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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Spur of the moment

Sweet taste liking is associated with impulsive behaviors in humans

Jessica Weafer, Anne Burkhardt & Harriet de Wit
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, June 2014

Abstract:
Evidence from both human and animal studies suggests that sensitivity to rewarding stimuli is positively associated with impulsive behaviors, including both impulsive decision making and inhibitory control. The current study examined associations between the hedonic value of a sweet taste and two forms of impulsivity (impulsive choice and impulsive action) in healthy young adults (N = 100). Participants completed a sweet taste test in which they rated their liking of various sweetness concentrations. Subjects also completed measures of impulsive choice (delay discounting), and impulsive action (go/no-go task). Subjects who discounted more steeply (i.e., greater impulsive choice) liked the high sweetness concentration solutions more. By contrast, sweet liking was not related to impulsive action. These findings indicate that impulsive choice may be associated with heightened sensitivity to the hedonic value of a rewarding stimulus, and that these constructs might share common underlying neurobiological mechanisms.

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Variation in risk seeking behaviour following large losses: A natural experiment

Lionel Page, David Savage & Benno Torgler
European Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study explores people's risk taking behaviour after having suffered large real-world losses following a natural disaster. Using the margins of the 2011 Australian floods (Brisbane) as a natural experimental setting, we find that homeowners who were victims of the floods and face large losses in property values are 50% more likely to opt for a risky gamble - a scratch card giving a small chance of a large gain ($500,000) - than for a sure amount of comparable value ($10). This finding is consistent with prospect theory predictions regarding the adoption of a risk-seeking attitude after a loss.

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Behavioral and neural correlates of increased self-control in the absence of increased willpower

Eran Magen et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 8 July 2014, Pages 9786-9791

Abstract:
People often exert willpower to choose a more valuable delayed reward over a less valuable immediate reward, but using willpower is taxing and frequently fails. In this research, we demonstrate the ability to enhance self-control (i.e., forgoing smaller immediate rewards in favor of larger delayed rewards) without exerting additional willpower. Using behavioral and neuroimaging data, we show that a reframing of rewards (i) reduced the subjective value of smaller immediate rewards relative to larger delayed rewards, (ii) increased the likelihood of choosing the larger delayed rewards when choosing between two real monetary rewards, (iii) reduced the brain reward responses to immediate rewards in the dorsal and ventral striatum, and (iv) reduced brain activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (a correlate of willpower) when participants chose the same larger later rewards across the two choice frames. We conclude that reframing can promote self-control while avoiding the need for additional willpower expenditure.

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Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Retirement Planning Predicts Employee Health Improvements

Timothy Gubler & Lamar Pierce
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Are poor physical and financial health driven by the same underlying psychological factors? We found that the decision to contribute to a 401(k) retirement plan predicted whether an individual acted to correct poor physical-health indicators revealed during an employer-sponsored health examination. Using this examination as a quasi-exogenous shock to employees' personal-health knowledge, we examined which employees were more likely to improve their health, controlling for differences in initial health, demographics, job type, and income. We found that existing retirement-contribution patterns and future health improvements were highly correlated. Employees who saved for the future by contributing to a 401(k) showed improvements in their abnormal blood-test results and health behaviors approximately 27% more often than noncontributors did. These findings are consistent with an underlying individual time-discounting trait that is both difficult to change and domain interdependent, and that predicts long-term individual behaviors in multiple dimensions.

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Predictors of early growth in academic achievement: The head-toes-knees-shoulders task

Megan McClelland et al.
Frontiers in Psychology, June 2014

Abstract:
Children's behavioral self-regulation and executive function (EF; including attentional or cognitive flexibility, working memory, and inhibitory control) are strong predictors of academic achievement. The present study examined the psychometric properties of a measure of behavioral self-regulation called the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders (HTKS) by assessing construct validity, including relations to EF measures, and predictive validity to academic achievement growth between prekindergarten and kindergarten. In the fall and spring of prekindergarten and kindergarten, 208 children (51% enrolled in Head Start) were assessed on the HTKS, measures of cognitive flexibility, working memory (WM), and inhibitory control, and measures of emergent literacy, mathematics, and vocabulary. For construct validity, the HTKS was significantly related to cognitive flexibility, working memory, and inhibitory control in prekindergarten and kindergarten. For predictive validity in prekindergarten, a random effects model indicated that the HTKS significantly predicted growth in mathematics, whereas a cognitive flexibility task significantly predicted growth in mathematics and vocabulary. In kindergarten, the HTKS was the only measure to significantly predict growth in all academic outcomes. An alternative conservative analytical approach, a fixed effects analysis (FEA) model, also indicated that growth in both the HTKS and measures of EF significantly predicted growth in mathematics over four time points between prekindergarten and kindergarten. Results demonstrate that the HTKS involves cognitive flexibility, working memory, and inhibitory control, and is substantively implicated in early achievement, with the strongest relations found for growth in achievement during kindergarten and associations with emergent mathematics.

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Peer Effects in Risk Aversion and Trust

Kenneth Ahern, Ran Duchin & Tyler Shumway
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Existing evidence shows that risk aversion and trust are largely determined by environmental factors. We test whether one such factor is peer influence. Using random assignment of MBA students to peer groups and predetermined survey responses of economic attitudes, we find causal evidence of positive peer effects in risk aversion and no effects in trust. After the first year of the MBA program, the difference between an individual and her peers' average risk aversion has shrunk by 41%. Finding no peer effects in trust is consistent with recent research showing that distinct cognitive processes govern risk aversion and trust.

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Dopamine Modulates Novelty Seeking Behavior During Decision Making

Vincent Costa et al.
Behavioral Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Novelty seeking refers to the tendency of humans and animals to explore novel and unfamiliar stimuli and environments. The idea that dopamine modulates novelty seeking is supported by evidence that novel stimuli excite dopamine neurons and activate brain regions receiving dopaminergic input. In addition, dopamine is shown to drive exploratory behavior in novel environments. It is not clear whether dopamine promotes novelty seeking when it is framed as the decision to explore novel options versus the exploitation of familiar options. To test this hypothesis, we administered systemic injections of saline or GBR-12909, a selective dopamine transporter (DAT) inhibitor, to monkeys and assessed their novelty seeking behavior during a probabilistic decision making task. The task involved pseudorandom introductions of novel choice options. This allowed monkeys the opportunity to explore novel options or to exploit familiar options that they had already sampled. We found that DAT blockade increased the monkeys' preference for novel options. A reinforcement learning (RL) model fit to the monkeys' choice data showed that increased novelty seeking after DAT blockade was driven by an increase in the initial value the monkeys assigned to novel options. However, blocking DAT did not modulate the rate at which the monkeys learned which cues were most predictive of reward or their tendency to exploit that knowledge. These data demonstrate that dopamine enhances novelty-driven value and imply that excessive novelty seeking - characteristic of impulsivity and behavioral addictions - might be caused by increases in dopamine, stemming from less reuptake.

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Impulsive Social Influence Increases Impulsive Choices on a Temporal Discounting Task in Young Adults

Jodi Gilman et al.
PLoS ONE, July 2014

Abstract:
Adolescents and young adults who affiliate with friends who engage in impulsive behavior are more likely to engage in impulsive behaviors themselves, and those who associate with prosocial (i.e. more prudent, future oriented) peers are more likely to engage in prosocial behavior. However, it is difficult to disentangle the contribution of peer influence vs. peer selection (i.e., whether individuals choose friends with similar traits) when interpreting social behaviors. In this study, we combined a novel social manipulation with a well-validated delay discounting task assessing impulsive behavior to create a social influence delay discounting task, in which participants were exposed to both impulsive (smaller, sooner or SS payment) and non-impulsive (larger, later or LL payment) choices from their peers. Young adults in this sample, n = 51, aged 18-25 had a higher rate of SS choices after exposure to impulsive peer influence than after exposure to non-impulsive peer influence. Interestingly, in highly susceptible individuals, the rate of non-impulsive choices did not increase after exposure to non-impulsive influence. There was a positive correlation between self-reported suggestibility and degree of peer influence on SS choices. These results suggest that, in young adults, SS choices appear to be influenced by the choices of same-aged peers, especially for individuals who are highly susceptible to influence.

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What makes Simon Says so difficult for young children?

Peter Marshall & Ashley Drew
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, October 2014, Pages 112-119

Abstract:
Compared with conceptually similar response inhibition tasks, the game of Simon Says is particularly challenging for young children. However, possible reasons for this difference have not been systematically investigated. Here we tested the relative influence of two dissociable characteristics of the standard Simon Says task: receiving both inhibition and activation commands from the same experimenter and seeing the experimenter perform the movement along with the commands. A sample of 74 children (mean age = 55 months) were randomly assigned to complete one of five possible tasks. Four of the five tasks were variations of Simon Says involving combinations of one or two experimenters and the presence versus absence of the experimenter's movements. The fifth task was Bear-Dragon, a commonly used executive function task in which one experimenter employed two puppets to give action commands to children. Analyses revealed that children's performance was significantly worse on the one-person Simon Says tasks compared with the two-person tasks and the Bear-Dragon task. The presence of the experimenters' movements alongside their commands did not have a significant effect on children's performance. The requirement to respond to one person who is changing how different rules apply to similar actions appears to be an important determinant of the difficulty of Simon Says for young children. In terms of implications, inconsistency in how an adult applies rules to children's actions may be a detrimental social influence on the development of cognitive control during early childhood.

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Effects of emotion on prospection during decision-making

Darrell Worthy, Kaileigh Byrne & Sherecce Fields
Frontiers in Psychology, June 2014

Abstract:
In two experiments we examined the role of emotion, specifically worry, anxiety, and mood, on prospection during decision-making. Worry is a particularly relevant emotion to study in the context of prospection because high levels of worry may make individuals more aversive toward the uncertainty associated with the prospect of obtaining future improvements in rewards or states. Thus, high levels of worry might lead to reduced prospection during decision-making and enhance preference for immediate over delayed rewards. In Experiment 1 participants performed a two-choice dynamic decision-making task where they were required to choose between one option (the decreasing option) which provided larger immediate rewards but declines in future states, and another option (the increasing option) which provided smaller immediate rewards but improvements in future states, making it the optimal choice. High levels of worry were associated with poorer performance in the task. Additionally, fits of a sophisticated reinforcement-learning model that incorporated both reward-based and state-based information suggested that individuals reporting high levels of worry gave greater weight to the immediate rewards they would receive on each trial than to the degree to which each action would lead to improvements in their future state. In Experiment 2 we found that high levels of worry were associated with greater delay discounting using a standard delay discounting task. Combined, the results suggest that high levels of worry are associated with reduced prospection during decision-making. We attribute these results to high worriers' aversion toward the greater uncertainty associated with attempting to improve future rewards than to maximize immediate reward. These results have implications for researchers interested in the effects of emotion on cognition, and suggest that emotion strongly affects the focus on temporal outcomes during decision-making.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friends, Romans, countrymen

Taxes, Lawyers, and the Decline of Witch Trials in France

Noel Johnson & Mark Koyama
Journal of Law and Economics, February 2014, Pages 77-112

Abstract:
How is rule of law established? We address this question by exploring the effect of increases in fiscal capacity on the establishment of well-enforced, formal, legal standards in a preindustrial economy. Between 1550 and 1700, there were over 2,000 witch trials in France. Prosecuting a witch required local judges to significantly deviate from formal rules of evidence. Hence, we exploit the significant variation across time and space in witch trials and fiscal capacity across French regions between 1550 and 1700 to show that increases in fiscal capacity were associated with increased adherence to the formal rule of law. As fiscal capacity increased, local judges increasingly upheld de jure rules, and the frequency of witch trials declined.

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War and democracy in ancient Greece

Nicholas Kyriazis & Xenophon Paparrigopoulos
European Journal of Law and Economics, August 2014, Pages 163-183

Abstract:
In the present paper we analyse some of the preconditions for the emergence of democracy in Ancient Greece. For democracy to emerge in Ancient Greece a combination of several enabling factors proved decisive: the development of new military tactic, the phalanx, marked by the appearance of a new type of heavy infantry warrior, the hoplite, who owned individually some property, i.e. land, sufficient to permit him to finance his weaponry and a city-state culture. We describe the emergence of this new type of warrior, link this emergence to the establishment of individual property rights and show how this brought about a military revolution, exemplified in a new tactical formation, the phalanx. We then proceed by showing how the attitudes and learning processes made necessary by this new type of warfare were transformed in the civic values and virtues that shaped democratic institutions. Our thesis can thus be briefly termed as the “military cum city-state” explanation of democracy.

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Why Did the Communists Win or Lose? A Comparative Analysis of the Revolutionary Civil Wars in Russia, Finland, Spain, and China

Pavel Osinsky & Jari Eloranta
Sociological Forum, June 2014, Pages 318–341

Abstract:
According to classic interpretations of the communist revolutions, political mobilization of peasantry was critical for the success of the revolutionary forces. This article, which reexamines the experience of civil wars in Russia, Finland, Spain, and China, argues that peasants’ contribution to the revolutions in Russia and later in China became possible under two historical conditions: breakdown of state authorities during the mass mobilization wars and existence of an unresolved agrarian problem in the countryside. Neither of these conditions alone, as the experience of other countries has shown, was sufficient for a success of the revolutionaries. The Spanish civil war of 1936–1939, for instance, was not preceded by a major international war. Because institutions of the traditional social order had not been undermined by war, Franco was able to defeat the Popular Front government, despite the peasants’ support of the revolution. In the Finnish civil war of 1918, which broke out in the wake of World War I and the Russian Revolution, state institutions did not collapse completely and the peasantry was divided in their responses to the revolution; the rural smallholders, for example, aligned with the Mannerheim's White army, not with the urban revolutionaries.

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Riches, Real Estate, and Resistance: How Land Speculation, Debt, and Trade Monopolies Led to the American Revolution

Thomas Curtis
American Journal of Economics and Sociology, July 2014, Pages 474–626

Abstract:
Why did the colonies of North America rebel against England in 1775? More than ideas of political freedom were at stake. It is unlikely that the colonists would have demanded independence if powerful land speculators, merchants, and urban artisans had not joined forces to protect their economic interests. England had levied taxes on the colonies, and the colonists had successfully overturned those measures. Taxation was a superficial problem. But in 1773, when England imposed a commercial monopoly on tea sales, and in 1774, when it cut off settlement in western lands, the colonists saw no choice but to rebel and create their own nation. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Mason, Richard Henry Lee, and other wealthy Virginians who led the American Revolution stood to lose their huge investment in potential land sales if England maintained control of the colonies.

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Highway to Hitler

Nico Voigtlaender & Hans-Joachim Voth
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
Can infrastructure investment win “hearts and minds”? We analyze a famous case in the early stages of dictatorship – the building of the motorway network in Nazi Germany. The Autobahn was one of the most important projects of the Hitler government. It was intended to reduce unemployment, and was widely used for propaganda purposes. We examine its role in increasing support for the NS regime by analyzing new data on motorway construction and the 1934 plebiscite, which gave Hitler greater powers as head of state. Our results suggest that road building was highly effective, reducing opposition to the nascent Nazi regime.

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Economic sanctions and official ethnic discrimination in target countries, 1950–2003

Dursun Peksen
Defence and Peace Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Conventional studies on the consequences of sanctions tend to focus on the target society as a whole without specifying how foreign economic pressures might affect the well-being of vulnerable groups within target countries – the same groups who often disproportionately bear the burden of sanctions. This study explores the extent to which sanctions increase the likelihood of discriminatory government practices against one of the globally most vulnerable groups, ethnic groups. It is argued that sanctions contribute to the rise of official ethnic-based economic and political discrimination through contracting the economy and creating incentives for the target government to employ ethnic-based discriminatory policies. Using data on over 900 ethnic groups from 1950 to 2003, the results lend support for the theoretical claim that sanctions prompt the government to pursue ethnic-based discriminatory economic and political practices in multiethnic countries. The findings also indicate that multilateral sanctions are likely to be more harmful to the well-being of ethnic groups than sanctions levied by individual countries. Further, the negative effect of comprehensive sanctions appears to be greater than that of sanctions with moderate and limited impact on the target economy. The regime type of the target state, on the other hand, appears to have a significant role only in conditioning the hypothesized effect of sanctions on economic discrimination. Overall, this study’s focus on a vulnerable segment of the target society – ethnic groups – offers a greater understanding of the consequences of sanctions. It also provides additional insight as to how, in multiethnic countries, political elites might domestically respond to external pressures to retain power.

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Bases, Bullets and Ballots: the Effect of U.S. Military Aid on Political Conflict in Colombia

Oeindrila Dube & Suresh Naidu
NBER Working Paper, June 2014

Abstract:
Does foreign military assistance strengthen or further weaken fragile states facing internal conflict? Aid may strengthen the state by bolstering its repressive capacity vis-à-vis armed non-state actors, or weaken it if resources are diverted to these very groups. We examine how U.S. military aid affects political violence in Colombia. We exploit the allocation of U.S. military aid to Colombian military bases, and compare how aid affects municipalities with and without bases. We use an instrument based on worldwide increases in U.S. military aid (excluding Latin America). We find that U.S. military assistance leads to differential increases in attacks by paramilitaries, but has no effect on guerrilla attacks. Aid also results in more paramilitary (but not guerrilla) homicides during election years, particularly in politically competitive municipalities. The findings suggest that foreign military assistance may strengthen armed non-state actors, undermining domestic political institutions.

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Targeting autocrats: Economic sanctions and regime change

Manuel Oechslin
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
When it comes to international economic sanctions, the most frequent goal is regime change and democratization. Yet, past experiences suggest that such sanctions are often ineffective; moreover, quite paradoxically, targeted regimes tend to respond with policies that amplify the sanctions’ harmful effects. This paper offers a political-economy model which provides an explanation for these observations. An autocratic regime lowers the supply of public goods to reduce private-sector productivity and hence the resources of potential challengers. As a result, sanctions-induced challenges become less likely, thereby buying the regime time to find exile opportunities. If these opportunities turn out to be of low quality, the regime prefers to hold out – and the sanctions fail.

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Mobilization, Repression, and Revolution: Grievances and Opportunities in Contentious Politics

Mehdi Shadmehr
Journal of Politics, July 2014, Pages 621-635

Abstract:
I develop a framework to study the interactions between dissidents and the state that reconciles political-process and grievance-based theories of protests and provides insights into interpreting the conflicting empirical studies that sometimes support one theory and sometimes the other. I show that contrary to the theoretical predictions of the literature, the relationship between the magnitude of grievances (e.g., the level of income inequality or economic hardship) and the likelihood of repression can be nonmonotone, and given some assumptions, is U-shaped. That is, as the magnitude of grievances increases from low to high, the likelihood of repression first decreases and then increases. Indeed, the data suggest a nonmonotone, U-shaped relationship between the level of repression and income inequality. I also discuss the implications for the empirical studies of repression.

