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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dose

Observed Transition from Opioid Analgesic Deaths towards Heroin

Nabarun Dasgupta et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, December 2014, Pages 238–241

Background: In the United States, overdose mortality from controlled substances has increased over the last two decades, largely involving prescription opioid analgesics. There has been speculation on a transition away from prescription opioid use towards heroin, however the impact on overdose deaths has not been evaluated.

Methods: Time series study of North Carolina residents, 2007 through 2013. Monthly ratio of prescription opioid-to-heroin overdose deaths. Non-parametric local regression models used to ascertain temporal shifts from overdoses involving prescription opioids to heroin.

Results: There were 4,332 overdose deaths involving prescription opioids, and 455 involving heroin, including 44 where both were involved (total n = 4,743). A gradual 6-year shift toward increasing heroin deaths was observed. In January, 2007, for one heroin death there were 16 opioid analgesic deaths; in December, 2013 there were 3 prescription opioid deaths for each heroin death. The transition to heroin appears to have started prior to the introduction of tamper-resistant opioid analgesics. The age of death among heroin decedents shifted towards younger adults. Most heroin and opioid analgesic deaths occurred in metropolitan areas, with little change between 2007 and 2013.

Conclusions: The observed increases in heroin overdose deaths can no longer be considered speculation. Deaths among younger adults were noted to have increased in particular, suggesting new directions for targeting interventions. More research beyond vital statistics is needed to understand the root causes of the shift from prescription opioids to heroin.

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Trends in licit and illicit drug-related deaths in Florida from 2001 to 2012

Dayong Lee et al.
Forensic Science International, December 2014, Pages 178–186

Background: Florida, the epicenter of the recent prescription drug epidemic in the United States, maintains a statewide drug mortality surveillance system. We evaluated yearly profiles, demographic characteristics, and correlation between drug trends to understand the factors influencing drug-induced mortality.

Methods: All drug-related deaths reported to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission during 2001-2012 were included (n = 92,596). A death was considered “drug-related” if at least one drug was identified in the decedent. Depending on its contribution to death, a drug could be listed as a causative agent or merely present, but not both.

Results: Rate of drug-caused deaths was 8.0 per 100,000 population in 2001, increasing to 17.0 in 2010 and then decreasing to 13.9 in 2012. Benzodiazepines had the highest mortality rate in 2010, although <10% were solely due these drugs. Opioid-caused mortality rate also peaked in 2010 and started to decline (-28%) in 2010-2012. The heroin-caused mortality rates were negatively correlated with opioids and benzodiazepines (ρ’s ≥ -0.670; P ≤ 0.034). Ethanol- and cocaine-mortality rates stabilized to 3.0-3.1 and 2.8-3.0 per 100,000 over 2009-2012, respectively. Amphetamines, zolpidem, and inhalants-caused deaths were on the rise with rates of ≤0.6 per 100,000.

Conclusions: Overall declines in benzodiazepine- and opioid-caused deaths in 2011-2012 may have been related to Florida's attempts to regulate prescription drug abuse. This period, however, was also marked by a rise in heroin-caused mortality, which may reflect growing use of heroin as an alternative. Increases in amphetamines, zolpidem, and inhalants-induced mortality are an additional public health concern.

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Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicides by Gender and Age

Mark Anderson, Daniel Rees & Joseph Sabia
American Journal of Public Health, December 2014, Pages 2369-2376

Objectives: We estimated the association between legalizing medical marijuana and suicides.

Methods: We obtained state-level suicide data from the National Vital Statistics System’s Mortality Detail Files for 1990–2007. We used regression analysis to examine the association between medical marijuana legalization and suicides per 100 000 population.

Results: After adjustment for economic conditions, state policies, and state-specific linear time trends, the association between legalizing medical marijuana and suicides was not statistically significant at the .05 level. However, legalization was associated with a 10.8% (95% confidence interval [CI] = −17.1%, −3.7%) and 9.4% (95% CI = −16.1%, −2.4%) reduction in the suicide rate of men aged 20 through 29 years and 30 through 39 years, respectively. Estimates for females were less precise and sensitive to model specification.

Conclusions: Suicides among men aged 20 through 39 years fell after medical marijuana legalization compared with those in states that did not legalize. The negative relationship between legalization and suicides among young men is consistent with the hypothesis that marijuana can be used to cope with stressful life events. However, this relationship may be explained by alcohol consumption. The mechanism through which legalizing medical marijuana reduces suicides among young men remains a topic for future study.

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Subjective Beliefs, Deterrence, and the Propensity to Drive While Intoxicated

Yiqun Chen & Frank Sloan
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
This study investigates causal effects of changes in subjective probabilities of being pulled over and involved in accidents if driving while intoxicated on individuals’ drinking and driving choices. We also examine how hypothetical changes in perceptions of sanction severity affect drunk driving by experiments randomizing the harshness of punishments. We find that higher perceived risks of being pulled over and involved in accidents deter drinking and driving. However, deterrence is limited to persons who are alcohol addicted, lack self-control over drinking, and are more impulsive. No deterrent effect of harsher legal punishments is found on individuals’ drunk driving choices.

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Is Smoking Inferior? Evidence from Variation in the Earned Income Tax Credit

Donald Kenkel, Maximilian Schmeiser & Carly Urban
Journal of Human Resources, Fall 2014, Pages 1094-1120

Abstract:
In this paper we estimate the causal income elasticity of smoking participation, cessation, and cigarette demand conditional upon participation. Using an instrumental variables (IV) estimation strategy, we find that smoking appears to be a normal good among low-income adults: Higher-instrumented income is associated with an increase in the number of cigarettes consumed and a decrease in smoking cessation. The magnitude and direction of the changes in the income coefficients from our OLS to IV estimates are consistent with the hypothesis that correlational estimates between income and smoking-related outcomes are biased by unobservable characteristics that differentiate higher-income smokers from lower-income smokers.

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Are risk factors for drug use and offending similar during the teenage years?

Elizabeth Aston
International Journal of Drug Policy, forthcoming

Background: This paper explores whether at different stages of the developmental cycle of adolescence, drug use and offending are associated with a similar set of risk factors relating to: socio-structural position, informal social control, deviant peer group contexts, and deviant lifestyle behaviours.

Methods: Multivariate regression was used to analyse data from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime (ESYTC) self-report questionnaire.

Results: Early in the teenage years drug use was associated with a similar set of factors to offending. These include weak bonds to parents and teachers, and deviant lifestyle behaviours. However, later in the teenage years there were differences, e.g. drug use was associated with higher socio-economic status and importance of school, and a number of factors which were associated with offending were not associated with drug use, e.g. parent-child conflict, gang membership and hanging around.

Conclusion: Results show that the factors included here are more appropriate to understanding offending than drug use. Different risk factors are associated with drug use and offending in the older, but not younger teens. It is argued that later in the teenage years drug use should be understood and addressed differently to offending. This is particularly important given the tendency for the ‘drugs problem’ to increasingly be dealt with as a ‘crime problem’ (Duke, 2006).

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Gambling Prevalence Rates among Immigrants: A Multigenerational Examination

Alyssa Wilson et al.
Addictive Behaviors, March 2015, Pages 79–85

Introduction: The present study employed data from Waves I and II of the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) to compare gambling prevalence rates across gender and world regions (e.g., Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America).

Methods: Responses from first generation (n = 5,363), second generation (n = 4,826), third generation (n = 4,746), and native-born Americans (n = 19,715) were subjected to a series of multinomial regression analyses, after controlling for sociodemographic variables such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, household income, education level, region of the United States, and urbanicity.

Results: The prevalence of gambling and problem gambling was markedly lower among first-generation immigrants than that of native-born Americans and second and third-generation immigrants. Results also point to inter- and intra-generational dynamics related to gender, age of arrival and duration in United States, and world region from which participants emigrated. Additionally, we found that second-generation immigrants and nonimmigrants were significantly more likely to meet criteria for disordered gambling compared to first-generation immigrants in general.

Conclusions: Compared to first-generation immigrants, male and female immigrants of subsequent generations and nonimmigrants were significantly more likely to report involvement in all problem gambling behaviors examined. Findings suggest that gambling prevalence rates increase across subsequent generations, and are more likely to occur in women than among men.

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DRD4 and susceptibility to peer influence on alcohol use from adolescence to adulthood

Sylvie Mrug & Michael Windle
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, December 2014, Pages 168–173

Background: The long allele of DRD4 is associated with greater susceptibility to peer influences on alcohol use in young adulthood, but it is unclear whether this increased susceptibility extends to other developmental periods. This study examined the interactive effects of DRD4 polymorphism and friends’ alcohol use from adolescence to adulthood.

Methods: Participants (N = 340; 59% female; 98% White) reported on their own and their friends’ alcohol use at four time points between mean ages 17 and 33. Autoregressive cross-lagged models evaluated reciprocal relationships between friends’ alcohol use and participants’ own alcohol use and frequency of heavy drinking over time. Multigroup modeling tested differences in model paths and covariances across high vs. low risk DRD4 polymorphisms.

Results: Alcohol use at age 33 was predicted by previous friends’ alcohol use and correlated with current friends’ alcohol use only for carriers of the DRD4 long allele. Regardless of DRD4 genotype, friends’ alcohol use at age 17 predicted greater alcohol use and more frequent heavy drinking at age 23. Alcohol use and/or heavy drinking predicted greater friends’ alcohol use at later time points for both genotype groups across adolescence and adulthood.

Conclusions: The long allele of DRD4 is associated with increased susceptibility to peer influences on alcohol use in young adulthood, but not earlier in development. Adults with the long allele of DRD4 may benefit from interventions educating them about this risk and equipping them with strategies to reduce affiliations with and influence of drinking friends.

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Olfactory Aversive Conditioning during Sleep Reduces Cigarette-Smoking Behavior

Anat Arzi et al.
Journal of Neuroscience, 12 November 2014, Pages 15382-15393

Abstract:
Recent findings suggest that novel associations can be learned during sleep. However, whether associative learning during sleep can alter later waking behavior and whether such behavioral changes last for minutes, hours, or days remain unknown. We tested the hypothesis that olfactory aversive conditioning during sleep will alter cigarette-smoking behavior during ensuing wakefulness. A total of 66 human subjects wishing to quit smoking participated in the study (23 females; mean age, 28.7 ± 5.2 years). Subjects completed a daily smoking diary detailing the number of cigarettes smoked during 7 d before and following a 1 d or night protocol of conditioning between cigarette odor and profoundly unpleasant odors. We observed significant reductions in the number of cigarettes smoked following olfactory aversive conditioning during stage 2 and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep but not following aversive conditioning during wakefulness (p < 0.05). Moreover, the reduction in smoking following aversive conditioning during stage 2 (34.4 ± 30.1%) was greater and longer lasting compared with the reduction following aversive conditioning during REM (11.9 ± 19.2%, p < 0.05). Finally, the reduction in smoking following aversive conditioning during sleep was significantly greater than in two separate control sleep experiments that tested aversive odors alone and the effects of cigarette odors and aversive odors without pairing. To conclude, a single night of olfactory aversive conditioning during sleep significantly reduced cigarette-smoking behavior in a sleep stage-dependent manner, and this effect persisted for several days.

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Parent–Offspring Similarity for Drinking: A Longitudinal Adoption Study

Matt McGue et al.
Behavior Genetics, November 2014, Pages 620-628

Abstract:
Parent–offspring resemblance for drinking was investigated in a sample of 409 adopted and 208 non-adopted families participating in the Sibling Interaction and Behavior Study. Drinking data was available for 1,229 offspring, assessed longitudinally up to three times in the age range from 10 to 28 years. A single drinking index was computed from four items measuring quantity, frequency and density of drinking. As expected, the mean drinking index increased with age, was greater in males as compared to females (although not at the younger ages), but did not vary significantly by adoption status. Parent–offspring correlation in drinking did not vary significantly by either offspring or parent gender but did differ significantly by adoption status. In adopted families, the parent–offspring correlation was statistically significant at all ages but decreased for the oldest age group (age 22–28). In non-adopted families, the parent–offspring correlation was statistically significant at all ages and increased in the oldest age group. Findings imply that genetic influences on drinking behavior increase with age while shared family environment influences decline, especially during the transition from late-adolescence to early adulthood.

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The Relationship Between Childhood Physical and Emotional Abuse and Smoking Cessation Among U.S. Women and Men

Philip Smith et al.
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
Childhood maltreatment is associated with increased likelihood of smoking. The purpose of the current investigation was to compare quitting motives, quit attempts, and quit success between U.S. adult smokers with or without childhood maltreatment (physical or emotional abuse), and those with or without serious psychological distress (SPD). We also examined whether SPD mediated associations between childhood maltreatment and all outcomes. We analyzed data from a 2-wave cohort telephone survey of a national U.S. sample of current cigarette smokers (n = 751). We used generalized path modeling to examine associations between maltreatment/SPD and concerns about smoking, motivation to quit, quit attempts, and smoking cessation (among the overall sample and selecting for those who made at least 1 quit attempt between waves; n = 368). Among women, maltreatment and SPD were associated with lower likelihood of quitting as well as making a successful quit attempt. SPD mediated the association between maltreatment and likelihood of successfully quitting. Women with maltreatment also had stronger concerns about smoking and motivation to quit than those without maltreatment, although there were no differences in actual quit attempts made. Neither childhood maltreatment nor SPD was associated with smoking outcomes among men. Findings suggest that female smokers with a history of childhood maltreatment are motivated to quit smoking; however, they may have more difficulty quitting smoking as a result of SPD.

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Neighbourhood crime and adolescent cannabis use in Canadian adolescents

Margaretha de Looze et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Although neighbourhood factors have been proposed as determinants of adolescent behaviour, few studies document their relative etiological importance. We investigated the relationship between neighbourhood crime and cannabis use in a nationally representative sample of Canadian adolescents.

Methods: Data from the 2009/10 Canadian Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey (n = 9134 14- and 15-year-olds) were combined with area-level data on crime and socioeconomic status of the neighbourhood surrounding the schools (n = 218).

Results: Multilevel logistic regression analyses showed that after individual and contextual differences were held constant, neighbourhood crime related to cannabis use (OR 1.29, CI 1.12–1.47 per 1.0 SD increase in crime). This association was not moderated by parental support nor having cannabis-using friends. The amount of explained variance at the neighbourhood level was 19%.

Conclusions: Neighbourhood crime is an important factor to consider when designing interventions aimed at reducing adolescent cannabis use. Interventional research should examine the effectiveness of community-based interventions that target adolescents through parents and peers.

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The Impact of Sound in Modern Multiline Video Slot Machine Play

Mike Dixon et al.
Journal of Gambling Studies, December 2014, Pages 913-929

Abstract:
Slot machine wins and losses have distinctive, measurable, physiological effects on players. The contributing factors to these effects remain under-explored. We believe that sound is one of these key contributing factors. Sound plays an important role in reinforcement, and thus on arousal level and stress response of players. It is the use of sound for positive reinforcement in particular that we believe influences the player. In the current study, we investigate the role that sound plays in psychophysical responses to slot machine play. A total of 96 gamblers played a slot machine simulator with and without sound being paired with reinforcement. Skin conductance responses and heart rate, as well as subjective judgments about the gambling experience were examined. The results showed that the sound influenced the arousal of participants both psychophysically and psychologically. The sound also influenced players’ preferences, with the majority of players preferring to play slot machines that were accompanied by winning sounds. The sounds also caused players to significantly overestimate the number of times they won while playing the slot machine.

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Alcohol Effects on Simulated Driving Performance and Self-Perceptions of Impairment in DUI Offenders

Nicholas Van Dyke & Mark Fillmore
Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, December 2014, Pages 484-493

Abstract:
Drivers with a history of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol self-report heightened impulsivity and display reckless driving behaviors as indicated by increased rates of vehicle crashes, moving violations, and traffic tickets. Such poor behavioral self-regulation could also increase sensitivity to the disruptive effects of alcohol on driving performance. The present study examined the degree to which DUI drivers display an increased sensitivity to the acute impairing effects of alcohol on simulated driving performance and overestimate their driving fitness following alcohol consumption. Adult drivers with a history of DUI and a demographically matched group of drivers with no history of DUI (controls) were tested following a 0.65 g/kg alcohol and a placebo. Results indicated that alcohol impaired several measures of driving performance, and there was no difference between DUI offenders and controls in these impairments. However, following alcohol, DUI drivers self-reported a greater ability and willingness to drive compared with controls. These findings indicate that drivers with a history of DUI might perceive themselves as more fit to drive after drinking, which could play an important role in their decisions to drink and drive.

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Financial Incentives for Abstinence Among Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Individuals in Smoking Cessation Treatment

Darla Kendzor et al.
American Journal of Public Health, forthcoming

Objectives: We evaluated the effectiveness of offering adjunctive financial incentives for abstinence (contingency management [CM]) within a safety net hospital smoking cessation program.

Methods: We randomized participants (n = 146) from a Dallas County, Texas, Tobacco Cessation Clinic from 2011 to 2013 to usual care (UC; cessation program; n = 71) or CM (UC + 4 weeks of financial incentives; n = 75), and followed from 1 week before the quit date through 4 weeks after the quit date. A subset (n = 128) was asked to attend a visit 12 weeks after the scheduled quit date.

Results: Participants were primarily Black (62.3%) or White (28.1%) and female (57.5%). Most participants were uninsured (52.1%) and had an annual household income of less than $12 000 (55.5%). Abstinence rates were significantly higher for those assigned to CM than UC at all visits following the quit date (all Ps < .05). Point prevalence abstinence rates in the CM and UC groups were 49.3% versus 25.4% at 4 weeks after the quit date and 32.8% versus 14.1% at 12 weeks after the quit date. CM participants earned an average of $63.40 ($150 possible) for abstinence during the first 4 weeks after the scheduled quit date.

Conclusions: Offering small financial incentives for abstinence might be an effective means to improve abstinence rates among socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals participating in smoking cessation treatment.

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What proportion of cancer deaths in the contemporary United States is attributable to cigarette smoking?

Eric Jacobs et al.
Annals of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Purpose: The proportion of cancer deaths in the contemporary U.S. caused by cigarette smoking (the population attributable fraction (PAF)) is not well-documented.

Methods: The PAF of all cancer deaths due to active cigarette smoking among adults 35 and older in the U.S. in 2010 was calculated using age and sex-specific smoking prevalence from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and age and sex-specific relative risks from the Cancer Prevention Study-II (for ages 35-54) and from the Pooled Contemporary Cohort data set (for ages 55 and older).

Results: The PAF for active cigarette smoking was 28.7% when estimated conservatively, including only deaths from the 12 cancers currently formally established as caused by smoking by the U.S. Surgeon General. The PAF was 31.7% when estimated more comprehensively, including excess deaths from all cancers. These estimates do not include additional potential cancer deaths from environmental tobacco smoke or other type of tobacco use such as cigars, pipes or smokeless tobacco.

Conclusions: Cigarette smoking causes a large proportion of cancer deaths in the contemporary U.S. Reducing smoking prevalence as rapidly as possible should be a top priority for U.S. public health efforts to prevent cancer deaths.

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A Prospective Study of Adolescents’ Nonmedical Use of Anxiolytic and Sleep Medication

Carol Boyd et al.
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
The purpose of this longitudinal study (N = 2,745) was to determine whether adolescents’ recent medical use of anxiolytic or sleep medication was associated with increased incidence of using someone else’s prescription for these classes of medication (nonmedical use). Data were collected from adolescents attending 5 Detroit area secondary schools between December and April in 3 consecutive academic years between 2009 and 2012. Respondents were assigned to the following 3 mutually exclusive groups for the analyses: (1) never prescribed anxiolytic or sleep medication (in their lifetime); (2) prescribed anxiolytic or sleep medication in their lifetime, but not during the study period; or (3) prescribed anxiolytic or sleep medication during the study period. Almost 9% of the sample had received a prescription for anxiolytic or sleep medication during their lifetime, and 3.4% had received at least 1 prescription during the 3-year study period. Compared with adolescents never prescribed anxiolytic or sleep medication, adolescents prescribed these medicines during the study period were 10 times more likely to engage in nonmedical use for reasons such as “to get high” or “to experiment” (adjusted odds ratio [ORadj.] = 10.15; 95% CI [3.97–25.91]), and 3 times more likely to engage in nonmedical use to self-treat anxiety or to sleep (ORadj. = 3.24; 95% CI [1.67–6.29]). Adolescents prescribed anxiolytics during their lifetime but not during the 3-year study were 12 times more likely to use another’s anxiolytic medication, compared with adolescents never prescribed anxiolytics (ORadj. = 12.17; 95% CI [3.98–37.18]). These risk factors have significant implications for later substance use problems.

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Smoking History, and Not Depression, is Related to Deficits in Detection of Happy and Sad Faces

K.K. Meyers et al.
Addictive Behaviors, February 2015, Pages 210–217

Abstract:
Previous research has demonstrated that chronic cigarette smoking and major depressive disorder (MDD) are each associated with cognitive decrements. Further, these conditions co-occur commonly, though mechanisms in the comorbid condition are poorly understood. There may be distinct, additive, or overlapping factors underlying comorbid cigarette smoking and MDD. The present study investigated the impact of smoking and MDD on executive function and emotion processing. Participants (N = 198) were grouped by diagnostic category (MDD and healthy controls, HC) and smoking status (ever-smokers, ES and never-smokers, NS). Participants completed the Facial Emotion Perception Test (FEPT), a measure of emotional processing, and the parametric Go/No-go task (PGNG), a measure of executive function. FEPT performance was analyzed using ANCOVA with accuracy and reaction time as separate dependent variables. Repeated measures MANCOVA was conducted for PGNG with performance measure and task level as dependent variables. Analyses for each task included diagnostic and smoking group as independent variables, and gender was controlled for. Results for FEPT reveal lower overall accuracy was found for ES relative to NS, though MDD did not differ from HC. Post-hoc analyses revealed ES were poorer at identifying happy and sad, but not fearful or angry, faces. For PGNG, poorer performance was observed in MDD relative to HC in response time to Go targets, but there were no differences for ES and NS. Interaction of diagnosis and smoking group was not observed for performance on either task. The results of this study provide preliminary evidence for distinctive cognitive decrements in smokers and individuals with depression.

