation applied on the participants' arm were delivered concomitantly with the gradual intensification of different colors on the embodied avatar's arm. We found that a reddened arm significantly decreased the pain threshold compared with normal and bluish skin. This effect was specific when red was seen on the arm, while seeing red in a spot outside the arm did not decrease pain threshold. These results demonstrate an influence of skin color on pain perception. This top-down modulation of pain through visual input suggests a potential use of embodied virtual bodies for pain therapy.

----------------------

Bound to Lose: Physical Incapacitation Increases the Conceptualized Size of an Antagonist in Men

Daniel Fessler & Colin Holbrook
PLoS ONE, August 2013

Abstract:
Because decision-making in situations of potential conflict hinges on assessing many features of the self and the foe, this process can be facilitated by summarizing diverse attributes in a single heuristic representation. Physical size and strength are evolutionarily ancient determinants of victory in conflict, and their relevance is reinforced during development. Accordingly, size and muscularity constitute ready dimensions for a summary representation of relative formidability, a perspective paralleled by the notion that social power is represented using envisioned relative size. Physical incapacitation constitutes a significant tactical disadvantage, hence temporary incapacitation should increase the envisioned size and strength of an antagonist. In Study 1, being bound to a chair increased men's estimates of the size of an angry man and decreased estimates of their own height. Study 2 conceptually replicated these effects: among men for whom standing on a balance board was challenging, the attendant experience of postural instability increased estimates of an angry man's size and muscularity, with similar patterns occurring at a reduced level among all but those whose equilibrium was apparently unaffected by this task.

----------------------

Fear of Holes

Geoff Cole & Arnold Wilkins
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Phobias are usually described as irrational and persistent fears of certain objects or situations, and causes of such fears are difficult to identify. We describe an unusual but common phobia (trypophobia), hitherto unreported in the scientific literature, in which sufferers are averse to images of holes. We performed a spectral analysis on a variety of images that induce trypophobia and found that the stimuli had a spectral composition typically associated with uncomfortable visual images, namely, high-contrast energy at midrange spatial frequencies. Critically, we found that a range of potentially dangerous animals also possess this spectral characteristic. We argue that although sufferers are not conscious of the association, the phobia arises in part because the inducing stimuli share basic visual characteristics with dangerous organisms, characteristics that are low level and easily computed, and therefore facilitate a rapid nonconscious response.

----------------------

Of hissing snakes and angry voices: Human infants are differentially responsive to evolutionary fear-relevant sounds

Nicole Erlich, Ottmar Lipp & Virginia Slaughter
Developmental Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Adult humans demonstrate differential processing of stimuli that were recurrent threats to safety and survival throughout evolutionary history. Recent studies suggest that differential processing of evolutionarily ancient threats occurs in human infants, leading to the proposal of an inborn mechanism for rapid identification of, and response to, evolutionary fear-relevant stimuli. The current study provides novel data in support of this proposal, showing for the first time that human infants differentially process evolutionary threats presented in the auditory modality. Sixty-one 9-month-olds listened to evolutionary fear-relevant, modern fear-relevant, and pleasant sounds, while their heart rate, startle, and visual orienting behaviours were measured. Infants demonstrated significantly enhanced heart rate deceleration, larger eye-blinks, and more visual orienting when listening to evolutionary fear-relevant sounds compared to sounds from the other two categories. These results support the proposal that human infants possess evolved mechanisms for the differential processing of a range of ancient environmental threats.

----------------------

Construing in a crowd: The effects of social crowding on mental construal

Ahreum Maeng & Robin Tanner
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, November 2013, Pages 1084-1088

Abstract:
How does social crowdedness shape the way people mentally represent objects in the environment? Building on research suggesting that motivational intensity can serve to influence the span of conceptual scope, we demonstrate that individuals in socially crowded environments tend to rely on concrete low-level construals, while those in less crowded environments utilize more abstract high-level construals. We further demonstrate that these effects are mediated by a social crowding induced avoidance motivation, and are moderated by the composition of the crowd.

----------------------

Full body illusion is associated with widespread skin temperature reduction

Roy Salomon et al.
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
A central feature of our consciousness is the experience of the self as a unified entity residing in a physical body, termed bodily self-consciousness. This phenomenon includes aspects such as the sense of owning a body (also known as body ownership) and has been suggested to arise from the integration of sensory signals from the body. Several studies have shown that temporally synchronous tactile stimulation of the real body and visual stimulation of a fake or virtual body can induce changes in bodily self-consciousness, typically resulting in a sense of illusory ownership over the fake body. The present study assessed the effect of anatomical congruency of visuo-tactile stimulation on bodily self-consciousness. A virtual body was presented and temporally synchronous visuo-tactile stroking was applied simultaneously to the participants' body and to the virtual body. We manipulated the anatomical locations of the visuo-tactile stroking (i.e., on the back, on the leg), resulting in congruent stroking (stroking was felt and seen on the back or the leg) or incongruent stroking (i.e., stroking was felt on the leg and seen on the back). We measured self-identification with the virtual body and self-location as well as skin temperature. Illusory self-identification with the avatar as well as changes in self-location were experienced in the congruent stroking conditions. Participants showed a decrease in skin temperature across several body locations during congruent stimulation. These data establish that the full-body illusion (FBI) alters bodily self-consciousness and instigates widespread physiological changes in the participant's body.

----------------------

Human Gender Differences in the Perception of Conspecific Alarm Chemosensory Cues

Anca Radulescu & Lilianne Mujica-Parodi
PLoS ONE, July 2013

Abstract:
It has previously been established that, in threatening situations, animals use alarm pheromones to communicate danger. There is emerging evidence of analogous chemosensory "stress" cues in humans. For this study, we collected alarm and exercise sweat from "donors," extracted it, pooled it and presented it to 16 unrelated "detector" subjects undergoing fMRI. The fMRI protocol consisted of four stimulus runs, with each combination of stimulus condition and donor gender represented four times. Because olfactory stimuli do not follow the canonical hemodynamic response, we used a model-free approach. We performed minimal preprocessing and worked directly with block-average time series and step-function estimates. We found that, while male stress sweat produced a comparably strong emotional response in both detector genders, female stress sweat produced a markedly stronger arousal in female than in male detectors. Our statistical tests pinpointed this gender-specificity to the right amygdala (strongest in the superficial nuclei). When comparing the olfactory bulb responses to the corresponding stimuli, we found no significant differences between male and female detectors. These imaging results complement existing behavioral evidence, by identifying whether gender differences in response to alarm chemosignals are initiated at the perceptual versus emotional level. Since we found no significant differences in the olfactory bulb (primary processing site for chemosensory signals in mammals), we infer that the specificity in responding to female fear is likely based on processing meaning, rather than strength, of chemosensory cues from each gender.

----------------------

Unnoticed intrusions: Dissociations of meta-consciousness in thought suppression

Benjamin Baird et al.
Consciousness and Cognition, September 2013, Pages 1003-1012

Abstract:
The current research investigates the interaction between thought suppression and individuals' explicit awareness of their thoughts. Participants in three experiments attempted to suppress thoughts of a prior romantic relationship and their success at doing so was measured using a combination of self-catching and experience-sampling. In addition to thoughts that individuals spontaneously noticed, individuals were frequently caught engaging in thoughts of their previous partner at experience-sampling probes. Furthermore, probe-caught thoughts were: (i) associated with stronger decoupling of attention from the environment, (ii) more likely to occur under cognitive load, (iii) more frequent for individuals with a desire to reconcile, and (iv) associated with individual differences in the tendency to suppress thoughts. Together, these data suggest that individuals can lack meta-awareness that they have begun to think about a topic they are attempting to suppress, providing novel insight into the cognitive processes that are involved in attempting to control undesired mental states.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, September 6, 2013

Once more unto the breach

In the Eye of the Beholder: How Leaders and Intelligence Communities Assess the Intentions of Adversaries

Keren Yarhi-Milo
International Security, Summer 2013, Pages 7-51

Abstract:
How do policymakers infer the long-term political intentions of their states’ adversaries? A new approach to answering this question, the “selective attention thesis,” posits that individual perceptual biases and organizational interests and practices influence which types of indicators a state’s political leaders and its intelligence community regard as credible signals of an adversary’s intentions. Policymakers often base their interpretations on their own theories, expectations, and needs, sometimes ignoring costly signals and paying more attention to information that, though less costly, is more vivid (i.e., personalized and emotionally involving). In contrast, intelligence organizations typically prioritize the collection and analysis of data on the adversary’s military inventory. Over time, these organizations develop substantial knowledge on these material indicators that they then use to make predictions about an adversary’s intentions. An examination of three cases based on 30,000 archival documents and intelligence reports shows strong support for the selective attention thesis and mixed support for two other approaches in international relations theory aimed at understanding how observers are likely to infer adversaries’ political intentions: the behavior thesis and the capabilities thesis. The three cases are assessments by President Jimmy Carter and officials in his administration of Soviet intentions during the collapse of détente; assessments by President Ronald Reagan and administration officials of Soviet intentions during the end of the Cold War; and British assessments of Nazi Germany before World War II.

