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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Penal system

The Public's Increasing Punitiveness and Its Influence on Mass Incarceration in the United States

Peter Enns
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Following more than 30 years of rising incarceration rates, the United States now imprisons a higher proportion of its population than any country in the world. Building on theories of representation and organized interest group behavior, this article argues that an increasingly punitive public has been a primary reason for this prolific expansion. To test this hypothesis, I generate a new over-time measure of the public's support for being tough on crime. The analysis suggests that, controlling for the crime rate, illegal drug use, inequality, and the party in power, since 1953 public opinion has been a fundamental determinant of changes in the incarceration rate. If the public's punitiveness had stopped rising in the mid-1970s, the results imply that there would have been approximately 20% fewer incarcerations. Additionally, an analysis of congressional attention to criminal justice issues supports the argument that the public's attitudes have led, not followed, political elites.

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Criminal Group Embeddedness And The Adverse Effects Of Arresting A Gang's Leader: A Comparative Case Study

Robert Vargas
Criminology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although law enforcement agencies arrest criminal group leaders to dismantle organized crime, few studies have assessed whether such interventions produce adverse effects. Through a mixed-method comparative case study of the Latin Kings and 22 Boys street gangs in Chicago, this article examines the consequences of arresting a gang's leader. Using violent crime data, I show that a spike in violent crime took place in the first month after the arrest of the 22 Boys gang leader. In contrast, the arrest of the Latin Kings gang leader produced no change in violent crime. Using several qualitative data sources, I show that the arrest of the 22 Boys gang leader temporarily led to the gang's withdrawal from its territory, which spurred violent aggression from rival gangs in adjacent territories. In contrast, the Latin Kings gang continued its operations because the gang's prison leaders quickly appointed new leadership. The results suggest that criminal group embeddedness (or the social relations between criminal groups) can contribute to adverse effects in interventions targeting gang or other criminal group leaders.

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Do Gang Members Commit Abnormal Homicide?

Matt DeLisi et al.
American Journal of Criminal Justice, March 2014, Pages 125-138

Abstract:
Gang membership is a robust correlate of homicide offending and victimization, but little is known about the association between gang status and various abnormal forms of homicide (e.g., multiple-victim homicide, sexual homicide, and abduction homicide). The current study utilized data from a large sample of 618 male convicted murderers to empirically examine gang status and diverse forms of homicide perpetration. Gang-involved offenders were nearly three times as likely to commit a normal homicide characterized as a single-victim murder. However, gang members were 64 % less likely to perpetrate multiple-victim murder. In other models, gang status reduced the likelihood of sexual homicide by 75 % and reduced the likelihood of abduction homicide by 56 %. These findings present an anomaly in the gang-homicide literature, and suggestions for additional research are offered.

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Traumatic Brain Injury Among Newly Admitted Adolescents in the New York City Jail System

Fatos Kaba et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Purpose: Relatively little is known about the prevalence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) among adolescents who come into contact with the criminal justice system.

Methods: We undertook screening for TBI among newly admitted adolescents in the New York City jail system using a validated TBI screening tool. A convenience sample of 300 male and 84 female screenings was examined.

Results: Screening revealed that 50% of male and 49% of female adolescents enter jail with a history of TBI. Incidence of TBI was assessed using patient health records, and revealed an incidence of 3,107 TBI per 100,000 person-years.

Conclusions: Elevated prevalence and incidence of TBI among incarcerated adolescents may relate to criminal justice involvement as well as friction in jail. Given the large representation of violence as a cause of TBI among our patients, we have begun focus groups with them to elicit meaningful strategies for living with and avoiding TBI.

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Prior problem behavior accounts for the racial gap in school suspensions

John Paul Wright et al.
Journal of Criminal Justice, forthcoming

Purpose: A large body of empirical research finds a significant racial gap in the use of exclusionary school discipline with black students punished at rates disproportionate to whites. Furthermore, no variable or set of variables have yet to account for this discrepancy, inviting speculation that this association is caused by racial bias or racial antipathy. We investigate this link and the possibility that differential behavior may play a role.

Methods: Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class (ECLS-K), the largest sample of school-aged children in the United States, we first replicate the results of prior studies. We then estimate a second model controlling for prior problem behavior.

Results: Replicating prior studies, we first show a clear racial gap between black and white students in suspensions. However, in subsequent analyses the racial gap in suspensions was completely accounted for by a measure of the prior problem behavior of the student – a finding never before reported in the literature.

Conclusions: These findings highlight the importance of early problem behaviors and suggest that the use of suspensions by teachers and administrators may not have been as racially biased as some scholars have argued.

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Probable posttraumatic stress disorder in a sample of urban jail detainees

Dawn Ruzich, Jessica Reichert & Arthur Lurigio
International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined the nature and extent of probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among men in a substance abuse treatment program in a large urban jail. Specifically, it explored the prevalence of probable PTSD and other psychiatric problems among jail detainees, the types of trauma detainees experienced during different phases of their lives, and how those experiences might have contributed to the development of probable PTSD. Results showed that psychiatric problems were quite serious; nearly one-quarter of the sample reported previous psychiatric hospitalization, and nearly 10% were being currently treated with psychiatric medication. In addition, 21% of the sample met the criteria for probable PTSD, a rate five times greater than that in the general population. The current study suggests that the presence of probable PTSD among male detainees should be incorporated into the creation and implementation of jail-based behavioral healthcare services, including screening, assessment, and clinical interventions. Furthermore, in-custody drug treatment programs should adopt trauma-informed strategies for all program participants as the expected standard of care.

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The Effect and Implications of Sex Offender Residence Restrictions: Evidence from a Two-State Evaluation

Beth Huebner et al.
Criminology & Public Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
We evaluated the efficacy of sex offender residence restrictions in Michigan and Missouri using a quasi-experimental design with propensity score matching. First, we examined the implementation of the laws and found that sex offenders in both states were less likely to live in restricted areas after the implementation of the laws than the prerestriction sample, but the differences were not statistically significant. In our outcome analysis, we find little evidence that residence restrictions changed the prevalence of recidivism substantially for sex offenders in the postrelease period. In Michigan, trends indicate that the implementation of the laws led to a slight increase in recidivism among the sex offender groups, whereas in Missouri, this effect resulted in a slight decrease in recidivism. Technical violations also declined for both groups in Missouri. The small effect sizes, inconsistent results across states, and the null results between sex offender and non–sex offender models cast doubt on the potential usefulness of the laws to influence individual patterns of recidivism broadly.

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The ‘pains’ of electronic monitoring: A slap on the wrist or just as bad as prison?

Brian Payne, David May & Peter Wood
Criminal Justice Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
The purpose of this research is to examine whether inmates that have served electronic monitoring (EM) find it more punitive than offenders that have not served electronic monitoring. We asked a sample of 1194 inmates currently incarcerated in a Midwestern state to estimate exchange rates of electronic monitoring over prison by rating how many months of EM they would serve to avoid 12 months in prison. The results indicate that inmates view EM as less punitive than prison and that monitored offenders find EM more punitive than unmonitored offenders. Additionally, black inmates were more likely to have served EM than white inmates and older inmates find EM more punitive than younger inmates. Previously monitored offenders report that they will be less likely to rely on family and friends upon release from prison. These results suggest that EM is perceived as a punitive sanction by those that have experienced it. Furthermore, racial differences uncovered here may help explain why minorities view alternative sanctions as particularly punitive and may also partially explain why the experience of EM may negatively impact family relationship among those that have served EM.

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The Minimum Wage and Crime

Andrew Beauchamp & Stacey Chan
B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does crime respond to changes in the minimum wage? A growing body of empirical evidence indicates that increases in the minimum wage have a displacement effect on low-skilled workers. Economic reasoning provides the possibility that disemployment may cause youth to substitute from legal work to crime. However, there is also the countervailing effect of a higher wage raising the opportunity cost of crime for those who remain employed. We use the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 cohort to measure the effect of increases in the minimum wage on self-reported criminal activity and examine employment–crime substitution. Exploiting changes in state and federal minimum wage laws from 1997 to 2010, we find that workers who are affected by a change in the minimum wage are more likely to commit crime, become idle, and lose employment. Individuals experiencing a binding minimum wage change were more likely to commit crime and work only part time. Analyzing heterogeneity shows those with past criminal connections are especially likely to see decreased employment and increased crime following a policy change, suggesting that reduced employment effects dominate any wage effects. The findings have implications for policy regarding both the low-wage labor market and efforts to deter criminal activity.

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“Last Hired, First Fired”: The Effect of the Unemployment Rate on the Probability of Repeat Offending

Stewart D’Alessio, Lisa Stolzenberg & David Eitle
American Journal of Criminal Justice, March 2014, Pages 77-93

Abstract:
Research examining the connection between the unemployment rate and the aggregate crime is inconclusive. One explanation for the inconsistent findings is that the unemployment rate influences the criminal activity of repeat and first-time offenders in different ways. Results support this thesis by revealing an inverted U-shaped association between the unemployment rate and the probability of repeat offending. The curvilinear relationship likely results from repeat offenders and those lacking a criminal record entering and exiting the labor force at different levels of unemployment. Our findings highlight the role that the unemployment rate plays in affecting repeat offending and underscore the importance of distinguishing between repeat and first-time offending when analyzing the effect of the unemployment rate on crime.

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Mythical numbers and the proceeds of organised crime: Estimating mafia proceeds in Italy

Francesco Calderoni
Global Crime, forthcoming

Abstract:
Organised crime is a field vulnerable to mythical numbers, i.e. exaggerated estimates lacking empirical support, but acquiring acceptance through repetition. The figures on mafia proceeds in Italy are a striking example of this problem. This study proposes an estimation of mafia proceeds in Italy from nine criminal activities (sexual exploitation of women, illicit firearms trafficking, drug trafficking, counterfeiting, the illicit cigarette trade, illicit gambling, illicit waste disposal, loan sharking, and extortion racketeering) by region and type of mafia (Cosa Nostra, Camorra, ‘Ndrangheta, Apulian mafias, and other mafias). The results estimate yearly mafia proceeds at approximately €10.7 bn (0.7% of the Italian GDP), discussing the impact on the regional and national economies and the differences among the types of mafias as to their geographical sources of revenues.

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Cost Analysis of Youth Violence Prevention

Adam Sharp et al.
Pediatrics, March 2014, Pages 448 -453

Background and objective: Effective violence interventions are not widely implemented, and there is little information about the cost of violence interventions. Our goal is to report the cost of a brief intervention delivered in the emergency department that reduces violence among 14- to 18-year-olds.

Methods: Primary outcomes were total costs of implementation and the cost per violent event or violence consequence averted. We used primary and secondary data sources to derive the costs to implement a brief motivational interviewing intervention and to identify the number of self-reported violent events (eg, severe peer aggression, peer victimization) or violence consequences averted. One-way and multi-way sensitivity analyses were performed.

Results: Total fixed and variable annual costs were estimated at $71 784. If implemented, 4208 violent events or consequences could be prevented, costing $17.06 per event or consequence averted. Multi-way sensitivity analysis accounting for variable intervention efficacy and different cost estimates resulted in a range of $3.63 to $54.96 per event or consequence averted.

Conclusions: Our estimates show that the cost to prevent an episode of youth violence or its consequences is less than the cost of placing an intravenous line and should not present a significant barrier to implementation.

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Long-term recidivism of mental health court defendants

Bradley Ray
International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, forthcoming

Abstract:
The first MHC was established in 1997 and now, over 15 years later, there are over 300 mental health courts in the United States. In a relatively short time these courts have become an established criminal justice intervention for persons with a mental illness. However, few studies have looked at the long-term outcomes of MHCs on criminal recidivism. Of the studies evaluating the impact of MHCs on criminal recidivism, most follow defendants after entry into the court during their participation, and only a few have followed defendants after court exit for periods of one or two years. This study follows MHC defendants for a minimum of five years to examine recidivism post-exit with particular attention to MHC completion's effect. Findings show that 53.9% of all MHC defendants were rearrested in the follow-up and averaged 15 months to rearrest. Defendants who completed MHC were significantly less likely to be rearrested (39.6% vs. 74.8%), and went longer before recidivating (17.15 months vs. 12.27 months) than those who did not complete. This study suggests that MHCs can reduce criminal recidivism among offenders with mental illness and that this effect is sustained for several years after defendants are no longer under the court's supervision.

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Maybe I Should Do This Alone: A Comparison of Solo and Co-offending Robbery Outcomes

Marie Skubak Tillyer & Rob Tillyer
Justice Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
There has been a notable increase in co-offending research in recent years, with most studies focusing on the causes and correlates of co-offending. There is little known, however, about the consequences of co-offending and how it may influence crime event outcomes for the offender. The present study compares the monetary reward and arrest risk of solo and co-offending robberies. Data from the National Incident Based Reporting System were analyzed to examine the characteristics and outcomes of robberies perpetrated by one, two, three, and four or more offenders. Though co-offending incidents were associated with greater total property value stolen, co-offending incidents resulted in significantly less property value per offender, controlling for other incident characteristics. The likelihood of an incident resulting in an arrest significantly increased with the number of offenders. We discuss the implications of our findings for theory and research on the real and perceived benefits and costs of co-offending.