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Light-to-Moderate Alcohol Drinking Reduces the Impact of Obesity on the Risk of Diabetes Mellitus

Ichiro Wakabayashi
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, November 2014, Pages 1032–1038

Objective: Light-to-moderate alcohol drinking has been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, for which obesity is a primary risk factor. The aim of this study was to determine whether drinking alcohol influences the relationship between obesity and hyperglycemia.

Method: The relationships of adiposity indices with hyperglycemia were compared among middle-aged Japanese men (N = 12,627) who were non-, light-to-moderate (<22 g ethanol/day), heavy (≥22 and <44 g ethanol/day), and very heavy (≥44 g ethanol/day) drinkers.

Results: There were significant positive correlations of hemoglobin A1c with body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR), which were significantly weaker in light-to-moderate and heavy drinkers than in nondrinkers but were not significantly different in very heavy drinkers compared with nondrinkers. Odds ratios (ORs) for hyperglycemia in subjects with versus those without high BMI or WHtR were significantly higher than reference level of 1.00 in all the drinker groups and significantly lower in light-to-moderate and heavy drinkers compared with nondrinkers; however they were not significantly different in very heavy drinkers compared with nondrinkers. ORs of the interaction term consisting of alcohol drinking and high adiposity index were significantly lower than the reference level in the light-to-moderate and heavy drinkers (OR with 95% confidence interval: high BMI, 0.61 [0.41, 0.91] in light-to-moderate drinkers and 0.64 [0.48, 0.85] in heavy drinkers; high WHtR, 0.57 [0.38, 0.85] in light-to-moderate drinkers and 0.66 [0.50, 0.88] in heavy drinkers) but were not significantly different from the reference level in very heavy drinkers (high BMI, 0.90 [0.65, 1.25]; high WHtR, 1.04 [0.74, 1.46]).

Conclusions: The associations between obesity and hyperglycemia were weaker in light-to-moderate drinkers than in nondrinkers. Thus, light-to-moderate drinking may reduce the impact of obesity on the risk for diabetes.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cleanup crew

Human population reduction is not a quick fix for environmental problems

Corey Bradshaw & Barry Brook
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 November 2014, Pages 16610–16615

Abstract:
The inexorable demographic momentum of the global human population is rapidly eroding Earth’s life-support system. There are consequently more frequent calls to address environmental problems by advocating further reductions in human fertility. To examine how quickly this could lead to a smaller human population, we used scenario-based matrix modeling to project the global population to the year 2100. Assuming a continuation of current trends in mortality reduction, even a rapid transition to a worldwide one-child policy leads to a population similar to today’s by 2100. Even a catastrophic mass mortality event of 2 billion deaths over a hypothetical 5-y window in the mid-21st century would still yield around 8.5 billion people by 2100. In the absence of catastrophe or large fertility reductions (to fewer than two children per female worldwide), the greatest threats to ecosystems — as measured by regional projections within the 35 global Biodiversity Hotspots — indicate that Africa and South Asia will experience the greatest human pressures on future ecosystems. Humanity’s large demographic momentum means that there are no easy policy levers to change the size of the human population substantially over coming decades, short of extreme and rapid reductions in female fertility; it will take centuries, and the long-term target remains unclear. However, some reduction could be achieved by midcentury and lead to hundreds of millions fewer people to feed. More immediate results for sustainability would emerge from policies and technologies that reverse rising consumption of natural resources.

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Income and Employment Effects of Shale Gas Extraction Windfalls: Evidence from the Marcellus Region

Dusan Paredes, Timothy Komarek & Scott Loveridge
Energy Economics, January 2015, Pages 112–120

Abstract:
New technologies combining hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in oil and gas extraction are creating a sudden expansion of production. Residents of places where deep underground oil and gas deposits are found want to know about the broader economic, social, and environmental impacts of these activities that generate windfall income for some residents. We first review the literature on windfall spending patterns. Then, using the Marcellus region, the earliest area to be tapped using the new techniques, we estimate county-level employment and income effects. For robustness, we employ two methods. Using a propensity score matching approach we find no effect of fracking on income or employment. A panel-fixed effects regression approach suggests statistically significant employment effects in six out of seven alternative specifications, but significant income effects in only one out of seven specifications. In short, the income spillover effects in the Marcellus region appear to be minimal, meaning there’s little incentive at the county level to incur current or potential future costs that may be associated with this activity. We conclude with some ideas on how localities might employ policies that would allow natural gas extraction to move forward, benefitting landowners, while establishing some financial safeguards for the broader community.

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The Impact of Short Term Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution on Cognitive Performance and Human Capital Formation

Victor Lavy, Avraham Ebenstein & Sefi Roth
NBER Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Cognitive performance is critical to productivity in many occupations and potentially linked to pollution exposure. We evaluate this potentially important relationship by estimating the effect of pollution exposure on standardized test scores among Israeli high school high-stakes tests (2000-2002). Since students take multiple exams on multiple days in the same location after each grade, we can adopt a fixed effects strategy estimating models with city, school, and student fixed effects. We focus on fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and carbon monoxide (CO), which are considered to be two of the most dangerous forms of air pollution. We find that while PM2.5 and CO levels are only weakly correlated with each other, both exhibit a robust negative relationship with test scores. We also find that PM2.5, which is thought to be particularly damaging for asthmatics, has a larger negative impact on groups with higher rates of asthma. For CO, which affects neurological functioning, the effect is more homogenous across demographic groups. Furthermore, we find that exposure to either pollutant is associated with a significant decline in the probability of not receiving a Bagrut certificate, which is required for college entrance in Israel. The results suggest that the gain from improving air quality may be underestimated by a narrow focus on health impacts. Insofar as air pollution may lead to reduced cognitive performance, the consequences of pollution may be relevant for a variety of everyday activities that require mental acuity. Moreover, by temporarily lowering the productivity of human capital, high pollution levels lead to allocative inefficiency as students with lower human capital are assigned a higher rank than their more qualified peers. This may lead to inefficient allocation of workers across occupations, and possibly a less productive workforce.

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The Effect of Pollution on Labor Supply: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Mexico City

Rema Hanna & Paulina Oliva
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Moderate effects of pollution on health may exert important influences on work. We exploit exogenous variation in pollution due to the closure of a large refinery in Mexico City to understand how pollution impacts labor supply. The closure led to a 19.7 percent decline in pollution, as measured by SO2, in the surrounding neighborhoods. The closure led to a 1.3 hour (or 3.5 percent) increase in work hours per week. The effects do not appear to be driven by differential labor demand shocks nor selective migration.

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The Perverse Impact of Calling for Energy Conservation

Scott Holladay, Michael Price & Marianne Wanamaker
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
In periods of high energy demand, utilities frequently issue “emergency” appeals for conservation over peak hours to reduce brownout risk. We estimate the impact of such appeals using high-frequency data on actual and forecasted electricity generation, pollutant emission measures, and real-time prices. Our results suggest a perverse impact; while there is no significant reduction in grid stress over superpeak hours, such calls lead to increased off-peak generation, CO2 emissions, and price volatility. We postulate that consumer attempts at load shifting lead to this result.

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Environmental exposure to di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate is associated with low interest in sexual activity in premenopausal women

Emily Barrett et al.
Hormones and Behavior, November 2014, Pages 787–792

Abstract:
Phthalates, a ubiquitous class of environmental chemicals, may interfere with typical reproductive hormone production both in utero and in adulthood. Although they are best known as anti-androgens, increasingly, evidence suggests that phthalates, particularly di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), may also suppress estrogen production. Given that both androgens and estrogens are essential for sexual function, particularly sexual interest, it is plausible that adult exposure to phthalates alters sexual function. To this end, we used data from 360 women participating in a pregnancy cohort study (the Study for Future Families) to examine whether urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations were associated with two dimensions of self-reported sexual dysfunction in the months prior to conception: lack of sexual interest and vaginal dryness. Women in the highest quartile of urinary concentrations of mono-2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl phthalate, a DEHP metabolite, had 2.58 (95%CI 1.33, 5.00) times the adjusted odds of reporting that they almost always or often lacked interest in sexual activity, and results were similar for mono-2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl phthalate (aOR: 2.56, 95% CI 1.32, 4.95), another DEHP metabolite. Self-reported vaginal dryness was not associated with any phthalate metabolite concentration. This study is novel in its focus on sexual function in relation to environmentally relevant (rather than occupational) exposure to phthalates in adult women and these preliminary findings merit replication in a large, prospective study. Better understanding how adult exposure to phthalates may affect reproductive health, including sexual function, is of public health interest given that virtually all Westerners are exposed to phthalates.

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The Environmental Consequences of Rural and Urban Population Change: An Exploratory Spatial Panel Study of Forest Cover in the Southern United States, 2001–2006

Matthew Thomas Clement, Christina Ergas & Patrick Trent Greiner
Rural Sociology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This exploratory study examines the effects of rural and urban population change on forest cover at the local level across the southern United States. Using county-level data from the National Land Cover Database and other U.S. government sources, we regressed the total area of forest cover on rural and urban population size in spatial panel models with two-way fixed effects. When we controlled for several other factors, including the number of forestry operations at the county level, regression results indicate that urban change had no effect, but rural population size was positively related to total forest area, and this effect was most pronounced in and around Georgia. Thus, in areas of the southern United States, rural growth was associated with afforestation, not deforestation. We speculate on how this unusual finding contributes to the debate between ecological modernization and urban political economy implicated in previous cross-national research.

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Environmental Health Risks and Housing Values: Evidence from 1,600 Toxic Plant Openings and Closings

Janet Currie et al.
American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Regulatory oversight of toxic emissions from industrial plants and understanding about these emissions' impacts are in their infancy. Applying a research design based on the openings and closings of 1,600 industrial plants to rich data on housing markets and infant health, we find that: toxic air emissions affect air quality only within 1 mile of the plant; plant openings lead to 11% declines in housing values within 0.5 mile or a loss of about $4.25 million for these households; and a plant’s operation is associated with a roughly 3% increase in the probability of low birth weight within 1 mile.

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Gray Matters: Fetal Pollution Exposure and Human Capital Formation

Prashant Bharadwaj et al.
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
This paper examines the impact of fetal exposure to air pollution on 4th grade test scores in Santiago, Chile. We rely on comparisons across siblings which address concerns about locational sorting and all other time-invariant family characteristics that can lead to endogenous exposure to poor environmental quality. We also exploit data on air quality alerts to help address concerns related to short-run time-varying avoidance behavior, which has been shown to be important in a number of other contexts. We find a strong negative effect from fetal exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) on math and language skills measured in 4th grade. These effects are economically significant and our back of the envelope calculations suggest that the 50% reduction in CO in Santiago between 1990 and 2005 increased lifetime earnings by approximately 100 million USD per birth cohort.

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Energy Inflation and House Price Corrections

Andreas Breitenfellner, Jesús Crespo Cuaresma & Philipp Mayer
Energy Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We analyze empirically the role played by energy inflation as a determinant of downward corrections in house prices. Using a dataset for 18 OECD economies spanning the last four decades, we identify periods of downward house price adjustment and estimate conditional logit models to measure the effect of energy inflation on the probability of these house price corrections after controlling for other relevant macroeconomic variables. Our results give strong evidence that increases in energy price inflation raise the probability of such corrective periods taking place. This phenomenon could be explained by various channels: through the adverse effects of energy prices on economic activity and income reducing the demand for housing; through the particular impact on construction and operation costs and their effects on the supply and demand of housing; through the reaction of monetary policy on inflation withdrawing liquidity and further reducing demand; through improving attractiveness of commodity versus housing investment on asset markets; or through a lagging impact of common factors on both variables, such as economic growth. Our results contribute to the understanding of the pass-through of oil price shocks to financial markets and imply that energy price inflation should serve as a leading indicator for the analysis of macro-financial risks.

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The Association of National Air Toxics Assessment Exposures and the Risk of Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Case Control Study

Evelyn Talbott et al.
University of Pittsburgh Working Paper, October 2014

Background: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) constitute a major public health problem, affecting one in every 68 children. There is little understanding of the cause of ASD despite its serious social impact. Air pollution contains many toxicants known to have adverse effects on the developing fetus.

Methods: We conducted a population-based case control study in six southwestern PA counties estimating the association between ASD and USEPA census tract modeled NATA levels for 30 neurotoxicants. Cases were recruited from local ASD treatment centers. There were two different control groups: 1) Interviewed controls with complete residential histories from pre-pregnancy through age two recruited through mailings using the Pennsylvania Department of Health birth registry (2005-2009). 2) 5,007 non-interviewed controls from a random sample of the birth records using residence at birth. Logistic regression analysis was conducted using quartiles of exposure, adjusting for age of mother, smoking, race, and education.

Results: There were a total of 217 cases. For the first group of 224 controls, median levels of chromium, styrene, cyanide, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were higher in cases compared to controls (p<.05). Women in the highest quartile of exposure to styrene had an odds ratio of 1.78 (95% CI: 1.035-3.068) of having a child with ASD compared to the lowest quartile, after adjustment for covariates. In the second control group, each increase of interquartile range exposure to cyanide resulted in a 16% higher odds (95%CI; 1.04-3.46) of ASD in the adjusted logistic model. Additionally, women with the highest quartile of exposure to chromium had 1.65 (95%CI; 1.10-2.47) times the odds of having a child with ASD compared to the women in the lowest quartile of chromium exposure.

Conclusions: Chromium, cyanide and styrene exhibited elevated odds ratios using two different control groups. These findings need to be verified with exposure assessment at the individual level.

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Fallout plume of submerged oil from Deepwater Horizon

David Valentine et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 11 November 2014, Pages 15906–15911

Abstract:
The sinking of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico led to uncontrolled emission of oil to the ocean, with an official government estimate of ∼5.0 million barrels released. Among the pressing uncertainties surrounding this event is the fate of ∼2 million barrels of submerged oil thought to have been trapped in deep-ocean intrusion layers at depths of ∼1,000–1,300 m. Here we use chemical distributions of hydrocarbons in >3,000 sediment samples from 534 locations to describe a footprint of oil deposited on the deep-ocean floor. Using a recalcitrant biomarker of crude oil, 17α(H),21β(H)-hopane (hopane), we have identified a 3,200-km2 region around the Macondo Well contaminated by ∼1.8 ± 1.0 × 106 g of excess hopane. Based on spatial, chemical, oceanographic, and mass balance considerations, we calculate that this contamination represents 4–31% of the oil sequestered in the deep ocean. The pattern of contamination points to deep-ocean intrusion layers as the source and is most consistent with dual modes of deposition: a “bathtub ring” formed from an oil-rich layer of water impinging laterally upon the continental slope (at a depth of ∼900–1,300 m) and a higher-flux “fallout plume” where suspended oil particles sank to underlying sediment (at a depth of ∼1,300–1,700 m). We also suggest that a significant quantity of oil was deposited on the ocean floor outside this area but so far has evaded detection because of its heterogeneous spatial distribution.

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Regional variation in environmental inequality: Industrial air toxics exposure in U.S. cities

Klara Zwickl, Michael Ash & James Boyce
Ecological Economics, November 2014, Pages 494–509

Abstract:
This paper analyzes how racial and ethnic disparities in exposure to industrial air toxics in U.S. cities vary with neighborhood income, and how these disparities vary regionally across the country. Exposure is estimated at the census block-group level using geographic microdata from the Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We find that racial and ethnic disparities in pollution exposure are strongest among neighborhoods with median incomes below $25,000, while income-based disparities are stronger among neighborhoods with median incomes above that level. We also find considerable differences in the patterns of disparity across the ten EPA regions. In the two regions with the highest median exposure (the Midwest and South Central regions), for example, African-Americans and Hispanics face significantly higher exposures than whites, whereas in the region with the next highest exposure (the Mid-Atlantic), the reverse is true. We show that the latter result is attributable to intercity variations – minorities tend to live in the less polluted cities in the region – rather than to within-city variations.

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Does Better Information Lead to Better Choices? Evidence from Energy-Efficiency Labels

Lucas Davis & Gilbert Metcalf
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
Information provision is a key element of government energy-efficiency policy, but the information that is provided is often too coarse to allow consumers to make efficient decisions. An important example is the ubiquitous yellow “EnergyGuide” label, which is required by law to be displayed on all major appliances sold in the United States. These labels report energy cost information based on average national usage and energy prices. We conduct an online randomized controlled trial to measure the potential benefits from providing more accurate information. We find that state-specific labels lead to significantly better choices. Consumers invest about the same amount overall in energy-efficiency, but the allocation is much better with more investment in high-usage high-price states and less investment in low-usage low-price states. The implied aggregate cost savings are larger than any reasonable estimate of the cost of implementing state-specific labels.

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The Environmental Effects of Crop Price Increases: Nitrogen Losses in the U.S. Corn Belt

Nathan Hendricks et al.
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, November 2014, Pages 507–526

Abstract:
High corn prices cause farmers to plant more corn on fields that were planted to corn in the previous year, rather than alternating between corn and soybeans. Cultivating corn after corn requires greater nitrogen fertilizer and some of this nitrogen flows into waterways and causes environmental damage. We estimate the effect of crop prices on nitrogen losses for most fields in Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana using crop data from satellite imagery. Spatial variation in these high-resolution estimates highlights the fact that the environmental effects of agriculture depend not only on what is grown, but also on where and in what sequence it is grown. Our results suggest that the change in corn and soybean prices due to a billion gallons of ethanol production expands the size of the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico by roughly 30 square miles on average, although there is considerable uncertainty in this estimate.

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Behavioural and physiological responses of birds to environmentally relevant concentrations of an antidepressant

Tom Bean et al.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 19 November 2014

Abstract:
Many wildlife species forage on sewage-contaminated food, for example, at wastewater treatment plants and on fields fertilized with sewage sludge. The resultant exposure to human pharmaceuticals remains poorly studied for terrestrial species. On the basis of predicted exposure levels in the wild, we administered the common antidepressant fluoxetine (FLUOX) or control treatment via prey to wild-caught starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) for 22 weeks over winter. To investigate responses to fluoxetine, birds were moved from their group aviaries into individual cages for 2 days. Boldness, exploration and activity levels showed no treatment effects but controls and FLUOX birds habituated differently to isolation in terms of the concentration of corticosterone (CORT) metabolites in faeces. The controls that excreted higher concentrations of CORT metabolites on day 1 lost more body mass by day 2 of isolation than those which excreted lower levels of CORT metabolites. CORT metabolites and mass loss were unrelated in FLUOX birds. When we investigated the movements of birds in their group aviaries, we found the controls made a higher frequency of visits to food trays than FLUOX birds around the important foraging periods of sunrise and sunset, as is optimal for wintering birds. Although individual variability makes interpreting the sub-lethal endpoints measured challenging, our data suggest that fluoxetine at environmentally relevant concentrations can significantly alter behaviour and physiology.

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An Experimental Test of the Effect of Negative Social Norms on Energy-Efficient Investments

Mike Yeomans & David Herberich
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Energy efficiency is an important economic and environmental concern, and likewise the correction of current wasteful energy practices. We document widespread “tire pressure neglect” - three-quarters of drivers waste gas driving on underinflated tires. Negative descriptive social norms are one potential cause, but have not been tested in high-neglect environments, where those norms are widespread. This confounds the mechanism: are these norms signals of private value to consumers, or do they imply standards for social judgment from others? We conducted a field experiment at gas stations in Chicago - our intervention included treatments with information about tire pressure neglect, promotions in the form of price reductions from $0.50 to free, a descriptive norm of behavior, and “help” in the form of air pump assistance. The treatments are designed to provide the ability to consider four potential underlying drivers: information, monetary cost, social norms and social pressure. Treatments that only included information were ineffective, despite average fuel savings of $10.51, but small promotions had substantial impacts. When the air pump price was free, the social norm discouraged inflation. However, when the research assistant offered help, inflation rates were buoyed by the social norm. These results highlight the importance of incentives over mere information treatments, and offer a new perspective on how information and monetary levers can influence decision-making in the presence of negative social norms.

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Biogeographic patterns in below-ground diversity in New York City's Central Park are similar to those observed globally

Kelly Ramirez et al.
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 22 November 2014

Abstract:
Soil biota play key roles in the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems, however, compared to our knowledge of above-ground plant and animal diversity, the biodiversity found in soils remains largely uncharacterized. Here, we present an assessment of soil biodiversity and biogeographic patterns across Central Park in New York City that spanned all three domains of life, demonstrating that even an urban, managed system harbours large amounts of undescribed soil biodiversity. Despite high variability across the Park, below-ground diversity patterns were predictable based on soil characteristics, with prokaryotic and eukaryotic communities exhibiting overlapping biogeographic patterns. Further, Central Park soils harboured nearly as many distinct soil microbial phylotypes and types of soil communities as we found in biomes across the globe (including arctic, tropical and desert soils). This integrated cross-domain investigation highlights that the amount and patterning of novel and uncharacterized diversity at a single urban location matches that observed across natural ecosystems spanning multiple biomes and continents.

