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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Weight of history

Cohort of birth modifies the association between FTO genotype and BMI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fast Food Consumption and Academic Growth in Late Childhood

Kelly Purtell & Elizabeth Gershoff
Clinical Pediatrics, forthcoming

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

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

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

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

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

Eric Robinson, Paul Aveyard & Susan Jebb
Obesity, forthcoming

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

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

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

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

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Effects of subtle and explicit health messages on food choice

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gregory Colman & Dhaval Dave
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

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

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

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

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

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Spatial-Temporal Modeling of Neighborhood Sociodemographic Characteristics and Food Stores

Archana Lamichhane et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

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

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

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

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

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The weight of stigma: Cortisol reactivity to manipulated weight stigma

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

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

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

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

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

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

Annette Horstmann et al.
Appetite, forthcoming

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

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

Kerri Boutelle et al.
International Journal of Obesity, forthcoming

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

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

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

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

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

Rania Mekary et al.
Obesity, forthcoming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, January 5, 2015

January effect

How the SEC Helps Speedy Traders

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

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

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

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

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

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The Freedom of Information Act and the Race Towards Information Acquisition

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

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

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Reuters Sentiment and Stock Returns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Structured debt ratings: Evidence on conflicts of interest

Matthias Efing & Harald Hau
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

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

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

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

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

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Momentum Trading, Return Chasing, and Predictable Crashes

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

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

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Informational efficiency of the clandestine and official gold markets in Paris

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

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

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Why ‘financialisation’ hasn’t depressed US productive investment

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

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

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

Lawrence Brown et al.
Journal of Accounting Research, forthcoming

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

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Information reliability and welfare: A theory of coarse credit ratings

Anand Goel & Anjan Thakor
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

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

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

Rod Duclos
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

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

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Retail Financial Advice: Does One Size Fit All?

Stephen Foerster et al.
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Geographic Proximity and Analyst Coverage Decisions: Evidence from IPOs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Socialize

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sheldon Cohen et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Vagal Flexibility: A Physiological Predictor of Social Sensitivity

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

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

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

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

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

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Perceived Social Support Reduces the Pain of Spending Money

Qian Xu et al.
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

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

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

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

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

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Number of Siblings and Social Skills Revisited Among American Fifth Graders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Reciprocal associations between friendship attachment and relational experiences in adolescence

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

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

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Self-Disclosure and the Liking of Participants in Reality TV

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

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

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

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

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

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, January 3, 2015

More than a feeling

The Unburdening Effects of Forgiveness: Effects on Slant Perception and Jumping Height

Xue Zheng et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research shows that in the aftermath of conflict, forgiveness improves victims’ well-being and the victim–offender relationship. Building on the research on embodied perception and economy of action, we demonstrate that forgiveness also has implications for victims’ perceptions and behavior in the physical domain. Metaphorically, unforgiveness is a burden that can be lightened by forgiveness; we show that people induced to feel forgiveness perceive hills to be less steep (Study 1) and jump higher in an ostensible fitness test (Study 2) than people who are induced to feel unforgiveness. These findings suggest that forgiveness may lighten the physical burden of unforgiveness, providing evidence that forgiveness can help victims overcome the negative effects of conflict.

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Some like it hot: Testosterone predicts laboratory eating behavior of spicy food

Laurent Bègue et al.
Physiology & Behavior, February 2015, Pages 375–377

Abstract:
In the present study, we analyzed the relationship between eating behavior of spicy food and endogenous testosterone. Participants included 114 males between the ages of 18 and 44 recruited from the community. They were asked to indicate their preferences regarding spicy food and were then asked to season a sample of mashed potatoes with pepper sauce and salt (control substance) prior to evaluating the spiciness of the meal. A positive correlation was observed between endogenous salivary testosterone and the quantity of hot sauce individuals voluntarily and spontaneously consumed with a meal served as part of a laboratory task. In contrast, significant correlations were not observed between testosterone and behavioral preference for salty foods. This study suggests that behavioral preference for spicy food among men is related to endogenous testosterone levels.

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Seeing Is Believing: Impact of Social Modeling on Placebo and Nocebo Responding

Kate Faasse et al.
Health Psychology, forthcoming

Objective: This study investigated the impact of the social modeling of side effects following placebo medication ingestion on the nocebo and placebo effect. It also investigated whether medication branding (brand or generic labeling) moderated social modeling effects.

Method: Eighty-two university students took part in the study which was purportedly investigating the impact of fast-acting beta-blocker medications (actually placebos) on preexamination anxiety. After taking the medication, participants were randomized to either witness a female confederate report experiencing side effects or no side effects after taking the same medication. Differences in symptom reporting, blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety were assessed between the social modeling of side effects and no modeling groups.

Results: Seeing a female confederate report side effects reduced the placebo effect in systolic (p = .009) and diastolic blood pressure (p = .033). Seeing a female confederate report side effects also increased both total reported symptoms (mean [SE] 7.35 [.54] vs. 5.16 [0.53] p = .005) and symptoms attributed to the medication (5.27 [0.60] vs. 3.04 [0.59] p = .01), although the effect on symptoms was only seen in female participants. Females who saw the confederate report side effects reported approximately twice the number of symptoms as those in the no modeling group. Social modeling did not affect heart rate or anxiety. Medication branding did not influence placebo or nocebo outcomes.

Conclusions: The social modeling of symptoms can substantially reduce or eliminate the placebo effect. Viewing a female confederate display symptoms after taking the same medication increases symptom reporting in females.

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Cardiac perception enhances stress experience

Nicole Kindermann & Natalie Werner
Journal of Psychophysiology, Fall 2014, Pages 225-232

Abstract:
In the present study we aimed to investigate the impact of the ability to perceive bodily changes as indexed by the perception of one’s heartbeat (cardiac perception) on emotional experience when being confronted with a mental stressor. To induce stress, participants high and low in cardiac perception performed a computerized mental arithmetic test while listening to a white noise increasing in volume. Emotional experience and heart rate were assessed as indices of stress response. Our results show that participants high in cardiac perception reported more negative emotions during the stress period compared to participants low in cardiac perception, though heart rate did not differ between the groups. Our findings suggest that cardiac perception moderates the stress experience by enhancing the perceived emotion. Thus we were able to demonstrate that cardiac perception contributes as a factor explaining the variance in individuals’ emotional response to a stressor.

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Cold Thermal Temperature Threatens Belonging: The Moderating Role of Perceived Social Support

Zhansheng Chen, Kai-Tak Poon & Nathan DeWall
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent research suggests that thermal (cold vs. warm) experience influences people’s perception and construal of the social world. Extending this line of research, the present investigation examined whether cold thermal temperature would influence people’s psychological feelings of belonging. We found that drinking cold water threatened feelings of belonging (Study 1). An additional study replicated this effect and further showed that it was moderated by perceived family support, such that the effect of cold water on the belonging was only found among participants with low family support (Study 2). These findings not only strengthen the interconnection between social and physical experiences, but they also demonstrate the interactive effect of these two types of experiences on psychological feelings. Implications are discussed.

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Does salt increase thirst?

Micah Leshem
Appetite, February 2015, Pages 70–75

Abstract:
Our diet is believed to be overly rich in sodium, and it is commonly believed that sodium intake increases drinking. Hence the concern of a possible contribution of dietary sodium to beverage intake which in turn may contribute to obesity and ill health. Here we examine whether voluntary, acute intake of a sodium load, as occurs in routine eating and snacking, increases thirst and drinking. We find that after ingesting 3.5 or 4.4 g NaCl (men) and 1.9 or 3.7 g (women) on nuts during 15 minutes, there is no increase in thirst or drinking of freely available water in the following 2 h compared with eating similar amounts of sugared or unflavored nuts. This suggests that routine ingestion of boluses of salt (~30–40% of daily intake for men, ~ 20–40% for women) does not increase drinking. Methodological concerns such as about nuts as vehicle for sodium suggest further research to establish the generalizability of this unexpected result.

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A mind you can count on: Validating breath counting as a behavioral measure of mindfulness

Daniel Levinson et al.
Frontiers in Psychology, October 2014

Abstract:
Mindfulness practice of present moment awareness promises many benefits, but has eluded rigorous behavioral measurement. To date, research has relied on self-reported mindfulness or heterogeneous mindfulness trainings to infer skillful mindfulness practice and its effects. In four independent studies with over 400 total participants, we present the first construct validation of a behavioral measure of mindfulness, breath counting. We found it was reliable, correlated with self-reported mindfulness, differentiated long-term meditators from age-matched controls, and was distinct from sustained attention and working memory measures. In addition, we employed breath counting to test the nomological network of mindfulness. As theorized, we found skill in breath counting associated with more meta-awareness, less mind wandering, better mood, and greater non-attachment (i.e., less attentional capture by distractors formerly paired with reward). We also found in a randomized online training study that 4 weeks of breath counting training improved mindfulness and decreased mind wandering relative to working memory training and no training controls. Together, these findings provide the first evidence for breath counting as a behavioral measure of mindfulness.

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Perceiving one's body shapes empathy

Delphine Grynberg & Olga Pollatos
Physiology & Behavior, March 2015, Pages 54–60

Background: Empathy is a basic human ability with affective and cognitive facets and high interindividual variability. Accurately detecting one's internal body signals (interoceptive sensitivity) strongly contributes to the awareness of oneself and is known to interact with emotional and cognitive processes. This study investigated whether interoceptive sensitivity (i.e., heartbeat perception task) shapes affective and cognitive empathy.

Methods: Ninety-three participants were asked to report the valence of their feelings, as well as the degree of compassion, arousal, and distress they felt in response to pictures depicting other people in pain or in non-pain situations. Participants also had to estimate how painful the situation was.

Results: Main results showed that greater interoceptive sensitivity enhanced the estimated degree of pain (cognitive empathy), as well as arousal and feelings of compassion (affective empathy), in response to painful pictures.

Conclusions: The accurate perception of bodily states and their representation shape both affective and cognitive empathy. This perception enables us to feel more compassion for another person and to evaluate the pain that they experience as being more intense.

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Mentally walking through doorways causes forgetting: The location updating effect and imagination

Zachary Lawrence & Daniel Peterson
Memory, forthcoming

Abstract:
Researchers have documented an intriguing phenomenon whereby simply walking through a doorway causes forgetting (the location updating effect). The Event Horizon Model is the most commonly cited theory to explain these data. Importantly, this model explains the effect without invoking the importance or reliance upon perceptual information (i.e., seeing oneself pass through the doorway). This generates the intriguing hypothesis that the effect may be demonstrated in participants who simply imagine walking through a doorway. Across two experiments, we explicitly test this hypothesis. Participants familiarised themselves with both real (Experiment 1) and virtual (Experiment 2) environments which served as the setting for their mental walk. They were then provided with an image to remember and were instructed to imagine themselves walking through the previously presented space. In both experiments, when the mental walk required participants to pass through a doorway, more forgetting occurred, consistent with the predictions laid out in the Event Horizon Model.

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Inhibition-Induced Forgetting: When More Control Leads to Less Memory

Yu-Chin Chiu & Tobias Egner
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The ability to inhibit prepotent responses is a core executive function, but the relation of response inhibition to other cognitive operations is poorly understood. In the study reported here, we examined inhibitory control through the lens of incidental memory. Participants categorized face stimuli by gender in a go/no-go task (Experiments 1 and 2) or a stop-signal task (Experiment 3) and, after a short delay, performed a surprise recognition memory task for those faces. Memory was impaired for stimuli presented during no-go and stop trials compared with those presented during go trials. Experiment 4 showed that this inhibition-induced forgetting was not attributable to event congruency. In Experiment 5, we combined a go/no-go task with a dot-probe test and found that probe detection during no-go trials was inferior to that on go trials. This result supports the hypothesis that inhibition-induced forgetting occurs when response inhibition shunts attentional resources from perceptual stimulus encoding to action control.