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The Role of Transformation Narratives in Desistance Among Released Lifers

Marieke Liem & Nicholas Richardson
Criminal Justice and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on desistance emphasizes the importance of the transformation narrative, in which the individual has replaced his old, criminal self with a new, law-abiding self. Key elements of the transformation narrative are generative motivations, the core self, and a sense of agency. Thus far, it is not known what role these elements play in desistance among released lifers. To fill this caveat, we conducted in-depth life interviews with 67 individuals who had served a life sentence. Almost all interviewees presented a transformation narrative that included a good core self and generative motivations, including those who persisted in criminal behavior. We found that individual agency was a key factor distinguishing the paroled lifers from the re-incarcerated lifers. Findings suggest that rather than learning to present a transformation narrative focused on reflecting a good core self and generative motivations, (post-)prison programs should focus on restoring agency to ensure successful re-entry.

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The influence of neighborhood characteristics on police officers' encounters with persons suspected to have a serious mental illness

Shaily Krishan et al.
International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, forthcoming

Objective: Police officers' decisions and behaviors are impacted by the neighborhood context in which police encounters occur. For example, officers may use greater force and be more likely to make arrests in disadvantaged neighborhoods. We examined whether neighborhood characteristics influence police encounters with individuals suspected to have a serious mental illness, addictive disorder, or developmental disability.

Method: We obtained data on 916 encounters from 166 officers in six jurisdictions in Georgia, USA and abstracted geographical data pertaining to the location of these encounters from United States Decennial Census data. Encounters were nested within 163 census tracts. Officer-reported data covered general encounter characteristics, the officer's perception of the subject's condition, subject demographics, use of force, and disposition of the encounter (e.g., arrest v. referral or transport to treatment services). Geographical data included 17 variables representing population and housing characteristics of the census tracts, from which three indices pertaining to neighborhood income, stability, and immigration status were derived using factor-analytic techniques. We then examined associations of these indices with various encounter-related variables using multi-level analysis.

Results: Encounters taking place in higher-income and higher-stability census tracts were more likely to be dispatch-initiated and take place in a private home compared to those in lower-income and lower-stability neighborhoods. In higher-income neighborhoods, encounters were more likely to involve a subject suspected to have a mental illness (as opposed to an addictive disorder or developmental disability) and less likely to involve a subject suspected to have alcohol problems. The officer's level of force used was not associated with neighborhood factors. Regarding disposition, although the likelihood of arrest was unrelated to neighborhood characteristics, encounters taking place in higher-immigrant neighborhoods were more likely to result in referral or transport to services than those in lower-immigrant neighborhoods.

Conclusion: Neighborhood characteristics are important to consider in research on police interactions with individuals with serious mental illnesses, addictive disorders, or developmental disabilities. Such research could inform departmental training policies and procedures based on the needs of the jurisdictions served.

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Profiling, Screening and Criminal Recruitment

Christopher Cotton & Cheng Li
Journal of Public Economic Theory, forthcoming

Abstract:
We model major criminal activity as a game in which a law enforcement officer chooses the rate at which to screen different population groups, and a criminal organization (e.g. drug cartel, terrorist cell) chooses the observable characteristics of its recruits. Our model best describes smuggling or terrorism activities at borders, airports and other security checkpoints. The most effective law enforcement policy imposes only moderate restrictions on the officer's ability to profile. In contrast to models of decentralized crime, requiring equal treatment never improves the effectiveness of law enforcement.

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Estimating the Effect of Crime Risk on Property Values and Time on Market: Evidence from Megan's Law in Virginia

Scott Wentland, Bennie Waller & Raymond Brastow
Real Estate Economics, Spring 2014, Pages 223–251

Abstract:
We examine neighborhood externalities that arise from the perceived risk associated with the proximity of a registered sex offender's residence. We find large negative externality effects on a property's price and liquidity, employing empirical techniques that include a fixed-effects OLS model, a correction for sample selection bias and censoring using a Heckman treatment, and a three-stage least-squares model to account for simultaneity bias in the joint determination of a home's sale price and liquidity. Additionally, we find amplified effects for homes with more bedrooms (a proxy for children) and if the nearby offender is designated by the state as “violent.”

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Limited partnership

Age at Coresidence, Premarital Cohabitation, and Marriage Dissolution: 1985–2009

Arielle Kuperberg
Journal of Marriage and Family, April 2014, Pages 352–369

Abstract:
Does the age at which premarital cohabitors moved in together explain why they have been found to have an increased risk of marital dissolution? Explanations for the increased risk of marriage dissolution among those who marry young center on marital role preparation; for premarital cohabitors, many, if not most, of these roles began at the onset of cohabitation, not marriage. Analyses of the 1995, 2002, and 2006–2010 waves of the National Survey of Family Growth (N = 7,037) revealed that age at coresidence explained a substantial portion of the higher marital dissolution risk of premarital cohabitors. In comparisons standardized by age at coresidence, the difference in risk of marital dissolution between premarital cohabitors and those who married without prior cohabitation (“direct marriers”) was much smaller than in comparisons standardized by age at marriage, and in some models this difference was not significant. Selection into direct marriage and premarital cohabitation was also examined.

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The divorce revolution and generalized trust: Evidence from the United States 1973-2010

Tarja Viitanen
International Review of Law and Economics, June 2014, Pages 25–32

Abstract:
This paper examines the effect of exposure to a culture of easier divorce as a minor on generalized trust using the General Social Survey from 1973-2010. The easier divorce culture is defined as the introduction of no-fault including unilateral divorce reforms across the US. According to the results, the divorce revolution seems to have had some effect on trust levels across the US. While there are no discernible effects for the whole sample of men, there are statistically significant effects for women with an additional year of exposure being associated with a 4 percentage point lower generalized trust in the states with easy divorce culture compared to states with fault based divorce culture. An analysis by sub-group of women indicates that married and divorced/separated women have significantly lower levels of trust associated with exposure to easy divorce culture as a child. The findings are in agreement with the predictions of previous literature regarding no-fault divorce reforms reducing the security offered by marriage, in particular for women.

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Breaking Up Is Hard to Count: The Rise of Divorce in the United States, 1980–2010

Sheela Kennedy & Steven Ruggles
Demography, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article critically evaluates the available data on trends in divorce in the United States. We find that both vital statistics and retrospective survey data on divorce after 1990 underestimate recent marital instability. These flawed data have led some analysts to conclude that divorce has been stable or declining for the past three decades. Using new data from the American Community Survey and controlling for changes in the age composition of the married population, we conclude that there was actually a substantial increase in age-standardized divorce rates between 1990 and 2008. Divorce rates have doubled over the past two decades among persons over age 35. Among the youngest couples, however, divorce rates are stable or declining. If current trends continue, overall age-standardized divorce rates could level off or even decline over the next few decades. We argue that the leveling of divorce among persons born since 1980 probably reflects the increasing selectivity of marriage.

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Intersexual conflict across women’s ovulatory cycle

Steven Gangestad et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
A growing literature shows that the features women find particularly attractive in men vary across the ovulatory cycle. Women furthermore appear to more frequently report attraction to men other than primary partners when they are fertile in their cycle than in the infertile luteal phase. Previous studies have shown that men are more vigilant of or attentive to their primary partners during the fertile phase compared to the luteal phase. This study had several aims: First, to replicate and extend previous findings concerning men’s vigilance of partners using male as well as female reports of men’s behavior; second, to examine changes in women’s behavior toward partners across the cycle; third, to examine ways in which women resist men’s attempts to mate-guard across the cycle. Results indicate that (a) men are particularly self-assertive toward partners when their partners are fertile; (b) similarly, women are especially self-assertive toward partners when they are fertile; (c) women report engaging in more behaviors that resist male vigilance and mate-guarding when they are fertile, especially in ways that are unobservable to male partners; (d) these effects are especially strong when women themselves report greater attraction to men other than partners when they are fertile, compared to the luteal phase.

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Schema via Structure? Personal Network Density and the Moral Evaluation of Infidelity

Markus Schafer
Sociological Forum, March 2014, Pages 120–136

Abstract:
This article considers whether the density of a person's social network is related to his/her moral attitudes toward infidelity. Integrating recent sociological thinking on moral schemas with network theory's insights about deviance and structural independence, I employ data from a representative sample of American men aged 57–85. Findings indicate that men with the densest personal networks are least likely to condone infidelity. This association, moreover, was independent of men's education, their beliefs about religion and sex, and attitudes about their partners, among other factors. The findings imply an affinity between micro-social structure and moral judgment, suggesting that network density can help constrain even the expression of moral attitudes.

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A bogus pipeline approach to studying gender differences in cheating behavior

Terri Fisher & Amy Brunell
Personality and Individual Differences, April–May 2014, Pages 91–96

Abstract:
A bogus pipeline procedure was used to examine whether gender and testing condition influenced 474 college students’ reports of cheating behaviors. Participants were assigned to an anonymous condition, a condition in which they believed that a peer would be handling their completed questionnaires, or one in which they thought they were being monitored by a lie detector. For romantic cheating, gender differences were diminished when participants believed their responses were being monitored by a lie detector, whereas academic cheating did not show this interaction between gender and condition. Hypergender ideology and perception of same-sex friends’ cheating variables were less likely to predict cheating in the pipeline condition than in the other conditions, suggesting that social roles influenced reports of sensitive behaviors unless there was pressure to be honest.

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Imagining the White Picket Fence: Social Class, Future Plans, and Romantic Relationship Quality

Lydia Emery & Benjamin Le
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research has established that individuals from a lower social class report lower relationship quality. However, to date, no studies have examined interdependence processes within the relationship as a mechanism underlying this association. The present research investigates the role of planned tangible investments as a mediator between social class and relationship quality. Across two studies, we test this hypothesis correlationally (Study 1) and experimentally (Study 2). As predicted, lower-class individuals reported fewer planned tangible investments, which in turn were associated with lower relationship satisfaction and commitment (Studies 1 and 2), as well as overall satisfaction with life (Study 2). Together, these studies suggest the importance of perceived ability to make future plans for individual and relationship well-being. This research has implications for understanding relationship quality and mental health among lower-class populations, and the findings are discussed in relation to the growing literature on social class and romantic relationships.

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Marriage Age Patterns: A Unifying Theory and Global Evidence

Hanzhe Zhang
University of Chicago Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
Around the world, the relationship between age at first marriage and personal income earned in later life has been persistently inverse-U shaped for males: those who marry earlier and later earn significantly less than those who marry around a median age. On the other hand, the correlation between marriage age and personal income for females has been positive until recently in the United States the relationship tends to an inverse-U shape similar to males'. I construct an equilibrium dynamic matching model to explain these relationships and evolutions. The two key drivers are stochastic human capital investment returns and differential fecundity. In equilibrium, individuals of the lowest earning potentials work immediately and marry the earliest. Among the investors who try to improve their labor and marriage prospects, men who more quickly realize their potentials marry earlier and earn more but most women marry early except for the few who can compensate their probable fecundity loss by high expected labor market gain. However, when fecundity becomes less constrained due to technological and social advances, women's optimal marriage timing and personal income-marriage age relationship become more similar to men's. The model also sheds lights on other demographic patterns, such as shrinking gender cap in median age at marriage, spousal matching patterns, and marriage market's influence on career choices.

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Two Decades of Stability and Change in Age at First Union Formation

Wendy Manning, Susan Brown & Krista Payne
Journal of Marriage and Family, April 2014, Pages 247–260

Abstract:
The landscape of union formation has been shifting; Americans are now marrying at the highest ages on record and the majority of young adults have cohabited. Yet little attention has been paid to the timing of cohabitation relative to marriage. Using the National Survey of Families and Households and 4 cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth, the authors examined the timing of marriage, cohabitation, and unions over 20 years. As the median age at first marriage has climbed, the age at cohabitation has remained stable for men and women. The changes in the timing of union formation have been similar according to race/ethnicity. The marked delay in marriage among women and men with low educational attainment has resulted in a near-convergence in the age at first marriage according to education. The authors conclude that the rise in cohabitation has offset changes in the levels and timing of marriage.

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You Looking at Her “Hot” Body May Not be “Cool” for Me: Integrating Male Partners’ Pornography Use into Objectification Theory for Women

Tracy Tylka & Ashley Kroon Van Diest
Psychology of Women Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Within objectification theory research, sexual objectification is typically operationalized as interpersonal sexual objectification — being targets of body evaluation and unwanted sexual advances. We argue that women’s male partners’ pornography use could be integrated within objectification theory as another form of sexual objectification and negatively linked to women’s well-being. College women (N = 171) rated how often their current and previous male partners viewed pornography and whether pornography use bothered them. They also completed measures of objectification theory constructs, internalization of cultural beauty standards, relationship attachment, self-esteem, body appreciation, and negative affect. The extent to which women were bothered by partner pornography use was controlled in all analyses. Path analysis revealed that previous partners’ pornography use (a) directly predicted interpersonal sexual objectification, internalization, and eating disorder symptomatology and (b) indirectly predicted body surveillance and body shame through internalization. In hierarchical regressions, previous partners’ pornography use inversely predicted self-esteem and body appreciation and positively predicted relationship anxiety and negative affect. Current partners’ pornography use was not linked to any criterion. Researchers should more comprehensively examine partners’ pornography use in relation to women’s distress. Practitioners may consider exploring male partners’ pornography use in female clients’ relationship histories and its potential associations with their well-being when relevant to them.

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The ecology of relationships: Meeting locations and cohabitors’ relationship perceptions

Sharon Sassler & Amanda Jayne Miller
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
Locations where individuals meet romantic partners may influence the composition and perceived extent of network social support for relationships. In this article, we use in-depth qualitative interviews to examine how 62 cohabiting couples (124 individuals) met their romantic partners, whether this differentiates respondents’ perceptions of support for their relationships, and how this varies by social class. Many of the cohabiting couples in our sample met through friends and family members who can be considered strong ties. Couples also frequently reported meeting in the community, often while pursuing hobbies. Shared network ties and common interests are often attributed to facilitating the progression of relationships. Couples who met through more anomic settings — at a bar or via the Internet — less often viewed their ways of meeting as socially acceptable; many of these couples devised cover stories to tell others about how they met. Our results suggest that those who meet via weak ties perceive lower levels of support for their unions. Working-class couples meet in more anomic settings or through weaker ties more frequently than their middle-class counterparts. Results are interpreted in light of their implications for the diverging family outcomes of working-class and middle-class young adults.

