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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Influence peddling

Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) Spending and Tobacco Control Efforts

Jayani Jayawardhana et al.
PLoS ONE, December 2014

Abstract:
We investigate whether the distributions to the states from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) in 1998 is associated with stronger tobacco control efforts. We use state level data from 50 states and the District of Columbia from four time periods post MSA (1999, 2002, 2004, and 2006) for the analysis. Using fixed effect regression models, we estimate the relationship between MSA disbursements and a new aggregate measure of strength of state tobacco control known as the Strength of Tobacco Control (SoTC) Index. Results show an increase of $1 in the annual per capita MSA disbursement to a state is associated with a decrease of −0.316 in the SoTC mean value, indicating higher MSA payments were associated with weaker tobacco control measures within states. In order to achieve the initial objectives of the MSA payments, policy makers should focus on utilizing MSA payments strictly on tobacco control activities across states.

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Racial resentment and smoking

Frank Samson
Social Science & Medicine, February 2015, Pages 164–168

Abstract:
Racial resentment (also known as symbolic racism) is among the most widely tested measures of contemporary prejudice in political science and social psychological research over the past thirty years. Proponents argue that racial resentment reflects anti-black emotion obtained through pre-adult socialization. In light of affect-based models of substance use, this paper examined the association between racial resentment and smoking in a national sample of non-Hispanic white, black, and Hispanic respondents. Data come from the 2012 American National Election Study, which contained two measures of smoking. The results of ordinal logistic regression models indicate a positive association between racial resentment and smoking among non-Hispanic whites (N = 2133) that is not present among blacks (N = 693) or Hispanics (N = 660). Models controlled for age, education, income, gender, political ideology, region, and mode of interview. Furthermore, analyses indicated that a measure of race-related affect, admiration and sympathy towards blacks, partially mediated the association between racial resentment and smoking. For non-Hispanic whites, racial resentment appears to constitute a risk factor for smoking. Future studies should further specify the conditions linking substance use to the race-related affective component of racial resentment.

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The effects of responsible drinking messages on attentional allocation and drinking behavior

Antony Moss et al.
Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Aims: Four experiments were conducted to assess the acute impact of context and exposure to responsible drinking messages (RDM) on attentional allocation and drinking behaviour of younger drinkers and to explore the utility of lab-based methods for the evaluation of such materials.

Methods: A simulated bar environment was used to examine the impact of context, RDM posters, and brief online responsible drinking advice on actual drinking behaviour. Experiments one (n = 50) and two (n = 35) comprised female non-problem drinkers, while Experiments three (n = 80) and 4 (n = 60) included a mixed-gender sample of non-problem drinkers, recruited from an undergraduate student cohort. The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) was used to assess drinking patterns. Alcohol intake was assessed through the use of a taste preference task.

Results: Drinking in a simulated bar was significantly greater than in a laboratory setting in the first two studies, but not the third. There was a significant increase in alcohol consumption as a result of being exposed to RDM posters. Provision of brief online RDM reduced the negative impact of these posters somewhat; however the lowest drinking rates were associated with being exposed to neither posters nor brief advice. Data from the final experiment demonstrated a low level of visual engagement with RDMs, and that exposure to posters was associated with increased drinking.

Conclusions: Poster materials promoting responsible drinking were associated with increased consumption amongst undergraduate students, suggesting that poster campaigns to reduce alcohol harms may be having the opposite effect to that intended. Findings suggest that further research is required to refine appropriate methodologies for assessing drinking behaviour in simulated drinking environments, to ensure that future public health campaigns of this kind are having their intended effect.

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Applying Farr’s Law to project the drug overdose mortality epidemic in the United States

Salima Darakjy et al.
Injury Epidemiology, December 2014

Background: Unintentional drug overdose has increased markedly in the past two decades and surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of injury mortality in many states. The purpose of this study was to understand the trajectory of the drug overdose epidemic in the United States by applying Farr’s Law. Farr’s “law of epidemics” and the Bregman-Langmuir back calculation method were applied to United States drug overdose mortality data for the years 1980 through 2011 to project the annual death rates from drug overdose from 2012 through 2035.

Findings: From 1980–2011, annual drug overdose mortality increased from 2.7 to 13.2 deaths per 100,000 population. The projected drug overdose mortality would peak in 2016–2017 at 16.1 deaths per 100,000 population and then decline progressively until reaching 1.9 deaths per 100,000 population in 2035.

Conclusion: The projected data based on Farr’s Law suggests that drug overdose mortality in the United States will decline in the coming years and return to the 1980 baseline level approximately by the year 2034.

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Changes in Alcohol Consumption: United States, 2001-2 to 2012-13

Deborah Dawson et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Documenting changes in alcohol consumption is critical for assessing future health service and alcohol treatment needs, evaluating efforts to modify drinking behavior and understanding the impact of shifting demographics and social norms. For the period since the year 2000, published data on drinking trends have been scarce and inconsistent.

Methods: Using data from two large, nationally representative surveys of U.S. adults (2001-2002 and 2012-2013) that contained virtually identical questions on consumption, we assessed differences by period in the prevalence of drinking, volume of intake, frequency of drinking and prevalence of ≥monthly heavy episodic drinking (HED) and determined whether changes in consumption were consistent across beverage types and in population subgroups.

Results: Between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013, the prevalence of drinking increased, as did volume and frequency of drinking and prevalence of ≥monthly HED among drinkers. Increases were greater for women than men for all measures and smaller among the formerly married for consumption among drinkers. The increase in overall drinking prevalence was magnified among all race-ethnic minorities, whereas the increase in ≥monthly HED was magnified only among Blacks (all relative to Whites).

Conclusions: Our findings are suggestive of a “wetter” drinking climate in 2012-2013 than in 2001-2002, indicating the need for continued and expanded efforts to prevent chronic and episodic heavy alcohol consumption. Given the across-the-board increases in alcohol consumption in recent years, policy efforts that address drinking at the population level are supported, even if specific drinking behaviors and subgroups of drinkers are additionally targeted for individualized approaches.

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The Combined Effects of Alcohol and Cannabis on Driving: Impact on Crash Risk

Sacha Dubois et al.
Forensic Science International, forthcoming

Background/objectives: Driving under the influence of alcohol or cannabis alone is associated with increased crash risk. This study explores the combined influence of low levels of alcohol (BAC ≤ .08) and cannabis on crash risk.

Materials and Methods: Drivers aged 20 years or older who had been tested for both drugs and alcohol after involvement in a fatal crash in the United States (1991-2008) were examined using a case-control design. Cases were drivers with at least one potentially unsafe driving action (UDA) recorded in relation to the crash (e.g., weaving); controls had none recorded. We examined the prevalence of driving under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, and both agents, for drivers involved in a fatal crash. Adjusted odds ratios of committing an UDA for alcohol alone, THC alone, and their combined effect were computed via logistic regression and adjusted for a number of potential confounders.

Results: Over the past two decades, the prevalence of THC and alcohol in car drivers involved in a fatal crash has increased approximately five-fold from below 2% in 1991 to above 10% in 2008. Each .01 BAC unit increased the odds of an UDA by approximately 9-11%. Drivers who were positive for THC alone had 16% increased odds of an UDA. When alcohol and THC were combined the odds of an UDA increased by approximately 8-10% for each .01 BAC unit increase over alcohol or THC alone.

Conclusion: Drivers positive for both agents had greater odds of making an error than drivers positive for either alcohol or cannabis only. Further research is needed to better examine the interaction between cannabis concentration levels, alcohol, and driving. This research would support enforcement agencies and public health educators by highlighting the combined effect of cannabis at low BAC levels.

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Understanding the Gradient in Children's Health: Cigarette Taxes, Asthma, and Inequality

Moiz Bhai
University of Illinois Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
The origins of inequality have roots in childhood. Childhood asthma, the most common disease affecting children, disproportionately affects minority and lower SES children. Decades of research shows a strong association between tobacco exposure and respiratory illnesses. By exploiting exogenous variation in cigarette taxes across states and time, I estimate the causal impact of early life tobacco exposure on measures of children’s well-being such as asthma, asthma severity, self-reported health, and school absences. I find economically and statistically significant impacts of cigarette taxes in improving children’s health: a one dollar increase in cigarette taxes reduces the prevalence of asthma by 3.4 percentage points, and raises school attendance by nearly half a day. The largest reductions in asthma are seen in children from the poorest households. Subsequently, decomposing the asthma gap reveals that differences in responses to cigarette taxes by SES can explain three quarters of the gap in asthma prevalence.

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Crystal Clear? The Relationship Between Methamphetamine Use and Sexually Transmitted Infections

Hugo Mialon, Erik Nesson & Michael Samuel
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Public health officials have cited methamphetamine control as a tool with which to decrease HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, based on previous research that finds a strong positive correlation between methamphetamine use and risky sexual behavior. However, the observed correlation may not be causal, as both methamphetamine use and risky sexual behavior could be driven by a third factor, such as a preference for risky behavior. We estimate the effect of methamphetamine use on risky sexual behavior using monthly data on syphilis diagnoses in California and quarterly data on syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia diagnoses across all states. To circumvent possible endogeneity, we use a large exogenous supply shock in the US methamphetamine market that occurred in May 1995 and a later shock stemming from the Methamphetamine Control Act, which went into effect in October 1997. While the supply shocks had large negative effects on methamphetamine use, we find no evidence that they decreased syphilis, gonorrhea, or chlamydia rates. Our results have broad implications for public policies designed to decrease sexually transmitted infection rates.

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An Extended Swedish National Adoption Study of Alcohol Use Disorder

Kenneth Kendler et al.
JAMA Psychiatry, forthcoming

Objective: To determine to what extent genetic and environmental factors contribute to the risk for AUD.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Follow-up in 8 public data registers of adoptees, their biological and adoptive relatives, and offspring and parents from stepfamilies and not-lived-with families in Sweden. In this cohort study, subtypes of AUD were assessed by latent class analysis. A total of 18 115 adoptees (born 1950-1993) and 171 989 and 107 696 offspring of not-lived-with parents and stepparents, respectively (born 1960-1993).

Results: Alcohol use disorder in adoptees was significantly predicted by AUD in biological parents (odds ratio, 1.46; 95% CI, 1.29-1.66) and siblings (odds ratio, 1.94; 95% CI, 1.55-2.44) as well as adoptive parents (odds ratio, 1.40; 95% CI, 1.09-1.80). Genetic and environmental risk indices created from biological and adoptive relatives acted additively on adoptee AUD liability. Results from biological and adoptive relatives were replicated and extended from examinations of, respectively, not-lived-with parents and stepparents. Multivariate models in these families showed that AUD in offspring was significantly predicted by AUD, drug abuse, psychiatric illness, and crime in not-lived-with parents and by AUD, drug abuse, crime, and premature death in stepparents. Latent class analyses of adoptees and offspring of not-lived-with parents with AUDs revealed 3 AUD classes characterized by (1) female preponderance and high rates of psychiatric illness, (2) mild nonrecurrent symptoms, and (3) early-onset recurrence, drug abuse, and crime. These classes had distinct genetic signatures in the patterns of risk for various disorders in their not-lived-with parents and striking differences in the rates of recorded mood disorders.

Conclusions and Relevance: Parent-offspring transmission of AUD results from both genetic and environmental factors. Genetic risk for AUD reflects both a specific liability to AUD and to other externalizing disorders. Environmental risk reflects features of both parental psychopathology and other aspects of the rearing environment. Alcohol use disorder is a heterogeneous syndrome and meaningful subtypes emerged from latent class analysis, which were validated by patterns of disorders in biological parents and specific psychiatric comorbidities. The general population contains informative family constellations that can complement more traditional adoption designs in clarifying the sources of parent-offspring resemblance.

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Smoking is associated with mosaic loss of chromosome Y

Jan Dumanski et al.
Science, 2 January 2015, Pages 81-83

Abstract:
Tobacco smoking is a risk factor for numerous disorders, including cancers affecting organs outside the respiratory tract. Epidemiological data suggest that smoking is a greater risk factor for these cancers in males compared to females. This observation, together with the fact that males have a higher incidence of and mortality from most non–sex-specific cancers, remains unexplained. Loss of chromosome Y (LOY) in blood cells is associated with increased risk of nonhematological tumors. We demonstrate here that smoking is associated with LOY in blood cells in three independent cohorts [TwinGene: odds ratio (OR) = 4.3, 95% CI = 2.8–6.7; ULSAM: OR = 2.4, 95% CI = 1.6–3.6; and PIVUS: OR = 3.5, 95% CI = 1.4–8.4] encompassing a total of 6014 men. The data also suggest that smoking has a transient and dose-dependent mutagenic effect on LOY status. The finding that smoking induces LOY thus links a preventable risk factor with the most common acquired human mutation.

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Do alcohol taxes in Europe and the US rightly correct for externalities?

Evan Herrnstadt, Ian Parry & Juha Siikamäki
International Tax and Public Finance, February 2015, Pages 73-101

Abstract:
We develop an analytical framework for assessing corrective taxes and other policies to reduce alcohol-related externalities and apply it to the US, UK, Sweden, and Finland. The corrective tax estimates for the European countries fall short of current taxes and vice versa for the US (where drunk-driving externalities are larger and current taxes smaller). Alcohol sales restrictions are more difficult to justify on efficiency grounds as (unlike taxes) they involve large, first-order deadweight losses. For all countries, the efficiency case for stiffer drunk driver fines seems strong (though the same does not necessarily apply to non-pecuniary penalties).

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Standardised (plain) cigarette packaging increases attention to both text-based and graphical health warnings: Experimental evidence

M. Shankleman et al.
Public Health, forthcoming

Objective: To investigate whether standardised cigarette packaging increases the time spent looking at health warnings, regardless of the format of those warnings.

Study design: A factorial (two pack styles x three warning types) within-subject experiment, with participants randomised to different orders of conditions, completed at a university in London, UK.

Methods: Mock-ups of cigarette packets were presented to participants with their branded portion in either standardised (plain) or manufacturer-designed (branded) format. Health warnings were present on all packets, representing all three types currently in use in the UK: black & white text, colour text, or colour images with accompanying text. Gaze position was recorded using a specialised eye tracker, providing the main outcome measure, which was the mean proportion of a five-second viewing period spent gazing at the warning-label region of the packet.

Results: An opportunity sample of 30 (six male, mean age = 23) young adults met the following inclusion criteria: 1) not currently a smoker; 2) <100 lifetime cigarettes smoked; 3) gaze position successfully tracked for > 50% viewing time. These participants spent a greater proportion of the available time gazing at the warning-label region when the branded section of the pack was standardised (following current Australian guidelines) rather than containing the manufacturer's preferred design (mean difference in proportions = 0.078, 95% confidence interval 0.049 to 0.106, p < 0.001). There was no evidence that this effect varied based on the type of warning label (black & white text vs. colour text vs. colour image & text; interaction p = 0.295).

Conclusions: During incidental viewing of cigarette packets, young adult never-smokers are likely to spend more time looking at health warnings if manufacturers are compelled to use standardised packaging, regardless of the warning design.

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Young adult cannabis users report greater propensity for risk-taking only in non-monetary domains

Jodi Gilman et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Though substance use is often associated with elevated risk-taking in real-world scenarios, many risk-taking tasks in experimental psychology using financial gambles fail to find significant differences between individuals with substance use disorders and healthy controls. We assessed whether participants using marijuana would show a greater propensity for risk-taking in distinct domains including, but not limited to, financial risk-taking.

Methods: In the current study, we assessed risk-taking in young adult (age 18–25) regular marijuana users and in non-using control participants using a domain-specific risk-taking self-report scale (DOSPERT) encompassing five domains of risk-taking (social, financial, recreational, health/safety, and ethical). We also measured behavioral risk-taking using a laboratory monetary risk-taking task.

Results: Marijuana users and controls reported significant differences on the social, health/safety, and ethical risk-taking scales, but no differences in the propensity to take recreational or financial risks. Complementing the self-report finding, there were no differences between marijuana users and controls in their performance on the laboratory risk-taking task.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that financial risk-taking may be less sensitive than other domains of risk-taking in assessing differences in risky behavior between those who use marijuana and those who do not. In order to more consistently determine whether increased risk-taking is a factor in substance use, it may be necessary to use both monetary risk-taking tasks and complementary assessments of non-monetary-based risk-taking measures.

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Cigarette price variation around high schools: Evidence from Washington DC

Jennifer Cantrell et al.
Health & Place, January 2015, Pages 193–198

Abstract:
This study examines lowest cigarette prices in all tobacco retail outlets in Washington D.C. (n=750) in relation to the type and number of high schools nearby, controlling for confounders. The lowest overall and Newport menthol prices were significantly lower at outlets near public non-charter and charter schools compared with outlets near private schools. Given higher smoking prevalence and more price-sensitive youth subgroups in U.S. public schools, exposure to low prices may contribute to tobacco-related health disparities in minority and low-income populations. Tobacco taxes combined with policies to minimize the increasing use of price as a marketing tool are critical.

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Substance-Abuse Treatment and Mortality

Isaac Swensen
Journal of Public Economics, February 2015, Pages 13–30

Abstract:
Drug-overdose deaths, which have more than doubled over the past decade, represent a growing public-health concern. Though substance-abuse treatment may be effective in reducing drug abuse, evidence for a causal effect of treatment on drug-related mortality is lacking. I analyze the effect of substance-abuse treatment on mortality by exploiting county-level variation in treatment facilities driven by facility openings and closings. The estimates indicate that a 10-percent increase in facilities lowers a county’s drug-induced mortality rate by 2 percent. The estimated effects persist across individual and county characteristics and further indicate that spillovers of treatment reduce other related causes of death.

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Young woman smokers gain significantly more weight over 2-year follow-up than non-smokers. How Virginia doesn't slim

Eric Stice et al.
Appetite, February 2015, Pages 155–159

Objective: Although young women often report smoking for weight control purposes, no prospective study has tested whether smokers subsequently gain less weight over time than non-smokers. As this is an important lacuna because smoking results in greater mortality than obesity, the present study addresses this question.

Method: Female college students (N = 398; M age = 18.4, SD = 0.6; M BMI = 23.7, SD = 4.3) recruited for a body acceptance intervention trial provided data on smoking behavior and had their body mass measured at baseline and at 1-mo, 6-mo, 1-yr, and 2-yr follow-ups.

Results: Counter to the belief that smoking is an effective weight control strategy, baseline smokers (n = 29) gained significantly more weight (r = .29) than baseline non-smokers (n = 304), controlling for baseline BMI, parental obesity status, socio-economic status, and intervention condition; over 2-yr follow-up smokers gained 2.9 kg versus 0.9 kg for non-smokers. Descriptive data indicated that weight gain was greater for young women who quit smoking during follow-up (n = 13; M = 4.8 kg) than for persistent smokers (n = 16; M = 1.4 kg), though both groups gained more weight than non-smokers.

