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Friday, September 19, 2014

Backwards to the future

World population stabilization unlikely this century

Patrick Gerland et al.
Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The United Nations recently released population projections based on data until 2012 and a Bayesian probabilistic methodology. Analysis of these data reveals that, contrary to previous literature, world population is unlikely to stop growing this century. There is an 80% probability that world population, now 7.2 billion, will increase to between 9.6 and 12.3 billion in 2100. This uncertainty is much smaller than the range from the traditional UN high and low variants. Much of the increase is expected to happen in Africa, in part due to higher fertility and a recent slowdown in the pace of fertility decline. Also, the ratio of working age people to older people is likely to decline substantially in all countries, even those that currently have young populations.

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The Long-Term Direct and External Effects of Jewish Expulsions in Nazi Germany

Mevlude Akbulut-Yuksel & Mutlu Yuksel
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the long-term direct and spillover effects of large-scale human capital loss caused by the persecution of Jewish professionals in Nazi Germany. Using region-by-cohort variation in the Jewish population as a quasi-experiment, we find that on average German children who were of school age during the persecutions have fewer years of schooling in adulthood, and are less likely to finish high school or go to college. These results are robust after controlling for regional unemployment and income, wartime destruction, Nazi and Communist Party support, the compulsory schooling reform, migration, urbanization and mortality.

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Win-win: Female and male athletes from more gender equal nations perform better in international sports competitions

Jennifer Berdahl, Eric Luis Uhlmann & Feng Bai
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, January 2015, Pages 1–3

Abstract:
The present study provides the first evidence that increased gender equality in a society releases the human potential not only of women, but also of men. Our research setting is the Olympic Games, the world's foremost sports competition and one of the few contexts in which men's and women's performance is fully segregated by gender and objectively measured at the highest levels. We find that even after controlling for potential third variables (i.e., national gross domestic product, population size, geographic latitude, and income inequality), higher levels of gender equality in a country predict significantly greater success at winning Olympic medals for both its female and male athletes. These findings contradict the common belief that access to opportunities is a zero-sum game in which gains for women inevitably result in losses for men. Rather, gender equality is a "win-win" that allows members of both genders to realize their true potential.

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Social Capital and the Family: Evidence that Strong Family Ties Cultivate Civic Virtues

Martin Ljunge
Economica, forthcoming

Abstract:
I establish a positive relationship between family ties and civic virtues, as captured by disapproval of tax and benefit cheating, corruption and a range of other dimensions of exploiting others for personal gain. I find that family ties are a complement to social capital, using within-country evidence from 83 nations and data on second-generation immigrants in 29 countries. Strong families cultivate Universalist values and produce more civic and altruistic individuals. The results provide a constructive role for families in promoting family values, which challenge an ‘amoral familism’. Moreover, strong families are complementary with more developed and democratic institutions.

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Precocious Albion: A New Interpretation of the British Industrial Revolution

Morgan Kelly, Joel Mokyr & Cormac Ó Gráda
Annual Review of Economics, 2014, Pages 363-389

Abstract:
Many explanations have been offered for the British Industrial Revolution. This article points to the importance of human capital (broadly defined) and the quality of the British labor force on the eve of the Industrial Revolution. It shows that in terms of both physical quality and mechanical skills, British workers around 1750 were at a much higher level than their continental counterparts. As a result, new inventions — no matter where they originated — were adopted earlier, faster, and on a larger scale in Britain than elsewhere. The gap in labor quality is consistent with the higher wages paid in eighteenth-century Britain. The causes for the higher labor quality are explored and found to be associated with a higher level of nutrition and better institutions, especially England’s Poor Law and the superior functioning of its apprenticeship system.

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Do Poverty Traps Exist? Assessing the Evidence

Aart Kraay & David McKenzie
Journal of Economic Perspectives, Summer 2014, Pages 127-148

Abstract:
A "poverty trap" can be understood as a set of self-reinforcing mechanisms whereby countries start poor and remain poor: poverty begets poverty, so that current poverty is itself a direct cause of poverty in the future. The idea of a poverty trap has this striking implication for policy: much poverty is needless, in the sense that a different equilibrium is possible and one-time policy efforts to break the poverty trap may have lasting effects. But what does the modern evidence suggest about the extent to which poverty traps exist in practice and the underlying mechanisms that may be involved? The main mechanisms we examine include S-shaped savings functions at the country level; "big-push" theories of development based on coordination failures; hunger-based traps which rely on physical work capacity rising nonlinearly with food intake at low levels; and occupational poverty traps whereby poor individuals who start businesses that are too small will be trapped earning subsistence returns. We conclude that these types of poverty traps are rare and largely limited to remote or otherwise disadvantaged areas. We discuss behavioral poverty traps as a recent area of research, and geographic poverty traps as the most likely form of a trap. The resulting policy prescriptions are quite different from the calls for a big push in aid or an expansion of microfinance. The more-likely poverty traps call for action in less-traditional policy areas such as promoting more migration.

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Africa is on time

Maxim Pinkovskiy & Xavier Sala-i-Martin
Journal of Economic Growth, September 2014, Pages 311-338

Abstract:
We present evidence that the recent African growth renaissance has reached Africa’s poor. Using survey data on African income distributions and national accounts GDP, we estimate income distributions, poverty rates, and inequality indices for African countries for the period 1990–2011. We show that: (1) African poverty is falling rapidly; (2) the African countries for which good inequality data exists are set to reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) poverty target on time. The entire continent except for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will reach the MDG in 2014, one year in advance, and adding the DRC will delay the MDG until 2018; (3) the growth spurt that began in 1995, if anything, decreased African income inequality instead of increasing it; (4) African poverty reduction is remarkably general: it cannot be explained by a large country, or even by a single set of countries possessing some beneficial geographical or historical characteristic. All classes of countries, including those with disadvantageous geography and history, experience reductions in poverty. In particular, poverty fell for both landlocked as well as coastal countries; for mineral-rich as well as mineral-poor countries; for countries with favorable or with unfavorable agriculture; for countries regardless of colonial origin; and for countries with below- or above-median slave exports per capita during the African slave trade.

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Do Markets Reward Constitutional Reform? Lessons from America’s State Debt Crisis

Brian Beach
University of Pittsburgh Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
America’s 1840s state debt crisis presents a unique opportunity to identify whether institutional constraints lower borrowing costs. After nine states defaulted, sixteen states adopted constitutional provisions promoting credibility. Only states that defaulted during the crisis were rewarded with lower borrowing costs and increased access to credit following reform. This cannot be explained by underlying trends or differences in the content of the reforms. Non-defaulting states, which had established commitment by avoiding default, were not rewarded because reform did not convey new information. These results indicate that sovereigns with tarnished reputations can benefit from adopting constitutional constraints to convey commitment.

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Deal with the Devil: The Successes and Limitations of Bureaucratic Reform in India

Iqbal Dhaliwal & Rema Hanna
NBER Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
Employing a technological solution to monitor the attendance of public-sector health care workers in India resulted in a 15 percent increase in the attendance of the medical staff. Health outcomes improved, with a 16 percent increase in the delivery of infants by a doctor and a 26 percent reduction in the likelihood of infants born under 2500 grams. However, women in treatment areas substituted away from the newly monitored health centers towards delivery in the (unmonitored) larger public hospitals and private hospitals. Several explanations may help explain this shift: better triage by the more present health care staff; increased patients’ perception of absenteeism in the treatment health centers; and the ability of staff in treatment areas to gain additional rents by moving women to their private practices and by siphoning off the state-sponsored entitlements that women would normally receive at the health center at the time of delivery. Despite initiating the reform on their own, there was a low demand among all levels of government — state officials, local level bureaucrats, and locally-elected bodies — to use the better quality attendance data to enforce the government’s human resource policies due to a fear of generating discord among the staff. These fears were not entirely unfounded: staff at the treatment health centers expressed greater dissatisfaction at their jobs and it was also harder to hire new nurses, lab technicians and pharmacists at the treatment health centers after the intervention. Thus, this illustrates the implicit deal that governments make on non-monetary dimensions — truancy, allowance of private practices — to retain staff at rural outposts in the face of limited budgets and staff shortages.

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The Effect of the TseTse Fly on African Development

Marcella Alsan
American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
The TseTse fly is unique to Africa and transmits a parasite harmful to humans and lethal to livestock. This paper tests the hypothesis that the TseTse reduced the ability of Africans to generate an agricultural surplus historically. Ethnic groups inhabiting TseTse-suitable areas were less likely to use domesticated animals and the plow, less likely to be politically centralized and had a lower population density. These correlations are not found in the Tropics outside of Africa, where the fly does not exist. The evidence suggests current economic performance is affected by the TseTse through the channel of precolonial political centralization.

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Governance, corruption and Olympic success

Todd Potts
Applied Economics, Fall 2014, Pages 3882-3891

Abstract:
This article is the first to utilize a set of World Governance Indicators published by the World Bank to examine what role, if any, various characteristics of governance played in promoting success in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Although no strong statistical linear relationship is found between any of the governance indicators and Olympic success, it is shown that nations belonging to roughly the top quintile in control of corruption had a lower probability of medalling and received lower medal shares, ceteris paribus. A possible explanation for this reduced success is revealed in that scoring in the top quintile of control of corruption is also associated with fewer anti-doping violations, which may indicate lower rates of performance-enhancing drug use.

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Constitutional Rights and Education: An International Comparative Study

Sebastian Edwards & Alvaro Garcia Marin
NBER Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
We investigate whether the inclusion of social rights in political constitutions affects social performance. More specifically, we analyze whether including the right to education in the constitution has been related to better “educational outcomes.” We rely on data for 61 countries that participated in the 2012 PISA tests. Our results are strong and robust to the estimation technique: we find that there is no evidence that including the right to education in the constitution has been associated with higher test scores. The quality of education depends on socioeconomic, structural, and policy variables, such as expenditure per student, the teacher-pupil ratio, and families’ background. When these covariates are excluded, the relation between the strength of constitutional educational rights and the quality of education is negative and statistically significant. These results are important for emerging countries that are discussing the adoption of new constitutions, such as Thailand and Chile.

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Learning Dynamics and Support for Economic Reforms: Why Good News Can Be Bad

Sweder van Wijnbergen & Tim Willems
World Bank Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Support for economic reforms has often shown puzzling dynamics: many reforms that began successfully lost public support. We show that learning dynamics can rationalize this paradox because the process of revealing reform outcomes is an example of sampling without replacement. We show that this concept challenges the conventional wisdom that one should begin by revealing reform winners. It may also lead to situations in which reforms that enjoy both ex ante and ex post majority support will still not come to completion. We use our framework to explain why gradual reforms worked well in China (where successes in Special Economic Zones facilitated further reform), whereas this was much less the case for Latin American and Central and Eastern European countries.

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Civil liberty and economic growth in the world: A long-run perspective, 1850–2010

Javier Alfonso-Gil, Maricruz Lacalle-Calderón & Rocío Sánchez-Mangas
Journal of Institutional Economics, September 2014, Pages 427-449

Abstract:
The objective of this paper is to study the relationship between economic growth and civil liberty across the globe in the long run. To fulfill this aim, we use an unbalanced panel of 149 countries for the period 1850–2010 with data on gross domestic product (GDP) from Maddison, and data on civil liberties from Polity IV. The dynamics of both variables are investigated. Once country and time effects are accounted for in a dynamic panel data model, our results show that movements toward higher levels of civil liberty are associated with higher economic growth rates. Therefore, we find that civil liberties are a relevant factor to explain economic growth. We perform some sensitivity tests that confirm the robustness of our results.

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Temporary Shocks and Persistent Effects in the Urban System: Evidence from British Cities after the U.S. Civil War

Walker Hanlon
NBER Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
Urban economies are often heavily reliant on a small number of dominant industries, leaving them vulnerable to negative industry-specific shocks. This paper analyzes the long-run impacts of one such event: the large, temporary, and industry-specific shock to the British cotton textile industry caused by the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865), which dramatically reduced supplies of raw cotton. Because the British cotton textile industry was heavily concentrated in towns in Northwest England, I compare patterns in these cotton towns to other English cities. I find that the shock had a persistent negative effect on the level of city population lasting at least 35 years with no sign of diminishing. Decomposing the effect by industry, I show that the shock to cotton textiles was transmitted to other local firms, leading to increased bankruptcies and long-run reductions in employment. This transmission occurred primarily through the link to capital suppliers, such as machinery and metal-goods producers. Roughly half of the reduction in city-level employment growth was due to the impact on industries other than cotton textiles.

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Geography is not destiny: Geography, institutions and literacy in England, 1837–63

Gregory Clark & Rowena Gray
Oxford Economic Papers, October 2014, Pages 1042-1069

Abstract:
Geography made rural society in the southeast of England unequal. Economies of scale in grain growing created a farmer elite and many landless labourers. In the pastoral northwest, in contrast, family farms dominated, with few hired labourers and modest income disparities. Did this geography driven difference in social structure influence educational outcomes in England 1810–45? Using new micro-level data we show that this geographically driven inequality is not a strong predictor of regional literacy rates. We conclude that regional literacy differences seem to have been influenced more by culture. In particular, areas in northern England with more exposure to the highly literate Scottish society seem to have acquired a higher demand for education, independent of local inequality. Geography is not destiny.

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Foreign Aid, Institutional Quality, and Growth

Andrew Young & Kathleen Sheehan
European Journal of Political Economy, December 2014, Pages 195–208

Abstract:
Using a panel of up to 116 countries from 1970-2010 we estimate the effects of foreign aid flows on a variety of measures of institutional quality. We find that aid flows are associated with the deterioration of both political and economic institutions. Regarding the latter, aid flows are associated with deterioration in a recipient’s legal system and property rights, as well as its openness to international trade. Controlling for both political and economic institutions in growth regressions, the latter is robustly, positively associated with growth. After controlling for institutional quality, aid flows are not otherwise significantly related to growth.

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Political Booms, Financial Crises

Helios Herrera, Guillermo Ordoñez & Christoph Trebesch
NBER Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
We show that political booms, measured by the rise in governments' popularity, predict financial crises above and beyond other better-known early warning indicators, such as credit booms. This predictive power, however, only holds in emerging economies. We show that governments in emerging economies are more concerned about their reputation and tend to ride the short-term popularity benefits of weak credit booms rather than implementing politically costly corrective policies that would help prevent potential crises. We provide evidence of the relevance of this reputation mechanism.

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Bribe Payments and Innovation in Developing Countries: Are Innovating Firms Disproportionately Affected?

Meghana Ayyagari, Asli Demirgüç-Kunt & Vojislav Maksimovic
Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, February 2014, Pages 51-75

Abstract:
Innovating firms pay more bribes than noninnovators across 25,000 firms in 57 countries. The difference is larger in countries with more bureaucratic regulation and weaker governance. Innovators that pay bribes do not receive better services and do not have greater propensity to engage in other illegal activities such as tax evasion. Thus, innovators are more likely to be victims of corruption than perpetrators. Our findings point to the challenges facing entrepreneurs in developing countries and are consistent with the view that rent seeking by government officials unlike private criminal activity is more likely to target innovators.

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Democratic Institutions and Regulatory Reforms

Mohammad Amin & Simeon Djankov
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use a sample of 144 countries over the period 2003-2013 to investigate the link between democratic institutions and regulatory reforms. Democracy may be conducive to reform, as politicians embrace growth-enhancing reforms to win elections. On the other hand, authoritarian regimes may not worry as much about public opinion and could undertake reforms that are painful in the short run but bring long-term benefits. We test these alternative hypotheses, using data on regulatory reforms from the World Bank’s Doing Business database. The results provide mixed support for the hypothesis that democracy is good for regulatory reforms. We also show that regulatory reforms are more likely just after parliamentary elections in poor and middle-income countries.

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(Measured) Profit is Not Welfare: Evidence from an Experiment on Bundling Microcredit and Insurance

Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo & Richard Hornbeck
NBER Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
We analyze a randomized trial in which microfinance loans were bundled with an unpopular (but cheap) health insurance policy. In randomly assigned treatment villages, purchase of the insurance policy was made mandatory at the time of loan renewal. This requirement led to a 22 percentage point (or 31%) decline in loan renewal in treatment villages, compared to control villages where the insurance policy was not introduced. The insurance policy itself turned out to be useless, partly due to administrative failures in implementation. Therefore, non-renewing clients' valuation of microfinance is approximated by the modest fee to purchase the insurance; in the presence of any expected gains, the fee represents an upper bound. Comparing client businesses in treatment and control villages, however, the decline in loan renewal had negative impacts that were both economically substantial and statistically significant. Clients' decision to incur these losses, rather than pay the modest insurance premium, implies the substantial financial gains from microfinance are mostly dissipated by unmeasured costs of operating the small businesses. This result potentially reconciles the seemingly large returns to capital for microenterprises with the lack of growth and frequent business closure.

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(In)equality in Education and Economic Development

Petra Sauer & Martin Zagler
Review of Income and Wealth, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates the relationship between the level and the distribution of education and economic development. We contribute to the literature by introducing an interaction term between the education Gini coefficient and average years of schooling. In a dynamic panel over 55 years and 134 countries we provide, on the one hand, strong evidence that more schooling is good for growth, but the coefficient is variable and substantially declining in the degree of inequality. The aggregate benefit to education thus depends on a country's position in the education distribution. On the other hand, we find a slight transitional increase in education inequality to be beneficial at a very low average level of schooling, but detrimental for growth at a relatively high average level. Allowing for the macroeconomic return to education to be heterogeneous with respect to the degree of inequality is therefore paramount in understanding the relationship between education and development.

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Progress on Global Health Goals: Are the Poor Being Left Behind?

Adam Wagstaff, Caryn Bredenkamp & Leander Buisman
World Bank Research Observer, August 2014, Pages 137-162

Abstract:
We examine differential progress on health Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) between the poor and the better off within countries. Our findings are based on an original analysis of 235 DHS and MICS surveys spanning 64 developing countries over the 1990–2011 period. We track five health status indicators and seven intervention indicators from all four health MDGs. In approximately three-quarters of countries, the poorest 40 percent have made faster progress than the richest 60 percent on MDG intervention indicators. On average, relative inequality in these indicators has been falling. However, in terms of MDG outcome indicators, in nearly half of the countries, relative inequality has been growing. Moreover, in approximately one-quarter of the countries, the poorest 40 percent have been slipping backwards in absolute terms on both MDG interventions and outcomes. Despite reductions in most countries, relative inequalities in MDG health indicators are still appreciable, with the poor facing higher risks of malnutrition and death in childhood and lower odds of receiving key health interventions.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Baby gap

The Biocultural Origins of Human Capital Formation

Oded Galor & Marc Klemp
NBER Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
This research explores the biocultural origins of human capital formation. It presents the first evidence that moderate fecundity and thus predisposition towards investment in child quality was conducive for long-run reproductive success within the human species. Using an extensive genealogical record for nearly half a million individuals in Quebec from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, the study explores the effect of fecundity on the number of descendants of early inhabitants in the subsequent four generations. The research exploits variation in the random component of the time interval between the date of first marriage and the first birth to establish that while higher fecundity is associated with a larger number of children, an intermediate level maximizes long-run reproductive success. Moreover, the observed hump-shaped effect of fecundity on long-run reproductive success reflects the negative effect of higher fecundity on the quality of each child. The finding further indicates that the optimal level of fecundity was below the population median, lending credence to the hypothesis that during the Malthusian epoch, the forces of natural selection favored individuals with lower fecundity and thus larger predisposition towards child quality, contributing to human capital formation, the onset of the demographic transition and the evolution of societies from an epoch of stagnation to sustained economic growth.

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The Clock Is Ticking

Justin Moss & Jon Maner
Human Nature, September 2014, Pages 328-341

Abstract:
The “biological clock” serves as a powerful metaphor that reflects the constraints posed by female reproductive biology. The biological clock refers to the progression of time from puberty to menopause, marking the period during which women can conceive children. Findings from two experiments suggest that priming the passage of time through the sound of a ticking clock influenced various aspects of women’s (but not men’s) reproductive timing. Moreover, consistent with recent research from the domain of life history theory, those effects depended on women’s childhood socioeconomic status (SES). The subtle sound of a ticking clock led low (but not high) SES women to reduce the age at which they sought to get married and have their first child (Study 1), as well as the priority they placed on the social status and long-term earning potential of potential romantic partners (Study 2). Findings suggest that early developmental sensitization processes can interact with subtle environmental stimuli to affect reproductive timing during adulthood.

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A further note on the rises in sex ratio at birth during and just after the two World Wars

William James & John Valentine
Journal of Theoretical Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
It is well established that in most belligerent countries in World Wars 1 and 2, sex ratios (proportions male at birth) rose during and just after hostilities: then, a year or so later, they declined to normal levels. There is no established explanation for these phenomena. I have previously written on this problem. Here, I elaborate on my previous papers in three ways. First, further evidence (some analytic and some synthetic) is adduced to support the hypothesis that the rises were caused by high parental coital rates. Second, further evidence is adduced to suggest that these high coital rates occurred disproportionately often in couples of whom the man was (or had been) in the armed services. Thirdly, evidence is offered to suggest why such rises in sex ratio were not reported in other conflicts.

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The Relationship Between “Teen Mom” Reality Programming and Teenagers’ Beliefs about Teen Parenthood

Nicole Martins & Robin Jensen
Mass Communication and Society, forthcoming

Abstract:
A survey was conducted in United States high school students (M = 16.57 years of age) from the Midwest to examine whether exposure to “teen mom” reality programming (e.g., 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom) was related to teens’ perceptions of teen parenthood. Contrary to our hypotheses, analyses revealed that exposure to teen mom reality programming was related to an increased tendency to believe that teen mothers have an enviable quality of life, a high income, and involved fathers. Teens who perceived reality television as realistic were most likely to hold these perceptions. The findings are discussed in terms of cultivation theory.

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Fertility and Financial Development: Evidence from U.S. Counties in the 19th Century

Alberto Basso, Howard Bodenhorn & David Cuberes
NBER Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
The old-age security hypothesis establishes that one important reason why parents have a large offspring is to ensure that they will receive financial support from them in old age. In this paper we use data on fertility and financial development in 19th century U.S. to indirectly test this theory. In particular, we explore whether more developed local financial markets reduce the incentives for families to have a large offspring. After controlling for several factors likely to create cross-county variation in fertility levels and for potential spatial correlation, we find that the presence of a bank and the degree of financial development in a given county are strongly associated with lower children-to-women ratios. We find compelling evidence for the old-age security hypothesis.

