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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Beginning at conception

Changes in Adolescents' Receipt of Sex Education, 2006–2013

Laura Lindberg, Isaac Maddow-Zimet & Heather Boonstra

Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Methods: Using nationally representative data from the 2006–2010 and 2011–2013 National Survey of Family Growth, we estimated changes over time in adolescents' receipt of sex education from formal sources and from parents and differentials in these trends by adolescents' gender, race/ethnicity, age, and place of residence.

Results: Between 2006–2010 and 2011–2013, there were significant declines in adolescent females' receipt of formal instruction about birth control (70% to 60%), saying no to sex (89% to 82%), sexually transmitted disease (94% to 90%), and HIV/AIDS (89% to 86%). There was a significant decline in males' receipt of instruction about birth control (61% to 55%). Declines were concentrated among adolescents living in nonmetropolitan areas. The proportion of adolescents talking with their parents about sex education topics did not change significantly. Twenty-one percent of females and 35% of males did not receive instruction about methods of birth control from either formal sources or a parent.

Conclusions: Declines in receipt of formal sex education and low rates of parental communication may leave adolescents without instruction, particularly in nonmetropolitan areas. More effort is needed to understand this decline and to explore adolescents' potential other sources of reproductive health information.

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Area-level mortality and morbidity predict ‘abortion proportion’ in England and Wales

Sandra Virgo & Rebecca Sear

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Life history theory predicts that where mortality/morbidity is high, earlier reproduction will be favoured. A key component of reproductive decision-making in high income contexts is induced abortion. Accordingly, relationships between mortality/morbidity and ‘abortion proportion’ (proportion of conceptions ending in abortion) are explored at small-area (‘ward’) level in England and Wales. It is predicted that where mortality/morbidity is high, there will be a lower ‘abortion proportion’ in younger women (< 25 years), adjusting for education, unemployment, income, housing tenure and population density. Results show that this prediction is supported: wards with both shorter life expectancy and a higher proportion of people with a limiting long-standing illness have lower abortion proportions in under 25s. In older age bands, in contrast, elevated mortality and morbidity are mostly associated with a higher ‘abortion proportion’. Further, morbidity appears to have a larger effect than mortality on ‘abortion proportion’ in the under-25 age band, perhaps because a) morbidity is more salient than mortality in high-income contexts, and/or b) young women are influenced by health of potential female alloparents when scheduling fertility.

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Shared risk aversion in spontaneous and induced abortion

Ralph Catalano et al.

Human Reproduction, May 2016, Pages 1113-1119

What is known already: Much literature speculates that natural selection conserved risk aversion because the trait enhanced Darwinian fitness. Risk aversion, moreover, supposedly influences all decisions including those that individuals can and cannot report making. We argue that these circumstances, if real, would manifest in conscious and non-conscious decisions to invest in prospective offspring, and therefore affect incidence of induced and spontaneous abortion over time.

Study design, size, duration: Using data from Denmark, we test the hypothesis that monthly conception cohorts yielding unexpectedly many non-clinically indicated induced abortions also yield unexpectedly many spontaneous abortions. The 180 month test period (January 1995 through December 2009), yielded 1 351 800 gestations including 156 780 spontaneous as well as 233 280 induced abortions 9100 of which were clinically indicated.

Participants/materials, setting, methods: We use Box–Jenkins transfer functions to adjust the incidence of spontaneous and non-clinically indicated induced abortions for autocorrelation (including seasonality), cohort size, and fetal as well as gestational anomalies over the 180-month test period. We use cross-correlation to test our hypothesized association.

Main results and the role of chance: We find a positive association between spontaneous and non-clinically indicated induced abortions. This suggests, consistent with our theory, that mothers of conception cohorts that yielded more spontaneous abortions than expected opted more frequently than expected for non-clinically indicated induced abortion.

Wider implications of the findings: Our findings imply that abortion, intentional or ‘spontaneous,’ follows from a woman's estimate, made consciously or otherwise, of the costs and benefits of extending gestation given characteristics of the prospective offspring, likely environmental circumstances at birth, and maternal resources.

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Spontaneous Pregnancy Loss in Denmark Following Economic Downturns

Tim Bruckner, Laust Mortensen & Ralph Catalano

American Journal of Epidemiology, 15 April 2016, Pages 701-708

Abstract:
An estimated 11%–20% of clinically recognized pregnancies result in spontaneous abortion. The literature finds elevated risk of spontaneous abortion among women who report adverse financial life events. This work suggests that, at the population level, national economic decline — an ambient and plausibly unexpected stressor — will precede an increase in spontaneous abortion. We tested this hypothesis using high-quality information on pregnancy and spontaneous loss for all women in Denmark. We applied time-series methods to monthly counts of clinically detected spontaneous abortions (n = 157,449) and the unemployment rate in Denmark beginning in January 1995 and ending in December 2009. Our statistical methods controlled for temporal patterns in spontaneous abortion (e.g., seasonality, trend) and changes in the population of pregnancies at risk of loss. Unexpected increases in the unemployment rate preceded by 1 month a rise in the number of spontaneous abortions (β = 33.19 losses/month, 95% confidence interval: 8.71, 57.67). An attendant analysis that used consumption of durable household goods as an indicator of financial insecurity supported the inference from our main test. Changes over time in elective abortions and in the cohort composition of high-risk pregnancies did not account for results. It appears that in Denmark, ambient stressors as common as increasing unemployment may precede a population-level increase in spontaneous abortion.

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Women's Knowledge of and Support for Abortion Restrictions in Texas: Findings from a Statewide Representative Survey

Kari White et al.

Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, forthcoming

Context: States have passed numerous laws restricting abortion, and Texas passed some of the most restrictive legislation between 2011 and 2013. Information about women's awareness of and support for the laws’ provisions could inform future debates regarding abortion legislation.

Methods: Between December 2014 and January 2015, some 779 women aged 18–49 participated in an online, statewide representative survey about recent abortion laws in Texas. Poisson regression analysis was used to assess correlates of support for a law that would make obtaining an abortion more difficult. Women's knowledge of specific abortion restrictions in Texas and reasons for supporting these laws were also assessed.

Results: Overall, 31% of respondents would support a law making it more difficult to obtain an abortion. Foreign-born Latinas were more likely than whites to support such a law (prevalence ratio, 1.5), and conservative Republicans were more likely than moderates and Independents to do so (2.3). Thirty-six percent of respondents were not very aware of recent Texas laws, and 19% had never heard of them. Among women with any awareness of the laws, 19% supported the requirements; 42% of these individuals said this was because such laws would make abortion safer.

Conclusions: Many Texas women of reproductive age are unaware of statewide abortion restrictions, and some support these requirements because of misperceptions about the safety of abortion. Advocates and policymakers should address these knowledge gaps in efforts to protect access to legal abortion.

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Physical and neurobehavioral determinants of reproductive onset and success

Felix Day et al.

Nature Genetics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The ages of puberty, first sexual intercourse and first birth signify the onset of reproductive ability, behavior and success, respectively. In a genome-wide association study of 125,667 UK Biobank participants, we identify 38 loci associated (P < 5 × 10−8) with age at first sexual intercourse. These findings were taken forward in 241,910 men and women from Iceland and 20,187 women from the Women's Genome Health Study. Several of the identified loci also exhibit associations (P < 5 × 10−8) with other reproductive and behavioral traits, including age at first birth (variants in or near ESR1 and RBM6–SEMA3F), number of children (CADM2 and ESR1), irritable temperament (MSRA) and risk-taking propensity (CADM2). Mendelian randomization analyses infer causal influences of earlier puberty timing on earlier first sexual intercourse, earlier first birth and lower educational attainment. In turn, likely causal consequences of earlier first sexual intercourse include reproductive, educational, psychiatric and cardiometabolic outcomes.

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Impact of Clinic Closures on Women Obtaining Abortion Services After Implementation of a Restrictive Law in Texas

Caitlin Gerdts et al.

American Journal of Public Health, May 2016, Pages 857-864

Objectives: To evaluate the additional burdens experienced by Texas abortion patients whose nearest in-state clinic was one of more than half of facilities providing abortion that had closed after the introduction of House Bill 2 in 2013.

Methods: In mid-2014, we surveyed Texas-resident women seeking abortions in 10 Texas facilities (n = 398), including both Planned Parenthood–affiliated clinics and independent providers that performed more than 1500 abortions in 2013 and provided procedures up to a gestational age of at least 14 weeks from last menstrual period. We compared indicators of burden for women whose nearest clinic in 2013 closed and those whose nearest clinic remained open.

Results: For women whose nearest clinic closed (38%), the mean one-way distance traveled was 85 miles, compared with 22 miles for women whose nearest clinic remained open (P ≤ .001). After adjustment, more women whose nearest clinic closed traveled more than 50 miles (44% vs 10%), had out-of-pocket expenses greater than $100 (32% vs 20%), had a frustrated demand for medication abortion (37% vs 22%), and reported that it was somewhat or very hard to get to the clinic (36% vs 18%; P < .05).

Conclusions: Clinic closures after House Bill 2 resulted in significant burdens for women able to obtain care.

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What do men want? Re-examining whether men benefit from higher fertility than is optimal for women

Cristina Moya, Kristin Snopkowski & Rebecca Sear

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 19 April 2016

Abstract:
Several empirical observations suggest that when women have more autonomy over their reproductive decisions, fertility is lower. Some evolutionary theorists have interpreted this as evidence for sexual conflicts of interest, arguing that higher fertility is more adaptive for men than women. We suggest the assumptions underlying these arguments are problematic: assuming that women suffer higher costs of reproduction than men neglects the (different) costs of reproduction for men; the assumption that men can repartner is often false. We use simple models to illustrate that (i) men or women can prefer longer interbirth intervals (IBIs), (ii) if men can only partner with wives sequentially they may favour shorter IBIs than women, but such a strategy would only be optimal for a few men who can repartner. This suggests that an evolved universal male preference for higher fertility than women prefer is implausible and is unlikely to fully account for the empirical data. This further implies that if women have more reproductive autonomy, populations should grow, not decline. More precise theoretical explanations with clearly stated assumptions, and data that better address both ultimate fitness consequences and proximate psychological motivations, are needed to understand under which conditions sexual conflict over reproductive timing should arise.

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Association Between High Ambient Temperature and Risk of Stillbirth in California

Rupa Basu, Varada Sarovar & Brian Malig

American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent studies have linked elevated apparent temperatures with adverse birth outcomes, such as preterm delivery, but other birth outcomes have not been well studied. We examined 8,510 fetal deaths (≥20 weeks’ gestation) to estimate their association with mean apparent temperature, a combination of temperature and humidity, during the warm season in California (May–October) from 1999 to 2009. Mothers whose residential zip codes were within 10 km of a meteorological monitor were included. Meteorological data were provided by the California Irrigation Management Information System, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Climatic Data Center, while the California Department of Public Health provided stillbirth data. Using a time-stratified case-crossover study design, we found a 10.4% change (95% confidence interval: 4.4, 16.8) in risk of stillbirth for every 10°F (5.6°C) increase in apparent temperature (cumulative average of lags 2–6 days). Risk varied by maternal race/ethnicity and was greater for younger mothers, less educated mothers, and male fetuses. The highest risks were observed during gestational weeks 20–25 and 31–33. No associations were found during the cold season (November–April), and the observed associations were independent of air pollutants. This study adds to the growing body of literature identifying pregnant women and their fetuses as subgroups vulnerable to heat exposure.

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Reproductive history and post-reproductive mortality: A sibling comparison analysis using Swedish register data

Kieron Barclay et al.

Social Science & Medicine, April 2016, Pages 82–92

Abstract:
A growing body of evidence suggests that reproductive history influences post-reproductive mortality. A potential explanation for this association is confounding by socioeconomic status in the family of origin, as socioeconomic status is related to both fertility behaviours and to long-term health. We examine the relationship between age at first birth, completed parity, and post-reproductive mortality and address the potential confounding role of family of origin. We use Swedish population register data for men and women born 1932-1960, and examine both all-cause and cause-specific mortality. The contributions of our study are the use of a sibling comparison design that minimizes residual confounding from shared family background characteristics and assessment of cause-specific mortality that can shed light on the mechanisms linking reproductive history to mortality. Our results were entirely consistent with previous research on this topic, with teenage first time parents having higher mortality, and the relationship between parity and mortality following a U-shaped pattern where childless men and women and those with five or more children had the highest mortality. These results indicate that selection into specific fertility behaviours based upon socioeconomic status and experiences within the family of origin does not explain the relationship between reproductive history and post-reproductive mortality. Additional analyses where we adjust for other lifecourse factors such as educational attainment, attained socioeconomic status, and post-reproductive marital history do not change the results. Our results add an important new level of robustness to the findings on reproductive history and mortality by showing that the association is robust to confounding by factors shared by siblings. However it is still uncertain whether reproductive history causally influences health, or whether other confounding factors such as childhood health or risk-taking propensity could explain the association.

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Status competition, inequality, and fertility: Implications for the demographic transition

Mary Shenk, Hillard Kaplan & Paul Hooper

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 19 April 2016

Abstract:
The role that social status plays in small-scale societies suggests that status may be important for understanding the evolution of human fertility decisions, and for understanding how such decisions play out in modern contexts. This paper explores whether modelling competition for status — in the sense of relative rank within a society — can help shed light on fertility decline and the demographic transition. We develop a model of how levels of inequality and status competition affect optimal investment by parents in the embodied capital (health, strength, and skills) and social status of offspring, focusing on feedbacks between individual decisions and socio-ecological conditions. We find that conditions similar to those in demographic transition societies yield increased investment in both embodied capital and social status, generating substantial decreases in fertility, particularly under conditions of high inequality and intense status competition. We suggest that a complete explanation for both fertility variation in small-scale societies and modern fertility decline will take into account the effects of status competition and inequality.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, April 25, 2016

Any willing provider

Job Mobility among Parents of Children with Chronic Health Conditions: Early Effects of the 2010 Affordable Care Act

Pinka Chatterji, Peter Brandon & Sara Markowitz

Journal of Health Economics, July 2016, Pages 26–43

Abstract:
We examine the effects of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's (ACA) prohibition of preexisting conditions exclusions for children on job mobility among parents. We use a difference-in-difference approach, comparing pre-post policy changes in job mobility among privately-insured parents of children with chronic health conditions vs. privately-insured parents of healthy children. Data come from the 2004 and 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). Among married fathers, the policy change is associated with about a 0.7 percentage point, or 35 percent increase, in the likelihood of leaving an employer voluntarily. We find no evidence that the policy change affected job mobility among married and unmarried mothers.

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Selective Hearing: Physician-Ownership and Physicians' Response to New Evidence

David Howard, Guy David & Jason Hockenberry

NBER Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
Physicians, acting in their role as experts, are often faced with situations where they must trade off personal and patient welfare. Physicians’ incentives vary based on the organizational environment in which they practice. We use the publication of a major clinical trial, which found that a common knee operation does not improve outcomes for patients with osteoarthritis, as an “informational shock” to gauge the impact of physicians’ agency relationships on treatment decisions. Using a 100% sample of procedures in Florida from 1998 to 2010, we find that publication of the trial reduced procedure volume, but the magnitude of the decline was smaller in physician-owned surgery centers. Incentives affected physicians’ reactions to evidence.

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Short-term Outcomes for Medicare Beneficiaries After Low-acuity Visits to Emergency Departments and Clinics

Matthew Niedzwiecki et al.