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North-south trade in reusable goods: Green design meets illegal shipments of waste

Sophie Bernard
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, January 2015, Pages 22–35

Abstract:
In a stylized model of international trade, firms in the North indirectly export second-hand products to a representative firm in the South to be reused as intermediate goods, with potential trade gains. The level of reusability of waste products – or green design – is a crucial choice variable in the North. This is because, in the presence of imperfect international monitoring, non-reusable waste can be illegally mixed with reusable waste. I explore the driving forces for illegal waste movement, with a particular focus on local waste regulations such as the EU's Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment. Under mild conditions, it is shown that increasingly stringent regulations in the North can induce Northern firms to reduce product reusability. Consequently, the flow of non-reusable waste to the South increases, magnifying the pollution haven effect.

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Integrated life-cycle assessment of electricity-supply scenarios confirms global environmental benefit of low-carbon technologies

Edgar Hertwich et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Decarbonization of electricity generation can support climate-change mitigation and presents an opportunity to address pollution resulting from fossil-fuel combustion. Generally, renewable technologies require higher initial investments in infrastructure than fossil-based power systems. To assess the tradeoffs of increased up-front emissions and reduced operational emissions, we present, to our knowledge, the first global, integrated life-cycle assessment (LCA) of long-term, wide-scale implementation of electricity generation from renewable sources (i.e., photovoltaic and solar thermal, wind, and hydropower) and of carbon dioxide capture and storage for fossil power generation. We compare emissions causing particulate matter exposure, freshwater ecotoxicity, freshwater eutrophication, and climate change for the climate-change-mitigation (BLUE Map) and business-as-usual (Baseline) scenarios of the International Energy Agency up to 2050. We use a vintage stock model to conduct an LCA of newly installed capacity year-by-year for each region, thus accounting for changes in the energy mix used to manufacture future power plants. Under the Baseline scenario, emissions of air and water pollutants more than double whereas the low-carbon technologies introduced in the BLUE Map scenario allow a doubling of electricity supply while stabilizing or even reducing pollution. Material requirements per unit generation for low-carbon technologies can be higher than for conventional fossil generation: 11–40 times more copper for photovoltaic systems and 6–14 times more iron for wind power plants. However, only two years of current global copper and one year of iron production will suffice to build a low-carbon energy system capable of supplying the world's electricity needs in 2050.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Belief system

Perceptions of Discrimination Among Atheists: Consequences for Atheist Identification, Psychological and Physical Well-Being

Michael Doane & Marta Elliott
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, forthcoming

Abstract:
Atheists are a marginalized group of people in the United States. Although studies have found that atheists perceive prejudice and experience discrimination, little is known about the consequences of such social rejection. To address this gap in research, we examined the associations among discrimination, identity, and well-being using original survey data from self-identified atheists (n = 960). We investigated their associations in the context of the Rejection-Identification Model, which posits that group identification reduces the negative effect of discrimination on well-being. Consistent with extant research on other marginalized groups, discrimination was negatively associated with well-being while positively associated with atheist identification. Further, atheist identification was positively associated with well-being. In support of the rejection-identification process, we found evidence that atheists may strengthen their group identification in the face of discrimination. Strengthened identification as an atheist may be a strategy that protects atheists from the harmful effects of social rejection.

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Diffusing Knowledge while Spreading God's Message: Protestantism and Economic Prosperity in China, 1840-1920

Ying Bai & James Kai-sing Kung
Journal of the European Economic Association, forthcoming

Abstract:
We provide an account of how Protestantism promoted economic prosperity in China - a country in which Protestant missionaries penetrated far and wide during 1840-1920, but only a tiny fraction of the population had converted to Christianity. By exploiting the spatial variation in the missionaries' retreat due to the Boxer Uprising to identify the diffusion of Protestantism, we find that the conversion of an additional communicant per 10,000 people increases the overall urbanization rate by 18.8% when evaluated at the mean. Moreover, 90% of this effect comes from knowledge diffusion activities associated with schools and hospitals erected by the missionaries.

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The Economic Effects of the Protestant Reformation: Testing the Weber Hypothesis in the German Lands

Davide Cantoni
Journal of the European Economic Association, forthcoming

Abstract:
Following Max Weber, many theories have hypothesized that Protestantism should have favored economic development. With its religious heterogeneity, the Holy Roman Empire presents an ideal testing ground for this hypothesis. Using population figures of 272 cities in the years 1300-1900, I find no effects of Protestantism on economic growth. The finding is precisely estimated, robust to the inclusion of various controls, and does not depend on data selection or small sample size. Denominational differences in fertility behavior and literacy are unlikely to be major confounding factors. Protestantism has no effect when interacted with other likely determinants of economic development. Instrumental variables estimates, considering the potential endogeneity of religious choice, are similar to the OLS results.

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The ecology of religious beliefs

Carlos Botero et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 25 November 2014, Pages 16784-16789

Abstract:
Although ecological forces are known to shape the expression of sociality across a broad range of biological taxa, their role in shaping human behavior is currently disputed. Both comparative and experimental evidence indicate that beliefs in moralizing high gods promote cooperation among humans, a behavioral attribute known to correlate with environmental harshness in nonhuman animals. Here we combine fine-grained bioclimatic data with the latest statistical tools from ecology and the social sciences to evaluate the potential effects of environmental forces, language history, and culture on the global distribution of belief in moralizing high gods (n = 583 societies). After simultaneously accounting for potential nonindependence among societies because of shared ancestry and cultural diffusion, we find that these beliefs are more prevalent among societies that inhabit poorer environments and are more prone to ecological duress. In addition, we find that these beliefs are more likely in politically complex societies that recognize rights to movable property. Overall, our multimodel inference approach predicts the global distribution of beliefs in moralizing high gods with an accuracy of 91%, and estimates the relative importance of different potential mechanisms by which this spatial pattern may have arisen. The emerging picture is neither one of pure cultural transmission nor of simple ecological determinism, but rather a complex mixture of social, cultural, and environmental influences. Our methods and findings provide a blueprint for how the increasing wealth of ecological, linguistic, and historical data can be leveraged to understand the forces that have shaped the behavior of our own species.

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Sinners or Saints? Preachers' Kids and Risky Health Behaviors

Jason Delaney & John Winters
Journal of Family and Economic Issues, December 2014, Pages 464-476

Abstract:
How do parents influence adolescent risky behavior? In this paper, we focus on a unique population: children of the clergy, more commonly known as preachers' kids (PKs). We used data on risky behavior among American adolescents from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 Cohort and used latent variable and zero-inflated count models to analyze the effect of being a PK on both uptake and intensity of use of alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, and other drugs. We found that being a PK significantly reduced alcohol use. This effect came exclusively from a reduction in the probability of any alcohol use and this increased abstinence among children of the clergy persisted into adulthood. We found no significant effects of being a PK on cigarette uptake or intensity of use but some evidence of a negative PK effect on the uptake of marijuana and other drugs.

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Self-Reported Spirituality Correlates With Endogenous Oxytocin

Colin Holbrook, Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook & Julianne Holt-Lunstad
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, forthcoming

Abstract:
Spirituality involves a feeling of profound personal connection to a sacred reality (e.g., God), and is often characterized by experiences of comfort and peace. The neuropeptide oxytocin appears to be a plausible biological mediator of such spiritual experiences, as oxytocin is closely linked with social affiliation, intimacy, and stress-attenuation. Here, we investigated the relationship between endogenously generated oxytocin and self-reported trait spirituality among a group of devout North American Christians. In line with emerging perspectives linking oxytocin with social affiliation, but not with positive asocial feelings in general, trait spirituality predicted higher levels of salivary oxytocin, and this association was not explained by covarying positive mood, optimism, romantic relationship status, or sex. The results are discussed as they motivate future directions in research on oxytocin and spirituality.

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Mantram Repetition Fosters Self-Efficacy in Veterans for Managing PTSD: A Randomized Trial

Doug Oman & Jill Bormann
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, forthcoming

Abstract:
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health condition that affects physical health. However, many military veterans with PTSD refuse or drop out of commonly used trauma-focused, evidence-based treatments. Growing research supports the value of spiritual components in diverse types of health care interventions. This study investigated the effects of the Mantram Repetition Program (MRP) on self-efficacy for managing PTSD symptoms. Outpatient veterans with PTSD (n = 132) were recruited through referrals, and were primarily male (98%), non-Hispanic white (59%) or black (23%), with mean age 58 years (SD = 9). Participants were randomized to case management plus MRP, or to case management alone. MRP participants chose a short, sacred phrase from a spiritual tradition (e.g., "Jesus," "Barukh attah Adonai," "Om mani padme hum"), repeating the phrase silently throughout the day to interrupt unwanted thoughts and behaviors, and to improve concentration and attention. Self-efficacy was assessed weekly, and participants were assessed at baseline (Week 1) and postintervention (Week 6) for PTSD symptoms, depressive symptoms, mental health, and spiritual well-being. Results revealed that MRP group self-efficacy means as well as treatment effects showed approximately linear weekly increases from baseline to postintervention. Treatment effects on self-efficacy were significant (p < .01), and mediated treatment effects on depression, mental health, spiritual well-being, satisfaction with physical health, and both self-reported and clinician-assessed PTSD symptoms (all ps < .05). We concluded that MRP fosters self-efficacy for managing PTSD symptoms, favorably affecting diverse facets of well-being, and that physical health effects merit investigation.

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Why was there no religious war in premodern East Asia?

David Kang
European Journal of International Relations, December 2014, Pages 965-986

Abstract:
In premodern East Asia, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and China rarely experienced anything like the type of religious violence that existed for centuries in historical Europe, despite having vibrant religious traditions such as Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism, and numerous folk religions. How do we explain a region in which religion was generally not a part of the explanation for war and rebellion? A unique data set of over 950 entries of Chinese and Korean violence over a 473-year span allows granular measurement of religious violence. I argue that the inclusivist religions of historical East Asia did not easily lend themselves to appropriation by political leaders as a means of differentiating groups or justifying violence. Addressing the paucity of religious war in historical East Asia is theoretically important because it challenges a large body of scholarly literature that finds a universal causal relationship between religion and war that is empirically derived mainly from the experience of only Christianity and Islam. In contrast, it may be that certain types of religious traditions are less amenable to mass mobilization for violence. Moving beyond Christianity and Islam to include East Asian religious traditions promises both to address a potentially serious issue of selection bias and also to be a rich field for theorizing about the relationship between religion and war.

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Abortion Politics and the Decline of the Separation of Church and State: The Southern Baptist Case

Andrew Lewis
Politics and Religion, September 2014, Pages 521-549

Abstract:
Between the late 1970s and early 1990s, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) altered its First Amendment advocacy, shifting from being an ardent supporter of the strict separation of church and state to being a champion of the government accommodation of religion. At the same time, the denomination also became unswervingly pro-life. In this article, I use the SBC case to identify a previously under-analyzed link between abortion politics and church-state politics. I suggest that pro-life politics played an important role in the SBC's shift away from the separation of church and state. I focus on three areas where abortion politics aided this shift: (1) opposing separationists' assertions that anti-abortion policies violated the Establishment Clause; (2) becoming allies rather than foes with Catholics; and (3) promoting a greater emphasis on the free exercise of religion. I conclude by discussing the implications for the relationship between religion, law, and politics.

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The Role of Social Networks in the Recruitment of Youth in an Islamist Organization in Pakistan

Akhlaq Ahmad
Sociological Spectrum, November/December 2014, Pages 469-488

Abstract:
Drawing on data from 40 qualitative interviews, this article examines how young people are connected with one influential Islamist student organization in Pakistan. It provides deeper insight into the micro-level mechanisms and processes by which new members are approached and drawn closer to the particular organization. Findings reveal that young people who joined this organization did not necessarily do so because of their ideological affinity, political or social grievances or because of macro-level events occurring in the national or global arena, such as the U.S.-led war on terror. Rather, they predominantly ended up in the organization because of their friends and acquaintances who were activists in the organization.

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Parental Religiosity and Youth Religiosity: Variations by Family Structure

Richard Petts
Sociology of Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many studies have explored the links between family structure, parental religiosity, and youth religiosity, but results across studies have been inconsistent and have largely ignored new diverse family forms. Using data on 2,320 youth and their parents from the National Study of Youth and Religion, this study focused on whether and why religious transmission from parents to youth varies among diverse family structures. Results suggest that family structure is not directly related to youth religious outcomes, but that the influence of parental religiosity on religious participation and religious salience (but not closeness to God or private religious practices) was weaker for youth raised in stepfamilies, never-married single-parent families, and cohabiting families than for those raised by married biological/adoptive parents. Results also suggest that less effective religious transmission within nontraditional families compared with traditional families is due (at least in part) to less effective religious socialization within these families.

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Does Religious Beliefs Affect Economic Growth? Evidence from Provincial-level Panel Data in China

Qunyong Wang & Xinyu Lin
China Economic Review, December 2014, Pages 277-287

Abstract:
More and more literature on economic growth and development has increasingly focused on long-run effects of geographic, historical, and cultural factors on productivity and income per capita. This paper investigates the effect of religious beliefs on economic growth using provincial panel data from 2001 to 2011 in China. It's very meaningful to study the role of religion playing in economic development since religion has influence on political preference, human capital and work ethic, especially in current China which is faced with income disparity, environmental pollution, and official corruption. Our results reveal that, among the different religions, Christianity has the most significant effect on economic growth. This conclusion is consistent among different estimators and robust with stability over time. However, no consistent or robust conclusions can be drawn for other religions. Different estimation methods give different signs or significance. Given the very few studies and limited data resources about China in this field, the paper as a tentative study provides a brand new viewpoint.

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The Choosing People: Interpreting the Puzzling Politics of American Jewry

Kenneth Wald
Politics and Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
The political liberalism of American Jews is puzzling because it contradicts the assumption that economic self-interest drives political behavior. Attempts to solve this puzzle with "Judaic" explanations compound the problem by offering theories that are static and universal while American Jewish political behavior is dynamic and situational. Using both historical and behavioral data, I argue that the solution to these puzzles is found in the overriding concern of American Jews with maintaining their equal citizenship in a society with a classic liberal regime of religion and state. This situational model also helps integrate work on Jewish political studies with theories and concepts commonly used by political scientists to explain mass political behavior.

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Do Religious Proscriptions Matter? Evidence from a Theory-Based Test

Daniel Hungerman
Journal of Human Resources, Fall 2014, Pages 1053-1093

Abstract:
A large literature shows that religious participation is associated with various behaviors and outcomes, but researchers lack an accepted instrument for religion and have struggled to establish whether these associations are causal. Using the canonical economic model of religiosity, I develop an empirical test to investigate the importance of religious participation, in particular religious proscriptions and rules, on determining behavior. The test relies on exogenous variation in the cost of secular activities rather than an instrument for religious participation. Several empirical applications of this test are conducted; the results indicate a strong role for religious proscriptions in determining behavior.

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Does Religion Mitigate Tunneling? Evidence from Chinese Buddhism

Xingqiang Du
Journal of Business Ethics, December 2014, Pages 299-327

Abstract:
In the Chinese stock market, controlling shareholders often use inter-corporate loans to expropriate a great amount of cash from listed firms, through a process called "tunneling." Using a sample of 10,170 firm-year observations from the Chinese stock market for the period of 2001-2010, I examine whether and how Buddhism, China's most influential religion, can mitigate tunneling. In particular, using firm-level Buddhism data, measured as the number of Buddhist monasteries within a certain radius around Chinese listed firms' registered addresses, this study provides strong evidence that Buddhism intensity is significantly negatively associated with tunneling. This finding is consistent with the view that Buddhism has important influence on corporate behavior and can serve as a set of social norms and/or an alternative mechanism to mitigate controlling shareholders' unethical tunneling behavior. In addition, my findings also reveal that the negative association between Buddhism intensity and tunneling is attenuated for firms that have high analyst coverage. The results are robust to various measures of Buddhism intensity and a variety of sensitivity tests.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, December 1, 2014

The next election

The Effect of Fact-Checking on Elites: A Field Experiment on U.S. State Legislators

Brendan Nyhan & Jason Reifler
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does external monitoring improve democratic performance? Fact-checking has come to play an increasingly important role in political coverage in the United States, but some research suggests it may be ineffective at reducing public misperceptions about controversial issues. However, fact-checking might instead help improve political discourse by increasing the reputational costs or risks of spreading misinformation for political elites. To evaluate this deterrent hypothesis, we conducted a field experiment on a diverse group of state legislators from nine U.S. states in the months before the November 2012 election. In the experiment, a randomly assigned subset of state legislators was sent a series of letters about the risks to their reputation and electoral security if they were caught making questionable statements. The legislators who were sent these letters were substantially less likely to receive a negative fact-checking rating or to have their accuracy questioned publicly, suggesting that fact-checking can reduce inaccuracy when it poses a salient threat.

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A Principle or a Strategy? Voter Identification Laws and Partisan Competition in the American States

William Hicks et al.
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
We undertake a comprehensive examination of restrictive voter ID legislation in the American states from 2001 through 2012. With a dataset containing approximately one thousand introduced and nearly one hundred adopted voter ID laws, we evaluate the likelihood that a state legislature introduces a restrictive voter ID bill, as well as the likelihood that a state government adopts such a law. Voter ID laws have evolved from a valence issue into a partisan battle, where Republicans defend them as a safeguard against fraud while Democrats indict them as a mechanism of voter suppression. However, voter ID legislation is not uniform across the states; not all Republican-controlled legislatures have pushed for more restrictive voter ID laws. Instead, our findings show it is a combination of partisan control and the electoral context that drives enactment of such measures. While the prevalence of Republican lawmakers strongly and positively influences the adoption of voter ID laws in electorally competitive states, its effect is significantly weaker in electorally uncompetitive states. Republicans preside over an electoral coalition that is declining in size; where elections are competitive, the furtherance of restrictive voter ID laws is a means of maintaining Republican support while curtailing Democratic electoral gains.

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Differing Paths to the Top: Gender, Ambition, and Running for Governor

Jason Windett
Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, Fall 2014, Pages 287-314

Abstract:
This research aims to bridge together the work between ambition formation and progressive ambition through an analysis of current and former US governors and gubernatorial candidates' political careers through in-depth interviews. Much like earlier scholarship on women's political ambition, I conclude that women tend to be self-starters, begin their careers much later in life, and receive little party recruitment. Women, however, are more likely to take electoral risks when moving up the political career ladder, challenging incumbents at higher rates than their male counterparts, and entering races with greater levels of electoral uncertainty.

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Racial Imagery and Support for Voter ID Laws

David Wilson, Paul Brewer & Phoebe Theodora Rosenbluth
Race and Social Problems, December 2014, Pages 365-371

Abstract:
Previous research suggests that calls for voter ID laws include racialized appeals and that racial attitudes influence support for such laws. This study uses an experiment to test whether exposure to racial imagery also affects support for voter ID laws. The data come from a survey experiment embedded in the 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (N = 1,436) randomizing the race of a voter and poll worker shown to respondents (African American voter and poll worker, white voter and poll worker, or no image). The results show that white respondents who saw an image of an African American voter and poll worker expressed greater support for voter ID laws than those in the no image condition, even after controlling for the significant effects of racial resentment and political ideology. Exposure to an image of a white voter and poll worker did not produce a similar effect. The findings provide new evidence that public opinion about voter ID laws is racialized.

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From Black and White to Left and Right: Race, Perceptions of Candidates' Ideologies, and Voting Behavior in U.S. House Elections

Matthew Jacobsmeier
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
While there is a strong scholarly consensus that race continues to play a central role in American politics, research on the effects of the race of candidates on electoral behavior has produced decidedly mixed results. Using American National Election Studies data, Cooperative Congressional Election Studies data, and a non-linear systems of equations approach to estimation, I show that race-based misperceptions of candidates' ideologies have a significant indirect impact on voting decisions in elections to the U.S. House of Representatives. The indirect effects of race on voting behavior outweigh any direct effects of racial prejudice by a substantial margin. More specifically, the results suggest that white citizens will tend to perceive black candidates to be more liberal than white candidates who adopt similar policy positions, and that these race-based misperceptions disadvantage black candidates at the ballot box.

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Presidential Coattails versus the Median Voter: Senator Selection in US Elections

Yosh Halberstam & Pablo Montagnes
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We show that senators elected in presidential elections are more ideologically extreme than in midterm elections. This finding is in contrast to the literature suggesting that voters in presidential elections are more ideologically moderate than voters in midterm elections. To explain this incongruence, we propose a theory of spillover effects in which party labels enable voters to update their beliefs about candidates across contemporaneous races for office: unexpected support for a candidate in one race carries marginal candidates from the same party in other races. Our theory implies that presidential coattails may skew representative government away from the median-voter ideal.

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Risk Attitudes and the Incumbency Advantage

David Eckles et al.
Political Behavior, December 2014, Pages 731-749

Abstract:
Explanations for the incumbency advantage in American elections have typically pointed to the institutional advantages that incumbents enjoy over challengers but overlook the role of individual traits that reinforce this bias. The institutional advantages enjoyed by incumbents give voters more certainty about who incumbents are and what they might do when (and if) they assume office. We argue that these institutional advantages make incumbents particularly attractive to risk-averse individuals, who shy away from uncertainty and embrace choices that provide more certainty. Using data from 2008 and 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, we show that citizens who are more risk averse are more likely to support incumbent candidates, while citizens who are more risk accepting are more likely to vote for challengers. The foundations of the incumbency advantage, we find, lie not only in the institutional perks of office but also in the individual minds of voters.

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Losing to Win: How Partisan Candidates Help Parties Win in the Future

Kai Steverson
Princeton Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We study an infinite horizon model of political competition where parties face a trade-off between winning today and winning tomorrow. Parties choose between nominating moderates, who are more viable, or partisans, who can energize the base and draw in new voters which helps win future elections. Only moderates can win in equilibrium and so the winning party fails to invest in its base and has a weaker future. Hence the longer a party is in power the more likely they are to lose, a pattern that finds strong support in the data. This dynamic also creates an electoral cycle where parties regularly take turns in power.

