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Saturday, August 1, 2015

On notice

Art and Authenticity: Behavioral and Eye-Movement Analyses

Paul Locher, Elizabeth Krupinski & Alexandra Schaefer
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, forthcoming

Abstract:
The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of viewers’ beliefs about the authenticity of paintings on the way they are visually explored and aesthetically evaluated. Thirty art-sophisticated and naïve adults were shown digital versions of paintings by renowned artists under 3 alleged authenticity status conditions: originals, copies, or fakes. Participants’ eye-movements, verbal reactions to the stimuli, and self-perceived scanning strategies were recorded as they evaluated, for unlimited time, the pleasantness, artistic merit, and monetary value of each artwork. Overall, findings provide evidence that viewers’ beliefs about the authenticity status of a painting serve as a context cue that triggers, in a direct and indirect or mediated top-down fashion, naïve and sophisticated viewers’ behavioral and visual responses to art.

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Seeing the world through “Pink Colored Glasses”: The link between optimism and pink

Kalay-Shahin Lior et al.
Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Objective: This study investigated optimism, which is considered a personality trait, from Grounded Cognition perspective. Three experiments were conducted to investigate the association between pink and optimism.

Method: In experiment 1a, 22 undergraduates (10 females, Mage=23.68) were asked to classify words as optimistic or pessimistic as fast as possible. Half the words were presented in pink and half in black. Experiment 1b (n=24, 14 females, Mage=22.82) was identical to 1a except for the color of the words - black and light blue instead of pink - to rule out the possible influence of brightness. Experiment 2 exposed 144 participants (74 females, Mage=25.18) to pink or yellow and then measured their optimism level.

Results: The findings for experiments 1a and 1b indicated an association between pink and optimism regardless of brightness. Experiment 2 found that mere exposure to pink increased optimism levels for females.

Conclusion: These results contribute to the dynamic view of personality, current views on optimism, and the growing literature on Grounded Cognition.

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The Curse of Curves

Jacob Vigil et al.
Human Nature, June 2015, Pages 235-254

Abstract:
This study examines the associations between objective and subjective measurements and impressions of body shape and cold pressor pain reporting in healthy adults. On the basis of sexual selection theory (SST), we hypothesized that body characteristics that are universally preferred by the opposite sex — specifically, lower waist-to-hip ratios (WHR) in women and higher shoulder-to-hip ratios (SHR) in men — and characteristics (e.g., proportion of body fat in women) that infer attractiveness differently across cultures will correspond to higher experimental pain reporting in women and lower pain reporting in males. A convenience sample of young adults (n = 96, 58 females, 18–24 years; mean age = 19.4) was measured for body mass index (BMI), WHR, SHR, and subjective body impressions (SBI), along with cold pressor pain reporting. The findings showed that BMI was positively associated with WHR and less-positive SBI in both sexes. Consistent with SST, however, only BMI and WHR predicted variability in pain expression in women, whereas only SHR predicted variability in men. Subjective body impressions were positively associated with SHR among males and unrelated to WHR among females, yet only females showed a positive association between SBI and higher pain reporting. The findings suggest that sexually selected physical characteristics (WHR and SHR) and culturally influenced somatic (BMI) and psychological (SBI) indicators of attractiveness correspond with variability in pain reporting, potentially reflecting the general tendency for people to express clusters of sexually selected and culturally influenced traits that may include differential pain perception.

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Negative emotional stimuli enhance vestibular processing

Nora Preuss, Andrew Ellis & Fred Mast
Emotion, August 2015, Pages 411-415

Abstract:
Recent studies have shown that vestibular stimulation can influence affective processes. In the present study, we examined whether emotional information can also modulate vestibular perception. Participants performed a vestibular discrimination task on a motion platform while viewing emotional pictures. Six different picture categories were taken from the International Affective Picture System: mutilation, threat, snakes, neutral objects, sports, and erotic pictures. Using a Bayesian hierarchical approach, we were able to show that vestibular discrimination improved when participants viewed emotionally negative pictures (mutilation, threat, snake) when compared to neutral/positive objects. We conclude that some of the mechanisms involved in the processing of vestibular information are also sensitive to emotional content. Emotional information signals importance and mobilizes the body for action. In case of danger, a successful motor response requires precise vestibular processing. Therefore, negative emotional information improves processing of vestibular information.

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The close proximity of threat: Altered distance perception in the anticipation of pain

Abby Tabor et al.
Frontiers in Psychology, May 2015

Abstract:
Pain is an experience that powerfully influences the way we interact with our environment. What is less clear is the influence that pain has on the way we perceive our environment. We investigated the effect that the anticipation of experimental pain (THREAT) and its relief (RELIEF) has on the visual perception of space. Eighteen (11F) healthy volunteers estimated the distance to alternating THREAT and RELIEF stimuli that were placed within reachable space. The results determined that the estimated distance to the THREAT stimulus was significantly underestimated in comparison to the RELIEF stimulus. We conclude that pain-evoking stimuli are perceived as closer to the body than otherwise identical pain-relieving stimuli, an important consideration when applied to our decisions and behaviors in relation to the experience of pain.

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A Mechanistic Link between Olfaction and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Liron Rozenkrantz et al.
Current Biology, 20 July 2015, Pages 1904–1910

Abstract:
Internal action models (IAMs) are brain templates for sensory-motor coordination underlying diverse behaviors. An emerging theory suggests that impaired IAMs are a common theme in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, whether impaired IAMs occur across sensory systems and how they relate to the major phenotype of ASD, namely impaired social communication, remains unclear. Olfaction relies on an IAM known as the sniff response, where sniff magnitude is automatically modulated to account for odor valence. To test the failed IAM theory in olfaction, we precisely measured the non-verbal non-task-dependent sniff response concurrent with pleasant and unpleasant odors in 36 children—18 with ASD and 18 matched typically developing (TD) controls. We found that whereas TD children generated a typical adult-like sniff response within 305 ms of odor onset, ASD children had a profoundly altered sniff response, sniffing equally regardless of odor valance. This difference persisted despite equal reported odor perception and allowed for 81% correct ASD classification based on the sniff response alone (binomial, p < 0.001). Moreover, increasingly aberrant sniffing was associated with increasingly severe ASD (r = −0.75, p < 0.001), specifically with social (r = −0.72, p < 0.001), but not motor (r < −0.38, p > 0.18), impairment. These results uncover a novel ASD marker implying a mechanistic link between the underpinnings of olfaction and ASD and directly linking an impaired IAM with impaired social abilities.

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Making eye contact without awareness

Marcus Rothkirch et al.
Cognition, October 2015, Pages 108–114

Abstract:
Direct gaze is a potent non-verbal signal that establishes a communicative connection between two individuals, setting the course for further interactions. Although consciously perceived faces with direct gaze have been shown to capture attention, it is unknown whether an attentional preference for these socially meaningful stimuli exists even in the absence of awareness. In two experiments, we recorded participants’ eye movements while they were exposed to faces with direct and averted gaze rendered invisible by interocular suppression. Participants’ inability to correctly guess the occurrence of the faces in a manual forced-choice task demonstrated complete unawareness of the faces. However, eye movements were preferentially directed towards faces with direct compared to averted gaze, indicating a specific sensitivity to others’ gaze directions even without awareness. This oculomotor preference suggests that a rapid and automatic establishment of mutual eye contact constitutes a biological advantage, which could be mediated by fast subcortical pathways in the human brain.

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Human preferences are biased towards associative information

Sabrina Trapp et al.
Cognition & Emotion, Summer 2015, Pages 1054-1068

Abstract:
There is ample evidence that the brain generates predictions that help interpret sensory input. To build such predictions the brain capitalizes upon learned statistical regularities and associations (e.g., “A” is followed by “B”; “C” appears together with “D”). The centrality of predictions to mental activities gave rise to the hypothesis that associative information with predictive value is perceived as intrinsically valuable. Such value would ensure that this information is proactively searched for, thereby promoting certainty and stability in our environment. We therefore tested here whether, all else being equal, participants would prefer stimuli that contained more rather than less associative information. In Experiments 1 and 2 we used novel, meaningless visual shapes and showed that participants preferred associative shapes over shapes that had not been associated with other shapes during training. In Experiment 3 we used pictures of real-world objects and again demonstrated a preference for stimuli that elicit stronger associations. These results support our proposal that predictive information is affectively tagged, and enhance our understanding of the formation of everyday preferences.

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The effect of emotional state on taste perception

Corinna Noel & Robin Dando
Appetite, December 2015, Pages 89–95

Abstract:
Taste perception can be modulated by a variety of extraneously applied influences, such as the manipulation of emotion or the application of acute stress. To evaluate the effect of more commonplace day-to-day emotional variation on taste function, taste intensity ratings and hedonic evaluations were collected from approximately 550 attendees following men's hockey games spanning the 2013–2014 season, a period encompassing 4 wins, 3 losses, and 1 tie. Since different outcomes at competitive sporting events are shown to induce varying affective response, this field study presented a unique environment to evaluate the effect of real-life emotional manipulations on our perception of taste, where previous research focused more on extraneous manipulation within a laboratory environment. Analysis revealed that positive emotions correlated with enhanced sweet intensity while negative emotions associated with heightened sour taste. Theoretically, both an increase in sweet and a decrease in sour taste intensity would drive acceptance of a great number of foods. Indeed, hedonic ratings for samples that were less liked (and parenthetically mostly sweet and sour in nature), selectively increased as positive affect grew, possibly due to the perceived decrease in sourness and increase in sweetness. The results of this field study indicate that emotional manipulations in the form of pleasantly or unpleasantly perceived real-life events can influence the intensity perception of taste, driving hedonics for less acceptable foods. These results suggest that such modulation of taste perception could play a role in emotional eating.

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A Detection Advantage for Facial Threat in the Absence of Anger

Jonathon Shasteen, Noah Sasson & Amy Pinkham
Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Quickly and accurately perceiving the potential for aggression in others is adaptive and beneficial for self-protection. Superior detection of facial threat is demonstrated by studies in which transient threat indices (i.e., angry expressions) are identified more efficiently than are transient approach indices (i.e., happy expressions). Not all signs of facial threat are temporary, however: Persistent, biologically based craniofacial attributes (e.g., low eyebrow ridge) are also associated with a perceived propensity for aggression. It remains unclear whether such static properties of the face elicit comparable attentional biases. We used a novel visual search task of faces for the present study that lacked explicit displays of emotion, but varied on perceived threat via manipulated craniofacial structure. A search advantage for threatening facial elements surfaced, suggesting that efficient detection of threat is not limited to the perception of anger, but rather extends to more latent facial signals of aggressive potential. Although all stimuli were primarily identified as emotionally neutral, thus confirming that the effect does not require emotional content, individual variation in the perception of structurally threatening faces as angry was associated with a greater detection advantage. These results indicate that attributing anger to objectively emotionless faces may serve as a mechanism for their heightened salience and influence important facets of social perception and interaction.

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Stroke me for longer this touch feels too short: The effect of pleasant touch on temporal perception

Ruth Ogden et al.
Consciousness and Cognition, November 2015, Pages 306–313

Abstract:
Negative, painful, somatosensory stimulation lengthens the perceived duration of time. However, to date, no research has explored the influence of positive, pleasant, somatosensory stimulation on temporal perception. Here we asked whether gentle stroking touch influences perceptions of duration. Pleasant (gentle) and mildly unpleasant (rough) tactile stimulation was delivered whilst participants estimated the duration of a neutral visual stimulus. Pleasant touch resulted in shorter estimates of duration than unpleasant touch. There was no difference in duration perception in the unpleasant and control conditions. Taken together with the results of previous research (Ogden, Moore, Redfern, & McGlone, 2015), the results of this study suggest that pleasant and painful somatosensory stimulation have opposing effects on temporal perception, and additionally that pleasant touch can alter aspects of perceptual and attentional processing outside the purely affective domain.

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Words Jump-Start Vision: A Label Advantage in Object Recognition

Bastien Boutonnet & Gary Lupyan
Journal of Neuroscience, 24 June 2015, Pages 9329-9335

Abstract:
People use language to shape each other's behavior in highly flexible ways. Effects of language are often assumed to be “high-level” in that, whereas language clearly influences reasoning, decision making, and memory, it does not influence low-level visual processes. Here, we test the prediction that words are able to provide top-down guidance at the very earliest stages of visual processing by acting as powerful categorical cues. We investigated whether visual processing of images of familiar animals and artifacts was enhanced after hearing their name (e.g., “dog”) compared with hearing an equally familiar and unambiguous nonverbal sound (e.g., a dog bark) in 14 English monolingual speakers. Because the relationship between words and their referents is categorical, we expected words to deploy more effective categorical templates, allowing for more rapid visual recognition. By recording EEGs, we were able to determine whether this label advantage stemmed from changes to early visual processing or later semantic decision processes. The results showed that hearing a word affected early visual processes and that this modulation was specific to the named category. An analysis of ERPs showed that the P1 was larger when people were cued by labels compared with equally informative nonverbal cues — an enhancement occurring within 100 ms of image onset, which also predicted behavioral responses occurring almost 500 ms later. Hearing labels modulated the P1 such that it distinguished between target and nontarget images, showing that words rapidly guide early visual processing.

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Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation of the Motor Cortex Biases Action Choice in a Perceptual Decision Task

Amir-Homayoun Javadi et al.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
One of the multiple interacting systems involved in the selection and execution of voluntary actions is the primary motor cortex (PMC). We aimed to investigate whether the transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) of this area can modulate hand choice. A perceptual decision-making task was administered. Participants were asked to classify rectangles with different height-to-width ratios into horizontal and vertical rectangles using their right and left index fingers while their PMC was stimulated either bilaterally or unilaterally. Two experiments were conducted with different stimulation conditions: the first experiment (n = 12) had only one stimulation condition (bilateral stimulation), and the second experiment (n = 45) had three stimulation conditions (bilateral, anodal unilateral, and cathodal unilateral stimulations). The second experiment was designed to confirm the results of the first experiment and to further investigate the effects of anodal and cathodal stimulations alone in the observed effects. Each participant took part in two sessions. The laterality of stimulation was reversed over the two sessions. Our results showed that anodal stimulation of the PMC biases participants' responses toward using the contralateral hand whereas cathodal stimulation biases responses toward the ipsilateral hand. Brain stimulation also modulated the RT of the left hand in all stimulation conditions: Responses were faster when the response bias was in favor of the left hand and slower when the response bias was against it. We propose two possible explanations for these findings: the perceptual bias account (bottom–up effects of stimulation on perception) and the motor-choice bias account (top–down modulation of the decision-making system by facilitation of response in one hand over the other). We conclude that motor responses and the choice of hand can be modulated using tDCS.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, July 31, 2015

Redressing grievances

Cardinals or Clerics? Congressional Committees and the Distribution of Pork

Christopher Berry & Anthony Fowler
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Journalistic and academic accounts of Congress suggest that important committee positions allow members to procure more federal funds for their constituents, but existing evidence on this topic is limited in scope and has failed to distinguish the effects of committee membership from selection onto committees. We bring together decades of data on federal outlays and congressional committee and subcommittee assignments to provide a comprehensive analysis of committee positions and distributive politics across all policy domains. Using a within-member research design, we find that seats on key committees produce little additional spending. The chairs of the Appropriations subcommittees — the so called “cardinals” of Congress — are an exception to the rule. These leadership positions do generate more funding for constituents, but only from programs under the jurisdiction of their subcommittee. Our results paint a new picture of distributive politics and call for a reexamination of its canonical theories.

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Congressional Seniority and Pork: A Pig Fat Myth?

Anthony Fowler & Andrew Hall
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Representatives in American legislatures win reelection at astounding rates, even when they fail to represent the median voter in their districts closely. One popular explanation for this puzzle is that incumbents deliver non-ideological benefits to the district through “pork-barrel politics,” i.e., the distribution of federal spending. We put this explanation to the test by measuring the causal link between senior representation and pork. In short, we find no such link (sausage or otherwise). Employing both differences-in-differences and regression discontinuity designs, we find that a senior member of Congress, on average, brings no more pork to her district than the counterfactual freshman representing the same district at the same time. As a result, voters have no pork-based incentive to reelect their experienced incumbents, and pork-barrel politics cannot explain the incumbency advantage.