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The Dictator's Inner Circle

Patrick Francois, Ilia Rainer & Francesco Trebbi
NBER Working Paper, June 2014

Abstract:
We posit the problem of an autocrat who has to allocate access to the executive positions in his inner circle and define the career profile of his own insiders. Statically, granting access to an executive post to a more experienced subordinate increases political returns to the post, but is more threatening to the leader in case of a coup. Dynamically, the leader monitors the capacity of staging a coup by his subordinates, which grows over time, and the incentives of trading a subordinate’s own position for a potential shot at the leadership, which defines the incentives of staging a palace coup for each member of the inner circle. We map these theoretical elements into structurally estimable hazard functions of terminations of cabinet ministers for a panel of postcolonial Sub-Saharan African countries. The hazard functions initially increase over time, indicating that most government insiders quickly wear out their welcome, and then drop once the minister is fully entrenched in the current regime. We argue that the survival concerns of the leader in granting access to his inner circle can cover much ground in explaining the widespread lack of competence of African governments and the vast heterogeneity of political performance between and within these regimes.

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The law of the land: Communal conflict and legal authority

Kristine Eck
Journal of Peace Research, July 2014, Pages 441-454

Abstract:
Common notions about the source of communal land conflict in Africa have long explained it as growing out of conditions of environmental scarcity. This article argues instead that the institutional structure of the legal system is central to understanding which countries are prone to experience communal land conflict. When competing customary and modern jurisdictions coexist in countries inhabited by mixed identity groups, the conflicting sources of legal authority lead to insecurity about which source of law will prevail. Because the source of law is contested, conflict parties cannot trust the legal system to predictably adjudicate disputes, which encourages the use of extrajudicial vigilante measures. Using new data on communal violence in West Africa, this argument is examined for the period 1990–2009. The results show that in countries where competing jurisdictions exist, communal land conflict is 200–350% more likely. These findings suggest that researchers should consider the role of legal institutions and processes in relation to social unrest and collective violence.

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Organizing Hypocrisy: Providing Legal Accountability for Human Rights Violations in Areas of Limited Statehood

Milli Lake
International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
In recent years, courts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) have produced some of the most progressive judicial decisions against perpetrators of gender violence of anywhere in the world. Yet, DR Congo is often described as the archetypal collapsed state. This article uses a case study of domestic courts in Eastern DR Congo to analyze how and why complex functions of domestic governance — such as the production of frequent and high-quality judicial decisions by domestic courts — are able to persist, even flourish, in an area where the state is characterized by extreme fragility and weakness. I argue that, rather than a decoupling of law and practice as previous approaches might predict, state fragility in DR Congo has created openings for domestic and transnational actors to exert direct influence over judicial processes at multiple levels of governance. The involvement of external actors in the domestic authority structures of states has resulted in surprisingly progressive human rights outcomes in certain issue areas. However, the article also documents some of the unintended consequences of human rights developments that occur at the very peripheries of broader state-building projects.

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Do Giant Oilfield Discoveries Fuel Internal Armed Conflicts?

Yu-Hsiang Lei & Guy Michaels
Journal of Development Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use new data to examine the effects of giant oilfield discoveries around the world since 1946. On average, these discoveries increase per capita oil production and oil exports by up to 50 percent. But these giant oilfield discoveries also have a dark side: they increase the incidence of internal armed conflict by about 5-8 percentage points. This increased incidence of conflict due to giant oilfield discoveries is especially high for countries that had already experienced armed conflicts or coups in the decade prior to discovery.

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The Effect of Authoritarian Regime Type on Exchange Rate Policy

David Steinberg & Krishan Malhotra
World Politics, July 2014, Pages 491-529

Abstract:
Conventional wisdom holds that autocracies are more likely than democracies to adopt interventionist and protectionist economic policies, including fixed and undervalued exchange rates. This article suggests that this view is only partially correct: nondemocracies are a heterogeneous grouping, and only some types of authoritarian regimes adopt different foreign economic policies from those of their democratic counterparts. Using the example of exchange rate policy, the authors show that foreign economic policy varies across monarchic, military, and civilian dictatorships. More specifically, they hypothesize that monarchies and military regimes are more likely than democracies and civilian dictatorships to maintain fixed exchange rate regimes because the former regimes have smaller “selectorates” than the latter. The authors also expect that monarchies and civilian dictatorships maintain more undervalued exchange rates than democracies and military regimes because the former regimes provide their leaders with greater tenure security than the latter regimes. These hypotheses are evaluated using a time-series–cross-sectional data set of a large sample of developing countries from 1973 to 2006. The statistical results accord with these predictions. These findings indicate that the ways in which democracies engage with the global economy may be less unique than many believe.

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A Replication of “Corruption and Elections: An Empirical Study for a Cross-section of Countries” (Economics and Politics, 2009)

Rajeev Goel & Ummad Mazhar
Public Finance Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using cross-national panel data, Krause and Méndez recently studied whether voters retract support from political candidates who they think are corrupt. Their main finding is that corruption in public office is effectively punished by voters. Given the well-known issues with adequately measuring corruption, this note examines the sensitivity of extant findings to an alternate corruption measure. We fail to find a statistically robust effect of corruption on electoral outcomes.

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Rising Food Prices, Food Price Volatility, and Social Unrest

Marc Bellemare
American Journal of Agricultural Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Can food prices cause social unrest? Throughout history, riots have frequently broken out, ostensibly as a consequence of high food prices. Using monthly data at the international level, this article studies the impact of food prices – food price levels as well as food price volatility – on social unrest. Because food prices and social unrest are jointly determined, data on natural disasters are used to identify the causal relationship flowing from food price levels to social unrest. Results indicate that for the period 1990–2011, food price increases have led to increases in social unrest, whereas food price volatility has not been associated with increases in social unrest. These results are robust to alternative definitions of social unrest, to using real or nominal prices, to using commodity-specific price indices instead of aggregated price indices, to alternative definitions of the instrumental variable, to alternative definitions of volatility, and to controlling for non-food-related social unrest.

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Terrorism and the Labor Force: Evidence of an Effect on Female Labor Force Participation and the Labor Gender Gap

Claude Berrebi & Jordan Ostwald
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent studies have identified correlational associations linking terrorism and females’ standing in the labor market. Theories have been proposed to explain these associations. Some concluded that women’s participation in the labor force could be the driver that moves terrorism; others proposed that terrorism motivates the deviations in the labor force. No study has adequately explored causality and the direction of this association. Using a panel data set of 165 countries and terrorism data from 1980 to 2007, we find that terrorist attacks decrease female labor force participation and increase the gender gap between male and female labor force participation. By exploiting variation across countries and time, we are able to identify and quantify these effects; we are also able to address endogeneity concerns by using two novel instrumental variable approaches. The results are statistically significant and robust across a multitude of model specifications.

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Anti-Americanism, Authoritarian Politics, and Attitudes about Women's Representation: Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Jordan

Sarah Sunn Bush & Amaney Jamal
International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
A pillar of American foreign policy in the Middle East since September 11, 2001, has been promoting democracy, with particular emphasis on support for women's representation. Given high levels of anti-Americanism in the region, does foreign pressure for policy reform undermine this project? Evidence from a nationally representative survey experiment in Jordan shows that an American endorsement of women in politics has no average effect on popular support for women's representation. Instead, domestic patterns of support and opposition to autocrats determine citizens' receptivity to policy endorsements, with policy endorsements of foreign-supported reforms polarizing public opinion. Both foreign and domestic endorsements of women in politics depress support among Jordanians who oppose their regime significantly more than among Jordanians who support it.

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Juking the Stats? Authoritarian Information Problems in China

Jeremy Wallace
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Economic statistics inform citizens of general conditions, while central leaders use them to evaluate local officials. Are economic data systematically manipulated? After establishing discrepancies in economic data series cross-nationally, this article examines Chinese sub-national growth data. It leverages variation in the likelihood of manipulation over two dimensions, arguing that politically sensitive data are more likely to be manipulated at politically sensitive times. Gross domestic product (GDP) releases generate headlines, while highly correlated electricity production and consumption data are relatively unnoticed. In Chinese provinces, the difference between GDP and electricity growth increases in years with leadership turnover, which is consistent with juking the stats for political reasons. The analysis points to the political role of information and the limits of non-electoral accountability mechanisms in authoritarian regimes.

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“Good Types” in Authoritarian Elections: The Selectoral Connection in Chinese Local Congresses

Melanie Manion
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
A new electoral design for subnational congress elections in China allows me to investigate the informational utility of authoritarian elections. Authoritarian regimes are notoriously bad at solving the moral hazard problem in the voter’s agency relationship with politicians. Borrowing from the literature on political selection, I theorize that authoritarian elections can nonetheless solve the adverse selection problem: Chinese voters can use their electoral power to select “good types,” with personal qualities that signal they will reliably represent local interests. I analyze original data from a survey of 4,071 Chinese local congressmen and women, including voter nominees and communist party nominees. I find that voters do in fact overcome coordination difficulties to nominate and elect “good types.” In contacting politicians about local problems after the elections, however, voters hedge their bets by contacting regime insiders too. At these very local levels, congressional representation by means of political selection co-exists with communist party nominating and veto power in the electoral process.

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Ingroup Bias in Official Behavior: A National Field Experiment in China

Greg Distelhorst & Yue Hou
Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Spring 2014, Pages 203-230

Abstract:
Do ingroup biases distort the behavior of public officials? Recent studies detect large ethnic biases in elite political behavior, but their case selection leaves open the possibility that bias obtains under relatively narrow historical and institutional conditions. We clarify these scope conditions by studying ingroup bias in the radically different political, historical, and ethnic environment of contemporary China. In a national field experiment, local officials were 33% less likely to provide assistance to citizens with ethnic Muslim names than to ethnically-unmarked peers. We find evidence consistent with the ingroup bias interpretation of this finding and detect little role for strategic incentives mediating this effect. This result demonstrates that neither legacies of institutionalized racism nor electoral politics are necessary to produce large ingroup biases in official behavior. It also suggests that ethnically motivated distortions to governance are more prevalent than previously documented.

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Civil Compliance and “Political Luddism”: Explaining Variance in Social Unrest During Crisis in Ireland and Greece

Takis Pappas & Eoin O’Malley
American Behavioral Scientist, forthcoming

Abstract:
When badly hit by the same global financial and economic crisis in the early 2000s, the Irish and the Greek societies reacted in quite different ways. Whereas Ireland remained largely acquiescent and displayed a high degree of civil compliance, Greeks took massively to the streets using violence and attacking specifically the state and the state personnel, a phenomenon we refer to as “political Luddism.” It is shown that the two countries are quite similar in terms of their economic condition, cultural background, social composition, ideological profiling, and party system dynamics, among other factors. What, then, explains the two countries’ dissimilar reactions to crisis? Through a detailed analysis of the cases, the article offers evidence that the most compelling explanation relates to the varying ability of the Greek and Irish states to continue providing basic public goods and other state-related services to their respective societies.

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Reconsidering Regime Type and Growth: Lies, Dictatorships, and Statistics

Christopher Magee & John Doces
International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Some recent papers have concluded that authoritarian regimes have faster economic growth than democracies. These supposed growth benefits of autocracies are estimated using data sets in which growth rates rely heavily on data reported by each government. Governments have incentives to exaggerate their economic growth figures, however, and authoritarian regimes may have fewer limitations than democracies on their ability to do so. This paper argues that growth data submitted to international agencies are overstated by authoritarian regimes compared to democracies. If true, it calls into question the estimated relationship between government type and economic growth found in the literature. To measure the degree to which each government's official growth statistics are overstated, the economic growth rates reported in the World Bank's World Development Indicators are compared to a new measure of economic growth based on satellite imaging of nighttime lights. This comparison reveals whether or not dictators exaggerate their true growth rates and by how much. Annual GDP growth rates are estimated to be overstated by 0.5–1.5 percentage points in the statistics that dictatorships report to the World Bank.

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Government Control of the Media

Scott Gehlbach & Konstantin Sonin
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We present a formal model of government control of the media to illuminate variation in media freedom across countries and over time. Media bias is greater and state ownership of the media more likely when the government has a particular interest in mobilizing citizens to take actions that further some political objective but are not necessarily in citizens’ individual best interest; however, the distinction between state and private media is smaller. Large advertising markets reduce media bias in both state and private media but increase the incentive for the government to nationalize private media. Media bias in state and private media markets diverge as governments become more democratic, whereas media bias in democracies and autocracies converge as positive externalities from mobilization increase.

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Oil Curse and Institutional Changes: Which Institutions Are Most Vulnerable to the Curse and Under What Circumstances?

Luisa Blanco, Jeffrey Nugent & Kelsey O'Connor
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article extends recent analyses linking the alleged oil curse to a broader set of institutions (13 in number) than democracy, the institution that has received the most attention in the literature. It does so using panel data for over 100 countries between 1975 and 2005, wherever possible, and compares the effects obtained with several different measures of both the importance of oil and experience in the industry and of the interactions between them. Most importantly, instead of simply examining the effect of oil and experience in the industry on the contemporary levels of these various institutions, this study focuses on the effects on changes in the various institutional indicators from one decade to another. While not surprisingly our results reveal considerable sensitivity in the effects of oil resources, oil experience, and interactions across different specifications, they also suggest a number of important findings. The most robust of these are the significant negative effects of oil rents on bureaucratic quality and on socioeconomic conditions. We also find that the number of years since peak oil discovery has a positive effect on government stability, but a negative one on bureaucratic quality. When interactions are allowed for, still more negative effects on institutions are identified, at least partially re-enforcing several of the institutional links in the oil curse hypothesis.

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Can Employment Reduce Lawlessness and Rebellion? A Field Experiment with High-Risk Youth in a Fragile State

Christopher Blattman & Jeannie Annan
Columbia University Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
We evaluate an agricultural training and inputs program for high-risk Liberian men, mainly ex-fighters engaged in illegal resource extraction with opportunities for mercenary work. We show that economic incentives, including increased farm productivity, raised the opportunity cost of illicit work. After 14 months, treated men shifted hours of illicit resource extraction to agriculture by 20%. When a war erupted nearby, they were also less likely to engage in mercenary recruitment. Finally, exogenous variation in expected future capital transfers appears to be a further deterrent to mercenary work. We see no evidence the program affected occupational choice through peers or preferences.

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Pocketbook vs. Sociotropic Corruption Voting

Marko Klašnja, Joshua Tucker & Kevin Deegan-Krause
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The article examines the relationship between corruption and voting behavior by defining two distinct channels: pocketbook corruption voting, i.e. how personal experiences with corruption affect voting behavior; and sociotropic corruption voting, i.e. how perceptions of corruption in society do so. Individual and aggregate data from Slovakia fail to support hypotheses that corruption is an undifferentiated valence issue, that it depends on the presence of a viable anti-corruption party, or that voters tolerate (or even prefer) corruption, and support the hypothesis that the importance of each channel depends on the salience of each source of corruption and that pocketbook corruption voting prevails unless a credible anti-corruption party shifts media coverage of corruption and activates sociotropic corruption voting. Previous studies may have underestimated the prevalence of corruption voting by not accounting for both channels.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pathological

The Growing Gap in Life Expectancy: Using the Future Elderly Model to Estimate Implications for Social Security and Medicare

Dana Goldman & Peter Orszag
American Economic Review, May 2014, Pages 230-233

Abstract:
Mortality gradients by education and income have been rising in the United States and elsewhere. However, their impact on Social Security progressivity has received relatively little attention, and the impact on Medicare has received effectively none. This paper uses the Future Elderly Model to estimate the effects of increased mortality gaps on the progressivity of Social Security and Medicare for those born between 1928 and 1990. It finds significant reductions in progressivity of both programs if current mortality trends persist and noticeable effects on total program costs. The effects are large enough to warrant more attention from both policy-makers and researchers.

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Childhood Social Disadvantage, Cardiometabolic Risk, and Chronic Disease in Adulthood

Amy Non et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Adverse social environments in early life are hypothesized to become biologically embedded during the first few years of life, with potentially far-reaching implications for health across the life course. Using prospective data from a subset of a US birth cohort, the Collaborative Perinatal Project, started in 1959–1966 (n = 566), we examined associations of social disadvantage assessed in childhood with cardiometabolic function and chronic disease status more than 40 years later (in 2005–2007). Social disadvantage was measured with an index that combined information on adverse socioeconomic and family stability factors experienced between birth and age 7 years. Cardiometabolic risk (CMR) was assessed by combining information from 8 CMR biomarkers; an index of chronic disease status was derived by assessing 8 chronic diseases. Poisson models were used to investigate associations between social disadvantage and CMR or chronic disease scores while adjusting for childhood covariates and potential pathway variables. A high level of social disadvantage was significantly associated with both higher CMR (incident rate ratio = 1.69, 95% confidence interval: 1.19, 2.39) and with a higher number of chronic diseases (incident rate ratio = 1.39, 95% confidence interval: 1.00, 1.92) in minimally adjusted models. Associations with CMR persisted even after accounting for childhood and adult covariates.

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Early-Life Socioeconomic Status and Mortality at Three Life Course Stages: An Increasing Within-Cohort Inequality

Tetyana Pudrovska
Journal of Health and Social Behavior, June 2014, Pages 181-195

Abstract:
Using the 1957–2011 data from 10,317 participants in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, I examine how socioeconomic status (SES) at age 18 affects all-cause mortality between ages 18 and 72. Integrating fundamental cause theory, gender relations theory, and a life course perspective, I evaluate the cumulative advantage (CA) and age-as-leveler processes as well as gender differences in these processes. Findings indicate that higher early-life SES at age 18 is related to lower mortality over the life course, and the effect of early-life SES is not explained by socioeconomic achievement and health behaviors in adulthood. Consistent with the CA model, early-life SES generates increasing within-cohort inequality with age, and this CA process is stronger for women than men. Results also show that unequal selection by SES obscures the CA process and creates an illusion of the age-as-leveler process. This study calls for a lifelong gendered approach to socioeconomic health disparities.

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The Effects of the Great Recession on Teenagers' Risky Health Behaviors and Time Use

Sabrina Wulff Pabilonia
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
This paper uses individual-level data from both the 2003-2011 American Time Use Survey and Youth Risk Behavior Survey and state-level unemployment rates to examine the effects of the Great Recession on teenagers' activities. I present results by gender and gender by race/ethnicity. Over the period, I find changes in sexual activity for males associated with changes in time spent with parents; but results vary significantly by race. In addition, Hispanic males gained weight during the recession, due perhaps to a decrease in time spent playing sports. Hispanic females, on the other hand, made greater educational investments while spending less time working. All females significantly decreased TV viewing during the Great Recession. However, there were signs that female teenagers were stressed as they slept less and were more likely to smoke regularly.