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The effects of romantic love on mentalizing abilities

Rafael Wlodarski & Robin Dunbar
Review of General Psychology, December 2014, Pages 313-321

Abstract:
The effects of the human pair-bonded state of “romantic love” on cognitive function remain relatively unexplored. Theories on cognitive priming suggest that a state of love may activate love-relevant schemas, such as mentalizing about the beliefs of another individual, and may thus improve mentalizing abilities. On the other hand, recent functional MRI (fMRI) research on individuals who are in love suggests that several brain regions associated with mentalizing may be “deactivated” during the presentation of a love prime, potentially affecting mentalizing cognitions and behaviors. The current study aimed to investigate experimentally the effect of a love prime on a constituent aspect of mentalizing — the attribution of emotional states to others. Ninety-one participants who stated they were “deeply in love” with their romantic partner completed a cognitive task involving the assessment of emotional content of facial stimuli (the Reading the Mind in the Eyes task) immediately after the presentation of either a love prime or a neutral prime. Individuals were significantly better at interpreting the emotional states of others after a love prime than after a neutral prime, particularly males assessing negative emotional stimuli. These results suggest that presentation of a love stimulus can prime love-relevant networks and enhance subsequent performance on conceptually related mentalizing tasks.

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Architectural Design and the Brain: Effects of Ceiling Height and Perceived Enclosure on Beauty Judgments and Approach-avoidance Decisions

Oshin Vartanian et al.
Journal of Environmental Psychology, March 2015, Pages 10–18

Abstract:
We examined the effects of ceiling height and perceived enclosure — defined as perceived visual and locomotive permeability — on aesthetic judgments and approach-avoidance decisions in architectural design. Furthermore, to gain traction on the mechanisms driving the observed effects, we employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to explore their neural correlates. Rooms with higher ceilings were more likely to be judged as beautiful, and activated structures involved in visuospatial exploration and attention in the dorsal stream. Open rooms were more likely to be judged as beautiful, and activated structures underlying perceived visual motion. Additionally, enclosed rooms were more likely to elicit exit decisions and activated the anterior midcingulate cortex (aMCC) — the region within the cingulate gyrus with direct projections from the amygdala. This suggests that a reduction in perceived visual and locomotive permeability characteristic of enclosed spaces might elicit an emotional reaction that accompanies exit decisions.

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Single bouts of exercise selectively sustain attentional processes

Matthew Pontifex et al.
Psychophysiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined how single bouts of exercise may differentially modulate neuroelectric correlates of attentional orienting and processing. Using a within-participants design, ERPs and task performance were assessed in response to a perceptually challenging three-stimulus oddball task prior to and following a bout of exercise or seated rest during two separate, counterbalanced sessions. Findings revealed that, following a single bout of exercise, attentional processing was sustained relative to pretest whereas prolonged sitting resulted in attentional decrements. Focal attention resulting from attentional orienting, in contrast, does not appear to be sensitive to the influences of single bouts of physical activity. These findings suggest that acute exercise-induced changes in cognition do not originate from an overall modulation of attention but instead are specific to aspects of attentional processing.

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The Size-Weight Illusion Induced Through Human Echolocation

Gavin Buckingham et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Certain blind individuals have learned to interpret the echoes of self-generated sounds to perceive the structure of objects in their environment. The current work examined how far the influence of this unique form of sensory substitution extends by testing whether echolocation-induced representations of object size could influence weight perception. A small group of echolocation experts made tongue clicks or finger snaps toward cubes of varying sizes and weights before lifting them. These echolocators experienced a robust size-weight illusion. This experiment provides the first demonstration of a sensory substitution technique whereby the substituted sense influences the conscious perception through an intact sense.

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Perceiving a story outside of conscious awareness: When we infer narrative attributes from subliminal sequential stimuli

Naoaki Kawakami & Fujio Yoshida
Consciousness and Cognition, May 2015, Pages 53–66

Abstract:
Perceiving a story behind successive movements plays an important role in our lives. From a general perspective, such higher mental activity would seem to depend on conscious processes. Using a subliminal priming paradigm, we demonstrated that such story perception occurs without conscious awareness. In the experiments, participants were subliminally presented with sequential pictures that represented a story in which one geometrical figure was chased by the other figure, and in which one fictitious character defeated the other character in a tug-of-war. Although the participants could not report having seen the pictures, their automatic mental associations (i.e., associations that are activated unintentionally, difficult to control, and not necessarily endorsed at a conscious level) were shifted to line up with the story. The results suggest that story perception operates outside of conscious awareness. Implications for research on the unconscious were also briefly discussed.

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Just the sight of you: Postural effects of interpersonal visual contact at sea

Manuel Varlet et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, December 2014, Pages 2310-2318

Abstract:
The control of standing body posture is affected by mechanical perturbations, such as motion of the support surface. Postural activity also is responsive to subtle social factors: When 2 people interact there is spontaneous interpersonal coordination of their movements. We asked whether interpersonal postural coordination based on visual contact would be robust in the presence of mechanical perturbations that characterize sea travel. During an ocean voyage, pairs of participants stood facing together or facing apart. Interpersonal coordination of body sway was stronger when participants faced each other than when they faced apart. Furthermore, overall body movement was reduced when individuals faced together, suggesting that the sight of another person improved individuals’ ability to compensate for ship motion. These findings provide the first evidence that the “soft” constraint of interpersonal visual contact can influence interpersonal postural coordination as people simultaneously adjust postural sway in response to powerful mechanical (i.e., “hard”) constraints.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, January 2, 2015

Advanced placement

The Empire Is Dead, Long Live the Empire! Long-Run Persistence of Trust and Corruption in the Bureaucracy

Sascha Becker et al.
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We hypothesize that the Habsburg Empire with its well-respected administration increased citizens’ trust in local public services. In several Eastern European countries, communities on both sides of the long-gone Habsburg border have shared common formal institutions for a century now. We use a border specification and a two-dimensional geographic regression discontinuity design to identify from individuals living within a restricted band around the former border. We find that historical Habsburg affiliation increases current trust and reduces corruption in courts and police. Falsification tests of spuriously moved borders, geographic and pre-existing differences, and interpersonal trust corroborate a genuine Habsburg effect.

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Forced Coexistence and Economic Development: Evidence From Native American Reservations

Christian Dippel
Econometrica, November 2014, Pages 2131–2165

Abstract:
Studying Native American reservations, and their historical formation, I find that their forced integration of autonomous polities into a system of shared governance had large negative long-run consequences, even though the affected people were ethnically and linguistically homogenous. Reservations that combined multiple sub-tribal bands when they were formed are 30% poorer today, even when conditioning on pre-reservation political traditions. The results hold with tribe fixed effects, identifying only off within-tribe variation across reservations. I also provide estimates from an instrumental variable strategy based on historical mining rushes that led to exogenously more centralized reservations. Data on the timing of economic divergence and on contemporary political conflict suggest that the primary mechanism runs from persistent social divisions through the quality of local governance to the local economic environment.

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Does Law and Order Attenuate the Benefits of Democracy on Economic Growth?

Andreas Assiotis & Kevin Sylwester
Economica, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent studies have reported positive associations between democracy and economic growth. They have also explored how associations could differ across regions or income levels. However, might the effects of democracy on growth also depend on factors such as institutions promoting law and order? Using a panel specification, we employ a democracy–law and order interactive term to examine if the effects of democracy on economic growth depend on these other institutions. We find that positive effects of democracy diminish and might even turn negative in countries where other institutions such as those supporting law and order are strong.

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Foreign Aided: Why Democratization Brings Growth When Democracy Does Not

Jacob Gerner Hariri
British Journal of Political Science, January 2015, Pages 53-71

Abstract:
There is an unresolved puzzle in research on the economics of democracy. While there is consensus that democracy is not generally associated with higher rates of economic growth, recent studies have found that democratization is followed by growth. But why should becoming a democracy bring growth if being one does not? This article shows that a substantial and immediate influx of foreign aid into new democracies accounts for the positive growth effect of democratization. The domestic regime characteristics of neither democracy nor democratization therefore seems to bring growth. The importance of aid in explaining the democratization-growth nexus underscores that democratizations do not occur in vacuum and cannot be fully understood from internal factors alone.

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The franchise, taxes, and public goods: The political economy of infrastructure investment in nineteenth century England

Jonathan Chapman
Caltech Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
Many theories of democratization suggest that extending the right to vote will lead to increased government expenditure (e.g. Meltzer and Richard, 1981; Lizzeri and Persico, 2004; Acemoglu and Robinson, 2000). However, these models frequently assume that government can engage in transfer expenditure, which is often not true for local governments. This paper presents and tests a model in which government expenditure is limited to the provision of public goods. The model predicts that the poor and the rich desire lower public goods expenditure than the middle class: the rich because of the relatively high tax burden, and the poor because of a high marginal utility of consumption. Consequently extensions of the franchise to the poor can be associated with declines in government expenditure on public goods. This prediction is tested using a new dataset of local government financial accounts in England between 1867 and 1900, which captures government expenditure on key infrastructure projects that are not included in many studies of national democratic reform. The empirical analysis exploits plausibly exogenous variation in the extent of the franchise to identify the effects of extending voting rights to the poor. The results show strong support for the theoretical prediction: expenditure increased following relatively small extensions of the franchise, but fell following extensions of the franchise beyond around 50% of the adult male population.

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Unintended Consequences of Women’s Inheritance Rights on Female Mortality in India

Daniel Rosenblum
Economic Development and Cultural Change, January 2015, Pages 223-248

Abstract:
Before 2005, most states of India only gave sons the legal right to inherit their parents’ ancestral land. However, five states in India had legal reforms giving daughters the same inheritance rights as sons. This article examines the impact of these reforms on female child mortality and fertility. A model shows that if parents desire to maximize their bequest per son, then giving daughters inheritance rights increases the cost of daughters, causing parents to reduce investment in their daughters’ health or decrease fertility. A difference-in-difference analysis shows that the reforms caused an increase in female child mortality but had no effect on fertility rates.

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It's a Small World after All: Internet Access and Institutional Quality

Kathleen Sheehan & Andrew Young
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a panel of up to 114 countries covering the years 1990 through 2010, we estimate the effect of Internet use on changes in countries' Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) scores. The point estimates suggest that the marginal effect is generally positive. However, starting from above-average EFW scores (>7.7 out of 10; examples in 2010 include the UK, Switzerland, and Hong Kong) the marginal effect turns negative. Taking this interaction into account, the marginal effect is positive and statistically significant for countries starting at initial EFW scores of around 6 or less. Examples of countries with 2010 EFW scores near this threshold include China, Nigeria, and Pakistan. We discuss mechanisms that potentially generate this conditional relationship between Internet use and institutional change.

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Aid Externalities: Evidence from PEPFAR in Africa

Melissa Lee & Melina Platas Izama
World Development, March 2015, Pages 281–294

Abstract:
Do targeted aid programs have unintended consequences outside of the target issue area? We investigate this question with an examination of one of the largest targeted aid programs in the world: the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Critics of PEPFAR worry that a targeted program focusing on single diseases has a negative externality, in which the influx of massive amounts of target aid damages broader public health systems in countries that receive PEPFAR funds. Using a difference-in-differences identification strategy, we find statistical evidence that supports critics of targeted aid.

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The great Indian calorie debate: Explaining rising undernourishment during India’s rapid economic growth

Lisa Smith
Food Policy, January 2015, Pages 53–67

Abstract:
The prevalence of undernourishment in India – the percent of people consuming insufficient calories to meet their energy requirements – has been rising steadily since the mid 1980s. Paradoxically, this period has been one of robust poverty reduction and rapid economic growth. The reasons for the apparent reductions in calorie consumption underlying increased undernourishment have been the subject of intense debate both within India and internationally. This paper critically reviews this debate, finding that is has taken place outside of the context of India’s recent nutrition and epidemiological transitions, which appear to have brought with them increased, not decreased, food consumption. The debate has also taken place under the unchallenged assumption that the data on which the conflicting trends are based, collected as part of the country’s Household Consumption and Expenditure Surveys (HCESs), are reliable. The paper provides supporting literature and empirical evidence that a probable key source of the calorie decline is incomplete collection of data on food consumed away from peoples’ homes, which is widespread and rapidly increasing. Complete measurement of this food source in the HCESs of all developing countries is vital for accurate measurement of both undernourishment and poverty – and for resolving the Indian calorie debate.