Conclusions: Results challenge the widely held belief that smoking is an effective weight control strategy, ironically suggesting that smokers gain more weight than non-smokers during young adulthood, though non-experimental prospective studies do not establish causal relations and future research with larger representative samples is needed.

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Uses and Abuses of Drug Decriminalization in Portugal

Hannah Laqueur
Law & Social Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
In 2001, Portugal decriminalized the acquisition, possession, and use of small quantities of all psychoactive drugs. The significance of this legislation has been misunderstood. Decriminalization did not trigger dramatic changes in drug-related behavior because, as an analysis of Portugal's predecriminalization laws and practices reveals, the reforms were more modest than suggested by the media attention they received. Portugal illustrates the shortcomings of before-and-after analysis because, as is often the case, the de jure legal change largely codified de facto practices. In the years before the law's passage, less than 1 percent of those incarcerated for a drug offense had been convicted of use. Surprisingly, the change in law regarding use appears associated with a marked reduction in drug trafficker sanctioning. While the number of arrests for trafficking changed little, the number of individuals convicted and imprisoned for trafficking since 2001 has fallen nearly 50 percent.

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Reducing binge drinking? The effect of a ban on late-night off-premise alcohol sales on alcohol-related hospital stays in Germany

Jan Marcus & Thomas Siedler
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Excessive alcohol consumption among young people is a major public health concern. On March 1, 2010, the German state of Baden-Württemberg banned the sale of alcoholic beverages between 10pm and 5am at off-premise outlets (e.g., gas stations, kiosks, supermarkets). We use rich monthly administrative data from a 70 percent random sample of all hospitalizations during the years 2007-2011 in Germany in order to evaluate the short-term impact of this policy on alcohol-related hospitalizations. Applying difference-in-differences methods, we find that the policy change reduces alcohol-related hospitalizations among adolescents and young adults by about seven percent. There is also evidence of a decrease in the number of hospitalizations due to violent assault as a result of the ban.

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Persistence and desistance in heavy cannabis use: The role of identity, agency, and life events

Nienke Liebregts et al.
Journal of Youth Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many cannabis users ‘mature out’ of their drug use, and factors of cannabis use cessation have been identified. However, very little in-depth knowledge is available about the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon. Criminological studies have gained interesting insights in desistance from crime, yet these perspectives are rarely used in drug research. This qualitative, three-year longitudinal study explored the processes involved in desistance from frequent cannabis use for young adults. Using a narrative approach, desisters (frequent users who successfully quit their cannabis use) and persisters (frequent users with a persistent desire and unsuccessful attempts to quit) were compared. In the course of the study, desisters mainly exhibited increasing agency and goal setting, established strategies to achieve these goals, and could envision another self. Desistance was generally induced by life events that became turning points. Persisters experienced largely similar events, but lacked goals and strategies and held external factors responsible for their life course and failed quit attempts. Identity change is at the core of desistance from frequent cannabis use, and the meaning-giving to life events and experiences is essential. Agency is a necessary ingredient for desistance, develops over time and through action, and leads to a new drug-free identity with desistance in turn increasing agency.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, January 12, 2015

Aboveboard

Corporate Jets and Private Meetings with Investors

Brian Bushee, Joseph Gerakos & Lian Fen Lee
University of Chicago Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We examine whether corporate jet flight patterns can be used to identify private meetings between managers and investors that are ex ante unobservable to non-participants. We predict that such meetings enable select investors to supplement and trade on their private information, leading to price and volume reactions during the flight periods, as well as changes in local institutional investor ownership. Using a sample of almost 400,000 flights undertaken by 396 firms between 2007 and 2010, we proxy for private meetings with "road shows," which are three-day windows that include jet flights to multiple cities in which the firm has high institutional ownership. First, we find that the number of road show flights is significantly associated with a number of proxies for incentives to meet privately with investors. Second, we find that three-day windows including road show flights exhibit significantly greater abnormal market reactions than other flight windows. Finally, we show that flights to metro areas are positively associated with changes in local institutional ownership that anticipate future returns. Overall, our evidence suggests that these private meetings are an important information event for the participating investors, who potentially gain an advantage over non-participating investors who have no public notice of the meetings.

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Dispersed Information and CEO Incentives

Jan Schneemeier
University of Chicago Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
I measure the social cost of stock-based compensation schemes in a model in which the CEO learns from market prices. In my model all agents commit a small correlated error when forming their expectations about future productivity. The equilibrium stock price thus aggregates private information with noise. I show that a stock-based compensation scheme leads the CEO to overuse the price information by a factor of three, which in turn makes the excess return and investment growth excessively volatile. I calibrate a DSGE model that embeds this mechanism and estimate an implied welfare loss of 0.55% of permanent consumption. Surprisingly, if households were given the choice within this model of preserving the status quo or forcing the CEO to ignore all price information, they would choose the latter.

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The Costs of a (Nearly) Fully Independent Board

Olubunmi Faleye
Journal of Empirical Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
A significant and growing percentage of U.S. firms now have boards where the CEO is the only employee director (hereinafter fully independent boards). This paper studies whether and how this practice impacts board effectiveness. I find that fully independent boards are associated with a significant reduction in firm performance. Further tests suggest two channels for this effect. First, full independence deprives the board of spontaneous and regular access to the firm-specific information of other senior executives. Second, full independence eliminates the first-hand exposure of future CEOs to board-level discussions of strategy, which steepens the learning curve for eventually promoted candidates.

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Agency Problems of Corporate Philanthropy

Ronald Masulis & Syed Walid Reza
Review of Financial Studies, February 2015, Pages 592-636

Abstract:
Evaluating agency theory and optimal contracting theory views of corporate philanthropy, we find that as corporate giving increases, shareholders reduce their valuation of firm cash holdings. Dividend increases following the 2003 Tax Reform Act are associated with reduced corporate giving. Using a natural experiment, we find that corporate giving is positively (negatively) associated with CEO charity preferences (CEO shareholdings and corporate governance quality). Evidence from CEO-affiliated charity donations, market reactions to insider-affiliated donations, its relation to CEO compensation, and firm contributions to director-affiliated charities indicates that corporate donations advance CEO interests and suggests misuses of corporate resources that reduce firm value.

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Executive Compensation, Organizational Performance, and Governance Quality in the Absence of Owners

Ashley Newton
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
I study the relationship between chief executive compensation, organizational performance, and governance quality in large U.S. nonprofits. Due in large part to the absence of shareholders, the nonprofit sector is characterized by weaker monitoring mechanisms and potentially more severe agency problems relative to their for-profit counterparts. As a result, there have been numerous instances of executive abuse, such as exorbitant pay for very little work. Despite the size of the nonprofit sector (5.5% of GDP and 9% of employment) and the obvious monitoring and legal responsibility concerns, governance issues at nonprofits have received much less attention than that at for-profits. Using recent IRS data on governance practices at nonprofits, I find that, after controlling for known determinants, both the CEO-to-employee relative pay ratio and the consumption of perquisites are significantly negatively related to an index of nonprofit governance quality. Furthermore, consistent with governance problems at nonprofits and inconsistent with the Pay-for-Performance Hypothesis, I find a significant negative relationship between CEO-to-employee relative pay and multiple measures of nonprofit performance. These results highlight the importance of strong governance mechanisms in mitigating high levels of relative pay to and poor performance by executives in organizations marred by severe agency conflicts and ineffective monitoring mechanisms.

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Pay Me Now (and Later): Bonus Boosts Before Pension Freezes and Executive Departures

Irina Stefanescu, Kangzhen Xie & Jun Yang
Federal Reserve Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We show that large public companies in the United States change the assumptions of the pension benefit formulas for their top executives in anticipation of defined benefit plan freezes and before executive retirements. In particular, top executives receive larger annual bonuses (an input of the pension benefit formula) before these events. Our findings are not driven by performance or other known determinants of annual bonuses and are not mirrored by increases in equity awards (which do not affect pension benefits). We document yet another mechanism through which top executives capture wealth at the expense of shareholders and regular employees.

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Litigation Risk and Agency Costs: Evidence from Nevada Corporate Law

Dain Donelson & Christopher Yust
Journal of Law and Economics, August 2014, Pages 747-780

Abstract:
In 2001, Nevada significantly limited the personal legal liability of corporate officers and directors. We use this exogenous shock to implement a differences-in-differences design that examines the impact of officer and director litigation risk on agency costs. We find decreased firm value, especially for firms with lower levels of investor protection and the highest expected agency costs. We also find that managerial incentives are reduced as measured by lower chief executive officers' pay-for-performance sensitivity. Finally, we find an adverse impact on operating performance and increased error-based restatements for Nevada firms subsequent to the change. Our findings emphasize that officer and director litigation risk is an important governance mechanism.

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The Effect of Repatriation Tax Costs on U.S. Multinational Investment

Michelle Hanlon, Rebecca Lester & Rodrigo Verdi
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates whether the U.S. repatriation tax for U.S. multinational corporations affects foreign investment. Our results show that the locked-out cash due to repatriation tax costs is associated with a higher likelihood of foreign (but not domestic) acquisitions. We also find a negative association between tax-induced foreign cash holdings and the market reaction to foreign deals. This result suggests that the investment activity of firms with high repatriation tax costs is viewed by the market as less value-enhancing than that of firms with low tax costs, consistent with foreign investment of firms with high repatriation tax costs possibly reflecting agency-driven behavior.

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Pay-performance sensitivity before and after SOX

Hui Chen, Debra Jeter & Ya-Wen Yang
Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact on pay-performance sensitivity of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), an effect that has been examined in prior research but with often conflicting findings. Using a more comprehensive sample of executives and of compensation components than in prior research, we compare managers' pay-performance sensitivity before and after 2001-2002, a period during which regulatory changes were initiated to increase scrutiny over managerial manipulation and improve financial reporting quality. Based on ExecuComp data from 1992 to 2005 (and excluding the years 2001 and 2002), our results show that pay-performance sensitivity using either market-based or accounting-based measures of performance increased significantly following these events. When we further decompose executive pay into its cash-based and equity-based components, we find evidence of an increase in the link between performance and executive compensation for five of six measures for each performance metric. Thus, in contrast to most prior studies on the impact of SOX on executive incentives and compensation, our evidence is consistent with an improvement rather than weakening in the alignment of managerial and shareholder interests.

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Do Corporate Managers Skimp on Shareholders' Dividends to Protect their Own Retirement Funds?

Assaf Eisdorfer, Carmelo Giaccotto & Reilly White
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
What is the impact of long-term executive compensation, particularly large pension payouts, on the firm's current dividend policy? We argue that managers with high pension holdings are less likely to adopt a high dividend policy that can risk their future pension payouts. Using a hand-collected actuarial pension dataset we show that (i) dividend payments are significantly lower when manager compensation relies more heavily on pension payouts; (ii) higher compensation leverage and inside debt have a significant negative effect on dividend payments net of stock repurchases; and (iii) the negative effect of pension on dividend is significantly weaker when pensions are protected in a pre-funding rabbi trust. We show further that this agency behavior reduces firm performance.

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CEO Tenure and Earnings Management

Ashiq Ali & Weining Zhang
Journal of Accounting and Economics, February 2015, Pages 60-79

Abstract:
This study examines changes in CEOs' incentive to manage their firms' reported earnings during their tenure. Earnings overstatement is greater in the early years than in the later years of CEOs' service, and this relation is less pronounced for firms with greater external and internal monitoring. These results suggest that new CEOs try to favorably influence the market's perception of their ability in their early years of service, when the market is more uncertain. Also, consistent with the horizon problem, earnings overstatement is greater in the CEOs' final year, but this result obtains only after controlling for earnings overstatement in their early years of service.

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Managerial Attitudes and Takeover Outcomes: Evidence From Corporate Filings

Shan Yan
Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the textual content of merger and acquisition related SEC filings in an effort to understand the role of managerial attitudes and beliefs in merger negotiations and outcomes. Using a textual algorithm to identify the degree to which filings of bidders and targets exhibit negative/cautious tones vs. positive/optimistic tones, we find that bidders employing the most optimistic language in their filings actually experience the worst long-run performance following the transactions. In contrast, bidding managers who appear to acknowledge and understand the risks of the transactions experience relatively better post-merger performance. Thus our analysis of the textual content of merger filings appears to give us a new method for investigating the role of bidder and target attitudes and beliefs on merger outcomes.

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Is Tone at the Top Associated with Financial Reporting Aggressiveness?

Lorenzo Patelli & Matteo Pedrini
Journal of Business Ethics, January 2015, Pages 3-19

Abstract:
The discussion about the relationship between tone at the top and financial reporting practices has been primarily focused on the oversight role played by the board of directors and other structural elements of corporate governance. Another relevant determinant of tone at the top is the corporate narrative language, since it is a fundamental way in which the chief executive officer (CEO) enacts leadership. In this study, we empirically explore the association between financial reporting aggressiveness and five thematic indicators capturing different traits of ethical leadership from 535 annual letters to shareholders. We find that aggressive financial reporting is positively associated with CEO letters using a language which is resolute, complex, and not engaging. Our empirical findings highlight the importance of examining discretionary corporate narratives for the auditing process and the role of tone at the top in influencing accounting practices.

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Evidence on the Outcome of Say-On-Pay Votes: How Managers, Directors, and Shareholders Respond

Kelly Brunarski, Colin Campbell & Yvette Harman
Journal of Corporate Finance, February 2015, Pages 132-149

Abstract:
The economic value of the Say-on-Pay (SOP) provision of the Dodd-Frank Act has been a subject of debate. Proponents of this provision suggest these votes benefit shareholders by increasing investor influence over managerial compensation. Opponents of the SOP provision believe compensation contracting is better done by well-informed and unobstructed boards of directors. Our study provides direct evidence on the impact of the shareholder SOP votes by examining responses to the vote. We find that overcompensated managers with low SOP support tend to react by increasing dividends, decreasing leverage and increasing corporate investment. However, we find no evidence that management's response to the vote affects subsequent vote outcomes, nor do we find a subsequent change in firm value. Finally, we find excess compensation increases for managers that were substantially overpaid prior to the SOP vote, regardless of the outcome of the vote. Thus, it does not appear that the SOP legislation has had the intended effect of improving executive contracting.

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Group judgment and advice-taking: The social context underlying CEO compensation decisions

Bryan Bonner & Brian Cadman
Group Dynamics, December 2014, Pages 302-317

Abstract:
Groups are often tasked with making important organizational decisions. For example, CEO compensation judgments are made by groups of decision makers with no specialized compensation training who receive advice from a third party with a potential bias. This study seeks to understand the effects of this challenging context on decision making. We explore whether and how decision makers adjust their judgments, considering the potential for advisor bias. This is an essential issue in CEO compensation that is difficult to assess through traditional archival research based on publicly available data. Our study explores how decision makers, in the context of compensation committees, process and use advice provided by external parties. Our findings illustrate that individuals adjust for known conflicts of interest in the information provided to them. However, we do not find that individuals discount lavish advice to a greater extent than more modest advice, and the group decision-making process fails to correct for this tendency.

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Does corporate governance quality affect analyst coverage? Evidence from the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS)

Pandej Chintrakarn et al.
Applied Economics Letters, Winter 2015, Pages 312-317

Abstract:
We examine the impact of corporate governance quality on the extent of analyst coverage. The evidence based on nearly 3000 firms indicates that more analysts are likely to cover firms with weaker corporate governance. In particular, as corporate governance quality falls by one SD, analyst following increases by 11.40%. Our evidence is consistent with the notion that poor governance results in a wider divergence between the stock's market price and the fundamental value. Analysts prefer to cover companies with poor governance because it allows them to generate trading commissions by offering shareholders a particularly compelling story about why a stock's fundamental value and the current price differ.

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The Impact of Personal Attributes on Corporate Insider Trading

David Hillier, Adriana Korczak & Piotr Korczak
Journal of Corporate Finance, February 2015, Pages 150-167

Abstract:
We analyze the importance of personal attributes in explaining the performance of reported share transactions by corporate insiders. While prior literature has focused on observable firm and trade characteristics, little effort has been made to understand how individual attributes, such as skills, abilities, or personality, impact upon post-trade abnormal returns. We document that personal attributes explain up to a third of the variability in insider trading performance and dominate unobservable and observable firm and trade characteristics by a sizeable margin. Personal attributes are correlated with the insider's year of birth, education and gender, and matter more in companies with greater information asymmetry and when outsiders are inattentive to public information. We shed also new light on the significance of executive hierarchy and regulations in explaining insider trading performance and highlight the importance of controlling for individual fixed effects in insider trading research to avoid omitted variable bias in estimated regression coefficients.

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Corporate General Counsel and Financial Reporting Quality

Justin Hopkins, Edward Maydew & Mohan Venkatachalam
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the role of general counsel (GC) in firms' financial reporting quality. GCs have a broad oversight role within the firm, including keeping the firm in compliance with laws and regulations and dealing with potential violations with respect to financial reporting. Several high-profile U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigations have resulted in lawsuits or indictments against GCs for perpetrating financial fraud and caused many to ask: where were the gatekeepers? As such, we examine the conditions under which GCs may stray from their primary role as gatekeepers. Mainly, we empirically investigate claims that compensation can impair the independence or compromise the professional judgment of a GC. We measure the level of compensation using the GC's presence or absence in the top five officers of the firm by compensation. Results are consistent with GCs straying from their role as gatekeepers, to some extent, when highly compensated in a manner similar to the CEO and CFO. In particular, firms with highly compensated GCs have lower financial reporting quality and more aggressive accounting practices, including management of the litigation reserve. However, the results also show that highly compensated GCs play an important gatekeeping role in keeping the firm in compliance with generally accepted accounting principles. Thus, highly compensated GCs appear to tolerate moderately aggressive behavior but constrain it such that it would not result in violation of securities laws and jeopardize their standing within the firm.