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Hurricane Katrina: Behavioral Health and Health Insurance in Non-Impacted Vulnerable Counties

Michael Pesko
Cornell Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
I find causal evidence that Hurricane Katrina increased stress, smoking, binge drinking, and health insurance coverage in the non-impacted storm surge region. In this region, Hurricane Katrina increased health insurance coverage by 440,000 young adults, the number of smokers by 930,000, and the number of binge drinkers by 510,000. Results are robust to varying the location and time of Hurricane Katrina, varying the pre-Hurricane Katrina time window, and excluding counties within 400 miles of New Orleans. Findings suggest that disasters are integral to the formation of risk perceptions and affect the demand for behavioral health and health insurance.

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Cumulative Childhood Adversity, Educational Attainment, and Active Life Expectancy Among U.S. Adults

Jennifer Karas Montez & Mark Hayward
Demography, April 2014, Pages 413-435

Abstract:
Studies of the early-life origins of adult physical functioning and mortality have found that childhood health and socioeconomic context are important predictors, often irrespective of adult experiences. However, these studies have generally assessed functioning and mortality as distinct processes and used cross-sectional prevalence estimates that neglect the interplay of disability incidence, recovery, and mortality. Here, we examine whether early-life disadvantages both shorten lives and increase the number and fraction of years lived with functional impairment. We also examine the degree to which educational attainment mediates and moderates the health consequences of early-life disadvantages. Using the 1998–2008 Health and Retirement Study, we examine these questions for non-Hispanic whites and blacks aged 50–100 years using multistate life tables. Within levels of educational attainment, adults from disadvantaged childhoods lived fewer total and active years, and spent a greater portion of life impaired compared with adults from advantaged childhoods. Higher levels of education did not ameliorate the health consequences of disadvantaged childhoods. However, because education had a larger impact on health than did childhood socioeconomic context, adults from disadvantaged childhoods who achieved high education levels often had total and active life expectancies that were similar to or better than those of adults from advantaged childhoods who achieved low education levels.

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Can Education Rescue Genetic Liability for Cognitive Decline?

Justin Cook & Jason Fletcher
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although there is a vast literature linking education and later health outcomes, the mechanisms underlying these associations are relatively unknown. In the spirit of some medical literature that leverages developmental abnormalities to understand mechanisms of normative functioning, we explore the ability of higher educational attainments to “rescue” biological/genetic liabilities in brain function through inheritance of a variant of the APOE gene shown to lead to cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease in old age. Deploying a between-sibling design that allows quasi-experimental variation in genotype and educational attainment within a standard gene-environment interaction framework, we show evidence that the genetic effects of the “risky” APOE variant on old-age cognitive decline are absent in individuals who complete college (vs. high school graduates). Auxiliary analyses suggest that the likely mechanisms of education are most consistent through changing brain processes (i.e. “how we think”) and potentially building cognitive reserves, rather than alleviating old age cognitive decline through the channels of higher socioeconomic status and resources over the life course.

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Individual Joblessness, Contextual Unemployment, and Mortality Risk

José Tapia Granados et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Longitudinal studies at the level of individuals find that employees who lose their jobs are at increased risk of death. However, analyses of aggregate data find that as unemployment rates increase during recessions, population mortality actually declines. We addressed this paradox by using data from the US Department of Labor and annual survey data (1979–1997) from a nationally representative longitudinal study of individuals — the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Using proportional hazards (Cox) regression, we analyzed how the hazard of death depended on 1) individual joblessness and 2) state unemployment rates, as indicators of contextual economic conditions. We found that 1) compared with the employed, for the unemployed the hazard of death was increased by an amount equivalent to 10 extra years of age, and 2) each percentage-point increase in the state unemployment rate reduced the mortality hazard in all individuals by an amount equivalent to a reduction of 1 year of age. Our results provide evidence that 1) joblessness strongly and significantly raises the risk of death among those suffering it, and 2) periods of higher unemployment rates, that is, recessions, are associated with a moderate but significant reduction in the risk of death among the entire population.

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What the future held: Childhood psychosocial adversity is associated with health deterioration through adulthood in a cohort of British women

Daniel Nettle
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Childhood psychosocial adversity is associated with accelerated onset of reproductive effort in women. Adaptive explanations for this phenomenon are built on the assumption that greater childhood psychosocial adversity is statistically associated with having a shorter period of healthy adult life during which reproduction will be possible. However, this critical assumption is never actually tested using individual-level longitudinal data. In this study, I revisit a large, longitudinally-studied cohort of British women. In an earlier paper, we showed that a simple index of psychosocial adversity in the first seven years of life predicted age at first pregnancy in a dose-dependent manner. Here, I show that the same index of adversity also predicts accelerated deterioration of health across the potentially reproductive period, and increased levels of the inflammatory biomarker c-reactive protein at age 44-46. These associations are robust to controlling for adult socioeconomic position, and do not appear to be solely a consequence of accelerated reproductive schedule. I argue that childhood psychosocial adversity may cause latent somatic damage that will, in adulthood, accelerate age-related physical decline. This provides a compelling adaptive rationale for the accelerated reproductive schedules observed in women who experience childhood psychosocial adversity.

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The Welfare Value of FDA's Mercury-in-Fish Advisory: Dynamic Reanalysis

Christoph Rheinberger & James Hammitt
Journal of Health Economics, September 2014, Pages 113–122

Abstract:
Assessing the welfare impact of consumer health advisories is a thorny task. Recently, Shimshack and Ward (2010) studied how U.S. households responded to FDA's 2001 mercury-in-fish advisory. They found that the average at-risk household reduced fish consumption by 21%, resulting in a 17%-reduction in mercury exposure at the cost of a 21%-reduction in cardioprotective omega-3 fatty acids. Based on a static assessment of the health costs and benefits Shimshack and Ward concluded that the advisory policy resulted in an overall consumer welfare loss. In this note, we propose a dynamic assessment that links the long-term cardiovascular health effects of the advisory to life-cycle consumption. We find that under reasonable assumptions the welfare loss might be much larger than suggested. Our analysis highlights the importance of accounting for dynamic effects when evaluating persistent changes in exposure to environmental health risks.

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Voting for stem cells: How local conditions tempered moral opposition to Proposition 71

Nick Dragojlovic
Science and Public Policy, June 2014, Pages 359-369

Abstract:
A major theme in the debate on Proposition 71, the 2004 California ballot initiative in which voters approved US$3 billion in state funding for stem cell research, was the tension between values-based opposition to the use of embryos in medical research and a focus on the potential health benefits of stem cell therapies. Using a dataset that combines individual-level voting intention data from three Field Poll pre-election surveys and county-level data, the present study finds that moral opposition to Proposition 71 decreased as the local prevalence of chronic diseases and the proportion of elderly residents in respondents’ counties increased. The paper argues that this finding reflects an increase in the salience of the possible benefits of stem cell research that was driven by local conditions, and concludes with a discussion of the implications of this dynamic for the democratic governance of regenerative medicine in the context of an aging society.

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Effects of early-life exposure to allergens and bacteria on recurrent wheeze and atopy in urban children

Susan Lynch et al.
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, forthcoming

Objective: We sought to examine environmental factors associated with recurrent wheezing in inner-city environments.

Methods: The Urban Environment and Childhood Asthma study examined a birth cohort at high risk for asthma (n = 560) in Baltimore, Boston, New York, and St Louis. Environmental assessments included allergen exposure and, in a nested case-control study of 104 children, the bacterial content of house dust collected in the first year of life. Associations were determined among environmental factors, aeroallergen sensitization, and recurrent wheezing at age 3 years.

Results: Cumulative allergen exposure over the first 3 years was associated with allergic sensitization, and sensitization at age 3 years was related to recurrent wheeze. In contrast, first-year exposure to cockroach, mouse, and cat allergens was negatively associated with recurrent wheeze (odds ratio, 0.60, 0.65, and 0.75, respectively; P ≤ .01). Differences in house dust bacterial content in the first year, especially reduced exposure to specific Firmicutes and Bacteriodetes, was associated with atopy and atopic wheeze. Exposure to high levels of both allergens and this subset of bacteria in the first year of life was most common among children without atopy or wheeze.

Conclusions: In inner-city environments children with the highest exposure to specific allergens and bacteria during their first year were least likely to have recurrent wheeze and allergic sensitization. These findings suggest that concomitant exposure to high levels of certain allergens and bacteria in early life might be beneficial and suggest new preventive strategies for wheezing and allergic diseases.

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Public Bicycle Share Programs and Head Injuries

Janessa Graves et al.
American Journal of Public Health, August 2014, Pages e106-e111

Objectives: We evaluated the effect of North American public bicycle share programs (PBSPs), which typically do not offer helmets with rentals, on the occurrence of bicycle-related head injuries.

Methods: We analyzed trauma center data for bicycle-related injuries from 5 cities with PBSPs and 5 comparison cities. We used logistic regression models to compare the odds that admission for a bicycle-related injury would involve a head injury 24 months before PBSP implementation and 12 months afterward.

Results: In PBSP cities, the proportion of head injuries among bicycle-related injuries increased from 42.3% before PBSP implementation to 50.1% after (P < .01). This proportion in comparison cities remained similar before (38.2%) and after (35.9%) implementation (P = .23). Odds ratios for head injury were 1.30 (95% confidence interval = 1.13, 1.67) in PBSP cities and 0.94 (95% confidence interval = 0.79, 1.11) in control cities (adjusted for age and city) when we compared the period after implementation to the period before.

Conclusions: Results suggest that steps should be taken to make helmets available with PBSPs. Helmet availability should be incorporated into PBSP planning and funding, not considered an afterthought following implementation.

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Does More Education Lead to Better Health Habits? Evidence from the School Reforms in Australia

Jinhu Li & Nattavudh Powdthavee
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current study provides new empirical evidence on the causal effect of education on health-related behaviors by exploiting historical changes in the compulsory schooling laws in Australia. Since World War II, Australian states increased the minimum school leaving age from 14 to 15 in different years. Using differences in the laws regarding minimum school leaving age across different cohorts and across different states as a source of exogenous variation in education, we show that more education improves people’s diets and their tendency to engage in more regular exercise and drinking moderately, but not necessarily their tendency to avoid smoking and to engage in more preventive health checks. The improvements in health behaviors are also reflected in the estimated positive effect of education on some health outcomes. Our results are robust to alternative measures of education and different estimation methods.

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The impact of changes in county public health expenditures on general health in the population

Timothy Brown, Maria Martinez-Gutierrez & Bahar Navab
Health Economics, Policy and Law, July 2014, Pages 251-269

Abstract:
We estimate the effect of changes in the per capita expenditures of county departments of public health on county-level general health status. Using panel data on 40 counties in California (2001–2009), dynamic panel estimation techniques are combined with the Lewbel instrumental variable technique to estimate an aggregate demand for health function that measures the causal cumulative impact that per capita public health expenditures have on county-level general health status. We find that a $10 long-term increase in per capita public health expenditures would increase the percentage of the population reporting good, very good or excellent health by 0.065 percentage points. Each year expenditures were increased would result in ∼24,000 individuals moving from the ‘poor or fair health’ category to the ‘good, very good or excellent health’ category across these 40 counties. In terms of the overall impact of county public health departments on general health status, at current funding levels, each annual expenditure cycle results in over 207,000 individuals being in the ‘good, very good or excellent’ categories of health status rather than the ‘poor or fair’ categories.

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The Impact of Family Planning Funding Cuts on Preventive Care

Yao Lu & David Jason Gershkoff Slusky 
Princeton Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
Many women rely on family planning and women’s health organizations as their only recent source of care, including preventive care. Recently, several states have cut public funding for women’s health organizations that are associated with abortion services. This paper is the first to quantify the impact of these funding cuts and resulting clinic closures on the incidence of preventive care, focusing on Texas and Wisconsin during the 2007-2012 period. Using quarterly data on health center street addresses from a national network of women’s health centers and confidential respondent ZIP codes from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), we calculate changes in distance to the nearest clinic over time. From a within-ZIP-code analysis, we conclude that an increase of 100 miles to the nearest clinic would result in a decrease in the annual utilization rate of a clinical breast exam by 6 percentage points (pp), a mammogram by 2 pp, and a Pap test by 9 pp. These estimates are generally larger for low-education women: 14 pp, 6 pp, and 8 pp respectively. Future analysis will incorporate 2014 survey data to cover a more recent round of cuts.

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Medical Dramas and Viewer Perception of Health: Testing Cultivation Effects

Jae Eun Chung
Human Communication Research, July 2014, Pages 333–349

Abstract:
By using a national representative sample (N = 11,555), the current study tested cultivation theory and aimed at understanding the relationship between medical drama watching and viewer perception and beliefs related to health. Findings suggest that heavy viewers of medical dramas tend to underestimate the gravity of chronic illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disease and undermine the importance of tackling these issues. Heavier viewers of medical dramas, compared to lighter viewers, also tend to take a more fatalistic perspective about cancer. Theoretical implications for cultivation theory and practical implications for health policy makers and drama producers are discussed.

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Impact of Texting Laws on Motor Vehicular Fatalities in the United States

Alva Ferdinand et al.
American Journal of Public Health, August 2014, Pages 1370-1377

Abstract:
Using a panel study design, we examined the effects of different types of texting bans on motor vehicular fatalities. We used the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and a difference-in-differences approach to examine the incidence of fatal crashes in 2000 through 2010 in 48 US states with and without texting bans. Age cohorts were constructed to examine the impact of these bans on age-specific traffic fatalities. Primarily enforced laws banning all drivers from texting were significantly associated with a 3% reduction in traffic fatalities in all age groups, and those banning only young drivers from texting had the greatest impact on reducing deaths among those aged 15 to 21 years. Secondarily enforced restrictions were not associated with traffic fatality reductions in any of our analyses.

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Association Between Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Accelerometer-Derived Physical Activity and Sedentary Time in the General Population

Jacquelyn Kulinski et al.
Mayo Clinic Proceedings, forthcoming

Objective: To determine the association between cardiorespiratory fitness and sedentary behavior, independent of exercise activity.

Patients and Methods: We included 2223 participants (aged 12-49 years; 1053 females [47%]) without known heart disease who had both cardiovascular fitness testing and at least 1 day of accelerometer data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2004. From accelerometer data, we quantified bouts of exercise as mean minutes per day for each participant. Sedentary time was defined as less than 100 counts per minute in mean minutes per day. Cardiorespiratory fitness was derived from a submaximal exercise treadmill test. Multivariable-adjusted linear regression analyses were performed with fitness as the dependent variable. Models were stratified by sex, adjusted for age, body mass index, and wear time, and included sedentary and exercise time.

Results: An additional hour of daily exercise activity time was associated with a 0.88 (0.37-1.39; P<.001) metabolic equivalent of task (MET) higher fitness for men and a 1.37 (0.43-2.31; P=.004) MET higher fitness for women. An additional hour of sedentary time was associated with a −0.12 (−0.02 to −0.22; P=.03) and a −0.24 (−0.10 to −0.38; P<.001) MET difference in fitness for men and women, respectively.

Conclusion: After adjustment for exercise activity, sedentary behavior appears to have an inverse association with fitness. These findings suggest that the risk related to sedentary behavior might be mediated, in part, through lower fitness levels.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Brought home

Does Economic Globalization Influence the US Policy Mood?: A Study of US Public Sentiment, 1956–2011

Erica Owen & Dennis Quinn
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does increasing economic globalization influence aggregate policy mood toward the role and size of government in the United States? Drawing on insights from international political economy scholarship, this article suggests that the impact of trade on aggregate preferences will depend on citizens’ exposure to trade. It hypothesizes that employees of import-competing, export-oriented and multinational firms will adopt a ‘compensatory’ model in which higher levels of imports (exports) lead to a liberal (conservative) shift in policy preferences for more (less) government. It distinguishes between intrafirm and non-intrafirm trade flows. It measures policy mood using Stimson's ‘Mood’, and estimates Error Correction and Instrumental Variable models. Trade flows strongly influence Mood in a manner consistent with hypotheses drawn from international political economy and heterogeneous firms (or ‘new new’) trade theory.

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Policymakers’ Horizon and Trade Reforms: The Protectionist Effect of Elections

Paola Conconi, Giovanni Facchini & Maurizio Zanardi
Journal of International Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper shows that electoral incentives deter politicians from supporting trade liberalization. We focus on all major trade liberalization bills introduced since the early 1970s in the U.S. Congress, in which House and Senate members serve respectively two- and six-year terms and one third of senators face elections every two years. We show that senators are more likely to support trade liberalization than House representatives. However, this result does not hold for the last generation of senators, who face elections at the same time as House members, suggesting that inter-cameral differences are driven by term length. Considering senators alone, we find that the last generation is less likely to support trade liberalization than the previous two. This result is pervasive and holds both when comparing the behavior of different senators voting on the same bill and that of individual senators voting on different bills. The protectionist effect of election proximity disappears for senators who are retiring or hold safe seats.

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Does Product Market Competition Foster Corporate Social Responsibility? Evidence From Trade Liberalization

Caroline Flammer
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines whether product market competition affects corporate social responsibility (CSR). To obtain exogenous variation in product market competition, I exploit a quasi-natural experiment provided by large import tariff reductions that occurred between 1992 and 2005 in the U.S. manufacturing sector. Using a difference-in-differences methodology, I find that domestic companies respond to tariff reductions by increasing their engagement in CSR. This finding supports the view of ʻCSR as a competitive strategyʼ that allows companies to differentiate themselves from their foreign rivals. Overall, my results highlight that trade liberalization is an important factor that shapes CSR practices.

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Trading Effects of the FIFA World Cup

Veysel Avsar & Umut Unal
Kyklos, August 2014, Pages 315–329

Abstract:
This study analyzes the trading effects of FIFA World Cup in two dimensions. First, we show that participating in the World Cup significantly increases exports from the participant countries to the host countries, relative to a control group of non-participants. Second, we demonstrate that trade is reasonably higher for host-participant pairs compared to other country pairs. We also provide dynamic estimates for both cases and offer plausible arguments and important channels for our findings.