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Copper sheathing and the British slave trade

Peter Solar & Klas Rönnbäck
Economic History Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
British slave traders were early and rapid adopters of the new technique of sheathing ships' hulls with copper. From the 1780s this innovation increased sailing speeds of British slave ships by about a sixth, prolonged the ships' lives by at least a half, and reduced the death rates of slaves on the middle passage by about half. It was, above all, the fall in death rates, and possibly the improved condition of surviving slaves, that made the investment so compelling. Copper sheathing may have paid for itself in a single voyage, even though it was usually good for several. By the 1790s few slave ships, even if making only a single voyage, were uncoppered. These results confirm that copper sheathing was one of the major improvements in shipping productivity before the use of iron and steam in the mid-nineteenth century.

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The Resource Curse: A Statistical Mirage?

Alexander James
Journal of Development Economics, May 2015, Pages 55–63

Abstract:
A surprising feature of resource-rich economies is slow growth. It is often argued that natural-resource production impedes development by creating market or institutional failures. This paper establishes an alternative explanation — a slow-growing resource sector. A declining resource sector is disproportionately reflected in resource-dependent countries. Additionally, there is little evidence that resource dependence impedes growth in non-resource sectors. More generally, this paper illustrates the importance of considering industry composition in cross-country growth regressions.

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How Dynamics of Urbanization Affect Physical and Mental Health in Urban China

Juan Chen et al.
China Quarterly, December 2014, Pages 988-1011

Abstract:
Using a 2011 national survey of urban residents, irrespective of their official hukou status, and the 2000–2009 night-time light data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Operational Linescan System (DMSP-OLS), this paper goes beyond the simple dichotomy of migrant versus non-migrant or rural versus urban hukou to disentangle the processes of urbanization and migration and their complex associations with health, and assesses the impact of various levels and speed of urbanization on the physical and mental health of current residents in a city or town. By disaggregating urbanization into three discrete dimensions at sub-provincial levels, we find that while a higher absolute level of urbanization at the county level negatively impacted self-reported physical health, faster and accelerating urbanization had a positive impact which could be attributed to the demand-pull effect underlying the healthy migrant phenomenon. By contrast, all three dimensions of urbanization were associated with greater depressive distress and thus had an adverse effect on residents' mental health. Beyond demonstrating how variation in the process and location of urbanization affects individual health, we also illustrate more broadly the value of modelling locational parameters in analyses of individual outcomes based on national samples.

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Does intelligence explain the association between generalized trust and economic development?

Noah Carl
Intelligence, November–December 2014, Pages 83–92

Abstract:
Both generalized trust and intelligence are correlated with economic development. However, recent research has shown that trust and intelligence are themselves correlated, both across countries and among individuals. Theory suggests that causality runs from intelligence to trust at the individual level, which raises the possibility that the association between trust and development is explained by intelligence. Indeed, intelligence may cause both trust and development. Alternatively, development may lead to higher intelligence, which in turn gives rise to greater trust. Note that intelligence may cause trust not only because individuals with higher intelligence tend to report greater trust, but also because such individuals tend to be more trustworthy. This study analyzes data on trust, intelligence and economic development for 15 Spanish regions, 20 Italian regions, 50 US states, and 107 countries. In all four domains, there is a statistically significant positive relationship between trust and intelligence (r = .74, r = .74, r = .72 and r = .50, respectively). Moreover, partial correlations suggest that intelligence accounts for some or all of the association between trust and development in at least two out of the four domains.

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The Achaemenid Empire’s Contributions to Public Administration

Joshua Steinfeld
International Journal of Public Administration, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Achaemenid Empire established the world’s first complex administrative system of government in 559 B.C. There are numerous administrative accomplishments by the Achaemenids that have not successfully been duplicated in modern times, despite the Pony Express, the Suez Canal, and perfected recycling systems. Political debate, formal rewards systems, federal agencies, and integrated federal and provincial levels of government among a culturally diverse population were characteristic of the trailblazing Achaemenid Empire. Furthermore, administrative ideologies such as government’s responsibility to serve the public and provide equal rights were incorporated first by Cyrus the Great’s Human Rights Charter.

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Empirical Linkages between Good Government and National Well-being

John Helliwell et al.
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
This paper first reviews existing studies of the links between good governance and subjective well-being. It then brings together the largest available sets of national-level measures of the quality of governance to assess the extent to which they contribute to explaining the levels and changes in life evaluations in 157 countries over the years 2005-2012, using data from the Gallup World Poll. The results show not just that people are more satisfied with their lives in countries with better governance quality, but also that actual changes in governance quality since 2005 have led to large changes in the quality of life. For example, the ten-most-improved countries, in terms of delivery quality changes between 2005 and 2012, when compared to the ten countries with most worsened delivery quality, are estimated to have thereby increased average life evaluations by as much as would be produced by a 40% increase in per capita incomes. The results also confirm earlier findings that the delivery quality of government services generally dominates democratic quality in supporting better lives. The situation changes as development proceeds, with democratic quality having a positive influence among countries that have already achieved higher quality of service delivery.

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How sustainable is the macroeconomic impact of foreign aid?

Simon Feeny & Tim Fry
Journal of Policy Modeling, November–December 2014, Pages 1066–1081

Abstract:
This paper examines how long the impact of foreign aid on growth lasts in recipient countries. An econometric technique is adopted which recognises that the impact of aid in the current year is a function not just of the current aid received but also of the aid received in previous years. Results indicate that foreign aid has a half-life of two years. In other words, half of the total impact of aid on growth is experienced within two years of its disbursement. Aid loans are found to have longer half-lives than their grant counterparts. Policy implications are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Around the world

Do Markets Erode Social Responsibility?

Björn Bartling, Roberto Weber & Lan Yao
Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper studies socially responsible behavior in markets. We develop a laboratory product market in which low-cost production creates a negative externality for third parties, but where alternative production with higher costs mitigates the externality. Our first study, conducted in Switzerland, reveals a persistent preference among many consumers and firms for avoiding negative social impact in the market, reflected both in the composition of product types and in a price premium for socially responsible products. Socially responsible behavior is generally robust to varying market characteristics, such as increased seller competition and limited consumer information, and it responds to prices in a manner consistent with a model in which positive social impact is a utility-enhancing feature of a consumer product. In a second study, we investigate whether market social responsibility varies across societies by comparing market behavior in Switzerland and China. While subjects in Switzerland and China do not differ in their degree of social concern in non-market contexts, we find that low-cost production that creates negative externalities is significantly more prevalent in markets in China. Across both studies, consumers in markets exhibit less social concern than subjects in a comparable individual choice context.

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The Impact of Culture on Creativity: How Cultural Tightness and Cultural Distance Affect Global Innovation Crowdsourcing Work

Roy Chua, Yannig Roth & Jean-François Lemoine
Administrative Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper advances a new theoretical model to understand the effect of culture on creativity in a global context. We theorize that creativity engagement and success depend on the cultural tightness—the extent to which a country is characterized by strong social norms and low tolerance for deviant behaviors — of both an innovator’s country and the audience’s country, as well as the cultural distance between these two countries. Using field data from a global online crowdsourcing platform that organizes creative contests for consumer-product brands, supplemented by interviews with marketing experts, we found that individuals from tight cultures are less likely than counterparts from loose cultures to engage in and succeed at foreign creative tasks; this effect is intensified as the cultural distance between the innovator’s and the audience’s country increases. Additionally, tight cultures are less receptive to foreign creative ideas. But we also found that in certain circumstances — when members of a tight culture do creative work in their own or culturally close countries—cultural tightness can actually promote creativity success. This finding implies that some degree of convergent thinking as engendered by tight cultures could be beneficial for creativity, challenging the dominant view in creativity research that divergent thinking is a prerequisite for creative performance.

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Whipping It Up! An Analysis of Audience Responses to Political Rhetoric in Speeches From the 2012 American Presidential Elections

Peter Bull & Karolis Miskinis
Journal of Language and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the context of Hofstede’s distinction between collectivist and individualist societies, an analysis was conducted of rhetorical devices utilized to invite affiliative audience responses in 11 speeches delivered by the two principal candidates in the 2012 American presidential election (Barrack Obama and Mitt Romney). Results were compared with preexisting data on Japanese and British political speeches. Whereas Anglo American politicians principally utilized implicit rhetorical devices, the Japanese principally utilized explicit devices. Whereas individualized audience responses (isolated applause and individual remarks) occurred throughout the American speeches, Japanese audiences invariably responded together. Collective audience responses also occurred in the American speeches, but showed a greater diversity than those for the British or Japanese, with chanting and booing, as well as cheering, applause, and laughter. In the American speeches, a significant positive correlation was found between affiliative response rate and electoral success; this is the first study to demonstrate such a significant relationship.

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Does mother tongue make for women's work? Linguistics, household labor, and gender identity

Daniel Hicks, Estefania Santacreu-Vasut & Amir Shoham
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, February 2015, Pages 19–44

Abstract:
This paper studies the formation and persistence of gender identity in a sample of U.S. immigrants. We show that gender roles are acquired early in life, and once established, persist regardless of how long an individual has lived in the U.S. We use a novel approach relying on linguistic variation and document that households with individuals whose native language emphasizes gender in its grammatical structure are significantly more likely to allocate household tasks on the basis of sex and to do so more intensively. We present evidence of two mechanisms for our observed associations – that languages serve as cultural markers for origin country norms or that features of language directly influence cognition and behavior. Our findings do not appear to be driven by plausible alternatives such as selection in migration and marriage markets, as gender norms of behavior are evident even in the behavior of single person households.

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Higher frequency of social learning in China than in the West shows cultural variation in the dynamics of cultural evolution

Alex Mesoudi et al.
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 7 January 2015

Abstract:
Cultural evolutionary models have identified a range of conditions under which social learning (copying others) is predicted to be adaptive relative to asocial learning (learning on one's own), particularly in humans where socially learned information can accumulate over successive generations. However, cultural evolution and behavioural economics experiments have consistently shown apparently maladaptive under-utilization of social information in Western populations. Here we provide experimental evidence of cultural variation in people's use of social learning, potentially explaining this mismatch. People in mainland China showed significantly more social learning than British people in an artefact-design task designed to assess the adaptiveness of social information use. People in Hong Kong, and Chinese immigrants in the UK, resembled British people in their social information use, suggesting a recent shift in these groups from social to asocial learning due to exposure to Western culture. Finally, Chinese mainland participants responded less than other participants to increased environmental change within the task. Our results suggest that learning strategies in humans are culturally variable and not genetically fixed, necessitating the study of the ‘social learning of social learning strategies' whereby the dynamics of cultural evolution are responsive to social processes, such as migration, education and globalization.

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Culture and state boredom: A comparison between European Canadians and Chinese

Andy Ng et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, March 2015, Pages 13–18

Abstract:
The primary goal of the present research was to examine cross-cultural validity of the Multidimensional State Boredom Scale (MSBS) by comparing a European Canadian sample and a Chinese sample. The secondary goal was to explore cross-cultural differences in the actual experience of boredom between European Canadian and Chinese participants when they completed a psychological survey. After establishing cross-cultural validity of the MSBS by eliminating items that functioned differentially across the two cultural groups, we found that European Canadians scored higher on the MSBS than did Chinese. Results are consistent with the literature on cultural differences in ideal affect, such that European North Americans (vs. East Asians) tend to value high-arousal positive affects (e.g., excitement) more, and low-arousal positive affect less (Tsai, Knutson, & Fung, 2006).

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Improving Research in the Emerging Field of Cross-Cultural Sociogenetics: The Case of Serotonin

Michael Minkov, Vesselin Blagoev & Michael Harris Bond
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We offer a critical overview of studies associating genetic differences in the 5-HTTLPR VNTR in the serotonin-transporter gene with societal differences. We also highlight recent findings from individual-level research on 5-HTTLPR generating new hypotheses concerning the effect of genes on culture. We provide an expanded national index reflecting 5-HTTLPR S-allele prevalence as an improved tool for future research. Our preliminary tests of this tool suggest that national S-allele prevalence is not associated with individualism as has been claimed, but with national neuroticism, IQ and school achievement, Hofstede’s fifth dimension of long-term orientation, and Minkov’s societal hypometropia — a measure of risk acceptance and short-term vision in life history strategy. We encourage detailed research of these associations in future studies.