----------------------

Hawks, Doves, and International Cooperation

Joe Clare
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
How does the hawkish or dovish nature of the domestic opposition in one state influence its own, as well as an international opponent’s, negotiating behavior? I show that doves, when negotiating in the presence of a hawkish opposition, have more bargaining leverage in international negotiations. The key is to understand an international opponent’s preference to deal with a dove rather than a hawk in future negotiations. I argue that adversaries have an incentive to concede more in negotiations to doves in order to sustain them in office, because failing to give concessions may lead to their replacement by less conciliatory (more hawkish) governments in the future. For this reason, doves are more likely than hawks to extract critical concessions from adversaries. The empirical results support this argument, which altogether suggests that doves are more successful in international negotiations not because they are more conciliatory, but rather because, for domestic reasons, they have greater bargaining leverage to extract counter-concessions from adversaries.

----------------------

Syria, Precipitator of the Six Day War

Joseph Mann
Middle Eastern Studies, July/August 2013, Pages 547-562

Abstract:
The Six Day War is renowned for its impact on the shaping of the Middle East. In the last few decades, much research examining the reasons for the outbreak of the Six Day War, its development and its ramifications has been published. Most of the research has focused on an examination of Israeli government policy before and after the war, on the Egyptian regime's hatred of the ‘Zionist entity’ and on the involvement of the superpowers during and after the war. Some research has also touched on Syria's role in the outbreak of the war. Researchers such as Eyal Zisser and Moshe Maoz have shown Syria's decisive role in initiating the war and suggest that various factors, such as a lack of government stability in Syria, precipitated the conflict. This research continues, to a great extent, in the line of those researchers: indeed, it points to Syria as being the main factor behind the outbreak of war through an examination of the changes that occurred in the character of its government from 1966. However, unlike other research so far, this attempts to show that the unique character of the neo-Ba'ath regime is what brought war to the region and that, had the Ba'ath coup not occurred in 1966, it is doubtful whether Syria would have entered the conflict. This article seeks to emphasize that the Syrian regime went blindly into the war despite military unpreparedness and a lack of political and military cooperation with other Arab countries and with the Soviets. It also exposes, for the first time, the state of the Syrian troops on the front and in the cities, as well as the feelings of the senior officers on the eve of the war, and reveals documents about the military and political cooperation between Syria and Egypt that would eventually force President Nasser to enter a war he did not want to get involved in. Moreover, the research exposes the deep rift – which many believe pushed Syria to take rash independent measures –between the Soviet leadership and the Ba'ath regime before the war. And, finally, the research exposes the atmosphere in Syria following the war, and the administrative and military steps the Syrian regime took immediately after the defeat in order to consolidate its power.

----------------------

Responding to War on Capitol Hill: Battlefield Casualties, Congressional Response, and Public Support for the War in Iraq

Douglas Kriner & Francis Shen
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent scholarship argues that how members of Congress respond to an ongoing war significantly influences the president's strategic calculations. However, the literature is comparably silent on the factors influencing the public positions members take during the course of a military venture. Accounting for both national and local electoral incentives, we develop a theory positing that partisanship conditions congressional responses to casualties in the aggregate, but that all members respond to casualties in their constituency by increasingly criticizing the war. Analyzing an original database of more than 7,500 content-coded House floor speeches on the Iraq War, we find strong support for both hypotheses. We also find that Democrats from high-casualty constituencies were significantly more likely to cast antiwar roll-call votes than their peers. Finally, we show that this significant variation in congressional antiwar position taking strongly correlates with geographic differences in public support for war.

----------------------

Why States Won’t Give Nuclear Weapons to Terrorists

Keir Lieber & Daryl Press
International Security, Summer 2013, Pages 80-104

Abstract:
Many experts consider nuclear terrorism the single greatest threat to U.S. security. The fear that a state might transfer nuclear materials to terrorists was a core justification for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and, more recently, for a strike against Iran’s nuclear program. The logical basis for this concern is sound: if a state could orchestrate an anonymous nuclear terror attack, it could destroy an enemy yet avoid retaliation. But how likely is it that the perpetrators of nuclear terrorism could remain anonymous? Data culled from a decade of terrorist incidents reveal that attribution is very likely after high-casualty terror attacks. Attribution rates are even higher for attacks on the U.S. homeland or the territory of a major U.S. ally — 97 percent for incidents in which ten or more people were killed. Moreover, tracing a terrorist group that used a nuclear weapon to its state sponsor would not be difficult, because few countries sponsor terror; few terror groups have multiple sponsors; and only one country that sponsors terrorism, Pakistan, has nuclear weapons or enough material to manufacture them. If leaders understand these facts, they will be as reluctant to give weapons to terrorists as they are to use them directly; both actions would invite devastating retaliation.

----------------------

Questioning the Effect of Nuclear Weapons on Conflict

Mark Bell & Nicholas Miller
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the effect of nuclear weapons on interstate conflict. Using more appropriate methodologies than have previously been used, we find that dyads in which both states possess nuclear weapons are not significantly less likely to fight wars, nor are they significantly more or less belligerent at low levels of conflict. This stands in contrast to previous work, which suggests nuclear dyads are some 2.7 million times less likely to fight wars. We additionally find that dyads in which one state possesses nuclear weapons are more prone to low-level conflict (but not more prone to war). This appears to be because nuclear-armed states expand their interests after nuclear acquisition rather than because nuclear weapons provide a shield behind which states can aggress against more powerful conventional-armed states. This calls into question conventional wisdom on the impact of nuclear weapons and has policy implications for the impact of nuclear proliferation.

----------------------

Winning Hearts and Minds Through Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan

Andrew Beath, Fotini Christia & Ruben Enikolopov
MIT Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
Development programs are increasingly used not only as an instrument for economic and political development, but also as a tool for counterinsurgency. We explore the effectiveness of this approach using a large-scale randomized field experiment in Afghanistan. We find that the country’s largest development program improves economic welfare, attitudes towards the government, and levels of security in villages during program implementation. The positive effect of the program on security, however, is observed only in villages with low levels of violence at program start. After program completion, the magnitude of the effect on security declines and is no longer significant. Results suggest that development aid can reduce violence, but the effect is only short-lived and requires that a certain minimum threshold of initial security be in place.

----------------------

Khrushchev visits the Bolshoi: [More than] a footnote to the Cuban Missile Crisis

David Winter
Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, August 2013, Pages 222-239

Abstract:
At the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis on October 23, 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev attended Moscow’s Bolshoi Opera with a group of Presidium leaders and visiting Romanian Communist leaders. Although many accounts of the crisis mention this fact, there has been little scholarly interest in what opera was presented at the Bolshoi that evening (Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov [Mussorgsky, M. (1968). Boris Godunov [English translation of libretto by David Lloyd-Jones]. New York, NY: Oxford University Press Music Department])—apart from occasional brief mention that the lead role was sung by the American bass Jerome Hines. This article suggests that seeing that opera may have affected Khrushchev’s subsequent behavior during the crisis. After a brief sketch of the historical background and plot of the opera, the paper draws connections and parallels between (a) the opera’s plot and libretto passages and (b) aspects of Khrushchev’s political career and the confrontation between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. The psychological concept of generative historical consciousness (Winter, D. G. [2008]. Taming power: Should we? Can we? How? Paper presented at the annual scientific meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Paris, France; Winter, D. G. [2010]. Taming power: Development of a psychological measure from leaders’ speeches. Paper presented at the annual scientific meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, San Francisco.), as a psychological mechanism that can tame power, is introduced as a link between Mussorgsky’s opera and Khrushchev’s behavior and verbal imagery during the crisis. By itself, of course, seeing the opera did not “cause” Khrushchev to remove the Soviet missiles from Cuba; nevertheless, there are several mechanisms by which the psychological resonance of the opera narrative with Khrushchev’s own situation and memories may have affected his choices and behavior, and thereby influenced the crisis outcome.