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Strategic silence, insider selling and litigation risk

Mary Brooke Billings & Matthew Cedergren
Journal of Accounting and Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Prior work finds that managers beneficially time their purchases, but not sales, prior to forecasts. Focusing on if (as opposed to when) a forecast is given, we link insider selling to silence in advance of earnings disappointments. This raises the question of whether the absence of incriminating trading drives reductions in litigation risk potentially attributed to warnings. We find that the absence of a warning combined with the presence of selling exacerbates the consequences associated with the individual behaviors. Yet, selling prior to a warning typically does not offset all of the warning's benefit. In so doing, we supply the first robust evidence of a litigation benefit associated with warning.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, January 11, 2015

No deal

The role of self-interest in elite bargaining

Brad LeVeck et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 30 December 2014, Pages 18536-18541

Abstract:
One of the best-known and most replicated laboratory results in behavioral economics is that bargainers frequently reject low offers, even when it harms their material self-interest. This finding could have important implications for international negotiations on many problems facing humanity today, because models of international bargaining assume exactly the opposite: that policy makers are rational and self-interested. However, it is unknown whether elites who engage in diplomatic bargaining will similarly reject low offers because past research has been based almost exclusively on convenience samples of undergraduates, members of the general public, or small-scale societies rather than highly experienced elites who design and bargain over policy. Using a unique sample of 102 policy and business elites who have an average of 21 y of practical experience conducting international diplomacy or policy strategy, we show that, compared with undergraduates and the general public, elites are actually more likely to reject low offers when playing a standard "ultimatum game" that assesses how players bargain over a fixed resource. Elites with more experience tend to make even higher demands, suggesting that this tendency only increases as policy makers advance to leadership positions. This result contradicts assumptions of rational self-interested behavior that are standard in models of international bargaining, and it suggests that the adoption of global agreements on international trade, climate change, and other important problems will not depend solely on the interests of individual countries, but also on whether these accords are seen as equitable to all member states.

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What Is Typical Is Good: The Influence of Face Typicality on Perceived Trustworthiness

Carmel Sofer et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The role of face typicality in face recognition is well established, but it is unclear whether face typicality is important for face evaluation. Prior studies have focused mainly on typicality's influence on attractiveness, although recent studies have cast doubt on its importance for attractiveness judgments. Here, we argue that face typicality is an important factor for social perception because it affects trustworthiness judgments, which approximate the basic evaluation of faces. This effect has been overlooked because trustworthiness and attractiveness judgments have a high level of shared variance for most face samples. We show that for a continuum of faces that vary on a typicality-attractiveness dimension, trustworthiness judgments peak around the typical face. In contrast, perceived attractiveness increases monotonically past the typical face, as faces become more like the most attractive face. These findings suggest that face typicality is an important determinant of face evaluation.

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Changes in Eye Contact and Attraction Scores Relative to Ostracism and Dissent

Johny Garner & Debra Iba
Small Group Research, February 2015, Pages 3-26

Abstract:
Ostracism casts a number of harms on group members who are targets, yet little is known about the behaviors which can lead group members to become ostracism targets. Here, we investigated whether dissent - an important and beneficial behavior for group decision making - led the group to ostracize the members who voiced dissent. This study examined ostracism and two types of dissent - disagreement with the group's decision-making process and disagreement with specific ideas. Confederates who dissented with ideas were ostracized, as evidenced by lower attraction scores when compared to confederates in control groups. By contrast, process dissenters were not ostracized. Rather, eye contact with process dissenters was significantly higher than eye contact with confederates in control groups. These results suggest that questioning a group's decision-making process may be one way to draw the attention of the group without being ostracized whereas challenging the prevailing decision itself may subject the dissenter to social exclusion.

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Social Status Modulates Prosocial Behavior and Egalitarianism in Preschool Children and Adults

Ana Guinote et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Humans are a cooperative species, capable of altruism and the creation of shared norms that ensure fairness in society. However, individuals with different educational, cultural, economic, or ethnic backgrounds differ in their levels of social investment and endorsement of egalitarian values. We present four experiments showing that subtle cues to social status (i.e., prestige and reputation in the eyes of others) modulate prosocial orientation. The experiments found that individuals who experienced low status showed more communal and prosocial behavior, and endorsed more egalitarian life goals and values compared with those who experienced high status. Behavioral differences across high- and low-status positions appeared early in human ontogeny (4-5 y of age).

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The dual function of social gaze

Matthias Gobel, Heejung Kim & Daniel Richardson
Cognition, March 2015, Pages 359-364

Abstract:
Ears cannot speak, lips cannot hear, but eyes can both signal and perceive. For human beings, this dual function makes the eyes a remarkable tool for social interaction. For psychologists trying to understand eye movements, however, their dual function causes a fundamental ambiguity. In order to contrast signaling and perceiving functions of social gaze, we manipulated participants' beliefs about social context as they looked at the same stimuli. Participants watched videos of faces of higher and lower ranked people, while they themselves were filmed. They believed either that the recordings of them would later be seen by the people in the videos or that no-one would see them. This manipulation significantly changed how participants responded to the social rank of the target faces. Specifically, when they believed that the targets would later be looking at them, and so could use gaze to signal information, participants looked proportionally less at the eyes of the higher ranked targets. We conclude that previous claims about eye movements and face perception that are based on a single social context can only be generalized with caution. A complete understanding of face perception needs to address both functions of social gaze.

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Sensitivity to Changing Contingencies Predicts Social Success

Richard Ronay & William von Hippel
Social Psychological and Personality Science, January 2015, Pages 23-30

Abstract:
To adapt one's behavior to suit changing social contingencies, it is necessary to be skillful at detecting such changing contingencies in the first place. As a consequence, the ability to detect changing contingencies (reversal learning) should predict social competence across both competitive and cooperative social settings. Consistent with this possibility, Study 1 revealed that better reversal learning predicted more effective conflict management and partner happiness within romantic relationships. Studies 2a and 2b found that better reversal learning predicted less satisfied negotiation partners, an effect mediated by the positive relationship between reversal-learning performance and value gained from the negotiation. In Study 3, better reversal learning predicted greater partner cooperation and more favorable outcomes in a multi-round prisoners' dilemma game. These results suggest that the capacity to detect changing contingencies, and thereby modify one's behavior in response to a socially dynamic world, facilitates interpersonal competence across a variety of social domains.

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Artful Paltering: The Risks and Rewards of Using Truthful Statements to Mislead Others

Todd Rogers et al.
Harvard Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
We document a common type of deception in interpersonal contexts: paltering, the active use of truthful statements to convey a mistaken impression. Paltering is distinct from lies of commission in that it involves only truthful statements. It is distinct from lies of omission in that it involves actively misleading targets rather than passively omitting to share relevant information. A pilot study reveals that paltering is a common negotiation tactic. Six experiments demonstrate that paltering in negotiation can help palterers claim value, but can also increase the likelihood of impasse and harm palterers' reputations. Indeed, targets perceive paltering as the ethical equivalent of making false statements. At the same time, palterers - and outside observers - perceive paltering as more ethical than targets do. We add to the growing literature examining the antecedents and consequences of deception, demonstrating the prevalence and consequences of paltering in negotiation.

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Flipping the Switch: Power, Social Dominance, and Expectancies of Mental Energy Change

Patrick Egan & Edward Hirt
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research suggests that high levels of interpersonal power can promote enhanced executive functioning capabilities. The present work explored whether this effect is contingent upon expectancies concerning power's downstream cognitive consequences. Study 1 showed that social dominance orientation (SDO) predicted idiosyncratic expectancies of mental energy change toward interpersonal power. Study 2 showed that SDO moderated the executive functioning changes associated with interpersonal power and that this moderation effect was contingent upon changes in perceived mental depletion. Study 3 showed that directly manipulating expectancies of mental energy change concerning interpersonal power moderated the executive functioning consequences of power and that this moderation effect was contingent upon SDO and changes in perceived mental depletion. Together, the present findings underscore the importance of expectancies and individual differences in understanding the effects of interpersonal power.

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The Downside of Looking Like a Leader: Power, Nonverbal Confidence, and Participative Decision-Making

Connson Locke & Cameron Anderson
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
An abundance of evidence suggests that exhibiting a confident nonverbal demeanor helps individuals ascend social hierarchies. The current research examines some of the implications of having individuals in positions of power who exhibit such nonverbal confidence. Three studies examined dyads that worked together on decision-making tasks. It was found that people participated less in a discussion when they interacted with a powerful individual who exhibited confidence than when a powerful individual did not exhibit confidence. Moreover, people who interacted with a confident powerful individual participated less because they viewed that individual to be more competent. People even deferred to the confident powerful individual's opinions when that individual was wrong, leading to suboptimal joint decisions. Moderation analyses suggest the powerful individual was able to mitigate the effects of a confident demeanor somewhat by also showing an open nonverbal demeanor.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mixed up

Preferences vs. Opportunities: Racial/Ethnic Intermarriage in the United States

Seul-ki Shin
University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
This paper develops and implements a new approach for separately identifying preference and opportunity parameters of a two-sided search and matching model in the absence of data on choice sets. This approach exploits information on the dynamics of matches: how long it takes for singles to form matches, what types of matches they form, and how long the matches last. Willingness to accept a certain type of partner can be revealed through the dissolution of matches. Given recovered acceptance rules, the rates at which singles meet different types are inferred from the observed transitions from singlehood to matches. Imposing equilibrium conditions links acceptance rules and arrival rates to underlying preference and opportunity parameters. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, I apply this method to examine the marriage patterns of non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics in the United States. Results indicate that the observed infrequency of intermarriage is primarily attributable to a low incidence of interracial/interethnic meetings rather than same-race/ethnicity preferences. Simulations based on the estimated model show the effects of demographic changes on marital patterns.

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Experimental Effects of Exposure to Pornography: The Moderating Effect of Personality and Mediating Effect of Sexual Arousal

Gert Martin Hald & Neil Malamuth
Archives of Sexual Behavior, January 2015, Pages 99-109

Abstract:
Using a randomly selected community sample of 200 Danish young adult men and women in a randomized experimental design, the study investigated the effects of a personality trait (agreeableness), past pornography consumption, and experimental exposure to non-violent pornography on attitudes supporting violence against women (ASV). We found that lower levels of agreeableness and higher levels of past pornography consumption significantly predicted ASV. In addition, experimental exposure to pornography increased ASV but only among men low in agreeableness. This relationship was found to be significantly mediated by sexual arousal with sexual arousal referring to the subjective assessment of feeling sexually excited, ready for sexual activities, and/or bodily sensations associated with being sexually aroused. In underscoring the importance of individual differences, the results supported the hierarchical confluence model of sexual aggression and the media literature on affective engagement and priming effects.

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Men’s hunger, food consumption, and preferences for female body types: A replication and extension of Nelson and Morrison’s (2005) study

Nicolas Guéguen
Social Psychology, November/December 2014, Pages 495-497

Abstract:
Nelson and Morrison (2005, study 3) reported that men who feel hungry preferred heavier women. The present study replicates these results by using real photographs of women and examines the mediation effect of hunger scores. Men were solicited while entering or leaving a restaurant and asked to report their hunger on a 10-point scale. Afterwards, they were presented with three photographs of a woman in a bikini: One with a slim body type, one with a slender body type, and one with a slightly chubby body. The participants were asked to indicate their preference. Results showed that the participants entering the restaurant preferred the chubby body type more while satiated men preferred the thinner or slender body types. It was also found that the relation between experimental conditions and the choices of the body type was mediated by men’s hunger scores.

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Hooking up during the college years: Is there a pattern?

Patricia Roberson, Spencer Olmstead & Frank Fincham
Culture, Health & Sexuality, forthcoming

Abstract:
Hook ups are sexual encounters that can include a variety of behaviours (e.g., kissing to intercourse) with no expectation of future contact or a committed relationship. Although hooking up is reported to be common on college campuses across the USA, little is known about whether the frequency of hooking up changes over the course of the college experience. Using cross-sectional data and the covariates alcohol use, gender and relationship status, we examined a synthetic cohort of undergraduate students (n = 1003) on rates of hooking up using (1) logistic regression and (2) an applied form of survival analysis. Whereas both analytic techniques produced similar results, survival analysis provided a more complete picture by showing an increase in the rate of hooking up that peaked between spring semester of the first year of college and autumn semester of the second year of college, followed by a gradual decline in hook up rates over subsequent semesters. Findings indicate that gender is significantly related to hooking up in the logistic regression analysis, with women reporting fewer hook ups; however, gender was not significantly related to hooking up in the survival analysis, indicating that there are no differences in the pattern across cohorts. Implications for promoting the sexual health of college students and future research are discussed.

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Morningness–eveningness and intrasexual competition in men

Davide Ponzi et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, April 2015, Pages 228–231

Abstract:
A growing body of research points to a relationship between chronotype and socio-sexuality, especially in men, such that evening-types appear both to be more short-term mating oriented than morning-types and to possess more personality traits and other behavioral characteristics that facilitate sexual promiscuity. This study contributes to and expands this body of research by investigating the relationship between chronotype and intra-sexual competition. We tested the prediction that, in a subject population of young heterosexual men, evening-types would score higher on intra-sexual competition in the context of mating. The results were consistent with our prediction and showed that the association between chronotype and intra-sexual competitiveness is not the by-product of correlations with personality measures. Higher intra-sexual competitiveness in men who are evening-types may contribute to their higher short-term mating success reported by previous studies. Evolutionary hypotheses testing predictions derived from sexual selection or life history theory can make a significant contribution to our understanding of the functional significance of inter-individual variation in chronotype and its associated psychological and behavioral traits.

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Mate choice, mate preference, and biological markets: The relationship between partner choice and health preference is modulated by women’s own attractiveness

Joanna Wincenciak et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although much of the research on human mate preference assumes that mate preference and partner choice will be related to some extent, evidence for correlations between mate preference and mate choice is mixed. Inspired by biological market theories of mate choice, which propose that individuals with greater market value will be better placed to translate their preference into choice, we investigated whether participants’ own attractiveness modulated the relationship between their preference and choice. Multilevel modeling showed that experimentally assessed preferences for healthy-looking other-sex faces predicted third-party ratings of partner’s facial health better among women whose faces were rated as more attractive by third parties. This pattern of results was not seen for men. These results suggest that the relationship between mate preference and mate choice may be more complex than was assumed in previous research, at least among women. Our results also highlight the utility of biological market theories for understanding the links between mate preference and partner choice.

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Mating strategy, disgust, and food neophobia

Laith Al-Shawaf et al.
Appetite, February 2015, Pages 30–35

Abstract:
Food neophobia and disgust are commonly thought to be linked, but this hypothesis is typically implicitly assumed rather than directly tested. Evidence for the connection has been based on conceptually and empirically unsound measures of disgust, unpublished research, and indirect findings. This study (N = 283) provides the first direct evidence of a relationship between trait-level food neophobia and trait-level pathogen disgust. Unexpectedly, we also found that food neophobia varies as a function of sexual disgust and is linked to mating strategy. Using an evolutionary framework, we propose a novel hypothesis that may account for these previously undiscovered findings: the food neophilia as mating display hypothesis. Our discussion centers on future research directions for discriminatively testing this novel hypothesis.

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More Lessons from the Hadza about Men’s Work

Kristen Hawkes, James O’Connell & Nicholas Blurton Jones
Human Nature, December 2014, Pages 596-619

Abstract:
Unlike other primate males, men invest substantial effort in producing food that is consumed by others. The Hunting Hypothesis proposes this pattern evolved in early Homo when ancestral mothers began relying on their mates’ hunting to provision dependent offspring. Evidence for this idea comes from hunter-gatherer ethnography, but data we collected in the 1980s among East African Hadza do not support it. There, men targeted big game to the near exclusion of other prey even though they were rarely successful and most of the meat went to others, at significant opportunity cost to their own families. Based on Hadza data collected more recently, Wood and Marlowe contest our position, affirming the standard view of men’s foraging as family provisioning. Here we compare the two studies, identify similarities, and show that emphasis on big game results in collective benefits that would not be supplied if men foraged mainly to provision their own households. Male status competition remains a likely explanation for Hadza focus on big game, with implications for hypotheses about the deeper past.

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Women’s pathogen disgust predicting preference for facial masculinity may be specific to age and study design

Anthony Lee & Brendan Zietsch
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Facial masculinity in men is thought to be an indicator of good health. Consistent with this idea, previous research has found a positive association between pathogen avoidance (disgust sensitivity) and preference for facial masculinity. However, previous studies are solely based on young adult participants and targets, using forced-choice preference measures; this begs the question whether the findings generalise to other adult age groups or other preference measures. We address this by conducting three studies assessing facial masculinity preferences of women of a wider age range rating target face of a wider age range. In Studies 1 and 2, 447 and 433 women respectively made forced choices between two identical faces that were manipulated on masculinity/femininity. In Study 1, face stimuli were manipulated on sexual dimorphism using age-matched templates, while in Study 2 young face stimuli were manipulated with older templates and older face stimuli were manipulated using young templates. In the full sample for Study 1, no association was found between women’s pathogen disgust and masculinity preference, but when limiting the sample to younger women rating younger faces we replicated previous findings of significant association between pathogen disgust and preference for facial masculinity. Results for Study 2 found no effect of pathogen disgust sensitivity on facial masculinity preferences regardless of participant and stimuli age. In Study 3, the facial masculinity preferences of 386 women were revealed through their attractiveness ratings of natural (unmanipulated) faces. Here, we did not find a significant association of pathogen disgust on facial masculinity preferences, regardless of participant and stimuli age. These results call into question the robustness of the link between women’s pathogen avoidance and facial masculinity preference, and raise questions as to why the effect is specific to younger adults and the forced-choice preference measure.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, January 9, 2015

Police academy

The Effect of Police Body-Worn Cameras on Use of Force and Citizens’ Complaints Against the Police: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Barak Ariel, William Farrar & Alex Sutherland
Journal of Quantitative Criminology, forthcoming

Objective: Police use-of-force continues to be a major source of international concern, inviting interest from academics and practitioners alike. Whether justified or unnecessary/excessive, the exercise of power by the police can potentially tarnish their relationship with the community. Police misconduct can translate into complaints against the police, which carry large economic and social costs. The question we try to answer is: do body-worn-cameras reduce the prevalence of use-of-force and/or citizens’ complaints against the police?

Methods: We empirically tested the use of body-worn-cameras by measuring the effect of videotaping police–public encounters on incidents of police use-of-force and complaints, in randomized-controlled settings. Over 12 months, we randomly-assigned officers to “experimental-shifts” during which they were equipped with body-worn HD cameras that recorded all contacts with the public and to “control-shifts” without the cameras (n = 988). We nominally defined use-of-force, both unnecessary/excessive and reasonable, as a non-desirable response in police–public encounters. We estimate the causal effect of the use of body-worn-videos on the two outcome variables using both between-group differences using a Poisson regression model as well as before-after estimates using interrupted time-series analyses.

Results: We found that the likelihood of force being used in control conditions were roughly twice those in experimental conditions. Similarly, a pre/post analysis of use-of-force and complaints data also support this result: the number of complaints filed against officers dropped from 0.7 complaints per 1,000 contacts to 0.07 per 1,000 contacts. We discuss the findings in terms of theory, research methods, policy and future avenues of research on body-worn-videos.