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Candidate Age and Youth Voter Turnout

Michael Pomante & Scot Schraufnagel
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The research addresses youth voter turnout in the United States and, specifically, tests the relationship between candidate age and a commitment to vote by young people in a controlled experiment. We learn that potential young voters are more willing to commit to vote when they view pictures of younger candidates running. This is the case after controlling for the age and partisanship of respondents. In a real-world test of our experimental results, we examine state-level variation in youth voter turnout in midterm governor and Senate races (1994-2010). In the state-level analysis, we find a larger candidate age gap in governor and Senate races associates with higher levels of youth mobilization. In all, the research affirms the value of candidate characteristics as a predictor of voting behavior.

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Political Scandal and Bias in Survey Responses

Nicholas Goedert
PS: Political Science & Politics, October 2014, Pages 813-818

Abstract:
This article provides evidence for bias in the polling of American political candidates who are accused of personal or financial scandal, wherein the support of the accused candidate is understated. Evidence for this phenomenon is found in the analysis of a dataset of district-level polls of US House elections during the 2002-2012 election cycles. This bias helps to explain several unanticipated outcomes in recent American legislative elections, in which scandal-tarred incumbents unexpectedly were reelected or defeated by surprisingly narrow margins. The article also finds evidence of a smaller bias, previously observed by practitioners, wherein support is overstated for incumbents who are not accused of scandal.

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Do Charitable Subsidies Crowd Out Political Giving? The Missing Link between Charitable and Political Contributions

Bariş Yörük
B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the United States, charitable contributions can be deducted from taxable income making the price of giving inversely related to the marginal tax rate. However, several other types of contributions such as donations to political organizations are not tax deductible. This paper investigates the spillover effects of charitable subsidies on political giving using five cross-sectional surveys of charitable and political giving in the United States conducted from 1990 to 2001. The results show that charitable and political giving are complements. Compared with non-donors, charitable donors are more likely to donate and give more to political organizations. Increasing the price of charitable giving decreases not only charitable giving but also the probability of giving and the amount of donations to political organizations. This effect is robust under different specifications and highlights the externalities created by charitable subsidies.

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Representation without Parties: Reconsidering the One-Party South, 1930-62

Devin Caughey
MIT Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Political scientists have long viewed the one-party South as exemplifying the impossibility of democracy in the absence of partisan competition. I argue that this view conflates the effects of disfranchisement and one-partyism. Despite the lack of partisan competition, Democratic primaries induced a qualified but real electoral connection between Southern members of Congress and the (white) eligible electorate. I show that Southern representatives exhibited strong responsiveness to the economic policy preferences of their median voter. I also demonstrate that Southern MCs' collective shift from New Deal liberals to pivotal centrists in the 1930s and 1940s mirrored shifts in white public opinion in the South. These findings suggest important qualifications to the view of the one-party South as an "authoritarian" regime and to the conventional wisdom that that representation requires partisan competition.

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Baby Boomers

Michael Delli Carpini
The Forum, October 2014, Pages 417-445

Abstract:
Born between 1946 and 1964, "baby boomers" represent the largest 20-year age cohort in US history and still account for over 30% of the adult population. Drawing on over half a century of survey data from the American National Election Studies I explore the political legacy of this generational cohort as measured by 16 indicators of political engagement. The results suggest that while evidence of lasting generational differences in political attitudes and behaviors between boomers and those who preceded or followed them exist, they are generally small to modest, with variation over time driven more by the times in which people live than the times in which they were socialized.

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Raising Hope: Hope Inducement and Voter Turnout

Costas Panagopoulos
Basic and Applied Social Psychology, November/December 2014, Pages 494-501

Abstract:
Politicians routinely invoke hope on the campaign trail, presumably because they believe that inducements of hope attract supporters and impel citizens to the polls. Social psychologists and political scientists similarly posit that activating positive emotions like hope and other powerful psychological mechanisms has the capacity to stimulate prosocial behavior, like voting in elections. In this study, I subject these claims to empirical scrutiny by designing and implementing a series of randomized field experiments to examine whether inducing hope raises electoral participation. Overall, I find little evidence that hope affects voting behavior, but I acknowledge the null effects may reflect the [im]potency of the treatment.

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What Happens When Extremists Win Primaries?

Andrew Hall
American Political Science Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article studies the interplay of U.S. primary and general elections. I examine how the nomination of an extremist changes general-election outcomes and legislative behavior in the U.S. House, 1980-2010, using a regression discontinuity design in primary elections. When an extremist -- as measured by primary-election campaign receipt patterns -- wins a "coin-flip" election over a more moderate candidate, the party's general-election vote share decreases by approximately 9-13 percentage points, and the probability that the party wins the seat decreases by 35-54 percentage points. This electoral penalty is so large that nominating the more extreme primary candidate causes the district's subsequent roll-call representation to reverse, becoming more liberal when an extreme Republican is nominated and more conservative when an extreme Democrat is nominated. Overall, the findings show how general-election voters act as a moderating filter in response to primary nominations.

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The Effects of Voting Costs on the Democratic Process and Public Finances

Roland Hodler, Simon Luechinger & Alois Stutzer
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Increasing the attractiveness of voting is often seen as a remedy for unequal participation and the influence of special-interest groups on public policy. However, lower voting costs may also bring less informed citizens to the poll, thereby inviting efforts to sway these voters. We substantiate this argument in a probabilistic voting model with campaign contributions. In an empirical analysis for the 26 Swiss cantons, we find that lower voting costs due to postal voting are related to higher turnout, lower average education and political knowledge of participants as well as lower government welfare expenditures and lower business taxation.

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There Can Be Only One (Woman on the Ticket): Gender in Candidate Nominations

Valerie Hennings & Robert Urbatsch
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Party elites and voters are reluctant to cede multiple ballot positions to women simultaneously, so that men are able to have running mates of either gender but women tend to have male running mates. Evidence from American gubernatorial elections, state legislative caucuses, and presidential tickets from around the world confirms this: nominating a woman for the top position reduces a party's likelihood of nominating a woman for the second position by half or more.

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Deliberative Democracy and the American Civil Jury

Valerie Hans, John Gastil & Traci Feller
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, December 2014, Pages 697-717

Abstract:
Civil jury service should be a potent form of deliberative democracy, creating greater civic engagement. However, a 2010 seven-state study of jury service and voting records found no overall boost in civic engagement following service on civil juries, whereas jurors who served on criminal cases did show increased civic engagement following their jury service. This article reports a project that augments the civil jury data set with information about jury decision rule, jury size, defendant identity, and case type and examines whether specific types of civil jury service influence postservice voting. Taking into account preservice voting records, jurors who serve on a civil jury that is required to reach unanimity or a civil jury of 12 are significantly more likely to vote after their service. Jurors who decide cases with organizational, as opposed to individual, defendants likewise show a boost in voting behavior, as do jurors deciding contract or nonautomotive torts cases compared to automotive torts. Limitations and implications of these findings for deliberative democracy theory and jury practice are discussed.

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Strategic Mobilization: Why Proportional Representation Decreases Voter Mobilization

Carlisle Rainey
Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many scholars suggest that proportional representation increases party mobilization by creating nationally competitive districts that give parties an incentive to mobilize everywhere. This paper provides theoretical and empirical arguments that bring this claim into question. I propose, unlike earlier scholars, that the positive effect of district competitiveness on party mobilization efforts increases as electoral districts become more disproportional, arguing that disproportionality itself encourages mobilization by exaggerating the impact of competitiveness on mobilization. Individual-level survey data from national legislative elections show that competitiveness has a much larger positive effect on parties' mobilization efforts in single-member districts than in proportional districts. Contrary to prior literature, these results suggest proportional electoral rules give parties no strong incentive to mobilize anywhere.

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Campaigns and the Mitigation of Framing Effects on Voting Behavior: A Natural and Field Experiment

Michael Binder, Matthew Childers & Natalie Johnson
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
There is a widely held belief that the way a ballot proposition title is framed (the way the issue is presented) has an effect on its eventual success or failure on Election Day. Prior to California's 2010 General Election, the ballot language for two propositions was disputed and challenged in court. For both Proposition 22, intended to change the allocation of state and local tax revenues, and Proposition 23, intended to overturn California's landmark global-warming law, Fresno County failed to make the court ordered changes. The election proceeded with the unchanged ballot language in Fresno County and the newly adjusted ballot language throughout the rest of the state. This paper takes advantage of this natural experiment to evaluate the potency of framing effects in direct democracy elections, as well as, the role that campaigns (high salience versus low salience) can play in limiting those effects. As a further test, survey data using identical language collected in an area where neither issue was of high salience is used as a comparison. This additional test serves as a mechanism to isolate any potential framing effect of campaigns. We conclude that the way a ballot measure is framed has an impact on its Election Day success so long as it is a relatively low-salience measure. For initiatives with vigorous campaign activity, such as Proposition 23, framing effects are less effective and not statistically significant in this instance.

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Ballot (and voter) "exhaustion" under Instant Runoff Voting: An examination of four ranked-choice elections

Craig Burnett & Vladimir Kogan
Electoral Studies, March 2015, Pages 41-49

Abstract:
Some proponents of municipal election reform advocate for the adoption of Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), a method that allows voters to rank multiple candidates according to their preferences. Although supporters claim that IRV is superior to the traditional primary-runoff election system, research on IRV is limited. We analyze data taken from images of more than 600,000 ballots cast by voters in four recent local elections. We document a problem known as ballot "exhaustion," which results in a substantial number of votes being discarded in each election. As a result of ballot exhaustion, the winner in all four of our cases receives less than a majority of the total votes cast, a finding that raises serious concerns about IRV and challenges a key argument made by the system's proponents.

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Political Participation and Civic Courage: The Negative Effect of Transparency on Making Small Campaign Contributions

Raymond La Raja
Political Behavior, December 2014, Pages 753-776

Abstract:
This study assesses whether public disclosure of campaign contributions affects citizens' willingness to give money to candidates. In the American states, campaign finance laws require disclosure of private information for contributors at relatively low thresholds ranging from $1 to $300. The Internet has made it relatively easy to publicize such information in a way that changes the social context for political participation. Drawing on social influence theory, the analysis suggests that citizens are sensitive to divulging private information, especially those who are surrounded by people with different political views. Using experimental data from the 2011 Cooperative Congressional Election Studies, it demonstrates how individuals refrain from making small campaign contributions or reduce their donations to avoid disclosing their identities. The conclusion discusses the implications of transparency laws for political participation, especially for small donors.

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Mecro-Economic Voting: Local Information and Micro-Perceptions of the Macro-Economy

Stephen Ansolabehere, Marc Meredith & Erik Snowberg
Economics & Politics, November 2014, Pages 380-410

Abstract:
We develop an incomplete information theory of economic voting, where voters' information about macro-economic performance is determined by the economic conditions of people similar to themselves. We test our theory using both cross-sectional and time-series survey data. A novel survey instrument that asks respondents their numerical assessment of the unemployment rate confirms that individuals' economic information responds to the economic conditions of people similar to themselves. Furthermore, these assessments are correlated with individuals' vote choices. We also show in time-series data that state unemployment robustly correlates with evaluations of national economic conditions, and presidential support.

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Comparative determinants of horse-race coverage

Susan Banducci & Chris Hanretty
European Political Science Review, November 2014, Pages 621-640

Abstract:
We investigate the levels of horse-race coverage in 160 different European print and broadcast outlets in 27 different countries at three different points in time. We match information on outlets' content to survey-based information on the average levels of interest in politics and education of outlets' audiences. We formulate hypotheses concerning journalists' and citizens' preferences over the ideal level of horse-race coverage, as well as hypotheses concerning the information content of horse-race coverage in different party systems. After controlling for the composition of each outlet's audience, we find that horse-race coverage is most frequent in polarized party systems with close electoral contests, and in large markets with professional journalists. These findings challenge the traditional view of horse-race journalism as a 'low-quality' form of news.

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Remembering to Forget: A Note on the Duration of Campaign Advertising Effects

Larry Bartels
Political Communication, Fall 2014, Pages 532-544

Abstract:
Exposure to an Obama campaign ad as part of an Internet survey conducted during the final weeks of the 2012 presidential race produced a substantial 2.8-point increase in intentions to vote for Obama. A post-election follow-up survey found an increase in reported votes for Obama that was only half as large, consistent with the notion that ad effects decay over time. However, a closer look at the pattern of decay indicates that the effect of ad exposure remained virtually constant among people who were undecided or predisposed to support Obama. The reduced aggregate effect was almost entirely attributable to Romney supporters who moved toward Obama in the immediate wake of ad exposure but returned to Romney by Election Day. This divergence is inconsistent with an interpretation of decay as reflecting simple forgetting. Rather, it suggests an active process of motivated reasoning in which short-term persuasive effects are gradually eroded or even reversed by counterarguing among people predisposed to resist them.

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Overvoting and the Equality of Voice under Instant-Runoff Voting in San Francisco

Francis Neely & Jason McDaniel
California Journal of Politics and Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
In 2004 San Francisco began using instant-runoff voting for local elections. Early analyses revealed that after its inaugural use the rate at which voters ranked candidates dropped dramatically, and disqualifying errors on the ballots were more common in neighborhoods where more African-American and foreign-born citizens reside [Neely, Francis and Corey Cook (2008) "Whose Votes Count? Undervotes, Overvotes, and Ranking in San Francisco's Instant-Runoff Elections," American Politics Research, 36(4):530-554]. We extend the inquiry over time, examine other types of elections, and refine the methodology. Are some voters more than others able to exercise the franchise in these elections and, if so, what does that imply for the equality of political voice? We find no evidence that ranking candidates is in decline. Overvotes are more common in IRV than plurality contests, but such errors appear to be a function of complexity in general and not IRV per se. While they occur disproportionately in precincts with more African-American residents, and are often more likely where Latino, elderly, foreign-born, and less wealthy citizens reside, the pattern of overvoting is similar in both IRV and non-IRV contests. We discuss what these results imply for San Francisco and other jurisdictions using or considering similar election systems.

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Keeping Up with the Congressmen: Evaluating Constituents' Awareness of Redistricting

Christopher Lawrence & Scott Huffmon
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objective: We seek to understand how voters respond to being drawn into a new congressional district: specifically, the new Seventh District of South Carolina created in 2012.

Methods: We employ data from a survey of voters in the new district, and employ descriptive statistics and logistic regression models to identify whether voters are aware of the new district, whether they expect better representation as a result, and to explain their likely vote choice.

Results: We find limited awareness of the new district among voters, despite a competitive election campaign, but nonetheless a broad public understanding that redistricting may lead to more local influence in Congress.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that redistricting efforts that ensure the maintenance of communities of interest to preserve voter-representative links, even if that means deviation from a strict "one person, one vote" standard, may be superior from a representational standpoint.

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The Demand for Bad Policy when Voters Underappreciate Equilibrium Effects

Ernesto Dal Bó, Pedro Dal Bó & Erik Eyster
University of California Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
We study errors in equilibrium thinking that may lead people to choose inefficient policies and institutions. More precisely, we show in an experiment that a majority of subjects vote against policies that would help them overcome social dilemmas. We explain this behavior through subjects' failure to fully anticipate the equilibrium effects of new policy. By eliciting their beliefs about how others will behave under different policies, we show that subjects systematically underappreciate the extent to which policy changes alter other people's behavior, and that those who underappreciate equilibrium effects more are also more likely to demand bad policy. In addition we estimate that one-third of subjects do not appreciate how their own behavior will adapt to the new policy. To the extent that voter opinion affects policy, the underappreciation of equilibrium effects by voters can be a cause of political failure.

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Personality, Negativity, and Political Participation

Aaron Weinschenk & Costas Panagopoulos
Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 2014, Pages 164-182

Abstract:
Scholars have recently started to integrate personality traits into models of political participation. In this paper, we present the results of a survey experiment (N = 724) designed to test whether negative political messages differentially impact people with different personality traits. We found evidence that individuals with high scores on agreeableness were less likely, and individuals with high scores on extraversion were more likely, to report intending to participate in politics than their counterparts after being exposed to negative political messages. Agreeableness and extraversion also interacted with negative messages to influence specific intentions to make a political donation, attend a meeting, rally, or event, and volunteer for a political campaign. We also found suggestive evidence that agreeableness interacted with negativity to influence turnout intentions. The results of this study have important implications for the study of political engagement, the ways in which people interact with political information, and the practice of democratic politics.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Good works

Harm to others outweighs harm to self in moral decision making

Molly Crockett et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Concern for the suffering of others is central to moral decision making. How humans evaluate others’ suffering, relative to their own suffering, is unknown. We investigated this question by inviting subjects to trade off profits for themselves against pain experienced either by themselves or an anonymous other person. Subjects made choices between different amounts of money and different numbers of painful electric shocks. We independently varied the recipient of the shocks (self vs. other) and whether the choice involved paying to decrease pain or profiting by increasing pain. We built computational models to quantify the relative values subjects ascribed to pain for themselves and others in this setting. In two studies we show that most people valued others’ pain more than their own pain. This was evident in a willingness to pay more to reduce others’ pain than their own and a requirement for more compensation to increase others’ pain relative to their own. This ‟hyperaltruistic” valuation of others’ pain was linked to slower responding when making decisions that affected others, consistent with an engagement of deliberative processes in moral decision making. Subclinical psychopathic traits correlated negatively with aversion to pain for both self and others, in line with reports of aversive processing deficits in psychopathy. Our results provide evidence for a circumstance in which people care more for others than themselves. Determining the precise boundaries of this surprisingly prosocial disposition has implications for understanding human moral decision making and its disturbance in antisocial behavior.

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Pain reduces discrimination in helping

Esther van Leeuwen, Claire Ashton-James & Ruben Hamaker
European Journal of Social Psychology, October 2014, Pages 602–611

Abstract:
Because of their shared neurobiological underpinnings, factors increasing physical pain can also increase feelings of social disconnection (“social pain”). Feelings of connection with a social group are reflected in the term social identification, and social identity is commonly associated with intergroup discrimination. In two experiments, we examined the notion that physical pain would reduce social identification and subsequently inhibit intergroup discrimination in helping. By using a pain memory manipulation and a support measure of helping in Study 1 (N = 173), and an actual pain manipulation combined with a behavioural measure of helping in Study 2 (N = 72), results from both studies confirmed the predictions. As expected, physical pain eliminated ingroup favouritism in helping, and identification mediated this effect in the ingroup condition but not in the outgroup condition. We discuss these findings in light of the apparently paradoxical relationship between social support and pain.

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The topography of generosity: Asymmetric evaluations of prosocial actions

Nadav Klein & Nicholas Epley
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, December 2014, Pages 2366-2379

Abstract:
Prosociality is considered a virtue. Those who care for others are admired, whereas those who care only for themselves are despised. For one’s reputation, it pays to be nice. Does it pay to be even nicer? Four experiments assess reputational inferences across the entire range of prosocial outcomes in zero-sum interactions, from completely selfish to completely selfless actions. We observed consistent nonlinear evaluations: Participants evaluated selfish actions more negatively than equitable actions, but they did not evaluate selfless actions markedly more favorably than equitable actions. This asymptotic pattern reflected monotonic evaluations for increasingly selfish actions and insensitivity to increasingly selfless actions. It pays to be nice but not to be really nice. Additional experiments suggest that this pattern stems partly from failing to make spontaneous comparisons between varying degrees of selflessness. We suggest that these reputational incentives could guide social norms, encouraging equitable actions but discouraging extremely selfless actions.

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Avoiding overhead aversion in charity

Uri Gneezy, Elizabeth Keenan & Ayelet Gneezy
Science, 31 October 2014, Pages 632-635

Abstract:
Donors tend to avoid charities that dedicate a high percentage of expenses to administrative and fundraising costs, limiting the ability of nonprofits to be effective. We propose a solution to this problem: Use donations from major philanthropists to cover overhead expenses and offer potential donors an overhead-free donation opportunity. A laboratory experiment testing this solution confirms that donations decrease when overhead increases, but only when donors pay for overhead themselves. In a field experiment with 40,000 potential donors, we compared the overhead-free solution with other common uses of initial donations. Consistent with prior research, informing donors that seed money has already been raised increases donations, as does a $1:$1 matching campaign. Our main result, however, clearly shows that informing potential donors that overhead costs are covered by an initial donation significantly increases the donation rate by 80% (or 94%) and total donations by 75% (or 89%) compared with the seed (or matching) approach.

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Charitable donations by the self-employed

Matthias Tietz & Simon Parker
Small Business Economics, December 2014, Pages 899-916

Abstract:
This article analyzes an important aspect of the social behavior of the self-employed in America. We ask whether the self-employed express their social responsibility to society by giving more to charity than the general population, and if so which charitable causes they give to. We use social identity theory to generate hypotheses about the determinants and objectives of charitable giving among members of this socially and economically important group. Testing these hypotheses with nationally representative, longitudinal US data, we find that the American self-employed are indeed more likely to exhibit social responsibility toward their community by giving to charities than the general population. While the self-employed support broadly similar charities to the general population, they give substantially more to organizations which: address issues in the local community; provide health care; and serve the needy. We trace out implications of our findings for scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers.