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Spousal employment and intra-household bargaining power

Francisca Antman
Applied Economics Letters, Spring 2014, Pages 560-563

Abstract:
This article considers the relationship between work status and decision-making power of the head of household and his spouse. I used household fixed effects models to address the possibility that spousal work status may be correlated with unobserved factors that also affect bargaining power within the home. Consistent with the hypothesis that greater economic resources yield greater bargaining power, I found that the spouse of the head of household is more likely to be involved in making decisions when she has been employed. Similarly, the head of household is less likely to be the sole decision-maker when his spouse works.

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Divorce Risk, Wages, and Working Wives: A Quantitative Life-Cycle Analysis of Female Labor Force Participation

Raquel Fernández & Joyce Wong
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
This paper develops a quantitative life-cycle model to study the increase in married women's labor force participation (LFP). We calibrate the model to match key life-cycle statistics for the 1935 cohort and use it to assess the changed environment faced by the 1955 cohort. We find that a higher divorce probability and changes in wage structure are each able to explain a large proportion of the LFP increase. Higher divorce risk increases LFP not because the latter contributes to higher marital assets or greater labor market experience, however. Instead, it is the result of conflicting spousal preferences towards the adjustment of marital consumption in the face of increased divorce risk.

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Euromarriages in Spain: Recent Trends and Patterns in the Context of European Integration

Juan Díez Medrano et al.
Population, Space and Place, March 2014, Pages 157–176

Abstract:
This article examines recent trends and patterns in binational marriages between European citizens in Spain over a 20-year period and the sociodemographic profile and nationality composition of these binational marriages. The analysis relies on aggregate marriage statistics and on marriage register microdata for 2008–2009. We use odds ratios to monitor trends and characteristics of binational marriages and multinomial regression to further examine the sociodemographic profile of these couples. The analysis of marriage records reveals only a modest rise in Euromarriages over the 1990–2009 period. This moderate increase in Euromarriages points towards a weak social impact of the European single market. Moreover, the analysis also suggests that binational marriages more often involve lesser-educated than more-educated individuals. Finally, findings on the social and nationality compositions of binational marriages conform to theoretical predictions drawn from the literatures of marriage markets, endogamy, and social hypergamy. They show that the affinity between Spaniards and European Union (EU-15) citizens is lesser than that between Spaniards and non-Europeans (i.e. Latin Americans). They also show that patterns of binational marriages are highly gender specific. Whereas the affinity between Spanish women and EU-15 men is higher than the affinity between Spanish women and ‘new’ European men, the affinity between Spanish men and ‘new’ European women is higher than the affinity between Spanish men and EU-15 women.

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Marriage, adaptation and happiness: Are there long-lasting gains to marriage?

Salmai Qari
Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper uses 23 waves of German panel data and investigates if individuals who decide to marry become permanently happier. Following the same persons over several years we show that they do, thereby challenging a number of recent longitudinal studies in psychology and economics which suggest that individuals fully adapt to the positive impact of marriage. Further, we compare different empirical approaches to measure the extent of adaptation and show that depending on the approach the same sample may generate evidence of full or partial adaptation. This result may be equally important for studies that analyse the nexus of loss compensation and habituation in the context of other life events.

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Too fast, too soon? An empirical investigation into rebound relationships

Claudia Brumbaugh & Chris Fraley
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
A “rebound relationship” is commonly understood as a relationship that is initiated shortly after a romantic breakup — before the feelings about the former relationship have been resolved. However, little research has examined the consequences of quickly beginning new romantic relationships after another has ended. In two studies we examined people who experienced a breakup and assessed their well-being, their feelings about their ex-partner, and whether they were seeing someone new. Analyses indicated that people in new relationships were more confident in their desirability and had more resolution over their ex-partner. Among those in new relationships, the speed with which they began their relationship was associated with greater psychological and relational health. Overall, these findings suggest that rebound relationships may be more beneficial than typically believed.

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Media Exposure and Romantic Relationship Quality: A Slippery Slope?

Abira Reizer & Amir Hetsroni
Psychological Reports, February 2014, Pages 231-249

Abstract:
This study examines whether media consumption predicted relationship quality among 188 college students who were involved in romantic relationships. The respondents assessed their commitment to the relationship, their satisfaction from the relationship, and their tendency to engage in conflicts within the relationship. Media consumption was measured by assessing the time dedicated to television viewing in general, watching specific genres, Internet use, and newspaper reading. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that total TV viewing time statistically predicted lower commitment to the relationship, while viewing of programming focusing on romantic relationships predicted lower satisfaction and stronger tendency to engage in conflicts. Consumption of media other than television and the control factors did not predict any indicator of relationship quality. The pattern of negative associations between TV viewing and relationship quality is discussed with reference to cultivation theory and mood management theory.

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A Friend of Yours Is No Friend of Mine: Jealousy Toward a Romantic Partner’s Friends

Sarah Gomillion, Shira Gabriel & Sandra Murray
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current research examined the novel hypothesis that a romantic partner’s same-sex friends can elicit jealousy by threatening people’s central role in their partner’s life. Thus, we expected that people whose partners were highly central to their lives would be particularly likely to experience jealousy toward their partner’s same-sex friends and that jealousy would be exacerbated when they had reason to doubt their partner’s commitment. Two studies supported our hypotheses. This research highlights how people alter perceptions of their partner’s broader social context to minimize perceived threats to their romantic relationships.

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Spousal Relationship Quality and Cardiovascular Risk: Dyadic Perceptions of Relationship Ambivalence Are Associated With Coronary-Artery Calcification

Bert Uchino, Timothy Smith & Cynthia Berg
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The quality of spousal relationships has been related to physical-health outcomes. However, most studies have focused on relationship positivity or negativity in isolation, despite the fact that many close relationships are characterized by both positive and negative aspects (i.e., ambivalence). In addition, most work has not accounted for the reciprocal nature of close-relationship processes that can have an impact on health. Using a sample of 136 older married couples, we tested whether actor-partner models of relationships that were either primarily positive or ambivalent (i.e., perceived as having both helpful and upsetting aspects) predicted measures of coronary-artery calcification. Results revealed an Actor × Partner interaction whereby coronary-artery calcification scores were highest for individuals who both viewed and were viewed by their spouse as ambivalent. These data are discussed in light of the importance of considering both positive and negative aspects of relationship quality and modeling the interdependence of close relationships.

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Getting Caught and Getting Hitched: An Assessment of the Relationship Between Police Intervention, Life Chances, and Romantic Unions

Nicole Schmidt et al.
Justice Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Little research has assessed the link between formal police intervention, financial hardship, and the formation and quality of romantic relationships. Using data from the Rochester Youth Development Study, we contribute to this literature by examining effects of police intervention at two time points on marriage stability and romantic relationship quality. We find that police intervention during adolescence is associated with increases in financial hardship during young adulthood, which, in turn, decreases the odds of entering into a stable marriage by age 31 and the extent to which those who have a romantic relationship feel their partner is supportive. Early police intervention also is indirectly associated with a reduction in partner satisfaction and an increase in partner violence via young adult arrest. We conclude that even minimally invasive contact with the criminal justice system during adolescence has long-lasting collateral consequences in the family arena.

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In Defense of Self-Love: An Observational Study on Narcissists' Negative Behavior During Romantic Relationship Conflict

Julie Longua Peterson & Tracy DeHart
Self and Identity, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research suggests narcissists respond negatively to ego-threats stemming from both negative evaluative feedback (Bushman, B. J., & Baumeister, R. F. (1998). Threatened egotism, narcissism, self-esteem, and direct and displaced aggression: Does self-love or self-hate lead to violence? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 219–229) and negative social feedback (Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2003). “Isn't it fun to get the respect that we're going to deserve?” Narcissism, social rejection, and aggression. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 261–272). In the current study, we used an observational methodology to examine whether narcissists also respond negatively to romantic relationship conflict. Multi-level analyses revealed that people high (vs. low) in narcissism were observed by independent coders as engaging in significantly more negative behaviors (i.e., criticizing, name-calling, insulting) during a conflict with their romantic partner. Post-conflict, narcissists reported feeling less committed to their relationships, while reporting that their partners felt more committed to their relationships. Together, these results suggest that narcissists self-protectively derogate relationship partners both during and after conflict as a way to defend against relationship-threats.

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Differential effects of intranasal oxytocin on sexual experiences and partner interactions in couples

Behnoush Behnia et al.
Hormones and Behavior, March 2014, Pages 308–318

Abstract:
Knowledge about the effects of the neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) on human sexual behaviors and partner interactions remains limited. Based on our previous studies, we hypothesize that OXT should be able to positively influence parameters of sexual function and couple interactions. Employing a naturalistic setting involving 29 healthy heterosexual couples (n = 58 participants), we analyzed the acute effects of intranasally administered OXT (24 I.U.) on sexual drive, arousal, orgasm and refractory aspects of sexual behavior together with partner interactions. Data were assessed by psychometric instruments (Acute Sexual Experiences Scale, Arizona Sexual Experience Scale) as well as biomarkers, such as cortisol, α-amylase and heart rate. Intranasal OXT administration did not alter “classical” parameters of sexual function, such as sexual drive, arousal or penile erection and lubrication. However, analysis of variance and a hierarchical linear model (HLM) revealed specific effects related to the orgasmic/post-orgasmic interval as well as parameters of partner interactions. According to HLM analysis, OXT increased the intensity of orgasm, contentment after sexual intercourse and the effect of study participation. According to ANOVA analysis, these effects were more pronounced in men. Men additionally indicated higher levels of sexual satiety after sexual intercourse with OXT administration. Women felt more relaxed and subgroups indicated better abilities to share sexual desires or to empathize with their partners. The effect sizes were small to moderate. Biomarkers indicated moderate psychophysiological activation but were not affected by OXT, gender or method of contraception. Using a naturalistic setting, intranasal OXT administration in couples exerted differential effects on parameters of sexual function and partner interactions. These results warrant further investigations, including subjects with sexual and relationship problems.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fix

Is Employment Discrimination Based on Tobacco Use Efficient?

Ian Irvine & Hai Nguyen
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Numerous employers in over 20 U.S. states currently discriminate legally against smokers in their hiring policies. We analyze the cost of being a smoker, measured in annual hospital days, and compare this with the cost of being a former smoker, the cost of being obese, and the cost of a variety of other medical conditions, relative to the cost of being a never smoker, using three large recent surveys each having in excess of one hundred thousand observations. The paper also explores the cost of former smokers as determined by the number of years since quitting. Smokers as a whole are not found to be the most costly employees. Furthermore, health costs vary dramatically among smokers of different duration and intensity. As a consequence, our results question the efficiency of such discrimination.

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The Behavioral Economics of Drunk Driving

Frank Sloan, Lindsey Eldred & Yanzhi Xu
Journal of Health Economics, May 2014, Pages 64–81

Abstract:
This study investigates whether drinker-drivers attributes are associated with imperfect rationality or irrationality. Using data from eight U.S. cities, we determine whether drinker-drivers differ from other drinkers in cognitive ability, ignorance of driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws, have higher rates of time preference, are time inconsistent, and lack self-control on other measures. We find that drinker-drivers are relatively knowledgeable about DWI laws and do not differ on two of three study measures of cognitive ability from other drinkers. Drinker-drivers are less prone to plan events involving drinking, e.g., selecting a designated driver in advance of drinking, and are more impulsive. Furthermore, we find evidence in support of hyperbolic discounting. In particular, relative to non-drinker-drivers, the difference between short- and long-term discount rates is much higher for drinker-drivers than for other drinkers. Implications of our findings for public policy, including incapacitation, treatment, and educational interventions, are discussed.

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Cannabis Use and Neurocognitive Functioning in a Non-Clinical Sample of Users

April Thames, Natalie Arbid & Philip Sayegh
Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Objective: With the recent debates over marijuana legalization and increases in use, it is critical to examine its role in cognition. While many studies generally support the adverse acute effects of cannabis on neurocognition, the non-acute effects remain less clear. The current study used a cross-sectional design to examine relationships between recent and past cannabis use on neurocognitive functioning in a non-clinical adult sample.

Method: One hundred and fifty-eight participants were recruited through fliers distributed around local college campuses and the community. All participants completed the Brief Drug Use History Form, the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Disorders, underwent urine toxicology screening, and neurocognitive assessment. Participants consisted of recent users (n = 68), past users (n = 41), and non-users (n = 49).

Results: Recent users demonstrated significantly (p < .05) worse performance than non-users across cognitive domains of attention/working memory (M = 42.4, SD = 16.1 vs. M = 50.5, SD = 10.2), information processing speed (M = 44.3, SD = 7.3 vs. M = 52.1, SD = 11.0), and executive functioning (M = 43.6, SD = 13.4 vs. M = 48.6, SD = 7.2). There were no statistically significant differences between recent users and past users on neurocognitive performance. Frequency of cannabis use in the last 4 weeks was negatively associated with global neurocognitive performance and all individual cognitive domains. Similarly, amount of daily cannabis use was negatively associated with global neurocognitive performance and individual cognitive domains.

