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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Foreign to me

Heterogeneity of long-history migration explains cultural differences in reports of emotional expressivity and the functions of smiles

Magdalena Rychlowska et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 12 May 2015, Pages E2429-E2436

Abstract:
A small number of facial expressions may be universal in that they are produced by the same basic affective states and recognized as such throughout the world. However, other aspects of emotionally expressive behavior also vary widely across culture. Just why do they vary? We propose that some cultural differences in expressive behavior are determined by historical heterogeneity, or the extent to which a country's present-day population descended from migration from numerous vs. few source countries over a period of 500 y. Our reanalysis of data on cultural rules for displaying emotion from 32 countries [n = 5,340; Matsumoto D, Yoo S, Fontaine J (2008) J Cross Cult Psychol 39:55-74] reveals that historical heterogeneity explains substantial, unique variance in the degree to which individuals believe that emotions should be openly expressed. We also report an original study of the underlying states that people believe are signified by a smile. Cluster analysis applied to data from nine countries (n = 726), including Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States, reveals that countries group into "cultures of smiling" determined by historical heterogeneity. Factor analysis shows that smiles sort into three social-functional subtypes: pleasure, affiliative, and dominance. The relative importance of these smile subtypes varies as a function of historical heterogeneity. These findings thus highlight the power of social-historical factors to explain cross-cultural variation in emotional expression and smile behavior.

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Does It Matter Where You Came From? Ancestry Composition and Economic Performance of U.S. Counties, 1850-2010

Scott Fulford, Ivan Petkov & Fabio Schiantarelli
Boston College Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
The United States provides a unique laboratory for understanding how the cultural, institutional, and human capital endowments of immigrant groups shape economic outcomes. In this paper, we use census micro-sample information to reconstruct the country-of-ancestry distribution for US counties from 1850 to 2010. We also develop a county-level measure of GDP per capita over the same period. Using this novel panel data set, we investigate whether changes in the ancestry composition of a county matter for local economic development and the channels through which the cultural, institutional, and educational legacy of the country of origin affects economic outcomes in the US. Our results show that the evolution of the country-of-origin composition of a county matters. Moreover, the culture, institutions, and human capital that the immigrant groups brought with them and pass on to their children are positively associated with local development in the US. Among these factors, measures of culture that capture attitudes towards cooperation play the most important and robust role. Finally, our results suggest that while fractionalization of ancestry groups is positively related with county GDP, fractionalization in attributes such as trust, is negatively related to local economic performance.

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Culture and current account balances

Mika Nieminen, Kari Heimonen & Esa Mangeloja
Applied Economics Letters, Summer 2015, Pages 886-890

Abstract:
This article contributes to the literature of current account balances by introducing cultural variables that until now have been omitted. The World Values Survey indicates that the Roman Catholics do not consider thrift as important as others. We propose that Catholic countries tend to run current account deficits. This result remains robust even if we control for close to all of the determinants that have been included in previous studies. We find evidence that the inclination of Catholic countries to have high levels of uncertainty avoidance goes to a great length in explaining the result.

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Risk taking in adversarial situations: Civilization differences in chess experts

Philippe Chassy & Fernand Gobet
Cognition, August 2015, Pages 36-40

Abstract:
The projections of experts in politics predict that a new world order will emerge within two decades. Being multipolar, this world will inevitably lead to frictions where civilizations and states will have to decide whether to risk conflict. Very often these decisions are informed if not taken by experts. To estimate risk-taking across civilizations, we examined strategies used in 667,617 chess games played over ten years by chess experts from 12 different civilizations. We show that some civilizations are more inclined to settle for peace. Similarly, we show that once engaged in the battle, the level of risk taking varies significantly across civilizations, the boldest civilization using the riskiest strategy about 35% more than the most conservative civilization. We discuss which psychological factors might underpin these civilizational differences.

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National Culture and Home Advantage in Football

Garry Gelade
Cross-Cultural Research, July 2015, Pages 281-296

Abstract:
This article examines home advantage (HA) in association football (soccer). HA is the tendency for teams to perform better when playing on their home ground than when playing away. National variations in HA are found to be related to national cultural and social characteristics. HA tends to be elevated in countries with high levels of collectivism and in-group favoritism, and in countries where governance is prone to corruption and where the rule of law is not strictly adhered to. These findings are consistent with the concept of HA as a social phenomenon that derives from the influence of spectators on the match officials. HA is also found to be elevated in countries with diverse terrain, but the effects of culture persist even when diversity of terrain is controlled for. On the other hand, the hypothesis that HA is elevated in the presence of large crowds or potentially violent spectators was not supported.

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The Mesh of Civilizations in the Global Network of Digital Communication

Bogdan State et al.
PLoS ONE, May 2015

Abstract:
Conflicts fueled by popular religious mobilization have rekindled the controversy surrounding Samuel Huntington's theory of changing international alignments in the Post-Cold War era. In The Clash of Civilizations, Huntington challenged Fukuyama's "end of history" thesis that liberal democracy had emerged victorious out of Post-war ideological and economic rivalries. Based on a top-down analysis of the alignments of nation states, Huntington famously concluded that the axes of international geo-political conflicts had reverted to the ancient cultural divisions that had characterized most of human history. Until recently, however, the debate has had to rely more on polemics than empirical evidence. Moreover, Huntington made this prediction in 1993, before social media connected the world's population. Do digital communications attenuate or echo the cultural, religious, and ethnic "fault lines" posited by Huntington prior to the global diffusion of social media? We revisit Huntington's thesis using hundreds of millions of anonymized email and Twitter communications among tens of millions of worldwide users to map the global alignment of interpersonal relations. Contrary to the supposedly borderless world of cyberspace, a bottom-up analysis confirms the persistence of the eight culturally differentiated civilizations posited by Huntington, with the divisions corresponding to differences in language, religion, economic development, and spatial distance.

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Redistribution and Group Participation: Comparative Experimental Evidence from Africa and the UK

Marcel Fafchamps & Ruth Vargas Hill
NBER Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
We design an original laboratory experiment to investigate whether redistributive actions hinder the formation of Pareto-improving groups. We test, in an anonymous setting with no feedback, whether people choose to destroy or steal the endowment of others and whether they choose to give to others, when granted the option. We then test whether subjects join a group that increases their endowment but exposes them to redistribution. We conduct the experiment in three very different settings with a priori different norms of pro-social behavior: a university town in the UK, the largest urban slum in Kenya, and rural Uganda. We find a lot of commonality but also large differences between sites. UK subjects behave in a more selfish and strategic way -- giving less, stealing more. Kenyan and Ugandan subjects behave in a more altruistic and less strategic manner. However, pro-social norms are not always predictive of joining behavior. African subjects are less likely to join a group when destruction or stealing is permitted. It is as if they are less trusting even though they are more trustworthy. These findings contradict the view that African current underdevelopment is due to a failure of generalized morality.

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Exposure to Television and Individual Beliefs: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Tanja Hennighausen
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does the information provided by mass media have the power to persistently affect individual beliefs about the drivers of success in life? To answer this question empirically, this contribution exploits a natural experiment on the reception of West German television in the former German Democratic Republic. After identifying the impact of Western television on individual beliefs and attitudes in the late 1980s, longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel is used to test the persistence of the television effect on individual beliefs during the 1990s. The empirical findings indicate that Western television exposure has made East Germans more inclined to believe that effort rather than luck determines success in life. Furthermore, this effect still persists several years after the German reunification.

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Relationship Standards and Satisfaction in Chinese, Western, and Intercultural Chinese-Western Couples in Australia

Danika Hiew et al.
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, June 2015, Pages 684-701

Abstract:
This study compared the endorsement of Chinese and Western relationship standards by Chinese, Western, and intercultural Chinese-Western couples. All couples were living in Australia. Couples' relationship standards differed in line with predictions. Western couples rated intimacy and the demonstration of love and caring (assessed by the Couple Bond scale) as more important for a successful couple relationship than Chinese couples. Chinese couples rated relations with the extended family, relational harmony, face maintenance, and traditional gender roles (assessed by the Family Responsibility scale) as more important than Western couples. Intercultural couples endorsed the standards to an extent that was intermediate between the Chinese and Western couples. Cultural differences were smaller on Couple Bond standards (small to medium effects) than on Family Responsibility standards (medium to large effects). Almost all cultural combinations of partners shared greater similarity on Couple Bond and Family Responsibility standards than would be expected by chance, with the notable exception that Chinese women's standards were less similar to their male partner's standards than was the case for Western women. Across cultural combinations of partners, high endorsement of Couple Bond standards, low endorsement of Family Responsibility standards, and high agreement between partners on both standards predicted high relationship satisfaction. Our results suggest that partner selection and convergence on relationship standards are important avenues for future research.

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Competence Judgments Based on Facial Appearance Are Better Predictors of American Elections Than of Korean Elections

Jinkyung Na et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Competence judgments based on facial appearance predict election results in Western countries, which indicates that these inferences contribute to decisions with social and political consequence. Because trait inferences are less pronounced in Asian cultures, such competence judgments should predict Asian election results less accurately than they do Western elections. In the study reported here, we compared Koreans' and Americans' competence judgments from face-to-trait inferences for candidates in U.S. Senate and state gubernatorial elections and Korean Assembly elections. Perceived competence was a far better predictor of the outcomes of real elections held in the United States than of elections held in Korea. When deciding which of two candidates to vote for in hypothetical elections, however, Koreans and Americans both voted on the basis of perceived competence inferred from facial appearance. Combining actual and hypothetical election results, we conclude that for Koreans, competence judgments from face-to-trait inferences are critical in voting only when other information is unavailable. However, in the United States, such competence judgments are substantially important, even in the presence of other information.

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English as a gatekeeper: Inequality between Jews and Arabs in access to higher education in Israel

Yariv Feniger & Hanna Ayalon
International Journal of Educational Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Access to the universities and many colleges in Israel is conditioned on the attainment of a specific matriculation certificate that includes a passing grade in advanced level English. Arab students in Israel are required to study English in addition to Arabic and Hebrew, unlike Jewish students, who are not obliged to take a second foreign language in addition to English. This puts Arab students in an inferior position. An analysis of a large sample of high school graduates showed that the English requirement incurs larger gaps than two other subjects that were examined: history and math. Logistic regression models confirmed that the gaps in meeting the English requirement can help explain the Jewish-Arab discrepancy in enrollment in higher education.

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A Cross-Cultural Examination of the Disjuncture Between Aspirations and Expectations/Perceived Outcomes: Strain and Academic Deviance in the United States and Japan

Miyuki Fukushima Tedor, Susan Sharp & Emiko Kobayashi
Sociological Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using comparable self-reported survey data collected among college students in the United States (n = 502) and Japan (n = 441), this study examines a paradox of higher academic deviance among otherwise more conforming Japanese youth while revisiting the debate concerning the disjuncture between aspirations and expectations/perceived outcomes in Agnew's general strain theory (GST). Confirming the paradox, our results indicate that Japanese students are significantly more deviant academically than American students. However, contrary to the expectation of GST, but in support of past empirical studies, the higher academic deviance among the Japanese, as compared to Americans, is explained by their lower aspirations, irrespective of the levels of expectations/perceived outcomes.

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To Lend Helping Hands: In-Group Favoritism, Uncertainty Avoidance, and the National Frequency of Pro-Social Behaviors

Peter Smith
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Nation-level differences in individuals' reports of helping strangers, donating money to charity, and volunteering time were analyzed, drawing on nationally representative survey data from 135 nations. Frequency of these three behaviors yielded a reliable index of pro-social behavior. All three behaviors were found to be more frequent in nations that score low on an index of in-group favoritism and score low on uncertainty avoidance. Helping a stranger was also more frequent in nations with greater income inequality. The use of a wide sample of nations provides a more valid understanding of what kinds of cultures favor pro-social actions and indicates that national wealth is a less important contributor to the differences that are found than is the case in other aspects of cultural difference.

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Event representations constrain the structure of language: Sign language as a window into universally accessible linguistic biases

Brent Strickland et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 12 May 2015, Pages 5968-5973

Abstract:
According to a theoretical tradition dating back to Aristotle, verbs can be classified into two broad categories. Telic verbs (e.g., "decide," "sell," "die") encode a logical endpoint, whereas atelic verbs (e.g., "think," "negotiate," "run") do not, and the denoted event could therefore logically continue indefinitely. Here we show that sign languages encode telicity in a seemingly universal way and moreover that even nonsigners lacking any prior experience with sign language understand these encodings. In experiments 1-5, nonsigning English speakers accurately distinguished between telic (e.g., "decide") and atelic (e.g., "think") signs from (the historically unrelated) Italian Sign Language, Sign Language of the Netherlands, and Turkish Sign Language. These results were not due to participants' inferring that the sign merely imitated the action in question. In experiment 6, we used pseudosigns to show that the presence of a salient visual boundary at the end of a gesture was sufficient to elicit telic interpretations, whereas repeated movement without salient boundaries elicited atelic interpretations. Experiments 7-10 confirmed that these visual cues were used by all of the sign languages studied here. Together, these results suggest that signers and nonsigners share universally accessible notions of telicity as well as universally accessible "mapping biases" between telicity and visual form.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, June 1, 2015

Position of authority

A decline in prosocial language helps explain public disapproval of the US Congress

Jeremy Frimer et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 26 May 2015, Pages 6591-6594

Abstract:
Talking about helping others makes a person seem warm and leads to social approval. This work examines the real world consequences of this basic, social-cognitive phenomenon by examining whether record-low levels of public approval of the US Congress may, in part, be a product of declining use of prosocial language during Congressional debates. A text analysis of all 124 million words spoken in the House of Representatives between 1996 and 2014 found that declining levels of prosocial language strongly predicted public disapproval of Congress 6 mo later. Warm, prosocial language still predicted public approval when removing the effects of societal and global factors (e.g., the September 11 attacks) and Congressional efficacy (e.g., passing bills), suggesting that prosocial language has an independent, direct effect on social approval.

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Is the Revolving Door of Washington a Back Door to Excess Corporate Returns?

Mehmet İhsan Canayaz, Jose Vicente Martinez & Han Ozsoylev
University of Oxford Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
In this paper, we look into the so-called "revolving door of Washington", which is the movement of individuals between federal government positions and jobs in the private sector, and examine its link to long-run stock returns. We find that firms where current public officials become future employees outperform other firms by a statistically significant 7.43% per year in terms of four-factor alpha. This result is robust to different weighting methodologies and risk adjustments, and to plausible reverse causality arguments. We also show that firms receive more valuable government contracts from a government agency when a future firm employee is holding a post at that agency. Such financial gains are significantly reduced during periods in which presidential executive orders restrict revolving door movements. Our results are consistent with the notion that some public officials could be favoring certain companies while in office with a view to gaining future corporate employment.

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Meet the Press or Meet the Men? Examining Women's Presence in American News Media

Gail Baitinger
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why are women still a minority presence in American news media? Some accounts attribute the dearth of women as political newsmakers to sexism, but journalistic norms to attain the best source for a story suggest that sex should be irrelevant. To date, however, no study has systematically tested these competing hypotheses. Based on a new, original data set of more than 4,200 appearances by elected officials and non-elected political actors on the Sunday morning talk shows, I find that female elected officials, journalists, and political activists appear as guests less frequently than men do. But the gender gap does not result from overt sexism. Rather, the characteristics that contribute to repeated appearances on Sunday morning are consistent with journalistic norms to provide balance and credibility in reporting. Because there are few women in the positions and professions from which guests are selected, though, these norms also perpetuate a gendered news environment.

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Why So Few (Republican) Women? Explaining the Partisan Imbalance of Women in the U.S. Congress

Danielle Thomsen
Legislative Studies Quarterly, May 2015, Pages 295-323

Abstract:
This article examines why the percentage of Democratic women in Congress has increased dramatically since the 1980s while the percentage of Republican women has barely grown. The central claim is that ideological conformity with the party influences the decision to run for office, and I suggest that partisan polarization has discouraged ideological moderates in the pipeline from pursuing a congressional career. The findings have gendered implications because, first, Republican women in the pipeline have historically been to the left of their male counterparts, and second, there is a dearth of conservative women in the pipeline.

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Campaign Contributions Facilitate Access to Congressional Officials: A Randomized Field Experiment

Joshua Kalla & David Broockman
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Concern that donations to political campaigns secure preferential treatment from policy makers has long occupied judges, scholars, and the public. However, the effects of contributions on policy makers' behavior are notoriously difficult to assess. We present the first randomized field experiment on the topic. The experiment focuses on whether contributions facilitate access to influential policy makers. In the experiment, a political organization attempted to schedule meetings between 191 congressional offices and the organization's members in their districts who were campaign donors. However, the organization randomly assigned whether it revealed to congressional offices that prospective attendees had contributed to campaigns. When informed prospective attendees were political donors, senior policy makers made themselves available between three and four times more often. These findings underscore concerns about the Supreme Court's recent decisions deregulating campaign finance.

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Does Economics Make Politicians Corrupt? Empirical Evidence from the United States Congress

René Ruske
Kyklos, May 2015, Pages 240-254

Abstract:
The present article analyzes the differences between economists and non-economists with respect to observed corruption behavior used as a proxy for selfishness. For this purpose, I analyzed real world data of relating to the 109th-111th US Congress between 2005 and 2009, including 695 representatives and senators. I show that those who hold a degree in economics are significantly more prone to corruption than 'non-economists'. These findings hence support the widespread, but controversial hypothesis in the 'economist vs. non-economist literature' that economists lack what Frey and Meier (2004) call 'social behavior'. Moreover, by using real world data, these findings overcome the lack of external validity, which impact on the (low cost) experiments and surveys to date.

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How Do Public Goods Providers Play Public Goods Games?

Daniel Butler & Thad Kousser
Legislative Studies Quarterly, May 2015, Pages 211-240

Abstract:
We study how policymakers play public goods games, and how their behavior compares to the typical subjects we study, by conducting parallel experiments on college undergraduates and American state legislators. We find that the legislators play public goods games more cooperatively and more consistently than the undergraduates. Legislators are also less responsive to treatments that involve social elements but are more likely to respond to additional information that they receive. Further, legislators' fixed characteristics explain much of the variation in how legislators play the game. We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding how institutions affect the provision of public goods.

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The Dysfunctional Congress

Sarah Binder
Annual Review of Political Science, 2015, Pages 85-101

Abstract:
Is the US Congress dysfunctional? The American public thinks so: In the summer of 2014, just 7% approved strongly of Congress (Riffkin 2014). Still, legislative scholars disagree about the severity of Congress's legislative challenges. Is legislative deadlock a sign that Congress can no longer identify and resolve major public problems? Or are Congress's difficulties temporary and correctable? In this article, I review theoretical and empirical literatures on the dynamics of lawmaking and evaluate alternative methods for testing lawmaking theories. Finally, I draw on recent research to put contemporary stalemate into historical perspective. I argue that even when Congress and the president have reached agreement on the big issues of the day, Congress's problem-solving capacity appears to have fallen to new lows in recent years. Whether and how well our political system can or will self-correct in the coming years remains an open question.

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Congressional dysfunction: An information processing perspective

Jonathan Lewallen, Sean Theriault & Bryan Jones
Regulation & Governance, forthcoming

Abstract:
The public's approval of Congress is at an all time low. The parties seem to have taken the legislative process hostage for their own electoral gain. Whereas traditional arguments about congressional dysfunction focus on polarized voting coalitions or outputs - particularly legislation - in this article we highlight congressional information processing and how it has changed in this highly partisan era. By coding congressional hearings according to the kind of information on which they focus, we find that members of Congress are receiving one-sided information to a greater degree and are spending less time learning about potential solutions. We use these results to make numerous recommendations for improving how Congress gathers its information.