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Cultural Integration: Experimental Evidence of Convergence in Immigrants’ Preferences

Lisa Cameron et al.
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Cultural traits play a significant role in the determination of economic outcomes and institutions. This paper presents evidence from laboratory experiments on the cultural integration of individuals of Chinese ethnicity in Australia, focusing on social preferences, risk attitudes, and preferences for competition. We find that greater exposure to Western culture is in general associated with a convergence to Western norms of behavior. Specifically, the share of education an individual receives in the West has a strong negative impact on altruism, trust towards individuals of Chinese ethnicity, and trustworthiness, while it has a significant and positive impact on trust towards Australians. For risk and competitive preferences, our results are gender-specific. These findings have important implications for policy making and institution building in multi-cultural societies.

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When a New Tool Is Introduced in Different Cultural Contexts: Individualism–Collectivism and Social Network on Facebook

Jinkyung Na, Michal Kosinski & David Stillwell
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
What will happen if a new tool is introduced to different cultures? What if the tool can potentially bridge those cultures? Will it be used in the same way across cultures and contribute to a decrease in cultural differences? Or will it be used in culturally appropriate ways and eventually integrated into preexisting cultural practices? To answer these questions, we predicted and examined cultural differences in the use of Facebook focusing on social networks. In support of the prediction, the present work found that users in individualistic cultures had more ego-centric networks (i.e., members of networks were connected via the self) than users in collectivistic cultures. The results were consistent across a two-culture comparison and a multicultural analysis across 49 nations. Additional findings suggest that (a) living in individualistic/collectivistic cultures are closely linked to these differences in social networks and (b) the individualism–collectivism may have stronger influences than ecological factors that gave rise to it.

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The Scapegoating of Haitian Vodou Religion: David Brooks’s (2010) Claim That “Voodoo” Is a “Progress-Resistant” Cultural Influence

Benjamin Hebblethwaite
Journal of Black Studies, January 2015, Pages 3-22

Abstract:
Shortly after the catastrophic earthquake that crushed Port-au-Prince and the surrounding towns on January 12, 2010, The New York Times published an article in which columnist David Brooks claimed that “voodoo” is a “progress-resistant” cultural influence because it spreads the message that “life is capricious and planning futile.” Alongside Brooks, many authors promote similar views, especially Christians. I argue that Vodou does not negatively affect progress in Haiti. Rather, there are historical, linguistic, and governmental policies that limit progress. In reality, Vodou practitioners enhance progress in their attention to the planning and giving of ceremonies, in the hierarchical organization they establish in communities, in their ritual and language, and in the education imparted through inheritance, teaching, and initiation. The scapegoating of Vodou by Brooks and others perpetuates a racist colonial legacy, and it betrays an ignorance of the community and the abundant research about it.

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Climate, Affluence, and Trust: Revisiting Climatoeconomic Models of Generalized Trust With Cross-National Longitudinal Data, 1981-2009

Blaine Robbins
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, February 2015, Pages 277-289

Abstract:
Recent theory predicts that climatic demands in conjunction with wealth-based resources serve to enhance socio-psychological functioning and facilitate the development of cognitive processes such as generalized trust. Past research, however, has provided only cross-sectional evidence to support this theory. In this study, I analyzed a repeated cross-sectional data set that included representative data from 123 societies spread over a 29-year time period. Unbalanced random-effects models and ordinary least squares regression showed that thermal climate and wealth-based resources interacted in their influence on generalized trust. Although the observed associations were robust to potential sources of bias, conditional marginal effect sizes for thermal climate were significantly reduced with the inclusion of confounding control variables. The findings support climatic demands–resource theory of generalized trust, invite new research directions, and yield important implications for trust research and theory.

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Why Chinese discount future financial and environmental gains but not losses more than Americans

Min Gong, David Krantz & Elke Weber
Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, October 2014, Pages 103-124

Abstract:
Understanding country differences in temporal discounting is critical for extending incentive-based environmental policies successfully from developed countries to developing countries. We examined differences between Chinese and Americans in discounting of future financial and environmental gains and losses. In general, environmental use value was discounted significantly more than the monetary values, but environmental existence value was discounted similarly to the monetary values. Confirming previous research, we found that participants discounted gains significantly more than losses. Furthermore, there was a significant interaction between culture and gain/loss outcome: Chinese discounted gains but not losses in both outcome categories more than Americans. Open-ended comments suggest that respondents focused on the uncertainty and foregone returns associated with waiting for future rewards when discounting gains, but focused on the magnitude of the losses and the psychology cost of carrying debts when discounting losses.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Eve of the revolution

When does America drop dictators?

John Owen & Michael Poznansky
European Journal of International Relations, December 2014, Pages 1072-1099

Abstract:
The Obama administration’s initial ambivalence toward democratic revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt in 2011 points to a central puzzle in US foreign policy. In some countries, during some periods, America promotes liberal democracy; in other countries and periods, it tolerates or even supports authoritarianism. Why the variation? We focus on discrete decisions by a US President to retain a dictator or instead press for democracy in a client state S. Two conditions must be satisfied for a President to do the latter. (1) An exogenous domestic crisis must threaten S’s authoritarian regime. (2) The US domestic model of free-market liberal democracy must face no credible alternative in S’s region as a route to national development and security. A credible alternative model (e.g. communism or Islamism) threatens US interests by making dissenting elites in S more hostile to US hegemony and more accepting of the hegemony of America’s security rivals; that in turn makes free elections in S riskier for Washington. But when conditions (1) and (2) coincide, a new bargain emerges: S’s elites, now assenting to the US model, pledge to participate in the US-sponsored regional order, and Washington presses S’s regime into democratizing. We test our argument against two cases involving relations between the US and the Philippines, an authoritarian client until 1986. In a 1978 crisis, communism’s high credibility in Southeast Asia forced Jimmy Carter to continue supporting the Marcos dictatorship. In a 1985–86 crisis, communism’s lack of credibility allowed Ronald Reagan to drop Marcos and permit democracy.

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The Persistent Effect of Colonialism on Corruption

Luis Angeles & Kyriakos Neanidis
Economica, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper argues that corruption in developing countries has deep historical roots that go all the way back to their colonial experience. We substantiate our thesis with empirical evidence where the degree of European settlement during colonial times is a powerful explanatory factor of present-day corruption. Interestingly, our mechanism is different from the prevailing view in the literature on institutions and growth, where European settlement has only positive effects. We argue that European settlement leads to higher levels of corruption for all countries where Europeans remained a minority in the population, i.e. for all developing countries.

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The Effect of Inequality and Social Identity on Party Strategies

Margit Tavits & Joshua Potter
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
How do parties decide which issues to emphasize during electoral competition? We argue that the answer to this question depends on how parties of the left and of the right respond to economic inequality. Increasing inequality shifts the proportion of the population falling into lower socioeconomic categories, thereby increasing the size of the electoral constituency that is receptive toward leftist parties' redistributive economic appeals. In the face of rising inequality, then, leftist parties will emphasize economic issues in their manifestos. By contrast, the nonredistributive economic policies often espoused by rightist parties will not appeal to this burgeoning constituency. Rather, we argue, rightist parties will opt to emphasize values-based issues, especially in those cases where “social demand” in the electorate for values-based representation is high. We find support for these relationships with hierarchical regression models that draw from data across hundreds of parties in a diverse set of the world's democracies.

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Elections, Information, and Policy Responsiveness in Autocratic Regimes

Michael Miller
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
The responsiveness of policy to election results is a central component of democracy. Do the outcomes of autocratic elections also affect policy choice? Even when the threat of turnover is low, I argue that autocratic elections influence policy by allowing citizens to signal dissatisfaction with the regime. Supplementing existing work, this study explains how this opposition is communicated credibly and then shows that ruling parties use this information to calibrate policy concessions. In the first cross-country analysis of autocratic election outcomes and policy choice, I find that negative electoral shocks to ruling parties predict increases in education and social welfare spending and decreases in military spending following elections. In contrast, there is no policy effect leading up to elections, in response to violent contestation, or in resource-rich regimes, illustrating a potential mechanism for the resource curse.

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Long-term environmental change and geographical patterns of violence in Darfur, 2003–2005

Alexander De Juan
Political Geography, March 2015, Pages 22–33

Abstract:
This paper investigates spatial associations between environmental change and violence in Darfur. Long-term variations in the geographical distribution of water and vegetative resources can foster migration from areas with decreasing levels of resource availability to areas with increasing levels. Rising ethnic diversity and resource competition can, in turn, escalate the risk of violence in areas of high in-migration. This paper employs a multimethod approach to investigate this hypothesis. Qualitative evidence is used to demonstrate the plausibility of the argument for the case of Darfur. The quantitative analysis is based on information retrieved from satellite imagery on long-term vegetation change and the spatial distribution of attacks on villages in the early phase of the civil war (2003–2005). The findings indicate that violence has been more likely and intense in areas that experienced increasing availability of water and vegetative resources during the 20 years prior to the civil war.

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International Labor Mobility, Redistribution, and Domestic Political Liberalization

David Bearce & Jennifer Laks Hutnick
Economics & Politics, November 2014, Pages 411–430

Abstract:
Do international labor flows influence the prospects for democratization both in the countries that export their excess workers and in the countries that import them? This paper argues that emigration should have a positive effect on political liberalization in net source countries because it decreases the amount of redistribution that would occur in a more democratic regime. Conversely, immigration should have a negative effect on political liberalization in net destination countries through the same causal channel: by increasing the amount of redistribution that would occur in a more democratic regime. South Korea and Singapore are considered as illustrative examples, and the paper provides statistical evidence to support the hypothesis that emigration (immigration) has been positively (negatively) related to future political liberalization.

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Income, Democracy, and Leader Turnover

Daniel Treisman
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
While some believe that economic development prompts democratization, others contend that both result from distant historical causes. Using the most comprehensive estimates of national income available, I show that development is associated with more democratic government — but mostly in the medium run (10 to 20 years). This is because higher income tends to induce breakthroughs to more democratic politics only after an incumbent dictator leaves office. And in the short run, faster economic growth increases the ruler's survival odds. Leader turnover appears to matter because of selection: In authoritarian states, reformist leaders tend to either democratize or lose power relatively quickly, so long-serving leaders are rarely reformers. Autocrats also become less activist after their first year in office. This logic helps explain why dictators, concerned only to prolong their rule, often inadvertently prepare their countries for jumps to democracy after they leave the scene.

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Crowdseeding in Eastern Congo: Using Cell Phones to Collect Conflict Events Data in Real Time

Peter Van der Windt & Macartan Humphreys
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
Poor-quality data about conflict events can hinder humanitarian responses and bias academic research. There is increasing recognition of the role that new information technologies can play in producing more reliable data faster. We piloted a novel data-gathering system in the Democratic Republic of Congo in which villagers in a set of randomly selected communities report on events in real time via short message service. We first describe the data and assess its reliability. We then examine the usefulness of such “crowdseeded” data in two ways. First, we implement a downstream experiment on aid and conflict and find evidence that aid can lead to fewer conflict events. Second, we examine conflict diffusion in Eastern Congo and find evidence that key dynamics operate at very micro levels. Both applications highlight the benefit of collecting conflict data via cell phones in real time.

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The Power of the Street: Evidence from Egypt's Arab Spring

Daron Acemoglu, Tarek Hassan & Ahmed Tahoun
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
During Egypt's Arab Spring, unprecedented popular mobilization and protests brought down Hosni Mubarak's government and ushered in an era of competition between three groups: elites associated with Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP), the military, and the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. Street protests continued to play an important role during this power struggle. We show that these protests are associated with differential stock market returns for firms connected to the three groups. Using daily variation in the number of protesters, we document that more intense protests in Tahrir Square are associated with lower stock market valuations for firms connected to the group currently in power relative to non-connected firms, but have no impact on the relative valuations of firms connected to other powerful groups. We further show that activity on social media may have played an important role in mobilizing protesters, but had no direct effect on relative valuations. According to our preferred interpretation, these events provide evidence that, under weak institutions, popular mobilization and protests have a role in restricting the ability of connected firms to capture excess rents.