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Drawing Your Senator from a Jar: Term Length and Legislative Behavior

Rocío Titiunik
Political Science Research and Methods, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper studies the effects of term duration on legislative behavior using field experiments that occur in the Arkansas, Illinois, and Texas Senates in the United States. After mandatory changes in senate district boundaries, state senators are randomly assigned to serve either two-year or four-year terms, providing a rare opportunity to study legislative behavior experimentally. Despite important differences across states, when considered together, the results show that senators serving two years abstain more often, introduce fewer bills, and do not seem to be more responsive to their constituents than senators serving four years. In addition, senators serving shorter terms raise and spend significantly more money, although in those states where funds can be raised continuously during the legislative term, the differences arise only when the election is imminent.

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Valuing Changes in Political Networks: Evidence from Campaign Contributions to Close Congressional Elections

Pat Akey
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates the value of firm political connections using a regression discontinuity design in a sample of close, off-cycle U.S. congressional elections. I compare firms donating to winning candidates and firms donating to losing candidates and find that postelection abnormal equity returns are 3% higher for firms donating to winning candidates. Connections to politicians serving on powerful congressional committees, such as appropriations and taxation, are especially valuable and impact contributing firms sales. Firms' campaign contributions are correlated with other political activities such as lobbying and hiring former government employees, suggesting that firms take coordinated actions to build political networks.

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Interest Group Influence in Policy Diffusion Networks

Kristin Garrett & Joshua Jansa
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Scholars have suggested that interest groups affect the diffusion of innovations across states by creating a network of information between the states that aids in the spread of policy ideas. Still, the unique role that interest groups play in policy diffusion networks is not fully understood, in large part because the current methodology for studying diffusion cannot parse out interest group influence. We address this problem by analyzing the actual text of legislation, moving away from binary adoption to a more nuanced measure of policy similarity. This allows us to distinguish whether states emulate other states or interest group model legislation. We use text similarity scores in a social network analysis to explore whether early-adopting states or interest groups are more central to the network. We apply this analytical framework to two policies — abortion insurance coverage restrictions and self-defense statutes. Based on this analysis, we find that a fundamentally different picture of policy diffusion networks begins to emerge — one where interest group model legislation plays a central role in the diffusion of innovations.

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Acting Right? Privatization, Encompassing Interests, and the Left

Timothy Hicks
Political Science Research and Methods, forthcoming

Abstract:
I present a theoretical account of the politics of privatization that predicts left-wing support for the policy is conditional on the proportionality of the electoral system. In contrast to accounts that see privatization as an inherently right-wing policy, I argue that, like trade policy, it has the feature of creating distributed benefits and concentrated costs. Less proportional electoral systems create incentives for the Left to be responsive to those who face the concentrated costs, and thus for them to oppose privatization more strongly. More proportional systems reduce these incentives and increase the extent to which distributed benefits are internalized by elected representatives. Hypotheses are derived from this theory at both the individual and macro-policy level, and then tested separately. Quantitative evidence on public opinion from the 1990s and privatization revenues from Western European countries over the period 1980–2005 supports the argument.

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A model of public opinion management

Andrea Patacconi & Nick Vikander
Journal of Public Economics, August 2015, Pages 73–83

Abstract:
Policymakers often motivate their decisions using information collected by government agencies. While more information can help hold the government to account, it may also give policymakers an incentive to meddle with the work of bureaucrats. This paper develops a model of biased information gathering to examine how different disclosure rules and the degree of independence of government agencies affect citizen welfare. Disclosure rules and agency independence interact in subtle ways. We find that secrecy is never optimal and yet insulating the agency from political pressure, so that its information is always unbiased, may also not be socially optimal. A biased information-gathering process can benefit the government by helping it to shape public opinion. But it can also benefit the public, by curbing the government’s tendency to implement its ex ante favored policy, thus mitigating the agency conflict between policymakers and the public.

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Handicaps to improve reputation

Amihai Glazer
Journal of Theoretical Politics, July 2015, Pages 485-496

Abstract:
An agent may be able to address a task at different times, with the state of nature more favorable to the task in some periods than in others. Success on a task will therefore more greatly improve the agent’s reputation if he is constrained in choosing when to address the task than if he enjoys flexibility in timing. These considerations can explain why presidents emphasize achievements in their first 100 days in office, and why performance of the economy in only some periods of a president’s term affect elections.

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Oversight Capabilities in the States: Are Professionalized Legislatures Better at Getting What They Want?

Frederick Boehmke & Charles Shipan
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Once legislators delegate policymaking responsibility to executive agencies, they have the ability to oversee and potentially influence the actions of these agencies. In this article, we examine, first, whether the actions of agencies reflect the preferences of legislators, and second, whether legislative professionalism enhances the ability of legislatures to influence executive agencies and obtain more preferred outcomes. We study these effects in the context of annual nursing home inspections performed by state administrators and make two predictions. First, as Democratic legislators will, on average, prefer a more activist role for government and for government agencies, we should see agencies issue more citations for violations of regulations when state legislatures are Democratic and fewer when they are Republican. Second, as more professionalized legislatures are better able to monitor the agency inspectors’ actions and inspection outcomes, this effect should be intensified for legislatures with greater professionalism. We find support for both arguments: agencies faced with more Democrats in the legislature will be more activist, and this effect is strengthened for more professional legislatures.

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Staggered Terms for the US Senate: Origins and Irony

Daniel Wirls
Legislative Studies Quarterly, August 2015, Pages 471–497

Abstract:
This article provides the first detailed study of the origins of staggered Senate terms, which typically have been interpreted as part of the framers’ intent to create an insulated, stable, and conservative Senate. I draw upon three sources of evidence — the meaning and application of “rotation” in revolutionary America, the deliberations and decisions at the Constitutional Convention, and the arguments during Ratification — to show that the origins of and intentions behind staggered terms offer little support for the dominant interpretation. Instead, staggered terms, a mechanism to promote “rotation” or turnover of membership, were added to the Constitution as a compromise to offset, not augment, the Senate's longer terms by exposing a legislative chamber with long individual tenure to more frequent electoral influence and change.

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Interest Groups, Democracy, and Policy Volatility

Jac Heckelman & Bonnie Wilson
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Democratic polities appear to produce more stable policy than do autocracies. In this paper, we explore a potential source of the policy stability observed in democracies: special-interest groups. We find that interest groups are associated with greater stability in some measures of policy and that groups mediate the stabilizing impact of democracy on policy. We also find that the impact of interest groups on policy volatility depends on the degree of polarization in a society.

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Invisible (and Visible) Lobbying: The Case of State Regulatory Policymaking

Susan Webb Yackee
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Most lobbying is invisible, meaning that interest groups routinely contact government officials “off the public record.” While such lobbying is ubiquitous, whether and how it may affect public policy decision-making remains largely unknown. I theorize that lobbying that employs both invisible and visible tactics is the most influential. I study the development of 38 health-related regulatory policies in Wisconsin to assess this argument. I employ government records, survey data from more than 350 individuals, and interviews with 15 state policymakers. I find that invisible and visible lobbying — when performed in combination — are associated with greater regulatory policy change. From a normative perspective, these results are both reassuring and troubling. On one hand, the results suggest that invisible lobbying, on its own, rarely drives state regulatory policy shifts. Yet, on the other hand, those interested parties with the resources necessary to lobby across multiple modes are more likely to see policy change.

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Partisan Presidential Influence over US Federal Budgetary Outcomes: Evidence from a Stochastic Decomposition of Executive Budget Proposals

George Krause & Ian Palmer Cook
Political Science Research and Methods, May 2015, Pages 243-264

Abstract:
Can American presidents use their budget proposal authority to achieve their own partisan policy priorities? This is an important, yet challenging, question to answer since formal executive authority is ambiguous, and budgetary powers are shared in the US separation of powers system. Indeed, the question remains open since prior empirical designs conflate external constraints (arising from political and policy conditions) with those that reflect executive partisan policy priorities. This study advances a novel stochastic decomposition of executive budget proposals in order to analyze the extent to which presidents can shape the legislative funding of US federal agencies consistent with their own partisan policy priorities. Statistical evidence reveals that presidents exert partisan-based budgetary influence over appropriations that cannot be ascertained from previous empirical studies that rely on either the observed gap between presidential requests and congressional appropriations or standard instrumental variable estimation methods. The statistical evidence also indicates that presidents are marginally more effective at converting their partisan policy priorities into budgetary outcomes under divided party government. Contrary to theoretical predictions generated from bilateral veto bargaining models, presidents are also shown to exert effective partisan budgetary influence even when their budget requests exceed congressional appropriations.

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Representative Bureaucracy and the Willingness to Coproduce: An Experimental Study

Norma Riccucci, Gregg Van Ryzin & Huafang Li
Public Administration Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Relying on the theory of representative bureaucracy — specifically, the notion of symbolic representation — this article examines whether varying the number of female public officials overseeing a local recycling program influences citizens’ (especially women's) willingness to cooperate with the government by recycling, thus coproducing important policy outcomes. Using a survey experiment in which the first names of public officials are manipulated, the authors find a clear pattern of increasing willingness on the part of women to coproduce when female names are more represented in the agency responsible for recycling, particularly with respect to the more difficult task of composting food waste. Overall, men in the experiment were less willing to coproduce across all measures and less responsive to the gender balance of names. These findings have important implications for the theory of representative bureaucracy and for efforts to promote the coproduction of public services.

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A Legislature or a Legislator Like Me? Citizen Demand for Collective and Dyadic Political Representation

Jeffrey Harden & Christopher Clark
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
American politics scholars have long distinguished between legislature-level “collective” and legislator-level “dyadic” representation. However, most research on these concepts focuses on elite-level outcomes (e.g., policy output or roll-call behavior), and whether one or both forms leads to the representation of citizen interests. Less is known about the demand side of the relationship — whether constituents prefer collective or dyadic representation. Yet the citizen perspective is critical to both scholarly and normative discussions of representation. Through a novel survey experiment administered to national samples of Americans, we examine citizen preferences for collective and dyadic representation with respect to two important social identities: race and political partisanship. We posit that citizens prefer collective over dyadic representation because collective representation provides better representation of constituents’ interests via substantive and symbolic benefits. We show results that support this expectation, and then conclude by discussing the implications for scholarly and normative understandings of representation in American politics.

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Failures: Diffusion, Learning, and Policy Abandonment

Craig Volden
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Studies of the diffusion of policies tend to focus on innovations that successfully spread across governments. Implicit in such diffusion is the abandonment of the previous policy. Yet little is known about whether governments abandon policies that have failed elsewhere, as would be consistent with states acting as policy laboratories not only for policy successes but also for failures. This article focuses on the possible abandonment of failing welfare-to-work policies in the formative years (1997–2002) of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program across the 50 U.S. states. Using a dyad-based event history analysis, I find that, if both states in a pairing have a policy and one state’s policy fails (in employing welfare recipients, reducing welfare rolls, or reducing overall poverty rates), then the other state is much more likely to abandon that failing policy. Moreover, such learning from the other state’s experience is more common when the states are ideologically similar to one another and when the legislature in the potentially learning state is more professional.

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How Institutions Affect Gender Gaps in Public Opinion Expression

Lilach Nir & Scott McClurg
Public Opinion Quarterly, Summer 2015, Pages 544-567

Abstract:
The expression of opinions in ordinary political discussions between citizens is essential to public opinion dynamics such as opinion leadership, false consensus, or pluralistic ignorance. One of the main predictors of expressiveness in citizens’ discussions is gender. Although research documents consistent gaps between men’s and women’s expressiveness through political discussion, most insights are based on the United States. Absent a comparative perspective, little consideration has been given to major differences across countries in men’s and women’s access to various institutions, and whether this access correlates with gender gaps in discursive expression. Access affects opportunities of women and men to encounter politically relevant information and connect with potential discussants. The present article tests whether greater egalitarianism in political representation, education, and workforce participation reduces gender gaps in political discussion. Multilevel analyses of the International Social Survey Program data set (approximately N = 36,600; 33 countries) show that several country-level features affect the contribution of gender to political discussion, but in ways that suggest a trade-off between gender equality and opinion expressiveness.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Salt of the earth

Secularization and Long-Run Economic Growth

Holger Strulik
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper integrates a simple theory of identity choice into a framework of endogenous economic growth to explain how secularization can be both cause and consequence of economic development. A secular identity allows an individual to derive more pleasure from consumption than religious individuals, leading secular individuals to work harder and to save more in order to experience this pleasure from consumption. These activities are conducive to economic growth. Higher income makes consumption more affordable and increases the appeal of a secular identity for the next generation. An extension of the basic model investigates the Protestant Reformation as an intermediate stage during the take-off to growth. Another extension introduces intergenerationally dependent religious preferences and demonstrates how a social multiplier amplifies the speed of secularization.

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The Natural Environment as a Spiritual Resource: A Theory of Regional Variation in Religious Adherence

Todd Ferguson & Jeffrey Tamburello
Sociology of Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
A region's natural environment has profound social effects for an area. Previous work has connected the environment to tourism, migration rates, community attachment, and economic outcomes. In this article, we explore how nature may impact the religious structuring of a region. Specifically, we investigate if beautiful landscapes and good weather — what scholars call “natural amenities” — could be spiritual resources used by the population to connect with the sacred. We hypothesize that the environment, as a spiritual resource, would compete with more traditional religious organizations. Thus, we expect that regions with higher levels of natural amenities would experience lower rates of religious adherence. To test our hypothesis, we use spatial econometric modeling techniques to analyze data from the Religious Congregations and Membership Study, United States Department of Agriculture, the U.S. County Business Patterns, and the Census. Results show that counties with higher levels of natural amenities have lower rates of adherence to traditional religious organizations.

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On the Norms of Charitable Giving in Islam: Two Field Experiments in Morocco

Fatima Lambarraa & Gerhard Riener
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Charitable giving is one of the major obligations in Islam and a strong Muslim norm endorses giving to the needy, but discourages public displays of giving. We report the results two field experiments with 534 and 200 participants at Moroccan educational institutions to assess the effects of this moral prescription on actual giving levels in anonymous and public settings. Subjects who participated in a paid study were given the option to donate from their payment to a local orphanage, under treatments that varied the publicity of the donation and the salience of Islamic values using either Arabic or French instructions. In the salient Islamic treatment, anonymity of donations significantly increased donation incidence from 59% to 77% percent as well as average donations for religious subjects from 8.90 to 13.00 Dh out of possibly 30 Dh. These findings stand in stark contrast to most previous findings in the charitable giving literature and suggest to reconsider potential fundraising strategies in Muslim populations.

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Modern Marital Practices and the Growth of World Christianity During the Mid-Twentieth Century

Anneke Stasson
Church History, June 2015, Pages 394-420

Abstract:
Studies concerned with modernity, mission Christianity, and sexuality generally address how western, Christian gender ideologies have affected women or how they have affected modernization. This article approaches the nexus of modernity, Christianity, and sexuality from a different angle. One of the notable consequences of modernization was that young people in industrializing nations began demanding the right to choose their own spouse and marry for love. Several scholars have noted the connection between modernization and spouse self-selection, but none have explored the relationship between Christianity's endorsement of spouse self-selection and its global appeal during the mid-twentieth century. This article examines a collection of letters written by young Africans to missionary Walter Trobisch after reading his popular 1962 book, I Loved a Girl. These letters suggest that Christianity's endorsement of spouse self-selection and marrying for love gave it a kind of modern appeal for young people who were eagerly adopting the modern values of individualism and self-fulfillment. The practice of prayer provided relief to young people who were struggling to navigate the unfamiliar realm of dating in the modern world.

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Are You There God? It’s Me, a College Student: Religious Beliefs and Higher Education

Wesley Routon & Jay Walker
B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Drawing data from a longitudinal survey of college students from 514 institutions of higher education, we add to the discussion on the education–religion puzzle by providing information on specifically which college students experience the most religiosity change, investigating multiple change measures (conviction strength, service attendance, and religious identity), and estimating which programs of study and collegiate experiences cause the most change. We also provide an analysis of students who seek or initially sought an occupation within the clergy. Among our findings, 56% of students report changes in the strength of their religious convictions during college, while 45% report changes in religious service attendance frequency. Of those who matriculate as religious, about 9% lose their religion by graduation. Of those who matriculate with no religious identity, an impressive 33% graduate with one. Choice of institution, major of study, academic success, and many other collegiate experiences are shown to be determinants of these changes.

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Religion, Age, and Crime: Do Religious Traditions Differentially Impact Juvenile Versus Adult Violence?