Medical Care, May 2016, Pages 498–503

Background: There is substantial interest in identifying low-acuity visits to emergency departments (EDs) that could be treated more appropriately in other settings. Systematic differences in illness severity between ED patients and comparable patients elsewhere could make such strategies unsafe, but little evidence exists to guide policy makers.

Objective: To compare illness severity between patients visiting EDs and outpatient clinics, by comparing short-term mortality and hospitalization, controlling for patient demographics, comorbidity, and visit acuity.

Subjects: Nationally representative 20% sample of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries discharged home from ED or clinic visit in 2011, and enrolled continuously for 1 year before the visit.

Measures: All-cause mortality and hospitalization in the 8, 15, and 30 days after discharge home from ED or clinic visits.

Results: After risk-adjusting for patient demographic, comorbidity, disability, and dual-eligibility status, as well as visit acuity as measured by a commonly used algorithm, we found that ED patients were more likely to die (risk-adjusted odds ratio=2.75; 95% confidence interval, 2.56–2.96) or be hospitalized (odds ratio=1.97; 95% confidence interval, 1.95–2.00) after discharge than clinic patients. Differences in short-term outcomes were observed even when comparing patients with the same discharge diagnoses after risk adjustment.

Conclusions: Patients presenting to EDs have worse risk-adjusted short-term outcomes than those presenting to outpatient clinics, even after controlling for acuity level of visit or discharge diagnosis. Existing measures of acuity using administrative data may not adequately capture severity of illness, making judgments of the appropriate setting for care difficult.

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Health insurance as a productive factor

Allan Dizioli & Roberto Pinheiro

Labour Economics, June 2016, Pages 1–24

Abstract:
In this paper, we present a less-explored channel through which health insurance impacts productivity: by offering health insurance, employers reduce the expected time workers spend out of work in sick days. Using data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), we show that a worker with health coverage misses on average 76.54% fewer workdays than uninsured workers, after controlling for endogeneity. We develop a model that embodies this impact of health coverage in productivity. In our model, health insurance reduces the probability that a healthy worker gets sick, missing workdays, and it increases the probability that a sick worker recovers and returns to work. In our model, firms that offer health insurance are larger and pay higher wages in equilibrium, a pattern observed in the data. We calibrated the model using US data for 2004 and show the impact of increases in health costs, as well as of changes in tax benefits of health insurance expenses, on labor force health coverage and productivity.

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The Effect of Expanding Medicaid Eligibility on Supplemental Security Income Program Participation

Marguerite Burns & Laura Dague

University of Wisconsin Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
Low-income adults without dependent children have historically had few paths to obtain public health insurance unless they qualified for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cash benefits because of a disability. However, in states that expand their Medicaid programs, childless adults may obtain Medicaid without undergoing an intensive SSI disability review process and with substantially higher income and assets than the SSI program allows. This expanded availability of Medicaid coverage, independent of SSI participation, creates an opportunity to increase earnings and savings without jeopardizing health insurance coverage. In this paper, we use the natural experiments created by state decisions to expand Medicaid to nondisabled, nonelderly adults without dependent children to study the effect of decoupling Medicaid eligibility and cash assistance using a difference-in-differences study design. We collected data on the income eligibility limits, enrollment caps, and coverage characteristics of state Medicaid expansions to childless adults from 2001-2013. We combine these data with the nationally representative American Community Survey to estimate the effects of state expansion on SSI participation. We find relative declines in SSI participation caused by Medicaid expansions of 0.17 percentage points, a 7% relative decrease; this finding suggests the potential for small but important efficiency gains from separating SSI and Medicaid eligibility.

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The Effect of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansions on Financial Well-Being

Luojia Hu et al.

NBER Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
We examine the effect of the Medicaid expansions under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) on financial outcomes using credit report data for a large sample of individuals. We employ the synthetic control method (Abadie et al., 2010) to compare individuals living in states that expanded Medicaid to those that did not. We find that the Medicaid expansions significantly reduced the number of unpaid bills and the amount of debt sent to third-party collection agencies among those residing in zip codes with the highest share of low income, uninsured individuals. Our estimates imply a reduction in collection balances of around $600 to $1,000 among those who gain Medicaid coverage due to the ACA. Our findings suggest that the ACA Medicaid expansions had important financial impacts beyond health care use.

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Does Churning in Medicaid Affect Health Care Use?

Eric Roberts, Craig Evan Pollack

Medical Care, May 2016, Pages 483–489

Data: Longitudinal data from 6 panels of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

Methods: We used differences-in-differences regression to compare health care use when adults reenrolled in Medicaid following a loss of coverage, to utilization in a control group of continuously enrolled adults.

Results: During the study period, 264 adults churned into and out of Medicaid and 627 had continuous coverage. Churning adults had an average of approximately 0.05 Medicaid-covered office-based visits per month 4 months before reenrolling in Medicaid, significantly below the rate of approximately 0.20 visits in the control group. Visits to office-based providers did not reach the control group rate until several months after churning adults had resumed Medicaid coverage. Our comparisons found no evidence of significantly elevated ED and inpatient admission rates in the churning group following reenrollment.

Conclusions: Adults who lose Medicaid tend to defer their use of office-based care to periods when they are insured. Although this suggests that enrollment disruptions lead to suboptimal timing of care, we do not find evidence that adults reenroll in Medicaid with elevated acute care needs.

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The Price Effects of Cross-Market Hospital Mergers

Leemore Dafny, Kate Ho & Robin Lee

NBER Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
So-called "horizontal mergers" of hospitals in the same geographic market have garnered significant attention from researchers and regulators alike. However, much of the recent hospital industry consolidation spans multiple markets serving distinct patient populations. We show that such combinations can reduce competition among the merging providers for inclusion in insurers' networks of providers, leading to higher prices. The result derives from the presence of "common customers” (i.e. purchasers of insurance plans) who value both providers, as well as (one or more) "common insurers" with which price and network status is negotiated. We test our theoretical predictions using two samples of cross-market hospital mergers, focusing exclusively on hospitals that are bystanders rather than the likely drivers of the transactions in order to address concerns about the endogeneity of merger activity. We find that hospitals gaining system members in-state (but not in the same geographic market) experience price increases of 6-10 percent relative to control hospitals, while hospitals gaining system members out-of-state exhibit no statistically significant changes in price. The former group are likelier to share common customers and insurers. This effect remains sizeable even when the merging parties are located further than 90 minutes apart. The results suggest that cross-market, within-state hospital mergers appear to increase hospital systems' leverage when bargaining with insurers.

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Health insurance and the demand for medical care: Instrumental variable estimates using health insurer claims data

Abe Dunn

Journal of Health Economics, July 2016, Pages 74–88

Abstract:
This paper takes a different approach to estimating demand for medical care that uses the negotiated prices between insurers and providers as an instrument. The instrument is viewed as a textbook “cost shifting” instrument that impacts plan offerings, but is unobserved by consumers. The paper finds a price elasticity of demand of around −0.20, matching the elasticity found in the RAND Health Insurance Experiment. The paper also studies within-market variation in demand for prescription drugs and other medical care services and obtains comparable price elasticity estimates.

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Cost Analysis of the STONE Randomized Trial: Can Health Care Costs be Reduced One Test at a Time?

Joy Melnikow

Medical Care, April 2016, Pages 337–342

Objective: To compare costs of care for patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with suspected kidney stones randomized to 1 of 3 initial imaging tests.

Research Design: Patients were randomized to point-of-care ultrasound (POC US, least costly), radiology ultrasound (RAD US), or computed tomography (CT, most costly). Subsequent testing and treatment were the choice of the treating physician.

Subjects: A total of 2759 patients at 15 EDs were randomized to POC US (n=908), RAD US, (n=893), or CT (n=958). Mean age was 40.4 years; 51.8% were male.

Measures: All medical care documented in the trial database in the 7 days following enrollment was abstracted and coded to estimate costs using national average 2012 Medicare reimbursements. Costs for initial ED care and total 7-day costs were compared using nonparametric bootstrap to account for clustering of patients within medical centers.

Results: Initial ED visit costs were modestly lower for patients assigned to RAD US: $423 ($411, $434) compared with patients assigned to CT: $448 ($438, $459) (P<0.0001). Total costs were not significantly different between groups: $1014 ($912, $1129) for POC US, $970 ($878, $1078) for RAD US, and $959 ($870, $1044) for CT. Hospital admissions contributed over 50% of total costs, though only 11% of patients were admitted. Mean total costs (and admission rates) varied substantially by site from $749 to $1239.

Conclusions: Assignment to a less costly test had no impact on overall health care costs for ED patients. System-level interventions addressing variation in admission rates from the ED might have greater impact on costs.

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Teaching Hospitals and the Disconnect Between Technology Adoption and Comparative Effectiveness Research: The Case of the Surgical Robot

Danil Makarov et al.

Medical Care Research and Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
The surgical robot, a costly technology for treatment of prostate cancer with equivocal marginal benefit, rapidly diffused into clinical practice. We sought to evaluate the role of teaching in the early adoption phase of the surgical robot. Teaching hospitals were the primary early adopters: data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project showed that surgical robots were acquired by 45.5% of major teaching, 18.0% of minor teaching and 8.0% of non-teaching hospitals during the early adoption phase. However, teaching hospital faculty produced little comparative effectiveness research: By 2008, only 24 published studies compared robotic prostatectomy outcomes to those of conventional techniques. Just ten of these studies (41.7%) were more than minimally powered, and only six (25%) involved cross-institutional collaborations. In adopting the surgical robot, teaching hospitals fulfilled their mission to innovate, but failed to generate corresponding scientific evidence.

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Early Performance of Accountable Care Organizations in Medicare

Michael McWilliams et al.

New England Journal of Medicine, forthcoming

Background: In the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), accountable care organizations (ACOs) have financial incentives to lower spending and improve quality. We used quasi-experimental methods to assess the early performance of MSSP ACOs.

Methods: Using Medicare claims from 2009 through 2013 and a difference-in-differences design, we compared changes in spending and in performance on quality measures from before the start of ACO contracts to after the start of the contracts between beneficiaries served by the 220 ACOs entering the MSSP in mid-2012 (2012 ACO cohort) or January 2013 (2013 ACO cohort) and those served by non-ACO providers (control group), with adjustment for geographic area and beneficiary characteristics. We analyzed the 2012 and 2013 ACO cohorts separately because entry time could reflect the capacity of an ACO to achieve savings. We compared ACO savings according to organizational structure, baseline spending, and concurrent ACO contracting with commercial insurers.

Results: Adjusted Medicare spending and spending trends were similar in the ACO cohorts and the control group during the precontract period. In 2013, the differential change (i.e., the between-group difference in the change from the precontract period) in total adjusted annual spending was −$144 per beneficiary in the 2012 ACO cohort as compared with the control group (P=0.02), consistent with a 1.4% savings, but only −$3 per beneficiary in the 2013 ACO cohort as compared with the control group (P=0.96). Estimated savings were consistently greater in independent primary care groups than in hospital-integrated groups among 2012 and 2013 MSSP entrants (P=0.005 for interaction). MSSP contracts were associated with improved performance on some quality measures and unchanged performance on others.

Conclusions: The first full year of MSSP contracts was associated with early reductions in Medicare spending among 2012 entrants but not among 2013 entrants. Savings were greater in independent primary care groups than in hospital-integrated groups.

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Past the Point of Speeding Up: The Negative Effects of Workload Saturation on Efficiency and Patient Severity

Jillian Berry Jaeker & Anita Tucker

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Service organizations face a trade-off between high utilization and responsiveness. High utilization can improve financial performance, but causes congestion, which increases throughput time. Employees may manage this trade-off by reducing processing times during periods of high workload, resulting in an inverted U-shaped relationship between utilization and throughput time. Using two years of inpatient data from 203 California hospitals, we find evidence that patient length of stay (LOS) increases as occupancy increases, until a tipping point, after which patients are discharged early to alleviate congestion. More interestingly, we find a second tipping point — at 93% occupancy — beyond which additional occupancy leads to a longer LOS. These results are indicative of a workload-related “saturation effect” where employees can no longer overcome high workload by speeding up. Our data suggest that the saturation effect is due to an increase in the workload requirements of the remaining patients. Collectively, we find that the underlying relationship between occupancy and LOS is N-shaped. Consequently, managers who seek cost efficiencies via a strategy of high utilization in tandem with speeding up may find that their strategy backfires because there is a point at which employees are no longer able to compensate for a high workload by working harder, and throughput time counterproductively increases. We perform a counterfactual analysis and find that an alternate strategy of employing flexible labor when faced with high occupancy levels might be a more productive approach, and could save the hospitals in our sample up to $138 million over 23 months.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Buddies

Social Class and Social Worlds: Income Predicts the Frequency and Nature of Social Contact

Emily Bianchi & Kathleen Vohs

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does access to money predict social behavior? Past work has shown that money fosters self-sufficiency and reduces interest in others. Building on this work, we tested whether income predicts the frequency and type of social interactions. Two studies using large, nationally representative samples of Americans (N = 118,026) and different measures of social contact showed that higher household income was associated with less time spent socializing with others (Studies 1 and 2) and more time spent alone (Study 2). Income also predicted the nature of social contact. People with higher incomes spent less time with their families and neighbors and spent more time with their friends. These findings suggest that income is associated with how and with whom people spend their time.

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The Rural–Urban Difference in Interpersonal Regret

Asuka Komiya, Shigehiro Oishi & Minha Lee

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, April 2016, Pages 513-525

Abstract:
The present research examined rural–urban differences in interpersonal regret. In Study 1, participants who grew up in rural areas reported stronger interpersonal regret than those who grew up in large cities. In Study 2, we conducted an experiment and found that participants who were assigned to imagine a rural life reported greater interpersonal regret than those who were assigned to imagine an urban life. Moreover, this rural–urban difference was mediated by the degree to which participants wrote about informal social control such as gossip and reputation concerns. Finally, in Study 3, we used the pictorial eye manipulation, which evokes a concern for informal social control, and found that participants from large cities who were exposed to the eyes reported more intense interpersonal regret than those who were not exposed to the eyes. Together, these studies demonstrate that informal social control is a key to understanding rural–urban differences in interpersonal regret.

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The Dynamics of Social Support Inequality: Maintenance Gaps by Socioeconomic Status and Race?

Markus Schafer & Nicholas Vargas

Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
A vast literature demonstrates how personal networks mirror and reproduce broader patterns of social inequality. The availability of key resources through informal mechanisms is an important way that high-status Americans retain a host of social advantages. Largely absent from this account of social capital inequality, however, is an explicit temporal dimension. The current article addresses that gap by targeting the dynamic nature of personal networks. Specifically, we consider whether race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status (SES) are associated with how US adults’ resource-providing ties persist or vanish between two time points. Using panel data from the Portraits of American Life Study, we find that non-Whites and lower-SES Americans tend to receive useful advice and practical help from fewer close ties than do White and higher-SES adults, while Black Americans are especially likely to receive financial assistance from their network members. Models fail to indicate that non-Whites lose these resourceful ties at a disproportionate rate over time. On the other hand, we find that income has a robust association with the ability to retain ties initially providing advice and help. We interpret the latter findings as a temporal manifestation of network-based inequality. The maintenance gap between higher- and lower-SES Americans, we argue, can reinforce other social capital disparities by shaping dependable access to important resources and by altering their ability to effectively mobilize resources. Network maintenance is a concept that could be useful to researchers studying how social capital matters for a variety of instrumental and expressive outcomes.