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Farming or Fighting? Agricultural Price Shocks and Civil War in Africa

Hanne Fjelde
World Development, March 2015, Pages 525–534

Abstract:
This article links lower economic returns in the labor-intensive agricultural sector to a higher risk of armed conflict at the local level. It argues that income shocks, followed by rising unemployment and lower wages in the rural economy, facilitate rebel recruitment and strengthen civilian support for rebel movements. Focusing on Africa, the article introduces a location-specific measure of changes to the value of local agricultural output by combining sub-national crop production maps with data on movements in global agricultural prices. The results show that negative changes to the local agricultural price index significantly and substantially increase the risk of violent events.

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He Who Counts Elects: Economic Elites, Political Elites, and Electoral Fraud

Isaías Chaves, Leopoldo Fergusson & James Robinson
Economics & Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
What determines the extent of electoral fraud? This paper constructs a model of the tradeoff between fraud and policy concessions (public good provision) which also incorporates the strength of the state. In addition, we parameterize the extent to which economic elites (to whom fraud is costly) and political elites (to whom fraud is advantageous) “overlap.” The model predicts that fraud will be lower and public good provision higher when land inequality is higher, the overlap between elites lower, and the strength of the state higher. We test these predictions using a unique, municipal-level dataset from Colombia's 1922 Presidential elections. We find empirical support for all the predictions of the model.

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Security, Clarity of Responsibility, and Presidential Approval

Ryan Carlin, Gregory Love & Cecilia Martínez-Gallardo
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
The importance of institutions in shaping citizens’ ability to punish or reward politicians for economic outcomes is well established. Where institutions divide authority, politicians can blame each other and citizens find it harder to assign responsibility for policy failures; where institutions clarify lines of authority, citizens can better hold politicians accountable. However, this argument assumes that citizens perceive policy responsibility as shared among political actors and this is not always the case. Looking at security policy, we argue that when policy responsibility is concentrated in a single actor the effect of institutions on blame attribution is different from what the economic voting literature predicts. Divided government in this context makes blame-shifting less effective and makes it more likely that citizens will punish incumbents. By contrast, the ability of executives to control the narrative around security failures by blaming the perpetrators, especially during unified government, can help them avoid blame.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

All's fair in love and war

Family Law and Social Change: Judicial Views of Joint Custody, 1998–2011

Julie Artis & Andrew Krebs
Law & Social Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Rapid changes in family life over the last forty years have led to substantial alterations in family law policy; specifically, most states now endorse joint custody arrangements for divorcing families. However, we know little about how lower court judges have embraced or resisted this change. We conducted in-depth interviews with judges in twenty-five Indiana jurisdictions in 1998 and 2011. Our findings suggest that judges' views of joint custody dramatically changed. Judges in Wave II indicated a strong preference for joint custody — a theme that was relatively absent in Wave I. The observed change in judicial preferences did not seem to be related to judicial replacement, gender, age, or political party affiliation. Although our conclusions are exploratory, we speculate that shifts in judicial views may be related to changing public mores of parenthood and, relatedly, Indiana's adoption of Parenting Time Guidelines in 2001.

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United but (un)equal: Human capital, probability of divorce, and the marriage contract

Helmuth Cremer, Pierre Pestieau & Kerstin Roeder
Journal of Population Economics, January 2015, Pages 195-217

Abstract:
This paper studies how the risk of divorce affects the human capital decisions of a young couple. We consider a setting where complete specialization is optimal with no divorce risk. Couples can self-insure through savings which offers some protection to the uneducated spouse, but at the expense of a distortion. Alternatively, for large divorce probabilities, symmetry in education, where both spouses receive an equal amount of education, may be optimal. This eliminates the risk associated with the lack of education, but reduces the efficiency of education choices. We show that the symmetric allocation will become more attractive as the probability of divorce increases, if risk aversion is high and/or labor supply elasticity is low. However, it is only a “second-best” solution as insurance protection is achieved at the expense of an efficiency loss. Finally, we study how the (economic) use of marriage is affected by the possibility of divorce.

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Intimate Partner Violence in the Great Recession

Daniel Schneider, Kristen Harknett & Sara McLanahan
Princeton Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
In the United States, the Great Recession has been marked by severe negative shocks to labor market conditions. In this study, we combine longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study with Bureau of Labor Statistics data on local area unemployment rates to examine the relationship between adverse labor market conditions and intimate partner violence between 1999 and 2010. We find that rapidly worsening labor market conditions are associated with increases in the prevalence of violent/controlling behavior in marriage. These effects are most pronounced among whites and those with at least some post-secondary education. Worsening economic conditions significantly increase the risk that white mothers and more educated mothers will be in violent/controlling marriages rather than high quality marital unions.

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Suicide and Property Rights in India

Siwan Anderson & Garance Genicot
Journal of Development Economics, May 2015, Pages 64–78

Abstract:
This paper studies the impact of female property rights on male and female suicide rates in India. Using state level variation in legal changes to women’s property rights, we show that better property rights for women are associated with a decrease in the difference between female and male suicide rates, but an increase in both male and female suicides. We conjecture that increasing female property rights increased conflict within household and this increased conflict resulted in more suicides among both men and women in India. Using individual level data on domestic violence we find evidence that increased property rights for women did increase the incidence of wife beating in India. A model of intra-household bargaining with asymmetric information and costly conflict is consistent with these findings.

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Is Posner Right? An Empirical Test of the Posner Argument for Transferring Health Spending from Old Women to Old Men

Christoph Wunder & Johannes Schwarze
Journal of Happiness Studies, December 2014, Pages 1239-1257

Abstract:
Posner (Aging and old age, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1995) proposes the redistribution of health spending from old women to old men to equalize life expectancy. His argument is based on the assumption that the woman’s utility is higher if her husband is alive. Using self-reported satisfaction measures from a long-running German panel survey, the Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP), the present study conducts an empirical test of this assumption and investigates the question of whether and to what extent widowed women’s utility responds to her spouse’s death. We apply a combination of propensity score matching and parametric regression techniques. Our results reveal satisfaction trajectories of women who experience the death of their spouse and identifies the causal effect of widowhood. The average level of satisfaction in a control group of non-widowed women serves as a reference to measure the degree of adaptation to widowhood. The results suggest bereavement has no enduring effect on satisfaction, and that is evidence against Posner’s assumption. We conclude that elderly women would not benefit from Posners policy proposal.

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Conflict Intensity, Family History, and Physiological Stress Reactions to Conflict Within Romantic Relationships

Lindsey Aloia & Denise Solomon
Human Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study drew upon the physiological model of stress and desensitization processes to deduce hypotheses linking the intensity of conflict communication and exposure to familial verbal aggression in childhood to experiences of conflict within romantic relationships. One hundred college-aged students (50 dating couples) participated in a dyadic interaction in which partners discussed a source of conflict in their romantic relationship. Participants reported childhood exposure to familial verbal aggression, third-party observers rated the intensity of conflict communication, and salivary cortisol indexed physiological stress responses to the conflict interactions. As predicted, results showed a positive association between conflict intensity and cortisol reactivity, and this association was attenuated for individuals who reported higher, rather than lower, levels of childhood exposure to familial verbal aggression.

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Strategic non-marital cohabitation: Theory and empirical implications

Amy Farmer & Andrew Horowitz
Journal of Population Economics, January 2015, Pages 219-237

Abstract:
Non-marital cohabitation is a rapidly growing global phenomenon. Prior literature examines the puzzling empirical regularity that premarital cohabitation is associated with higher divorce rates. Since cohabitation should yield improved match-quality information, one might expect the opposite. This result, and its recent weakening, have been explored empirically and produced theoretically using matching models. In this paper, we develop an intra-household bargaining model of alternative dating and cohabitation paths to marriage in which higher relationship exit costs for cohabitors relative to daters generates the observed higher divorce rate. We also show that asymmetric exit costs can produce rejection and generate exits that would not otherwise occur. In addition, we show that even when cohabitors have lower average marriage quality, expected utility for a given match quality is higher, and some utility enhancing marriages that would not have taken place without cohabitation will occur in its presence.

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Familism: A cultural value with implications for romantic relationship quality in U.S. Latinos

Belinda Campos, Oscar Fernando Rojas Perez & Christine Guardino
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
Familism is a cultural value that emphasizes interdependent family relationships that are warm, close, and supportive. We theorized that familism values can be beneficial for romantic relationships and tested whether (a) familism would be positively associated with romantic relationship quality and (b) this association would be mediated by less attachment avoidance. Evidence indicates that familism is particularly relevant for U.S. Latinos but is also relevant for non-Latinos. Thus, we expected to observe the hypothesized pattern in Latinos and explored whether the pattern extended to non-Latinos of European and East Asian cultural background. A sample of U.S. participants of Latino (n = 140), European (n = 176), and East Asian (n = 199) cultural background currently in a romantic relationship completed measures of familism, attachment, and two indices of romantic relationship quality, namely, partner support and partner closeness. As predicted, higher familism was associated with higher partner support and partner closeness, and these associations were mediated by lower attachment avoidance in the Latino sample. This pattern was not observed in the European or East Asian background samples. The implications of familism for relationships and psychological processes relevant to relationships in Latinos and non-Latinos are discussed.

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Sex Imbalance, Marital Matching and Intra-household Bargaining: Evidence from China

Julan Du, Yongqin Wang & Yan Zhang
China Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper studies the effects of sex imbalance on matching patterns in China’s marriage markets. We hypothesize that the economic inequality caused by economic liberalization, together with sex imbalance, will lead to women’s hypergamy (marrying up). Employing CGSS data, our empirical findings support the hypothesis. We also establish that sex imbalance enhances the postnuptial bargaining power of the wife vis-à-vis the husband in intra-household resource allocation. The findings are robust to IV estimation and robustness checks.

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The Dynamics of Marriage and Divorce

Gustaf Bruze, Michael Svarer & Yoram Weiss
Journal of Labor Economics, January 2015, Pages 123-170

Abstract:
We formulate and estimate a dynamic model of marriage, divorce, and remarriage using panel data on two cohorts of Danish men and women. The marital surplus is identified from the probability of divorce and the surplus shares of husbands and wives from their willingness to enter marriage. We find that the educations of husbands and wives are complements. Education raises the share of the marital surplus for men but not for women. As men and women get older, husbands receive a larger share of the marital surplus. The estimated costs of divorce are high both early and late in marriage.

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When the cat’s away, the spouse will play: A cross-cultural examination of mate guarding in married couples

Lisa Dillon et al.
Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, December 2014, Pages 97-108

Abstract:
In this post hoc analysis of mate retention behavior, over 3000 married couples from five cultures completed the Marriage and Relationship Questionnaire (MARQ). The Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM) was used to test relationships for selected variables. For all countries and both sexes, the spouse being attracted to other people was linked to worry about spousal infidelity. For all cases except the Russians, being attracted to one’s spouse was related to less worry by the spouse about infidelity. In all cases, one’s being attractive was associated with spousal feelings of possessiveness. Having a spouse who went out without them was related to infidelity worries for wives in all groups and husbands in three groups. Feelings of possessiveness were related to wanting to touch the spouse in most groups, and husbands reported more such desire in all groups. Husbands who sought sex outside of marriage worried about reciprocal spousal infidelity in all cultures, as did wives in most cultures. Overall, the data suggest that attractiveness and attraction shape mate retention emotions and behavior in similar ways across cultures.