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The Impact of Gun Ownership Rates on Crime Rates: A Methodological Review of the Evidence

Gary Kleck
Journal of Criminal Justice, January–February 2015, Pages 40–48

Purpose: This paper reviews 41 English-language studies that tested the hypothesis that higher gun prevalence levels cause higher crime rates, especially higher homicide rates.

Methods: Each study was assessed as to whether it solved or reduced each of three critical methodological problems: (1) whether a validated measure of gun prevalence was used, (2) whether the authors controlled for more than a handful of possible confounding variables, and (3) whether the researchers used suitable causal order procedures to deal with the possibility of crime rates affecting gun rates, instead of the reverse.

Results: It was found that most studies did not solve any of these problems, and that research that did a better job of addressing these problems was less likely to support the more-guns-cause-more-crime hypothesis. Indeed, none of the studies that solved all three problems supported the hypothesis.

Conclusions: Technically weak research mostly supports the hypothesis, while strong research does not. It must be tentatively concluded that higher gun ownership rates do not cause higher crime rates, including homicide rates.

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Summer jobs reduce violence among disadvantaged youth

Sara Heller
Science, 5 December 2014, Pages 1219-1223

Abstract:
Every day, acts of violence injure more than 6000 people in the United States. Despite decades of social science arguing that joblessness among disadvantaged youth is a key cause of violent offending, programs to remedy youth unemployment do not consistently reduce delinquency. This study tests whether summer jobs, which shift focus from remediation to prevention, can reduce crime. In a randomized controlled trial among 1634 disadvantaged high school youth in Chicago, assignment to a summer jobs program decreases violence by 43% over 16 months (3.95 fewer violent-crime arrests per 100 youth). The decline occurs largely after the 8-week intervention ends. The results suggest the promise of using low-cost, well-targeted programs to generate meaningful behavioral change, even with a problem as complex as youth violence.

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Does What Police Do at Hot Spots Matter? The Philadelphia Policing Tactics Experiment

Elizabeth Groff et al.
Criminology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Policing tactics that are proactive, focused on small places or groups of people in small places, and tailor specific solutions to problems using careful analysis of local conditions seem to be effective at reducing violent crime. But which tactics are most effective when applied at hot spots remains unknown. This article documents the design and implementation of a randomized controlled field experiment to test three policing tactics applied to small, high-crime places: 1) foot patrol, 2) problem-oriented policing, and 3) offender-focused policing. A total of 81 experimental places were identified from the highest violent crime areas in Philadelphia (27 areas were judged amenable to each policing tactic). Within each group of 27 areas, 20 places were randomly assigned to receive treatment and 7 places acted as controls. Offender-focused sites experienced a 42 percent reduction in all violent crime and a 50 percent reduction in violent felonies compared with their control places. Problem-oriented policing and foot patrol did not significantly reduce violent crime or violent felonies. Potential explanations of these findings are discussed in the contexts of dosage, implementation, and hot spot stability over time.

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“It takes skills to take a car”: Perceptual and procedural expertise in carjacking

Volkan Topalli, Scott Jacques & Richard Wright
Aggression and Violent Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article explores the crucial role played by criminal expertise in carjacking, a violent street offense that exhibits characteristics of both car theft and robbery. Specifically, it describes the manner in which an offender’s perceptual skills (aimed at discerning the suitability of a carjacking target) and procedural skills (aimed at enacting the carjacking offense itself) relate to one another in a process emanating from the interacting characteristics of the vehicle, driver, environment, and offender. The core assumption of this perspective is that carjacking requires considerable skill to identify an appropriate offense opportunity and carry out the same. This contradicts a prevailing notion within the criminological literature that offending is a largely unskilled enterprise. Drawing on ethnographic data both original and in previous research we demonstrate this not to be the case.

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Can Incarcerated Felons Be (Re)integrated into the Political System? Results from a Field Experiment

Alan Gerber et al.
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
How does America's high rate of incarceration shape political participation? Few studies have examined the direct effects of incarceration on patterns of political engagement. Answering this question is particularly relevant for the 93% of formerly incarcerated individuals who are eligible to vote. Drawing on new administrative data from Connecticut, we present evidence from a field experiment showing that a simple informational outreach campaign to released felons can recover a large proportion of the reduction in participation observed following incarceration. The treatment effect estimates imply that efforts to reintegrate released felons into the political process can substantially reduce the participatory consequences of incarceration.

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Does Economic Freedom Really Kill? On the Association between ‘Neoliberal’ Policies and Homicide Rates

Christian Bjørnskov
European Journal of Political Economy, March 2015, Pages 207–219

Abstract:
This paper investigates recent claims that ‘neoliberal’ policies and reforms are associated with higher homicide rates and other types of crime. Using a panel of the 50 US states observed between 1981 and 2011 and the Economic Freedom Index of the Fraser Institute, results show that there is no direct association between changes in economic policies as measured by this index and homicide rates. The results nevertheless show that other non-violent types of crime decrease with spending or tax policy.

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Sexually Coercive Behavior Following Childhood Maltreatment

Mats Forsman et al.
Archives of Sexual Behavior, January 2015, Pages 149-156

Abstract:
Child maltreatment is associated with adult sexually coercive behavior. The association may be causal or confounders that increase the risk of both childhood victimization and sexually coercive behavior might explain the observed links. We examined if childhood maltreatment was related to sexual coercion independently of familial (genetic or common family environment) risk factors, thereby addressing potential causality. Participants were 6,255 18 to 33-year-old twins from the Finnish population-based study “Genetics of Sex and Aggression” who responded to self-report questionnaires of child maltreatment and sexually coercive behavior. We used generalized estimating equations to elucidate risk of sexual coercion in maltreated compared to unrelated, non-maltreated individuals. To adjust for unmeasured familial factors, we used the co-twin control method and compared sexual coercion risk within maltreatment-discordant twin pairs. Further, we examined possible differential effects of maltreatment subtypes and compared mean differences in maltreatment summary scores between sexually coercive individuals and controls. Sexual coercion was moderately more common among individuals maltreated as children versus unrelated controls (38.3 vs. 22.8 %; age- and gender-adjusted odds ratio, aOR = 2.31, 95 % CI 1.75–3.05) and the risk increase remained similar within maltreatment-discordant twins (OR = 2.82, 95 % CI 1.42–5.61). Moreover, different maltreatment subtypes predicted sexual coercion equally well and effect sizes remained similar within discordant twin pairs. We conclude that associations between child maltreatment and sexual coercion are largely independent of shared familial confounds, consistent with a causal inference. Importantly, detection and targeted interventions for maltreated children should remain a priority to reduce societal sexually coercive behavior.

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Perceptions of Police Practice, Cynicism of Police Performance, and Persistent Neighborhood Violence: An Intersecting Relationship

Nicholas Corsaro, James Frank & Murat Ozer
Journal of Criminal Justice, January–February 2015, Pages 1–11

Purpose: A growing literature indicates that legal cynicism at the neighborhood level corresponds with retaliatory homicides and persistent homicide rates, net of controls. However, no study to date has examined: a) how cynicism of police performance might be influenced by specific experiences with and perceptions of the police, and b) whether neighborhood cynicism of police performance is associated with violent crime beyond homicides.

Method: This study analyzed citizen and neighborhood data from Cincinnati, Ohio in the late 1990s - a social setting that had antagonistic police-community relationships.

Results: The results revealed that perceived unjust policing was the strongest individual level correlate of cynicism of police services, and that aggregate levels of cynicism predicted both homicides and overall violence above and beyond social disorganization as well as previous levels of violence.

Conclusion: We speak to the importance of these findings in terms of identifying which police-community factors seemingly have the greatest likelihood to facilitate the association between cynicism and persistent neighborhood violence.

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Group Differences in Delinquency: What Is There to Explain?

Richard Felson & Derek Kreager
Race and Justice, January 2015, Pages 58-87

Abstract:
Race and ethnic difference in delinquency are examined using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. We argue that crime theories that attempt to explain race and ethnic differences imply consistent effects for different offenses and common mediating processes. Analyses suggest some degree of group consistency in delinquent behaviors for Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Native Americans, and some Asian groups, but not for African Americans. Black youth have higher rates of violent offenses than White youth, lower rates of substance use, and similar rates of property offending. Some variables are consistent mediators while others are not. Crime theories can account for the low rates of delinquency among Asian Americans while theories of violence and substance use are needed to understand differences between Black and White youth. The findings are inconsistent with the idea that group differences among youth are due to the socioeconomic status of their families or neighborhoods. The race patterns are also inconsistent with the stereotype of high crime rates in Black communities.

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Impact of California firearms sales laws and dealer regulations on the illegal diversion of guns

Glenn Pierce, Anthony Braga & Garen Wintemute
Injury Prevention, forthcoming

Objective: The available evidence suggests that more restrictive state firearm sales laws can reduce criminal access to guns. California has firearm-related laws that are more stringent than many other states and regulates its retail firearms dealers to a unique degree. This research seeks to examine the effect of more restrictive state gun laws and regulations on the illegal diversion of guns to criminals.

Design: Survival analyses are used to determine whether state firearm sales laws, particularly California's legal context and regulatory regime, impact the distribution of time-to-crime of recovered firearms in that state relative to other US states.

Subjects: 225 392 traced firearms, where the first retail purchasers and the gun possessors were different individuals, recovered by law enforcement agencies between 2003 and 2006.

Results: The increased stringency of state-level firearms laws and regulations leads to consistently older firearms being recovered. California was associated with the oldest recovered crime guns compared with guns associated with other states. These patterns persisted regardless of whether firearms were first purchased within the recovery state or in another state.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that more restrictive gun sales laws and gun dealer regulations do make it more difficult for criminals to acquire new guns first purchased at retail outlets.

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A Simple Model of Optimal Deterrence and Incapacitation

Steven Shavell
International Review of Law and Economics, June 2015, Pages 13–19

Abstract:
The deterrence of crime and its reduction through incapacitation are studied in a simple multiperiod model of crime and law enforcement. Optimal imprisonment sanctions and the optimal probability of sanctions are determined. A point of emphasis is that the incapacitation of individuals is often socially desirable even when they are potentially deterrable. The reason is that successful deterrence may require a relatively high probability of sanctions and thus a relatively high enforcement expense. In contrast, incapacitation may yield benefits no matter how low the probability of sanctions is — implying that incapacitation may be superior to deterrence.

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Relationships Between Denial, Risk, and Recidivism in Sexual Offenders

Leigh Harkins et al.
Archives of Sexual Behavior, January 2015, Pages 157-166

Abstract:
The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between denial, static risk, and sexual recidivism for offenders with different types of current sexual offense. Denial was defined as failure to accept responsibility for the current offense and was assessed using the Offender Assessment System. Static risk level (measured using a revised version of the Risk Matrix 2000) was examined as a moderator in the relationship between denial and sexual and violent recidivism. In the full sample (N = 6,891), lower levels of sexual recidivism were found for those who denied responsibility for their offense, independent of static risk in a Cox regression analysis. Higher levels of violent recidivism among those denying responsibility were not significant after controlling for static risk using Cox regression. For specific offender types, denial of responsibility was not significantly associated with sexual or violent recidivism. In conclusion, the presumption that denial represents increased risk, which is common in much of the decision making surrounding sex offenders, should be reconsidered. Instead, important decisions regarding sentencing, treatment, and release decisions should be based on empirically supported factors.

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Trends in Conflict: Uniform Crime Reports, the National Crime Victimization Surveys, and the Lethality of Violent Crime

Douglas Eckberg
Homicide Studies, February 2015, Pages 58-87

Abstract:
Previous research has found reduced mortality from aggravated assaults, attributed to medical care improvements. However, aggravated assault has limitations as a longitudinal measure of injuries from violence. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) can address this by providing estimates of serious injuries from criminal victimization. Their lethality trend is not compatible with the previous finding across 1973 through 1999, remaining stable rather than falling. After 1999, both Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)-and NCVS-based measures indicate increases in lethality. The trend differences raise serious problems of data choice for the researcher.

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Reducing Sexual Victimization among Adolescent Girls: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial of My Voice, My Choice

Lorelei Simpson Rowe, Ernest Jouriles & Renee McDonald
Behavior Therapy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite extensive efforts to develop and implement programs to prevent sexual violence, few programs have empirically-demonstrated efficacy. The primary exceptions are programs that emphasize risk-reduction skills; yet even these programs are not consistently effective. This study seeks to add to the literature by evaluating the effects of My Voice, My Choice (MVMC), a 90-minute, assertive resistance training program that emphasizes skill practice in an immersive virtual environment (IVE). We hypothesized that MVMC would reduce male-to-female sexual violence victimization among adolescent girls over a 3-month follow-up period. We also examined whether these results would generalize to other forms of male-to-female relationship violence and to girls’ psychological distress. Eighty-three female students from an urban public high school were randomized to MVMC (n = 47) or to a wait-list control condition (n = 36); 78 provided data over the 3-month follow-up period. Participants assigned to MVMC were less likely than control participants to report sexual victimization during the follow-up period. Our results also suggest that MVMC reduced risk for psychological victimization and for psychological distress among participants with greater prior victimization at baseline. The promising results of this pilot trial suggest that MVMC may help girls evade male-to-female relationship violence.

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A Longitudinal Study of Risk Factors for Repeated Sexual Coercion and Assault in U.S. College Men

Heidi Zinzow & Martie Thompson
Archives of Sexual Behavior, January 2015, Pages 213-222

Abstract:
The purpose of the current study was to understand the prevalence, severity, and predictors of repeated sexual coercion and assault (SCA) in a non-criminal sample. Participants were 795 college men who were surveyed at the end of each of their 4 years in college. Participants completed self-report inventories once per year for 4 years. Measures assessed demographics, adverse childhood experiences, offense characteristics, antisocial personality characteristics, attitudes towards women and forced sex, perceived social norms, sexual behavior, and substance use. Results indicated that, among the 238 participants who reported at least once incident of SCA, 68 % engaged in repeated SCA, with repeat offenders engaging in aggressive acts of higher severity that began at an earlier age. A multinomial logistic regression model compared single and repeat offenders to non-perpetrators. Both single and repeat offenders endorsed more risky behaviors and sexually aggressive beliefs than non-perpetrators. Single offenders were higher on childhood adversity than non-perpetrators and repeat offenders were higher on antisocial personality traits than non-perpetrators. A second multivariate model compared single offenders to repeat offenders. Repeat offenders scored higher than single offenders on risky behaviors, sexually aggressive beliefs, and antisocial traits. Findings highlight the high prevalence of repeated SCA in young adults, the need for interventions that decrease rape supportive attitudes and risky substance use, and the importance of expanding models of sexual recidivism to include multiple risk factors.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Choice pro

Liberals Think More Analytically (More "WEIRD") Than Conservatives

Thomas Talhelm et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Henrich, Heine, and Norenzayan summarized cultural differences in psychology and argued that people from one particular culture are outliers: people from societies that are Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (WEIRD). This study shows that liberals think WEIRDer than conservatives. In five studies with more than 5,000 participants, we found that liberals think more analytically (an element of WEIRD thought) than moderates and conservatives. Study 3 replicates this finding in the very different political culture of China, although it held only for people in more modernized urban centers. These results suggest that liberals and conservatives in the same country think as if they were from different cultures. Studies 4 to 5 show that briefly training people to think analytically causes them to form more liberal opinions, whereas training them to think holistically causes shifts to more conservative opinions.

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Playing the Field: The Effect of Fertility on Women's Desire for Variety

Kristina Durante & Ashley Rae Arsena
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research finds that ovulation - the time each month when women are most fertile - can shift women's mating psychology and increase their desire for new options in men. But, might ovulation also increase women's desire for new products? Four studies find that women select a greater number of unique options from consumer product sets at high fertility. This effect is especially strong for women in committed relationships. Additional findings show that the fertility shift in desire for variety in products is driven by the fertility shift in desire for new options in men activating a variety-seeking mindset. Subsequently, loyalty to a romantic partner, whether manipulated or measured, moderated the effect of fertility on consumer variety-seeking. This research contributes to the literature by revealing when, why, and how fertility influences desire for variety in consumer choice and highlights the mating motives that underlie this effect.

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"Nothing Good Ever Came from New Jersey": Expectations and the Sensory Perception of Wines

Robert Ashton
Journal of Wine Economics, December 2014, Pages 304-319

Abstract:
The influence of expectations on the sensory perception of wines is investigated in three studies in which New Jersey and California red wines are blind tasted. Studies 1 and 2, in which only the color of the wines is known prior to tasting, demonstrate that neither wine club members nor experienced wine professionals can distinguish between New Jersey and California wines in terms of personal enjoyment. In contrast, Study 3, in which tasters are informed that some (though not which) of the wines are from New Jersey, finds that when a wine is believed to be from New Jersey it receives lower enjoyment ratings than when the identical wine is believed to be from California - regardless of whether the wine is actually from New Jersey or California. The results enhance our understanding of the role of expectations in the interpretation of subjective experiences. Implications for wine producers and wine consumers are explored.

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The Unthinking or Confident Extremist? Political Extremists Are More Likely Than Moderates to Reject Experimenter-Generated Anchors

Mark Brandt, Anthony Evans & Jarret Crawford
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
People with extreme political opinions are alternatively characterized as being relatively unthinking or as confident consumers and practitioners of politics. In three studies, we tested these competing hypotheses using cognitive anchoring tasks (total N = 6,767). Using two different measures of political extremity, we found that extremists were less influenced than political moderates by two types of experimenter-generated anchors (Studies 1-3) and that this result was mediated by extremists' belief superiority (Study 2). Extremists and moderates, however, were not differentially influenced by self-generated anchors (Study 2), which suggests that extremists differentiated between externally and internally generated anchors. These results are consistent with the confident-extremist perspective and contradict the unthinking-extremist perspective. The present studies demonstrate the utility of adopting a basic cognitive task to investigate the relationship between ideology and cognitive style and suggest that extremity does not necessarily beget irrationality.

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The experience of freedom in decisions - Questioning philosophical beliefs in favor of psychological determinants

Stephan Lau, Anette Hiemisch & Roy Baumeister
Consciousness and Cognition, May 2015, Pages 30-46

Abstract:
Six experiments tested two competing models of subjective freedom during decision-making. The process model is mainly based on philosophical conceptions of free will and assumes that features of the process of choosing affect subjective feelings of freedom. In contrast, the outcome model predicts that subjective freedom is due to positive outcomes that can be expected or are achieved by a decision. Results heavily favored the outcome model over the process model. For example, participants felt freer when choosing between two equally good than two equally bad options. Process features including number of options, complexity of decision, uncertainty, having the option to defer the decision, conflict among reasons, and investing high effort in choosing generally had no or even negative effects on subjective freedom. In contrast, participants reported high freedom with good outcomes and low freedom with bad outcomes, and ease of deciding increased subjective freedom, consistent with the outcome model.