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Intergenerational Transmission of Age at First Birth in the United States: Evidence from Multiple Surveys

Keuntae Kim
Population Research and Policy Review, October 2014, Pages 649-671

Abstract:
It is well established that the timing of childbearing is transmitted from parents to children in the United States. However, little is known about how the intergenerational link has changed over time and under structural and ideological transformations associated with fertility behaviors. This study first considers changes across two birth cohorts from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) in the extent to which parents’ age at first birth is transmitted to their children. The first cohort includes individuals born during the late 1950s through the early 1960s (NLSY79), while the second includes individuals born in the early 1980s (NLSY97). Results from discrete-time event history analyses indicate that the intergenerational transmission of age at first birth significantly increased for both daughters and sons. These results were confirmed by analyses of data from three cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth spanning the same time period. Over this period, age at first childbirth became increasingly younger for children born to teenage mothers and increasingly older for those born to mothers who began parenthood after age 25. These patterns have important implications for the reproductive polarization hypothesis.

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The Value of Postponing Pregnancy: California’s Paid Family Leave and the Timing of Pregnancies

Shirlee Lichtman-Sadot
B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Conditioning a monetary benefit on individuals’ family status can create distortions, even in individuals’ seemingly personal decisions, such as the birth of a child. Birth timing and its response to various policies has been studied by economists in several papers. However, pregnancy timing – i.e. the timing of conception – and its response to policy announcements has not been examined. This paper makes use of a 21-month lag between announcing California’s introduction of the first paid parental leave program in the United States and its scheduled implementation to evaluate whether women timed their pregnancies in order to be eligible for the expected benefit. Using natality data, documenting all births in the United States, a difference-in-differences approach compares California births to births in states outside of California before the program’s introduction and in 2004, the year California introduced paid parental leave. The results show that the distribution of California births in 2004 significantly shifted from the first half of the year to the second half of the year, immediately after the program’s implementation. While the effect is present for all population segments of new mothers, it is largest for disadvantaged mothers – with lower education levels, of Hispanic origin, younger, and not married. These results shed light on the population segments most affected by the introduction of paid parental leave and on the equitable nature of paid parental leave policies.

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Denial of Abortion Because of Provider Gestational Age Limits in the United States

Ushma Upadhyay et al.
American Journal of Public Health, September 2014, Pages 1687-1694

Objectives: We examined the factors influencing delay in seeking abortion and the outcomes for women denied abortion care because of gestational age limits at abortion facilities.

Methods: We compared women who presented for abortion care who were under the facilities’ gestational age limits and received an abortion (n = 452) with those who were just over the gestational age limits and were denied an abortion (n = 231) at 30 US facilities. We described reasons for delay in seeking services. We examined the determinants of obtaining an abortion elsewhere after being denied one because of facility gestational age limits. We then estimated the national incidence of being denied an abortion because of facility gestational age limits.

Results: Adolescents and women who did not recognize their pregnancies early were most likely to delay seeking care. The most common reason for delay was having to raise money for travel and procedure costs. We estimated that each year more than 4000 US women are denied an abortion because of facility gestational limits and must carry unwanted pregnancies to term.

Conclusions: Many state laws restrict abortions based on gestational age, and new laws are lowering limits further. The incidence of being denied abortion will likely increase, disproportionately affecting young and poor women.

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Association between increased availability of emergency contraceptive pills and the sexual and contraceptive behaviors of women

Danielle Atkins
Journal of Public Health Policy, August 2014, Pages 292–310

Abstract:
In the United States (US), access to emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) expanded to nationwide in 2006 when regulators allowed Plan B, a brand of emergency contraception, to be sold without prescription. Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2001 to 2010, I examined any association between increased access to these ECPs in the US and negative consequences. I found an association between increased access to ECPs and a 2.2 per cent higher probability of any sexual activity, a 5.2 per cent increase in the likelihood of reporting sex with multiple partners, an increase in the average number of partners by 0.35, and a −7.6 per cent decrease in the likelihood of injectable contraceptive use. These results suggest that policies in the US and other countries that expand access to ECPs should be paired with information on ECPs’ lack of protection against sexually transmitted infections and relatively lower efficacy compared to other forms of contraception.

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A Critical Reexamination of the Effect of Antiabortion Legislation in the Post-Casey Era

Marshall Medoff & Christopher Dennis
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, September 2014, Pages 207-227

Abstract:
Michael J. New, in a recent article in this journal, argues that a major reason for the decline in the incidence of abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1992 Casey decision was the increased number of antiabortion laws — parental involvement laws and informed consent laws — enacted at the state level. However, New’s analysis contained critical data, measurement, methodological and estimation errors. This article details all the errors and then reexamines the effect of restrictive state abortion laws on the incidence of abortion over the period 1985–2005. The empirical results find little evidence that the decline in the number of abortions performed since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1992 Casey decision was due to the increase in the number of informed consent and parental involvement laws enacted.

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“We're Very Careful …”: The Fertility Desires and Contraceptive Behaviors of Cohabiting Couples

Sharon Sassler & Amanda Miller
Family Relations, October 2014, Pages 538–553

Abstract:
A growing proportion of nonmarital births are to cohabiting couples, though childbearing is more common among moderately educated cohabitors than among cohabiting college graduates. In this study reasons for social class divergence in fertility behavior are explored. Data are from semistructured interviews with 30 working-class and 31 middle-class cohabiting couples. The authors inquired about readiness for parenthood, contraceptive usage, and concurrence about childbearing plans and contraception. Middle-class couples generally utilized the most effective methods, often relied on two methods, concurred regarding fertility goals, and reported contracepting consistently. Among the moderately educated, contraceptive utilization was lower and reliance on less effective methods greater; they expressed greater ambivalence about preventing conception and discussed contraception less than their middle-class counterparts. Less educated respondents also mentioned forgetfulness and cost as reasons for sporadic contraceptive use. The study results highlight the need to deepen understanding of how relational processes and couple dynamics contribute to pregnancy avoidance or conception.

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Racial and Sexual Minority Women’s Receipt of Medical Assistance to Become Pregnant

Bernadette Blanchfield & Charlotte Patterson
Health Psychology, forthcoming

Objective: This study aimed to determine rates at which racial minority (i.e., non-White) and sexual minority (i.e., lesbian and bisexual-identified) women in the United States receive medical help to become pregnant. Income and insurance coverage discrepancies were hypothesized to mediate differences in receipt of medical help as a function of race and sexual orientation.

Method: Two studies compared rates at which adult women ages 21–44 reported receiving medical help to become pregnant as a function of race and sexual orientation, using data from 2 cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth (the 2002 wave in Study 1, and the 2006–2010 wave in Study 2). Mediation analyses controlling for age and education level evaluated whether race and sexual orientation were positively associated with receipt of medical pregnancy help, as mediated by insurance coverage and income.

Results: Heterosexual White women reported receiving medical fertility assistance at nearly double the rates of women who identified as non-White, sexual minority, or both. Differences in rates of help received by White and non-White groups were only partially mediated by insurance coverage and income in both studies. Insurance and income discrepancies accounted for all differences between sexual minority and heterosexual women’s receipt of pregnancy help in Study 1; insurance coverage alone explained differences in Study 2.

Conclusions: Researchers often indicate that economic differences are responsible for health disparities between minority and majority groups, but this may not be the case for all women pursuing medical fertility assistance. Possible origins of these disparities are discussed.

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The Effects of Mortality on Fertility: Population Dynamics after a Natural Disaster

Jenna Nobles, Elizabeth Frankenberg & Duncan Thomas
NBER Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
Understanding how mortality and fertility are linked is essential to the study of population dynamics. We investigate the fertility response to an unanticipated mortality shock that resulted from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed large shares of the residents of some Indonesian communities but caused no deaths in neighboring communities. Using population-representative multilevel longitudinal data, we identify a behavioral fertility response to mortality exposure, both at the level of a couple and in the broader community. We observe a sustained fertility increase at the aggregate level following the tsunami, which is driven by two behavioral responses to mortality exposure. First, mothers who lost one or more children in the disaster are significantly more likely to bear additional children after the tsunami. This response explains about 13 percent of the aggregate increase in fertility. Second, women without children before the tsunami initiated family-building earlier in communities where tsunami-related mortality rates were higher, indicating that the fertility of these women is an important route to rebuilding the population in the aftermath of a mortality shock. Such community-level effects have received little attention in demographic scholarship.

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Spatial Analysis of the Causes of Fertility Decline in Prussia

Joshua Goldstein & Sebastian Klüsener
Population and Development Review, September 2014, Pages 497–525

Abstract:
This article contributes to the geographic analysis of fertility decline in the demographic transition in Europe. We reanalyze Galloway, Hammel, and Lee's (1994) Prussian data with spatial analysis methods. Our multivariate analysis provides evidence of the predictive effect of both economic and cultural variables. Furthermore, even after all of the observable economic, social, and cultural variables have been controlled for, our findings show that a significant unexplained geographic clustering of fertility decline remains. We then specify spatial econometric models, which show that in addition to economic and cultural factors, socio-geographic factors such as being adjacent to areas of sharp fertility decline are also needed to understand the pattern of fertility decline. These results provide new support for the role of social diffusion in the process, while allowing for the direct structural effects of economic change.

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Strategically Timed Preventative Education And Media Strategies Reduce Seasonal Trends In Adolescent Conception

A. Gauster, A. Waddington & M.A. Jamieson
Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, forthcoming

Study Objective: This study sought to analyze the effect of strategically timed local preventative education on reducing teen conception rates during known seasonal peaks in March and April.

Interventions: During the month of February 2012, preventative education and media awareness strategies were aimed at parents, teachers, and teens.

Results: Conception rates in teens ≤18 years old were significantly reduced in March and April 2012 compared to March and April 2010 and 2011 (RR = 0.53, 95% CI = 0.32 - 0.88, p-value = 0.0132). There was an increase in conceptions in March and April 2012 compared to 2010 and 2011 among 19 year olds (RR = 1.57, 95% CI = 0.84-2.9, p-value = 0.1500). Effect modification revealed our ≤ 18 year old group and our 19 year old group were distinct groups with different risk estimates (p = 0.0075).

Conclusions: Educational sessions were poorly attended and contraception clinic volume was static. We propose increased parental supervision in response to media reminders as a possible explanation for the reduction in adolescent conceptions (≤18 years old) seen in March 2012.

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Beyond Political Claims: Women's Interest In and Emotional Response to Viewing Their Ultrasound Image in Abortion Care

Katrina Kimport, Tracy Weitz & Diana Greene Foster
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, forthcoming

Context: In the United States, abortion opponents have supported legislation requiring that abortion patients be offered the opportunity to view their preprocedure ultrasound. Little research has examined women's interest in and emotional response to such viewing.

Methods: Data from 702 women who received abortions at 30 facilities throughout the United States between 2008 and 2010 were analyzed. Mixed-effects multinomial logistic regression analysis was used to determine which characteristics were associated with being offered and choosing to view ultrasounds, and with reporting positive or negative emotional responses to viewing. Grounded theory analytic techniques were used to qualitatively describe women's reports of their emotional responses.

Results: Forty-eight percent of participants were offered the opportunity to view their ultrasound, and nulliparous women were more likely than others to receive an offer (odds ratio, 2.3). Sixty-five percent of these women (31% overall) chose to view the image; nulliparous women and those living in a state that regulates viewing were more likely than their counterparts to do so (1.7 and 2.5, respectively). Some 213 women reported emotional responses to viewing; neutral emotions (fine, nothing) were the most commonly reported ones, followed by negative emotions (sad, guilty, upset) and then positive emotions (happy, excited). Women who visited clinics with a policy of offering viewing had increased odds of reporting a negative emotion (2.6).

Conclusions: Ultrasound viewing appears not to have a singular emotional effect. The presence of state regulation and facility policies matters for women's interest in and responses to viewing.

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Posthumous gamete retrieval and reproduction: Would the deceased spouse consent?

Jason Hans
Social Science & Medicine, October 2014, Pages 10–17

Abstract:
Policy and medical decision-making has been hindered by the absence of reliable data on attitudes toward having one's own gametes retrieved posthumously and used to produce a child in the event of an untimely death. The purpose of this study is to directly and empirically examine whether the presumption against consent is justified in the case of posthumous gamete retrieval following sudden death. Respondents (N = 2064) were contacted using a random-digit dialing method that gave every household telephone in the continental United States an equal probability of being contacted, and were asked: “Suppose you were to experience an early death and your spouse wanted to have a biological child with you. Would you or would you not want your spouse to be able to use your sperm/eggs following your death to have a child with you?” Among reproductive age respondents (18–44 years), 70% of males and 58% of females wanted their spouse to be able to use their gametes and, for the most part, attitudes were fairly consistent across demographic characteristics. Religiosity was the best predictor of attitudes — those who described themselves as more religious were less likely to desire posthumous gamete retrieval — but the majority (58%) of respondents who were very religious approved of retrieval. Overall, these data indicate that abandoning the prevailing presumption against consent in favor of a presumption of consent on the part of the deceased will result in the deceased's wishes being honored two and three times more often for females and males, respectively. Three main arguments against a presumption of consent in this context are discussed: autonomy of the deceased, conflict of interest, and the decision-making capacity of a grieving spouse.

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Race, Ethnicity, and the Changing Context of Childbearing in the United States

Megan Sweeney & Kelly Raley
Annual Review of Sociology, 2014, Pages 539-558

Abstract:
In what ways do childbearing patterns in the contemporary United States vary for white, black, and Hispanic women? Why do these differences exist? Although completed family size is currently similar for white and black women, and only modestly larger for Hispanic women, we highlight persistent differences across groups with respect to the timing of childbearing, the relationship context of childbearing, and the extent to which births are intended. We next evaluate key explanations for these differences. Guided by a proximate determinants approach, we focus here on patterns of sexual activity, contraceptive use, and postconception outcomes such as abortion and changes in mothers' relationship status. We find contraceptive use to be a particularly important contributor to racial and ethnic differences in childbearing, yet reasons for varying contraception use itself remain insufficiently understood. We end by reflecting on promising directions for further research.

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Personality and long-term reproductive success measured by the number of grandchildren

Venla Berg et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Personality, that is, individual behavioral tendencies that are relatively stable across situations and time, has been associated with number of offspring in many animals, including humans, suggesting that some personality traits may be under natural selection. However, there are no data on whether these associations between personality and reproductive success extend over more than one generation to numbers of grandchildren. Using a large representative sample of contemporary Americans from the Health and Retirement Study (n = 10,688; mean age 67.7 years), we studied whether personality traits of the Five Factor Model were similarly associated with number of children and grandchildren, or whether antagonistic effects of personality on offspring number and quality lead to specific personality traits differently maximizing short and long-term fitness measures. Higher extraversion, lower conscientiousness, and lower openness to experience were similarly associated with both higher number of children and grandchildren in both sexes. In addition, higher agreeableness was associated with higher number of grand-offspring only. Our results did not indicate any quality–quantity trade-offs in the associations between personality and reproductive success. These findings represent the first robust evidence for any species that personality may affect reproductive success over several generations.

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Planning for Motherhood: Fertility Attitudes, Desires And Intentions Among Women with Disabilities

Carrie Shandra, Dennis Hogan & Susan Short
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, forthcoming

Context: An estimated 10% of U.S. women of reproductive age report a current disability; however, the relationship between disability, motherhood attitudes and fertility intentions among these women is largely unknown.

Methods: Data from the 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth were used to examine attitudes toward motherhood and fertility intentions among 10,782 U.S. women aged 15–44. A series of regression models assessed, separately for mothers and childless women, associations between disability status and women's attitudes and intentions.

Results: Women with and without disabilities held similar attitudes toward motherhood. Among women without children, women with and without disabilities were equally likely to want a child and equally likely to intend to have one. However, childless women with disabilities who wanted and intended to have a child were more likely to report uncertainty about those intentions than were childless women without disabilities (odds ratio, 1.7). Mothers with disabilities were more likely to want another child (1.5), but less likely to intend to have a child (0.5), than were mothers without disabilities.

Conclusions: Deepening understanding of the reproductive health desires, needs and challenges of women with disabilities is essential if the highest quality reproductive health services are to be provided for all.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

In charge

Institutional Corruption and Election Fraud: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan

Michael Callen & James Long
American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the relationship between political networks, weak institutions, and election fraud during the 2010 parliamentary election in Afghanistan combining: (i) data on political connections between candidates and election officials; (ii) a nationwide controlled evaluation of a novel monitoring technology; and (iii) direct measurements of aggregation fraud. We find considerable evidence of aggregation fraud in favor of connected candidates and that the announcement of a new monitoring technology reduced theft of election materials by about 60 percent and vote counts for connected candidates by about 25 percent. The results have implications for electoral competition and are potentially actionable for policymakers.

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Acquiring the Habit of Changing Governments Through Elections

Adam Przeworski
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Changing governments through elections is a rare and a recent practice. Yielding office the first time is foreboding because it entails the risk that the gesture would not be reciprocated, but the habit develops rapidly once the first step is taken. This article provides evidence for these assertions by examining about 3,000 elections in the world since 1788.

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Institutional Roots of Authoritarian Rule in the Middle East: Civic Legacies of the Islamic Waqf

Timur Kuran
Duke University Working Paper, June 2014

Abstract:
In the pre-modern Middle East the closest thing to an autonomous private organization was the Islamic waqf. This non-state institution inhibited political participation, collective action, and rule of law, among other indicators of democratization. It did so through several mechanisms. Its activities were essentially set by its founder, which limited its capacity to meet political challenges. Being designed to provide a service on its own, it could not participate in lasting political coalitions. The waqf's beneficiaries had no say in evaluating or selecting its officers, and they had trouble forming a political community. Thus, for all the resources it controlled, the Islamic waqf contributed minimally to building civil society. As a core element of Islam's classical institutional complex, it perpetuated authoritarian rule by keeping the state largely unrestrained. Therein lies a key reason for the slow pace of the Middle East's democratization process.

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Is Small Really Beautiful?: The Microstate Mistake

Jan Erk & Wouter Veenendaal
Journal of Democracy, July 2014, Pages 135-148

Abstract:
Over the past decade and a half, a number of political scientists have claimed that the world's microstates - meaning the dozen or so tiny countries with fewer than a hundred-thousand citizens each - are remarkably likely to be democracies. There is only one thing wrong with the story of the "microdemocratic miracle": It is not true. In fact, small states are not likely to be liberal democracies. The mistaken notion that they are can be traced to a simple flaw in methodology: All the studies purporting to uncover a link between small state size and democracy are based on Freedom House (FH) findings that overemphasize the more formal aspects of democracy while failing to capture the informal but real power relations and pathways of influence that are common in microstates and frequently lead to de facto deviations from democracy.

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Do Constitutional Rights Make a Difference?

Adam Chilton & Mila Versteeg
University of Chicago Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
Although the question of whether constitutional rights matter is of great theoretical and practical importance, we know little about whether any constitutional rights actually improve rights in practice. We test the effectiveness of six political rights. We hypothesize that "organizational" rights increase de facto rights protection, because they create organizations with the incentives and means to protect the underlying right. By contrast, individual rights are unlikely to make a difference. To test our theory, we use a recently developed identification strategy that mitigates selection bias by incorporating previously unobserved information on countries' preferences for constitutional rights into the research design. Specifically, we use data on constitutional rights adoption since 1946 to calculate countries' yearly constitutional ideal point, and then match on the probability that a country will protect a specific right in its constitution. Our results suggest that only organizational rights are associated with increased de facto rights protection.

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National versus Ethnic Identification in Africa: Modernization, Colonial Legacy, and the Origins of Territorial Nationalism

Amanda Lea Robinson
World Politics, October 2014, Pages 709-746

Abstract:
Communal conflicts, civil wars, and state collapse have led many to portray the notion of African nation-states as an oxymoron. Some scholars of African politics - often referred to as second-generation modernization theorists - have argued that strong ethnic attachments across the continent resulted from rapid economic and political modernization, the very forces credited with reducing parochial ties and consolidating European nations in classic modernization theory. Others have argued that national consolidation in Africa is particularly unlikely due to high degrees of ethnic diversity, colonial rule that exacerbated that diversity, and the partition of cultural groups. Despite the ubiquity of these arguments, there has been very little comparative empirical research on territorial nationalism in Africa. Using individual-level data from sixteen countries, combined with a novel compilation of ethnic group and state characteristics, the author evaluates the observable implications of these long-respected theoretical traditions within a multilevel framework. She finds that attachment to the nation, relative to one's ethnic group, increases with education, urbanization, and formal employment at the individual level, and with economic development at the state level - patterns more consistent with classic modernization theory than with second-generation modernization theory. Thus, if modernization in Africa does indeed intensify ethnic attachment, the impact is overwhelmed by the concurrent increase in panethnic territorial nationalism. Similarly, the results show that ethnic diversity and the partition of ethnic groups by "artificial" state borders increase, rather than decrease, the degree to which individuals identify nationally. Taken together, these results reject pessimistic expectations of African exceptionalism and instead suggest that the emergence of widespread national identification within African states is not only possible but even increasingly likely with greater economic development.

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What Do Voters in Ukraine Want? A Survey Experiment on Candidate, Language, Ethnicity and Policy Orientation

Timothy Frye
Columbia University Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
Language, ethnicity, and policy orientation toward Europe are key cleavages in Ukrainian politics, but there is much debate about their relative importance. To isolate the impact of candidate ethnicity, candidate native language, and candidate policy orientation on a hypothetical vote choice, I conducted a survey experiment of 1000 residents of Ukraine in June 2014 that manipulated three features of a fictional candidate running for parliament: 1) ethnicity as revealed by either a Russian or Ukrainian name 2) native language of Russian or Ukrainian and 3) support for closer economic ties with Russia or with Europe. The results reveal little difference in the average response to these 8 fictitious candidates despite the candidate's different ethnicities, native language, and economic policy orientations. This seeming homogeneity masks vast differences in the responses of self-reported native speakers of Russian and Ukrainian. Analyzing the responses among Ukrainian and among Russian speakers yields considerable differences in the responses to the different candidates. Perhaps most striking is that among both native speakers of Russian and native speakers of Ukrainian a candidate's economic policy orientation toward Europe or Russia appears to be a more important determinant of vote choice than a candidate's language or ethnicity. That policy retains its importance for voters despite the intense politicization of both ethnicity and language and ongoing violence in eastern Ukraine suggests that vote choice in Ukraine has not been reduced to an ethnic or linguistic census.