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Who should bring home the bacon? How deterministic views of gender constrain spousal wage preferences

Catherine Tinsley, Taeya Howell & Emily Amanatullah
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, January 2015, Pages 37–48

Abstract:
Despite the rise of dual-income households in the United States and a narrowing of the nation’s gender wage gap, we find that many men and women still prefer the husband to be the primary breadwinner. To help explain intra-marital wage preferences, we argue for a new construct, gender determinism, which captures the extent to which a person believes gender categories dictate individual characteristics. We show that deterministic views of gender increase both intra-marital wage gap preferences and work choices that may perpetuate the gender wage gap. Our results hold in both student and non-student samples, suggesting some endurance of these beliefs. We discuss how our findings contribute to extant research on implicit person theory and gender role theory, and the implications of our findings for gender wage equity.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, December 29, 2014

The dark ages

How Copyright Keeps Works Disappeared

Paul Heald
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, December 2014, Pages 829–866

Abstract:
A random sample of new books for sale on Amazon.com shows more books for sale from the 1880s than the 1980s. Why? This article presents new data on how copyright stifles the reappearance of works. First, a random sample of more than 2,000 new books for sale on Amazon.com is analyzed along with a random sample of almost 2,000 songs available on new DVDs. Copyright status correlates highly with absence from the Amazon shelf. Together with publishing business models, copyright law seems to deter distribution and diminish access. Further analysis of eBook markets, used books on Abebooks.com, and the Chicago Public Library collection suggests that no alternative marketplace for out-of-print books has yet developed. Data from iTunes and YouTube, however, tell a different story for older hit songs. The much wider availability of old music in digital form may be explained by the differing holdings in two important cases, Boosey & Hawkes v. Disney (music) and Random House v. Rosetta Stone (books).

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The short- and long-term effectiveness of anti-piracy laws and enforcement actions

Tylor Orme
Journal of Cultural Economics, November 2014, Pages 351-368

Abstract:
Film studios have spent the past two decades lobbying extensively to establish new legislation restricting access to copyrighted materials online. While there is growing evidence of the effect film piracy has on studio profits, the evidence on the impact of anti-piracy legislation is limited. If anti-piracy legislation is having the film industry’s desired impact, we would expect film revenues to be consistently higher following the passage of major laws that restrict access to pirated content, or major enforcement actions, such as the shutdown of Web sites that provide illegal content for download. This paper applies an intervention analysis approach to weekly data on movie box-office revenues in the USA to determine whether the passage of new anti-piracy policy has generated significant changes in box-office revenues during the period from 1997 to the present. These effects are evaluated in both the short and long term, which allows an assessment of the duration of effectiveness of government actions. The results show that four of the six included policies are ineffective in the long term and those policies that do impact revenues in the short term often harm film studios, rather than help them.

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“Piracy is not theft!” Is it just students who think so?

Michał Krawczyk et al.
Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, February 2015, Pages 32–39

Abstract:
A fair share of studies analyzing “online piracy” are based on easily accessible student samples. However, it has been argued that the youth tend to have more lax social and ethical norms concerning both property rights and online behavior. In this study we present the results of a vignette experiment, i.e. a scenario survey where responders are asked to provide an ethical judgment on different forms of unauthorized acquisition of a full season of a popular TV series described in a number of hypothetical stories. The survey is conducted both on a student sample and on a sample of individuals who openly endorse protection of intellectual property rights for cultural goods. In this way we can investigate the possibly limited external validity of studies relying solely on the student samples. The vignette experiment concerned ethical evaluation of unauthorized acquisition of cultural content in both virtual and real context and was focused on six dimensions previously identified as relevant to the ethical judgment. Surprisingly, we found that the rules for the ethical judgment do not differ between our samples, suggesting that the social norms on “online piracy” follow similar patterns in student and in other populations. Findings from studies relying on ethical or moral judgments of students may thus be valid in a much broader population.

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Measuring the effectiveness of scientific gatekeeping

Kyle Siler, Kirby Lee & Lisa Bero
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Peer review is the main institution responsible for the evaluation and gestation of scientific research. Although peer review is widely seen as vital to scientific evaluation, anecdotal evidence abounds of gatekeeping mistakes in leading journals, such as rejecting seminal contributions or accepting mediocre submissions. Systematic evidence regarding the effectiveness — or lack thereof — of scientific gatekeeping is scant, largely because access to rejected manuscripts from journals is rarely available. Using a dataset of 1,008 manuscripts submitted to three elite medical journals, we show differences in citation outcomes for articles that received different appraisals from editors and peer reviewers. Among rejected articles, desk-rejected manuscripts, deemed as unworthy of peer review by editors, received fewer citations than those sent for peer review. Among both rejected and accepted articles, manuscripts with lower scores from peer reviewers received relatively fewer citations when they were eventually published. However, hindsight reveals numerous questionable gatekeeping decisions. Of the 808 eventually published articles in our dataset, our three focal journals rejected many highly cited manuscripts, including the 14 most popular; roughly the top 2 percent. Of those 14 articles, 12 were desk-rejected. This finding raises concerns regarding whether peer review is ill-suited to recognize and gestate the most impactful ideas and research. Despite this finding, results show that in our case studies, on the whole, there was value added in peer review. Editors and peer reviewers generally — but not always — made good decisions regarding the identification and promotion of quality in scientific manuscripts.

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Excess Success for Psychology Articles in the Journal Science

Gregory Francis, Jay Tanzman & William Matthews
PLoS ONE, December 2014

Abstract:
This article describes a systematic analysis of the relationship between empirical data and theoretical conclusions for a set of experimental psychology articles published in the journal Science between 2005–2012. When the success rate of a set of empirical studies is much higher than would be expected relative to the experiments' reported effects and sample sizes, it suggests that null findings have been suppressed, that the experiments or analyses were inappropriate, or that the theory does not properly follow from the data. The analyses herein indicate such excess success for 83% (15 out of 18) of the articles in Science that report four or more studies and contain sufficient information for the analysis. This result suggests a systematic pattern of excess success among psychology articles in the journal Science.

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Publication Bias in Psychology: A Diagnosis Based on the Correlation between Effect Size and Sample Size

Anton Kühberger, Astrid Fritz & Thomas Scherndl
PLoS ONE, September 2014

Background: The p value obtained from a significance test provides no information about the magnitude or importance of the underlying phenomenon. Therefore, additional reporting of effect size is often recommended. Effect sizes are theoretically independent from sample size. Yet this may not hold true empirically: non-independence could indicate publication bias.

Methods: We investigate whether effect size is independent from sample size in psychological research. We randomly sampled 1,000 psychological articles from all areas of psychological research. We extracted p values, effect sizes, and sample sizes of all empirical papers, and calculated the correlation between effect size and sample size, and investigated the distribution of p values.

Results: We found a negative correlation of r = −.45 [95% CI: −.53; −.35] between effect size and sample size. In addition, we found an inordinately high number of p values just passing the boundary of significance. Additional data showed that neither implicit nor explicit power analysis could account for this pattern of findings.

Conclusion: The negative correlation between effect size and samples size, and the biased distribution of p values indicate pervasive publication bias in the entire field of psychology.

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Cognitive Advantage in Bilingualism: An Example of Publication Bias?

Angela de Bruin, Barbara Treccani & Sergio Della Sala
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
It is a widely held belief that bilinguals have an advantage over monolinguals in executive-control tasks, but is this what all studies actually demonstrate? The idea of a bilingual advantage may result from a publication bias favoring studies with positive results over studies with null or negative effects. To test this hypothesis, we looked at conference abstracts from 1999 to 2012 on the topic of bilingualism and executive control. We then determined which of the studies they reported were subsequently published. Studies with results fully supporting the bilingual-advantage theory were most likely to be published, followed by studies with mixed results. Studies challenging the bilingual advantage were published the least. This discrepancy was not due to differences in sample size, tests used, or statistical power. A test for funnel-plot asymmetry provided further evidence for the existence of a publication bias.

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Leaders and Followers: Perspectives on the Nordic Model and the Economics of Innovation

Joseph Stiglitz
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
What kinds of social and economic systems are most conducive to innovation? We formulate a simple model in which countries can close the gap with the technological leader, but where the cost of doing so may be so high that the country choose to remain laggards. Observed disparities in productivity may be the result of a recognition that the cost of closing the gap exceeds benefit and there may therefore exist an international equilibrium in which there are leaders and followers. Even if it is granted that the United States is the leader and Scandinavia are followers, there are theoretical grounds for arguing that the Nordic model may in fact be better for innovation, suggesting that if the US adopted some of the Nordic institutions, innovations would be higher, and societal welfare would be improved even more.

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The Failed Promise of User Fees: Empirical Evidence from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Michael Frakes & Melissa Wasserman
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, December 2014, Pages 602–636

Abstract:
In an attempt to shed light on the impact of user-fee financing structures on the behavior of administrative agencies, we explore the relationship between the funding structure of the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) and its examination practices. We suggest that the PTO's reliance on prior grantees to subsidize current applicants exposes the PTO to a risk that its obligatory costs will surpass incoming fee collections. When such risks materialize, we hypothesize, and thereafter document, that the PTO will restore financial balance by extending preferential examination treatment — that is, higher granting propensities and/or shorter wait times — to some technologies over others.

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Does the Mobility of R&D Labor Increase Innovation?

Ulrich Kaiser, Hans Christian Kongsted & Thomas Rønde
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, February 2015, Pages 91–105

Abstract:
We investigate the effect of mobility of R&D workers on the total patenting activity of their employers. Our study documents how mobile workers affect the patenting activity of the firm they join and the firm they leave. The effect of labor mobility is strongest if workers join from patent-active firms. We also find evidence of a positive feedback effect on the former employer's patenting from workers who have left for another patent-active firm. Summing up the effects of joining and leaving workers, we show that labor mobility increases the total innovative activity of the new and the old employer. Our study which is based on the population of R&D active Danish firms observed between 1999 and 2004 thus provides firm-level support for the notion that labor mobility stimulates overall innovation of a country or region due to knowledge transfer.

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Copyright and Creativity: Evidence from Italian Operas

Michela Giorcelli & Petra Moser
Stanford Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
This paper exploits variation in the adoption of copyright laws within Italy – as a result of Napoleon’s military campaign – to examine the effects of copyrights on creativity. To measure variation in the quantity and quality of creative output, we have collected detailed data on 2,598 operas that premiered across eight states within Italy between 1770 and 1900. These data indicate that the adoption of copyrights led to a significant increase in the number of new operas premiered per state and year. Moreover, we find that the number of high-quality operas also increased – measured both by their contemporary popularity and by the longevity of operas. By comparison, evidence for a significant effect of copyright extensions is substantially more limited. Data on composers’ places of birth indicate that the adoption of copyrights triggered a shift in patterns of composers’ migration, and helped attract a large number of new composers to states that offered copyrights.

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Whither the Blank Slate? A Report on the Reception of Evolutionary Biological Ideas among Sociological Theorists

Mark Horowitz, William Yaworsky & Kenneth Kickham
Sociological Spectrum, November/December 2014, Pages 489-509

Abstract:
Sociologists have drawn considerable criticism over the years for their failure to integrate evolutionary biological principles in their work. Critics such as Stephen Pinker (2002) have popularized the notion that sociologists adhere dogmatically to a “blank slate” or cultural determinist view of the human mind and social behavior. This report assesses whether sociologists indeed ascribe to such a blank slate view. Drawing from a survey of 155 sociological theorists, we find the field about evenly divided over the applicability of evolutionary reasoning to a range of human tendencies. Although there are signs of a shift toward greater openness to evolutionary biological ideas, sociologists are least receptive to evolutionary accounts of human sex differences. Echoing earlier research, we find political identity to be a significant predictor of sociologists' receptiveness. We close by cautioning our colleagues against sociological reductionism and we speculate about the blank slate's political-psychological appeal to liberal-minded social scientists.

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A Note on PhD Population Growth in Biomedical Sciences

Navid Ghaffarzadegan et al.
Systems Research and Behavioral Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The explosive increase in the number of postdocs in biomedical fields is puzzling for many science policymakers. We use our previously introduced parameter in this journal, the basic reproductive number in academia (R0), to make sense of PhD population growth in biomedical fields. Our analysis shows how R0 in biomedical fields has increased over time, and we estimate that there is approximately only one tenure-track position in the US for every 6.3 PhD graduates, which means that the rest need to get jobs outside academia or stay in lower-paid temporary positions. We elaborate on the structural reasons and systemic flaws of science workforce development by discussing feedback loops, especially vicious cycles, which contribute to over-production of PhDs. We argue that the current system is unstable but with no easy solution. A way to mitigate the effects of strong reinforcing loops is full disclosure of the risks of getting PhD.

