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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The more you know

The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis: Drivers of Prediction Accuracy in World Politics

Barbara Mellers et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article extends psychological methods and concepts into a domain that is as profoundly consequential as it is poorly understood: intelligence analysis. We report findings from a geopolitical forecasting tournament that assessed the accuracy of more than 150,000 forecasts of 743 participants on 199 events occurring over 2 years. Participants were above average in intelligence and political knowledge relative to the general population. Individual differences in performance emerged, and forecasting skills were surprisingly consistent over time. Key predictors were (a) dispositional variables of cognitive ability, political knowledge, and open-mindedness; (b) situational variables of training in probabilistic reasoning and participation in collaborative teams that shared information and discussed rationales (Mellers, Ungar, et al., 2014); and (c) behavioral variables of deliberation time and frequency of belief updating. We developed a profile of the best forecasters; they were better at inductive reasoning, pattern detection, cognitive flexibility, and open-mindedness. They had greater understanding of geopolitics, training in probabilistic reasoning, and opportunities to succeed in cognitively enriched team environments. Last but not least, they viewed forecasting as a skill that required deliberate practice, sustained effort, and constant monitoring of current affairs.

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Constructing Rich False Memories of Committing Crime

Julia Shaw & Stephen Porter
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Memory researchers long have speculated that certain tactics may lead people to recall crimes that never occurred, and thus could potentially lead to false confessions. This is the first study to provide evidence suggesting that full episodic false memories of committing crime can be generated in a controlled experimental setting. With suggestive memory-retrieval techniques, participants were induced to generate criminal and noncriminal emotional false memories, and we compared these false memories with true memories of emotional events. After three interviews, 70% of participants were classified as having false memories of committing a crime (theft, assault, or assault with a weapon) that led to police contact in early adolescence and volunteered a detailed false account. These reported false memories of crime were similar to false memories of noncriminal events and to true memory accounts, having the same kinds of complex descriptive and multisensory components. It appears that in the context of a highly suggestive interview, people can quite readily generate rich false memories of committing crime.

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Decision-Making Under the Gambler's Fallacy: Evidence from Asylum Judges, Loan Officers, and Baseball Umpires

Daniel Chen, Tobias Moskowitz & Kelly Shue
University of Chicago Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
Can misperceptions of what constitutes a fair process lead to unfair decisions? Previous research on the law of small numbers and the gambler's fallacy suggests that many people view sequential streaks of 0's or 1's as unlikely to occur even though such streaks often occur by chance. We hypothesize that the gambler’s fallacy leads agents to engage in negatively autocorrelated decision-making. We document negatively autocorrelated decisions in three high-stakes contexts: refugee asylum courts, loan application review, and baseball umpire calls. This negative autocorrelation is stronger among more moderate and less experienced decision-makers, following longer streaks of decisions in one direction, and when agents face weaker incentives for accuracy. We show that the negative autocorrelation in decision-making is unlikely to be driven by potential alternative explanations such as sequential contrast effects, quotas, or preferences to treat two teams fairly.

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Sequential Judgment Effects in the Workplace: Evidence from the National Basketball Association

Paul Gift
Economic Inquiry, April 2015, Pages 1259–1274

Abstract:
This study investigates the impact of past performance evaluations on future decisions involving judgment. I analyze the decisions of highly skilled and highly monitored referees regarding offensive fouls and violations in the National Basketball Association. After testing for equilibrium adjustments in player behavior, findings support a hypothesis of increased referee scrutiny on one team following a potentially questionable call on the opposing team. Results are inconclusive for subsequent changes in scrutiny toward the original violating team. The analysis provides a nonexperimental test of sequential bias on elite employees working under strict performance standards, and suggests a likely role for sequential judgment effects in other areas of economic activity.

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Thinking Outside the Box: Multiple Identity Mind-Sets Affect Creative Problem Solving

Sarah Gaither et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Rigid thinking is associated with less creativity, suggesting that priming a flexible mind-set should boost creative thought. In three studies, we investigate whether priming multiple social identities predicts more creativity in domains unrelated to social identity. Study 1 asked monoracial and multiracial participants to write about their racial identities before assessing creativity. Priming a multiracial’s racial identity led to greater creativity compared to a no-prime control. Priming a monoracial’s racial identity did not affect creativity. Study 2 showed that reminding monoracials that they, too, have multiple identities increased creativity. Study 3 replicated this effect and demonstrated that priming a multiracial identity for monoracials did not affect creativity. These results are the first to investigate the association between flexible identities and flexible thinking, highlighting the potential for identity versatility to predict cognitive differences between individuals who have singular versus multifaceted views of their social selves.

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Decision Making and Underperformance in Competitive Environments: Evidence from the National Hockey League

Gueorgui Kolev, Gonçalo Pina & Federico Todeschini
Kyklos, February 2015, Pages 65–80

Abstract:
We find evidence of suboptimal decisions leading to underperformance in a policy experiment where two teams of professionals compete in a tournament (National Hockey League shootout) performing a task (penalty shot) sequentially. Before an exogenous policy change, home teams had to perform the task second in the sequence. After the policy change, home teams were given the choice to lead or to follow in the sequence. Home teams should move first only when this is optimal, and this should lead them to winning the tournament more often. We find that after given the choice, home teams most of the time choose to move first in the sequence, and this results in a lower winning frequency for them. Contrary to what economic theory would predict, we find that an expanded choice set can lead to worse outcomes for the agents.

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Fueling doubt and openness: Experiencing the unconscious, constructed nature of perception induces uncertainty and openness to change

William Hart et al.
Cognition, April 2015, Pages 1–8

Abstract:
Because people lack access to the many unconscious thought processes that influence perception, they often have the experience of seeing things “as they are”. Psychologists have long presumed that this “naïve realism” plays a role in driving human confidence and closed-mindedness. Yet, surprisingly, these intuitive links have not been empirically demonstrated. Presumably, if naïve realism drives confidence and closed-mindedness, then disabusing people of naïve realism should reduce confidence in one’s judgments and instill openness to change. In the present experiment, we found that participants who read about naïve realism and also experienced various perceptual illusions showed reduced confidence in their social judgments and indicated a greater willingness to change their judgments relative to participants who merely read about naïve realism and perceptual illusions, participants who received failure feedback on an earlier task, or participants left in a baseline state. Broadly, the present research provides evidence for an untested origin of human confidence and closed-mindedness and may have broad implications for decision making.

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Attenuating the Escalation of Commitment to a Faltering Project in Decision-Making Groups: An Implementation Intention Approach

Frank Wieber, Lukas Thürmer & Peter Gollwitzer
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
When groups receive negative feedback on their progress toward a set goal, they often escalate rather than temper their commitment. To attenuate such escalation, we suggest initiating a self-distancing response (i.e., taking the perspective of a neutral observer) by forming implementation intentions when, where, and how to act (i.e., making if-then plans). Implementation intentions should help groups to translate a self-distancing intention into action. In line with this reasoning, only groups that had added implementation intentions to their goal to make optimal investment decisions reduced their high levels of investment (Study 1) or maintained their moderate levels of investment (Study 2) after negative feedback. Groups that had merely formed goal intentions, however, escalated even when their decision goal was supplemented with self-distancing instructions (Study 1), and they escalated as much as control groups without such a goal (Study 2). Implications for improving group decision making by implementation intentions are discussed.

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On making the right choice: A meta-analysis and large-scale replication attempt of the unconscious thought advantage

Mark Nieuwenstein et al.
Judgment and Decision Making, January 2015, Pages 1–17

Abstract:
Are difficult decisions best made after a momentary diversion of thought? Previous research addressing this important question has yielded dozens of experiments in which participants were asked to choose the best of several options (e.g., cars or apartments) either after conscious deliberation, or after a momentary diversion of thought induced by an unrelated task. The results of these studies were mixed. Some found that participants who had first performed the unrelated task were more likely to choose the best option, whereas others found no evidence for this so-called unconscious thought advantage (UTA). The current study examined two accounts of this inconsistency in previous findings. According to the reliability account, the UTA does not exist and previous reports of this effect concern nothing but spurious effects obtained with an unreliable paradigm. In contrast, the moderator account proposes that the UTA is a real effect that occurs only when certain conditions are met in the choice task. To test these accounts, we conducted a meta-analysis and a large-scale replication study (N = 399) that met the conditions deemed optimal for replicating the UTA. Consistent with the reliability account, the large-scale replication study yielded no evidence for the UTA, and the meta-analysis showed that previous reports of the UTA were confined to underpowered studies that used relatively small sample sizes. Furthermore, the results of the large-scale study also dispelled the recent suggestion that the UTA might be gender-specific. Accordingly, we conclude that there exists no reliable support for the claim that a momentary diversion of thought leads to better decision making than a period of deliberation.

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Money, Time, and the Stability of Consumer Preferences

Leonard Lee et al.
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Consumers often make product choices that involve the consideration of money and time. Building on dual-process models, the authors propose that these two basic resources activate qualitatively different modes of processing: while money is processed analytically, time is processed more affectively. Importantly, this distinction then influences the stability of consumer preferences. An initial set of three experiments demonstrates that, compared with a control condition free of the consideration of either resource, money consideration generates significantly more violations of transitivity in product choice, while time consideration has no such impact. The next three experiments use multiple approaches to demonstrate the role of different processing modes associated with money versus time consideration in this result. Finally, two additional experiments test ways in which the cognitive noise associated with the analytical processing that money consideration triggers could be reduced, resulting in more consistent preferences.

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The bigger they come, the harder they fall: The paradoxical effect of regulatory depletion on attitude change

John Petrocelli, Sally Williams & Joshua Clarkson
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, May 2015, Pages 82–94

Abstract:
The present research explores a new effect of regulatory resource depletion on persuasion by proposing that the experience of depletion can increase or decrease openness to attitude change by undermining perceived counterargument strength. Ironically, this openness is hypothesized to be strongest for individuals holding attitudes with high (versus low) certainty, as individuals should expect high certainty attitudes to be more resistant — an expectation the experience of depletion is hypothesized to violate. Supporting the hypotheses, three studies demonstrate that individuals expect high certainty attitudes to be stable (Study 1), the experience of resource depletion violates this expectancy and increases the openness to counterattack (Study 2), and this openness is driven by decreased perceptions of counterargument strength (Study 3). By augmenting (attenuating) the effect of argument quality for high (low) certainty attitudes, the experience of depletion on perceived counterargument performance offers insight into novel means by which resource depletion can influence persuasion.

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No pain no gain: The positive impact of punishment on the strategic regulation of accuracy

Michelle Arnold, Lisa Chisholm & Toby Prike
Memory, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous studies have shown that punishing people through a large penalty for volunteering incorrect information typically leads them to withhold more information (metacognitive response bias), but it does not appear to influence their ability to distinguish between their own correct and incorrect answers (metacognitive accuracy discrimination). The goal of the current study was to demonstrate that punishing people for volunteering incorrect information — versus rewarding volunteering correct information — produces more effective metacognitive accuracy discrimination. All participants completed three different general-knowledge tests: a reward test (high points for correct volunteered answers), a baseline test (equal points/penalties for volunteered correct/incorrect answers) and a punishment test (high penalty for incorrect volunteered answers). Participants were significantly better at distinguishing between their own correct and incorrect answers on the punishment than reward test, which has implications for situations requiring effective accuracy monitoring.

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Reason, Intuition, and Time

Marco Sahm & Robert von Weizsäcker
Managerial and Decision Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study the influence of reason and intuition on decision-making over time. Facing a sequence of similar problems, agents can either decide rationally according to expected utility theory or intuitively according to case-based decision theory. Rational decisions are more precise but create higher costs, though these costs may decrease over time. We find that intuition will outperform reason in the long run if individuals are sufficiently ambitious. Moreover, intuitive decisions are prevalent in the early and late stages of a learning process, whereas reason governs decisions in intermediate stages. Examples range from playing behavior in games like chess to professional decisions during a manager's career.

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Fear-Appeal Messages: Message Processing and Affective Attitudes

Nancy Rhodes
Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Theories of fear appeals suggest that fear-inducing messages can be effective, but public service announcements (PSAs) that emphasize fear do not always lead to desired change in behavior. To better understand how fear-inducing PSAs are processed, an experiment testing the effects of exposure to safe-driving messages is reported. College students (N = 108) viewed PSAs of varying message sensation value (MSV). Results indicated that messages with medium MSV resulted in intentions to drive more slowly than messages with low or high MSV. Measures of affective attitudes indicated that medium MSV messages resulted in fast driving being rated as less fun and exciting than those of either high or low MSV. These affective evaluations mediated the effect of message exposure on driving intention. Message derogation was not related to message intensity. Production of message-related thoughts decreased, and emotional thoughts increased with message intensity. This decrease in processing of message content suggested a limited capacity explanation for the effect of highly intense fear appeals.

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Anxious and Egocentric: How Specific Emotions Influence Perspective Taking

Andrew Todd et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
People frequently feel anxious. Although prior research has extensively studied how feeling anxious shapes intrapsychic aspects of cognition, much less is known about how anxiety affects interpersonal aspects of cognition. Here, we examine the influence of incidental experiences of anxiety on perceptual and conceptual forms of perspective taking. Compared with participants experiencing other negative, high-arousal emotions (i.e., anger or disgust) or neutral feelings, anxious participants displayed greater egocentrism in their mental-state reasoning: They were more likely to describe an object using their own spatial perspective, had more difficulty resisting egocentric interference when identifying an object from others’ spatial perspectives, and relied more heavily on privileged knowledge when inferring others’ beliefs. Using both experimental-causal-chain and measurement-of-mediation approaches, we found that these effects were explained, in part, by uncertainty appraisal tendencies. Further supporting the role of uncertainty, a positive emotion associated with uncertainty (i.e., surprise) produced increases in egocentrism that were similar to anxiety. Collectively, the results suggest that incidentally experiencing emotions associated with uncertainty increase reliance on one’s own egocentric perspective when reasoning about the mental states of others.

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Diverging effects of mortality salience on variety seeking: The different roles of death anxiety and semantic concept activation

Zhongqiang(Tak) Huang & Robert Wyer
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, May 2015, Pages 112–123

Abstract:
Thoughts about one's death can not only induce death anxiety but also activate death-related semantic concepts. These effects of mortality salience have different implications for judgments and behavior. We demonstrate these differences in an investigation of variety-seeking behavior. Four experiments showed that the anxiety elicited by thinking about one's own death decreased the variety of participants' choices in an unrelated multiple-choice decision situation, whereas activating semantic concepts of death without inducing anxiety increased it. Moreover, inducing cognitive load decreased the anxiety-inducing effect of mortality salience, leading its concept-activation effect to predominate. The accessibility of death-related semantic concepts spontaneously induces a global processing style that increases the range of acceptable choice alternatives in a variety-seeking task, and this occurs regardless of how mortality salience is induced. However, the effect of inducing death anxiety, which is driven by a desire for stability, may override the effect of semantic concept activation when participants think about their own death.

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Turning molehills into mountains: Sleepiness increases workplace interpretive bias

Larissa Barber & Christopher Budnick
Journal of Organizational Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Three studies draw from evolutionary theory to assess whether sleepiness increases interpretive biases in workplace social judgments. Study 1 established a relationship between sleepiness and interpretive bias using ambiguous interpersonal scenarios from a measure commonly used in personnel selection (N = 148). Study 2 explored the boundary conditions of the sleepiness–interpretive bias link via an experimental online field survey of U.S. adults (N = 433). Sleepiness increased interpretive bias when social threats were clearly present (unfair workplace) but did not affect bias in the absence of threat (fair workplace). Study 3 replicated and extended findings from the previous two studies using objective measures of sleep loss and a quasi-experimental manipulation of minor sleep loss (N = 175). Negative affect, ego depletion, or personality variables did not influence the observed relationships. Overall, results suggest that a self-protection/evolutionary perspective best explains the effects of sleepiness on workplace interpretive biases. These studies advance the current research on sleep in organizations by adding a cognitive “threat interpretation” bias approach to past work examining the emotional reaction/behavioral side of sleep disruption. Interpretive biases due to sleepiness may have significant implications for employee health and counterproductive behavior.

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The Role of Self-Affirmation and User Status in Readers’ Response to Identity-Threatening News

Xiao Wang, Andrea Hickerson & Laura Arpan
Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent research suggests that the effect of self-affirmation on readers’ responses to media messages is not uniform across groups. The present experiment examined whether self-affirmation and group/user status interacted in influencing participants’ responses to a news article with identity-threatening information related to Apple sweatshops in China. Results revealed that for non-Apple users, self-affirmation influenced their appraisal of emotional responses, led them to perceive more news slant and more negative influence of the article on neutral Americans, and lowered their future purchase intentions. The effect of self-affirmation was nonsignificant among Apple users, which could have been thwarted by Apple users’ high defensiveness. Both theoretical implications for future self-affirmation research and practical implications are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, February 9, 2015

Get busy

Marriage stability, taxation and aggregate labor supply in the U.S. vs. Europe

Indraneel Chakraborty, Hans Holter & Serhiy Stepanchuk
Journal of Monetary Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Americans work more than Europeans. Using micro data from the United States and 17 European countries, we document that women are typically the largest contributors to the cross-country differences in work hours. We also show that there is a negative relation between taxes and annual hours worked, driven by men, and a positive relation between divorce rates and annual hours worked, driven by women. In a calibrated life-cycle model with heterogeneous agents, marriage and divorce, we find that the divorce and tax mechanisms together can explain 45% of the variation in labor supply between the United States and the European countries.

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The Impact of Unemployment Benefit Extensions on Employment: The 2014 Employment Miracle?

Marcus Hagedorn, Iourii Manovskii & Kurt Mitman
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
We measure the effect of unemployment benefit duration on employment. We exploit the variation induced by the decision of Congress in December 2013 not to reauthorize the unprecedented benefit extensions introduced during the Great Recession. Federal benefit extensions that ranged from 0 to 47 weeks across U.S. states at the beginning of December 2013 were abruptly cut to zero. To achieve identification we use the fact that this policy change was exogenous to cross-sectional differences across U.S. states and we exploit a policy discontinuity at state borders. We find that a 1% drop in benefit duration leads to a statistically significant increase of employment by 0.0161 log points. In levels, 1.8 million additional jobs were created in 2014 due to the benefit cut. Almost 1 million of these jobs were filled by workers from out of the labor force who would not have participated in the labor market had benefit extensions been reauthorized.

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Educational Expansion and Occupational Change: US Compulsory Schooling Laws and the Occupational Structure 1850–1930

Emily Rauscher
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
During the US Industrial Revolution, educational expansion may have created skilled jobs through innovation and skill upgrading or reduced skilled jobs by mechanizing production. Such arguments contradict classic sociological work that treats education as a sorting mechanism, allocating individuals to fixed occupations. I capitalize on state differences in the timing of compulsory school attendance laws to ask whether raising the minimum level of schooling: (1) increased school attendance rate; or (2) shifted state occupational distributions away from agricultural toward skilled and non-manual occupation categories. Using state-level panel data constructed from 1850–1930 censuses and state-year fixed effects models, I find that compulsory laws significantly increased school attendance rates, particularly among lower-class children, and shifted the categorical distribution toward skilled and non-manual occupations. Thus, rather than deskilling through mechanization, raising the minimum level of education seems to have created skilled jobs and raised the occupational distribution through skill-biased technological change. Results suggest that education was not merely a sorting mechanism, supporting the importance of education as an institution even around the turn of the century.

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Optimal Life Cycle Unemployment Insurance

Caludio Michelacci & Hernán Ruffo
American Economic Review, February 2015, Pages 816-859

Abstract:
We argue that US welfare would rise if unemployment insurance were increased for younger and decreased for older workers. This is because the young tend to lack the means to smooth consumption during unemployment and want jobs to accumulate high-return human capital. So unemployment insurance is most valuable to them, while moral hazard is mild. By calibrating a life cycle model with unemployment risk and endogenous search effort, we find that allowing unemployment replacement rates to decline with age yields sizeable welfare gains to US workers.