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Democratization and Foreign Direct Investment Liberalization, 1970–2000

Sonal Pandya
International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite the central role of foreign direct investment (FDI) in global economic integration, we lack explanations for why countries restrict FDI inflows. This article analyzes the sources of FDI liberalization using a comprehensive new data set of national foreign ownership restrictions spanning over 90 countries for the period 1970–2000. Analyses of this data show that democratization contributes to greater FDI openness. Democratization elevates the political influence of labor, the primary beneficiary of unrestricted FDI inflows. Democracies restrict six percent fewer of their manufacturing and service industries as compared to nondemocracies. This finding is robust to several controls for alternate explanations including economic crises, coercion, and diffusion; alternate measures of both democracy and foreign ownership restrictions; and a variety of model specifications. This article elucidates the political economy foundations of the contemporary world economy.

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The Coevolution of Trade Agreement Networks and Democracy

Mark Manger & Mark Pickup
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
The proliferation of preferential trade agreements (PTAs) and the wave of democratization are among the most significant developments in international relations during the past three decades. The correlation between these is well noted. The causal link between these phenomena, however, remains unclear. On one hand, democracies have been found to be more likely to join PTAs. On the other hand, trade agreements should foster democratization because they undermine the ability of governments to distribute rents to maintain an autocratic regime. If PTAs and democracy coevolve through a selection and a contagion effect, then conventional statistical techniques can produce wholly misleading results. This article presents a new approach based on recent advancements in longitudinal network analysis. Our findings confirm that historically, democratization indeed made states more likely to sign PTAs, but that trade agreements also encourage the democratization of a country, in particular if the PTA partners are themselves democracies.

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Effects of China and India on Manufactured Exports of the G7 Economies

Khuong Vu
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article analyzes the effects of China and India on manufactured exports of the G7 economies. The following three findings stand out. First, the rivalry effect of China is robustly significant in all investigated markets, including the world and the G7 countries collectively and individually, while the rivalry effect of India is significant in the French, Italian, Japanese, and world markets but insignificant in other markets. Second, the rivalry effect of China in the world market is substantial in 13 of 22 manufacturing industries, and most pronounced for textiles, telecom equipment, fabricated metal products, computing machinery, and furniture, while this effect of India is significant only in one industry (basic metals). Third, Germany is the only G7 economy that appears not to be affected by China's rivalry effect. Germany has also been more successful than other G7 economies in penetrating the Chinese market.

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From Beijing to Bentonville: Do Multinational Retailers Link Markets?

Keith Head, Ran Jing & Deborah Swenson
Journal of Development Economics, September 2014, Pages 79–92

Abstract:
Four of the world’s five largest retailers — Walmart, Carrefour, Tesco, and Metro — entered China after 1995, following new policies that allowed foreign retailers to participate more fully in the Chinese retail market. As each retailer added both stores and global procurement centers, they created unique footprints that caused Chinese cities to be differentially exposed to the activities of these global retailers. We exploit these differences to identify the effect of multinational retailer presence on city-country exports of retail goods. We find robust evidence that increased exposure to multinational retailers was followed by rising exports. Since the export expansions are not limited to the connections formed by the retailers’ bilateral networks, our evidence suggests that the growing presence of global retailers operated, at least in part, by enhancing the general export capabilities of the affected cities.

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Trade and Cities

Cem Karayalcin & Hakan Yilmazkuday
World Bank Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many developing countries display remarkably high degrees of urban concentration that are incommensurate with their levels of urbanization. The cost of excessively high levels of urban concentration can be very high in terms of overpopulation, congestion, and productivity growth. One strand of the theoretical literature suggests that such high levels of concentration may be the result of restrictive trade policies that trigger forces of agglomeration. Another strand of the literature, however, points out that trade liberalization itself may exacerbate urban concentration by favoring the further growth of those large urban centers that have better access to international markets. The empirical basis for judging this question has been weak so far; in the existing literature, trade policies are poorly measured (or are not measured, as when trade volumes are used spuriously). Here, we use new disaggregated tariff measures to empirically test the hypothesis. We also employ a treatment-and-control analysis of pre- versus post-liberalization performance of the cities in liberalizing and non-liberalizing countries. We find evidence that (controlling for the largest cities that have ports and, thus, have better access to external markets) liberalizing trade leads to a reduction in urban concentration.

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Trust, Trustworthiness, and Information Sharing in Supply Chains Bridging China and the United States

Özalp Özer, Yanchong Zheng & Yufei Ren
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Whether and how trust and trustworthiness differ between a collectivist society, e.g., China, and an individualistic one, e.g., the United States, generates much ongoing scientific debate and bears significant practical values for managing cross-country transactions. We experimentally investigate how supply chain members' countries of origin — China versus the United States — affect trust, trustworthiness, and strategic information sharing behavior in a cross-country supply chain. We consider a two-tier supply chain in which the upstream supplier solicits demand forecast information from the retailer to plan production; but the retailer has an incentive to manipulate her forecast to ensure abundant supply. The levels of trust and trustworthiness in the supply chain and supplier's capability to determine the optimal production quantity affect the efficacy of forecast sharing and the resulting profits. We develop an experimental design to disentangle these three aspects and to allow for real-time interactions between geographically distant and culturally heterogeneous participants. We observe that, when there is no prospect for long-term interactions, our Chinese participants consistently exhibit lower spontaneous trust and trustworthiness than their U.S. counterparts do. We quantify the differences in trust and trustworthiness between the two countries, and the resulting impact on supply chain efficiency. We also show that Chinese individuals exhibit higher spontaneous trust toward U.S. partners than Chinese ones, primarily because they perceive that individuals from the United States are more trusting and trustworthy in general. This positive perception toward U.S. people is indeed consistent with the U.S. participants' behavior in forecast sharing. In addition, we quantify that a Chinese supply chain enjoys a larger efficiency gain from repeated interactions than a U.S. one does, as the prospect of building a long-term relationship successfully sustains trust and trustworthiness by Chinese partners. We advocate that companies can reinforce the positive perception of westerners held by the Chinese population and commit to long-term relationships to encourage trust by Chinese partners. Finally, we also observe that both populations exhibit similar pull-to-center bias when solving a decision problem under uncertainty (i.e., the newsvendor problem).

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Geographic Barriers to Commodity Price Integration: Evidence from US Cities and Swedish Towns, 1732–1860

Mario Crucini & Gregor Smith
NBER Working Paper, June 2014

Abstract:
We study the role of distance and time in statistically explaining price dispersion for 14 commodities from 1732 to 1860. The prices are reported for US cities and Swedish market towns, so we can compare international and intranational dispersion. Distance and commodity-specific fixed effects explain a large share — roughly 60% — of the variability in a panel of more than 230,000 relative prices over these 128 years. There was a negative "ocean effect": international dispersion was less than would be predicted using distance, narrowing the effective ocean by more than 3000 km. The absolute effect of distance declined over time beginning in the 18th century. This process of convergence was broad- based, across commodities and locations (both national and international). But there was a major interruption in convergence in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, at the time of the Napoleonic Wars, stopping the process by two or three decades on average.

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Fashions and Fads in Finance: The Political Foundations of Sovereign Wealth Fund Creation

Jeffrey Chwieroth
International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
What accounts for the spread of Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs)? Despite the increasing importance of SWFs in the global economy, we lack persuasive systematic answers to that question. Most analysts take for granted that economic imperatives drive the creation of SWFs; governments create them as effective solutions to the challenges generated by reserve accumulation and commodity-export specialization. In this article, I argue that the evidence fails to support this theory. Instead, the spread of SWFs best resembles the diffusion of a fashion or fad. SWFs became fashionable as an appropriate approach for reserve- and resource-rich countries seeking to manage policy uncertainty related to these economic characteristics. As other countries developed the same characteristics, they followed the lead of their peers and also created SWFs. I provide, with the use of a new data set, the first cross-national political-economy statistical analysis of SWF creation. The results suggest peer group emulation has, indeed, been crucial in shaping the decision of many countries to create SWFs — especially in fuel-exporting countries.

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Entrepreneurship Policy and Globalization

Pehr-Johan Norbäck, Lars Persson & Robin Douhan
Journal of Development Economics, September 2014, Pages 22–38

Abstract:
What explains the world-wide trend of pro-entrepreneurial policies? We study entrepreneurial policy in the form of entry costs in a lobbying model taking into account the conflict of interest between entrepreneurs and incumbents. It is shown that international market integration leads to more pro-entrepreneurial policies, since it is then (i) more difficult to protect domestic incumbents and (ii) pro-entrepreneurial policies make foreign entrepreneurs less aggressive. Using the World Bank Doing Business database, we find evidence that international openness is negatively correlated with the barriers to entry for new entrepreneurs, as predicted by the theory.

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The Price Impact of Joining a Currency Union: Evidence from Latvia

Alberto Cavallo, Brent Neiman & Roberto Rigobon
NBER Working Paper, June 2014

Abstract:
Does membership in a currency union matter for prices and for a country's real exchange rate? The answer to this question is critical for thinking about the implications of joining (or exiting) a common currency area. This paper is the first to use high-frequency good-level data to demonstrate that the answer is yes, at least for an important subset of consumption goods. We consider the case of Latvia, which recently dropped its pegged exchange rate and joined the euro zone. We analyze the prices of thousands of differentiated goods sold by Zara, the world's largest clothing retailer. Price dispersion between Latvia and euro zone countries collapsed swiftly following entry to the euro. The percentage of goods with nearly identical prices in Latvia and Germany increased from 6 percent to 89 percent. The median size of price differentials declined from 7 percent to zero.

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Is Globalization Reducing Absolute Poverty?

Andreas Bergh & Therese Nilsson
World Development, October 2014, Pages 42–61

Abstract:
Using data from 114 countries (1983–2007), we examine the relationship between globalization and World Bank absolute poverty estimates. We find a significant negative correlation between globalization and poverty, robust to several econometric specifications, including a fixed-effect panel — a “long run” first difference — and a pooled OLS-regression. Introducing two instruments for globalization we also show that results are robust to correction for potential endogeneity. We motivate and test the instruments in several ways. In particular information flows and more liberal trade restrictions robustly correlate with lower absolute poverty.

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Calculation of embodied energy in Sino-USA trade: 1997–2011

Ranran Yang et al.
Energy Policy, September 2014, Pages 110–119

Abstract:
In order to find efficient trade measures to reduce China׳s energy consumption and to provide theoretical support for the climate talks between China and America, we investigate the impact of Sino-USA trade on energy consumption from the perspective of embodied energy. An Environmental Input–Output Life Cycle Assessment (EIO-LCA) model was established to calculate the total energy consumption coefficient, the direct consumption coefficient and the complete consumption coefficient of the sectors of the national economies of China and America. After taking into consideration the data of every sector of the national economy in Sino-USA trade, energy embodied in the import and export trade between China and America was calculated to verify the real energy flows in Sino-USA trade. The research results suggest the following: China is the net exporter of embodied energy in Sino-USA trade, and coal, crude oil and natural gas are the major components. In 1997–2011, the net exports of China׳s embodied energy totaled 1523,082,200 t of standard coal, the amount of China׳s energy consumption increased by 895,527,900 t of standard coal, and America׳s energy consumption decreased by 11,871,200 t of standard coal as a result of Sino-USA trade. On this basis, corresponding policies and recommendations are proposed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Decision tree

When Multiple Creators Are Worse Than One: The Bias Toward Single Authors in the Evaluation of Art

Rosanna Smith & George Newman
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present studies investigate whether people perceive the same work of art to be of lower quality if they learn that it was a collaborative work (resulting from the efforts of multiple artists) versus the work of a single artist. Study 1 finds that indeed, as the number of authors increases, the perceived quality of an artwork decreases. Study 2 finds that this effect occurs because people tend to assess quality in terms of the effort put forth by each author, rather than the total amount of effort required to create the work. Study 3 further demonstrates that this bias toward single authors appears to be driven by people’s beliefs, rather than by any inherent differences between individual versus collaborative work. These results broaden our understanding of how perceptions of effort drive evaluative judgments, and are consistent with a more general notion that art is not evaluated as a static entity, but rather as an endpoint in a “creative performance.”

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Rank-Based Groupings and Decision Making: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis of the NFL Draft Rounds and Rookie Compensation

Quinn Keefer
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Rank-based groupings are uninformative signals of quality when the exact rank is known; therefore, they should be ignored in decision making. However, evidence is presented that rank-based groupings are used to determine the compensation of rookie players in the National Football League (NFL). The NFL draft, which largely determines rookie compensation, provides two signals of player quality, selection number, and round. However, the rounds are simply groupings based on selection number; thus, the rounds should not affect subsequent decisions. Sharp regression discontinuity design (RDD) estimates of discontinuities in rookie compensation at the round cutoffs are shown to be very large and robust. The first to second round discontinuity is −US$240,000 to −US$250,000, or 36% of the average salary of the first selection in the second round. The second to third round discontinuity is −US$60,000 to −US$70,000, or 17% of the average salary of the first selection in the third round. The results show rookie compensation, which comprises a large share of career earnings, is subject to heuristic thinking.

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The Bottom Dollar Effect: The Influence of Spending to Zero on Pain of Payment and Satisfaction

Robin Soster, Andrew Gershoff & William Bearden
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Spending that exhausts a budget is shown to decrease satisfaction with purchased products relative to spending when resources remain in the budget. Six studies, including those in which participants earn and spend real resources and evaluate real products, explore this bottom dollar effect. This research contributes to prior mental accounting research regarding how costs influence decision making (e.g., bundling, coupling, sunk costs) and to the satisfaction literature. Supporting the role of pain of payment in this process, we show that the bottom dollar effect increases as effort required to earn budgetary resources increases, decreases in the presence of windfall gains, and decreases when there is less time between budget exhaustion and replenishment. Mediation analyses further demonstrate the role of payment pain in the bottom dollar effect. Implications are discussed in the context of behavioral research, marketing promotions management, and public policy.

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Exploring Solomon’s Paradox: Self-Distancing Eliminates the Self-Other Asymmetry in Wise Reasoning About Close Relationships in Younger and Older Adults

Igor Grossmann & Ethan Kross
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Are people wiser when reflecting on other people’s problems compared with their own? If so, does self-distancing eliminate this asymmetry in wise reasoning? In three experiments (N = 693), participants displayed wiser reasoning (i.e., recognizing the limits of their knowledge and the importance of compromise and future change, considering other people’s perspectives) about another person’s problems compared with their own. Across Studies 2 and 3, instructing individuals to self-distance (rather than self-immerse) eliminated this asymmetry. Study 3 demonstrated that each of these effects was comparable for younger (20–40 years) and older (60–80 years) adults. Thus, contrary to the adage “with age comes wisdom,” our findings suggest that there are no age differences in wise reasoning about personal conflicts, and that the effects of self-distancing generalize across age cohorts. These findings highlight the role that self-distancing plays in allowing people to overcome a pervasive asymmetry that characterizes wise reasoning.

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Get Up, Stand Up: The Effects of a Non-Sedentary Workspace on Information Elaboration and Group Performance

Andrew Knight & Markus Baer
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Non-sedentary work configurations, which encourage standing rather than sitting in the course of work, are becoming increasingly prevalent in organizations. In this article, we build and test theory about how non-sedentary arrangements influence interpersonal processes in groups performing knowledge work — tasks that require groups to combine information to develop creative ideas and solve problems. We propose that a non-sedentary workspace increases group arousal, while at the same time decreasing group idea territoriality, both of which result in better information elaboration and, indirectly, better group performance. The results of an experimental study of 54 groups engaged in a creative task provide support for this dual pathway model and underscore the important role of the physical space in which a group works as a contextual input to group processes and outcomes.

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When Consequence Size Predicts Belief in Conspiracy Theories: The Moderating Role of Perspective Taking

Jan-Willem van Prooijen & Eric van Dijk
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, November 2014, Pages 63–73

Abstract:
People believe in conspiracy theories more strongly following consequential as opposed to inconsequential events. We expected this effect to be most pronounced among people who take the perspective of the group that is directly affected by the event. Five studies support our line of reasoning. Studies 1 and 4 reveal that participants endorsed stronger conspiracy beliefs when reading about an event with big consequences (i.e., an opposition leader of an African country died in a car crash) than when reading about an event with small consequences (the opposition leader survived the car crash), but only among participants who took the perspective of the citizens of the African country. Similar findings emerged using an individual difference measure of perspective-taking abilities, and with different operationalizations of conspiracy beliefs (Studies 2 and 3). Study 5 revealed that the effects of perspective-taking are mediated by participants’ own sense-making motivation. It is concluded that perspective taking promotes conspiracy beliefs when confronted with events that are harmful to another group.

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Learning Through Noticing: Theory and Experimental Evidence in Farming

Rema Hanna, Sendhil Mullainathan & Joshua Schwartzstein
Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We consider a model of technological learning under which people “learn through noticing”: they choose which input dimensions to attend to and subsequently learn about from available data. Using this model, we show how people with a great deal of experience may persistently be off the production frontier because they fail to notice important features of the data that they possess. We also develop predictions on when these learning failures are likely to occur, as well as on the types of interventions that can help people learn. We test the model's predictions in a field experiment with seaweed farmers. The survey data reveal that these farmers do not attend to pod size, a particular input dimension. Experimental trials suggest that farmers are particularly far from optimizing this dimension. Furthermore, consistent with the model, we find that simply having access to the experimental data does not induce learning. Instead, behavioral changes occur only after the farmers are presented with summaries that highlight previously unattended-to relationships in the data.

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Metacognition of multitasking: How well do we predict the costs of divided attention?

Jason Finley, Aaron Benjamin & Jason McCarley
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, June 2014, Pages 158-165

Abstract:
Risky multitasking, such as texting while driving, may occur because people misestimate the costs of divided attention. In two experiments, participants performed a computerized visual-manual tracking task in which they attempted to keep a mouse cursor within a small target that moved erratically around a circular track. They then separately performed an auditory n-back task. After practicing both tasks separately, participants received feedback on their single-task tracking performance and predicted their dual-task tracking performance before finally performing the 2 tasks simultaneously. Most participants correctly predicted reductions in tracking performance under dual-task conditions, with a majority overestimating the costs of dual-tasking. However, the between-subjects correlation between predicted and actual performance decrements was near 0. This combination of results suggests that people do anticipate costs of multitasking, but have little metacognitive insight on the extent to which they are personally vulnerable to the risks of divided attention, relative to other people.

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Seeing the Math in the Story: On How Abstraction Promotes Performance on Mathematical Word Problems

Dan Schley & Kentaro Fujita
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The negative social, health, financial, and other life outcomes associated with mathematical proficiency deficits highlight the need to understand the underlying cognitive operations entailed in solving math problems. We focus specifically on mathematical word problems and propose that abstraction can enhance performance by helping people see beyond the incidental details described in word problems and to recognize instead the underlying mathematical relationships. Three studies manipulated abstraction as a procedural mind-set (i.e., inducing abstraction in one task and observing its “carry-over” effect in subsequent unrelated tasks) and observed performance on both numeric and word problems. Participants in the abstract, relative to concrete, mind-set condition were more successful in translating word problems into their analogous numeric forms, resulting in improved performance. We discuss implications of these findings for understanding individual and group differences in mathematics proficiencies, which may stem from both chronic and situational factors, and for the development of novel interventions.