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“Selfie-ists” or “Narci-selfiers”?: A cross-lagged panel analysis of selfie taking and narcissism

Daniel Halpern, Sebastián Valenzuela & James Katz

Personality and Individual Differences, July 2016, Pages 98–101

Abstract:
We examine the widely popular social phenomenon of “selfies” (self-portraits uploaded and shared in social media) in terms of the observed positive relationship between this individualistic form of social media usage and narcissism. We conducted a cross-lagged analysis of a two-wave, representative panel survey to understand whether narcissists take selfies as an outlet for maintaining their positive self-views (the self-selection hypothesis), or if by taking selfies' users would increase their level of narcissism (the media effect hypothesis). The findings, however, are consistent with both hypotheses, suggesting a self-reinforcement effect: whereas narcissist individuals take selfies more frequently over time, this increase in selfie production raises subsequent levels of narcissism.

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Face and Emotion Expression Processing and the Serotonin Transporter Polymorphism 5-HTTLPR/rs22531

Andrea Hildebrandt et al.

Genes, Brain and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Face cognition, including face identity and facial expression processing, is a crucial component of socio-emotional abilities, characterizing humans as highest developed social beings. However, for these trait domains molecular genetic studies investigating gene-behavior associations based on well-founded phenotype definitions are still rare. We examined the relationship between 5-HTTLPR/rs25531 polymorphisms – related to serotonin-reuptake – and the ability to perceive and recognize faces and emotional expressions in human faces. For this aim we conducted structural equation modeling on data from 230 young adults, obtained by using a comprehensive, multivariate task battery with maximal effort tasks. By additionally modeling fluid intelligence and immediate and delayed memory factors, we aimed to address the discriminant relationships of the 5-HTTLPR/rs25531 polymorphisms with socio-emotional abilities. We found a robust association between the 5-HTTLPR/rs25531 polymorphism and facial emotion perception. Carriers of two long (L) alleles outperformed carriers of one or two S alleles. Weaker associations were present for face identity perception and memory for emotional facial expressions. There was no association between the 5-HTTLPR/rs25531 polymorphism and non-social abilities, demonstrating discriminant validity of the relationships. We discuss the implications and possible neural mechanisms underlying these novel findings.

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Camouflaged attention: Covert attention is critical to social communication in natural settings

Kaitlin Laidlaw, Austin Rothwell & Alan Kingstone

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
The evolution of the human eye's unique high contrast morphology allows people to communicate with a simple look. Yet overt looking is not always preferred in social situations. Do covert shifts in attention – those that occur without a concomitant shift of the eyes or head – support this need? In the present field study, we discretely recorded pedestrians' looks to a confederate who performed an action - raising his hand to the side of his head and saying ‘Hey’ into a phone (private action), or raising his hand to the side of his head in greeting (i.e. a static wave) and saying ‘Hey’ (public action). Critically, pedestrians were not looking at the confederate at the start of the action. Despite this, pedestrians looked more in response to the public action (wave) than private action (phone). We argue that the observed difference in looking responses must be due to pedestrians first attending to the confederate covertly in order to assess the intention of his action, and only signaling this attention with a look when socially appropriate (e.g. to respond to a public action). Though the functional utility of covert attention has rarely been considered outside of controlled laboratory tasks, these results provide the first demonstration that covert attention plays a critical role in guiding appropriate social looking behaviour.

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Mortality salience increases language style matching and well-being

Cathy Cox & Mike Kersten

Self and Identity, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present research examined whether people imitate the language style of others (i.e., the use of function words) as a form of liking when mortality concerns are salient. In Study 1, participants answered questions about death or public speaking and then engaged in an instant messaging conversation with a confederate. In Study 2, participant pairs verbally discussed a news article about increasing homicide rates or the rise in academic pressure. Next, everyone completed measures of self-esteem, life satisfaction, and relationship need satisfaction. The results revealed that, in comparison to the control conditions, participants exhibited greater language style matching (LSM) following reminders of death (Studies 1 & 2). Further, mediational analyses showed that higher LSM after mortality salience was associated with better psychological and social well-being (Study 2). Although the threat of death has been shown to make people more hostile and disparaging toward dissimilar others, the present work suggests that individuals, even strangers, may feel closer through language coordination following thoughts of mortality.

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Forgive and Forget, or Forgive and Regret? Whether Forgiveness Leads to Less or More Offending Depends on Offender Agreeableness

James McNulty & Michelle Russell

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, May 2016, Pages 616-631

Abstract:
How does forgiveness predict the likelihood of reoffending? One survey study, one experiment, one 4-year longitudinal study, and one 2-week diary study examined the implications of forgiveness for reoffending in relationships. In all four studies, agreeableness interacted with partner forgiveness to predict subsequent offending; partner forgiveness was negatively associated with subsequent offending among more agreeable people but positively associated with subsequent offending among less agreeable people. Furthermore, Study 4 demonstrated a unique mechanism of each simple effect; relatively agreeable people engaged in fewer transgressions against more forgiving partners because they felt obligated to refrain from transgressing against such partners whereas relatively disagreeable people engaged in more transgressions against more forgiving partners because they perceived those partners were less easily angered. These studies indicate that completely understanding the intrapersonal and interpersonal consequences of forgiveness requires recognizing the dyadic nature of forgiveness and attending to qualities of the offender.

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Ask and You Shall (Not) Receive: Close Friends Prioritize Relational Signaling Over Recipient Preferences in Their Gift Choices

Morgan Ward & Susan Broniarczyk

Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Gift givers balance their goal to please recipients with gifts that match recipients' preferences against their goal to signal relational closeness with gifts that demonstrate their knowledge of the recipient. Five studies in a gift registry context show that when close (vs. distant) givers receive attribution for the gifts they choose, they are more likely to diverge from the registry to choose items that signal their close relationships. We find that close givers' divergence from the registry is not the result of their altruistic search for a “better” gift, but a strategic effort to express relational signals, as it occurs only when they will receive attribution for their choice. We show that close givers reconcile their goal conflict by engaging in motivated reasoning, which results in their perceptual distortion of the gift options in favor of relationally signaling gifts. Ironically, distant givers are more likely to choose gifts from the registry, resulting in the selection of items that better match recipients' preferences.

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The extended ‘chilling’ effect of Facebook: The cold reality of ubiquitous social networking

Ben Marder et al.

Computers in Human Behavior, July 2016, Pages 582–592

Abstract:
Prior research has established the phenomenon of the ‘Chilling Effect’ where people constrain the self they present online due to peer-to-peer surveillance on Social Network Sites (SNS). However currently uninvestigated is the possibility that the threat of such surveillance on these sites might constrain the self presented offline in ‘reality’, known here as ‘the extended chilling effect’. The purpose of this study is to examine the existence of this ‘extended chilling effect’. Drawing on theories of self-awareness and self-presentation, the impact of surveillance in SNS is theorized to lead to an awareness of online audiences in offline domains, stimulating a self-comparison process that results in impression management. A mixed methods study of semi-structured interviews (n = 28) and a 2 × 2 between-subjects experiment (n = 80), provides support for offline impression management in order to avoid an undesired image being projected to online audiences. The novel finding that the chilling effect has extended highlights the potential dangers of online peer-to-peer surveillance for autonomy and freedom of expression in our offline lives.

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Interactive Effects Between Extraversion and Oxytocin Administration: Implications for Positive Social Processes

Lauren Human, Katherine Thorson & Wendy Berry Mendes

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Intranasal administration of the neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) appears to have positive social consequences, but these effects are often highly context- and person-specific. The present research examined whether the core personality trait of extraversion may be one important person-specific factor that plays a role in these associations. Across two double-blind randomized placebo-controlled studies (total ns: Study 1 = 121; Study 2 = 112), we observed significant interactions between OT administration and extraversion predicting prosocial outcomes. For individuals low in extraversion, OT administration relative to placebo led to greater perceived social connection and prosocial tendencies (Study 1) and more positive behavioral responses to help and greater trust of an interaction partner (Study 2). In contrast, OT administration was not beneficial for individuals high in extraversion. Overall, these findings contribute to growing evidence that OT administration has complex, person-specific effects on social behavior, indicating that extraversion plays an important role in these associations.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Conscious of it

Political conservatism predicts asymmetries in emotional scene memory

Mark Mills et al.

Behavioural Brain Research, 1 June 2016, Pages 84–90

Abstract:
Variation in political ideology has been linked to differences in attention to and processing of emotional stimuli, with stronger responses to negative versus positive stimuli (negativity bias) the more politically conservative one is. As memory is enhanced by attention, such findings predict that memory for negative versus positive stimuli should similarly be enhanced the more conservative one is. The present study tests this prediction by having participants study 120 positive, negative, and neutral scenes in preparation for a subsequent memory test. On the memory test, the same 120 scenes were presented along with 120 new scenes and participants were to respond whether a scene was old or new. Results on the memory test showed that negative scenes were more likely to be remembered than positive scenes, though, this was true only for political conservatives. That is, a larger negativity bias was found the more conservative one was. The effect was sizeable, explaining 45% of the variance across subjects in the effect of emotion. These findings demonstrate that the relationship between political ideology and asymmetries in emotion processing extend to memory and, furthermore, suggest that exploring the extent to which subject variation in interactions among emotion, attention, and memory is predicted by conservatism may provide new insights into theories of political ideology.

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Effects of Culture and the Urban Environment on the Development of the Ebbinghaus Illusion

Andrew Bremner et al.

Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
The development of visual context effects in the Ebbinghaus illusion in the United Kingdom and in remote and urban Namibians (UN) was investigated (N = 336). Remote traditional Himba children showed no illusion up until 9–10 years, whereas UK children showed a robust illusion from 7 to 8 years of age. Greater illusion in UK than in traditional Himba children was stable from 9 to 10 years to adulthood. A lesser illusion was seen in remote traditional Himba children than in UN children growing up in the nearest town to the traditional Himba villages across age groups. We conclude that cross-cultural differences in perceptual biases to process visual context emerge in early childhood and are influenced by the urban environment.

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Disgust and Fear Lower Olfactory Threshold

Kai Qin Chan et al.

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Odors provide information regarding the chemical properties of potential environment hazards. Some of this information may be disgust-related (e.g., organic decay), whereas other information may be fear-related (e.g., smoke). Many studies have focused on how disgust and fear, as prototypical avoidant emotions, facilitate the detection of possible threats, but these studies have typically confined to the visual modality. Here, we examine how disgust and fear influence olfactory detection at a particular level — the level at which a subliminal olfactory stimulus crosses into conscious perception, also known as a detection threshold. Here, using psychophysical methods that allow us to test perceptual capabilities directly, we show that one way that disgust (Experiments 1–3) and fear (Experiment 3) facilitate detection is by lowering the amount of physical input that is needed to trigger a conscious experience of that input. This effect is particularly strong among individuals with high disgust sensitivity (Experiments 2–3). Our research suggests that a fundamental way in which avoidant emotions foster threat detection is through lowering perceptual thresholds.

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The sound of distance

Cristina Rabaglia et al.

Cognition, July 2016, Pages 141–149

Abstract:
Human languages may be more than completely arbitrary symbolic systems. A growing literature supports sound symbolism, or the existence of consistent, intuitive relationships between speech sounds and specific concepts. Prior work establishes that these sound-to-meaning mappings can shape language-related judgments and decisions, but do their effects generalize beyond merely the linguistic and truly color how we navigate our environment? We examine this possibility, relating a predominant sound symbolic distinction (vowel frontness) to a novel associate (spatial proximity) in five studies. We show that changing one vowel in a label can influence estimations of distance, impacting judgment, perception, and action. The results (1) provide the first experimental support for a relationship between vowels and spatial distance and (2) demonstrate that sound-to-meaning mappings have outcomes that extend beyond just language and can – through a single sound – influence how we perceive and behave toward objects in the world.

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A preliminary study on how hypohydration affects pain perception

Tracey Bear et al.

Psychophysiology, May 2016, Pages 605–610

Abstract:
Chronic pain is a prevalent health issue with one in five people suffering from some form of chronic pain, with loss of productivity and medical costs of chronic pain considerable. However, the treatment of pain can be difficult, as pain perception is complex and can be affected by factors other than tissue damage. This study investigated the effect of hypohydration (mild, voluntary dehydration from ∼24 h of limiting fluid intake, mimicking someone drinking less than usual) on a person's pain perception. Seventeen healthy males (age 27 ± 5 years) visited the laboratory on three occasions, once as a familiarization and then twice again while either euhydrated (urine specific gravity: 1.008 ± 0.005) or hypohydrated (urine specific gravity: 1.024 ± 0.003, and −1.4 ± 0.9% body mass). Each visit, they performed a cold pressor test, where their feet were placed in cold water (0–3°C) for a maximum of 4 min. Measures of hydration status, pain sensitivity, pain threshold, and catastrophization were taken. We found that hypohydration predicted increased pain sensitivity (β = 0.43), trait pain catastrophizing, and baseline pain sensitivity (β = 0.37 and 0.47, respectively). These results are consistent with previous research, and suggest that a person's hydration status may be an important factor in their perception of acute pain.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, April 22, 2016

Stay awhile

Why Border Enforcement Backfired

Douglas Massey, Karen Pren & Jorge Durand

American Journal of Sociology, March 2016, Pages 1557-1600

Abstract:
In this article the authors undertake a systematic analysis of why border enforcement backfired as a strategy of immigration control in the United States. They argue theoretically that border enforcement emerged as a policy response to a moral panic about the perceived threat of Latino immigration to the United States propounded by self-interested bureaucrats, politicians, and pundits who sought to mobilize political and material resources for their own benefit. The end result was a self-perpetuating cycle of rising enforcement and increased apprehensions that resulted in the militarization of the border in a way that was disconnected from the actual size of the undocumented flow. Using an instrumental variable approach, the authors show how border militarization affected the behavior of unauthorized migrants and border outcomes to transform undocumented Mexican migration from a circular flow of male workers going to three states into an 11 million person population of settled families living in 50 states.

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The Labor Supply of Undocumented Immigrants

George Borjas

NBER Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
The Department of Homeland Security estimates that 11.4 million undocumented persons reside in the United States. Congress and President Obama are considering a number of proposals to regularize the status of the undocumented population and provide a "path to citizenship." Any future change in the immigration status of this group is bound to have significant effects on the labor market, on the number of persons that qualify for various government-provided benefits, on the timing of retirement, on the size of the population receiving Social Security benefits, and on the funding of almost all of these government programs. This paper provides a comprehensive empirical study of the labor supply behavior of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Using newly developed methods that attempt to identify undocumented status for foreign-born persons sampled in the Current Population Surveys, the empirical analysis documents a number of findings, including the fact that the work propensity of undocumented men is much larger than that of other groups in the population; that this gap has grown over the past two decades; and that the labor supply elasticity of undocumented men is very close to zero, suggesting that their labor supply is almost perfectly inelastic.

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On Normative Effects of Immigration Law

Emily Ryo

University of Southern California Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
Can laws shape and mold our attitudes, values, and social norms, and if so, how do immigration laws affect our attitudes or views toward minority groups? I explore these questions through a randomized laboratory experiment that examines whether and to what extent short-term exposures to anti-immigration and pro-immigration laws affect people's implicit and explicit attitudes toward Latinos. My analysis shows that exposure to an anti-immigration law is associated with increased perceptions among study participants that Latinos are unintelligent and law-breaking. In contrast, I find no evidence that exposure to pro-immigration laws promoted positive attitudes toward Latinos. Taken together, these results suggest that exposure to anti-immigration laws can easily trigger negative racial attitudes, but fostering positive racial attitudes through pro-immigration laws might be substantially more difficult. I argue that a fuller appreciation of the impacts of immigration laws requires an understanding of their normative effects. I conclude by discussing the directions for future research on law, racial attitudes, and intergroup relations, and the policy implications of my findings.