Casey Harris et al.
Sociological Spectrum, July/August 2015, Pages 372-391

Abstract:
A growing body of empirical research demonstrates that the relative presence of religious adherents at the community-level has important relationships with rates of crime and violence. Less understood is how adherence to specific religious traditions (e.g., evangelical Protestant, Catholic, mainline Protestant) is associated with rates of crime, especially across particular age groups toward which religious traditions devote varying degrees of structural and cultural resources. Using data from the Religious Congregations and Membership Survey and age-specific arrest data from the Uniform Crime Reporting program in 2010, the current study finds that the impact of religious adherence on crime varies by religious tradition and across juvenile versus adult crime. Specifically, evangelical Protestant adherence is negatively associated with juvenile but not adult violence, while Catholic adherence is associated with reduced adult but not juvenile violence, net of controls. Implications for research on religious contexts and crime, as well as policy, are discussed.

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The Persistent Effects of in Utero Nutrition Shocks Over the Life Cycle: Evidence From Ramadan Fasting

Muhammad Farhan Majid
Journal of Development Economics, November 2015, Pages 48–57

Abstract:
More than a billion Muslims living today were potentially exposed to their mother’s fasting in utero. This paper uses the Indonesian Family Life Survey to study the persistent effects of in utero exposure to Ramadan over the life cycle. The exposed children perform more child labor, score 7.4 percent lower on cognitive tests and 8.4 percent lower on math test scores. As adults, the exposed children work 4.7 percent fewer hours per week and are more likely to be self-employed. Estimates are robust to the inclusion of family fixed effects, particularly for hours worked and test scores. Moreover, results are strongest for religious Muslim families, while insignificant for non-Muslims. Back of the envelope calculations reveal an implied fasting rate of 68%-82% among pregnant Muslim women.

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Religion, Self-Rated Health, and Mortality: Whether Religiosity Delays Death Depends on the Cultural Context

Olga Stavrova
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Existing research, mostly based on the data from the United States, suggests that religiosity contributes to better health and longevity. This article explores the association between religiosity and self-rated health across 59 countries and shows that the positive association between religiosity and self-rated health is an exception found in a relatively small number of countries. Consistent with the person–culture fit literature, Study 1 shows that in countries in which religiosity represents a social norm (i.e., it is common and socially desirable), religious individuals report better subjective health than nonreligious individuals. Study 2 demonstrates that even within the United States, the association of religiosity with self-rated health as well as with reduced mortality largely depends on the regional level of religiosity, suggesting that the health and longevity benefits of religiosity are restricted to highly religious regions.

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Public perceptions of future threats to humanity and different societal responses: A cross-national study

Melanie Randle & Richard Eckersley
Futures, forthcoming

Abstract:
There is growing scientific evidence that humanity faces a number of threats that jeopardize its future. Public perceptions of these threats, both their risks and reactions to them, are important in determining how humanity confronts and addresses the threats. This study investigated the perceived probability of threats to humanity and different responses to them (nihilism, fundamentalism and activism), in four Western nations: the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Overall, a majority (54%) rated the risk of our way of life ending within the next 100 years at 50% or greater, and a quarter (24%) rated the risk of humans being wiped out at 50% or greater. The responses were relatively uniform across countries, age groups, gender and education level, although statistically significant differences exist. Almost 80% agreed “we need to transform our worldview and way of life if we are to create a better future for the world” (activism). About a half agreed that “the world's future looks grim so we have to focus on looking after ourselves and those we love” (nihilism), and over a third that “we are facing a final conflict between good and evil in the world” (fundamentalism). The findings offer insight into the willingness of humanity to respond to the challenges identified by scientists and warrant increased consideration in scientific and political debate.

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Kissing the Mezuzah and Cognitive Performance: Is There an Observable Benefit?

Erez Siniver & Gideon Yaniv
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, September 2015, Pages 40–46

Abstract:
A mezuzah is a small case affixed to the doorframe of each room in Jewish homes and workplaces which contains a tiny scroll of parchment inscribed with a prayer. It is customary for religious Jews to touch the mezuzah every time they pass through a door and kiss the fingers that touched it. However, kissing the mezuzah has also become customary for many secular Jews who think of the mezuzah as a good luck charm. In view of a recent revelation that kissing the mezuzah entails a health hazard, the present paper inquires whether it also has some observable benefit. In an experiment conducted among non-religious mezuzah-kissing economics and business students confronted with a logic-problem exam, some were allowed to kiss the mezuzah before taking the exam, whereas the others were asked not to do so or could not do so because it had been removed from the room doorframe. The experiment revealed that participants who did not kiss the mezuzah performed worse than those who kissed it, and that the stronger is one's belief in the mezuzah's luck-enhancing properties, the better he performs when he kisses it but the worse he performs when he does not.

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The Effects of Religious Priming and Persuasion Style on Decision-Making in a Resource Allocation Task

Brandt Smith & Michael Zárate
Journal of Peace Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present research examined the effects of religious priming and charismatic leadership on decision-making in a resource allocation task. Religious priming took the form of having participants write 1 to 2 paragraphs about the importance of religion in the formation of social values. Confederates were trained to behave in either a charismatic or noncharismatic manner. After being primed with religion, participants were more compliant with a confederate leader and allocated more funds to hydro-fracture mining instead of a solar energy research project. Further, participants were more likely to comply with the confederate when they were first primed with religion. Implications of this study and future directions are discussed.

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Should Science Class Be Fair? Frames and Values in the Evolution Debate

Thomas Nelson, Dana Wittmer & Dustin Carnahan
Political Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
Communicators try to shape public opinion to their advantage by invoking social values. We examine a vivid example of this value framing in the debate over teaching evolution in the public schools. Supporters of intelligent design (ID) theory have pressed for greater acceptance in public schools by framing the issue as a question of fairness. A survey experiment revealed overwhelming agreement that including ID in science class is fairer than excluding it. This belief had a greater impact on tolerance for ID when the issue was framed with respect to fairness. A second study showed similar effects from a pro-ID documentary film. A final study showed that training in scientific reasoning counteracts the impact of the fairness value, thereby decreasing tolerance for ID. Combined, these studies show how political debate can be understood as a contest over which values deserve greatest consideration or emphasis.

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Override the controversy: Analytic thinking predicts endorsement of evolution

Will Gervais
Cognition, September 2015, Pages 312–321

Abstract:
Despite overwhelming scientific consensus, popular opinions regarding evolution are starkly divided. In the USA, for example, nearly one in three adults espouse a literal and recent divine creation account of human origins. Plausibly, resistance to scientific conclusions regarding the origins of species — like much resistance to other scientific conclusions (Bloom & Weisberg, 2007) — gains support from reliably developing intuitions. Intuitions about essentialism, teleology, agency, and order may combine to make creationism potentially more cognitively attractive than evolutionary concepts. However, dual process approaches to cognition recognize that people can often analytically override their intuitions. Two large studies (total N = 1324) found consistent evidence that a tendency to engage analytic thinking predicted endorsement of evolution, even controlling for relevant demographic, attitudinal, and religious variables. Meanwhile, exposure to religion predicted reduced endorsement of evolution. Cognitive style is one factor among many affecting opinions on the origin of species.

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Costly Signaling Increases Trust, Even Across Religious Affiliations

Deborah Hall et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Trust is a critical aspect of social interaction. One might predict that individuals trust religious out-groups less than religious in-groups, and that costly signals performed by members of religious in-groups increase trust while costly signals performed by members of religious out-groups decrease trust. We examined how Christian participants perceived the trustworthiness of Muslim and Christian individuals who did or did not engage in religious costly signaling. Religious costly signaling, operationalized as giving to religious charities (Experiments 1 and 2) or adhering to religious dietary restrictions (Experiment 3), increased self-reported trust, regardless of target religious affiliation. Furthermore, when estimating the likelihood that trustworthy versus untrustworthy targets engaged in costly signaling, participants made systematic judgments that showed that costly signaling is associated with trust for both Muslim and Christian targets (Experiment 4). These results are novel in their suggestion that costly signals of religious commitment can increase trust both within and, crucially, across religious-group lines.

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Christian Nationalism, Racial Separatism, and Family Formation: Attitudes Toward Transracial Adoption as a Test Case

Samuel Perry & Andrew Whitehead
Race and Social Problems, June 2015, Pages 123-134

Abstract:
Christian nationalism seeks the preservation or restoration of a supposed religio-national purity. We argue that, within the racialized social system of the United States, this idealized religio-national purity is inextricably linked with notions of ethno-racial purity. Focusing on interracial families as a violation of ethno-racial purity, we theorize that adherents to Christian nationalism will be less supportive of family formations in which ethno-racial purity is formally transgressed. We demonstrate this by examining the impact of Christian nationalism on Americans’ views toward transracial adoption (TRA). Americans’ attitudes toward TRA provide an interesting test case in that, unlike attitudes toward racial exogamy, TRA implies no biological or cultural race-mixing between social peers, but only a socio-legal guardianship across races. Opposition to TRA thus taps Americans’ attitudes about the “ideal” ethno-racial composition of families socially and legally, rather than their beliefs about the biological or cultural incompatibility of ethno-racial groups. Analyzing national survey data, we find that adherence to Christian nationalism is strongly and negatively associated with support for TRA, net of relevant controls. We demonstrate that the influence of Christian nationalism is robust and independent of respondents’ trust of other races and their religious commitment, both that are strongly and positively associated with support for TRA. Findings affirm that Christian nationalism implies ethno-racial separation and purity, and thus, we propose that a resurgence of Christian nationalist ideology in the public sphere may serve to reinforce racial boundaries and exclusion in other realms of American social life.

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Attributes of God: Conceptual Foundations of a Foundational Belief

Andrew Shtulman & Marjaana Lindeman
Cognitive Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Anthropomorphism, or the attribution of human properties to nonhuman entities, is often posited as an explanation for the origin and nature of God concepts, but it remains unclear which human properties we tend to attribute to God and under what conditions. In three studies, participants decided whether two types of human properties — psychological (mind-dependent) properties and physiological (body-dependent) properties — could or could not be attributed to God. In Study 1 (n = 1,525), participants made significantly more psychological attributions than physiological attributions, and the frequency of those attributions was correlated both with participants’ religiosity and with their attribution of abstract, theological properties. In Study 2 (n = 99) and Study 3 (n = 138), participants not only showed the same preference for psychological properties but were also significantly faster, more consistent, and more confident when attributing psychological properties to God than when attributing physiological properties. And when denying properties to God, they showed the reverse pattern — that is, they were slower, less consistent, and less confident when denying psychological properties than when denying physiological properties. These patterns were observed both in a predominantly Christian population (Study 2) and a predominantly Hindu population (Study 3). Overall, we argue that God is conceptualized not as a person in general but as an agent in particular, attributed a mind by default but attributed a body only upon further consideration.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Satisfied customers

Do ratings of firms converge? Implications for managers, investors and strategy researchers

Aaron Chatterji et al.
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Raters of firms play an important role in assessing domains ranging from sustainability to corporate governance to best places to work. Managers, investors, and scholars increasingly rely on these ratings to make strategic decisions, invest trillions of dollars in capital and study corporate social responsibility (CSR), guided by the implicit assumption that the ratings are valid. We document the surprising lack of agreement across social ratings from six well-established raters. These differences remain even when we adjust for explicit differences in the definition of CSR held by different raters, implying the ratings have low validity. Our results suggest that users of social ratings should exercise caution in interpreting their connection to actual CSR and that raters should conduct regular evaluations of their ratings.

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Paying Up for Fair Pay: Consumers Prefer Firms with Lower CEO-to-Worker Pay Ratios

Bhavya Mohan, Michael Norton & Rohit Deshpande
Harvard Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
Prior research examining consumer expectations of equity and price fairness has not addressed wage fairness, as measured by a firm's pay ratio. Pending legislation will require American public companies to disclose the pay ratio of CEO wage to the average employee's wage. Our six studies show that pay ratio disclosure affects purchase intention of consumers via perceptions of wage fairness. The disclosure of a retailer's high pay ratio (e.g., 1000 to 1) reduces purchase intention relative to firms with lower ratios (e.g., 5 to 1 or 60 to 1, Studies 1A, 1B, and 1C). Lower pay ratios improve consumer perceptions across a range of products at different price points (Study 2A and 2B), increase consumer ratings of both firm warmth and firm competence (Study 3), and enhance perceptions of Democrats and Independents without alienating Republican consumers (Study 4). A firm with a high ratio must offer a 50% price discount to garner as favorable consumer impressions as a firm that charges full price but features a lower ratio (Study 5).

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A taste for temperance: How American beer got to be so bland

Ranjit Dighe
Business History, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines the historical origins of bland American beer. The US was not strongly associated with a particular beer type until German immigrants popularised lager beer. Lager, refreshing and mildly intoxicating, met the demands of America's growing working class. Over time, American lager became lighter and blander. This article emphasises America's uncommonly strong temperance movement, which put the industry on the defensive. Brewers pushed their product as 'the beverage of moderation,' and consumers sought out light, relatively non-intoxicating beers. The recent 'craft beer revolution' is explained as a backlash aided by a changing consumer culture and improved information technology.

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Do Sex and Violence Sell? A Meta-Analytic Review of the Effects of Sexual and Violent Media and Ad Content on Memory, Attitudes, and Buying Intentions

Robert Lull & Brad Bushman
Psychological Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
It is commonly assumed that sex and violence sell. However, we predicted that sex and violence would have the opposite effect. We based our predictions on the evolution and emotional arousal theoretical framework, which states that people are evolutionarily predisposed to attend to emotionally arousing cues such as sex and violence. Thus, sexual and violent cues demand more cognitive resources than nonsexual and nonviolent cues. Using this framework, we meta-analyzed the effects of sexual media, violent media, sexual ads, and violent ads on the advertising outcomes of brand memory, brand attitudes, and buying intentions. The meta-analysis included 53 experiments involving 8,489 participants. Analyses found that brands advertised in violent media content were remembered less often, evaluated less favorably, and less likely to be purchased than brands advertised in nonviolent, nonsexual media. Brands advertised using sexual ads were evaluated less favorably than brands advertised using nonviolent, nonsexual ads. There were no significant effects of sexual media on memory or buying intentions. There were no significant effects of sexual or violent ads on memory or buying intentions. As intensity of sexual ad content increased, memory, attitudes, and buying intentions decreased. When media content and ad content were congruent (e.g., violent ad in a violent program), memory improved and buying intentions increased. Violence and sex never helped and often hurt ad effectiveness. These results support the evolution and emotional arousal framework. Thus, advertisers should consider the effects of media content, ad content, content intensity, and congruity to design and place more effective ads.

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Marketing Department Power and Firm Performance

Hui Feng, Neil Morgan & Lopo Rego
Journal of Marketing, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study empirically investigates marketing department power within U.S. firms over the 1993-2008 period and assesses its impact on firm performance. Using a new objective measure of marketing department power and a cross-industry sample of 612 public firms in the U.S., results reveal that marketing department power generally increased over this time period. Further, our analyses show that a powerful marketing department enhances firms' longer-term future Total Shareholder Returns (TSR) above and beyond its positive effect on firms' short-term Return on Assets (ROA). The findings also reveal that a firm's long run market-based asset building and short run market-based asset leveraging capabilities partially mediate the effect of a firm's marketing department power on its longer-term shareholder value performance, and fully mediate the effect on its short-term ROA performance. This research provides new insights for marketing scholars and managers concerning marketing's influence within the firm and how investments in building a powerful marketing department impact firm performance.

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Corporate social responsibility and the cost of corporate bonds

Wenxia Ge & Mingzhi Liu
Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines how a firm's corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance is associated with the cost of its new bond issues. Using credit ratings as an ex ante cost of debt, we find that better CSR performance is associated with better credit ratings. After controlling for credit ratings, our results show that better CSR performance is associated with lower yield spreads but some of the effect is absorbed by credit ratings. When we examine CSR strengths and concerns separately, we find that a higher CSR strength (concern) score is associated with lower (higher) yield spreads. Our results on the effect of firm performance on seven individual CSR dimensions are generally consistent with our main findings. Our results indicate that firms with better CSR performance are able to issue bonds at lower cost and that both CSR strengths and concerns are considered by bondholders. Additional subsample test results suggest that the association between CSR performance and bond yield spreads is more pronounced in investment-grade and non-Rule 144a bonds, for financially healthier bond issuers, for issuers with weaker corporate governance and higher information asymmetry, and for issuers operating in environmentally sensitive industries.