Conclusions: Our results support the widespread adverse effects of cannabis use on neurocognitive functioning. Although some of these adverse effects appear to attenuate with abstinence, past users’ neurocognitive functioning was consistently lower than non-users.

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Explaining Racial/Ethnic Differences in Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Completion in the United States: A Decomposition Analysis

Brendan Saloner, Nicholas Carson & Benjamin Lê Cook
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Purpose: To identify contributors to racial/ethnic differences in completion of alcohol and marijuana treatment among adolescents at publicly funded providers.

Methods: The 2007 Treatment Episode Data Set provided substance use history, treatment setting, and treatment outcomes for youth aged 12–17 years from five racial/ethnic groups (N = 67,060). Individual-level records were linked to variables measuring the social context and service system characteristics of the metropolitan area. We implemented nonlinear regression decomposition to identify variables that explained minority-white differences.

Results: Black and Hispanic youth were significantly less likely than whites to complete treatment for both alcohol and marijuana. Completion rates were similar for whites, Native Americans, and Asian-Americans, however. Differences in predictor variables explained 12.7% of the black-white alcohol treatment gap and 7.6% of the marijuana treatment gap. In contrast, predictors explained 57.4% of the Hispanic-white alcohol treatment gap and 19.8% of the marijuana treatment gap. While differences in the distribution of individual-level variables explained little of the completion gaps, metropolitan-level variables substantially contributed to Hispanic-white gaps. For example, racial/ethnic composition of the metropolitan area explained 41.0% of the Hispanic-white alcohol completion gap and 23.2% of the marijuana completion gap. Regional differences in addiction treatment financing (particularly use of Medicaid funding) explained 13.7% of the Hispanic-white alcohol completion gap and 9.8% of the Hispanic-white marijuana treatment completion gap.

Conclusions: Factors related to social context are likely to be important contributors to white-minority differences in addiction treatment completion, particularly for Hispanic youth. Increased Medicaid funding, coupled with culturally tailored services, could be particularly beneficial.

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Changes in Alcohol Use after Traumatic Experiences: The Impact of Combat on Army National Guardsmen

Dale Russell et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Objective: This research documents the impact of combat experiences on alcohol use and misuse among National Guard soldiers. Whereas much research regarding combat personnel is based on post-experience data, this study's design uses both pre- and post-deployment data to identify the association between different types of combat experiences and changes in substance use and misuse.

Method: A National Guard Infantry Brigade Combat Team was surveyed before and after its deployment to Iraq in 2005-2006. Members of the unit completed anonymous surveys regarding behavioral health and alcohol use and, in the post-survey, the combat experiences they had during deployment. The unit was surveyed three months prior to its deployment and three months after its deployment.

Results: Prevalence rates of alcohol use increased from 70.8% pre-deployment to 80.5% post-deployment. Prevalence rates of alcohol misuse more than doubled, increasing from 8.51% before deployment to 19.15% after deployment. However, among the combat experiences examined in this study, changes in alcohol misuse post-deployment appear to be solely affected by the combat experience of killing. Alcohol misuse decreased amongst those who experienced killing during combat.

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Effects of Patient Medication Requests on Physician Prescribing Behavior: Results of A Factorial Experiment

John McKinlay et al.
Medical Care, April 2014, Pages 294-299

Objectives: To estimate the effect of patient requests for medications on physician-prescribing behavior, unconfounded by patient, physician, and practice-setting factors.

Research Design: Two experiments were conducted among 192 primary care physicians, each using different video-based scenarios: an undiagnosed “patient” with symptoms strongly suggesting sciatica, and a “patient” with already diagnosed chronic knee osteoarthritis. Half of patients with sciatica symptoms requested oxycodone, whereas the other half requested something to help with pain. Similarly, half of knee osteoarthritis patients specifically requested celebrex and half requested something to help with pain.

Results: 19.8% of sciatica patients requesting oxycodone would receive a prescription for oxycodone, compared with 1% of those making no specific request (P=0.001). Fifty-three percent of knee osteoarthritis patients requesting celebrex would receive it, compared with 24% of patients making no request (P=0.001). Patients requesting oxycodone were more likely to receive a strong narcotic (P=0.001) and less likely to receive a weak narcotic (P=0.01). Patients requesting celebrex were much less likely to receive a nonselective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (P=0.008). No patient attributes, physician, or organizational factors influenced a physician’s willingness to accede to a patient’s medication request.

Conclusions: In both scenarios, activated patient requests for a medication substantially affected physician-prescribing decisions, despite the drawbacks of the requested medications.

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Policing Cannabis and Drug Related Hospital Admissions: Evidence from Administrative Records

Elaine Kelly & Imran Rasul
Journal of Public Economics, April 2014, Pages 89–114

Abstract:
We evaluate the impact of a policing experiment that depenalized the possession of small quantities of cannabis in the London borough of Lambeth, on hospital admissions related to illicit drug use. To do so, we exploit administrative records on individual hospital admissions classified by ICD-10 diagnosis codes. These records allow the construction of a quarterly panel data set for London boroughs running from 1997 to 2009 to estimate the short and long run impacts of the depenalization policy unilaterally introduced in Lambeth between 2001 and 2002. We find the depenalization of cannabis had significant longer term impacts on hospital admissions related to the use of hard drugs, raising hospital admission rates for men by between 40 and 100% of their pre-policy baseline levels. The impacts are concentrated among men in younger age cohorts. The dynamic impacts across cohorts vary in profile with some cohorts experiencing hospitalization rates remaining above pre-intervention levels three to four years after the depenalization policy is introduced. We combine these estimated impacts on hospitalization rates with estimates on how the policy impacted the severity of hospital admissions to provide a lower bound estimate of the public health cost of the depenalization policy.

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Not All Smokers Die Young: A Model for Hidden Heterogeneity within the Human Population

Morgan Levine & Eileen Crimmins
PLoS ONE, February 2014

Abstract:
The ability of some individuals to reach extreme old age in the presence of clearly high exposure to damaging factors may signal an innate biological advantage. For this study we used data on 4,655 current and never smokers, ages 50 and above, from NHANES III to examine whether long-lived smokers represent a biologically resilient phenotype that could facilitate our understanding of heterogeneity in the aging process. Using a proportional hazards model, our results showed that while smoking significantly increased mortality in most age groups, it did not increase the mortality risk for those who were age 80 and over at baseline. Additionally when comparing the adjusted means of biomarkers between never and current smokers, we found that long-lived smokers (80+) had similar inflammation, HDL, and lung function levels to never smokers. Given that factors which allow some individuals to withstand smoking may also enable others to cope with everyday biological stressors, the investigation of long-lived smokers may eventually allow us to identify molecular and genetic mechanisms which enable longevity extension.

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Should anyone be riding to glory on the now-descending limb of the crack-cocaine epidemic curve in the United States?

Maria Parker & James Anthony
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Many pre-clinical and clinical researchers do not appreciate the recent decline in United States (US) population-level incidence of crack-cocaine smoking. At present, no more than about 200 young people start using crack-cocaine each day. Ten years ago, the corresponding estimated daily rate was 1,000. This short communication looks into these trends, surrounding evidence on this important public health topic, and checks whether duration-reducing treatment interventions might be responsible, versus selected alternatives.

Methods: Via analyses of standardized computer-assisted self-interview data from the US National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH, 2002-2011; n > 500,000), we evaluated change in incidence estimates, perceived difficulty to acquire crack, risk of using cocaine, treatment entries, and persistence once crack use has started.

Results: We draw attention to a marked overall decline in year-specific incidence rates for crack-cocaine smoking from 2002-2011, especially 2007-2011. There is some variation in estimates of difficulty to acquire crack (p < 0.001) and observed risk of using cocaine among ‘at risk’ susceptibles (p < 0.001), but no appreciable shifts in duration of crack smoking among active users (p > 0.05) nor in proportion of crack users receiving treatment (p > 0.05).

Conclusions: Changing epidemiology of crack-cocaine smoking may rest largely on reductions in newly incident use with no major direct effects due to US cocaine treatment, incarceration, or interdiction. Concurrently, we see quite modest declines in survey-based estimates of cocaine-attributed perceived risk and cocaine availability. As such, we posit that no specific US agency should claim it is ‘riding to glory’ on the descending limb of this epidemic curve.

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Trends in Medical Use, Diversion, and Nonmedical Use of Prescription Medications among College Students from 2003 to 2013: Connecting the Dots

Sean Esteban McCabe et al.
Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Objectives: To examine trends in the lifetime and past-year prevalence of medical use, diversion, and nonmedical use of four prescription medication classes (i.e., sedative/anxiety, opioid, sleeping, and stimulant) among college students between 2003 and 2013; and to identify demographic and background characteristics associated with trends in past-year nonmedical use of prescription medications.

Methods: A self-administered, cross-sectional Web survey was conducted in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013 at a large public four-year university in the Midwest United States.

Results: Approximately one in every five individuals reported nonmedical use of at least one prescription medication class in their lifetime. The past-year prevalence of medical use, diversion and nonmedical use of prescription stimulants increased significantly between 2003 and 2013 while the past-year prevalence of medical use, diversion and nonmedical use of prescription opioids decreased significantly over this same time period. The odds of past-year nonmedical use of each prescription medication class were generally greater among males, Whites, members of social fraternities and sororities, and those with a lifetime history of medical use of prescription medications or a past-year history of being approached to divert their prescription medications.

Conclusions: The present study represents the first investigation to demonstrate that trends in medical use of controlled medications parallel changes in diversion and nonmedical use of the same medication class among college students. The findings reinforce the importance of continued monitoring of prescription medication use at colleges to help guide prevention and intervention efforts.

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Correlates of Intentions to Use Cannabis among US High School Seniors in the Case of Cannabis Legalization

Joseph Palamar, Danielle Ompad & Eva Petkova
International Journal of Drug Policy, forthcoming

Background: Support for cannabis (“marijuana”) legalization is increasing in the United States (US). Use was recently legalized in two states and in Uruguay, and other states and countries are expected to follow suit. This study examined intentions to use among US high school seniors if cannabis were to become legally available.

Methods: Data from the last five cohorts (2007-2011) of high school seniors in Monitoring the Future, an annual nationally representative survey of students in the US were utilized. Data were analyzed separately for the 6,116 seniors who reported no lifetime use of cannabis and the 3,828 seniors who reported lifetime use (weighted Ns). We examined whether demographic characteristics, substance use and perceived friend disapproval towards cannabis use were associated with 1) intention to try cannabis among non-lifetime users, and 2) intention to use cannabis as often or more often among lifetime users, if cannabis was legal to use.

Results: Ten percent of non-cannabis-using students reported intent to initiate use if legal and this would constitute a 5.6% absolute increase in lifetime prevalence of cannabis use in this age group from 45.6% (95% CI = 46.6, 44.6) to 51.2% (95% CI = 50.2, 52.2). Eighteen percent of lifetime users reported intent to use cannabis more often if it was legal. Odds for intention to use outcomes increased among groups already at high risk for use (e.g., males, whites, cigarette smokers) and odds were reduced when friends disapproved of use. However, large proportions of subgroups of students normally at low risk for use (e.g., non-cigarette-smokers, religious students, those with friends who disapprove of use) reported intention to use if legal. Recent use was also a risk factor for reporting intention to use as often or more often.

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Impacts of drinking-age laws on mortality in Canada, 1980-2009

Russell Callaghan et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Given the recent international debates about the effectiveness and appropriate age setpoints for legislated minimum legal drinking ages (MLDAs), the current study estimates the impact of Canadian MLDAs on mortality among young adults. Currently, the MLDA is 18 years of age in Alberta, Manitoba and Québec, and 19 years in the rest of Canada.

Methods: Using a regression-discontinuity approach, we estimated the impacts of the MLDAs on mortality from 1980-2009 among 16-22-year-olds in Canada.

Results: In provinces with an MLDA of 18 years of age, young men slightly older than the MLDA had significant and abrupt increases in all-cause mortality (14.2%, p = 0.002), primarily due to deaths from a broad class of injuries (16.2%, p = 0.008), including fatalities due to motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) (12.7%, p = 0.038). In provinces/territories with an MLDA of 19 years of age, significant jumps appeared immediately after the MLDA among males in all-cause mortality (7.2%, p = 0.003), including injuries from external causes (10.4%, p < 0.001) and MVAs (15.3%, p < 0.001). Among females, there were some increases in mortality following the MLDA, but these jumps were statistically non-significant.

Conclusions: Canadian drinking-age legislation has a powerful impact on youth mortality. Given that removal of MLDA restrictions was associated with sharp upturns in fatalities among young men, the MLDA likely reduces population-level mortality among male youth under the constraints of drinking-age legislation. Alcohol-control policies should target the transition across the MLDA as a pronounced period of mortality risk, especially among males.

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The Myth of Conformity: Adolescents and Abstention from Unhealthy Drinking Behaviors

Carter Rees & Danielle Wallace
Social Science & Medicine, May 2014, Pages 34–45

Abstract:
Adolescent peer groups with pro-drinking group norms are a well-established source of influence for alcohol initiation and use. However, classic experimental studies of social influence, namely ‘minority influence’, clearly indicate social situations in which an individual can resist conforming to the group norm. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (“Add Health”), a nationally representative sample of adolescents, we find evidence that being a non-drinking adolescent does not unilaterally put youth at risk for drinking onset when faced with a friendship network where the majority of friends drink. Our results also show that a non-drinking adolescent with a majority of drinking friends is significantly less likely to initiate alcohol abuse if he or she has a minority of non-drinking friend(s). Furthermore, a drinking adolescent with a majority of friends who drink has a decreased probability of continuing to drink and has overall lower levels of consumption if he or she has a minority of friends who do not drink. Our findings recognize that adolescent in-group friendships are a mix of behavioral profiles and can perhaps help adolescents continue or begin to abstain alcohol use even when in a friendship group supportive of alcohol use.