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How the Consideration of Positive Emotions Influences Persuasion: The Differential Effect of Pride Versus Joy

Noam Karsh & Tal Eyal
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although pride and joy are both positive emotions, we expected their consideration to affect persuasion differently because of the different perspectives (near vs. distant) and level of abstractness they involve, with pride being more abstract than joy. Therefore, we predicted that when the attitude object is construed at a high level rather than a low level, the consideration of pride is likely to promote more persuasion than the consideration of joy. In three studies, we found that the consideration of pride, when featured in the persuasion message (Studies 1a and 1b) or incidentally (Study 2), increased persuasion more than did the consideration of joy, when the persuasion object was temporally distant compared with temporally near (Studies 1a and 1b) or construed as a high-level category compared with a more concrete individual (Study 2). These findings advance our understanding of the ways in which specific emotions may affect persuasion, beyond valence.

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Context effects produced by question orders reveal quantum nature of human judgments

Zheng Wang et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1 July 2014, Pages 9431–9436

Abstract:
The hypothesis that human reasoning obeys the laws of quantum rather than classical probability has been used in recent years to explain a variety of seemingly “irrational” judgment and decision-making findings. This article provides independent evidence for this hypothesis based on an a priori prediction, called the quantum question (QQ) equality, concerning the effect of asking attitude questions successively in different orders. We empirically evaluated the predicted QQ equality using 70 national representative surveys and two laboratory experiments that manipulated question orders. Each national study contained 651–3,006 participants. The results provided strong support for the predicted QQ equality. These findings suggest that quantum probability theory, initially invented to explain noncommutativity of measurements in physics, provides a simple account for a surprising regularity regarding measurement order effects in social and behavioral science.

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Arguments, More Than Confidence, Explain the Good Performance of Reasoning Groups

Emmanuel Trouche, Emmanuel Sander & Hugo Mercier
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
In many intellective tasks groups consistently outperform individuals. One factor is that the individual(s) with the best answer is able to convince the other group members using sound argumentation. Another factor is that the most confident group member imposes her answer whether it is right or wrong. In Experiments 1 and 2, individual participants were given arguments against their answer in intellective tasks. Demonstrating sound argumentative competence, many participants changed their minds to adopt the correct answer, even though the arguments had no confidence markers, and barely any participants changed their minds to adopt an incorrect answer. Confidence could not explain who changed their mind, as the least confident participants were as likely to change their minds as the most confident. In Experiments 3 (adults) and 4 (10-year-olds), participants solved intellective tasks individually and then in groups, before solving transfer problems individually. Demonstrating again sound argumentative competence, participants adopted the correct answer when it was present in the group, and many succeeded in transferring this understanding to novel problems. Moreover, the group member with the right answer nearly always managed to convince the group even when she was not the most confident. These results show that argument quality can overcome confidence among the factors influencing the discussion of intellective tasks. Explanations for apparent exceptions are discussed.

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Profiting from Machine Learning in the NBA Draft

Philip Maymin
NYU Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
I project historical NCAA college basketball performance to subsequent NBA performance for prospects using modern machine learning techniques without snooping bias. I find that the projections would have helped improve the drafting decisions of virtually every team: over the past ten years, teams forfeited an average of about $90,000,000 in lost productivity that could have been theirs had they followed the recommendations of the model. I provide team-by-team breakdowns of who should have been drafted instead, as well as team summaries of lost profit, and draft order comparison. Far from being just another input in making decisions, when used properly, advanced draft analytics can effectively be an additional revenue source in a team’s business model.

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Wisdom or Madness? Comparing Crowds with Expert Evaluation in Funding the Arts

Ethan Mollick & Ramana Nanda
Harvard Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
In fields as diverse as technology entrepreneurship and the arts, crowds of interested stakeholders are increasingly responsible for deciding which innovations to fund, a privilege that was previously reserved for a few experts, such as venture capitalists and grant‐making bodies. Little is known about the degree to which the crowd differs from experts in judging which ideas to fund, and, indeed, whether the crowd is even rational in making funding decisions. Drawing on a panel of national experts and comprehensive data from the largest crowdfunding site, we examine funding decisions for proposed theater projects, a category where expert and crowd preferences might be expected to differ greatly. We instead find substantial agreement between the funding decisions of crowds and experts. Where crowds and experts disagree, it is far more likely to be a case where the crowd is willing to fund projects that experts may not. Examining the outcomes of these projects, we find no quantitative or qualitative differences between projects funded by the crowd alone, and those that were selected by both the crowd and experts. Our findings suggest that the democratization of entry that is facilitated by the crowdfunding has the potential to lower the incidence of “false negatives,” by allowing projects the option to receive multiple evaluations and reach out to receptive communities that may not otherwise be represented by experts.

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The Effects of Counterfactual Attacks on Social Judgments

Patrizia Catellani & Mauro Bertolotti
Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Two experiments were conducted to compare the effects of different styles of verbal criticism (factual vs. counterfactual) on the perceptions of target, source, and quality of the attack. Counterfactual attacks resulted in more negative overall judgment of the target and ratings of the target’s morality than either factual attacks or no attack. Counterfactual attacks were also rated more positively than factual attacks, and the source of the counterfactual attack was rated as being less biased against the target. Regression analyses confirmed that the observed effect on overall judgment was mediated by the perceived bias of the source. The greater effectiveness of counterfactual attacks was moderated by awareness of prior hostility of the source of the attack toward the target.

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Reading Fictional Stories and Winning Delayed Prizes: The Surprising Emotional Impact of Distant Events

Jane Ebert & Tom Meyvis
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Hedonic experiences that involve real, immediate events (such as reading about a recent, real-life tragic event) naturally evoke strong affective reactions. When these events are instead fictional or removed in time, they should be perceived as more psychologically distant and evoke weaker affective reactions. The current research shows that, while consumers’ intuitions are in line with this prediction, their actual emotional experiences are surprisingly insensitive to the distancing information. For instance, readers of a sad story overestimated how much their emotional reaction would be reduced by knowing that it described a fictional event. Similarly, game participants overestimated how much their excitement about winning a prize would be dampened by knowing that the prize would only be available later. We propose that actual readers and prize winners were too absorbed by the hedonic experience to incorporate the distancing information, resulting in surprisingly strong affective reactions to fictional stories and delayed prizes.

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Predicting the Winner of Tied National Football League Games: Do the Details Matter?

Jared Quenzel & Paul Shea
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We construct a data set of all 429 tied at the half regular season National Football League (NFL) games between 1994 and 2012. We then examine whether or not the path taken to reach the tie (e.g., rushing yards, turnovers, etc.) has any ability to predict the eventual winner. Our main finding is that only the point spread is significantly predictive, although there is weak evidence to suggest that allowing more sacks reduces the chances of winning. Surprisingly, we find that the team receiving the first possession of the second half does not enjoy a statistically significant advantage. Teams should thus simply try to maximize their first half lead without expecting that first half strategies such as “establishing the run” will pay dividends in the second half.

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How emotions affect logical reasoning: Evidence from experiments with mood-manipulated participants, spider phobics, and people with exam anxiety

Nadine Jung et al.
Frontiers in Psychology, June 2014

Abstract:
Recent experimental studies show that emotions can have a significant effect on the way we think, decide, and solve problems. This paper presents a series of four experiments on how emotions affect logical reasoning. In two experiments different groups of participants first had to pass a manipulated intelligence test. Their emotional state was altered by giving them feedback, that they performed excellent, poor or on average. Then they completed a set of logical inference problems (with if p, then q statements) either in a Wason selection task paradigm or problems from the logical propositional calculus. Problem content also had either a positive, negative or neutral emotional value. Results showed a clear effect of emotions on reasoning performance. Participants in negative mood performed worse than participants in positive mood, but both groups were outperformed by the neutral mood reasoners. Problem content also had an effect on reasoning performance. In a second set of experiments, participants with exam or spider phobia solved logical problems with contents that were related to their anxiety disorder (spiders or exams). Spider phobic participants' performance was lowered by the spider-content, while exam anxious participants were not affected by the exam-related problem content. Overall, unlike some previous studies, no evidence was found that performance is improved when emotion and content are congruent. These results have consequences for cognitive reasoning research and also for cognitively oriented psychotherapy and the treatment of disorders like depression and anxiety.

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Two Reasons to Make Aggregated Probability Forecasts More Extreme

Jonathan Baron et al.
Decision Analysis, June 2014, Pages 133-145

Abstract:
When aggregating the probability estimates of many individuals to form a consensus probability estimate of an uncertain future event, it is common to combine them using a simple weighted average. Such aggregated probabilities correspond more closely to the real world if they are transformed by pushing them closer to 0 or 1. We explain the need for such transformations in terms of two distorting factors: The first factor is the compression of the probability scale at the two ends, so that random error tends to push the average probability toward 0.5. This effect does not occur for the median forecast, or, arguably, for the mean of the log odds of individual forecasts. The second factor — which affects mean, median, and mean of log odds — is the result of forecasters taking into account their individual ignorance of the total body of information available. Individual confidence in the direction of a probability judgment (high/low) thus fails to take into account the wisdom of crowds that results from combining different evidence available to different judges. We show that the same transformation function can approximately eliminate both distorting effects with different parameters for the mean and the median. And we show how, in principle, use of the median can help distinguish the two effects.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, July 14, 2014

What's in your wallet

Moochers and Makers in the Voting Booth: Who Benefits from Federal Spending and How Did They Vote in the 2012 Presidential Election?

Dean Lacy
Public Opinion Quarterly, June 2014, Pages 255-275

Abstract:
The 2012 election campaign popularized the notion that people who benefit from federal spending vote for Democrats, while people who pay the preponderance of taxes vote Republican. A survey conducted during the election included questions to test this hypothesis and to assess the accuracy of voters’ perceptions of federal spending. Voters’ perceptions of their benefit from federal spending are determined by family income, age, employment status, and number of children, as well as by party identification and race. Voters aged 65 and older who believe they are net beneficiaries of federal spending are more likely to be Democrats and vote for Barack Obama than seniors who believe they are net contributors to the federal government. However, the 77.5 percent of voters under age 65 who believe they are net beneficiaries of federal spending are as likely to vote for Romney as for Obama and as likely to be Republicans as Democrats. Voters who live in states that receive more in federal funds than they pay in federal taxes are less likely to vote for Obama or to be Democrats. For most of the electorate, dependence on federal spending is unrelated to vote choice.

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Educational Assortative Mating and Household Income Inequality

Lasse Eika, Magne Mogstad & Basit Zafar
NBER Working Paper, June 2014

Abstract:
We investigate the pattern of educational assortative mating, its evolution over time, and its impact on household income inequality. To these ends, we use rich data from the U.S. and Norway over the period 1980-2007. We find evidence of positive assortative mating at all levels of education in both countries. However, the time trends vary by the level of education: Among college graduates, assortative mating has been declining over time, whereas low educated are increasingly sorting into internally homogenous marriages. When looking within the group of college educated, we find strong but declining assortative mating by academic major. These findings motivate and guide a decomposition analysis, where we quantify the contribution of various factors to the distribution of household income. We find that educational assortative mating accounts for a non-negligible part of the cross-sectional inequality in household income. However, changes in assortative mating over time barely move the time trends in household income inequality. This is because the decline in assortative mating among the highly educated is offset by an increase in assortative mating among the low educated. By comparison, increases in the returns to education over time generate a considerable rise in household income inequality, but these price effects are partly mitigated by increases in college attendance and completion rates among women.

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Does National Income Inequality Affect Individuals’ Quality of Life in Europe? Inequality, Happiness, Finances, and Health

Krzysztof Zagorski et al.
Social Indicators Research, July 2014, Pages 1089-1110

Abstract:
This paper analyses the effect of income inequality on Europeans’ quality of life, specifically on their overall well-being (happiness, life satisfaction), on their financial quality of life (satisfaction with standard of living, affordability of goods and services, subjective poverty), and on their health (self-rated health, satisfaction with health). The simple bivariate correlations of inequality with overall well-being, financial quality of life, and health are negative. But this is misleading because of the confounding effect of a key omitted variable, national economic development (GDP per capita): Unequal societies are on average much poorer (r = 0.46) and so disadvantaged because of that. We analyse the multi-level European Quality of Life survey conducted in 2003 including national-level data on inequality (Gini coefficient) and economic development (GDP) and individual-level data on overall well-being, financial quality of life, and health. The individual cases are from representative samples of 28 European countries. Our variance-components multi-level models controlling for known individual-level predictors show that national per capita GDP increases subjective well-being, financial quality of life, and health. Net of that, the national level of inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, has no statistically significant effect, suggesting that income inequality does not reduce well-being, financial quality of life, or health in advanced societies. These result all imply that directing policies and resources towards inequality reduction is unlikely to benefit the general public in advanced societies.

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How Did Distributional Preferences Change During the Great Recession?

Raymond Fisman, Pamela Jakiela & Shachar Kariv
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
We compare behavior in experiments measuring distributional preferences during the “Great Recession” to behavior in identical experiments conducted during the preceding economic boom. Subjects are drawn from a diverse pool of students whose socioeconomic composition is largely held constant by the university, mitigating concerns about differential selection across macroeconomic conditions. Subjects exposed to the recession are more selfish and more willing to sacrifice equality to enhance efficiency. Reproducing recessionary conditions inside the laboratory by confronting subjects with losses has the same impact on distributional preferences, bolstering the interpretation that economic circumstances, rather than other factors, are driving our results.

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Educational Segregation, Tea Party Organizations, and Battles over Distributive Justice

Rory McVeigh et al.
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Competing visions of who is deserving of rewards and privileges, and different understandings of the fairness of reward allocation processes, are at the heart of political conflict. Indeed, social movement scholars generally agree that a key component of most, if not all, social movements is a shared belief that existing conditions are unfair and subject to change (Gamson 1992; McAdam 1982; Snow et al. 1986; Turner and Killian 1987). In this article we consider the role that residential segregation by education level plays in shaping perceptions of distributive justice and, in turn, providing a context conducive to conservative political mobilization. We apply these ideas in an analysis of Tea Party activism and show that educational segregation is a strong predictor of the number of Tea Party organizations in U.S. counties. In a complementary analysis, we find that individuals with a bachelor’s degree are more likely than people who do not have any college education to support the Tea Party; this relationship is strongest in counties with higher levels of educational segregation.

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Income Inequality, Social Mobility, and the Decision to Drop Out of High School

Melissa Kearney & Phillip Levine
NBER Working Paper, June 2014

Abstract:
This paper considers the role that high levels of income inequality and low rates of social mobility play in driving the educational attainment of youth in low-income households in the United States. Using high school degree status from five individual-level surveys, our analysis reveals that low-socioeconomic status (SES) students, and particularly boys, who grow up in locations with greater levels of lower-tail income inequality and lower levels of social mobility are relatively more likely to drop out of high school, conditional on other individual characteristics and contextual factors. The data indicate that this relationship does not reflect alternative characteristics of the place, such as poverty concentration, residential segregation, or public school financing. We propose that the results are consistent with a class of explanations that emphasize a role for perceptions of one’s own identity, position in society, or chances of success. In the end, our empirical results indicate that high levels of lower-tail income inequality and low levels of social mobility hinder educational advancement for disadvantaged youth.

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Social class and academic achievement in college: The interplay of rejection sensitivity and entity beliefs

Michelle Rheinschmidt & Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, July 2014, Pages 101-121

Abstract:
Undergraduates, especially those from lower income backgrounds, may perceive their social class background as different or disadvantaged relative to that of peers and worry about negative social treatment. We hypothesized that concerns about discrimination based on one’s social class (i.e., class-based rejection sensitivity or RS-class) would be damaging to undergraduates’ achievement outcomes particularly among entity theorists, who perceive their personal characteristics as fixed. We reasoned that a perceived capacity for personal growth and change, characteristic of incremental theorists, would make the pursuit of a college degree and upward mobility seem more worthwhile and attainable. We found evidence across 3 studies that dispositionally held and experimentally primed entity (vs. incremental) beliefs predicted college academic performance as a function of RS-class. Studies 1a and 1b documented that high levels of both entity beliefs and RS-class predicted lower self-reported and official grades, respectively, among undergraduates from socioeconomically diverse backgrounds. In Study 2, high entity beliefs and RS-class at matriculation predicted decreased year-end official grades among lower class Latino students. Study 3 established the causal relationship of entity (vs. incremental) beliefs on academic test performance as a function of RS-class. We observed worse test performance with higher RS-class levels following an entity (vs. incremental) prime, an effect driven by lower income students. Findings from a 4th study suggest that entity theorists with RS-class concerns tend to believe less in upward mobility and, following academic setbacks, are prone to personal attributions of failure, as well as hopelessness. Implications for education and intervention are discussed.

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The Distributional Preferences of Americans

Raymond Fisman, Pamela Jakiela & Shachar Kariv
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
We measure the distributional preferences of a large, diverse sample of Americans by embedding modified dictator games that vary the relative price of redistribution in the American Life Panel. Subjects' choices are generally consistent with maximizing a (social) utility function. We decompose distributional preferences into two distinct components - fair-mindedness (tradeoffs between oneself and others) and equality-efficiency tradeoffs - by estimating constant elasticity of substitution utility functions at the individual level. Approximately equal numbers of Americans have equality-focused and efficiency-focused distributional preferences. After controlling for individual characteristics, our experimental measures of equality-efficiency tradeoffs predict the political decisions of our subjects.

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Union Strength, Neoliberalism, and Inequality: Contingent Political Analyses of U.S. Income Differences since 1950

David Jacobs & Lindsey Myers
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do historically contingent political accounts help explain the growth in family income inequality in the United States? We use time-series regressions based on 60 years to detect such relationships by assessing interactive associations between the neoliberal departure coincident with Ronald Reagan’s election and the acceleration in inequality that began soon after Reagan took office. We find evidence for this and for a second contingent relationship: stronger unions could successfully resist policies that enhanced economic inequality only before Reagan’s presidency and before the neoliberal anti-union administrations from both parties that followed Reagan. Politically inspired reductions in union membership, and labor’s diminished political opportunities during and after Reagan’s presidency, meant unions no longer could slow the growth in U.S. inequality. Coefficients on these two historically contingent interactions remain significant after many additional determinants are held constant. These findings indicate that political determinants should not be neglected when researchers investigate the determinants of U.S. inequality.