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What Explains the 2007–2009 Drop in Employment?

Atif Mian & Amir Sufi
Econometrica, November 2014, Pages 2197–2223

Abstract:
We show that deterioration in household balance sheets, or the housing net worth channel, played a significant role in the sharp decline in U.S. employment between 2007 and 2009. Counties with a larger decline in housing net worth experience a larger decline in non-tradable employment. This result is not driven by industry-specific supply-side shocks, exposure to the construction sector, policy-induced business uncertainty, or contemporaneous credit supply tightening. We find little evidence of labor market adjustment in response to the housing net worth shock. There is no significant expansion of the tradable sector in counties with the largest decline in housing net worth. Further, there is little evidence of wage adjustment within or emigration out of the hardest hit counties.

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The Effect of Unemployment Benefits on the Duration of Unemployment Insurance Receipt: New Evidence from a Regression Kink Design in Missouri, 2003-2013

David Card et al.
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
We provide new evidence on the effect of the unemployment insurance (UI) weekly benefit amount on unemployment insurance spells based on administrative data from the state of Missouri covering the period 2003-2013. Identification comes from a regression kink design that exploits the quasi-experimental variation around the kink in the UI benefit schedule. We find that UI durations are more responsive to benefit levels during the recession and its aftermath, with an elasticity between 0.65 and 0.9 as compared to about 0.35 pre-recession.

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The Effect of Population Aging on Economic Growth

Nicole Maestas, Kathleen Mullen & David Powell
RAND Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Population aging is widely expected to have detrimental effects on aggregate economic growth. However, we have little empirical evidence about the actual existence or magnitude of such effects. In this paper, we exploit differential aging patterns at the state level in the United States between 1980 and 2010. Many states have already experienced high growth rates of the 60 population, comparable to the predicted national growth rate over the next several decades. Furthermore, these differential growth rates occur partially for reasons unrelated to economic growth, providing a natural approach to isolate the impact of aging on growth. We predict the magnitude of population aging at the state-level given the state’s age structure in an initial period and exploit this predictable differential growth to estimate the impact of population aging on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, and its constituent parts, labor force and productivity growth. We estimate that a 10% increase in the fraction of the population ages 60 decreases GDP per capita by 5.7%. We find that this reduction in economic growth caused by population aging is primarily due to a decrease in growth in the supply of labor. To a lesser extent, it is also due to a reduction in productivity growth. We present evidence of downward adjustment of earnings growth to reflect the reduction in productivity.

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Does Delay Cause Decay? The Effect of Administrative Decision Time on the Labor Force Participation and Earnings of Disability Applicants

David Autor et al.
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
This paper measures the causal effect of time out of the labor force on subsequent employment of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applicants and distinguishes it from the discouragement effect of receiving disability benefits. Using a unique Social Security Administration workload database to identify exogenous variation in decision times induced by differences in processing speed among disability examiners to whom applicants are randomly assigned, we find that longer processing times reduce the employment and earnings of SSDI applicants for multiple years following application, with the effects concentrated among applicants awarded benefits during their initial application. A one standard deviation (2.1 month) increase in initial processing time reduces long-run “substantial gainful activity” rates by 0.36 percentage points (3.5%) and long-run annual earnings by $178 (5.1%). Because applicants initially denied benefits spend on average more than 15 additional months appealing their denials, previous estimates of the benefit receipt effect are confounded with the effect of delays on subsequent employment. Accounting separately for these channels, we find that the receipt effect is at least 50% larger than previously estimated. Combining the delay and benefits receipt channels reveals that the SSDI application process reduces subsequent employment of applicants on the margin of award by twice as much as prior literature suggests.

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Cohort Size and Youth Earnings: Evidence from a Quasi-Experiment

Louis-Philippe Morin
Labour Economics, January 2015, Pages 99–111

Abstract:
In this paper, I use data from the Canadian Labour Force Surveys (LFS), and the 2001 and 2006 Canadian Censuses to estimate the impact of an important labour supply shock on the earnings of young high-school graduates. The abolition of Ontario’s Grade 13 generated a very large cohort of high-school graduates that simultaneously entered the Ontario labour market, generating a sudden increase in the labour supply. This provides a rare occasion to measure the impact of cohort size on earnings without the supply shock being possibly confounded with unobserved trends — a recurring problem in the literature. The Census findings suggest that the effect of the supply shock is statistically and economically important, depressing weekly earnings by 5 to 9 percent. The findings from the Census are supported by the LFS results that suggest that the immediate impact of the supply shock — measured about six months after high-school graduation — is also important.

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The Skill Complementarity of Broadband Internet

Anders Akerman, Ingvil Gaarder & Magne Mogstad
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Does adoption of broadband internet in firms enhance labor productivity and increase wages? And is this technological change skill biased or factor neutral? We exploit rich Norwegian data to answer these questions. A public program with limited funding rolled out broadband access points, and provides plausibly exogenous variation in the availability and adoption of broadband internet in firms. Our results suggest that broadband internet improves (worsens) the labor outcomes and productivity of skilled (unskilled) workers. We explore several possible explanations for the skill complementarity of broadband internet. We find suggestive evidence that broadband adoption in firms complements skilled workers in executing nonroutine abstract tasks, and substitutes for unskilled workers in performing routine tasks. Taken together, our findings have important implications for the ongoing policy debate over government investment in broadband infrastructure to encourage productivity and wage growth.

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Organizational Failure and Intraprofessional Status Loss

Christopher Rider & Giacomo Negro
Organization Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine variation in intraprofessional status changes for employees displaced by organizational failure. We propose that failure-related reductions in bargaining power are moderated by individual status characteristics that influence potential employers’ evaluations of job candidates and, therefore, individuals’ status loss risks. Treating a prominent law firm’s failure as a quasi-experiment, we test our arguments by analyzing 224 firm partners’ transitions to subsequent employers. Most partners regained employment at firms of lower status than the failed firm. But, independent of their demonstrated productivity, a partner’s likelihood of status loss increased with tenure in the failed firm’s partnership and decreased with educational prestige. These results suggest not only that organizational failure can diminish cumulative career advantages but also that status characteristics that enable attainment, such as education, can protect individuals against status loss.

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Minimum Wages and Gross Domestic Product

Joseph Sabia
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study is the first to explore the relationship between minimum wage increases and state gross domestic product (GDP). Using data drawn from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the Current Population Survey (CPS) from 1979 to 2012, I find no evidence that minimum wage increases were associated with changes in overall state GDP. However, this null finding masks substantial heterogeneity in the productivity effects of minimum wages across industries and over the business cycle. Difference-in-difference-in-difference estimates suggest that a 10% increase in the minimum wage is associated with a short-run 1% to 2% decline in state GDP generated by lower-skilled industries relative to more highly skilled industries. This differential appears larger during troughs as compared to that during peaks of the state business cycle.

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Technology and Labor Regulations: Theory and Evidence

Alberto Alesina, Michele Battisti & Joseph Zeira
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
This paper shows that different labor market policies can lead to differences in technology across sectors in a model of labor saving technologies. Labor market regulations reduce the skill premium and as a result, if technologies are labor saving, countries with more stringent labor regulation, which are binding for low skilled workers, become less technologically advanced in their high-skilled sectors, and more technologically advanced in their low-skilled sectors. We then present data on capital output ratios, on estimated productivity levels and on patent creation, which support the predictions of our model.

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A Pareto-improving Minimum Wage

Eliav Danziger & Leif Danziger
Economica, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper shows that a graduated minimum wage, in contrast to a constant minimum wage, can provide a strict Pareto improvement over what can be achieved with an optimal income tax. The reason is that a graduated minimum wage requires high-productivity workers to work more to earn the same income as low-productivity workers, which makes it more difficult for the former to mimic the latter. In effect, a graduated minimum wage allows the low-productivity workers to benefit from second-degree price discrimination, which increases their income.

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The Employment Effects of Terminating Disability Benefits

Timothy Moore
George Washington University Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Few Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) beneficiaries return to the labor force, making it hard to assess their likely employment in the absence of benefits. Using administrative data, I examine the employment of individuals who lost DI eligibility after the 1996 removal of drug and alcohol addictions as qualifying conditions. Approximately 22 percent started working at levels that would have disqualified them for DI, an employment response that is large relative to their work histories. Those who received DI for 2-3 years had the largest response, suggesting that a period of public assistance may maximize the employment of some disabled individuals.

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The bigger the worse? A comparative study of the welfare state and employment commitment

Kjetil van der Wel & Knut Halvorsen
Work, Employment & Society, February 2015, Pages 99-118

Abstract:
This article investigates how welfare generosity and active labour market policies relate to employment commitment. As social policy is increasingly directed towards stimulating employment in broader sections of society, this article particularly studies employment commitment among groups with traditionally weaker bonds to the labour market. This is also theoretically interesting because the employment commitment in these groups may be more affected by the welfare context than is the employment commitment of the core work force. A welfare scepticism view predicts that disincentive effects and norm erosion will lead to lower employment commitment in more generous and activating welfare states, while a welfare resources perspective holds the opposite view. Using multilevel data for individuals in 18 European countries, the article finds increasing employment commitment as social spending gets more generous and activating. This was also evident for weaker groups in the labour market, although the effect was less pronounced in some groups.

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Increased longevity and social security reform: Questioning the optimality of individual accounts when education matters

Gilles Le Garrec
Journal of Population Economics, April 2015, Pages 329-352

Abstract:
In many European countries, population aging had led to debate about a switch from conventional unfunded public pension systems to notional systems characterized by individual accounts. In this article, we develop an overlapping generations model in which endogenous growth is based on an accumulation of knowledge driven by the proportion of skilled workers and by the time they have spent in training. In such a framework, we show that conventional pension systems, contrary to notional systems, can enhance economic growth by linking benefits only to the partial earnings history. Thus, to ensure economic growth, the optimal adjustment to increased longevity could consist in increasing the size of existing retirement systems rather than switching to notional systems.

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The Effects of Youth Employment: Evidence from New York City Summer Youth Employment Program Lotteries

Alexander Gelber, Adam Isen & Judd Kessler
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
Programs to encourage labor market activity among youth, including public employment programs and wage subsidies like the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, can be supported by three broad rationales. They may: (1) provide contemporaneous income support to participants; (2) encourage work experience that improves future employment and/or educational outcomes of participants; and/or (3) keep participants “out of trouble.” We study randomized lotteries for access to New York City's Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), the largest summer youth employment program in the U.S., by merging SYEP administrative data on 294,580 lottery participants to IRS data on the universe of U.S. tax records and to New York State administrative incarceration data. In assessing the three rationales, we find that: (1) SYEP participation causes average earnings and the probability of employment to increase in the year of program participation, with modest contemporaneous crowdout of other earnings and employment; (2) SYEP participation causes a moderate decrease in average earnings for three years following the program and has no impact on college enrollment; and (3) SYEP participation decreases the probability of incarceration and decreases the probability of mortality, which has important and potentially pivotal implications for analyzing the net benefits of the program.

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Low IQ has become less important as a risk factor for early disability pension: A longitudinal population-based study across two decades among Swedish men

Nina Karnehed, Finn Rasmussen & Karin Modig
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Background: Low IQ has been shown to be an important risk factor for disability pension (DP) but whether the importance has changed over time remains unclear. It can be hypothesised that IQ has become more important for DP over time in parallel with a more demanding working life. The aim of this study was to investigate the relative risk of low IQ on the risk of DP before age 30 between 1971 and 2006.

Methods: This study covered the entire Swedish male population born between 1951 and 1976, eligible for military conscription. Information about the study subjects was obtained by linkage of national registers. Associations between IQ and DP over time were analysed by descriptive measures (mean values, proportions, etc) and by Cox proportional hazards regressions. Analyses were adjusted for educational level.

Results: The cohort consisted of 1 229 346 men. The proportion that received DP before the age of 30 increased over time, from 0.68% in the cohort born between 1951 and 1955 to 0.95% in the cohort born between 1971 and 1976. The relative risk of low IQ (adjusted for education) in relation to high IQ decreased from 5.68 (95% CI 4.71 to 6.85) in the cohort born between 1951 and 1955 to 2.62 (95% CI 2.25 to 3.05) in the cohort born between 1971 and 1976.

Conclusions: Our results gave no support to the idea that the importance of low IQ for the risk of DP has increased in parallel with increasing demands in working life. In fact, low IQ has become less important as a risk factor for DP compared with high IQ between the early 1970s and 1990s. An increased educational level over the same time period is likely to be part of the explanation.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Lean on me

Reducing Social Stress Elicits Emotional Contagion of Pain in Mouse and Human Strangers

Loren Martin et al.
Current Biology, 2 February 2015, Pages 326–332

Abstract:
Empathy for another’s physical pain has been demonstrated in humans and mice; in both species, empathy is stronger between familiars. Stress levels in stranger dyads are higher than in cagemate dyads or isolated mice, suggesting that stress might be responsible for the absence of empathy for the pain of strangers. We show here that blockade of glucocorticoid synthesis or receptors for adrenal stress hormones elicits the expression of emotional contagion (a form of empathy) in strangers of both species. Mice and undergraduates were tested for sensitivity to noxious stimulation alone and/or together (dyads). In familiar, but not stranger, pairs, dyadic testing was associated with increased pain behaviors or ratings compared to isolated testing. Pharmacological blockade of glucocorticoid synthesis or glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptors enabled the expression of emotional contagion of pain in mouse and human stranger dyads, as did a shared gaming experience (the video game Rock Band) in human strangers. Our results demonstrate that emotional contagion is prevented, in an evolutionarily conserved manner, by the stress of a social interaction with an unfamiliar conspecific and can be evoked by blocking the endocrine stress response.

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The ease and extent of recursive mindreading, across implicit and explicit tasks

C. O’Grady et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recursive mindreading is the ability to embed mental representations inside other mental representations e.g. to hold beliefs about beliefs about beliefs. An advanced ability to entertain recursively embedded mental states is consistent with evolutionary perspectives that emphasise the importance of sociality and social cognition in human evolution: high levels of recursive mindreading are argued to be involved in several distinctive human behaviours and institutions, such as communication, religion, and story-telling. However, despite a wealth of research on first-level mindreading under the term Theory of Mind, the human ability for recursive mindreading is relatively understudied, and existing research on the topic has significant methodological flaws. Here we show experimentally that human recursive mindreading abilities are far more advanced than has previously been shown. Specifically, we show that humans are able to mindread to at least seven levels of embedding, both explicitly, through linguistic description, and implicitly, through observing social interactions. However, our data suggest that mindreading may be easier when stimuli are presented implicitly rather than explicitly. We argue that advanced mindreading abilities are to be expected in an extremely social species such as our own, where the ability to reason about others’ mental states is an essential, ubiquitous and adaptive component of everyday life.

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Friends First? The Peer Network Origins of Adolescent Dating

Derek Kreager et al.
Journal of Research on Adolescence, forthcoming

Abstract:
The proximity of dating partners in peer friendship networks has important implications for the diffusion of health-risk behaviors and adolescent social development. We derive two competing hypotheses for the friendship–romance association. The first predicts that daters are proximally positioned in friendship networks prior to dating and that opposite-gender friends are likely to transition to dating. The second predicts that dating typically crosses group boundaries and opposite-gender friends are unlikely to later date. We test these hypotheses with longitudinal friendship data for 626 ninth-grade PROSPER heterosexual dating couples. Results primarily support the second hypothesis: Romantic partners are unlikely to be friends in the previous year or share the same cohesive subgroup, and opposite-gender friends are unlikely to transition to dating.

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Can’t Buy Me Friendship? Peer Rejection and Adolescent Materialism: Implicit Self-esteem as a Mediator

Jiang Jiang et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, May 2015, Pages 48–55

Abstract:
Peer rejection is closely connected to adolescent materialism, and self-esteem is a mediator of this relationship. However, most previous studies have revealed only a correlational link between peer rejection and adolescent materialism, and have emphasized explicit self-esteem but not implicit self-esteem. We conducted three studies to address this weakness. Study 1a and Study 1b verified the causal connection between peer rejection and adolescent materialism by showing that participants who recalled experiences of being rejected by peers reported higher levels of materialism than those who recalled acceptance experiences. In Study 2, participants who were rejected by peers demonstrated lower implicit self-esteem and higher materialism levels than those who were not. This study also found that implicit self-esteem mediated the relationship between peer rejection and adolescent materialism. In Study 3, after experiencing peer rejection, priming high implicit self-esteem induced a decline in the participants’ materialism levels, which further validated the mediating role of implicit self-esteem. Overall, these findings suggest that peer rejection boosts adolescent materialism by lowering implicit self-esteem and that materialism is a way to compensate for impaired implicit self-esteem.

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Locus of Control and Peer Relationships Among Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, and African American Adolescents

Hannah Soo Kang et al.
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, January 2015, Pages 184-194

Abstract:
Past research has shown that locus of control plays an important role in a wide range of behaviors, such as academic achievement and positive social behaviors. However, little is known about whether locus of control plays the same role in minority adolescents’ peer relationships. The current study examined ethnic differences in the associations between locus of control and peer relationships in early adolescence using samples from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-K: 5,612 Caucasian, 1,562 Hispanic, 507 Asian, and 908 African-American adolescents) and the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS: 8,484 Caucasian, 1,604 Hispanic, and 860 Asian, and 1,228 African American adolescents). Gender was approximately evenly split in both samples. The results from the two datasets were highly consistent. Significant interactions between ethnicity and locus of control indicated that having a more internal locus of control was particularly important for Caucasian students’ peer relationships (ECLS-K) and social status (NELS), but less so for Asian, Hispanic, and African American students. Our findings suggest that the role of locus of control in peer relationship is contingent upon culture.

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The relation between memories of childhood psychological maltreatment and Machiavellianism

András Láng & Kata Lénárd
Personality and Individual Differences, April 2015, Pages 81–85

Abstract:
Machiavellianism is a hot topic in several branches of psychology. Using Life-History Theory several studies identified Machiavellianism as a fast life strategy. According to this idea, Machiavellianism should be related to childhood adversities. Using a sample of adults we investigated the relationship between Machiavellianism and self-reported memories of childhood psychological maltreatment. Participants (247 individuals, 141 female, 32.38 ± 5.43 years of age on average) completed the Mach-IV Scale and the Childhood Abuse and Trauma Scale. Results showed a relationship between neglect and Machiavellianism in general, Machiavellian tactics, and Machiavellian world view. There was also a marginally significant link between punishment and Machiavellian tactics. Results are discussed from a moral developmental perspective and through the alexithymia hypothesis of Machiavellianism.

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Social network diversity and white matter microstructural integrity in humans

Tara Molesworth et al.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Diverse aspects of physical, affective, and cognitive health relate to social integration, reflecting engagement in social activities and identification with diverse roles within a social network. However, the mechanisms by which social integration interacts with the brain are unclear. In healthy adults (N=155) we tested the links between social integration and measures of white matter microstructure using diffusion tensor imaging. Across the brain, there was a predominantly positive association between a measure of white matter integrity, fractional anisotropy (FA), and social network diversity. This association was particularly strong in a region near the anterior corpus callosum and driven by a negative association with the radial component of the diffusion signal. This callosal region contained projections between bilateral prefrontal cortices, as well as cingulum and corticostriatal pathways. FA within this region was weakly associated with circulating levels of the inflammatory cytokine IL-6, but IL-6 did not mediate the social network and FA relationship. Finally, variation in FA indirectly mediated the relationship between social network diversity and intrinsic functional connectivity of medial corticostriatal pathways. These findings suggest that social integration relates to myelin integrity in humans, which may help explain the diverse aspects of health affected by social networks.