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I Follow My Heart and We Rely on Reasons: The Impact of Self-Construal on Reliance on Feelings Versus Reasons in Decision Making

Jiewen Hong & Hannah Chang
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Results from six experiments support the hypothesis that an accessible independent self-construal promotes a greater reliance on feelings in making judgments and decisions, whereas an accessible interdependent self-construal promotes a greater reliance on reasons. Specifically, compared to an interdependent self-construal, an independent self-construal increases the relative preference for affectively superior options as opposed to cognitively superior options (experiments 1A and 1B), and strengthens the effects of incidental mood on evaluations (experiment 2). Further, valuations of the decision outcome increase when independent (interdependent) consumers adopt a feeling-based (reason-based) decision strategy (experiment 3). Finally, these effects are moderated by decision focus (whether the decision is made for oneself or for others; experiment 4) and need for justification during decision making (experiment 5). Theoretical implications and managerial implications are discussed.

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The Budget Contraction Effect: How Contracting Budgets Lead to Less Varied Choice

Kurt Carlson et al.
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
How do consumers adjust their spending when their budget changes? A common view is that the allocation of one's current budget should not depend on past budget allocations. Contrary to this, we find that when one's budget contracts to a particular level, consumers select less variety (as measured by the number of different items with some of the budget allocated to them) than when their budget expands to that same level. This budget contraction effect stems from a reduction in variety under the contracting budget, not from variety expansion under the expanding budget. Evidence from our experiments indicate that the effect is driven by a desire to avoid feelings of loss associated with spreading allocation cuts (relative to reference quantities from prior allocations) across many items.

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Own-Nationality Bias: Evidence from UEFA Champions League Football Referees

Bryson Pope & Nolan Pope
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the existence and magnitude of own-nationality bias. Using player-match level data from 12 seasons of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) and referee assignment policies that pair players and referees from the same country, we determine the bias that referees exhibit toward players from their native country. Players officiated by a referee from the same country receive a 10% increase in beneficial foul calls. Referees' own-nationality bias is more pronounced for national team players, players at home, and in later stages of the tournament. Elite referees exhibit as much, or more, own-nationality bias as their less experienced counterparts.

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Crowdsourcing the Unknown: The Satellite Search for Genghis Khan

Albert Yu-Min Lin et al.
PLoS ONE, December 2014

Abstract:
Massively parallel collaboration and emergent knowledge generation is described through a large scale survey for archaeological anomalies within ultra-high resolution earth-sensing satellite imagery. Over 10K online volunteers contributed 30K hours (3.4 years), examined 6,000 km2, and generated 2.3 million feature categorizations. Motivated by the search for Genghis Khan's tomb, participants were tasked with finding an archaeological enigma that lacks any historical description of its potential visual appearance. Without a pre-existing reference for validation we turn towards consensus, defined by kernel density estimation, to pool human perception for "out of the ordinary" features across a vast landscape. This consensus served as the training mechanism within a self-evolving feedback loop between a participant and the crowd, essential driving a collective reasoning engine for anomaly detection. The resulting map led a National Geographic expedition to confirm 55 archaeological sites across a vast landscape. A increased ground-truthed accuracy was observed in those participants exposed to the peer feedback loop over those whom worked in isolation, suggesting collective reasoning can emerge within networked groups to outperform the aggregate independent ability of individuals to define the unknown.

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Sound credit scores and financial decisions despite cognitive aging

Ye Li et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 6 January 2015, Pages 65-69

Abstract:
Age-related deterioration in cognitive ability may compromise the ability of older adults to make major financial decisions. We explore whether knowledge and expertise accumulated from past decisions can offset cognitive decline to maintain decision quality over the life span. Using a unique dataset that combines measures of cognitive ability (fluid intelligence) and of general and domain-specific knowledge (crystallized intelligence), credit report data, and other measures of decision quality, we show that domain-specific knowledge and expertise provide an alternative route for sound financial decisions. That is, cognitive aging does not spell doom for financial decision-making in domains where the decision maker has developed expertise. These results have important implications for public policy and for the design of effective interventions and decision aids.

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Busy Brains, Boasters' Gains: Self-Promotion Effectiveness Depends on Audiences' Cognitive Resources

Alison Fragale & Adam Grant
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Impression management research suggests variability in the effectiveness of self-promotion: audiences grant self-promoters more status in some situations than others. We propose that self-promotion effectiveness depends on the audience's cognitive resources. When audiences are cognitively busy, they are more likely to misattribute the source of promoting information, and thus fail to penalize self-promoters for violating norms of politeness and modesty. Thus, self-promoters are perceived as more communal, and granted more status, when audiences are cognitively busy. These predictions were supported across two experiments, which varied the source of the promoting information about a target (self vs. other, Experiment 1), and the level of self-promotion (Experiment 2), and used different manipulations of cognitive busyness - divided mental attention (Experiment 1) and time pressure (Experiment 2). These studies provide insight into the conditions under which self-promotion is effective vs. ineffective, and contribute to our theoretical understanding of status judgments.

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The Making of Might-Have-Beens: Effects of Free Will Belief on Counterfactual Thinking

Jessica Alquist et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Counterfactual thoughts are based on the assumption that one situation could result in multiple possible outcomes. This assumption underlies most theories of free will and contradicts deterministic views that there is only one possible outcome of any situation. Three studies tested the hypothesis that stronger belief in free will would lead to more counterfactual thinking. Experimental manipulations (Studies 1-2) and a measure (Studies 3-4) of belief in free will were linked to increased counterfactual thinking in response to autobiographical (Studies 1, 3, and 4) and hypothetical (Study 2) events. Belief in free will also predicted the kind of counterfactuals generated. Belief in free will was associated with an increase in the generation of self and upward counterfactuals, which have been shown to be particularly useful for learning. These findings fit the view that belief in free will is promoted by societies because it facilitates learning and culturally valued change.

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Positive Consequences of Conflict on Decision Making: When a Conflict Mindset Facilitates Choice

Jennifer Savary et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Much research has shown that conflict is aversive and leads to increased choice deferral. In contrast, we have proposed that conflict can be beneficial. Specifically, exposure to nonconscious goal conflict can activate a mindset (a set of cognitive procedures) that facilitates the systematic processing of information without triggering the associated costs, such as negative affect and stress. In a conflict mindset, people should be better able to make tradeoffs and resolve choice conflict. We tested this proposition in 4 experiments, and demonstrated that priming conflicting goals before a decision increases choice in domains unrelated to the primed conflict. We further demonstrated that increased choice occurs because people in a conflict mindset process choice information more systematically, and we rule out several alternative explanations for the results.

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Waiting When Both Certainty and Magnitude Are Increasing: Certainty Overshadows Magnitude

Tara Webb & Michael Young
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, forthcoming

Abstract:
In everyday decision making, people often face decisions with outcomes that differ on multiple dimensions. The trade-off in preferences between magnitude, temporal proximity, and probability of an outcome is a fundamental concern in the decision-making literature. Yet, their joint effects on behavior in an experience-based decision-making task are understudied. Two experiments examined the relative influences of the magnitude and probability of an outcome when both were increasing over a 10-second delay. A first-person shooter video game was adapted for this purpose. Experiment 1 showed that participants waited longer to ensure a higher probability of the outcome than to ensure a greater magnitude when experienced separately and together. Experiment 2 provided a precise method of comparing their relative control on waiting by having each increase at different rates. Both experiments revealed a stronger influence of increasing probability than increasing magnitude. The results were more consistent with hyperbolic discounting of probability than with cumulative prospect theory's decision weight function.

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Choosing between options associated with past and future regret

Yaniv Shani, Shai Danziger & Marcel Zeelenberg
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, January 2015, Pages 107-114

Abstract:
People sometimes choose between options associated with already-missed and to-be-missed counterfactuals, or put differently, between past and future regret. We find that these objectively irrelevant associations systematically sway peoples' choices. Results show participants prefer options associated with past promotions (Studies 1-3), and they experience more regret and feel more responsible for missing a future promotion (Studies 1 and 2). Study 2 also shows that participants' preference for products associated with a past miss decreases when they know they will not encounter the future miss (promotion). Study 3 shows this preference also decreases when the product is utilized before the future miss becomes available. Finally, in a non-promotion context, Study 4 demonstrates that people distance themselves from a future miss when they are responsible for the miss but not when another person is responsible for it. These findings are related to regret, inaction inertia and the psychology of discounts.

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How Multiple Anchors Affect Judgment: Evidence from the Lab and eBay

Yan Zhang, Ye Li & Ting Zhu
University of Chicago Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
The vast majority of anchoring research has found that judgments assimilate toward single anchors, but no papers have directly compared the impact of one anchor with that of multiple anchors. We hypothesized that the presence of additional anchors can reverse the usual anchoring effect. When one anchor is paired with a second, moderate anchor, people rely more on the additional anchor when the original anchor is extreme than when it is moderate. Extreme original anchors therefore generate less extreme estimates than moderate original anchors do in the two-anchor case - a reversed anchoring effect. Three controlled experiments verified that although estimates assimilated to single anchors, the reverse occurred when people were simultaneously given a second anchor: extremely low (high) anchors generated higher (lower) estimates than moderately low (high) anchors. A natural experiment using eBay auctions in the U.S. and China provided corroborating evidence. This research has implications for pricing strategies when there is more than one price cue available.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Money pit

Regulating Consumer Financial Products: Evidence from Credit Cards

Sumit Agarwal et al.
Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We analyze the effectiveness of consumer financial regulation by considering the 2009 Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act. We use a panel data set covering 160 million credit card accounts and a difference-in-differences research design that compares changes in outcomes over time for consumer credit cards, which were subject to the regulations, to changes for small business credit cards, which the law did not cover. We estimate that regulatory limits on credit card fees reduced overall borrowing costs by an annualized 1.6% of average daily balances, with a decline of more than 5.3% for consumers with FICO scores below 660. We find no evidence of an offsetting increase in interest charges or a reduction in the volume of credit. Taken together, we estimate that the CARD Act saved consumers $11.9 billion per year. We also analyze a nudge that disclosed the interest savings from paying off balances in 36 months rather than making minimum payments. We detect a small increase in the share of accounts making the 36-month payment value but no evidence of a change in overall payments.

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Race, Ethnicity and High-Cost Mortgage Lending

Patrick Bayer, Fernando Ferreira & Stephen Ross
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
This paper examines how high cost mortgage lending varies by race and ethnicity. It uses a unique panel data that matches a representative sample of mortgages in seven large metropolitan markets between 2004 and 2008 to public records of housing transactions and proprietary credit reporting data. The results reveal a significantly higher incidence of high costs loans for African-American and Hispanic borrowers even after controlling for key mortgage risk factors: they have a 7.7 and 6.2 percentage point higher likelihood of a high cost loan, respectively, in the home purchase market relative to an overall incidence of 14.8 percent among all home purchase mortgages. Significant racial and ethnic differences are widespread throughout the market - they are present (i) in each metro area, (ii) across high and low risk borrowers, and (iii) regardless of the age of the borrower. These differences are reduced by 60 percent with the inclusion of lender fixed effects, implying that a significant portion of the estimated market-wide racial differences can be attributed to differential access to (or sorting across) mortgage lenders.

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Political capital and moral hazard

Leonard Kostovetsky & William Simon
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines how political connections affect risk exposure of financial institutions. Using a geography-based measure, I find that politically connected firms have higher leverage and their stocks have higher volatility and beta. Furthermore, prior to the 2008 financial crisis, politically-connected financial firms had higher leverage and were more likely to increase their leverage during the housing bubble in response to local growth in median housing prices. During the crisis, higher leverage was associated with worse performance but being in a state with a US Senator on the Banking Committee was correlated with weakly improved stock returns and reduced bankruptcy probability, highlighting the value of political connections for financial firms.

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Has the Fed Improved U.S. Economic Performance?

Thomas Hogan
Journal of Macroeconomics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper finds that U.S. economic performance has not generally improved under the Federal Reserve, with the possible exception of the Great Moderation. We analyze the Fed and pre-Fed periods in terms of the rates and volatilities of inflation and real GDP growth. Comparing the pre-Fed periods to the post-World War II period and the Great Moderation, we find that real GDP growth has been lower under the Fed, while inflation has been higher. The volatilities of inflation and GDP growth have both declined under the Fed, but the reductions occurred mostly during the Great Moderation.

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House Prices, Local Demand, and Retail Prices

Johannes Stroebel & Joseph Vavra
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We use detailed micro data to document a causal response of local retail prices to changes in house prices, with elasticities of 15%-20% across housing booms and busts. We provide evidence that our results are driven by changes in markups rather than by changes in local costs. We argue that this markup variation arises when increases in housing wealth reduce households' demand elasticity, and firms raise markups in response. Consistent with this wealth channel, price effects are larger in zip codes with many homeowners, and non-existent in zip codes with mostly renters. In addition, shopping data confirms that house price changes have opposite effects on the price sensitivity of homeowners and renters. Our evidence has implications for monetary, labor and urban economics, and suggests a new source of markup variation in business cycle models.

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The Industrial Organization of the US Residential Mortgage Market

Richard Stanton, Johan Walden & Nancy Wallace
Annual Review of Financial Economics, 2014, Pages 259-288

Abstract:
We show that the US residential single-family mortgage-origination market is highly concentrated once account is taken of the contractual coordination that arises from the correspondent- and warehouse-funding channels. We represent these channels as a network, using the flow of loans through three strata of the loan origination market: origination, aggregation, and securitization. We develop a network representation of the origination market and demonstrate that it is a small world, in that most nodes are close in the network. We then rank-order the interlinked aggregators and securitizers using ex post mortgage foreclosure rates as a proxy for performance. Our findings suggest that these significant interlinkages in the mortgage-origination network represent a previously underappreciated source of systemic risk. Many apparently atomistic mortgage underwriters are, in fact, coordinated to act in parallel because of their funding relationships with the large, too-big-to-fail bank holding companies.

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Size Anomalies in U.S. Bank Stock Returns

Priyank Gandhi & Hanno Lustig
Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
The largest commercial bank stocks, ranked by total size of the balance sheet, have significantly lower risk-adjusted returns than small- and medium-sized bank stocks, even though large banks are significantly more levered. We uncover a size factor in the component of bank returns that is orthogonal to the standard risk factors, including small-minus-big, which has the right covariance with bank returns to explain the average risk-adjusted returns. This factor measures size-dependent exposure to bank-specific tail risk. These findings are consistent with government guarantees that protect shareholders of large banks, but not small banks, in disaster states.

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Do Credit Market Shocks affect the Real Economy? Quasi-Experimental Evidence from the Great Recession and 'Normal' Economic Times

Michael Greenstone, Alexandre Mas & Hoai-Luu Nguyen
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We estimate the effect of the reduction in credit supply that followed the 2008 financial crisis on the real economy. We predict county lending shocks using variation in pre-crisis bank market shares and estimated bank supply-shifts. Counties with negative predicted shocks experienced declines in small business loan originations, indicating that it is costly for these businesses to find new lenders. Using confidential microdata from the Longitudinal Business Database, we find that the 2007-2009 lending shocks accounted for statistically significant, but economically small, declines in both small firm and overall employment. Predicted lending shocks affected lending but not employment from 1997-2007.

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The Domestic and International Effects of Interstate U.S. Banking

Matteo Cacciatore, Fabio Ghironi & Viktors Stebunovs
Journal of International Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper studies the domestic and international effects of national bank market integration in a two-country, dynamic, stochastic, general equilibrium model with endogenous producer entry. Integration of banking across localities reduces the degree of local monopoly power of financial intermediaries. The economy that implements this form of deregulation experiences increased producer entry, real exchange rate appreciation, and a current account deficit. The foreign economy experiences a long-run increase in GDP and consumption. Less monopoly power in financial intermediation results in less volatile business creation, reduced markup countercyclicality, and weaker substitution effects in labor supply in response to productivity shocks. Bank market integration thus contributes to moderation of firm-level and aggregate output volatility. In turn, trade and financial ties allow also the foreign economy to enjoy lower GDP volatility in most scenarios we consider. These results are consistent with features of U.S. and international fluctuations after the United States began its transition to interstate banking in the late 1970s.

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Effects of Monitoring on Mortgage Delinquency: Evidence From a Randomized Field Study

Stephanie Moulton et al.
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Winter 2015, Pages 184-207

Abstract:
In the wake of the housing crisis in 2008, U.S. policymakers have developed a range of policy proposals to address the risk of mortgage borrowers going into payment default. Some of these proposed regulations would effectively eliminate certain loans with riskier borrower characteristics from the market. Such prescriptive approaches fail to recognize alternatives that permit riskier loans to be made, but require postorigination practices designed to offset elevated default risk by improving the capability of individual borrowers to make timely payments. This study provides evidence of one such approach. Through a randomized field experiment, we test the impact of goal setting and external monitoring on mortgage delinquency. First-time homebuyers who completed a financial planning module and received quarterly contact from a financial coach are less likely to become delinquent or default on their mortgages. These results suggest that relatively low cost procedures embedded into loan servicing may increase adherence to timely repayments, thereby reducing the probability of delinquency while still permitting riskier borrowers to participate in credit markets.

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Competition and Bank Opacity

Liangliang Jiang, Ross Levine & Chen Lin
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
Did regulatory reforms that lowered barriers to competition among U.S. banks increase or decrease the quality of information that banks disclose to the public and regulators? We find that an intensification of competition reduced abnormal accruals of loan loss provisions and the frequency with which banks restate financial statements. The results indicate that competition reduces bank opacity, enhancing the ability of markets and regulators to monitor banks.

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Do Fringe Banks Create Fringe Neighborhoods? Examining the Spatial Relationship between Fringe Banking and Neighborhood Crime Rates

Charis Kubrin & John Hipp
Justice Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the aftermath of one of the worst recessions in US history, high unemployment has placed millions of Americans in precarious financial positions. More than ever, Americans are opting out of traditional financial services, relying instead on "fringe lenders" such as check cashers, payday lenders, and pawnshops to manage their finances. Given their tremendous growth and the concern that consumers who are least able to pay for high-cost, high-risk financial products are most likely to use them, fringe lenders have been the subject of controversy and the focus of much research. Largely unknown, however, are the effects of fringe lenders on the communities where they are located. Given their spatial concentration in low-income neighborhoods with greater concentrations of racial and ethnic minorities - areas with typically more crime - of concern is whether fringe lenders themselves are criminogenic. We consider this by examining the impact of several types of fringe lenders on neighborhood crime rates in Los Angeles. Our findings reveal that the presence of fringe banks on a block is related to higher crime levels, even after controlling for a range of factors known to be associated with crime rates. The presence of a fringe bank also impacts crime, particularly robbery, on adjacent blocks. Whereas we find that pawnshops have little impact on crime levels, payday lenders and check cashers have a much stronger impact. Finally, we discover there are moderating effects, as the fringe lender-crime relationship is considerably reduced if the lender is located in a higher population density area.