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The Acceleration of Immigrant Unhealthy Assimilation

Osea Giuntella & Luca Stella

Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
It is well known that immigrants tend to be healthier than US natives and that this advantage erodes with time spent in the USA. However, we know less about the heterogeneity of these trajectories among arrival cohorts. Recent studies have shown that later arrival cohorts of immigrants have lower entry wages and experience less economic assimilation. In this paper, we investigate whether similar cohort effects can be observed in the weight assimilation of immigrants in the USA. Focusing on obesity, we show that more recent immigrant cohorts arrive with higher obesity rates and experience a faster 'unhealthy assimilation' in terms of weight gain.

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The Welfare Impact of Global Migration in OECD Countries

Amandine Aubry, Michał Burzyński & Frédéric Docquier

Journal of International Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper quantifies the effect of global migration on the welfare of non-migrant OECD citizens. We develop an integrated, multi-country model that accounts for the interactions between the labor market, fiscal, and market size effects of migration, as well as for trade relations between countries. The model is calibrated to match the economic and demographic characteristics of the 34 OECD countries and the rest of the world, as well as trade flows between them in the year 2010. We show that recent migration flows have been beneficial for 69 percent of the non-migrant OECD population, and for 83 percent of non-migrant citizens of the 22 richest OECD countries. Winners are mainly residing in traditional immigration countries; their gains are substantial and are essentially due to the entry of immigrants from non OECD countries. Although labor market and fiscal effects are non-negligible in some countries, the greatest source of gain comes from the market size effect, i.e. the change in the variety of goods available to consumers.

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Emergency Department Use Among Hispanic Adults: The Role of Acculturation

Lindsay Allen & Janet Cummings

Medical Care, May 2016, Pages 449-456

Objectives: We provide the first known examination of differences in nonurgent and urgent emergency department (ED) usage between Hispanic and non-Hispanic white individuals, with varying levels of acculturation.

Materials and Methods: We pooled cross-sectional data for Hispanic and non-Hispanic white adults (ages 18-64) from the 2011 to 2013 National Health Interview Surveys. Using logistic regression models, we examined differences in past-year ED use, urgent ED use, and nonurgent ED use by acculturation level, which we measure by combining information on respondents' citizenship status, birthplace, and length of stay (immigrants <5, 5-10, >10 y in the United States; naturalized citizens; US born).

Results: Overall, 17.8% of Hispanic individuals and 18.5% of non-Hispanic white individuals use the ED annually. Compared with US-born non-Hispanic white individuals, the least acculturated Hispanic individuals are 14.4% points (P<0.001) less likely to use the ED for any reason, 9.8% points (P<0.001) less likely to use it for a nonurgent reason, and 5.3% points (P<0.01) less likely to use it for an urgent reason.

Conclusions: Contrary to popular perception, the least acculturated Hispanic individuals are the least likely to use the ED. As acculturation level rises, so does one's likelihood of using the ED, particularly for nonurgent visits.

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Advancing Executive Branch Immigration Policy Through the Attorney General's Review Authority

Alberto Gonzales & Patrick Glen

Iowa Law Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Prospects for comprehensive immigration reform look dim in light of past failures to enact legislation, such as the DREAM Act, and a continued period of divided government placing a skeptical Republican Congress in opposition to a sympathetic Democratic President. With legislative fixes for the United States' immigration system unlikely in the near future, the Obama Administration will continue to press its immigration agenda via executive order and enforcement memorandum. Such initiatives do provide real short-term benefits, but they are by nature temporary and lack the ability to provide any permanent status to their beneficiaries. Importantly, however, they are not the only tools that the executive branch wields if it is intent on implementing certain reforms even in the face of a divided Congress. This Article focuses on a little used mechanism, Attorney General referral and review, which could play an efficacious role in the executive branch's development and implementation of its immigration policy. This procedure permits the Attorney General to adjudicate individual immigration cases and thereby provide a definitive interpretation of law or institute new policy-based prescriptions to guide immigration officials in the future. Although used only four times by the Obama Administration, and sparingly in prior administrations, the history of its invocation establishes it as a powerful tool through which the executive branch can assert its prerogatives in the immigration field. Structurally, this Article presents both a historical overview of the referral authority and a doctrinal assessment of its prior use by modern Attorneys General. It also refutes common, but fundamentally misplaced, criticisms of the authority, including the purported lack of due process attendant upon referral. Finally, it concludes by considering certain proposals for reform that could make the authority a more robust avenue for executive branch immigration policy.

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The Neighborhood Context of Latino Threat

Matthew Hall & Maria Krysan

Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, forthcoming

Abstract:
In recent years, the size of the Latino immigrant population has swelled in communities throughout the United States. For decades, social scientists have studied how social context, particularly a minority group's relative size, affects the sentiments of the dominant group. Using a random sample survey of five communities in suburban Chicago, the authors examine the impact of Latino population concentration on native-born white residents' subjective perceptions of threat from Latino immigrants at two micro-level geographies: the immediate block and the surrounding blocks. After controlling for Latino population size in surrounding blocks, percentage Latino in the immediate block does not influence perceptions of threat from Latino immigrants. The effect of surrounding blocks' population size is consistent with group threat theories for white residents: the larger the Latino population, the greater the perceived threat.

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Health Implications of an Immigration Raid: Findings from a Latino Community in the Midwestern United States

William Lopez et al.

Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, forthcoming

Abstract:
Immigration raids exemplify the reach of immigration law enforcement into the lives of Latino community members, yet little research characterizes the health effects of these raids. We examined the health implications of an immigration raid that resulted in multiple arrests and deportations and occurred midway through a community survey of a Latino population. We used linear regression following principal axis factoring to examine the influence of raid timing on immigration enforcement stress and self-rated health. We controlled for age, sex, relationship status, years in the county in which the raid occurred, children in the home, and nativity. 325 participants completed the survey before the raid and 151 after. Completing the survey after the raid was associated with higher levels of immigration enforcement stress and lower self-rated health scores. Findings indicate the negative impact of immigration raids on Latino communities. Immigration discussions should include holistic assessments of health.

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The International Consequences of American National Origins Quotas: The Australian Case

David Atkinson

Journal of American Studies, May 2016, Pages 377-396

Abstract:
This article examines Australian responses to the imposition of stringent national origins quotas in the United States during the 1920s. Following the introduction of the American quota system, many Australians worried that large numbers of undesirable southern and eastern European migrants would make their way toward Australian ports. Widespread calls for preemptive restrictions forced the Australian government to finally implement a range of measures designed to limit immigration from Italy, Greece, Albania, Yugoslavia, and Malta. More broadly, this article argues that American quotas often inadvertently engendered a wide range of indirect and unintentional consequences around the world that scholars of migration and American foreign relations might explore in greater depth. It concludes by suggesting some opportunities for individual and collaborative research into the international effects of the United States' notorious national origins quota system.

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Public or Private? The Influence of Immigration on Native Schooling Choices in the United States

Thomas Murray

Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines whether rising enrollments of foreign-born students in U.S. public schools caused a movement among native children from public schools to private schools, something the literature has labeled native flight to private school. Using data from the National Center of Educational Statistics School District Demographic System, estimates of native flight are constructed using enrollment data on native and foreign-born, school-age children from 1990, 2000, and 2010. Concern regarding omitted variables bias necessitates the use of an instrumental variables technique. An instrument for the foreign-born enrollment is created using information about the ethnic composition of school districts in 1980 to predict the enrollment patterns of foreign-born students in later years. Two-stage least squares estimates confirm the presence of native flight. Flight to private school among white native students is occurring in smaller school districts in non-traditional immigrant receiving states, while flight among native minorities and Hispanics is located in school districts that reside in traditional immigrant receiving states.

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Locus of Control and Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom

Allison Harell, Stuart Soroka & Shanto Iyengar

Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using data collected in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, this article examines the determinants of attitudes toward immigrants. In particular, we draw on the literature in social psychology to explore the role of locus of control in promoting more ethnocentric and restrictive attitudes towards immigration. We conceptualize control at three levels: (1) perceptions of individual locus of control (i.e., feeling that one can control one's own circumstances), (2) perceptions of societal control (i.e., feeling that one's country has control over immigration), and (3) perceptions of an outgroup's locus of control (i.e., feeling that an outgroup's social circumstances are attributable to dispositional rather than external factors). Results show that all three measures of control are important predictors of negative attitudes toward immigrants: Those who feel in control (personally or as a society) are less hostile towards immigrants, while those who attribute negative outcomes to immigrants' predispositions are also more hostile. Results also suggest that measures of control are related to, but distinct from, both partisanship and racial prejudice.

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Language Use and Violence: Assessing the Relationship Between Linguistic Context and Macrolevel Violence

Ben Feldmeyer, Casey Harris & Daniel Lai

Sociological Forum, forthcoming

Abstract:
Scholars have produced a sizable body of research assessing the macrolevel links between immigration and crime. However, researchers have given far less attention to related questions about the effects of language use on aggregate levels of violence. The current study addresses this gap in research by exploring the ways that patterns of language use - specifically, language heterogeneity and Spanish-language concentration - are related to year 2010 serious violent crime rates for nearly 2,900 census places across the United States. Results of our analysis reveal that linguistic heterogeneity is associated with increased violence and that this relationship is stronger in disadvantaged contexts. In contrast, Spanish-language concentration appears to be protective against violence and mitigates the violence-generating effects of structural disadvantage, net of immigration and other macrostructural characteristics. Implications of these findings for research on immigration, communities and crime, and related theoretical perspectives on immigrant revitalization and macrostructural theories of crime are discussed.

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It is Hard to Swim Upstream: Dietary Acculturation Among Mexican-Origin Children

Jennifer Van Hook et al.

Population Research and Policy Review, April 2016, Pages 177-196

Abstract:
Health and immigration researchers often implicate dietary acculturation in explanations of Mexican children of immigrants' weight gain after moving to the U.S., but rarely explore how diet is shaped by immigrants' structural incorporation. We used data from the 1999/00-2009/10 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to assess how indicators of Mexican-origin children's acculturation and structural incorporation influence two outcomes: how healthy and how "Americanized" children's diets are. Indicators of acculturation were strongly associated with more Americanized and less healthy diets. However, structural incorporation indicators were mostly unrelated to diet outcomes net of acculturation. An exception was that parental education was positively associated with consuming a healthy diet. Finally, children of natives consumed more Americanized, unhealthy diets than children of immigrants and these differences were largely explained by differences in the acculturation. Children of natives would have consumed an even less healthy diet were it not for their higher levels of parental education. Overall, the results suggest that the process of adapting to the U.S. life style is associated with the loss of cultural culinary preferences and less healthy eating behaviors despite improvements in socioeconomic status.

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Accent, Gender, and Perceived Competence

Larry Nelson, Margaret Signorella & Karin Botti

Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, May 2016, Pages 166-185

Abstract:
Those who use non-indigenous accented speech often experience prejudice and discrimination, and in the United States, those speaking with Spanish accents are likely to be impacted. In research on speaker perceptions by type of accent, however, the gender of the speaker or of the perceiver has received less attention. In the present study, the impact of accent (North American- vs. Spanish-accented English), gender of speaker, and gender of rater on perceptions of competence were investigated in a sample of U.S. undergraduates. Participants heard a recording by either a male or female speaker who spoke in English with either a North American or Spanish accent. As hypothesized, Spanish-accented speakers were more likely to be judged negatively, female speakers were more likely to receive negative assessments, and male participants were more likely to show bias related to accent. The neglect of gender in the study of accent bias is discussed.

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News Translators: Latino Immigrant Youth, Social Media, and Citizenship Training

Regina Marchi

Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article discusses how low-income Latino immigrant youth use the Internet for newsgathering. Contrary to previous assumptions about the digital divide, the youth almost universally owned cell phones and got most of their news online, although poverty affected the quality of their connectivity. However, a generational digital divide was evident, in which Internet-savvy youth had access to timelier and more diverse news than their parents. In a reversal of typical parent-child roles, the youth were "news translators" for their parents, explaining U.S. news stories and their implications. Moreover, in seeking, critiquing, creating, and posting content online, the youth gained participatory and deliberative skills useful for civic engagement in a democracy.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The choice is yours

Social-Class Differences in Consumer Choices: Working-Class Individuals Are More Sensitive to Choices of Others Than Middle-Class Individuals

Jinkyung Na et al.

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, April 2016, Pages 430-443

Abstract:
The present research shows that, when making choices, working-class Americans are more affected by others' opinions than middle-class Americans due to differences in independent versus interdependent self-construal. Experiment 1 revealed that when working-class Americans made decisions to buy products, they were more influenced by the choices of others than middle-class Americans. In contrast, middle-class Americans were more likely to misremember others' choices to be consistent with their own choices. In other words, working-class Americans adjusted their choices to the preference of others, whereas middle-class Americans distorted others' preferences to fit their choices. Supporting our prediction that this social-class effect is closely linked to the independent versus interdependent self-construal, we showed that the differences in self-construal across cultures qualified the social-class effects on choices (Experiment 2). Moreover, when we experimentally manipulated self-construal in Experiment 3, we found that it mediated the corresponding changes in choices regardless of social class.

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Going All In: Unfavorable Sex Ratios Attenuate Choice Diversification

Joshua Ackerman, Jon Maner & Stephanie Carpenter

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
When faced with risky decisions, people typically choose to diversify their choices by allocating resources across a variety of options and thus avoid putting "all their eggs in one basket." The current research revealed that this tendency is reversed when people face an important cue to mating-related risk: skew in the operational sex ratio, or the ratio of men to women in the local environment. Counter to the typical strategy of choice diversification, findings from four studies demonstrated that the presence of romantically unfavorable sex ratios (those featuring more same-sex than opposite-sex individuals) led heterosexual people to diversify financial resources less and instead concentrate investment in high-risk/high-return options when making lottery, stock-pool, retirement-account, and research-funding decisions. These studies shed light on a key process by which people manage risks to mating success implied by unfavorable interpersonal environments. These choice patterns have important implications for mating behavior as well as other everyday forms of decision making.

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Reappraising Stress Arousal Improves Performance and Reduces Evaluation Anxiety in Classroom Exam Situations

Jeremy Jamieson et al.

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
For students to thrive in the U.S. educational system, they must successfully cope with omnipresent demands of exams. Nearly all students experience testing situations as stressful, and signs of stress (e.g., racing heart) are typically perceived negatively. This research tested the efficacy of a psychosituational intervention targeting cognitive appraisals of stress to improve classroom exam performance. Ninety-three students (across five semesters) enrolled in a community college developmental mathematics course were randomly assigned to stress reappraisal or placebo control conditions. Reappraisal instructions educated students about the adaptive benefits of stress arousal, whereas placebo materials instructed students to ignore stress. Reappraisal students reported less math evaluation anxiety and exhibited improved math exam performance relative to controls. Mediation analysis indicated reappraisal improved performance by increasing students' perceptions of their ability to cope with the stressful testing situation (resource appraisals). Implications for theory development and policy are discussed.