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The impact of individual wealth on posterior political power

Martín Rossi
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
I exploit a unique historical event to explore the causal relationship between individual wealth and posterior political power. Shortly after the founding of Buenos Aires, plots of land in the outskirts of the city were randomly assigned to all heads of household that participated in the expedition. Using this random allocation of land as a source of exogenous variation in individuals' wealth, I find that wealth causes political power. I also explore possible mechanisms and find support for the hypothesis that wealth signals (or improves) ability.

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Freedom of foreign movement, economic opportunities abroad, and protest in non-democratic regimes

Colin Barry et al.
Journal of Peace Research, September 2014, Pages 574-588

Abstract:
Allowing or restricting foreign movement is a crucial policy choice for leaders. We argue that freedom of foreign movement reduces the level of civil unrest under non-democratic regimes, but only in some circumstances. Our argument relies on the trade-offs inherent in exit and voice as distinct strategies for dealing with a corrupt and oppressive state. By permitting exit and thereby lowering its relative costs, authoritarians can make protest and other modes of expressing dissatisfaction less attractive for potential troublemakers. Liberalizing foreign movement can thus function as a safety valve for releasing domestic pressure. But the degree to which allowing emigration is an effective regime strategy is shaped by the economic opportunities offered by countries receiving immigrants. We find that freedom of foreign movement and the existence of economic opportunities abroad reduce civil unrest in non-democratic states. However, at high levels of unemployment in the developed world, greater freedom of foreign movement actually increases protest.

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Sources of Authoritarian Responsiveness: A Field Experiment in China

Jidong Chen, Jennifer Pan & Yiqing Xu
MIT Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
Scholars have established that authoritarian regimes exhibit responsiveness to citizens, but our knowledge of why autocrats respond remains limited. We theorize that responsiveness may stem from rules of the institutionalized party regime, citizen engagement, and a strategy of preferential treatment of a narrow group of supporters. We test the implications of our theory using an online experiment among 2,103 Chinese counties. At baseline, we find that approximately one third of county level governments are responsive to citizen demands expressed online. Threats of collective action and threats of tattling to upper levels of government cause county governments to be considerably more responsive. However, while threats of collective action cause local officials to be more publicly responsive, threats of tattling do not have this effect. We also find that identifying as loyal, long-standing members of the Communist Party does not increase responsiveness.

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Oil Discoveries, Shifting Power, and Civil Conflict

Curtis Bell & Scott Wolford
International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Can the discovery of petroleum resources increase the risk of civil conflict even before their exploitation? We argue that it can, but only in poorer states where oil revenues threaten to alter the balance of power between regimes and their opponents, rendering bargains in the present obsolete in the future. We develop our claims via a game-theoretic model of bargaining between a government and a rebel group, where decisions over war and peace occur in the shadow of increasing oil wealth that both increases national wealth and shifts relative power in the government's favor. To test the model's main hypothesis, we leverage data on newly discovered oil deposits as an indicator of the state's expected future power resources. Our argument has important implications for the literature on credible commitments, power shifts, and violent conflict.

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Electoral Institutions and Electoral Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa

Hanne Fjelde & Kristine Höglund
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Political violence remains a pervasive feature of electoral dynamics in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, even where multiparty elections have become the dominant mode of regulating access to political power. With cross-national data on electoral violence in Sub-Saharan African elections between 1990 and 2010, this article develops and tests a theory that links the use of violent electoral tactics to the high stakes put in place by majoritarian electoral institutions. It is found that electoral violence is more likely in countries that employ majoritarian voting rules and elect fewer legislators from each district. Majoritarian institutions are, as predicted by theory, particularly likely to provoke violence where large ethno-political groups are excluded from power and significant economic inequalities exist.

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Elections and the Timing of Terrorist Attacks

Deniz Aksoy
Journal of Politics, October 2014, Pages 899-913

Abstract:
This article studies the relationship between elections and domestic terrorism in democracies. Do approaching elections lead to an increase in the volume of terrorist activity? Extant theory suggests that terrorist groups strategically plan their attacks around elections. I argue that approaching elections are not always affiliated with an increase in the volume of terrorist activity. Electoral permissiveness, an important feature of democratic electoral systems, influences the extent to which periods close to elections are periods of heightened terrorist activity. Approaching elections lead to an increase in the volume of attacks in democracies with low electoral permissiveness but not in others. I test my argument with data from Western European democracies between 1950 and 2004. Using statistical models that include country fixed effects, I show that approaching elections are affiliated with an increase of the volume of attacks in democracies with the least permissive electoral systems, but not in democracies with permissive electoral systems.

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Trial by Fire: A Natural Disaster's Impact on Support for the Authorities in Rural Russia

Egor Lazarev et al.
World Politics, October 2014, Pages 641-668

Abstract:
This article aims to explore the microfoundations of political support under a nondemocratic regime by investigating the impact of a natural disaster on attitudes toward the government. The research exploits the enormous wildfires that occurred in rural Russia during the summer of 2010 as a natural experiment. The authors test the effects of fires with a survey of almost eight hundred respondents in seventy randomly selected villages. The study finds that in the burned villages there is higher support for the government at all levels. Most counterintuitively, the rise of support for authorities cannot be fully explained by the generous governmental aid. The authors interpret the results by the demonstration effect of the government's performance.

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The (small) blessing of foreign aid: Further evidence on aid's impact on democracy

Yener Altunbaş & John Thornton
Applied Economics, Fall 2014, Pages 3922-3930

Abstract:
In an empirical contribution to the literature of foreign aid, we estimate the impact of foreign aid on democracy in a panel of 93 developing economies during 1971-2010. We find that foreign aid promotes democracy, with the result robust to different estimation methodologies and control variables and to instrumenting for foreign aid.

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External territorial threat, state capacity, and civil war

Douglas Gibler & Steven Miller
Journal of Peace Research, September 2014, Pages 634-646

Abstract:
We argue that the regional threat environment a state faces plays a consequential role in its political development and the likelihood of experiencing future intrastate wars. Challenges to a state's territorial integrity lead governments to increase their military personnel, and the resources that support these increases most often come willingly from a public that seeks security. Territorial threats are unlike other types of threats because they challenge individual lives and livelihoods, which both connects the average citizen with the state and allows for easier government extraction of necessary resources. Thus, external territorial threats increase state capacity by unifying the state and by increasing the repressive power of the central government. We identify territorial threats as both latent and realized claims against state territories and find that the presence of an external threat to territory leads to an increase in the capacity of central governments to connect and extract from its citizens, as well as the capacity to repress potential regime dissidents. We also find that the presence of a claim against a state's territory from a neighbor corresponds with a substantial decrease in the likelihood of intrastate conflict at both high and low levels of intensity. The effect of territorial threat is observed even in the short term after a territorial threat has been resolved. Our tests, using standard models of state capacity and insurgency models of conflict on a sample of all states from 1946 to 2007, are robust to multiple model specifications.

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Diffusion of Diaspora Enfranchisement Norms: A Multinational Study

Anca Turcu & R. Urbatsch
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
States have increasingly granted voting rights to their citizens overseas. Traditional accounts of franchise extension suggest that governments' motivations are either political (new voters are expected to support the incumbent government) or, in the case of citizens abroad, materialist (a fortified link to migrants encourages remittance flows). Although these factors doubtless matter, they overlook the tendency for liberal norms to diffuse through the international system, as competition with and learning from neighbors motivate the adoption of relevant policies and institutions. We use large-N cross-national hazard models to examine whether a similar pattern holds for diaspora enfranchisement and find that neighbors' recent enactment of overseas voting nearly doubles the chance that a country will enfranchise its own diaspora. This suggests a role for international norms in determining national voting policies.

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Governing Art Districts: State Control and Cultural Production in Contemporary China

Yue Zhang
China Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Contemporary Chinese artists have long been marginalized in China as their ideas conflict with the mainstream political ideology. In Beijing, artists often live on the fringe of society in "artist villages," where they almost always face the threat of being displaced owing to political decisions or urban renewal. However, in the past decade, the Chinese government began to foster the growth of contemporary Chinese arts and designated underground artist villages as art districts. This article explores the profound change in the political decisions about the art community. It argues that, despite the pluralization of Chinese society and the inroads of globalization, the government maintains control over the art community through a series of innovative mechanisms. These mechanisms create a globalization firewall, which facilitates the Chinese state in global image-building and simultaneously mitigates the impact of global forces on domestic governance. The article illuminates how the authoritarian state has adopted more sophisticated methods of governance in response to the challenges of a more sophisticated society.

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Manufacturing Dissent: Modernization and the Onset of Major Nonviolent Resistance Campaigns

Charles Butcher & Isak Svensson
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
A growing research field examines the conditions under which major nonviolent resistance campaigns - that is, popular nonviolent uprisings for regime or territorial change - are successful. Why these campaigns emerge in the first place is less well understood. We argue that extensive social networks that are economically interdependent with the state make strategic nonviolence more feasible. These networks are larger and more powerful in states whose economies rely upon organized labor. Global quantitative analysis of the onset of violent and nonviolent campaigns from 1960 to 2006 (NAVCO), and major protest events in Africa from 1990 to 2009 (SCAD) shows that the likelihood of nonviolent conflict onset increases with the proportion of manufacturing to gross domestic product. This study points to a link between modernization and social conflict, a link that has been often hypothesized, but, hitherto, unsupported by empirical studies.

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The Political Resource Curse: An Empirical Re-evaluation

David Wiens, Paul Poast & William Roberts Clark
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Extant theoretical work on the political resource curse implies that dependence on resource revenues should decrease autocracies' likelihood of democratizing but not necessarily affect democracies' chances of survival. Yet most previous empirical studies estimate models that are ill-suited to address this claim. We improve upon previous studies, estimating a dynamic logit model using data from 166 countries, covering the period from 1816 to 2006. We find that an increase in resource dependence decreases an autocracy's likelihood of being democratic over both the short term and long term but has no appreciable effect on democracies' likelihood of persisting.

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Factories for Votes? How Authoritarian Leaders Gain Popular Support Using Targeted Industrial Policy

Ji Yeon Hong & Sunkyoung Park
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article explores the link between industrial policy and electoral outcomes under dictatorship. Using a difference-in-differences analysis of county-level panel data from 1971-88 in South Korea, it examines whether the industrial policy implemented by an authoritarian government affects constituents' electoral decisions. It finds that counties receiving economic benefits through the construction of industrial complexes cast more votes for the incumbent party in subsequent elections. The effects are larger in elections immediately after the appointment of an industrial complex or at the beginning of its construction compared to elections held after the completion of construction. Furthermore, the study tests and rejects reverse causality and migration effects as possible alternative mechanisms for the changes in electoral outcomes. Finally, to understand a unique feature of authoritarian elections, it tests whether industrial complexes affect electoral fraud. Using a genetic matching methodology, it finds that places with new industrial complexes are less likely to experience electoral fraud.

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Claims to legitimacy count: Why sanctions fail to instigate democratisation in authoritarian regimes

Julia Grauvogel & Christian Von Soest
European Journal of Political Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
International sanctions are one of the most commonly used tools to instigate democratisation in the post-Cold War era. However, despite long-term sanction pressure by the European Union, the United States and/or the United Nations, non-democratic rule has proven to be extremely persistent. Which domestic and international factors account for the regimes' ability to resist external pressure? Based on a new global dataset on sanctions from 1990 to 2011, the results of a fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) provide new insights for the research on sanctions and on authoritarian regimes. Most significantly, sanctions strengthen authoritarian rule if the regime manages to incorporate their existence into its legitimation strategy. Such an unintended 'rally-round-the-flag' effect occurs where sanctions are imposed on regimes that possess strong claims to legitimacy and have only limited economic and societal linkages to the sender of sanctions.

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Does Warfare Matter? Severity, Duration, and Outcomes of Civil Wars

Laia Balcells & Stathis Kalyvas
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does it matter whether a civil war is fought as a conventional, irregular, or symmetric nonconventional conflict? Put differently, do "technologies of rebellion" impact a war's severity, duration, or outcome? Our answer is positive. We find that irregular conflicts last significantly longer than all other types of conflict, while conventional ones tend to be more severe in terms of battlefield lethality. Irregular conflicts generate greater civilian victimization and tend to be won by incumbents, while conventional ones are more likely to end in rebel victories. Substantively, these findings help us make sense of how civil wars are changing: they are becoming shorter, deadlier on the battlefield, and more challenging for existing governments - but also more likely to end with some kind of settlement between governments and armed opposition. Theoretically, our findings support the idea of taking into account technologies of rebellion (capturing characteristics of conflicts that tend to be visible mostly at the micro level) when studying macro-level patterns of conflicts such as the severity, duration, and outcomes of civil wars; they also point to the specific contribution of irregular war to both state building and social change.

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Instruments of Political Control: National Oil Companies, Oil Prices, and Petroleum Subsidies

Andrew Cheon, Maureen Lackner & Johannes Urpelainen
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Global petroleum subsidies peaked at US$520 billion in the summer of 2008 and reached US$212 billion in 2011, carrying high fiscal and environmental costs. Why do some countries spend so much money to subsidize petroleum consumption? Previous studies suggest that oil-rich autocracies lacking institutional capacity are the main culprits. However, they cannot explain why oil importers with capable bureaucracies, such as Argentina, Brazil, and Malaysia, subsidized petroleum products. We argue that governments in countries with national oil companies (NOCs) use petroleum subsidies to cushion the effects of increasing oil prices. Empirically, we examine the relationship between oil prices and domestic gasoline prices in 175 countries, 2002-2009. An NOC halves the effect of oil price increases on the domestic gasoline price. This effect is strongly associated with the institutional design of NOCs, as increased autonomy shields them from political interference by the government.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Disgusted

Group-Based Discrimination in Judgments of Moral Purity-Related Behaviors: Experimental and Archival Evidence

E.J. Masicampo, Maria Barth & Nalini Ambady
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Knowledge of individuals’ group membership can alter moral judgments of their behavior. We found that such moral judgments were amplified when judgers learned that a person belonged to a group shown to elicit disgust in others. When a person was labeled as obese, a hippie, or “trailer trash,” people judged that person’s behavior differently than when such descriptors were omitted: Virtuous behaviors were more highly praised, and moral violations were more severely criticized. Such group-based discrimination in moral judgment was specific to the domain of moral purity. Members of disgust-eliciting groups but not members of other minorities were the target of harsh judgments for purity violations (e.g., lewd behavior) but not for other violations (e.g., refusing to help others). The same pattern held true for virtuous behaviors, so that members of disgust-eliciting groups were more highly praised than others but only in the purity domain. Furthermore, group-based discrimination was mediated by feelings of disgust toward the target group but not by other emotions. Last, analysis of New York Police Department officers’ encounters with suspected criminals revealed a similar pattern to that found in laboratory experiments. Police officers were increasingly likely to make an arrest or issue a summons as body mass index increased (i.e., as obesity rose) among people suspected of purity crimes (e.g., prostitution) but not of other crimes (e.g., burglary). Thus, moral judgments in the lab and in the real world exhibit patterns of discrimination that are both group and behavior specific.

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Punishing the Perpetrator Decreases Compensation for Victims

Gabrielle Adams & Elizabeth Mullen
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why do victims sometimes not receive the help they need? One reason may be that people believe punishing perpetrators restores justice, which makes them less willing to help victims if the perpetrator has been punished. Participants who were first asked how much to punish a perpetrator subsequently recommended less compensation for the victim relative to participants who were asked about compensation first. In contrast, participants punished perpetrators to the same degree regardless of whether they were first asked about compensation (Study 1). These effects also held when a third party administered the initial response (Studies 2 and 3). Punishment increased people’s belief that justice had been restored, which decreased their desires for victim compensation (Study 3). Thus, the extent to which individuals are concerned about victims is influenced by whether they first consider perpetrator punishment.

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Disgust sensitivity selectively predicts attitudes toward groups that threaten (or uphold) traditional sexual morality

Jarret Crawford, Yoel Inbar & Victoria Maloney
Personality and Individual Differences, November 2014, Pages 218–223

Abstract:
Previous research has linked disgust sensitivity to negative attitudes toward gays and lesbians. We extend this existing research by examining the extent to which disgust sensitivity predicts attitudes more generally toward groups that threaten or uphold traditional sexual morality. In a sample of American adults (N = 236), disgust sensitivity (and particularly contamination disgust) predicted negative attitudes toward groups that threaten traditional sexual morality (e.g., pro-choice activists), and positive attitudes toward groups that uphold traditional sexual morality (e.g., Evangelical Christians). Further, disgust sensitivity was a weaker predictor of attitudes toward left-aligned and right-aligned groups whose objectives are unrelated to traditional sexual morality (e.g., gun-control/gun-rights activists). Together, these findings are consistent with a sexual conservatism account for understanding the relationship between disgust sensitivity and intergroup attitudes.

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Protect thyself: How affective self-protection increases self-interested, unethical behavior

Karen Page Winterich, Vikas Mittal & Andrea Morales
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this research, we draw on the characteristics of disgust — an affective state that prompts a self-protection response — to demonstrate that experiencing disgust can also increase self-interested, unethical behaviors such as cheating. This series of studies contributes to the literature demonstrating context-specific effects on self-interested, unethical behavior. Specifically, we show that innocuous emotion-eliciting cues can elicit a focus on the protection of one’s own welfare, leading people to engage in self-interested behaviors that are unethical. This research provides evidence that the importance of clean physical environments may extend beyond visual beautification of surroundings to include economic behaviors.

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Nothing by Mere Authority: Evidence that in an Experimental Analogue of the Milgram Paradigm Participants are Motivated not by Orders but by Appeals to Science

Alexander Haslam, Stephen Reicher & Megan Birney
Journal of Social Issues, September 2014, Pages 473–488

Abstract:
Milgram's classic studies are widely understood to demonstrate people's natural inclination to obey the orders of those in authority. However, of the prods that Milgram's Experimenter employed to encourage participants to continue the one most resembling an order was least successful. This study examines the impact of prods more closely by manipulating them between-participants within an analogue paradigm in which participants are instructed to use negative adjectives to describe increasingly pleasant groups. Across all conditions, continuation and completion were positively predicted by the extent to which prods appealed to scientific goals but negatively predicted by the degree to which a prod constituted an order. These results provide no support for the traditional obedience account of Milgram's findings but are consistent with an engaged followership model which argues that participants’ willingness to continue with an objectionable task is predicated upon active identification with the scientific project and those leading it.

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When extraordinary injustice leads to ordinary response: How perpetrator power and size of an injustice event affect bystander efficacy and collective action

Demis Glasford & Felicia Pratto
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although bystanders can play an integral role in the process of social change, relatively few studies have examined the factors that influence bystander collective action. The present research explores the effect of perpetrator power on bystander efficacy and collective action, as well as the moderating role of impact of the injustice event. Across two experiments, bystanders perceived that collective action would be less effective and were less willing to engage in collective action when a high-power perpetrator engaged in injustice, compared with a low-power perpetrator. These effects were moderated by impact of the injustice event, such that the effects of power were especially present under conditions of large impact (many victims), compared with small impact (fewer victims). Whereas the effect of the interaction of perpetrator power and impact on bystander efficacy was explained by perceptions of normativity of the injustice event, the effect of the interaction on bystander collective action was explained by bystander efficacy. Implications for bystander collective action and social change are discussed.

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Morality in everyday life

Wilhelm Hofmann et al.
Science, 12 September 2014, Pages 1340-1343

Abstract:
The science of morality has drawn heavily on well-controlled but artificial laboratory settings. To study everyday morality, we repeatedly assessed moral or immoral acts and experiences in a large (N = 1252) sample using ecological momentary assessment. Moral experiences were surprisingly frequent and manifold. Liberals and conservatives emphasized somewhat different moral dimensions. Religious and nonreligious participants did not differ in the likelihood or quality of committed moral and immoral acts. Being the target of moral or immoral deeds had the strongest impact on happiness, whereas committing moral or immoral deeds had the strongest impact on sense of purpose. Analyses of daily dynamics revealed evidence for both moral contagion and moral licensing. In sum, morality science may benefit from a closer look at the antecedents, dynamics, and consequences of everyday moral experience.

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An Indecent Proposal: The Dual Functions of Indirect Speech

Aleksandr Chakroff et al.
Cognitive Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
People often use indirect speech, for example, when trying to bribe a police officer by asking whether there might be “a way to take care of things without all the paperwork.” Recent game theoretic accounts suggest that a speaker uses indirect speech to reduce public accountability for socially risky behaviors. The present studies examine a secondary function of indirect speech use: increasing the perceived moral permissibility of an action. Participants report that indirect speech is associated with reduced accountability for unethical behavior, as well as increased moral permissibility and increased likelihood of unethical behavior. Importantly, moral permissibility was a stronger mediator of the effect of indirect speech on likelihood of action, for judgments of one's own versus others' unethical action. In sum, the motorist who bribes the police officer with winks and nudges may not only avoid public punishment but also maintain the sense that his actions are morally permissible.

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Mad and Misleading: Incidental Anger Promotes Deception

Jeremy Yip & Maurice Schweitzer
University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
Emotions influence ethical behavior. Across four studies, we demonstrate that incidental anger, anger triggered by an unrelated situation, promotes the use of deception. In Study 1, participants who felt incidental anger were more likely to deceive their counterpart than those who felt neutral emotion. In Study 2, we replicate this finding and demonstrate that empathy mediates the relationship between anger and deception. In Study 3, we compared incidental anger to other incidental emotions including guilt, gratitude, and pride. We find that participants who felt incidental anger were more likely to use deception than were participants who felt other emotions. In Study 4, we show that incentives moderate the relationship between anger and deception. Taken together, our work reveals that anger triggered by unrelated situations promotes unethical behavior because angry people become less empathetic when pursuing their self-interest.

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Avoiding Greedy Behavior in Situations of Uncertainty: The Role of Magical Thinking

Ayala Arad
Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, December 2014, Pages 17–23

Abstract:
Previous studies have found evidence for the belief that actions which tempt fate increase the likelihood of negative outcomes. These included actions that presuppose a good outcome, that reflect hubris or that involve excessive risk taking. This paper explores a related form of magical thinking whereby individuals believe that asking for too much in situations of uncertainty may be punished by the universe and may decrease the probability of the desired outcome. It was found that many participants irrationally forgo the “greedy” option under uncertainty, even though it dominates other options and their behavior is not observed. It is suggested that some participants fear being magically punished for greediness and it is shown that the avoidance of greedy actions under uncertainty is related to the belief that one should not tempt fate. This phenomenon may have implications for various types of economic decisions such as charity donation, insurance purchase and bargaining.