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Divided Government and the Fragmentation of American Law

Sean Farhang & Miranda Yaver
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate institutional explanations for Congress's choice to fragment statutory frameworks for policy implementation. We argue that divided party government, which fuels legislative-executive conflict over control of the bureaucracy, motivates Congress to fragment implementation power as a strategy to enhance its control over implementation. We develop a novel measure of fragmentation in policy implementation, collect data on it over the period 1947-2008, and test hypotheses linking separation-of-powers structures to legislative design of fragmented implementation power. We find that divided party government is powerfully associated with fragmentation in policy implementation, and that this association contributed to the long-run growth of fragmentation in the postwar United States. We further find that legislative coalitions are more likely to fragment implementation power in the face of greater uncertainty about remaining in the majority.

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Political Connections, Incentives and Innovation: Evidence from Contract-Level Data

Jonathan Brogaard, Matthew Denes & Ran Duchin
University of Washington Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
This paper studies the relation between corporate political connections and the allocation, design, and outcomes of government contracts. Using hand-collected data on federal procurement contracts, we find that connected firms are 10% more likely to win a contract. Connected firms receive larger contracts, with longer durations and weaker incentive structures. Politically-connected firms are also more likely to increase contract amounts and extend deadlines through contract renegotiations. While government contracts enhance firm-level innovation on average, political connections and weak contractual incentives are associated with less innovation, as measured by patents and patent citations. Overall, we show that connections between firms and politicians are associated with distortions in contract allocation and design.

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A Structural Model of Electoral Accountability

Boragan Aruoba, Allan Drazen & Razvan Vlaicu
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
This paper proposes a structural approach to measuring the effects of electoral accountability. We estimate a political agency model with imperfect information in order to identify and quantify discipline and selection effects, using data on U.S. governors for 1982-2012. We find that the possibility of reelection provides a significant incentive for incumbents to exert effort. We also find a selection effect, although it is weaker in terms of its effect on average governor performance. According to our model, the widely-used two-term regime improves voter welfare by 4.2% compared to a one-term regime, and find that a three-term regime may improve voter welfare even further.

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How Policy and Procedure Shape Citizens' Evaluations of Senators

David Doherty
Legislative Studies Quarterly, May 2015, Pages 241-272

Abstract:
I report findings from survey experiments that improve our understanding of how people want individual Senators to approach their role as representatives. The findings show that people are committed to the idea that Senators should prioritize their states' preferences over those of the national public. This preference persists in situations where a Senator's advocacy for her state plays a key role in defeating nationally supported legislation. This finding contradicts popular claims that voters are hungry for Senators who prioritize national preferences over those of their constituents. I also find that people who support a piece of legislation - but not those who oppose it - evaluate a Senator who helps to defeat the legislation by filibustering substantially less favorably than one who accomplishes the same ends through majoritarian means. This suggests that how people respond to some procedural characteristics of politicians' behavior depends on how they feel about the outcomes it yields.

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Taking Matters into Their Own Hands: Presidents' Personality Traits and the Use of Executive Orders

Maryann Gallagher & Bethany Blackstone
Presidential Studies Quarterly, June 2015, Pages 221-246

Abstract:
Existing studies of executive orders tend to focus on two issues: how the frequency of executive orders has changed over time and whether the nature of presidential power has changed such that we should reconsider Neustadt's thesis that bargaining is the essence of presidential power. Although institutionalists bemoan the literature's focus on the "personal presidency," no study of unilateral uses of power has taken into account the systematic influence of presidents' personalities. Instead, studies that consider why some presidents issue more executive orders than others focus on contextual factors, not attributes of the presidents. In this article we address this gap in the literature by examining whether presidents' personality traits significantly influence their propensity to issue executive orders. The results of our analysis demonstrate that both personality and institutional factors play a significant role in presidents' decisions to act unilaterally.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, June 1, 2015

Smart growth

One Century of Global IQ Gains: A Formal Meta-Analysis of the Flynn Effect (1909–2013)

Jakob Pietschnig & Martin Voracek
Perspectives on Psychological Science, May 2015, Pages 282-306

Abstract:
The Flynn effect (rising intelligence test performance in the general population over time and generations) varies enigmatically across countries and intelligence domains; its substantive meaning and causes remain elusive. This first formal meta-analysis on the topic revealed worldwide IQ gains across more than one century (1909–2013), based on 271 independent samples, totaling almost 4 million participants, from 31 countries. Key findings include that IQ gains vary according to domain (estimated 0.41, 0.30, 0.28, and 0.21 IQ points annually for fluid, spatial, full-scale, and crystallized IQ test performance, respectively), are stronger for adults than children, and have decreased in more recent decades. Altogether, these findings narrow down proposed theories and candidate factors presumably accounting for the Flynn effect. Factors associated with life history speed seem mainly responsible for the Flynn effect's general trajectory, whereas favorable social multiplier effects and effects related to economic prosperity appear to be responsible for observed differences of the Flynn effect across intelligence domains.

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The Origins of Counting Algorithms

Jessica Cantlon et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Humans' ability to count by verbally labeling discrete quantities is unique in animal cognition. The evolutionary origins of counting algorithms are not understood. We report that nonhuman primates exhibit a cognitive ability that is algorithmically and logically similar to human counting. Monkeys were given the task of choosing between two food caches. First, they saw one cache baited with some number of food items, one item at a time. Then, a second cache was baited with food items, one at a time. At the point when the second set was approximately equal to the first set, the monkeys spontaneously moved to choose the second set even before that cache was completely baited. Using a novel Bayesian analysis, we show that the monkeys used an approximate counting algorithm for comparing quantities in sequence that is incremental, iterative, and condition controlled. This proto-counting algorithm is structurally similar to formal counting in humans and thus may have been an important evolutionary precursor to human counting.

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Cognitive Aging in Older Black and White Persons

Robert Wilson et al.
Psychology and Aging, forthcoming

Abstract:
During a mean of 5.2 years of annual follow-up, older Black (n = 647) and White (n = 647) persons of equivalent age and education completed a battery of 17 cognitive tests from which composite measures of 5 abilities were derived. Baseline level of each ability was lower in the Black subgroup. Decline in episodic and working memory was not related to race. Decline in semantic memory, perceptual speed, and visuospatial ability was slower in Black persons than White persons, and in semantic memory and perceptual speed this effect was stronger in older than younger participants. Racial differences persisted after adjustment for retest effects. The results suggest subtle cognitive aging differences between Black persons and White persons.

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What would Batman do? Self-distancing improves executive function in young children

Rachel White & Stephanie Carlson
Developmental Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This experimental research assessed the influence of graded levels of self-distancing – psychological distancing from one's egocentric perspective – on executive function (EF) in young children. Three- (n = 48) and 5-year-old (n = 48) children were randomly assigned to one of four manipulations of distance from the self (from proximal to distal: self-immersed, control, third person, and exemplar) on a comprehensive measure of EF. Performance increased as a function of self-distancing across age groups. Follow-up analyses indicated that 5-year-olds were driving this effect. They showed significant improvements in EF with increased distance from the self, outperforming controls both when taking a third person perspective on the self and when taking the perspective of an exemplar other (e.g., Batman) through role play. Three-year-olds, however, did not show increased EF performance as a function of greater distance from the self. Preliminary results suggest that developments in theory of mind might contribute to these age-related differences in efficacy. These findings speak to the importance of psychological distancing in the expression of conscious control over thought and action from a young age and suggest a promising new avenue for early EF intervention.

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Is Playing Video Games Related to Cognitive Abilities?

Nash Unsworth et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The relations between video-game experience and cognitive abilities were examined in the current study. In two experiments, subjects performed a number of working memory, fluid intelligence, and attention-control measures and filled out a questionnaire about their video-game experience. In Experiment 1, an extreme-groups analysis indicated that experienced video-game players outperformed nonplayers on several cognitive-ability measures. However, in Experiments 1 and 2, when analyses examined the full range of subjects at both the task level and the latent-construct level, nearly all of the relations between video-game experience and cognitive abilities were near zero. These results cast doubt on recent claims that playing video games leads to enhanced cognitive abilities. Statistical and methodological issues with prior studies of video-game experience are discussed along with recommendations for future studies.

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Functional role of frontal alpha oscillations in creativity

Caroline Lustenberger et al.
Cortex, June 2015, Pages 74–82

Abstract:
Creativity, the ability to produce innovative ideas, is a key higher-order cognitive function that is poorly understood. At the level of macroscopic cortical network dynamics, recent electroencephalography (EEG) data suggests that cortical oscillations in the alpha frequency band (8–12 Hz) are correlated with creative thinking. However, whether alpha oscillations play a fundamental role in creativity has remained unknown. Here we show that creativity is increased by enhancing alpha power using 10 Hz transcranial alternating current stimulation (10 Hz-tACS) of the frontal cortex. In a study of 20 healthy participants with a randomized, balanced cross-over design, we found a significant improvement of 7.4% in the Creativity Index measured by the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT), a comprehensive and most frequently used assay of creative potential and strengths. In a second similar study with 20 subjects, 40 Hz-tACS was used in instead of 10 Hz-tACS to rule out a general "electrical stimulation" effect. No significant change in the Creativity Index was found for such frontal gamma stimulation. Our results suggest that alpha activity in frontal brain areas is selectively involved in creativity; this enhancement represents the first demonstration of specific neuronal dynamics that drive creativity and can be modulated by non-invasive brain stimulation. Our findings agree with the model that alpha recruitment increases with internal processing demands and is involved in inhibitory top-down control, which is an important requirement for creative ideation.

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Association between perinatal methylation of the neuronal differentiation regulator HES1 and later childhood neurocognitive function and behavior

Karen Lillycrop et al.
International Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Background: Early life environments induce long-term changes in neurocognitive development and behaviour. In animal models, early environmental cues affect neuropsychological phenotypes via epigenetic processes but, as yet, there is little direct evidence for such mechanisms in humans.

Method: We examined the relation between DNA methylation at birth and child neuropsychological outcomes in two culturally diverse populations using a genome-wide methylation analysis and validation by pyrosequencing.

Results: Within the UK Southampton Women's Survey (SWS) we first identified 41 differentially methylated regions of interest (DMROI) at birth associated with child's full-scale IQ at age 4 years. Associations between HES1 DMROI methylation and later cognitive function were confirmed by pyrosequencing in 175 SWS children. Consistent with these findings, higher HES1 methylation was associated with higher executive memory function in a second independent group of 200 SWS 7-year-olds. Finally, we examined a pathway for this relationship within a Singaporean cohort (n = 108). Here, HES1 DMROI methylation predicted differences in early infant behaviour, known to be associated with academic success. In vitro, methylation of HES1 inhibited ETS transcription factor binding, suggesting a functional role of this site.

Conclusions: Thus, our findings suggest that perinatal epigenetic processes mark later neurocognitive function and behaviour, providing support for a role of epigenetic processes in mediating the long-term consequences of early life environment on cognitive development.

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Remembering to Prepare: The Benefits (and Costs) of High Working Memory Capacity

Lauren Richmond, Thomas Redick & Todd Braver
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, forthcoming

Abstract:
The dual mechanisms of control framework postulates that cognitive control can operate in 2 distinct modes: a "proactive" preparatory mode and a "reactive" wait-and-see mode. Importantly, the 2 modes are associated with both costs and benefits in cognitive performance. Here we explore this framework, in terms of its relationship with working memory capacity (WMC). We hypothesize that high-WMC individuals are more likely to utilize proactive control yielding not only benefits, but also specific costs to performance. Across 2 separate, large-sample experiments, healthy young adults performed different variants of the AX-Continuous Performance Test context processing task, a well-established probe of proactive and reactive cognitive control. In 2 experiments, WMC predicted both improvements and relative impairments in task performance in a manner that was consistent with usage of proactive control. These findings suggest that individuals differ in the degree to which they utilize proactive control based on WMC.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, June 1, 2015

Getting the message

Text Messaging Reduces Analgesic Requirements During Surgery

Jamie Guillory et al.
Pain Medicine, April 2015, Pages 667–672

Objective: This study aims to determine whether communicating via short message service text message during surgery procedures leads to decreased intake of fentanyl for patients receiving regional anesthesia below the waist compared with a distraction condition and no intervention.

Methods: Ninety-eight patients receiving regional anesthesia for minor surgeries were recruited from a hospital in Montreal, QC, between January and March 2012. Patients were randomly assigned to text message with a companion, text message with a stranger, play a distracting mobile phone game, or receive standard perioperative management. Participants who were asked to text message or play a game did so before receiving the anesthetic and continued until the end of the procedure.

Results: The odds of receiving supplemental analgesia during surgery for patients receiving standard perioperative management were 6.77 (P = 0.009; N = 13/25) times the odds for patients in the text a stranger condition (N = 22/25 of patients), 4.39 times the odds for those in the text a companion condition (P = 0.03; N = 19/23), and 1.96 times the odds for those in the distraction condition (P = 0.25; N = 17/25).

Conclusion: Text messaging during surgery provides analgesic-sparing benefits that surpass distraction techniques, suggesting that mobile phones provide new opportunities for social support to improve patient comfort and reduce analgesic requirements during minor surgeries and in other clinical settings.

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Social Identity and Socially Shared Retrieval-Induced Forgetting: The Effects of Group Membership

Alin Coman & William Hirst
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
In a conversation, speakers and listeners will often influence each other's memories, and in doing so, promote the formation of a shared, or collective, memory. One means by which a mnemonic consensus emerges is through socially shared retrieval-induced forgetting (SSRIF). When listeners attend to the speakers' selective retrieval of previously encountered events, they forget unmentioned but related information more than they forget unrelated, unmentioned previously studied information. As a consequence, both speaker and listeners come to remember—and forget—the event in a similar way. SSRIF appears to be dependent on listeners concurrently retrieving the information with the speaker. We asked here whether such concurrent retrieval is a function of group membership, thereby underscoring the connection between a basic mnemonic mechanism — retrieval-induced forgetting — and a social function of communicative interaction — building a shared representation. In Experiment 1, Princeton students listening to a speaker selectively recall previously studied material showed SSRIF when the speaker was identified as a fellow Princeton student, but not when he or she was identified as a Yale student. In Experiment 2, activating a common student identity before the listening task triggered concurrent retrieval in Princeton students when listening to both Princeton and Yale speakers. Thus, similar patterns of selective forgetting are more likely to occur between speakers and listeners if they belong to the same social group. Basic mnemonic mechanisms seem to be adapted to promote the emergence of shared mnemonic representations that preserve group membership and group identity.

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Physical Experience Enhances Science Learning

Carly Kontra et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Three laboratory experiments involving students' behavior and brain imaging and one randomized field experiment in a college physics class explored the importance of physical experience in science learning. We reasoned that students' understanding of science concepts such as torque and angular momentum is aided by activation of sensorimotor brain systems that add kinetic detail and meaning to students' thinking. We tested whether physical experience with angular momentum increases involvement of sensorimotor brain systems during students' subsequent reasoning and whether this involvement aids their understanding. The physical experience, a brief exposure to forces associated with angular momentum, significantly improved quiz scores. Moreover, improved performance was explained by activation of sensorimotor brain regions when students later reasoned about angular momentum. This finding specifies a mechanism underlying the value of physical experience in science education and leads the way for classroom practices in which experience with the physical world is an integral part of learning.

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The Simultaneous Extraction of Multiple Social Categories from Unfamiliar Faces

Douglas Martin et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2015, Pages 51–58

Abstract:
Recent research suggests that when viewing a face two social categories (e.g., sex and race) can be activated simultaneously. However, multiple social categories – including age, race and sex – can be extracted from faces. In the present study we present a new method, previously used to explore the costs and benefits associated with language-switching, to examine whether performance on an attended social categorization task (e.g., sex classification) was impacted by changes – switches – in two unattended social category dimensions (e.g., race and age). We predicted an interaction between the effects of transition (switch versus repeat) on an attended social categorization task and transition on both of the two unattended social category dimensions. Specifically, we hypothesized that when, across two trials, the attended categorization repeated (e.g., male – male) people would be quicker and more accurate when the unattended social categories also repeated (e.g., younger face – younger face) relative to when they switched (e.g., younger face – older face). Conversely, when, across two trials, the attended categorization switched we expected people would be quicker and more accurate when the unattended social categories also switched relative to when they repeated. These predictions were supported across three experiments, in which it was found that when unfamiliar face stimuli were categorized according to age (Expt. 1a), race (Expt. 1b) or sex (Expt. 1c) performance was impacted by the switch/repeat status of the unattended categories. These results suggest that, even when cognitively occupied we automatically and simultaneously extract information from faces that pertains to two unattended, task-irrelevant social categories.

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Thinking about the future can cause forgetting of the past

Annie Ditta & Benjamin Storm
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
People are able to imagine events in the future that have not yet happened, an ability referred to as episodic future thinking. There is now compelling evidence that episodic future thinking is accomplished via processes similar to those that underlie episodic retrieval. Drawing upon work on retrieval-induced forgetting, which has shown that retrieving some items in memory can cause the forgetting of other items in memory, we show that engaging in episodic future thinking can cause related autobiographical memories (Experiments 1–3) and episodic event descriptions (Experiments 3–4) to become less recallable in the future than they would have been otherwise. This finding suggests that episodic future thinking can serve as a memory modifier by changing the extent to which memories from our past can be subsequently retrieved.

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In the Working Memory of the Beholder: Art Appreciation Is Enhanced When Visual Complexity Is Compatible With Working Memory

Aleksandra Sherman, Marcia Grabowecky & Satoru Suzuki
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, forthcoming

Abstract:
What shapes art appreciation? Much research has focused on the importance of visual features themselves (e.g., symmetry, natural scene statistics) and of the viewer's experience and expertise with specific artworks. However, even after taking these factors into account, there are considerable individual differences in art preferences. Our new result suggests that art preference is also influenced by the compatibility between visual properties and the characteristics of the viewer's visual system. Specifically, we have demonstrated, using 120 artworks from diverse periods, cultures, genres, and styles, that art appreciation is increased when the level of visual complexity within an artwork is compatible with the viewer's visual working memory capacity. The result highlights the importance of the interaction between visual features and the beholder's general visual capacity in shaping art appreciation.

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Thrill of Victory or Agony of Defeat? Perceivers Fail to Utilize Information in Facial Movements

Hillel Aviezer et al.
Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although the distinction between positive and negative facial expressions is assumed to be clear and robust, recent research with intense real-life faces has shown that viewers are unable to reliably differentiate the valence of such expressions (Aviezer, Trope, & Todorov, 2012). Yet, the fact that viewers fail to distinguish these expressions does not in itself testify that the faces are physically identical. In Experiment 1, the muscular activity of victorious and defeated faces was analyzed. Higher numbers of individually coded facial actions — particularly smiling and mouth opening — were more common among winners than losers, indicating an objective difference in facial activity. In Experiment 2, we asked whether supplying participants with valid or invalid information about objective facial activity and valence would alter their ratings. Notwithstanding these manipulations, valence ratings were virtually identical in all groups, and participants failed to differentiate between positive and negative faces. While objective differences between intense positive and negative faces are detectable, human viewers do not utilize these differences in determining valence. These results suggest a surprising dissociation between information present in expressions and information used by perceivers.