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To Do or To Have, Now or Later? The Preferred Consumption Profiles of Material and Experiential Purchases

Amit Kumar & Thomas Gilovich
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Extending previous research on the hedonic benefits of spending money on doing rather than having, this paper investigates when people prefer to consume experiential and material purchases. We contend that the preferred timing of consumption tends to be more immediate for things (like clothing and gadgets) than for experiences (like vacations and meals out). First, we examine whether consumers exhibit a stronger preference to delay consumption of experiential purchases compared to material goods. When asked to make choices about their optimal consumption times, people exhibit a relative preference to have now and do later. In the next set of studies, we found that this difference in preferred consumption led participants to opt for a lesser material item now over a superior item later, but to wait for a superior experiential purchase rather than settle for a lesser experience now. This tendency is due to the fact that consumers derive more utility from waiting for experiences than from waiting for possessions. Finally, we provide evidence that these preferences affect people's real-world decisions about when to consume.

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

Abhishek Borah & Gerard Tellis
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Online chatter is important because it is spontaneous, passionate, information rich, granular, and live. Thus, it can forewarn and be diagnostic about potential problems with automobile models, known as nameplates. The authors define perverse halo (or negative spillover) as the phenomenon whereby negative chatter about one nameplate increases negative chatter for another nameplate. The authors test the existence of such perverse halo for 48 nameplates from 4 different brands during a series of automobile recalls. The analysis is by individual and panel Vector AutoRegressive models. Perverse halo is extensive. It occurs for nameplates within the same brand across segments and across brands within segments. It is strongest between brands of the same country. Perverse halo is asymmetric, being stronger from a dominant brand to a less dominant brand than vice versa. Apology advertising about recalls has harmful effects on both the recalled brand and its rivals. Further, these halo effects impact downstream performance metrics such as sales and stock market performance. Online chatter amplifies the negative effect of recalls on downstream sales by about 4.5 times.

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The Unfavorable Economics of Measuring the Returns to Advertising

Randall Lewis & Justin Rao
Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Twenty-five large field experiments with major U.S. retailers and brokerages, most reaching millions of customers and collectively representing $2.8 million in digital advertising expenditure, reveal that measuring the returns to advertising is difficult. The median confidence interval on return on investment is over one-hundred percentage points wide. Detailed sales data show that, relative to the per capita cost of the advertising, individual-level sales are very volatile; a coefficient of variation of ten is common. Hence, informative advertising experiments can easily require more than ten million person-weeks, making experiments costly and potentially infeasible for many firms. Despite these unfavorable economics, randomized control trials represent progress by injecting new, unbiased information into the market. The inference challenges revealed in the field experiments also show that selection bias, due to the targeted nature of advertising, is a crippling concern for widely-employed observational methods.

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The Informational Role of Product Trade-Ins for Pricing Durable Goods

Ohjin Kwon et al.
Journal of Industrial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research theorizes that sellers of durable goods can utilize inferences about the buyer's willingness to pay based not only on her decision to trade in the old good but also on its characteristics. We find empirical support for this theory using transaction data for new car purchases. The results support the notion that dealers infer a higher willingness to pay and charge higher prices to consumers who trade in a used vehicle than to those who do not. We also find that dealers charge even higher prices to those consumers who trade in used cars that are similar to the new one.

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From Finance to Marketing: Impact of Financial Leverage on Customer Satisfaction

Ashwin Malshe & Manoj Agarwal
Journal of Marketing, forthcoming

Abstract:
The authors study how a firm's financial leverage affects marketing outcomes and consequent firm value. They find that leverage has a dual effect - it reduces customer satisfaction and moderates the relationship between satisfaction and firm value. Due to the burden of making regular interest payments to debt holders, managers face pressure to generate adequate cash flows. The authors theorize that this may lead marketers to adopt short-term actions such as cutting advertising and R&D spending, which can hurt customer satisfaction by lowering perceived quality and perceived value. Further, higher leverage reduces financial flexibility by constraining marketers from exploiting growth opportunities resulting from higher customer satisfaction. The authors empirically show that leverage leads to lower customer satisfaction with advertising intensity mediating this effect. The negative impact of leverage on satisfaction is more pronounced for service firms and firms in competitive markets. Finally, leverage negatively moderates the customer satisfaction-firm value link. Increases in customer satisfaction are value enhancing at modest levels of leverage, but at very high levels of leverage, increases in satisfaction are value-reducing.

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Cost Conscious? The Neural and Behavioral Impact of Price Primacy on Decision Making

Uma Karmarkar, Baba Shiv & Brian Knutson
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Price is a key factor in most purchases, but it can be presented at different stages of decision making. The authors examine the sequence-dependent effects of price and product information on the decision-making process at both neural and behavioral levels. During functional magnetic resonance imaging, the price of a product was shown to participants either before or after the product itself was presented. Early exposure to price, or "price primacy," altered the process of valuation, as observed in altered patterns of activity in the medial prefrontal cortex immediately before making a purchase decision. Specifically, whereas viewing products first resulted in evaluations strongly related to products' attractiveness or desirability, viewing prices first appeared to promote overall evaluations related to products' monetary worth. Consistent with this framework, the authors show that price primacy can increase purchase of bargain-priced products when their worth is easily recognized. Together, these results suggest that price primacy highlights considerations of product worth and can thereby influence purchasing.

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Saying No to the Glow: When Consumers Avoid Arrogant Brands

Nira Munichor & Yael Steinhart
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Arrogant brands have a multifaceted influence on consumers: Although consumers appreciate arrogant brands as reflecting high status and quality, arrogance can also make consumers feel inferior. Consumers whose self is a priori threatened may consequently "say no to the glow" and avoid arrogant brands. Results from six experiments using fictitious or actual arrogant brands show that when consumers experience prior self-threat, they may avoid brands that convey arrogance in favor of a competing, less-arrogant alternative. Such avoidance helps self-threatened consumers restore their self-perceptions and feel better about themselves.

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Using EEG to Predict Consumers' Future Choices

Ariel Telpaz, Ryan Webb & Dino Levy
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
It is well established that neural imaging technology can predict preferences for consumer products. However, the applicability of this method to consumer marketing research remains uncertain, partly because of the expense required. In this article, the authors demonstrate that neural measurements made with a relatively low-cost and widely available measurement method - electroencephalography (EEG) - can predict future choices of consumer products. In the experiment, participants viewed individual consumer products in isolation, without making any actual choices, while their neural activity was measured with EEG. At the end of the experiment, participants were offered choices between pairs of the same products. The authors find that neural activity measured from a midfrontal electrode displays an increase in the N200 component and a weaker theta band power that correlates with a more preferred product. Using recent techniques for relating neural measurements to choice prediction, they demonstrate that these measures predict subsequent choices. Moreover, the accuracy of prediction depends on both the ordinal and cardinal distance of the EEG data; the larger the difference in EEG activity between two products, the better the predictive accuracy.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

License and registration

Divorce and the Birth Control Pill in the US, 1950–85

Miriam Marcén
Feminist Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper explores the relationship between the advent of the birth control pill and divorce rates. Women using the pill can decide when and whether to have children and whether to maintain their attachment to the labor force. This ability may increase women's autonomy, making divorce more feasible. The pill's effects are identified through a quasi-experiment exploiting differences in the language of the Comstock anti-obscenity statutes approved in the late 1800s and early 1900s in the United States. Empirical evidence from state-level data on US divorce rates 1950 to 1985 shows that sales bans of oral contraceptives have a negative impact on divorce. These findings are robust to alternative specifications and controls for observed (such as women's labor force participation) and unobserved state-specific factors, and time-varying factors at the state level. Results suggest that the impact of women's control of hormonal contraception on their autonomy is important in divorce decisions.

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Close Relationships and Self-Regulation: How Relationship Satisfaction Facilitates Momentary Goal Pursuit

Wilhelm Hofmann, Eli Finkel & Gráinne Fitzsimons
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the new millennium, scholars have built a robust intersection between close-relationships research and self-regulation research. However, virtually no work has investigated how the most basic and broad indicator of relationship quality, relationship satisfaction, affects self-regulation and vice versa. In the present research, we show that higher relationship satisfaction promotes a motivational mind-set that is conducive for effective self-regulation, and thus for goal progress and performance. In Study 1 — a large-scale, intensive experience sampling project of 115 couples (total N = 230) — we closely tracked fluctuations in state relationship satisfaction (SRS) and 4 parameters of effective self-regulation according to our conceptual model. Dyadic process analyses showed that individuals experiencing higher SRS than they typically do exhibited higher levels of (a) perceived control, (b) goal focus, (c) perceived partner support, and (d) positive affect during goal pursuit than they typically exhibit. Together, these 4 self-regulation-relevant variables translated into higher rates of daily progress on specific, idiographic goals. In Study 2 (N = 195), we employed a novel experimental manipulation of SRS, replicating the link between SRS and parameters of effective self-regulation. Taken together, these findings suggest that momentary increases in relationship satisfaction may benefit everyday goal pursuit through a combination of cognitive and affective mechanisms, thus further integrating relationship research with social–cognitive research on goal pursuit.

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Does Marriage Moderate Genetic Effects on Delinquency and Violence?

Yi Li, Hexuan Liu & Guang Guo
Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (N = 1,254), the authors investigated whether marriage can foster desistance from delinquency and violence by moderating genetic effects. In contrast to existing gene–environment research that typically focuses on one or a few genetic polymorphisms, they extended a recently developed mixed linear model to consider the collective influence of 580 single nucleotide polymorphisms in 64 genes related to aggression and risky behavior. The mixed linear model estimates the proportion of variance in the phenotype that is explained by the single nucleotide polymorphisms. The authors found that the proportion of variance in delinquency/violence explained was smaller among married individuals than unmarried individuals. Because selection, confounding, and heterogeneity may bias the estimate of the Gene × Marriage interaction, they conducted a series of analyses to address these issues. The findings suggest that the Gene × Marriage interaction results were not seriously affected by these issues.

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Her Support, His Support: Money, Masculinity, and Marital Infidelity

Christin Munsch
American Sociological Review, June 2015, Pages 469-495

Abstract:
Recent years have seen great interest in the relationship between relative earnings and marital outcomes. Using data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, I examine the effect of relative earnings on infidelity, a marital outcome that has received little attention. Theories of social exchange predict that the greater one’s relative income, the more likely one will be to engage in infidelity. Yet, emerging literature raises questions about the utility of gender-neutral exchange approaches, particularly when men are economically dependent and women are breadwinners. I find that, for men, breadwinning increases infidelity. For women, breadwinning decreases infidelity. I argue that by remaining faithful, breadwinning women neutralize their gender deviance and keep potentially strained relationships intact. I also find that, for both men and women, economic dependency is associated with a higher likelihood of engaging in infidelity; but, the influence of dependency on men’s infidelity is greater than the influence of dependency on women’s infidelity. For economically dependent persons, infidelity may be an attempt to restore relationship equity; however, for men, dependence may be particularly threatening. Infidelity may allow economically dependent men to engage in compensatory behavior while simultaneously distancing themselves from breadwinning spouses.

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The Earned Income Tax Credit and Union Formation: The Impact of Expected Spouse Earnings

Katherine Michelmore
University of Michigan Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
The earned income tax credit (EITC) has become the largest cash transfer program in the United States, distributing nearly $60 billion dollars in credits in 2010. Several studies have evaluated the impact of the EITC on various aspects of behavioral responses. Using the Survey of Income and Program Participation from 2001, 2004, and 2008, I investigate how the change in expected household EITC benefits associated with marrying affect cohabitation and marriage behavior among low-income women. I first simulate a marriage market to predict potential spouse earnings for a sample of low-income women in order to estimate the potential losses or gains in EITC benefits upon marriage. Using multinomial logistic regressions, I then analyze how not only the value of the EITC, but also the anticipated loss in EITC benefits upon marriage affects the likelihood of marrying or cohabiting. Results suggest that the average EITC-eligible woman can expect to lose approximately $1,000 in EITC benefits in the year following marriage, or about half of her pre-marriage benefit. Further, I find that a $1,000 loss in expected EITC benefits upon marriage is associated with a 1.1 percentage point decline in the likelihood of marrying and a 0.7 percentage point increase in the likelihood of cohabiting.

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Life-Course Partnership Status and Biomarkers in Midlife: Evidence From the 1958 British Birth Cohort

George Ploubidis et al.
American Journal of Public Health, August 2015, Pages 1596-1603

Objectives: We examined the association between trajectories of partnership status over the life course and objectively measured health indicators in midlife.

Methods: We used data from 4 waves (1981, 1991, 2000, and 2002–2004) of the British National Child Development Study (NCDS), a prospective cohort study that includes all people born in Britain during 1 week in March 1958 (n = 18 558).

Results: After controlling for selection attributable to early-life and early-adulthood characteristics, we found that life-course trajectories of partnership status were associated with hemostatic and inflammatory markers, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome and respiratory function in midlife. Never marrying or cohabiting was negatively associated with health in midlife for both genders, but the effect was more pronounced in men. Women who had married in their late 20s or early 30s and remained married had the best health in midlife. Men and women in cohabiting unions had midlife health outcomes similar to those in formal marriages.

Conclusions: Partnership status over the life course has a cumulative effect on a wide range of objectively measured health indicators in midlife.

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Nonmarital Relationships and Changing Perceptions of Marriage Among African American Young Adults

Ashley Barr, Ronald Simons & Leslie Gordon Simons
Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming

Abstract:
Cohabitation has become increasingly widespread over the past decade. Such trends have given rise to debates about the relation between cohabitation and marriage in terms of what cohabitation means for individual relationship trajectories and for the institution of marriage more generally. Using recent data from a sample of almost 800 African Americans and fixed effects modeling procedures, in the present study the authors shed some light on these debates by exploring the extent to which cohabitation, relative to both singlehood and dating, was associated with within-individual changes in African Americans' marital beliefs during the transition to adulthood. The findings suggest that cohabitation is associated with changes in marital beliefs, generally in ways that repositioned partners toward marriage, not away from it. This was especially the case for women. These findings suggest that, for young African American women, cohabitation holds a distinct place relative to dating and, in principle if not practice, relative to marriage.

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Jealousy: Evidence of strong sex differences using both forced choice and continuous measure paradigms

Mons Bendixen, Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair & David Buss
Personality and Individual Differences, November 2015, Pages 212–216

Abstract:
Despite some controversy about sex differences in jealousy, data largely support that sex differences studied with the forced choice (FC) paradigm are robust: Men, relative to women, report greater jealousy in response to sexual infidelity than in response to emotional infidelity. Corresponding sex differences for continuous measures of jealousy typically have been less robust in the literature. A large sample of Norwegian students (N = 1074) randomly responded to either FC or continuous measure questionnaires covering four infidelity scenarios. Large, comparable, theoretically-predicted sex differences were evident for both FC and continuous measures. Relationship status, infidelity experiences, and question order manipulation (activation) did not consistently influence the sex differences for either measure, nor did individual differences in sociosexual orientation or relationship commitment. These large sex differences are especially noteworthy as they emerge from a highly egalitarian nation with high paternal investment expectancy, and because they contradict social role theories that predict a diminution of psychological sex differences as gender economic equality increases.

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The Suffocation Model: Why Marriage in America Is Becoming an All-or-Nothing Institution

Eli Finkel et al.
Current Directions in Psychological Science, June 2015, Pages 238-244

Abstract:
Throughout American history, the fundamental purpose of marriage has shifted from (a) helping spouses meet their basic economic and political needs to (b) helping them meet their intimacy and passion needs to (c) helping them meet their autonomy and personal-growth needs. According to the suffocation model of marriage in America, these changes have had two major consequences for marital quality, one negative and one positive. The negative consequence is that, as Americans have increasingly looked to their marriage to help them meet idiosyncratic, self-expressive needs, the proportion of marriages that fall short of their expectations has grown, which has increased rates of marital dissatisfaction. The positive consequence is that those marriages that succeed in meeting these needs are particularly fulfilling, more so than the best marriages in earlier eras. In tandem, these two consequences have pushed marriage toward an all-or-nothing state.

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Divorce: What Does Learning Have to Do with it?

Ioana Elena Marinescu
University of Chicago Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
Learning about marriage quality has been proposed as a key mechanism for explaining how the probability of divorce evolves with marriage duration, and why people often cohabit before getting married. I develop four theoretical models of divorce, three of which include learning. I use data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation to test reduced form implications of these models. The data is inconsistent with models including a substantial amount of learning. On the other hand, the data is consistent with a model without any learning, but where marriage quality changes over time.