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Alcohol Use, Drinking Consequences, and Sensitivity to Social Cues among College Women

Peter Vik et al.
Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
College students who drink vary in the extent to which they experience drinking consequences, prompting a need to identify factors that differentiate higher-risk drinkers from others. The present study investigated whether difficulty processing subtle social information is related to negative drinking consequences experienced within the past year. Specifically, poor ability to detect subtle non-verbal sarcasm cues was predicted to contribute to drinking consequences. Participants were 39 women, aged 18 to 27 (M = 22), who were enrolled in a public, four-year University. Participants completed a video measure of ability to detect sarcastic comments. After controlling for (high school drinking consequences, maximum drinks in the past 3 months, age), poorer performance in the Simple Sarcasm condition (which provided no cues to others’ intentions) explained an additional 10.8% of the variance in recent drinking consequences (ΔF (1, 34) = 6.15, p = .018). When predicting risky/hazardous alcohol use consequences (e.g., driving intoxicated, fights, unplanned/unprotected sex), Simple Sarcasm again improved prediction by explaining an additional 8.6% of the variance (ΔF (1, 34) = 4.75, p = .036). Sarcasm conditions that provided additional cues to others’ meanings were unrelated to alcohol consequences. Findings are discussed within the context of neurological (orbito-frontal – subcortial) pathways that are common to social information and alcohol reinforcement processes.

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Racial segregation and maternal smoking during pregnancy: A multilevel analysis using the racial segregation interaction index

Tse-Chuan Yang et al.
Social Science & Medicine, April 2014, Pages 26–36

Abstract:
Drawing from both the place stratification and ethnic enclave perspectives, we use multilevel modeling to investigate the relationships between women’s race/ethnicity (i.e., non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, Asian, and Hispanic) and maternal smoking during pregnancy; and examine if these relationships are moderated by racial segregation in the continental United States. The results show that increased interaction with whites is associated with increased probability of maternal smoking during pregnancy for Asian and Hispanic mothers. In addition, racial segregation moderates the relationships between race/ethnicity and maternal smoking. Specifically, living in a less racially segregated area is related to a lower probability of smoking during pregnancy for black women, but it could double and almost triple the probability of smoking for Asian women and Hispanic women, respectively. Our findings provide empirical evidence for both the place stratification and ethnic enclave perspectives.

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Changes in cigarette and alcohol use during cannabis abstinence

David Allsop et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Objective: Cannabis causes lower mortality and morbidity than alcohol and tobacco so it is clinically important if quitting cannabis is associated with substitution with these substances. This study tests if cannabis is substituted with alcohol and/or tobacco during cannabis abstinence, and factors predicting such substitution.

Method: A secondary analysis of a prospective community based study quantified cannabis, alcohol and tobacco use with Timeline Follow-back during a two-week voluntary cannabis abstinence and at one-month follow-up in non-treatment seeking cannabis users (n = 45). Cannabis use was verified by urine THC-COOH levels.

Results: Alcohol use increased by 8 standard units (SU; d = 0.48)/week and cigarette use by 14 cigarettes/week (d = 0.29) during cannabis abstinence. Those using less of each substance at baseline had greater increases during cannabis abstinence (alcohol P < 0.0001, tobacco P = 0.01). There was a decrease in alcohol (-4.8 SU, d = -0.29) and tobacco (-13 cigarettes/week, d = -0.26) use at follow-up, when most participants (87%, n = 39) had resumed cannabis use. Increased cigarette use was predicted by cannabis withdrawal related sleep difficulty (insomnia) (P = 0.05), restlessness (P = 0.03) and physical symptoms (P = 0.02). Neither alcohol nor cigarette use increased significantly in those (13.3%, n = 6) who remained abstinent from cannabis through to follow-up.

Conclusions: Abstaining from cannabis was associated with increases in alcohol and tobacco use that decreased with resumption of cannabis use; however there were no increases in individuals who remained abstinent from cannabis at one-month follow-up. Tobacco use did not increase in those experiencing milder cannabis withdrawal symptoms. Research on substitution in treatment seekers during outpatient cannabis abstinence is needed.

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‘Me and My Drank:’ Exploring the Relationship Between Musical Preferences and Purple Drank Experimentation

Melanie Hart et al.
American Journal of Criminal Justice, March 2014, Pages 172-186

Abstract:
“Purple drank” is a label typically applied to mixtures of codeine cough syrup with soda, although it has also been applied to mixtures of over-the-counter cough syrups and alcohol. This novel drug formulation was first popularized in the Houston, Texas rap music scene in the 1990’s, and since then references to purple drank have become common in rap and hip-hop songs, but remained virtually absent in other musical genres. Prior research has found that musical preferences can have an influence on choice and frequency of drug use. The goal of the present study is to examine the relationship between musical preferences and experimentation with purple drank. Self-reported information about musical preferences, substance use, and demographic characteristics were collected from 2,349 students at a large university in the southeastern United States. An analysis of lifetime purple drank and other drug use by musical preferences reveals that those who prefer rap/hip-hop music and rock/alternative have the highest risk for reporting purple drank use. Further, this relationship far exceeds the associations between musical preferences and other drugs. Results from logistic regression analyses indicate males, other drug users, and those that prefer rap/hip-hop music have a significantly higher likelihood of using purple drank.

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Association of Unintentional Pediatric Exposures With Decriminalization of Marijuana in the United States

George Wang et al.
Annals of Emergency Medicine, March 2014, Pages 1450-1455

Study objective: We compare state trends in unintentional pediatric marijuana exposures, as measured by call volume to US poison centers, by state marijuana legislation status.

Methods: A retrospective review of the American Association of Poison Control Centers National Poison Data System was performed from January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2011. States were classified as nonlegal if they have not passed legislation, transitional if they enacted legislation between 2005 and 2011, and decriminalized if laws passed before 2005. Our hypotheses were that decriminalized and transitional states would experience a significant increase in call volume, with more symptomatic exposures and more health care admissions than nonlegal states.

Results: There were 985 unintentional marijuana exposures reported from 2005 through 2011 in children aged 9 years and younger: 496 in nonlegal states, 93 in transitional states, and 396 in decriminalized states. There was a slight male predominance, and the median age ranged from 1.5 to 2.0 years. Clinical effects varied, with neurologic effects the most frequent. More exposures in decriminalized states required health care evaluation and had moderate to major clinical effects and critical care admissions compared with exposures from nonlegal states. The call rate in nonlegal states to poison centers did not change from 2005 to 2011. The call rate in decriminalized states increased by 30.3% calls per year, and transitional states had a trend toward an increase of 11.5% per year.

Conclusion: Although the number of pediatric exposures to marijuana reported to the National Poison Data System was low, the rate of exposure increased from 2005 to 2011 in states that had passed marijuana legislation.

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Effects of Reward Sensitivity and Regional Brain Volumes on Substance Use Initiation in Adolescence

Snežana Urošević et al.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
This longitudinal study examines associations between baseline individual differences and developmental changes in reward (i.e., behavioral approach system (BAS)) sensitivity and relevant brain structures' volumes to prospective substance use initiation during adolescence. A community sample of adolescents ages 15 to 18 with no prior substance use was assessed for substance use initiation (i.e., initiation of regular alcohol use and/or any use of other substances) during a two-year follow-up period and for alcohol use frequency in the last year of the follow-up. Longitudinal increases in BAS sensitivity were associated with substance use initiation and increased alcohol use frequency during the follow-up. Moreover, adolescents with smaller left nucleus accumbens (Nacc) at baseline were more likely to initiate substance use during the follow-up period. The present study provides support for the link between developmental increases in reward sensitivity and substance use initiation in adolescence. The study also emphasizes the potential importance of individual differences in volumes of subcortical regions and their structural development for substance use initiation during adolescence.

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Development of Impulse Control Circuitry in Children of Alcoholics

Jillian Hardee et al.
Biological Psychiatry, forthcoming

Background: Difficulty with impulse control is heightened in children with a family history of alcohol use disorders and is a risk factor for later substance problems. Cross-sectional fMRI studies have shown altered impulse control processing in family history positive adolescents, yet developmental trajectories have yet to be examined.

Methods: Longitudinal fMRI was conducted in children of alcoholic (FH+; n=43) and control families (FH-; n=30) starting at ages 7-12yr. Participants performed a go/no-go task during fMRI at 1- to 2-yr intervals, with 2-4 scans per subject. We implemented a repeated-measures linear model fit across all subjects to conduct a whole-brain search for developmental differences between groups.

Results: Performance improved with age in both groups and there were no performance differences between groups. Significant between-group differences in linear age-related activation changes were found in the right caudate, middle cingulate, and middle frontal gyrus. Post-hoc analyses revealed significant activation decreases with age in the caudate and middle frontal gyrus for FH- subjects, and a significant increase with age in middle cingulate activation for the FH+ group. Group differences were evident as early as age 7-12yr, even in alcohol and drug naïve participants, with the FH+ group showing significantly blunted activation compared to FH- subjects at baseline.

Conclusions: Differences in response inhibition circuitry are visible as early as childhood in FH+ individuals; this continues into adolescence, displaying trajectories that are inconsistent with normal response inhibition development. These patterns precede problem drinking and may be a contributing factor for subsequent substance problems.

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Decreased delay discounting in former cigarette smokers at one year after treatment

Roberto Secades-Villa et al.
Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
Current cigarette smokers exhibit greater delay discounting relative to ex-smokers. However, few studies have assessed longitudinal changes in delay discounting and cigarette smoking. The purpose of this study was to assess changes in delay discounting of hypothetical monetary rewards and smoking among treatment-seeking smokers (N = 80) at baseline, after 6 weeks of behavioral treatment, and at 12-months follow-up. Results showed no changes in delay discounting in either smokers or abstainers at the end-of-treatment. In contrast, at 12-months follow-up, significant decreases in delay discounting were observed in abstainers while delay discounting remained the same for smokers. To our knowledge, this is the first study to observe significant decreases in delay discounting following prolonged smoking abstinence. Such findings provide evidence that delay discounting may have more state-like characteristics than previously believed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Between you and me

Pronoun Use Reflects Standings in Social Hierarchies

Ewa Kacewicz et al.
Journal of Language and Social Psychology, March 2014, Pages 125-143

Abstract:
Five studies explored the ways relative rank is revealed among individuals in small groups through their natural use of pronouns. In Experiment 1, four-person groups worked on a decision-making task with randomly assigned leadership status. In Studies 2 and 3, two-person groups either worked on a task or chatted informally in a get-to-know-you session. Study 4 was a naturalistic study of incoming and outgoing e-mail of 9 participants who provided information on their correspondents’ relative status. The last study examined 40 letters written by soldiers in the regime of Saddam Hussein. Computerized text analyses across the five studies found that people with higher status consistently used fewer first-person singular, and more first-person plural and second-person singular pronouns. Natural language use during group interaction suggests that status is associated with attentional biases, such that higher rank is linked with other-focus whereas lower rank is linked with self-focus.

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An experimental demonstration of the effect of group size on cultural accumulation

Marius Kempe & Alex Mesoudi
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Cumulative culture is thought to have played a major role in hominin evolution, and so an understanding of the factors that affect cultural accumulation is important for understanding human evolution. Population size may be one such factor, with larger populations thought to be able to support more complex cultural traits. This hypothesis has been suggested by mathematical models and empirical studies of small-scale societies. However, to date there have been few experimental demonstrations of an effect of population size on cultural accumulation. Here we provide such a demonstration using a novel task, solving jigsaw puzzles. 80 participants divided into ten transmission chains solved puzzles in one of two conditions: one in which participants had access to one semi-completed puzzle from the previous generation, and the other in which participants simultaneously saw three semi-completed puzzles from the previous generation. As predicted, the mean number of pieces solved increased over time in the three-puzzle-per-generation condition, but not in the one-puzzle-per-generation condition. Thus, our experiment provides support for a hypothesized relationship between population size and cultural accumulation. In particular, our results suggest that the ability to simultaneously learn from multiple cultural models, and combine the knowledge of those multiple models, is most likely to allow larger groups to support more complex culture.

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Distinguishing the Role of Authority “In” and Authority “To”

Dan Silverman, Joel Slemrod & Neslihan Uler
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Authority, and the behavioral response to authority, is central to many important questions in public economics, but has received insufficient attention from economists. In particular, research has not differentiated between legitimate power and the presumption of expert knowledge, what we call authority “to” and authority “in.” In this paper we report on the results of a series of lab experiments designed to distinguish the effects of the two sources of authority on contributions to a public project. The results suggest that authority “to” and authority “in” interact in ways not heretofore understood. Penalizing non-social behavior without expert explanation does not increase voluntary contributions, nor does expert explanation without the threat of penalty, but together they induce more contributions than any other combination of policies. We interpret these findings to indicate that the reaction to an authority depends on whether that authority is perceived to be legitimate.

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Inferring Character From Faces: A Developmental Study

Emily Cogsdill et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Human adults attribute character traits to faces readily and with high consensus. In two experiments investigating the development of face-to-trait inference, adults and children ages 3 through 10 attributed trustworthiness, dominance, and competence to pairs of faces. In Experiment 1, the attributions of 3- to 4-year-olds converged with those of adults, and 5- to 6-year-olds’ attributions were at adult levels of consistency. Children ages 3 and above consistently attributed the basic mean/nice evaluation not only to faces varying in trustworthiness (Experiment 1) but also to faces varying in dominance and competence (Experiment 2). This research suggests that the predisposition to judge others using scant facial information appears in adultlike forms early in childhood and does not require prolonged social experience.