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Accentuate the positive: Counteracting psychogenic responses to media health messages in the age of the Internet

Fiona Crichton & Keith Petrie
Journal of Psychosomatic Research, forthcoming

Objective: The Internet has expanded the scope for creating health scares and increased the risk of nocebo responding in individuals exposed to misinformation about threats to personal health posed by aspects of modern life, such as exposure to new technologies. It was the aim of this experiment to investigate whether the delivery of positive expectations might reduce or reverse symptoms triggered by negative expectations formed from such misinformation.

Method: In the context of a study investigating symptoms during exposure to windfarm sound, 64 volunteers assessed their symptomatic experiences during two discrete sessions, throughout which they listened to wind turbine sound containing audible and sub-audible (infrasound) components. Participants were randomly assigned to watch either positive or negative information about the health effects of infrasound prior to their first infrasound exposure session. They were then shown the alternate information and exposed to infrasound during their second session.

Results: Participants receiving negative expectations were less symptomatic during exposure if they had previously received positive expectations about infrasound. Further, participants given positive expectations after the earlier delivery of negative expectations exhibited a placebo response, reversing the nocebo response exhibited in their first exposure session.

Conclusion: Results suggest accessing positively framed health information may reverse or dilute the effect of negative expectations formed from exposure to media warnings about health risks posed by new technologies, such as wind turbines.

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Controllable Objects Seem Closer

Cheryl Wakslak & Kyu Kim
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
More and more we interact with other people across varying amounts of geographical distance. What shapes our categorization of a fixed amount of such distance as near or far? Building upon and expanding prior work on the association between spatial distance perception and reachability, we argue that people judge a given geographical distance as subjectively smaller when they can exert control across that distance. Studies 1–4 demonstrate this effect of control on spatial distance judgment in disparate contexts, including political, work, and family domains, and explore implications of such judgments for the downstream judgment of travel time to a location (Study 2). We do not find that one's desire for control moderates these effects (Study 4). Supporting a cognitive association argument, we find evidence that the association between control and distance is bidirectional, with subjective distance influencing perceived controllability (Study 5). Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

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The Body Language: The Spontaneous Influence of Congruent Bodily Arousal on the Awareness of Emotional Words

Anne Kever et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, June 2015, Pages 582-589

Abstract:
Nowadays, the idea of a reciprocal influence of physiological and psychological processes seems to be widely accepted. For instance, current theories of embodied emotion suggest that knowledge about an emotion concept involves simulations of bodily experienced emotional states relevant to the concept. In line with this framework, the present study investigated whether actual levels of physiological arousal interact with the processing of emotional words. Participants performed 2 blocks of an attentional blink task, once after a cycling session (increased arousal) and once after a relaxation session (reduced arousal). Concretely, participants were instructed to detect and report 2 target words (T1 and T2) presented among a series of nonword distractors. T1 and T2 were either neutral, high arousal, or low arousal words. Results revealed that increased physiological arousal led to improved reports of high arousal T2 words, whereas reduced physiological arousal led to improved reports of low arousal T2 words. Neutral T2 remained unaffected by the arousing conditions. These findings emphasize that actual levels of physiological arousal modulate the cognitive access to arousal (in-)congruent emotional concepts and suggest a direct grounding of emotion knowledge in our bodily systems of arousal.

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Want to block earworms from conscious awareness? B(u)y gum!

Philip Beaman, Kitty Powell & Ellie Rapley
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, June 2015, Pages 1049-1057

Abstract:
Three experiments examine the role of articulatory motor planning in experiencing an involuntary musical recollection (an "earworm"). Experiment 1 shows that interfering with articulatory motor programming by chewing gum reduces both the number of voluntary and the number of involuntary — unwanted — musical thoughts. This is consistent with other findings that chewing gum interferes with voluntary processes such as recollections from verbal memory, the interpretation of ambiguous auditory images, and the scanning of familiar melodies, but is not predicted by theories of thought suppression, which assume that suppression is made more difficult by concurrent tasks or cognitive loads. Experiment 2 shows that chewing the gum affects the experience of "hearing" the music and cannot be ascribed to a general effect on thinking about a tune only in abstract terms. Experiment 3 confirms that the reduction of musical recollections by chewing gum is not the consequence of a general attentional or dual-task demand. The data support a link between articulatory motor programming and the appearance in consciousness of both voluntary and unwanted musical recollections.

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Visualizing Trumps Vision in Training Attention

Robert Reinhart, Laura McClenahan & Geoffrey Woodman
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Mental imagery can have powerful training effects on behavior, but how this occurs is not well understood. Here we show that even a single instance of mental imagery can improve attentional selection of a target more effectively than actually practicing visual search. By recording subjects' brain activity, we found that these imagery-induced training effects were due to perceptual attention being more effectively focused on targets following imagined training. Next, we examined the downside of this potent training by changing the target after several trials of training attention with imagery and found that imagined search resulted in more potent interference than actual practice following these target changes. Finally, we found that proactive interference from task-irrelevant elements in the visual displays appears to underlie the superiority of imagined training relative to actual practice. Our findings demonstrate that visual attention mechanisms can be effectively trained to select target objects in the absence of visual input, and this results in more effective control of attention than practicing the task itself.

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How Far Away Is That? It Depends on You: Perception Accounts for the Abilities of Others

Richard Abrams & Blaire Weidler
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Perception is believed to scale the world to reflect one's own capabilities for action — objects that are more effortful to obtain are perceived as further away. Somewhat surprisingly, perception is also influenced by observing another person attempt an action, even though others cannot directly alter one's own capabilities. It is unknown, however, whether the effects of observation reflect a simulation of one acting as if from the perspective of the actor, or whether they reflect simulation of the potential effects of the actor on the environment, but from the observer's own point of view. In 2 experiments, we had an actor and an observer view a scene from opposing viewpoints. Enhancement of the actor's capabilities to reach a target object caused the target to appear further from the observer. Thus, in addition to indexing one's own capabilities, the perceptual system also scales the world to account for the potential effects of others.

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Mobile Persuasion: Can Screen Size and Presentation Mode Make a Difference to Trust?

Ki Joon Kim & Shyam Sundar
Human Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Guided by the Modality, Agency, Interactivity, and Navigability (MAIN) model of technology effects and the heuristic–systematic model (HSM) of information processing, this study explicates underlying mechanisms by which variations in screen size (large vs. small) and presentation mode (video vs. text) contribute to user perceptions of media content on their smartphones. Results from a between-subjects experiment (N = 120) indicate that large screen size and video mode promote heuristic processing while small screen size and text mode encourage systematic processing. Heuristic processing leads to greater affective and behavioral trust while systematic processing is associated with cognitive trust. Phantom model analysis reveals the effects of large screen size and video mode on purchase intentions are sequentially mediated by type of information processing and multidimensional trust.

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Freezing Behavior as a Response to Sexual Visual Stimuli as Demonstrated by Posturography

Harold Mouras et al.
PLoS ONE, May 2015

Abstract:
Posturographic changes in motivational conditions remain largely unexplored in the context of embodied cognition. Over the last decade, sexual motivation has been used as a good canonical working model to study motivated social interactions. The objective of this study was to explore posturographic variations in response to visual sexual videos as compared to neutral videos. Our results support demonstration of a freezing-type response in response to sexually explicit stimuli compared to other conditions, as demonstrated by significantly decreased standard deviations for (i) the center of pressure displacement along the mediolateral and anteroposterior axes and (ii) center of pressure's displacement surface. These results support the complexity of the motor correlates of sexual motivation considered to be a canonical functional context to study the motor correlates of motivated social interactions.

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Grasp Posture Alters Visual Processing Biases Near the Hands

Laura Thomas
Psychological Science, May 2015, Pages 625-632

Abstract:
Observers experience biases in visual processing for objects within easy reach of their hands; these biases may assist them in evaluating items that are candidates for action. I investigated the hypothesis that hand postures that afford different types of actions differentially bias vision. Across three experiments, participants performed global-motion-detection and global-form-perception tasks while their hands were positioned (a) near the display in a posture affording a power grasp, (b) near the display in a posture affording a precision grasp, or (c) in their laps. Although the power-grasp posture facilitated performance on the motion-detection task, the precision-grasp posture instead facilitated performance on the form-perception task. These results suggest that the visual system weights processing on the basis of an observer's current affordances for specific actions: Fast and forceful power grasps enhance temporal sensitivity, whereas detail-oriented precision grasps enhance spatial sensitivity.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, May 29, 2015

The thin blue line


Fear of Obama: An empirical study of the demand for guns and the U.S. 2008 presidential election

Emilio Depetris-Chauvin
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using monthly data constructed from futures markets on presidential election outcomes and a novel proxy for firearm purchases, this paper analyzes the response of the demand for guns to the likelihood of Barack Obama being elected in 2008. Point estimate suggests the existence of a large Obama effect on the demand for guns. This political effect is larger than the effect associated with the worsening economic conditions. This paper presents robust empirical evidence supporting the hypothesis that the unprecedented increase in the demand for guns was partially driven by fears of a future Obama gun-control policy. Conversely, the evidence for a racial prejudice motivation is less conclusive. Furthermore, this paper argues that the Obama effect did not represent a short-lived intertemporal substitution effect, and that it permanently affected the stock of guns in circulation. Finally, states that had the largest increases in the demand for guns during the 2008 election race experienced significant changes in certain categories of crime relative to other states following Obama's election. In particular, those states were 20 percent more likely to experience a shooting event where at least three people were killed.

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The Effect of Hawaii's Ban The Box Law on Repeat Offending

Stewart D'Alessio, Lisa Stolzenberg & Jamie Flexon
American Journal of Criminal Justice, June 2015, Pages 336-352

Abstract:
The social stigma accompanying an official criminal record hinders the ability of an individual to acquire quality and stable employment, which is problematic because of the often reported nexus between unemployment and criminal behavior. Ban the box laws that limit an employer's use of criminal background checks during the hiring process are being established across the country to help integrate ex-offenders into the labor force. The current study investigates whether Hawaii's 1998 ban the box law reduced repeat offending in Honolulu County. Logistic regression results show that a criminal defendant prosecuted in Honolulu for a felony crime was 57 % less likely to have a prior criminal conviction after the implementation of Hawaii's ban the box law. By mollifying the social stigma attached to a criminal record during the hiring process, Hawaii's ban the box law proved to be extremely successful in attenuating repeat felony offending.

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Reducing Crime and Violence: Experimental Evidence on Adult Noncognitive Investments in Liberia

Christopher Blattman, Julian Jamison & Margaret Sheridan
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
We show self control and self image are malleable in adults, and that investments in them reduce crime and violence. We recruited criminally-engaged Liberian men and randomized half to eight weeks of group cognitive behavioral therapy, teaching self control skills and a noncriminal self-image. We also randomized $200 grants. Cash raised incomes and reduced crime in the short-run but effects dissipated within a year. Therapy increased self control and noncriminal values, and acts of crime and violence fell 20--50%. Therapy's impacts lasted at least a year when followed by cash, likely because cash reinforced behavioral changes via prolonged practice.

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If You Build It, They Will Fill It: The Consequences of Prison Overcrowding Litigation

Joshua Guetzkow & Eric Schoon
Law & Society Review, June 2015, Pages 401–432

Abstract:
This article examines the consequences of prison overcrowding litigation for U.S. prisons. We use insights derived from the endogeneity of law perspective to develop expectations about the likely impact of overcrowding litigation on five outcomes: prison admissions, prison releases, spending on prison capacity, prison crowding, and incarceration rates. Using newly available data on prison overcrowding litigation cases joined with panel data on U.S. states from 1971 to 1996, we offer a novel and comprehensive analysis of the impact that overcrowding litigation has had on U.S. prisons. We find that it had no impact on admissions or release rates and did not lead to any reduction in prison crowding. Litigation did, however, lead to an increase in spending on prison capacity and incarceration rates. We discuss the implications of these results for endogeneity of law theory, attempts to achieve reform through litigation, and the politics of prison construction.

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Guns, Impulsive Angry Behavior, and Mental Disorders: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R)

Jeffrey Swanson et al.
Behavioral Sciences & the Law, forthcoming

Abstract:
Analyses from the National Comorbidity Study Replication provide the first nationally representative estimates of the co-occurrence of impulsive angry behavior and possessing or carrying a gun among adults with and without certain mental disorders and demographic characteristics. The study found that a large number of individuals in the United States self-report patterns of impulsive angry behavior and also possess firearms at home (8.9%) or carry guns outside the home (1.5%). These data document associations of numerous common mental disorders and combinations of angry behavior with gun access. Because only a small proportion of persons with this risky combination have ever been involuntarily hospitalized for a mental health problem, most will not be subject to existing mental health-related legal restrictions on firearms resulting from a history of involuntary commitment. Excluding a large proportion of the general population from gun possession is also not likely to be feasible. Behavioral risk-based approaches to firearms restriction, such as expanding the definition of gun-prohibited persons to include those with violent misdemeanor convictions and multiple DUI convictions, could be a more effective public health policy to prevent gun violence in the population.

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Large Capacity Magazines and Homicide

Carlisle Moody
College of William and Mary Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
Recent events have resulted in calls to ban large capacity magazines (LCMs) holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Using data from a Virginia data base of crime guns seized by police between 1993 and 2013, we find that the proportion of crime guns with LCMs declined after the 1994 Federal assault weapons ban and increased after the ban was lifted in 2004. However, we can find no evidence that LCMs increased either murder or gun murder, implying that the Federal LCM ban did not have the intended effect and that LCM bans are likely to be ineffective.

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Economic Freedom and Recidivism: Evidence from US States

Joshua Hall, Kaitlyn Harger & Dean Stansel
International Advances in Economic Research, May 2015, Pages 155-165

Abstract:
This paper provides an exploratory analysis into factors contributing to differences across states in recidivism rates. We provide the first such examination that incorporates differences in economic freedom. Using a panel data set from 1998 to 2010, we find that higher levels of economic freedom within a state are associated with lower recidivism rates within that state. A one percent increase in state economic freedom is associated with a 0.47 % decrease in parolee recidivism. The relationship is stronger and more statistically significant for labor market freedom, with a one percent increase in labor market freedom being associated with a 0.67 % decline in recidivism.

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A natural experiment of the consequences of concentrating former prisoners in the same neighborhoods

David Kirk
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
More than 600,000 prisoners are released from incarceration each year in the United States, and most end up residing in metropolitan areas, clustered within a select few neighborhoods. Likely consequences of this concentration of returning prisoners include higher rates of subsequent crime and recidivism. In fact, one-half of released prisoners return to prison within only 3 y of release. The routine exposure to criminogenic influences and criminal opportunities portends a bleak future for individuals who reside in neighborhoods with numerous other ex-prisoners. Through a natural experiment focused on post-Hurricane Katrina Louisiana, I examine a counterfactual scenario: If instead of concentrating ex-prisoners in geographic space, what would happen to recidivism rates if ex-prisoners were dispersed across space? Findings reveal that a decrease in the concentration of parolees in a neighborhood leads to a significant decrease in the reincarceration rate of former prisoners.

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No-Contact Orders, Victim Safety, and Offender Recidivism in Cases of Misdemeanor Criminal Domestic Violence: A Randomized Experiment

Robert Brame et al.
American Journal of Criminal Justice, June 2015, Pages 225-249

Abstract:
Using an experimental design, this research examined the impact of proactive enforcement of court-imposed no-contact orders (NCOs) on offender behavior and victim safety in cases of misdemeanor domestic violence. The major research goals and objectives were to assess whether proactive enforcement: (1) enhanced victim safety by reducing offender recidivism; (2) increased victim knowledge about no-contact orders; and (3) reduced contact between offenders and victims. A prospective design was used to randomly assign 466 cases of misdemeanor criminal domestic violence to either systematic, proactive enforcement or to routine, reactive enforcement of the court-ordered no-contact order conditions. Treatment effectiveness was assessed by analyses of official criminal records data and victim survey data. Study results suggest that the treatment had no impact on victim safety or offender recidivism. Notably, victims in the treatment group were more likely to be aware that the no-contact order was in place, had higher level of contact with law enforcement and victim advocates, and more often viewed the contact with their batterer as stalking or harassment. Overall, findings from this study suggest important directions for future research examining the effectiveness of interventions for intimate partner violence and abuse.

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Sexual offending runs in families: A 37-year nationwide study

Niklas Långström et al.
International Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Background: Sexual crime is an important public health concern. The possible causes of sexual aggression, however, remain uncertain.

Methods: We examined familial aggregation and the contribution of genetic and environmental factors to sexual crime by linking longitudinal, nationwide Swedish crime and multigenerational family registers. We included all men convicted of any sexual offence (N = 21 566), specifically rape of an adult (N = 6131) and child molestation (N = 4465), from 1973 to 2009. Sexual crime rates among fathers and brothers of sexual offenders were compared with corresponding rates in fathers and brothers of age-matched population control men without sexual crime convictions. We also modelled the relative influence of genetic and environmental factors to the liability of sexual offending.

Results: We found strong familial aggregation of sexual crime [odds ratio (OR) = 5.1, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 4.5–5.9] among full brothers of convicted sexual offenders. Familial aggregation was lower in father-son dyads (OR = 3.7, 95% CI = 3.2–4.4) among paternal half-brothers (OR = 2.1, 95% CI = 1.5–2.9) and maternal half-brothers (OR = 1.7, 95% CI = 1.2–2.4). Statistical modelling of the strength and patterns of familial aggregation suggested that genetic factors (40%) and non-shared environmental factors (58%) explained the liability to offend sexually more than shared environmental influences (2%). Further, genetic effects tended to be weaker for rape of an adult (19%) than for child molestation (46%).

Conclusions: We report strong evidence of familial clustering of sexual offending, primarily accounted for by genes rather than shared environmental influences. Future research should possibly test the effectiveness of selective prevention efforts for male first-degree relatives of sexually aggressive individuals, and consider familial risk in sexual violence risk assessment.

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The Benefits of Keeping Idle Hands Busy: An Outcome Evaluation of a Prisoner Reentry Employment Program

Grant Duwe
Crime & Delinquency, May 2015, Pages 559-586

Abstract:
This study evaluated the effectiveness of EMPLOY, a prisoner reentry employment program, by examining recidivism and postrelease employment outcomes among 464 offenders released from Minnesota prisons between 2006 and 2008. As outcome data were collected on the 464 offenders through the end of June 2010, the average follow-up period was 28 months. Observable selection bias was minimized by using propensity score matching to create a comparison group of 232 nonparticipants who were not significantly different from the 232 EMPLOY offenders. Results from the Cox regression analyses revealed that participating in EMPLOY reduced the hazard ratio for recidivism by 32% to 63%. The findings further showed that EMPLOY increased the odds of gaining postrelease employment by 72%. Although EMPLOY did not have a significant impact on hourly wage, the overall postrelease wages for program participants were significantly higher because they worked a greater number of hours. The study concludes by discussing the implications of these findings.

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The effects of state and federal background checks on state-level gun-related murder rates

Mark Gius
Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The purpose of the present study was to determine whether firearm background checks are significantly related to gun-related murder rates. The present study differs from prior research in several ways. First, a large longitudinal data-set is used; data for 50 states for the period 1980–2011 are examined. Second, the effects of both federal and state background checks, including state-mandated private sales background checks, are estimated. Finally, a fixed effects model that controls for both state-level and year-specific effects is used. Results suggest that states that require dealer background checks have lower gun-related murder rates than other states. In addition, after implementation of the Brady Act, gun-related murder rates fell. However, the results also suggest that, for the entire period in question, states with private sales background checks had higher gun-related murder rates than states with no such background checks. If one only looks the Brady Act period, however, then the private sales background check variable is insignificant. These results for private sales background checks are novel and contrary to the results of much prior research in this area.