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Commitment, crime, and the responsive bystander: Effect of the commitment form and conformism

Nicolas Guéguen et al.
Psychology, Crime & Law, Winter 2015, Pages 1-8

Abstract:
Research has shown that eliciting commitment is a valuable way of inciting people to act, even in emergencies and dangerous situations. The purpose of the two studies presented here was to explore the relation between the form of commitment used to prevent a crime and the moderating effect exerted by the number of passive observers of this crime. At a bus stop, a first confederate put a bag down on the ground upon arriving and immediately left to withdraw money from an automated teller machine near the bus stop. Two male participants were present at the bus stop. In Study 1, the confederate said nothing (control), directly asked one participant to watch his bag (direct commitment), or asked all present to watch his bag (indirect commitment). About 30 seconds later, a male confederate walked up to the victim's bag, picked it up, and quickly walked away in the opposite direction of the victim. A total of 150 participants (50 per condition) were observed. It was found that 34% intervened in the control condition, 88% in the direct commitment condition, and 56% in the indirect commitment condition. In Study 2, 150 participants (50 per condition) were observed while two male confederates were present at the bus stop with the instruction not to react to the theft. It was found that more intervention was found in the direct commitment condition (88%) than in the control condition (18%). However, the indirect commitment condition did not elicit higher intervention (22%). Variation in the level of personal responsibility to help the victim is used to explain these differences.

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The Emotional Consequences of Donation Opportunities

Lara Aknin, Guy Mayraz & John Helliwell
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
Charities often circulate widespread donation appeals to garner support for campaigns, but what impact do these campaigns have on the well-being of individuals who choose to donate, those who choose not to donate, and the entire group exposed to the campaign? Here we investigate these questions by exploring the changes in affect reported by individuals who donate in response to a charitable request and those who do not. We also look at the change in affect reported by the entire sample to measure the net impact of the donation request. Results reveal that large donors experience hedonic boosts from their charitable actions, and the substantial fraction of large donors translates to a net positive influence on the well-being of the entire sample. Thus, under certain conditions, donation opportunities can enable people to help others while also increasing the overall well-being of the population of potential donors.

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Doing good by doing nothing? The role of social norms in explaining default effects in altruistic contexts

Jim Everett et al.
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We explore whether the known preference for default options in choice contexts — default effects — occur in altruistic contexts and the extent to which this can be explained through appeal to social norms. In four experiments, we found that (i) participants were more likely to donate money to charity when this was the default option in an altruistic choice context; (ii) participants perceived the default option to be the socially normative option; (iii) perceptions of social norms mediated the relationship between default status and charitable donations; and (iv) a transfer effect, whereby participants translated social norms they inferred from the default option in one domain into behavior in a second, related domain. Theoretically, our analysis situates default effects within a comprehensive body of social psychological research concerning social norms and the attitude-behavior relationship, providing novel empirical predictions. Practically, these findings highlight that the way donation policies are framed can have an important impact on donation behavior: in our third study, we found that 81% donated half of their earnings for taking part in the experiment to charity when this was the default option, compared with only 19% when keeping the money was the default. Our work suggests that making use of default effects could be an effective tool to increase altruistic behavior without compromising freedom.

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Rethinking natural altruism: Simple reciprocal interactions trigger children’s benevolence

Rodolfo Cortes Barragan & Carol Dweck
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
A very simple reciprocal activity elicited high degrees of altruism in 1- and 2-y-old children, whereas friendly but nonreciprocal activity yielded little subsequent altruism. In a second study, reciprocity with one adult led 1- and 2-y-olds to provide help to a new person. These results question the current dominant claim that social experiences cannot account for early occurring altruistic behavior. A third study, with preschool-age children, showed that subtle reciprocal cues remain potent elicitors of altruism, whereas a fourth study with preschoolers showed that even a brief reciprocal experience fostered children’s expectation of altruism from others. Collectively, the studies suggest that simple reciprocal interactions are a potent trigger of altruism for young children, and that these interactions lead children to believe that their relationships are characterized by mutual care and commitment.

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Oxytocin Receptor (OXTR) Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms Indirectly Predict Prosocial Behavior through Perspective Taking and Empathic Concern

Christa Christ, Gustavo Carlo & Scott Stoltenberg
Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Objective: Engaging in prosocial behavior can provide positive outcomes for self and others. Prosocial tendencies contribute to the propensity to engage in prosocial behavior. The oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) has also been associated with prosocial tendencies and behaviors. There has been little research however, investigating whether the relationship between OXTR and prosocial behaviors is mediated by prosocial tendencies. This relationship may also vary among different types of prosocial behavior. The current study, examines the relationship between OXTR, gender, prosocial tendencies and both altruistic and public prosocial behavior endorsement.

Methods: Students at a Midwestern university (N=398; 89.2% Caucasian; age M=20.76; 26.6% male) provided self-report measures of prosocial tendencies and behaviors and buccal cells for genotyping OXTR polymorphisms.

Results: Results indicated that OXTR SNP rs2268498 genotype significantly predicted empathic concern while gender moderated the association between several other OXTR SNPs and prosocial tendencies. Increased prosocial tendencies predicted increased altruistic prosocial behavior endorsement and decreased public prosocial behavior endorsement.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest an association between genetic variation in OXTR and endorsement of prosocial behavior indirectly through prosocial tendencies, and that the pathway is dependent on the type of prosocial behavior and gender.

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Chill-inducing music enhances altruism in humans

Hajime Fukui & Kumiko Toyoshima
Frontiers in Psychology, October 2014

Abstract:
Music is a universal feature of human cultures, and it has both fascinated and troubled many researchers. In this paper we show through the dictator game (DG) that an individual’s listening to preferred “chill-inducing” music may promote altruistic behavior that extends beyond the bounds of kin selection or reciprocal altruism. Participants were 22 undergraduate and postgraduate students who were divided into two groups, the in-group and the out-group, and they acted as dictators. The dictators listened to their own preferred “chill-inducing” music, to music they disliked, or to silence, and then played the DG. In this hypothetical experiment, the dictators were given real money (which they did not keep) and were asked to distribute it to the recipients, who were presented as stylized images of men and women displayed on a computer screen. The dictators played the DG both before and after listening to the music. Both male and female dictators gave more money after listening to their preferred music and less after listening to the music they disliked, whereas silence had no effect on the allocated amounts. The group to which the recipient belonged did not influence these trends. The results suggest that listening to preferred “chill-inducing” music promotes altruistic behavior.

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Feeling like a group after a natural disaster: Common ingroup identity and relations with outgroup victims among majority and minority young children

Loris Vezzali et al.
British Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We conducted a field study to test whether the common ingroup identity model (Gaertner & Dovidio, 2000, reducing intergroup bias: The common ingroup identity model. Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press) could be a useful tool to improve intergroup relations in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Participants were majority (Italian) and minority (immigrant) elementary school children (N = 517) living in the area struck by powerful earthquakes in May 2012. Results revealed that, among majority children, the perceived external threat represented by the earthquake was associated with greater perceptions of belonging to a common ingroup including both ingroup and outgroup. In turn, heightened one-group perceptions were associated with greater willingness to meet and help outgroup victims, both directly and indirectly via more positive outgroup attitudes. Among immigrant children, perceived disaster threat was not associated with any of the dependent variables; one-group perceptions were positively associated with outgroup attitudes, helping and contact intentions towards outgroup victims. Thus, one-group perceptions after a natural disaster may promote more positive and supporting relations between the majority and the minority group. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the findings.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, November 28, 2014

Getting together

Do Men Overperceive Women’s Sexual Interest?

Carin Perilloux & Robert Kurzban
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Substantial evidence comparing men’s perceptions of women’s sexual intentions with women’s own reports of their sexual intentions has shown a systematic pattern of results that has been interpreted as support for the idea that men overestimate women’s true sexual intentions. However, because women’s true sexual intentions cannot be directly measured, an alternative interpretation of the existing data is that women understate their sexual intentions and that men’s assessments of women’s intentions are generally accurate. In three studies, we (a) replicated the typical sex difference in sexual-intent ratings, (b) showed that men maintain their ratings of women’s sexual intentions even when incentivized to tell the truth, and (c) showed that women believe that other women are understating their sexual intentions in self-report measures. Taken together, these results imply that men might be accurate in perceiving and reporting women’s sexual intentions and that men might be managing errors through biased behavior rather than biased beliefs.

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Do American States with More Religious or Conservative Populations Search More for Sexual Content on Google?

Cara MacInnis & Gordon Hodson
Archives of Sexual Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
In America, religiosity and conservatism are generally associated with opposition to non-traditional sexual behavior, but prominent political scandals and recent research suggest a paradoxical private attraction to sexual content on the political and religious right. We examined associations between state-level religiosity/conservatism and anonymized interest in searching for sexual content online using Google Trends (which calculates within-state search volumes for search terms). Across two separate years, and controlling for demographic variables, we observed moderate-to-large positive associations between: (1) greater proportions of state-level religiosity and general web searching for sexual content and (2) greater proportions of state-level conservatism and image-specific searching for sex. These findings were interpreted in terms of the paradoxical hypothesis that a greater preponderance of right-leaning ideologies is associated with greater preoccupation with sexual content in private internet activity. Alternative explanations (e.g., that opposition to non-traditional sex in right-leaning states leads liberals to rely on private internet sexual activity) are discussed, as are limitations to inference posed by aggregate data more generally.

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Scarcity of female mates predicts regional variation in men’s and women’s sociosexual orientation across US states

Michal Kandrik, Benedict Jones & Lisa DeBruine
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous studies have linked regional variation in willingness to engage in uncommitted sexual relationships (i.e., sociosexual orientation) to many different socio-ecological measures, such as adult sex ratio, life expectancy, and gross domestic product. However, these studies share a number of potentially serious limitations, including reliance on a single dataset of responses aggregated by country and a failure to properly consider intercorrelations among different socio-ecological measures. We address these limitations by (1) collecting a new dataset of 4,453 American men’s and women’s sociosexual orientation scores, (2) using multilevel analyses to avoid aggregation, and (3) deriving orthogonal factors reflecting US state-level differences in the scarcity of female mates, environmental demands, and wealth. Analyses showed that the scarcity of female mates factor, but not the environmental demand or wealth factors, predicted men’s and women’s sociosexual orientation. Participants reported being less willing to engage in uncommitted sexual relationships when female mates were scarce. These results highlight the importance of scarcity of female mates for regional differences in men’s and women’s mating strategies. They also suggest that effects of wealth-related measures and environmental demands reported in previous research may be artifacts of intercorrelations among socio-ecological measures or, alternatively, do not necessarily generalize well to new datasets.

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The association between discontinuing hormonal contraceptives and wives’ marital satisfaction depends on husbands’ facial attractiveness

Michelle Russell et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
How are hormonal contraceptives (HCs) related to marital well-being? Some work suggests HCs suppress biological processes associated with women’s preferences for partner qualities reflective of genetic fitness, qualities that may be summarized by facial attractiveness. Given that realizing such interpersonal preferences positively predicts relationship satisfaction, any changes in women’s preferences associated with changes in their HC use may interact with partner facial attractiveness to predict women’s relationship satisfaction. We tested this possibility using two longitudinal studies of 118 newlywed couples. Trained observers objectively rated husbands’ facial attractiveness in both studies. In study 1, wives reported their marital satisfaction every 6 mo for 4 y and then reported the history of their HC use for their relationship. In study 2, wives reported whether they were using HCs when they met their husbands and then their marital satisfaction and HC use every 4 mo for up to three waves. In both studies, and in an analysis that combined the data from both studies, wives who were using HCs when they formed their relationship with their husband were less satisfied with their marriage when they discontinued HCs if their husband had a relatively less attractive face, but more satisfied if their husband had a relatively more attractive face. Beginning HCs demonstrated no consistent associations with marital satisfaction. Incongruency between HC use at relationship formation and current HC use was negatively associated with sexual satisfaction, regardless of husbands’ facial attractiveness. These findings suggest that HC use may have unintended implications for women’s close relationships.

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The Power of the Little Blue Pill: Innovations and Implications of Lifestyle Drugs in an Aging Population

Jacob LaRiviere & Hendrik Wolff
Economic Inquiry, January 2015, Pages 540–556

Abstract:
The launch of Viagra in April 1998 led to a historically unprecedented high usage of erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs. We test whether Viagra's introduction significantly influenced outcomes for its target population such as sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates of older men, as well as its nontarget populations, such as divorces, natality, the distribution of the age spread within couples, female STDs, and sexual assault rates. We find causal evidence that Viagra's introduction increased gonorrhea rates in older men by 15%–28%. We find no significant evidence of any effects on other variables. We take this as evidence that this lifestyle drug causes significant changes in choices only which affect short-term outcomes, while long-term planned decisions are unaffected. Overall, we find that the welfare impacts of Viagra with respect to our outcomes of interest are positive and large.

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Physiological changes in response to hearing female voices recorded at high fertility

Melanie Shoup-Knox & Nathan Pipitone
Physiology & Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
The human voice transmits pertinent information regarding health status and age, with recent evidence suggesting that it plays an important role in mate selection. However, the mechanism that drives preferences for voices of fertile females has yet to be elucidated. The current study examined the physiological changes that occur when listening to voices recorded from naturally cycling females at high and low fertility phases of the menstrual cycle, as well as from females using hormonal contraception. We found the voices of naturally cycling females recorded during a high fertility phase were rated as more attractive and produced the greatest increase in galvanic skin response (GSR). Heart rate (HR) also showed a trend towards the highest increase when listening to naturally cycling, high fertility female voices. There were no differences in ratings of voice attractiveness, GSR, or HR between the voices recorded from females using hormonal contraception. Analyzed separately, male and female listeners both showed a preference for naturally cycling high fertility voices. Female listeners additionally showed increased GSR and HR responses to naturally cycling, high fertility voices. We discuss the adaptive benefits of detecting vocal changes for male as well as female listeners, and also discuss the role that the nervous system plays during human mate assessments.

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The sound of female shape: A redundant signal of vocal and facial attractiveness

Peter Abend et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
There is more to female attractiveness than a pretty face. Human mate choice decisions are guided by different cues, which in combination may give a better estimate of a general condition. We hypothesized that such signal redundancy might be true for vocal and visual cues of human female attractiveness. To test this we used photographs of women's faces, recorded their voices and asked men to rate both types of stimuli on attractiveness. We found a significant relationship between males' ratings of female faces and voices. Moreover, low levels of fluctuating asymmetry of women's bodies and faces were associated with high ratings on facial and vocal attractiveness. Applying the Geometric Morphometric Methodology we performed a multivariate regression analysis of attractiveness ratings with landmark data obtained from women's faces. We found similar facial shape changes for ratings of facial and vocal attractiveness that are both negatively related to facial and body FA. Findings suggest that females with an attractive face also tend to have an attractive voice and that this redundant information is reflected in female facial shape.

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People Overestimate Their Willingness to Reject Potential Romantic Partners by Overlooking Their Concern for Other People

Samantha Joel, Rimma Teper & Geoff MacDonald
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Mate preferences often fail to correspond with actual mate choices. We present a novel explanation for this phenomenon: People overestimate their willingness to reject unsuitable romantic partners. In two studies, single people were given the opportunity to accept or decline advances from potential dates who were physically unattractive (Study 1) or incompatible with their dating preferences (Study 2). We found that participants were significantly less willing to reject these unsuitable potential dates when they believed the situation to be real rather than hypothetical. This effect was partially explained by other-focused motives: Participants for whom the scenario was hypothetical anticipated less motivation to avoid hurting the potential date’s feelings than participants actually felt when they believed the situation to be real. Thus, other-focused motives appear to exert an influence on mate choice that has been overlooked by researchers and laypeople alike.

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The impact of dominance on partner’s height preferences and height-related mate choices

Piotr Sorokowski, Agnieszka Sabiniewicz & Agnieszka Sorokowska
Personality and Individual Differences, February 2015, Pages 220–224

Abstract:
Several lines of evidence suggest that sexual dimorphism in stature (SDS) is an important variable in human mating. However, few studies have addressed the topic of differentiation of mate preferences in relation to individual attributes. Furthermore, no study has examined the influence of an individual’s dominance on actual and/or preferred partner’s height. Here, the first of two studies (N = 210) provides evidence that dominance significantly influences individual height preferences of women, but not of men. Specifically, less dominant women tended to prefer taller male partners, and more dominant women preferred shorter men relative to their own height. However, the second study, conducted among actual couples (N = 230), indicated that the influence of dominance on mate preferences does not generalize to real mate choices, as we observed no association between men or women’s dominance and actual partner height. Thus, it appears that although various mate characteristics (like SDS) may be preferred in a mate, there are many additional factors related to the choice of an actual partner that determine mate choice.

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Pubic Hair Preferences, Reasons for Removal, and Associated Genital Symptoms: Comparisons Between Men and Women

Scott Butler et al.
Journal of Sexual Medicine, forthcoming

Methods: Data were gathered from 1,110 participants (671 women and 439 men) at a large public Midwestern university and a small Southern public university.

Results: Most (95%) participants had removed their pubic hair on at least one occasion in the past 4 weeks with shaving being the most commonly reported hair removal technique by women (82%) and men (49%). Women were significantly more likely to report their typical status as hair-free (50% vs. 19%; χ2 = 165.528, P < 0.001) and men were significantly more likely to prefer a hair-free sexual partner (60% vs. 24%; χ2 = 211.712, P < 0.001). Genital itching was experienced on at least one occasion by 80.3% of pubic hair groomers and was the most commonly reported side effect.

Conclusion: Genital grooming and pubic hair removal are common practices among both men and women of college-age. Women are likely to report stronger associations with feelings of cleanliness, comfort, sex appeal, social norms of their peer group, and affordability as reasons for their chosen pubic hair style. Women also report more experiences with genital side effects of pubic hair removal, an expected result as women are removing pubic hair more frequently and more completely than their male counterparts.

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High Heels Increase Women’s Attractiveness

Nicolas Guéguen
Archives of Sexual Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research has found that the appearance of women’s apparel helps increase their attractiveness as rated by men and that men care more about physical features in potential opposite-sex mates. However, the effect of sartorial appearance has received little interest from scientists. In a series of studies, the length of women’s shoe heels was examined. A woman confederate wearing black shoes with 0, 5, or 9 cm heels asked men for help in various circumstances. In Study 1, she asked men to respond to a short survey on gender equality. In Study 2, the confederate asked men and women to participate in a survey on local food habit consumption. In Study 3, men and women in the street were observed while walking in back of the female confederate who dropped a glove apparently unaware of her loss. It was found that men’s helping behavior increased as soon as heel length increased. However, heel length had no effect on women’s helping behavior. It was also found that men spontaneously approached women more quickly when they wore high-heeled shoes (Study 4). Change in gait, foot-size judgment, and misattribution of sexiness and sexual intent were used as possible explanations.

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Mating Strategy and Disgust

Laith Al-Shawaf, David Lewis & David Buss
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
An evolutionary task analysis predicts a connection between disgust and human mating, two important but currently disconnected areas of psychology. Because short-term mating strategies involve sex with multiple partners after brief temporal durations, such a strategy should be difficult to pursue in conjunction with high levels of sexual disgust. On this basis, we hypothesized that individuals with a stronger proclivity for short-term mating would exhibit dispositionally lower levels of sexual disgust. Two independent studies provided strong support for this hypothesis: among both men and women, an orientation toward short-term mating was associated with reduced levels of sexual disgust, but not with suppressed moral or pathogen disgust. Our discussion highlights an unexpected finding and suggests important questions for future research.

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Affection, speed dating and heartbreaking

Kai Konrad
Journal of Population Economics, January 2015, Pages 159-172

Abstract:
Love and other emotional rents play an important role for marriage decisions. A mutually happy marriage often ends a long series of emotionally disappointing matches. This paper analyses the role of “speed daters”, that is, individuals who are matched more frequently with new possible marriage partners. Speed daters change the equilibrium in a marriage matching model. Speed daters reject quite good matches, leading to a high rate of rejections and failed matches. Speed daters appear to be “heart-breakers”. This imposes a welfare loss on other individuals who meet new candidates less frequently. Hence, finding out that the next matched partner is a speed dater is actually bad news for an unmarried person.

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Genomic Assortative Mating in Marriages in the United States

Guang Guo et al.
PLoS ONE, November 2014

Abstract:
Assortative mating in phenotype in human marriages has been widely observed. Using genome-wide genotype data from the Framingham Heart study (FHS; number of married couples = 989) and Health Retirement Survey (HRS; number of married couples = 3,474), this study investigates genomic assortative mating in human marriages. Two types of genomic marital correlations are calculated. The first is a correlation specific to a single married couple “averaged” over all available autosomal single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs). In FHS, the average married-couple correlation is 0.0018 with p = 3×10−5; in HRS, it is 0.0017 with p = 7.13×10−13. The marital correlation among the positively assorting SNPs is 0.001 (p = .0043) in FHS and 0.015 (p = 1.66×10−24) in HRS. The sizes of these estimates in FHS and HRS are consistent with what are suggested by the distribution of the allelic combination. The study also estimated SNP-specific correlation “averaged” over all married couples. Suggestive evidence is reported. Future studies need to consider a more general form of genomic assortment, in which different allelic forms in homologous genes and non-homologous genes result in the same phenotype.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, November 28, 2014

Know your customer

Managerial Empathy Facilitates Egocentric Predictions of Consumer Preferences

Johannes Hattula et al.
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Common wisdom suggests that managerial empathy (i.e., the mental process of taking a consumer perspective) helps executives to separate their personal consumption preferences from those of consumers, thereby preventing egocentric preference predictions. The results of the present investigation, however, show exactly the opposite. First, the authors find that managerial empathy ironically accelerates self-reference in predictions of consumer preferences. Second, managers' self-referential tendencies increase with empathy because taking a consumer perspective activates managers' private consumer identity and thus their personal consumption preferences. Third, empathic managers are less likely to use market research results as a consequence of their self-referential preference predictions. Finally, the findings imply that when explicitly instructed to do so, managers are capable of suppressing their private consumer identity in the process of perspective taking which helps them to reduce self-referential preference predictions. To support their conclusions, the authors present four empirical studies with 480 experienced marketing managers and show that incautiously taking the perspective of consumers causes self-referential decisions in four contexts: product development, communication management, pricing, and celebrity endorsement.