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Access to Refinancing and Mortgage Interest Rates: HARPing on the Importance of Competition

Gene Amromin & Caitlin Kearns
Federal Reserve Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We explore a policy-induced change in borrower ability to shop for mortgages to investigate whether market competitiveness affects mortgage interest rates. Our paper exploits a discontinuity in the competitive landscape introduced by the Home Affordable Refinancing Program (HARP). Under HARP, lenders that currently service loans eligible for refinancing enjoyed substantial advantages over their potential competitors. Using a fuzzy regression discontinuity design, we show a jump in mortgage interest rates precisely at the HARP eligibility threshold. Our results suggest that limiting competition raised interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages by 15 to 20 basis points, translating into higher lender profits. The results are distinct from documented effects of consolidation and capacity reduction in mortgage lending and are robust to a number of sample restrictions and estimation choices. We interpret our findings as evidence that increases in pricing power lead to higher interest rates in mortgage markets.

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Bankruptcy Exemption, Home Equity and Mortgage Credit

Qianqian Cao
Real Estate Economics, Winter 2014, Pages 938-976

Abstract:
This article examines the impact of state bankruptcy homestead exemptions on mortgage application outcomes. The empirical analysis controls for endogeneity problems by focusing on 55 urban areas that cross state borders using the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act files from 2001 to 2008. The results indicate that holding the loan-to-value ratio constant, a more generous homestead exemption encourages borrowers to buy more housing and take out larger mortgages. However, holding house value constant, a more generous homestead exemption discourages mortgage borrowing and results in more home equity. Moreover, benefits of the homestead exemption outweigh the costs of it to mortgage lenders.

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Does the Geographic Expansion of Bank Assets Reduce Risk?

Martin Goetz, Luc Laeven & Ross Levine
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We develop a new identification strategy to evaluate the impact of the geographic expansion of bank holding company (BHC) assets across U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) on BHC risk. We find that the geographic expansion of bank assets reduces risk. Moreover, geographic expansion reduces risk more when BHCs expand into economically dissimilar MSAs, i.e., MSAs with different industrial structures and business cycles. We do not find that geographic diversification improves loan quality. Our results are consistent with arguments that geographic expansion lowers risk by reducing exposure to idiosyncratic local risks and inconsistent with arguments that geographic expansion, on net, increases risk by reducing the ability of BHCs to monitor loans and manage risks.

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Incentivizing Calculated Risk-Taking: Evidence from an Experiment with Commercial Bank Loan Officers

Shawn Cole, Martin Kanz & Leora Klapper
Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
We conduct an experiment with commercial bank loan officers to test how performance compensation affects risk assessment and lending. High-powered incentives lead to greater screening effort and more profitable lending decisions. This effect is muted, however, by deferred compensation and limited liability, two standard features of loan officer compensation contracts. We find that career concerns and personality traits affect loan officer behavior, but show that the response to incentives does not vary with traits such as risk-aversion, optimism, or overconfidence. Finally, we present evidence that incentives distort the assessment of credit risk, even among professionals with many years of experience.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Weight of history

Cohort of birth modifies the association between FTO genotype and BMI

James Niels Rosenquist et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
A substantial body of research has explored the relative roles of genetic and environmental factors on phenotype expression in humans. Recent research has also sought to identify gene–environment (or g-by-e) interactions, with mixed success. One potential reason for these mixed results may relate to the fact that genetic effects might be modified by changes in the environment over time. For example, the noted rise of obesity in the United States in the latter part of the 20th century might reflect an interaction between genetic variation and changing environmental conditions that together affect the penetrance of genetic influences. To evaluate this hypothesis, we use longitudinal data from the Framingham Heart Study collected over 30 y from a geographically relatively localized sample to test whether the well-documented association between the rs993609 variant of the FTO (fat mass and obesity associated) gene and body mass index (BMI) varies across birth cohorts, time period, and the lifecycle. Such cohort and period effects integrate many potential environmental factors, and this gene-by-environment analysis examines interactions with both time-varying contemporaneous and historical environmental influences. Using constrained linear age–period–cohort models that include family controls, we find that there is a robust relationship between birth cohort and the genotype–phenotype correlation between the FTO risk allele and BMI, with an observed inflection point for those born after 1942. These results suggest genetic influences on complex traits like obesity can vary over time, presumably because of global environmental changes that modify allelic penetrance.

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Human embryos from overweight and obese women display phenotypic and metabolic abnormalities

Christine Leary, Henry Leese & Roger Sturmey
Human Reproduction, January 2015, Pages 122-132

Study question: Is the developmental timing and metabolic regulation disrupted in embryos from overweight or obese women?

Study design, size, duration: We have performed a retrospective, observational analysis of oocyte size and the subsequent developmental kinetics of 218 oocytes from 29 consecutive women attending for ICSI treatment and have related time to reach key developmental stages to maternal bodyweight. In addition, we have measured non-invasively the metabolic activity of 150 IVF/ICSI embryos from a further 29 consecutive women who donated their surplus embryos to research, and have related the data retrospectively to their body mass index (BMI).

Participants/materials, setting, methods: In a clinical IVF setting, we compared oocyte morphology and developmental kinetics of supernumerary embryos collected from overweight and obese women, with a BMI in excess of 25 kg/m2 to those from women of healthy weight. A Primovision Time-Lapse system was used to measure developmental kinetics and the non-invasive COnsumption/RElese of glucose, pyruvate, amino acids and lactate were measured on spent droplets of culture medium. Total triglyceride levels within individual embryos were also determined.

Main results and the role of chance: Human oocytes from women presenting for fertility treatment with a BMI exceeding 25 kg/m2 are smaller (R2 = −0.45; P = 0.001) and therefore less likely to complete development post-fertilization (P < 0.001). Those embryos that do develop reach the morula stage faster than embryos from women of a BMI < 25 kg/m2 (<0.001) and the resulting blastocysts contain fewer cells notably in the trophectoderm (P = 0.01). The resulting blastocysts also have reduced glucose consumption (R2 = −0.61; P = 0.001), modified amino acid metabolism and increased levels of endogenous triglyceride (t = 4.11, P < 0.001). Our data further indicate that these differences are independent of male BMI.

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Associations between socioeconomic status and obesity in diverse, young adolescents: Variation across race/ethnicity and gender

Chris Fradkin et al.
Health Psychology, January 2015, Pages 1-9

Objective: This study examined the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and obesity risk during early adolescence, ages 10–13 years, and whether this association is present in different racial/ethnic and gender groups during 2 time points in early adolescence.

Method: Data were from the Healthy Passages study, which enrolled 4,824 African American, Hispanic, and White 5th graders (ages 10–11) in a population-based, longitudinal study conducted in 3 U.S. metropolitan areas, and assessed them again 2 years later. Weight status was classified from measured body mass index using standard criteria into nonobese and obese (27% in 5th grade). SES was indexed based on highest education attainment in the household.

Results: Youth in the highest SES had a significantly lower prevalence of obesity than those of lower SES at both 5th and 7th grades when disregarding race/ethnicity. Within-racial/ethnic group analyses mostly confirmed this pattern for Hispanic and White youth, but not for African American youth. When also considering gender, the SES differential in obesity risk was more pronounced among White girls and 5th-grade Hispanic boys.

Conclusion: Growing up in a high SES home, marked by having a member with at least a college degree, is associated with lower risk for obesity among Hispanic and White youth. For African American youth, there appears to be no association between SES and obesity. Thus the health advantage generally attributed to higher SES does not appear consistently across racial/ethnic groups for obesity in youth. Further research should identify influences on weight status beyond SES, especially among African American youth.

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Fast Food Consumption and Academic Growth in Late Childhood

Kelly Purtell & Elizabeth Gershoff
Clinical Pediatrics, forthcoming

Objective: The objective of this study is to examine the associations between fast food consumption and the academic growth of 8544 fifth-grade children in reading, math, and science.

Method: This study uses direct assessments of academic achievement and child-reported fast food consumption from a nationally representative sample of kindergartners followed through eighth grade.

Results: More than two thirds of the sample reported some fast food consumption; 20% reported consuming at least 4 fast food meals in the prior week. Fast food consumption during fifth grade predicted lower levels of academic achievement in all 3 subjects in eighth grade, even when fifth grade academic scores and numerous potential confounding variables, including socioeconomic indicators, physical activity, and TV watching, were controlled for in the models.

Conclusion: These results provide initial evidence that high levels of fast food consumption are predictive of slower growth in academic skills in a nationally representative sample of children.

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Is plate clearing a risk factor for obesity? A cross-sectional study of self-reported data in US adults

Eric Robinson, Paul Aveyard & Susan Jebb
Obesity, forthcoming

Objectives: Identifying eating behaviors which contribute to excess weight gain will inform obesity prevention strategies. A tendency to clear one's plate when eating may be a risk factor for obesity in an environment where food is plentiful. Whether plate clearing is associated with increased body weight in a cohort of US participants was examined.

Methods: Nine hundred and ninety-three US adults (60% male, 80% American European, mean age = 31 years) completed self-report measures of habitual plate clearing together with behavioral and demographic characteristics known to be associated with obesity.

Results: Plate clearing tendencies were positively associated with BMI and remained so after accounting for a large number of other demographic and behavioral predictors of BMI in analyses (β = 0.18, 95% CIs = 0.07, 0.29, P < 0.001); an increased tendency to plate clear was associated with a significantly higher body weight.

Conclusions: The tendency to clear one's plate when eating is associated with increased body weight and may constitute a risk factor for weight gain.

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Effects of subtle and explicit health messages on food choice

Heather Scherschel Wagner, Maryhope Howland & Traci Mann
Health Psychology, January 2015, Pages 79-82

Objective: Explicitly — as opposed to subtly — labeling a food healthy may inadvertently license people to indulge, imply that the food tastes bad, or lead to reactance. We investigated the effects of explicit and subtle health messages on individuals’ food selection in two field studies.

Method: We manipulated the signs on healthy foods such that they explicitly stated that the food was healthy, subtly suggested it with an image, or did not mention health. As participants — attendees at academic conferences — approached registration tables, research assistants recorded the number and type of snacks individuals chose.

Results: Participants were more likely to choose the healthy food when it was labeled with the subtle health message than when it was labeled with the explicit health message, which itself was not more effective than the control message.

Conclusion: Subtle messages may be more useful than explicit health messages in encouraging individuals to make a healthy snack choice.

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Unemployment and Health Behaviors Over the Business Cycle: A Longitudinal View

Gregory Colman & Dhaval Dave
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We examine the first-order internal effects of unemployment on a range of health behaviors during the most recent recession using longitudinal data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79). Consistent with prior studies based on cross-sectional data, we find that becoming unemployed is associated with a small increase in leisure-time exercise and in body weight, a moderate decrease in smoking, and a substantial decline in total physical activity. We also find that unemployment is associated with a decline in purchases of fast food. Together, these results imply that both energy consumption and expenditure decline in the U.S. during recessions, the net result being a slight increase in body weight. There is generally considerable heterogeneity in these effects across specific health behaviors, across the intensive and extensive margins, across the outcome distribution, and across gender.

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The effects of old and new media on children’s weight

Agne Suziedelyte
Applied Economics, Winter 2015, Pages 1008-1018

Abstract:
Childhood obesity rates have recently been rising in many countries. It has been suggested in the literature that changes in children’s media exposure may contribute to explaining this trend. I investigate whether or not this hypothesis is supported by data. I contribute to the literature by focusing not only on television but also on new media – computers and video games. The Child Development Supplement to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics is used for the analysis. To address the endogeneity of children’s media exposure, I use dynamic and panel data models. This is another improvement upon the existing literature. Additionally, an extensive list of control variables is included in the regressions. I find that video game playing or computer use has no effect on children’s body weight. On the other hand, television viewing may increase children’s body weight slightly.

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Spatial-Temporal Modeling of Neighborhood Sociodemographic Characteristics and Food Stores

Archana Lamichhane et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The literature on food stores, neighborhood poverty, and race/ethnicity is mixed and lacks methods of accounting for complex spatial and temporal clustering of food resources. We used quarterly data on supermarket and convenience store locations from Nielsen TDLinx (Nielsen Holdings N.V., New York, New York) spanning 7 years (2006–2012) and census tract–based neighborhood sociodemographic data from the American Community Survey (2006–2010) to assess associations between neighborhood sociodemographic characteristics and food store distributions in the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) of 4 US cities (Birmingham, Alabama; Chicago, Illinois; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and San Francisco, California). We fitted a space-time Poisson regression model that accounted for the complex spatial-temporal correlation structure of store locations by introducing space-time random effects in an intrinsic conditionally autoregressive model within a Bayesian framework. After accounting for census tract–level area, population, their interaction, and spatial and temporal variability, census tract poverty was significantly and positively associated with increasing expected numbers of supermarkets among tracts in all 4 MSAs. A similar positive association was observed for convenience stores in Birmingham, Minneapolis, and San Francisco; in Chicago, a positive association was observed only for predominantly white and predominantly black tracts. Our findings suggest a positive association between greater numbers of food stores and higher neighborhood poverty, with implications for policy approaches related to food store access by neighborhood poverty.

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Perceived stress and freshman weight change: The moderating role of baseline body mass index

Jessica Boyce & Roeline Kuijer
Physiology & Behavior, February 2015, Pages 491–496

Abstract:
The transition from high-school to university is a critical period of weight change. Popular media suggest that freshman students gain 15 lb (6.80 kg) of body weight during their first year at university (i.e., the freshman 15). In contrast, a recent meta-analysis calculated freshman weight gain to be 1.75 kg, with statistics suggesting that only a proportion of freshman students are prone to gain weight. Researchers are beginning to investigate how certain variables and interactions between such variables predict freshman weight status. The current study focused on body mass index (BMI) and psychological stress. In isolation, previous research has tested how these two variables predict freshman student's weight status. However, because BMI and stress interact to predict weight gain and weight loss in adult samples, the current study tested the interaction between student's baseline BMI and baseline stress levels to predict weight change in a New Zealand sample of freshman students (N = 65). Participants completed two separate online surveys in March and October 2012 (i.e., New Zealand's academic year). Although only three students gained over 6.80 kg (i.e., the freshman 15), participants did gain a statistically significant 1.10 kg of body weight during the year. Consistent with previous research, students with a higher baseline BMI gained a higher amount of body weight. However, this main effect was qualified by an interaction between stress and BMI. Students who entered university with high levels of stress gained weight if they also had high BMIs; if they had lower BMIs then they lost weight. In order to reduce unhealthy levels of freshman weight change, vulnerable students need to be taught stress-reduction techniques and coping strategies early in the academic year.

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The weight of stigma: Cortisol reactivity to manipulated weight stigma

Mary Himmelstein, Angela Incollingo Belsky & Janet Tomiyama
Obesity, forthcoming

Objective: Rates of weight-based stigmatization have steadily increased over the past decade. The psychological and physiological consequences of weight stigma remain understudied.

Methods: This study examined the effects of experimentally manipulated weight stigma on the stress-responsive hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA) in 110 female undergraduate participants (BMI: M = 19.30, SD = 1.55). Objective BMI and self-perceived body weight were examined as moderators of the relationship between stigma and HPA reactivity.

Results: Results indicated participants' perceptions of their own body weight (but not objective BMI) moderated the effect of weight stigma on cortisol reactivity: F(1,102) = 13.48, P < 0.001, η2p = 0.12 (interaction 95% CI range [−2.06 to −1.44, −1.31 to −0.99]). Specifically, participants who perceived themselves as heavy exhibited sustained cortisol elevation post-manipulation compared with individuals who did not experience the weight-related stigma. Cortisol change did not vary by condition for participants who perceived themselves as average weight.

Conclusions: In the first study to examine physiological consequences of active interpersonal exposure to weight stigma, experiencing weight stigma was stressful for participants who perceived themselves as heavy, regardless of their BMI. These results are important because stress and cortisol are linked to deleterious health outcomes, stimulate eating, and contribute to abdominal adiposity.

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Slave to habit? Obesity is associated with decreased behavioural sensitivity to reward devaluation

Annette Horstmann et al.
Appetite, forthcoming

Abstract:
The motivational value of food is lower during satiety compared to fasting. Dynamic changes in motivational value promote food seeking or meal cessation. In obesity this mechanism might be compromised since obese subjects ingest energy beyond homeostatic needs. Thus, lower adaptation of eating behaviour with respect to changes in motivational value might cause food overconsumption in obesity. To test this hypothesis, we implemented a selective satiation procedure to investigate the relationship between obesity and the size of the behavioural devaluation effect in humans. Lean to obese men (mean age 25.9, range 19-30 years; mean BMI 29.1, range 19.2-45.1 kg/m2) were trained on a free operant paradigm and learned to associate cues with the possibility to win different food rewards by pressing a button. After the initial training phase, one of the rewards was devalued by consumption. Response rates for and wanting of the different rewards were measured pre and post devaluation. Behavioural sensitivity to reward devaluation, measured as the magnitude of difference between pre and post responses, was regressed against BMI. Results indicate that (1) higher BMI compared to lower BMI in men led to an attenuated behavioural adjustment to reward devaluation, and (2) the decrease in motivational value was associated with the decrease in response rate between pre and post. Change in explicitly reported motivational value, however, was not affected by BMI. Thus, we conclude that high BMI in men is associated with lower behavioural adaptation with respect to changes in motivational value of food, possibly resulting in automatic overeating patterns that are hard to control in daily life.

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Increased brain response to appetitive tastes in the insula and amygdala in obese compared to healthy weight children when sated

Kerri Boutelle et al.
International Journal of Obesity, forthcoming

Objective: There is evidence of altered neural taste response in female adolescents who are obese, and in adolescents who are at risk for obesity. To further understand risk factors for the development of overeating and obesity, we investigated response to tastes of sucrose and water in 23 obese and healthy weight children.

Methods and design: Thirteen healthy weight (HW) and 10 obese (OB) 8-12 year old children underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while tasting sucrose and water. Additionally, children completed an eating in the absence of hunger paradigm and a sucrose liking task.

Results: A region of interest analysis revealed an elevated BOLD response to taste (sucrose and water) within the bilateral insula and amygdala in OB children relative to HW children. Whole brain analyses revealed a group by condition interaction within the paracingulate, medial frontal, middle frontal gyri, and right amygdala: post hoc analyses suggested an increased response to sucrose for OB relative to HW children, whereas HW children responded more strongly to water relative to sucrose. In addition, OB children, relative to HW, tended to recruit the right putamen as well as medial and lateral frontal and temporal regions bilaterally.