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School mobility and school-age children’s social adjustment

Veronique Dupere et al.
Developmental Psychology, February 2015, Pages 197-210

Abstract:
This study explored how nonpromotional school changes, a potentially major event for children, were associated with 3 forms of social maladjustment: isolation/withdrawal, affiliation with maladjusted peers, and aggression toward peers. Given that school mobility frequently co-occurs with family transitions, the moderating role of these transitions was investigated. These issues were examined in 2 longitudinal samples of U.S. (N = 1,364) and Canadian (N = 1,447) elementary school children. Propensity weighted analyses controlling for premobility individual, family, and friends’ characteristics indicated that children who experienced both school and family transitions were at risk of either social withdrawal (in the Canadian sample) or affiliation with socially maladjusted peers (in the U.S. sample). These findings suggest the importance of considering both the social consequences of school mobility and the context in which such mobility occurs.

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Quality of Social Experience Explains the Relation Between Extraversion and Positive Affect

Luke Smillie et al.
Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
The personality trait extraversion is associated with higher positive affect, and individuals who behave in an extraverted way experience increased positive affect. Across 2 studies, we examine whether the positive affectivity of extraverts can be explained in terms of qualitative aspects of social experience resulting from extraverted (i.e., bold, assertive) behavior. In our first study (N = 225, 58% female), we found that social well-being, a broad measure of quality of social life (Keyes, 1998) was a significant mediator of the relation between trait extraversion and trait positive affect. This effect was specific to 1 aspect of social well-being — social contribution, one’s sense of making an impact on one’s social world. In our second study (N = 81, 75% female), we found that a momentary assessment of social well-being mediated the effect of experimentally manipulated extraverted behavior (in the context of 2 brief discussion tasks) on state positive affect. Furthermore, perceived contribution to the discussion tasks accounted for up to 70% of the effect of enacted extraversion on positive affect. This is the first identified mediator of the effect of enacted extraversion on positive affect. Implications and suggestions for extensions of this research are discussed.

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Network Extraversion Bias: People May Not Be as Outgoing as You Think (Unless You're an Introvert)

Daniel Feiler & Adam Kleinbaum
Dartmouth College Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Using the emergent friendship network of an incoming cohort of MBA students, we examined the role of extraversion in shaping social networks. Extraversion has two important implications for the emergence of network ties: a popularity effect, in which extraverts accumulate more friends than introverts, and a homophily effect, in which two individuals are more likely to become friends if they have similar levels of extraversion. These effects result in a systematic network extraversion bias, in which people’s social networks will tend to be overpopulated with extraverts and underpopulated with introverts. Further, network extraversion bias is greatest for the most extraverted individuals and least for more introverted individuals. Our finding that social networks are systematically misrepresentative of the broader social environment raises questions about whether there is a societal bias toward believing others are more extraverted than they actually are and whether introverts are better socially calibrated than extraverts.

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Distress of ostracism: Oxytocin receptor gene polymorphism confers sensitivity to social exclusion

Robyn McQuaid et al.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
A single-nucleotide polymorphism on the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR), rs53576, involving a guanine (G) to adenine (A) substitution has been associated with altered prosocial features. Specifically, individuals with the GG genotype (i.e. the absence of the polymorphism) display beneficial traits including enhanced trust, empathy and self-esteem. However, because G carriers might also be more socially sensitive, this may render them more vulnerable to the adverse effects of a negative social stressor. The current investigation, conducted among 128 white female undergraduate students, demonstrated that relative to individuals with AA genotype, G carriers were more emotionally sensitive (lower self-esteem) in response to social ostracism promoted through an on-line ball tossing game (Cyberball). Furthermore, GG individuals also exhibited altered blood pressure and cortisol levels following rejection, effects not apparent among A carriers. The data support the view that the presence of the G allele not only promotes prosocial behaviors but also favors sensitivity to a negative social stressor.

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Disadvantaged Minorities’ Use of the Internet to Expand Their Social Networks

Amy Gonzales
Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
An essential argument of the social diversification hypothesis is that disadvantaged groups use the Internet rather than face-to-face communication to broaden social networks, whereas advantaged groups use the Internet to reinforce existing network ties. Previous research in this area has not accounted for both online and off-line communication, has only been examined with cross-sectional data, and has primarily been studied in Israel. To address these gaps with a U.S. data set, 2,669 conversations were analyzed over 6-day periods using ecological momentary assessment (EMA). Indeed, unlike participants from racially or educationally advantaged groups, participants who were from a racially marginalized group or lacked college training were more likely to broaden social networks online rather than face-to-face with interracial and weak tie exchanges. This proof of concept of social diversification theory across cultures is the first to use real-time, within-person measures of both race and tie strength.

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When social media isn’t social: Friends’ responsiveness to narcissists on Facebook

Mina Choi et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, April 2015, Pages 209–214

Abstract:
Narcissists are characterized by a desire to show off and to obtain external validation from others. Research has shown that narcissists are particularly attracted to Facebook, because it allows them to self-promote. But do they receive the attention they crave on Facebook? This study examined Friends’ responsiveness (operationalized as number of comments and “likes”) to Facebook users’ status updates, as a function of the latter’s narcissism. Undergraduates (N = 155) filled out a narcissism scale and offered us access to their profiles, from which we extracted indicators of Friends’ responsiveness. Results show that individuals high in narcissism were less likely to receive comments and “likes” in response to their status updates than individuals low in narcissism. This effect was driven by exploitativeness and entitlement, two components of narcissism. The findings extend understanding of narcissists’ social interactions, an understudied topic, and elucidate some of the psychological factors that drive Facebook interaction.

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Oxytocin improves mentalizing – Pronounced effects for individuals with attenuated ability to empathize

Melanie Feeser et al.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, March 2015, Pages 223–232

Abstract:
The ability to predict the behavior of others based on their mental states is crucial for social functioning. Previous studies have provided evidence for the role of Oxytocin (OXT) in enhancing the ability to mentalize. It has also been demonstrated that the effect of OXT seems to strongly depend on socio-cognitive skills with more pronounced effects in individuals with lower socio-cognitive skills. Although recent studies indicate that mentalizing is related to empathy, no study has yet examined whether the effects of OXT on mentalizing depend on the ability to empathize. 71 male participants participated in a double-blind, between-subjects, placebo-controlled experiment. The Reading the Mind in the Eye Test (RMET) was used to investigate mentalizing abilities. We analyzed the effect of OXT on easy and difficult items of the RMET depending on differential empathy scores of the participants as assessed with the Empathy Quotient (EQ). Our results showed that OXT improves mentalizing for difficult but not for easy items. We generally observed increased mentalizing accuracy in participants with higher empathy scores. Importantly, however, whereas the performance in participants with higher empathy scores was comparable in both OXT and placebo condition, OXT specifically enhanced mentalizing accuracy in participants with lower empathy scores. Our findings suggest that OXT enhances mentalizing abilities. However, we also demonstrate that not all participants benefited from OXT application. It seems that the effects of OXT strongly depend on baseline social-cognitive skills such as empathy.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Take the initiative

Power Gets You High: The Powerful Are More Inspired by Themselves Than by Others

Gerben Van Kleef et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Inspiration is a source of admirable creation — but where do people get it from? We propose that power allows individuals to draw inspiration from the self. Four studies involving different social settings and operationalizations support this idea. Study 1 revealed that greater power is associated with more self-derived inspiration and less other-derived inspiration. In Study 2, participants with a higher sense of power were more inspired by their own than by their partners’ stories in face-to-face conversations, whereas lower power participants were not. In Study 3, higher power people spontaneously generated more inspiring stories involving themselves than did lower power people. Finally, participants in Study 4 felt more inspired after writing about their own experiences than after writing about someone else’s, especially after having been primed with high rather than low power. These findings suggest that powerful people prioritize themselves over others in social interaction because this is emotionally rewarding for them.

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Harnessing Optimism: How Eliciting Goals Improves Performance

Aaron Sackett et al.
University of Chicago Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We describe a field experiment in which merely asking people about their goals prior to performance improved performance among experienced but not novice individuals. Whereas most previously-studied goal interventions involve externally-induced goals, our intervention targeted self-set goals. 1,758 marathoners were either asked or not asked to provide a time goal prior to their race. Although our manipulation did not influence the proportion of marathoners who established time goals, experienced marathoners who were asked about their goal in a pre-marathon survey ran 6.75 minutes faster than those who were not asked about their goal. The effect of our goal-asking manipulation on performance was mediated by the ambitiousness of marathoners’ time goals. We suggest that our manipulation increases goal ambitiousness by interrupting the typical decline in optimism as performance approaches.

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How Backup Plans Can Harm Goal Pursuit: The Unexpected Downside of Being Prepared for Failure

Jihae Shin & Katherine Milkman
University of Wisconsin Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
When pursuing a goal, making a backup plan has many benefits including reducing the psychological discomfort associated with uncertainty. However, we suggest that making a backup plan can also have negative effects. Specifically, we propose that the mere act of thinking through a backup plan can reduce performance on your primary goal by decreasing your desire for goal achievement. In a correlational field study (Study 1), we find that having a backup plan is associated with lower performance on the primary goal. In two experimental studies (Studies 2 and 3), we find that individuals randomly assigned to think through a backup plan subsequently perform worse on their primary goal. We further show that this effect is partially mediated by a decreased desire to attain the primary goal (Study 3). This research provides a fresh perspective on plan-making, highlighting an important yet previously unexplored negative consequence of formulating plans.

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Expectations as Reference Points: Field Evidence from Professional Soccer

Björn Bartling, Leif Brandes & Daniel Schunk
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We show that professional soccer players and their coaches exhibit reference-dependent behavior during matches. Controlling for the state of the match and for unobserved heterogeneity, we show on a minute-by-minute basis that players breach the rules of the game, measured by the referee’s assignment of cards, significantly more often if their teams are behind the expected match outcome, measured by preplay betting odds of large professional bookmakers. We further show that coaches implement significantly more offensive substitutions if their teams are behind expectations. Both types of behaviors impair the expected ultimate match outcome of the team, which shows that our findings do not simply reflect fully rational responses to reference-dependent incentive schemes of favorite teams to falling behind. We derive these results in a data set that contains more than 8,200 matches from 12 seasons of the German Bundesliga and 12 seasons of the English Premier League.

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Why Do Fearful Facial Expressions Elicit Behavioral Approach? Evidence From a Combined Approach-Avoidance Implicit Association Test

Jennifer Hammer & Abigail Marsh
Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite communicating a “negative” emotion, fearful facial expressions predominantly elicit behavioral approach from perceivers. It has been hypothesized that this seemingly paradoxical effect may occur due to fearful expressions’ resemblance to vulnerable, infantile faces. However, this hypothesis has not yet been tested. We used a combined approach-avoidance/implicit association test (IAT) to test this hypothesis. Participants completed an approach-avoidance lever task during which they responded to fearful and angry facial expressions as well as neutral infant and adult faces presented in an IAT format. Results demonstrated an implicit association between fearful facial expressions and infant faces and showed that both fearful expressions and infant faces primarily elicit behavioral approach. The dominance of approach responses to both fearful expressions and infant faces decreased as a function of psychopathic personality traits. Results suggest that the prosocial responses to fearful expressions observed in most individuals may stem from their associations with infantile faces.

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Nonconscious priming of communication

Martin Pickering, Janet McLean & Marina Kraeva
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, May 2015, Pages 77–81

Abstract:
This study investigated whether nonconscious priming can affect the communicative quality of narratives. In two experiments, narrators were primed with words associated with helpfulness or unhelpfulness, and then, in an apparently unrelated task, read and retold a short story to addressees. In Experiment 1, the narrator provided a spoken description, and we also manipulated whether the narrator retold the story to the addressee or to a microphone. In Experiment 2, the narrator provided a written description. In both experiments, narrators primed with helpful words took longer to read the story and provided retellings that were rated to be higher quality than narrators primed with unhelpful words. We propose that priming the concept of helpfulness influences the processes involved in message construction.

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Can't finish what you started? The effect of climactic interruption on behavior

Daniella Kupor, Taly Reich & Baba Shiv
Journal of Consumer Psychology, January 2015, Pages 113–119

Abstract:
Individuals experience a greater frequency of interruptions than ever before. Interruptions by e-mails, phone calls, text messages and other sources of disruption are ubiquitous. We examine the important unanswered question of whether interruptions can increase the likelihood that individuals will choose closure-associated behaviors. Specifically, we explore the possibility that interruptions that occur during the climactic moments of a task or activity can produce a heightened need for psychological closure. When an interruption prevents individuals from achieving closure in the interrupted domain, we show that the resulting unsatisfied need for psychological closure can cause individuals to seek closure in totally unrelated domains. These findings have important implications for understanding how consumer decisions may be influenced by the dynamic — and often interrupted — course of daily events.

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The power of the mind: The cortex as a critical determinant of muscle strength/weakness

Brian Clark et al.
Journal of Neurophysiology, 15 December 2014, Pages 3219-3226

Abstract:
We tested the hypothesis that the nervous system, and the cortex in particular, is a critical determinant of muscle strength/weakness and that a high level of corticospinal inhibition is an important neurophysiological factor regulating force generation. A group of healthy individuals underwent 4 wk of wrist-hand immobilization to induce weakness. Another group also underwent 4 wk of immobilization, but they also performed mental imagery of strong muscle contractions 5 days/wk. Mental imagery has been shown to activate several cortical areas that are involved with actual motor behaviors, including premotor and M1 regions. A control group, who underwent no interventions, also participated in this study. Before, immediately after, and 1 wk following immobilization, we measured wrist flexor strength, voluntary activation (VA), and the cortical silent period (SP; a measure that reflect corticospinal inhibition quantified via transcranial magnetic stimulation). Immobilization decreased strength 45.1 ± 5.0%, impaired VA 23.2 ± 5.8%, and prolonged the SP 13.5 ± 2.6%. Mental imagery training, however, attenuated the loss of strength and VA by ∼50% (23.8 ± 5.6% and 12.9 ± 3.2% reductions, respectively) and eliminated prolongation of the SP (4.8 ± 2.8% reduction). Significant associations were observed between the changes in muscle strength and VA (r = 0.56) and SP (r = −0.39). These findings suggest neurological mechanisms, most likely at the cortical level, contribute significantly to disuse-induced weakness, and that regular activation of the cortical regions via imagery attenuates weakness and VA by maintaining normal levels of inhibition.

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Stress Increases Cue-Triggered “Wanting” for Sweet Reward in Humans

Eva Pool et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition, forthcoming

Abstract:
Stress can increase reward pursuits: This has traditionally been seen as an attempt to relieve negative affect through the hedonic properties of a reward. However, reward pursuit is not always proportional to the pleasure experienced, because reward processing involves distinct components, including the motivation to obtain a reward (i.e., wanting) and the hedonic pleasure during the reward consumption (i.e., liking). Research conducted on rodents demonstrates that stress might directly amplify the cue-triggered wanting, suggesting that under stress wanting can be independent from liking. Here, we aimed to test whether a similar mechanism exists in humans. We used analog of a Pavlovian-Instrumental Transfer test (PIT) with an olfactory reward to measure the cue triggered wanting for a reward but also the sensory hedonic liking felt during the consumption of the same reward. The analog of a PIT procedure, in which participants learned to associate a neutral image and an instrumental action with a chocolate odor, was combined with either a stress-inducing or stress-free behavioral procedure. Results showed that compared with participants in the stress-free condition, those in the stress condition mobilized more effort in instrumental action when the reward-associated cue was displayed, even though they did not report the reward as being more pleasurable. These findings suggest that, in humans, stress selectively increases cue-triggered wanting, independently of the hedonic properties of the reward. Such a mechanism supports the novel explanation proposed by animal research as to why stress often produces cue-triggered bursts of binge eating, relapses in drug addiction, or gambling.

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Reliance on Luck: Identifying Which Achievement Goals Elicit Superstitious Behavior

Eric Hamerman & Carey Morewedge
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
People often resort to superstitious behavior to facilitate goal achievement. We examined whether the specific type of achievement goal pursued influences the propensity to engage in superstitious behavior. Across six studies, we found that performance goals were more likely than learning goals to elicit superstitious behavior. Participants were more likely to engage in superstitious behavior at high than at low levels of chronic performance orientation, but superstitious behavior was not influenced by chronic learning orientation (Studies 1 and 2). Similarly, participants exhibited stronger preferences for lucky items when primed to pursue performance goals rather than learning goals (Studies 3 and 4). As uncertainty of goal achievement increased, superstitious behavior increased when participants pursued performance goals but not learning goals (Study 5). Finally, assignment to use a lucky (vs. unlucky) item resulted in greater confidence of achieving performance goals but not learning goals (Study 6).

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Enjoying the possibility of defeat: Outcome uncertainty, suspense, and intrinsic motivation

Sami Abuhamdeh, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi & Baland Jalal
Motivation and Emotion, February 2015, Pages 1-10

Abstract:
In two studies, the relevance of outcome uncertainty and suspense for intrinsic motivation was examined. In Study 1, participants played a competitive zero-sum video game in which outcome uncertainty during the game (operationalized as the degree of parity between player–opponent scores) was manipulated. Greater outcome uncertainty led to greater enjoyment, and this effect was mediated by suspense. Although outperforming one’s opponent by a wide margin maximized perceived competence, these games were less enjoyable than closer games with higher outcome uncertainty. These findings were extended in Study 2, which incorporated a behavioral measure of intrinsic motivation. Participants chose to play games they previously rated as relatively high in suspense but relatively low in perceived competence over games which provided higher perceptions of competence but less suspense. Performance concern moderated this effect. Implications of the findings for theories of intrinsic motivation, and possible avenues for future research, are discussed.

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Young Flames: The Effects of Childhood Exposure to Fire on Adult Attitudes

Damian Murray, Daniel Fessler & Gwen Lupfer
Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Successful use of fire has been essential to survival throughout the majority of human history — an environmental pressure that may have led to cognitive mechanisms dedicated to attaining mastery of fire manipulation and control. Concordant with this hypothesis is the fact that, despite its inherent danger, the frivolous use of fire remains firmly embedded within modern societies; conversely, in societies where fire is used for utilitarian purposes, ethnographic reports suggest that fire is considered mundane. The exposure hypothesis holds that the attraction to fire in modern societies is due to the lack of adequate exposure to fire throughout childhood. Two studies — comprising North American samples that have had significantly different levels of exposure to fire — investigated the relationship between frequency of exposure to fire throughout childhood and psychological associations with fire. Psychological associations with fire were overwhelmingly positive in both samples. Study 1 found no significant association between childhood fire exposure and positive affective associations with fire. Using a more sophisticated measurement tool and in a more rural sample, Study 2 found that, contrary to the exposure hypothesis, more frequent exposure to fire in childhood was associated with more positive psychological associations with fire. Potential reasons for the discrepancies between these results and earlier ethnographic reports, and their potential implications, are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, February 6, 2015

Entering the race

What Do I Need to Vote? Bureaucratic Discretion and Discrimination by Local Election Officials

Ariel White, Noah Nathan & Julie Faller
American Political Science Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do street-level bureaucrats discriminate in the services they provide to constituents? We use a field experiment to measure differential information provision about voting by local election administrators in the United States. We contact over 7,000 election officials in 48 states who are responsible for providing information to voters and implementing voter ID laws. We find that officials provide different information to potential voters of different putative ethnicities. Emails sent from Latino aliases are significantly less likely to receive any response from local election officials than non-Latino white aliases and receive responses of lower quality. This raises concerns about the effect of voter ID laws on access to the franchise and about bias in the provision of services by local bureaucrats more generally.