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The Echo Effect: The Power of Verbal Mimicry to Influence Prosocial Behavior

Wojciech Kulesza et al.
Journal of Language and Social Psychology, March 2014, Pages 183-201

Abstract:
Research on the chameleon effect has demonstrated that social benefits, such as liking, safety, rapport, affiliation, and cohesion can be evoked through nonverbal imitation (e.g., body language and mannerisms). Herein, we introduce the echo effect, a less researched phenomenon of verbal mimicry, in a real-world setting. Study participants, 330 currency exchange office customers, were assigned into one of three experimental and two control conditions. Careful attention to research design produced results that address issues raised in the mimicry literature and more clearly define the boundaries of verbal mimicry. The results demonstrate that while repetition of words is important in increasing an individual’s tendency to perform prosocial behaviors, the order in which they are repeated back is not; verbal mimicry is more powerful mechanism than dialogue; and, for nonmimicry control conditions, no response produces the same result as a brief response.

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Friend or Foe? Early Social Evaluation of Human Interactions

Marine Buon et al.
PLoS ONE, February 2014

Abstract:
We report evidence that 29-month-old toddlers and 10-month-old preverbal infants discriminate between two agents: a pro-social agent, who performs a positive (comforting) action on a human patient and a negative (harmful) action on an inanimate object, and an anti-social agent, who does the converse. The evidence shows that they prefer the former to the latter even though the agents perform the same bodily movements. Given that humans can cause physical harm to their conspecifics, we discuss this finding in light of the likely adaptive value of the ability to detect harmful human agents.

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Incentives and group identity

Paolo Masella, Stephan Meier & Philipp Zahn
Games and Economic Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates in a principal-agent environment whether and how group membership influences the effectiveness of incentives and when incentives can have “hidden costs”, i.e., a detrimental effect. We show experimentally that in all interactions control mechanisms can have hidden costs for reasons specific to group membership. In within-group interactions control has detrimental effects because the agent does not expect to be controlled and reacts negatively when being controlled. In between-group interactions, agents perceive control more hostile once we condition on their beliefs about principals' behavior. Our finding contributes to the micro-foundation of psychological effects of incentives.

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The direct perception hypothesis: Perceiving the intention of another’s action hinders its precise imitation

Tom Froese & David Leavens
Frontiers in Psychology, February 2014

Abstract:
We argue that imitation is a learning response to unintelligible actions, especially to social conventions. Various strands of evidence are converging on this conclusion, but further progress has been hampered by an outdated theory of perceptual experience. Comparative psychology continues to be premised on the doctrine that humans and non-human primates only perceive others’ physical “surface behavior,” while mental states are perceptually inaccessible. However, a growing consensus in social cognition research accepts the direct perception hypothesis: primarily we see what others aim to do; we do not infer it from their motions. Indeed, physical details are overlooked – unless the action is unintelligible. On this basis we hypothesize that apes’ propensity to copy the goal of an action, rather than its precise means, is largely dependent on its perceived intelligibility. Conversely, children copy means more often than adults and apes because, uniquely, much adult human behavior is completely unintelligible to unenculturated observers due to the pervasiveness of arbitrary social conventions, as exemplified by customs, rituals, and languages. We expect the propensity to imitate to be inversely correlated with the familiarity of cultural practices, as indexed by age and/or socio-cultural competence. The direct perception hypothesis thereby helps to parsimoniously explain the most important findings of imitation research, including children’s over-imitation and other species-typical and age-related variations.

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Empathy for social exclusion involves the sensory-discriminative component of pain: A within-subject fMRI study

G. Novembre, M. Zanon & G. Silani
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent research has shown that experiencing events that represent a significant threat to social bonds activates a network of brain areas associated with the sensory-discriminative aspects of pain (Kross et al., 2011). In the present study we investigated whether the same brain areas are involved when witnessing social exclusion threats experienced by others. Using a within-subject design, we show that an ecologically valid experience of social exclusion recruits areas coding the somatosensory components of physical pain (posterior insular cortex, and secondary somatosensory cortex). Furthermore, we show that this pattern of activation not only holds for directly experienced social pain, but also during empathy for social pain. Finally, we report that subgenual cingulate cortex is the only brain area conjointly active during empathy for physical and social pain. This supports recent theories that affective processing and homeostatic regulation are at the core of empathic responses.

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Generalized Trust and Intelligence in the United States

Noah Carl & Francesco Billari
PLoS ONE, March 2014

Abstract:
Generalized trust refers to trust in other members of society; it may be distinguished from particularized trust, which corresponds to trust in the family and close friends. An extensive empirical literature has established that generalized trust is an important aspect of civic culture. It has been linked to a variety of positive outcomes at the individual level, such as entrepreneurship, volunteering, self-rated health, and happiness. However, two recent studies have found that it is highly correlated with intelligence, which raises the possibility that the other relationships in which it has been implicated may be spurious. Here we replicate the association between intelligence and generalized trust in a large, nationally representative sample of U.S. adults. We also show that, after adjusting for intelligence, generalized trust continues to be strongly associated with both self-rated health and happiness. In the context of substantial variation across countries, these results bolster the view that generalized trust is a valuable social resource, not only for the individual but for the wider society as well.

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The Role of Subsidies in Coordination Games with Interconnected Risk

Min Gong et al.
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, forthcoming

Abstract:
Can subsidies promote Pareto-optimum coordination? We found that partially subsidizing the cooperative actions for two out of six players in a laboratory coordination game usually produced better coordination and higher total social welfare with both deterministic and stochastic payoffs. Not only were the subsidized players more likely to cooperate (choose the Pareto-optimum action), but the unsubsidized players increased their expectations on how likely others would cooperate, and they cooperated more frequently themselves. After removal of the subsidy, high levels of coordination continued in most groups with stochastic payoffs but declined in deterministic ones. This carry-over disparity between the deterministic and stochastic settings was consistent with the economic theories that agents were more likely to keep the status quo option under uncertainty than without uncertainty. Hence, players with stochastic payoffs were more likely to keep the high coordination level (status quo) brought by the subsidy in the previous subsidy session. A post-game survey also indicated that with stochastic payoffs, players focused on risk reduction. Temporary subsidies promoted lasting coordination because even after subsidy was removed, players still assumed that others players would prefer reduced risks from cooperation. With deterministic payoffs, however, the subsidy might crowd out other rationales for coordination, with many players indicating that the subsidy was the only reason for anyone to cooperate. Hence, the coordination level dropped when the subsidy was removed.

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Strategic Regulation of Mimicry Effects by Implementation Intentions

Frank Wieber, Peter Gollwitzer & Paschal Sheeran
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, July 2014, Pages 31–39

Abstract:
Although mimicry generally facilitates social interaction, sometimes mimicry effects can hamper pursuit of focal goals. Two studies tested whether the self-regulation strategy of forming implementation intentions (i.e., planning in advance the when, where, and how of one’s goal striving) can be used to regulate mimicry effects. In Study 1, implementation intentions to be non-prejudiced ensured that mimicking increased attraction even for an unlikable person. In Study 2, implementation intentions to be thrifty reduced participants’ susceptibility to the persuasive effects of being mimicked. Mere goal intentions to be non-prejudiced and to be thrifty did not suffice to regulate mimicry effects. We conclude that the strategic automaticity accomplished by implementation intentions allows people to intentionally strengthen (Study 1) and weaken (Study 2) mimicry effects in line with their goals. Implications for the effective self-regulation of mimicry effects are discussed.

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Gender and Cooperation in Children: Experiments in Colombia and Sweden

Juan-Camilo Cárdenas et al.
PLoS ONE, March 2014

Abstract:
In this article we compare cooperation among Colombian and Swedish children aged 9–12. We illustrate the dynamics of the prisoner's dilemma in a new task that is easily understood by children and performed during a physical education class. We find no robust evidence of a difference in cooperation between Colombia and Sweden overall. However, Colombian girls cooperate less than Swedish girls. We also find indications that girls in Colombia are less cooperative than boys. Finally, there is also a tendency for children to be more cooperative with boys than with girls on average.

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Solidarity among the poor

Angela de Oliveira, Catherine Eckel & Rachel Croson
Economics Letters, May 2014, Pages 144–148

Abstract:
We conduct a field experiment with low-income subjects in Dallas, Texas. We examine voluntary, informal risk sharing using a visual representation of the solidarity game developed for low-literacy populations. We find substantially more ‘fixed gift to loser’ behavior and less ‘egotistical’ behavior than in previous studies. Individuals who display ‘egotistical’ behavior are more risk tolerant. The amount of the conditional gifts is positively related to age, income, and connection to the community. However, trust and empathy, which are commonly discussed as drivers for solidarity, are not significantly related to the amount given.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sensitive

The Mind in the Machine: Anthropomorphism Increases Trust in an Autonomous Vehicle

Adam Waytz, Joy Heafner & Nicholas Epley
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, May 2014, Pages 113-117

Abstract:
Sophisticated technology is increasingly replacing human minds to perform complicated tasks in domains ranging from medicine to education to transportation. We investigated an important theoretical determinant of people's willingness to trust such technology to perform competently - the extent to which a nonhuman agent is anthropomorphized with a humanlike mind - in a domain of practical importance, autonomous driving. Participants using a driving simulator drove either a normal car, an autonomous vehicle able to control steering and speed, or a comparable autonomous vehicle augmented with additional anthropomorphic features - name, gender, and voice. Behavioral, physiological, and self-report measures revealed that participants trusted that the vehicle would perform more competently as it acquired more anthropomorphic features. Technology appears better able to perform its intended design when it seems to have a humanlike mind. These results suggest meaningful consequences of humanizing technology, and also offer insights into the inverse process of objectifying humans.

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Being there: A brief visit to a neighbourhood induces the social attitudes of that neighbourhood

Daniel Nettle et al.
PeerJ, January 2014

Abstract:
There are differences between human groups in social behaviours and the attitudes that underlie them, such as trust. However, the psychological mechanisms that produce and reproduce this variation are not well understood. In particular, it is not clear whether assimilation to the social culture of a group requires lengthy socialization within that group, or can be more rapidly and reversibly evoked by exposure to the group's environment and the behaviour of its members. Here, we report the results of a two-part study in two neighbourhoods of a British city, one economically deprived with relatively high crime, and the other affluent and lower in crime. In the first part of the study, we surveyed residents and found that the residents of the deprived neighbourhood had lower levels of social trust and higher levels of paranoia than the residents of the affluent neighbourhood. In the second part, we experimentally transported student volunteers who resided in neither neighbourhood to one or the other, and had them walk around delivering questionnaires to houses. We surveyed their trust and paranoia, and found significant differences according to which neighbourhood they had been sent to. The differences in the visitors mirrored the differences seen in the residents, with visitors to the deprived neighbourhood reporting lower social trust and higher paranoia than visitors to the affluent one. The magnitudes of the neighbourhood differences in the visitors, who only spent up to 45 min in the locations, were nearly as great as the magnitudes of those amongst the residents. We discuss the relevance of our findings to differential psychology, neighbourhood effects on social outcomes, and models of cultural evolution.

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Physical contact influences how much people pay at celebrity auctions

George Newman & Paul Bloom
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 11 March 2014, Pages 3705-3708

Abstract:
Contagion is a form of magical thinking in which people believe that a person's immaterial qualities or essence can be transferred to an object through physical contact. Here we investigate how a belief in contagion influences the sale of celebrity memorabilia. Using data from three high-profile estate auctions, we find that people's expectations about the amount of physical contact between the object and the celebrity positively predicts the final bids for items that belonged to well-liked individuals (e.g., John F. Kennedy) and negatively predicts final bids for items that belonged to disliked individuals (e.g., Bernard Madoff). A follow-up experiment further suggests that these effects are driven by contagion beliefs: when asked to bid on a sweater owned by a well-liked celebrity, participants report that they would pay substantially less if it was sterilized before they received it. However, sterilization increases the amount they would pay for a sweater owned by a disliked celebrity. These studies suggest that magical thinking may still have effects in contemporary Western societies and they provide some unique demonstrations of contagion effects on real-world purchase decisions.

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How Perceptions of Temporal Distance Influence Satiation

Jeff Galak et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, May 2014, Pages 118-123

Abstract:
Although people recover from satiation with the natural passage of time, we examine whether it is possible to influence the recovery process merely by changing the perceived temporal distance from past consumption. Experiment 1, a field experiment, demonstrates that influencing the perceived temporal distance from dinner-goers' last meal affects the caloric value of the meal purchased (more recent leads to smaller food purchase). In a lab environment controlling for objective temporal distance and initial satiation, Experiment 2 demonstrates that these changes in perceived temporal distance also affect the actual enjoyment of an experience (listening to a favored song). Beyond these reconstructed temporal judgments, Experiment 3 directly manipulates the perceived length of the intervening period since last consumption using an altered time clock, and replicates these effects on satiation. Our findings illustrate that simple manipulations of subjective time perception can influence consumption, even in the presence of very real physiological inputs, and provide further insight into how satiation is constructed.