Conclusion: This study showed increased reactivity in the amygdala and insula in the OB compared to HW children, but no functional differentiation in the striatum, despite differences in the striatum previously seen in older samples. These findings support the concept of the association between increased neural processing of food reward in the development of obesity, and raise the possibility that emotional and interoceptive sensitivity could be an early vulnerability in obesity.

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Weight training, aerobic physical activities, and long-term waist circumference change in men

Rania Mekary et al.
Obesity, forthcoming

Objective: Findings on weight training and waist circumference (WC) change are controversial. This study examined prospectively whether weight training, moderate to vigorous aerobic activity (MVAA), and replacement of one activity for another were associated with favorable changes in WC and body weight (BW).

Methods: Physical activity, WC, and BW were reported in 1996 and 2008 in a cohort of 10,500 healthy U.S. men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Multiple linear regression models (partition/substitution) to assess these associations were used.

Results: After adjusting for potential confounders, a significant inverse dose-response relationship between weight training and WC change (P-trend <0.001) was observed. Less age-associated WC increase was seen with a 20-min/day activity increase; this benefit was significantly stronger for weight training (−0.67 cm, 95% CI −0.93, −0.41) than for MVAA (−0.33 cm, 95% CI −0.40, −0.27), other activities (−0.16 cm, 95% CI −0.28, −0.03), or TV watching (0.08 cm, 95% CI 0.05, 0.12). Substituting 20 min/day of weight training for any other discretionary activity had the strongest inverse association with WC change. MVAA had the strongest inverse association with BW change (−0.23 kg, 95% CI −0.29, −0.17).

Conclusions: Among various activities, weight training had the strongest association with less WC increase. Studies on frequency/volume of weight training and WC change are warranted.

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Black and White Body Mass Index Values in Developing Nineteenth Century Nebraska

Scott Alan Carson
Journal of Biosocial Science, January 2015, Pages 105-119

Abstract:
Little is known about late 19th and early 20th century BMIs on the US Central Plains. Using data from the Nebraska state prison, this study demonstrates that the BMIs of dark complexioned blacks were greater than for fairer complexioned mulattos and whites. Although modern BMIs have increased, late 19th and early 20th century BMIs in Nebraska were in normal ranges; neither underweight nor obese individuals were common. Farmer BMIs were consistently greater than those of non-farmers, and farm labourer BMIs were greater than those of common labourers. The BMIs of individuals born in Plains states were greater than for other nativities, indicating that rural lifestyles were associated with better net current biological living conditions.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, January 5, 2015

January effect

How the SEC Helps Speedy Traders

Robert Jackson & Joshua Mitts
Columbia University Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We show that the Securities and Exchange Commission’s system for disseminating market-moving information in securities filings gives some investors an advantage over others. We describe two systems — the SEC’s file transfer protocol (FTP) server and public dissemination service (PDS) — that give certain investors access to securities filings before the general public. While contemporaneous work on this issue is limited to insider filings, we show that both the FTP and PDS gaps are pervasive across all types of filings, including Form 8-K, which includes market-moving information such as corporate earnings. We show that FTP access gives investors a mean (median) 85 (11)-second lead time, and PDS gives investors a mean (median) 77 (10)-second lead time, before the filing is available on the SEC’s website. We also provide evidence suggesting that investors had the opportunity to take advantage of this lead time to earn trading profits. In particular, we show that traders could earn economically and statistically significant returns by trading on either the FTP or PDS gaps. Moreover, even investors who waited as long as ninety seconds to execute trades on the FTP or PDS gaps could earn meaningful returns using this strategy. We also identify abnormal trading volume in the moments after PDS subscribers receive SEC filings. Finally, our direct access to both FTP and PDS also allow us to document the changes to those systems that the SEC implemented after the public revelation of this issue in October 2014. We show that the SEC imposed a significant delay on the PDS service after the existence of the informational advantage was revealed. We also, however, show that, as of November 2014, PDS subscribers still receive some 37% of filings before the general public. We argue that lawmakers should consider reforms that would help the SEC develop a centralized information-dissemination system that is better suited for the high-speed dynamics of modern markets.

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Run EDGAR Run: SEC Dissemination in a High-Frequency World

Jonathan Rogers, Douglas Skinner & Sarah Zechman
University of Chicago Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
We use a large recent sample of Form 4 insider trading filings to provide evidence on the process through which SEC filings are disseminated via EDGAR. We find that while the delay from a filing’s acceptance by EDGAR to its initial public availability on the SEC website is relatively short, with a mean (median) posting time of 40 (36) seconds, in the majority of cases the filing is available to Tier 1 subscribers before its availability on the public SEC site. We further show that prices, volumes, and spreads respond to the filing news beginning around 30 seconds before public posting, consistent with some market participants taking advantage of the posting delay. These results raise questions about whether the SEC dissemination process is really a level playing field for all investors.

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The Freedom of Information Act and the Race Towards Information Acquisition

Antonio Gargano, Alberto Rossi & Russ Wermers
University of Maryland Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
We document a previously unknown source of information exploited by sophisticated institutional investors: the Freedom of Information Act, a law that allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States government. Through our own FOIA requests we uncover the identities of several large institutional investors, chiefly hedge funds, that routinely request value-relevant information to the Food and Drug Administration. We first provide a detailed analysis of how FOIA requests are generated, the kind of information commonly requested by institutional investors and its costs. We then document that the target of FOIA requests are large firms that experience periods of low profitability and high stock price volatility. Finally, we show that FOIA requests allow institutional investors to generate abnormal portfolio returns and provide evidence suggesting that the FOIA information is not systematically known to other investors in the marketplace.

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Reuters Sentiment and Stock Returns

Matthias Uhl
Journal of Behavioral Finance, Fall 2014, Pages 287-298

Abstract:
Sentiment from more than 3.6 million Reuters news articles is tested in a vector autoregression model framework on its ability to forecast returns of the Dow Jones Industrial Average stock index. We show that Reuters sentiment can explain and predict changes in stock returns better than macroeconomic factors. We further find that negative Reuters sentiment has more predictive power than positive Reuters sentiment. Trading strategies with Reuters sentiment achieve significant outperformance with high success rates as well as high Sharpe ratios.

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The JOBS act and IPO volume: Evidence that disclosure costs affect the IPO decision

Michael Dambra, Laura Casares Field & Matthew Gustafson
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In April 2012, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) was enacted to help revitalize the initial public offering (IPO) market, especially for small firms. During the year ending March 2014, IPO volume and the proportion of small firm issuers was the largest since 2000. Controlling for market conditions, we estimate that the JOBS Act has led to 21 additional IPOs annually, a 25% increase over pre-JOBS levels. Firms with high proprietary disclosure costs, such as biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms, increase IPO activity the most. These firms are also more likely to take advantage of the act's de-risking provisions, allowing firms to file the IPO confidentially while testing-the-waters.

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Frame Complexity and the Financial Crisis: A Comparison of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany in the Period 2007–2012

Jan Kleinnijenhuis, Friederike Schultz & Dirk Oegema
Journal of Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
Communicative complexity concerns the variety of issues and stakeholders (agenda complexity) and their associations (frame complexity) in the news. One issue may dominate news in crises (9/11, Katrina), but as soon as complexity recovers, uncertainty may decrease and the public mood may improve. The financial crisis in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany (2007–2012) offers an example. An automated content analysis was applied to over 160,000 newspaper articles. Frame complexity decreased until the spotlight fell on the demise of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers (2008). The subsequent gradual recovery was only partly interrupted by the euro crisis. A Vector AutoRegression time series analysis shows that increasing frame complexity may indeed have fostered the recovery of financial markets and consumer confidence.

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Structured debt ratings: Evidence on conflicts of interest

Matthias Efing & Harald Hau
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We test if issuers of asset- and mortgage-backed securities receive rating favors from agencies with which they maintain strong business relationships. Controlling for issuer fixed effects and a large set of credit risk determinants, we show that agencies publish better ratings for those issuers that provide them with more bilateral securitization business. Such rating favors are larger for very complex structured debt deals and for deals issued during the credit boom period. Our analysis is based on a new deal-level rating statistic that accounts for the full distribution of tranche ratings below the AAA cut-off point of a structured debt deal.

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The Invisible Hand of Short Selling: Does Short Selling Discipline Earnings Management?

Massimo Massa, Bohui Zhang & Hong Zhang
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
We hypothesize that short selling has a disciplining role vis-à-vis firm managers that forces them to reduce earnings management. Using firm-level short-selling data for thirty-three countries collected over a sample period from 2002 to 2009, we document a significantly negative relationship between the threat of short selling and earnings management. Tests based on instrumental variable and exogenous regulatory experiments offer evidence of a causal link between short selling and earnings management. Our findings suggest that short selling functions as an external governance mechanism to discipline managers.

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Momentum Trading, Return Chasing, and Predictable Crashes

Benjamin Chabot, Eric Ghysels & Ravi Jagannathan
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We combine self-collected historical data from 1867 to 1907 with CRSP data from 1926 to 2012, to examine the risk and return over the past 140 years of one of the most popular mechanical trading strategies — momentum. We find that momentum has earned abnormally high risk-adjusted returns — a three factor alpha of 1 percent per month between 1927 and 2012 and 0.5 percent per month between 1867 and 1907 — both statistically significantly different from zero. However, the momentum strategy also exposed investors to large losses (crashes) during both periods. Momentum crashes were predictable — more likely when momentum recently performed well (both eras), interest rates were relatively low (1867–1907), or momentum had recently outperformed the stock market (CRSP era) — times when borrowing or attracting return chasing “blind capital” would have been easier. Based on a stylized model and simulated outcomes from a richer model, we argue that a money manager has an incentive to remain invested in momentum even when the crash risk is known to be high when (1) he competes for funds from return-chasing investors and (2) he is compensated via fees that are convex in the amount of money managed and the return on that money.

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Informational efficiency of the clandestine and official gold markets in Paris

Georges Gallais-Hamonno, Thi-Hong-Van Hoang & Kim Oosterlinck
Economics Letters, January 2015, Pages 28–30

Abstract:
For gold, moving from clandestine to official trading does not significantly change informational efficiency. Both markets are inefficient suggesting that efficiency is linked more to the type of asset than to the legal status of the market.

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Why ‘financialisation’ hasn’t depressed US productive investment

Andrew Kliman & Shannon Williams
Cambridge Journal of Economics, January 2015, Pages 67-92

Abstract:
The rate of capital accumulation in the USA has fallen markedly in recent decades. Works in the financialisation literature have tried to explain this phenomenon by arguing that rising financial payments and purchases have come at the expense of productive investment. This article shows that such arguments are not supported by the data. It also explains theoretically why rising dividend payments and the growth of corporations’ portfolio investment are compatible with the fact that corporations’ productive investment did not decline during the first two decades of ‘neoliberalism’ in the USA. There would necessarily be a trade-off between these uses of funds if they were all funded out of current profits, but there is no necessary trade-off because borrowed funds are an additional source. Finally, the article shows that the fall in US corporations’ rate of profit (rate of return on investment in fixed assets) fully accounts for the fall in their rate of capital accumulation.

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Inside the “Black Box” of Sell-Side Financial Analysts

Lawrence Brown et al.
Journal of Accounting Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Our objective is to penetrate the “black box” of sell-side financial analysts by providing new insights into the inputs analysts use and the incentives they face. We survey 365 analysts and conduct 18 follow-up interviews covering a wide range of topics, including the inputs to analysts’ earnings forecasts and stock recommendations, the value of their industry knowledge, the determinants of their compensation, the career benefits of Institutional Investor All-Star status, and the factors they consider indicative of high-quality earnings. One important finding is that private communication with management is a more useful input to analysts’ earnings forecasts and stock recommendations than their own primary research, recent earnings performance, and recent 10-K and 10-Q reports. Another notable finding is that issuing earnings forecasts and stock recommendations that are well below the consensus often leads to an increase in analysts’ credibility with their investing clients. We conduct cross-sectional analyses that highlight the impact of analyst and brokerage characteristics on analysts’ inputs and incentives. Our findings are relevant to investors, managers, analysts, and academic researchers.

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Information reliability and welfare: A theory of coarse credit ratings

Anand Goel & Anjan Thakor
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
An enduring puzzle is why credit rating agencies (CRAs) use a few categories to describe credit qualities lying in a continuum, even when ratings coarseness reduces welfare. We model a cheap-talk game in which a CRA assigns positive weights to the divergent goals of issuing firms and investors. The CRA wishes to inflate ratings but prefers an unbiased rating to one whose inflation exceeds a threshold. Ratings coarseness arises in equilibrium to preclude excessive rating inflation. We show that competition among CRAs can increase ratings coarseness. We also examine the welfare implications of regulatory initiatives.

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The Psychology of Investment Behavior: (De)Biasing Financial Decision-Making One Graph at a Time

Rod Duclos
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Consumers’ welfare largely depends on the soundness of their financial decisions. To this effect, the present research examines how people process graphical displays of financial information (e.g., stock-prices) to forecast future trends and invest accordingly. In essence, we ask whether and how visual biases in data interpretation impact financial decision-making and risk-taking. Five experiments find that the last trading day(s) of a stock bear a disproportionately (and unduly) high importance on investment behavior, a phenomenon we coin end-anchoring. Specifically, a stock-price closing upward (downward) fosters upward (downward) forecasts for tomorrow and, accordingly, more (less) investing in the present. Substantial investment asymmetries (up to 75%) emerge even as stock-price distributions were generated randomly to simulate times when the market conjuncture is hesitant and no real upward or downward trend can be identified. Allying experimental manipulations to eye-tracking technology, the present research begins to explore the underpinnings of end-anchoring.

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Retail Financial Advice: Does One Size Fit All?

Stephen Foerster et al.
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
Using unique data on Canadian households, we assess the impact of financial advisors on their clients' portfolios. We find that advisors induce their clients to take more risk, thereby raising expected returns. On the other hand, we find limited evidence of customization: advisors direct clients into similar portfolios independent of their clients' risk preferences and stage in the life cycle. An advisor's own portfolio is a good predictor of the client's portfolio even after controlling for the client's characteristics. This one-size-fits-all advice does not come cheap. The average client pays more than 2.7% each year in fees and thus gives up all of the equity premium gained through increased risk-taking.

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Disentangling Risk and Change: Internal and External Social Comparison in the Mutual Fund Industry

Aleksandra Kacperczyk, Christine Beckman & Thomas Moliterno
Administrative Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using data on 3,225 actively managed U.S. mutual funds from 1980 to 2006, we test hypotheses designed to disentangle risk and change as outcomes of behavioral performance feedback routines. We theorize that managers make decisions involving risk and decisions involving change under different conditions and motivated by different concerns. Our results show internal social comparison across units within a firm will motivate risk, whereas external social comparison across firms will motivate change. When a fund experiences a performance shortfall relative to internal social comparison, the manager is likely to make decisions that involve risk because the social and spatial proximity of internal comparisons trigger individual concern and fear of negative individual consequences, such as job loss. In contrast, when a fund experiences a performance shortfall in comparison with external benchmarks, the manager is more likely to consider the shortfall an organizational concern and make changes that do not necessarily involve risk. Although we might assume that negative performance in comparison with both internal and external benchmarks would spur risky change, our results indicate that risky change occurs most often when a decision maker receives unfavorable internal social performance feedback and favorable external social performance feedback. By questioning assumptions about why and when organizational change involves risk, this study begins to separate change and risk outcomes of the decision-making process.

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Learning on the Job? Employee Mobility in the Asset Management Industry

Aaron Chatterji, Rui De Figueiredo & Evan Rawley
Duke University Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We present a new mechanism by which prior employment can influence transitions to other firms. We propose that some employees divert effort toward unproductive activities to learn about their own fitness for alternative employment. Based on the results of this costly learning experience, or “experiment,” some employees will transition into other firms or launch their own ventures, while others will remain at the incumbent firm. We develop a theoretical model to explicate these propositions, and test them using four datasets from the mutual fund and hedge fund industries. We find evidence that managers who engage in excessive risk-taking at mutual funds are subsequently more likely to join or start hedge funds, even though there is little evidence that this risk-taking is intended to signal quality to outside observers. Taken together, our findings suggest that learning about one’s own fitness for alternative employment, through experimentation on the job, is an important mechanism for enabling employee mobility.

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Geographic Proximity and Analyst Coverage Decisions: Evidence from IPOs

Patricia O'Brien & Hongping Tan
Journal of Accounting and Economics, February 2015, Pages 41–59

Abstract:
Using hand-collected data on analyst locations, we study how geographic proximity affects analyst coverage decisions for U.S. firms that went public during 1996–2009, along with the impact of local coverage on firm visibility. Analysts are 80% more likely to cover local firms than non-local ones, and nearby non-underwriter analysts initiate coverage one to three weeks earlier than distant ones. Proximity matters most for smaller, less visible firms, for firms with less complex operations and for lower status analysts. Less visible firms may use local analyst coverage as a stepping-stone to increase visibility with other analysts and institutional investors.

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An experimental study of the impact of competition for Other People’s Money: The portfolio manager market

Marina Agranov, Alberto Bisin & Andrew Schotter
Experimental Economics, December 2014, Pages 564-585

Abstract:
In this paper we experimentally investigate the impact that competing for funds has on the risk-taking behavior of laboratory portfolio managers compensated through an option-like scheme according to which the manager receives (most of) the compensation only for returns in excess of pre-specified strike price. We find that such a competitive environment and contractual arrangement lead, both in theory and in the lab, to inefficient risk taking behavior on the part of portfolio managers. We then study various policy interventions, obtained by manipulating various aspects of the competitive environment and the contractual arrangement, e.g., the Transparency of the contracts offered, the Risk Sharing component in the contract linking portfolio managers to investors, etc. While all these interventions would induce portfolio managers, at equilibrium, to efficiently invest funds in safe assets, we find that, in the lab, Transparency is most effective in incentivising managers to do so. Finally, we document a behavioral “Other People’s Money” effect in the lab, where portfolio managers tend to invest the funds of their investors in a more risky manner than their Own Money, even when it is not in either the investors’ or the managers’ interest to do so.