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The hungry thief: Physiological deprivation and its effects on unethical behavior

Kai Chi Yam, Scott Reynolds & Jacob Hirsh
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, forthcoming

Abstract:
We conducted five studies to examine the effects of physiological deprivation on unethical behavior. Consistent with predictions from Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory, we found that physiologically deprived participants engaged in unethical behavior related to obtaining physiological satiation. Contrary to models in which deprivation increases global unethical behavior, hungry and thirsty participants also engaged in less physiologically-unrelated unethical behavior compared to control participants (Studies 1–3). Studies 4 and 5 confirmed that the effects of physiological deprivation on both types of unethical behavior were mediated by a heightened engagement of the Behavioral Approach System (BAS). In addition, we found that the salience of an organizational ethical context acted as a boundary condition for the mediated effect. Participants reminded of the organizational ethical context were less likely to engage in need-related unethical behavior even when physiologically deprived. We conclude by considering the theoretical and practical implications of this research.

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“I have paid my dues”: When physical pain reduces interpersonal justice motivations

Lisanne van Bunderen & Brock Bastian
Motivation and Emotion, August 2014, Pages 540-546

Abstract:
In this study we show that experiencing physical pain interacts with justice related cognition and serves to reduce justice-restoring behavior in the context of interpersonal moral transgressions. This is because concepts of punishment and justice are embodied within the experience of pain, allowing for a sense of atonement from one’s wrongdoings. Two thirds of the participants were induced to feel that their performance in a two player game was unfair. Half of those participants were then asked to engage in a physically painful task, and were afterwards less likely to make amends for past poor performance compared to players who completed a similar, but non-painful task. This effect was only evident for participants who are particularly sensitive to personal injustices and therefore sensitive to the justice restoring qualities of pain.

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Deceiving yourself to better deceive high-status compared to equal-status others

Hui Jing Lu & Lei Chang
Evolutionary Psychology, Summer 2014, Pages 635-654

Abstract:
The arms race between deception and detection is likely to have played out between individuals in different status hierarchies, with low-status individuals more likely to be deceivers and high-status individuals more likely to be detectors than the other way around. Memory and its distortion may be temporarily employed first to keep truthful information away from both self and others and later to retrieve accurate information to benefit the self. Using a dual-retrieval paradigm, we tested the hypothesis that people are likely to deceive themselves to better deceive high- rather than equal-status others. College student participants were explicitly instructed (Study 1 and 2) or induced (Study 3) to deceive either a high-status teacher or an equal-status fellow student. When interacting with the high- but not equal-status target, participants in three studies genuinely remembered fewer previously studied items than they did on a second memory test alone without the deceiving target. The results support the view that self-deception responds to status hierarchy that registers probabilities of deception detection such that people are more likely to self-deceive high- rather than equal-status others.

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Pro-social behavior in the TV show “Come Dine with Me”: An empirical investigation

David Schüller et al.
Journal of Economic Psychology, December 2014, Pages 44–55

Abstract:
We investigate the influence of social approval, reputation, and individual characteristics on voting behavior in the German version of the TV show “Come Dine With Me”. Five contestants prepare a dinner for each other during the course of a week and evaluate each other’s performance. The winner receives a monetary prize. Evaluations remain concealed until the show is broadcast. Because actual voting behavior remains concealed during the show, a contestant could evaluate his/her opponents as zero in an effort to increase his/her own chances of winning, without risking later punishment in the form of low scores. However, this behavior is not observed in our dataset, which runs from 2006 to 2011. We find that all of the following have a significant influence on the evaluating behavior: the objective sophistication of a meal; the order of cooking; whether a person has already cooked; and the social similarity between contestant and evaluator. These findings help to improve understanding of the impact that reputation and social approval have on economic decision making.

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Ethics Under Uncertainty: The Morality and Appropriateness of Utilitarianism When Outcomes Are Uncertain

Matherine Kortenkamp & Colleen Moore
American Journal of Psychology, Fall 2014, Pages 367-382

Abstract:
Real-life moral dilemmas inevitably involve uncertainty, yet research has not considered how uncertainty affects utilitarian moral judgments. In addition, even though moral dilemma researchers regularly ask respondents, “What is appropriate?” but interpret it to mean, “What is moral?,” little research has examined whether a difference exists between asking these 2 types of questions. In this study, 140 college students read moral dilemmas that contained certain or uncertain consequences and then responded as to whether it was appropriate and whether it was moral to kill 1 to save many (a utilitarian choice). Ratings of the appropriateness and morality of the utilitarian choice were lower under uncertainty than certainty. A follow-up experiment found that these results could not be explained entirely by a change in the expected values of the outcomes or a desire to avoid the worst-case scenario. In addition, the utilitarian choice to kill 1 to save many was rated as more appropriate than moral. The results imply that moral decision making may depend critically on whether uncertainties in outcomes are admitted and whether people are asked about appropriateness or morality.

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“I Can’t Lie to Your Face”: Minimal Face-to-Face Interaction Promotes Honesty

Alex Van Zant & Laura Kray
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, November 2014, Pages 234–238

Abstract:
Scholars have noted that face-to-face (FTF) interaction promotes honesty because it provides opportunities for conversation in which parties exchange information and build rapport. However, it is unclear whether FTF interaction promotes honesty even in the absence of opportunities for back-and-forth conversation. We hypothesized a minimal interaction effect whereby FTF interaction promotes honesty by increasing potential deceivers’ consideration of their own moral-interest. To test this account of how FTF interaction may promote honesty, we used a modified version of the deception game (Gneezy, 2005). We found that people were more honest when communicating FTF as opposed to through an intermediary. While FTF interaction tended to promote honesty irrespective of whether it occurred prior to or during the game, the effect was more pronounced when it occurred during the game. The effect of in-game communication medium was mediated by the activation of potential deceivers’ moral-interest. We also ruled out alternate accounts involving interpersonal liking, expected counterpart trust, and retaliation fear as honesty-promoting mechanisms. Furthermore, because these effects were not moderated by whether participants had been visually identified during a pre-game interaction, we suggest that our effects are distinct from theoretical accounts involving anonymity.

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Assigning economic value to people results in dehumanization brain response

Lasana Harris et al.
Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, September 2014, Pages 151-163

Abstract:
For a profit-maximizing rational agent, labor markets present a paradox: Economic contexts encourage exploitation of commodities whereas social contexts discourage exploitation of people and instead promote empathic responding and moral protection. This may result in irrational behavior. Perhaps rational agents reduce spontaneous social–cognitive responses to successfully maximize profits in a labor market. We tested this hypothesis by creating a labor market — an economic market where people serve as commodities. fMRI participants initially purchased players from a time-estimation skill labor market, then revalued these players based on performance in an attempt to maximize profit. Despite implementing a variety of purchasing strategies, we find that participants initially reduce activity in social cognition brain regions when viewing purchased players — an initial reduction consistent with a dehumanized brain response — that predicts later revaluation of purchased labor market players. However, traditional valuation regions in medial orbito-frontal cortex (MOFC) predict nonpurchased players’ revaluation. These results suggest valuation and social cognition brain regions independently guide revaluation processes when people are treated like commodities.

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The Selfish Side of Self-Control

Liad Uziel & Uri Hefetz
European Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Abstract:
Self-control is a powerful tool that promotes goal pursuit by helping individuals curb personal desires, follow norms, and adopt rational thinking. In interdependent social contexts, the socially acceptable (i.e. normative) and rational approach to secure long-term goals is prosocial behaviour. Consistent with that, much research associates self-control with prosociality. The present research demonstrates that when norm salience is reduced (i.e. social relations are no longer interdependent), high self-control leads to more selfish behaviour when it is economically rational. In three studies, participants were asked to allocate an endowment between themselves and another person (one-round, zero-sum version of the dictator game), facing a conflict between a socially normative and an economically rational approach. Across the studies, norm salience was manipulated [through manipulation of social context (private/public; Studies 1 and 2), measurement of social desirability (Studies 1 and 3), and measurement (Study 2) and manipulation (Study 3) of social power] such that some participants experienced low normative pressure. Findings showed that among individuals in a low normative pressure context, self-control led to economically rational, yet selfish, behaviour. The findings highlight the role of self-control in regulating behaviour so as to maximize situational adaptation.

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Concrete and Abstract Ways to Deontology: Cognitive Capacity Moderates Construal Level Effects on Moral Judgments

Anita Körner & Sabine Volk
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, November 2014, Pages 139–145

Abstract:
Moral judgment research has been informed by both dual-process models and construal level theory. Combining these approaches, we argue that available processing capacity and construal level interact to predict moral judgment. Specifically, concrete construal should enhance visualization for spontaneous judgments, leading to stronger emotional reactions and more deontological decisions. In contrast, abstract construal should direct attention to abstract moral principles for deliberate judgments, again facilitating deontological decisions. In 3 experiments, we manipulated both construal level (abstract vs. concrete) and the availability of processing capacity (Experiment 1: via short vs. long deliberation time; Experiments 2 and 3: via cognitive vs. visual interference) and assessed moral dilemma judgments. Participants made more deontological judgments under concrete (vs. abstract) construal when processing capacity was reduced. With sufficient processing capacity, however, this pattern reversed, leading to more deontological judgments under abstract (vs. concrete) construal. These results extend previous work linking deontological decisions with emotional reactions, by suggesting an alternative pathway to deontology through abstract deliberation.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, September 15, 2014

Aptitude test

Teacher Quality at the High School Level: The Importance of Accounting for Tracks

Kirabo Jackson
Journal of Labor Economics, October 2014, Pages 645-684

Abstract:
Unlike in elementary school, high school teacher effects may be confounded with both selection to tracks and track-level treatments. I document confounding track effects and show that traditional tests for the existence of teacher effects are biased. After accounting for biases, high school algebra and English teachers have smaller test score effects than found in previous studies and value-added estimates are weak predictors of teachers’ future performance. Results indicate that either (a) teachers are less influential in high school than in elementary school or (b) test score effects are a weak measure of teacher quality at the high school level.

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Causal effects of mathematics

Torberg Falch, Ole Henning Nyhus & Bjarne Strøm
Labour Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper exploits that students at age 16 in Norway are randomly selected into one compulsory exit exam in either mathematics or languages. A few days before the actual exam day, the students are notified about exam subject. The students have an intensive preparation period, and examination in mathematics relative to languages is found to decrease dropout from high school, increase enrolment in higher education, and increase enrolment in natural science and technology education programs. Overall, the causal effects seems to be somewhat stronger for males than for females, but the analysis indicates that gender differences interacts in complicated ways with prior skills in mathematics. We explore several mechanisms that might contribute to the findings.

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Learning for a bonus: How financial incentives interact with preferences

Yvonne Oswald & Uschi Backes-Gellner
Journal of Public Economics, October 2014, Pages 52–61

Abstract:
This paper investigates the effect of financial incentives on student performance and analyzes for the first time how the incentive effect in education is moderated by students’ time preferences. To examine this effect, we use real labor market incentive programs that we combine with data from experiments on time preferences. We find not only that students who are offered financial incentives for better grades have on average better first- and second-year grade point averages but also, more strikingly, that highly impatient students respond more strongly to financial incentives than relatively patient students. This finding suggests that financial incentives are most effective at the beginning of an educational program, when real labor market benefits are in the distant future.

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Are school counselors an effective education input?

Scott Carrell & Mark Hoekstra
Economics Letters, October 2014, Pages 66–69

Abstract:
We exploit within-school variation in counselors and find that one additional counselor reduces student misbehavior and increases boys’ academic achievement by over one percentile point. These effects compare favorably with those of increased teacher quality and smaller class sizes.

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The Returns to College Admission for Academically Marginal Students

Seth Zimmerman
Journal of Labor Economics, October 2014, Pages 711-754

Abstract:
I combine a regression discontinuity design with rich data on academic and labor market outcomes for a large sample of Florida students to estimate the returns to college admission for academically marginal students. Students with grades just above a threshold for admissions eligibility at a large public university in Florida are much more likely to attend any university than below-threshold students. The marginal admission yields earnings gains of 22% between 8 and 14 years after high school completion. These gains outstrip the costs of college attendance, and they are largest for male students and free-lunch recipients.

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More Than Sanctions: Closing Achievement Gaps Through California’s Use of Intensive Technical Assistance

Katharine Strunk & Andrew McEachin
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, September 2014, Pages 281-306

Abstract:
One of the enduring problems in education is the persistence of achievement gaps between White, wealthy, native English-speaking students and their counterparts who are minority, lower-income, or English language learners. This study shows that one intensive technical assistance (TA) intervention — California’s District Assistance and Intervention Teams (DAITs) — implemented in conjunction with a high-stakes accountability policy improves the math and English performance of traditionally underserved students. Using a 6-year panel of student-level data from California, we find that the DAIT intervention significantly reduces achievement gaps between Black, Hispanic, and poor students and their White and wealthier peers. These results indicate that capacity-building TA helps to close achievement gaps in California’s lowest performing districts.

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HOPE for Community College Students: The Impact of Merit Aid on Persistence, Graduation, and Earnings

Jilleah Welch
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Community colleges play a major role in postsecondary education, yet previous research has emphasized the impact of merit aid on four-year students rather than two-year students. Furthermore, researchers have focused on the impact of merit aid on enrollment and outcomes during college, but to my knowledge, none have yet considered the impact of aid on earnings after college. This paper utilizes discontinuities in eligibility criteria for a large merit scholarship to examine the local impact of aid on student outcomes both during college and after college. The findings suggest that reducing the cost of community college does not impact persistence, academic performance, degree completion, expected earnings, or short-term earnings after college for marginally eligible students.

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The Effect of School Construction on Test Scores, School Enrollment, and Home Prices

Christopher Neilson & Seth Zimmerman
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper provides new evidence on the effect of elementary and middle school construction projects on home prices, academic achievement, and school enrollment. Combining the staggered implementation of a comprehensive school construction project in a poor urban district with panel data on student test scores and neighborhoods of residence, we find that, by six years after building occupancy, school construction increases reading scores by 0.15 standard deviations relative to the year before building occupancy. We do not observe similar effects for math scores. School construction raised home prices in affected neighborhoods by roughly 10 percent, and led to increased public school enrollment.

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Expecting to teach enhances learning and organization of knowledge in free recall of text passages

John Nestojko et al.
Memory & Cognition, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present research assessed the potential effects of expecting to teach on learning. In two experiments, participants studied passages either in preparation for a later test or in preparation for teaching the passage to another student who would then be tested. In reality, all participants were tested, and no one actually engaged in teaching. Participants expecting to teach produced more complete and better organized free recall of the passage (Experiment 1) and, in general, correctly answered more questions about the passage than did participants expecting a test (Experiment 1), particularly questions covering main points (Experiment 2), consistent with their having engaged in more effective learning strategies. Instilling an expectation to teach thus seems to be a simple, inexpensive intervention with the potential to increase learning efficiency at home and in the classroom.

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A Quick and Easy Strategy to Reduce Test Anxiety and Enhance Test Performance

Myrto-Foteini Mavilidi, Vincent Hoogerheide & Fred Paas
Applied Cognitive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The negative thoughts that anxious children experience while sitting for an exam consume working memory resources at the cost of resources for performing on the exam. In a randomized field experiment (N = 117) with primary school students, we investigated the hypothesis that stimulating students to look through the problems of a math test before they start solving them would reduce anxiety, release these anxiety-related working memory resources, and lead to higher test performance than not allowing students to look ahead in the test. The results confirmed the hypothesis, indicating that the positive effects of looking ahead applied to all students, regardless of their anxiety level (low, medium, or high). The results suggest that by looking ahead in a test, less working memory resources are consumed by intrusive thoughts, and consequently, more resources can be used for performing on the test. Theoretical and practical implications of the results are discussed.

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Does Gifted Education Work? For Which Students?

David Card & Laura Giuliano
NBER Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
Education policy makers have struggled for decades with the question of how to best serve high ability K‐12 students. As in the debate over selective college admissions, a key issue is targeting. Should gifted and talented programs be allocated on the basis of cognitive ability, or a broader combination of ability and achievement? Should there be a single admission threshold, or a lower bar for disadvantaged students? We use data from a large urban school district to study the impacts of assignment to separate gifted classrooms on three distinct groups of fourth grade students: non-disadvantaged students with IQ scores ≥130; subsidized lunch participants and English language learners with IQ scores ≥116; and students who miss the IQ thresholds but scored highest among their school/grade cohort in state-wide achievement tests in the previous year. Regression discontinuity estimates based on the IQ thresholds for the first two groups show no effects on reading or math achievement at the end of fourth grade. In contrast, estimates based on test score ranks for the third group show significant gains in reading and math, concentrated among lower-income and black and Hispanic students. The math gains persist to fifth grade and are also reflected in fifth grade science scores. Our findings suggest that a separate classroom environment is more effective for students selected on past achievement – particularly disadvantaged students who are often excluded from gifted and talented programs.

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The effect of private high school education on the college trajectory

Conor Coughlin & Carolina Castilla
Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS) to estimate the effect of private secondary schooling on the average college trajectory of a student in the United States, examining college enrollment and degree attainment across the private and public sectors. We provide the first estimates of the effect of private schooling on college degree attainment using the most recent NELS survey. To account for potential non-random selection we exploit the variation in the grade spans of the students’ middle schools. Results indicate that private schooling has a significant, positive effect on college enrollment and degree attainment. The effect on college enrollment diminishes with time, suggesting that private schools influence degree attainment by getting students to college sooner.

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Information Heterogeneity and Intended College Enrollment

Zachary Bleemer & Basit Zafar
Federal Reserve Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
Despite a robust college premium, college attendance rates in the United States have remained stagnant and exhibit a substantial socioeconomic gradient. We focus on information gaps — specifically, incomplete information about college benefits and costs — as a potential explanation for these patterns. In a nationally representative survey of U.S. household heads, we show that perceptions of college costs and benefits are severely and systematically biased: 74 percent of our respondents underestimate the true benefits of college (average earnings of a college graduate relative to a non-college worker in the population), while 77 percent report public college costs that exceed actual sticker costs. There is substantial heterogeneity in beliefs, with larger biases for the more disadvantaged groups, lower-income and non-college households. We show that these biases are problematic since they (indirectly) impact the respondents’ reported intended likelihood of their (pre-college-age) child attending college. We simulate an “information intervention,” and find that were individuals to be provided with the correct population distribution of college costs and returns, the intended child’s college attendance would increase significantly, by about 0.2 of the standard deviation in the baseline intended likelihood. Importantly, as a result of the simulated intervention, gaps in college attendance by household income or parents’ education persist but decline by 30 to 50 percent.

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True for Your School? How Changing Reputations Alter Demand for Selective U.S. Colleges

Molly Alter & Randall Reback
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, September 2014, Pages 346-370

Abstract:
There is a comprehensive literature documenting how colleges’ tuition, financial aid packages, and academic reputations influence students’ application and enrollment decisions. Far less is known about how quality-of-life reputations and peer institutions’ reputations affect these decisions. This article investigates these issues using data from two prominent college guidebook series to measure changes in reputations. We use information published annually by the Princeton Review — the best-selling college guidebook that formally categorizes colleges based on both academic and quality-of-life indicators — and the U.S. News and World Report — the most famous rankings of U.S. undergraduate programs. Our findings suggest that changes in academic and quality-of-life reputations affect the number of applications received by a college and the academic competitiveness and geographic diversity of the ensuing incoming freshman class. Colleges receive fewer applications when peer universities earn high academic ratings. However, unfavorable quality-of-life ratings for peers are followed by decreases in the college’s own application pool and the academic competitiveness of its incoming class. This suggests that potential applicants often begin their search process by shopping for groups of colleges where non-pecuniary benefits may be relatively high.

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Experimental Evidence on Distributional Effects of Head Start

Marianne Bitler, Hilary Hoynes & Thurston Domina
NBER Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
This study provides the first comprehensive analysis of the distributional effects of Head Start, using the first national randomized experiment of the Head Start program (the Head Start Impact Study). We examine program effects on cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes and explore the heterogeneous effects of the program through 1st grade by estimating quantile treatment effects under endogeneity (IV-QTE) as well as various types of subgroup mean treatment effects and two-stage least squares treatment effects. We find that (the experimentally manipulated) Head Start attendance leads to large and statistically significant gains in cognitive achievement during the pre-school period and that the gains are largest at the bottom of the distribution. Once the children enter elementary school, the cognitive gains fade out for the full population, but importantly, cognitive gains persist through 1st grade for some Spanish speakers. These results provide strong evidence in favor of a compensatory model of the educational process. Additionally, our findings of large effects at the bottom are consistent with an interpretation that the relatively large gains in the well-studied Perry Preschool Program are in part due to the low baseline skills in the Perry study population. We find no evidence that the counterfactual care setting plays a large role in explaining the differences between the HSIS and Perry findings.

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Strengthening school readiness for Head Start children: Evaluation of a self-regulation intervention

Sara Schmitt et al.
Early Childhood Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present study examined the efficacy of a self-regulation intervention for children experiencing demographic risk. Utilizing a randomized controlled design, analyses examined if children (N = 276 children in 14 Head Start classrooms; M age = 51.69, SD = 6.55) who participated in an 8-week self-regulation intervention demonstrated greater gains in self-regulation and academic achievement over the preschool year compared to children in a control group. In addition, indirect intervention effects on achievement outcomes through self-regulation were explored and differential intervention effects for English language learners within a sample of children from low-income families were tested. Results indicated that children in the intervention group demonstrated stronger levels of self-regulation compared to the control group in the spring of the preschool year. Group comparisons also revealed that the intervention was related to significantly higher math skills for children who were English language learners. In other words, English language learners who participated in the intervention demonstrated stronger levels of math in the spring of preschool in comparison to children in the control group and relative to English speakers who also participated in the intervention. The present study provides support for the efficacy of a school readiness intervention in promoting self-regulation and achievement in young children, especially English language learners.