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The good and bad of ambivalence: Desiring ambivalence under outcome uncertainty

Taly Reich & Christian Wheeler

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, April 2016, Pages 493-508

Abstract:
Decades of past research point to the downside of evaluative inconsistency (i.e., ambivalence), suggesting that it is an unpleasant state that can result in negative affect. Consequently, people are often motivated to resolve their ambivalence in various ways. We propose that people sometimes desire to be ambivalent as a means of strategic self-protection. Across employment, educational and consumer choice settings, we demonstrate that when people are uncertain they can obtain a desired target, they will cultivate ambivalence in order to protect their feelings in the event that they fail to get what they want. Specifically, we show that people consciously desire to cultivate ambivalence as a way to emotionally hedge and that they seek out and process information in ways to deliberately cultivate ambivalence. We find that people are most likely to generate ambivalence when they are most uncertain that they can obtain their desired target. Depending on the outcome, this cultivated ambivalence can either be useful (when the desired target is not obtained) or backfire (when the desired target is obtained).

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Social Networks and Housing Markets

Michael Bailey et al.

NYU Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
We document that the recent house price experiences within an individual's social network affect her perceptions of the attractiveness of property investments, and through this channel have large effects on her housing market activity. Our data combine anonymized social network information from Facebook with housing transaction data and a survey. We first show that in the survey, individuals whose geographically-distant friends experienced larger recent house price increases consider local property a more attractive investment, with bigger effects for individuals who regularly discuss such investments with their friends. Based on these findings, we introduce a new and scalable methodology to document large effects of perceptions about the attractiveness of property investments on individual and aggregate housing market outcomes. This methodology exploits plausibly-exogenous variation in the recent house price experiences of individuals' geographically-distant friends as shifters of those individuals' local housing market perceptions. Individuals whose friends experienced a 5 percentage points larger house price increase over the previous 24 months (i) are 3.1 percentage points more likely to transition from renting to owning over a two-year period, (ii) buy a 1.7 percent larger house, and (iii) pay 3.3 percent more for a given house. Similarly, when homeowners' friends experience less positive house price changes, these homeowners are more likely to become renters, and more likely to sell their property at a lower price. A lower dispersion of friends' house price experiences has a similarly positive effect on housing market investments as higher average experiences. We also find that, at the county level, the across-population mean and dispersion of friends' house price experiences affect aggregate house prices and trading volume.

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Do as I say, not as I do: Choice-advice differences in decisions to learn information

Rachel Barkan, Shai Danziger & Yaniv Shani

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, May 2016, Pages 57-66

Abstract:
We find that people choose to learn interesting but useless information, yet advise others to resist this temptation. By contrast, when the information is boring but important people recommend others to learn it, but are less likely to learn it themselves. In five experiments participants were randomly assigned the role of chooser or adviser. Experiment 1a showed choosers paid real money for useless information, whereas advisers recommended others to resist the temptation. Experiment 1b showed this choice-advice difference persisted when participants introspected on their decisions in a hypothetical setting. Using an introspection task, Experiment 2 demonstrated choosers' decisions relied more heavily on curiosity, whereas advisers' recommendations relied on the value of the information. Next, we examined the case where information is boring but important. In a hypothetical setting, Experiment 3a revealed the vast majority of advisers recommended to learn the important information, whereas choosers were less enthusiastic about the boring information. Finally, Experiment 3b demonstrated the majority of choosers chose not to pay actual money to learn the important information, whereas the majority of advisers recommended paying to learn it. We conclude by offering ways to utilize curiosity to encourage people to learn important information.

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Meaning in life and intuition

Samantha Heintzelman & Laura King

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, March 2016, Pages 477-492

Abstract:
Three correlational studies and 2 experiments examined the association between meaning in life (MIL) and reliance on intuitive information processing. In Studies 1-3 (total N = 5,079), Faith in Intuition (FI) scale and MIL were correlated positively, controlling for religiosity, positive mood, self-esteem, basic need satisfaction, and need for cognition. Two experiments manipulated processing style. In Study 4 (N = 614), participants were randomly assigned to complete the Cognitive Reflection Task (CRT; Fredrick, 2005) either immediately before (reflective/low intuitive mindset condition) or immediately after (control condition) rating MIL. Condition did not affect MIL. However, low MIL rated before the CRT predicted superior performance and greater time spent on the task. The association between reflection and MIL was curvilinear, such that MIL was strongly negatively related to CRT performance particularly at low levels of MIL. In Study 5 (N = 804), intuitive or reflective mindsets were induced and FI and MIL were measured. Induced processing style study did not affect MIL. However, those high in MIL were more responsive to the intuitive mindset induction. The relationship between FI and MIL was curvilinear (in this and the correlational studies), with intuitive processing being strongly positively related to MIL particularly at higher levels of MIL. Although often considered in the context of conscious reflection, MIL shares a positive relationship with reliance on gut feelings, and high MIL may facilitate reliance on those feelings.

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Crowd Wisdom Relies on Agents' Ability in Small Groups with a Voting Aggregation Rule

Marc Keuschnigg & Christian Ganser

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the last decade, interest in the "wisdom of crowds" effect has gained momentum in both organizational research and corporate practice. Crowd wisdom relies on the aggregation of independent judgments. The accuracy of a group's aggregate prediction rises with the number, ability, and diversity of its members. We investigate these variables' relative importance for collective prediction using agent-based simulation. We replicate the "diversity trumps ability" proposition for large groups, showing that samples of heterogeneous agents outperform same-sized homogeneous teams of high ability. In groups smaller than approximately 16 members, however, the effects of group composition depend on the social decision function employed: diversity is key only in continuous estimation tasks (averaging) and much less important in discrete choice tasks (voting), in which agents' individual abilities remain crucial. Thus, strategies to improve collective decision making must adapt to the predictive situation at hand.

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Decision Fatigue, Choosing for Others, and Self-Construal

Evan Polman & Kathleen Vohs

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Past research has shown that people tend to feel depleted by their decisions. In contrast, we found people report that making decisions for others (vs. the self) is less depleting because it is more enjoyable. Our investigation thus replicated a prior finding (that decision-making is depleting), moderated it by target of decision (self vs. other), and demonstrated mediation (enjoyment). We further measured chronic focus on self or others (self-construal) and established a full process model that marries prior findings with the current ones: Choosing for others is more enjoyable and less depleting to the extent that decision makers are independent, and less enjoyable and more depleting to the extent that decision makers are interdependent. That a mismatch between chronic and state orientation leads to the better outcomes for self-control indicates a special link between self-construal and decision-making.

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Measuring Intuition: Nonconscious Emotional Information Boosts Decision Accuracy and Confidence

Galang Lufityanto, Chris Donkin & Joel Pearson

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The long-held popular notion of intuition has garnered much attention both academically and popularly. Although most people agree that there is such a phenomenon as intuition, involving emotionally charged, rapid, unconscious processes, little compelling evidence supports this notion. Here, we introduce a technique in which subliminal emotional information is presented to subjects while they make fully conscious sensory decisions. Our behavioral and physiological data, along with evidence-accumulator models, show that nonconscious emotional information can boost accuracy and confidence in a concurrent emotion-free decision task, while also speeding up response times. Moreover, these effects were contingent on the specific predictive arrangement of the nonconscious emotional valence and motion direction in the decisional stimulus. A model that simultaneously accumulates evidence from both physiological skin conductance and conscious decisional information provides an accurate description of the data. These findings support the notion that nonconscious emotions can bias concurrent nonemotional behavior - a process of intuition.

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A Flexible Influence of Affective Feelings on Creative and Analytic Performance

Jeffrey Huntsinger & Cara Ray

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Considerable research shows that positive affect improves performance on creative tasks and negative affect improves performance on analytic tasks. The present research entertained the idea that affective feelings have flexible, rather than fixed, effects on cognitive performance. Consistent with the idea that positive and negative affect signal the value of accessible processing inclinations, the influence of affective feelings on performance on analytic or creative tasks was found to be flexibly responsive to the relative accessibility of different styles of processing (i.e., heuristic vs. systematic, global vs. local). When a global processing orientation was accessible happy participants generated more creative uses for a brick (Experiment 1), successfully solved more remote associates and insight problems (Experiment 2) and displayed broader categorization (Experiment 3) than those in sad moods. When a local processing orientation was accessible this pattern reversed. When a heuristic processing style was accessible happy participants were more likely to commit the conjunction fallacy (Experiment 3) and showed less pronounced anchoring effects (Experiment 4) than sad participants. When a systematic processing style was accessible this pattern reversed. Implications of these results for relevant affect-cognition models are discussed.

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When existence is not futile: The influence of mortality salience on the longer-is-better effect

Simon McCabe, Melissa Spina & Jamie Arndt

British Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research examines how death reminders impact the valuation of objects of various ages. Building from the existence bias, the longer-is-better effect posits that which exists is good and that which has existed for longer is better. Integrating terror management theory, it was reasoned that mortality reminders fostering a motivation to at least symbolically transcend death would lead participants to evaluate older objects more positively as they signal robustness of existence. Participants were reminded of death (vs. control) and evaluated new, 20-, or 100-year-old objects. Results indicated death reminders resulted in greater valuation of older objects. Findings are discussed with implications for terror management theory, the longer-is-better effect, ageism, materialism, and consumer behaviour.

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A Heart and A Mind: Self-distancing Facilitates the Association Between Heart Rate Variability, and Wise Reasoning

Igor Grossmann, Baljinder Sahdra & Joseph Ciarrochi

Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, April 2016

Abstract:
Cardiac vagal tone (indexed via resting heart rate variability [HRV]) has been previously associated with superior executive functioning. Is HRV related to wiser reasoning and less biased judgments? Here we hypothesize that this will be the case when adopting a self-distanced (as opposed to a self-immersed) perspective, with self-distancing enabling individuals with higher HRV to overcome bias-promoting egocentric impulses and to reason wisely. However, higher HRV may not be associated with greater wisdom when adopting a self-immersed perspective. Participants were randomly assigned to reflect on societal issues from a self-distanced- or self-immersed perspective, with responses coded for reasoning quality. In a separate task, participants read about and evaluated a person performing morally ambiguous actions, with responses coded for dispositional vs. situational attributions. We simultaneously assessed resting cardiac recordings, obtaining six HRV indicators. As hypothesized, in the self-distanced condition, each HRV indicator was positively related to prevalence of wisdom-related reasoning (e.g., prevalence of recognition of limits of one's knowledge, recognition that the world is in flux/change, consideration of others' opinions and search for an integration of these opinions) and to balanced vs. biased attributions (recognition of situational and dispositional factors vs. focus on dispositional factors alone). In contrast, there was no relationship between these variables in the self-immersed condition. We discuss implications for research on psychophysiology, cognition, and wisdom.

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Backward planning: Effects of planning direction on predictions of task completion time

Jessica Wiese, Roger Buehler & Dale Griffin

Judgment and Decision Making, March 2016, Pages 147-167

Abstract:
People frequently underestimate the time needed to complete tasks and we examined a strategy - known as backward planning - that may counteract this optimistic bias. Backward planning involves starting a plan at the end goal and then working through required steps in reverse-chronological order, and is commonly advocated by practitioners as a tool for developing realistic plans and projections. We conducted four experiments to test effects on completion time predictions and related cognitive processes. Participants planned for a task in one of three directions (backward, forward, or unspecified) and predicted when it would be finished. As hypothesized, predicted completion times were longer (Studies 1-4) and thus less biased (Study 4) in the backward condition than in the forward and unspecified conditions. Process measures suggested that backward planning may increase attention to situational factors that delay progress (e.g., obstacles, interruptions, competing demands), elicit novel planning insights, and alter the conceptualization of time.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What the customer wants

Anticipation of Future Variety Reduces Satiation From Current Experiences

Julio Sevilla, Jiao Zhang & Barbara Kahn

Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Satiation frequently occurs from repeated consumption of the same items over time. However, results from five experiments show that when people anticipate consuming something different in the future, they satiate at a slower rate in the present. We find the effect in both food and non-food consumption settings using different approaches to measure satiation. This effect is cognitive, specifically, anticipating variety in future consumption generates positive thoughts about that future experience. We find two boundary conditions: the future consumption outcome must (1) be in a related product category and (2) be at least as attractive as the present one. Potential alternative explanations including mere exposure to variety, the future experience being more attractive (rather than just different) than the current one, and perceptions of scarcity associated with the item consumed in the present are ruled out.

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An Empirical Examination of the Development and Impact of Star Power in Major League Baseball

Michael Lewis & Yeujun Yoon

Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the processes by which star power (SP) develops and the impact of SP on both consumer demand and team performance using data from Major League Baseball. First, we examine the dynamics of stardom using data based on player salaries, performance, and award recognition. We find that SP explains additional variance in salaries beyond performance measures. Also, we examine the impact of SP on consumer demand and team success. We find that a team's stock of SP positively influences consumer demand, even after controlling for various factors ranging from team success to ticket prices.

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Halo (Spillover) Effects in Social Media: Do Product Recalls of One Brand Hurt or Help Rival Brands?

Abhishek Borah & Gerard Tellis

Journal of Marketing Research, April 2016, Pages 143-160

Abstract:
Online chatter is important because it is spontaneous, passionate, information rich, granular, and live. Thus, it can forewarn and be diagnostic about potential problems with automobile models, known as nameplates. The authors define "perverse halo" (or negative spillover) as the phenomenon whereby negative chatter about one nameplate increases negative chatter for another nameplate. The authors test the existence of such a perverse halo for 48 nameplates from four different brands during a series of automobile recalls. The analysis is by individual and panel vector autoregressive models. The study finds that perverse halo is extensive. It occurs for nameplates within the same brand across segments and across brands within segments. It is strongest between brands of the same country. Perverse halo is asymmetric, being stronger from a dominant brand to a less dominant brand than vice versa. Apology advertising about recalls has harmful effects on both the recalled brand and its rivals. Furthermore, these halo effects affect downstream performance metrics such as sales and stock market performance. Online chatter amplifies the negative effect of recalls on downstream sales by about 4.5 times.

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Fare Prediction Websites and Transaction Prices: Empirical Evidence from the Airline Industry

Benny Mantin & Eran Rubin

Marketing Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The marketing and operations disciplines have increasingly accounted for the presence of strategic consumer behavior. Theory suggests that such behavior exists when consumers are able to consider future distribution of prices, and that this behavior exposes firms to intertemporal competition that results with a downward pressure on prices. However, deriving future distribution of prices is not a trivial task. Online decision support tools that provide consumers with information about future distributions of prices can facilitate strategic consumer behavior. This paper studies whether the availability of such information affects transacted prices by conducting an empirical analysis in the context of the airline industry. Studying the effect at the route level, we find significant price reduction effects as such information becomes available for a route, both in fixed-effects and difference-in-differences estimation models. This effect is consistent across the different fare percentiles and amounts to a reduction of approximately 4%-6% in transactions' prices. Our results lend ample support to the notion that price prediction decision tools make a statistically significant economic impact. Presumably, consumers are able to exploit the information available online and exhibit strategic behavior.

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Mere Measurement "Plus": How Solicitation of Open-Ended Positive Feedback Influences Customer Purchase Behavior

Sterling Bone et al.

Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
In two studies (a longitudinal field experiment with an established B2C national chain, and a field experiment with a B2B software manufacturer), we demonstrate that starting a survey with an open-ended positive solicitation increases customer purchase behavior. Study 1, a longitudinal field experiment, showed that one-year following the completion of a survey that began by asking customers what went well during their purchase experience, customers spent 8.25% more than customers who completed a survey that did not include the positive solicitation. In Study 2, we utilized multiple treatment groups to assess the step-wise gains of solicitation, measurement, and solicitation frame. The results demonstrated (a) a mere solicitation effect, (b) a traditional mere measurement effect, and (c) an additional "mere measurement plus" effect of an open-ended positive solicitation; all effects increased customer spending. Specifically, starting a survey with an open-ended positive solicitation resulted in a 32.88% increase in customer spending relative to a survey with no open-ended positive solicitation. The findings suggest that firms can proactively influence the feedback process. Soliciting open-ended positive feedback can create positively biased memories of an experience; the subsequent expression of those memories in an open-ended feedback format further reinforces them, making them more salient and accessible in guiding future purchase behavior.