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Do Short-Sellers Profit from Mutual Funds? Evidence from Daily Trades

Salman Arif, Azi Ben-Rephael & Charles Lee
Stanford Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
Using high resolution data, we show that short-sellers (SSs) systematically profit from mutual fund (MF) flows. At the daily level, SSs trade strongly in the opposite direction to MFs. This negative relation is associated with the expected component of MF flows (based on prior days’ trading), as well as the unexpected component (based on same-day flows). The ability of SS trades to predict stock returns is up to 3 times greater when MF flows are in the opposite direction. The resulting wealth transfer from MFs to SSs is most pronounced for high-MF-held, low-liquidity firms, and is much larger during periods of high retail sentiment.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Socialize

Declining Loneliness Over Time: Evidence From American Colleges and High Schools

Matthew Clark, Natalie Loxton & Stephanie Tobin
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, January 2015, Pages 78-89

Abstract:
We examined changes in loneliness over time. Study 1 was a cross-temporal meta-analysis of 48 samples of American college students who completed the Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale (total N = 13,041). In Study 1, loneliness declined from 1978 to 2009 (d = −0.26). Study 2 used a representative sample of high school students from the Monitoring the Future project (total N = 385,153). In Study 2, loneliness declined from 1991 to 2012. Declines were similar among White students (d = −0.14), Black students (d = −0.17), male students (d = −0.11), and female students (d = −0.11). Different loneliness factors showed diverging trends. Subjective isolation declined (d = −0.20), whereas social network isolation increased (d = 0.06). We discuss the declines in loneliness within the context of other cultural changes, including changes to group membership and personality.

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Reaching Out by Changing What’s Within: Social Exclusion Increases Self-Concept Malleability

Stephanie Richman et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, March 2015, Pages 64–77

Abstract:
People have a fundamental need to belong that, when thwarted, can affect cognition and behavior in ways designed to regain social connection. Because one of the best predictors of social connection is similarity, the current investigation tests the self-malleability hypothesis, which predicts social exclusion encourages people to modify their self-concepts to increase similarity to others, presumably in pursuit of renewed affiliation. Five studies supported the self-malleability hypothesis. Excluded people expanded their self-concept to incorporate new attributes characteristic of a novel social target but which they did not originally perceive as characteristic of themselves (Study 1). This effect was limited to targets that were construed as potential friends (Study 2) and occurred regardless of whether the potential friend was aware of the change (Study 3). Additionally, after recalling an exclusion experience, people modified even existing self-views to increase similarity to a potential friend (Studies 4a and 4b). Thus, socially excluded people alter the self to gain social connection.

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Does Hugging Provide Stress-Buffering Social Support? A Study of Susceptibility to Upper Respiratory Infection and Illness

Sheldon Cohen et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Perceived social support has been hypothesized to protect against the pathogenic effects of stress. How such protection might be conferred, however, is not well understood. Using a sample of 404 healthy adults, we examined the roles of perceived social support and received hugs in buffering against interpersonal stress-induced susceptibility to infectious disease. Perceived support was assessed by questionnaire, and daily interpersonal conflict and receipt of hugs were assessed by telephone interviews on 14 consecutive evenings. Subsequently, participants were exposed to a virus that causes a common cold and were monitored in quarantine to assess infection and illness signs. Perceived support protected against the rise in infection risk associated with increasing frequency of conflict. A similar stress-buffering effect emerged for hugging, which explained 32% of the attenuating effect of support. Among infected participants, greater perceived support and more-frequent hugs each predicted less-severe illness signs. These data suggest that hugging may effectively convey social support.

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Emotionships: Examining People’s Emotion-Regulation Relationships and Their Consequences for Well-Being

Elaine Cheung, Wendi Gardner & Jason Anderson
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Is it better to have a few relationships that can fulfill all our emotion-regulation needs or to have a more diverse relationship portfolio, in which different individuals serve distinct emotion-regulation needs? The present research examined how people distribute their emotion-regulation needs across different emotion-specific regulation relationships (emotionships) and their consequences for well-being. Study 1 demonstrated the existence of emotionships by showing that individuals can name discrete relationships that they consider effective at regulating specific emotions (e.g., I turn to my sister to cheer me up when I'm sad) and that the accessibility and value of these relationships change as a function of manipulated emotional states. Studies 2a and 2b revealed that individuals who diversified their emotion-regulation needs across multiple specialized relationships (e.g., having distinct relationships for cheering up sadness vs. soothing anxiety) showed higher well-being than those with similar numbers of close relationships, but who concentrated their emotion-regulation needs in fewer, less specialized relationships.

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Examining the many dimensions of children’s popularity: Interactions between aggression, prosocial behaviors, and gender

Mariah Kornbluh & Jennifer Watling Neal
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using peer nomination data, this study explored predictors of popularity among 144 third- through eighth-grade students in a diverse urban school. Findings demonstrated that children were more likely to be nominated as popular by peers when they exhibited higher levels of prosocial behavior or aggression. Furthermore, a significant interaction between prosocial behavior and aggression predicted popularity. Children with high levels of peer-nominated aggression were more likely to be viewed as popular when they were also nominated by their peers for engaging in high levels of prosocial behavior. Lastly, findings suggested that the positive association between prosocial behavior and popularity was stronger for girls than boys. Implications and areas for future research are discussed.

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Is ostracism by a despised outgroup really hurtful? A replication and extension of Gonsalkorale and Williams (2007)

Marie-Pierre Fayant et al.
Social Psychology, November/December 2014, Pages 489-494

Abstract:
Previous research has shown that being ostracized by members of a despised outgroup is as hurtful as being ostracized by ingroup members (Gonsalkorale & Williams, 2007). In the current study, we conduct a direct replication of the Gonsalkorale and Williams’s study and also investigate whether this (lack of) effect is due to the way negative consequences of ostracism were measured. To do so, we created a new measure that directly assesses whether people were hurt from being ostracized (or not). Our results and a small-scale meta-analysis including Gonsalkorale and Williams’s results show that ostracism effects are not significantly diminished when the source of ostracism is a despised outgroup. We discuss theoretical and methodological implications.

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Vagal Flexibility: A Physiological Predictor of Social Sensitivity

Luma Muhtadie et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research explores vagal flexibility — dynamic modulation of cardiac vagal control — as an individual-level physiological index of social sensitivity. In 4 studies, we test the hypothesis that individuals with greater cardiac vagal flexibility, operationalized as higher cardiac vagal tone at rest and greater cardiac vagal withdrawal (indexed by a decrease in respiratory sinus arrhythmia) during cognitive or attentional demand, perceive social-emotional information more accurately and show greater sensitivity to their social context. Study 1 sets the foundation for this investigation by establishing that vagal flexibility can be elicited consistently in the laboratory and reliably over time. Study 2 demonstrates that vagal flexibility has different associations with psychological characteristics than does vagal tone, and that these characteristics are primarily social in nature. Study 3 links individual differences in vagal flexibility with accurate detection of social and emotional cues depicted in still facial images. Study 4 demonstrates that individuals with greater vagal flexibility respond to dynamic social feedback in a more context-sensitive manner than do individuals with less vagal flexibility. Specifically, compared with their less flexible counterparts, individuals with greater vagal flexibility, when assigned to receive negative social feedback, report more shame, show more pronounced blood pressure responses, and display less sociable behavior, but when receiving positive social feedback display more sociable behavior. Taken together, these findings suggest that vagal flexibility is a useful individual difference physiological predictor of social sensitivity, which may have implications for clinical, developmental, and health psychologists.

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Narcissistic Tendencies Among Actors: Craving for Admiration, But Not at the Cost of Others

Michael Dufner et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Building on a two-dimensional reconceptualization of grandiose narcissism, we investigated how narcissistic admiration (the tendency toward agentic self-promotion) and rivalry (the tendency toward other derogation) are related to acting. Study 1 (N = 583) showed that acting students scored higher on narcissistic admiration than students with other majors, but at the same time, the acting students scored lower on rivalry. In Study 2 (N = 283), we compared improvisational theater actors with a comparison group and found the same pattern: Admiration was higher, but rivalry was lower among the actors (across both self-reports and informant reports). Effects persisted when we controlled for sex, age, self-esteem, extraversion, and agreeableness. Additional analyses indicated that actors who were high in admiration were primarily motivated by applause. Taken together, these findings indicate that acting is an activity that attracts individuals with a strong narcissistic desire for admiration but repulses people with an inclination toward narcissistic other derogation.

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Perceived Social Support Reduces the Pain of Spending Money

Qian Xu et al.
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
People experience pain when they spend money. Because previous studies have shown that perceived social support reduces physical pain, this research examined whether perceived social support reduces spending pain. Our studies showed that both real and recalled social support reduced spending pain (Studies 1–3) and that perceived social support reduced the perceived importance of money as a protection mechanism, which in turn reduced spending pain (Studies 1 and 3). Moreover, the pain-buffering effect of social support was stronger for hedonic purchases than for utilitarian purchases (Study 2). This research broadens our understanding of the factors that enhance consumer experiences and the relationships among love, security, and pain.

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Oxytocin Receptor and Vasopressin receptor 1a genes are respectively associated with emotional and cognitive empathy

Florina Uzefovsky et al.
Hormones and Behavior, January 2015, Pages 60–65

Abstract:
Empathy is the ability to recognize and share in the emotions of others. It can be considered a multi-faceted concept with cognitive and emotional aspects. Little is known regarding the underlying neurochemistry of empathy and in the current study we used a neurogenetic approach to explore possible brain neurotransmitter pathways contributing to cognitive and emotional empathy. Both the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) and the arginine vasopressin receptor 1a (AVPR1a) genes contribute to social cognition in both animals and humans and hence are prominent candidates for contributing to empathy. The following research examined the associations between polymorphisms in these two genes and individual differences in emotional and cognitive empathy in a sample of 367 young adults. Intriguingly, we found that emotional empathy was associated solely with OXTR whereas cognitive empathy was associated solely with AVPR1a. Moreover, no interaction was observed between the two genes and measures of empathy. The current findings contribute to our understanding of the distinct neurogenetic pathways involved in cognitive and emotional empathy and underscore the pervasive role of both oxytocin and vasopressin in modulating human emotions.

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Number of Siblings and Social Skills Revisited Among American Fifth Graders

Douglas Downey, Dennis Condron & Deniz Yucel
Journal of Family Issues, January 2015, Pages 273-296

Abstract:
Most research on the consequences of the number of siblings highlights their downside — the negative association between sibship size and educational outcomes. But recently scholars have begun to understand the potential benefits of siblings, with some research indicating that kindergartners are more socially adept when they have at least one brother or sister. We expand this line of inquiry by studying fifth graders, a point where sufficient school-based peer interactions have occurred to potentially eliminate the social skills deficit observed among only children beginning kindergarten. Analyzing 11,820 children from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten Cohort of 1998-99, we find that, contrary to our expectations, only children failed to gain more social skills between kindergarten and fifth grade than their counterparts with siblings. This pattern has important implications for the one in five children now raised without siblings.

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Effects of lateral head tilt on user perceptions of humanoid and android robots

Martina Mara & Markus Appel
Computers in Human Behavior, March 2015, Pages 326–334

Abstract:
Human responses to android and humanoid robots have become an important topic to social scientists due to the increasing prevalence of social and service robots in everyday life. The present research connects work on the effects of lateral (sideward) head tilts, an eminent feature of nonverbal human behavior, to the experience of android and humanoid robots. In two experiments (N = 402; N = 253) the influence of lateral head tilts on user perceptions of android and humanoid robots were examined. Photo portrayals of three different robots (Asimo, Kojiro, Telenoid) were manipulated. The stimuli included head tilts of −20°, −10° (left tilt), +10°, +20° (right tilt) and 0° (upright position). Compared to an upright head posture, we found higher scores for attributed human likeness, cuteness, and spine-tinglingness when the identical robots conveyed a head tilt. Results for perceived warmth, eeriness, attractiveness, and dominance varied with the robot or head tilts yielded no effects. Implications for the development and marketing of android and humanoid robots are discussed.

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The Dark Triad and trait self-objectification as predictors of men’s use and self-presentation behaviors on social networking sites

Jesse Fox & Margaret Rooney
Personality and Individual Differences, April 2015, Pages 161–165

Abstract:
An online survey of a nationally representative sample of U.S. men aged 18–40 assessed trait predictors of social networking site use as well as two forms of visual self-presentation: editing one’s image in photographs posted on social networking sites (SNSs) and posting “selfies,” or pictures users take of themselves. We examined the Dark Triad (i.e., narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy) and trait self-objectification as predictors. Self-objectification and narcissism predicted time spent on SNSs. Narcissism and psychopathy predicted the number of selfies posted, whereas narcissism and self-objectification predicted editing photographs of oneself posted on SNSs. We discuss selective self-presentation processes on social media and how these traits may influence interpersonal relationship development in computer-mediated communication.

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Nice to Meet You — Adult Age Differences in Empathic Accuracy for Strangers

Elisabeth Blanke, Antje Rauers & Michaela Riediger
Psychology and Aging, forthcoming

Abstract:
Empathic accuracy is the ability to correctly identify others’ thoughts and feelings. Based on evidence from past laboratory experiments, researchers concluded that this ability decreases throughout adulthood. This conclusion, however, was mostly based on evidence regarding isolated components of the ability to read others’ thoughts and feelings (e.g., inferring thoughts or feelings from facial expressions presented without context). In contrast, empathic accuracy involves the integration of a multitude of such inferences from diverse sources of information that are available in everyday interactions (e.g., facial and bodily expressions, prosody, communication content, situational context, etc.). To strengthen empirical evidence on age differences in this integrative ability, we assessed empathic accuracy in dyadic interactions between 102 younger (20–31 years) and 106 older (69–80 years) women, paired in same-age or mixed-age dyads. In these interactions, older women were only less empathically accurate than younger women when judging their interaction partner’s negative feelings and when judging thoughts that accompanied experiences of negative affect. In contrast, there were no age differences in empathic accuracy for positive feelings and for thoughts accompanying experiences of positive affect. These results were independent of the age of the interaction partner. The current study thus provides further evidence that age differences in empathic accuracy (a) may be qualified by situational properties, such as valence of inferred content, and (b) can be less pronounced when integration of multiple sources of information is possible than research investigating isolated information channels has thus far suggested.

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A Comparison of Adolescents’ Friendship Networks by Advanced Coursework Participation Status

Carolyn Barber & Jillian Woodford Wasson
Gifted Child Quarterly, January 2015, Pages 23-37

Abstract:
Friendships serve as a source of support and as a context for developing social competence. Although advanced coursework may provide a unique context for the development of friendships, more research is needed to explore exactly what differences exist. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and the Adolescent Health and Academic Achievement Study, we compared the friendship networks of students taking advanced mathematics and English coursework to those of similar nonparticipants. Groups were compared on the number of sent or received nominations based on students’ listings of friends, the presence and reciprocation of best friendships, and friends’ academic engagement and diversity. Controlling for background, advanced coursework participants had larger networks and more engaged friends than did nonparticipants. Small differences in age heterogeneity and in the likelihood of reciprocal best friendships with female friends were found in English course-taking. Participants’ networks were also somewhat less racially diverse.

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Actors Conform, Observers React: The Effects of Behavioral Synchrony on Conformity

Ping Dong, Xianchi Dai & Robert Wyer
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Engaging in synchronous behavior can induce a more general disposition to copy others, which increases the tendency to conform to others’ preferences in an unrelated choice situation. In contrast, observing others perform synchronous behavior can induce psychological reactance and decrease conformity to others’ preferences. Five experiments confirmed these different effects and circumscribed the conditions in which they occurred. Actors typically focus their attention on the goal to which their synchronous behavior is directed, inducing a copying-others mindset that generalizes to later situations. In contrast, observers focus on the actors’ behavior independently of the goal to which it pertains. Consequently, they become sensitive to the restrictions on freedom that synchronous behavior requires and experience reactance. However, changing the relative attention that actors and observers pay to these factors can reverse the effects of the actors’ synchronous behavior on conformity.

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Reciprocal associations between friendship attachment and relational experiences in adolescence

Chong Man Chow, Holly Ruhl & Duane Buhrmester
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current study examined the reciprocal associations between friendship attachment and relational experiences. Data came from a longitudinal study that assessed adolescents (N = 223, 108 girls) in the 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. Cross-lagged models were fitted with structural equation modeling. Results showed that attachment avoidance was consistently predictive of more friendship exclusion, and friendship exclusion was consistently predictive of more attachment anxiety. Attachment avoidance was consistently related to less friendship intimacy across adolescence. Friendship intimacy was also consistently related to lower attachment avoidance across adolescence. Attachment anxiety was consistently related to more friendship intimacy across adolescence. This study shed light on the bidirectional influences between attachment security and relational experiences in adolescent friendships.

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Self-Disclosure and the Liking of Participants in Reality TV

Nurit Tal-Or & Michal Hershman-Shitrit
Human Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Reality TV shows are characterized by the very intimate self-disclosure of their participants early on in the shows. In everyday interactions, however, such intimate self-disclosure is welcomed only when it evolves gradually. This discrepancy between reality shows and real life apparently contradicts previous research documenting the similarity between real relationships and relationships with media characters. The current research explores this apparent contradiction by examining whether the relationship between self-disclosure and liking and the rules about the timing of self-disclosure that apply in everyday interactions apply in reality TV. Study 1 shows that viewers prefer characters who make early intimate disclosures, and Study 2 shows that they prefer this disclosure to evolve gradually and become more intimate, as in real relationships.

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Great Ape Origins of Personality Maturation and Sex Differences: A Study of Orangutans and Chimpanzees

Alexander Weiss & James King
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Human personality development evinces increased emotional stability, prosocial tendencies, and responsibility. One hypothesis offered to explain this pattern is Social-Investment Theory, which posits that culturally defined social roles, including marriage and employment, are responsible for the increased maturity. Alternatively, Five-Factor Theory emphasizes the role of biological factors, such as those governing physical development, which may predate the emergence of humans. Five-Factor Theory, unlike Social-Investment Theory, predicts that all or some of the human personality developmental trends should be present in great apes, our closest evolutionary relatives. To test this prediction and to better understand the evolutionary origins of sex differences, we examined age and sex differences in the chimpanzee and orangutan personality domains Extraversion, Dominance, Neuroticism, and Agreeableness. We also examined the Activity and Gregariousness facets of Extraversion and the orangutan Intellect domain. Extraversion and Neuroticism declined across age groups in both species, in common with humans. A significant interaction indicated that Agreeableness declined in orangutans but increased in chimpanzees, as it does in humans, though this may reflect differences in how Agreeableness was defined in each species. Significant interactions indicated that male chimpanzees, unlike male orangutans, displayed higher Neuroticism scores than females and maintained higher levels of Activity and Dominance into old age than female chimpanzees, male orangutans, and female orangutans. Personality–age correlations were comparable across orangutans and chimpanzees and were similar to those reported in human studies. Sex differences were stronger in chimpanzees than in humans or orangutans. These findings support Five-Factor Theory, suggest the role of gene–culture coevolution in shaping personality development, and suggest that sex differences evolved independently in different species.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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