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Racial (in)variance in prison rule breaking

Benjamin Steiner & John Wooldredge
Journal of Criminal Justice, May–June 2015, Pages 175–185

Purpose: Sampson and Wilson (1995) argued that the sources of crime are invariant across race, and are instead rooted in the structural differences between communities. This study involved an examination of the applicability of this thesis to incarcerated individuals.

Methods: Random samples totaling 2,388 blacks and 3,118 whites were drawn from 46 prisons in Ohio and Kentucky. Race-specific and pooled bi-level models of violent and nonviolent rule violations were estimated. Differences between race-specific models in the magnitude of regression coefficients for the same predictors and outcomes were compared.

Results: Findings revealed that individual and environmental effects were very similar between black and white inmates, although rates of violent and nonviolent rule breaking were higher for blacks. Within prisons, black inmates were also more likely than white inmates to engage in rule breaking. The individual-level relationship between race and violence was stronger in prisons with a lower ratio of black to white inmates and in prisons where inmates were more cynical towards legal authority.

Conclusions: Findings seemingly refute the applicability of the racial invariance hypothesis to an incarcerated population.

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How Different Operationalizations of Recidivism Impact Conclusions of Effectiveness of Parole Supervision

Michael Ostermann, Laura Salerno & Jordan Hyatt
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, forthcoming

Objectives: Recidivism reduction is the primary goal of many correctional programs, and "recidivism" is the most prevalent outcome measure in related program evaluation research. Many different operationalizations of recidivism are used without a clear delineation of how these variations may impact conclusions. This study explores how the definitions of recidivism may impact research findings and resultant policy recommendations regarding the efficacy of parole.

Methods: Data from prisoners released in 2008 (n = 12,132) to parole or unconditional release are analyzed according to 10 different operationalizations of recidivism. We compare recidivism rates, time to failure, and hazard rates between groups through the presentation of descriptive statistics and the use of multivariate Cox proportional hazards survival models.

Results: Our findings indicate that parole supervision could be deemed either effective or ineffective depending on which definition of recidivism is employed. These findings are largely driven by whether technical parole violations are included into more traditional criminal outcome measures, such as rearrests, reconvictions, or reincarcerations for new crimes, and if court processing times are factored into measures of time to failure.

Conclusions: Our results raise questions about the consistency of findings within the corrections literature. These conclusions, given the role that technical violations and court processing times can play, suggest a need for increased specificity when using recidivism as an outcome measure.

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Deterrence and the Optimality of Rewarding Prisoners for Good Behavior

Mitchell Polinsky
International Review of Law and Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this article I examine the social desirability of rewarding prisoners for good behavior, either by reducing their sentences (granting "time off"), converting part of their sentences to a period of parole, or providing them with privileges in prison. Rewarding good behavior reduces the state's cost of operating prisons. But rewarding good behavior also tends to lower the deterrence of crime because such rewards diminish the disutility of imprisonment. I demonstrate that, despite this countervailing consideration, it is always socially desirable to reward good behavior with either time off or parole. In essence, this is because the reward can be chosen so that it just offsets the burden borne by prisoners to meet the standard of good behavior — resulting in good behavior essentially without a reduction in deterrence. While employing privileges to reward good behavior might be preferable to no reward, the use of privileges is inferior to time off and parole.

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Stealing to Survive? Crime and Income Shocks in 19th Century France

Vincent Bignon, Eve Caroli & Roberto Galbiati
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using local administrative data from 1826 to 1936, we document the evolution of crime rates in 19th century France and we estimate the impact of a negative income shock on crime. Our identification strategy exploits the phylloxera crisis. Between 1863 and 1890, phylloxera destroyed about 40% of French vineyards. We use the geographical variation in the timing of this shock to identify its impact on property and violent crime rates, as well as minor offences. Our estimates suggest that the phylloxera crisis caused a substantial increase in property crime rates and a significant decrease in violent crimes.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dazed and confused

Smoking and (Not) Voting: The Negative Relationship Between a Health-Risk Behavior and Political Participation in Colorado

Karen Albright et al.
Nicotine & Tobacco Research, forthcoming

Introduction: Considerable evidence suggests that cigarette smokers are an increasingly marginalized population, involved in fewer organizations and activities and with less interpersonal trust than their nonsmoking counterparts. However, only two previous studies, both among Swedish populations, have investigated smokers' attitudes toward political systems and institutions. The current, cross-sectional study examines smoking in relation to voting, a direct behavioral measure of civic and political engagement that at least partly reflects trust in formal political institutions.

Methods: Secondary analyses were conducted of interview data from 11,626 respondents in the Colorado Tobacco Attitudes and Behaviors Survey. Data were collected via telephone between October 2005 and mid-April 2006 and included respondents' reported voting behavior in the 2004 national election; the participation rate was 89.7%. Balanced multiple logistic regression was used to examine associations between smoking and voting while controlling for other covariates known to be associated with both variables.

Results: In the final model, daily smokers were less than half as likely as nonsmokers to report having voted in the election.

Conclusions: The results suggest possible consonance with previous work linking smoking with political mistrust. Possible causal mechanisms are discussed. This study is the first to link a health-risk behavior with electoral participation, and provides initial evidence that smoking is negatively associated with political participation. Future research should investigate how public health might enhance tobacco control efforts by taking nonvoting behavior into consideration, or creatively combining smoking cessation interventions with voter registration and other civic engagement work, particularly among socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.

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"Fighting a Hurricane": Tobacco Industry Efforts to Counter the Perceived Threat of Islam

Mark Petticrew et al.
American Journal of Public Health, June 2015, Pages 1086-1093

Abstract:
Islamic countries are of key importance to transnational tobacco companies as growing markets with increasing smoking rates. We analyzed internal tobacco industry documents to assess the industry's response to rising concerns about tobacco use within Islamic countries. The tobacco industry perceived Islam as a significant threat to its expansion into these emerging markets. To counter these concerns, the industry framed antismoking views in Islamic countries as fundamentalist and fanatical and attempted to recruit Islamic consultants to portray smoking as acceptable. Tobacco industry lawyers also helped develop theological arguments in favor of smoking.

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Optimal Drug Policy in Low-Income Neighborhoods

Edward Coulson, Ping Wang & Sheng-Wen Chang
Journal of Public Economic Theory, forthcoming

Abstract:
The control of drug activity currently favors supply-side policies: drug suppliers in the U.S. face a higher arrest rate and longer sentences than demanders. We construct a simple model of drug activity with search and entry frictions in labor and drug markets. Our calibration analysis suggests a strong "dealer replacement effect." As a result, given a variety of community objectives, it is beneficial to lower supplier arrests and raise the demand arrest rate from current values. A 10% shift from supply-side to demand-side arrests can reduce the population of potential drug dealers by 22-25000 and raise aggregate local income by $380-400 million, at 2002 prices.

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Alcohol Mixed With Energy Drink Use Among U.S. 12th-Grade Students: Prevalence, Correlates, and Associations With Unsafe Driving

Meghan Martz, Megan Patrick & John Schulenberg
Journal of Adolescent Health, May 2015, Pages 557-563

Purpose: The consumption of alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmED) is a risky drinking behavior, most commonly studied using college samples. We know little about rates of AmED use and its associations with other risk behaviors, including unsafe driving, among high school students. This study examined the prevalence and correlates of AmED use among high school seniors in the United States.

Methods: Nationally representative analytic samples included 6,498 12th-grade students who completed Monitoring the Future surveys in 2012 and 2013. Focal measures included AmED use, sociodemographic characteristics, academic and social factors, other substance use, and unsafe driving (i.e., tickets/warnings and accidents) after alcohol consumption.

Results: Approximately one in four students (24.8%) reported AmED use during the past 12 months. Rates of AmED use were highest among males and white students. Using multivariable logistic regression models controlling for sociodemographic characteristics, results indicate that students who cut class, spent more evenings out for fun and recreation, and reported binge drinking, marijuana use, and illicit drug use had a greater likelihood of AmED use. AmED use was also associated with greater odds of alcohol-related unsafe driving, even after controlling for sociodemographic, academic, and social factors and other substance use.

Conclusions: AmED use among 12th-grade students is common and associated with certain sociodemographic, academic, social, and substance use factors. AmED use is also related to alcohol-related unsafe driving, which is a serious public health concern.

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Alcohol Consumption, Deterrence and Crime in New York City

Hope Corman & Naci Mocan
Journal of Labor Research, June 2015, Pages 103-128

Abstract:
This paper investigates the relationship between alcohol consumption, deterrence, and crime for New York City. We use monthly time-series data from 1983 to 2001 to analyze the impacts of variations in both alcohol consumption and deterrence on seven "index" crimes. We tackle the endogeneity of arrests and the police force by exploiting the temporal independence of crime and deterrence in these high-frequency data, and we address the endogeneity of alcohol by using instrumental variables where alcohol sales are instrumented with city and state alcohol taxes and minimum drinking age. We find that alcohol consumption is positively related to assault, rape, and larceny crimes but not murder, robbery, burglary, or motor vehicle theft. We find strong deterrence for all crimes except assault and rape. Generally, deterrence effects are stronger than alcohol effects.

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The impact of restaurant smoking bans on dining out expenditures: Evidence from panel data

Dohyung Kim & Baríş Yörük
Journal of Urban Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many state and local governments in the United States have laws that prohibit smoking in restaurants to protect people from the harmful effects of secondhand tobacco smoke. The opponents of these laws have long argued that these laws may harm the restaurant industry by repelling customers who smoke on a regular basis. In this paper, using data from the confidential version of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), we estimate the impact of restaurant smoking bans on dining out expenditures of smoking and nonsmoking households. We identify the impact of these bans by exploiting the substantial variation in the implementation of these bans across different cities, counties, and states. Our results indicate that although restaurant smoking bans are associated with a 15.1 percent decrease in dining out expenditures of smoking households, they increase the dining out expenditures of nonsmoking households by 8.6 percent. Since the majority of the U.S. population does not smoke, the aggregate impact of restaurant smoking bans on dining out expenditures is slightly positive but statistically insignificant. These results imply that restaurant smoking bans do not harm the restaurant industry.

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The Unintended Consequences of Countermarketing Strategies: How Particular Antismoking Measures May Shift Consumers to More Dangerous Cigarettes

Yanwen Wang, Michael Lewis & Vishal Singh
Marketing Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Countermarketing, or efforts to reduce consumption of certain products, has become common in categories such as tobacco, junk food, fossil fuels, and furs. Countermarketing has a particularly long history in the tobacco industry. Efforts to reduce smoking have included excise taxes that increase the cost of consumption, smoke-free restrictions that make consumption less convenient, and antismoking advertising campaigns that highlight the dangers of tobacco use. This article presents an analysis of the relative effectiveness of these different strategies. We find that cigarette excise taxes are the most effective tool for reducing overall cigarette sales, followed by antismoking advertising. Smoke-free restrictions are not found to have a significant effect on cigarette sales. We also investigate how these various policy tools induce product substitution. This issue is of considerable importance because some countermarketing techniques may potentially shift consumers to more dangerous, higher nicotine and tar cigarettes. Specifically, we find that excise taxes levied on a per pack basis rather than based on nicotine levels often shift consumers to more dangerous products.

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Estimating the Price Elasticity of Demand for Different Levels of Alcohol Consumption among Young Adults

Vinish Shrestha
American Journal of Health Economics, Spring 2015, Pages 224-254

Abstract:
Understanding the effect of higher alcohol prices on alcohol demand according to one's level of alcohol consumption is crucial while evaluating the effectiveness of using alcohol taxes as an alcohol-control medium. In this study, I estimate the differential responses to alcohol prices on alcohol demand for young adults by asking whether heavy drinkers are more responsive to higher alcohol prices than light and moderate drinkers. To conduct the analysis, I use the data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY97) for the years 1997 to 2008. To answer the research question on hand, I implement three different econometric methods: (1) pooled quantile regression; (2) quantile regression for panel data; and (3) finite mixture models. Findings from these methods consistently suggest that heavy drinkers respond to higher alcohol prices by lowering their alcohol intake. Since alcohol-related externalities are likely to be caused by heavy drinkers, the results emphasize the possibility of higher alcohol taxes curbing alcohol-related externalities associated with young adults by lowering the alcohol consumption among the heavy drinkers.

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A Behavioral Economic Model of Alcohol Advertising and Price

Henry Saffer, Dhaval Dave & Michael Grossman
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper presents a new empirical study of the effects of televised alcohol advertising and alcohol price on alcohol consumption. A novel feature of this study is that the empirical work is guided by insights from behavioral economic theory. Unlike the theory used in most prior studies, this theory predicts that restriction on alcohol advertising on TV would be more effective in reducing consumption for individuals with high consumption levels but less effective for individuals with low consumption levels. The estimation work employs data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, and the empirical model is estimated with quantile regressions. The results show that advertising has a small positive effect on consumption and that this effect is relatively larger at high consumption levels. The continuing importance of alcohol taxes is also supported. Education is employed as a proxy for self-regulation, and the results are consistent with this assumption. The key conclusion is that restrictions on alcohol advertising on TV would have a small negative effect on drinking, and this effect would be larger for heavy drinkers.

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Violence in Illicit Markets: Unintended Consequences and the Search for Paradoxical Effects of Enforcement

James Prieger & Jonathan Kulick
B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
The textbook competitive model of drug markets predicts that greater law enforcement leads to higher black market prices, but also to the unintended consequences of greater revenue and violence. These predictions are not in accord with the paradoxical outcomes evinced by recent history in some drug markets, where enforcement rose even as prices fell. We show that predictions of the textbook model are not unequivocal, and that when bandwagon effects among scofflaws are introduced, the simple predictions are more likely to be reversed. We next show that even simple models of noncompetitive black markets can elicit paradoxical outcomes. Therefore, we argue that instead of searching for assumptions that lead to paradoxical outcomes, which is the direction the literature has taken, it is better for policy analysis to choose appropriate assumptions for the textbook model. We finish with performing such an analysis for the case of banning menthol cigarettes. Under the most plausible assumptions enforcement will indeed spur violence, although the legal availability of electronic cigarettes may mitigate or reverse this conclusion.

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Trends and characteristics of heroin overdoses in Wisconsin, 2003-2012

Jon Meiman, Carrie Tomasallo & Leonard Paulozzi
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Heroin abuse has increased substantially during the past decade in the United States. This study describes trends and demographic shifts of heroin overdoses and heroin-related fatalities in Wisconsin and contrasts these with prescription opioid overdoses.

Methods: This study was cross-sectional using databases of emergency department (ED) visits, hospital admissions, and death certificates in Wisconsin, United States, during 2003-2012. Cases were Wisconsin residents treated for heroin or prescription opioid overdose, and residents who died of heroin-related drug poisoning. Primary measurements were rates over time and by geographic region, and rates and rate ratios for selected demographic characteristics.

Results: During 2003-2012, age-adjusted rates of heroin overdoses treated in EDs increased from 1.0 to 7.9/100,000 persons; hospitalized heroin overdoses increased from 0.7 to 3.5/100,000. Whites accounted for 68% of hospitalized heroin overdoses during 2003-2007 but 80% during 2008-2012. Heroin-related deaths were predominantly among urban residents; however, rural fatalities accounted for zero deaths in 2003 but 31 (17%) deaths in 2012. Among patients aged 18-34 years, those hospitalized with heroin overdose were more often men (73.0% versus 54.9%), uninsured (44.2% versus 29.9%), and urban (84.3% versus 73.2%) than those with prescription opioid overdose. Rates of ED visits for heroin overdose in this age group exceeded rates for prescription opioid overdose in 2012 (26.1/100,000 versus 12.6/100,000 persons, respectively)

Conclusions: An epidemic of heroin abuse is characterized by demographic shifts toward whites and rural residents. Rates of heroin overdose in younger persons now exceed rates of prescription opioid overdose.

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Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Other Correlates of Susceptibility to Smoking: A Propensity Score Matching Approach

Russell McIntire et al.
Addictive Behaviors, September 2015, Pages 36-43

Abstract:
Secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure is responsible for numerous diseases of the lungs and other bodily systems among children. In addition to the adverse health effects of SHS exposure, studies show that children exposed to SHS are more likely to smoke in adolescence. Susceptibility to smoking is a measure used to identify adolescent never-smokers who are at risk for onset of smoking. Limited research has been conducted on the influence of SHS on susceptibility to smoking. The purpose of this study was to determine a robust measure of the strength of correlation between SHS exposure and susceptibility to smoking among never-smoking U.S. adolescents. This study used data from the 2009 National Youth Tobacco Survey to identify predictors of susceptibility to smoking in the full (pre-match) sample of U.S. adolescents and a smaller (post-match) sample created by propensity score matching. Results showed a significant association between SHS exposure and susceptibility to smoking among never-smoking U.S. adolescents in the pre-match (OR = 1.47) and post-match (OR = 1.52) samples. The odds ratio increase after matching suggests that the strength of the relationship was underestimated in the pre-match sample. Other significant correlates of susceptibility to smoking identified include: gender, race/ethnicity, personal income, smoke-free home rules, number of friends who smoke, perception of SHS harm, perceived benefits of smoking, and exposure to pro-tobacco media messages. The use of propensity score matching procedures reduced bias in the post-match sample and, in effect, provided a more robust estimate of the influence of SHS exposure on susceptibility to smoking, compared to the pre-match sample estimates.

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The interest in eight new psychoactive substances before and after scheduling

Anders Ledberg
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: In recent years the recreational use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) has increased. NPS are considered a threat to public health and the main response to this threat is to make the selling and buying of these substances illegal. In Sweden, during the last five years, 62 new substances have been classified as narcotics but little is known of the effects of making a particular substance illegal. The aim of this work is to study how legal status influences the interest in NPS in Sweden.

Methods: Forty-five thousand posts made in a Swedish Internet discussion forum (Flashback Forum) related to eight NPS (MDPV, Methylone, 4-MEC, 4-HO-MET, MXE, 6-APB, AH-7921, and 3-MMC) were used to derive time-dependent measures of interest in these substances. Intervention analyses were used to investigate the effects of legal status on the forum interest.

Results: For all eight substances the activity on the forum (measured as number of posts per day) showed a drastic decrease around the time of classification. The statistical analysis showed that in seven of eight cases, the drop in activity could be accounted for by the legal status of the substances.

Conclusions: The legal status of the substances was shown to have a substantial effect on the interest in the substances. The novel measure used to trace the interest in particular NPS could be a useful tool to follow trends in substance use in almost real-time.