----------------------

Iranian methamphetamine and Turkey: An emerging transnational threat

Behsat Ekici & Salim Ozbay
Trends in Organized Crime, September 2013, Pages 286-305

Abstract:
Traditionally, Turkish security officials were engaged with state-level threats from Iran. Their primary concerns were export of revolutionary ideology, sponsorship of terrorism, proliferation of nuclear weapons and energy blackmail. In the recent years, however, the nature of the threat has changed and diversified. Non-state actors, mainly transnational crime syndicates, have begun to pose a significant threat to both Turkey and Iran. Iranian drug networks (IDNs) have become the primary actors in heroin and methamphetamine trafficking through Turkey. The IDN threat transcends the jurisdictions of the two states and casts a debilitating impact on the Asia-Pacific countries. Despite a plethora of enacted initiatives, high profits sustain large-scale trans-regional methamphetamine trafficking. Retail prices in the Asia-Pacific markets approach hundred-fold profits over the production costs of methamphetamine in Iran. In this context, Turkish law-enforcement agencies report increasing amounts of methamphetamine seizures since 2009. The upsurge in seizure quantities is coupled with an escalation of cases and arrests. This paper investigates dimensions of the methamphetamine threat in Turkey, profiles of the actors, shipment routes, and modus operandi of the trafficking syndicates. It provides insight into a non-traditional non-state threat coming out of Iran. The inferences are based on an analysis of 183 methamphetamine case files and 81 provincial questionnaires of the Department of Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime (KOM).

----------------------

Anarchy and Hierarchy in International Relations: Examining South America's War-Prone Decade, 1932–41

Ahsan Butt
International Organization, July 2013, Pages 575-607

Abstract:
This article questions the validity of anarchy as an assumption in International Relations theory. Powerful states often provide public goods to smaller states in return for their acquiescence on matters of interest. This transactional provision of public goods is analogous to how central governments behave in domestic environments; thus the hierarchic structure of domestic politics is replicated in international politics. The anarchy-hierarchy distinction, which rests on a neat separation of international and domestic structures, is therefore highly contentious. One public good that great powers provide, largely ignored by the literature on hierarchy, is justice. Powerful states can provide a forum for aggrieved parties to settle their disputes, and thus contain conflicts before they escalate to war. If such a forum is no longer provided, the system reverts to anarchy, where escalation — and therefore, war — is more likely. South America's war-prone decade can be explained by the variation in structural conditions on the continent. Due to the Depression, its Good Neighbor policy, and the onset of World War II, the United States was less interested in South American affairs in the 1930s, resulting in a more anarchic structure and a higher propensity for war.

----------------------

A Model Humanitarian Intervention?: Reassessing NATO’s Libya Campaign

Alan Kuperman
International Security, Summer 2013, Pages 105-136

Abstract:
NATO’s 2011 humanitarian military intervention in Libya has been hailed as a model for implementing the emerging norm of the responsibility to protect (R2P), on grounds that it prevented an impending bloodbath in Benghazi and facilitated the ouster of Libya’s oppressive ruler, Muammar al-Qaddafi, who had targeted peaceful civilian protesters. Before the international community embraces such conclusions, however, a more rigorous assessment of the net humanitarian impact of NATO intervention in Libya is warranted. The conventional narrative is flawed in its portrayal of both the nature of the violence in Libya prior to the intervention and NATO’s eventual objective of regime change. An examination of the course of violence in Libya before and after NATO’s action shows that the intervention backfired. The intervention extended the war’s duration about sixfold; increased its death toll approximately seven to ten times; and exacerbated human rights abuses, humanitarian suffering, Islamic radicalism, and weapons proliferation in Libya and its neighbors. If it is a “model intervention,” as senior NATO officials claim, it is a model of failure. Implementation of R2P must be reformed to address these unintended negative consequences and the dynamics underlying them. Only then will R2P be able to achieve its noble objectives.

----------------------

Tying Hands Behind Closed Doors: The Logic and Practice of Secret Reassurance

Keren Yarhi-Milo
Security Studies, Summer 2013, Pages 405-435

Abstract:
Private diplomacy and secret agreements among adversaries are major features of international relations. Sometimes secret reassurance has resulted in cooperation and even peace between longtime adversaries. Yet rationalist theories consider private diplomatic communication as cheap talk. How do we explain this gap between theoretical expectations and the empirical record? I offer a theory that explains how, why, and when a leader may convince an enemy that his private reassurances are credible even when they are not costly to undertake. I also account for the conditions under which recipients of such reassurance infer the leader's benign intentions from these secret interactions. I claim that leaders engage in secret reassurance with the enemy when they face significant domestic opposition. The adversary can leverage the initiator's domestic vulnerability by revealing the secret reassurance, thereby imposing domestic punishment on the initiator. Further, by entering into private or secret negotiations and offering their adversary such leverage, initiators generate “autonomous risk” that exists beyond their control. I evaluate this theory against two empirical cases. The first case looks at Richard Nixon's secret assurances to the Chinese leadership in 1972. The second examines the secret negotiations between Israeli officials and the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization that ended with the signing of the Oslo I Accord in 1993.

----------------------

After Oslo and Utøya: A shift in the balance between security and liberty in Norway?

Anne Lise Fimreite et al.
Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, forthcoming

Abstract:
The article addresses the challenges a society faces to when trying to balance between security and liberty after a terrorist attack. A main question is to what extent attitudes towards counterterror measures changed in Norway after the massive terror attacks in July 2011. A hypothesis that people will be more in favour of such measures after a terror attack is examined using data from two surveys – one conducted in 2006 and one in August in 2011, with additional results from a survey in 2012. The Norwegian response after the 2011 attacks is compared to the response to the same questions in the US shortly after 9/11 2001. A main finding is that in Norway, in contrast to the US, levels of support for counterterror measures declined immediately after the attacks. The authors argue that this can be explained partly by the different levels of trust in the two countries, and partly by differences in the political executive's framing of the crisis. In 2012, support of counterterror measures in Norway has risen to pre-2011 levels. This is related to the changed discourse after the publication of the report from the 22 July Committee.

----------------------

Military Primacy Doesn’t Pay (Nearly As Much As You Think)

Daniel Drezner
International Security, Summer 2013, Pages 52-79

Abstract:
A common argument among scholars and policymakers is that America’s military preeminence and deep international engagement yield significant economic benefits to the United States and the rest of the world. Ostensibly, military primacy, beyond reducing security tensions, also encourages economic returns through a variety of loosely articulated causal mechanisms. A deeper analytical look reveals the causal pathways through which military primacy is most likely to yield economic returns: geoeconomic favoritism, whereby the military hegemon attracts private capital in return for providing the greatest security and safety to investors; direct geopolitical favoritism, according to which sovereign states, in return for living under the security umbrella of the military superpower, voluntarily transfer resources to help subsidize the costs of hegemony; and the public goods benefits that flow from hegemonic stability. A closer investigation of these causal mechanisms reveals little evidence that military primacy attracts private capital. The evidence for geopolitical favoritism seems more robust during periods of bipolarity than unipolarity. The evidence for public goods benefits is strongest, but military predominance plays only a supporting role in that logic. While further research is needed, the aggregate evidence suggests that the economic benefits of military hegemony have been exaggerated in policy circles. These findings have significant implications for theoretical debates about the fungibility of military power and should be considered when assessing U.S. fiscal options and grand strategy for the next decade.