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True Colors: White Conservative Support for Minority Republican Candidates

M.V. Hood & Seth Mckee
Public Opinion Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although the vast majority of minority candidates run under the Democratic label and minority voters are more supportive of the Democratic Party, in recent years a nontrivial number of minority candidates have won Republican Party nominations in high-profile elections (i.e., governor and US Senate). In this study, we assess the level of support that white conservative voters give to minority Republican candidates. We are interested in seeing whether these voters are less supportive of the Grand Old Party (GOP) standard-bearer when the candidate is not white, since the vast majority of Republican candidates and Republican identifiers are non-Hispanic whites. Our data come from the 2006, 2010, and 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) surveys-election years with minority Republican nominees for governor and US Senate. Controlling for various factors, we consistently find that white conservatives are either more supportive of minority Republicans or just as likely to vote for a minority as they are a white Republican (a null result). Although we hesitate to dismiss the presence of racial prejudice in voting behavior, in the case of white conservatives our analyses suggest that the base of the GOP does not discriminate against minority nominees in high-profile contemporary general elections. At a minimum, the level of ideological polarization in American politics masks racially prejudiced voting behavior, and at a maximum, it renders it inoperable, because white conservatives view recent minority Republican nominees as at least as conservative as white GOP nominees and their level of support reflects this.

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Race and the Tea Party in the Old Dominion: Split-Ticket Voting in the 2013 Virginia Elections

M.V. Hood, Quentin Kidd & Irwin Morris
PS: Political Science & Politics, January 2015, Pages 107-114

Abstract:
In 2013, Virginia Republicans nominated two Tea Party conservatives for statewide office: Ken Cuccinelli and Earl Walker Jackson, Sr. They differed in two significant respects: (1) Cuccinelli has more political experience, and (2) Cuccinelli is white and Jackson is black. For this article, we used this quasi-experimental opportunity to examine the racial resentment explanation for Tea Party support. We found no evidence of voting patterns consistent with this characterization of Tea Party supporters. There was no significant gap between Tea Party support for Cuccinelli and Jackson, and Tea Party supporters were far more likely to cast ballots for both candidates than they were to choose one or the other. In fact, we found that racial resentment is positively associated with support for Jackson. In this election, neither Tea Party support nor racial resentment negatively affected support for the black Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

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Ailing voters advance attractive congressional candidates

Leslie Zebrowitz, Robert Franklin & Rocco Palumbo
Evolutionary Psychology, January 2015, Pages 16-28

Abstract:
Among many benefits of facial attractiveness, there is evidence that more attractive politicians are more likely to be elected. Recent research found this effect to be most pronounced in congressional districts with high disease threat - a result attributed to an adaptive disease avoidance mechanism, whereby the association of low attractiveness with poor health is particularly worrisome to voters who feel vulnerable to disease. We provided a more direct test of this explanation by examining the effects of individuals' own health and age. Supporting a disease avoidance mechanism, less healthy participants showed a stronger preference for more attractive contenders in U.S. Senate races than their healthier peers, and this effect was stronger for older participants, who were generally less healthy than younger participants. Stronger effects of health for older participants partly reflected the absence of positive bias toward attractive candidates among the healthiest, suggesting that healthy older adults may be unconcerned about disease threat or sufficiently wise to ignore attractiveness.

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How Do Voters Retrospectively Evaluate Wasteful Government Spending? Evidence from Individual-Level Disaster Relief

Jowei Chen & Andrew Healy
University of Michigan Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
Why do voters often reward incumbents when they receive government spending? We develop a model in which distributive spending provides voters not just with a financial benefit, but also an opportunity to observe and judge the appropriateness of government decisions. Empirically, we test the model's predictions using individual-level data on FEMA disaster relief matched to voter turnout records, precinct-level election returns, and geographic data on hurricane severity. In accordance with the model, voters in areas experiencing severe hurricane conditions respond to the receipt of FEMA disaster aid with significantly higher turnout and electoral support for the incumbent administration. In contrast, voters show little response to aid in areas that experienced little damage and that audits identified as having received undeserved FEMA spending. Politicians thus appear to be constrained in their ability to use distributive spending to win elections since voters account for the merit of the aid they receive.

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The Air War versus The Ground Game: An Analysis of Multi-Channel Marketing in U.S. Presidential Elections

Doug Chung & Lingling Zhang
Harvard Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Firms increasingly use both mass-media advertising and targeted personal selling to successfully promote products and brands in the marketplace. In this study, we jointly examine the effect of mass-media advertising and personal selling in the context of U.S. presidential elections, where the former is referred to as the "air war" and the latter the "ground game." Specifically, we look at how different types of advertising ― candidates' own ads vs. outside ads ― and personal selling ― in the form of utilizing field offices ― affect voter preferences. Further, we ask how these various campaign activities affect the outcome of elections through their diverse effects on various types of people. We find that personal selling has a stronger effect among partisan voters, while candidates' own advertising is better received by non-partisans. We also find that personal selling accounted for the Democratic victories in the 2008 and 2012 elections and that advertising was critical only in a close election, such as the one in 2004. Interestingly, had the Democrats received more outside advertising in 2004, the election would have ended up in a 269-269 tie. Our findings generate insights on how to allocate resources across and within channels.

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Talking About Congress: The Limited Effect of Congressional Advertising on Congressional Approval

Krista Loose
MIT Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
Public opinion of Congress is historically low: approximately 15 percent expressed approval of the job Congress is doing in the latest Gallup poll (Jones 2014). While political science research has shed light on a variety of causes (Durr, Gilmour and Wolbrecht 1997; Hibbing and Theiss-Morse 1995; Ramirez 2009) and consequences (Jones and McDermott 2009; Lipinski 2004; Wolak 2007) of low congressional approval, many open questions remain. One classical explanation for the public's attitude is that members of Congress are critical of their own institution. Indeed, Fenno's (1978) classic statement that politicians run for Congress by running against Congress has long been taken as fact by both political scientists and practitioners. However, neither the actions of congressmen nor the public's reactions to such statements have been empirically tested in a thorough manner. This study combines new data on congressional advertising during the 2000s with survey data from the same period to speak directly to Fenno's conjectures. I find that candidates only mention Congress in approximately 9 percent of their advertisements, and many do so in a neutral way. Moreover, there do not appear to be strong or long-lasting effects on congressional approval as a result of such critical ads. These observational results are born out by an experiment where I show subjects one of three mock advertisements: one critical of Congress, one supportive of Congress, and one that does not mention Congress. Subjects viewing the ad supportive of Congress were less likely to support the ad sponsor relative to the control ad, but there were no effects of either treatment on respondent's attitudes toward Congress.

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Blue City.Red City? A Comparison of Competing Theories of Core County Outcomes in U.S. Presidential Elections, 2000-2012

Joshua Ambrosius
Journal of Urban Affairs, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Red/Blue dichotomy describing presidential elections, while criticized, is ubiquitous: Red states vote Republican, Blue states Democratic. Locally, suburban and rural counties are often Red, urban counties Blue. This overgeneralization misses the Republican share of urban centers. This study analyzes the 2000-2012 presidential elections in core counties of metropolitan areas with populations over 250,000. Possible explanations for urban election outcomes cover three theoretical groupings: sociodemographics, culture, and economics. Several prominent explanatory variables from each are compared. Changes from 2000-2004 to 2008-2012 are highlighted given the 2008 economic crash and President Obama's race and urban identity, which permitted him to cut President Bush's core county share in half. Regression analyses find that sociodemographic and cultural features account for most variation for all elections, while economic indicators add little explanatory power. In contrast to conventional thinking, economics mattered most in 2004, culture increased in importance in 2008-2012, and urban foreclosures positively influenced McCain in 2008.

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Preference Dynamics in the 2014 Congressional Midterm Elections

Costas Panagopoulos
The Forum, December 2014, Pages 729-737

Abstract:
The vote intentions of Americans experienced meaningful change over the course of the 2014 campaign, largely to the detriment of Democrats and in favor of the GOP. Vote intention trajectories generally followed sensible and predictable patterns, reflecting forces and developments that unfolded over the course of the campaign cycle. Specifically, changes in voter sentiments were fueled primarily by assessments about the president and, relatedly, about the condition of the national economy. Higher levels of Obama approval helped Democratic contenders over the course of the 2014 midterm cycle, while Republicans appeared to benefit from improvements in the economy. Political events and assessments of congressional performance were unrelated to vote intentions in 2014.

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Balancing Act? Testing a Theory of Split-Party U.S. Senate Delegations

Christopher Donnelly
Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why do some states elect split-party U.S. Senate delegations? Fiorina (1992) suggests that his own "balancing" theory might account for the emergence of such opposite-party pairs of Senators. Due primarily to data limitations, previous empirical assessments of whether balancing can appropriately explain the emergence of mixed delegations in the Senate have been limited to aggregate-level analysis. This paper builds on previous scholarship by offering the first individual-level examination of whether balancing theory can appropriately explain divided Senate delegations. We find that individual-level balancing is limited and that when controlling for individual and contextual factors thought to influence vote choice, there is no discernible evidence that voters are considering the makeup of their state's overall Senate delegation when choosing between Senate candidates on offer. Ultimately, our results suggest that candidate-centered campaigns, heterogeneous electorates, and idiosyncratic electoral forces are better explanations for split-party Senate delegations than is any type of strategic, non-proximate voting on the part of citizens.

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National Service and Civic Engagement: A Natural Experiment

Ryan Garcia
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Nearly all studies that seek to uncover the effects of military service on the individual are plagued with the self-selection bias that comes with studying the all-volunteer force. To solve this problem, this paper takes advantage of the natural experiment afforded by the suspension of the French National Service program to produce unbiased causal analyses of the effect of national service on a range of civic engagement measures. Results generated using Instrumental Variables estimation indicate that there is little difference in individual-level civic engagement between service participants and their non-serving peers. However, when potential mediators are taken into account, the ensuing results imply that the substantial increase in the likelihood of having children associated with national service participation has a suppressive effect on service participants' overall level of civic engagement.

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The Effect of Political Uncertainty on the Cost of Corporate Debt

Maya Waisman, Pengfei Ye & Yun Zhu
Journal of Financial Stability, February 2015, Pages 106-117

Abstract:
In this paper we bring new empirical evidence that political uncertainty is associated with higher corporate debt financing costs. Controlling for all bond and firm characteristics that could affect a firm's cost of debt financing, the uncertainty associated with the outcome of US presidential elections leads to a 34 basis point increase in corporate bond spreads, with closer campaign years associated with additional costs. Similar results hold when we use the continuous measure of the Political Uncertainty Index by Baker, Bloom and Davis (2012). The uncertainty associated with gubernatorial elections, on the other hand, has no effect on the pricing of corporate bonds.

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Election administration and perceptions of fair elections

Shaun Bowler et al.
Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Scholars of democracy proposes an important relationship between the quality of elections and democratic legitimacy, but there are few studies of how the conduct of elections affects perceptions of elections being fair. We examine how election administration and individual-level demographic traits affect public perceptions of fair elections in the US. Since administration of US elections is largely the responsibility of individual states we are able to exploit variation in the quality of how elections are conducted to assess effects of electoral administration on public perceptions. We find evidence that administrative performance is positively and significantly related to perceptions of elections being fair. Voter identification laws, in contrast, are not associated with greater confidence in elections. We also find some evidence that speaks to the limits of these findings, as individual-level factors such as partisanship and minority status have larger effects than administration on perceptions of electoral fairness.

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Interest Group Issue Appeals: Evidence of Issue Convergence in Senate and Presidential Elections, 2008-2014

Michael Franz
The Forum, December 2014, Pages 685-712

Abstract:
Interest groups now play a prominent role in the air war. Their collective investment in election campaigns has skyrocketed in the aftermath of Citizens United. Yet questions remain about whether interest group advertising affects the content of the specific issues being discussed. Do groups enter campaigns and engage voters on the same issues as their candidate allies? Or does the presence of more advertisers introduce competitive issue streams? This paper examines ad buys in Senate elections between 2008 and 2014 and the presidential elections of 2008 and 2012. A primary goal of the paper is to uncover the effect of high and low levels of "issue convergence" on election outcomes. Strategists often express concern that too many voices on behalf of a candidate can weaken the impact of ads. One might expect that as convergence between a candidate and his or her allies goes up (meaning the issue content of the ad buys overlaps across advertisers), the impact of ads on votes will increase. Ad effects should be weaker when a candidate's ads discuss different issues from allied groups and party committees. The results, however, suggest that high rates of issue convergence are only weakly related to election outcomes (and not always in consistent ways).

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More Misinformed than Myopic: Economic Retrospections and the Voter's Time Horizon

Timothy Hellwig & Dani Marinova
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Retrospective voting is often considered representative democracy's saving grace. But just how long is the retrospective voter's time horizon? Do voters make decisions by taking into account evidence accruing over the policy maker's full term in office? Or do they rely on information from the recent past alone? We address these questions through a unique survey design which leverages real-world heterogeneity in economic outcomes prior to the 2012 U.S. presidential election. Contrary to conventional wisdom, our findings do not support claims that voters are myopic. Although they are able to distinguish between short- and long-term benchmarks, voters are no more accurate in assessing the former than they are the latter. The choice of time horizon also has no consistent effect on the decision to hold the incumbent to account. Our results question assumptions of voter myopia, revealing voters to be more misinformed than short-sighted.

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Primary Elections and the Quality of Elected Officials

Shigeo Hirano & James Snyder
Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Fall 2014, Pages 473-500

Abstract:
In this paper we argue that the literature underestimates the value of primaries because it focuses on overall average effects. We argue that primary elections are most needed in safe constituencies, where the advantaged party's candidate can usually win the general election even if she is low quality. If the main role of elections is to select good candidates, then advantaged party primaries in open seat races are particularly consequential. We provide evidence that these primaries are especially effective at selecting high quality types. This appears to be driven both by differences in the proportion of high quality candidates competing in the primaries and also by voter behavior.

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Competition and the Dynamics of Issue Convergence

Kevin Banda
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Issue convergence theory suggests that candidates should respond to their opponents by discussing the same issues whereas issue divergence theory posits that candidates should instead ignore each other and discuss different issues. Recent studies tend to find evidence in favor of issue convergence, but these results may be inaccurate because the analyses that generated them tested dynamic campaign behavior using cross-sectional methods. Using a dynamic modeling strategy along with television advertising data drawn from 93 U.S. Senate campaigns in 44 states, 5 election years, and on 51 issues, I show that candidates increase the attention they devote to issues as their opponents' emphasis of these same issues increases and that candidates do so to a greater extent in competitive than in noncompetitive elections. This analysis is the first to account for the dynamic nature of issue emphasis and provides support for issue convergence theory.

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Incorporating Health into Studies of Political Behavior: Evidence for Turnout and Partisanship

Julianna Pacheco & Jason Fletcher
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
We argue that research on political behavior, including political participation, public opinion, policy responsiveness, and political inequality will be strengthened by studying the role of health. We then provide evidence that self-rated health status (SRHS) is associated with voter turnout and partisanship. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) and General Social Survey (GSS), we find that people who report excellent health are more likely to vote and more likely to identify with the Republican Party. Moreover, the effects of health on voter turnout and partisanship appear to have both developmental and contemporaneous components. Taken together, our findings suggest that health inequalities may have significant political consequences.

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Electoral Consequences of Political Rumors: Motivated Reasoning, Candidate Rumors, and Vote Choice during the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election

Brian Weeks & Kelly Garrett
International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Winter 2014, Pages 401-422

Abstract:
Using national telephone survey data collected immediately after the 2008 U.S. presidential election (N = 600), this study examines real-world consequences of inaccurate political rumors. First, individuals more willingly believe negative rumors about a candidate from the opposing party than from their party. However, rumor rebuttals are uniformly effective and do not produce backfire effects. Second, the probability of voting for a candidate decreases when rumors about that candidate are believed, and believing rumors about an opposed candidate reinforces a vote for the preferred candidate. This belief-vote link is not a result of the spurious influence of party affiliation, as rumor belief uniquely contributes to vote choice. The evidence suggests political rumoring is not innocuous chatter but rather can have important electoral consequences.

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Disentangling the Personal and Partisan Incumbency Advantages: Evidence from Close Elections and Term Limits

Anthony Fowler & Andrew Hall
Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Fall 2014, Pages 501-531

Abstract:
Although the scholarly literature on incumbency advantages focuses on personal advantages, the partisan incumbency advantage - the electoral benefit accruing to non-incumbent candidates by virtue of being from the incumbent party - is also an important electoral factor. Understanding this phenomenon is important for evaluating the role of parties vs. individuals in U.S. elections and the incentives of incumbents and their parties in the legislature, among other things. In this paper, we define the partisan incumbency advantage, explain its possible role in elections, and show how it confounds previous estimates of the personal incumbency advantage. We then exploit close elections in conjunction with term limits in U.S. state legislatures to separately estimate the personal and partisan incumbency advantages. The personal advantage is perhaps larger than previously thought, and the partisan advantage is indistinguishable from zero and possibly negative.

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Sponsorship, Disclosure, and Donors: Limiting the Impact of Outside Group Ads

Travis Ridout, Michael Franz & Erika Franklin Fowler
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research examines how an attack ad's sponsorship conditions its effectiveness. We use data from a survey experiment that exposed participants to a fictional campaign ad. Treatments varied the ad's sponsor (candidate vs. group), the group's donor base (small donor vs. large donors), and the format of the donor disclosure (news reports vs. disclaimers in the ads). We find that ads sponsored by unknown groups are more effective than candidate-sponsored ads, but disclosure of donors reduces the influence of group advertising, leveling the playing field such that candidate- and group-sponsored attacks become equally effective. Increased disclosure does not, however, advantage small-donor groups over large-donor groups.

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Power to the People? Psychological Mechanisms of Disengagement From Direct Democracy

Ellie Shockley & Amir Shawn Fairdosi
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The goal of direct democracy is to bring power to change laws to ordinary citizens. However, it may alienate citizens because policy language is often complex, perhaps impacting citizens' voting likelihood and support for policies. We invoke theory on processing fluency and compensatory control motivations to explain voting likelihood and policy attitude formation. Using experiments and mediational analyses, we tested theorized links between policy language complexity and these outcomes. Findings suggest that policy language complexity motivates compensatory trust in policy institutions but this does not likely explain decreased voting likelihood. We also found that low processing fluency associated with reading a complexly worded policy or a policy presented in a disfluent font led to lower voting likelihood and less positive policy attitudes, consistent with predictions. Thus, the form direct democracy often takes manipulates the amount of support garnered for policies and ironically encourages citizens to outsource legislation to institutional elites.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Birthdays

Investigating Recent Trends in the U.S. Teen Birth Rate

Melissa Kearney & Phillip Levine
Journal of Health Economics, May 2015, Pages 15–29

Abstract:
We investigate trends in the U.S. rate of teen childbearing between 1981 and 2010, focusing specifically on the sizable decline since 1991. We focus on establishing the role of state-level demographic changes, economic conditions, and targeted policies in driving recent aggregate trends. We offer three main observations. First, the recent decline cannot be explained by the changing racial and ethnic composition of teens. Second, the only targeted policies that have had a statistically discernible impact on aggregate teen birth rates are declining welfare benefits and expanded access to family planning services through Medicaid, but these policies can account for only 12.6 percent of the observed decline since 1991. Third, higher unemployment rates lead to lower teen birth rates and can account for 16 percent of the decline in teen birth rates since the Great Recession began.

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Fertility and Childlessness in the United States

Thomas Baudin, David de la Croix & Paula Gobbi
American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We develop a theory of fertility, distinguishing its intensive margin from its extensive margin. The deep parameters are identified using facts from the 1990 Census: (1) fertility of mothers decreases with education; (2) childlessness exhibits a U-shaped relationship with education; (3) the relationship between marriage rates and education is hump-shaped for women and increasing for men. We estimate that 2.5% of women were childless because of poverty and 8.1% because of high opportunity cost of childrearing. Over time, historical trends in total factor productivity and in education led to a U-shaped response in childlessness rates while fertility of mothers decreased.

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Health Insurance, Fertility, and the Wantedness of Pregnancies: Evidence from Massachusetts

Maria Apostolova-Mihaylova & Aaron Yelowitz
University of Kentucky Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Health insurance reform in Massachusetts lowered the financial cost of both pregnancy (by increased coverage of pregnancy-related medical events) and pregnancy prevention (by increasing access to reliable contraception and family planning). We examine fertility responses for women of childbearing age in Massachusetts and, on net, find no effect from increasing health insurance coverage. This finding, however, masks substantial heterogeneity. For married women aged 20 to 34 – who have high latent fertility and for whom pregnancies are typically wanted – fertility increased by approximately 1 percent. For unmarried women in the same age range – for whom pregnancies are typically unwanted – fertility declined by 9 percent. Fertility rates changed very little for other groups, in part because of low latent fertility or minimal gains in insurance coverage. Pregnancy wantedness increased in the aggregate through a combination of increasing wanted births and decreasing unwanted births.