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Impact of a U.S. antismoking national media campaign on beliefs, cognitions and quit intentions

Jennifer Duke et al.
Health Education Research, June 2015, Pages 466-483

Abstract:
In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a national tobacco education campaign, Tips From Former Smokers, that consisted of graphic, emotionally evocative, testimonial-style advertisements. This longitudinal study examines changes in beliefs, tobacco-related cognitions and intentions to quit smoking among U.S. adult smokers after a 12-week airing of the campaign (n = 4040 adult smokers pre- and post-campaign). Exposure to the campaign was associated with greater odds of intending to quit within the next 30 days [odds ratio (OR) = 1.28, P < 0.01] and within the next 6 months (OR = 1.12, P < 0.05), and quit intentions were stronger among respondents with greater campaign exposure (OR = 1.12, P < 0.01). Campaign exposure was also associated with significant changes in beliefs about smoking-related risks (ORs = 1.15-2.40) and increased worries about health (b = 0.30, P < 0.001). Based on study change rates applied to U.S. census data, an estimated 566 000 additional U.S. smokers reported their intention to quit smoking within the next 6 months as a result of viewing campaign advertisements. Campaign effects were consistent with the theory of reasoned action and an expanding body of research demonstrating that graphic, emotional advertisements are highly effective for prompting positive cessation-related cognitions and behavioral intentions.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The sky is the limit

Does the Social Cost of Carbon Matter? Evidence from US Policy

Robert Hahn & Robert Ritz
Journal of Legal Studies, January 2015, Pages 229-248

Abstract:
We evaluate a recent US initiative to include the social cost of carbon (SCC) in regulatory decisions. To our knowledge, this paper provides the first systematic analysis of the extent to which applying the SCC has affected national policy. We examine all economically significant federal regulations since 2008 and obtain an unexpected result: putting a value on changes in carbon dioxide emissions does not generally affect the ranking of the preferred policy compared with the status quo. Overall, we find little evidence that using the SCC has mattered for the choice of policy in the United States. This is true even for policies explicitly aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions. We offer some possible explanations for the patterns observed in the data.

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Federal Crop Insurance and the Disincentive to Adapt to Extreme Heat

Francis Annan & Wolfram Schlenker
American Economic Review, May 2015, Pages 262-266

Abstract:
Despite significant progress in average yields, the sensitivity of corn and soybean yields to extreme heat has remained relatively constant over time. We combine county-level corn and soybeans yields in the United States from 1989-2013 with the fraction of the planting area that is insured under the federal crop insurance program, which expanded greatly over this time period as premium subsidies increased from 20 percent to 60 percent. Insured corn and soybeans are significantly more sensitive to extreme heat than uninsured crops. Insured farmers do not have the incentive to engage in costly adaptation as insurance compensates them for potential losses.

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Incorporating Climate Uncertainty into Estimates of Climate Change Impacts

Marshall Burke et al.
Review of Economics and Statistics, May 2015, Pages 461-471

Abstract:
Quantitative estimates of the impacts of climate change on economic outcomes are important for public policy. We show that the vast majority of estimates fail to account for well-established uncertainty in future temperature and rainfall changes, leading to potentially misleading projections. We reexamine seven well-cited studies and show that accounting for climate uncertainty leads to a much larger range of projected climate impacts and a greater likelihood of worst-case outcomes, an important policy parameter. Incorporating climate uncertainty into future economic impact assessments will be critical for providing the best possible information on potential impacts.

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Temperature and Human Capital in the Short- and Long-Run

Joshua Graff Zivin, Solomon Hsiang & Matthew Neidell
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
We provide the first estimates of the potential impact of climate change on human capital, focusing on the impacts from both short-run weather and long-run climate. Exploiting the longitudinal structure of the NLSY79 and random fluctuations in weather across interviews, we identify the effect of temperature in models with child-specific fixed effects. We find that short-run changes in temperature lead to statistically significant decreases in cognitive performance on math (but not reading) beyond 26C (78.8F). In contrast, our long-run analysis, which relies upon long-difference and rich cross-sectional models, reveals no statistically significant relationship between climate and human capital. This finding is consistent with the notion that adaptation, particularly compensatory behavior, plays a significant role in limiting the long run impacts from short run weather shocks.

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The Effects of Temperature on Political Violence: Global Evidence at the Subnational Level

Alexander Bollfrass & Andrew Shaver
PLoS ONE, May 2015

Abstract:
A number of studies have demonstrated an empirical relationship between higher ambient temperatures and substate violence, which have been extrapolated to make predictions about the security implications of climate change. This literature rests on the untested assumption that the mechanism behind the temperature-conflict link is that disruption of agricultural production provokes local violence. Using a subnational-level dataset, this paper demonstrates that the relationship: (1) obtains globally, (2) exists at the substate level — provinces that experience positive temperature deviations see increased conflict; and (3) occurs even in regions without significant agricultural production. Diminished local farm output resulting from elevated temperatures is unlikely to account for the entire increase in substate violence. The findings encourage future research to identify additional mechanisms, including the possibility that a substantial portion of the variation is brought about by the well-documented direct effects of temperature on individuals' propensity for violence or through macroeconomic mechanisms such as food price shocks.

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Climatic Effects on Planning Behavior

Yong Liu, Vassilis Kostakos & Hongxiu Li
PLoS ONE, May 2015

Abstract:
What mechanism links climate change and social change? Palaeoanthropological analysis of human remains suggests that abrupt climate change is linked to societal restructuring, but it has been challenging to reliably identify the exact mechanisms underlying this relationship. Here we identify one potential mechanism that can link climate to behavior change, and underpins many of the reported findings on social restructuring. Specifically, we show that daily weather is linked to human planning behavior, and this effect is moderated by climate. Our results demonstrate that as weather gets colder, humans increase their planning in cold regions and decrease planning in warm regions. Since planning has previously been linked to group efficiency, cooperation, and societal organization, our work suggests planning is one mechanism that can link climate change to societal restructuring.

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Future population exposure to US heat extremes

Bryan Jones et al.
Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Extreme heat events are likely to become more frequent in the coming decades owing to climate change. Exposure to extreme heat depends not only on changing climate, but also on changes in the size and spatial distribution of the human population. Here we provide a new projection of population exposure to extreme heat for the continental United States that takes into account both of these factors. Using projections from a suite of regional climate models driven by global climate models and forced with the SRES A2 scenario and a spatially explicit population projection consistent with the socioeconomic assumptions of that scenario, we project changes in exposure into the latter half of the twenty-first century. We find that US population exposure to extreme heat increases four- to sixfold over observed levels in the late twentieth century, and that changes in population are as important as changes in climate in driving this outcome. Aggregate population growth, as well as redistribution of the population across larger US regions, strongly affects outcomes whereas smaller-scale spatial patterns of population change have smaller effects. The relative importance of population and climate as drivers of exposure varies across regions of the country.

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Unabated global mean sea-level rise over the satellite altimeter era

Christopher Watson et al.
Nature Climate Change, May 2015, Pages 565–568

Abstract:
The rate of global mean sea-level (GMSL) rise has been suggested to be lower for the past decade compared with the preceding decade as a result of natural variability, with an average rate of rise since 1993 of +3.2 ± 0.4 mm yr−1. However, satellite-based GMSL estimates do not include an allowance for potential instrumental drifts (bias drift). Here, we report improved bias drift estimates for individual altimeter missions from a refined estimation approach that incorporates new Global Positioning System (GPS) estimates of vertical land movement (VLM). In contrast to previous results, we identify significant non-zero systematic drifts that are satellite-specific, most notably affecting the first 6 years of the GMSL record. Applying the bias drift corrections has two implications. First, the GMSL rate (1993 to mid-2014) is systematically reduced to between +2.6 ± 0.4 mm yr−1 and +2.9 ± 0.4 mm yr−1, depending on the choice of VLM applied. These rates are in closer agreement with the rate derived from the sum of the observed contributions, GMSL estimated from a comprehensive network of tide gauges with GPS-based VLM applied and reprocessed ERS-2/Envisat altimetry. Second, in contrast to the previously reported slowing in the rate during the past two decades, our corrected GMSL data set indicates an acceleration in sea-level rise (independent of the VLM used), which is of opposite sign to previous estimates and comparable to the accelerated loss of ice from Greenland and to recent projections, and larger than the twentieth-century acceleration.

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Declining vulnerability to river floods and the global benefits of adaptation

Brenden Jongman et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 5 May 2015, Pages E2271–E2280

Abstract:
The global impacts of river floods are substantial and rising. Effective adaptation to the increasing risks requires an in-depth understanding of the physical and socioeconomic drivers of risk. Whereas the modeling of flood hazard and exposure has improved greatly, compelling evidence on spatiotemporal patterns in vulnerability of societies around the world is still lacking. Due to this knowledge gap, the effects of vulnerability on global flood risk are not fully understood, and future projections of fatalities and losses available today are based on simplistic assumptions or do not include vulnerability. We show for the first time (to our knowledge) that trends and fluctuations in vulnerability to river floods around the world can be estimated by dynamic high-resolution modeling of flood hazard and exposure. We find that rising per-capita income coincided with a global decline in vulnerability between 1980 and 2010, which is reflected in decreasing mortality and losses as a share of the people and gross domestic product exposed to inundation. The results also demonstrate that vulnerability levels in low- and high-income countries have been converging, due to a relatively strong trend of vulnerability reduction in developing countries. Finally, we present projections of flood losses and fatalities under 100 individual scenario and model combinations, and three possible global vulnerability scenarios. The projections emphasize that materialized flood risk largely results from human behavior and that future risk increases can be largely contained using effective disaster risk reduction strategies.

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The social cost of atmospheric release

Drew Shindell
Climatic Change, May 2015, Pages 313-326

Abstract:
I present a multi-impact economic valuation framework called the Social Cost of Atmospheric Release (SCAR) that extends the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) used previously for carbon dioxide (CO2) to a broader range of pollutants and impacts. Values consistently incorporate health impacts of air quality along with climate damages. The latter include damages associated with aerosol-induced hydrologic cycle changes that lead to net climate benefits when reducing cooling aerosols. Evaluating a 1 % reduction in current global emissions, benefits with a high discount rate are greatest for reductions of co-emitted products of incomplete combustion (PIC), followed by sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and then CO2, ammonia and methane. With a low discount rate, benefits are greatest for PIC, with CO2 and SO2 next, followed by NOx and methane. These results suggest that efforts to mitigate atmosphere-related environmental damages should target a broad set of emissions including CO2, methane and aerosol/ozone precursors. Illustrative calculations indicate environmental damages are $330-970 billion yr−1 for current US electricity generation (~14–34¢ per kWh for coal, ~4–18¢ for gas) and $3.80 (−1.80/+2.10) per gallon of gasoline ($4.80 (−3.10/+3.50) per gallon for diesel). These results suggest that total atmosphere-related environmental damages plus generation costs are much greater for coal-fired power than other types of electricity generation, and that damages associated with gasoline vehicles substantially exceed those for electric vehicles.

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Carbon Footprint Taxes

Carol McAusland & Nouri Najjar
Environmental and Resource Economics, May 2015, Pages 37-70

Abstract:
We analyze whether a carbon consumption tax is logistically feasible. We consider a carbon footprint tax (CFT), which would be modeled after a credit-method value added tax. The basis for the tax would be a product's carbon footprint, which includes all of the emissions released during production of the good and its inputs as well as any greenhouse gases latent in the product. Our analysis suggests that a pure CFT, requiring the calculation of the carbon footprint of every individual product, may be prohibitively costly. However a hybrid CFT seems economically feasible. The hybrid CFT would give firms the option to either calculate the carbon footprint of their outputs — and have their products taxed based on those footprints — or use product-class specific default carbon footprints as the tax basis, thereby saving on calculation costs. Because the CFT would be levied on all goods consumed domestically, the CFT would keep domestic firms on an even footing with those producing in countries without active climate policy, protecting competitiveness and reducing leakage.

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How to interpret expert judgment assessments of 21st century sea-level rise

Hylke de Vries & Roderik van de Wal
Climatic Change, May 2015, Pages 87-100

Abstract:
In a recent paper Bamber and Aspinall (Nat Clim Change 3:424–427, 2013) (BA13) investigated the sea-level rise that may result from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets during the 21st century. Using data from an expert judgment elicitation, they obtained a final high-end (P95) value of +84 cm integrated sea-level change from the ice sheets for the 2010–2100 period. However, one key message was left largely undiscussed: The experts had strongly diverging opinions about the ice-sheet contributions to sea-level rise. We argue that such (lack of) consensus should form an essential and integral part of the subsequent analysis of the data. By employing a method that keeps the level of consensus included, and that is also more robust to outliers and less dependent on the choice of the underlying distributions, we obtain on the basis of the same data a considerably lower high-end estimate for the ice-sheet contribution, +53 cm (+38-77 cm interquartile range of "expert consensus"). The method compares favourably with another recent study on expert judgement derived sea-level rise by Horton et al. (Q Sci Rev 84:1–6, 2014). Furthermore we show that the BA13 results are sensitive to a number of assumptions, such as the shape and minimum of the underlying distribution that were not part of the expert elicitation itself. Our analysis therefore demonstrates that one should be careful in considering high-end sea-level rise estimates as being well-determined and fixed numbers.

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A Link between the Hiatus in Global Warming and North American Drought

Thomas Delworth et al.
Journal of Climate, May 2015, Pages 3834–3845

Abstract:
Portions of western North America have experienced prolonged drought over the last decade. This drought has occurred at the same time as the global warming hiatus—a decadal period with little increase in global mean surface temperature. Climate models and observational analyses are used to clarify the dual role of recent tropical Pacific changes in driving both the global warming hiatus and North American drought. When observed tropical Pacific wind stress anomalies are inserted into coupled models, the simulations produce persistent negative sea surface temperature anomalies in the eastern tropical Pacific, a hiatus in global warming, and drought over North America driven by SST-induced atmospheric circulation anomalies. In the simulations herein the tropical wind anomalies account for 92% of the simulated North American drought during the recent decade, with 8% from anthropogenic radiative forcing changes. This suggests that anthropogenic radiative forcing is not the dominant driver of the current drought, unless the wind changes themselves are driven by anthropogenic radiative forcing. The anomalous tropical winds could also originate from coupled interactions in the tropical Pacific or from forcing outside the tropical Pacific. The model experiments suggest that if the tropical winds were to return to climatological conditions, then the recent tendency toward North American drought would diminish. Alternatively, if the anomalous tropical winds were to persist, then the impact on North American drought would continue; however, the impact of the enhanced Pacific easterlies on global temperature diminishes after a decade or two due to a surface reemergence of warmer water that was initially subducted into the ocean interior.

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The carbon implications of declining household scale economies

Anthony Underwood & Sammy Zahran
Ecological Economics, August 2015, Pages 182–190

Abstract:
In the United States, average household size decreased significantly over the past half century. From 1950 to 2010, the number of households increased 72% faster than population size. In this paper we consider how this drift toward more and smaller households, occurring alongside rising affluence, undermines efforts to curb carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by eroding household scale economies of consumption and associated CO2 emissions. To estimate the household scaling of CO2 emissions, we link consumer expenditure data to an economic input–output life-cycle assessment model. We find that the CO2 scaling benefits of cohabitation are compellingly large, with the carbon footprint of a representative person cohabiting with others being 23% less, on average, than if that same person lived alone. Additionally, we find that household scale economies: 1) decrease in income, reflecting the rise in the percentage of household expenditures devoted to more rival goods and services; and 2) increase intuitively in household size, reflecting the direct expenditure sharing benefits of cohabitation. The combined downward pressure on scale economies from declining household size and rising incomes, typifying the trajectory of developing societies toward more and smaller households and rising affluence, places significant upward pressure on CO2 emissions globally.

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Stochastic integrated assessment of climate tipping points indicates the need for strict climate policy

Thomas Lontzek et al.
Nature Climate Change, May 2015, Pages 441–444

Abstract:
Perhaps the most 'dangerous' aspect of future climate change is the possibility that human activities will push parts of the climate system past tipping points, leading to irreversible impacts. The likelihood of such large-scale singular events is expected to increase with global warming, but is fundamentally uncertain. A key question is how should the uncertainty surrounding tipping events affect climate policy? We address this using a stochastic integrated assessment model, based on the widely used deterministic DICE model. The temperature-dependent likelihood of tipping is calibrated using expert opinions, which we find to be internally consistent. The irreversible impacts of tipping events are assumed to accumulate steadily over time (rather than instantaneously), consistent with scientific understanding. Even with conservative assumptions about the rate and impacts of a stochastic tipping event, today's optimal carbon tax is increased by ~50%. For a plausibly rapid, high-impact tipping event, today's optimal carbon tax is increased by >200%. The additional carbon tax to delay climate tipping grows at only about half the rate of the baseline carbon tax. This implies that the effective discount rate for the costs of stochastic climate tipping is much lower than the discount rate for deterministic climate damages. Our results support recent suggestions that the costs of carbon emission used to inform policy are being underestimated, and that uncertain future climate damages should be discounted at a low rate.

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Climate policy in hard times: Are the pessimists right?

Aya Kachi, Thomas Bernauer & Robert Gampfer
Ecological Economics, June 2015, Pages 227–241

Abstract:
Conventional wisdom holds that the state of the economy has a strong impact on citizens' appetite for environmental policies, including climate policy. Assuming median voter preferences prevail, periods of economic prosperity are likely to be conducive, and economic downturns are likely to be detrimental to ambitious climate policy. Using original surveys in the United States and Germany, we engage in a critical re-assessment of this claim. The results show that, for the most part, individuals' perceptions of their own economic situations have no significant effect on their policy support. Negative perceptions of the national economic outlook reduce support for climate policy in the US, but not in Germany. However, the magnitude of this national economy effect in the US is small. On the other hand, individuals' climate risk perceptions consistently have a statistically significant and large effect across various model specifications, and interestingly, this pattern holds for the US, whose government is among the less ambitious in global climate policy, as well as Germany, which is among the frontrunners. Our study indicates that the state of the economy may not trump climate risk considerations as conventional wisdom claims.

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Fossil fuels in a trillion tonne world

Vivian Scott et al.
Nature Climate Change, May 2015, Pages 419–423

Abstract:
The useful energy services and energy density value of fossil carbon fuels could be retained for longer timescales into the future if their combustion is balanced by CO2 recapture and storage. We assess the global balance between fossil carbon supply and the sufficiency (size) and capability (technology, security) of candidate carbon stores. A hierarchy of value for extraction-to-storage pairings is proposed, which is augmented by classification of CO2 containment as temporary (<1,000 yr) or permanent (>100,000 yr). Using temporary stores is inefficient and defers an intergenerational problem. Permanent storage capacity is adequate to technically match current fossil fuel reserves. However, rates of storage creation cannot balance current and expected rates of fossil fuel extraction and CO2 consequences. Extraction of conventional natural gas is uniquely holistic because it creates the capacity to re-inject an equivalent tonnage of carbon for storage into the same reservoir and can re-use gas-extraction infrastructure for storage. By contrast, balancing the extraction of coal, oil, biomass and unconventional fossil fuels requires the engineering and validation of additional carbon storage. Such storage is, so far, unproven in sufficiency.

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Geologic carbon storage is unlikely to trigger large earthquakes and reactivate faults through which CO2 could leak

Victor Vilarrasa & Jesus Carrera
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 12 May 2015, Pages 5938–5943

Abstract:
Zoback and Gorelick [(2012) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109(26):10164–10168] have claimed that geologic carbon storage in deep saline formations is very likely to trigger large induced seismicity, which may damage the caprock and ruin the objective of keeping CO2 stored deep underground. We argue that felt induced earthquakes due to geologic CO2 storage are unlikely because (i) sedimentary formations, which are softer than the crystalline basement, are rarely critically stressed; (ii) the least stable situation occurs at the beginning of injection, which makes it easy to control; (iii) CO2 dissolution into brine may help in reducing overpressure; and (iv) CO2 will not flow across the caprock because of capillarity, but brine will, which will reduce overpressure further. The latter two mechanisms ensure that overpressures caused by CO2 injection will dissipate in a moderate time after injection stops, hindering the occurrence of postinjection induced seismicity. Furthermore, even if microseismicity were induced, CO2 leakage through fault reactivation would be unlikely because the high clay content of caprocks ensures a reduced permeability and increased entry pressure along the localized deformation zone. For these reasons, we contend that properly sited and managed geologic carbon storage in deep saline formations remains a safe option to mitigate anthropogenic climate change.