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Lower Buffet Prices Lead to Less Taste Satisfaction

David Just, Özge Sığırcı & Brian Wansink
Journal of Sensory Studies, October 2014, Pages 362–370

Abstract:
A field experiment was conducted to assess how diners' taste evaluations change based on how much they paid for an all-you-can-eat (AYCE) buffet. Diners at an AYCE restaurant were either charged $4 or $8 for an Italian lunch buffet. Their taste evaluation of each piece of pizza consumed was taken along with other measures of behavior and self-perceptions. Their ratings were analyzed using 2 × 3 mixed design analysis of variance (ANOVA). Diners who paid $4 for their buffet rated their initial piece of pizza as less tasty, less satisfactory and less enjoyable. A downward trend was exhibited for each of these measures with each additional piece (P = 0.02). Those who paid $8 did not experience the same decrement in taste, satisfaction and enjoyment. Paying less for an AYCE experience may face the unintended consequence of food that is both less enjoyable and rapidly declining in taste and enjoyability. In a sense, AYCE customers get what they pay for.

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Car Mechanics in the Lab: Investigating the Behavior of Real Experts on Experimental Markets for Credence Goods

Adrian Beck et al.
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Credence goods, such as car repairs or medical services, are characterized by severe informational asymmetries between sellers and consumers, leading to fraud in the form of provision of insufficient service (undertreatment), provision of unnecessary service (overtreatment) and charging too much for a given service (overcharging). Recent experimental research involving a standard (student) subject pool has examined the influence of informational and market conditions on the type and level of fraud. We investigate whether professional car mechanics – as real sellers of credence goods – react in the same way to changes in informational and institutional constraints. While we find qualitatively similar effects in the fraud dimensions of undertreatment and overcharging for both subject pools, car mechanics are significantly more prone to supplying unnecessary services in all conditions, which could be a result of decision heuristics they learned in their professional training.

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Does Conflict of Interest Lead to Biased Coverage? Evidence from Movie Reviews

Stefano DellaVigna & Johannes Hermle
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
Media outlets are increasingly owned by conglomerates, inducing a conflict of interest: a media outlet can bias its coverage to benefit companies in the same group. We test for bias by examining movie reviews by media outlets owned by News Corp. — such as the Wall Street Journal — and by Time Warner — such as Time. We use a matching procedure based on reported preferences to disentangle bias due to conflict of interest from correlated tastes. We find no evidence of bias in the reviews for 20th Century Fox movies in the News Corp. outlets, nor for the reviews of Warner Bros. movies in the Time Warner outlets. We can reject even small effects, such as biasing the review by one extra star (out of four) every 13 movies. We test for differential bias when the return to bias is plausibly higher, examine bias by media outlet and by journalist, as well as editorial bias. We also consider bias by omission: whether the media at conflict of interest are more likely to review highly-rated movies by affiliated studios. In none of these dimensions do we find systematic evidence of bias. Lastly, we document that conflict of interest within a movie aggregator does not lead to bias either. We conclude that media reputation in this competitive industry acts as a powerful disciplining force.

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Monochrome Forests and Colorful Trees: The Effect of Black-and-White versus Color Imagery on Construal Level

Hyojin Lee et al.
Journal of Consumer Research, December 2014, Pages 1015-1032

Abstract:
Marketing communications (e.g., advertising, packaging) can be either colorful or black and white. This research investigates how presence or absence of color affects consumer information processing. Drawing from construal-level and visual perception theory, five experiments test the hypothesis that black-and-white (BW) versus color imagery is cognitively associated with high-level versus low-level construal, respectively. Experiment 1 establishes this association via an Implicit Association Test. On the basis of this association, experiments 2 and 3 show that BW (vs. color) imagery promotes high-level (vs. low-level) construal, leading to sorting objects on the basis of high-level (vs. low-level) features, segmenting behaviors into broader (vs. narrower) units, and interpreting actions as ends (vs. means). Extending this effect into consumer decision making, experiments 4 and 5 further show that consumers presented with BW (vs. color) product pictures weight primary and essential (vs. secondary and superficial) product features more and prefer an option that excels on those features.

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A Rose by Any Other Name: Are Family Firms Named After Their Founding Families Rewarded More for Their New Product Introductions?

Saim Kashmiri & Vijay Mahajan
Journal of Business Ethics, September 2014, Pages 81-99

Abstract:
The authors explore the relation between the way different family firms are named, and the shareholder value impact of these firms’ new product introductions. Using an event study of 1,294 product introduction announcements of 107 publicly listed U.S. family firms, the authors find that the presence of the founding family’s name as part of a family firm’s name acts as a valuable firm resource, increasing the abnormal stock returns surrounding the firm’s new product introductions. Superior returns to family-named firms’ new product introductions are partially mediated by these firms’ history of ethical product-related behavior: family-named firms, particularly those with corporate branding, and those wherein a founding family member holds the CEO or chairman position, are more likely to exhibit a history of avoiding such product-related controversies as product safety issues, and deceptive advertising. The authors highlight the managerial and theoretical contributions of this research.

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Why are Wal-Mart and Target Next-Door Neighbors?

Jenny Schuetz
Federal Reserve Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
One of the most notable changes in the U.S. retail market over the past twenty years has been the rise of Big Box stores, retail chains characterized by physically large stores selling a wide range of consumer goods at discount prices. A growing literature has examined the impacts of Big Box stores on other retailers and consumers, but relatively little is known about how Big Box stores choose locations. Because Big Box stores offer highly standardized products and compete primarily on price, it is likely that they will seek to establish spatial monopolies, far from competitor stores. In this paper, I examine where new Big Box stores locate with respect to three types of existing establishments: own-firm stores, other retailers in the same product space (competitors), and retailers in other product spaces (complements). Results indicate that new Big Box stores tend to avoid existing own-firm stores and locate near complementary Big Box stores. However, there is little evidence that new Big Boxes avoid competitors. Firms in the same product space may not be perfect substitutes, or firms may prefer to share consumers in a desirable location rather than cede the entire market to competitor firms.

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Crime, Punishment and the Halo Effect of Corporate Social Responsibility

Harrison Hong & Inessa Liskovich
Princeton Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
Three reasons are often cited for why corporate social responsibility is valuable: product quality signalling, delegated giving, and the halo effect. Previous tests focus on consumers and cannot easily separate these channels because consumers are affected by all three. We focus on prosecutors, who are only susceptible to the halo effect. Using prosecutions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), we find that more socially responsible firms pay $2.3 million or 40% less than the median fine for bribery. We use the FCPA's unexpected increase in enforcement to address reverse causality and text-mining of case files to reveal prosecutorial sentiment.

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Two birds, one stone? Positive mood makes products seem less useful for multiple-goal pursuit

Anastasiya Pocheptsova, Francine Espinoza Petersen & Jordan Etkin
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Negotiating the pursuit of multiple goals often requires making difficult trade-offs between goals. In these situations, consumers can benefit from using products that help them pursue several goals at the same time. But do consumers always prefer these multipurpose products? We propose that consumers’ incidental mood state alters perceptions of products in a multiple-goals context. Four studies demonstrate that being in a positive mood amplifies perceptions of differences between multiple conflicting goals. As a consequence, consumers are less likely to evaluate multipurpose products as being able to serve multiple distinct goals simultaneously. We conclude by discussing implications of these findings for marketers of multipurpose products.

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When Consistency Matters: The Effect of Valence Consistency on Review Helpfulness

Simon Quaschning, Mario Pandelaere & Iris Vermeir
Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
When evaluating the helpfulness of online reviews, review valence is a particularly relevant factor. This research argues that the influence of review valence is highly dependent on its consistency with the valence of other available reviews. Using both field and experimental data, this paper show that consistent reviews are perceived as more helpful than inconsistent reviews, independent of them being positive or negative. Experiments show that this valence consistency effect is driven by causal attributions, such that consistent reviews are more likely to be attributed to the actual product experience, while inconsistent reviews are more likely to be attributed to some reviewer idiosyncrasy. Supporting the attribution theory framework, reviewer expertise moderates the effect of consumers' causal attributions on review helpfulness.

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Flowers and an honour box: Evidence on framing effects

Achim Schlüter & Björn Vollan
Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper analyses the behaviour of customers in a flower field, where payment is made into an honour box. There is a price indicated for the flowers. However, as no monitoring takes place and the farmer has never enforced formal law, people can decide how much they want to pay. If people were to make a narrow rational choice they would simply take the unattended flowers without paying. The market would collapse. However, payments were and are in general high enough to make considerable profits. The business is flourishing. In the experiment we left several different messages next to the cashbox to influence payments. Legal threats and moral appeals have been studied in similar field settings with mixed results. We hypothesize that legal threats and moral appeals are less important than the context in which people make their decision. Once we indicated that the flower field belongs to a family, turnover and payment rate per customer increased substantially. We also observed a switch to less but more expensive flowers. However, we did not get significant results for other treatments: business framing, moral appeal and legal threats. The results show that for understanding market success of a business, we have to investigate the expectations and meanings of people they associate to the particular business context.

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The Economic and Cognitive Costs of Annoying Display Advertisements

Daniel Goldstein et al.
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Some online display advertisements are annoying. While publishers know the payment they receive to run annoying ads, little is known about the cost such ads incur, for instance, by causing website abandonment. Across three empirical studies, we address two primary questions. What is the economic cost of annoying ads to publishers? What is the cognitive impact of annoying ads? First we conduct a preliminary study to identify sets of more and less annoying ads. Second, in a field experiment, we calculate the compensating differential, the amount of money one would need to pay users to generate the same number of impressions in the presence of annoying ads as they would generate in their absence. Third, we conduct a mouse-tracking study to investigate how annoying ads may affect reading processes. We conclude that in plausible scenarios the practice of running annoying ads can cost more money than it earns.

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The Reach and Persuasiveness of Viral Video Ads

Catherine Tucker
Marketing Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many video ads are designed to go viral so that the total number of views they receive depends on customers sharing the ads with their friends. This paper explores the relationship between the number of views and how persuasive the ad is at convincing consumers to purchase or to adopt a favorable attitude towards the product. The analysis combines data on the total views of 400 video ads, and crowd-sourced measurement of advertising persuasiveness among 24,000 survey responses. Persuasiveness is measured by randomly exposing half of these consumers to a video ad and half to a similar placebo video ad, and then surveying their attitudes towards the focal product. Relative ad persuasiveness is on average 10% lower for every one million views that the video ad achieves. The exceptions to this pattern were ads that generated views and large numbers of comments, and video ads that attracted comments that mentioned the product by name. Evidence suggests that such ads remained effective because they attracted views due to humor rather than because they were outrageous.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Parental time

Parental Desensitization to Violence and Sex in Movies

Daniel Romer et al.
Pediatrics, November 2014, Pages 877-884

Objectives: To assess desensitization in parents’ repeated exposure to violence and sex in movies.

Methods: A national US sample of 1000 parents living with at least 1 target child in 1 of 3 age groups (6 to 17 years old) viewed a random sequence of 3 pairs of short scenes with either violent or sexual content from popular movies that were unrestricted to youth audiences (rated PG-13 or unrated) or restricted to those under age 17 years without adult supervision (rated R). Parents indicated the minimum age they would consider appropriate to view each film. Predictors included order of presentation, parent and child characteristics, and parent movie viewing history.

Results: As exposure to successive clips progressed, parents supported younger ages of appropriate exposure, starting at age 16.9 years (95% confidence interval [CI], 16.8 to 17.0) for violence and age 17.2 years (95% CI, 17.0 to 17.4) for sex, and declining to age 13.9 years (95% CI, 13.7 to 14.1) for violence and 14.0 years (95% CI, 13.7 to 14.3) for sex. Parents also reported increasing willingness to allow their target child to view the movies as exposures progressed. Desensitization was observed across parent and child characteristics, violence toward both human and non-human victims, and movie rating. Those who frequently watched movies were more readily desensitized to violence.

Conclusions: Parents become desensitized to both violence and sex in movies, which may contribute to the increasing acceptance of both types of content by both parents and the raters employed by the film industry.

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A Flying Start? Maternity Leave Benefits and Long Run Outcomes of Children

Pedro Carneiro, Katrine Løken & Kjell Salvanes
Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study the impact of increasing maternity leave benefits on long run outcomes of children, by examining a reform that increased paid and unpaid maternity leave in Norway as of July 1st 1977. Mothers giving birth before this date were eligible only for 12 weeks of unpaid leave, while those giving birth after were entitled to four months of paid leave and 12 months of unpaid leave. This increased time with the child led to a two percentage points decline in high school dropout rates and a 5% increase in wages at age 30. These effects are especially large for children of those mothers who, prior to the reform, would take very low levels of unpaid leave.

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A closer look at the role of parenting-related influences on verbal intelligence over the life course: Results from an adoption-based research design

Kevin Beaver et al.
Intelligence, September–October 2014, Pages 179–187

Abstract:
The association between family/parenting and offspring IQ remains the matter of debate because of threats related to genetic confounding. The current study is designed to shed some light on this association by examining the influence of parenting influences on adolescent and young adult IQ scores. To do so, a nationally representative sample of youth is analyzed along with a sample of adoptees. The sample of adoptees is able to more fully control for genetic confounding. The results of the study revealed that there is only a marginal and inconsistent influence of parenting on offspring IQ in adolescence and young adulthood. These weak associations were detected in both the nationally representative sample and the adoptee subsample. Sensitivity analyses that focused only on monozygotic twins also revealed no consistent associations between parenting/family measures and verbal intelligence. Taken together, the results of these statistical models indicate that family and parenting characteristics are not significant contributors to variation in IQ scores. The implications of this study are discussed in relation to research examining the effects of family/parenting on offspring IQ scores.

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The Child Adoption Marketplace: Parental Preferences and Adoption Outcomes

Mark Skidmore, Gary Anderson & Mark Eiswerth
Public Finance Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the United States, child adoption costs vary considerably, ranging from no out-of-pocket expense to US$50,000 or more. What are the causes for the variability in adoption expenses? We administered a survey to a sample of Michigan adoptive families to link adoptive parent characteristics, child characteristics, and adoption-related expenses and subsidies. We then estimated “hedonic” regressions in which adoption cost is a function of child characteristics. The analysis shows that up to 74 percent of the variation in adoption costs is explained by child characteristics. In particular, costs are lower for older children, children of African descent, and special needs children. Findings inform policies regarding the transition of children from foster care to adoptive families.

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Are Parental Welfare Work Requirements Good for Disadvantaged Children? Evidence from Age-of-Youngest-Child Exemptions

Chris Herbst
Arizona State University Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
This paper assesses the short-run impact of first-year maternal employment on low-income children's cognitive development. The identification strategy exploits an important feature of the U.S.'s welfare work requirement rules – namely, age-of-youngest-child exemptions – as a source of quasi-experimental variation in maternal employment. The 1996 welfare reform law empowered states to exempt adult recipients from the work requirements until the youngest child reaches a certain age. This led to substantial variation in the amount of time that mothers can remain home with a newborn child. I use this variation to estimate local average treatment effects of work-requirement-induced increases in maternal employment. Using a sample of infants from the Birth cohort of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, the OLS results show that children of working mothers score higher on a test of cognitive ability. However, the IV estimates reveal sizable negative effects of early maternal employment. An auxiliary analysis of mechanisms finds that working mothers experience an increase in depressive symptoms, and are less likely to breast-feed and read to their children. In addition, such children are exposed to non-parental child care arrangements at a younger age, and they spend more time in these settings throughout the first year of life.

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Evaluating Workplace Mandates with Flows Versus Stocks: An Application to California Paid Family Leave

Mark Curtis, Barry Hirsch & Mary Schroeder
Georgia State University Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
Employer mandates and other labor demand/supply shocks typically have small effects on wages and employment. These effects should be more discernible using data on employment transitions and wages among new hires rather than incumbents. The Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI) dataset provides county by quarter by demographic group data on the number and earnings of new hires, separations, and recalls (i.e., extended leaves). We use the QWI to examine the labor market effects of California's paid family leave (CPFL) policy. Implemented in July 2004, it was the first such policy mandated in the U.S. The analysis compares outcomes for young women in California to those for other workers in California and to workers throughout the U.S. Relative earnings for young female new hires were largely unaffected by CPFL. We find strong evidence that separations (of at least three months) and hiring of young women increased substantively. Many young women who separated later returned to the same firm. CPFL appears to have led not only to increased time with children, but also to a decline in job lock, enhanced mobility, and increased worker flows following universal paid family leave.

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When Does Time Matter? Maternal Employment, Children’s Time With Parents, and Child Development

Amy Hsin & Christina Felfe
Demography, October 2014, Pages 1867-1894

Abstract:
This study tests the two assumptions underlying popularly held notions that maternal employment negatively affects children because it reduces time spent with parents: (1) that maternal employment reduces children’s time with parents, and (2) that time with parents affects child outcomes. We analyze children’s time-diary data from the Child Development Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and use child fixed-effects and IV estimations to account for unobserved heterogeneity. We find that working mothers trade quantity of time for better “quality” of time. On average, maternal work has no effect on time in activities that positively influence children’s development, but it reduces time in types of activities that may be detrimental to children’s development. Stratification by mothers’ education reveals that although all children, regardless of mother’s education, benefit from spending educational and structured time with their mothers, mothers who are high school graduates have the greatest difficulty balancing work and childcare. We find some evidence that fathers compensate for maternal employment by increasing types of activities that can foster child development as well as types of activities that may be detrimental. Overall, we find that the effects of maternal employment are ambiguous because (1) employment does not necessarily reduce children’s time with parents, and (2) not all types of parental time benefit child development.

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Will daughters walk mom’s talk? The effects of maternal communication about sex on the sexual behavior of female adolescents

Susan Averett & Sarah Estelle
Review of Economics of the Household, December 2014, Pages 613-639

Abstract:
Numerous social marketing campaigns exhort parents to talk to their children about sexual abstinence, pregnancy risk, and sexually transmitted disease prevention. The effectiveness of these conversations is difficult to ascertain if parents are more likely to broach discussions related to sexual activity with adolescents who have greater propensities to engage in these risky behaviors. Our baseline empirical results indicate that female adolescents whose mothers communicate more about sex are more likely to have sexual intercourse, practice unsafe sex, and engage in casual sex. However, once we control for the adolescent’s environment and peers through the use of school fixed effects and for the daughter’s own propensity to engage in such behaviors through a rich set of adolescent-specific covariates, the effect of a mother’s talk on her daughter’s behavior is reduced dramatically indicating that mother’s talk is endogenous to the daughter’s sexual behavior. Models employing sister fixed effects to control for family-level unobservables, although imprecisely estimated, confirm this finding.

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Paternal Antisocial Behavior and Sons’ Cognitive Ability: A Population-Based Quasiexperimental Study

Antti Latvala et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Parents’ antisocial behavior is associated with developmental risks for their offspring, but its effects on their children’s cognitive ability are unknown. We used linked Swedish register data for a large sample of adolescent men (N = 1,177,173) and their parents to estimate associations between fathers’ criminal-conviction status and sons’ cognitive ability assessed at compulsory military conscription. Mechanisms behind the association were tested in children-of-siblings models across three types of sibling fathers with increasing genetic relatedness (half-siblings, full siblings, and monozygotic twins) and in quantitative genetic models. Sons whose fathers had a criminal conviction had lower cognitive ability than sons whose fathers had no conviction (any crime: Cohen’s d = −0.28; violent crime: Cohen’s d = −0.49). As models adjusted for more genetic factors, the association was gradually reduced and eventually eliminated. Nuclear-family environmental factors did not contribute to the association. Our results suggest that the association between men’s antisocial behavior and their children’s cognitive ability is not causal but is due mostly to underlying genetic factors.

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A Constructive Replication of the Association Between the Oxytocin Receptor Genotype and Parenting

Ashlea Klahr, Kelly Klump & Alexandra Burt
Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Behavioral genetic studies have robustly indicated that parenting behaviors are heritable — that is, individual differences in parenting are at least partially a function of genetic differences between persons. Few studies, however, have sought to identify the specific genetic variants that are associated with individual differences in parenting. Genes that influence the oxytocin system are of particular interest, given the growing body of evidence that points to the role of oxytocin for social behaviors, including parenting. The current study conducted examinations of associations between a variant in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR rs53576) and parental warmth, control, and negativity in a sample of 1,000 twin children and their parents (N = 500 families) from the Michigan State University Twin Registry to constructively replicate and extend prior work (Bakermans-Kranenburg & van IJzendoorn, 2008; Michalska et al., 2014). Analyses were conducted both at the level of the child and the level of the parent, allowing us to examine both child-driven (via evocative gene-environment correlation) and parent-driven genetic effects on parenting. Mothers’ OXTR genotype predicted her warmth toward her children, even after controlling for child genotype. This association was not found for fathers. These findings add to the growing body of evidence linking oxytocin functioning to parental behavior and also highlight potential etiological differences in parenting across mothers and fathers.

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Adults with siblings like children’s faces more than those without

Lizhu Luo et al.
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, January 2015, Pages 148–156

Abstract:
Humans cross-culturally find infant faces both cute and highly likeable. Their so-called “baby schema” features have clear adaptive value by likely serving as an innate releasing mechanism that elicits caretaking behaviors from adults. However, we do not know whether experience with young children during social development might act to further facilitate this. Here we investigated the potential impact of having siblings on adult likeability judgments of children’s faces. In this study, 73 adult men and women (40 with siblings and 33 without) were shown 148 different face pictures of young children (1 month to 6.5 years) and judged them for likeability. Results showed that both groups found faces of infants (<7 months) as equally likeable. However, for faces more than 7 months of age, whereas the no-sibling group showed a reduced liking for faces with increasing age, the sibling group found faces of all ages as equally likeable. Furthermore, for adults with siblings, the closer in age they were to their siblings, the stronger their likeability was for young children’s faces. Our results are the first to show that having siblings can extend the influence of baby schema to children as well as infants.