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Is emotion suppression beneficial or harmful? It depends on self-regulatory strength

Fay Geisler & Michela Schröder-Abé
Motivation and Emotion, August 2015, Pages 553-562

Abstract:
The emotion regulation strategy of expressive suppression intervenes late in the process of emotion generation and encompasses two self-control tasks: the inhibition of the experience of emotion and the inhibition of the expression of emotion. Thus, expressive suppression requires effortful self-control, and therefore the consequences of expressive suppression may differ depending on self-regulatory strength. We examined the influence of trait self-regulatory strength on the outcomes of spontaneous expressive suppression in 102 participants who discussed a topic of conflict with their partners. Self-regulatory strength was assessed via high-frequency heart rate variability measured at rest (HF-HRV). As expected, expressive suppression was positively associated with negative affect in participants with low (but not high) HF-HRV. Furthermore, expressive suppression was positively associated with the partner’s relationship satisfaction and constructive social behavior in participants with high (but not low) HF-HRV. To conclude, the present research demonstrates how considering expressive suppression as an act of self-control can yield a more differentiated perspective on the outcomes of expressive suppression.

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Intimate Partner Violence Risk among Victims of Youth Violence: Are Early Unions Bad, Beneficial, or Benign?

Danielle Kuhl, David Warner & Tara Warner
Criminology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Youth violent victimization (YVV) is a risk factor for precocious exits from adolescence via early coresidential union formation. It remains unclear, however, whether these early unions 1) are associated with intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization, 2) interrupt victim continuity or victim–offender overlap through protective and prosocial bonds, or 3) are inconsequential. By using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (N = 11,928; 18–34 years of age), we examine competing hypotheses for the effect of early union timing among victims of youth violence (n = 2,479) — differentiating across victimization only, perpetration only, and mutually combative relationships and considering variation by gender. The results from multinomial logistic regression models indicate that YVV increases the risk of IPV victimization in first unions, regardless of union timing; the null effect of timing indicates that delaying union formation would not reduce youth victims’ increased risk of continued victimization. Gender-stratified analyses reveal that earlier unions can protect women against IPV perpetration, but this is partly the result of an increased risk of IPV victimization. The findings suggest that YVV has significant transformative consequences, leading to subsequent victimization by coresidential partners, and this association might be exacerbated among female victims who form early unions. We conclude by discussing directions for future research.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, July 27, 2015

Money trail

A New Look at the U.S. Foreclosure Crisis: Panel Data Evidence of Prime and Subprime Borrowers from 1997 to 2012

Fernando Ferreira & Joseph Gyourko
NBER Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
Utilizing new panel micro data on the ownership sequences of all types of borrowers from 1997-2012 leads to a reinterpretation of the U.S. foreclosure crisis as more of a prime, rather than a subprime, borrower issue. Moreover, traditional mortgage default factors associated with the economic cycle, such as negative equity, completely account for the foreclosure propensity of prime borrowers relative to all-cash owners, and for three-quarters of the analogous subprime gap. Housing traits, race, initial income, and speculators did not play a meaningful role, and initial leverage only accounts for a small variation in outcomes of prime and subprime borrowers.

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How do insured deposits affect bank risk? Evidence from the 2008 Emergency Economic Stabilization Act

Claudia Lambert, Felix Noth & Ulrich Schüwer
Journal of Financial Intermediation, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper tests whether an increase in insured deposits causes banks to become more risky. We use variation introduced by the U.S. Emergency Economic Stabilization Act in October 2008, which increased the deposit insurance coverage from $100,000 to $250,000 per depositor and bank. For some banks, the amount of insured deposits increased significantly; for others, it was a minor change. Our analysis shows that the more affected banks increase their investments in risky commercial real estate loans and become more risky relative to unaffected banks following the change. This effect is most distinct for affected banks that are low capitalized.

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Ex Ante CEO Severance Pay and Risk-Taking in the Financial Services Sector

Kareen Brown, Ranjini Jha & Parunchana Pacharn
Journal of Banking & Finance, October 2015, Pages 111–126

Abstract:
We examine 533 CEO severance contracts for financial services firms from 1997 to 2007 and find that ex-ante severance pay is positively associated with risk-taking after controlling for the incentive effects provided by equity-based compensation. We report a positive causal relation between the amount of severance pay and risk-taking using popular market-based risk measures as well as distance-to-default and the Z-score. We also find that severance pay encourages excessive risk-taking using metrics such as tail risk and asset quality. Our results are consistent with the risk-shifting argument and provide support for recent reforms on severance pay in the financial sector.

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Loan Originations and Defaults in the Mortgage Crisis: Further Evidence

Manuel Adelino, Antoinette Schoar & Felipe Severino
NBER Working Paper, July 2015

Abstract:
This paper addresses two critiques by Mian and Sufi (2015a, 2015b) that were released in response to the results documented in Adelino, Schoar and Severino (2015). We confirm that none of the results in our previous paper are affected by the issues put forward in these critiques; in particular income overstatement does not drive any of our results. Our analysis shows that the origination of purchase mortgages increased across the whole income distribution during the 2002-2006 housing boom, and did not flow disproportionately to low-income borrowers. In addition, middle- and high-income, as well as middle- and high-credit-score borrowers (not the poor), represent a larger fraction of delinquencies in the crisis relative to earlier periods. The results are inconsistent with the idea that distortions in the origination of credit caused the housing boom and the crisis and are more consistent with an expectations-based view where both home buyers and lenders were buying into increasing housing values and defaulted once prices dropped.

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Deregulation, Competition and the Race to the Bottom

Marco Di Maggio, Amir Kermani & Sanket Korgaonkar
Columbia University Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
We take advantage of the pre-emption of national banks from state anti-predatory lending laws as a quasi-experiment to study the effect of deregulation and its interaction with competition on the supply of complex mortgages (interest only, negative amortization, and teaser mortgages). We first show that following the pre-emption ruling, national banks significantly increased their origination of loans with prepayment penalties and negative amortization features, relative to non-OCC regulated lenders, and lenders in states without anti-predatory lending laws. This increase in the supply of complex mortgages is significantly more pronounced for banks that poorly performed in the previous quarters. Further, we highlight a competition channel: first, a higher degree of competition induce OCC lenders to originate more riskier loans; second, in counties where OCC regulated lenders had larger market share prior to the pre-emption, even non-OCC lenders responded by increasing the presence of predatory terms to the extent permitted by the state anti-predatory lending laws. Overall, our evidence is suggestive that the deregulation of credit markets ignited a "race to the bottom" among distressed financial institutions, working through the competition between lenders.

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Household Debt and Defaults from 2000 to 2010: Facts from Credit Bureau Data

Atif Mian & Amir Sufi
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
We use individual level credit bureau data to document which individuals saw the biggest rise in household debt from 2000 to 2007 and the biggest rise in defaults from 2007 to 2010. Growth in household debt from 2000 to 2007 was substantially larger for individuals with the lowest initial credit scores. However, initial debt levels were lower for individuals in the lowest 20% of the initial credit score distribution. As a result, the contribution to the total dollar rise in household debt was strongest among individuals in the 20th to 60th percentile of the initial credit score distribution. Consistent with the importance of home-equity based borrowing, the increase in debt is especially large among individuals in the lowest 60% of the credit score distribution living in high house price growth zip codes. In contrast, the borrowing of individuals in the top 20% of the credit score distribution is completely unresponsive to higher house price growth. In terms of defaults, the evidence is unambiguous: both default rates and the share of total delinquent debt is largest among individuals with low initial credit scores. The bottom 40% of the credit score distribution is responsible for 73% of the total amount of delinquent debt in 2007, and 68% of the total in 2008. Individuals in the top 40% of the initial credit score distribution never make up more than 15% of total delinquencies, even in 2009 at the height of the default crisis.

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How Does Executive Compensation Affect Bank Risk Taking: Evidence from FAS 123R

Yongqiang Chu & Tao Ma
University of South Carolina Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
We examine how executive compensation affects bank risk taking in mortgage lending using exogenous variations in stock option grants generated by the FAS 123R, which requires all firms to expense options. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we find that banks that did not expense options before FAS 123R (treated firms) significantly decreases their approval rates of risky mortgage applications after FAS 123R relative to banks that did not grant stock options or voluntarily expensed their stock option before FAS 123R (control banks). We also find that the treatment effect is concentrated in large banks, suggesting that executives’ risk-taking incentives at large banks are more sensitive to option compensation. This is consistent with the idea that government implicit guarantee on too-big-to-fail banks encourages bank risk-taking. Lastly, we show that treatment banks are more likely than control banks to reduce their exposure to risky mortgage loans through securitization after FAS 123R. Overall, we provide consistent evidence that executive option compensation affects mortgage lending practices in financial institutions, which eventually contributes to the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

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Does Bankruptcy Law Affect Business Turnover? Evidence from New and Existing Business

Shawn Rohlin & Amanda Ross
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines how differences in state bankruptcy laws, specifically the homestead exemption, affect business turnover by studying both new and existing businesses. We focus on areas just near state boundaries to control for unobserved local attributes to better isolate the effect of more wealth protection. We find that an increase in the homestead exemption attracts new businesses but also has a positive impact on existing businesses, suggesting that asset protection through bankruptcy law encourages successful entrepreneurs to incur the risks. Our results indicate that the personal bankruptcy law is an important policy tool that governments can use to encourage business growth without causing business turnover.

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Risk and Risk Management in the Credit Card Industry

Florentin Butaru et al.
NBER Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
Using account level credit-card data from six major commercial banks from January 2009 to December 2013, we apply machine-learning techniques to combined consumer-tradeline, credit-bureau, and macroeconomic variables to predict delinquency. In addition to providing accurate measures of loss probabilities and credit risk, our models can also be used to analyze and compare risk management practices and the drivers of delinquency across the banks. We find substantial heterogeneity in risk factors, sensitivities, and predictability of delinquency across banks, implying that no single model applies to all six institutions. We measure the efficacy of a bank’s risk-management process by the percentage of delinquent accounts that a bank manages effectively, and find that efficacy also varies widely across institutions. These results suggest the need for a more customized approached to the supervision and regulation of financial institutions, in which capital ratios, loss reserves, and other parameters are specified individually for each institution according to its credit-risk model exposures and forecasts.

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State Bankruptcy Laws and the Responsiveness of Credit Card Demand

Amanda Dawsey
Journal of Economics and Business, September–October 2015, Pages 54–76

Abstract:
The responsiveness of credit demand to interest rate changes may vary widely by state due to differences in state bankruptcy and insolvency laws. Bankruptcy exemptions and other state laws insulate borrowers against negative consequences from non-repayment, and so lenient regulations may lead to decreased responsiveness to interest rate increases. Lenient laws also decrease creditors’ incentive to lend, and a resulting decrease in loan options will reinforce the inelasticity of credit demand. This paper presents a model that predicts (1) that credit demand is less responsive in states with borrower-friendly, lenient bankruptcy and insolvency laws, and (2) the effects of state laws on demand elasticity will be strongest among borrowers facing credit constraints. Using market experiment data from a large credit card issuer, this paper presents evidence that supports the hypothesis that demand responsiveness and insolvency law leniency are negatively related. Borrowers are more likely to continue using a card in states with lenient exemption and garnishment laws. Borrowers who take up less attractive offers are more likely to be credit constrained; among these borrowers, the impact of exemption laws is much stronger than among the unconstrained group.

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Protecting Financial Stability in the Aftermath of World War I: The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's Dissenting Policy

Eugene White
NBER Working Paper, July 2015

Abstract:
During the 1920-1921 recession, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta resisted the deflationary policy sanctioned by the Federal Reserve Board and pursued by other Reserve banks. By borrowing gold reserves from other Reserve banks, it facilitated a reallocation of liquidity to its district during the contraction. Viewing the collapse of the price of cotton, the dominant crop in the region, as a systemic shock to the Sixth District, the Atlanta Fed increased discounting and enabled capital infusions to aid its member banks. The Atlanta Fed believed that it had to limit bank failures to prevent a fire sale of cotton collateral that would precipitate a general panic. In this previously unknown episode, the Federal Reserve Board applied considerable pressure on the Atlanta Fed to adhere to its policy and follow a simple Bagehot-style rule. The Atlanta Fed was vindicated when the shock to cotton prices proved to be temporary, and the Board conceded that the Reserve Bank had intervened appropriately.

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Bankruptcy Discharge and the Emergence of Debtor Rights in Eighteenth Century England

Ann Carlos, Edward Kosack & Luis Castro Penarrieta
University of Colorado Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
Bankruptcy is a precise legal process defining the rules when debtor fails to repay their debts. These rules determine willingness to lend and to borrow and thus can affect economic growth. In 1706, the English Parliament passed a bankruptcy statute that provided potential rights for bankrupts and represents a fundamental change in the rules regarding bankruptcy. Where previously a bankrupt could exit bankruptcy only upon full repayment of debts, creditors could now choose to discharge a bankrupt prior to full repayment of his debts. In this paper, we develop a simple model to explore why creditors might discharge a bankrupt, and conduct an empirical analysis of archival bankruptcy data to show that discharges actually occurred. Not only did bankrupts benefit when creditors chose to discharge bankrupts prior to full payment, but also we find that creditors could benefit due to greater asset revelation by bankrupts.

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Corporate governance and performance of financial institutions

Andrey Zagorchev & Lei Gao
Journal of Economics and Business, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine how corporate governance affects financial institutions in the U.S. between 2002 and 2009. First, we find that better governance is negatively related to excessive risk-taking and positively related to the performance of U.S. financial institutions. Specifically, sound overall and specific governance practices are associated with less total non-performing assets, less real estate non-performing assets, and higher Tobin's Q. Second, we show that better governance contributes to higher provisions and reserves for loan/asset losses of financial institutions, supporting the income smoothing hypothesis. Moreover, the results are similar without the financial crisis period, and different robustness checks confirm the analysis.

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Shareholders’ preference for excessively risky projects, equilibrium debt contracts, and bailouts

Michael Smith
Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, May–June 2015, Pages 244–266

Abstract:
I show that bailouts can reduce excessive risk-taking. After receiving debt financing, a limited-liability firm chooses between two projects. The safe project results in higher expected cash flows. The excessively risky project results in lower expected debt repayments because default occurs more often. In equilibrium, the creditor anticipates the risk choice of the firm and sets the debt repayment to obtain its required rate of return. The implicit bailout subsidy allows the creditor to lower the debt service payment. As a result, the incremental default benefit of the risky project is lower, leading to less risk-taking. The results inform the ongoing debate about the determinants of risk-taking by firms.

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CMBS and Conflicts of Interest: Evidence from a Natural Experiment on Servicer Ownership

Maisy Wong
University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
I study a natural experiment in commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) where some special servicers changed owners (treatment group) from 2009-2010 but not others (placebo group). The ownership change linked sellers (special servicers who liquidate CMBS assets on behalf of bondholders) and buyers (new owners), presenting a classic self-dealing conflict. Average loss rates for liquidations are 11 percentage points higher (implying additional losses of $3.2 billion for bondholders) after treated special servicers changed owners, but not for the placebo group. I provide the first direct measure of self-dealing that links buyers and sellers in securities markets in the United States.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, July 26, 2015

How nice of you

Give a piece of you: Gifts that reflect givers promote closeness

Lara Aknin & Lauren Human
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2015, Pages 8–16

Abstract:
Gift giving is an ancient, ubiquitous and familiar behavior often thought to build and foster social connections, but what types of gifts are most effective in increasing closeness between the giver and the recipient? In six studies we explore both the perceptions and relational outcomes of gifts that reflect the giver (giver-centric gifts) and gifts that reflect the recipient (recipient-centric gifts). Across studies, we find a strong and consistent preference for giving and receiving recipient-centric gifts. Surprisingly, however, in the gift-giving contexts examined in these studies, both givers and receivers report greater feelings of closeness to their gift partner when the gift reflects the giver.