----------------------

Private Security Firms and the Influence of Corporate Structure on Conflict Outcomes: Evidence from the Second Iraq – US War

Benjamin Tkach
Texas A&M University Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
Does the corporate structure of private security firms (PSFs) influence conflict outcomes? Employers’ inclusion of PSFs in conflicts generates a dilemma for government employers as the former are profit-maximizing agents contracted to provide services outside established military structures. Contracts provide the legal structure to govern the provision of services. But contracts between PSFs and state employers are incomplete, particularly in conflict zones where considerable unforeseen contingencies exist. One approach to mitigate incomplete contracts is to identify information about the PSFs. We expect that the severity of the dilemma varies across different types of PSFs’ corporate structures. PSFs are either publicly traded or individually owned firms — firms that have non-public ownership structures. Corporate structure of the firm influences information availability. Increased information reduces oversight and management costs for employers of PSFs which, in turn, is argued to improve firm effectiveness. Satisfying demand for security services requires utilizing both publicly traded and individually owned firms. Expectations are tested utilizing both U.S. and non-U.S. headquartered private security firms operating in Iraq from March 2003 to December 2007. Based on the U.S. objective of establishing law and order, conflict outcome is measured using insurgent attacks and civilian casualties. Publicly traded firms are associated with reductions in violence, while individually owned firms are not. My findings have important theoretical and policy implications for both PSFs and their employers.

----------------------

Norms, Diplomatic Alternatives, and the Social Psychology of War Support

Aaron Hoffman et al.
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using experiments, we show that subjects who are asked about their support for war without being told about diplomatic strategies to deal with crises back military operations at levels consistent with people who are told that the alternatives to war are of low quality. In contrast, subjects who are told that diplomacy could work to resolve conflicts express less support for military operations. These results suggest that, in the absence of conflicting evidence, people premise their support for war on the assumption that leaders use force as a last resort. Implications for the study of success as an influence on public attitudes about US military operations are considered.

----------------------

Strategic Uses of Mediated Public Diplomacy: International Reaction to U.S. Tourism Advertising

Jami Fullerton & Alice Kendrick
American Behavioral Scientist, September 2013, Pages 1332-1349

Abstract:
Using a newly launched U.S. tourism commercial as a stimulus, this pre/post quasi-experimental study empirically tests the bleed-over effect of tourism advertising on public diplomacy measures. Metrics for both tourism and public diplomacy objectives were obtained after the commercial was viewed by a large, nationally representative sample of Australian adults. Confirmation of the bleed-over effect was found. Subgroup analysis further explains how the commercial affected various audience segments. Practical and theoretical implications for the use of tourism advertising as a tool for mediated public diplomacy are explored.

----------------------

Democracy, Territory, and Armed Conflict, 1919–1995

Johann Park & Patrick James
Foreign Policy Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
Democracy and territory are two of the most important factors that affect conflict and war. Yet no research design looks directly at a possible interaction between these two variables to influence occurrence of armed conflict. This study seeks to answer the following question: “How do two democracies behave when a contentious issue such as territory arises as the source of conflict between them?” Results based on Militarized Interstate Dispute data from 1920 to 1996 produce the conclusion that the pacifying effect of democracy stands up for both territorial dyads and non-territorial ones in spite of the imperatives toward militarization created by territorial conflict. However, territory of high salience still appears to increase the likelihood of armed conflict between two democracies.

----------------------

Regime type, issues of contention, and economic sanctions: Re-evaluating the economic peace between democracies

Geoffrey Wallace
Journal of Peace Research, July 2013, Pages 479-493

Abstract:
Past studies have applied insights from the democratic peace to show that democracies are also less likely to sanction one another compared to other regime types. More recent work challenges this finding by arguing that the economic peace between democracies largely disappears once methodological improvements are included along with the particular behavior of the United States as market hegemon. This article cautions that these critiques may themselves be an artifact of particularities in past data on economic sanctions. Using a larger and more representative sanctions dataset, the analysis shows that democracies do seem less likely on average to sanction each other. Furthermore, the United States does not appear to be unique in its sanctioning behavior compared to other democracies. However, the article proposes a middle ground between proponents and skeptics of an economic peace between democracies. The analysis shows that the pacifying effects of joint democracy only operate for security related sanctions, while in non-security related matters democratic constraints are less evident. The results point to the importance of considering more closely the choice of data on sanctions, but also the need to take into account the issues under contention for episodes of economic coercion.

----------------------

The Cost-Effectiveness of Armored Tactical Wheeled Vehicles for Overseas US Army Operations

Chris Rohlfs & Ryan Sullivan
Defence and Peace Economics, July/August 2013, Pages 293-316

Abstract:
This study uses for official use only data on US military operations to evaluate the large-scale Army policies to replace relatively light Type 1 tactical wheeled vehicles (TWVs) with more heavily protected Type 2 variants and later to replace Type 2s with more heavily protected Type 3s. We find that Type 2 TWVs reduced fatalities at $1.1 million–$24.6 million per life saved for infantry units, with our preferred cost estimates falling below the $7.5 million cost-effectiveness threshold, and did not reduce fatalities for administrative and support units. We find that replacing Type 2 with Type 3 TWVs did not appreciably reduce fatalities and was not cost-effective.

----------------------

Martial Law? Military Experience, International Law, and Support for Torture

Geoffrey Wallace
International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
A large body of work points to diverging civil–military views on the initial decision to use force, yet there is little sense if similar differences hold over appropriate conduct in the midst of armed conflict. The rise of international laws governing behavior during war has similarly raised the question of whether these rules can shape the beliefs of various domestic actors. This paper seeks to address both gaps in the literature by leveraging the use of experiments embedded in a pair of US national surveys to examine the impact of international law and military experience on individual attitudes toward torture. The results show veterans are significantly more likely to support torture compared to civilians without any prior military background. International law further reduces civilian support for torture, while veterans are largely unaffected by general legal appeals. However, when facing highly precise rules, or where the threat of punishment is delegated to third parties, more legalized agreements can significantly reduce veteran support for torture. The results have implications for the study of institutional design, the differential effects of legal norms on nonstate actors, and the potential for greater awareness of the laws of war to influence attitudes toward wartime violence.

----------------------

Radicalism of the Hopeless: Refugee Flows and Transnational Terrorism

Daniel Milton, Megan Spencer & Michael Findley
International Interactions, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine whether refugee flows increase transnational terrorism in states to which refugees flee. Recent studies find that refugee flows contribute to the spread of interstate and civil war, but to a far lesser extent have studies examined how refugee flows could lead to other forms of political violence. We discuss two ways in which refugee flows can lead to transnational terrorism: how conditions in camps contribute to the radicalization of refugees; and how poorly host states treat refugees. We then conduct empirical tests using data on worldwide international refugee flows and transnational terrorism. Specifically, we model the effect of refugee flows on transnational terror attacks within a directed dyad framework to account for characteristics of origin and host states. Using a rare-events logit model, along with count models to check robustness, we find that refugee flows significantly increase the likelihood and counts of transnational terrorist attacks that occur in the host country, even when controlling for other variables. Given the prominence of refugee flows and populations worldwide, the results suggest that states with significant refugee populations and the international community at large should take measures to address the conditions in refugee camps, as well as the treatment of refugees by host states in order to prevent transnational terrorism.

----------------------

Donor ideology and types of foreign aid

Viktor Brech & Niklas Potrafke
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine how donor government ideology influences the composition of foreign aid flows. We use data for 23 OECD countries over the period 1960-2009 and distinguish between multilateral and bilateral aid, grants and loans, recipient characteristics such as income and political institutions, tied and untied aid, and aid by sector. The results show that leftist governments increased the growth of bilateral grant aid, and more specifically grant aid to least developed and lower middle-income countries. Our findings confirm partisan politics hypotheses because grants are closely analogous to domestic social welfare transfer payments, and poverty and inequality are of greatest concern for less developed recipient countries.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Scorched-earth policy

The Supply of Environmentalism

Edward Glaeser
NBER Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
Long before economics turned to psychology, environmentalists were nudging and framing and pushing their cause like highly gifted amateur psychologists. Their interventions seem to have changed behavior by altering beliefs, norms and preferences, but because psychological interventions are often coarse, inadvertent, offsetting side effects occur. After discussing the interplay between environmental preference-making and economics, I turn to three areas where strong, simple views have spread — electric cars, recycling and local conservation efforts. In all three areas, environmental rules of thumb can lead to significant, adverse environmental side effects. Local environmentalism, for example, may increase carbon emissions by pushing development from low emission areas, like coastal California, to high emissions areas elsewhere. I end by discussing how economic analysis of the political market for ideas can make sense of the remarkable disparity of views on global warming.