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Benefits Conditional on Work and the Nordic Model

Ann-Sofie Kolm & Mirco Tonin
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Welfare benefits in the Nordic countries are often tied to employment. We argue that this is one of the factors behind the success of the Nordic model, where a comprehensive welfare state is associated with high employment. In a general equilibrium setting, the underlining mechanism works through wage moderation and job creation. The benefits make it more important to hold a job, thus lower wages will be accepted, and more jobs created. Moreover, we show that the incentive to acquire higher education improves, further boosting employment in the long run. These positive effects help counteracting the negative impact of taxation. Through numerical simulations, we show how this mechanism can contribute to explain the better labor market performance and more equitable income distribution of Nordic countries compared to Continental European ones.

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The Scandinavian model — An interpretation

Erling Barth, Karl Moene & Fredrik Willumsen
Journal of Public Economics, September 2014, Pages 60–72

Abstract:
The small open economies in Scandinavia have for long periods had high work effort, small wage differentials, high productivity, and a generous welfare state. To understand how this might be an economic and political equilibrium we combine models of collective wage bargaining, creative job destruction, and welfare spending. The two-tier system of wage bargaining provides microeconomic efficiency and wage compression. Combined with a vintage approach to the process of creative destruction we show how wage compression fuels investments, enhances average productivity and increases the mean wage by allocating more of the work force to the most modern activities. Finally, we show how the political support of welfare spending is fueled by both a higher mean wage and a lower wage dispersion.

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Early childhood education expenditures and the intergenerational persistence of income

William Blankenau & Xiaoyan Youderian
Review of Economic Dynamics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We consider the extent to which cross-country differences in the intergenerational persistence of income can be explained by differences in government spending on early childhood education. We build a life-cycle model where human capital is accumulated in early, middle and late childhood. Both families and the government can increase the human capital of young agents by investing in education at each stage of childhood. Ability in each dynasty and wages per unit of human capital are stochastic. Different realizations of these values and the resultant education spending histories generate a stochastic steady-state distribution of income. Government spending can reduce persistence by weakening the link between parental income and education spending for a child. Our results show that doubling early childhood spending in the U.S. to match levels in Norway and Denmark eliminates less than 8.5 percent of the gap in intergenerational income persistence. Increased government education spending in later childhood has almost no effect on persistence. Early childhood expenditures can have a larger effect when allocated to low income families.

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Democracy, Redistribution, and Political Participation: Evidence From Sweden 1919–1938

Björn Tyrefors Hinnerich & Per Pettersson-Lidbom
Econometrica, May 2014, Pages 961–993

Abstract:
In this paper, we compare how two different types of political regimes — direct versus representative democracy — redistribute income toward the relatively poor segments of society after the introduction of universal and equal suffrage. Swedish local governments are used as a testing ground since this setting offers a number of attractive features for a credible impact evaluation. Most importantly, we exploit the existence of a population threshold, which partly determined a local government's choice of democracy to implement a regression-discontinuity design. The results indicate that direct democracies spend 40–60 percent less on public welfare. Our interpretation is that direct democracy may be more prone to elite capture than representative democracy since the elite's potential to exercise de facto power is likely to be greater in direct democracy after democratization.

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Life Satisfaction Across Nations: The Effects of Women’s Political Status and Public Priorities

Richard York & Shannon Elizabeth Bell
Social Science Research, November 2014, Pages 48–61

Abstract:
Feminist scholars suggest that improving the quality of life of individuals living in nations around the world may be more readily achieved by increasing women’s political power and by reorienting public-policy priorities, rather than focusing primarily on economic growth. These considerations raise the question of which characteristics of societies are associated with the quality of life of the people in those societies. Here, we address this issue empirically by statistically analyzing cross-national data. We assess the effects of gender equality in the political sphere, as well as a variety of other factors, on the subjective well-being of nations, as indicated by average self-reported levels of life satisfaction. We find that people report the highest levels of life satisfaction in nations where women have greater political representation, where military spending is low, and where health care spending is high, controlling for a variety of other factors. GDP per capita, urbanization, and natural resource exploitation are not clearly associated with life satisfaction. These findings suggest that nations may be able to improve the subjective quality of life of people without increasing material wealth or natural resource consumption by increasing gender equality in politics and changing public spending priorities.

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The “Business Climate” and Economic Inequality

David Neumark & Jennifer Muz
NBER Working Paper, June 2014

Abstract:
“Business climate indexes” characterize state economic policies, and are often used to try to influence economic policy debate. However, they are also useful in research as summaries of a large number of state policies that cannot be studied simultaneously. Prior research found that business climate indexes focused on productivity and quality of life do not predict economic growth, while indexes emphasizing taxes and costs of doing business indicate that low-tax, low-cost states have faster growth of employment, wages, and output. In this paper, we study the relationship between these two categories of business climate indexes and the promotion of equality or inequality. We do not find that the productivity/quality-of-life indexes predict more equitable outcomes, although some of the policies underlying them suggest they might. We do find, however, that the same tax-and-cost related indexes that are associated with higher economic growth are also associated with increases in inequality.

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The Financial Crisis of 1929 Reexamined: The Role of Soaring Inequality

Jon Wisman
Review of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
The financial crisis of 1929 that triggered the Great Depression has been endlessly studied. Still there is little consensus regarding what caused it. This article claims that wage stagnation and exploding inequality fueled three dynamics that set the stage for a financial crisis. First, consumption was constrained by the smaller share of total income accruing to workers, thereby restricting investment opportunities in the real economy. Flush with greater income and wealth, the elite flooded financial markets with credit, helping keep interest rates low and encouraging the creation of new credit instruments, some of which recycled the rich's surplus assets as debt to those less well off. Second, greater inequality pressured households to find ways to consume more in order to maintain their relative social status, resulting in reduced household saving, greater household debt, and possibly longer work hours. Third, as the rich took larger shares of income and wealth, they gained relatively more command over everything, including ideology. Reducing taxes on the rich, favoring business over labor, and failing to regulate newly evolving credit instruments flowed out of this ideology.

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Who Is (More) Rational?

Syngjoo Choi et al.
American Economic Review, June 2014, Pages 1518-1550

Abstract:
Revealed preference theory offers a criterion for decision-making quality: if decisions are high quality then there exists a utility function the choices maximize. We conduct a large-scale experiment to test for consistency with utility maximization. Consistency scores vary markedly within and across socioeconomic groups. In particular, consistency is strongly related to wealth: a standard deviation increase in consistency is associated with 15-19 percent more household wealth. This association is quantitatively robust to conditioning on correlates of unobserved constraints, preferences, and beliefs. Consistency with utility maximization under laboratory conditions thus captures decision-making ability that applies across domains and influences important real-world outcomes.

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Inequality of Income and Consumption in the U.S.: Measuring the Trends in Inequality from 1984 to 2011 for the Same Individuals

Jonathan Fisher, David Johnson & Timothy Smeeding
Review of Income and Wealth, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the distribution of income and consumption in the U.S. using one dataset that obtains measures of both income and consumption from the same set of individuals. We develop a set of inequality measures that show the increase in inequality during the past 27 years using the 1984–2011 Consumer Expenditure Survey. We find that the trends in income and consumption inequality are similar between 1984 and 2006, and diverge during and after the Great Recession. For the entire 27-year period we find that consumption inequality increases almost as much as does income inequality.

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Trust, Welfare States and Income Equality: Sorting out the Causality

Andreas Bergh & Christian Bjørnskov
European Journal of Political Economy, September 2014, Pages 183–199

Abstract:
The cross-country correlation between social trust and income equality is well documented, but few studies examine the direction of causality. We show theoretically that by facilitating cooperation, trust may lead to more equal outcomes, while the feedback from inequality to trust is ambiguous. Using a structural equations model estimated on a large country sample, we find that trust has a positive effect on both market and net income equality. Larger welfare states lead to higher net equality but neither net income equality nor welfare state size seem to have a causal effect on trust. We conclude that while trust facilitates welfare state policies that may reduce net inequality, this decrease in inequality does not increase trust.

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On the Relationship between Innovation and Wage Inequality: New Evidence from Canadian Cities

Sébastien Breau, Dieter Kogler & Kenyon Bolton
Economic Geography, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this article, we examine the link between innovation and earnings inequality across Canadian cities over the 1996–2006 period. We do so using a novel data set that combines information from the Canadian long-form census and the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The analysis reveals that there is a positive relationship between innovation and inequality: cities with higher levels of innovation have more unequal distributions of earnings. Other factors influencing differences in inequality include city size, manufacturing and government employment, the percentage of visible minority in an urban population, and educational inequality. These results are robust to the use of different measures of inequality, innovation, alternative specifications, and instrumental variables estimations. Questions are thus raised about how the benefits of innovation are distributed in society and the long-term sustainability of such trends.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Wanted

Nostalgia Weakens the Desire for Money

Jannine Lasaleta, Constantine Sedikides & Kathleen Vohs
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Nostalgia has a strong presence in the marketing of goods and services. The current research asked whether its effectiveness is driven by its weakening of the desire for money. Six experiments demonstrated that feeling nostalgic decreased people's desire for money. Using multiple operationalizations of desire for money, nostalgia (vs. neutral) condition participants were willing to pay more for products (experiment 1), parted with more money but not more time (experiment 2), valued money less (experiments 3 and 4), were willing to put less effort into obtaining money (experiment 5), and drew smaller coins (experiment 6). Process evidence indicated that nostalgia's weakening of the desire for money was due to its capacity to foster social connectedness (experiments 5 and 6). Implications for price sensitivity, willingness to pay, consumer spending, and donation behavior are discussed. Nostalgia may be so commonly used in marketing because it encourages consumers to part with their money.

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The inner speech of behavioral regulation: Intentions and task performance strengthen when you talk to yourself as a You

Sanda Dolcos & Dolores Albarracin
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
People often talk to themselves using the first-person pronoun (I), but they also talk to themselves as if they are speaking to someone else, using the second-person pronoun (You). Yet, the relative behavioral control achieved by I and You self-talk remains unknown. The current research was designed to examine the potential behavioral advantage of using You in self-talk and the role of attitudes in this process. Three experiments compared the effects of I and You self-talk on problem solving performance and behavioral intentions. Experiment 1 revealed that giving self-advice about a hypothetical social situation using You yielded better anagram task performance than using I. Experiment 2 showed that using You self-talk in preparation for an anagram task enhanced anagram performance and intentions to work on anagrams more than I self-talk, and that these effects were mediated by participants' attitudes toward the task. Experiment 3 extended these findings to exercise intentions and highlighted the role of attitudes in this effect. Altogether, the current research showed that second-person self-talk strengthens both actual behavior performance and prospective behavioral intentions more than first-person self-talk.

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The role of expressive writing in math anxiety

Daeun Park, Gerardo Ramirez & Sian Beilock
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, June 2014, Pages 103-111

Abstract:
Math anxiety is a negative affective reaction to situations involving math. Previous work demonstrates that math anxiety can negatively impact math problem solving by creating performance-related worries that disrupt the working memory needed for the task at hand. By leveraging knowledge about the mechanism underlying the math anxiety-performance relationship, we tested the effectiveness of a short expressive writing intervention that has been shown to reduce intrusive thoughts and improve working memory availability. Students (N = 80) varying in math anxiety were asked to sit quietly (control group) prior to completing difficulty-matched math and word problems or to write about their thoughts and feelings regarding the exam they were about to take (expressive writing group). For the control group, high math-anxious individuals (HMAs) performed significantly worse on the math problems than low math-anxious students (LMAs). In the expressive writing group, however, this difference in math performance across HMAs and LMAs was significantly reduced. Among HMAs, the use of words related to anxiety, cause, and insight in their writing was positively related to math performance. Expressive writing boosts the performance of anxious students in math-testing situations.

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Self-Esteem Instability and the Desire for Fame

Amy Noser & Virgil Zeigler-Hill
Self and Identity, forthcoming

Abstract:
The desire to become famous was examined among individuals with stable and unstable forms of self-esteem. Participants were 181 female undergraduates who completed measures of self-esteem level and fame interest along with daily measures of state self-esteem (i.e., how an individual feels about oneself at the present moment) for seven consecutive days. Our results show that individuals who possess unstable high self-esteem reported a stronger desire to become famous than did those with stable high self-esteem. These findings suggest the intriguing possibility that individuals with unstable high self-esteem may want to become famous as a means for gaining external validation. Implications of these findings for understanding the connection between self-esteem and the desire for fame are discussed.

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Just think: The challenges of the disengaged mind

Timothy Wilson et al.
Science, 4 July 2014, Pages 75-77

Abstract:
In 11 studies, we found that participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think, that they enjoyed doing mundane external activities much more, and that many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts. Most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is negative.

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Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions: A Meta-Analysis

Brooke Macnamara, David Hambrick & Frederick Oswald
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
More than 20 years ago, researchers proposed that individual differences in performance in such domains as music, sports, and games largely reflect individual differences in amount of deliberate practice, which was defined as engagement in structured activities created specifically to improve performance in a domain. This view is a frequent topic of popular-science writing - but is it supported by empirical evidence? To answer this question, we conducted a meta-analysis covering all major domains in which deliberate practice has been investigated. We found that deliberate practice explained 26% of the variance in performance for games, 21% for music, 18% for sports, 4% for education, and less than 1% for professions. We conclude that deliberate practice is important, but not as important as has been argued.

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Doing It the Hard Way: How Low Control Drives Preferences for High Effort Products and Services

Keisha Cutright & Adriana Samper
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Consumers often face situations in which their feelings of personal control are threatened. In such contexts, what role should products play in helping consumers pursue their goals (e.g., losing weight, maintaining a clean home, etc.)? Across five studies, we challenge the traditional view that low control is detrimental to effort and demonstrate that consumers prefer products that require them to engage in hard work when feelings of control are low. Such high-effort products reassure individuals that desired outcomes are possible while also enabling them to feel as if they have driven their own outcomes. We also identify important boundary conditions, finding that both the nature of individuals' thoughts about control and their perceived rate of progress towards goals are important factors in the desire to exert increased effort.

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Will you thrive under pressure or burn out? Linking anxiety motivation and emotional exhaustion

Juliane Strack, Paulo Lopes & Francisco Esteves
Cognition and Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Can individual differences in the tendency to use anxiety as a source of motivation explain emotional exhaustion? We examined the effects of using anxiety as a source of energy or as a source of information (viewed here as two forms of anxiety motivation) on emotional exhaustion. In Study 1, the use of anxiety as a source of energy predicted decreased emotional exhaustion one year later. Moreover, both forms of anxiety motivation buffered people from the detrimental effects of trait anxiety on later emotional exhaustion. In Study 2, an experiment, participants who were instructed to use anxiety as a source of energy reported lower emotional exhaustion following a stressful task, compared to those instructed to focus on the task or to simply do their best. These findings suggest that using anxiety as a source of motivation may protect people against emotional exhaustion.

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The Role of Instrumental Emotion Regulation in the Emotions-Creativity Link: How Worries Render Individuals With High Neuroticism More Creative

Angela Leung et al.
Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Based on the instrumental account of emotion regulation (Tamir, 2005), the current research seeks to offer a novel perspective to the emotions-creativity debate by investigating the instrumental value of trait-consistent emotions in creativity. We hypothesize that emotions such as worry (vs. happy) are trait-consistent experiences for individuals higher on trait neuroticism and experiencing these emotions can facilitate performance in a creativity task. In 3 studies, we found support for our hypothesis. First, individuals higher in neuroticism had a greater preference for recalling worrisome (vs. happy) events in anticipation of performing a creativity task (Study 1). Moreover, when induced to recall a worrisome (vs. happy) event, individuals higher in neuroticism came up with more creative design (Study 2) and more flexible uses of a brick (Study 3) when the task was a cognitively demanding one. Further, Study 3 offers preliminary support that increased intrinsic task enjoyment and motivation mediates the relationship between trait-consistent emotion regulation and creative performance. These findings offer a new perspective to the controversy concerning the emotions-creativity relationship and further demonstrate the role of instrumental emotion regulation in the domain of creative performance.

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Driven to Win: Rivalry, Motivation, and Performance

Gavin Kilduff
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article investigates the phenomenon of interindividual rivalry and its consequences for motivation and task performance. Two studies of adults from the general population found that rivalry, as compared to nonrival competition, was associated with increased motivation and performance, controlling for tangible stakes, dislike, and other factors. Then, a large-scale archival study of long-distance running found that runners ran faster in races featuring their rivals, which were identified through empirical observation of demographics and prior race interactions. This research extends existing theory on competition and motivation and represents a first exploration into the consequences of rivalry between individuals.

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Predicting school success: Comparing Conscientiousness, Grit, and Emotion Regulation Ability

Zorana Ivcevic & Marc Brackett
Journal of Research in Personality, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present paper examines validity of three proposed self-regulation predictors of school outcomes - Conscientiousness, Grit and Emotion Regulation Ability (ERA). In a sample of private high school students (N = 213) we measured these constructs along with indices of school success obtained from records (rule violating behavior, academic recognitions, honors, and GPA) and self-reported satisfaction with school. Regression analyses showed that after controlling for other Big Five traits, all school outcomes were significantly predicted by Conscientiousness and ERA, but not Grit. The discussion focuses on the importance of broad personality traits (Conscientiousness; measures of typical performance) and self-regulation abilities (ERA; measures of maximal performance) in predicting school success.

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Does Being Bored Make Us More Creative?

Sandi Mann & Rebekah Cadman
Creativity Research Journal, Spring 2014, Pages 165-173

Abstract:
Boredom has traditionally been associated with a range of negative outcomes, both within the workplace and outside it. More recently, however, it has been suggested that boredom can have positive outcomes, one of which might be increased creativity. This study addressed this proposition by examining the relationship between boredom and creative potential on a range of tasks. Two studies were carried out; the first involved 80 participants taking part in either a boring writing activity or not (control group) followed by a creative task. The second study involved a further 90 participants who varied in the type of boring activity they undertook (either a boring written activity, a boring reading activity, or a control) and the type of creative task that followed. Results suggested that boring activities resulted in increased creativity and that boring reading activities lead to more creativity in some circumstances (such as convergent tasks) than boring written activities. The role of daydreaming as a mediator between boredom and creativity is discussed and implications are outlined.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hot or not

Beauty and Status: The Illusion of Exchange in Partner Selection?