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Effect of warming temperatures on US wheat yields

Jesse Tack, Andrew Barkley & Lawton Lanier Nalley
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Climate change is expected to increase future temperatures, potentially resulting in reduced crop production in many key production regions. Research quantifying the complex relationship between weather variables and wheat yields is rapidly growing, and recent advances have used a variety of model specifications that differ in how temperature data are included in the statistical yield equation. A unique data set that combines Kansas wheat variety field trial outcomes for 1985–2013 with location-specific weather data is used to analyze the effect of weather on wheat yield using regression analysis. Our results indicate that the effect of temperature exposure varies across the September−May growing season. The largest drivers of yield loss are freezing temperatures in the Fall and extreme heat events in the Spring. We also find that the overall effect of warming on yields is negative, even after accounting for the benefits of reduced exposure to freezing temperatures. Our analysis indicates that there exists a tradeoff between average (mean) yield and ability to resist extreme heat across varieties. More-recently released varieties are less able to resist heat than older lines. Our results also indicate that warming effects would be partially offset by increased rainfall in the Spring. Finally, we find that the method used to construct measures of temperature exposure matters for both the predictive performance of the regression model and the forecasted warming impacts on yields.

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Trade-off between intensity and frequency of global tropical cyclones

Nam-Young Kang & James Elsner
Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Global tropical cyclone climate has been investigated with indicators of frequency, intensity and activity. However, a full understanding of global warming's influence on tropical cyclone climate remains elusive because of the incomplete nature of these indicators. Here we form a complete three-dimensional variability space of tropical cyclone climate where the variabilities are continuously linked and find that global ocean warmth best explains the out-of-phase relationship between intensity and frequency of global tropical cyclones. In a year with greater ocean warmth, the tropical troposphere is capped by higher pressure anomaly in the middle and upper troposphere even with higher moist static energy anomaly in the lower troposphere, which is thought to inhibit overall tropical cyclone occurrences but lead to greater intensities. A statistical consequence is the trade-off between intensity and frequency. We calculate an average increase in global tropical cyclone intensity of 1.3 m s−1 over the past 30 years of ocean warming occurring at the expense of 6.1 tropical cyclones worldwide.

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Carbon Dioxide Emission Standards for U.S. Power Plants: An Efficiency Analysis Perspective

Benjamin Hampf & Kenneth Løvold Rødseth
Energy Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
On June 25, 2013, President Obama announced his plan to introduce carbon dioxide emission standards for electricity generation. This paper proposes an efficiency analysis approach that addresses which emission rates (and standards) would be feasible if the existing generating units adopt best practices. A new efficiency measure is introduced and further decomposed to identify different sources' contributions to emission rate improvements. Estimating two Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) models - the well-known joint production model and the new materials balance model - on a dataset consisting of 160 bituminous-fired generating units, we find that the average generating unit's electricity-to-carbon dioxide ratio is 15.3 percent below the corresponding best-practice ratio. Further examinations reveal that this discrepancy can largely be attributed to non-discretionary factors and not to managerial inefficiency. Moreover, even if the best practice ratios could be implemented, the generating units would not be able to comply with the EPA's recently proposed carbon dioxide standard.

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Dynamic thinning of glaciers on the Southern Antarctic Peninsula

B. Wouters et al.
Science, 22 May 2015, Pages 899-903

Abstract:
Growing evidence has demonstrated the importance of ice shelf buttressing on the inland grounded ice, especially if it is resting on bedrock below sea level. Much of the Southern Antarctic Peninsula satisfies this condition and also possesses a bed slope that deepens inland. Such ice sheet geometry is potentially unstable. We use satellite altimetry and gravity observations to show that a major portion of the region has, since 2009, destabilized. Ice mass loss of the marine-terminating glaciers has rapidly accelerated from close to balance in the 2000s to a sustained rate of –56 ± 8 gigatons per year, constituting a major fraction of Antarctica's contribution to rising sea level. The widespread, simultaneous nature of the acceleration, in the absence of a persistent atmospheric forcing, points to an oceanic driving mechanism.

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The impact of climate extremes and irrigation on US crop yields

T.J. Troy, C. Kipgen & I. Pal
Environmental Research Letters, May 2015

Abstract:
Climate variability and extremes are expected to increase due to climate change; this may have significant negative impacts for agricultural production. Previous work has primarily focused on the impact of mean growing season temperature and precipitation on rainfed crop yields with little work on irrigated crop yields or climate extremes and their timing. County-level crop yields and daily precipitation and temperature data are pooled to quantify the impact of climate variability and extremes on four major staple crops in the United States. Conditional density plots are used to graphically explore the relationship between climate extremes and crop yields, thereby avoiding assumptions about linearity or underlying probability distributions. Non-linear and threshold-type relationships exist between yields and both precipitation and temperature climate indices; irrigation significantly reduces the impact of all climate indices. In some cases, this occurs by shifting the threshold, such that a more extreme weather event is necessary to negatively impact yields. In other cases, irrigation essentially decouples the crop yields from climate. This work demonstrates that irrigation may be a beneficial adaptation mechanism to changes in climate extremes in coming decades.

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Seepage: Climate change denial and its effect on the scientific community

Stephan Lewandowsky et al.
Global Environmental Change, July 2015, Pages 1–13

Abstract:
Vested interests and political agents have long opposed political or regulatory action in response to climate change by appealing to scientific uncertainty. Here we examine the effect of such contrarian talking points on the scientific community itself. We show that although scientists are trained in dealing with uncertainty, there are several psychological reasons why scientists may nevertheless be susceptible to uncertainty-based argumentation, even when scientists recognize those arguments as false and are actively rebutting them. Specifically, we show that prolonged stereotype threat, pluralistic ignorance, and a form of projection (the third-person effect) may cause scientists to take positions that they would be less likely to take in the absence of outspoken public opposition. We illustrate the consequences of seepage from public debate into the scientific process with a case study involving the interpretation of temperature trends from the last 15 years. We offer ways in which the scientific community can detect and avoid such inadvertent seepage.

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Anthropogenic contribution to global occurrence of heavy-precipitation and high-temperature extremes

E.M. Fischer & R. Knutti
Nature Climate Change, May 2015, Pages 560–564

Abstract:
Climate change includes not only changes in mean climate but also in weather extremes. For a few prominent heatwaves and heavy precipitation events a human contribution to their occurrence has been demonstrated. Here we apply a similar framework but estimate what fraction of all globally occurring heavy precipitation and hot extremes is attributable to warming. We show that at the present-day warming of 0.85 °C about 18% of the moderate daily precipitation extremes over land are attributable to the observed temperature increase since pre-industrial times, which in turn primarily results from human influence. For 2 °C of warming the fraction of precipitation extremes attributable to human influence rises to about 40%. Likewise, today about 75% of the moderate daily hot extremes over land are attributable to warming. It is the most rare and extreme events for which the largest fraction is anthropogenic, and that contribution increases nonlinearly with further warming. The approach introduced here is robust owing to its global perspective, less sensitive to model biases than alternative methods and informative for mitigation policy, and thereby complementary to single-event attribution. Combined with information on vulnerability and exposure, it serves as a scientific basis for assessment of global risk from extreme weather, the discussion of mitigation targets, and liability considerations.

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Recent reversal in loss of global terrestrial biomass

Yi Liu et al.
Nature Climate Change, May 2015, Pages 470–474

Abstract:
Vegetation change plays a critical role in the Earth's carbon (C) budget and its associated radiative forcing in response to anthropogenic and natural climate change. Existing global estimates of aboveground biomass carbon (ABC) based on field survey data provide brief snapshots that are mainly limited to forest ecosystems. Here we use an entirely new remote sensing approach to derive global ABC estimates for both forest and non-forest biomes during the past two decades from satellite passive microwave observations. We estimate a global average ABC of 362 PgC over the period 1998–2002, of which 65% is in forests and 17% in savannahs. Over the period 1993–2012, an estimated −0.07 PgC yr−1 ABC was lost globally, mostly resulting from the loss of tropical forests (−0.26 PgC yr−1) and net gains in mixed forests over boreal and temperate regions (+0.13 PgC yr−1) and tropical savannahs and shrublands (+0.05 PgC yr−1). Interannual ABC patterns are greatly influenced by the strong response of water-limited ecosystems to rainfall variability, particularly savannahs. From 2003 onwards, forest in Russia and China expanded and tropical deforestation declined. Increased ABC associated with wetter conditions in the savannahs of northern Australia and southern Africa reversed global ABC loss, leading to an overall gain, consistent with trends in the global carbon sink reported in recent studies.

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Quantifying the net contribution of the historical Amazonian deforestation to climate change

Jean-François Exbrayat & Mathew Williams
Geophysical Research Letters, 28 April 2015, Pages 2968–2976

Abstract:
Recent large-scale carbon (C) emissions from deforestation have been estimated by combining remotely-sensed land use change information with satellite-based aboveground biomass (AGB) data. However, these estimates are constrained to the satellite era while regions such as the Amazon basin have been heavily impacted by deforestation before this period. Assessing the net contribution of past tropical deforestation to the growth in atmospheric CO2 is therefore challenging. We address this lack of data by constructing two maps of potential AGB with a machine learning algorithm trained on the relationship between AGB and climate and topography in intact forest landscapes of the Amazon basin. Reconstructions converge to a current deficit of 11.5–12% in AGB or a net loss of ~7–8 Pg C of AGB in the Amazon basin compared to current estimates. This represents a net contribution of ~1.8 ppm of atmospheric CO2 or 1.5% of the historical growth.

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Amplified Arctic warming by phytoplankton under greenhouse warming

Jong-Yeon Park et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 12 May 2015, Pages 5921–5926

Abstract:
Phytoplankton have attracted increasing attention in climate science due to their impacts on climate systems. A new generation of climate models can now provide estimates of future climate change, considering the biological feedbacks through the development of the coupled physical–ecosystem model. Here we present the geophysical impact of phytoplankton, which is often overlooked in future climate projections. A suite of future warming experiments using a fully coupled ocean−atmosphere model that interacts with a marine ecosystem model reveals that the future phytoplankton change influenced by greenhouse warming can amplify Arctic surface warming considerably. The warming-induced sea ice melting and the corresponding increase in shortwave radiation penetrating into the ocean both result in a longer phytoplankton growing season in the Arctic. In turn, the increase in Arctic phytoplankton warms the ocean surface layer through direct biological heating, triggering additional positive feedbacks in the Arctic, and consequently intensifying the Arctic warming further. Our results establish the presence of marine phytoplankton as an important potential driver of the future Arctic climate changes.

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A spatiotemporal analysis of Midwest US temperature and precipitation trends during the growing season from 1980 to 2013

Shuwei Dai et al.
International Journal of Climatology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Since late 1970s, climate warming has been widely recognized. In the Midwest, farmers cannot rely on the normal calendar anymore, and it has become critically necessary to evaluate the most recent climate trends relative to growing season in order to conduct adaptation efforts for agriculture. Based on the homogenized historical monthly temperature and precipitation records during the period of 1980–2013 from 302 observing stations in the 12 Midwestern US states, we investigate the climate trends on four timescales: monthly, early growing season, late growing season, and the entire growing season. The climate metrics include maximum temperature, minimum temperature, average temperature, diurnal temperature range, and precipitation. Nonparametric Sen's Slope together with the nonparametric Mann–Kendall test is used to estimate the decadal trend and to detect the statistical significance. The results show that growing season average temperature has increased at a rate of 0.15 °C decade−1 over the Midwest United States. Within the growing season, minimum temperature is increasing faster in the early growing season, especially in June, while maximum temperature is increasing faster in the late growing season, especially in September. Spatially, statistically significant (p ≤ 0.05) growing season warming is more focused in the southern part of the region in the early growing season but in the northern part of the region in the late growing season. Over the Midwest, dominant trends in diurnal temperature range are decreasing during most months, with the exception of September. The majority of the locations show increasing trends in growing season precipitation, yet few are statistically significant. Furthermore, precipitation has been increasing in the early growing season but decreasing in the late growing season. This within-season reversing trend in precipitation is found in 8 of 12 Corn Belt states: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

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Natural and Forced North Atlantic Hurricane Potential Intensity Change in CMIP5 Models

Mingfang Ting et al.
Journal of Climate, May 2015, Pages 3926–3942

Abstract:
Possible future changes of North Atlantic hurricane intensity and the attribution of past hurricane intensity changes in the historical period are investigated using phase 5 of the Climate Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), multimodel, multiensemble simulations. For this purpose, the potential intensity (PI), the theoretical upper limit of the tropical cyclone intensity given the large-scale environment, is used. The CMIP5 models indicate that the PI change as a function of sea surface temperature (SST) variations associated with the Atlantic multidecadal variability (AMV) is more effective than that associated with climate change. Thus, relatively small changes in SST due to natural multidecadal variability can lead to large changes in PI, and the model-simulated multidecadal PI change during the historical period has been largely dominated by AMV. That said, the multimodel mean PI for the Atlantic main development region shows a significant increase toward the end of the twenty-first century under both the RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 emission scenarios. This is because of enhanced surface warming, which would place the North Atlantic PI largely above the historical mean by the mid-twenty-first century, based on CMIP5 model projection. The authors further attribute the historical PI changes to aerosols and greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing using CMIP5 historical single-forcing simulations. The model simulations indicate that aerosol forcing has been more effective in causing PI changes than the corresponding GHG forcing; the decrease in PI due to aerosols and increase due to GHG largely cancel each other. Thus, PI increases in the recent 30 years appears to be dominated by multidecadal natural variability associated with the positive phase of the AMV.

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Biodiversity influences plant productivity through niche–efficiency

Jingjing Liang et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 5 May 2015, Pages 5738–5743

Abstract:
The loss of biodiversity is threatening ecosystem productivity and services worldwide, spurring efforts to quantify its effects on the functioning of natural ecosystems. Previous research has focused on the positive role of biodiversity on resource acquisition (i.e., niche complementarity), but a lack of study on resource utilization efficiency, a link between resource and productivity, has rendered it difficult to quantify the biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationship. Here we demonstrate that biodiversity loss reduces plant productivity, other things held constant, through theory, empirical evidence, and simulations under gradually relaxed assumptions. We developed a theoretical model named niche–efficiency to integrate niche complementarity and a heretofore-ignored mechanism of diminishing marginal productivity in quantifying the effects of biodiversity loss on plant productivity. Based on niche–efficiency, we created a relative productivity metric and a productivity impact index (PII) to assist in biological conservation and resource management. Relative productivity provides a standardized measure of the influence of biodiversity on individual productivity, and PII is a functionally based taxonomic index to assess individual species' inherent value in maintaining current ecosystem productivity. Empirical evidence from the Alaska boreal forest suggests that every 1% reduction in overall plant diversity could render an average of 0.23% decline in individual tree productivity. Out of the 283 plant species of the region, we found that large woody plants generally have greater PII values than other species. This theoretical model would facilitate the integration of biological conservation in the international campaign against several pressing global issues involving energy use, climate change, and poverty.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Proud Parents


Spending on Daughters Versus Sons in Economic Recessions

Kristina Durante et al.
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although parents often try not to favor one child, we examine whether specific environmental factors might bias parents to favor children of one sex over the other. This research draws on theory in evolutionary biology suggesting that investment in female versus male offspring depends on resource availability. Applying this to consumers, a series of experiments show that poor economic conditions favor resource allocations to daughters over sons. For example, poor conditions led people to bequeath more assets to girls in their will, and to choose girls to receive a U.S. Treasury bond and a beneficial extracurricular activity. It is proposed that this happens because spending on children represents a reproductive investment, and that boys' and girls' relative reproductive value varies with economic conditions. Supporting this account, perceptions of which child will have more children statistically mediates the effect of economic conditions on preferences for girls. Consequently, the effect is strengthened as a child approaches reproductive age, and is moderated by individual differences (risk aversion and monogamy) directly related to our theoretical model. This research contributes to the consumer behavior literature by revealing how, why, and when environmental factors influence spending on girls versus boys.

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Effect of Joint Custody Laws on Children's Future Labor Market Outcomes

Abhradeep Maiti
International Review of Law and Economics, August 2015, Pages 22-31

Abstract:
In a joint custody regime, both parents are given equal preference by the court while granting the custodial rights of their children in the event of divorce. Using 50 years of census data for the United States' population, I show that growing up in a joint custody regime leads to lower educational attainment and worse labor market outcomes. My results are robust to different model specifications and apply to both males and females.

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Family Structure Instability, Genetic Sensitivity, and Child Well-Being

Colter Mitchell et al.
American Journal of Sociology, January 2015, Pages 1195-1225

Abstract:
The association between family structure instability and children's life chances is well documented, with children reared in stable, two-parent families experiencing more favorable outcomes than children in other family arrangements. This study examines father household entrances and exits, distinguishing between the entrance of a biological father and a social father and testing for interactions between family structure instability and children's age, gender, and genetic characteristics. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study and focusing on changes in family structure by age (years 0-9), the authors show that father exits are associated with increases in children's antisocial behavior, a strong predictor of health and well-being in adulthood. The pattern for father entrances is more complicated, with entrances for the biological father being associated with lower antisocial behavior among boys and social father entrances being associated with higher antisocial behavior. Child's age does not moderate the association; however, genetic information in the models sharpens the findings substantially.

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Behavioral Resemblance and Paternal Investment: Which Features of the Chip off the Old Block Count?

Gordon Gallup et al.
Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
The high cost of being cuckolded has been a source of a strong selective pressure on reproductive competition among human males. Although evidence for preferential investment in offspring based on paternal resemblance is well established, men may have undergone selective pressure to take into account behavioral resemblance as well. We tested this hypothesis using 277 undergraduate university students who responded to an anonymous survey about how they were treated by their father and their physical and behavioral resemblance to him. We replicated the effect of physical resemblance on paternal investment, and found that behavioral resemblance accounted for even more variance in paternal investment than physical resemblance. Furthermore, mediation analyses revealed that both physical resemblance and behavioral resemblance acted primarily by improving relationship quality between the child and the father. These findings are considered in relation to an attempt to develop more detailed analytical categories of paternity assurance tactics (Gallup & Burch, 2006).

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Residential Mobility During Adolescence: Do Even "Upward" Moves Predict Dropout Risk?

Molly Metzger et al.
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper uses the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to investigate the impact of housing instability in adolescence on the likelihood of subsequent graduation from high school. Combining census data, self-reports, and information about respondents' residential changes, we use the variation in the number of moves and neighborhood quality to predict whether participants obtain a high school diploma. Controlling for major predictors of housing mobility, students experiencing at least one move over a 12-month period have a roughly 50% decreased likelihood of obtaining a high school diploma by the age of 25. These associations are identified regardless of whether students move to a poorer or less-poor neighborhood. Our results carry implications for the development of housing policies and interventions designed for disadvantaged populations.