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Estimating the social value of higher education: Willingness to pay for community and technical colleges

Glenn Blomquist et al.
Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, July 2014, Pages 3–41

Abstract:
Much is known about private financial returns to education in the form of higher earnings. Less is known about how much social value exceeds this private value. Associations between education and socially-desirable outcomes are strong, but disentangling the effect of education from other causal factors is challenging. The purpose of this paper is to estimate the social value of one form of higher education. We elicit willingness to pay for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) directly and compare our estimate of total social value to our estimates of private value in the form of increased earnings. Our earnings estimates are based on two distinct data sets, one administrative and one from the U.S. Census. The difference between the total social value and the increase in earnings is our measure of the education externality and the private, non-market value combined. Our work differs from previous research by focusing on education at the community college level and by eliciting values directly through a stated-preferences survey in a way that yields a total value including any external benefits. Our preferred estimates indicate the social value of expanding the system exceeds private financial value by at least 25% with a best point estimate of nearly 90% and exceeds total private value by at least 15% with a best point estimate of nearly 60%.

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Do Choice Schools Break the Link Between Public Schools and Property Values? Evidence from House Prices in New York City

Amy Ellen Schwartz, Ioan Voicu & Keren Mertens Horn
Regional Science and Urban Economics, November 2014, Pages 1–10

Abstract:
While school choice has attracted much attention from policymakers and researchers, virtually all of the research has focused on the relationship between school choice and student academic performance. There is, in contrast, little work examining whether additional choice schools weaken the link between residential property values and locally zoned schools - despite the well accepted theoretical (and empirical) link between schools and housing. As school choice becomes more important in reforming urban school systems, and improving public schools is critical for attracting and retaining middle class families in urban neighborhoods, it is important to understand how increasing school choice shapes the long-term economic health and viability of the country's central cities. In this paper, we examine how choice schools affect house prices, particularly the link between the quality of locally zoned schools and surrounding housing values. Our study utilizes rich data on New York City public elementary schools geo-coded and matched to data on property sales for a fifteen-year period beginning in 1988. To identify the impact of a choice school on the capitalization of school quality into housing values first we incorporate a boundary discontinuity approach to compare the capitalization of zoned school quality into housing prices of buildings that are close to one another but in different elementary school attendance zones. We rely on smaller and smaller distances from the boundary to test the stability of our results. Second, we compare housing units that are within 3,000 feet of a choice school to housing units outside of these rings, which is traditionally considered the 'walk zone' around a school. Third, we take advantage of choice school openings to look at the capitalization rates before and after the choice school opens. We find that the proximity of alternative school choices does weaken the link between zoned schools and property values. The opening of a choice school reduces the capitalization of test scores from zoned schools into housing values by approximately one third.

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Classroom grade composition and pupil achievement

Edwin Leuven & Marte Rønning
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper exploits discontinuous grade mixing rules in Norwegian junior high schools to estimate how classroom grade composition affects pupil achievement. Pupils in mixed grade classrooms are found to outperform pupils in single grade classrooms. This finding is driven by pupils benefiting from sharing the classroom with more mature peers from higher grades. The presence of lower grade peers is detrimental for achievement. Pupils can therefore benefit from de-tracking by grade, but the effects depend crucially on how the classroom is balanced in terms of lower and higher grades. These results reconcile the contradictory findings in the literature.

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Evaluating Impacts of Performance Funding Policies on Student Outcomes in Higher Education

Amanda Rutherford & Thomas Rabovsky
ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, September 2014, Pages 185-208

Abstract:
Concerns about performance and cost efficiency have taken center stage in discussions about the funding and oversight of public universities in recent years. One of the primary manifestations of these concerns is the rise of performance funding policies, or policies that seek to directly link state appropriations to the outcomes institutions generate for students. Despite the popularity of these policies, relatively little systematic research examines their effect on student outcomes at public colleges and universities. We use data collected from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to analyze the effectiveness of performance funding policies as a mechanism for improving student graduation, persistence, and degree attainment in more than 500 postsecondary institutions in all fifty states over a span of 18 years. We find that current performance funding policies are not associated with higher levels of student performance and that these policies may in fact contribute to lower performance over a longer period of time. However, more recent policies linked to institutional base funding may produce some likelihood of long-term improvement and require additional research.

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Who Benefits Most From Head Start? Using Latent Class Moderation to Examine Differential Treatment Effects

Brittany Rhoades Cooper & Stephanie Lanza
Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
Head Start (HS) is the largest federally funded preschool program for disadvantaged children. Research has shown relatively small impacts on cognitive and social skills; therefore, some have questioned its effectiveness. Using data from the Head Start Impact Study (3-year-old cohort; N = 2,449), latent class analysis was used to (a) identify subgroups of children defined by baseline characteristics of their home environment and caregiver and (b) test whether the effects of HS on cognitive, and behavioral and relationship skills over 2 years differed across subgroups. The results suggest that the effectiveness of HS varies quite substantially. For some children there appears to be a significant, and in some cases, long-term, positive impact. For others there is little to no effect.

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Does cognitive strategy training on word problems compensate for working memory capacity in children with math difficulties?

Lee Swanson
Journal of Educational Psychology, August 2014, Pages 831-848

Abstract:
Cognitive strategies are important tools for children with math difficulties (MD) in learning to solve word problems. The effectiveness of strategy training, however, depends on working memory capacity (WMC). Thus, children with MD but with relatively higher WMC are more likely to benefit from strategy training, whereas children with lower WMC may have their resources overtaxed. Children in Grade 3 (N = 147) were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 conditions: (a) verbal strategies (e.g., underlining question sentence), (b) visual strategies (e.g., correctly placing numbers in diagrams), (c) verbal plus visual strategies, or (d) an untreated control. In line with the predictions, children with MD and higher WMC benefited from verbal or visual strategies relative to those in the control condition on posttest measures of problem solving, calculation, and operation span. In contrast, cognitive strategies decreased problem-solving accuracy in children with low WMC. Thus, improvement in problem solving and related measures, as well as the impairment in learning outcomes, was moderated by WMC.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sanity

Social Inequalities in Suicide: The Role of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

Sean Clouston et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We aimed to examine the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and suicide associated with the introduction and diffusion of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Negative binomial regression was used to estimate county-level suicide rates among persons aged 25 years or older using death certificate data collated by the National Center for Health Statistics from 1968 to 2009; SES was measured using the decennial US Census. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey were used to measure SSRI use. Once SSRIs became available in 1988, a 1% increase in SSRI usage was associated with a 0.5% lower suicide rate. Prior to the introduction of SSRIs, SES was not related to suicide. However, with each 1% increase in SSRI use, a 1–standard deviation (SD) higher SES was associated with a 0.6% lower suicide rate. In 2009, persons living in counties with SES 1 SD above the national average were 13.6% less likely to commit suicide than those living in counties with SES 1 SD below the national average — a difference of 1.9/100,000 adults aged ≥25 years. Higher SSRI use was associated with lower suicide rates among US residents aged ≥25 years; however, SES inequalities modified the association between SSRI use and suicide.

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A “Present” for the Future: The Unexpected Value of Rediscovery

Ting Zhang et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although documenting everyday activities may seem trivial, four studies reveal that creating records of the present generates unexpected benefits by allowing future rediscoveries. In Study 1, we used a time-capsule paradigm to show that individuals underestimate the extent to which rediscovering experiences from the past will be curiosity provoking and interesting in the future. In Studies 2 and 3, we found that people are particularly likely to underestimate the pleasure of rediscovering ordinary, mundane experiences, as opposed to extraordinary experiences. Finally, Study 4 demonstrates that underestimating the pleasure of rediscovery leads to time-inconsistent choices: Individuals forgo opportunities to document the present but then prefer rediscovering those moments in the future to engaging in an alternative fun activity. Underestimating the value of rediscovery is linked to people’s erroneous faith in their memory of everyday events. By documenting the present, people provide themselves with the opportunity to rediscover mundane moments that may otherwise have been forgotten.

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Waiting for Merlot: Anticipatory Consumption of Experiential and Material Purchases

Amit Kumar, Matthew Killingsworth & Thomas Gilovich
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Experiential purchases (money spent on doing) tend to provide more enduring happiness than material purchases (money spent on having). Although most research comparing these two types of purchases has focused on their downstream hedonic consequences, the present research investigated hedonic differences that occur before consumption. We argue that waiting for experiences tends to be more positive than waiting for possessions. Four studies demonstrate that people derive more happiness from the anticipation of experiential purchases and that waiting for an experience tends to be more pleasurable and exciting than waiting to receive a material good. We found these effects in studies using questionnaires involving a variety of actual planned purchases, in a large-scale experience-sampling study, and in an archival analysis of news stories about people waiting in line to make a purchase. Consumers derive value from anticipation, and that value tends to be greater for experiential than for material purchases.

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Youth Depression and Future Criminal Behavior

Mark Anderson, Resul Cesur & Erdal Tekin
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
While the contemporaneous association between mental health problems and criminal behavior has been explored in the literature, the long-term consequences of such problems, depression in particular, have received much less attention. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), we examine the effect of depression during adolescence on the probability of engaging in a number of criminal behaviors later in life. In our analysis, we control for a rich set of individual-, family-, and neighborhood-level factors to account for conditions that may be correlated with both childhood depression and adult criminality. One novelty in our approach is the estimation of school and sibling fixed effects models to account for unobserved heterogeneity at the neighborhood and family levels. Furthermore, we exploit the longitudinal nature of our data set to account for baseline differences in criminal behavior. The empirical estimates show that adolescents who suffer from depression face a substantially increased probability of engaging in property crime. We find little evidence that adolescent depression predicts the likelihood of engaging in violent crime or the selling of illicit drugs. Our estimates imply that the lower-bound economic cost of property crime associated with adolescent depression is approximately 227 million dollars per year.

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An Expectancy-Value Model of Emotion Regulation: Implications for Motivation, Emotional Experience, and Decision Making

Maya Tamir et al.
Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
According to expectancy-value models of self-regulation, people are motivated to act in ways they expect to be useful to them. For instance, people are motivated to run when they believe running is useful, even when they have nothing to run away from. Similarly, we propose an expectancy-value model of emotion regulation, according to which people are motivated to emote in ways they expect to be useful to them, regardless of immediate contextual demands. For instance, people may be motivated to get angry when they believe anger is useful, even when there is nothing to be angry about. In 5 studies, we demonstrate that leading people to expect an emotion to be useful increased their motivation to experience that emotion (Studies 1–5), led them to up-regulate the experience of that emotion (Studies 3–4), and led to emotion-consistent behavior (Study 4). Our hypotheses were supported when we manipulated the expected value of anxiety (Study 1) and anger (Studies 2–5), both consciously (Studies 1–4) and unconsciously (Study 5). We discuss the theoretical and pragmatic implications of the proposed model.

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Credit Card Indebtedness and Psychological Well-Being Over Time: Empirical Evidence from a Household Survey

Shuying Shen, Abdoul Sam & Eugene Jones
Journal of Consumer Affairs, forthcoming

Abstract:
While a number of studies have investigated the relationship between debt and psychological well-being, none so far has explored if and how this relationship evolves over time. We seek to fill this gap in the literature by empirically analyzing the impact of household credit card debt on debt stress. Using cross-sectional data collected by The Ohio State University's Consumer Finance Monthly survey between August 2008 and December 2010, we construct a debt stress index and categorize households into three groups based on the length of credit card indebtedness. Our empirical results provide statistical evidence of time-varying impacts of credit card debt on stress levels. Specifically, we find that debt stress for short-run debtors is more than twice that of long-run debtors. The results are robust across a range of econometric specifications.

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More than words: Contemplating death enhances positive emotional word use

Todd Kashdan et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, December 2014, Pages 171–175

Abstract:
Four experiments, three cross-sectional and one longitudinal, tested the hypothesis that contemplating one’s own death produces a shift toward the use of positive emotion words. Participants who wrote about their own death, compared with those who wrote about dental pain, uncertainty, and meaningless, used more positive emotions words in their narratives (Experiments 1a and 1b). Experiment 2 found that contemplating one’s own death enhanced positive emotional word use across different mortality salience manipulations and remained consistent over the course of a 6-day study. Experiment 3 showed that the more positive emotion words participants used when contemplating their mortality, the greater worldview defense they showed. These results suggest that word use offers insight into how the mind responds to the salience of mortality.

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Environmental enrichment as an effective treatment for autism: A randomized controlled trial

Cynthia Woo & Michael Leon
Behavioral Neuroscience, August 2013, Pages 487-497

Abstract:
Enriched sensorimotor environments enable rodents to compensate for a wide range of neurological challenges, including those induced in animal models of autism. Given the sensorimotor deficits in most children with autism, we attempted to translate that approach to their treatment. In a randomized controlled trial, 3–12 year-old children with autism were assigned to either a sensorimotor enrichment group, which received daily olfactory/tactile stimulation along with exercises that stimulated other paired sensory modalities, or to a control group. We administered tests of cognitive performance and autism severity to both groups at the initiation of the study and after 6 months. Severity of autism, as assessed with the Childhood Autism Rating Scale, improved significantly in the enriched group compared to controls. Indeed, 42% of the enriched group and only 7% of the control group had what we considered to be a clinically significant improvement of 5 points on that scale. Sensorimotor enrichment also produced a clear improvement in cognition, as determined by their Leiter-R Visualization and Reasoning scores. At 6 months, the change in average scores for the enriched group was 11.3 points higher than that for the control group. Finally, 69% of parents in the enriched group and 31% of parents in the control group reported improvement in their child over the 6-month study. Environmental enrichment therefore appears to be effective in ameliorating some of the symptoms of autism in children.

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Interaction of the ADRB2 Gene Polymorphism With Childhood Trauma in Predicting Adult Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Israel Liberzon et al.
JAMA Psychiatry, forthcoming

Objective: To examine the association of 3755 candidate gene single-nucleotide polymorphisms with PTSD development in interaction with a history of childhood trauma.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Genetic association study in an Ohio National Guard longitudinal cohort (n = 810) of predominantly male soldiers of European ancestry, with replication in an independent Grady Trauma Project (Atlanta, Georgia) cohort (n = 2083) of predominantly female African American civilians.

Results: Controlling for the level of lifetime adult trauma exposure, we identified the novel association of a single-nucleotide polymorphism within the promoter region of the ADRB2 (Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man 109690) gene with PTSD symptoms in interaction with childhood trauma (rs2400707, P = 1.02 × 10−5, significant after correction for multiple comparisons). The rs2400707 A allele was associated with relative resilience to childhood adversity. An rs2400707 × childhood trauma interaction predicting adult PTSD symptoms was replicated in the independent predominantly female African American cohort.

Conclusions and Relevance: Altered adrenergic and noradrenergic function has been long believed to have a key etiologic role in PTSD development; however, direct evidence of this link has been missing. The rs2400707 polymorphism has been linked to function of the adrenergic system, but, to our knowledge, this is the first study to date linking the ADRB2 gene to PTSD or any psychiatric disorders. These findings have important implications for PTSD etiology, chronic pain, and stress-related comorbidity, as well as for both primary prevention and treatment strategies.

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The Effect of a “Maintain, Don’t Gain” Approach to Weight Management on Depression Among Black Women: Results From a Randomized Controlled Trial

Dori Steinberg et al.
American Journal of Public Health, September 2014, Pages 1766-1773

Objectives: We evaluated the effect of a weight gain prevention intervention (Shape Program) on depression among socioeconomically disadvantaged overweight and obese Black women.

Methods: Between 2009 and 2012, we conducted a randomized trial comparing a 12-month electronic health–based weight gain prevention intervention to usual primary care at 5 central North Carolina community health centers. We assessed depression with the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-8). We analyzed change in depression score from baseline to 12- and 18-month follow-up across groups with mixed models. We used generalized estimating equation models to analyze group differences in the proportion above the clinical threshold for depression (PHQ-8 score ≥ 10).

Results: At baseline, 20% of participants reported depression. Twelve-month change in depression scores was larger for intervention participants (mean difference = −1.85; 95% confidence interval = −3.08, −0.61; P = .004). There was a significant reduction in the proportion of intervention participants with depression at 12 months with no change in the usual-care group (11% vs 19%; P = .035). All effects persisted after we controlled for weight change and medication use. We saw similar findings at 18 months.

Conclusions: The Shape Program, which includes no mention of mood, improved depression among socioeconomically disadvantaged Black women.

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Deuterium content of water increases depression susceptibility: The potential role of a serotonin-related mechanism

Tatyana Strekalova et al.
Behavioural Brain Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Environmental factors can significantly affect disease prevalence, including neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression. The ratio of deuterium to protium in water shows substantial geographical variation, which could affect disease susceptibility. Thus the link between deuterium content of water and depression was investigated, both epidemiologically, and in a mouse model of chronic mild stress. We performed a correlation analysis between deuterium content of tap water and rates of depression in regions of the USA. Next, we used a 10-day chronic stress paradigm to test whether 2-week deuterium-depleted water treatment (91 ppm) affects depressive-like behavior and hippocampal structure. The effect of deuterium-depletion on sleep electrophysiology was also evaluated in naïve mice. There was a geographic correlation between a content of deuterium and the prevalence of depression across the USA. In the chronic stress model, depressive-like features were reduced in mice fed with deuterium-depleted water, and SERT expression was decreased in mice treated with deuterium-treated water compared with regular water. Five days of predator stress also suppressed proliferation in the dentate gyrus; this effect was attenuated in mice fed with deuterium-depleted water. Finally, in naïve mice, deuterium-depleted water treatment increased EEG indices of wakefulness, and decreased duration of REM sleep, phenomena that have been shown to result from the administration of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). Our data suggest that the deuterium content of water may influence the incidence of affective disorder-related pathophysiology and major depression, which might be mediated by the serotoninergic mechanisms.

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Toxoplasma gondii and anxiety disorders in a community-based sample

Adam Markovitz et al.
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, forthcoming

Abstract:
A growing body of literature suggests that exposure to the neurotropic parasite Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is associated with increased risk of mental disorders, particularly schizophrenia. However, a potential association between T. gondii exposure and anxiety disorders has not been rigorously explored. Here, we examine the association of T. gondii infection with both anxiety and mood disorders. Participants (n = 484) were drawn from the Detroit Neighborhood Health Study, a population-representative sample of Detroit residents. Logistic regression was used to examine the associations between T. gondii exposure (defined by seropositivity and IgG antibody levels) and three mental disorders: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. We found that T. gondii seropositivity was associated with a 2 times greater odds of GAD (odds ratio (OR), 2.25; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.11–4.53) after adjusting for age, gender, race, income, marital status, and medication. Individuals in the highest antibody level category had more than 3 times higher odds of GAD (OR, 3.35; 95% CI, 1.41–7.97). Neither T. gondii seropositivity nor IgG antibody levels was significantly associated with PTSD or depression. Our findings indicate that T. gondii infection is strongly and significantly associated with GAD. While prospective confirmation is needed, T. gondii infection may play a role in the development of GAD.

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Suicidal patients are deficient in vitamin D, associated with a pro-inflammatory status in the blood

Cécile Grudet et al.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, forthcoming

Background: Low levels of vitamin D may play a role in psychiatric disorders, as cross-sectional studies show an association between vitamin D deficiency and depression, schizophrenia and psychotic symptoms. The underlying mechanisms are not well understood, although vitamin D is known to influence the immune system to promote a T helper (Th)-2 phenotype. At the same time, increased inflammation might be of importance in the pathophysiology of depression and suicide. We therefore hypothesized that suicidal patients would be deficient in vitamin D, which could be responsible for the inflammatory changes observed in these patients.

Methods: We compared vitamin D levels in suicide attempters (n = 59), non-suicidal depressed patients (n = 17) and healthy controls (n = 14). Subjects were diagnosed according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, and went through a structured interview by a specialist in psychiatry. 25(OH)D2 and 25(OH)D3 were measured in plasma using liquid-chromatography mass-spectrometry (LC-MS). We further explored vitamin D's association with plasma IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α.

Results: Suicide attempters had significantly lower mean levels of vitamin D than depressed non-suicidal patients and healthy controls. 58 percent of the suicide attempters were vitamin D deficient according to clinical standard. Moreover, there was a significant negative association between vitamin D and pro-inflammatory cytokines in the psychiatric patients. Low vitamin D levels were associated with higher levels of the inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-1β in the blood.

Conclusion: The suicide attempters in our study were deficient in vitamin D. Our data also suggest that vitamin D deficiency could be a contributing factor to the elevated pro-inflammatory cytokines previously reported in suicidal patients. We propose that routine clinical testing of vitamin D levels could be beneficial in patients with suicidal symptoms, with subsequent supplementation in patients found to be deficient.

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Economic Strain and Children's Behavior in the Aftermath of the Great Recession

Lindsey Jeanne Leininger & Ariel Kalil
Journal of Marriage and Family, October 2014, Pages 998–1010

Abstract:
Families across the income spectrum experienced subjective feelings of economic strain during the Great Recession. Existing evidence suggests that much of that economic strain did not arise from individual-specific economic shocks, such as unemployment or income loss, as much as it did from worry and uncertainty about the future. The authors tested a model in which a measure of subjective perceptions of economic strain was the key predictor of children's behavior problems and objective indicators of economic experiences were treated as control variables. To do so, they used new data from a population-based sample of children ages 4–17 (N = 303) living in southeast Michigan during the period 2009–2012. They found that economic strain exhibited a qualitatively large independent association with internalizing behavior problems for White — but not Black — children. This association was statistically significant over and above objective indicators of economic experiences and the family psychosocial context.

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Induction of a depression-like negativity bias by cathodal transcranial direct current stimulation

Larissa Wolkenstein et al.
Cortex, October 2014, Pages 103–112

Abstract:
Cognitive control (CC) over emotional distraction is of particular importance for adaptive human behaviour and is associated with activity in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC). Deficient CC, e.g. presenting as negativity bias, has been suggested to underlie many of the core symptoms of major depression (MD) and is associated with impairments of dlPFC function. Correspondingly, enhancement of dlPFC activity with anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) can ameliorate these impairments in patients with MD. Here, we tested the hypothesis that a reduction of dlPFC activity by cathodal tDCS induces CC deficits, thus triggering a depression-like negativity bias in healthy subjects. Twenty-eight individuals participated in a double-blinded, balanced randomized crossover trial of cathodal (1mA, 20min) and sham tDCS applied to the left dlPFC. To assess CC we conducted a delayed response working memory (DWM) task and an arithmetic inhibition task (AIT) with pictures of varying valent content (negative, neutral, positive) during and immediately after stimulation. Cathodal tDCS led to impaired CC specifically over negative material as assessed by reduced response accuracy in the DWM and prolonged response latency in the AIT. Hence, the current study supports the notion that left dlPFC is critically involved in CC over negative material. Together with previously reported beneficial anodal effects, it indicates that the hypoactivation of left dlPFC causes deficits in CC over negative material, which is a possible aetiological mechanism of depression.