Elizabeth Aura McClintock
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Scholars have long been interested in exchange and matching (assortative mating) in romantic partner selection. But many analyses of exchange, particularly those that examine beauty and socioeconomic status, fail to control for partners' tendency to match each other on these traits. Because desirable traits in mates are positively correlated between partners and within individuals, ignoring matching may exaggerate evidence of cross-trait beauty-status exchange. Moreover, many prior analyses assume a gendered exchange in which women trade beauty for men's status, without testing whether men might use handsomeness to attract higher-status women. Nor have prior analyses fully investigated how the prevalence of beauty-status exchange varies between different types of couples. I use data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Romantic Pair Sample, a large (N = 1,507), nationally representative probability sample of dating, cohabiting, and married couples, to investigate how often romantic partners exchange physical attractiveness and socioeconomic status, net of matching on these traits. I find that controlling for matching eliminates nearly all evidence of beauty-status exchange. The discussion focuses on the contexts in which beauty-status exchange is most likely and on implications these results have for market-based and sociobiological theories of partner selection.

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Attraction to attachment insecurity: Flattery, appearance, and status's role in mate preferences

Claudia Chloe Brumbaugh, Alison Baren & Peryl Agishtein
Personal Relationships, June 2014, Pages 288-308

Abstract:
Research has shown that people select securely attached individuals as their first choice when asked to choose among secure or insecure partner prototypes. Despite this pattern, not everyone chooses a secure partner in real life. The goal of the reported studies was to examine factors that lead people to select insecure mates. Specifically, the roles of flattery, appearance, and status were assessed. In the first study, we found that flattery increased attraction to insecure partners. Study 2 showed that men preferred physical beauty over security. In Study 3, anxious women were attracted to high-status insecure men. These findings help explain why people may sometimes end up with insecure partners despite their professed preference for secure companions.

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The sweetness of forbidden fruit: Interracial daters are more attractive than intraracial daters

Karen Wu, Chuansheng Chen & Ellen Greenberger
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
Past research on interracial dating has focused on demographic and adjustment factors while ignoring the traits most valued in romantic partners. We examined whether interracial and intraracial daters differ in the extent to which they possess various desirable attributes. In Study 1, undergraduates estimated their partners' ratings of them on 27 attributes. A factor analysis yielded attractiveness (e.g., physically attractive), cerebral (e.g., intelligent), relational (e.g., compassionate), and vibrancy (e.g., confident) attributes. Compared with intraracial daters, interracial daters reported that their partners saw them more positively on attractiveness, cerebral, and relational attributes (Study 1), rated their partners more positively on attractiveness and cerebral attributes (Study 2), and were rated by independent coders as more physically attractive (Study 3). Implications are discussed.

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Narcissism & Internet Pornography Use

Thomas Edward Kasper, Mary Beth Short & Alex Clinton Milam
Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined the relationship between Internet pornography use and Narcissism. Participants (N = 257) completed an online survey that included questions on Internet pornography use and three narcissism measures (i.e., Narcissistic Personality Inventory, Pathological Narcissistic Inventory, and the Index of Sexual Narcissism). The hours spent viewing Internet pornography use was positively correlated to participant's narcissism level. Additionally, those who have ever used Internet pornography endorsed higher levels of all three measures of narcissism than those who have never used Internet pornography.

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Sex differences in the attractiveness of hunter-gatherer and modern risks

John Petraitis et al.
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, June 2014, Pages 442-453

Abstract:
When compared with other demographics, young males are more likely to take a variety of risks (like skateboarding, using drugs) and use risky behaviors to attract romantic partners. This study extended research on risk by assessing the attractiveness of 101 different kinds of risks performed by males and females. As predicted, factor analysis revealed that the attractiveness of diverse risks clustered around two major dimensions: risks like those faced by hunter-gatherer humans (e.g., handling fire and dangerous animals) and risks that are uniquely modern (e.g., driving without seat belts). Additionally, results confirmed that modern risks were rated as unattractive for both sexes, whereas hunter-gatherer risks were rated as especially attractive when performed by males. Discussion focuses on cultural and evolutionary explanations for the link between risk and attractiveness.

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Who Benefits From Casual Sex? The Moderating Role of Sociosexuality

Zhana Vrangalova & Anthony Ong
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Casual sex has become a normative experience among young people, raising concerns regarding its well-being consequences. Prior findings on main effects of casual sex on well-being are mixed, suggesting possible moderating factors. Using longitudinal and weekly diary methodologies, this study examined the moderating influence of sociosexuality, a stable personality orientation toward casual sex, on psychological well-being (self-esteem, life satisfaction, depression, and anxiety) following penetrative (oral, vaginal, or anal) casual sex among single undergraduates. As predicted, sociosexuality moderated the effect of casual sex on well-being on a weekly basis across 12 consecutive weeks, over one semester, and over one academic year. Sociosexually unrestricted students typically reported higher well-being after having casual sex compared to not having casual sex; there were no such differences among restricted individuals. Few gender differences were found. Findings are discussed in terms of authenticity in one's sexual behaviors.

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Body symmetry and physical strength in human males

Bernhard Fink et al.
American Journal of Human Biology, forthcoming

Objectives: Body symmetry and physical strength in males have been related to aspects of mate "quality" - women seem to prefer men who display both "good genes" (as indexed by high symmetry/developmental health) and fighting ability (as indexed by physical strength). Here we show that fluctuating asymmetry (FA) of the body and physical strength are negatively correlated.

Methods: Body FA (from 12 paired traits) and handgrip strength (HGS; a measure of muscular power and force) were measured in a sample of 69 heterosexual, right-handed men (18-42 years).

Results: There were positive correlations of body symmetry with HGS after controlling for the effect of body-mass-index.

Conclusions: We conclude that in males, body symmetry and physical strength are correlated such that symmetric individuals tend to develop higher strength, which may contribute to their success in inter- and intra-sexual selection.

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Opportunities to Meet: Occupational Education and Marriage Formation in Young Adulthood

David McClendon, Janet Chen-Lan Kuo & Kelly Raley
Demography, forthcoming

Abstract:
Explanations for the positive association between education and marriage in the United States emphasize the economic and cultural attractiveness of having a college degree in the marriage market. However, educational attainment may also shape the opportunities that men and women have to meet other college-educated partners, particularly in contexts with significant educational stratification. We focus on work - and the social ties that it supports - and consider whether the educational composition of occupations is important for marriage formation during young adulthood. Employing discrete-time event-history methods using the NLSY-97, we find that occupational education is positively associated with transitioning to first marriage and with marrying a college-educated partner for women but not for men. Moreover, occupational education is positively associated with marriage over cohabitation as a first union for women. Our findings call attention to an unexplored, indirect link between education and marriage that, we argue, offers insight into why college-educated women in the United States enjoy better marriage prospects.

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Physical attractiveness as a phenotypic marker of health: An assessment using a nationally representative sample of American adults

Joseph Nedelec & Kevin Beaver
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Evolutionary explanations regarding the differential preference for particular traits hold that preferences arose due to traits' association with increased potential for reproductive fitness. Assessments of physical attractiveness have been shown to be related to perceived and measured levels of health, an important fitness-related trait. Despite the robust association between physical attractiveness and health observed in the extant literature, a number of theoretical and methodological concerns remain. Specifically, the research in this area possesses a lack of specificity in terms of measures of health, a reliance on artificial social interactions in assessing physical attractiveness, a relatively infrequent use of non-student samples, and has left unaddressed the confounding effects of raters of attractiveness. Using these concerns as a springboard, the current study employed data from the National Longitudinal Study for Adolescent Health (N ? 15,000; aged 25 to 34 years) to assess the relationship between physical attractiveness and various specific and overall measures of health. Logistic and OLS regression models illustrated a robust association between physical attractiveness and various measures of health, controlling for a variety of confounding factors. In sum, the more attractive a respondent was rated, the less likely he or she was to report being diagnosed with a wide range of chronic diseases and neuropsychological disorders. Importantly, this finding was observed for both sexes. These analyses provide further support for physical attractiveness as a phenotypic marker of health. The findings are discussed in reference to evolutionary theory and the limitations of the study and future research suggestions are also addressed.

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Men's, but not Women's, Sociosexual Orientation Predicts Couples' Perceptions of Sexually Dimorphic Cues in Own-Sex Faces

Michal Kandrik et al.
Archives of Sexual Behavior, July 2014, Pages 965-971

Abstract:
Previous research suggests that people's perceptions of own-sex individuals can change according to within-individual variation in their romantic partners' sexual strategies. For example, men are more likely to perceive other men's faces as looking particularly dominant during the fertile phase of their partner's menstrual cycle, when women tend to be more open to uncommitted sexual relationships. By contrast, little is known about how relatively stable between-individuals differences in partners' openness to uncommitted sexual relationships (i.e., their sociosexual orientation) predict perceptions of own-sex individuals. The revised Sociosexual Orientation Inventory (SOI-R) assesses individuals' openness to uncommitted sexual relationships and shows high test-retest reliability over long periods of time. Consequently, we tested whether the SOI-R scores of men and women in heterosexual romantic couples predicted their perceptions of own-sex faces displaying exaggerated sex-typical cues. Men's, but not women's, SOI-R was positively correlated with the extent to which both the man and woman within a couple ascribed high dominance and attractiveness to own-sex faces with exaggerated sex-typical cues. In other words, individuals in couples where the man reported being particularly open to uncommitted sexual relationships were more likely to ascribe dominance and attractiveness to own-sex individuals displaying a putative cue of good phenotypic condition. These findings suggest that both men's and women's perceptions of potential competitors for mates are sensitive to the male partner's sexual strategy. Such individual differences in perceptions may benefit men's ability to compete for extra-pair and/or replacement mates and benefit women's mate guarding behaviors.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, July 11, 2014

Bull run

Ballot Access Laws and the Decline of American Third-Parties

Bernard Tamas & Matthew Dean Hindman
Election Law Journal, June 2014, Pages 260-276

Abstract:
Party and legal scholars often argue that ballot access requirements and other state-level election laws are primary reasons that third-parties have declined in importance in the United States. According to this argument, as ballot access laws got more difficult over the twentieth century, fewer minor parties were able to run, and those that overcame these onerous restrictions had few resources left to run effective campaigns. We traced the ballot access laws of each state from the enactment of the Australian ballot to the present and analyzed their impact on elections to the House of Representatives from 1890 to 2010. We found that while these laws got more difficult over the twentieth century, they had little impact on the electoral fortunes of third-parties. We conclude that these state election laws did not cause the dramatic decline of third-parties over the past 100 years.

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The Financial Incumbency Advantage: Causes and Consequences

Alexander Fouirnaies & Andrew Hall
Journal of Politics, July 2014, Pages 711-724

Abstract:
In this article, we use a regression discontinuity design to estimate the causal effect of incumbency on campaign contributions in the U.S. House and state legislatures. In both settings, incumbency causes approximately a 20–25 percentage-point increase in the share of donations flowing to the incumbent’s party. The effect size does not vary with legislator experience and does not appear to depend on incumbent office-holder benefits. Instead, as we show, the effect is primarily the result of donations from access-oriented interest groups, especially donors from industries under heavy regulation and those with less ideological ties. Given the role of money in elections, the findings suggest that access-oriented interest groups are an important driver of the electoral security of incumbents.

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Accuracy of Vote Expectation Surveys in Forecasting Elections

Andreas Graefe
Public Opinion Quarterly, Summer 2014, Pages 204-232

Abstract:
Simple surveys that ask people who they expect to win are among the most accurate methods for forecasting US presidential elections. The majority of respondents correctly predicted the election winner in 193 (89 percent) of 217 surveys conducted from 1932 to 2012. Across the last 100 days prior to the seven elections from 1988 to 2012, vote expectation surveys provided more accurate forecasts of election winners and vote shares than four established methods (vote intention polls, prediction markets, quantitative models, and expert judgment). Gains in accuracy were particularly large compared to polls. On average, the error of expectation-based vote-share forecasts was 51 percent lower than the error of polls published the same day. Compared to prediction markets, vote expectation forecasts reduced the error on average by 6 percent. Vote expectation surveys are inexpensive and easy to conduct, and the results are easy to understand. They provide accurate and stable forecasts and thus make it difficult to frame elections as horse races. Vote expectation surveys should be more strongly utilized in the coverage of election campaigns.

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Looking Good or Looking Competent? Physical Appearance and Electoral Success in the 2008 Congressional Elections

Rodrigo Praino, Daniel Stockemer & James Ratis
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
A whole array of studies has shown that the physical appearance of candidates running for elective office matters. However, it is unclear whether attractiveness or perceived competence is the source of such electoral advantage. In addition, the gender of candidates might interact with perceptions of physical appearance. With the help of Canadian student coders and through the use of a web-based survey, we measure the threefold link between physical attractiveness, perceived competence, and gender for all races in the 2008 U.S. House of Representatives elections. We find that both the attractiveness and perceived competence of candidates matter for candidates’ electoral successes; the former having an important effect in intra-gender races and the latter in inter-gender races.

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The cost of racial animus on a black candidate: Evidence using Google search data

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
Journal of Public Economics, October 2014, Pages 26–40

Abstract:
How can we know how much racial animus costs a black presidential candidate, if many people lie to surveys? I suggest a new proxy for an area’s racial animus from a non-survey source: the percent of Google search queries that include racially charged language. I compare the proxy to Barack Obama’s vote shares, controlling for the vote share of the previous Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry. An area’s racially charged search rate is a robust negative predictor of Obama’s vote share. Continuing racial animus in the United States appears to have cost Obama roughly four percentage points of the national popular vote in both 2008 and 2012. The estimates using Google search data are 1.5 to 3 times larger than survey-based estimates.

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The Effects of Voter ID Notification on Voter Turnout: Results from a Large-Scale Field Experiment

Jack Citrin, Donald Green & Morris Levy
Election Law Journal, June 2014, Pages 228-242

Abstract:
State voter identification (ID) laws have proliferated in the past ten years. Political campaigns remain divided about whether and how to address identification requirements when encouraging voter turnout. This article reports results from a direct mail get-out-the-vote (GOTV) experiment, conducted during the run-up to the 2012 general election in counties along the Tennessee-Virginia border and in heavily African American precincts in Roanoke and Knoxville. Results indicate that informing low-propensity voters of a new identification requirement raises turnout by approximately one percentage point. Messages providing details about ID requirements and offering to help recipients obtain acceptable ID appear somewhat more effective than messages only pointing out the need to bring proof of identification. These mailings, which have similar effects in both states, also appear to raise turnout among others in the recipients' households. Overall, we find no evidence that calling attention to voter identification requirements dissuades voters from voting.

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Attitudes Toward Blacks in the Obama Era: Changing Distributions and Impacts on Job Approval and Electoral Choice, 2008–2012

Josh Pasek et al.
Public Opinion Quarterly, Summer 2014, Pages 276-302

Abstract:
Much published research indicates that voting behavior in the 2008 presidential election and evaluations of Barack Obama were importantly influenced by anti-Black sentiment. Various psychological theories made opposing predictions as to whether exposure to the first Black president during his first term would strengthen or weaken the alignment between general attitudes toward African Americans and evaluations of the president in particular. Using data from national surveys conducted in 2008, 2009–2010, and 2012, we compared the associations of prejudice toward Blacks with presidential approval in those years and with electoral choices in 2008 and 2012. As predicted by theories of individuation, attitudes toward Blacks became increasingly disconnected from evaluations of Mr. Obama and from people’s electoral choices over time. However, levels of prejudice against Blacks rose between 2008 and 2012. Because of this increased prejudice and the diminishing individual-level influence of attitudes toward Blacks on electoral choices, prejudice toward Blacks seems to have reduced Mr. Obama’s vote share in the 2012 election by about the same extent as in 2008.

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E-lections: Voting Behavior and the Internet

Oliver Falck, Robert Gold & Stephan Heblich
American Economic Review, July 2014, Pages 2238-2265

Abstract:
This paper analyzes the effects on voting behavior of information disseminated over the Internet. We address endogeneity in Internet availability by exploiting regional and technological peculiarities of the preexisting voice telephony network that hindered the roll-out of fixed-line infrastructure for high-speed Internet. We find negative effects of Internet availability on voter turnout, which we relate to a crowding-out of TV consumption and increased entertainment consumption. We find no evidence that the Internet systematically benefits specific parties, suggesting ideological self-segregation in online information consumption. Robustness tests, including placebo estimations from the pre-Internet period, support a causal interpretation of our results.

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The economic determinants of U.S. presidential approval: A survey

Michael Berlemann & Sören Enkelmann
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Even after four decades of research it remains unclear, whether presidential popularity depends on the state of the economy. While about half of all studies for the United States find a significant effect of unemployment and inflation on presidential popularity, the others do not. Additional economic issues have rarely been studied. In this survey article we study the likely causes for the inconclusive findings. While various factors have an influence on the results, especially the choice of the sample period is of crucial importance. While in the very long run we find unemployment and inflation to have a robust effect on presidential approval, this holds not true for shorter sub-periods. This result might indicate that the popularity function is instable over time. However, the findings might also be taken as an indication that the most often employed linear estimation approach is inadequate. Further research on these issues is necessary.

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Proportionality and Turnout: Evidence From French Municipalities

Andrew Eggers
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many studies find that voter turnout is higher in proportional representation (PR) elections than in plurality elections, but because the two systems differ in multiple ways and are used in different contexts it is difficult to know precisely why. I focus on municipal elections in France, where cities above a certain population threshold are required to use a PR system while those below use a type of plurality rule; this setting allows me to compare political outcomes across electoral systems while holding fixed a large set of social and political features. I find that the PR system noticeably increases turnout compared with plurality. I provide evidence suggesting that it does so in part by encouraging turnout in lopsided races and in part by inducing entry of new candidates. The findings highlight the importance of electoral proportionality in explaining cross-national differences in voter turnout.

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Attribution Error in Economic Voting: Evidence from Trade Shocks

Rosa Hayes, Masami Imai & Cameron Shelton
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article exploits the international transmission of business cycles to examine the prevalence of attribution error in economic voting in a large panel of countries from 1990 to 2009. We find that voters, on average, exhibit a strong tendency to oust the incumbent governments during an economic downturn, regardless of whether the recession is home-grown or merely imported from trading partners. However, we find important heterogeneity in the extent of attribution error. A split sample analysis shows that countries with more experienced voters, more educated voters, and possibly more informed voters — all conditions that have been shown to mitigate other voter agency problems — do better in distinguishing imported from domestic growth.