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Meta-analysis of the heritability of human traits based on fifty years of twin studies

Tinca Polderman et al.
Nature Genetics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite a century of research on complex traits in humans, the relative importance and specific nature of the influences of genes and environment on human traits remain controversial. We report a meta-analysis of twin correlations and reported variance components for 17,804 traits from 2,748 publications including 14,558,903 partly dependent twin pairs, virtually all published twin studies of complex traits. Estimates of heritability cluster strongly within functional domains, and across all traits the reported heritability is 49%. For a majority (69%) of traits, the observed twin correlations are consistent with a simple and parsimonious model where twin resemblance is solely due to additive genetic variation. The data are inconsistent with substantial influences from shared environment or non-additive genetic variation. This study provides the most comprehensive analysis of the causes of individual differences in human traits thus far and will guide future gene-mapping efforts. All the results can be visualized using the MaTCH webtool.

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Parental Separation, Parental Alcoholism, and Timing of First Sexual Intercourse

Mary Waldron et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, May 2015, Pages 550-556

Purpose: We examined timing of first voluntary sexual intercourse as a joint function of parental separation during childhood and parental history of alcoholism.

Methods: Data were drawn from a birth cohort of female like-sex twins (n = 569 African ancestry [AA]; n = 3,415 European or other ancestry [EA]). Cox proportional hazards regression was conducted predicting age at first sex from dummy variables coding for parental separation and parental alcoholism. Propensity score analysis was also employed to compare intact and separated families, stratified by predicted probability of separation.

Results: Earlier sex was reported by EA twins from separated and alcoholic families, compared to EA twins from intact nonalcoholic families, with effects most pronounced through the age of 14 years. Among AA twins, effects of parental separation and parental alcoholism were largely nonsignificant. Results of propensity score analyses confirmed unique risks from parental separation in EA families, where consistent effects of parental separation were observed across predicted probability of separation. For AA families, there was poor matching on risk factors presumed to predate separation, which limited interpretability of survival-analytic findings.

Conclusions: In European American families, parental separation during childhood is an important predictor of early-onset sex, beyond parental alcoholism and other correlated risk factors. To characterize risk for African Americans associated with parental separation, additional research is needed where matching on confounders can be achieved.

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Increases in Maternal Education and Low-Income Children's Cognitive and Behavioral Outcomes

Jessica Harding
Developmental Psychology, May 2015, Pages 583-599

Abstract:
Although the strong link between maternal education and children's outcomes is one of the most well-established findings in developmental psychology (Reardon, 2011; Sirin, 2005), less is known about how young, low-income children are influenced by their mothers completing additional education. In this research, longitudinal data from the Head Start Impact Study were used to explore the associations between increases in maternal education and Head Start eligible children's cognitive skills and behavioral problems in 1st grade. Propensity score weighting was used to identify a balanced comparison group of 1,362 children whose mothers did not increase their education between baseline (when children were aged 3 or 4) and children's kindergarten year, who are similar on numerous covariates to the 262 children whose mothers did increase their education. Propensity-score weighted regression analyses indicated that increases in maternal education were positively associated with children's standardized cognitive scores, but also with higher teacher-reported externalizing behavioral problems in 1st grade. The increases in externalizing behavioral problems were larger for children whose mothers had less than a college degree at baseline.

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Childhood social inequalities influences neural processes in young adult caregiving

Pilyoung Kim et al.
Developmental Psychobiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Childhood poverty is associated with harsh parenting with a risk of transmission to the next generation. This prospective study examined the relations between childhood poverty and non-parent adults' neural responses to infant cry sounds. While no main effects of poverty were revealed in contrasts of infant cry versus acoustically matched white noise, a gender by childhood poverty interaction emerged. In females, childhood poverty was associated with increased neural activations in the posterior insula, striatum, calcarine sulcus, hippocampus, and fusiform gyrus, while, in males, childhood poverty was associated with reduced levels of neural responses to infant cry in the same regions. Irrespective of gender, neural activation in these regions was associated with higher levels of annoyance with the cry sound and reduced desire to approach the crying infant. The findings suggest gender differences in neural and emotional responses to infant cry sounds among young adults growing up in poverty.

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Birth Order and Mortality: A Population-Based Cohort Study

Kieron Barclay & Martin Kolk
Demography, April 2015, Pages 613-639

Abstract:
This study uses Swedish population register data to investigate the relationship between birth order and mortality at ages 30 to 69 for Swedish cohorts born between 1938 and 1960, using a within-family comparison. The main analyses are conducted with discrete-time survival analysis using a within-family comparison, and the estimates are adjusted for age, mother's age at the time of birth, and cohort. Focusing on sibships ranging in size from two to six, we find that mortality risk in adulthood increases with later birth order. The results show that the relative effect of birth order is greater among women than among men. This pattern is consistent for all the major causes of death but is particularly pronounced for mortality attributable to cancers of the respiratory system and to external causes. Further analyses in which we adjust for adult socioeconomic status and adult educational attainment suggest that social pathways only mediate the relationship between birth order and mortality risk in adulthood to a limited degree.

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Maternal Education and the Link Between Birth Timing and Children's School Readiness

Jennifer March Augustine et al.
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objective: This study explored whether mothers' education magnified any benefits that waiting until older ages to have children might have for their children's educational careers.

Methods: Multiple-group path modeling assessed whether and why the positive association between mothers' age at first birth and children's test scores was greater for children of college-educated women than children of other women.

Results: Older age at first birth was associated with higher math and reading test scores among the children of college-educated women via their mothers' higher income and cognitive support for children. These mediational paths were less pronounced among the children of high-school-educated women and were not observed among the children of high school dropouts.

Conclusion: Any potential effects of women's delayed fertility on their children's early educational experiences appeared to be confined to the most educated women.

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Mothers' Employment and Children's Educational Gender Gap

Xiaodong Fan, Hanming Fang & Simen Markussen
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
This paper analyzes the connection between two concurrent trends since 1950: the narrowing and reversal of the educational gender gap and the increased labor force participation rate (LFPR) of married women. We hypothesize that the education production for boys is more adversely affected by a decrease in the mother's time input as a result of increasing employment. Therefore, an increase in the labor force participation rate of married women may narrow and even reverse the educational gender gap in the following generation. We use micro data from the Norwegian registry to directly show that the mother's employment during her children's childhood has an asymmetric effect on the educational achievement of her own sons and daughters. We also document a positive correlation between the educational gender gap in a particular generation and the LFPR of married women in the previous generation at the U.S. state level. We then propose a model that generates a novel prediction about the implications of these asymmetric effects on the mothers' labor supply decisions and find supporting evidence in both the U.S. and Norwegian data.

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The Effects of Paid Maternity Leave: Evidence from Temporary Disability Insurance

Jenna Stearns
Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates the effects of a large-scale paid maternity leave program on birth outcomes in the United States. In 1978, states with Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) programs were required to start providing wage replacement benefits to pregnant women, substantially increasing access to antenatal and postnatal paid leave for working mothers. Using natality data, I find that TDI paid maternity leave reduces the share of low birth weight births by 3.2 percent, and the estimated treatment-on-the-treated effect is over 10 percent. It also decreases the likelihood of early term birth by 6.6 percent. Paid maternity leave has particularly large impacts on the children of unmarried and black mothers.

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Estrangement Between Mothers and Adult Children: The Role of Norms and Values

Megan Gilligan, Jill Suitor & Karl Pillemer
Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming

Abstract:
Relationships between mothers and their children are expected to be lifelong and rewarding for both members of the dyad. Because of the salience of these ties, they are likely to be disrupted only under conditions of extreme relational tension and dissatisfaction. In this work, the authors drew on theoretical arguments regarding societal norm violations and value similarity to examine the processes that lead to estrangement between mothers and adult children. To address this issue, they used quantitative and qualitative data on 2,013 mother-adult child dyads nested within 561 later life families, including 64 in which mothers reported being estranged from at least 1 of their children. Value dissimilarity was found to be a strong predictor of estrangement, whereas violation of serious societal norms was not. Qualitative data revealed that value dissimilarity created severe relational tension between mothers and adult children leading to estrangement.

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Causal effects of the early caregiving environment on development of stress response systems in children

Katie McLaughlin et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 5 May 2015, Pages 5637-5642

Abstract:
Disruptions in stress response system functioning are thought to be a central mechanism by which exposure to adverse early-life environments influences human development. Although early-life adversity results in hyperreactivity of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in rodents, evidence from human studies is inconsistent. We present results from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project examining whether randomized placement into a family caregiving environment alters development of the autonomic nervous system and HPA axis in children exposed to early-life deprivation associated with institutional rearing. Electrocardiogram, impedance cardiograph, and neuroendocrine data were collected during laboratory-based challenge tasks from children (mean age = 12.9 y) raised in deprived institutional settings in Romania randomized to a high-quality foster care intervention (n = 48) or to remain in care as usual (n = 43) and a sample of typically developing Romanian children (n = 47). Children who remained in institutional care exhibited significantly blunted SNS and HPA axis responses to psychosocial stress compared with children randomized to foster care, whose stress responses approximated those of typically developing children. Intervention effects were evident for cortisol and parasympathetic nervous system reactivity only among children placed in foster care before age 24 and 18 months, respectively, providing experimental evidence of a sensitive period in humans during which the environment is particularly likely to alter stress response system development. We provide evidence for a causal link between the early caregiving environment and stress response system reactivity in humans with effects that differ markedly from those observed in rodent models.

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Parents' Beliefs Regarding Sex Education for Their Children in Southern Alabama Public Schools

Vaughn Millner, Madhuri Mulekar & Julio Turrens
Sexuality Research and Social Policy, June 2015, Pages 101-109

Abstract:
This study investigated the attitudes of parents of public school children in a conservative southern U.S. metropolitan area concerning the incorporation of a variety of adolescent pregnancy prevention strategies taught in the public school curriculum. It also assessed how attitudes from parents living in high risk teen pregnancy zip codes compared to the attitudes from parents living in the larger community. A telephone survey included 402 randomly selected parents from Mobile County, Alabama and an additional 120 Mobile County parents who lived in specific regions with high rates of teen pregnancy (target group). When the participants from the entire group were asked if schools should teach sex education, almost 80 % responded affirmatively and 16.5 % responded negatively. There were statistically significant income, education, and race differences between the at-large and target groups and statistically significant differences in parents' attitudes about whether or not their children should be taught about abstinence and other methods for preventing adolescent pregnancy in public schools. More than three-fourths of both groups, however, supported an assortment of adolescent pregnancy prevention strategies, a finding that could belie statistical difference in opinions between the two groups. The results suggest there is strong parental support for an approach to sex education in Alabama public schools that extends beyond abstinence-only. Informing state public policy-makers of these research findings could result in a sustained investment in the implementation of evidence-based adolescent sex education programs appropriate for the adolescents served.

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Correlates of flexible working arrangements, stress, and sleep difficulties in the US workforce: Does the flexibility of the flexibility matter?

Ryan Haley & Laurie Miller
Empirical Economics, June 2015, Pages 1395-1418

Abstract:
Using the 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce, we study how two forms of flextime correlate with family stress, workplace stress, and sleep difficulties. The first flextime measure is the ability to easily take time off for personal and family matters, which correlates with a statistically and economically significant reduction in workplace stress. Subsequently, we find that this same flexibility is associated with 6-10 % reduction in the likelihood of self-reported sleep difficulties for the full sample, and as high as an 11-25 % reduction in a subgroup analysis concerning unmarried females with children. The second flextime measure is the option of a compressed workweek, which also correlates with a statistically reduction in workplace stress, though the estimate is considerably smaller than for the first flexibility; a subsequent analysis finds no statistically significant relationship between this flexibility and sleep difficulties. Our findings suggest that the more flexible flexibility (i.e., more short-notice schedule flexibility) appears to be associated with larger reductions in the probability of being stressed, enough, in fact, to carry through to noticeable improvements in concomitant sleep difficulties. Thus, the first form of flextime may function, based on this observational analysis, as a tangible non-medical way to meet worker flextime desires and firm aspirations for increased safety and less absenteeism, all while potentially offering a positive public health externality. The size and significance of the flextime results prevail through bias assessments and sensitivity analyses.

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Adverse Consequences of School Mobility for Children in Foster Care: A Prospective Longitudinal Study

Katherine Pears et al.
Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
Few prospective studies have examined school mobility in children in foster care. This study described the school moves of 86 such children and 55 community comparison children (primarily Caucasian), living in a medium-sized metropolitan area in the Pacific Northwest who were approximately 3 to 6 years old at the study start. Additionally, the effects of moves from kindergarten through Grade 2 on academic and socioemotional competence in Grades 3 through 5 were examined. A greater number of early school moves was associated with poorer later socoemotional competence and partially mediated the effects of maltreatment and out-of-home placement on socioemotional competence. This was the case only for children with poorer early learning skills in kindergarten. Implications for preventive intervention are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

States

The Nature of Conflict

Cemal Eren Arbatli, Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor
NBER Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
This research establishes that the emergence, prevalence, recurrence, and severity of intrastate conflicts in the modern era reflect the long shadow of prehistory. Exploiting variations across national populations, it demonstrates that genetic diversity, as determined predominantly during the exodus of humans from Africa tens of thousands of years ago, has contributed significantly to the frequency, incidence, and onset of both overall and ethnic civil conflict over the last half-century, accounting for a large set of geographical and institutional correlates of conflict, as well as measures of economic development. Furthermore, the analysis establishes the significant contribution of genetic diversity to the intensity of social unrest and to the incidence of intragroup factional conflict. These findings arguably reflect the contribution of genetic diversity to the degree of fractionalization and polarization across ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups in the national population; the adverse influence of genetic diversity on interpersonal trust and cooperation; the contribution of genetic diversity to divergence in preferences for public goods and redistributive policies; and the potential impact of genetic diversity on economic inequality within a society.

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The Phoenix Effect of State Repression: Jewish Resistance during the Holocaust

Evgeny Finkel
American Political Science Review, May 2015, Pages 339-353

Abstract:
Why are some nascent groups able to organize sustained violent resistance to state repression, whereas others quickly fail? This article links the sustainability of armed resistance to a largely understudied variable — the skills to mount such a resistance. It also argues that the nature of repression experienced by a community creates and shapes these crucial skills. More specifically, the article focuses on a distinction between selective and indiscriminate state repression. Selective repression is more likely to create skilled resisters; indiscriminate repression substantially less so. Thus, large-scale repression that begins at time t has a higher chance of being met with sustained organized resistance at t +1 if among the targeted population there are people who were subject to selective repression at t‒1. The article tests this argument by comparing the trajectories of anti-Nazi Jewish resistance groups in three ghettos during the Holocaust: Minsk, Kraków, and Białystok.

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Is the Phone Mightier Than the Sword? Cellphones and Insurgent Violence in Iraq

Jacob Shapiro & Nils Weidmann
International Organization, Spring 2015, Pages 247-274

Abstract:
Does improved communication provided by modern cellphone technology affect the rise or fall of violence during insurgencies? A priori predictions are ambiguous; introducing cellphones can enhance insurgent communications but can also make it easier for the population to share information with counterinsurgents and creates opportunities for signals intelligence collection. We provide the first systematic micro-level test of the effect of cellphone communication on conflict using data on Iraq's cellphone network (2004–2009) and event data on violence. We show that increased mobile communications reduced insurgent violence in Iraq, both at the district level and for specific local coverage areas. The results provide support for models of insurgency that focus on noncombatants providing information as the key constraint on violent groups and highlight the fact that small changes in the transaction costs of cooperating with the government can have large macro effects on conflict.

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Financial Asset Holdings and Political Attitudes: Evidence from Revolutionary England

Saumitra Jha
Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The English Parliament's struggle for supremacy against monarchical dictatorship during the Civil War (1642-48) was crucial for the establishment of representative government, yet its lessons continue to be debated. I exploit novel data on individual MPs drawn from 1842 biographies to show that the conflict was over overseas interests and other factors over which the executive enjoyed broad constitutional discretion, rather than over domestic property rights. I further exploit the coincidence of individual MPs' ability to sign legally binding share contracts with novel share offerings by overseas companies to measure the effect of overseas share investment on their political attitudes. I show that overseas shareholding pushed moderates lacking prior mercantile interests to support reform. I interpret the effect of financial assetholding as allowing new investors to exploit emerging economic opportunities overseas, aligning their interests with traders. By consolidating a broad parliamentary majority that favored reform, the introduction of financial assets also broadened support for the institutionalization of parliamentary supremacy over dictatorial rule.

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Culture, Institutions and Democratization

Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Gerard Roland
NBER Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
We construct a model of revolution and transition to democracy under an individualistic and a collectivist culture. The main result is that, despite facing potentially larger collective action problems, countries with an individualistic culture are more likely to end up adopting democracy faster than countries with a collectivist culture. Our instrumental variable estimation suggests a strong and robust effect of individualistic culture on average polity scores and length of democracy, even after controlling for other determinants of democracy emphasized in the literature. We provide evidence that countries with collectivist culture are also more likely to experience autocratic breakdowns and transitions from autocracy to autocracy.

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Shaping Politics at Home: Cross-Border Social Ties and Local-Level Political Engagement

Abby Córdova & Jonathan Hiskey
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
The dramatic rise of democratic regimes around the world has coincided with an equally significant increase in migration, characterized by an unprecedented movement of people from emerging to established democracies. Through analysis of survey data from six Latin American countries, we offer an empirical evaluation of theoretical mechanisms through which migration can shape the political behaviors of non-migrants in sending nations. We find that individuals who have strong cross-border ties that connect them with relatives living in the United States are more likely to participate in local politics, sympathize with a political party, and persuade others to vote for a party. Those effects are influenced by the positive impact of cross-border ties on civic community involvement, political interest, and political efficacy. Moreover, the evidence suggests that frequent usage of the Internet among non-migrants with strong cross-border ties results in increased political knowledge, which contributes to their greater political interest and efficacy.

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Explosive connections? Mass media, social media, and the geography of collective violence in African states

Camber Warren
Journal of Peace Research, May 2015, Pages 297-311

Abstract:
Growing evidence indicates that the diffusion of information and communication technologies (ICTs) can substantially alter the contours of collective violence in developing nations. However, empirical investigations of such effects have generally been hampered by an inability to systematically measure geographic variation in ICT penetration, across multiple technologies and multiple countries. In this article, I show that geo-referenced household surveys can be used to estimate subnational differences in the spatial reach of radio and cellular communications infrastructures in 24 African states. By combining these estimates with geo-referenced measures of the location of disaggregated events of collective violence, I show that there are important differences between centralized 'mass' communication technologies – such as radios – that foster vertical linkages between state and society, and decentralized 'social' communication technologies – such as cell phones – that foster horizontal linkages between the members of a society. The evidence demonstrates that the geographic reach of mass media penetration generates substantial pacifying effects, while the reach of social media penetration generates substantial increases in collective violence, especially in areas lacking access to mass media infrastructure. I argue that these findings are consistent with a theory of ICT effects which focuses on the strengthening and weakening of economies of scale in the marketplace of ideas.

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Coups, Revolutions and Efficient Policies in Autocracies

Mario Gilli & Yuan Li
European Journal of Political Economy, September 2015, Pages 109–124

Abstract:
The purpose of this paper is to explore the interaction of two mechanisms that might constrain the power of dictators: the threat of a coup by the selectorate and a revolution by citizens. Our results help explain a stylized fact, namely that autocracies are far more likely to be either the best or the worst performers in terms of growth and public goods policies. To this end, we focus on accountability within dictatorships using a model where both the selectorate and the citizens are the principals and the autocrat is the agent. Our results highlight that both excessively strong and excessively weak dictators lead to poor economic performances, and that a balanced distribution of de facto political power is required to incentivize the dictator to choose efficient economic policies.