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Culling the Herd: Using Real-World Randomized Experiments to Measure Social Bias with Known Costly Goods

Miguel Godinho de Matos et al.

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Peer ratings have become increasingly important sources of product information, particularly in markets for information goods. However, in spite of the increasing prevalence of this information, there are relatively few academic studies that analyze the impact of peer ratings on consumers transacting in "real-world" marketplaces. In this paper, we partner with a major telecommunications company to analyze the impact of peer ratings in a real-world video-on-demand market where consumer participation is organic and where movies are costly and well known to consumers. After experimentally changing the initial conditions of product information displayed to consumers, we find that, consistent with the prior literature, peer ratings influence consumer behavior independently from underlying product quality. However, we also find that, in contrast to the prior literature, there is little evidence of long-term bias as a result of herding effects, at least in our setting. Specifically, when movies are artificially promoted or demoted in peer rating lists, subsequent reviews cause them to return to their true quality position relatively quickly. One explanation for this difference is that consumers in our empirical setting likely had more outside information about the true quality of the products they were evaluating than did consumers in the studies reported in prior literature. Although tentative, this explanation suggests that in real-world marketplaces where consumers have sufficient access to outside information about true product quality, peer ratings may be more robust to herding effects and thus provide more reliable signals of true product quality than previously thought.

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The Cue-of-the-Cloud Effect: When Reminders of Online Information Availability Increase Purchase Intentions and Choice

Rajesh Bhargave, Antonia Mantonakis & Katherine White

Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
In offline purchasing settings (e.g., retail stores), consumers often encounter reminders that product information can be found on the Internet. The authors refer to a reminder of the availability of online information as a 'cue-of-the-cloud' and explore its unique consequences on offline consumer behavior. This research finds that when consumers are presented with relatively large amounts of information in offline purchasing situations, a cue-of-the-cloud can enhance purchase intentions and choice behaviors. This occurs because the cue increases consumers' confidence in being able to retain and access the information seen in-store, which engenders positive feelings about the decision to purchase. Four studies, including two experiments in real brick-and-mortar field settings, demonstrate the consequence of a cue-of-the-cloud, along with some novel moderators of these effects.

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Copyright Enforcement: Evidence from Two Field Experiments

Hong Luo & Julie Mortimer

Harvard Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
Effective dispute resolution is important for reducing private and social costs. We study how resolution responds to changes in price and communication using a new, extensive dataset of copyright infringement incidences by firms. The data cover two field experiments run by a large stock-photography agency. We find that substantially reducing the requested amount generates a small increase in the settlement rate. However, for the same reduced request, a message informing infringers of the price reduction and acknowledging possible unintentionality generates a large increase in settlement; including a deadline further increases the response. The small price effect, compared to the large message effect, can be explained by two countervailing effects of a lower price: an inducement to settle early, but a lower threat of escalation. Furthermore, acknowledging possible unintentionality may encourage settlement due to the typically inadvertent nature of these incidences. The resulting higher settlement rate prevents additional legal action and reduces social costs.

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Mining Brand Perceptions from Twitter Social Networks

Aron Culotta & Jennifer Cutler

Marketing Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Consumer perceptions are important components of brand equity and therefore marketing strategy. Segmenting these perceptions into attributes such as eco-friendliness, nutrition, and luxury enable a fine-grained understanding of the brand's strengths and weaknesses. Traditional approaches towards monitoring such perceptions (e.g., surveys) are costly and time consuming, and their results may quickly become outdated. Extant data mining methods are unsuitable for this goal, and generally require extensive hand-annotated data or context customization, which leads to many of the same limitations as direct elicitation. Here, we investigate a novel, general, and fully automated method for inferring attribute-specific brand perception ratings by mining the brand's social connections on Twitter. Using a set of over 200 brands and three perceptual attributes, we compare the method's automatic ratings estimates with directly-elicited survey data, finding a consistently strong correlation. The approach provides a reliable, flexible, and scalable method for monitoring brand perceptions, and offers a foundation for future advances in understanding brand-consumer social media relationships.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Relationship issues

Intimate Partner Violence in the Great Recession

Daniel Schneider, Kristen Harknett & Sara McLanahan

Demography, April 2016, Pages 471-505

Abstract:
In the United States, the Great Recession was marked by severe negative shocks to labor market conditions. In this study, we combine longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study with U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data on local area unemployment rates to examine the relationship between adverse labor market conditions and mothers’ experiences of abusive behavior between 2001 and 2010. Unemployment and economic hardship at the household level were positively related to abusive behavior. Further, rapid increases in the unemployment rate increased men’s controlling behavior toward romantic partners even after we adjust for unemployment and economic distress at the household level. We interpret these findings as demonstrating that the uncertainty and anticipatory anxiety that go along with sudden macroeconomic downturns have negative effects on relationship quality, above and beyond the effects of job loss and material hardship.

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Physiology and pillow talk: Relations between testosterone and communication post sex

Amanda Denes, Tamara Afifi & Douglas Granger

Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study investigates the association between individual differences in testosterone and communication after sexual activity. Two hundred and fifty-three young adult participants (78% women, M age = 21 years, 73% White) provided saliva samples (later assayed for testosterone) and subsequently, over a 2-week period, completed an online diary after each time they engaged in sexual activity. Individual differences in testosterone levels were inversely associated with perceived benefits of, and positively associated with perceived risks of, disclosing thoughts and feelings to one’s partner after sexual activity. When testosterone levels were higher, post sex disclosures were less intentional and less positive, and these associations were mediated by risk–benefit assessments. An interaction between testosterone and orgasm revealed that higher testosterone levels were associated with more negative post sex disclosures for those who did not orgasm, but not for those who experienced orgasm. This finding suggests that high testosterone/no orgasm individuals may be the least likely to experience the beneficial effects of post sex communication. Similar results were found both when biological sex was controlled for and when analyses were conducted separately for women and men. Implications for a biosocial model of post sex behavior and communication are discussed.

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From Bad to Worse? Pornography Consumption, Spousal Religiosity, Gender, and Marital Quality

Samuel Perry

Sociological Forum, forthcoming

Abstract:
Pornography consumption is consistently associated with lower marital quality. Scholars have theorized that embeddedness within a religious community may exacerbate the negative association between pornography use and marital quality because of greater social or psychic costs to porn viewing. As a test and extension of this theory, I examine how being married to a religiously devout spouse potentially moderates the link between respondents' reported pornography consumption and their marital satisfaction. Data are taken from the 2006 Portraits of American Life Study. In the main effects, porn consumption is negatively related to marital satisfaction, while spousal religiosity is positively related to marital satisfaction. Interaction effects reveal, however, that spousal religiosity intensifies the negative effect of porn viewing on marital satisfaction. These effects are robust whether marital satisfaction is operationalized as a scale or with individual measures and whether spousal religiosity is measured with respondents' evaluations of their spouses' religiosity or spouses' self-reported religiosity measures. The effects are also similar for both husbands and wives. I argue that for married Americans, having a religiously committed spouse increases the social and psychic costs of porn consumption such that marital satisfaction decreases more drastically as a result.

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Does Couples' Communication Predict Marital Satisfaction, or Does Marital Satisfaction Predict Communication?

Justin Lavner, Benjamin Karney & Thomas Bradbury

Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming

Abstract:
The quality of communication between spouses is widely assumed to affect their subsequent judgments of relationship satisfaction, yet this assumption is rarely tested against the alternative prediction that communication is merely a consequence of spouses' prior levels of satisfaction. To evaluate these perspectives, newlywed couples' positivity, negativity, and effectiveness were observed four times at 9-month intervals, and these behaviors were examined in relation to corresponding self-reports of relationship satisfaction. Cross-sectionally, relatively satisfied couples engaged in more positive, less negative, and more effective communication. Longitudinally, reliable communication-to-satisfaction and satisfaction-to-communication associations were identified, yet neither pathway was particularly robust. These findings raise important doubts about theories and interventions that prioritize couple communication skills as the key predictor of relationship satisfaction, while raising new questions about other factors that might predict communication and satisfaction and that strengthen or moderate their association.

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The Longitudinal Association of Relationship Satisfaction and Sexual Satisfaction in Long-Term Relationships

Erin Fallis et al.

Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Several prominent models of relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction imply directional relationships between these constructs (e.g., attachment theory, social exchange models of relationship satisfaction, the interpersonal exchange model of sexual satisfaction). Previous research has demonstrated that sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction are distinct but correlated constructs, but relatively few studies have examined how they are related over time. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine this association. A sample of heterosexual couples (N = 113) completed a longitudinal study spanning 2 years. At Times 1 and 2 they completed measures of relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction. Data were analyzed according to the principles of the actor–partner interdependence model using structural equation modeling. Significant actor effects were detected such that, for both men and women, one’s own earlier sexual satisfaction predicted one’s later relationship satisfaction. In contrast, one’s own earlier relationship satisfaction did not significantly predict one’s subsequent sexual satisfaction. Sexual satisfaction was a stronger predictor of subsequent relationship satisfaction for men than women. There were no significant partner effects. These results contribute to our theoretical understanding of sexuality and sexual satisfaction in the context of long-term relationships by providing support for theories that conceptualize sexual satisfaction as one factor that contributes to relationship satisfaction.

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Capturing the Interpersonal Implications of Evolved Preferences? Frequency of Sex Shapes Automatic, but Not Explicit, Partner Evaluations

Lindsey Hicks et al.

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
A strong predisposition to engage in sexual intercourse likely evolved in humans because sex is crucial to reproduction. Given that meeting interpersonal preferences tends to promote positive relationship evaluations, sex within a relationship should be positively associated with relationship satisfaction. Nevertheless, prior research has been inconclusive in demonstrating such a link, with longitudinal and experimental studies showing no association between sexual frequency and relationship satisfaction. Crucially, though, all prior research has utilized explicit reports of satisfaction, which reflect deliberative processes that may override the more automatic implications of phylogenetically older evolved preferences. Accordingly, capturing the implications of sexual frequency for relationship evaluations may require implicit measurements that bypass deliberative reasoning. Consistent with this idea, one cross-sectional and one 3-year study of newlywed couples revealed a positive association between sexual frequency and automatic partner evaluations but not explicit satisfaction. These findings highlight the importance of automatic measurements to understanding interpersonal relationships.

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Social Security and Divorce

Marcus Dillender

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

Abstract:
This paper studies how the likelihood and timing of divorce are influenced by Social Security’s 10-year rule, which provides spousal benefits to divorced people if their marriages lasted at least 10 years. Bunching analysis indicates that approximately 2 % of divorces occurring in the 6 months after 10-year anniversaries would have occurred earlier if not for Social Security’s 10-year rule. For older couples, who are likely more focused on retirement and have greater earning disparities, divorces are approximately 9 % higher in the 2 years after 10-year anniversaries than would be predicted without the abrupt change in Social Security benefits. The increase in divorces after 10 years of marriage appears to come from couples with disparate earning records.

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Romantic Relationship Commitment Behavior Among Emerging Adult African American Men

Steven Kogan, Tianyi Yu & Geoffrey Brown

Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming

Abstract:
Contextual and intrapersonal factors affecting the development of African American men's romantic relationship commitment-related behavior were investigated. Socioeconomic disadvantage during early adolescence was hypothesized to predict harsh, unsupportive parenting practices. Harsh parenting was hypothesized to result in youths' emotion-regulation difficulties, indicated by elevated levels of anger during mid-adolescence, particularly when men were exposed to racial discrimination. Young African American men's anger during mid-adolescence, a consequence of harsh, unsupportive parenting and racial discrimination, was expected to predict commitment-related behavior. Hypotheses were tested with a sample of rural African American men participating in a panel study from the ages of 11 through 21. Data from teachers, parents, and youths were integrated into a multi-reporter measurement plan. Results confirmed the hypothesized associations. Study findings indicate that the combination of harsh parenting and racial discrimination is a powerful antecedent of young men's commitment-related behavior. Anger across mid-adolescence mediated this interaction effect.

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Marital disruption is associated with shorter salivary telomere length in a probability sample of older adults

Mark Whisman, Briana Robustelli & David Sbarra

Social Science & Medicine, May 2016, Pages 60–67

Objective: This study examines the association between marital disruption and salivary telomere length in a United States probability sample of adults ≥50 years of age.

Method: Participants were 3,526 individuals who participated in the 2008 wave of the Health and Retirement Study. Telomere length assays were performed using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) on DNA extracted from saliva samples. Health and lifestyle factors, traumatic and stressful life events, and neuroticism were assessed via self-report. Linear regression analyses were conducted to examine the associations between predictor variables and salivary telomere length.

Results: Based on their marital status data in the 2006 wave, people who were separated or divorced had shorter salivary telomeres than people who were continuously married or had never been married, and the association between marital disruption and salivary telomere length was not moderated by gender or neuroticism. Furthermore, the association between marital disruption and salivary telomere length remained statistically significant after adjusting for demographic and socioeconomic variables, neuroticism, cigarette use, body mass, traumatic life events, and other stressful life events. Additionally, results revealed that currently married adults with a history of divorce evidenced shorter salivary telomeres than people who were continuously married or never married.

Conclusion: Accelerated cellular aging, as indexed by telomere shortening, may be one pathway through which marital disruption is associated with morbidity and mortality.

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Intimate imitation: Automatic motor imitation in romantic relationships

Lara Maister & Manos Tsakiris

Cognition, July 2016, Pages 108–113

Abstract:
Our relationships with romantic partners are often some of the closest and most important relationships that we experience in our adult lives. Interpersonal closeness in romantic relationships is characterised by an increased overlap between cognitive representations of oneself and one’s partner. Importantly, this type of self-other overlap also occurs in the bodily domain, whereby we can represent another’s embodied experiences in the same way as we represent our own. However, as yet this bodily self-other overlap has only been investigated in individuals unfamiliar to each other. Here, we investigate bodily self-other overlap between romantic partners, using automatic imitation as an example case of bodily overlap in the motor domain. We found that participants automatically imitated romantic partners significantly more than close others with whom they had a platonic relationship. Furthermore, imitation in these relationships was related to key aspects of relationship quality, as indicated by adult attachment style.

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Perceived Acceptance From Outsiders Shapes Security in Romantic Relationships: The Overgeneralization of Extradyadic Experiences

Edward Lemay & Suad Razzak

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, May 2016, Pages 632-644

Abstract:
Romantic relationships unfold in the context of people’s other interpersonal relationships, and processes that occur in those other relationships have been shown to affect the functioning of romantic relationships. In accordance with this perspective, two dyadic daily report studies demonstrated that people generalize experiences of interpersonal acceptance and rejection from other people onto their romantic partners. Participants felt more confident that they were valued by their romantic partners on days they experienced acceptance, relative to rejection, from outsiders. In addition, this overgeneralization of daily extradyadic acceptance and rejection had prospective effects on romantic relationship security the following day, was independent of the romantic partner’s actual relationship evaluations on each day, was partially mediated by daily self-esteem, and predicted daily enactment of prosocial and antisocial behaviors toward romantic partners. These results suggest that overgeneralization of daily acceptance and rejection from outsiders shapes the functioning of romantic relationships.