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A Large Scale Test of the Effect of Social Class on Prosocial Behavior

Martin Korndörfer, Boris Egloff & Stefan Schmukle
PLoS ONE, July 2015

Abstract:
Does being from a higher social class lead a person to engage in more or less prosocial behavior? Psychological research has recently provided support for a negative effect of social class on prosocial behavior. However, research outside the field of psychology has mainly found evidence for positive or u-shaped relations. In the present research, we therefore thoroughly examined the effect of social class on prosocial behavior. Moreover, we analyzed whether this effect was moderated by the kind of observed prosocial behavior, the observed country, and the measure of social class. Across eight studies with large and representative international samples, we predominantly found positive effects of social class on prosociality: Higher class individuals were more likely to make a charitable donation and contribute a higher percentage of their family income to charity (32,090 ≥ N ≥ 3,957; Studies 1–3), were more likely to volunteer (37,136 ≥N ≥ 3,964; Studies 4–6), were more helpful (N = 3,902; Study 7), and were more trusting and trustworthy in an economic game when interacting with a stranger (N = 1,421; Study 8) than lower social class individuals. Although the effects of social class varied somewhat across the kinds of prosocial behavior, countries, and measures of social class, under no condition did we find the negative effect that would have been expected on the basis of previous results reported in the psychological literature. Possible explanations for this divergence and implications are discussed.

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Give me your self: Gifts are liked more when they match the giver's characteristics

Gabriele Paolacci, Laura Straeter & Ilona de Hooge
Journal of Consumer Psychology, July 2015, Pages 487–494

Abstract:
Research on gift giving has devoted considerable attention to understanding whether and how givers succeed in choosing gifts that match recipients' tastes. On the contrary, this article focuses on how recipients' appreciation for a gift depends on the match between the gift and the giver. Four studies demonstrate that recipients are particularly appreciative when they receive gifts that figuratively match the giver, i.e., that contain references to the giver's characteristics, because they perceive such gifts as more congruent with the giver's identity. This effect is not conditional on inferences recipients might make about the giver's motivations or on whether recipients have a good relationship with the giver, but relies on the match concerning core rather than peripheral characteristics of the giver. Importantly for our understanding of identity-based motivation, these findings demonstrate in a gift-giving context that identity-congruence not only drives consumer behavior, but is also appreciated in other people.

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When Gift-Giving Is Selfish: A Motivation to Be Unique

Jeff Galak & Julian Givi
Carnegie Mellon University Working Paper, July 2015

Abstract:
Gift givers are faced with the difficult task of choosing gifts that will be liked by gift recipients, and the challenging nature of this task often leads gift givers to unintentionally give poor gifts. The results of seven lab and field studies across 1,513 participants suggest that this failure on the part of gift givers is not always unintentional. Rather, it seems that gift givers possess a need for uniqueness and that this longing often leads them to knowingly give poor gifts. The present research demonstrates a robust effect in which gift givers, in some contexts, give gift recipients inferior gifts, because gift givers have a selfish motive in that they want their own possessions to feel unique. Conversely, when given the opportunity to choose between gifts for the self, gift recipients ignore this need for uniqueness in favor of obtaining an optimal gift. This effect holds across a variety of gifts, and gift-giving paradigms.

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Beauty, Weight, and Skin Color in Charitable Giving

Christina Jenq, Jessica Pan & Walter Theseira
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines bias in online charitable microfinance lending. We find that charitable lenders on a large peer-to-peer online microfinance website appear to favor more attractive, lighter-skinned, and less obese borrowers. Borrowers who appear more needy, honest and creditworthy also receive funding more quickly. These effects are quantitatively significant: Borrowers with beauty one standard deviation above average are treated as though they are requesting approximately 11% less money. Statistical discrimination does not appear to explain our findings, as these borrower attributes are uncorrelated with loan performance or borrower enterprise performance. The evidence suggests implicit bias could explain our findings: more experienced lenders, who may rely less on implicit attitudes, appear to exhibit less bias than inexperienced lenders.

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Roots and Benefits of Costly Giving: Children Who Are More Altruistic Have Greater Autonomic Flexibility and Less Family Wealth

Jonas Miller, Sarah Kahle & Paul Hastings
Psychological Science, July 2015, Pages 1038-1045

Abstract:
Altruism, although costly, may promote well-being for people who give. Costly giving by adults has received considerable attention, but less is known about the possible benefits, as well as biological and environmental correlates, of altruism in early childhood. In the current study, we present evidence that children who forgo self-gain to help other people show greater vagal flexibility and higher subsequent vagal tone than children who do not, and children from less wealthy families behave more altruistically than those from wealthier families. These results suggest that (a) altruism should be viewed through a biopsychosocial lens, (b) the influence of privileged contexts on children’s willingness to make personal sacrifices for others emerges early, and (c) altruism and healthy vagal functioning may share reciprocal relations in childhood. When children help others at a cost to themselves, they could be playing an active role in promoting their own well-being as well as the well-being of others.

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Cultivating Disaster Donors Using Data Analytics

Ilya Ryzhov, Bin Han & Jelena Bradić
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Nonprofit organizations use direct-mail marketing to cultivate one-time donors and convert them into recurring contributors. Cultivated donors generate much more revenue than new donors, but also lapse with time, making it important to steadily draw in new cultivations. The direct-mail budget is limited, but better-designed mailings can improve success rates without increasing costs. We propose an empirical model to analyze the effectiveness of several design approaches used in practice, based on a massive data set covering 8.6 million direct-mail communications with donors to the American Red Cross during 2009–2011. We find evidence that mailed appeals are more effective when they emphasize disaster preparedness and training efforts over post-disaster cleanup. Including small cards that affirm donors’ identity as Red Cross supporters is an effective strategy, whereas including gift items such as address labels is not. Finally, very recent acquisitions are more likely to respond to appeals that ask them to contribute an amount similar to their most recent donation, but this approach has an adverse effect on donors with a longer history. We show via simulation that a simple design strategy based on these insights has potential to improve success rates from 5.4% to 8.1%.

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Prosociality enhances meaning in life

Daryl Van Tongeren et al.
Journal of Positive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
A central feature of meaning in life is a consideration of more than oneself. We extend this logic to suggest that altruistically motivated prosociality – acting in ways that benefit others – is a self-transcending action that may provide meaning in life. Study 1 provided evidence of a relationship between self-reported prosocial behavior and meaning in life, even after statistically controlling for personality traits and self-esteem. Study 2 provided evidence that engaging in a prosocial action, via writing notes of gratitude, increased meaning in life. Study 3 provided evidence that individuals bolster perceptions of prosociality following threats to meaning. Study 4 suggested relationship satisfaction partially mediates the link between prosocial actions and meaning in life. These studies provide initial evidence that prosociality enhances meaning in life.

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Doing good when times are bad: Volunteering behaviour in economic hard times

Chaeyoon Lim & James Laurence
British Journal of Sociology, June 2015, Pages 319–344

Abstract:
This paper examines how the 2008–9 recession has affected volunteering behaviours in the UK. Using a large survey dataset, we assess the recession effects on both formal volunteering and informal helping behaviours. Whilst both formal volunteering and informal helping have been in decline in the UK since 2008, the size of the decline is significantly larger for informal helping than for formal volunteering. The decline is more salient in regions that experienced a higher level of unemployment during the recession and also in socially and economically disadvantaged communities. However, we find that a growing number of people who personally experienced financial insecurity and hardship do not explain the decline. We argue that the decline has more to do with community-level factors such as civic organizational infrastructure and cultural norms of trust and engagement than personal experiences of economic hardship.

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A Friend in Need: Time-Dependent Effects of Stress on Social Discounting in Men

Z. Margittai et al.
Hormones and Behavior, July 2015, Pages 75–82

Abstract:
Stress is often associated with a tend-and-befriend response, a putative coping mechanism where people behave generously towards others in order to invest in social relationships to seek comfort and mutual protection. However, this increase in generosity is expected to be directed only towards a delimited number of socially close, but not distant individuals, because it would be maladaptive to befriend everyone alike. In addition, the endocrinological stress response follows a distinct temporal pattern, and it is believed that tend-and-befriend tendencies can be observed mainly under acute stress. By contrast, the aftermath (> 1 hour after) of stress is associated with endocrinological regulatory processes that are proposed to cause increased executive control and reduced emotional reactivity, possibly eliminating the need to tend-and-befriend. In the present experiment, we set out to investigate how these changes immediately and > 1 hour after a stressful experience affect social-distance-dependent generosity levels, a phenomenon called social discounting. We hypothesized that stress has a time-dependent effect on social discounting, with decisions made shortly after (20 min), but not 90 min after stress showing increased generosity particularly to close others. We found that men tested 20 min after stressor onset indeed showed increased generosity towards close but not distant others compared to non-stressed men or men tested 90 minutes after stressor onset. These findings contribute to our understanding on how stress affects prosocial behavior by highlighting the importance of social closeness and the timing of stress relative to the decision as modulating factors in this type of decision making in men.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Make it happen

People underestimate the value of persistence for creative performance

Brian Lucas & Loran Nordgren
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, August 2015, Pages 232-243

Abstract:
Across 7 studies, we investigated the prediction that people underestimate the value of persistence for creative performance. Across a range of creative tasks, people consistently underestimated how productive they would be while persisting (Studies 1–3). Study 3 found that the subjectively experienced difficulty, or disfluency, of creative thought accounted for persistence undervaluation. Alternative explanations based on idea quality (Studies 1–2B) and goal setting (Study 4) were considered and ruled out and domain knowledge was explored as a boundary condition (Study 5). In Study 6, the disfluency of creative thought reduced people’s willingness to invest in an opportunity to persist, resulting in lower financial performance. This research demonstrates that persistence is a critical determinant of creative performance and that people may undervalue and underutilize persistence in everyday creative problem solving.

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It’s a Matter of Mind! Cognitive Functioning Predicts the Athletic Performance in Ultra-Marathon Runners

Giorgia Cona et al.
PLoS ONE, July 2015

Abstract:
The present study was aimed at exploring the influence of cognitive processes on performance in ultra-marathon runners, providing an overview of the cognitive aspects that characterize outstanding runners. Thirty runners were administered a battery of computerized tests right before their participation in an ultra-marathon. Then, they were split according to the race rank into two groups (i.e., faster runners and slower runners) and their cognitive performance was compared. Faster runners outperformed slower runners in trials requiring motor inhibition and were more effective at performing two tasks together, successfully suppressing the activation of the information for one of the tasks when was not relevant. Furthermore, slower runners took longer to remember to execute pre-defined actions associated with emotional stimuli when such stimuli were presented. These findings suggest that cognitive factors play a key role in running an ultra-marathon. Indeed, if compared with slower runners, faster runners seem to have a better inhibitory control, showing superior ability not only to inhibit motor response but also to suppress processing of irrelevant information. Their cognitive performance also appears to be less influenced by emotional stimuli. This research opens new directions towards understanding which kinds of cognitive and emotional factors can discriminate talented runners from less outstanding runners.

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Confidence Enhanced Performance? - The causal effects of success on future performance in professional golf tournaments

Olof Rosenqvist & Oskar Nordström Skans
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, September 2015, Pages 281–295

Abstract:
This paper provides field evidence on the causal impact of past successes on future performances. Since persistence in success or failure is likely to be linked through potentially time-varying ability, it is intrinsically difficult to identify the causal effect of succeeding on the probability of performing well in the future. We therefore employ a regression discontinuity design on data from professional golf tournaments exploiting that almost equally skilled players are separated into successes and failures half-way into the tournaments (the “cut”). We show that players who (marginally) succeeded in making the cut substantially increased their performance in subsequent tournaments relative to players who (marginally) failed to make the cut. This success-effect is substantially larger when the subsequent (outcome) tournament involves more prize money. The results therefore suggest that past successes provide an important prerequisite when performing high-stakes tasks.

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Disordered environments prompt mere goal pursuit

Bob Fennis & Jacob Wiebenga
Journal of Environmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
People have a strong need to perceive their environment as orderly and structured. Among the various strategies to defend against the aversive experience of disorder, the authors propose and test the novel hypothesis that people may reaffirm a sense of order by setting and pursuing goals that may be unrelated to the source of disorder. In a series of (lab and field) studies, the authors show that when environmental cues trigger an experience of disorder, or when people have a chronic need for order, and hence when they are motivated to restore perceptions of order, people are more attracted to clear, well-defined goals and motivated to attain them. Moreover, the authors show that the effect of a disordered environment on goal pursuit is driven by the need to reaffirm perceptions of order, and — conversely — that setting and pursuing goals is indeed functional in promoting a sense of order.

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Unskilled and Don't Want to Be Aware of It: The Effect of Self-Relevance on the Unskilled and Unaware Phenomenon

Young-Hoon Kim, Chi-Yue Chiu & Jessica Bregant
PLoS ONE, June 2015

Abstract:
Previous research found that poor performers tend to overestimate how well their performance compares to others’. This unskilled and unaware effect has been attributed to poor performers’ lack of metacognitive ability to realize their ineptitude. We contend that the unskilled are motivated to ignore (be unaware of) their poor performance so that they can feel better about themselves. We tested this idea in an experiment in which we manipulated the perceived self-relevancy of the task to men and women after they had completed a visual pun task and before they estimated their performance on the task. As predicted, the unskilled and unaware effect was attenuated when the task was perceived to have low self-relevance.

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Dissociable Effects of Salience on Attention and Goal-Directed Action

Jeff Moher, Brian Anderson & Joo-Hyun Song
Current Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Everyday behavior frequently involves encounters with multiple objects that compete for selection. For example, driving a car requires constant shifts of attention between oncoming traffic, rearview mirrors, and traffic signs and signals, among other objects. Behavioral goals often drive this selection process; however, they are not the sole determinant of selection. Physically salient objects, such as flashing, brightly colored hazard signs, or objects that are salient by virtue of learned associations with reward, such as pictures of food on a billboard, often capture attention regardless of the individual’s goals. It is typically thought that strongly salient distractor objects capture more attention and are more disruptive than weakly salient distractors. Counterintuitively, though, we found that this is true for perception, but not for goal-directed action. In a visually guided reaching task, we required participants to reach to a shape-defined target while trying to ignore salient distractors. We observed that strongly salient distractors produced less disruption in goal-directed action than weakly salient distractors. Thus, a strongly salient distractor triggers suppression during goal-directed action, resulting in enhanced efficiency and accuracy of target selection relative to when weakly salient distractors are present. In contrast, in a task requiring no goal-directed action, we found greater attentional interference from strongly salient distractors. Thus, while highly salient stimuli interfere strongly with perceptual processing, increased physical salience or associated value attenuates action-related interference.

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The Snooze of Lose: Rapid Reaching Reveals That Losses Are Processed More Slowly Than Gains

Craig Chapman et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Decision making revolves around weighing potential gains and losses. Research in economic decision making has emphasized that humans exercise disproportionate caution when making explicit choices involving loss. By comparison, research in perceptual decision making has revealed a processing advantage for targets associated with potential gain, though the effects of loss have been explored less systematically. Here, we use a rapid reaching task to measure the relative sensitivity (Experiment 1) and the time course (Experiments 2 and 3) of rapid actions with regard to the reward valence and probability of targets. We show that targets linked to a high probability of gain influence actions about 100 ms earlier than targets associated with equivalent probability and value of loss. These findings are well accounted for by a model of stimulus response in which reward modulates the late, postpeak phase of the activity. We interpret our results within a neural framework of biased competition that is resolved in spatial maps of behavioral relevance. As implied by our model, all visual stimuli initially receive positive activation. Gain stimuli can build off of this initial activation when selected as a target, whereas loss stimuli have to overcome this initial activation in order to be avoided, accounting for the observed delay between valences. Our results bring clarity to the perceptual effects of losses versus gains and highlight the importance of considering the timeline of different biasing factors that influence decisions.

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The role of motivation for rewards in vicarious goal satiation

Stephanie Tobin et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2015, Pages 137–143

Abstract:
We examined the role of reward sensitivity and the motivation to balance ‘have-to’ and ‘want-to’ goals in vicarious goal satiation. In Experiment 1, participants who read about a target who completed an academic goal performed worse on an academic (‘have-to’) task and were more interested in engaging in inherently rewarding (‘want-to’) activities than participants who read about an incomplete goal. In Experiment 2, after reading about a target who completed a ‘have-to’ goal, participants who were more sensitive to rewards performed worse on a similar ‘have-to’ task. Furthermore, in Experiment 3, this effect was significant only when participants saw their task as more of a work (i.e., ‘have-to’) task. Together, these findings support the idea that motivation for rewards plays a role in vicarious goal satiation and that other people's goal pursuits can affect observers' perceived balance of ‘have-to’ and ‘want-to’ goals.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, July 24, 2015

Leadership vacuum

Destined for Democracy? Labour Markets and Political Change in Colonial British America

Elena Nikolova
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this article a new explanation for the emergence of democratic institutions is proposed: elites may extend the right to vote to the masses in order to attract migrant workers. It is argued that representative assemblies serve as a commitment device for any promises made to labourers by those in power, and the argument is tested on a new political and economic dataset from the thirteen British American colonies. The results suggest that colonies that relied on white migrant labour, rather than slaves, had better representative institutions. These findings are not driven by alternative factors identified in the literature, such as inequality or initial conditions, and survive a battery of validity checks.