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The Quantity and Quality Adjustment of Births When Having More is Not Subsidized: The Effect of the TANF Family Cap on Fertility and Birth Weight

Ho-Po Crystal Wong
West Virginia University Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
The family cap policy that reduces or eliminates incremental welfare benefits for additional births born to mothers already on welfare provides a strong financial disincentive for pregnancy for women on welfare. Hypothetically welfare mothers might also substitute quality for quantity in response to the family cap policy. I study the long term effect of the policy on fertility and low weight births using state-level data from 1989-2012. I find that the policy reduces state level out-of-wedlock birth rate and low weight birth rate by at least 7.5 percent and 1.8 percent respectively. The evidence suggests that the family cap policy might not just produce a deterrent effect on non-marital childbearing but also a quality effect on childbearing: those births that actually occur are endowed with better health in terms of birth weight.

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Pregnancy Intentions, Maternal Behaviors, and Infant Health: Investigating Relationships With New Measures and Propensity Score Analysis

Kathryn Kost & Laura Lindberg
Demography, February 2015, Pages 83-111

Abstract:
The premise that unintended childbearing has significant negative effects on the behavior of mothers and on the health of infants strongly influences public health policy and much of current research on reproductive behaviors. Yet, the evidence base presents mixed findings. Using data from the U.S. National Survey of Family Growth, we employ a measure of pregnancy intentions that incorporates the extent of mistiming, as well as the desire scale developed by Santelli et al. (Studies in Family Planning, 40, 87–100, 2009). Second, we examine variation in the characteristics of mothers within intention status groups. Third, we account for the association of mothers’ background characteristics with their pregnancy intentions and with the outcomes by employing propensity score weighting. We find that weighting eliminated statistical significance of many observed associations of intention status with maternal behaviors and birth outcomes, but not all. Mistimed and unwanted births were still less likely to be recognized early in pregnancy than intended ones. Fewer unwanted births received early prenatal care or were breast-fed, and unwanted births were also more likely than intended births to be of low birth weight. Relative to births at the highest level of the desire scale, all other births were significantly less likely to be recognized early in pregnancy and to receive early prenatal care.

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The unintended: Negative outcomes over the life cycle

Wanchuan Lin & Juan Pantano
Journal of Population Economics, April 2015, Pages 479-508

Abstract:
We quantify the impact of abortion legalization on the incidence of unintended births. While underlying much of the literature on abortion legalization, this effect had only been approximated by previous work. We find a strong decline in the prevalence of unintended births. Moreover, we find that this decline is mainly driven by “pro-choice” women. We then propose an empirical strategy to recover the effect of being “unintended” on life cycle outcomes. We use the differential timing of abortion legalization across states interacted with the mother’s religion (which facilitates or hinders legal abortion take up) to instrument for endogenous pregnancy intention. We find that being unintended causes negative outcomes (higher crime, lower schooling, lower earnings) over the life cycle. Our paper provides an initial step towards quantifying this key mechanism behind many of the well-documented long-term effects associated with changes in reproductive health policy.

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The Consequences of Teenage Childbearing Before Roe v Wade

Kevin Lang & Russell Weinstein
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using five cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth, we estimate the effect of teen motherhood on education, labor market, and marriage outcomes for teens conceiving from 1940 through 1968. Effects vary by marital status at conception, socioeconomic background, and year. Effects on teens married at conception were limited. However, teen mothers conceiving premaritally obtained less education and had a weaker marriage market. Teen mothers of the 1940s–1950s, affected by subsequent economic and social changes, were disadvantaged in the labor market of the 1970s. In the 1960s, teens for whom motherhood would be costly increasingly avoided pregnancy.

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Race-Ethnic Differences in the Non-marital Fertility Rates in 2006–2010

Yujin Kim & Kelly Raley
Population Research and Policy Review, February 2015, Pages 141-159

Abstract:
Research in the 1980s pointed to the lower marriage rates of blacks as an important factor contributing to race differences in non-marital fertility. Our analyses update and extend this prior work to investigate whether cohabitation has become an important contributor to this variation. We use data from the 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth to identify the relative contribution of population composition (i.e., percent sexually active single and percent cohabiting) versus rates (pregnancy rates, post-conception marriage rates) to race-ethnic variation in non-marital fertility rates (N = 7,428). We find that the pregnancy rate among single (not cohabiting) women is the biggest contributor to race-ethnic variation in the non-marital fertility rate and that contraceptive use patterns among racial minorities explain the majority of the race-ethnic differences in pregnancy rates.

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Where Have All the Young Men Gone? Using Sex Ratios to Measure Fetal Death Rates

Nicholas Sanders & Charles Stoecker
Journal of Health Economics, May 2015, Pages 30–45

Abstract:
Fetal health is an important consideration in policy formation. Unfortunately, a complete census of fetal deaths, an important measure of overall fetal health, is infeasible, and available data are selectively observed. We consider this issue in the context of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970 (CAAA), one of the largest and most influential environmental regulations in the history of the United States. We discuss a model of potential bias in measuring observed fetal deaths, and present the sex ratio of live births as an alternative fetal health endpoint, taking advantage of the finding that males are more vulnerable to side effects of maternal stress in utero. We find the CAAA caused substantial improvements in fetal health, in addition to previously identified reductions in post-natal mortality.

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Surrogate mothers 10 years on: A longitudinal study of psychological well-being and relationships with the parents and child

V. Jadva, S. Imrie & S. Golombok
Human Reproduction, February 2015, Pages 373-379

Study question: How do the psychological health and experiences of surrogate mothers change from 1 year to 10 years following the birth of the surrogacy child?

Study design, size, duration: This study used a prospective longitudinal design, in which 20 surrogates were seen at two time points: 1 year following the birth of the surrogacy child and 10 years later.

Participants/materials, setting, methods: The 20 surrogates (representing 59% of the original sample) participated in a semi-structured interview and completed self-report questionnaires. Eleven surrogates were gestational carriers and nine surrogates had used their own oocyte (genetic surrogacy). Four were previously known to the intended parents and 16 were previously not known.

Main results and the role of chance: Ten years following the birth of the surrogacy child, surrogate mothers scored within the normal range for self-esteem and did not show signs of depression as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory. Marital quality remained positive over time. All surrogates reported that their expectations of their relationship with the intended parents had been either met or exceeded and most reported positive feelings towards the child. In terms of expectations for the future, most surrogates reported that they would like to maintain contact or would be available to the child if the child wished to contact them. None expressed regrets about their involvement in surrogacy.

Wider implications of the findings: Contrary to concerns about the potentially negative long-term effect of surrogacy, the findings suggest that surrogacy can be a positive experience for some women at least. These findings are important for policy and practice of surrogacy around the world.

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Understanding Heterogeneity in the Effects of Birth Weight on Adult Cognition and Wages

Justin Cook & Jason Fletcher
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
A large economics literature has shown long term impacts of birth weight on adult outcomes, including IQ and earnings that are often robust to sibling or twin fixed effects. We examine potential mechanisms underlying these effects by incorporating findings from the genetics and neuroscience literatures. We use a sample of siblings combined with an “orchids and dandelions hypothesis”, where the IQ of genetic dandelions is not affected by in utero nutrition variation but genetic orchids thrive under advantageous conditions and wilt in poor conditions. Indeed, using variation in three candidate genes related to neuroplasticity (APOE, BDNF, and COMT), we find substantial heterogeneity in the associations between birth weight and adult outcomes, where part of the population (i.e., “dandelions”) is not affected by birth weight variation. Our results help uncover why birth weight affects adult outcomes.

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Genotype × Cohort Interaction on Completed Fertility and Age at First Birth

Daniel Briley, Paige Harden & Elliot Tucker-Drob
Behavior Genetics, January 2015, Pages 71-83

Abstract:
Microevolutionary projections use empirical estimates of genetic covariation between physical or psychological phenotypes and reproductive success to forecast changes in the population distributions of those phenotypes over time. The validity of these projections depends on relatively consistent heritabilities of fertility-relevant outcomes and consistent genetic covariation between fertility and other physical or psychological phenotypes across generations. However, well-documented, rapidly changing mean trends in the level and timing of fertility may have been accompanied by differences in the genetic mechanisms of fertility. Using a sample of 933 adult twin pairs from the Midlife Development in the United States study, we demonstrate that genetic influences on completed fertility and age at first birth were trivial for the 1920–1935 birth cohort, but rose substantially for the 1936–1955 birth cohort. For the 1956–1970 birth cohort, genetic influences on completed fertility, but not age at first birth, persisted. Because the heritability of fertility is subject to change dynamically with the social context, it is difficult to project selection pressures or the rate at which selection will occur.

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Social Discrimination, Stress, and Risk of Unintended Pregnancy Among Young Women

Kelli Stidham Hall et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Purpose: Prior research linking young women's mental health to family planning outcomes has often failed to consider their social circumstances and the intersecting biosocial mechanisms that shape stress and depression as well as reproductive outcomes during adolescence and young adulthood. We extend our previous work to investigate relationships between social discrimination, stress and depression symptoms, and unintended pregnancy among adolescent and young adult women.

Methods: Data were drawn from 794 women aged 18–20 years in a longitudinal cohort study. Baseline and weekly surveys assessed psychosocial information including discrimination (Everyday Discrimination Scale), stress (Perceived Stress Scale), depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies–Depression Scale), and reproductive outcomes. Multilevel, mixed-effects logistic regression and discrete-time hazard models estimated associations between discrimination, mental health, and pregnancy. Baron and Kenny's method was used to test mediation effects of stress and depression on discrimination and pregnancy.

Results: The mean discrimination score was 19/45 points; 20% reported moderate/high discrimination. Discrimination scores were higher among women with stress and depression symptoms versus those without symptoms (21 vs. 18 points for both, p < .001). Pregnancy rates (14% overall) were higher among women with moderate/high (23%) versus low (11%) discrimination (p < .001). Discrimination was associated with stress (adjusted relative risk ratio, [aRR], 2.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.4–3.4), depression (aRR, 2.4; CI, 1.5–3.7), and subsequent pregnancy (aRR, 1.8; CI, 1.1–3.0). Stress and depression symptoms did not mediate discrimination's effect on pregnancy.

Conclusions: Discrimination was associated with an increased risk of mental health symptoms and unintended pregnancy among these young women. The interactive social and biological influences on reproductive outcomes during adolescence and young adulthood warrant further study.

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Evidence of Self-correction of Child Sex Ratios in India: A District-Level Analysis of Child Sex Ratios From 1981 to 2011

Nadia Diamond-Smith & David Bishai
Demography, forthcoming

Abstract:
Sex ratios in India have become increasingly imbalanced over the past decades. We hypothesize that when sex ratios become very uneven, the shortage of girls will increase girls’ future value, leading sex ratios to self-correct. Using data on children under 5 from the last four Indian censuses, we examine the relationship between the sex ratio at one point in time and the change in sex ratio over the next 10 years by district. Fixed-effects models show that when accounting for unobserved district-level characteristics — including total fertility rate, infant mortality rate, percentage literate, percentage rural, percentage scheduled caste, percentage scheduled tribe, and a time trend variable — sex ratios are significantly negatively correlated with the change in sex ratio in the successive 10-year period. This suggests that self-corrective forces are at work on imbalanced sex ratios in India.

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Solar activity at birth predicted infant survival and women's fertility in historical Norway

Gine Roll Skjærvø, Frode Fossøy & Eivin Røskaft
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 22 February 2015

Abstract:
Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) can suppress essential molecular and cellular mechanisms during early development in living organisms and variations in solar activity during early development may thus influence their health and reproduction. Although the ultimate consequences of UVR on aquatic organisms in early life are well known, similar studies on terrestrial vertebrates, including humans, have remained limited. Using data on temporal variation in sunspot numbers and individual-based demographic data (N = 8662 births) from Norway between 1676 and 1878, while controlling for maternal effects, socioeconomic status, cohort and ecology, we show that solar activity (total solar irradiance) at birth decreased the probability of survival to adulthood for both men and women. On average, the lifespans of individuals born in a solar maximum period were 5.2 years shorter than those born in a solar minimum period. In addition, fertility and lifetime reproductive success (LRS) were reduced among low-status women born in years with high solar activity. The proximate explanation for the relationship between solar activity and infant mortality may be an effect of folate degradation during pregnancy caused by UVR. Our results suggest that solar activity at birth may have consequences for human lifetime performance both within and between generations.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Management scorecard

Managers’ External Social Ties at Work: Blessing or Curse for the Firm?

Leif Brandes, Marc Brechot & Egon Franck
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, January 2015, Pages 203–216

Abstract:
Existing evidence shows that decision makers’ social ties to internal co-workers can lead to reduced firm performance. In this paper, we show that decision makers’ social ties to external transaction partners can also hurt firm performance. Specifically, we use 34 years of data from the National Basketball Association and study the relationship between a team's winning percentage and its use of players that the manager acquired through social ties to former employers in the industry. We find that teams with “tie-hired-players” underperform teams without tie-hired-players by 5 percent. This effect is large enough to change the composition of teams that qualify for the playoffs. Importantly, we show that adverse selection of managers and teams into the use of tie-hiring procedures cannot fully explain this finding. Additional evidence suggests instead that managers deliberately trade-off private, tie-related benefits against team performance.

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Are Sunk Costs Irrelevant? Evidence from Playing Time in the National Basketball Association

Daniel Leeds, Michael Leeds & Akira Motomura
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use playing time in the National Basketball Association to investigate whether sunk costs affect decision making. Behavioral economics implies that teams favor players chosen in the lottery and first round of the draft because of the greater financial and psychic commitment to them. Neoclassical economics implies that only current performance matters. We build on previous work in two ways. First, we better capture potential playing time by accounting for time lost to injuries or suspension. Second, we use regression discontinuity to capture changes when a player's draft position crosses thresholds. We find that teams allocate no more time to highly drafted players.

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Which comes first, organizational culture or performance? A longitudinal study of causal priority with automobile dealerships

Anthony Boyce et al.
Journal of Organizational Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Prior research supports a link between organizational culture and performance but generally falls short of establishing causality or determining the direction of a culture–performance (C-P) relationship. Using data collected from 95 franchise automobile dealerships over 6 years, we studied longitudinal culture–performance relationships to determine whether culture or performance has causal priority, or alternatively, whether a reciprocal relationship exists. Results from cross-lagged panel analyses indicate that culture “comes first,” consistently predicting subsequent ratings of customer satisfaction and vehicle sales. Furthermore, the positive effect of culture on vehicle sales is fully mediated by customer satisfaction ratings.

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Experiential and Social Learning in Firms: The Case of Hydraulic Fracturing in the Bakken Shale

Thomas Covert
University of Chicago Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Learning how to utilize new technologies is a key step in innovation, yet little is known about how firms actually learn. This paper examines firms’ learning behavior using data on their operational choices, profits, and information sets. I study companies using hydraulic fracturing in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale formation, where firms must learn the relationship between fracking input use and oil production. Using a new dataset that covers every well since the introduction of fracking to this formation, I find that firms made more profitable input choices over time, but did so slowly and incompletely, only capturing 67% of possible profits from fracking at the end of 2011. To understand what factors may have limited learning, I estimate a model of fracking input use in the presence of technology uncertainty. Firms are more likely to make fracking input choices with higher expected profits and lower standard deviation of profits, consistent with passive learning but not active experimentation. Most firms over-weight their own information relative to observable information generated by others. These results suggest the existence of economically important frictions in the learning process.

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Timing of Kindness – Evidence from a Field Experiment

Axel Ockenfels, Dirk Sliwka & Peter Werner
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, March 2015, Pages 79–87

Abstract:
We conduct a field experiment in a naturally occurring labor environment and track whether the performance of workers responds to unexpected wage increases. Specifically, we investigate how the timing of wage increases affects efforts. We find that workers’ performance is substantially higher for the same total wage when their wage is increased in two steps as opposed to a single increase at the outset. Moreover, workers are more honest and are more willing to do voluntary extra work after surprising wage increases compared to a baseline condition without increases.

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Capability Erosion Dynamics

Hazhir Rahmandad & Nelson Repenning
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
The notion of capability is widely invoked to explain differences in organizational performance and research shows that strategically relevant capabilities can be both built and lost. However, while capability development is widely studied, capability erosion has not been integrated into our understanding of performance heterogeneity. To understand erosion, we study two software development organizations that experienced diverging capability trajectories despite similar organizational and technological settings. Building a simulation-based theory, we identify the adaptation trap, a mechanism through which managerial learning can lead to capability erosion: well-intentioned efforts by managers to search locally for the optimal workload balance lead them to systematically overload their organization and, thereby, cause capabilities to erode. The analysis of our model informs when capability erosion is likely and strategically relevant.

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Estimating Management Practice Complementarity between Decentralization and Performance Pay

Bryan Hong, Lorenz Kueng & Mu-Jeung Yang
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
The existence of complementarity across management practices has been proposed as one potential explanation for the persistence of firm-level productivity differences. However, thus far no conclusive population-level tests of the complementary joint adoption of management practices have been conducted. Using unique detailed data on internal organization, occupational composition, and firm performance for a nationally representative sample of firms in the Canadian economy, we exploit regional variation in income tax progression as an instrument for the adoption of performance pay. We find systematic evidence for the complementarity of performance pay and decentralization of decision-making from principals to employees. Furthermore, in response to the adoption of performance pay, we find a concentration of decision-making at the level of managerial employees, as opposed to a general movement towards more decentralization throughout the organization. Finally, we find that adoption of performance pay is related to other types of organizational restructuring, such as greater use of outsourcing, Total Quality Management, re-engineering, and a reduction in the number of layers in the hierarchy.

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Moneyball Revisited: Effort and Team Performance in Professional Soccer

Daniel Weimar & Pamela Wicker
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In Moneyball, the assumption was made that the baseball labor market undervalues specific player skills. This study investigates whether this is also the case for player effort in professional soccer which had no significant effect on players’ market values in previous research. Specifically, it examines the effect of effort on team performance in soccer using team-game day data from three seasons (N = 1,514) of the German Bundesliga. Two effort measures are applied: (1) total distance run and (2) number of intensive runs (>20 km/hr) per player and per match. The results of probit models show that both effort measures have a significant positive effect on whether the observed team won the observed match in separate estimations. In the full model, only the effect of running distance remains positive, while intensive runs become negative. Given the insignificant effect of effort on players’ market values in previous research, we suggest that there may be a Moneyball phenomenon in soccer in the sense that the soccer labor market undervalues running distance. The findings imply that decision makers in professional soccer should consult player statistics to a greater extent.

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The Distinct Effects of Information Technology and Communication Technology on Firm Organization

Nicholas Bloom et al.
Management Science, December 2014, Pages 2859-2885

Abstract:
Guided by theories of “management by exception,” we study the impact of information and communication technology on worker and plant manager autonomy and span of control. The theory suggests that information technology is a decentralizing force, whereas communication technology is a centralizing force. Using a new data set of American and European manufacturing firms, we find indeed that better information technologies (enterprise resource planning (ERP) for plant managers and computer-assisted design/computer-assisted manufacturing for production workers) are associated with more autonomy and a wider span of control, whereas technologies that improve communication (like data intranets) decrease autonomy for workers and plant managers. Using instrumental variables (distance from ERP’s place of origin and heterogeneous telecommunication costs arising from regulation) strengthens our results.