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The July 2012 Libyan Election and the Origin of Post-Qadhafi Appeasement

Jason Pack & Haley Cook
Middle East Journal, Spring 2015, Pages 171-198

Abstract:
The July 2012 parliamentary election in Libya was free and fair. Nonetheless, the election exacerbated various local, tribal, and religious cleavages. The National Transitional Council's policy of appeasement successfully averted widespread armed conflict, yet it inadvertently derailed Libya's future constitutional process. This article surveys the main scholarly paradigms for analyzing both Libya after the fall of Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and the role of elections in societies in transition. It concludes that the outcome of the 2012 Libyan election calls into question the ability of post-conflict elections to function as tools of democratization or as mechanisms to unify social fissures, especially in societies lacking in formal institutions.

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Territorial Autonomy in the Shadow of Conflict: Too Little, Too Late?

Lars-Erik Cederman et al.
American Political Science Review, May 2015, Pages 354-370

Abstract:
This article evaluates the effect of territorial autonomy on the outbreak of internal conflict by analyzing ethnic groups around the world since WWII. Shedding new light on an ongoing debate, we argue that the critics have overstated the case against autonomy policies. Our evidence indicates that decentralization has a significant conflict-preventing effect where there is no prior conflict history. In postconflict settings, however, granting autonomy can still be helpful in combination with central power sharing arrangements. Yet, on its own, postconflict autonomy concessions may be too little, too late. Accounting for endogeneity, we also instrument for autonomy in postcolonial states by exploiting that French, as opposed to British, colonial rule rarely relied on decentralized governance. This identification strategy suggests that naïve analysis tends to underestimate the pacifying influence of decentralization.

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China's Ideological Spectrum

Jennifer Pan & Yiqing Xu
MIT Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
We offer the first large scale empirical analysis of ideology in contemporary China to determine whether individuals fall along a discernible and coherent ideological spectrum, and whether there are regional and inter-group variations in ideological orientation. Using principal component analysis (PCA) on a survey of 171,830 individuals, we identify one dominant ideological dimension in China. Individuals who are politically conservative, who emphasize the supremacy of the state and nationalism, are also likely to be economically conservative, supporting a return to socialism and state-control of the economy, and culturally conservative, supporting traditional, Confucian values. In contrast, political liberals, supportive of constitutional democracy and individual liberty, are also likely to be economic liberals who support market-oriented reform and social liberals who support modern science and values such as sexual freedom. This uni-dimensionality of ideology is robust to a wide variety of diagnostics and checks. Using post-stratification based on census data, we find a strong relationship between liberal orientation and modernization -- provinces with higher levels of economic development, trade openness, urbanization are more liberal than their poor, rural counterparts, and individuals with higher levels of education and income and more liberal than their less educated and lower-income peers.

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Varying the Un-Variable: Social Structure, Electoral Formulae, and Election Quality

Fabrice Lehoucq & Kiril Kolev
Political Research Quarterly, June 2015, Pages 240-252

Abstract:
This paper assesses the hypothesis that election quality is worse under plurality voting systems than under proportional representation (PR). We use a two-pronged research design that permits us to harness the advantages of most similar and most different approaches to limit problems of endogeneity that afflict hypothesis testing in comparative politics. We use a subnational database of more than 1,300 accusations of electoral fraud from Costa Rica (1901–1948) that uniquely varies formulae among (provincial) electoral districts. Our statistical models reveal that plurality leads to more ballot rigging than proportional systems. We also demonstrate that plurality voting systems are associated with inferior election quality in the Quality of Elections Database (QED), which covers 170 countries between 1975 and 2004. Our findings suggest that electoral formulae, a basic feature of institutional design, have as much impact as social structure on whether elections are free and fair.

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Democracy, Autocracy and the Urban Bias: Evidence from Petroleum Subsidies

Sung Eun Kim & Johannes Urpelainen
Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Petroleum subsidies are economically costly and environmentally destructive. Autocracies tend to offer higher subsidies for petroleum products than do democracies. Why? This study uses a global dataset of gasoline prices in developing countries for the years 2003–9 to show that the autocratic subsidy premium stems from countries where much of the population lives in small cities. Urban riots are a major threat to autocratic political survival, and high fuel prices cause social unrest. In large cities, autocrats can use public transportation to mitigate the effects of high fuel prices, but this strategy is not practical in small cities. Therefore, autocratic rulers offer high petroleum subsidies if they have large urban populations living in small cities. These findings suggest that the exact nature of urbanization has a critical effect on the political calculus of leaders and on policy outcomes.

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World Price Shocks, Income, and Democratization

Ben Zissimos
World Bank Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper shows how a world price shock can increase the likelihood that democratization must be used to resolve the threat of revolution. Initially, a ruling elite may be able to use trade policy to maintain political stability. But a world price shock can push the country into a situation where the elite face a commitment problem that only democratization can resolve. Because the world price shock may also reduce average incomes, the model provides a way to understand why the level of national income per capita and democracy may not be positively correlated. The model is also useful for understanding dictatorial regimes' rebuttal of World Bank calls to keep their export markets open in the face of the 2007–08 world food crisis.

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Contingent Democratization: When Do Economic Crises Matter?

Min Tang, Narisong Huhe & Qiang Zhou
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article argues that the effect of economic crises on democratic transition is contingent on economic structure. Specifically, a high level of state engagement in the economy makes social forces dependent on the ruling elites for patrimonial interests and, therefore, the authoritarian regime liable for economic failure. Moreover, when authoritarian elites own a high share of economic assets, this aggravates the economic loss of both the business class and the masses when economic crises occur, which in turn makes defection of the business class, the revolt of the masses and the alliance of the two social classes more likely. Cross-national analyses show that economic crises trigger democratic transition only when state engagement in the economy is above a certain level.

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Pulling the plug: Network disruptions and violence in civil conflict

Anita Gohdes
Journal of Peace Research, May 2015, Pages 352-367

Abstract:
New media outlets have been deemed a vital instrument for protesters and opposition groups to coordinate activities in the recent civilian uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. But what happens when regimes respond by shutting down the internet? I argue that governments have a strategic incentive to implement internet blackouts in conjunction with larger repressive operations against violent opposition forces. Short-term intermissions in communication channels are expected to decrease opposition groups' capabilities to successfully coordinate and implement attacks against the state, allowing regime forces to strengthen their position. Network blackouts should consequently be accompanied by significant increases in military activity. Analyzing daily documented killings by the government in the Syrian civil war, I find that blackouts occur in conjunction with significantly higher levels of state repression, most notably in areas where government forces are actively fighting violent opposition groups. In addition, I estimate the number of undocumented conflict fatalities prior to and during network blackouts to test whether they are implemented to hide atrocities from outside observers, and find no support for this hypothesis. The results indicate that such network blackouts constitute a part of the military's strategy to target and weaken opposition groups, where the underreporting of violence is not systematically linked to outages.

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Natural resource extraction and political trust

Rebecca Miller
Resources Policy, September 2015, Pages 165–172

Abstract:
Do natural resources influence political trust? I provide a new answer to this question by articulating a theory of political trust that relates to within-country variation in natural resource extraction rather than the more traditional empirical context of cross-country variation. The distributional consequences of natural resources within countries have a large, positive consequences on political trust. Residents within a mining district may experience disproportionate economic benefits compared to residents living in a non-mining district. These economic benefits, in turn, influence political trust. I test these arguments using Afrobarometer public opinion data in four democratic African states, namely Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa.

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Lords and order: Credible rulers and state failure

Matthew Dimick
Rationality and Society, May 2015, Pages 161-194

Abstract:
Why do states fail? Why do failed states persist without collapsing into complete anarchy? This paper argues that in response to insurgency or weakened state capacity, the best way for rulers to sustain their rule may be, paradoxically, to reduce the amount of political protection they provide to clients or citizens. This behavior recognizes and helps explain a puzzling feature of failed states, namely that central government often functions even when political disorder prevails. To evaluate this argument, the paper analyzes the case of King Stephen's reign in medieval England. In response to a challenge to his succession, King Stephen dramatically decentralized government, a decision which has long puzzled historians. In addition, although far removed historically from contemporary cases, the reign of King Stephen exhibits just those characteristics of modern, failed states: insurgency, civil war, territorial fragmentation, increasing disorder and violence (even between adherents of the same side of the civil conflict), and yet the persistence of some amount of centralized rule.

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Electoral Authoritarianism and Human Development

Michael Miller
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do autocratic institutions matter for the welfare of average citizens? Despite the large literature comparing democracies and autocracies, we know little about how human development outcomes differ among autocratic types. Contrary to conventional wisdom, this article argues that contested autocratic elections promote human development by improving state accountability and capacity. Using an instrumental variables setup, I show that the presence and history of multiparty autocratic elections predict significantly better outcomes on health, education, gender equality, and basic freedoms relative to non-electoral autocracy. In fact, the effects on health and education are as strong as the effects of democracy. In contrast, legislatures and parties without multiparty elections produce slightly negative outcomes because these institutions chiefly concern elite cooptation. The results have major implications for the study of autocracy, the political economy of development, and the welfare effects of international election promotion.

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Authoritarianism, socioethnic diversity and political participation across countries

Shane Singh & Kris Dunn
European Journal of Political Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
It is argued in this article that threatening stimuli affect political participation levels among non-authoritarians more than among authoritarians. Focusing on socioethnic diversity, which is known to be particularly threatening to authoritarians and to relate negatively to political participation in the general public, analyses of individual- and macro-level data from 53 countries is presented which supports this thesis. Participation levels among authoritarians are largely static, regardless of a country's level of socioethnic heterogeneity, while non-authoritarians participate considerably less in countries with relatively high levels of socioethnic heterogeneity. This suggests that authoritarians participate to a proportionately greater degree in the most diverse countries.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

End Result

Put your plan into action: The influence of action plans on agency and responsibility

Tom Damen et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, June 2015, Pages 850-866

Abstract:
While action plans and intentions have been considered to be important factors contributing to the personal sense of causation known as agency, the present research is the first to empirically investigate how action plans influence agency. Participants in multiple studies were required to plan or not to plan ahead their actions. Results consistently show that on trials in which participants were required to plan their actions, participants experienced reduced agency compared to trials in which participants were not required to plan their actions. These results were found for both explicit agency paradigms in which participants were asked for their experiences of causation (Studies 1 and 2), as well as in an implicit agency paradigm in which participants were asked to estimate the time between their actions and the consequences of their actions (Study 3). In addition, it was shown that the reduction in agency was smaller when plans and actions were temporally closer together (Study 4). In a final line of experiments we discovered that prior planning similarly reduced both the emotional experience of acting and feelings of responsibility in agents (Studies 5-7). However, the direction of this effect was reversed in observers, for whom cues related to planning by others increased attributions of responsibility toward those others (Study 8).

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Seeking Lasting Enjoyment with Limited Money: Financial Constraints Increase Preference for Material Goods Over Experiences

Stephanie Tully, Hal Hershfield & Tom Meyvis
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Consumers with limited discretionary money face important trade-offs when deciding how to spend it. In the current research, we suggest that feelings of financial constraint increase consumers' concern about the lasting utility of their purchases, which in turn increases their preference for material goods over experiences. The results of seven studies confirm that the consideration of financial constraints shifts consumers' preferences toward material goods (rather than experiences), and that this systematic shift is due to an increased concern about the longevity of the purchase. This preference shift persists even when the material goods are more frivolous than the experiences, indicating that the effect is not driven by an increased desire for sensible and justifiable purchases. However, the shift towards material purchases disappears when the material purchase is unusually short-lived, further implicating concern about longevity as the key driver of the effect. Finally, the consideration of financial constraints increases preference for material purchases even when the potential memories that experiences can provide are made explicitly salient. Together, these results indicate that financially constrained consumers spend their discretionary money on material purchases as a means of securing long-term consumption utility.

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Can a Near Win Kindle Motivation? The Impact of Nearly Winning on Motivation for Unrelated Rewards

Monica Wadhwa & JeeHye Christine Kim
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Common intuition and research suggest that winning is more motivating than losing. However, we propose that just failing to obtain a reward (i.e., nearly winning it) in one task leads to broader, positive motivational effects on subsequent unrelated tasks relative to clearly losing or actually obtaining the reward. We manipulated a near-win experience using a game app in Experiments 1 through 3 and a lottery in Experiment 4. Our findings showed that nearly winning in one task subsequently led participants to walk faster to get to a chocolate bar (Experiment 1), salivate more for money (Experiment 2), and increase their effort to earn money in a card-sorting task (Experiment 3). A field study (Experiment 4) demonstrated that nearly winning led people to subsequently spend more money on desirable consumer products. Finally, our findings showed that when the activated motivational state was dampened in an intervening task, the nearly-winning effect was attenuated.

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The Impact Of Pressure On Performance: Evidence From The PGA Tour

Daniel Hickman & Neil Metz
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do large rewards lead to psychological pressure causing underperformance? Previous studies have tested this 'choking' phenomenon using the world of sports, but such studies often lack an explicit link between performance and reward. This study utilizes a large PGA TOUR dataset to more directly analyze the effect of pressure on individual performance by calculating the potential change in earnings from making or missing a putt on the final hole of a tournament. We find that as the amount of money riding on a shot increases, the likelihood that shot is made is significantly reduced.

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When pressure sinks performance: Evidence from diving competitions

Christos Genakos, Mario Pagliero & Eleni Garbi
Economics Letters, July 2015, Pages 5-8

Abstract:
Tournaments are designed to enhance participants' effort and productivity. However, ranking near the top may increase psychological pressure and reduce performance. We empirically study the impact of interim rank on performance using data from international diving tournaments. We find that competitors systematically underperform when ranked closer to the top, despite higher incentives to perform well.

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Power Affects Performance When the Pressure Is On: Evidence for Low-Power Threat and High-Power Lift

Sonia Kang et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, May 2015, Pages 726-735

Abstract:
The current research examines how power affects performance in pressure-filled contexts. We present low-power-threat and high-power-lift effects, whereby performance in high-stakes situations suffers or is enhanced depending on one's power; that is, the power inherent to a situational role can produce effects similar to stereotype threat and lift. Three negotiations experiments demonstrate that role-based power affects outcomes but only when the negotiation is diagnostic of ability and, therefore, pressure-filled. We link these outcomes conceptually to threat and lift effects by showing that (a) role power affects performance more strongly when the negotiation is diagnostic of ability and (b) underperformance disappears when the low-power negotiator has an opportunity to self-affirm. These results suggest that stereotype threat and lift effects may represent a more general phenomenon: When the stakes are raised high, relative power can act as either a toxic brew (stereotype/low-power threat) or a beneficial elixir (stereotype/high-power lift) for performance.

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Goal projection in public places

Janet Naju Ahn, Gabriele Oettingen & Peter Gollwitzer
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Three studies investigated the phenomenon of goal projection in everyday life considering three moderators: goal commitment, the perceived similarity of the target person, and goal attainment. Moviegoers' (Study 1) highly committed to see a particular movie projected this goal onto other movie patrons. Commuters (Study 2) highly committed to catch a certain train projected this goal onto other commuters, given that these commuters were perceived as similar. Shoppers (Study 3) projected buying a particular item when both their goal commitment and the perceived similarity of another shopper were high, and the goal was not yet attained. The results imply that goal projection is part of our everyday life and is fostered by high-goal commitment, perceiving others as similar, and ongoing goal striving.

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Goals, motivation and gender

Samuel Smithers
Economics Letters, June 2015, Pages 75-77

Abstract:
I present an experiment on non-binding goals and motivational effects. Consistent with results from psychology, I find that goals increase output. This is due to improved speed and accuracy. Men are more responsive to goals than women.

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Using High-Level Construal and Perceptions of Changeability to Promote Self-Change Over Self-Protection Motives in Response to Negative Feedback

Jennifer Belding, Karen Naufel & Kentaro Fujita
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, June 2015, Pages 822-838

Abstract:
Diagnostic negative information presents people with a motivational dilemma. Although negative feedback can provide useful information with which to guide future self-improvement efforts, it also presents short-term affective costs. We propose that construal level, jointly with the perceived changeability of the feedback domain, determines whether people choose to accept or dismiss such information. Whereas low-level construal promotes short-term self-protection motivation (promoting dismissal), high-level construal promotes long-term self-change motivation (promoting acceptance) - to the extent that change is perceived as possible. Four studies support this hypothesis and examine underlying cognitive and motivational mechanisms. The present work may provide an integrative theoretical framework for understanding when people will be open to and accept negative diagnostic information, and has important practical implications for promoting self-change efforts.

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Saying "No" to Temptation: Want-to Motivation Improves Self-Regulation by Reducing Temptation Rather Than by Increasing Self-Control

Marina Milyavskaya et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Self-regulation has been conceptualized as the interplay between controlled and impulsive processes; however, most research has focused on the controlled side (i.e., effortful self-control). The present studies focus on the effects of motivation on impulsive processes, including automatic preferences for goal-disruptive stimuli and subjective reports of temptations and obstacles, contrasting them with effects on controlled processes. This is done by examining people's implicit affective reactions in the face of goal-disruptive "temptations" (Studies 1 and 2), subjective reports of obstacles (Studies 2 and 3) and expended effort (Study 3), as well as experiences of desires and self-control in real-time using experience sampling (Study 4). Across these multiple methods, results show that want-to motivation results in decreased impulsive attraction to goal-disruptive temptations and is related to encountering fewer obstacles in the process of goal pursuit. This, in turn, explains why want-to goals are more likely to be attained. Have-to motivation, on the other hand, was unrelated to people's automatic reactions to temptation cues but related to greater subjective perceptions of obstacles and tempting desires. The discussion focuses on the implications of these findings for self-regulation and motivation.

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Power Effects on Cognitive Control: Turning Conflict into Action

Petra Schmid, Tali Kleiman & David Amodio
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Power is known to promote effective goal pursuit, especially when it requires one to overcome distractions or bias. We proposed that this effect involves the ability to engage and implement cognitive control. In Study 1, we demonstrated that power enhances behavioral performance on a response conflict task and that it does so by enhancing controlled processing rather than by reducing automatic processing. In Study 2, we used an event-related potential index of anterior cingulate activity to test whether power effects on control were due to enhanced conflict sensitivity or action implementation. Power did not significantly affect neural sensitivity to conflict; rather, high power was associated with a stronger link between conflict processing and intended action, relative to low power. These findings suggest a new perspective on how social factors can affect controlled processing and offer new evidence regarding the transition between conflict detection and the implementation of action control.

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When Does the Future Begin? Time Metrics Matter, Connecting Present and Future Selves

Neil Lewis & Daphna Oyserman
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
People assume they should attend to the present; their future self can handle the future. This seemingly plausible rule of thumb can lead people astray, in part because some future events require current action. In order for the future to energize and motivate current action, it must feel imminent. To create this sense of imminence, we manipulated time metric - the units (e.g., days, years) in which time is considered. People interpret accessible time metrics in two ways: If preparation for the future is under way (Studies 1 and 2), people interpret metrics as implying when a future event will occur. If preparation is not under way (Studies 3-5), they interpret metrics as implying when preparation should start (e.g., planning to start saving 4 times sooner for a retirement in 10,950 days instead of 30 years). Time metrics mattered not because they changed how distal or important future events felt (Study 6), but because they changed how connected and congruent their current and future selves felt (Study 7).

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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