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Aid and the Rise and Fall of Conflict in the Muslim World

Faisal Ahmed & Eric Werker
Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Spring 2015, Pages 155-186

Abstract:
The conflict following the Arab Spring is not the first wave of civil war in the Muslim world in recent time. From the mid-1980s to the end of the century, an average of one in 10 predominantly-Muslim countries experienced violent civil war in any given year. We provide a partial explanation for this statistic: a foreign aid windfall to poor, non-oil producing Muslim countries during the twin oil crises of the 1970s allowed the recipient states to become more repressive and stave off rebellion. When oil prices fell in the mid-1980s, the windfall ended, and the recipient countries experienced a significant uptick in civil war. To provide a causal interpretation we leverage a quasi-natural experiment of oil price induced aid disbursements which favored Muslim countries over non-Muslim countries. Our empirical findings are consistent with existing theories that foreign aid can "buy" stability.

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Military Westernization and State Repression in the Post-Cold War Era

Ori Swed & Alex Weinreb
Social Science Research, September 2015, Pages 270-287

Abstract:
The waves of unrest that have shaken the Arab world since December 2010 have highlighted significant differences in the readiness of the military to intervene in political unrest by forcefully suppressing dissent. We suggest that in the Post-Cold War period, this readiness is inversely associated with the level of military westernization, which is a product of the acquisition of arms from western countries. We identify two mechanisms linking the acquisition of arms from western countries to less repressive responses: dependence and conditionality; and a longer-term diffusion of ideologies regarding the proper form of civil-military relations. Empirical support for our hypothesis is found in an analysis of 2,523 cases of government response to political unrest in 138 countries in the 1996-2005 period. We find that military westernization mitigates state repression in general, with more pronounced effects in the poorest countries. However, we also identify substantial differences between the pre- and post-9/11 periods.

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Do Terrorists Win? Rebels' Use of Terrorism and Civil War Outcomes

Virginia Page Fortna
International Organization, Summer 2015, Pages 519-556

Abstract:
How effective is terrorism? This question has generated lively scholarly debate and is of obvious importance to policy-makers. However, most existing studies of terrorism are not well equipped to answer this question because they lack an appropriate comparison. This article compares the outcomes of civil wars to assess whether rebel groups that use terrorism fare better than those who eschew this tactic. I evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of terrorism relative to other tactics used in civil war. Because terrorism is not a tactic employed at random, I first briefly explore empirically which groups use terrorism. Controlling for factors that may affect both the use of terrorism and war outcomes, I find that although civil wars involving terrorism last longer than other wars, terrorist rebel groups are generally less likely to achieve their larger political objectives than are nonterrorist groups. Terrorism may be less ineffective against democracies, but even in this context, terrorists do not win.

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Bending with the Wind: Revisiting Islamist Parties' Electoral Dilemma

Kadir Yildirim & Caroline Lancaster
Politics and Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Islamist parties' electoral performance is a hotly debated question. Two arguments dominate the literature in terms of Islamist parties' performance in democratic elections. The conventional argument has been the "one man, one vote, one time" hypothesis. More recently, Kurzman and Naqvi challenge this argument and show that Islamists tend to lose in free elections rather than win them. We argue that existing arguments fall short. Specifically, we theorize that moderateness of Islamist platform plays a key role in increasing the popularity of these parties and leads to higher levels of electoral support. Using data collected by Kurzman and Naqvi, we test our hypothesis, controlling for political platform and political economic factors in a quantitative analysis. We find that there is empirical support for our theory. Islamist parties' support level is positively associated with moderateness; however, this positive effect of moderation is also conditioned by economic openness.

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Ethnic Inequality and the Dismantling of Democracy: A Global Analysis

Christian Houle
World Politics, July 2015, Pages 469-505

Abstract:
Does inequality between ethnic groups destabilize democracies? While the literature largely agrees that inequality harms democracies, previous studies typically focus on the overall level of inequality in a society, leaving unanswered questions about the effect of inequality between ethnic groups. This article fills this gap and argues that inequality between ethnic groups harms the consolidation of democracy but that its effect is strongest when inequality within groups is low. Using group- and country-level data from more than seventy-one democracies and 241 ethnic groups worldwide, the author conducts the first cross-national test to date of the effect of ethnic inequality on transitions away from democracy. Results provide support for the hypothesis: when within-ethnic-group inequality (WGI) is low, between-ethnic-group inequality (BGI) harms democracy, but when WGI is high, BGI has no discernable effect.

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A Theory of Civil Disobedience

Edward Glaeser & Cass Sunstein
NBER Working Paper, July 2015

Abstract:
From the streets of Hong Kong to Ferguson, Missouri, civil disobedience has again become newsworthy. What explains the prevalence and extremity of acts of civil disobedience? This paper presents a model in which protest planners choose the nature of the disturbance hoping to influence voters (or other decision-makers in less democratic regimes) both through the size of the unrest and by generating a response. The model suggests that protesters will either choose a mild "epsilon" protest, such as a peaceful march, which serves mainly to signal the size of the disgruntled population, or a "sweet spot" protest, which is painful enough to generate a response but not painful enough so that an aggressive response is universally applauded. Since non-epsilon protests serve primarily to signal the leaders' type, they will occur either when protesters have private information about the leader's type or when the distribution of voters' preferences are convex in a way that leads the revelation of uncertainty to increase the probability of regime change. The requirements needed for rational civil disobedience seem not to hold in many world settings, and so we explore ways in which bounded rationality by protesters, voters, and incumbent leaders can also explain civil disobedience.

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Greater Expectations: A Field Experiment to Improve Accountability in Mali

Jessica Gottlieb
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
I argue that if citizens systematically underestimate what their government can and should do for them, then they will hold politicians to a lower standard and sanction poor performers less often. A field experiment across 95 localities in Mali in which randomly assigned localities receive a civics course identifies the effect of raising voter expectations of government on their willingness to hold leaders accountable. The course provides information about local government capacity and responsibility as well as how local politicians perform relative to others, effectively raising voter expectations of what local governments can and should do. Survey experiments among individuals in treated and control communities (N = 5,560) suggest that people in treated villages are indeed more likely to sanction poor performers and vote based on performance more often. A behavioral outcome - the likelihood that villagers challenge local leaders at a town hall meeting - adds external validity to survey findings.

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Terrorism and the Fate of Dictators

Deniz Aksoy, David Carter & Joseph Wright
World Politics, July 2015, Pages 423-468

Abstract:
The authors study the influence of domestic political dissent and violence on incumbent dictators and their regimes. They argue that elite with an interest in preserving the regime hold dictators accountable when there is a significant increase in terrorism. To pinpoint the accountability of dictators to elite who are strongly invested in the current regime, the authors make a novel theoretical distinction between reshuffling coups that change the leader but leave the regime intact and regime-change coups that completely change the set of elites atop the regime. Using a new data set that distinguishes between these two coup types, the authors provide robust evidence that terrorism is a consistent predictor of reshuffling coups, whereas forms of dissent that require broader public participation and support, such as protests and insurgencies, are associated with regime-change coup attempts. This article is the first to show that incumbent dictators are held accountable for terrorist campaigns that occur on their watch.

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Lying or Believing? Measuring Preference Falsification from a Political Purge in China

Junyan Jiang & Dali Yang
University of Chicago Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
Despite its wide usage in explaining some nontrivial dynamics in nondemocratic systems, preference falsification remains an empirical myth for students of authoritarian politics. We provide to our knowledge the first quantitative study of preference falsification in an authoritarian setting using a rare coincidence between a major political purge in Shanghai, China, and the administration of a nationwide survey in 2006. We construct two synthetic measures for expressed and actual support from a set of survey questions and track their changes before and after the purge. We find that after the purge there was a dramatic increase in expressed support among Shanghai respondents, yet the increase was paralleled by an equally evident decline in actual support. We interpret this divergence as evidence for the presence of preference falsification. We also find that variations in the degree of preference falsification are jointly predicted by one's access to alternative source of information and vulnerability to state sanctions. Using two additional surveys conducted over the span of a year, we further show that there was substantial deterioration in political trust in Shanghai six months after the purge, which suggests that falsification could not sustain public support in the long run.

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Building Legal Order in Ancient Athens

Federica Carugati, Gillian Hadfield & Barry Weingast
Journal of Legal Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
How do democratic societies establish and maintain order in ways that are conducive to growth? Contemporary scholarship associates order, democracy, and growth with centralized rule of law institutions. In this article, we test the robustness of modern assumptions by turning to the case of ancient Athens. Democratic Athens was remarkably stable and prosperous, but the ancient city-state never developed extensively centralized rule of law institutions. Drawing on the "what-is-law" account of legal order elaborated by Hadfield and Weingast (2012), we show that Athens' legal order relied on institutions that achieved common knowledge and incentive compatibility for enforcers in a largely decentralized system of coercion. Our approach provides fresh insights into how robust legal orders may be built in countries where centralized rule of law institutions have failed to take root.

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Can Civic Education Make a Difference for Democracy? Hungary and Poland Compared

Florin Fesnic
Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Civic education can have a significant impact on democracy. This article offers evidence for this assertion by comparing the effects of the widely different choices made in the early 1990s by two post-communist countries: Poland and Hungary. Initially, the effects of civic education were confined to teenagers; later, as generational replacement started to have an effect, one can see an impact on the politics of the two countries. The success of civic education in Poland and its failure in Hungary is illustrated by the differences in young people's voting patterns: throughout the last decade, the vote of Polish youth has consistently been less authoritarian than the vote of older Poles, unlike in Hungary, where the pattern is reversed. Ultimately, these developments likely had an impact on democracy: one sees democratic progress in Poland and democratic regression in Hungary.

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Attitudes towards gender equality and perception of democracy in the Arab world

Veronica Kostenko, Pavel Kuzmuchev & Eduard Ponarin
Democratization, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article analyses the relationship between support of democracy and attitudes to human rights, in particular, support for gender equality, in the countries covered by the first wave of the Arab Barometer project. We use cluster analysis and negative binomial regression modelling to show that, unlike in most countries of the world, correlation between support of democracy and gender equality is very low in the Arab countries. There is a group of people in the region who support both democracy and gender equality, but they are a small group (about 17% of the population) of elderly and middle-aged people characterized by higher education and social status. A substantial number of poorly educated males express support for democracy but not for gender equality. Many people, especially young males aged 25-35 in 2007, are against both gender equality and democracy. Younger people tend to be both better educated and more conservative, those belonging to the 25-34 age group being the most patriarchal in their gender attitudes. Yet, controlling for age, education does have a positive effect on gender equality attitudes. Nevertheless, this phenomenon may reflect two simultaneous processes going on in the Middle East. On the one hand, people are getting more educated, urbanized, etc., which means the continuation of modernization. On the other hand, the fact that older people are the most liberal age group may point to a certain retrogression of social values in the younger generations.

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The Indigenous Roots of Representative Democracy

Jeanet Bentzen, Jacob Gerner Hariri & James Robinson
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
We document that rules for leadership succession in ethnic societies that antedate the modern state predict contemporary political regimes; leadership selection by election in indigenous societies is associated with contemporary representative democracy. The basic association, however, is conditioned on the relative strength of the indigenous groups within a country; stronger groups seem to have been able to shape national regime trajectories, weaker groups do not. This finding extends and qualifies a substantive qualitative literature, which has found in local democratic institutions of medieval Europe a positive impulse towards the development of representative democracy. It shows that contemporary regimes are shaped not only by colonial history and European influence; indigenous history also matters. For practitioners, our findings suggest that external reformers' capacity for regime-building should not be exaggerated.

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State Capacity and Military Conflict

Nicola Gennaioli & Hans-Joachim Voth
Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Powerful, centralized states controlling a large share of national income only begin to appear in Europe after 1500. We build a model that explains their emergence in response to the increasing importance of money for military success. When fiscal resources are not crucial for winning wars, the threat of external conflict stifles state building. As finance becomes critical, internally cohesive states invest in state capacity while divided states rationally drop out of the competition, causing divergence. We emphasize the role of the "Military Revolution", a sequence of technological innovations that transformed armed conflict. Using data from 374 battles, we investigate empirically both the importance of money for military success and patterns of state building in early modern Europe. The evidence is consistent with the predictions of our model.

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The Political Geography of Nationalist Protest in China: Cities and the 2012 Anti-Japanese Protests

Jeremy Wallace & Jessica Chen Weiss
China Quarterly, June 2015, Pages 403-429

Abstract:
Why do some Chinese cities take part in waves of nationalist protest but not others? Nationalist protest remains an important but understudied topic within the study of contentious politics in China, particularly at the subnational level. Relative to other protests, nationalist mobilization is more clustered in time and geographically widespread, uniting citizens in different cities against a common target. Although the literature has debated the degree of state-led and grassroots influence on Chinese nationalism, we argue that it is important to consider both the propensity of citizens to mobilize and local government fears of instability. Analysing an original dataset of 377 anti-Japanese protests across 208 of 287 Chinese prefectural cities, we find that both state-led patriotism and the availability of collective action resources were positively associated with nationalist protest, particularly "biographically available" populations of students and migrants. In addition, the government's role was not monolithically facilitative. Fears of social unrest shaped the local political opportunity structure, with anti-Japanese protests less likely in cities with larger populations of unemployed college graduates and ethnic minorities and more likely in cities with established leaders.

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Executive Constraint, Political Stability and Economic Growth

Gary Cox & Barry Weingast
Stanford Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
Previous studies have argued that democracy diminishes the extent to which contests over political leadership depress economic growth, by reducing the violence and uncertainty attendant on such contests. We reconsider the theoretical basis for this claim, highlighting the separate roles of executive constraint and electoral accountability. Exploiting panel data from 1850-2005, we show that the executive's horizontal accountability to the legislature significantly moderates the economic downturns associated with leadership turnover, while its vertical accountability to the electorate does not. These results suggest that, in terms of moderating succession-related downturns and thereby promoting steadier economic growth, the health of legislatures is more important than the health of elections.

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Leader Incentives and Civil War Outcomes

Alyssa Prorok
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines the influence that rebel and state leaders have on civil war outcomes, arguing that incentives to avoid punishment influence their strategic decision making during war. Leaders in civil war face punishment from two sources: internal audiences and opponents. I hypothesize that leaders who bear responsibility for involvement in the war have a higher expectation of punishment from both sources following unfavorable war performance, and thus, have incentives to continue the fight in the hope of turning the tide and avoiding the negative consequences of defeat. These incentives, in turn, make leaders who bear responsibility more likely to fight to an extreme outcome and less likely to make concessions to end the war. These propositions are tested on an original data set identifying all rebel and state leaders in all civil conflict dyads ongoing between 1980 and 2011. Results support the hypothesized relationships between leader responsibility and war outcomes.

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Political Connections and Tariff Evasion: Evidence from Tunisia

Bob Rijkers, Leila Baghdadi & Gael Raballand
World Bank Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
Are politically connected firms more likely to evade taxes? This paper presents evidence suggesting firms owned by President Ben Ali and his family were more prone to evade import tariffs. During Ben Ali's reign, evasion gaps, defined as the difference between the value of exports to Tunisia reported by partner countries and the value of imports reported at Tunisian customs, were correlated with the import share of connected firms. This association was especially strong for goods subject to high tariffs, and driven by underreporting of unit prices, which diminished after the revolution. Consistent with these product-level patterns, unit prices reported by connected firms were lower than those reported by other firms, and declined faster with tariffs than those of other firms. Moreover, privatization to the Ben Ali family was associated with a reduction in reported unit prices, whereas privatization per se was not.