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Optimal Tolerance for Failure

Caspar Siegert & Piers Trepper
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, January 2015, Pages 41–55

Abstract:
We consider the problem of an employer who has to choose whether to reemploy agents with a positive track record or agents who were unsuccessful. While previously successful managers are likely to be of high ability, they have also accumulated wealth and will be harder to motivate in the future. It may hence be optimal to retain unsuccessful managers but not successful ones. The result that the optimal tenure of a manager may not be increasing in his success is consistent with empirical studies that find a low correlation between firm success and managerial turnover.

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The Promise and Problems of Organizational Culture: CEO Personality, Culture, and Firm Performance

Charles O’Reilly et al.
Group & Organization Management, December 2014, Pages 595-625

Abstract:
Studies of organizational culture are almost always based on two assumptions: (a) Senior leaders are the prime determinant of the culture, and (b) culture is related to consequential organizational outcomes. Although intuitively reasonable and often accepted as fact, the empirical evidence for these is surprisingly thin, and the results are quite mixed. Almost no research has jointly investigated these assumptions and how they are linked. The purpose of this article is to empirically link CEO personality to culture and organizational culture to objective measures of firm performance. Using data from respondents in 32 high-technology companies, we show that CEO personality affects a firm’s culture and that culture is subsequently related to a broad set of organizational outcomes including a firm’s financial performance (revenue growth, Tobin’s Q), reputation, analysts’ stock recommendations, and employee attitudes. We discuss the implications of these findings for future research on organizational culture.

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Rose colored webcam: Discrepancies in personality estimates and interview performance ratings

Joseph Castro & Richard Gramzow
Personality and Individual Differences, February 2015, Pages 202–207

Abstract:
Companies increasingly use computer-controlled interviews as a less expensive and more efficient way to screen job applicants. Despite these advantages, this interview format may prevent evaluators from accurately judging an applicant’s personality traits, which, in turn, may influence hiring decisions. Two traits in particular, agreeableness and conscientiousness, have been found to predict performance in many occupational settings. In the current research, participants randomly were assigned to either a face-to-face (FTF) or computer-controlled (CC) mock job interview. Interviewees were rated by external observers as higher in conscientiousness and agreeableness when the interview was CC rather than FTF. In addition, observers rated interview performance more positively than did the interviewees themselves – particularly when the interview was CC. Finally, the discrepancy between self and observer judgments of the interviewees’ personality (in terms of agreeableness and conscientiousness) mediated the relation between interview format and the discrepancy between self and observer ratings of interview performance. These findings suggest that CC interviews have the potential to yield overly positive evaluations of interviewees, thereby biasing personality judgments and estimations of ultimate job performance.

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Does Seeing "Eye To Eye" Affect Work Engagement and OCB? A Role Theory Perspective on LMX Agreement

Fadel Matta et al.
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite meta-analytic evidence demonstrating that leader-member exchange (LMX) agreement (consensus between leader and subordinate perceptions) is only moderate at best, research on LMX typically examines this relationship from only one perspective (either the leader's or the subordinate's). We return to the roots of LMX and utilize role theory to argue that agreement in leader and subordinate perceptions of LMX quality has meaningful effects on employee motivation and behavior. In a polynomial regression analysis of 280 leader-subordinate dyads, employee work engagement (and subsequent organizational citizenship behavior [OCB]) was maximized (at each level of LMX quality) when leaders and subordinates were in agreement as to the quality of their LMX relationship, but these outcomes suffered when they did not see "eye to eye." Indeed, situations where leaders and subordinates both evaluated their relationship as low quality were associated with higher work engagement (and subsequent OCB) compared to situations of disagreement where only one member evaluated their relationship as high quality. Further, this effect was consistent regardless of whether leaders or subordinates evaluated the relationship highly. We conclude that to fully understand the implications of our only dyadic leadership theory, one must consider the perspectives of both members of the LMX dyad simultaneously.

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Revenue sharing and within-team payroll inequality in Major League Baseball

Nicholas Jolly
Applied Economics Letters, Winter 2015, Pages 80-85

Abstract:
Using data from the 2000 to 2012 Major League Baseball seasons, this article investigates how changes to revenue sharing in the 2007 collective bargaining agreement altered within-team payroll inequality. Results indicate that inequality within teams decreased after the 2007 bargaining agreement. This reduced inequity is concentrated among those teams that were already experiencing relatively higher levels of inequality. This indicates that changes to revenue sharing should help increase competitive balance within the league. Additionally, the reduction in inequality occurs only among hitters and not pitchers. These results highlight how collective bargaining can have heterogeneous effects on groups of workers despite there being no requirement of differential treatment.

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Risk-Averse Team Owners and Players’ Salaries in Major League Baseball

Anthony Krautmann
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article looks at the role an owner’s attitude toward risk plays in his salary bids for free agents in Major League Baseball. We show that risk-averse owners will pay a premium for consistency on the field. Our empirical results are consistent with the hypothesis that a free agent’s contract terms are negatively related to the degree of variability in his performance. To the extent that our results carry over to all players, this suggests a heretofore unrecognized factor affecting the market for talent in professional sports.

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Predicting the draft and career success of tight ends in the National Football League

Jason Mulholland & Shane Jensen
Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, December 2014, Pages 381–396

Abstract:
National Football League teams have complex drafting strategies based on college and combine performance that are intended to predict success in the NFL. In this paper, we focus on the tight end position, which is seeing growing importance as the NFL moves towards a more passing-oriented league. We create separate prediction models for 1. the NFL Draft and 2. NFL career performance based on data available prior to the NFL Draft: college performance, the NFL combine, and physical measures. We use linear regression and recursive partitioning decision trees to predict both NFL draft order and NFL career success based on this pre-draft data. With both modeling approaches, we find that the measures that are most predictive of NFL draft order are not necessarily the most predictive measures of NFL career success. This finding suggests that we can improve upon current drafting strategies for tight ends. After factoring the salary cost of drafted players into our analysis in order to predict tight ends with the highest value, we find that size measures (BMI, weight, height) are over-emphasized in the NFL draft.

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Are All Spillovers Created Equal? A Network Perspective on IT Labor Movements

Lynn Wu, Fujie Jin & Lorin Hitt
University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
This study aims to understand how characteristics of a labor flow network affect firm productivity using an inter-firm hiring network constructed from individual job histories. We separate IT-labor from non-IT labor and use the network measures constructed from the two types of labor flow to evaluate how they affect firm performance. We find that hiring IT workers from a diverse set of firms can substantially improve firm productivity, which is likely due to the diverse and non-redundant information provided in a network with high diversity. Interestingly, we find that the opposite is true for hiring non-IT labor. Having a cohesive network of non-IT labor hires allows frequent and repeated exposure to a common knowledge base is instrumental for implementing complementary organizational practices that are often complex and tacit. Together, these results demonstrate the importance of incorporating a network perspective in understanding the full impact of spillover effects from organizational hiring activities.

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Diabolical dictators or capable commanders? An investigation of the differential effects of autocratic leadership on team performance

Annebel De Hoogh, Lindred Greer & Deanne Den Hartog
Leadership Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Autocratic leader behavior is often seen as negative for team morale and performance. However, theories on social hierarchy suggest that autocratic leadership may also positively affect morale and performance through the creation of a psychologically appealing, hierarchically-ordered environment of predictability and security. We propose that autocratic leadership can foster team psychological safety when team members accept the hierarchy within the team. In contrast, when members challenge the hierarchy and engage in intrateam power struggles, autocratic leaders' centralizing power behaviors will clash with team members' competition for power and frustrate members, impairing psychological safety and performance. We find support for these ideas in a study of 60 retail outlets (225 employees and their managers) in the financial services industry. As expected, when team power struggles were low, autocratic leadership was positively related to team psychological safety, and thereby indirectly positively related to team performance. When team power struggles were high, autocratic leadership was negatively related to team psychological safety and thereby indirectly negatively related to team performance. These effects were also found when controlling for leader consideration.

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There Are Lots of Big Fish in This Pond: The Role of Peer Overqualification on Task Significance, Perceived Fit, and Performance for Overqualified Employees

Jia Hu et al.
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research has uncovered mixed results regarding the influence of overqualification on employee performance outcomes, suggesting the existence of boundary conditions for such an influence. Using relative deprivation theory (Crosby, 1976) as the primary theoretical basis, in the current research, we examine the moderating role of peer overqualification and provide insights to the questions regarding whether, when, and how overqualification relates to employee performance. We tested the theoretical model with data gathered across three phases over 6 months from 351 individuals and their supervisors in 72 groups. Results showed that when working with peers whose average overqualification level was high, as opposed to low, employees who felt overqualified for their jobs perceived greater task significance and person-group fit, and demonstrated higher levels of in-role and extra-role performance. We discuss theoretical and managerial implications for overqualification at the individual level and within the larger group context.

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Competitive in the lab, successful in the field?

Lars Ivar Oppedal Berge et al.
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
A number of lab experiments in recent years have analyzed people's willingness to compete. But to what extent is competitive behavior in the lab associated with field choices and outcomes? We address this question in a setting of entrepreneurship, where we combine lab evidence on competitiveness with field evidence on investment, employment, profit, and sales. We find strong evidence that competitiveness in the lab is positively associated with competitive choices in the field (investment and employment) and weaker, but suggestive, evidence of a positive link to successful field outcomes (profit and sales). Other non-cognitive skills measured in the lab, including risk- and time preferences and confidence, and cognitive skills are less consistently associated with the field variables. Our findings suggest that the willingness to compete in the lab identifies an important entrepreneurial trait that shapes the entrepreneur's field choices and to some extent also field outcomes.

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Multinationality and opaqueness

Tom Aabo, Christos Pantzalis & Jung Chul Park
Journal of Corporate Finance, February 2015, Pages 65–84

Abstract:
We investigate whether and how multinationality affects the opaqueness of the firm. We use multiple alternative measurements of multinationality and opaqueness. Spanning nearly three decades for a large sample of US non-financial firms, we find a statistically and economically significant, positive relationship between multinationality and opaqueness. We find that this positive relationship hinges on whether or not the degree of foreign involvement is compatible with the structure of the firm's foreign operations network. Our results imply that multinationality's impact on opaqueness is alleviated when there is harmony between the size of foreign involvement and the extent of the MNC network's geographic dispersion. Previous literature has implicitly assumed a simple, positive relationship. This is the first study to explicitly address the question in a comprehensive manner.

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Regulatory fit theory at work: Prevention focus' primacy in safe food production

Ernest Park, Verlin Hinsz & Gary Nickell
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The food-processing industry emphasizes employee compliance to food-safety standards to prevent distribution of contaminated foods. Regulatory fit theory was tested to examine the applicability of self-regulation constructs as potential components of person-job fit. In contexts emphasizing safety, workers higher in prevention should experience greater person-job fit, thus prevention focus should relate to desirable outcomes. Poultry-processing workers (n = 180) completed a work-related regulatory focus scale as part of a survey including a set of outcome measures. Consistent with theory, prevention focus scores related to self-reported positive work outcomes (job effectiveness, satisfaction, efficacy, enjoyment, involvement), and relationships were statistically mediated by perceived regulatory fit. Results have implications for selection practices and suggest ways work can be structured to enhance job performance.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Well being

Systematic Assessment of the Correlations of Household Income With Infectious, Biochemical, Physiological, and Environmental Factors in the United States, 1999–2006

Chirag Patel et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, 1 February 2015, Pages 171-179

Abstract:
A fuller understanding of the social epidemiology of disease requires an extended description of the relationships between social factors and health indicators in a systematic manner. In the present study, we investigated the correlations between income and 330 indicators of physiological, biochemical, and environmental health in participants in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) (1999–2006). We combined data from 3 survey waves (n = 249–23,649 for various indicators) to search for linear and nonlinear (quadratic) correlates of income, and we validated significant (P < 0.00015) correlations in an independent testing data set (n = 255–7,855). We validated 66 out of 330 factors, including infectious (e.g., hepatitis A), biochemical (e.g., carotenoids, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol), physiological (e.g., upper leg length), and environmental (e.g., lead, cotinine) measures. We found only a modest amount of association modification by age, race/ethnicity, and gender, and there was no association modification for blacks. The present study is descriptive, not causal. We have shown in our systematic investigation the crucial place income has in relation to health risk factors. Future research can use these correlations to better inform theory and studies of pathways to disease, as well as utilize these findings to understand when confounding by income is most likely to introduce bias.

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On the Beginning of Mortality Acceleration

Giambattista Salinari & Gustavo De Santis
Demography, forthcoming

Abstract:
Physiological senescence is characterized by the increasing limitation of capabilities of an organism resulting from the progressive accumulation of molecular damage, which at group (cohort) level translates into, among other things, an increase in mortality risks with age. Physiological senescence is generally thought to begin at birth, if not earlier, but models of demographic aging (i.e., an increase in mortality risks) normally start at considerably later ages. This apparent inconsistency can be solved by assuming the existence of two mortality regimes: “latent” and “manifest” aging. Up to a certain age, there is only latent aging: physiological senescence occurs, but its low level does not trigger any measurable increase in mortality. Past a certain level (and age), molecular damage is such that mortality risks start to increase. We first discuss why this transition from latent to manifest aging should exist at all, and then we turn to the empirical estimation of the corresponding threshold age by applying Bai’s approach to the estimation of breakpoints in time series. Our analysis, which covers several cohorts born between 1850 and 1938 in 14 of the countries included in the Human Mortality Database, indicates that an age at the onset of manifest aging can be identified. However, it has not remained constant: it has declined from about 43 and 47 years, respectively, for males and females at the beginning of the period (cohorts born in 1850–1869) to about 31 for both males and females toward its end (cohorts born in 1920–1938). A discussion of why this may have happened ensues.

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Rates of Psychiatrists’ Participation in Health Insurance Networks

Janet Cummings
Journal of the American Medical Association, 13 January 2015, Pages 190-191

Objective: To describe recent trends in acceptance of insurance by psychiatrists compared with physicians in other specialties.

Design, Setting, and Participants: We used data from a national survey of office-based physicians in the United States to calculate rates of acceptance of private noncapitated insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid by psychiatrists vs physicians in other specialties and to compare characteristics of psychiatrists who accepted insurance and those who did not.

Results: The percentage of psychiatrists who accepted private noncapitated insurance in 2009-2010 was significantly lower than the percentage of physicians in other specialties (55.3% [95% CI, 46.7%-63.8%] vs 88.7% [86.4%-90.7%]; P < .001) and had declined by 17.0% since 2005-2006. Similarly, the percentage of psychiatrists who accepted Medicare in 2009-2010 was significantly lower than that for other physicians (54.8% [95% CI, 46.6%-62.7%] vs 86.1% [84.4%-87.7%]; P < .001) and had declined by 19.5% since 2005-2006. Psychiatrists’ Medicaid acceptance rates in 2009-2010 were also lower than those for other physicians (43.1% [95% CI, 34.9%-51.7%] vs 73.0% [70.3%-75.5%]; P < .001) but had not declined significantly from 2005-2006. Psychiatrists in the Midwest were more likely to accept private noncapitated insurance (85.1%) than those in the Northeast (48.5%), South (43.0%), or West (57.8%) (P = .02).

Conclusions and Relevance: Acceptance rates for all types of insurance were significantly lower for psychiatrists than for physicians in other specialties. These low rates of acceptance may pose a barrier to access to mental health services.

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Gene-Environment Interaction in the Intergenerational Transmission of Health

Owen Thompson
University of Wisconsin Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Researchers have found strong linkages between parent and child health, but the mechanisms underlying intergenerational health transmission are not well understood. Motivated by biomedical research that has increasingly focused on interactions between genetic and environmental health determinants, I investigate how the importance of genetic health transmission mechanisms vary by environmental conditions in the case of pediatric asthma, the single most common chronic health condition among American children. Using a sample of approximately 2,000 adoptees and a matched sample of biological families, I find that the relative importance of genetic transmission differs strongly by SES. Specifically, in high SES families, parent-child asthma associations are approximately 75% weaker among adoptees than biological children, suggesting a dominant role for genetic transmission. In contrast, among lower SES families, parent-child asthma associations are virtually identical across biological and adoptive children, suggesting a negligible role for genetic transmission. Potential explanations for these differences are discussed.

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Age at Menarche: 50-Year Socioeconomic Trends Among US-Born Black and White Women

Nancy Krieger et al.
American Journal of Public Health, February 2015, Pages 388-397

Objectives: We investigated 50-year US trends in age at menarche by socioeconomic position (SEP) and race/ethnicity because data are scant and contradictory.

Methods: We analyzed data by income and education for US-born non-Hispanic Black and White women aged 25 to 74 years in the National Health Examination Survey (NHES) I (1959–1962), National Health Examination and Nutrition Surveys (NHANES) I–III (1971–1994), and NHANES 1999–2008.

Results: In NHES I, average age at menarche among White women in the 20th (lowest) versus 80th (highest) income percentiles was 0.26 years higher (95% confidence interval [CI] = −0.09, 0.61), but by NHANES 2005–2008 it had reversed and was −0.33 years lower (95% CI = −0.54, −0.11); no socioeconomic gradients occurred among Black women. The proportion with onset at younger than 11 years increased only among women with low SEP, among Blacks and Whites (P for trend < .05), and high rates of change occurred solely among Black women (all SEP strata) and low-income White women who underwent menarche before 1960.

Conclusions: Trends in US age at menarche vary by SEP and race/ethnicity in ways that pose challenges to several leading clinical, public health, and social explanations for early age at menarche and that underscore why analyses must jointly include data on race/ethnicity and socioeconomic position. Future research is needed to explain these trends.

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The Per Case and Total Annual Costs of Foodborne Illness in the United States

Travis Minor et al.
Risk Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
We present an economic welfare-based method to estimate the health costs associated with foodborne illness caused by known viruses, bacteria, parasites, allergens, two marine biotoxins, and unspecified agents. The method generates health costs measured in both quality-adjusted life years and in dollars. We calculate the reduction in quality-adjusted life days caused by the illness and add reductions in quality-adjusted life years from any secondary effects that are estimated to occur. For fatal cases, we calculate the life years lost due to premature death. We add direct medical expenses to the monetary costs as derived from estimates of willingness to pay to reduce health risks. In total, we estimate that foodborne illness represents an annual burden to society of approximately $36 billion, with an average identified illness estimated to reduce quality-adjusted life days by 0.84, which is monetized and included in the average cost burden per illness of $3,630.

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Nutrition and Cognitive Achievement: An Evaluation of the School Breakfast Program

David Frisvold
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates the impact of the School Breakfast Program (SBP) on cognitive achievement. The SBP is a federal entitlement program that offers breakfast to any student, including free breakfast for any low-income student, who attends a school that participates in the program. To increase the availability of the SBP, many states mandate that schools participate in the program if the percent of free or reduced-price eligible students in a school exceeds a specific threshold. Using the details of these mandates as a source of identifying variation, I find that the availability of the program increases student achievement.

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Lunch, Recess and Nutrition: Responding to Time Incentives in the Cafeteria

Joseph Price & David Just
Preventive Medicine, February 2015

Objectives: In this study, we evaluate if moving recess before lunch has an effect on the amount of fruits and vegetables elementary school students eat as part of their school-provided lunch.

Methods: Participants were 1st-6th grade students from three schools that switched recess from after to before lunch and four similar schools that continued to hold recess after lunch. We collected data for an average of 14 days at each school (4 days during spring 2011, May 3 through June 1, 2011 and 9 days during fall 2011, occurred September 19 through November 11, 2011. All of the schools were in Orem, UT. Data was collected for all students receiving a school lunch and was based on observational plate waste data.

Results: We find that moving recess before lunch increased consumption of fruits and vegetables by 0.16 servings per child (a 54% increase) and increased the fraction of children eating at least one serving of fruits or vegetables by 10 percentage points (a 45% increase).

Conclusions: Our results show the benefits of holding recess before lunch and suggest that if more schools implement this policy, there would be significant increases in fruit and vegetable consumption among students who eat school lunch as part of the National School Lunch Program.