----------------------

Quantifying the Influence of Climate on Human Conflict

Solomon Hsiang, Marshall Burke & Edward Miguel
Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
A rapidly growing body of research examines whether human conflict can be affected by climatic changes. Drawing from archaeology, criminology, economics, geography, history, political science, and psychology, we assemble and analyze the 60 most rigorous quantitative studies and document, for the first time, a remarkable convergence of results. We find strong causal evidence linking climatic events to human conflict across a range of spatial and temporal scales and across all major regions of the world. The magnitude of climate's influence is substantial: for each 1 standard deviation (1σ) change in climate toward warmer temperatures or more extreme rainfall, median estimates indicate that the frequency of interpersonal violence rises 4% and the frequency of intergroup conflict rises 14%. Because locations throughout the inhabited world are expected to warm 2 to 4σ by 2050, amplified rates of human conflict could represent a large and critical impact of anthropogenic climate change.

----------------------

Carbon Taxes vs. Cap and Trade: A Critical Review

Lawrence Goulder & Andrew Schein
NBER Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
We examine the relative attractions of a carbon tax, a “pure” cap-and-trade system, and a “hybrid” option (a cap-and-trade system with a price ceiling and/or price floor). We show that the various options are equivalent along more dimensions than often are recognized. In addition, we bring out important dimensions along which the approaches have very different impacts. Several of these dimensions have received little attention in prior literature. A key finding is that exogenous emissions pricing (whether through a carbon tax or through the hybrid option) has a number of attractions over pure cap and trade. Beyond helping prevent price volatility and reducing expected policy errors in the face of uncertainties, exogenous pricing helps avoid problematic interactions with other climate policies and helps avoid large wealth transfers to oil exporting countries.

----------------------

Future flood losses in major coastal cities

Stephane Hallegatte et al.
Nature Climate Change, September 2013, Pages 802-806

Abstract:
Flood exposure is increasing in coastal cities owing to growing populations and assets, the changing climate, and subsidence. Here we provide a quantification of present and future flood losses in the 136 largest coastal cities. Using a new database of urban protection and different assumptions on adaptation, we account for existing and future flood defences. Average global flood losses in 2005 are estimated to be approximately US$6 billion per year, increasing to US$52 billion by 2050 with projected socio-economic change alone. With climate change and subsidence, present protection will need to be upgraded to avoid unacceptable losses of US$1 trillion or more per year. Even if adaptation investments maintain constant flood probability, subsidence and sea-level rise will increase global flood losses to US$60–63 billion per year in 2050. To maintain present flood risk, adaptation will need to reduce flood probabilities below present values. In this case, the magnitude of losses when floods do occur would increase, often by more than 50%, making it critical to also prepare for larger disasters than we experience today. The analysis identifies the cities that seem most vulnerable to these trends, that is, where the largest increase in losses can be expected.

----------------------

The Effect of the Kyoto Protocol on Carbon Emissions

Rahel Aichele & Gabriel Felbermayr
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
Since 1997, CO2 emissions have continued to rise in many countries despite their emission caps under the Kyoto Protocol (Kyoto). Failure to meet promised targets, however, does not imply that Kyoto has been pointless. Whether Kyoto has made a difference relative to the counterfactual of “No Kyoto” is an empirical question that requires an instrumental variables strategy. We argue that countries’ ratification of the statutes governing the International Criminal Court is a valid instrument for ratification of Kyoto commitments. In our panel fixed effects estimations, the instrument easily passes weak identification and overidentification tests. It can be plausibly excluded from our second-stage equations and does not cause CO2 emissions. Our estimates suggest that Kyoto ratification has a quantitatively large (about 10 percent) and robust, though only moderately statistically significant, negative effect on CO2 emissions. We also show that higher fuel prices and a different energy mix in Kyoto countries support this result.

----------------------

The social cost of CO2 in a low-growth world

Chris Hope & Mat Hope
Nature Climate Change, August 2013, Pages 722–724

Abstract:
Action on mitigating climate change seems to be grinding to a halt within the global political arena. Major emitters seem unwilling to accept binding emissions reductions targets as their economies have stagnated. The talks at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Copenhagen in 2009 were meant to represent a watershed moment for global cooperation on climate change but produced little more than a symbolic accord. Fast forward another three years and the outcomes of the Doha negotiations deferred the key decisions on climate change mitigation to 2015, as the Durban Platform did before. Is this neglect justified? Here we use the PAGE09 integrated assessment model to estimate the mean social cost of CO2 for a wide range of economic growth scenarios. The social cost of CO2 measures the net present value of the extra damage caused by the emission of one more tonne of CO2 today. The results show that in a world with sustained lower economic growth the mean social cost of CO2 increases because the climate impacts occur in a relatively poor world, suggesting that, if anything, mitigating climate change should be a higher priority for policymakers in a low-growth world.

----------------------

Long-Term Climate Change Commitment and Reversibility: An EMIC Intercomparison

Kirsten Zickfeld et al.
Journal of Climate, August 2013, Pages 5782–5809

Abstract:
This paper summarizes the results of an intercomparison project with Earth System Models of Intermediate Complexity (EMICs) undertaken in support of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The focus is on long-term climate projections designed to 1) quantify the climate change commitment of different radiative forcing trajectories and 2) explore the extent to which climate change is reversible on human time scales. All commitment simulations follow the four representative concentration pathways (RCPs) and their extensions to year 2300. Most EMICs simulate substantial surface air temperature and thermosteric sea level rise commitment following stabilization of the atmospheric composition at year-2300 levels. The meridional overturning circulation (MOC) is weakened temporarily and recovers to near-preindustrial values in most models for RCPs 2.6–6.0. The MOC weakening is more persistent for RCP8.5. Elimination of anthropogenic CO2 emissions after 2300 results in slowly decreasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations. At year 3000 atmospheric CO2 is still at more than half its year-2300 level in all EMICs for RCPs 4.5–8.5. Surface air temperature remains constant or decreases slightly and thermosteric sea level rise continues for centuries after elimination of CO2 emissions in all EMICs. Restoration of atmospheric CO2 from RCP to preindustrial levels over 100–1000 years requires large artificial removal of CO2 from the atmosphere and does not result in the simultaneous return to preindustrial climate conditions, as surface air temperature and sea level response exhibit a substantial time lag relative to atmospheric CO2.

----------------------

Time-dependent climate sensitivity and the legacy of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions

Richard Zeebe
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 20 August 2013, Pages 13739-13744

Abstract:
Climate sensitivity measures the response of Earth’s surface temperature to changes in forcing. The response depends on various climate processes that feed back on the initial forcing on different timescales. Understanding climate sensitivity is fundamental to reconstructing Earth’s climatic history as well as predicting future climate change. On timescales shorter than centuries, only fast climate feedbacks including water vapor, lapse rate, clouds, and snow/sea ice albedo are usually considered. However, on timescales longer than millennia, the generally higher Earth system sensitivity becomes relevant, including changes in ice sheets, vegetation, ocean circulation, biogeochemical cycling, etc. Here, I introduce the time-dependent climate sensitivity, which unifies fast-feedback and Earth system sensitivity. I show that warming projections, which include a time-dependent climate sensitivity, exhibit an enhanced feedback between surface warming and ocean CO2 solubility, which in turn leads to higher atmospheric CO2 levels and further warming. Compared with earlier studies, my results predict a much longer lifetime of human-induced future warming (23,000–165,000 y), which increases the likelihood of large ice sheet melting and major sea level rise. The main point regarding the legacy of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions is that, even if the fast-feedback sensitivity is no more than 3 K per CO2 doubling, there will likely be additional long-term warming from slow climate feedbacks. Time-dependent climate sensitivity also helps explaining intense and prolonged warming in response to massive carbon release as documented for past events such as the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum.

----------------------

Global flood risk under climate change

Yukiko Hirabayashi et al.
Nature Climate Change, September 2013, Pages 816–821

Abstract:
A warmer climate would increase the risk of floods. So far, only a few studies have projected changes in floods on a global scale. None of these studies relied on multiple climate models. A few global studies have started to estimate the exposure to flooding (population in potential inundation areas) as a proxy of risk, but none of them has estimated it in a warmer future climate. Here we present global flood risk for the end of this century based on the outputs of 11 climate models. A state-of-the-art global river routing model with an inundation scheme was employed to compute river discharge and inundation area. An ensemble of projections under a new high-concentration scenario demonstrates a large increase in flood frequency in Southeast Asia, Peninsular India, eastern Africa and the northern half of the Andes, with small uncertainty in the direction of change. In certain areas of the world, however, flood frequency is projected to decrease. Another larger ensemble of projections under four new concentration scenarios reveals that the global exposure to floods would increase depending on the degree of warming, but interannual variability of the exposure may imply the necessity of adaptation before significant warming.