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Between Dissolution and Blood: How Administrative Lines and Categories Shape Secessionist Outcomes

Ryan Griffiths
International Organization, Summer 2015, Pages 731-751

Abstract:
Common wisdom and current scholarship hold that governments need to stand firm in the face of secessionist demands, since permitting the secession of one region can set a precedent for others. For this reason governments will often choose blood rather than risk dissolution. I argue that administrative organization provides states with a third option. Those regions that represent a unique administrative type stand a much better chance of seceding peacefully. Moreover, large articulated states sometimes downsize by administrative category, which helps explain why governments will release one set of units without contest while preventing another set from doing the same. Finally, secessionist movements that do not cohere with any administrative region are the least likely to be granted independence. In sum, the administrative architecture of states provides governments with a means to discriminate between secessionist demands. I test this theory in a large-N study using original data on secessionist movements and administrative units between 1816 and 2011.

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The Rise of the Chinese Security State

Yuhua Wang & Carl Minzner
China Quarterly, June 2015, Pages 339-359

Abstract:
Over the past two decades, the Chinese domestic security apparatus has expanded dramatically. "Stability maintenance" operations have become a top priority for local Chinese authorities. We argue that this trend goes back to the early 1990s, when central Party authorities adopted new governance models that differed dramatically from those of the 1980s. They increased the bureaucratic rank of public security chiefs within the Party apparatus, expanded the reach of the Party political-legal apparatus into a broader range of governance issues, and altered cadre evaluation standards to increase the sensitivity of local authorities to social unrest. We show that the origin of these changes lies in a policy response to the developments of 1989-1991, namely the Tiananmen democracy movement and the collapse of communist political systems in Eastern Europe. Over the past twenty years, these practices have developed into an extensive stability maintenance apparatus, whereby local governance is increasingly oriented around the need to respond to social unrest, whether through concession or repression. Chinese authorities now appear to be rethinking these developments, but the direction of reform remains unclear.

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Five centuries of flooding events in the SW Netherlands, 1500-2000

A.M.J. de Kraker
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, June 2015, Pages 2673-2684

Abstract:
This paper looks into flood events of the past 500 years in the SW Netherlands, addressing the issue of what kind of flooding events have occurred and which ones have mainly natural causes and which ones are predominantly human induced. The flood events are classified into two major categories: (a) flood events that were caused during storm surges and (b) flood events which happened during warfare. From both categories a selection of flood events has been made. Each flood event is discussed in terms of time, location, extent of the flooded area and specific conditions. Among these conditions, specific weather circumstances and how long they lasted, the highest water levels reached and dike maintenance are discussed as far as flood events caused during storm surges are concerned. Flood events during warfare as both offensive and defensive strategies are relevant; the paper demonstrates that although the strategic flood events obviously were man-made, the natural feature, being the use of fresh water or sea water, of these events also played a major role. Flood events caused during storm surge may have an obvious natural cause, but the extent of the flooding and damage it caused was largely determined by man.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Unacceptable

Apologies demanded yet devalued: Normative dilution in the age of apology

Tyler Okimoto, Michael Wenzel & Matthew Hornsey
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2015, Pages 133-136

Abstract:
Dramatic increases in the issuance of political apologies over the last two decades mean that we now live in the "age of apology". But what does this surge in frequency mean for the effectiveness of intergroup apologies in promoting forgiveness? In the current research we propose a paradoxical "normative dilution" effect whereby behavioral norms increase the perceived appropriateness of an action while at the same time reducing its symbolic value. We experimentally manipulated the salience of the age-of-apology norm prior to assessing participant (N = 128) reactions to past unjust treatment of ingroup POWs by the Japanese during WWII. The apologetic norm increased victim group members' desire for an apology in response to the harm. However, after reading the actual apology, the invocation of the norm decreased perceived apology sincerity and subsequent willingness to forgive. Thus, although apologetic trends may suggest greater contemporary interest in seeking reconciliation and harmony, their inflationary use risks devaluing apologies and undermining their effectiveness.

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Moral Vitalism: Seeing Good and Evil as Real, Agentic Forces

Brock Bastian et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, August 2015, Pages 1069-1081

Abstract:
Moral vitalism refers to a tendency to view good and evil as actual forces that can influence people and events. We introduce a scale designed to assess the belief in moral vitalism. High scorers on the scale endorse items such as "There are underlying forces of good and evil in this world." After establishing the reliability and criterion validity of the scale (Studies 1, 2a, and 2b), we examined the predictive validity of the moral vitalism scale, showing that "moral vitalists" worry about being possessed by evil (Study 3), being contaminated through contact with evil people (Study 4), and forfeiting their own mental purity (Study 5). We discuss the nature of moral vitalism and the implications of the construct for understanding the role of metaphysical lay theories about the nature of good and evil in moral reasoning.

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Group differences in broadness of values may drive dynamics of public opinion on moral issues

Kimmo Eriksson & Pontus Strimling
Mathematical Social Sciences, September 2015, Pages 1-8

Abstract:
Here we propose the idea that the success of an argument in favor of an issue position should depend on whether the argument resonates with the audience's values. Now consider two groups, one of which has a broader set of values than the other. We develop a mathematical model to investigate how this difference in broadness of values may drive a change on the population level towards positions in line with the more narrow set of values. The model is motivated by the empirical finding that conservative morality rests equally on moral foundations that are individualizing (harm and fairness) and binding (purity, authority, and ingroup), whereas liberal morality relies mainly on the individualizing moral foundations. The model then predicts that, under certain conditions, the whole population will tend to move towards positions on moral issues (e.g., same-sex marriage) that are supported by individualizing moral foundations.

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Seeing You Fall vs Taking You Down: The Roles of Agency and Liking in Schadenfreude

Keegan Greenier
Psychological Reports, June 2015, Pages 941-953

Abstract:
People are more likely to experience schadenfreude, i.e., take pleasure in the misfortunes of another, if they do not like the person experiencing the downfall. In the current study, the roles of liking and agency (being the cause of the downfall vs a passive observer) were investigated using a live (rather than hypothetical) situation for participants to react to. Participants were exposed to a rude, neutral, or nice confederate who won a coveted prize. Participants were then put into a position to either cause the confederate to lose her prize, or to only passively observe it happen. Feelings of schadenfreude were strongest when participants were the agent of a rude other's downfall. Implications for incorporating aspects of this study into future research were discussed.

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Chimpanzees' Bystander Reactions to Infanticide

Claudia Rudolf von Rohr et al.
Human Nature, June 2015, Pages 143-160

Abstract:
Social norms - generalized expectations about how others should behave in a given context - implicitly guide human social life. However, their existence becomes explicit when they are violated because norm violations provoke negative reactions, even from personally uninvolved bystanders. To explore the evolutionary origin of human social norms, we presented chimpanzees with videos depicting a putative norm violation: unfamiliar conspecifics engaging in infanticidal attacks on an infant chimpanzee. The chimpanzees looked far longer at infanticide scenes than at control videos showing nut cracking, hunting a colobus monkey, or displays and aggression among adult males. Furthermore, several alternative explanations for this looking pattern could be ruled out. However, infanticide scenes did not generally elicit higher arousal. We propose that chimpanzees as uninvolved bystanders may detect norm violations but may restrict emotional reactions to such situations to in-group contexts. We discuss the implications for the evolution of human morality.

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Not All Fairness Is Created Equal: Fairness Perceptions of Group vs. Individual Decision Makers

Maryam Kouchaki, Isaac Smith & Ekaterina Netchaeva
Organization Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Drawing on fairness heuristic theory and literature on negative group schemas, we develop and empirically test the idea that, given the exact same decision outcome, people perceive groups to be less fair than individuals when they receive a decision outcome that is unfavorable, but not when they receive one that is favorable or neutral (Studies 1 and 2). To account for this difference in fairness perceptions following an unfavorable outcome, we show that the mere presence of a group as a decision-making body serves as a cue that increases the accessibility of negative group-related associations in a perceiver's mind (Study 3). Moreover, in a sample of recently laid-off workers - representing a broad range of organizations and demographic characteristics - we demonstrate that those who received a layoff decision made by a group of decision makers (versus an individual) are marginally more likely to perceive the decision as unfair and are marginally less likely to endorse the organization (Study 4). Taken together, the results of all four studies suggest that, in response to the same unfavorable decision outcome, a group of decision makers is often perceived to be less fair than an individual.

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Fairness requires deliberation: The primacy of economic over social considerations

Guy Hochman, Shahar Ayal & Dan Ariely
Frontiers in Psychology, June 2015

Abstract:
While both economic and social considerations of fairness and equity play an important role in financial decision-making, it is not clear which of these two motives is more primal and immediate and which one is secondary and slow. Here we used variants of the ultimatum game to examine this question. Experiment 1 shows that acceptance rate of unfair offers increases when participants are asked to base their choice on their gut-feelings, as compared to when they thoroughly consider the available information. In line with these results, Experiments 2 and 3 provide process evidence that individuals prefer to first examine economic information about their own utility rather than social information about equity and fairness, even at the price of foregoing such social information. Our results suggest that people are more economically rational at the core, but social considerations (e.g., inequality aversion) require deliberation, which under certain conditions override their self-interested impulses.

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Individual differences in the explicit power motive predict "utilitarian" choices in moral dilemmas, especially when this choice is self-beneficial

Felix Suessenbach & Adam Moore
Personality and Individual Differences, November 2015, Pages 297-302

Abstract:
We all face moral decisions, whether we are judges, politicians, or just riding the bus. The most well studied of these involve concerns of harming or caring for other people, which have often been researched by employing hypothetical moral dilemmas. This study investigated how the explicit power motive, more precisely the hope to gain power (h_Power), predicts decisions for these types of problems. We found that h_Power was positively related to deciding that it was morally acceptable to kill one person to save multiple others (i.e., making a utilitarian choice). In an exploratory analysis, we found that the probability of making such choices as a function of h_Power was even higher when participants' own lives were at stake as compared to only the lives of others. These findings complement previous research showing that personality variables as well as situational factors predict moral decision making. Finding biases in moral decision making is important, as only when we know these biases we can consciously counteract them.

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Dissociable Effects of Serotonin and Dopamine on the Valuation of Harm in Moral Decision Making

Molly Crockett et al.
Current Biology, 20 July 2015, Pages 1852-1859

Abstract:
An aversion to harming others is a core component of human morality and is disturbed in antisocial behavior. Deficient harm aversion may underlie instrumental and reactive aggression, which both feature in psychopathy. Past work has highlighted monoaminergic influences on aggression, but a mechanistic account of how monoamines regulate antisocial motives remains elusive. We previously observed that most people show a greater aversion to inflicting pain on others than themselves. Here, we investigated whether this hyperaltruistic disposition is susceptible to monoaminergic control. We observed dissociable effects of the serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram and the dopamine precursor levodopa on decisions to inflict pain on oneself and others for financial gain. Computational models of choice behavior showed that citalopram increased harm aversion for both self and others, while levodopa reduced hyperaltruism. The effects of citalopram were stronger than those of levodopa. Crucially, neither drug influenced the physical perception of pain or other components of choice such as motor impulsivity or loss aversion, suggesting a direct and specific influence of serotonin and dopamine on the valuation of harm. We also found evidence for dose dependency of these effects. Finally, the drugs had dissociable effects on response times, with citalopram enhancing behavioral inhibition and levodopa reducing slowing related to being responsible for another's fate. These distinct roles of serotonin and dopamine in modulating moral behavior have implications for potential treatments of social dysfunction that is a common feature as well as a risk factor for many psychiatric disorders.

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To Feel or Not to Feel When My Group Harms Others? The Regulation of Collective Guilt as Motivated Reasoning

Keren Sharvit et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Four studies tested the proposition that regulation of collective guilt in the face of harmful ingroup behavior involves motivated reasoning. Cognitive energetics theory suggests that motivated reasoning is a function of goal importance, mental resource availability, and task demands. Accordingly, three studies conducted in the United States and Israel demonstrated that high importance of avoiding collective guilt, represented by group identification (Studies 1 and 3) and conservative ideological orientation (Study 2), is negatively related to collective guilt, but only when mental resources are not depleted by cognitive load. The fourth study, conducted in Italy, demonstrated that when justifications for the ingroup's harmful behavior are immediately available, the task of regulating collective guilt and shame becomes less demanding and less susceptible to resource depletion. By combining knowledge from the domains of motivated cognition, emotion regulation, and intergroup relations, these cross-cultural studies offer novel insights regarding factors underlying the regulation of collective guilt.

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Experimental philosophy of actual and counterfactual free will intuitions

Adam Feltz
Consciousness and Cognition, November 2015, Pages 113-130

Abstract:
Five experiments suggested that everyday free will and moral responsibility judgments about some hypothetical thought examples differed from free will and moral responsibility judgments about the actual world. Experiment 1 (N = 106) showed that free will intuitions about the actual world measured by the FAD-Plus poorly predicted free will intuitions about a hypothetical person performing a determined action (r = .13). Experiments 2-5 replicated this result and found the relations between actual free will judgments and free will judgments about hypothetical determined or fated actions (rs = .22-.35) were much smaller than the differences between them (ηp2 = .2-.55). These results put some pressure on theoretical accounts of everyday intuitions about freedom and moral responsibility.

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Work-report formats and overbilling: How unit-reporting vs. cost-reporting increases accountability and decreases overbilling

Sreedhari Desai & Maryam Kouchaki
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, September 2015, Pages 79-88

Abstract:
The current paper examines how asking for a report of units of work completed versus cost of the same work can influence overbilling. We suggest that something as simple as asking for a report of units of work completed (for instance, reporting either the time spent or number of units of work completed) as opposed to the cost of the work completed can drive different unethical behaviors. We argue that unit-reporting makes providers feel accountable for their actions, and this induced accountability, in turn, impacts actual billing behaviors. We present seven studies, including a field experiment in the auto-repair industry that demonstrate the effect of different work-report formats on overbilling and provide evidence for our proposed underlying mechanism.

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The Unifying Moral Dyad: Liberals and Conservatives Share the Same Harm-Based Moral Template

Chelsea Schein & Kurt Gray
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, August 2015, Pages 1147-1163

Abstract:
Do moral disagreements regarding specific issues (e.g., patriotism, chastity) reflect deep cognitive differences (i.e., distinct cognitive mechanisms) between liberals and conservatives? Dyadic morality suggests that the answer is "no." Despite moral diversity, we reveal that moral cognition - in both liberals and conservatives - is rooted in a harm-based template. A dyadic template suggests that harm should be central within moral cognition, an idea tested - and confirmed - through six specific hypotheses. Studies suggest that moral judgment occurs via dyadic comparison, in which counter-normative acts are compared with a prototype of harm. Dyadic comparison explains why harm is the most accessible and important of moral content, why harm organizes - and overlaps with - diverse moral content, and why harm best translates across moral content. Dyadic morality suggests that various moral content (e.g., loyalty, purity) are varieties of perceived harm and that past research has substantially exaggerated moral differences between liberals and conservatives.

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Hypocrisy by association: When organizational membership increases condemnation for wrongdoing

Daniel Effron, Brian Lucas & Kieran O'Connor
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, forthcoming

Abstract:
Hypocrisy occurs when people fail to practice what they preach. Four experiments document the hypocrisy-by-association effect, whereby failing to practice what an organization preaches can make an employee seem hypocritical and invite moral condemnation. Participants judged employees more harshly for the same transgression when it was inconsistent with ethical values the employees' organization promoted, and ascriptions of hypocrisy mediated this effect (Studies 1-3). The results did not support the possibility that inconsistent transgressions simply seemed more harmful. In Study 4, participants were less likely to select a job candidate whose transgression did (vs. did not) contradict a value promoted by an organization where he had once interned. The results suggest that employees are seen as morally obligated to uphold the values that their organization promotes, even by people outside of the organization. We discuss how observers will judge someone against different ethical standards depending on where she or he works.

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If I close my eyes, nobody will get hurt: The effect of ignorance on performance in a real-effort experiment

Agne Kajackaite
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, August 2015, Pages 518-524

Abstract:
This paper tests whether choosing to stay ignorant about the negative consequences of one's own actions affects performance in a real-effort experiment. In the experiment, participants' effort increased only their own payoff or also the donation to a negatively perceived charity. We introduced ignorance by letting agents decide whether to learn if the effort benefits the charity. As expected, agents exerted significantly higher efforts if they knew the negatively perceived charity would receive no benefits. Yet, when given the choice, almost a third of the agents chose to stay ignorant and exert significantly more effort than agents who knew their effort would benefit the charity. Importantly, if the uncertainty about the donation to the charity was introduced exogenously, agents exerted lower effort than ignorant agents, which suggests that not having information about the consequences of one's own actions alone does not lead to self-interested behavior, but rather, the sorting of social agents of a low type into ignorance drives self-interested behavior of ignorant agents.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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