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Allergy Test: Seasonal Allergens and Performance in School

Dave Marcotte
Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Seasonal pollen allergies affect approximately 1 in 5 school age children. Clinical research has established that these allergies result in large and consistent decrements in cognitive functioning, problem solving ability and speed, focus and energy. However, compared to air pollution, the impact of pollen and seasonal allergies on achievement in schools has received less attention from economists. Here, I use data on daily pollen counts merged with school district data to assess whether variation in the airborne pollen that induces seasonal allergies is associated with performance on state reading and math assessments. I find substantial and robust effects: A one standard deviation in ambient pollen levels reduces the percent of 3rd graders passing ELA assessments by between 0.2 and 0.3 standard deviations, and math assessments by between about 0.3 and 0.4 standard deviations. I discuss the empirical limitations as well as policy implications of this reduced-form estimate of pollen levels in a community setting.

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Health care expenses in relation to obesity and smoking among U.S. adults by gender, race/ethnicity, and age group: 1998–2011

Ruopeng An
Public Health, January 2015, Pages 29–36

Objectives: Obesity and smoking are two leading health risk factors and consume substantial health care resources. This study estimates and tracks annual per-capita health care expenses associated with obesity and smoking among U.S. adults aged 18 years and older from 1998 to 2011.

Methods: Individual-level data came from the National Health Interview Survey 1996–2010 waves and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey 1998–2011 waves. Annual per-capita health care expenses associated with obesity and smoking were estimated in two-part models, accounting for individual characteristics and sampling design.

Results: Obesity and smoking were associated with an increase in annual per-capita total health care expenses (2011 US$) by $1360 (95% confidence interval: $1134-$1587) and $1046 ($846-$1247), out-of-pocket expenses by $143 ($110-$176) and $70 ($37-$104), hospital inpatient expenses by $406 ($283-$529) and $405 ($291-$519), hospital outpatient expenses by $164 ($119-$210) and $95 ($52-$138), office-based medical provider service expenses by $219 ($157-$280) and $117 ($62-$172), emergency room service expenses by $45 ($28-$63) and $57 ($44-$71), and prescription expenses by $439 ($382-$496) and $251 ($199-$302), respectively. From 1998 to 2011, the estimated per-capita expenses associated with obesity and smoking increased by 25% and 30% for total health care, 41% and 48% for office-based medical provider services, 59% and 66% for emergency room services, and 62% and 70% for prescriptions but decreased by 16% and 15% for out-of-pocket health care expenses, 3% and 0.3% for inpatient care, and 6% and 2% for outpatient care, respectively. Health care expenses associated with obesity and smoking were considerably larger among women, Non-Hispanic whites, and older adults compared with their male, racial/ethnic minority, and younger counterparts.

Conclusions: Health care costs associated with obesity and smoking are substantial and increased noticeably during 1998–2011. They also vary significantly across gender, race/ethnicity and age.

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Psychiatric Comorbidity, Suicidality, and In-Home Firearm Access Among a Nationally Representative Sample of Adolescents

Joseph Simonetti et al.
JAMA Psychiatry, forthcoming

Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of self-reported in-home firearm access among US adolescents, to quantify the lifetime prevalence of mental illness and suicidality (ie, suicidal ideation, planning, or attempt) among adolescents living with a firearm in the home, and to compare the prevalence of in-home firearm access between adolescents with and without specific mental health risk factors for suicide.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Cross-sectional analysis of data from the National Comorbidity Survey–Adolescent Supplement, a nationally representative survey of 10 123 US adolescents (age range, 13-18 years) who were interviewed between February 2001 and January 2004 (response rate 82.9%).

Results: One in three respondents (2778 [29.1%]) of the weighted survey sample reported living in a home with a firearm and responded to a question about firearm access; 1089 (40.9%) of those adolescents reported easy access to and the ability to shoot that firearm. Among adolescents with a firearm in home, those with access were significantly more likely to be older (15.6 vs 15.1 years), male (70.1% vs 50.9%), of non-Hispanic white race/ethnicity (86.6% vs 78.3%), and living in high-income households (40.0% vs 31.8%), and in rural areas (28.1% vs 22.6%) (P < .05 for all). Adolescents with firearm access also had a higher lifetime prevalence of alcohol abuse (10.1% vs 3.8%, P < .001) and drug abuse (11.4% vs 6.9%, P < .01) compared with those without firearm access. In multivariable analyses, adolescents with a history of mental illness without a history of suicidality (prevalence ratio [PR], 1.13; 95% CI, 0.98-1.29) and adolescents with a history of suicidality with or without a history of mental illness (PR, 1.20; 95% CI, 0.96-1.51) were as likely to report in-home firearm access as those without such histories.

Conclusions and Relevance: Adolescents with risk factors for suicide were just as likely to report in-home firearm access as those without such risk factors. Given that firearms are the second most common means of suicide among adolescents, further attention to developing and implementing evidence-based strategies to decrease firearm access in this age group is warranted.

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Psychological Well-Being During the Great Recession: Changes in Mental Health Care Utilization in an Occupational Cohort

Sepideh Modrek, Rita Hamad & Mark Cullen
American Journal of Public Health, February 2015, Pages 304-310

Objectives: We examined the mental health effects of the Great Recession of 2008 to 2009 on workers who remained continuously employed and insured.

Methods: We examined utilization trends for mental health services and medications during 2007 to 2012 among a panel of workers in the 25 largest plants, located in 15 states, of a US manufacturing firm. We used piecewise regression to compare trends from 2007 to 2010 in service and medication use before and after 2009, the year of mass layoffs at the firm and the peak of the recession. Our models accounted for changes in county-level unemployment rates and individual-level fixed effects.

Results: Mental health inpatient and outpatient visits and the yearly supply of mental health–related medications increased among all workers after 2009. The magnitude of the increase in medication usage was higher for workers at plants with more layoffs.

Conclusions: The negative effects of the recession on mental health extend to employed individuals, a group considered at lower risk of psychological distress.

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Association Between Dietary Whole Grain Intake and Risk of Mortality: Two Large Prospective Studies in US Men and Women

Hongyu Wu et al.
JAMA Internal Medicine, forthcoming

Objective: To examine the association between dietary whole grain consumption and risk of mortality.

Design, Setting, and Participants: We investigated 74 341 women from the Nurses’ Health Study (1984–2010) and 43 744 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (1986–2010), 2 large prospective cohort studies. All patients were free of CVD and cancer at baseline.

Results: We documented 26 920 deaths during 2 727 006 person-years of follow-up. After multivariate adjustment for potential confounders, including age, smoking, body mass index, physical activity, and modified Alternate Healthy Eating Index score, higher whole grain intake was associated with lower total and CVD mortality but not cancer mortality: the pooled HRs for quintiles 1 through 5, respectively, of whole grain intake were 1 (reference), 0.99 (95% CI, 0.95-1.02), 0.98 (95% CI, 0.95-1.02), 0.97 (95% CI, 0.93-1.01), and 0.91 (95% CI, 0.88-0.95) for total mortality (P fortrend < .001); 1 (reference), 0.94 (95% CI, 0.88-1.01), 0.94 (95% CI, 0.87-1.01), 0.87 (95% CI, 0.80-0.94), and 0.85 (95% CI, 0.78-0.92) for CVD mortality (P fortrend < .001); and 1 (reference), 1.02 (95% CI, 0.96-1.08), 1.05 (95% CI, 0.99-1.12), 1.04 (95% CI, 0.98-1.11), and 0.97 (95% CI, 0.91-1.04) for cancer mortality (P fortrend = .43). We further estimated that every serving (28 g/d) of whole grain consumption was associated with a 5% (95% CI, 2%-7%) lower total morality or a 9% (95% CI, 4%-13%) lower CVD mortality, whereas the same intake level was nonsignificantly associated with lower cancer mortality (HR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.94-1.02). Similar inverse associations were observed between bran intake and CVD mortality, with a pooled HR of 0.80 (95% CI, 0.73-0.87; P fortrend < .001), whereas germ intake was not associated with CVD mortality after adjustment for bran intake.

Conclusions and Relevance: These data indicate that higher whole grain consumption is associated with lower total and CVD mortality in US men and women, independent of other dietary and lifestyle factors. These results are in line with recommendations that promote increased whole grain consumption to facilitate disease prevention.

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A new antibiotic kills pathogens without detectable resistance

Losee Ling et al.
Nature, 22 January 2015, Pages 455–459

Abstract:
Antibiotic resistance is spreading faster than the introduction of new compounds into clinical practice, causing a public health crisis. Most antibiotics were produced by screening soil microorganisms, but this limited resource of cultivable bacteria was overmined by the 1960s. Synthetic approaches to produce antibiotics have been unable to replace this platform. Uncultured bacteria make up approximately 99% of all species in external environments, and are an untapped source of new antibiotics. We developed several methods to grow uncultured organisms by cultivation in situ or by using specific growth factors. Here we report a new antibiotic that we term teixobactin, discovered in a screen of uncultured bacteria. Teixobactin inhibits cell wall synthesis by binding to a highly conserved motif of lipid II (precursor of peptidoglycan) and lipid III (precursor of cell wall teichoic acid). We did not obtain any mutants of Staphylococcus aureus or Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistant to teixobactin. The properties of this compound suggest a path towards developing antibiotics that are likely to avoid development of resistance.

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Variation in cancer risk among tissues can be explained by the number of stem cell divisions

Cristian Tomasetti & Bert Vogelstein
Science, 2 January 2015, Pages 78-81

Abstract:
Some tissue types give rise to human cancers millions of times more often than other tissue types. Although this has been recognized for more than a century, it has never been explained. Here, we show that the lifetime risk of cancers of many different types is strongly correlated (0.81) with the total number of divisions of the normal self-renewing cells maintaining that tissue’s homeostasis. These results suggest that only a third of the variation in cancer risk among tissues is attributable to environmental factors or inherited predispositions. The majority is due to “bad luck,” that is, random mutations arising during DNA replication in normal, noncancerous stem cells. This is important not only for understanding the disease but also for designing strategies to limit the mortality it causes.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, February 2, 2015

Muck

Parties, Politics, and Regulation: Evidence from Clean Air Act Enforcement

Robert Innes & Arnab Mitra
Economic Inquiry, January 2015, Pages 522–539

Abstract:
Does local Federal regulation respond to the preferences of local Congressional representatives? For example, do Republican Congressmen reduce local enforcement of Clean Air laws in their districts? We use facility-level panel data on Clean Air Act inspections over 1989–2005 to study the causal effect of a Congressman's party affiliation on local enforcement. Random assignment of electoral outcomes is obtained with a Regression Discontinuity design. We find that new Republican (vs. Democratic) Representatives significantly depress inspection rates for local polluting facilities in the first year after their election.

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Acting green elicits a literal warm glow

Danny Taufik, Jan Willem Bolderdijk & Linda Steg
Nature Climate Change, January 2015, Pages 37–40

Abstract:
Environmental policies are often based on the assumption that people only act environmentally friendly if some extrinsic reward is implicated, usually money. We argue that people might also be motivated by intrinsic rewards: doing the right thing (such as acting environmentally friendly) elicits psychological rewards in the form of positive feelings, a phenomenon known as warm glow. Given the fact that people’s psychological state may affect their thermal state, we expected that this warm glow could express itself quite literally: people who act environmentally friendly may perceive the temperature to be higher. In two studies, we found that people who learned they acted environmentally friendly perceived a higher temperature than people who learned they acted environmentally unfriendly. The underlying psychological mechanism pertains to the self-concept: learning you acted environmentally friendly signals to yourself that you are a good person. Together, our studies show that acting environmentally friendly can be psychologically rewarding, suggesting that appealing to intrinsic rewards can be an alternative way to encourage pro-environmental actions.

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How Much Energy Do Building Energy Codes Really Save? Evidence from California

Arik Levinson
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
Construction codes that regulate the energy efficiency of new buildings have been a centerpiece of US environmental policy for 40 years. California enacted the nation’s first energy building codes in 1978, and they were projected to reduce residential energy use — and associated pollution — by 80 percent. How effective have the building codes been? I take three approaches to answering that question. First, I compare current electricity use by California homes of different vintages constructed under different standards, controlling for home size, local weather, and tenant characteristics. Second, I examine how electricity in California homes varies with outdoor temperatures for buildings of different vintages. And third, I compare electricity use for buildings of different vintages in California, which has stringent building energy codes, to electricity use for buildings of different vintages in other states. All three approaches yield the same answer: there is no evidence that homes constructed since California instituted its building energy codes use less electricity today than homes built before the codes came into effect.

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Rational Inattention and Energy Efficiency

James Sallee
Journal of Law and Economics, August 2014, Pages 781-820

Abstract:
This paper argues that it will often be rational for consumers to pay limited attention to energy efficiency when choosing among energy-consuming durable goods like automobiles or home appliances. The reason is that the proper valuation of energy efficiency requires time and effort, but differences in efficiency across products will rarely be pivotal to choice when consumers have strong preferences regarding other product attributes. The paper first explains why proper valuation of efficiency is difficult, even in the presence of government energy labels. It next develops a model that shows how to value additional information about energy efficiency in a discrete-choice context. It then uses data on automobiles to show that consumers experience only small welfare losses when forced to choose a car without detailed information about fuel costs. Finally, the paper discusses the implications of rational inattention for both economic research and public policy.

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Perception of Gasoline Taxes and Driver Cost: Implications for Highway Finance

Ronald Fisher & Robert Wassmer
Michigan State University Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
This research compares the actual magnitude of fuel taxes to the perceptions of these amounts. The issue is whether misperceptions about fuel taxes are contributing to voter perspectives about transportation finance and investment issues. A survey of likely Michigan voters shows that taxpayers greatly overestimate the amount they pay in fuel taxes. Half of the respondents (voters) overestimate the magnitude by at least a factor of five, and three-quarters overestimate the magnitude by at least a factor of three. Logistic regression analysis shows that voter (mis)perceptions regarding the magnitude of state fuel taxes do affect their views regarding highway revenue and investment proposals.

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Who Benefits from Environmental Regulation? Evidence from the Clean Air Act Amendments

Antonio Bento, Matthew Freedman & Corey Lang
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using geographically disaggregated data and exploiting an instrumental variable strategy, we show that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the benefits of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) were progressive. The CAAA created incentives for local regulators to target the initially dirtiest areas for cleanup, creating heterogeneity in the incidence of air quality improvements that favored lower-income households. Based on house price appreciation, households in the lowest quintile of the income distribution received annual benefits from the program equal to 0.3% of their income on average during the 1990s, over twice as much as those in the highest quintile.

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The value of environmental status signaling

Michael Delgado, Jessica Harriger & Neha Khanna
Ecological Economics, March 2015, Pages 1–11

Abstract:
How much are consumers willing to pay to signal their environmental consciousness? We identify the signaling value of an environmental public good by focusing on hybrid cars and exploiting the physical uniqueness of the Toyota Prius relative to hybrids that look identical to their non-hybrid counterparts. We deploy a quasi-experimental hedonic model to estimate this willingness to pay. We find that, controlling for observable and unobservable factors, the Prius commands an environmental signaling value of $587 or 4.5% of its value. Our research provides lessons for economists and policymakers, and contributes to the literature on identifying signaling values.

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Indoor air quality and academic performance

Tess Stafford
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, March 2015, Pages 34–50

Abstract:
I examine the effect of school indoor air quality (IAQ) on academic outcomes. I utilize a quasi-natural experiment, in which IAQ-renovations were completed at virtually every school in a single Texas school district at different points in time, combined with a panel of student-level data to control for many confounding factors and thereby uncover the causal effect of IAQ-renovations on academic outcomes. Results indicate that performance on standardized tests significantly improves while attendance is unresponsive to improvements in IAQ. Rough calculations suggest that IAQ-renovations may be a more cost-effective way to improve standardized test scores than class size reductions.

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Property Rights and Choice: The Case of The Fishery

Jorge Holzer
American Journal of Agricultural Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Formal property rights are typically established after considerable waste has occurred, despite the effectiveness of such schemes in addressing the inefficiencies of common pool resources. Adoption can be contentious because of the assignment of wealth and political influence that accompany the transition to exclusive property rights. This paper studies how the early involvement of harvesters in policy implementation designed to address the commons’ inefficiency may foster perceived legitimacy and lessen political opposition to the establishment of individual property rights. We demonstrate that it is optimal for a manager facing industry strife and reform delay to allow firms to self-select into the property rights regime. The strategic interaction of harvesters leads to an equilibrium characterized by the global adoption of property rights. Thus, by providing harvesters with a choice between management systems, policy makers can reduce the transaction costs associated with the need to create political consensus, while ensuring an outcome similar to the top-down implementation of market-based management. Evidence is provided from a recent policy change in Maryland fisheries in which the provision of a choice resulted in the overwhelming adoption of individual transferable quotas and the end of the race to fish.

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Why is Pollution from U.S. Manufacturing Declining? The Roles of Trade, Regulation, Productivity, and Preferences

Joseph Shapiro & Reed Walker
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Between 1990 and 2008, emissions of the most common air pollutants from U.S. manufacturing fell by 60 percent, even as real U.S. manufacturing output grew substantially. This paper develops a quantitative model to explain how changes in trade, environmental regulation, productivity, and consumer preferences have contributed to these reductions in pollution emissions. We estimate the model’s key parameters using administrative data on plant-level production and pollution decisions. We then combine these estimates with detailed historical data to provide a model-driven decomposition of the causes of the observed pollution changes. Finally, we compare the model-driven decomposition to a statistical decomposition. The model and data suggest three findings. First, the fall in pollution emissions is due to decreasing pollution per unit output within narrowly defined products, rather than to changes in the types of products produced or changes to the total quantity of manufacturing output. Second, the implicit pollution tax that rationalizes firm production and abatement behavior more than doubled between 1990 and 2008. Third, environmental regulation explains 75 percent or more of the observed reduction in pollution emissions from manufacturing.

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Environmental Policy and Vehicle Safety: The Impact of Gasoline Taxes

Damien Sheehan-Connor
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Policies to reduce carbon emissions by vehicles, such as fuel economy standards and gasoline taxes, have impacts on vehicle weight and thus on safety. This paper develops a model that separately identifies the impact of vehicle weight on mortality and selection effects that impact accident propensity. The main results are that (1) the safety externalities associated with heavy vehicles are greater than the environmental ones; (2) under fuel economy standards, vehicle weights have recently decreased with little likely effect on accident deaths; and (3) similar environmental benefits could be combined with substantial reductions in deaths by implementing higher gasoline taxes.

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Advertising Energy Saving Programs: The Potential Environmental Cost of Emphasizing Monetary Savings

Daniel Schwartz et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many consumers have monetary or environmental motivations for saving energy. Indeed, saving energy produces both monetary benefits, by reducing energy bills, and environmental benefits, by reducing carbon footprints. We examined how consumers’ willingness and reasons to enroll in energy-savings programs are affected by whether advertisements emphasize monetary benefits, environmental benefits, or both. From a normative perspective, having 2 noteworthy kinds of benefit should not decrease a program’s attractiveness. In contrast, psychological research suggests that adding external incentives to an intrinsically motivating task may backfire. To date, however, it remains unclear whether this is the case when both extrinsic and intrinsic motivations are inherent to the task, as with energy savings, and whether removing explicit mention of extrinsic motivation will reduce its importance. We found that emphasizing a program’s monetary benefits reduced participants’ willingness to enroll. In addition, participants’ explanations about enrollment revealed less attention to environmental concerns when programs emphasized monetary savings, even when environmental savings were also emphasized. We found equal attention to monetary motivations in all conditions, revealing an asymmetric attention to monetary and environmental motives. These results also provide practical guidance regarding the positioning of energy-saving programs: emphasize intrinsic benefits; the extrinsic ones may speak for themselves.