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Theory-of-mind-related neural activity for one’s romantic partner predicts partner well-being

David Dodell-Feder et al.

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, April 2016, Pages 593-603

Abstract:
Healthy social relationships are linked to myriad positive physical and mental health outcomes, raising the question of how to enhance relationship formation and quality. Behavioral data suggest that theory of mind (ToM) may be one such process. ToM is supported by a network of brain regions including the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), medial prefrontal cortex and precuneus (PC). However, little research has investigated how the ToM network supports healthy social relationships. Here, we investigate whether recruitment of the ToM network when thinking about the mental states of one’s romantic partner predicts the partner’s well-being. We find that selectivity in left TPJ (LTPJ) and PC for beliefs vs physical attributes of one’s partner is positively associated with partner well-being the day of and day after a meaningful encounter. Furthermore, LTPJ and PC selectivity moderated how the partner’s perception of being understood during the encounter affected their later well-being. Finally, we find the association between ToM-related neural selectivity and well-being robust to other factors related to the relationship and the encounter. Together, these data suggest that selective engagement of the neural network supporting ToM may be a key ingredient for the development and maintenance of healthy romantic relationships.

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Are Pregnancy Intentions Associated with Transitions Into and Out of Marriage?

Isaac Maddow-Zimet et al.

Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, March 2016, Pages 35–43

Methods: Linked data from the 2004–2008 Oklahoma Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System and The Oklahoma Toddler Survey for 2006–2010 on 3,617 women who were married and 2,123 who were unmarried at conception were used to examine the relationship between pregnancy intention status (intended, mistimed by less than two years, mistimed by two or more years, or unwanted) and marital formation or dissolution by the time of the birth and two years later. Logistic regression analyses were conducted, and propensity score methods were used to adjust for confounding characteristics.

Results: Intention status was associated with marital transition two years after the birth, but not between conception and birth. In adjusted models, among women married at conception, those with a birth resulting from an unwanted pregnancy were more likely than those with a birth resulting from an intended pregnancy to transition out of marriage by the time their child was two years old (odds ratio, 2.2). Among women unmarried at conception, those with a birth following an unwanted pregnancy were less likely than those with a birth following an intended pregnancy to marry by the time their child was two (0.5). Births following mistimed pregnancies were not associated with marital transition.

Conclusions: The findings should motivate researchers to broaden the scope of research on the consequences of unintended childbearing. Future research should distinguish between mistimed and unwanted births.

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Childhood Abuse and Later Marital Outcomes: Do Partner Characteristics Moderate the Association?

Teresa Nguyen, Benjamin Karney & Thomas Bradbury

Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although people with a history of child abuse are known to be at elevated risk for later difficulties in relationships, there is debate over whether these effects are enduring and relatively immutable or are moderated by characteristics and behaviors of the partner. To reconcile these competing perspectives, we conducted a longitudinal study of 414 newlywed couples living in low-income neighborhoods, testing whether the association between abuse history and relationship satisfaction is dependent on the partners’ aggression, depression, substance abuse, observed communication, and other demographic risk factors. Spouses who had been abused as children (25% of husbands, 31% of wives) reported more symptoms of depression and substance abuse and, among husbands, displayed more negative communication. Spouses with a history of child abuse were also less satisfied with their marriage, even as newlyweds; abused wives also declined in satisfaction over time compared to those without this history. However, interactions between abuse history and all of the proposed moderators were not significant, indicating that partner and relationship characteristics failed to strengthen or weaken the association between abuse history and relationship satisfaction. Childhood experiences of abuse appear to have lasting and broad effects on individual and relational outcomes, and these effects are neither heightened nor mitigated by the partner’s characteristics or behaviors.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, April 18, 2016

Big banking

The Social Costs and Benefits of Too-Big-To-Fail Banks: A “Bounding” Exercise

John Boyd & Amanda Heitz

Journal of Banking & Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
While the policy of Too-Big-To-Fail has received wide attention in the literature, there is little agreement regarding economies of scale for financial firms. We take the stand that systemic risk increases when the larger players in the financial sector have a larger share of output. Calculations indicate that the cost to the macro-economy due to increased systemic risk is always much larger than the potential benefit due to scale economies. When distributional and intergenerational issues are considered, the potential benefits to economies of scale are unlikely to ever exceed the potential costs due to increased risk of a banking crisis.

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Did TARP Banks Get Competitive Advantages?

Allen Berger & Raluca Roman

Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, December 2015, Pages 1199-1236

Abstract:
We investigate whether the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) gave recipients competitive advantages. Using a difference-in-difference (DID) approach, we find that: i) TARP recipients received competitive advantages and increased both their market shares and market power; ii) results may be driven primarily by the safety channel (TARP banks may be perceived as safer), which is partially offset by the cost-disadvantage channel (TARP funds may be relatively expensive); and iii) these competitive advantages are primarily or entirely due to TARP banks that repaid early. These results may help explain other findings in the literature, and yield important policy implications.

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Too-Big-To-Fail Before the Fed

Gary Gorton & Ellis Tallman

NBER Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
“Too-big-to-fail” is consistent with policies followed by private bank clearing houses during financial crises in the U.S. National Banking Era prior to the existence of the Federal Reserve System. Private bank clearing houses provided emergency lending to member banks during financial crises. This behavior strongly suggests that “too-big-to-fail” is not the problem causing modern crises. Rather it is a reasonable response to the threat posed to large banks by the vulnerability of short-term debt to runs.

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Financial Sector Reform after the Subprime Crisis: Has Anything Happened?

Alexander Schäfer, Isabel Schnabel & Beatrice Weder di Mauro

Review of Finance, March 2016, Pages 77-125

Abstract:
We analyze the reactions of stock returns and the spreads of credit default swaps (CDS) of banks from Europe and the USA to four major regulatory reforms in the aftermath of the subprime crisis, employing an event study analysis. Contrary to public perception, we find that financial markets indeed reacted to the structural reforms enacted at the national level. The reforms succeeded in reducing bail-out expectations relative to the post-bail-out period, especially for systemic banks. The strongest effects were found for the Dodd–Frank Act and in particular for the Volcker rule. Bank profitability was affected in all countries, showing up in lower equity returns.

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Did Dubious Mortgage Origination Practices Distort House Prices?

John Griffin & Gonzalo Maturana

Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
ZIP codes with high concentrations of originators who misreported mortgage information experienced a 75% larger relative increase in house prices from 2003 to 2006 and a 90% larger relative decrease from 2007 to 2012 compared with other ZIP codes. Several causality tests show that high fractions of dubious originators in a ZIP code lead to large price distortions. Originators with high misreporting gave credit to borrowers with high ex ante risk, yet further understated the borrowers' true risk. Overall, excess credit facilitated through dubious origination practices explain much of the regional variation in house prices over a decade.

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Speculative Fever: Investor Contagion in the Housing Bubble

Patrick Bayer, Kyle Mangum & James Roberts

NBER Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
Historical anecdotes of new investors being drawn into a booming asset market, only to suffer when the market turns, abound. While the role of investor contagion in asset bubbles has been explored extensively in the theoretical literature, causal empirical evidence on the topic is virtually non-existent. This paper studies the recent boom and bust in the U.S. housing market, establishing that many novice investors entered the market as a direct result of observing investing activity of multiple forms in their own neighborhoods and that these “infected” investors performed poorly relative to other investors along several dimensions.

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Distributional Implications of Government Guarantees in Mortgage Markets

Pedro Gete & Franco Zecchetto

Georgetown University Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
We analyze the removal of the government guarantees from the mortgage market. We use a quantitative model in which mortgage spreads are endogenously related to borrowers' income. The guarantees generate credit subsidies that are heterogeneous across households. The removal of the guarantees leads to higher wealth inequality driven by uneven rises in mortgage spreads and housing costs. Leverage and housing affordability decrease for low and mid-income households while they increase for high-income households. Renters and high leveraged mortgagors with conforming loans, which are low and mid-income households, lose the most welfare from the removal of the guarantees.

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Credit Market Freedom and Cost Efficiency in US state banking

Georgios Chortareas, George Kapetanios & Alexia Ventouri

Journal of Empirical Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates the dynamics between the credit market freedom counterparts of the economic freedom index drawn from the Fraser institute database and bank cost efficiency levels across the U.S. states. We consider a sample of 3,809 commercial banks per year, on average, over the period 1987-2012. After estimating cost efficiency scores using the Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA), we develop a fractional regression model to test the implications of financial freedom for bank efficiency. Our results indicate that banks operating in states that enjoy a higher degree of economic freedom are more cost efficient. Greater independence in financial and banking markets from government controls can result in higher bank efficiency. This effect emerges in addition to the efficiency enhancing effects of interstate banking and intrastate branching deregulation.

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Capital Markets’ Assessment of the Economic Impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on Systemically Important Financial Firms

Yu Gao, Scott Liao & Xue Wang

Journal of Banking & Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine stock and bond market reactions to the key events leading to the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act to assess the markets’ expectations about the effectiveness of the Act on systemically important financial firms. Using small/medium sized domestic financial institutions as a control group, we find that large financial institutions overall had negative abnormal stock returns and positive abnormal bond returns, suggesting that the markets expect the Act to be effective in reducing these banks’ risk-taking. We further investigate the market reactions for (1) larger and more interconnected financial institutions; and (2) the Big 6 banks to evaluate the markets’ assessment about the effectiveness of the act in ending the too-big-to-fail policy. We document that larger and more interconnected financial institutions experienced more negative abnormal stock returns and more positive abnormal bond returns as compared to other banks in our sample, but these relations are not present during the final phase of the passage. Likewise, we find that both shareholders and bondholders of the Big 6 banks initially experienced significant negative returns, followed by insignificant returns during the final phase of the passage. These results appear to suggest the markets are doubtful about the effectiveness of the final version of the bill to end the too-big-to-fail status in particular for the Big 6 banks.

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Lending on hold: Regulatory uncertainty and bank lending standards

Stefan Gissler, Jeremy Oldfather & Doriana Ruffino

Journal of Monetary Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The 2011—2013 rule-making process for the regulation of qualified mortgages was correlated with a reduction in mortgage lending. In this article, we document this correlation at the bank level. Using a novel measure of banks' perception of regulatory uncertainty, we offer suggestive evidence that banks that perceived higher regulatory uncertainty (or that were more adverse to it) reduced lending more severely. Other channels that might explain banks' lending behavior – investment/securitization, putbacks by government sponsored enterprises, and general economic uncertainty – are also considered.

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Economic Policy Uncertainty and the Credit Channel: Aggregate and Bank Level U.S. Evidence over Several Decades

Michael Bordo, John Duca & Christoffer Koch

NBER Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
Economic policy uncertainty affects decisions of households, businesses, policy makers and Financial intermediaries. We first examine the impact of economic policy uncertainty on aggregate bank credit growth. Then we analyze commercial bank entity level data to gauge the effects of policy uncertainty on Financial intermediaries' lending. We exploit the cross-sectional heterogeneity to back out indirect evidence of its effects on businesses and households. We ask (i) whether, conditional on standard macroeconomic controls, economic policy uncertainty affected bank level credit growth, and (ii) whether there is variation in the impact related to banks' balance sheet conditions; that is, whether the effects are attributable to loan demand or, if impact varies with bank level financial constraints, loan supply. We find that policy uncertainty has a significant negative effect on bank credit growth. Since this impact varies meaningfully with some bank characteristics – particularly the overall capital-to-assets ratio and bank asset liquidity–loan supply factors at least partially (and significantly) help determine the influence of policy uncertainty. Because other studies have found important macroeconomic effects of bank lending growth on the macroeconomy, our findings are consistent with the possibility that high economic policy uncertainty may have slowed the U.S. economic recovery from the Great Recession by restraining overall credit growth through the bank lending channel.

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Macroeconomic Effects of Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Policies

Kurt Mitman

American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
I study the implications of two major debt-relief policies in the US: the Bankruptcy Abuse and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) and the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). To do so, I develop a model of housing and default that includes relevant dimensions of credit-market policy and captures rich heterogeneity in household balance sheets. The model also explains the observed cross-state variation in consumer default rates. I find that BAPCPA significantly reduced bankruptcy rates, but increased foreclosure rates when house prices fell. HARP reduced foreclosures by one percentage point and provided substantial welfare gains to households with high loan-to-value mortgages.

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Bank Competition and Financial Stability: Evidence from the Financial Crisis

Brian Akins et al.

Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, February 2016, Pages 1-28

Abstract:
We examine the link between bank competition and financial stability using the recent financial crisis as the setting. We utilize variation in banking competition at the state level and find that banks facing less competition are more likely to engage in risky activities, more likely to face regulatory intervention, and more likely to fail. Focusing on the real estate market, we find that states with less competition had higher rates of mortgage approval, experienced greater inflation in housing prices before the crisis, and experienced a steeper decline in housing prices during the crisis. Overall, our study is consistent with greater competition increasing financial stability.

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Bank Competition: Measurement, Decision-Making and Risk-Taking

Robert Bushman, Bradley Hendricks & Christopher Williams

Journal of Accounting Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates whether greater competition increases or decreases individual bank and banking system risk. Using a new text-based measure of competition, and an instrumental variables analysis that exploits exogenous variation in bank deregulation, we provide robust evidence that greater competition increases both individual bank risk and a bank's contribution to system-wide risk. Specifically, we find that higher competition is associated with lower underwriting standards, less timely loan loss recognition, and a shift towards non-interest revenue. Further, we find that higher competition is associated with higher stand-alone risk of individual banks, greater sensitivity of a bank's downside equity risk to system-wide distress, and a greater contribution by individual banks to downside risk of the banking sector.

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Elimination of systemic risk in financial networks by means of a systemic risk transaction tax

Sebastian Poledna & Stefan Thurner

Quantitative Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Financial markets are exposed to systemic risk (SR), the risk that a major fraction of the system ceases to function, and collapses. It has recently become possible to quantify SR in terms of underlying financial networks where nodes represent financial institutions, and links capture the size and maturity of assets (loans), liabilities and other obligations, such as derivatives. We demonstrate that it is possible to quantify the share of SR that individual liabilities within a financial network contribute to the overall SR. We use empirical data of nationwide interbank liabilities to show that the marginal contribution to overall SR of liabilities for a given size varies by a factor of a thousand. We propose a tax on individual transactions that is proportional to their marginal contribution to overall SR. If a transaction does not increase SR, it is tax-free. With an agent-based model (ABM) (CRISIS macro-financial model), we demonstrate that the proposed ‘Systemic Risk Tax’ (SRT) leads to a self-organized restructuring of financial networks that are practically free of SR. The SRT can be seen as an insurance for the public against costs arising from cascading failure. ABM predictions are shown to be in remarkable agreement with the empirical data and can be used to understand the relation of credit risk and SR.

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Why Does Fast Loan Growth Predict Poor Performance for Banks?

Rüdiger Fahlenbrach, Robert Prilmeier & René Stulz

NBER Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
From 1973 to 2014, the common stock of U.S. banks with loan growth in the top quartile of banks over a three-year period significantly underperforms the common stock of banks with loan growth in the bottom quartile over the next three years. The benchmark-adjusted cumulative difference in performance over three years exceeds twelve percentage points. The high growth banks also have significantly higher crash risk over the three-year period. This poor performance is explained by fast loan growth as asset growth separate from loan growth is not followed by poor performance. These banks reserve less for loan losses when their loans grow quickly than other banks. Subsequently, they have a lower return on assets and increase their loan loss reserves. The poorer performance of the fast growing banks is not explained by merger activity and loan growth through mergers is not accompanied by the same poor loan performance. The evidence is consistent with fast-growing banks, analysts, and investors failing to properly appreciate the extent to which the fast loan growth results from making riskier loans and failing to charge for these risks correctly.