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Effects of Statewide Job Losses on Adolescent Suicide-Related Behaviors

Anna Gassman-Pines, Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat & Christina Gibson-Davis
American Journal of Public Health, October 2014, Pages 1964-1970

Objectives: We investigated the impact of statewide job loss on adolescent suicide-related behaviors.

Methods: We used 1997 to 2009 data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to estimate the effects of statewide job loss on adolescents’ suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and suicide plans. Probit regression models controlled for demographic characteristics, state of residence, and year; samples were divided according to gender and race/ethnicity.

Results: Statewide job losses during the year preceding the survey increased girls’ probability of suicidal ideation and suicide plans and non-Hispanic Black adolescents’ probability of suicidal ideation, suicide plans, and suicide attempts. Job losses among 1% of a state’s working-age population increased the probability of girls and Blacks reporting suicide-related behaviors by 2 to 3 percentage points. Job losses did not affect the suicide-related behaviors of boys, non-Hispanic Whites, or Hispanics. The results were robust to the inclusion of other state economic characteristics.

Conclusions: As are adults, adolescents are affected by economic downturns. Our findings show that statewide job loss increases adolescent girls’ and non-Hispanic Blacks’ suicide-related behaviors.

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Can agonistic striving lead to unexplained illness? Implicit goals, pain tolerance, and somatic symptoms in adolescents and adults

Craig Ewart et al.
Health Psychology, September 2014, Pages 977-985

Objectives: We tested the social action theory hypotheses that (a) psychological stress induced by struggling to control others (agonistic striving) is associated with higher levels of subjective somatic symptoms than stress induced by struggling to control the self (transcendence striving); (b) the association between agonistic striving and symptoms is moderated by the ability to tolerate pain; and (c) associations among agonistic goals, pain tolerance, and subjective symptoms are not explained by personality and affective traits or negative emotional responses to personal stressors.

Methods: Implicit motives and negative emotional reactivity to recurring personal stressors were assessed by Social Competence Interview in 333 adolescents and adults who participated in longitudinal research on functional abdominal pain at a university medical center. Pain tolerance was assessed by graduated thermal pain protocol; subjective somatic symptoms, and personality/affective traits assessed by questionnaires. The primary outcome measure was the self-reported severity of 35 somatic symptoms often experienced in the absence of diagnosable disease.

Results: All hypotheses were supported.

Conclusions: Nonconscious agonistic strivings may increase the perceived frequency and severity of subjective somatic symptoms; this tendency is greatly magnified by difficulty in self-regulating responses to painful stimuli. Implicit agonistic motives and their associations with symptoms are not explained by individual differences in trait neuroticism, anxiety, depression, anger, or low self-esteem or by negative emotional reactivity to a personal stressor. These findings may afford fruitful insights into mechanisms by which stressful social environments undermine health and suggest promising directions for clinical intervention.

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Randomness increases self-reported anxiety and neurophysiological correlates of performance monitoring

Alexa Tullett, Aaron Kay & Michael Inzlicht
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Several prominent theories spanning clinical, social and developmental psychology suggest that people are motivated to see the world as a sensible orderly place. These theories presuppose that randomness is aversive because it is associated with unpredictability. If this is the case, thinking that the world is random should lead to increased anxiety and heightened monitoring of one’s actions and their consequences. Here, we conduct experimental tests of both of these ideas. Participants read one of three passages: (i) comprehensible order, (ii) incomprehensible order and (iii) randomness. In Study 1, we examined the effects of these passages on self-reported anxiety. In Study 2, we examined the effects of the same manipulation on the error-related negativity (ERN), an event-related brain potential associated with performance monitoring. We found that messages about randomness increased self-reported anxiety and ERN amplitude relative to comprehensible order, whereas incomprehensible order had intermediate effects. These results lend support to the theoretically important idea that randomness is unsettling because it implies that the world is unpredictable.

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Relations Between Narrative Coherence, Identity, and Psychological Well-being in Emerging Adulthood

Theodore Waters & Robyn Fivush
Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Objective: The hypothesis that the ability to construct a coherent account of personal experience is reflective, or predictive, of psychological adjustment cuts across numerous domains of psychological science. It has been argued that coherent accounts of identity are especially adaptive. We tested these hypotheses by examining relations between narrative coherence of personally significant autobiographical memories and three psychological well-being components (Purpose and Meaning; Positive Self View; Positive Relationships). We also examined the potential moderation of the relations between coherence and well-being by assessing the identity content of each narrative.

Method: We collected two autobiographical narratives of personally significant events from 103 undergraduate students and coded them for coherence and identity content. Two additional narratives about generic/recurring events were also collected and coded for coherence.

Results: We confirmed the prediction that constructing coherent autobiographical narratives is related to psychological well-being. Further, we found that this relation was moderated by the narratives’ relevance to identity and that this moderation held after controlling for narrative ability more generally (i.e. coherence of generic/recurring events).

Conclusion: These data lend strong support to the coherent narrative identity hypothesis and the prediction that unique events are a critical feature of identity construction in emerging adulthood.

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Breathing-Based Meditation Decreases Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms in U.S. Military Veterans: A Randomized Controlled Longitudinal Study

Emma Seppälä et al.
Journal of Traumatic Stress, August 2014, Pages 397–405

Abstract:
Given the limited success of conventional treatments for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), investigations of alternative approaches are warranted. We examined the effects of a breathing-based meditation intervention, Sudarshan Kriya yoga, on PTSD outcome variables in U.S. male veterans of the Iraq or Afghanistan war. We randomly assigned 21 veterans to an active (n = 11) or waitlist control (n = 10) group. Laboratory measures of eye-blink startle and respiration rate were obtained before and after the intervention, as were self-report symptom measures; the latter were also obtained 1 month and 1 year later. The active group showed reductions in PTSD scores, d = 1.16, 95% CI [0.20, 2.04], anxiety symptoms, and respiration rate, but the control group did not. Reductions in startle correlated with reductions in hyperarousal symptoms immediately postintervention (r = .93, p < .001) and at 1-year follow-up (r = .77, p = .025). This longitudinal intervention study suggests there may be clinical utility for Sudarshan Kriya yoga for PTSD.

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Positive Effects of Basic Training on Cognitive Performance and Mood of Adult Females

Harris Lieberman et al.
Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, September 2014, Pages 1113-1123

Objective: This study investigated whether a stressful military training program, the 9- to 10-week U.S. Army basic combat training (BCT) course, alters the cognitive performance and mood of healthy young adult females.

Method: Two separate, within-subject studies were conducted with different BCT classes; in total 212 female volunteers were assessed before and after BCT. In Study 1, Four-Choice Reaction Time, Match-to-Sample, and Grammatical Reasoning tests were administered. The Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT) was administered in Study 2. The Profile of Mood States (POMS) was administered in both studies.

Results: In Study 1, reaction time to correct responses on all three of the performance tests improved from pre- to post-BCT. In Study 2, PVT reaction time significantly improved. All POMS subscales improved over time in the second study, whereas POMS subscales in the first study failed to meet criteria for statistically significant differences over time.

Conclusion: Cognition and mood substantially improved over military basic training. These changes may be a result of structured physical and mental training experienced during basic training or other factors not as yet identified.

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FKBP5 and CRHR1 polymorphisms moderate the stress–physical health association in a national sample

Jared Lessard & Alison Holman
Health Psychology, September 2014, Pages 1046-1056

Objective: Stressful life events experienced during childhood and as an adult negatively impact mental and physical health over the life span. This study examined polymorphisms from 2 hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis-related genes previously associated with posttraumatic stress disorder — FKBP5 and CRHR1 — as moderators of the impact of child abuse and adult stress on physical health.

Method: A national, community-based subsample of non-Hispanic European American respondents (n = 527) from a prospective longitudinal 3-year study of stress and coping (N = 2,729) provided saliva for genotyping.

Results: FKBP5 (rs1360780) and CRHR1 (rs12944712) polymorphisms significantly interacted with child abuse and adult stress to predict increases in physical health ailments over 3 years. Child abuse and adult stress were strongly related to physician-diagnosed physical ailments among individuals with the risk alleles of both single nucleotide polymorphisms. Individuals carrying the low-risk homozygotic genotypes were protected from the long-term negative health implications of experiencing both child abuse and adult stress.

Conclusion: Consistent with theories linking the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis with stress-related disease, hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis polymorphism genotypes moderated the association between exposure to child abuse/adult stress and long-term physical health outcomes in a national sample.

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You Are What You See and Choose: Agreeableness and Situation Selection

Konrad Bresin & Michael Robinson
Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Objective: Agreeableness positively predicts subjective well-being, but why does it do so? Recent theorizing has highlighted possible substrates related to emotion regulation. Following suit, the present studies focus on the situation selection stage of the emotion regulation sequence.

Methods: Undergraduate participants reported on their agreeableness levels and completed a picture viewing task (Studies 1 and 2) or a media choice task (Study 3).

Results: Studies 1 and 2 found that the tendency to view negative pictures for a longer period of time than positive pictures was evident at low levels of agreeableness and absent at high levels. The Study 3 paradigm asked individuals whether they typically choose to expose themselves to positive or negative stimuli across diverse media sources. Preferences for positive media were more pronounced at higher levels of agreeableness.

Conclusions: The results have systematic implications for understanding the emotional lives of disagreeable versus agreeable people.

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What matters to the rich and the poor? Subjective well-being, financial satisfaction, and postmaterialist needs across the world

Weiting Ng & Ed Diener
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, August 2014, Pages 326-338

Abstract:
This study explored the importance of financial satisfaction versus postmaterialist needs for subjective well-being (SWB). Using the Gallup World Poll, we examined whether financial satisfaction and postmaterialist needs (pertaining to autonomy, social support, and respect) were universal predictors of the different components of SWB across the world, and whether their effects were moderated by national affluence. Results showed that financial satisfaction was the strongest predictor of life evaluation, whereas respect was the strongest predictor of positive feelings. Both measures predicted negative feelings to some extent. Multilevel analyses also revealed moderating effects of societal wealth. The association between financial satisfaction and SWB and that between postmaterialist needs and SWB were stronger in richer nations compared with poorer ones. This suggests that developed economies should continue to focus on both material and psychological aspects, and not disregard economic gains, as both measures are essential to well-being.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Common senses

Acts of Emptying Promote Self-Focus: A Perceived Resource Deficiency Perspective

Liat Levontin, Danit Ein-Gar & Angela Lee
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
No one likes feeling empty. When people feel empty they seek replenishment, which usually takes the form of increased self-focused behaviors that provide value to the self and decreased other-focused behaviors that provide value to others. This research demonstrates how exposure to the concept of emptiness by simply performing or observing acts of emptying (vs. filling or control) of a glass vase, coat pockets, a glass jar, or a duffle bag triggers the cognitive metaphor of resource deficiency. The resource deficiency metaphor in turn leads people to engage in self-focused behaviors such as eating candy or planning a dream vacation and to disengage from other-focused behaviors such as donating to charities or helping others.

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How Words Transcend and Pictures Immerse: On the Association Between Medium and Level of Construal

SoYon Rim et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Drawing from construal level theory, we test the hypothesis that words promote thinking of events in terms of their abstract and central features (i.e., high-level construal), whereas pictures promote thinking in terms of more concrete and idiosyncratic features (i.e., low-level construal). In Experiments 1a and 1b, we found that verbal (vs. pictorial) presentation of objects led to broader, more inclusive categorization of those objects. In Experiment 2, we found that word (vs. picture) priming led to greater global (vs. local) processing of subsequent perceptual information. Finally, in Experiments 3 and 4, we tested the opposite direction of causality. Thinking about high-level “why” versus relatively low-level “how” (Experiment 3) and thinking about high-level categories versus relatively low-level exemplars (Experiment 4) led to more verbal versus pictorial thought. These findings provide converging evidence that medium (word, picture) is associated with level of construal.

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Targeted enhancement of cortical-hippocampal brain networks and associative memory

Jane Wang et al.
Science, 29 August 2014, Pages 1054-1057

Abstract:
The influential notion that the hippocampus supports associative memory by interacting with functionally distinct and distributed brain regions has not been directly tested in humans. We therefore used targeted noninvasive electromagnetic stimulation to modulate human cortical-hippocampal networks and tested effects of this manipulation on memory. Multiple-session stimulation increased functional connectivity among distributed cortical-hippocampal network regions and concomitantly improved associative memory performance. These alterations involved localized long-term plasticity because increases were highly selective to the targeted brain regions, and enhancements of connectivity and associative memory persisted for ~24 hours after stimulation. Targeted cortical-hippocampal networks can thus be enhanced noninvasively, demonstrating their role in associative memory.

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Social Connection Modulates Perceptions of Animacy

Katherine Powers et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Human survival depends on identifying targets potentially capable of engaging in meaningful social connection. Using sets of morphed images created from animate (human) and inanimate (doll) faces, we found converging evidence across two studies showing that the motivation to connect with other people systematically alters the interpretation of the physical features that signal that a face is alive. Specifically, in their efforts to find and connect with other social agents, individuals who feel socially disconnected actually decrease their thresholds for what it means to be alive, consistently observing animacy when fewer definitively human cues are present. From an evolutionary perspective, overattributing animacy may be an adaptive strategy that allows people to cast a wide net when identifying possible sources of social connection and maximize their opportunities to renew social relationships.

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Prefrontal transcranial direct current stimulation improves fundamental vehicle control abilities

Hiroyuki Sakai et al.
Behavioural Brain Research, 15 October 2014, Pages 57–62

Abstract:
Noninvasive brain stimulation techniques have increasingly attracted the attention of neuroscientists because they enable the identification of the causal role of a targeted brain region. However, few studies have applied such techniques to everyday life situations. Here, we investigate the causal role of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in fundamental vehicle control abilities. Thirteen participants underwent a simulated driving task under prefrontal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on three separate testing days. Each testing day was randomly assigned to either anodal over the right with cathodal over the left DLPFC, cathodal over the right with anodal over the left DLPFC, or sham stimulation. The driving task required the participants to maintain an inter-vehicle distance to a leading car traveling a winding road with a constant speed. Driving performance was quantified using two metrics: the root-mean-square error of inter-vehicle distance as car-following performance, and the standard deviation of lateral position as lane-keeping performance. Results showed that both car-following and lane-keeping performances were significantly greater for right anodal/left cathodal compared with right cathodal/left cathodal and sham stimulation. These results suggest not only the causal involvement of the DLPFC in driving, but also right hemisphere dominance for vehicle control. The findings of this study indicate that tDCS can be a useful tool to examine the causal role of a specific brain region in ecologically valid environments, and also might be a help to drivers with difficulties in vehicle control.

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The effects of negative emotions on sensory perception: Fear but not anger decreases tactile sensitivity

Nicholas Kelley & Brandon Schmeichel
Frontiers in Psychology, August 2014

Abstract:
Emotions and sensory perceptions are closely intertwined. Of the five senses, sight has been by far the most extensively studied sense in emotion research. Relatively less is known about how emotions influence the other four senses. Touch is essential for nonverbal communication in both humans and other animals. The current investigation tested competing hypotheses about the effect of fear on tactile perception. One hypothesis based on evolutionary considerations predicts that fear enhances sensory perception, including tactile sensitivity. A competing hypothesis based on research on peripheral psychophysiology predicts that fear should decrease tactile sensitivity. Two experiments that induced negative emotional states and measured two-point discrimination ability at the fingertip found that fear reduces tactile sensitivity relative to anger or a neutral control condition (Studies 1 and 2). These findings did not appear to be driven by participants’ naïve beliefs about the influence of emotions on touch (Study 3). The results represent the first evidence of the causal impact of emotional states on tactile sensitivity, are consistent with prior evidence for the peripheral physiological effects of fear, and offer novel empirical grounds for developing and advancing theories of emotional influences on sensory perception.

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The Relative Benefits of Green Versus Lean Office Space: Three Field Experiments

Marlon Nieuwenhuis et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, September 2014, Pages 199-214

Abstract:
Principles of lean office management increasingly call for space to be stripped of extraneous decorations so that it can flexibly accommodate changing numbers of people and different office functions within the same area. Yet this practice is at odds with evidence that office workers’ quality of life can be enriched by office landscaping that involves the use of plants that have no formal work-related function. To examine the impact of these competing approaches, 3 field experiments were conducted in large commercial offices in The Netherlands and the U.K. These examined the impact of lean and “green” offices on subjective perceptions of air quality, concentration, and workplace satisfaction as well as objective measures of productivity. Two studies were longitudinal, examining effects of interventions over subsequent weeks and months. In all 3 experiments enhanced outcomes were observed when offices were enriched by plants. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

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Quiet Eye Training Improves Small Arms Maritime Marksmanship

Lee Moore et al.
Military Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Quiet eye training — teaching task-specific gaze control — has been consistently shown to optimize the acquisition of motor skills. The present study aimed to examine the potential benefits of a quiet eye training intervention in a simulated maritime marksmanship task that involved shooting fast approaching moving targets with a decommissioned general-purpose machine gun. Twenty participants were randomly assigned to a quiet eye trained (QET) or technical trained (TT) group and completed 2 baseline, 20 training, and 2 retention trials on the moving-target task. Compared to their TT counterparts, the QET group displayed more effective gaze control (longer quiet eye durations and greater target locking) and more accurate performance (smaller radial error of both the initial shot and average of all shots) at retention. These findings highlight the potential for quiet eye training to be used to support the training of marksmanship skills in military settings.

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Expressing Gambling-Related Cognitive Biases in Motor Behaviour: Rolling Dice to Win Prizes

Matthew Lim, Henrietta Bowden-Jones & Robert Rogers
Journal of Gambling Studies, September 2014, Pages 625-637

Abstract:
Cognitive perspectives on gambling propose that biased thinking plays a significant role in sustaining gambling participation and, in vulnerable individuals, gambling problems. One prominent set of cognitive biases include illusions of control involving beliefs that it is possible to influence random gaming events. Sociologists have reported that (some) gamblers believe that it is possible to throw dice in different ways to achieve gaming outcomes (e.g., ‘dice-setting’ in craps). However, experimental demonstrations of these phenomena are lacking. Here, we asked regular gamblers to roll a computer-simulated, but fair, 6 sided die for monetary prizes. Gamblers allowed the die to roll for longer when attempting to win higher value bets, and when attempting to hit high winning numbers. This behaviour was exaggerated in gamblers motivated to keep gambling following the experience of almost-winning in gambling games. These results suggest that gambling cognitive biases find expression in the motor behaviour of rolling dice for monetary prizes, possibly reflecting embodied substrates.

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Sex differences in the inference and perception of causal relations within a video game

Michael Young
Frontiers in Psychology, August 2014

Abstract:
The learning of immediate causation within a dynamic environment was examined. Participants encountered seven decision points in which they needed to choose, which of three possible candidates was the cause of explosions in the environment. Each candidate was firing a weapon at random every few seconds, but only one of them produced an immediate effect. Some participants showed little learning, but most demonstrated increases in accuracy across time. On average, men showed higher accuracy and shorter latencies that were not explained by differences in self-reported prior video game experience. This result suggests that prior reports of sex differences in causal choice in the game are not specific to situations involving delayed or probabilistic causal relations.

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Moving Time: The Influence of Action on Duration Perception

Clare Press et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Perceiving the sensory consequences of action accurately is essential for appropriate interaction with our physical and social environments. Prediction mechanisms are considered necessary for fine-tuned sensory control of action, yet paradoxically may distort perception. Here, we examine this paradox by addressing how movement influences the perceived duration of sensory outcomes congruent with action. Experiment 1 required participants to make judgments about the duration of vibrations applied to a moving or stationary finger. In Experiments 2 and 3, participants judged observed finger movements that were congruent or incongruent with their own actions. In all experiments, target events were perceived to be longer when congruent with movement. Interestingly, this temporal dilation did not differ as a function of stimulus perspective (1st or 3rd person) or spatial location. We propose that this bias may reflect the operation of an adaptive mechanism for sensorimotor selection and control that preactivates anticipated outcomes of action. The bias itself may have surprising implications for both action control and perception of others: we may be in contact with grasped objects for less time than we realize, and others’ reactions to us may be briefer than we believe.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, September 12, 2014

Two sides

The National News Media's Effect on Congress: How Fox News Affected Elites in Congress

Joshua Clinton & Ted Enamorado
Journal of Politics, October 2014, Pages 928-943

Abstract:
Despite the prominence of the national news media, it is unclear whether elected officials are affected by the national news media in policy-consequential ways because of the difficulty of disentangling the influence of the media on Congress from Congress's influence on the media. We use a unique opportunity to determine whether position-taking behavior in Congress and the likelihood of reelection is affected by the national news media. Using the fact that the Fox News Channel spread gradually across the United States after being launched in October of 1996 in ways unrelated to the ideology of congressional districts and the incumbent representatives, we show that representatives become less supportive of President Clinton in districts where Fox News begins broadcasting than similar representatives in similar districts where Fox News was not broadcast. Moreover, the effects took a few years to be realized, and the entry of Fox News in a district did not appear to affect which representatives were reelected. Consistent with theories emphasizing the anticipatory actions taken by elected officials to maximize their electoral security in the face of changing electoral conditions, our results suggest that the national media may slightly affect the prospects for policy change by altering representatives' expectations and the positions that they take.

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The Balanced U.S. Press

Riccardo Puglisi & James Snyder
Journal of the European Economic Association, forthcoming

Abstract:
We measure the relative ideological positions of newspapers, voters, interest groups, and political parties, using data on ballot propositions. We exploit the fact that newspapers, parties, and interest groups take positions on these propositions, and the fact that citizens ultimately vote on them. We find that, on average, newspapers in the United States are located almost exactly at the median voter in their states - that is, they are balanced around the median voter. Still, there is a significant amount of ideological heterogeneity across newspapers, which is smaller than the one found for interest groups. However, when we group propositions by issue area, we find a sizable amount of ideological imbalance: broadly speaking, newspapers are to the left of the state-level median voter on many social issues, and to the right on many economic issues. To complete the picture, we use two existing methods of measuring bias and show that the news and editorial sections of newspapers have almost identical partisan positions.