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The Influence of Social Power on Weight Perception

Eun Hee Lee & Simone Schnall
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Three studies explored whether social power affects the perception of physical properties of objects, testing the hypothesis that the powerless find objects to be heavier than the powerful do. Correlational findings from Study 1 revealed that people with a low personal sense of power perceived loaded boxes to be heavier than people with a high personal sense of power perceived them to be. In Study 2, experimentally manipulated power indicated that participants in the powerless condition judged the boxes to be heavier than did participants in the powerful condition. Study 3 further indicated that lacking power actively influences weight perception relative to a neutral control condition, whereas having power does not. Although much research on embodied perception has shown that various physiological and psychosocial resources influence visual perception of the physical environment, this is the first demonstration suggesting that power, a psychosocial construct that relates to the control of resources, changes the perception of physical properties of objects.

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A Sense of Embodiment Is Reflected in People's Signature Size

Adhip Rawal et al.
PLoS ONE, February 2014

Background: The size of a person's signature may reveal implicit information about how the self is perceived although this has not been closely examined.

Methods/Results: We conducted three experiments to test whether increases in signature size can be induced. Specifically, the aim of these experiments was to test whether changes in signature size reflect a person's current implicit sense of embodiment. Experiment 1 showed that an implicit affect task (positive subliminal evaluative conditioning) led to increases in signature size relative to an affectively neutral task, showing that implicit affective cues alter signature size. Experiments 2 and 3 demonstrated increases in signature size following experiential self-focus on sensory and affective stimuli relative to both conceptual self-focus and external (non-self-focus) in both healthy participants and patients with anorexia nervosa, a disorder associated with self-evaluation and a sense of disembodiment. In all three experiments, increases in signature size were unrelated to changes in self-reported mood and larger than manipulation unrelated variations.

Conclusions: Together, these findings suggest that a person's sense of embodiment is reflected in their signature size.

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The experience of mathematical beauty and its neural correlates

Semir Zeki et al.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, February 2014

Abstract:
Many have written of the experience of mathematical beauty as being comparable to that derived from the greatest art. This makes it interesting to learn whether the experience of beauty derived from such a highly intellectual and abstract source as mathematics correlates with activity in the same part of the emotional brain as that derived from more sensory, perceptually based, sources. To determine this, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to image the activity in the brains of 15 mathematicians when they viewed mathematical formulae which they had individually rated as beautiful, indifferent or ugly. Results showed that the experience of mathematical beauty correlates parametrically with activity in the same part of the emotional brain, namely field A1 of the medial orbito-frontal cortex (mOFC), as the experience of beauty derived from other sources.

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Adding odor: Less distress and enhanced attention for 6-month-olds

Caroline Coffield et al.
Infant Behavior and Development, May 2014, Pages 155-161

Abstract:
The effect of odor on cognitive and emotional processes has been studied in adults and children, but less so in infants. In this study twenty-seven six-month-olds were presented with a video while in either an odor (pine or baby-powder) or a no odor control condition. The video was a 92-s audiovisual presentation of a woman expressing happiness and sadness, with the order of emotion counterbalanced. Infant attention (looking time) and emotional expression (smiling, crying, mouthing) were coded. Infants looked longer in the presence of odor and expressed less crying and mouthing but more smiling behavior. Presence of odor markedly reduced infant emotional distress and increased attention, suggesting that the olfactory sensory system provides cues to infants that support mood regulation and maintain attention. These results have implications for optimizing infant environments for emotional health and cognitive development.

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Prime time news: The influence of primed positive and negative emotion on susceptibility to false memories

Stephen Porter et al.
Cognition & Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examined the relation between emotion and susceptibility to misinformation using a novel paradigm, the ambiguous stimuli affective priming (ASAP) paradigm. Participants (N = 88) viewed ambiguous neutral images primed either at encoding or retrieval to be interpreted as either highly positive or negative (or neutral/not primed). After viewing the images, they either were asked misleading or non-leading questions. Following a delay, memory accuracy for the original images was assessed. Results indicated that any emotional priming at encoding led to a higher susceptibility to misinformation relative to priming at recall. In particular, inducing a negative interpretation of the image at encoding led to an increased susceptibility of false memories for major misinformation (an entire object not actually present in the scene). In contrast, this pattern was reversed when priming was used at recall; a negative reinterpretation of the image decreased memory distortion relative to unprimed images. These findings suggest that, with precise experimental control, the experience of emotion at event encoding, in particular, is implicated in false memory susceptibility.

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Brief, pre-learning stress reduces false memory production and enhances true memory selectively in females

Phillip Zoladz et al.
Physiology & Behavior, 10 April 2014, Pages 270-276

Abstract:
Some of the previous research on stress-memory interactions has suggested that stress increases the production of false memories. However, as accumulating work has shown that the effects of stress on learning and memory depend critically on the timing of the stressor, we hypothesized that brief stress administered immediately before learning would reduce, rather than increase, false memory production. In the present study, participants submerged their dominant hand in a bath of ice cold water (stress) or sat quietly (no stress) for 3 min. Then, participants completed a short-term memory task, the Deese-Roediger-McDermott paradigm, in which they were presented with 10 different lists of semantically related words (e.g., candy, sour, sugar) and, after each list, were tested for their memory of presented words (e.g., candy), non-presented unrelated "distractor" words (e.g., hat), and non-presented semantically related "critical lure" words (e.g., sweet). Stress, overall, significantly reduced the number of critical lures recalled (i.e., false memory) by participants. In addition, stress enhanced memory for the presented words (i.e., true memory) in female, but not male, participants. These findings reveal that stress does not unequivocally enhance false memory production and that the timing of the stressor is an important variable that could mediate such effects. Such results could have important implications for understanding the dependability of eyewitness accounting for events that are observed following stress.

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Achilles' Ear? Inferior Human Short-Term and Recognition Memory in the Auditory Modality

James Bigelow & Amy Poremba
PLoS ONE, February 2014

Abstract:
Studies of the memory capabilities of nonhuman primates have consistently revealed a relative weakness for auditory compared to visual or tactile stimuli: extensive training is required to learn auditory memory tasks, and subjects are only capable of retaining acoustic information for a brief period of time. Whether a parallel deficit exists in human auditory memory remains an outstanding question. In the current study, a short-term memory paradigm was used to test human subjects' retention of simple auditory, visual, and tactile stimuli that were carefully equated in terms of discriminability, stimulus exposure time, and temporal dynamics. Mean accuracy did not differ significantly among sensory modalities at very short retention intervals (1-4 s). However, at longer retention intervals (8-32 s), accuracy for auditory stimuli fell substantially below that observed for visual and tactile stimuli. In the interest of extending the ecological validity of these findings, a second experiment tested recognition memory for complex, naturalistic stimuli that would likely be encountered in everyday life. Subjects were able to identify all stimuli when retention was not required, however, recognition accuracy following a delay period was again inferior for auditory compared to visual and tactile stimuli. Thus, the outcomes of both experiments provide a human parallel to the pattern of results observed in nonhuman primates. The results are interpreted in light of neuropsychological data from nonhuman primates, which suggest a difference in the degree to which auditory, visual, and tactile memory are mediated by the perirhinal and entorhinal cortices.

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(The Feeling of) Meaning-as-Information

Samantha Heintzelman & Laura King
Personality and Social Psychology Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
The desire for meaning is recognized as a central human motive. Yet, knowing that people want meaning does not explain its function. What adaptive problem does this experience solve? Drawing on the feelings-as-information hypothesis, we propose that the feeling of meaning provides information about the presence of reliable patterns and coherence in the environment, information that is not provided by affect. We review research demonstrating that manipulations of stimulus coherence influence subjective reports of meaning in life but not affect. We demonstrate that manipulations that foster an associative mindset enhance meaning. The meaning-as-information perspective embeds meaning in a network of foundational functions including associative learning, perception, cognition, and neural processing. This approach challenges assumptions about meaning, including its motivational appeal, the roles of expectancies and novelty in this experience, and the notion that meaning is inherently constructed. Implications for constructed meaning and existential meanings are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, March 14, 2014

Mandatory

The Paternalist Meets His Match

Jayson Lusk, Stephan Marette & Bailey Norwood
Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, March 2014, Pages 61-108

Abstract:
Despite the frequent arguments that findings from behavioral economics experiments justify paternalism, there is scant evidence of how people (the paternalists) make decisions for others or how the recipients of paternalism (the paternalees) respond to decisions made for them. Using data from over 300 people recruited from two cities in the United States and France, we study how choices between a relatively healthy item (apples) and a relatively unhealthy item (cookies) are influenced by one's role as either the paternalist or the paternalee. We find that after being provided information on nutritional content, but not before, paternalists make healthier choices for the paternalees than for themselves. Surprisingly, prior to being provided information, paternalees desire healthier choices than they expect the paternalists to give, a phenomenon that seems to arise from a type of egotism where individuals believe they make healthier choices than everyone else. Results in both locations reveal that more than 75% of paternalees prefer their own choices compared to the ones made for them by the paternalists, and are willing to pay non-trivial amounts to have their own choices. Any intrinsic value people place on the freedom of choice must be weighed against whatever benefits might arise from paternalistic policies, and consequently the scope for paternalism may be narrower than is often purported.

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Does Planning Regulation Protect Independent Retailers?

Raffaella Sadun
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
Regulations aimed at curbing the entry of large retail stores have been introduced in many countries to protect independent retailers. Analyzing a planning reform launched in the United Kingdom in the 1990s, I show that independent retailers were actually harmed by the creation of entry barriers against large stores. Instead of simply reducing the number of new large stores entering a market, the entry barriers created the incentive for large retail chains to invest in smaller and more centrally located formats, which competed more directly with independents and accelerated their decline. Overall, these findings suggest that restricting the entry of large stores does not necessarily lead to a world with fewer stores, but one with different stores, with uncertain competitive effects on independent retailers.

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Risk Aversion and the Desirability of Attenuated Legal Change

Steven Shavell
American Law and Economics Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article develops two points. First, insurance against the risk of legal change is largely unavailable, primarily because of the correlated nature of the losses that legal change generates. Second, given the absence of insurance against legal change, it is generally desirable for legal change to be attenuated. Specifically, in a model of uncertainty about two different types of legal change - in regulatory standards, and in payments for harm caused - it is demonstrated that the optimal new regulatory standard is less than the conventionally efficient standard, and that the optimal new payment for harm is less than the harm.

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Regulatory costs on entrepreneurship and establishment employment size

Peter Calcagno & Russell Sobel
Small Business Economics, March 2014, Pages 541-559

Abstract:
In this article, we examine how the level of regulation affects the size distribution of businesses. To the extent that regulation functions as a fixed cost, it should lead to larger firm size. However, regulations may also lead to smaller establishments with firms outsourcing regulated activities or staying small to take advantage of state exemptions for small businesses from regulations. We empirically examine the relationship between the size distribution of establishments and the level of regulation using state- and industry-level panel data from 1992 to 2004. Our results suggest that regulation decreases the proportion of zero employee and 1-4 employee establishments. The proportion of establishments in the 5-9 employee range generally increases with the level of regulation. Thus, regulation appears to operate as a fixed cost causing establishments to be larger.

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Smart Money? The Effect of Education on Financial Outcomes

Shawn Cole, Anna Paulson & Gauri Kartini Shastry
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Household financial decisions are important for household welfare, economic growth, and financial stability. Yet our understanding of the determinants of financial decision making is limited. Exploiting exogenous variation in state compulsory schooling laws in both standard and two-sample instrumental variable strategies, we show that education increases financial market participation, measured by investment income and equities ownership, while dramatically reducing the probability that an individual declares bankruptcy, experiences a foreclosure, or is delinquent on a loan. Further results and a simple calibration suggest that the result is driven by changes in savings or investment behavior, rather than simply increased labor earnings.

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Did Robert Bork Understate the Competitive Impact of Mergers? Evidence from Consummated Mergers

Orley Ashenfelter, Daniel Hosken & Matthew Weinberg
NBER Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
In The Antitrust Paradox, Robert Bork viewed most mergers as either competitively neutral or efficiency enhancing. In his view, only mergers creating a dominant firm or monopoly were likely to harm consumers. Bork was especially skeptical of oligopoly concerns resulting from mergers. In this paper, we provide a critique of Bork's views on merger policy from The Antitrust Paradox. Many of Bork's recommendations have been implemented over time and have improved merger analysis. Bork's proposed horizontal merger policy, however, was too permissive. In particular, the empirical record shows that mergers in oligopolistic markets can raise consumer prices.

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The Price Effects of the Delta/Northwest Airline Merger

Dan Luo
Review of Industrial Organization, February 2014, Pages 27-48

Abstract:
This paper examines the price effects of the merger between Delta Airlines and Northwest Airlines. Empirical analysis finds that, other things equal, the fares for airport-pairs where Delta and Northwest competed with each other prior to the merger did not increase by much following the merger. This result is consistent with the additional finding that the impact of changes in low-cost carrier competition is large while the effect of changes in competition from legacy carriers is slight. Since both Delta and Northwest Airlines are legacy carriers, the results for other legacies suggest that the merger should not have exerted a dramatic impact on fares.

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Competition and service quality: New evidence from the airline industry

Daniel Greenfield
Economics of Transportation, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous studies examine the relationship between competition and airline service quality by regressing on-time performance on market structure. These studies implicitly assume that market structure is exogenously determined with respect to service quality. To address the likely endogeneity of market structure I employ two distinct instrumental variables. The first is lagged market structure. The second exploits a global airline merger that induced differential variations in market structure across hundreds of airport-pair markets. I find that the effect of competition on airline delays is three times stronger than previous studies suggest.