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Early social exposure in wild chimpanzees: Mothers with sons are more gregarious than mothers with daughters

Carson Murray et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
In many mammals, early social experience is critical to developing species-appropriate adult behaviors. Although mother–infant interactions play an undeniably significant role in social development, other individuals in the social milieu may also influence infant outcomes. Additionally, the social skills necessary for adult success may differ between the sexes. In chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), adult males are more gregarious than females and rely on a suite of competitive and cooperative relationships to obtain access to females. In fission–fusion species, including humans and chimpanzees, subgroup composition is labile and individuals can vary the number of individuals with whom they associate. Thus, mothers in these species have a variety of social options. In this study, we investigated whether wild chimpanzee maternal subgrouping patterns differed based on infant sex. Our results show that mothers of sons were more gregarious than mothers of daughters; differences were especially pronounced during the first 6 mo of life, when infant behavior is unlikely to influence maternal subgrouping. Furthermore, mothers with sons spent significantly more time in parties containing males during the first 6 mo. These early differences foreshadow the well-documented sex differences in adult social behavior, and maternal gregariousness may provide sons with important observational learning experiences and social exposure early in life. The presence of these patterns in chimpanzees raises questions concerning the evolutionary history of differential social exposure and its role in shaping sex-typical behavior in humans.

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A Life-Changing Event: First Births and Men's and Women's Attitudes to Mothering and Gender Divisions of Labor

Janeen Baxter et al.
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research has shown that the transition to parenthood is a critical life-course stage. Using data from the Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey and fixed-effects panel regression models, we investigate changes in men's and women's attitudes to mothering and gender divisions of labor following the transition to parenthood. Key findings indicate that attitudes become more traditional after individuals experience the birth of their first child, with both men and women becoming more likely to support mothering as women's most important role in life. We argue that these changes are due to both changes in identity and cognitive beliefs associated with the experience of becoming a parent, as well as institutional arrangements that support traditional gender divisions. More broadly, our results can be taken as strong evidence that attitudes are not stable over the life course and change with the experience of life events.

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Does Placing Children in Foster Care Increase Their Adult Criminality?

Matthew Lindquist & Torsten Santavirta
Labour Economics, December 2014, Pages 72–83

Abstract:
We evaluate the association between foster care placement during childhood and adult criminality. In contrast to previous studies, we allow associations to vary by gender and age at initial placement. We find that foster care predicts higher adult criminality for males first placed during adolescence (age 13–18). We find no significant association for boys who were placed in foster care before age 13 and no significant association on the adult criminality of girls. These null findings stand in stark contrast to the poor outcomes reported in earlier work concerning the long-run effects of foster care.

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Validating the Voodoo Doll Task as a Proxy for Aggressive Parenting Behavior

Randy McCarthy et al.
Psychology of Violence, forthcoming

Objective: Six studies (N = 1,081 general population parents) assessed the validity of the voodoo doll task (VDT) as a proxy for aggressive parenting behaviors.

Method: Participants were given an opportunity to symbolically inflict harm by choosing to stick “pins” into a doll representing their child.

Results: Individual differences in parents’ trait aggression (Studies 1, 2, and 6), state hostility (Study 3), attitudes toward the corporal punishment of children (Study 4), self-control (Study 6), depression (Study 6), and child physical abuse risk (Study 6) were associated with increased pin usage. Further, parents used more pins after imagining their child performing negative behaviors compared to after imagining their child perform positive behaviors (Study 5). A number of demographic variables also were associated with pin usage: Fathers used pins more than mothers and parents’ education level was inversely related to pin usage. Finally, on average, parents viewed the VDT as slightly uncomfortable, but not objectionable, to complete (Study 6).

Conclusions: Our evidence suggests that the VDT may serve as a useful proxy for parent-to-child aggression.

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Socioeconomic Strain, Family Ties, and Adolescent Health in a Rural Northeastern County

Karen Van Gundy et al.
Rural Sociology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In adolescence, vital sources of support come from family relationships; however, research that considers the health-related impact of ties to both parents and siblings is sparse, and the utility of such ties among at-risk teens is not well understood. Here we use two waves of panel data from the population of 8th and 12th grade students in a geographically isolated, rural, northeastern U.S. county to assess whether socioeconomic status (SES) moderates the effects of parental and sibling attachments on three indicators of adolescent health: obesity, depression, and problem substance use. Our findings indicate that, net of stressful life events, prior health, and sociodemographic controls, increases in parental and sibling attachment correspond with reduced odds of obesity for low-SES adolescents, reduced odds of depression for high-SES adolescents, and reduced odds of problem substance use for low-SES adolescents. Results suggest also that sibling and maternal ties are more influential than paternal ties, at least with regard to the outcomes considered. Overall, the findings highlight the value of strong family ties for the physical, psychological, and behavioral health of socioeconomically strained rural teens, and reveal the explanatory potential of both sibling and parental ties for adolescent health.

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Birth order and physical fitness in early adulthood: Evidence from Swedish military conscription data

Kieron Barclay & Mikko Myrskylä
Social Science & Medicine, December 2014, Pages 141–148

Abstract:
Physical fitness at young adult ages is an important determinant of physical health, cognitive ability, and mortality. However, few studies have addressed the relationship between early life conditions and physical fitness in adulthood. An important potential factor influencing physical fitness is birth order, which prior studies associate with several early- and later-life outcomes such as height and mortality. This is the first study to analyse the association between birth order and physical fitness in late adolescence. We use military conscription data on 218,873 Swedish males born between 1965 and 1977. Physical fitness is measured by a test of maximal working capacity, a measure of cardiovascular fitness closely related to V02max. We use linear regression with sibling fixed effects, meaning a within-family comparison, to eliminate the confounding influence of unobserved factors that vary between siblings. To understand the mechanism we further analyse whether the association between birth order and physical fitness varies by sibship size, parental socioeconomic status, birth cohort or length of the birth interval. We find a strong, negative and monotonic relationship between birth order and physical fitness. For example, third-born children have a maximal working capacity approximately 0.1 (p<0.000) standard deviations lower than first-born children. The association exists both in small (3 or less children) and large families (4 or more children), in high and low socioeconomic status families, and amongst cohorts born in the 1960s and the 1970s. While in the whole population the birth order effect does not depend on the length of the birth intervals, in two-child families a longer birth interval strengthens the advantage of the first-born. Our results illustrate the importance of birth order on physical fitness, and suggest that the first-born advantage already arises in late adolescence.

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Income, Neighborhood Stressors, and Harsh Parenting: Test of Moderation by Ethnicity, Age, and Gender

Gabriela Barajas-Gonzalez & Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Family and neighborhood influences related to low-income were examined to understand their association with harsh parenting among an ethnically diverse sample of families. Specifically, a path model linking household income to harsh parenting via neighborhood disorder, fear for safety, maternal depressive symptoms, and family conflict was evaluated using cross-sectional data from 2,132 families with children ages 5–16 years from Chicago. The sample was 42% Mexican American, 41% African American, and 17% European American. Results provide support for a family process model where a lower income-to-needs ratio is associated with higher reports of neighborhood disorder, greater fear for safety, and more family conflict, which is in turn, associated with greater frequency of harsh parenting. Our tests for moderation by ethnicity/immigrant status, child gender, and child age (younger child vs. adolescent) indicate that although paths are similar for families of boys and girls, as well as for families of young children and adolescents, there are some differences by ethnic group. Specifically, we find the path from neighborhood disorder to fear for safety is stronger for Mexican American (United States born and immigrant) and European American families in comparison with African American families. We also find that the path from fear for safety to harsh parenting is significant for European American and African American families only. Possible reasons for such moderated effects are considered.

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The Manipulation of Children's Preferences, Old Age Support, and Investment in Children's Human Capital

Gary Becker, Kevin Murphy & Jörg Spenkuch
University of Chicago Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
We consider the link between parents' influence over the preferences of children, parental investments in children's human capital, and children's support of elderly parents. It may pay for parents to spend resources to "manipulate" children's preferences in order to induce them to support their parents in old age. Since parents invest more in children when they expect greater support, manipulation of child preferences may end up helping children and parents. A new result, that we call the "Rotten Parent Theorem," demonstrates that if children are altruistic, then even selfish parents will make the optimal investment in kids' human capital.

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Child Characteristics and Parental Educational Expectations: Evidence for Transmission With Transaction

Daniel Briley, Paige Harden & Elliot Tucker-Drob
Developmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Parents’ expectations for their children’s ultimate educational attainment have been hypothesized to play an instrumental role in socializing academically relevant child behaviors, beliefs, and abilities. In addition to social transmission of educationally relevant values from parents to children, parental expectations and child characteristics may transact bidirectionally. We explore this hypothesis using both longitudinal and genetically informative twin data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Birth and Kindergarten cohorts. Our behavior genetic results indicate that parental expectations partly reflect child genetic variation, even as early as 4 years of age. Two classes of child characteristics were hypothesized to contribute to these child-to-parent effects: behavioral tendencies (approaches toward learning and problem behaviors) and achievement (math and reading). Using behavior genetic models, we find within-twin-pair associations between these child characteristics and parental expectations. Using longitudinal cross-lagged models, we find that initial variation in child characteristics predicts future educational expectations above and beyond previous educational expectations. These results are consistent with transactional frameworks in which parent-to-child and child-to-parent effects co-occur.

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Are boys more sensitive to sensitivity? Parenting and executive function in preschoolers

Viara Mileva-Seitz et al.
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, February 2015, Pages 193–208

Abstract:
During early childhood, girls outperform boys on key dimensions of cognitive functions, including inhibitory control, sustained attention, and working memory. The role of parenting in these sex differences is unknown despite evidence that boys are more sensitive to the effects of the early environment. In this study, we measured parental sensitivity at 14 and 36 months of age, and children’s cognitive and executive functions (sustained attention, inhibitory control, and forward/backward memory) at 52 months of age, in a longitudinal cohort (N = 752). Boys scored significantly lower than girls on inhibitory control (more Go/NoGo “commission errors”) and short-term memory (forward color recall task), but boys did not differ from girls on attention (Go/NoGo “omission errors”) or working memory (backward color recall task). In stratified analyses, parental sensitivity at 36 months of age was negatively associated with number of errors of commission (p = .05) and omission (p = .02) in boys, whereas child’s age was the only significant predictor of commission and omission errors in girls. A combined analysis of both sexes confirmed an interaction between sex and parenting for omission errors (p = .03). The results indicate that sex differences in cognitive functions are evident in preschoolers, although not across all dimensions we assessed. Boys appear to be more vulnerable to early parenting effects, but only in association with omission errors (attention) and not with the other cognitive function dimensions.

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Fathers’ Sensitive Parenting and the Development of Early Executive Functioning

Nissa Towe-Goodman et al.
Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using data from a diverse sample of 620 families residing in rural, predominately low-income communities, this study examined longitudinal links between fathers’ sensitive parenting in infancy and toddlerhood and children’s early executive functioning, as well as the contribution of maternal sensitive parenting. After accounting for the quality of concurrent and prior parental care, children’s early cognitive ability, and other child and family factors, fathers’ and mothers’ sensitive and supportive parenting during play at 24 months predicted children’s executive functioning at 3 years of age. In contrast, paternal parenting quality during play at 7 months did not make an independent contribution above that of maternal care, but the links between maternal sensitive and supportive parenting and executive functioning seemed to operate in similar ways during infancy and toddlerhood. These findings add to prior work on early experience and children’s executive functioning, suggesting that both fathers and mothers play a distinct and complementary role in the development of these self-regulatory skills.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Stuff

Subjective Status Shapes Political Preferences

Jazmin Brown-Iannuzzi et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Economic inequality in America is at historically high levels. Although most Americans indicate that they would prefer greater equality, redistributive policies aimed at reducing inequality are frequently unpopular. Traditional accounts posit that attitudes toward redistribution are driven by economic self-interest or ideological principles. From a social psychological perspective, however, we expected that subjective comparisons with other people may be a more relevant basis for self-interest than is material wealth. We hypothesized that participants would support redistribution more when they felt low than when they felt high in subjective status, even when actual resources and self-interest were held constant. Moreover, we predicted that people would legitimize these shifts in policy attitudes by appealing selectively to ideological principles concerning fairness. In four studies, we found correlational (Study 1) and experimental (Studies 2–4) evidence that subjective status motivates shifts in support for redistributive policies along with the ideological principles that justify them.

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False Consciousness or Class Awareness? Local Income Inequality, Personal Economic Position, and Belief in American Meritocracy

Benjamin Newman, Christopher Johnston & Patrick Lown
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Existing research analyzes the effects of cross-national and temporal variation in income inequality on public opinion; however, research has failed to explore the impact of variation in inequality across citizens’ local residential context. This article analyzes the impact of local inequality on citizens’ belief in a core facet of the American ethos — meritocracy. We advance conditional effects hypotheses that collectively argue that the effect of residing in a high-inequality context will be moderated by individual income. Utilizing national survey data, we demonstrate that residing in more unequal counties heightens rejection of meritocracy among low-income residents and bolsters adherence among high-income residents. In relatively equal counties, we find no significant differences between high- and low-income citizens. We conclude by discussing the implications of class-based polarization found in response to local inequality with respect to current debates over the consequences of income inequality for American democracy.

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Who Wants to Get to the Top? Class and Lay Theories About Power

Peter Belmi
Stanford Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
We investigate class-based differences in the propensity to seek positions of power. We first propose that people’s lay theories suggest that acquiring power requires exercising political dominance — manipulating one’s way through the social world, relying on a pragmatic and Machiavellian approach to impression management and social relationships to get ahead. Then, drawing on empirical work showing that members of the lower class are oriented toward interdependence and community, we hypothesize that relative to their upper class counterparts, members of the lower class will show less interest in seeking positions of power because they feel less comfortable engaging in political dominance. We test these ideas in six studies. Our findings indicate that, even though members of the lower class see political dominance as a necessary and effective strategy for acquiring positions of power, and report that they have the competence to execute this strategy, they are reluctant to do so; as a result, they have a weaker tendency to seek positions of power. Consistent with our theorizing, we also find that members of the lower class have a stronger desire to seek positions of power when organizations provide an alternative route to power – power through prestige – and when they reconstrue power as a superordinate goal that suits their identity. These findings suggest that current institutional norms that reward political dominance may help explain why class inequalities persist and why creating class-based diversity in upper-level positions poses a serious challenge.

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Income Inequality and Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States

Deirdre Bloome
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
Is there a relationship between family income inequality and income mobility across generations in the United States? As family income inequality rose in the United States, parental resources available for improving children's health, education, and care diverged. The amount and rate of divergence also varied across US states. Researchers and policy analysts have expressed concern that relatively high inequality might be accompanied by relatively low mobility, tightening the connection between individuals' incomes during childhood and adulthood. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, and various government sources, this paper exploits state and cohort variation to estimate the relationship between inequality and mobility. Results provide very little support for the hypothesis that inequality shapes mobility in the United States. The inequality children experienced during youth had no robust association with their economic mobility as adults. Formal analysis reveals that offsetting effects could underlie this result. In theory, mobility-enhancing forces may counterbalance mobility-reducing effects. In practice, the results suggest that in the US context, the intergenerational transmission of income may not be very responsive to changes in inequality.

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How Can Scandinavians Tax So Much?

Henrik Jacobsen Kleven
Journal of Economic Perspectives, Fall 2014, Pages 77-98

Abstract:
American visitors to Scandinavian countries are often puzzled by what they observe: despite large income redistribution through distortionary taxes and transfers, these are very high-income countries. They rank among the highest in the world in terms of income per capita, as well as most other economic and social outcomes. The economic and social success of Scandinavia poses important questions for economics and for those arguing against large redistribution based on its supposedly detrimental effect on economic growth and welfare. How can Scandinavian countries raise large amounts of tax revenue for redistribution and social insurance while maintaining some of the strongest economic outcomes in the world? Combining micro and macro evidence, this paper identifies three policies that can help explain this apparent anomaly: the coverage of third-party information reporting (ensuring a low level of tax evasion), the broadness of tax bases (ensuring a low level of tax avoidance), and the strong subsidization of goods that are complementary to working (ensuring a high level of labor force participation). The paper also presents descriptive evidence on a variety of social and cultural indicators that may help in explaining the economic and social success of Scandinavia.

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Wealth Inequality in the United States since 1913: Evidence from Capitalized Income Tax Data

Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman
NBER Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
This paper combines income tax returns with Flow of Funds data to estimate the distribution of household wealth in the United States since 1913. We estimate wealth by capitalizing the incomes reported by individual taxpayers, accounting for assets that do not generate taxable income. We successfully test our capitalization method in three micro datasets where we can observe both income and wealth: the Survey of Consumer Finance, linked estate and income tax returns, and foundations' tax records. Wealth concentration has followed a U-shaped evolution over the last 100 years: It was high in the beginning of the twentieth century, fell from 1929 to 1978, and has continuously increased since then. The rise of wealth inequality is almost entirely due to the rise of the top 0.1% wealth share, from 7% in 1979 to 22% in 2012 -- a level almost as high as in 1929. The bottom 90% wealth share first increased up to the mid-1980s and then steadily declined. The increase in wealth concentration is due to the surge of top incomes combined with an increase in saving rate inequality. Top wealth-holders are younger today than in the 1960s and earn a higher fraction of total labor income in the economy. We explain how our findings can be reconciled with Survey of Consumer Finances and estate tax data.

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How Much (More) Should CEOs Make? A Universal Desire for More Equal Pay

Sorapop Kiatpongsan & Michael Norton
Perspectives on Psychological Science, November 2014, Pages 587-593

Abstract:
Do people from different countries and different backgrounds have similar preferences for how much more the rich should earn than the poor? Using survey data from 40 countries (N = 55,238), we compare respondents’ estimates of the wages of people in different occupations — chief executive officers, cabinet ministers, and unskilled workers — to their ideals for what those wages should be. We show that ideal pay gaps between skilled and unskilled workers are significantly smaller than estimated pay gaps and that there is consensus across countries, socioeconomic status, and political beliefs. Moreover, data from 16 countries reveals that people dramatically underestimate actual pay inequality. In the United States — where underestimation was particularly pronounced — the actual pay ratio of CEOs to unskilled workers (354:1) far exceeded the estimated ratio (30:1), which in turn far exceeded the ideal ratio (7:1). In sum, respondents underestimate actual pay gaps, and their ideal pay gaps are even further from reality than those underestimates.

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Geographic Effects on Intergenerational Income Mobility

Jonathan Rothwell & Douglas Massey
Economic Geography, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on intergenerational economic mobility often ignores the geographic context of childhood, including neighborhood quality and local purchasing power. We hypothesize that individual variation in intergenerational mobility is partly attributable to regional and neighborhood conditions — most notably access to high-quality schools. Using restricted Panel Study of Income Dynamics and census data, we find that neighborhood income has roughly half the effect on future earnings as parental income. We estimate that lifetime household income would be $635,000 dollars higher if people born into a bottom-quartile neighborhood would have been raised in a top-quartile neighborhood. When incomes are adjusted to regional purchasing power, these effects become even larger. The neighborhood effect is two-thirds as large as the parental income effect, and the lifetime earnings difference increases to $910,000. We test the robustness of these findings to various assumptions and alternative models, and replicate the basic results using aggregated metropolitan-level statistics of intergenerational income elasticities based on millions of Internal Revenue Service records.

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Can Personality Traits and Intelligence Compensate for Background Disadvantage? Predicting Status Attainment in Adulthood

Rodica Damian et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study investigated the interplay of family background and individual differences, such as personality traits and intelligence (measured in a large U.S. representative sample of high school students; N = 81,000) in predicting educational attainment, annual income, and occupational prestige 11 years later. Specifically, we tested whether individual differences followed 1 of 3 patterns in relation to parental socioeconomic status (SES) when predicting attained status: (a) the independent effects hypothesis (i.e., individual differences predict attainments independent of parental SES level), (b) the resource substitution hypothesis (i.e., individual differences are stronger predictors of attainments at lower levels of parental SES), and (c) the Matthew effect hypothesis (i.e., “the rich get richer”; individual differences are stronger predictors of attainments at higher levels of parental SES). We found that personality traits and intelligence in adolescence predicted later attained status above and beyond parental SES. A standard deviation increase in individual differences translated to up to 8 additional months of education, $4,233 annually, and more prestigious occupations. Furthermore, although we did find some evidence for both the resource substitution and the Matthew effect hypotheses, the most robust pattern across all models supported the independent effects hypothesis. Intelligence was the exception, the interaction models being more robust. Finally, we found that although personality traits may help compensate for background disadvantage to a small extent, they do not usually lead to a “full catch-up” effect, unlike intelligence. This was the first longitudinal study of status attainment to test interactive models of individual differences and background factors.

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High Marginal Tax Rates on the Top 1%? Lessons from a Life Cycle Model with Idiosyncratic Income Risk

Fabian Kindermann & Dirk Krueger
NBER Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
In this paper we argue that very high marginal labor income tax rates are an effective tool for social insurance even when households have preferences with high labor supply elasticity, make dynamic savings decisions, and policies have general equilibrium effects. To make this point we construct a large scale Overlapping Generations Model with uninsurable labor productivity risk, show that it has a wealth distribution that matches the data well, and then use it to characterize fiscal policies that achieve a desired degree of redistribution in society. We find that marginal tax rates on the top 1% of the earnings distribution of close to 90% are optimal. We document that this result is robust to plausible variation in the labor supply elasticity and holds regardless of whether social welfare is measured at the steady state only or includes transitional generations.