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Who is afraid of pirates? An experiment on the deterrence of innovation by imitation

Christoph Engel & Marco Kleine
Research Policy, February 2015, Pages 20–33

Abstract:
In the policy debate, intellectual property is often justified by what seems to be a straightforward argument: if innovators are not protected against others appropriating their ideas, incentives for innovation are suboptimally low. Now, in most industries and for most potential users, appropriating a foreign innovation is itself an investment decision fraught with cost and risk. Nonetheless, standard theory predicts too little innovation. Arguably the problem is exacerbated by the sensitivity of innovators to fairness; imitators do get a free lunch, after all. We model the situation as a game and test it in the lab. We find more appropriation, but also more innovation than predicted by standard theory. In the lab, the prospect of giving imitators a free lunch does not have a chilling effect on innovation. This even holds if innovation automatically spills over to an outsider and if successful imitation reduces the innovator's profit. Beliefs and the analysis of experiences in the repeated game demonstrate that participants are sensitive to the fairness problem. But this concern is not strong enough to outweigh the robust propensity to invest even more in innovation than predicted by standard theory. The data suggest that this behavior results from the intention not to be outperformed by one's peers.

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An experiment on protecting intellectual property

Joy Buchanan & Bart Wilson
Experimental Economics, December 2014, Pages 691-716

Abstract:
We conduct a laboratory experiment to explore whether the protection of intellectual property (IP) incentivizes people to create non-rivalrous knowledge goods, foregoing the production of other rivalrous goods. In the contrasting treatment with no IP protection, participants are free to resell and remake non-rivalrous knowledge goods originally created by others. We find that creators reap substantial profits when IP is protected and that rampant pirating is common when there is no IP protection, but IP protection in and of itself is neither necessary nor sufficient for generating wealth from the discovery of knowledge goods. Rather, individual entrepreneurship is the key.

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The Effects of Research & Development Funding On Scientific Productivity: Academic Chemistry, 1990-2009

Joshua Rosenbloom et al.
NBER Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
This article examines the relationship between Research & Development (R&D) funding and the production of knowledge by academic chemists. Using articles published, either raw counts or adjusted for quality, we find a strong, positive causal effect of funding on knowledge production. This effect is similar across subsets of universities, suggesting a relatively efficient allocation of R&D funds. Finally, we document a rapid acceleration in the rate at which chemical knowledge was produced in the late 1990s and early 2000s relative to the financial and human resources devoted to its production.

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Spreading big ideas? The effect of top inventing companies on local inventors

Carlo Menon
Journal of Economic Geography, forthcoming

Abstract:
The article investigates whether the patenting activity of the most inventive companies has any causal effect on the number of patents granted to other local inventors in the same metropolitan area in USA. Economic theory predicts that positive agglomeration economies may be counterbalanced by upward pressure on wages, which are stronger within technological classes in the short term. The empirical analysis exploits the panel structure of the dataset to account for various fixed effects, and adopts an instrumental variable approach to prove causality. The results show that the effect is overall positive and stronger with a time lag. In addition, the effect is not bounded within narrow technological categories, suggesting that Jacob-type knowledge spillovers across sectors tend to prevail over other source of agglomeration economies within sectors, including sharing and matching mechanisms. The implications for local development policy are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A dark place

The Collateral Damage of Mass Incarceration: Risk of Psychiatric Morbidity Among Nonincarcerated Residents of High-Incarceration Neighborhoods

Mark Hatzenbuehler et al., American Journal of Public Health, January 2015, Pages 138-143

Objectives: We examined whether residence in neighborhoods with high levels of incarceration is associated with psychiatric morbidity among nonincarcerated community members.

Methods: We linked zip code–linked information on neighborhood prison admissions rates to individual-level data on mental health from the Detroit Neighborhood Health Study (2008–2012), a prospective probability sample of predominantly Black individuals.

Results: Controlling for individual- and neighborhood-level risk factors, individuals living in neighborhoods with high prison admission rates were more likely to meet criteria for a current (odds ratio [OR] = 2.9; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.7, 5.5) and lifetime (OR = 2.5; 95% CI = 1.4, 4.6) major depressive disorder across the 3 waves of follow-up as well as current (OR = 2.1; 95% CI = 1.0, 4.2) and lifetime (OR = 2.3; 95% CI = 1.2, 4.5) generalized anxiety disorder than were individuals living in neighborhoods with low prison admission rates. These relationships between neighborhood-level incarceration and mental health were comparable for individuals with and without a personal history of incarceration.

Conclusions: Incarceration may exert collateral damage on the mental health of individuals living in high-incarceration neighborhoods, suggesting that the public mental health impact of mass incarceration extends beyond those who are incarcerated.

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A Not So Happy Day after All: Excess Death Rates on Birthdays in the U.S.

Pablo Peña, Social Science & Medicine, February 2015, Pages 59–66

Abstract:
This study estimates average excess death rates on and around birthdays, and explores differences between birthdays falling on weekends and birthdays falling on weekdays. Using records from the U.S. Social Security Administration for 25 million people who died during the period from 1998 to 2011, average excess death rates are estimated controlling for seasonality of births and deaths. The average excess death rate on birthdays is 6.7% (p<0.0001). No evidence is found of dips in average excess death rates in a ±10 day neighborhood around birthdays that could offset the spikes on birthdays. Significant differences are found between age groups and between weekend and weekday birthdays. Younger people have greater average excess death rates on birthdays, reaching up to 25.4% (p<0.0001) for ages 20-29. Younger people also show the largest differences between average excess death rates on weekend birthdays and weekday birthdays, reaching up to 64.5 percentage points (p=0.0063) for ages 1-9. Over the 13-year period analyzed, the estimated excess deaths on birthdays are 4,590.

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Desire to Work as a Death Anxiety Buffer Mechanism

Erez Yaakobi, Experimental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Four studies were conducted to examine the death anxiety buffering function of work as a terror management mechanism, and the possible moderating role of culture. In Study 1, making mortality salient led to higher reports of participants' desire to work. In Study 2, activating thoughts of fulfillment of the desire to work after mortality salience reduced the accessibility of death-related thoughts. In Study 3, activating thoughts of fulfillment of the desire to work reduced the effects of mortality salience on out-group derogation. In Study 4, priming thoughts about obstacles to the actualization of desire to work led to greater accessibility of death-related thoughts. Although two different cultures with contrasting work values were examined, the results were consistent, indicating that the desire to work serves as a death anxiety buffer mechanism in both cultures.

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Facebook use, envy, and depression among college students: Is facebooking depressing?

Edson Tandoc, Patrick Ferrucci & Margaret Duffy, Computers in Human Behavior, February 2015, Pages 139–146

Abstract:
It is not — unless it triggers feelings of envy. This study uses the framework of social rank theory of depression and conceptualizes Facebook envy as a possible link between Facebook surveillance use and depression among college students. Using a survey of 736 college students, we found that the effect of surveillance use of Facebook on depression is mediated by Facebook envy. However, when Facebook envy is controlled for, Facebook use actually lessens depression.

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Checking email less frequently reduces stress

Kostadin Kushlev & Elizabeth Dunn, Computers in Human Behavior, February 2015, Pages 220–228

Abstract:
Using email is one of the most common online activities in the world today. Yet, very little experimental research has examined the effect of email on well-being. Utilizing a within-subjects design, we investigated how the frequency of checking email affects well-being over a period of two weeks. During one week, 124 adults were randomly assigned to limit checking their email to three times a day; during the other week, participants could check their email an unlimited number of times per day. We found that during the limited email use week, participants experienced significantly lower daily stress than during the unlimited email use week. Lower stress, in turn, predicted higher well-being on a diverse range of well-being outcomes. These findings highlight the benefits of checking email less frequently for reducing psychological stress.

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Effects of biological explanations for mental disorders on clinicians' empathy

Matthew Lebowitz & Woo-kyoung Ahn, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 16 December 2014, Pages 17786–17790

Abstract:
Mental disorders are increasingly understood in terms of biological mechanisms. We examined how such biological explanations of patients' symptoms would affect mental health clinicians' empathy — a crucial component of the relationship between treatment-providers and patients — as well as their clinical judgments and recommendations. In a series of studies, US clinicians read descriptions of potential patients whose symptoms were explained using either biological or psychosocial information. Biological explanations have been thought to make patients appear less accountable for their disorders, which could increase clinicians' empathy. To the contrary, biological explanations evoked significantly less empathy. These results are consistent with other research and theory that has suggested that biological accounts of psychopathology can exacerbate perceptions of patients as abnormal, distinct from the rest of the population, meriting social exclusion, and even less than fully human. Although the ongoing shift toward biomedical conceptualizations has many benefits, our results reveal unintended negative consequences.

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Nitrous Oxide for Treatment-Resistant Major Depression: A Proof-of-Concept Trial

Peter Nagele et al., Biological Psychiatry, forthcoming

Background: NMDA receptor antagonists, such as ketamine, have rapid antidepressant effects in patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD). We hypothesized that nitrous oxide, an inhalational general anesthetic and NMDA receptor antagonist, may also be a rapidly acting treatment for TRD.

Methods: In this blinded, placebo-controlled crossover trial 20 TRD patients were randomized to a 1-hour inhalation of 50% nitrous oxide/50% oxygen or 50% nitrogen/50% oxygen (placebo control). Primary endpoint was the change on HDRS-21 24 hours after treatment.

Results: Mean duration of nitrous oxide treatment was 55.6 ± 2.5 (SD) minutes at a median inspiratory concentration of 44% (37 – 45%, IQR). In two patients nitrous oxide treatment was briefly interrupted and in three discontinued. Depressive symptoms improved significantly at 2 hours and 24 hours after receiving nitrous oxide compared to placebo (mean HDRS-21difference at 2 hours: -4.8 points, 95% CI -1.8 to – 7.8 points, p= 0.002; at 24 hours: -5.5 points, 95% CI -2.5 to -8.5 points, p<0.001; comparison between nitrous oxide and placebo: p<0.001). Four patients (20%) had treatment response (reduction ≥50% on HDRS); three patients (15%) a full remission (HDRS ≤ 7 points) after nitrous oxide, compared to one patient (5%) and none after placebo (odds ratio [OR] for response 4.0, 95% CI 0.45 – 35.79; OR for remission 3.0, 95% CI 0.31 – 28.8). No serious adverse events occurred; all adverse events were brief and of mild to moderate severity.

Conclusions: This proof-of-concept trial demonstrated that nitrous oxide has rapid and marked antidepressant effects in patients with treatment-resistant depression.

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Neural Emotion Regulation Circuitry Underlying Anxiolytic Effects of Perceived Control over Pain

Tim Salomons et al., Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, February 2015, Pages 222-233

Abstract:
Anxiolytic effects of perceived control have been observed across species. In humans, neuroimaging studies have suggested that perceived control and cognitive reappraisal reduce negative affect through similar mechanisms. An important limitation of extant neuroimaging studies of perceived control in terms of directly testing this hypothesis, however, is the use of within-subject designs, which confound participants' affective response to controllable and uncontrollable stress. To compare neural and affective responses when participants were exposed to either uncontrollable or controllable stress, two groups of participants received an identical series of stressors (thermal pain stimuli). One group ("controllable") was led to believe they had behavioral control over the pain stimuli, whereas another ("uncontrollable") believed they had no control. Controllable pain was associated with decreased state anxiety, decreased activation in amygdala, and increased activation in nucleus accumbens. In participants who perceived control over the pain, reduced state anxiety was associated with increased functional connectivity between each of these regions and ventral lateral/ventral medial pFC. The location of pFC findings is consistent with regions found to be critical for the anxiolytic effects of perceived control in rodents. Furthermore, interactions observed between pFC and both amygdala and nucleus accumbens are remarkably similar to neural mechanisms of emotion regulation through reappraisal in humans. These results suggest that perceived control reduces negative affect through a general mechanism involved in the cognitive regulation of emotion.