----------------------

Blame the exurbs, not the suburbs: Exploring the distribution of greenhouse gas emissions within a city region

Jeffrey Wilson et al.
Energy Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research investigates whether where we live matters in terms of contributions to direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Using results from the Halifax Space Time Activity Research (STAR) project, we estimate GHG emissions for 1920 randomly selected respondents in Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, Canada. The unique data set allows us to report direct GHG emissions with an unprecedented level of specificity at the sub-regional scale using household energy-use survey data and GPS-verified travel data. We report results and investigate statistical differences between communities and urban–rural zones (inner city, suburban, and inner and outer commuter belts). Results reveal considerable spatial variability in direct GHG emissions across the study area. Our findings indicate that individuals living in the suburbs generate similar amounts of GHG emissions (20.5 kg CO2e person−1 day−1) to those living in the inner city (20.2 kg CO2e person−1 day−1), challenging a widely held assumption that living in the urban centre is better for sustainability. However, individuals in more rural areas have significantly higher transport-related GHG emissions than those living in the inner city and suburbs. Our results underscore the importance of understanding the spatial distribution of GHG emissions at the sub-regional scale.

----------------------

Low simulated radiation limit for runaway greenhouse climates

Colin Goldblatt et al.
Nature Geoscience, August 2013, Pages 661–667

Abstract:
The atmospheres of terrestrial planets are expected to be in long-term radiation balance: an increase in the absorption of solar radiation warms the surface and troposphere, which leads to a matching increase in the emission of thermal radiation. Warming a wet planet such as Earth would make the atmosphere moist and optically thick such that only thermal radiation emitted from the upper troposphere can escape to space. Hence, for a hot moist atmosphere, there is an upper limit on the thermal emission that is unrelated to surface temperature. If the solar radiation absorbed exceeds this limit, the planet will heat uncontrollably and the entire ocean will evaporate — the so-called runaway greenhouse. Here we model the solar and thermal radiative transfer in incipient and complete runaway greenhouse atmospheres at line-by-line spectral resolution using a modern spectral database. We find a thermal radiation limit of 282 W m−2 (lower than previously reported) and that 294 W m−2 of solar radiation is absorbed (higher than previously reported). Therefore, a steam atmosphere induced by such a runaway greenhouse may be a stable state for a planet receiving a similar amount of solar radiation as Earth today. Avoiding a runaway greenhouse on Earth requires that the atmosphere is subsaturated with water, and that the albedo effect of clouds exceeds their greenhouse effect. A runaway greenhouse could in theory be triggered by increased greenhouse forcing, but anthropogenic emissions are probably insufficient.

----------------------

Historic and future increase in the global land area affected by monthly heat extremes

Dim Coumou & Alexander Robinson
Environmental Research Letters, August 2013

Abstract:
Climatic warming of about 0.5 ° C in the global mean since the 1970s has strongly increased the occurrence-probability of heat extremes on monthly to seasonal time scales. For the 21st century, climate models predict more substantial warming. Here we show that the multi-model mean of the CMIP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project) climate models accurately reproduces the evolution over time and spatial patterns of the historically observed increase in monthly heat extremes. For the near-term (i.e., by 2040), the models predict a robust, several-fold increase in the frequency of such heat extremes, irrespective of the emission scenario. However, mitigation can strongly reduce the number of heat extremes by the second half of the 21st century. Unmitigated climate change causes most (>50%) continental regions to move to a new climatic regime with the coldest summer months by the end of the century substantially hotter than the hottest experienced today. We show that the land fraction experiencing extreme heat as a function of global mean temperature follows a simple cumulative distribution function, which depends only on natural variability and the level of spatial heterogeneity in the warming.

----------------------

Dramatic response to climate change in the Southwest: Robert Whittaker's 1963 Arizona Mountain plant transect revisited

Richard Brusca et al.
Ecology and Evolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
Models analyzing how Southwestern plant communities will respond to climate change predict that increases in temperature will lead to upward elevational shifts of montane species. We tested this hypothesis by reexamining Robert Whittaker's 1963 plant transect in the Santa Catalina Mountains of southern Arizona, finding that this process is already well underway. Our survey, five decades after Whittaker's, reveals large changes in the elevational ranges of common montane plants, while mean annual rainfall has decreased over the past 20 years, and mean annual temperatures increased 0.25°C/decade from 1949 to 2011 in the Tucson Basin. Although elevational changes in species are individualistic, significant overall upward movement of the lower elevation boundaries, and elevational range contractions, have occurred. This is the first documentation of significant upward shifts of lower elevation range boundaries in Southwestern montane plant species over decadal time, confirming that previous hypotheses are correct in their prediction that mountain communities in the Southwest will be strongly impacted by warming, and that the Southwest is already experiencing a rapid vegetation change.

----------------------

Projections of seasonal patterns in temperature-related deaths for Manhattan, New York

Tiantian Li, Radley Horton & Patrick Kinney
Nature Climate Change, August 2013, Pages 717–721

Abstract:
Global average temperatures have been rising for the past half-century, and the warming trend has accelerated in recent decades. Further warming is expected over the next few decades, with significant regional variations. These warming trends will probably result in more frequent, intense and persistent periods of hot temperatures in summer, and generally higher temperatures in winter. Daily death counts in cities increase markedly when temperatures reach levels that are very high relative to what is normal in a given location. Relatively cold temperatures also seem to carry risk. Rising temperatures may result in more heat-related mortality but may also reduce cold-related mortality, and the net impact on annual mortality remains uncertain. Here we use 16 downscaled global climate models and two emissions scenarios to estimate present and future seasonal patterns in temperature-related mortality in Manhattan, New York. All 32 projections yielded warm-season increases and cold-season decreases in temperature-related mortality, with positive net annual temperature-related deaths in all cases. Monthly analyses showed that the largest percentage increases may occur in May and September. These results suggest that, over a range of models and scenarios of future greenhouse gas emissions, increases in heat-related mortality could outweigh reductions in cold-related mortality, with shifting seasonal patterns.

----------------------

A method for estimating the cost to sequester carbon dioxide by delivering iron to the ocean

Daniel Harrison
International Journal of Global Warming, Summer 2013, Pages 231 - 254

Abstract:
The need to find economical methods of CO2 sequestration is now urgent. Ocean iron fertilisation has been suggested as a low cost mitigation option to capture and store carbon. However, previous methods of estimating the cost fail to account for many of the losses and offsets occurring over the storage period. A method for calculating the net carbon stored from iron fertilisation of high nutrient low chlorophyll ocean regions is provided. Ship based fertilisation of the Southern Ocean is considered as a case study, on average, a single fertilisation is found to result in a net sequestration of 0.01 t C km−2 for 100 years at a cost of US$457 per tonne CO2. Previous estimates of cost underestimate the economic challenge of distributing low concentrations of iron over large areas of the ocean surface, and the subsequent loss processes that result in only a small net storage of carbon per km2 fertilised. Technologies that could lower the cost are discussed.

----------------------

Dynamical Downscaling Projections of Twenty-First-Century Atlantic Hurricane Activity: CMIP3 and CMIP5 Model-Based Scenarios

Thomas Knutson et al.
Journal of Climate, September 2013, Pages 6591–6617

Abstract:
Twenty-first-century projections of Atlantic climate change are downscaled to explore the robustness of potential changes in hurricane activity. Multimodel ensembles using the phase 3 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3)/Special Report on Emissions Scenarios A1B (SRES A1B; late-twenty-first century) and phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5)/representative concentration pathway 4.5 (RCP4.5; early- and late-twenty-first century) scenarios are examined. Ten individual CMIP3 models are downscaled to assess the spread of results among the CMIP3 (but not the CMIP5) models. Downscaling simulations are compared for 18-km grid regional and 50-km grid global models. Storm cases from the regional model are further downscaled into the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) hurricane model (9-km inner grid spacing, with ocean coupling) to simulate intense hurricanes at a finer resolution. A significant reduction in tropical storm frequency is projected for the CMIP3 (−27%), CMIP5-early (−20%) and CMIP5-late (−23%) ensembles and for 5 of the 10 individual CMIP3 models. Lifetime maximum hurricane intensity increases significantly in the high-resolution experiments—by 4%–6% for CMIP3 and CMIP5 ensembles. A significant increase (+87%) in the frequency of very intense (categories 4 and 5) hurricanes (winds ≥ 59 m s−1) is projected using CMIP3, but smaller, only marginally significant increases are projected (+45% and +39%) for the CMIP5-early and CMIP5-late scenarios. Hurricane rainfall rates increase robustly for the CMIP3 and CMIP5 scenarios. For the late-twenty-first century, this increase amounts to +20% to +30% in the model hurricane’s inner core, with a smaller increase (~10%) for averaging radii of 200 km or larger. The fractional increase in precipitation at large radii (200–400 km) approximates that expected from environmental water vapor content scaling, while increases for the inner core exceed this level.