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The effects of social origins and cognitive ability on educational attainment: Evidence from Britain and Sweden

Erzsébet Bukodi, Robert Erikson & John Goldthorpe
Acta Sociologica, November 2014, Pages 293-310

Abstract:
In previous work we have shown that in Britain and Sweden alike parental class, parental status and parental education have independent effects on individuals’ educational attainment. In this paper we extend our analyses, first by also including measures of individuals’ early-life cognitive ability, and second by bringing our results for Britain and Sweden into direct comparative form. On the basis of extensive birth-cohort data for both countries, we find that when cognitive ability is introduced into our analyses, parental class, status and education continue to have significant, and in fact only moderately reduced and largely persisting, effects on the educational attainment of members of successive cohorts. There is some limited evidence for Britain, but not for Sweden, that cognitive ability has a declining effect on educational attainment, and a further cross-national difference is that in Britain, but not in Sweden, some positive interaction effects occur between advantaged social origins and high cognitive ability in relation to educational success. Overall, though, cross-national similarities are most apparent, and especially in the extent to which parental class, status and education, when taken together, create wide disparities in the eventual educational attainment of individuals who in early life were placed at similar levels of cognitive ability. Some wider implications of these findings are considered.

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The mobility problem in Britain: New findings from the analysis of birth cohort data

Erzsébet Bukodi et al.
British Journal of Sociology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Social mobility is now a matter of greater political concern in Britain than at any time previously. However, the data available for the determination of mobility trends are less adequate today than two or three decades ago. It is widely believed in political and in media circles that social mobility is in decline. But the evidence so far available from sociological research, focused on intergenerational class mobility, is not supportive of this view. We present results based on a newly-constructed dataset covering four birth cohorts that provides improved data for the study of trends in class mobility and that also allows analyses to move from the twentieth into the twenty-first century. These results confirm that there has been no decline in mobility, whether considered in absolute or relative terms. In the case of women, there is in fact evidence of mobility increasing. However, the better quality and extended range of our data enable us to identify other ‘mobility problems’ than the supposed decline. Among the members of successive cohorts, the experience of absolute upward mobility is becoming less common and that of absolute downward mobility more common; and class-linked inequalities in relative chances of mobility and immobility appear wider than previously thought.

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A Schumpeterian Model of Top Income Inequality

Charles Jones & Jihee Kim
NBER Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Top income inequality rose sharply in the United States over the last 35 years but increased only slightly in economies like France and Japan. Why? This paper explores a model in which heterogeneous entrepreneurs, broadly interpreted, exert effort to generate exponential growth in their incomes. On its own, this force leads to rising inequality. Creative destruction by outside innovators restrains this expansion and induces top incomes to obey a Pareto distribution. The development of the world wide web, a reduction in top tax rates, and a decline in misallocation are examples of changes that raise the growth rate of entrepreneurial incomes and therefore increase Pareto inequality. In contrast, policies that stimulate creative destruction reduce top inequality. Examples include research subsidies or a decline in the extent to which incumbent firms can block new innovation. Differences in these considerations across countries and over time, perhaps associated with globalization, may explain the varied patterns of top income inequality that we see in the data.

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Family Socioeconomic Status, Peers, and the Path to College

Robert Crosnoe & Chandra Muller
Social Problems, November 2014, Pages 602-624

Abstract:
Drawing on the primary/secondary effects perspective of educational inequality, this mixed methods study investigated connections between high school students’ trajectories through college preparatory course work and their relationships with parents and peers as a channel in the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic inequality. Growth curve and multilevel analyses of national survey and transcript data revealed that having college-educated parents differentiated students’ enrollment in advanced course work at the start of high school and that this initial disparity was stably maintained over subsequent years. During this starting period of high school, exposure to school-based peer groups characterized by higher levels of parent education appeared to amplify these course work disparities between students with and without college-educated parents. Ethnographic data from a single high school pointed to possible mechanisms for these patterns, including the tendency for students with college-educated parents to have more information about the relative weight of grades, core courses, and electives in college going and for academically relevant information from school peers with college-educated parents to matter most to students’ course work when it matched what was coming from their own parents.

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Inheritances and the distribution of wealth or whatever happened to the great inheritance boom?

Edward Wolff & Maury Gittleman
Journal of Economic Inequality, December 2014, Pages 439-468

Abstract:
Using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), we found that on average over the period from 1989 to 2007, about one fifth of American households at a given point of time reported a wealth transfer and these accounted for quite a sizeable figure, about a quarter of their net worth. Over the lifetime, about 30 percent of households could expect to receive a wealth transfer and these would account for close to 40 % of their net worth near time of death. However, there is little evidence of an inheritance “boom.” In fact, from 1989 to 2007, the share of households reporting a wealth transfer fell by 2.5 percentage points, a time trend statistically significant at the one percent level. The average value of inheritances received among all households did increase but at a slow pace, by 10 %; the time trend is not statistically significant. Wealth transfers as a proportion of current net worth fell sharply over this period, from 29 to 19 %, though the time trend once again is not statistically significant. We also found that inheritances and other wealth transfers tend to be equalizing in terms of the distribution of household wealth, though a number of caveats apply to this result.

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The Effect of Product Demand on Inequality: Evidence from the US and the UK

Marco Leonardi
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using Consumer Expenditure Survey data this paper shows that more educated workers demand more high-skill-intensive services and, to a lower extent, more very low-skill-intensive services (such as personal services). Additional evidence at the MSA level shows that this "education elasticity of demand" mechanism can explain part of the correlation between the share of college-educated workers in a city and the employment share of service industries. The parametrization of a simple model suggests that this induced demand shift can explain around 6.5% of the relative demand shift in the US between 1984 and 2002. Similar results are provided for the UK.

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Keeping up with the Joneses: Who loses out?

David Ulph
Economics Letters, December 2014, Pages 400–403

Abstract:
When individuals compare themselves to those with the same wage-rate, status concerns – Keeping up with the Joneses – lead individuals to work who otherwise would have chosen not to, and, for them, well-being is a decreasing function of the wage rate.

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Do People with Specific Skills Want More Social Insurance? Not in the United States

Jeffrey Timmons & Jerry Nickelsburg
Economics & Politics, November 2014, Pages 457–482

Abstract:
Skill specificity is thought to increase preferences for social insurance (Iversen and Soskice, 2001, American Political Science Review 95,875), especially where employment protections are low, notably the United States (Gingrich and Ansell, 2012, Comparative Political Studies 45, 1624). The compensating differentials literature, by contrast, suggests that neither skill specificity, nor labor market protections affect preferences when wages adjust for differences in risks and investment costs. We examine these competing predictions using U.S. data on general and specific skills. Absolute and relative skill specificity have a robust positive correlation with income, but are negatively correlated with preferences for social protection. Our results strongly support the compensating differentials approach.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Code of ethics

Business culture and dishonesty in the banking industry

Alain Cohn, Ernst Fehr & Michel André Maréchal
Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
Trust in others’ honesty is a key component of the long-term performance of firms, industries, and even whole countries. However, in recent years, numerous scandals involving fraud have undermined confidence in the financial industry. Contemporary commentators have attributed these scandals to the financial sector’s business culture, but no scientific evidence supports this claim. Here we show that employees of a large, international bank behave, on average, honestly in a control condition. However, when their professional identity as bank employees is rendered salient, a significant proportion of them become dishonest. This effect is specific to bank employees because control experiments with employees from other industries and with students show that they do not become more dishonest when their professional identity or bank-related items are rendered salient. Our results thus suggest that the prevailing business culture in the banking industry weakens and undermines the honesty norm, implying that measures to re-establish an honest culture are very important.

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The drunk utilitarian: Blood alcohol concentration predicts utilitarian responses in moral dilemmas

Aaron Duke & Laurent Bègue
Cognition, January 2015, Pages 121–127

Abstract:
The hypothetical moral dilemma known as the trolley problem has become a methodological cornerstone in the psychological study of moral reasoning and yet, there remains considerable debate as to the meaning of utilitarian responding in these scenarios. It is unclear whether utilitarian responding results primarily from increased deliberative reasoning capacity or from decreased aversion to harming others. In order to clarify this question, we conducted two field studies to examine the effects of alcohol intoxication on utilitarian responding. Alcohol holds promise in clarifying the above debate because it impairs both social cognition (i.e., empathy) and higher-order executive functioning. Hence, the direction of the association between alcohol and utilitarian vs. non-utilitarian responding should inform the relative importance of both deliberative and social processing systems in influencing utilitarian preference. In two field studies with a combined sample of 103 men and women recruited at two bars in Grenoble, France, participants were presented with a moral dilemma assessing their willingness to sacrifice one life to save five others. Participants’ blood alcohol concentrations were found to positively correlate with utilitarian preferences (r = .31, p < .001) suggesting a stronger role for impaired social cognition than intact deliberative reasoning in predicting utilitarian responses in the trolley dilemma. Implications for Greene’s dual-process model of moral reasoning are discussed.

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Poker-faced morality: Concealing emotions leads to utilitarian decision making

Jooa Julia Lee & Francesca Gino
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, January 2015, Pages 49–64

Abstract:
This paper examines how making deliberate efforts to regulate aversive affective responses influences people’s decisions in moral dilemmas. We hypothesize that emotion regulation — mainly suppression and reappraisal — will encourage utilitarian choices in emotionally charged contexts and that this effect will be mediated by the decision maker’s decreased deontological inclinations. In Study 1, we find that individuals who endorsed the utilitarian option (vs. the deontological option) were more likely to suppress their emotional expressions. In Studies 2a, 2b, and 3, we instruct participants to either regulate their emotions, using one of two different strategies (reappraisal vs. suppression), or not to regulate, and we collect data through the concurrent monitoring of psycho-physiological measures. We find that participants are more likely to make utilitarian decisions when asked to suppress their emotions rather than when they do not regulate their affect. In Study 4, we show that one’s reduced deontological inclinations mediate the relationship between emotion regulation and utilitarian decision making.

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Why So Serious? Experimental and Field Evidence that Morality and a Sense of Humor are Psychologically Incompatible

Kai Chi Yam
University of Washington Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Many of the jokes people enjoy carry a certain degree of moral violation. Since displaying humor often requires committing benign moral violations, we hypothesize that 1) a moral mindset stifles humor and 2) morally-focused people are less humorous, and are therefore less liked by their workplace peers. Participants primed with a moral mindset were less likely to appreciate humor that involved benign moral violations (Study 1) and less likely to generate jokes others found funny (Study 2) compared to participants in the control condition. Additional field studies demonstrated that morally-focused employees are seen as lacking a sense of humor by their coworkers and are therefore less liked and less socially popular (Studies 3 and 4). We further demonstrate that this mediational effect is stronger for targets who strongly endorse the purity/sanctity moral foundation (Study 4). These results suggest that morality and humor are to some degree psychologically incompatible, helping to explain why morally-focused individuals are often socially marginalized in organizations.

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What’s wrong? Moral understanding in psychopathic offenders

Eyal Aharoni, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong & Kent Kiehl
Journal of Research in Personality, December 2014, Pages 175–181

Abstract:
A prominent explanation for antisocial behavior in psychopathic offenders is that they cannot distinguish between right and wrong. Using a modified version of the classic Moral/Conventional Transgressions task that minimizes strategic responding, this study evaluated the hypothesis that psychopathic traits are negatively associated with moral classification accuracy. The task, which presents moral and non-moral hypothetical violations, was administered to 139 incarcerated offenders from three U.S. correctional facilities, 41 of whom met clinical criteria for psychopathy. No associations for classification accuracy were found as a function of psychopathy total score or its facets, controlling for age, gender, and race. This finding supports the argument that psychopathic offenders can demonstrate normal knowledge of wrongfulness. Implications for criminal responsibility are discussed.

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Dishonesty and charitable behavior

Doru Cojoc & Adrian Stoian
Experimental Economics, December 2014, Pages 717-732

Abstract:
We examine in the laboratory how having the opportunity to donate to a charity in the future affects the likelihood of engaging in dishonest behavior in the present. We also examine how charitable donations are affected by past ethical choices. First, subjects self-report their performance on a task, which provides them with an opportunity for undetected cheating. In the second stage they can donate some of the money earned in the first stage to a charity. Only subjects in the treatment group know about the opportunity to donate in the second stage. We find that more subjects cheat if they know they can donate some of the money to charity. We also find that subjects in treatment end up donating less to charity and that both honest and dishonest subjects donate less in treatment. We propose a new hypothesis that explains these results: past violations of social norms numb one’s conscience, leading to more antisocial behavior.

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‘Utilitarian’ judgments in sacrificial moral dilemmas do not reflect impartial concern for the greater good

Guy Kahane et al.
Cognition, January 2015, Pages 193–209

Abstract:
A growing body of research has focused on so-called ‘utilitarian’ judgments in moral dilemmas in which participants have to choose whether to sacrifice one person in order to save the lives of a greater number. However, the relation between such ‘utilitarian’ judgments and genuine utilitarian impartial concern for the greater good remains unclear. Across four studies, we investigated the relationship between ‘utilitarian’ judgment in such sacrificial dilemmas and a range of traits, attitudes, judgments and behaviors that either reflect or reject an impartial concern for the greater good of all. In Study 1, we found that rates of ‘utilitarian’ judgment were associated with a broadly immoral outlook concerning clear ethical transgressions in a business context, as well as with sub-clinical psychopathy. In Study 2, we found that ‘utilitarian’ judgment was associated with greater endorsement of rational egoism, less donation of money to a charity, and less identification with the whole of humanity, a core feature of classical utilitarianism. In Studies 3 and 4, we found no association between ‘utilitarian’ judgments in sacrificial dilemmas and characteristic utilitarian judgments relating to assistance to distant people in need, self-sacrifice and impartiality, even when the utilitarian justification for these judgments was made explicit and unequivocal. This lack of association remained even when we controlled for the antisocial element in ‘utilitarian’ judgment. Taken together, these results suggest that there is very little relation between sacrificial judgments in the hypothetical dilemmas that dominate current research, and a genuine utilitarian approach to ethics.

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Corporations are Cyborgs: Organizations elicit anger but not sympathy when they can think but cannot feel

Tage Rai & Daniel Diermeier
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, January 2015, Pages 18–26

Abstract:
Across four experiments, participants saw companies as capable of having ‘agentic’ mental states, such as having intentions, but incapable of having ‘experiential’ mental states, such as feeling pain. This difference in mental state ascription caused companies to elicit anger as villains, but not sympathy as victims. Differences in sympathy were mediated by perceived capacities for experience. When participants had a background leading companies (i.e. senior executives) or when a recognizable brand (i.e. Google) was anthropomorphized, perceptions of experience increased and the sympathy gap disappeared. An organization seen as high in experience and low in agency (i.e. sports team) elicited more sympathy and less anger than companies. Our findings elucidate the mechanisms underlying the link between mental state ascription and moral judgment; the tendency to ascribe some mental states to organizations more easily than others; and the phenomenon whereby companies elicit anger as villains but fail to elicit sympathy as victims.

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Equity or equality? Moral judgments follow the money

Peter DeScioli et al.
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 22 December 2014

Abstract:
Previous research emphasizes people's dispositions as a source of differences in moral views. We investigate another source of moral disagreement, self-interest. In three experiments, participants played a simple economic game in which one player divides money with a partner according to the principle of equality (same payoffs) or the principle of equity (payoffs proportional to effort expended). We find, first, that people's moral judgment of an allocation rule depends on their role in the game. People not only prefer the rule that most benefits them but also judge it to be more fair and moral. Second, we find that participants' views about equality and equity change in a matter of minutes as they learn where their interests lie. Finally, we find limits to self-interest: when the justification for equity is removed, participants no longer show strategic advocacy of the unequal division. We discuss implications for understanding moral debate and disagreement.

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Cold-hearted or cool-headed: Physical coldness promotes utilitarian moral judgment

Hiroko Nakamura et al.
Frontiers in Psychology, October 2014

Abstract:
In the current study, we examine the effect of physical coldness on personal moral dilemma judgment. Previous studies have indicated that utilitarian moral judgment — sacrificing a few people to achieve the greater good for others — was facilitated when: (1) participants suppressed an initial emotional response and deliberately thought about the utility of outcomes; (2) participants had a high-level construal mindset and focused on abstract goals (e.g., save many); or (3) there was a decreasing emotional response to sacrificing a few. In two experiments, we exposed participants to extreme cold or typical room temperature and then asked them to make personal moral dilemma judgments. The results of Experiment 1 indicated that coldness prompted utilitarian judgment, but the effect of coldness was independent from deliberate thought or abstract high-level construal mindset. As Experiment 2 revealed, coldness facilitated utilitarian judgment via reduced empathic feelings. Therefore, physical coldness did not affect the “cool-headed” deliberate process or the abstract high-level construal mindset. Rather, coldness biased people toward being “cold-hearted,” reduced empathetic concern, and facilitated utilitarian moral judgments.

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Do Political Attitudes and Religiosity Share a Genetic Path?

Amanda Friesen & Aleksander Ksiazkiewicz
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Social scientists have long recognized and sought to explain a connection between religious and political beliefs. Our research challenges the prevalent view that religion and politics constitute separate but related belief sets with a conceptual model that suggests the correlation between the two may be partially explained by an underlying psychological construct reflecting first principle beliefs on social organization. Moreover, we also push this challenge further by considering whether part of the relationship between political and religious beliefs is the result of shared genetic influences, which would suggest that a shared biological predisposition, or set of biological predispositions, underlies these attitudes. Using a classic twin design on a sample of American adults, we demonstrate that certain religious, political, and first principle beliefs can be explained by genetic and unique environmental components, and that the correlation between these three trait structures is primarily due to a common genetic path. As predicted, this relationship is found to hold for social ideology, but not for economic ideology. These findings provide evidence that the overlap between the religious and the political in the American context may in part be due to underlying principles regarding how to understand and organize society and that these principles may be adopted to satisfy biologically-influenced psychological needs.

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Forced to Be Bad: The Positive Impact of Low-Autonomy Vice Consumption on Consumer Vitality

Fangyuan Chen & Jaideep Sengupta
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research examines the vitality produced by vices — products that offer immediate gratification at the cost of long-term adversity. While vices are intrinsically enjoyable, they also induce guilt. Our conceptualization incorporates these opposing forces to argue that vice consumption is unique in that lowering the consumer’s sense of autonomy actually results in higher vitality — in contrast to the positive relationship between autonomy and vitality that has been robustly documented in the literature. An examination of the vitality construct further suggests that low-autonomy vice consumption should consequently result in improved creativity as well as self-regulation. A set of four studies provides support for these and related implications. The obtained findings advance knowledge regarding vitality and its consequences, while they also provide insights into when and why vice consumption might actually be beneficial.

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Taking Punishment into Your Own Hands: An Experiment

Peter Duersch & Julia Müller
Journal of Economic Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In a punishment experiment, we separate the demand for punishment in general from the demand to conduct punishment personally. Subjects experience an unfair split of their earnings from a real effort task and have to decide on the punishment of the person who determines the distribution. First, it is established whether the allocator’s payoff is reduced and, afterwards, subjects take part in a second price auction for the right to (physically) carry out the act of payoff reduction themselves. Subjects bid positive amounts and are happier if they get to punish personally.

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Manipulating Morality: Third-Party Intentions Alter Moral Judgments by Changing Causal Reasoning

Jonathan Phillips & Alex Shaw
Cognitive Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present studies investigate how the intentions of third parties influence judgments of moral responsibility for other agents who commit immoral acts. Using cases in which an agent acts under some situational constraint brought about by a third party, we ask whether the agent is blamed less for the immoral act when the third party intended for that act to occur. Study 1 demonstrates that third-party intentions do influence judgments of blame. Study 2 finds that third-party intentions only influence moral judgments when the agent's actions precisely match the third party's intention. Study 3 shows that this effect arises from changes in participants' causal perception that the third party was controlling the agent. Studies 4 and 5, respectively, show that the effect cannot be explained by changes in the distribution of blame or perceived differences in situational constraint faced by the agent.

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The Social Power of Regret: The Effect of Social Appraisal and Anticipated Emotions on Fair and Unfair Allocations in Resource Dilemmas

Job van der Schalk et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigated how another person’s emotions about resource allocation decisions influence observers’ resource allocations by influencing the emotions that observers anticipate feeling if they were to act in the same way. Participants were exposed to an exemplar who made a fair or unfair division in an economic game and expressed pride or regret about this decision. Participants then made their own resource allocation decisions. Exemplar regret about acting fairly decreased the incidence of fair behavior (Studies 1A and 1B). Likewise, exemplar regret about acting unfairly increased the incidence of fair behavior (Study 2). The effect of others’ emotions on observers’ behavior was mediated by the observers’ anticipated emotions. We discuss our findings in light of the view that social appraisal and anticipated emotions are important tools for social learning and may contribute to the formation and maintenance of social norms about greed and fairness.

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Do Beliefs Justify Actions or Do Actions Justify Beliefs? An Experiment on Stated Beliefs, Revealed Beliefs, and Social-Image Manipulation

James Andreoni & Alison Sanchez
NBER Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
We study whether actions are justified by beliefs, as is usually assumed, or whether beliefs are justified by actions. In our experiment, subjects participate in a trust game, after which they have an opportunity to state their beliefs about their opponent's actions. Subsequently, subjects participate in a task designed to "reveal" their true beliefs. We find that subjects who make selfish choices and show strategic sophistication falsely state their beliefs in order to project a more favorable social image. By contrast, their "revealed" beliefs were significantly more accurate, which betrayed these subjects as knowing that their selfishness was not justifiable by their opponent's behavior.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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