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Does Survey Mode Still Matter? Findings from a 2010 Multi-Mode Comparison

Stephen Ansolabehere & Brian Schaffner
Political Analysis, Summer 2014, Pages 285-303

Abstract:
In this article, we present data from a three-mode survey comparison study carried out in 2010. National surveys were fielded at the same time over the Internet (using an opt-in Internet panel), by telephone with live interviews (using a national Random Digit Dialing (RDD) sample of landlines and cell phones), and by mail (using a national sample of residential addresses). Each survey utilized a nearly identical questionnaire soliciting information across a range of political and social indicators, many of which can be validated with government data. Comparing the findings from the modes using a Total Survey Error approach, we demonstrate that a carefully executed opt-in Internet panel produces estimates that are as accurate as a telephone survey and that the two modes differ little in their estimates of other political indicators and their correlates.

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Dynamics in Partisanship during American Presidential Campaigns

Corwin Smidt
Public Opinion Quarterly, Summer 2014, Pages 303-329

Abstract:
Despite their potential importance, little is known about the nature and prevalence of party identification dynamics within American presidential campaigns. This study reviews existing research to propose three basic contrasting models. It then introduces multivariate state space methods that account for sampling error and survey design effects to evaluate each model’s relative support within daily national survey data of the 1984, 2000, 2004, and 2008 presidential campaigns. The results indicate that the balance of party identifiers had near-certain changes during three of the four campaigns, with campaign events often being associated with these changes. These findings suggest that polls and analyses that fail to allow for sudden shifts in party identifications will mask changes in public opinion. More generally, the findings demonstrate that campaigns shape party coalitions on Election Day, and possibly thereafter.

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Uncertainty and Campaigns: The Psychological Mechanism Behind Campaign-Induced Priming

David Peterson
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Campaigns change how some people vote. How campaigns have this effect is less well understood. The prevailing view is that these effects occur by changing the content of voters’ attitudes such as partisanship or issue positions (persuasion) and by changing the weights voters applied to these determinants of vote choice (priming). Recent research has challenged this view and suggests that the support for these priming and persuasion effects is overstated. Unfortunately, no research directly specifies and tests the specific psychological mechanism responsible for campaign priming. In this article, I draw on the differences in the forms of attitude strength and demonstrate that changes in citizens’ uncertainty are responsible for these effects. The results suggest that persuasion and changes in uncertainty (but not ambivalence or importance) are responsible for the changes in voters’ decisions during the campaign. Substantively, the largest effects occur because of changes in the uncertainty voters have about the nature of the candidates’ character traits.

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The Affective Effect on Political Judgment: Comparing the Influences of Candidate Attributes and Issue Congruence

Denis Wu & Renita Coleman
Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines the impact of affect on candidate evaluation and voting intention by conducting an experiment using three treatments: positive, negative, and neutral nonverbal expressions of a fictional congressional office-seeker. Three issues were addressed in the TV interviews. Results show that candidate image exerts a stronger influence on viewers’ voting intention than the candidate’s stance on issues, controlling for viewers’ prior attitudes toward those issues. In addition, negative affect is more powerful than positive, reinforcing the belief that making a good impression will not help a candidate as much as a bad impression will hurt.

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Online Polls and Registration-Based Sampling: A New Method for Pre-Election Polling

Michael Barber et al.
Political Analysis, Summer 2014, Pages 321-335

Abstract:
This article outlines a new method for surveys to study elections and voter attitudes. Pre-election surveys often suffer from an inability to identify and survey the likely electorate for the upcoming election. We propose a new and inexpensive method to conduct representative surveys of the electorate. We demonstrate the performance of our method in producing a representative sample of the future electorate that can be used to study campaign dynamics and many other issues. We compare pre-election outcome forecasts to election outcomes in seven primary and general election surveys conducted prior to the 2008 and 2010 primary and general elections in three states. The results indicate that the methodology produces representative samples, including in low-turnout elections such as primaries where traditional methods have difficulty consistently sampling the electorate. This new methodology combines Probability Proportional to Size (PPS) sampling, mailed invitation letters, and online administration of the questionnaire. The PPS sample is drawn based on a model employing variables from the publicly available voter file to produce a probability of voting score for each individual voter. The proposed method provides researchers a valuable tool to study the attitudes of the voting public.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Peace be upon you

Religion in the Arab Spring: Between Two Competing Narratives

Michael Hoffman & Amaney Jamal
Journal of Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Did religion promote or discourage participation in protest against authoritarian regimes during the Arab Spring? Using unique data collected in Tunisia and Egypt soon after the fall of their respective regimes, we examine how various dimensions of religiosity were associated with higher or lower levels of protest during these important events. Using these original new data, we reach a novel conclusion: Qur’an reading, not mosque attendance, is robustly associated with a considerable increase in the likelihood of participating in protest. Furthermore, this relationship is not simply a function of support for political Islam. Evidence suggests that motivation mechanisms rather than political resources are the reason behind this result. Qur’an readers are more sensitive to inequities and more supportive of democracy than are nonreaders. These findings suggest a powerful new set of mechanisms by which religion may, in fact, help to structure political protest more generally.

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Taking a Leap of Faith: Reminders of God Lead to Greater Risk Taking

Kai Qin Chan, Eddie Mun Wai Tong & Yan Lin Tan
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent psychological models of religion suggest that religious beliefs provide a form of psychological control. Independently, other research has found that an increase in psychological control can lead people to adopt riskier strategies. Hence, we hypothesized that activation of God concepts increases risk taking. In three studies, we found that God primes led to take greater risk taking as though participants were literally “taking a leap of faith.” In Study 2, we presented evidence that this effect could be mediated by increased psychological control. Although consistent with psychological models of religion, the findings also contradict some survey findings that religious people are less risk seeking. This inconsistency was addressed in Study 3 by looking at how religion, morality, and risk taking are related. Implications to a relational schema approach to study the effects of God primes are discussed.

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Constitutional Islamization and Human Rights: The Surprising Origin and Spread of Islamic Supremacy in Constitutions

Dawood Ahmed & Tom Ginsburg
Virginia Journal of International Law, forthcoming

Abstract:
The events of the Arab Spring and recent military coup in Egypt have highlighted the central importance of the constitutional treatment of Islam. Many constitutions in the Muslim world incorporate clauses that make Islamic law supreme or provide that laws repugnant to Islam will be void. The prevalence and impact of these “Islamic supremacy clauses” is of immense importance for constitutional design — not just for Muslim countries but also for U.S. foreign policy in the region, which became engaged in the issue during constitution-writing in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, to date, there has been no systematic or empirical examination of these clauses. Many questions remain unexplored: Where did these clauses originate? How have they spread? Are they anti-democratic impositions? What determines their adoption in national constitutions? This Article fills this gap. Relying on an original dataset based on the coding of all national constitutions since 1789 and case studies from four countries — Iran, Afghanistan, Egypt and Iraq — it traces the origin and adoption of Islamic supremacy clauses since their first appearance in Iran in 1907. We make three major, counterintuitive claims: First, we argue that the repugnancy clause — the most robust form of Islamic supremacy clause — has its origins in British colonial law, and indeed, that all forms of Islamic supremacy are more prevalent in former British colonies than in other states in the region. Second, we argue that in many cases, these clauses are not only popularly demanded, but are also first introduced into their respective jurisdictions during moments of liberalization and modernization. Third, contrary to the claims of those who assume that the constitutional incorporation of Islam will be antithetical to human rights, we demonstrate that almost every instance of “Constitutional Islamization” is accompanied by an expansion, and not a reduction, in the rights provided by the constitution. Indeed, constitutions which incorporate Islamic supremacy clauses are even more rights-heavy than constitutions of other Muslim countries which do not incorporate these clauses. We explain the incidence of this surprising relationship using the logic of coalitional politics. These findings have significant normative implications. On a broader level, our work supports the view of scholars who argue that the constitutional incorporation of Islam is not only compatible with the constitutional incorporation of basic principles of liberal democracy, but that more democracy in the Muslim world may mean more Islam in the public sphere; in fact, we find that more democratic countries are not necessarily any less likely to adopt Islamic supremacy clauses. Our findings also suggest that outsiders monitoring constitution-making in majority Muslim countries who argue for the exclusion of Islamic clauses are focused on a straw man; not only are these clauses popular, but they are nearly always accompanied by a set of rights provisions that could advance basic values of liberal democracy. We accordingly suggest that constitutional advisors should focus more attention on the basic political structures of the constitution, including the design of constitutional courts and other bodies that will engage in interpretation, than on the Islamic provisions themselves.

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Religious Affiliation and Hiring Discrimination in the American South: A Field Experiment

Michael Wallace, Bradley Wright & Allen Hyde
Social Currents, June 2014, Pages 189-207

Abstract:
This article describes a field experiment in which we sent fictitious résumés to advertised job openings throughout the American South. We randomly altered the résumés to indicate affiliation in one of seven religious groups or a control group. We found that applicants who expressed a religious identity were 26 percent less likely to receive a response from employers. In general, Muslims, pagans, and atheists suffered the highest levels of discriminatory treatment from employers, a fictitious religious group and Catholics experienced moderate levels, evangelical Christians encountered little, and Jews received no discernible discrimination. We also found evidence suggesting the possibility that Jews received preferential treatment over other religious groups in employer responses. The results fit best with models of religious discrimination rooted in secularization theory and cultural distaste theory. We briefly discuss what our findings suggest for a more robust theory of prejudice and discrimination in society.

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A Call to Honesty: Extending Religious Priming of Moral Behavior to Middle Eastern Muslims

Mark Aveyard
PLoS ONE, July 2014

Abstract:
Two experiments with Middle Eastern participants explored the generalizability of prior research on religious priming and moral behavior to a novel cultural and religious context. Participants in Experiment 1 completed a sentence unscrambling task with religious or non-religious content (in Arabic) before taking an unsupervised math test on which cheating was possible and incentivized. No difference in honesty rates emerged between the two groups, failing to extend findings from previous research with similar stimuli. Experiment 2 tested the effects of the athan, the Islamic call to prayer, using the same design. This naturalistic religious prime produced higher rates of honesty (68%) compared to controls who did not hear the call to prayer (53%).These results raise the possibility that the psychological mechanisms used by religion to influence moral behavior might differ between religions and cultures, highlighting an avenue of exploration for future research. The experiments here also address two growing concerns in psychological science: that the absence of replications casts doubt on the reliability of original research findings, and that the Westernized state of psychological science casts doubt on the generalizability of such work.

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Does Adolescents’ Religiousness Moderate Links Between Harsh Parenting and Adolescent Substance Use?

Jungmeen Kim-Spoon et al.
Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Extant literature suggests that religiousness is inversely related to adolescent substance use; yet, no systematic investigation has examined whether religiousness may be a protective factor against substance use in the presence of risk factors. We examined whether religiousness moderates the links between parents’ psychological and physical aggression and adolescent substance use directly and indirectly through adolescent self-control. The sample comprised adolescents (n = 220, 45% female) and their primary caregivers. Structural equation modeling analyses suggested that adolescents with low religiousness were likely to engage in substance use when subjected to harsh parenting, but there was no association between harsh parenting and substance use among adolescents with high religiousness. Furthermore, although harsh parenting was related to poor adolescent self-control regardless of religiousness levels, poor self-control was significantly related to substance use for adolescents with low religiousness, whereas the link between poor self-control and substance use did not exist for adolescents with high religiousness. The findings present the first evidence that adolescent religiousness may be a powerful buffering factor that can positively alter pathways to substance use in the presence of risk factors such as harsh parenting and poor self-control.

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Judgments About Fact and Fiction by Children From Religious and Nonreligious Backgrounds

Kathleen Corriveau, Eva Chen & Paul Harris
Cognitive Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In two studies, 5- and 6-year-old children were questioned about the status of the protagonist embedded in three different types of stories. In realistic stories that only included ordinary events, all children, irrespective of family background and schooling, claimed that the protagonist was a real person. In religious stories that included ordinarily impossible events brought about by divine intervention, claims about the status of the protagonist varied sharply with exposure to religion. Children who went to church or were enrolled in a parochial school, or both, judged the protagonist in religious stories to be a real person, whereas secular children with no such exposure to religion judged the protagonist in religious stories to be fictional. Children's upbringing was also related to their judgment about the protagonist in fantastical stories that included ordinarily impossible events whether brought about by magic (Study 1) or without reference to magic (Study 2). Secular children were more likely than religious children to judge the protagonist in such fantastical stories to be fictional. The results suggest that exposure to religious ideas has a powerful impact on children's differentiation between reality and fiction, not just for religious stories but also for fantastical stories.

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More Like Us: How Religious Service Attendance Hinders Interracial Romance

Samuel Perry
Sociology of Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Religious service attendance is a consistently strong predictor of aversion to interracial romance, but intervening social mechanisms at work in this relationship have yet to be explicated. This article examines whether the persistent negative association between religious service attendance and interracial romance is mediated by a preference for religio-cultural endogamy — a form of cultural purity. Multivariate analyses of national-level survey data reveal that persons who believe it is more important that their romantic partner shares their particular religious understandings are less likely to have interracially dated, and that the initially strong effect of religious service attendance on interracial romance is completely mediated by the inclusion of desire for religio-cultural endogamy in regression models. I argue that, because the majority of American congregations are racially homogenous, more frequent attendance hinders interracial romantic engagement by embedding churchgoers within primarily same-race religio-cultural communities, and because congregational embeddedness influences members to seek romantic partners similar to the group, more embedded members are less likely to view different-race persons as sharing their religio-cultural understandings, and thus, as romantic options.

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The Role of Bridging Cultural Practices in Racially and Socioeconomically Diverse Civic Organizations

Ruth Braunstein, Brad Fulton & Richard Wood
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Organizations can benefit from being internally diverse, but they may also face significant challenges arising from such diversity. Potential benefits include increased organizational innovation, legitimacy, and strategic capacity; challenges include threats to organizational stability, efficacy, and survival. In this article, we analyze the dynamics of internal diversity within a field of politically oriented civic organizations. We find that “bridging cultural practices” serve as a key mechanism through which racially and socioeconomically diverse organizations navigate challenges generated by internal differences. Drawing on data from extended ethnographic fieldwork within one local faith-based community organizing coalition, we describe how particular prayer practices are used to bridge differences within group settings marked by diversity. Furthermore, using data from a national study of all faith-based community organizing coalitions in the United States, we find that a coalition’s prayer practices are associated with its objective level of racial and socioeconomic diversity and its subjective perception of challenges arising from such diversity. Our multi-method analysis supports the argument that diverse coalitions use bridging prayer practices to navigate organizational challenges arising from racial and socioeconomic diversity, and we argue that bridging cultural practices may play a similar role within other kinds of diverse organizations.

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Religion, Motherhood, and the Spirit of Capitalism

Jeremy Reynolds & Matthew May
Social Currents, June 2014, Pages 173-188

Abstract:
Religion can help people cope with problems, but in the modern U.S. economy, it may also create problems for some women. Conservative Protestantism encourages women to avoid paid work when they have young children, but that is a preference many families cannot afford. To better understand how workplace outcomes may reflect religion, we examine whether conservative Protestant, mainline Protestant, Catholic, and non-religious women work the number of hours they prefer. We pay special attention to the interplay of religion and motherhood. We find that among new mothers, conservative Protestants are among the most likely to wish they were working fewer hours. Non-religious women, in contrast, are the least likely to want fewer hours. Among women who are not new mothers, the situation is reversed. Conservative Protestants are least likely to wish they were working fewer hours and non-religious women are the most likely to want fewer hours. These results suggest that researchers interested in the subjective side of employment should pay more attention to how religion shapes experiences of paid work.

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Shared beliefs enhance shared feelings: Religious/irreligious identifications modulate empathic neural responses

Siyuan Huang & Shihui Han
Social Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent neuroimaging research has revealed stronger empathic neural responses to same-race compared to other-race individuals. Is the in-group favouritism in empathic neural responses specific to race identification or a more general effect of social identification—including those based on religious/irreligious beliefs? The present study investigated whether and how intergroup relationships based on religious/irreligious identifications modulate empathic neural responses to others’ pain expressions. We recorded event-related brain potentials from Chinese Christian and atheist participants while they perceived pain or neutral expressions of Chinese faces that were marked as being Christians or atheists. We found that both Christian and atheist participants showed stronger neural activity to pain (versus neutral) expressions at 132–168 ms and 200–320 ms over the frontal region to those with the same (versus different) religious/irreligious beliefs. The in-group favouritism in empathic neural responses was also evident in a later time window (412–612 ms) over the central/parietal regions in Christian but not in atheist participants. Our results indicate that the intergroup relationship based on shared beliefs, either religious or irreligious, can lead to in-group favouritism in empathy for others’ suffering.

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The Religious Context of Welfare Attitudes

Tom VanHeuvelen
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, June 2014, Pages 268–295

Abstract:
This article examines the influence of three dimensions of religion — belonging (faith tradition membership), behaving (frequency of service attendance), and context (one's relationship to aggregate population characteristics) — on attitudes toward multiple forms of state-provided social protection, or welfare attitudes. To do so, this article uses data from 17 countries surveyed in the 2006 “Role of Government” wave of the International Social Survey Program (ISSP). Results from mixed effects regression show that contextual effects are highly predictive of welfare attitudes. Nations that are more religiously heterogeneous are less supportive of state protection, while nations that are more homogeneous, particularly Catholic nations, are more supportive. Results hold net of fractionalization, political institutional measures, and economic characteristics. At the individual level, all three dimensions of religiosity are predictive of welfare attitudes. These patterns suggest that in rich Western democracies, religion continues to play an important role in structuring the moral economies.

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The efficacy of religious service attendance in reducing depressive symptoms

Jianxiang Zou et al.
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, June 2014, Pages 911-918

Purpose: To examine whether religiosity may help people ward off depression, we investigated the association between religious service attendance and depressive symptom scores in a community-based 30-year follow-up longitudinal study.

Methods: This study used data on 754 subjects followed over 30 years and evaluated at four time points. Linear mixed effects models were used to assess the association between religious service attendance and depressive symptoms development; frequency of attendance and age also were used as predictors. Demographic factors, life-time trauma, family socioeconomic status, and recent negative events were considered as control variables.

Results: Depressive symptom scores were reduced by an average of 0.518 units (95 % CI from −0.855 to −0.180, p < 0.005) each year in subjects who attended religious services as compared with subjects who did not. The more frequent the religious service attendance, the stronger the influence on depressive symptoms when compared with non-attendance. Yearly, monthly, and weekly religious service attendance reduced depression scores by 0.474 (95 % CI from −0.841 to −0.106, p < 0.01), 0.495 (95 % CI from −0.933 to −0.057, p < 0.05) and 0.634 (95 % CI from −1.056 to −0.212, p < 0.005) units on average, respectively, when compared with non-attendance after controlling for other covariates.

Conclusion: Religious service attendance may reduce depressive symptoms significantly, with more frequent attendance having an increasingly greater impact on symptom reduction in this 30-year community-based longitudinal study.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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