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Thinking about time as money decreases environmental behavior

Ashley Whillans & Elizabeth Dunn
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, March 2015, Pages 44–52

Abstract:
Surprisingly, Americans are no more likely to engage in environmental behavior today than 20 years ago. A novel explanation for this pattern may lie in the increased tendency to see time as money. Using large-scale survey data, we show that people are less likely to engage in environmental behavior if they are paid by the hour, a form of compensation that leads people to see their time as money. Using experimental methodology, we show that making the economic value of time salient reduces environmental intentions and behavior. This occurs in part because thinking about the economic value of time creates awareness of the opportunity costs associated with environmental behavior. We mitigate these effects by reframing environmental behavior as an act consistent with self-interest. Together, this research suggests that viewing time as money shapes environmental decisions, potentially shedding light on patterns of environmental behavior across time and around the world.

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Nonprice incentives and energy conservation

Omar Asensio & Magali Delmas
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the electricity sector, energy conservation through technological and behavioral change is estimated to have a savings potential of 123 million metric tons of carbon per year, which represents 20% of US household direct emissions in the United States. In this article, we investigate the effectiveness of nonprice information strategies to motivate conservation behavior. We introduce environment and health-based messaging as a behavioral strategy to reduce energy use in the home and promote energy conservation. In a randomized controlled trial with real-time appliance-level energy metering, we find that environment and health-based information strategies, which communicate the environmental and public health externalities of electricity production, such as pounds of pollutants, childhood asthma, and cancer, outperform monetary savings information to drive behavioral change in the home. Environment and health-based information treatments motivated 8% energy savings versus control and were particularly effective on families with children, who achieved up to 19% energy savings. Our results are based on a panel of 3.4 million hourly appliance-level kilowatt–hour observations for 118 residences over 8 mo. We discuss the relative impacts of both cost-savings information and environmental health messaging strategies with residential consumers.

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Property Rights, Regulatory Capture, and Exploitation of Natural Resources

Christopher Costello & Corbett Grainger
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
We study how the strength of property rights to individual extractive firms affects a regulator’s choice over exploitation rates for a natural resource. The regulator is modeled as an intermediary between current and future resource harvesters, rather than between producers and consumers, as in the traditional regulatory capture paradigm. When incumbent resource users have weak property rights, they have an incentive to pressure the regulator to allow resource extraction at an inefficiently rapid rate. In contrast, when property rights are strong, this incentive is minimized or eliminated. We build a theoretical model in which different property right institutions can be compared for their incentives to exert influence on the regulator. The main theoretical prediction - that stronger individual property rights will lead the regulator to choose more economically efficient extraction paths - is tested empirically with a novel panel data set from global fisheries. Exploiting the variation in timing of catch share implementation in our panel data, we find that regulators are significantly more conservative in managing resources for which strong individual property rights have been assigned to firms; this is especially pronounced for resources that have been overexploited historically.

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Party differences and energy reform: Fiscal conservatism in the California legislature

David Hess et al.
Environmental Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research building on political economy and ecological modernisation theories has paid increasing attention to the conditions that affect the prospects for environmental reform. Much work focuses on variation among political units in support of a single type of energy policy, whereas we examine within-state variation in support of a wide range of energy reform policies. Applying multilevel analyses to the 2011–2012 legislative session in California, we identify bill characteristics associated with divisions between Republicans and Democrats. Expanding the size or scope of government (through spending, government commissions, and business regulations) reduces support for energy reform among Republicans, whereas promoting transparency and other ‘good government’ initiatives reduces support among Democrats. In contrast with the standard view that Republicans oppose almost all energy reforms proposed by Democrats, we identify bill characteristics that increase the likelihood of support from both parties, namely tax reductions and credits, including for bills that promote renewable energy.

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How Will I Be Remembered? Conserving the Environment for the Sake of One’s Legacy

Lisa Zaval, Ezra Markowitz & Elke Weber
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Long time horizons and social distance are viewed as key psychological barriers to proenvironmental action, particularly regarding climate change. We suggest that these challenges can be turned into opportunities by making salient long-term goals and motives, thus shifting preferences between the present self and future others. We tested whether individuals’ motivation to leave a positive legacy can be leveraged to increase engagement with climate change and other environmental problems. In a pilot study, we found that individual differences in legacy motivation were positively associated with proenvironmental behaviors and intentions. In a subsequent experiment, we demonstrated that priming legacy motives increased donations to an environmental charity, proenvironmental intentions, and climate-change beliefs. Domain-general legacy motives represent a previously understudied and powerful mechanism for promoting proenvironmental behavior.

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Independent Labels? The Power behind Environmental Information about Products and Companies

Graham Bullock
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Power is a ubiquitous term in political science, and yet the discipline lacks a metric of power that can be applied to both formal and informal political contexts. Building on past work on power and power resources, this paper develops a method to estimate the power of different actors over an organization. It uses this method to analyze the power of the public, private, and civil sectors within an original dataset of 245 cases of product and corporate environmental evaluations, such as ENERGY STAR, LEED Certification, and Newsweek’s Greenest Company Rankings. These initiatives have received limited attention from the political science literature, but they have become an increasingly prominent political phenomenon. The paper finds that the private and civil sectors likely have more power over these information-based governance initiatives than the public sector. It also reveals their lack of transparency and hybrid accountability relationships, which complicate their legitimacy and effectiveness.

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Anti-congestion policies in cities with public transportation

Akin Buyukeren & Tomoru Hiramatsu
Journal of Economic Geography, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study how congestion tolls and an urban growth boundary should be designed optimally in a monocentric city with both car and public transit commuting from the suburbs to the central city. The existing monocentric city literature has repeatedly shown that mitigating the congestion externality causes the densification of population toward the city center. In contrast, we find the opposite of densification can occur if public transit mode is present. Modal substitution effect limits the centralizing force of anti-congestion policies. In addition, redistributing tax revenues among residents generates a decentralizing effect by increasing housing demand because marginal utility of income is higher in suburbs. At the optimum, mitigating congestion can cause urban sprawl depending on degree of substitutability between automobile and public transit, relative congestibility of the two modes, tax revenue redistribution and preferences for location and lot size.

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Does Information Feedback from In-Home Devices Reduce Electricity Use? Evidence from a Field Experiment

Shahzeen Attari et al.
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
There is limited evidence of behavioral changes resulting from electricity information feedback. Using a randomized control trial from a New York apartment building, we study long-term effects of information feedback from “Modlet” in-home devices, which provide near-real-time plug-level information. We find a 12–23% decrease in electricity use for treatment apartments, concentrated among individuals reporting higher willingness-to-pay for an energy monitoring system. Decrease in overall electricity use is similar among treatment apartments which received Modlets and those which declined Modlets, and does not specifically occur for outlets with Modlets. This decrease may be due to a Hawthorne or salience effect.

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Autism Spectrum Disorder and Particulate Matter Air Pollution before, during, and after Pregnancy: A Nested Case–Control Analysis within the Nurses’ Health Study II Cohort

Raanan Raz et al.
Environmental Health Perspectives, forthcoming

Objective: To explore the association between maternal exposure to particulate matter (PM) air pollution and odds of ASD in her child.

Methods: We conducted a nested case-control study of participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II), a prospective cohort of 116,430 US female nurses recruited in 1989, followed by biennial mailed questionnaires. Subjects were NHS II participants’ children born 1990-2002 with ASD (n=245), and children without ASD (n=1522) randomly selected using frequency matching for birth years. ASD was based on maternal report, which was validated against the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised in a subset. Monthly averages of PM with diameters ≤2.5 µm (PM2.5) and 2.5-10 µm (PM10-2.5) were predicted from a spatiotemporal model for the continental US and linked to residential addresses.

Results: PM2.5 exposure during pregnancy was associated with increased odds of ASD, with an adjusted odds ratio (OR) for ASD per interquartile range higher PM2.5 (4.42 µg/m3) of 1.57 (95% CI: 1.22, 2.03) among women with the same address before and after pregnancy (160 cases, 986 controls). Associations with PM2.5 exposure 9 months before or after the pregnancy were weaker in independent models and null when all three time periods were included, while the association with the 9 months of pregnancy remained (OR=1.63; 95% CI: 1.08-2.47). The association between ASD and PM2.5 was stronger for exposure during the third trimester (OR=1.42 per inter-quartile range increase in PM2.5, 95% CI: 1.09, 1.86) than other trimesters (ORs 1.06 and 1.00) when mutually adjusted. There was little association between PM10-2.5 and ASD.

Conclusions: Higher maternal exposure to PM2.5 during pregnancy, in particular the third trimester, was associated with greater odds of her child having ASD.

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The Effects of Urban Form on Ambient Air Pollution and Public Health Risk: A Case Study in Raleigh, North Carolina

Theodore Mansfield et al.
Risk Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
Since motor vehicles are a major air pollution source, urban designs that decrease private automobile use could improve air quality and decrease air pollution health risks. Yet, the relationships among urban form, air quality, and health are complex and not fully understood. To explore these relationships, we model the effects of three alternative development scenarios on annual average fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations in ambient air and associated health risks from PM2.5 exposure in North Carolina's Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. We integrate transportation demand, land-use regression, and health risk assessment models to predict air quality and health impacts for three development scenarios: current conditions, compact development, and sprawling development. Compact development slightly decreases (−0.2%) point estimates of regional annual average PM2.5 concentrations, while sprawling development slightly increases (+1%) concentrations. However, point estimates of health impacts are in opposite directions: compact development increases (+39%) and sprawling development decreases (−33%) PM2.5-attributable mortality. Furthermore, compactness increases local variation in PM2.5 concentrations and increases the severity of local air pollution hotspots. Hence, this research suggests that while compact development may improve air quality from a regional perspective, it may also increase the concentration of PM2.5 in local hotspots and increase population exposure to PM2.5. Health effects may be magnified if compact neighborhoods and PM2.5 hotspots are spatially co-located. We conclude that compactness alone is an insufficient means of reducing the public health impacts of transportation emissions in automobile-dependent regions. Rather, additional measures are needed to decrease automobile dependence and the health risks of transportation emissions.

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Arrival of the Fukushima radioactivity plume in North American continental waters

John Smith et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
The large discharge of radioactivity into the northwest Pacific Ocean from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear reactor accident has generated considerable concern about the spread of this material across the ocean to North America. We report here the first systematic study to our knowledge of the transport of the Fukushima marine radioactivity signal to the eastern North Pacific. Time series measurements of 134Cs and 137Cs in seawater revealed the initial arrival of the Fukushima signal by ocean current transport at a location 1,500 km west of British Columbia, Canada, in June 2012, about 1.3 y after the accident. By June 2013, the Fukushima signal had spread onto the Canadian continental shelf, and by February 2014, it had increased to a value of 2 Bq/m3 throughout the upper 150 m of the water column, resulting in an overall doubling of the fallout background from atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. Ocean circulation model estimates that are in reasonable agreement with our measured values indicate that future total levels of 137Cs (Fukushima-derived plus fallout 137Cs) off the North American coast will likely attain maximum values in the 3–5 Bq/m3 range by 2015–2016 before declining to levels closer to the fallout background of about 1 Bq/m3 by 2021. The increase in 137Cs levels in the eastern North Pacific from Fukushima inputs will probably return eastern North Pacific concentrations to the fallout levels that prevailed during the 1980s but does not represent a threat to human health or the environment.

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The Impact of LEED Neighborhood Certification on Condo Prices

Julia Freybote, Hua Sun & Xi Yang
Real Estate Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The U.S. Green Building Council offers LEED certification for existing and new neighborhood developments that meet sustainable urban development standards. Features of sustainable urban development have been found to positively affect residential sales prices. We investigate whether the intangible labeling effects of LEED neighborhood certification add a premium to the sales prices of LEED and non-LEED–certified condos. Using a quasi-experiment, transaction data from Portland, Oregon, and a spatio-temporal autoregressive (STAR) model, we find no evidence that the intangible labeling effects of LEED neighborhood certification directly or indirectly affect sales prices. Our results suggest that, contrary to LEED building certification, which we find adds a premium to condo sales prices, the LEED neighborhood label by itself fails to add value for condo buyers. Explanations for our findings include market acceptance, neighborhood delineation issues and the free rider problem as it relates to public goods.

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Proposed coal power plants and coal-to-liquids plants in the US: Which ones survive and why?

Dean Fantazzini & Mario Maggi
Energy Strategy Reviews, April 2014, Pages 9–17

Abstract:
The increase of oil and natural gas prices since the year 2000 stimulated the planning and construction of new coal-fired electricity generating plants and coal-to-liquids (CTL) plants in the US. However, many of these projects have been canceled or abandoned since 2007. Using a set of 145 proposed coal power plants and 25 CTL plants, the determinants that influence the decision to abandon a project or to proceed with it are examined using binary data models and 20 regressors. In the case of coal power plants, the number of searches performed on Google relating to coal power plants, the project duration and the prices of alternative fuels for electricity generation are found to be statistically significant at the 5% level. As for CTL plants, the political affiliation of the state governor is the only variable significant at the 5% level across several model specifications. An out-of-sample exercise confirms these findings. These results also hold with robustness checks considering alternative Google search keywords, the potential effects of the recession between 2008 and 2009 and the inclusion of the two dimensions of the Dynamic-Weighted Nominate (DWN) database.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The giver

What drives the gender gap in charitable giving? Lower empathy leads men to give less to poverty relief

Robb Willer, Christopher Wimer & Lindsay Owens
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
We draw upon past research on gender and prosocial emotions in hypothesizing that empathy can help explain the gender gap in charitable giving. In a nationally representative survey, we found that men reported less willingness to give money or volunteer time to a poverty relief organization, gaps that were mediated by men’s lower reported feelings of empathy toward others. We also experimentally tested how effective a variety of different ways of framing poverty relief were for promoting giving. Framing poverty as an issue that negatively affects all Americans increased men’s willingness to donate to the cause, eliminating the gender gap. Mediation analysis revealed that this “aligned self-interest” framing worked by increasing men’s reported poverty concern, not by changing their understanding of the causes of poverty. Thus, while men were generally less motivated by empathy, they responded to a framing that recast charitable giving as consistent with their self-interest. Exposure to the same framing, however, led women to report lower willingness to volunteer time for poverty relief, suggesting that framing giving as consistent with self-interest may discourage those who give because of an empathic response to poverty.

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Corporate Philanthropy and Productivity: Evidence from an Online Real Effort Experiment

Mirco Tonin & Michael Vlassopoulos
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Contributing to a social cause can be an important driver for workers in the public and nonprofit sectors as well as in firms that engage in corporate philanthropy or other corporate social responsibility policies. This paper compares the effectiveness of a social incentive that takes the form of a donation received by a charity of the subject’s choice to a financial incentive. We find that social incentives lead to a 13% rise in productivity, regardless of their form (lump sum or related to performance) or strength. The response is strong for subjects with low initial productivity (30%), whereas high-productivity subjects do not respond. When subjects can choose the mix of incentives, half sacrifice some of their private compensation to increase social compensation, with women more likely to do so than men. Furthermore, offering subjects some discretion in choosing their own payment schemes leads to a substantial improvement in performance. Comparing social incentives to equally costly increases in private compensation for low-productivity subjects reveals that the former are less effective in increasing productivity, but the difference is small and not statistically significant.

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The impact of mortality salience on the relative effectiveness of donation appeals

Fengyan Cai & Robert Wyer
Journal of Consumer Psychology, January 2015, Pages 101–112

Abstract:
Some donation appeals emphasize the magnitude of the help that is needed. Other, “bandwagon” appeals emphasize the fact that many others have already donated. The relative effectiveness of these appeals can depend on individuals' awareness of their mortality. Four experiments converge on the conclusion that need-focused appeals are effective when individuals are not conscious of their own mortality. When people's mortality is salient, however, bandwagon appeals have relatively greater influence. This is particularly true when others' donations have put the goal of the donation campaign within reach. These effects are evident when people have little a priori interest in the individuals being helped and sympathy does not play a major role in donation decisions.

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Avoiding affection, avoiding altruism: Why is avoidant attachment related to less helping?

Stephanie Richman, Nathan DeWall & Michelle Wolff
Personality and Individual Differences, April 2015, Pages 193–197

Abstract:
Avoidantly, compared to securely, attached people help less often and perceive the costs of helping as more severe. Helping relates to empathy and closeness, which may cause avoidantly attached people discomfort. We tested the hypothesis that reducing the potential for emotional closeness for avoidantly attached people would offset their unhelpfulness with one correlational and one experimental study. In Study 1, amongst a sample of 234 people on Mechanical Turk, avoidant attachment related to donating less money to human- and animal-related charities, but not a charity that did not foster emotional closeness. This relationship was mediated by empathy. In Study 2, amongst a sample of 193 college students, avoidantly attached people who believed that their emotions were temporarily unchangeable helped as much as people low in avoidant attachment. Reducing the potential emotional cost of helping increases helping amongst people who are avoidantly attached.

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When Bystanders Increase Rather Than Decrease Intentions to Help

Tobias Greitemeyer & Dirk Oliver Mügge
Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The bystander effect refers to the phenomenon that the presence of others inhibits helping behavior. The present research examines the idea that the bystander effect reverses when effective helping would require many help-givers. In a between-participants experiment, the number of help-givers needed as well as the number of individuals who were asked for help was varied. When one help-giver was needed, the typical bystander effect occurred in that helping intention was greater when one individual was asked rather than many. In contrast, when many help-givers were needed, the bystander effect reversed in that helping intention was greater when many individuals were asked rather than one. Mediation analyses showed that perceived rationality and diffusion of responsibility accounted for the bystander effect, whereas only perceived rationality accounted for its reversal.

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Organ Donation by Suicides: Sex and Ethnicity

David Lester & Dominique Hathaway
Psychological Reports, December 2014, Pages 948-950

Abstract:
An analysis of 2,034 actual organ donations by suicides for the years 2008–2010 indicated that women were more likely to be donors than were men and Blacks more likely to donate than were Whites. The sex difference was consistent with the responses of men and women to surveys of the general public about their willingness to become organ donors, but the ethnic difference was the reverse of the responses to surveys of the general public about their willingness to be organ donors. Future research should explore the role of the responses, positive vs negative toward organ donation, of the significant others of those dying from different causes of death, and the extent to which people have signed donor cards.

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How emotional expressions shape prosocial behavior: Interpersonal effects of anger and disappointment on compliance with requests

Evert van Doorn, Gerben van Kleef & Joop van der Pligt
Motivation and Emotion, February 2015, Pages 128-141

Abstract:
People often express emotion to influence others, for instance when making a request. Yet, surprisingly little is known about how such emotional expressions shape compliance. We investigated the interpersonal effects of anger and disappointment on compliance with requests. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants were more willing to offer help and donate to charity when a request was accompanied by disappointment rather than anger or no emotion. In Experiment 3, which involved a behavioral paradigm, emotional expressions trumped the effect of an explicit descriptive norm: Expressions of disappointment fostered generosity despite a non-generous norm, and expressions of anger undermined generosity despite a generous norm. Mediation analyses in Experiments 2 and 3 revealed that disappointment was more effective than anger in eliciting compliance because it was perceived as more appropriate for the context. Findings are discussed in relation to theorizing on social influence and the social functions of emotions.

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Money, Depletion, and Prosociality in the Dictator Game

Anja Achtziger, Carlos Alós-Ferrer & Alexander Wagner
Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study the effects of ego depletion, a manipulation which consumes self-control resources, on social preferences in a dictator game. Depleted dictators give considerably less than nondepleted dictators and hence exhibit strong preferences for selfish allocation. In contrast to earlier studies, participants were explicitly paid for completing the ego-depletion task (with either a flat rate or strictly performance-based payment). We studied the dynamics of decisions by repeating the dictator game 12 times (anonymously). Depleted dictators start with much lower offers than nondepleted ones, but, strikingly, offers decrease in time for both groups, and more rapidly so for nondepleted dictators. We conclude that, whereas depleted dictators neglect fairness motives from the very first decision on, nondepleted dictators initially resist the tendency to act selfishly, but eventually become depleted or learn to act selfishly. Hence, pro-social behavior may be short-lived, and ego depletion uncovers the default tendencies for selfishness earlier.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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