----------------------

Arctic warming and your weather: Public belief in the connection

Lawrence Hamilton & Mary Lemcke-Stampone
International Journal of Climatology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Will Arctic warming affect mid-latitude weather? Many researchers think so, and have addressed this question through scientific articles and news media. Much of the public accepts such a connection as well. Across three New Hampshire surveys with more than 1500 interviews, 60% of respondents say they think future Arctic warming would have major effects on their weather. Arctic/weather responses changed little after Superstorm Sandy brushed the region, but exhibit consistently strong partisan divisions that grow wider with education. Belief in an Arctic/weather connection also varies, in a nonlinear pattern, with the temperature anomaly around day of interview. Interviewed on unseasonably warm or cool days, respondents are more likely to think that Arctic warming would have major effects on their weather. This unscientific response seems to mirror the scientific discussion about extremes.

----------------------

Near-term climate mitigation by short-lived forcers

Steven Smith & Andrew Mizrahi
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 27 August 2013, Pages 14202-14206

Abstract:
Emissions reductions focused on anthropogenic climate-forcing agents with relatively short atmospheric lifetimes, such as methane (CH4) and black carbon, have been suggested as a strategy to reduce the rate of climate change over the next several decades. We find that reductions of methane and black carbon would likely have only a modest impact on near-term global climate warming. Even with maximally feasible reductions phased in from 2015 to 2035, global mean temperatures in 2050 would be reduced by 0.16 °C, with a range of 0.04–0.35 °C because of uncertainties in carbonaceous aerosol emissions and aerosol forcing per unit of emissions. The high end of this range is only possible if total historical aerosol forcing is relatively small. More realistic emission reductions would likely provide an even smaller climate benefit. We find that the climate benefit from reductions in short-lived forcing agents are smaller than previously estimated. These near-term climate benefits of targeted reductions in short-lived forcers are not substantially different in magnitude from the benefits from a comprehensive climate policy.

----------------------

Global warming amplified by reduced sulphur fluxes as a result of ocean acidification

Katharina Six et al.
Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Climate change and decreasing seawater pH (ocean acidification) have widely been considered as uncoupled consequences of the anthropogenic CO2 perturbation. Recently, experiments in seawater enclosures (mesocosms) showed that concentrations of dimethylsulphide (DMS), a biogenic sulphur compound, were markedly lower in a low-pH environment. Marine DMS emissions are the largest natural source of atmospheric sulphur and changes in their strength have the potential to alter the Earth’s radiation budget. Here we establish observational-based relationships between pH changes and DMS concentrations to estimate changes in future DMS emissions with Earth system model climate simulations. Global DMS emissions decrease by about 18(±3)% in 2100 compared with pre-industrial times as a result of the combined effects of ocean acidification and climate change. The reduced DMS emissions induce a significant additional radiative forcing, of which 83% is attributed to the impact of ocean acidification, tantamount to an equilibrium temperature response between 0.23 and 0.48 K. Our results indicate that ocean acidification has the potential to exacerbate anthropogenic warming through a mechanism that is not considered at present in projections of future climate change.

----------------------

Compassion fade and the challenge of environmental conservation

Ezra Markowitz et al.
Judgment and Decision Making, July 2013, Pages 397–406

Abstract:
Compassion shown towards victims often decreases as the number of individuals in need of aid increases, identifiability of the victims decreases, and the proportion of victims helped shrinks. Such “compassion fade” may hamper individual-level and collective responses to pressing large-scale crises. To date, research on compassion fade has focused on humanitarian challenges; thus, it remains unknown whether and to what extent compassion fade emerges when victims are non-human others. Here we show that compassion fade occurs in the environmental domain, but only among non-environmentalists. These findings suggest that compassion fade may challenge our collective ability and willingness to confront the major environmental problems we face, including climate change. The observed moderation effect of environmental identity further indicates that compassion fade may present a significant psychological barrier to building broad public support for addressing these problems. Our results highlight the importance of bringing findings from the field of judgment and decision making to bear on pressing societal issues.

----------------------

Future reef decalcification under a business-as-usual CO2 emission scenario

Sophie Dove et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Increasing atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) is a major threat to coral reefs, but some argue that the threat is mitigated by factors such as the variability in the response of coral calcification to acidification, differences in bleaching susceptibility, and the potential for rapid adaptation to anthropogenic warming. However the evidence for these mitigating factors tends to involve experimental studies on corals, as opposed to coral reefs, and rarely includes the influence of multiple variables (e.g., temperature and acidification) within regimes that include diurnal and seasonal variability. Here, we demonstrate that the inclusion of all these factors results in the decalcification of patch-reefs under business-as-usual scenarios and reduced, although positive, calcification under reduced-emission scenarios. Primary productivity was found to remain constant across all scenarios, despite significant bleaching and coral mortality under both future scenarios. Daylight calcification decreased and nocturnal decalcification increased sharply from the preindustrial and control conditions to the future scenarios of low (reduced emissions) and high (business-as-usual) increases in pCO2. These changes coincided with deeply negative carbonate budgets, a shift toward smaller carbonate sediments, and an increase in the abundance of sediment microbes under the business-as-usual emission scenario. Experimental coral reefs demonstrated highest net calcification rates and lowest rates of coral mortality under preindustrial conditions, suggesting that reef processes may not have been able to keep pace with the relatively minor environmental changes that have occurred during the last century. Taken together, our results have serious implications for the future of coral reefs under business-as-usual environmental changes projected for the coming decades and century.

----------------------

The other ocean acidification problem: CO2 as a resource among competitors for ecosystem dominance

Sean Connell et al.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 5 October 2013

Abstract:
Predictions concerning the consequences of the oceanic uptake of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) have been primarily occupied with the effects of ocean acidification on calcifying organisms, particularly those critical to the formation of habitats (e.g. coral reefs) or their maintenance (e.g. grazing echinoderms). This focus overlooks direct and indirect effects of CO2 on non-calcareous taxa that play critical roles in ecosystem shifts (e.g. competitors). We present the model that future atmospheric [CO2] may act as a resource for mat-forming algae, a diverse and widespread group known to reduce the resilience of kelp forests and coral reefs. We test this hypothesis by combining laboratory and field CO2 experiments and data from ‘natural’ volcanic CO2 vents. We show that mats have enhanced productivity in experiments and more expansive covers in situ under projected near-future CO2 conditions both in temperate and tropical conditions. The benefits of CO2 are likely to vary among species of producers, potentially leading to shifts in species dominance in a high CO2 world. We explore how ocean acidification combines with other environmental changes across a number of scales, and raise awareness of CO2 as a resource whose change in availability could have wide-ranging community consequences beyond its direct effects.