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Gender Differences in the Expression of PTSD Symptoms among Active Duty Military Personnel

Laurel Hourani et al., Journal of Anxiety Disorders, January 2015, Pages 101–108

Abstract:
This study examined gender differences in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and symptom factors in the total U.S. active duty force. Data were drawn from the 2008 Department of Defense Survey of Health Related Behaviors among Active Duty Military Personnel including 17,939 men and 6,751 women from all services. The results indicated that women expressed more distress than men across almost all the symptoms on the PTSD Checklist except for hypervigilance. Women also scored significantly higher on all four factors examined: Re-experiencing, Avoidance, Emotionally Numb, Hyperarousal. More women than men were distressed by combat experiences that involved some type of violence, such as being wounded, witnessing or engaging in acts of cruelty, engaging in hand-to-hand combat, and, to a lesser extent, handling dead bodies. Men who had been sexually abused had a greater number of symptoms and were consistently more distressed than women on individual symptoms and symptom factors.

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Understanding associations among family support, friend support, and psychological distress

Briana Horwitz, Chandra Reynolds & Susan Charles, Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
Emotional support from family and friends is associated with lower psychological distress. This study examined whether genetic and environmental influences explain associations among family support, friend support, and psychological distress. Data were drawn from the Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) study and included 947 pairs of monozygotic (MZ), same-sex dizygotic (DZ), and opposite-sex DZ twins. Results showed that a genetic factor explains the relation between friend support and psychological distress, independent of family support. Alternatively, a nonshared environmental factor accounts for an association between family support, friend support, and psychological distress. Thus, heritable factors shape a distinct relation between friend support and psychological distress, but unique experiences contribute to a link between family support, friend support, and psychological distress.

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5-HTTLPR, Suicidal Behavior by Others, Depression, and Criminal Behavior During Adolescence

Stephen Watts, Journal of Adolescent Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Vicarious strains like suicidal behavior on the part of others have been shown to be predictive of both negative emotions and antisocial behavior during adolescence. Little research to date, however, has examined the role that biological factors play in moderating these relationships. Using a sample of adolescents drawn from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (N = 7,995), and drawing on two separate, but related, theories, I explore whether the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) interacts with suicidal behavior by others to affect depression and self-reported crime. Results of ordinary least squares and negative binomial regressions reveal that suicide by others interacts with 5-HTTLPR to increase both depression and crime for males but not females, net of controls. Thus, 5-HTTLPR may be implicated in shaping negative emotions and antisocial behavior among males during adolescence by moderating the effects of suicide by others. Implications for theory are discussed.

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The Art Room: An Evaluation Of A Targeted School-based Group Intervention For Students With Emotional And Behavioural Difficulties

Melissa Cortina & Mina Fazel, The Arts in Psychotherapy, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Art Room is a targeted group intervention delivered in schools for students with emotional and behavioural difficulties. Since the start of the project, over 10,000 students have been through The Art Room intervention, which aims to address psychological difficulties that impede students' school experience. This paper reports on a quantitative evaluation of the impact of The Art Room on students' emotional and behavioural problems. Questionnaires on psychological functioning were administered before and after attending the intervention. Teachers completed the SDQ and children completed the sMFQ. Students showed a significant reduction in emotional and behavioural problems (teacher-reported SDQ scores) and clinical caseness. There was also a significant improvement in their mood and feelings (child-reported sMFQ), with an 87.5% improvement in those students who were depressed at baseline. The intervention is improving students' emotional and behavioural problems and promoting prosocial behaviour at school.

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Workplace problems, mental health and substance use

Johanna Catherine Maclean, Douglas Webber & Michael French, Applied Economics, Winter 2015, Pages 883-905

Abstract:
Little is known about how workplace problems may influence diagnosable mental health and substance use (MHSU) disorders. We examine the associations between three common workplace problems (experiencing problems with co-workers, job changes and perceived financial strain) and three MHSU disorders (mood, anxiety and substance abuse/dependence). The analysis utilizes longitudinal data on a sample of working-age adults from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. These data are well suited for our research objective as the survey was specifically designed to study MHSU disorders. Results show that experiencing these workplace problems is associated with an increased risk for mental health disorders, but not substance use disorders. Importantly, various robustness checks and sensitivity analyses demonstrate that our findings cannot be not fully explained by omitted variables, reverse causality or sample attrition.

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When past meets present: The relationship between website-induced nostalgia and well-being

Cathy Cox et al., Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present research examined whether social media websites increase feelings of nostalgia, and whether this nostalgic reverie promotes psychological and social health. Specifically, in comparison to control conditions, participants exposed to the websites Dear Old Love and Dear Photograph reported greater feelings of nostalgia (Studies 1–3), positive affect (Studies 1 and 3), life satisfaction (Study 1), and relationship need satisfaction (Study 2). Further, mediational analyses revealed that increased thoughts of nostalgia heightened subjective well-being and social connectedness. Study 3 showed that the relationship between nostalgia and positive affect was specific to the Dear Photograph website and did not generalize to any website focused on close relationships. The implications of this research for nostalgia, internet use, and well-being are further discussed.

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Benzodiazepine Use in the United States

Mark Olfson, Marissa King & Michael Schoenbaum, JAMA Psychiatry, forthcoming

Objective: To describe benzodiazepine prescription patterns in the United States focusing on patient age and duration of use.

Design, Setting, and Participants: A retrospective descriptive analysis of benzodiazepine prescriptions was performed with the 2008 LifeLink LRx Longitudinal Prescription database (IMS Health Inc), which includes approximately 60% of all retail pharmacies in the United States. Denominators were adjusted to generalize estimates to the US population.

Results: In 2008, approximately 5.2% of US adults aged 18 to 80 years used benzodiazepines. The percentage who used benzodiazepines increased with age from 2.6% (18-35 years) to 5.4% (36-50 years) to 7.4% (51-64 years) to 8.7% (65-80 years). Benzodiazepine use was nearly twice as prevalent in women as men. The proportion of benzodiazepine use that was long term increased with age from 14.7% (18-35 years) to 31.4% (65-80 years), while the proportion that received a benzodiazepine prescription from a psychiatrist decreased with age from 15.0% (18-35 years) to 5.7% (65-80 years). In all age groups, roughly one-quarter of individuals receiving benzodiazepine involved long-acting benzodiazepine use.

Conclusions and Relevance: Despite cautions concerning risks associated with long-term benzodiazepine use, especially in older patients, long-term benzodiazepine use remains common in this age group. More vigorous clinical interventions supporting judicious benzodiazepine use may be needed to decrease rates of long-term benzodiazepine use in older adults.

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Sensitizing effect of early adversity on depressive reactions to later proximal stress: Moderation by polymorphisms in serotonin transporter and corticotropin releasing hormone receptor genes in a 20-year longitudinal study

Lisa Starr et al., Development and Psychopathology, November 2014, Pages 1241-1254

Abstract:
Previous research supports gene–environment interactions for polymorphisms in the corticotropin hormone receptor 1 gene (CRHR1) and the serotonin transporter gene linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) in predicting depression, but it has rarely considered genetic influences on stress sensitization processes, whereby early adversities (EA) increase depressive reactivity to proximal stressors later in life. The current study tested a gene–environment–environment interaction (G × E × E; specifically, gene–EA–proximal stress interaction) model of depression in a 20-year longitudinal study. Participants were assessed prospectively for EA up to age 5 and recent chronic stress and depressive symptoms at age 20 and genotyped for CRHR1 single nucleotide polymorphism rs110402 and 5-HTTLPR. EA predicted stronger associations between recent chronic stress and depression, and the effect was moderated by genes. CRHR1 A alleles and 5-HTTLPR short alleles were associated with greater stress sensitization (i.e., greater depressive reactivity to chronic stress for those also exposed to high levels of EA). The results are consistent with the notion that EA exposure results in neurobiological and cognitive–emotional consequences (e.g., altered hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis functioning), leading to emotional distress in the face of recent stressors among those with certain genetic characteristics, although further research is needed to explore explanatory mechanisms.

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Examining gray matter structures associated with individual differences in global life satisfaction in a large sample of young adults

Feng Kong et al., Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although much attention has been directed towards life satisfaction that refers to an individual's general cognitive evaluations of his or her life as a whole, little is known about the neural basis underlying global life satisfaction. In the present study, we used voxel-based morphometry to investigate the structural neural correlates of life satisfaction in a large sample of young healthy adults (n = 299). We showed that individuals' life satisfaction was positively correlated with the regional gray matter volume (rGMV) in the right parahippocampal gyrus (PHG), and negatively correlated with the rGMV in the left precuneus and left ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC). This pattern of results remained significant even after controlling for the effect of general positive and negative affect, suggesting a unique structural correlates of life satisfaction. Furthermore, we found that self-esteem partially mediated the association between the PHG volume and life satisfaction as well as that between the precuneus volume and global life satisfaction. Taken together, we provide the first evidence for the structural neural basis of life satisfaction, and highlight that self-esteem might play a crucial role in cultivating an individual's life satisfaction.

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fMRI feedback enhances emotion regulation as evidenced by a reduced amygdala response

Pegah Sarkheil et al., Behavioural Brain Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Deficits in emotion regulation are a prominent feature of psychiatric conditions and a promising target for treatment. For instance, cognitive reappraisal is regarded as an effective strategy for emotion regulation. Neurophysiological models have established the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) as a key structure in the regulation of emotion processing through modulations of emotion-eliciting structures such as the amygdala. Feedback of the LPFC activity by real-time functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) may thus enhance the efficacy of cognitive reappraisal. During cognitive reappraisal of aversive visual stimuli, LPFC activity was fed back to the experimental group, whereas control participants received no such information. As a result, during reappraisal, amygdala activity was lower in the experimental group than in the controls. Furthermore, an increase of inter-hemispheric functional connectivity emerged in the feedback group. The current study extends the neurofeedback literature by suggesting that fMRI feedback can modify brain activity during a given task.

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Uneasy Lies the Head that Bears the Trust: The Effects of Feeling Trusted on Emotional Exhaustion

Michael Baer et al., Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
The construct of feeling trusted reflects the perception that another party is willing to accept vulnerability to one's actions. Although the construct has received far less attention than trusting, the consensus is that believing their supervisors trust them has benefits for employees' job performance. Our study challenges that consensus by arguing that feeling trusted can be exhausting for employees. Drawing on conservation of resources theory (Hobfoll, 2001), we develop a model where feeling trusted fills an employee with pride — a benefit for exhaustion and performance — while also increasing perceived workload and concerns about reputation maintenance — burdens for exhaustion and performance. We tested our model in a field study using a sample of public transit bus drivers in the London, England. Our results suggest that feeling trusted is a double-edged sword for job performance, bringing with it both benefits and burdens. Given that recommendations for managers generally encourage placing trust in employees, these results have important practical implications.

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Personality and gene expression: Do individual differences exist in the leukocyte transcriptome?

Kavita Vedhara et al., Psychoneuroendocrinology, February 2015, Pages 72–82

Background: The temporal and situational stability of personality has led generations of researchers to hypothesise that personality may have enduring effects on health, but the biological mechanisms of such relationships remain poorly understood. In the present study, we utilized a functional genomics approach to examine the relationship between the 5 major dimensions of personality and patterns of gene expression as predicted by 'behavioural immune response' theory. We specifically focussed on two sets of genes previously linked to stress, threat, and adverse socio-environmental conditions: pro-inflammatory genes and genes involved in Type I interferon and antibody responses.

Methods: An opportunity sample of 121 healthy individuals was recruited (86 females; mean age 24 years). Individuals completed a validated measure of personality; questions relating to current health behaviours; and provided a 5 ml sample of peripheral blood for gene expression analysis.

Results: Extraversion was associated with increased expression of pro-inflammatory genes and Conscientiousness was associated with reduced expression of pro-inflammatory genes. Both associations were independent of health behaviours, negative affect, and leukocyte subset distributions. Antiviral and antibody-related gene expression was not associated with any personality dimension.

Conclusions: The present data shed new light on the long-observed epidemiological associations between personality, physical health, and human longevity. Further research is required to elucidate the biological mechanisms underlying these associations.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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