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The Subjective Well-Being Political Paradox: Happy Welfare States and Unhappy Liberals

Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn, Oscar Holmes & Derek Avery
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Political scientists traditionally have analyzed the effect of politics on subjective well-being (SWB) at the collective level, finding that more liberal countries report greater SWB. Conversely, psychologists have focused primarily on SWB at the individual level and shown that being more conservative corresponds in greater SWB. We integrate the theoretical foundations of these 2 literatures (e.g., livability and system justification theories) to compare and contrast the effects of country- and individual-level political orientation on SWB simultaneously. Using a panel of 16 West European countries representative of 1,134,384 individuals from 1970 to 2002, we demonstrated this SWB political paradox: More liberal countries and more conservative individuals had higher levels of SWB. More important, we explored measurement as a moderator of the political orientation-SWB relationship to shed some light on why this paradox exists. When orientation is measured in terms of enacted values (i.e., what the government actually does), liberalism corresponds in higher SWB, but when politics is measured in terms of espoused values (i.e., what individuals believe), greater conservatism coincided in higher SWB.

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A Desire for Deviance: The Influence of Leader Normativeness and Inter-group Competition on Group Member Support

Jin Wook Chang, Nazlı Turan & Rosalind Chow
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Group members typically prefer leaders who have characteristics or attitudes that are in line with group norms (i.e., are normative). In this paper, we explore the possibility that in highly competitive inter-group contexts, group members prefer leaders who can more effectively differentiate the in-group from out-groups, leading to a preference for leaders with more extreme attitudes that are in line with group norms (i.e., pro-normative). In three experiments conducted in an election context in the United States, we find that both Democrats' and Republicans' preference for an extreme leader increases under conditions of high inter-group competition. Results indicate that participants' heightened need to differentiate their political party from the competing party drives this effect, and that this effect is stronger for those who identify strongly with their political party. Implications for group members' responses to in-group deviance and leadership support are discussed.

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Persuading Partisans: Targeted Moral Reframing Facilitates Political Influence

Matthew Feinberg & Robb Willer
Stanford Working Paper, June 2013

Abstract:
Political psychologists find that political attitudes are often grounded in moral convictions and, when they are, such attitudes are uniquely rigid and resistant to change. Here, we argue that the tight link between morality and politics also offers a path to political persuasion. Applying Moral Foundations Theory (e.g., Graham, Haidt, Nosek, 2009), we test whether reframing political views in terms of moral convictions endorsed by the target of the message will lead the target to be more supportive of positions he or she would typically oppose, thus offering a mechanism for morally-based political persuasion. Results showed that conservatives supported same-sex marriage (Study 1), universal health care (Study 2), and the re-election of Barack Obama (Study 4) more when arguments supporting these more liberal positions were presented in terms of moral convictions endorsed at higher levels among conservatives (loyalty, authority, and purity). Liberals supported high levels of military spending (Study 3) and making English the official language of the United States (Study 5), traditionally conservative positions, more when arguments for these positions were presented in terms of fairness and equality, values endorsed more by liberals. Mediation and moderation analyses from Studies 3-5 suggest that the reframed moral appeals were persuasive at least in part because they increased the apparent agreement between these political positions and the targeted individuals' moral values.

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The Big Tent Effect: Descriptive Candidates and Black and Latino Political Partisanship

Christopher Stout & Jennifer Garcia
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this study, we assess whether Blacks and/or Latinos are more likely to identify with political parties that nominate a U.S. House candidate who shares their race/ethnicity using the 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES). Our results indicate that Blacks are more likely to identify with both the Democratic and Republican Party when they nominate successful Black candidates for the House of Representatives. To assess the temporal order of the relationship, we examine the differences in Black Democratic partisanship before and after Obama's election to the White House and changes in Republican partisanship among Blacks in districts before and after the nomination of a successful Black Republican candidate. In combination, we find that both political parties can make gains in the Black community through the nomination of co-racial candidates. While descriptive candidates consistently influence Black partisanship, we find that Latino partisanship is not significantly affected by the presence of co-ethnic candidates.

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Going Along Versus Getting it Right: The Role of Self-Integrity in Political Conformity

Kevin Binning et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
People often conform to the opinions of ingroup members, even when available evidence suggests the group is misinformed. Following insights from the social identity approach and self-affirmation theory, it was hypothesized that people conform to salient opinions in an effort to maintain global self-integrity. In a series of experiments examining Americans' approval of President Obama and his policies, approval was consistently swayed by normative information (national polling data) but not by evidentiary information (indicators of national economic health), except under theory-predicted conditions. When participants had satisfied their sense of self-integrity with a self-affirmation exercise (Democrats in Study 1, Republicans in Study 2), or when they had low levels of American identification and thus were less concerned with national norms (Democrats and Republicans in Study 3), they showed the opposite pattern and were swayed by evidence in spite of contradicting normative information. The extent to which people are influenced by norms versus evidence in political judgment is shaped by social identity, one aspect of self-integrity. The results highlight a social psychological means to attenuate and potentially reverse conformity in the face of contradicting evidence, a finding with both practical and theoretical implications.

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Geography, Uncertainty, and Polarization

Nolan McCarty et al.
Princeton Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
Using new data on roll-call votes and public opinion in U.S. state legislative districts, we explain how ideological polarization within districts can lead to legislative polarization. Many of the seemingly 'moderate' districts that switch hands between Democrats and Republicans are internally polarized. The ideological distance between Democrats and Republicans within these districts is often greater than the distance between liberal cities and conservative rural areas. We present a theoretical model in which intra-district ideological polarization causes candidates to be uncertain about the ideological location of the median voter, thereby reducing their incentives for platform moderation. We then demonstrate that in otherwise identical districts, the difference in roll-call voting behavior between Democratic and Republican state legislators is a function of within-district ideological heterogeneity. Our findings suggest that accounting for the subtleties of political geography can help explain the coexistence of a polarized legislature and a moderate mass public.

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An Ideological House of Mirrors: Political Stereotypes as Exaggerations of Motivated Social Cognition Differences

Aaron Scherer, Paul Windschitl & Jesse Graham
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research on political stereotypes has focused on the perceived moral values or political attitudes of conservatives and liberals. The current studies examined whether laypeople hold stereotypes about the psychological traits of Republicans and Democrats and whether those stereotypes represent exaggerations of actual political differences. Participants completed measures of epistemic (Study 1), existential (Study 2), and ideological (Study 2) motives. Participants also completed these measures based on how they thought the average Republican and average Democrat would respond. Consistent with previous research, Republicans scored higher on these measures of motivated social cognition than Democrats. Critically, political stereotypes about Democrats and Republicans mirrored, but exaggerated, the actual differences. Despite an overall tendency of participants to engage in stereotype exaggeration, Democrats engaged in greater stereotype exaggeration compared to Republicans, and partisans (individuals who strongly identified with either party) engaged in greater stereotype exaggeration compared to more moderate party members.

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Linking Genes and Political Orientations: Testing the Cognitive Ability as Mediator Hypothesis

Sven Oskarsson et al.
Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent research has demonstrated that genetic differences explain a sizeable fraction of the variance in political orientations, but little is known about the pathways through which genes might affect political preferences. In this article, we use a uniquely assembled dataset of almost 1,000 Swedish male twin pairs containing detailed information on cognitive ability and political attitudes in order to further examine the genetic and environmental causes of political orientations. Our study makes three distinct contributions to our understanding of the etiology of political orientations: (1) we report heritability estimates across different dimensions of political ideology; (2) we show that cognitive ability and political orientations are related; and (3) we provide evidence consistent with the hypothesis that cognitive ability mediates part of the genetic influence on political orientations. These findings provide important clues about the nature of the complex pathways from molecular genetic variation to political orientations.

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The Paradoxes of Politics in Colorado Springs

Joshua Dunn
The Forum, August 2014, Pages 329-342

Abstract:
Despite being known as the "Evangelical Vatican," politics in Colorado Springs is more pluralistic, and interesting, than its reputation suggests. The city is overwhelmingly conservative, but all major factions of modern conservatism - social, economic, and defense-related - have a significant presence in the city, leading to unusual controversies among them and with the city's erstwhile liberals. Three paradoxes reveal the more complicated nature of this politics: 1) even though Colorado Springs is a bastion of evangelicalism, it is a largely secular city; 2) it loathes but is simultaneously dependent on the federal government; and 3) its social conservatives exercise more power nationally than locally.

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Political and Cultural Dimensions of Tea Party Support, 2009-2012

Andrew Perrin et al.
Sociological Quarterly, Fall 2014, Pages 625-652

Abstract:
The Tea Party Movement (TPM) burst onto the political scene following the 2008 elections. Early on, the movement attracted broad public support and seemed to tap into a variety of cultural concerns rooted in the changing demographic, political, and economic face of the nation. However, some observers questioned whether the Tea Party represented anything more than routine partisan backlash. And what had started as a seemingly grassroots movement that changed the face of American politics in the 2010 election was reduced to being mainly a caucus within Congress by 2012. In this article, we examine the cultural and political dimensions of Tea Party support over time. Using polling data from North Carolina and Tennessee and quantitative media analysis, we provide new evidence that cultural dispositions in addition to conservative identification were associated with TPM favorability in 2010; that these dispositions crystallized into shared political positions in 2011; and that by 2012 little distinguished TPM adherents from other conservatives.

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The Impact of Partisan Sponsorship on Political Surveys

Roger Tourangeau, Stanley Presser & Hanyu Sun
Public Opinion Quarterly, Summer 2014, Pages 510-522

Abstract:
Although it is widely believed that revealing the topic or sponsor of a survey to potential respondents can produce large nonresponse biases, measurement errors, or both, recent research has shown that the effects of the framing of the survey request are often quite modest. However, research has not experimented with partisan or candidate sponsors, which are most likely to produce large effects. We carried out three experiments with political surveys that varied whether a partisan sponsor was identified (and in one of the experiments also varied the identity of that sponsor), expecting that this would have dramatic effects. Instead, all three studies found only minor effects. Thus, even in the context of partisan election surveys, sponsorship may not be the powerful cue it is often thought to be.

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Mobilizing Marginalized Groups among Party Elites

Seth Masket, Michael Heaney & Dara Strolovitch
The Forum, August 2014, Pages 257-280

Abstract:
The Democratic Party has long used a system of caucuses and councils to reach out to marginalized groups among convention delegates. This article tests two hypotheses about how this system works within the party. First, the Parties in Service to Candidates Hypothesis holds that caucuses and councils mobilize elites from marginalized groups to increase support for the party nominee. Second, the Group Solidarity Hypothesis holds that caucuses and councils mobilize elites from marginalized groups to enhance group solidarity. Regression analysis of data drawn from an original survey of delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention provides no support to the Service Hypothesis, while the evidence supports the Solidarity Hypothesis in the case of the Women's Caucus, which became a rallying point for women who were disappointed that Hillary Clinton was not the Democratic Party nominee. A similar survey of delegates to the 2008 Republican National Convention did not uncover a parallel system of representing marginalized groups within the Republican Party.

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The Social Structure of Political Echo Chambers: Ideology and Political Homophily in Online Communication Networks

Andrei Boutyline and Robb Willer
University of California Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
We predict that people with different political orientations will exhibit systematically different levels of political homophily, the tendency to associate with others similar to oneself in political ideology. Research on personality differences across the political spectrum finds that both more conservative and more politically extreme individuals tend to exhibit greater orientations towards cognitive stability, clarity, and familiarity. We reason that such a "preference for certainty" may make these individuals more inclined to seek out the company of those who reaffirm, rather than challenge, their views. Since survey studies of political homophily face well-documented methodological challenges, we instead test this proposition on a large sample of politically engaged users of the social networking platform Twitter, whose ideologies we infer from the politicians and policy non-profits they follow. As predicted, we find that both more extreme and more conservative individuals tend to be more homophilous than more liberal and more moderate ones.

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An emotional signature of political ideology: Evidence from two linguistic content-coding studies

Michael Robinson, Ryan Boyd & Adam Fetterman
Personality and Individual Differences, December 2014, Pages 98-102

Abstract:
Approach-avoidance frameworks for political ideology have been proposed with increasing frequency. Following such frameworks and a wider motivation-emotion literature, it was hypothesized that political ideology would be predictive of the extent to which anxiety (avoidance-related) versus anger (approach-related) words would be evident in written texts. Study 1 sampled user-generated text within conservative versus liberal Internet chat rooms. After correcting for the greater normative frequency of anger words, a crossover ideology by emotion type interaction was found. Study 2 found a parallel interaction among college students writing about a non-political topic. Political ideology thus has a discrete emotional signature, one favoring anxiety among conservatives and anger among liberals.

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Party Registration and Party Self-Identification: Exploring the Role of Electoral Institutions in Attitudes and Behaviors

Matthew Thornburg
Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
How do electoral institutions affect self-identified partisanship? I hypothesize that party registration acts to anchor a person's party identification, tying a person to a political party even when their underlying preferences may align them with the other party. Estimating a random effects multinomial logit model, I find individuals registered with a party are more likely to self-identify with that party and away from the other party. Party registration also affects voting in presidential elections but not in House elections, leading to greater defection in the former where voters have more information about the candidates. These insights illuminate varying rates of electoral realignment, particularly among southern states, and the makeup of primary electorates in states with and without party registration.

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Civility 2.0: A comparative analysis of incivility in online political discussion

Ian Rowe
Information, Communication & Society, forthcoming

Abstract:
In an effort to clean up user comment sections, news organizations have turned to Facebook, the world's largest social network site, as a way to make users more identifiable and accountable for the content they produce. It is hypothesized that users leaving comments via their Facebook profile will be less likely to engage in uncivil and impolite discussion, even when it comes to discussing politically sensitive and potentially divisive issues. By analysing the content of discussion as it occurs in response to political news content on the Washington Post Facebook, and comparing it to that which occurs on the Washington Post website where users are afforded a relatively high level of anonymity, the present study determines the extent to which Facebook increases the level of civility and impoliteness in an area of political discussion renowned for uncivil and impolite communicative behaviour. In line with earlier theories of social interaction, the paper finds that political discussion on The Washington Post website is significantly more likely to be uncivil than discussion of the same content on the Washington Post Facebook page. Moreover, the incivility and impoliteness on the Washington Post website are significantly more likely to be directed towards other participants in the discussion compared to The Washington Post Facebook page.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Two for one

Believe You Can and You Will: The Belief in High Self-Control Decreases Interest in Attractive Alternatives

Myrte Hamburg & Tila Pronk
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the present research, we examined the effects of self-control beliefs on relationship protective behavior. We hypothesized that providing participants with feedback on their level of self-control would help them shield their relationship from attractive alternatives. Study 1 showed that romantically involved participants who received positive feedback on their level of self-control showed less interest in attractive alternatives as compared to participants who did not receive self-control feedback. Study 2 replicated these results and, additionally, showed that negative feedback increased interest in alternative others for romantically involved, but not for single participants. Together, these studies showed that in the context of close relationships, providing people with self-control feedback increases their ability to exercise self-control.

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Pluralistic ignorance and misperception of social norms concerning cheating in dating relationships

Susan Boon, Sarah Watkins & Rowan Sciban
Personal Relationships, September 2014, Pages 482–496

Abstract:
Two studies tested the hypothesis that beliefs about infidelity in dating relationships reflect pluralistic ignorance, a misperception in which people mistakenly believe that their own personal attitudes and behavior differ from others' when they do not. Consistent with pluralistic ignorance findings in other domains, undergraduates reported that the average university student (a) saw dating infidelity as more acceptable and (b) engaged in unfaithful acts more frequently than they themselves did. Neither type of infidelity (sexual, emotional, both sexual and emotional, or unspecified; Study 1, N = 176) nor motivated reasoning (i.e., defensiveness; Study 2, N = 359) moderated this pattern of results. Possible sources of misperceived norms concerning fidelity in dating relationships and the implications of such misperceptions are discussed.

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What do you get when you make somebody else’s partner your own? An analysis of relationships formed via mate poaching

Joshua Foster et al.
Journal of Research in Personality, October 2014, Pages 78–90

Abstract:
It is well documented that many relationships form via mate poaching (i.e., stealing someone’s partner), but almost nothing is known about how these relationships function. Across three studies, we observed reliable evidence that individuals who were poached by their current romantic partners were less committed, less satisfied, and less invested in their relationships. They also paid more attention to romantic alternatives, perceived their alternatives to be of higher quality, and engaged in higher rates of infidelity compared to non-poached participants. Two longitudinal studies offered conflicting evidence regarding whether relationship dysfunction associated with mate poaching develops over time or is a stable quality. Evidence from a cross-sectional study suggests that individual differences in sociosexual-orientation help to explain link between mate poaching and relationship dysfunction.

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Partner attractiveness moderates the relationship between number of sexual rivals and in-pair copulation frequency in humans (Homo sapiens)

Michael Pham et al.
Journal of Comparative Psychology, August 2014, Pages 328-331

Abstract:
Nonhuman males attend to the number of potential sexual rivals in the local environment to assess sperm competition risk. Males of these species sometimes perform more frequent in-pair copulations to increase the likelihood of success in sperm competition. Here, we extend this research to humans, Homo sapiens. We secured self-report data from 393 men in a committed, sexual, heterosexual relationship. The results indicate that men whose in-pair partner has more male coworkers and friends (i.e., potential sexual rivals) also perform more frequent in-pair copulations, but only among men who perceive their partner to be particularly attractive relative to assessments of partners by other men in the sample. This research is the first to empirically investigate the number of potential male rivals in the local environment as a cue to sperm competition risk in humans. Discussion addresses limitations of the current research and highlights directions for future research.

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A Randomized Controlled Trial of Relationship Education in the U.S. Army: 2-Year Outcomes

Scott Stanley et al.
Family Relations, October 2014, Pages 482–495

Abstract:
This study examined the effectiveness of an evidence-based, community-delivered adaptation of couple relationship education (CRE) program (specifically, The Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program [PREP]) delivered at two Army installations. The study is a randomized controlled trial with 2 years of follow-up examining marital quality and stability. Sample composition was 662 married couples with a spouse in the U.S. Army. Analyses yielded no evidence of overall enduring intervention effects on relationship quality, but couples assigned to intervention at the higher risk site were significantly less likely than controls to be divorced at the 2-year follow-up (8.1% vs. 14.9%, p < .01). This effect was moderated by ethnic minority status. Specifically, the impact of the intervention on divorce was strongest for minority couples. The findings add to the literature on who may benefit most from CRE.

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A Social Network Comparison of Low-Income Black and White Newlywed Couples

Grace Jackson et al.
Journal of Marriage and Family, October 2014, Pages 967–982

Abstract:
Relative to White families, Black families have been described as relying on extended social networks to compensate for other social and economic disadvantages. The presence or absence of supportive social networks should be especially relevant to young couples entering marriage, but to date there has been little effort to describe the social networks of comparable Black and White newlyweds. The current study addressed this gap by drawing on interviews with 57 first-married newlyweds from low-income communities to compare the composition and structure of Black and White couples' duocentric social networks. The results indicated that low-income Black couples entered marriage at a social disadvantage relative to White couples, with more family relationships but fewer positive relationships and fewer sources of emotional support (for wives), fewer connections to married individuals, and fewer shared relationships between spouses. Black couples' relative social disadvantages persisted even when various economic and demographic variables were controlled.

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The Reversal of the Gender Gap in Education and Trends in Marital Dissolution

Christine Schwartz & Hongyun Han
American Sociological Review, August 2014, Pages 605-629

Abstract:
The reversal of the gender gap in education has potentially far-reaching consequences for marriage markets, family formation, and relationship outcomes. One possible consequence is the growing number of marriages in which wives have more education than their husbands. Past research shows that this type of union is at higher risk of dissolution. Using data on marriages formed between 1950 and 2004 in the United States, we evaluate whether this association has persisted as the prevalence of this relationship type has increased. Our results show a large shift in the association between spouses’ relative education and marital dissolution. Specifically, marriages in which wives have the educational advantage were once more likely to dissolve, but this association has disappeared in more recent marriage cohorts. Another key finding is that the relative stability of marriages between educational equals has increased. These results are consistent with a shift away from rigid gender specialization toward more flexible, egalitarian partnerships, and they provide an important counterpoint to claims that progress toward gender equality in heterosexual relationships has stalled.

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Does the European Marriage Pattern Explain Economic Growth?

Tracy Dennison & Sheilagh Ogilvie
Journal of Economic History, September 2014, Pages 651-693

Abstract:
This article scrutinizes the recently postulated link between the European Marriage Pattern (EMP) and economic success. Multivariate analysis of 4,705 demographic observations, covering women's marriage age, female lifetime celibacy, and household complexity in 39 European countries, shows that the most extreme manifestations of the EMP were associated with economic stagnation rather than growth. There is no evidence that the EMP improved economic performance by empowering women, increasing human capital investment, adjusting population to economic trends, or sustaining beneficial cultural norms. European economic success was not caused by the EMP and its sources must therefore be sought in other factors.

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Effect of Abortion vs. Carrying to Term on a Woman's Relationship with the Man Involved in the Pregnancy

Jane Mauldon, Diana Greene Foster & Sarah Roberts
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, forthcoming

Context: When a woman who seeks an abortion cannot obtain one, having a child may reshape her relationship with the man involved in the pregnancy. No research has compared how relationship trajectories are affected by different outcomes of an unwanted pregnancy.

Methods: Data from the Turnaway Study, a prospective longitudinal study of women who sought abortion in 2008–2010 at one of 30 U.S. facilities, are used to assess relationships over two years among 862 women who had abortions or were denied them because they had passed the facility's gestational age limit. Mixed-effects models analyze effects of abortion or birth on women's relationships with the men involved.

Results: At conception, most women (80%) were in romantic relationships with the men involved. One week after seeking abortion, 61% were; two years later, 37% were. Compared with women who obtained an abortion near the facility's gestational age limit, women who gave birth had greater odds of having ongoing contact with the man (odds ratio at two years, 1.7). The odds of romantic involvement at two years did not differ by group; however, the decline in romantic involvement was initially slower among those giving birth. Relationship quality did not differ between groups.

Conclusions: Giving birth temporarily prolonged romantic relationships of women in this study; most romantic relationships ended soon, whether or not the woman had an abortion. However, giving birth increased the odds of nonromantic contact between women and the men involved throughout the ensuing two years.