----------------------

Long-term spatial and temporal trends in frost indices in Kansas, USA

Aavudai Anandhi et al.
Climatic Change, September 2013, Pages 169-181

Abstract:
Frost indices such as number of frost days (nFDs), number of frost-free days (nFFDs), last spring freeze (LSF), first fall freeze (FFF), and growing-season length (GSL) were calculated using daily minimum air temperature (Tmin) from 23 centennial weather stations across Kansas during four time periods (through 1919, 1920–1949, 1950–1979, and 1980–2009). A frost day is defined as a day with Tmin < 0 °C. The long- and short-term trends in frost indices were analyzed at monthly, seasonal, and annual timescales. Probability of occurrence of the indices was analyzed at 5 %, 25 %, 50 %, 75 %, and 95 %. Results indicated a general increase in Tmin from 1900 through 2009 causing a decrease in nFDs. LSF and FFF occurred earlier and later than normal in the year, respectively, thereby resulting in an increase in GSL. In general, northwest Kansas recorded the greatest nFD and lowest Tmin, whereas southeast Kansas had the lowest nFD and highest Tmin; however, the magnitude of the trends in these indices varied with location, time period, and time scales. Based on the long-term records in most stations, LSF occurred earlier by 0.1–1.9 days/decade, FFF occurred later by 0.2–0.9 day/decade, and GSL was longer by 0.1–2.5 day/decade. At the 50 % probability level, Independence in the south-eastern part of Kansas had the earliest LSF (6 April), latest FFF (29 October) and longest GSL (207 days). Oberlin (north-western Kansas) recorded the shortest GSL (156 days) and earliest FFF (7 October) had the latest LSF (2 May) at the 50 % probability level. A positive correlation was observed for combinations of indices (LSF and GSL) and elevation, whereas a negative correlation was found between FFF and elevation.

----------------------

Sea surface height evidence for long-term warming effects of tropical cyclones on the ocean

Wei Mei et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Tropical cyclones have been hypothesized to influence climate by pumping heat into the ocean, but a direct measure of this warming effect is still lacking. We quantified cyclone-induced ocean warming by directly monitoring the thermal expansion of water in the wake of cyclones, using satellite-based sea surface height data that provide a unique way of tracking the changes in ocean heat content on seasonal and longer timescales. We find that the long-term effect of cyclones is to warm the ocean at a rate of 0.32 ± 0.15 PW between 1993 and 2009, i.e., ∼23 times more efficiently per unit area than the background equatorial warming, making cyclones potentially important modulators of the climate by affecting heat transport in the ocean–atmosphere system. Furthermore, our analysis reveals that the rate of warming increases with cyclone intensity. This, together with a predicted shift in the distribution of cyclones toward higher intensities as climate warms, suggests the ocean will get even warmer, possibly leading to a positive feedback.

----------------------

Will Future Climate Favor More Erratic Wildfires in the Western United States?

Lifeng Luo et al.
Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Wildfires that occurred over the western US during August 2012 were fewer in number but larger in size, as compared to all other Augusts in the 21st century. This unique characteristic, along with the tremendous property damage and potential loss of life due to large wildfires with erratic behavior, raised the question whether future climate will favor rapid wildfire growth so that similar wildfire activities may become more frequent as climate changes. This study addresses this question by examining differences in the climatological distribution of the Haines Index (HI) between the current and projected future climate over the western US. The HI, ranging from 2 to 6, was designed to characterize dry, unstable air in the lower atmosphere which may contribute to erratic or extreme fire behavior. A shift in HI distribution from low values (2, 3) to higher values (5, 6) would indicate an increased risk for rapid wildfire growth and spread. Haines Index distributions are calculated from simulations of current (1971-2000) and future (2041-2070) climate using multiple regional climate models (RCMs) in the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP). Despite some differences among the projections, the simulations indicate that there may be not only more days but also more consecutive days with HI ≥ 5 during August in the future. This suggests that future atmospheric environments will be more conducive to erratic wildfires in the mountainous regions of the western US.

----------------------

Interhemispheric Temperature Asymmetry over the Twentieth Century and in Future Projections

Andrew Friedman et al.
Journal of Climate, August 2013, Pages 5419–5433

Abstract:
The temperature contrast between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres — the interhemispheric temperature asymmetry (ITA) — is an emerging indicator of global climate change, potentially relevant to the Hadley circulation and tropical rainfall. The authors examine the ITA in historical observations and in phases 3 and 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3 and CMIP5) simulations. The observed annual-mean ITA (north minus south) has varied within a 0.8°C range and features a significant positive trend since 1980. The CMIP multimodel ensembles simulate this trend, with a stronger and more realistic signal in CMIP5. Both ensembles project a continued increase in the ITA over the twenty-first century, well outside the twentieth-century range. The authors mainly attribute this increase to the uneven spatial impacts of greenhouse forcing, which result in amplified warming in the Arctic and northern landmasses. The CMIP5 specific-forcing simulations indicate that, before 1980, the greenhouse-forced ITA trend was primarily countered by anthropogenic aerosols. The authors also identify an abrupt decrease in the observed ITA in the late 1960s, which is generally not present in the CMIP simulations; it suggests that the observed drop was caused by internal variability. The difference in the strengths of the northern and southern Hadley cells covaries with the ITA in the CMIP5 simulations, in accordance with previous findings; the authors also find an association with the hemispheric asymmetry in tropical rainfall. These relationships imply a northward shift in tropical rainfall with increasing ITA in the twenty-first century, though this result is difficult to separate from the response to global-mean temperature change.

----------------------

Contribution of solar radiation to decadal temperature variability over land

Kaicun Wang & Robert Dickinson
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Global air temperature has become the primary metric for judging global climate change. The variability of global temperature on a decadal timescale is still poorly understood. This paper examines further one suggested hypothesis, that variations in solar radiation reaching the surface (Rs) have caused much of the observed decadal temperature variability. Because Rs only heats air during the day, its variability is plausibly related to the variability of diurnal temperature range (daily maximum temperature minus its minimum). We show that the variability of diurnal temperature range is consistent with the variability of Rs at timescales from monthly to decadal. This paper uses long comprehensive datasets for diurnal temperature range to establish what has been the contribution of Rs to decadal temperature variability. It shows that Rs over land globally peaked in the 1930s, substantially decreased from the 1940s to the 1970s, and changed little after that. Reduction of Rs caused a reduction of more than 0.2 °C in mean temperature during May to October from the 1940s through the 1970s, and a reduction of nearly 0.2 °C in mean air temperature during November to April from the 1960s through the 1970s. This cooling accounts in part for the near-constant temperature from the 1930s into the 1970s. Since then, neither the rapid increase in temperature from the 1970s through the 1990s nor the slowdown of warming in the early twenty-first century appear to be significantly related to changes of Rs.

----------------------

Revisiting the weather effect on energy consumption: Implications for the impact of climate change

Robert Kaufmann et al.
Energy Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
We revisit statistical estimates for the relation between weather and energy consumption in Massachusetts using times series for heating degree hours that are calculated from hourly data with different set points and set backs. Using hourly values to calculate heating degree hours supports models that generate more accurate out-of-sample forecasts than models estimated from time series for heating degree-days calculated the traditional way. Furthermore, the set point and set back used to calculate heating degree hours generates statistically measurable differences in the accuracy of out-of-sample forecasts. These results indicate that assuming a set point of 65 °F biases statistical estimates for the effect of a warming climate on energy use. We also quantify a new mechanism by which climate change will affect energy use — the temperature of tap water. As climate warms, the temperature of tap water that supplies hot water tanks rises, which reduces the amount of energy consumed to provide hot water. Finally, we use the statistical models to generate a spatial (1 km×1 km) and temporal (hourly) downscaling of carbon emissions that will be used to simulate a model for atmospheric transport and validate our understanding of the sources and sinks of carbon for the urban atmosphere.

----------------------

Observed changes in the albedo of the Arctic sea-ice zone for the period 1982–2009

Aku Riihelä, Terhikki Manninen & Vesa Laine
Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
The surface albedo of the Arctic sea-ice zone is a crucial component in the energy budget of the Arctic region. The treatment of sea-ice albedo has been identified as an important source of variability in the future sea-ice mass loss forecasts in coupled climate models. There is a clear need to establish data sets of Arctic sea-ice albedo to study the changes based on observational data and to aid future modelling efforts. Here we present an analysis of observed changes in the mean albedo of the Arctic sea-ice zone using a data set consisting of 28 years of homogenized satellite data. Along with the albedo reduction resulting from the well-known loss of late-summer sea-ice cover, we show that the mean albedo of the remaining Arctic sea-ice zone is decreasing. The change per decade in the mean August sea-ice zone albedo is −0.029±0.011. All albedo trends, except for the sea-ice zone in May, are significant with a 99% confidence interval. Variations in mean sea-ice albedo can be explained using sea-ice concentration, surface air temperature and elapsed time from onset of melt as drivers.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


Previous   22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  34  35  36  37  38  39  40  41  42   Next


RSS Subscribe to this feed