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How Did Pre-Fed Banking Panics End?

Gary Gorton & Ellis Tallman

NBER Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
How did pre-Fed banking crises end? How did depositors’ beliefs change? During the National Banking Era, 1863-1914, banks responded to the severe panics by suspending convertibility, that is, they refused to exchange cash for their liabilities (checking accounts). At the start of the suspension period, the private clearing houses cut off bank-specific information. Member banks were legally united into a single entity by the issuance of emergency loan certificates, a joint liability. A new market for certified checks opened, pricing the risk of clearing house failure. Certified checks traded at a discount to cash (a currency premium) in a market that opened during the suspension period. Confidence was restored when the currency premium reached zero.

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Property tax delinquency and its spillover effects on nearby properties

James Alm et al.

Regional Science and Urban Economics, May 2016, Pages 71–77

Abstract:
This paper investigates the impact of property tax delinquency on the sales price of nearby residential properties, an effect that we call the “delinquency discount”. We use a sample of 34,500 home sales and the population of delinquent properties for Chicago, Illinois during the period 2010 to 2013. We focus on the delinquency discount for properties within the same census block. We also examine the effect of delinquency duration on neighboring properties, as this measures the level of their financial distress. We estimate the magnitude of the delinquency discount using several alternative estimation methods, in each case controlling for local foreclosure activity. Our preferred method is a matching estimator, as it works to eliminate the potential for omitted variable bias that is common in this type of estimation. We find large, negative, and statistically meaningful effects of delinquent properties for which the local government has placed a tax lien and has put the lien up for sale to private investors. For properties with a tax lien that are not successfully sold, we estimate a negative spillover of 5.1% ($12,872) on surrounding properties. Properties with a tax lien that are sold to private investors have a smaller, but still negative impact on surrounding property values of 2.5% ($6310).

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Don't worry, be happy

Money Buys Happiness When Spending Fits Our Personality

Sandra Matz, Joe Gladstone & David Stillwell

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In contrast to decades of research reporting surprisingly weak relationships between consumption and happiness, recent findings suggest that money can indeed increase happiness if it is spent the “right way” (e.g., on experiences or on other people). Drawing on the concept of psychological fit, we extend this research by arguing that individual differences play a central role in determining the “right” type of spending to increase well-being. In a field study using more than 76,000 bank-transaction records, we found that individuals spend more on products that match their personality, and that people whose purchases better match their personality report higher levels of life satisfaction. This effect of psychological fit on happiness was stronger than the effect of individuals’ total income or the effect of their total spending. A follow-up study showed a causal effect: Personality-matched spending increased positive affect. In summary, when spending matches the buyer’s personality, it appears that money can indeed buy happiness.

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Who’s to blame? Causal attributions of the economic crisis and personal control

Marcin Bukowski et al.

Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this research, we examined how people cope with threats to personal control related to the global economic crisis. Three studies (one correlational and two experimental) tested the prediction that blaming social outgroups could serve as a means to restore a threatened sense of personal control. We found that outgroup blaming attributions are related to higher levels of personal control over the effects of the economic crisis (Study 1). Further, blaming outgroups helps to restore a sense of personal control (Study 2) only when blaming attributions are related to specific versus global causes (i.e., outgroups but not the economic system; Studies 2 and 3). We discuss individual and social implications of outgroup blaming as a form of coping with lack of control in the context of economic crises.

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Association between Social Media Use and Depression among U.S. Young Adults

Liu yi Lin et al.

Depression and Anxiety, April 2016, Pages 323–331

Background: Social media (SM) use is increasing among U.S. young adults, and its association with mental well-being remains unclear. This study assessed the association between SM use and depression in a nationally representative sample of young adults.

Methods: We surveyed 1,787 adults ages 19 to 32 about SM use and depression. Participants were recruited via random digit dialing and address-based sampling. SM use was assessed by self-reported total time per day spent on SM, visits per week, and a global frequency score based on the Pew Internet Research Questionnaire. Depression was assessed using the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Depression Scale Short Form. Chi-squared tests and ordered logistic regressions were performed with sample weights.

Results: The weighted sample was 50.3% female and 57.5% White. Compared to those in the lowest quartile of total time per day spent on SM, participants in the highest quartile had significantly increased odds of depression (AOR = 1.66, 95% CI = 1.14–2.42) after controlling for all covariates. Compared with those in the lowest quartile, individuals in the highest quartile of SM site visits per week and those with a higher global frequency score had significantly increased odds of depression (AOR = 2.74, 95% CI = 1.86–4.04; AOR = 3.05, 95% CI = 2.03–4.59, respectively). All associations between independent variables and depression had strong, linear, dose–response trends. Results were robust to all sensitivity analyses.

Conclusions: SM use was significantly associated with increased depression. Given the proliferation of SM, identifying the mechanisms and direction of this association is critical for informing interventions that address SM use and depression.

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How Your Bank Balance Buys Happiness: The Importance of “Cash on Hand” to Life Satisfaction

Peter Ruberton, Joe Gladstone & Sonja Lyubomirsky

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Could liquid wealth, or “cash on hand” — the balance of one’s checking and savings accounts — be a better predictor of life satisfaction than income? In a field study using 585 U.K. bank customers, we paired individual Satisfaction With Life Scale responses with anonymized account data held by the bank, including the full account balances for each respondent. Individuals with higher liquid wealth were found to have more positive perceptions of their financial well-being, which, in turn, predicted higher life satisfaction, suggesting that liquid wealth is indirectly associated with life satisfaction. This effect persisted after accounting for multiple controls, including investments, total spending, and indebtedness (which predicted financial well-being) and demographics (which predicted life satisfaction). Our results suggest that having readily accessible sources of cash is of unique importance to life satisfaction, above and beyond raw earnings, investments, or indebtedness. Therefore, to improve the well-being of citizens, policymakers should focus not just on boosting incomes but also on increasing people’s immediate access to money.

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Resilience to Major Life Stressors Is Not as Common as Thought

Frank Infurna & Suniya Luthar

Perspectives on Psychological Science, March 2016, Pages 175-194

Abstract:
We attempted to replicate findings that “most people are resilient” following three events: spousal loss, divorce, and unemployment. We applied growth mixture models to the same longitudinal data set that has previously been used to assert that resilience is ubiquitous. When using identical model specifications, as in prior studies, we found that resilient trajectories were most common, but the number of trajectories identified was different. When we relaxed two assumptions used in prior studies — that (a) all classes have similar variability in levels of postadversity adjustment and (b) there is no variability in changes within classes — we found that a resilience class was least common. Methodologically, our results show how findings on trajectories of change following major life stressors can vary substantially, depending on statistical model specifications. Conceptually, the results underscore the errors inherent in any categorical statements about “rates of resilience” among individuals confronted with major life stressors. Pragmatically, they underscore the dangers in recommending against prophylactic interventions (on the basis of one method of analyzing longitudinal data) for individuals who have experienced major life stressors.

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Acute aerobic exercise helps overcome emotion regulation deficits

Emily Bernstein & Richard McNally

Cognition and Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although colloquial wisdom and some studies suggest an association between regular aerobic exercise and emotional well-being, the nature of this link remains poorly understood. We hypothesised that aerobic exercise may change the way people respond to their emotions. Specifically, we tested whether individuals experiencing difficulties with emotion regulation would benefit from a previous session of exercise and show swifter recovery than their counterparts who did not exercise. Participants (N = 80) completed measures of emotion response tendencies, mood, and anxiety, and were randomly assigned to either stretch or jog for 30 minutes. All participants then underwent the same negative and positive mood inductions, and reported their emotional responses. Analyses showed that more perceived difficulty generating regulatory strategies and engaging in goal-directed behaviours after the negative mood induction predicted more intense and persistent negative affect in response to the stressor, as would be expected. Interactions revealed that aerobic exercise attenuated these effects. Moderate aerobic exercise may help attenuate negative emotions for participants initially experiencing regulatory difficulties. This study contributes to the literature on aerobic exercise’s therapeutic effects with experimental data, specifically in the realm of emotional processing.

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FKBP5 polymorphisms, childhood abuse, and PTSD symptoms: Results from the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study

Laura Watkins et al.

Psychoneuroendocrinology, July 2016, Pages 98–105

Abstract:
Polymorphisms in the FK506 Binding Protein 5 (FKBP5) gene may interact with childhood abuse to increase risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship of four previously identified FKBP5 putative risk SNPs (rs9296158, rs3800373, rs1360780, rs947008), childhood abuse, and lifetime PTSD symptoms, including contemporary phenotypic models of PTSD symptoms, in two nationally representative samples of European-American (EA) U.S. military veterans. The main sample included 1585 EA veterans who participated in the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study (NHRVS), and the replication sample included 577 EA veterans who participated in a second baseline cohort survey of the NHRVS. Outcome variables were lifetime PTSD symptom severity and a 4-factor phenotypic model of PTSD symptoms that included re-experiencing, avoidance, emotional numbing/negative cognitions and mood, and hyperarousal/alterations in arousal and reactivity symptoms. Results revealed that the four FKBP5 SNPs were associated with PTSD symptom severity in both samples (p values ranged from 0.001 to 0.012). Further, SNP rs9470080 in the main sample, and all four SNPs in the replication sample interacted with childhood abuse to predict PTSD severity (p values ranged from 0.002 to 0.006). In both samples, all four FKBP5 SNPs predicted hyperarousal/alterations in arousal and reactivity (p values ranged from <0.001 to 0.002). Results of this study suggest that FKBP5 polymorphisms, directly and interactively with childhood abuse, predict severity of lifetime PTSD symptoms, most notably hyperarousal symptoms, in two nationally representative samples of EA veterans. They further indicate that FKBP5 polymorphisms and childhood abuse may contribute to vulnerability for PTSD symptoms and may be most strongly associated with trauma-related hyperarousal symptoms that comprise this phenotype.

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Genetic moderation of the association between adolescent romantic involvement and depression: Contributions of serotonin transporter gene polymorphism, chronic stress, and family discord

Lisa Starr & Constance Hammen

Development and Psychopathology, May 2016, Pages 447-457

Abstract:
Studies support a link between adolescent romantic involvement and depression. Adolescent romantic relationships may increase depression risk by introducing chronic stress, and genetic vulnerability to stress reactivity/emotion dysregulation may moderate these associations. We tested genetic moderation of longitudinal associations between adolescent romantic involvement and later depressive symptoms by a polymorphism in the serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region gene (5-HTTLPR) and examined contributory roles of chronic stress and family discord. Three hundred eighty-one youth participated at ages 15 and 20. The results indicated that 5-HTTLPR moderated the association between age 15 romantic involvement and age 20 depressive symptoms, with strongest effects for short homozygotes. Conditional process analysis revealed that chronic stress functioned as a moderated mediator of this association, fully accounting for the romantic involvement–depression link among short/short genotypes. Also, romantic involvement predicted later depressive symptoms most strongly among short-allele carriers with high family discord. The results have important implications for understanding the romantic involvement–depression link and the behavioral and emotional correlates of the 5-HTTLPR genotype.

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Don’t Like What You See? Give It Time: Longer Reaction Times Associated With Increased Positive Affect

Maital Neta & Tien Tong

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Images with an ambiguous valence (e.g., surprised facial expressions) are interpreted by some people as having a negative valence, and by others, as having a more positive valence. Despite these individual differences in valence bias, the more automatic interpretation is negative, and positivity appears to require regulation. Interestingly, extant research has shown that there is an age-related positivity effect such that relative to young adults, older adults attend to and remember positive more than negative information. In this report, the authors show that this positivity effect extends to emotional ambiguity (Experiment 1). Eighty participants (aged 19–71, 42 females) rated the valence of images with a clear or ambiguous valence. They found that age correlated with valence bias, such that older adults showed a more positive bias, and they took longer to rate images, than younger adults. They also found that this increase in reaction times was sufficient to bias positivity (Experiment 2). Thirty-four participants (aged 18–28, 24 females) rated ambiguous and clear images, before and after an instruction to delay their RTs. They also found that although ratings among individuals with a positive bias did not change, those with a negative bias became more positive when encouraged to delay. Indeed, participants with the strongest negativity bias showed the greatest increase in RTs. Taken together, this work demonstrates that the valence bias, which represents a stable, trait-like difference across people, can be moved in the positive direction, at least temporarily, when participants are encouraged to take their time and consider alternatives.

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Exposure to an Inflammatory Challenge Enhances Neural Sensitivity to Negative and Positive Social Feedback

Keely Muscatell et al.

Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, forthcoming

Abstract:
Inflammation, part of the body’s innate immune response, can lead to “sickness behaviors,” as well as alterations in social and affective experiences. Elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines have been associated with increased neural sensitivity to social rejection and social threat, but also decreased neural sensitivity to rewards. However, recent evidence suggests that inflammation may actually enhance sensitivity to certain social rewards, such as those that signal support and care. Despite a growing interest in how inflammation influences neural reactivity to positive and negative social experiences, no known studies have investigated these processes in the same participants, using a similar task. To examine this issue, 107 participants were randomly assigned to receive either placebo or low-dose endotoxin, which safely triggers an inflammatory response. When levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines were at their peak, participants were scanned using fMRI while they received positive, negative, and neutral feedback from an “evaluator” (actually a confederate) about how they came across in an audio-recorded interview. In response to negative feedback (vs. neutral), participants in the endotoxin condition showed heightened neural activity in a number of threat-related neural regions (i.e., bilateral amygdala, dorsal anterior cingulate cortex) and a key mentalizing-related region (i.e., dorsomedial PFC), compared to placebo participants. Interestingly, when receiving positive feedback (vs. neutral), endotoxin led to greater neural activity in the ventral striatum and ventromedial PFC, regions often implicated in processing reward, compared to placebo. Together, these results reveal that individuals exposed to an inflammatory challenge are more “neurally sensitive” to both negative and positive social feedback, suggesting that inflammation may lead to a greater vigilance for both social threats and social rewards.

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Predicting Stress From the Ability to Eavesdrop on Feelings: Emotional Intelligence and Testosterone Jointly Predict Cortisol Reactivity

Myriam Bechtoldt & Vanessa Schneider

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
While emotional intelligence (EI) is recognized as a resource in social interactions, we hypothesized a positive association with stress in socially evaluative contexts. In particular, we expected emotion recognition, the core component of EI, to inflict stress on individuals in negatively valenced interactions. We expected this association to be stronger for status-driven individuals, that is, for individuals scoring high on basal testosterone. In a laboratory experiment, N = 166 male participants underwent the Trier Social Stress Test (Kirschbaum, Pirke, & Hellhammer, 1993). As expected, EI measured by the Mayer–Salovey–Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT V2.0; Mayer et al., 2003) predicted higher cortisol reactivity, including slower recovery from stress. The effect was moderated by basal testosterone, such that the association was positive when basal testosterone was high but not when it was low. On the component level of EI, the interaction was replicated for negative emotion recognition. These findings lend support to the hypothesis that EI is associated with higher activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in contexts where social status is at stake, particularly for those individuals who are more status-driven. Thus, the effects of EI are not unequivocally positive: While EI may positively affect the course of social interactions, it also inflicts stress on the emotionally intelligent individuals themselves.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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