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Can’t We Just Live Together? New Evidence on the Effect of Relationship Status on Health

Jennifer Kohn & Susan Averett
Journal of Family and Economic Issues, September 2014, Pages 295-312

Abstract:
There has been a large empirical literature on the effect of marriage on health, but scant empirical evidence on the effect of cohabitation on health, although cohabitation is increasingly common. We contributed to this literature in three ways. First we explicitly modeled cohabitation distinct from marriage. Second, we included lagged health in our models to address the dynamic process of health and health-related selection into relationships. Extant literature has failed to control for lagged health risking omitted variable bias. Rather, it has controlled for general unobservable heterogeneity using fixed effects models that have relied on limited variation in relationship status over time to identify the effect of relationship status on health. Third, we employed a continuous health index that aids in estimation and inference of dynamic models. Using the Blundell and Bond dynamic panel data estimator and 18 years of the British Household Panel Survey of nearly 18,000 adults, we found that being in a relationship is good for health, but the benefits are not unique to marriage. Our finding that cohabitation is as beneficial as marriage for health was good news for health policy as changing social norms and economic instability have delayed or impaired family formation.

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The cost of forgiveness: Observers prefer victims who leave unfaithful romantic partners

Heather Smith et al.
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Ninety-six male fraternity members (Study 1), 112 female voters (Study 2), and 219 undergraduates (Study 3) read scenarios in which a group representative forgave, retaliated, or left a romantic partner after the partner's sexual infidelity was publically revealed. Observers rated a victim who forgave his or her partner to be as mature as a victim who ended the relationship, but also as weaker and less competent. They rated a victim who forgave to be more mature but almost as weak and incompetent as a victim who retaliated. Symbolic concerns that the victim's behavior violated shared values (all three studies) or damaged the group's power/status (Study 3) mediated the relationship between victim behavior and victim ratings. These data demonstrate how the symbolic concerns that shape observers' judgments of an offender can extend to observers' judgments of the victim.

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Coping with mate poaching: Gender differences in detection of infidelity-related threats

Tsachi Ein-Dor et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
People often aspire for true love and committed romantic relationships. These relationships, however, are recurrently threatened by partner infidelity. The present research tested a new infidelity-detection model, the rivalry sensitivity hypothesis, that posits that women are more sensitive to cues of infidelity than men are, and tend to focus their attention on potential rivals in their mate’s vicinity, whereas men show increased sensitivity of their own partners. In a series of four studies, we found that women displayed greater alertness to cues of potential partner unfaithfulness than did men, were quicker and more accurate in detecting cues of infidelity, but were not better than men in detecting other threats. Women also focused their attention on potential rivals (other women), whereas men’s attention was specifically directed at monitoring their own partner’s intents. These findings suggest that women and men have developed different strategies aimed at achieving a similar outcome – mate retention.

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Daily interpersonal coping strategies: Implications for self-reported well-being and cortisol

Kira Birditt, Michael Nevitt & David Almeida
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
An important pathway by which relationships influence health may involve how people cope with interpersonal tensions. This study examined whether same day and previous day avoidance and engagement in arguments are differentially associated with self-reported well-being (emotional and physical) and diurnal cortisol patterns. Participants from Wave 2 of the National Study of Daily Experiences (N = 1,512; aged 33–84, 57% women) completed daily phone interviews for eight consecutive days and provided useable saliva samples that were assayed for cortisol for four of those days at specific times: waking, 30 min after waking, before lunch, and at bedtime. Multilevel models revealed same day arguments were associated with lower well-being (higher negative affect and lower positive affect) than same day avoidance or no tension. In contrast, previous day avoidance was associated with lower next day well-being (higher negative affect and more physical symptoms) and higher next day cortisol than having no interpersonal tension the previous day. Arguments have greater same day consequences for well-being, whereas avoided arguments have greater next day consequences, which may indicate delayed effects of avoidance.

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Thou Shalt Not Covet Another Man? Exploring Constructions of Same-Sex and Different-Sex Infidelity Using Story Completion

Victoria Clarke, Virginia Braun & Kate Wooles
Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study explores conceptualisations of same- versus different-sex infidelity in the context of a heterosexual marriage using story completion. A convenience sample of 57 female and male participants completed one of four versions of a story stem featuring a husband who is either emotionally or sexually unfaithful with a woman or a man. A social constructionist thematic analysis found that same-sex infidelity was conceptualised as the ‘worst case scenario’ and was underpinned by a heteronormative framing of repressed homosexuality. By contrast, heterosexual infidelity was understood in terms of relational deficits and the wife assuming responsibility for these. Overall, the analysis shows that in making sense of same-sex and heterosexual infidelity, the participants drew on familiar discourses of sexuality and gender, suggesting that despite social psychological theorising related to sexual fluidity, essentialist ideas remain firmly in place. Methodologically, the study demonstrates the usefulness of a rarely used tool — the story completion task — for accessing socio-cultural discourses and dominant meanings surrounding a particular topic.

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Couples’ Marijuana Use Is Inversely Related to Their Intimate Partner Violence Over the First 9 Years of Marriage

Philip Smith et al.
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on the association between marijuana use and intimate partner violence (IPV) has generated inconsistent findings, and has been primarily based on cross-sectional data. We examined whether husbands’ and wives’ marijuana use predicted both husbands’ and wives’ IPV perpetration over the first 9 years of marriage (Wave 1, n = 634 couples). We also examined moderation by antisocial behavior, the spouse’s marijuana use, and whether IPV was reported during the year before marriage. These predictive associations were calculated using a time-lagged multivariate generalized multilevel model, simultaneously estimating predictors of husband and wife IPV. In fully adjusted models, we found that more frequent marijuana use by husbands and wives predicted less frequent IPV perpetration by husbands. Husbands’ marijuana use also predicted less frequent IPV perpetration by wives. Moderation analyses demonstrated that couples in which both spouses used marijuana frequently reported the least frequent IPV perpetration. There was a significant positive association between wives’ marijuana use and wives’ IPV perpetration, but only among wives who had already reported IPV perpetration during the year before marriage. These findings suggest there may be an overall inverse association between marijuana use and IPV perpetration in newly married couples, although use may be associated with greater risk of perpetration among women with a history of IPV perpetration.

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The Impact of Premarital Cycling on Early Marriage

Amber Vennum & Matthew Johnson
Family Relations, October 2014, Pages 439–452

Abstract:
Using a sample of 564 newlywed couples and the enduring dynamics model of marriage, the study examined the impact of premarital cycling (breaking up and renewing) on the entrance into marriage and relationship dynamics over the first 5 years. Consistent with the enduring dynamics model, results demonstrated cyclical couples (compared to noncyclical couples) exhibited worse adjustment on a variety of relationship indicators at the entrance to marriage and were more likely to experience a trial separation over the first 5 years. Dyadic parallel process growth curve analysis further revealed that premarital cycling predicted lower initial relationship satisfaction that was sustained over the first 5 years of marriage. Implications for theory, research, and intervention with premarital couples are discussed. These results provide evidence that courtships characterized by breakups and renewals represent a relational vulnerability with negative implications extending years into the future.

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The Object of Desire: How Being Objectified Creates Sexual Pressure for Women in Heterosexual Relationships

Laura Ramsey & Tiffany Hoyt
Psychology of Women Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although the objectification of women is widespread, there is relatively little research on objectification in romantic relationships. The purpose of our research was to explore how partner-objectification might be related to sexual pressure and coercion in heterosexual relationships. Two studies were conducted, one with heterosexual men and one with heterosexual women as participants. An online survey of 119 heterosexual men in the United States demonstrated that men who frequently survey their partners’ bodies are more likely to sexually pressure and coerce their partners — primarily because partner-surveillance is related to feelings of shame regarding one’s partner’s body, which in turn is related to increased sexual pressure and coercion. An online survey of 162 heterosexual women in the United States demonstrated feeling objectified by a partner is related to several (but not all) measures of sexual pressure and coercion. Furthermore, women who felt that their partners frequently surveyed their bodies were more likely to experience self-surveillance, which in turn predicted increased body shame and lowered sexual agency. Our research can inform interventions aimed at reducing sexual coercion and spark future research on the distinction between physical attraction and objectification in the context of romantic relationships.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Market research

“A” Business by Any Other Name: Firm Name Choice as a Signal of Firm Quality

Ryan McDevitt
Journal of Political Economy, August 2014, Pages 909-944

Abstract:
This paper considers when a firm’s deliberately chosen name can signal meaningful information. The average plumbing firm whose name begins with A or a number receives five times more service complaints than other firms and also charges higher prices. Relatedly, plumbers with A names advertise more in the Yellow Pages and on Google, and doing so is positively correlated with receiving complaints. As the use of A names is more prevalent in larger markets, I reconcile these findings with a simple model in which firms have different qualities and consumers have heterogeneous search costs.

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Suspense-Optimal College Football Play-Offs

Jarrod Olson & Daniel Stone
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
U.S. college football’s traditional bowl system, and lack of a postseason play-off tournament, has been controversial for years. The conventional wisdom is that a play-off would be a more fair way to determine the national champion, and more fun for fans to watch. The colleges finally agreed to begin a play-off in the 2014-2015 season, but with just four teams, and speculation continues that more teams will be added soon. A subtle downside to adding play-off teams is that it reduces the significance of regular season games. We use the framework of Ely, Frankel, and Kamenica (in press) to directly estimate the utility fans would get from this significance, that is, utility from suspense, under a range of play-off scenarios. Our results consistently indicate that play-off expansion causes a loss in regular season suspense utility greater than the gain in the postseason, implying the traditional bowl system (two team play-off) is suspense-optimal. We analyze and discuss implications for TV viewership and other contexts.

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Asymmetrical Social Mach Bands: Exaggeration of Social Identities on the More Esteemed Side of Group Borders

Paul Rozin et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Perceptual processes generally enhance borders, because of their high information value. Mach bands are an example in vision. In the social world, borders are also of special significance; one side of a border is generally more esteemed or valued than the other. We claim that entities (individuals, groups) that are just over the border on the positive side tend to exaggerate their membership on the positive side (asymmetrical social Mach bands). We demonstrate this by showing that (a) master’s-degree universities use the word university to describe themselves more than major graduate universities do, (b) small international airports use the word international to describe themselves more than major airports do, and (c) University of Pennsylvania students, who are affiliated with a “marginal” Ivy League school, use the word Ivy to describe their school more than Harvard students do.

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Creating Reciprocal Value Through Operational Transparency

Ryan Buell, Tami Kim & Chia-Jung Tsay
Harvard Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
We investigate whether organizations can create value by introducing visual transparency between consumers and producers. Although existing theory posits that increased contact between the two parties can diminish work performance, we conducted two field and two laboratory experiments in food service contexts that suggest that the introduction of operational transparency improves service quality and efficiency. The introduction of reciprocal operational transparency contributed to a 22.5% increase in customer-reported quality and reduced throughput times to 67.5% of standard. Customers who observed employees engaged in labor perceived greater effort, appreciated that effort, and valued the service more. Employees who observed customers felt more appreciated, and in turn, were more satisfied with their work and exerted increased levels of effort. We find that transparency, by visually revealing operating processes to both producers and consumers, generates a positive feedback loop through which value is created for both parties.

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Navigating by the Stars: What Do Online User Ratings Reveal About Product Quality?

Bart de Langhe, Philip Fernbach & Donald Lichtenstein
University of Colorado Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
Consumers increasingly turn to online user ratings to inform purchase decisions, but little is known about whether these ratings are valid indicators of product quality. We developed a database of (1) quality scores from Consumer Reports, (2) user ratings from Amazon.com, (3) selling prices from Amazon.com, and (4) brand perceptions from a proprietary industry survey. Analyses reveal that the average and number of user ratings are only weakly related to quality and far less diagnostic than price (Study 1). Yet, when consumers infer quality, they rely mostly on the average user rating and much less on the number of ratings and price (Study 2). The dissociation between user ratings and quality can be traced in part to the influence of firm marketing actions on users’ evaluations. Controlling for quality, average user ratings are higher for more expensive products, higher for brands with a reputation for offering more functional and emotional benefits, and lower for brands with a reputation for affordability (Study 3). We conclude that consumer trust in online user ratings is largely misplaced.

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Counterfactual Decomposition of Movie Star Effects with Star Selection

Angela (Xia) Liu, Tridib Mazumdar & Bo Li
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the effects of a movie star on the movie's opening week theater allocations and box office revenue. Because the pairing of a star and a movie involves a bilateral matching process between the studio and the star, the star (hence the nonstar) movie samples are nonrandom and the star variable is potentially endogenous. To assess the star as well as movie characteristics effects, we utilize a switching model to account for endogenous assignment of stars and nonstars into respective movie samples. In addition to controlling for selection biases, the endogenous switching model generates managerially relevant insights into the factors that influence a star's assignment to a movie. Additionally, because the star and nonstar movie characteristics (e.g., movie budget, distribution, genre, etc.) are often systematically different, we counterfactually estimate the theater allocations and revenues that nonstars (stars) would have generated had they acted in movies endowed with the same characteristics as the star (nonstar) movies. The decomposition analysis, conducted at different quantiles of theater and revenue distributions, shows that the presence of a star has a much stronger effect on theater allocations than the movie characteristics have. However, the revenue difference is entirely contributed by the differences in the characteristics of the star and nonstar movies. Thus, the star effects on revenue come indirectly through the theater allocations as well as from the characteristics of the movies in which they participate.

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When the Leader Follows: Avoiding Dethronement through Imitation

Jan-Michael Ross & Dmitry Sharapov
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
When is imitation of follower actions an effective competitive strategy for a leader? Building on prior work in competitive dynamics from the Austrian School perspective, we propose that imitation can be an effective means of staying ahead, even in the absence of mimetic social pressures. This is because the leader's imitation of follower actions represents equilibrating moves to maintain the status quo in reaction to the disequilibrating actions that the follower undertakes to catch up with the leader. Furthermore, reduction of difference in competitive positioning between leader and follower serves the same purpose, and both imitation strategies are complementary. These effects of 'action imitation' and 'positioning imitation', we argue, are moderated by the degree of environmental uncertainty, by the extent of the leader's initial advantage, and by the difference between leader and follower capabilities. Our theoretical arguments are supported by an analysis of data on head-to-head boat races from the America's Cup World Series. By developing mechanisms which take endogenous and exogenous contingencies of competitive interactions into account, this paper advances competitive dynamics as a predictive theory of performance outcomes.

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Exposure to Product Placement in Text Can Influence Consumer Judgments

Benjamin Storm & Eve Stoller
Applied Cognitive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Five experiments explored the consequences of exposure to product placement in text. In each experiment, participants read three short stories containing the names of several brand-name products. When given a surprise judgment task asking them to rate their likelihood of purchasing a number of brands — some of which were placed and some of which were not placed — participants rated placed brands significantly higher than non-placed brands. This effect of product placement was observed even when participants were warned about product placement prior to reading the stories, and even when participants reported having a negative opinion about product placement as a form of advertisement. Under some conditions, however, the effect did interact with brand familiarity, such that judgments of familiar brands were affected less by product placement than were judgments of unfamiliar brands.

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Consumer Demand for the Fair Trade Label: Evidence from a Multi-Store Field Experiment

Jens Hainmueller, Michael Hiscox & Sandra Sequeira
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We provide new evidence on consumer demand for ethical products from experiments conducted in a U.S. grocery store chain. We find that sales of the two most popular coffees rose by almost 10% when they carried a Fair Trade label as compared to a generic placebo label. Demand for the higher priced coffee remained steady when its price was raised by 8%, but demand for the lower priced coffee was elastic: a 9% price increase led to a 30% decline in sales. While consumers attach value to ethical sourcing, there is significant heterogeneity in willingness to pay for it.

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Do Incumbents Improve Service Quality in Response to Entry? Evidence from Airlines' On-Time Performance

Jeffrey Prince & Daniel Simon
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine if and how incumbent firms respond to entry and entry threats using nonprice modes of competition. Our analysis focuses on airline service quality. We find that incumbent on-time performance (OTP) actually worsens in response to entry, and even entry threats, by Southwest Airlines. Since Southwest is both a top-performing airline in OTP and a low-cost carrier (LCC), we conjecture that this response by incumbents may be due to a cost-cutting strategy that allows for intense postentry price competition along with preentry deterrence, or it may be due to a postentry differentiation strategy along with preentry accommodation. Further analysis of entry and entry threats by other airlines is inconclusive, providing evidence that is partially consistent with both hypotheses. Nonetheless, the phenomenon of worsening OTP can only be observed when the (potential) entrant is a LCC (Southwest, Jet Blue, and AirTran).

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Do Pharmacists Buy Bayer? Informed Shoppers and the Brand Premium

Bart Bronnenberg et al.
NBER Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
We estimate the effect of information on consumers' willingness to pay for national brands in physically homogeneous product categories. We measure consumer information using education, occupation, and a survey-based measure of product knowledge. In a detailed case study of headache remedies we find that more informed consumers are less likely to pay extra to buy national brands, with pharmacists choosing them over store brands only 9 percent of the time, compared to 26 percent of the time for the average consumer. In a similar case study of pantry staples such as salt and sugar, we show that chefs devote 12 percentage points less of their purchases to national brands than demographically similar non-chefs. We extend our analysis to cover 50 retail health categories and 241 food and drink categories and use the resulting estimates to fit a stylized model of demand and pricing. The model allows us to quantify the extent to which brand premia result from misinformation, and the way more accurate beliefs would change the division of surplus among manufacturers, retailers, and consumers.

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When Companies Do Good, Are Their Products Good For You? How Corporate Social Responsibility Creates A Health Halo

John Peloza, Christine Ye & William Montford
Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research demonstrates that consumers frequently engage in inference making when evaluating food products. These inferences can be highly inaccurate, leading to unintended, unhealthy consumer choices. Previous research has examined the role of inference making in consumption settings from either an intra- or inter-attribute perspective. The current research highlights extra-attribute inferences, in which consumers use corporate-level information to make inferences about product level attributes. Across four studies the authors demonstrate the existence of a health halo resulting from corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. When consumers evaluate food products marketed by firms with strong CSR reputations, they underestimate the calorie content. Further, the authors demonstrate that this calorie underestimation can lead to overconsumption by consumers.

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Superbowl Ads

Wesley Hartmann & Daniel Klapper
Stanford Working Paper, June 2014

Abstract:
We explore the effects of television advertising in the setting of the NFL’s Super Bowl telecast. The Super Bowl is the largest advertising event of the year and is well suited for measurement. The event has the potential to create significant increases in “brand capital” because ratings average over 40 percent of households and ads are a focal point of the broadcast. Furthermore, variation in exposures is exogenous because a brand cannot choose how many impressions it receives in each market. Viewership is determined based on local preferences for watching the two competing teams. With this significant and exogenous variation in Super Bowl advertising exposures we test whether advertisers’ sales are affected accordingly. We run our analysis using Nielsen ratings and store level sales data in the beer and soda categories. We find that Super Bowl ads generate significant increases in revenue and volume per household. However, when two major brands both advertise, they erode most of the gain. The largest effects occur during weeks with spikes in other sports events suggesting that placing an advertisement in the most watched sporting event of the year generates associations with sports more broadly. We test this using local viewership data of NCAA basketball in the second month after the Super Bowl and find strong evidence that advertising can generate or augment complementarities between a brand and the ways potential consumers spend their time.

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Consumer Price Search and Platform Design in Internet Commerce

Michael Dinerstein et al.
NBER Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
Search frictions can explain why the "law of one price" fails in retail markets and why even firms selling commodity products have pricing power. In online commerce, physical search costs are low, yet price dispersion is common. We use browsing data from eBay to estimate a model of consumer search and price competition when retailers offer homogeneous goods. We find that retail margins are on the order of 10%, and use the model to analyze the design of search rankings. Our model explains most of the effects of a major re-design of eBay's product search, and allows us to identify conditions where narrowing consumer choice sets can be pro-competitive. Finally, we examine a subsequent A/B experiment run by eBay that illustrates the greater difficulties in designing search algorithms for differentiated products, where price is only one of the relevant product attributes.

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The role of customer expectations in name-your-own-price markets

Scott Fay & Seung Hwan (Shawn) Lee
Journal of Business Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research analyzes how consumers' bidding costs and expectations about the threshold price impact a Name-Your-Own-Price (NYOP) retailer. We find that an NYOP retailer's profit may increase if consumers learn the product's true price threshold distribution. Inaccurate expectations can be detrimental to the firm either if consumers are too optimistic (i.e., expect the threshold price to be lower, on average, than really is) OR if consumers are overly pessimistic (i.e., expect the price threshold to be much higher than it is in reality). Furthermore, if customers accurately anticipate the true distribution of threshold prices, a seller may benefit from either (1) rejecting profitable bids in order to induce higher expectations of the threshold price (and thus higher bids) or (2) accepting bids below its costs (in order to raise participation rates). Using data from a real-world NYOP retailer, we find that bidding behavior is consistent with our analytical predictions.

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Valuing historic battlefields: An application of the travel cost method to three American Civil War battlefields

Richard Melstrom
Journal of Cultural Economics, August 2014, Pages 223-236

Abstract:
This paper presents individual demand models for three historic battlefield sites maintained by the US National Park Service. Preserved battlefields are valuable cultural resources that make up a significant portion of the US National Park system, but have received scant attention from economists. The demand for trips is modeled as a count data process. Visitor data for these battlefields were collected on-site, so the models account for truncation in the observed number of trips and endogenous stratification. The travel cost method, which is seeing increasing application in cultural heritage research, is used to estimate the use value of each battlefield. The results indicate an average individual willingness to pay for a battlefield trip ranging from about $8–$25, depending on the site.

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Keeping It Real: Exploring the Roles of Conversational Human Voice and Source Credibility in Crisis Communication via Blogs

Hyojung Park & Glen Cameron
Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, September 2014, Pages 487-507

Abstract:
The purpose of this study was to understand better how a conversational human voice versus a corporate tone of voice in blogs affects key publics’ responses to an organization in the context of a crisis, using a 2 (tone of voice: human/organizational) × 2 (source: public relations executive/private citizen) × 2 (crisis response: defensive/accommodative) mixed experimental design. Results indicate that first-person voice and personal narratives increased perceptions of social presence and interactivity in online communication. These perceptions subsequently resulted in positive post-crisis outcomes, such as reputation and behavioral intentions.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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