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Should Consumers be Permitted to Waive Products Liability? Product Safety, Private Contracts, and Adverse Selection

Albert Choi & Kathryn Spier
Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
A potentially dangerous product is supplied by a competitive market. The likelihood of a product-related accident depends on the unobservable precautions taken by the manufacturer and on the risk type of the consumer. Contracts include the price to be paid by the consumer ex ante and stipulated damages to be paid by the firm ex post in the event of an accident. Although the stipulated damage payments are a potential solution to the moral hazard problem, firms have a private incentive to reduce the stipulated damages (and simultaneously lower the up front price) in order to attract the safer consumers who are less costly to serve. The competitive equilibrium - if an equilibrium exists at all - features suboptimally low stipulated damages and correspondingly suboptimal levels of product safety. Imposing some degree of tort liability on firms for uncovered accident losses - and prohibiting private parties from waiving that liability - can improve social welfare.

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Liability versus Regulation for Dangerous Products When Consumers Vary in Their Susceptibility to Harm and May Misperceive Risk

Thomas Miceli & Kathleen Segerson
Review of Law & Economics, December 2013, Pages 341-355

Abstract:
When consumers vary in their susceptibility to product-related harm, safety regulation dominates liability because when consumers bear their own damages, they are induced to self-select in their purchase decisions, with higher-risk consumers refraining from purchase. When consumers also misperceive risk, however, liability may be preferred because the price of the product accurately conveys the risk, thereby eliminating any distortions due to misperception. In comparing the two approaches to risk control, regulation therefore becomes more desirable as consumers perceive risk more accurately.

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Economic Freedom and the Stability of Stock Prices: A Cross-Country Analysis

Benjamin Blau, Tyler Brough & Diana Thomas
Journal of International Money and Finance, March 2014, Pages 182-196

Abstract:
This paper investigates the link between economic freedom and the price stability of individual securities in a unique setting. Using a sample of 327 American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), we find an inverse relation between the economic freedom of a ADRs' home country and the price volatility of the ADR. This negative correlation is driven primarily by certain components of economic freedom, such as property right protection, the soundness of the money, and the level of free trade in the home country. Further, we find evidence that less regulation and less government control of markets in the home country leads to more stable ADR prices.

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Taxing Audit Markets and Reputation: An Examination of the U.S. Tax Shelter Controversy

John Incardona et al.
Journal of International Accounting, Auditing and Taxation, forthcoming

Abstract:
From 2002 to 2007, the nation's largest CPA firms faced allegations of illegal activity related to the sale of tax shelters: EY, KPMG and PwC paid fines; KPMG was investigated by a federal grand jury; and EY faced a criminal inquiry. These shelter events occurred shortly after the 2002 collapse of Arthur Andersen, when policy makers were concerned about audit market concentration. This is the first paper to provide a chronological summary of how the tax shelter controversy started and ended. We investigate the stock market reaction to tax shelter news developments between 2003 and 2005 to make inferences about the market's view of audit competition and CPA firm reputation. Our results are consistent with market concern over large audit firm concentration, evidenced by large negative returns for clients of all audit providers upon the KPMG grand jury investigation announcement. We also find that tax shelter activities impact both the reputation of the accounting profession and the individual CPA firms marketing tax shelter products.

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Moral Hazard, Incentive Contracts and Risk: Evidence from Procurement

Gregory Lewis & Patrick Bajari
Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Deadlines and late penalties are widely used to incentivize effort. Tighter deadlines and higher penalties induce higher effort, but increase the agent's risk. We model how these contract terms affect the work rate and time-to-completion in a procurement setting, characterizing the effcient contract design. Using new micro-level data on Minnesota highway construction contracts that includes day-by-day information on work plans, hours worked and delays, we find evidence of ex-post moral hazard: contractors adjust their effort level during the course of the contract in response to unanticipated productivity shocks, in a way that is consistent with our theoretical predictions. We next build an econometric model that endogenizes the completion time as a function of the contract terms and the productivity shocks, and simulate how commuter welfare and contractor costs vary across different terms and shocks. Accounting for the traffic delays caused by construction, switching to a more effcient contract design would increase welfare by 22.5% of the contract value while increasing the standard deviation of contractor costs - a measure of risk - by less than 1% of the contract value.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pros and cons

Do Difficult Decisions Motivate Belief in Fate? A Test in the Context of the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election

Simone Tang, Steven Shepherd & Aaron Kay
Psychological Science, forthcoming

"What types of situations might predictably motivate belief in fate? We suggest that one such situation is decision difficulty...In two studies, we tested this novel hypothesis using a real-world, important, imminent decision: which candidate to vote for in the 2012 U.S. presidential election...Participants were recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk 1 week before the election (N = 202)...As predicted, greater decision difficulty was related to greater belief in fate, r(187) = .19, p = .01...In Study 2, we experimentally investigated the link between decision difficulty and belief in fate by manipulating the ease of distinguishing between two options, a known component of decision difficulty. Participants read real policy statements from the two presidential candidates; the statements were chosen to make the candidates appear either more distinguishable or less distinguishable...Data were collected via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk 2 days before the election (N = 200)...As predicted, participants in the similar-candidates condition reported greater belief in fate (M = 3.45, SD = 1.46) than did those in the different-candidates condition (M = 3.04, SD = 1.44), t(180) = 1.92, p = .057."

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Evil Genius? How Dishonesty Can Lead to Greater Creativity

Francesca Gino & Scott Wiltermuth
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We propose that dishonest and creative behavior have something in common: They both involve breaking rules. Because of this shared feature, creativity may lead to dishonesty (as shown in prior work), and dishonesty may lead to creativity (the hypothesis we tested in this research). In five experiments, participants had the opportunity to behave dishonestly by overreporting their performance on various tasks. They then completed one or more tasks designed to measure creativity. Those who cheated were subsequently more creative than noncheaters, even when we accounted for individual differences in their creative ability (Experiment 1). Using random assignment, we confirmed that acting dishonestly leads to greater creativity in subsequent tasks (Experiments 2 and 3). The link between dishonesty and creativity is explained by a heightened feeling of being unconstrained by rules, as indicated by both mediation (Experiment 4) and moderation (Experiment 5).

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People Claim Objectivity After Knowingly Using Biased Strategies

Katherine Hansen et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
People tend not to recognize bias in their judgments. Such “bias blindness” persists, we show, even when people acknowledge that the judgmental strategies preceding their judgments are biased. In Experiment 1, participants took a test, received failure feedback, and then were led to assess the test’s quality via an explicitly biased strategy (focusing on the test’s weaknesses), an explicitly objective strategy, or a strategy of their choice. In Experiments 2 and 3, participants rated paintings using an explicitly biased or explicitly objective strategy. Across the three experiments, participants who used a biased strategy rated it as relatively biased, provided biased judgments, and then claimed to be relatively objective. Participants in Experiment 3 also assessed how biased they expected to be by their strategy, prior to using it. These pre-ratings revealed that not only did participants’ sense of personal objectivity survive using a biased strategy, it grew stronger.

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Can exposure to prenatal sex hormones (2D:4D) predict cognitive reflection?

Antoni Bosch-Domènech, Pablo Brañas-Garza & Antonio Espín
Psychoneuroendocrinology, May 2014, Pages 1–10

Abstract:
The Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) is a test introduced by Frederick (2005). The task is designed to measure the tendency to override an intuitive response that is incorrect and to engage in further reflection that leads to the correct response. The consistent sex differences in CRT performance may suggest a role for prenatal sex hormones. A now widely studied putative marker for relative prenatal testosterone is the second-to-fourth digit ratio (2D:4D). This paper tests to what extent 2D:4D, as a proxy for the prenatal ratio of testosterone/estrogens, can predict CRT scores in a sample of 623 students. After controlling for sex, we observe that a lower 2D:4D (reflecting a relative higher exposure to testosterone) is significantly associated with a higher number of correct answers. The result holds for both hands’ 2D:4Ds. In addition, the effect appears to be stronger for females than for males. We also control for patience and math proficiency, which are significantly related to performance in the CRT. But the effect of 2D:4D on performance in CRT is not reduced with these controls, implying that these variables are not mediating the relationship between digit ratio and CRT.

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People with Easier to Pronounce Names Promote Truthiness of Claims

Eryn Newman et al.
PLoS ONE, February 2014

Abstract:
When people make judgments about the truth of a claim, related but nonprobative information rapidly leads them to believe the claim – an effect called “truthiness”. Would the pronounceability of others’ names also influence the truthiness of claims attributed to them? We replicated previous work by asking subjects to evaluate people’s names on a positive dimension, and extended that work by asking subjects to rate those names on negative dimensions. Then we addressed a novel theoretical issue by asking subjects to read that same list of names, and judge the truth of claims attributed to them. Across all experiments, easily pronounced names trumped difficult names. Moreover, the effect of pronounceability produced truthiness for claims attributed to those names. Our findings are a new instantiation of truthiness, and extend research on the truth effect as well as persuasion by showing that subjective, tangential properties such as ease of processing can matter when people evaluate information attributed to a source.

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The Harder the Task, The Higher the Score: Findings of a Difficulty Bias

Hillary Morgan & Kurt Rotthoff
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Studies have found that going first or last in a sequential order contest leads to a biased outcome, commonly called order bias (or primacy and recency). Studies have also found that judges have a tendency to reward contestants they recognize with additional points, called reference bias. Controlling for known biases, we test for a new type of bias we refer to as “difficulty bias,” which reveals that athletes attempting more difficult routines receive higher execution scores, even when difficulty and execution are judged separately. Despite some identification challenges, we add to the literature by finding strong evidence of a difficulty bias in gymnastics. We also provide generalizations beyond athletics.

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Where could we stand if I had…? How social power impacts counterfactual thinking after failure

Annika Scholl & Kai Sassenberg
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
After failure, individuals often imagine how they could have achieved a better outcome, thereby learning to improve their behavior in the future. The current research investigated how social power affects such self-focused counterfactual thinking. Previous findings indicate that power evokes a sense of personal control. Sensed control in turn guides counterfactual thought, facilitating thoughts about those aspects individuals perceive control over. We thus proposed that compared to the powerful, the powerless sense lower personal control and therefore engage in less self-focused counterfactual thinking after failure. A field study and three experiments indeed demonstrated that being powerless (vs. powerful) diminished self-focused counterfactual thinking by lowering sensed personal control. This mechanism was also supported by experimentally manipulating the mediator and by ruling out an alternative mechanism (i.e., felt responsibility). Additional data indicated that self-focused counterfactuals in turn promoted learning (i.e., behavioral intentions). Extending prior research on power, action, and diminished thought, the results thus show that at times, those low, rather than high, in power think less about their own actions before taking the next step.

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When children are better (or at least more open-minded) learners than adults: Developmental differences in learning the forms of causal relationships

Christopher Lucas et al.
Cognition, May 2014, Pages 284–299

Abstract:
Children learn causal relationships quickly and make far-reaching causal inferences from what they observe. Acquiring abstract causal principles that allow generalization across different causal relationships could support these abilities. We examine children’s ability to acquire abstract knowledge about the forms of causal relationships and show that in some cases they learn better than adults. Adults and 4- and 5-year-old children saw events suggesting that a causal relationship took one of two different forms, and their generalization to a new set of objects was then tested. One form was a more typical disjunctive relationship; the other was a more unusual conjunctive relationship. Participants were asked to both judge the causal efficacy of the objects and to design actions to generate or prevent an effect. Our results show that children can learn the abstract properties of causal relationships using only a handful of events. Moreover, children were more likely than adults to generalize the unusual conjunctive relationship, suggesting that they are less biased by prior assumptions and pay more attention to current evidence. These results are consistent with the predictions of a hierarchical Bayesian model.

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Perceptual symbols of creativity: Coldness elicits referential, warmth elicits relational creativity

Hans IJzerman, Angela Leung & Lay See Ong
Acta Psychologica, May 2014, Pages 136–147

Abstract:
Research in the cognitive and social psychological science has revealed the pervading relation between body and mind. Physical warmth leads people to perceive others as psychological closer to them and to be more generous towards others. More recently, physical warmth has also been implicated in the processing of information, specifically through perceiving relationships (via physical warmth) and contrasting from others (via coldness). In addition, social psychological work has linked social cues (such as mimicry and power cues) to creative performance. The present work integrates these two literatures, by providing an embodied model of creative performance through relational (warm = relational) and referential (cold = distant) processing. The authors predict and find that warm cues lead to greater creativity when 1) creating drawings, 2) categorizing objects, and 3) coming up with gifts for others. In contrast, cold cues lead to greater creativity, when 1) breaking set in a metaphor recognition task, 2) coming up with new pasta names, and 3) being abstract in coming up with gifts. Effects are found across different populations and age groups. The authors report implications for theory and discuss limitations of the present work.

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Analytical reasoning task reveals limits of social learning in networks

Iyad Rahwan et al.
Journal of the Royal Society: Interface, 6 April 2014

Abstract:
Social learning — by observing and copying others — is a highly successful cultural mechanism for adaptation, outperforming individual information acquisition and experience. Here, we investigate social learning in the context of the uniquely human capacity for reflective, analytical reasoning. A hallmark of the human mind is its ability to engage analytical reasoning, and suppress false associative intuitions. Through a set of laboratory-based network experiments, we find that social learning fails to propagate this cognitive strategy. When people make false intuitive conclusions and are exposed to the analytic output of their peers, they recognize and adopt this correct output. But they fail to engage analytical reasoning in similar subsequent tasks. Thus, humans exhibit an ‘unreflective copying bias’, which limits their social learning to the output, rather than the process, of their peers’ reasoning — even when doing so requires minimal effort and no technical skill. In contrast to much recent work on observation-based social learning, which emphasizes the propagation of successful behaviour through copying, our findings identify a limit on the power of social networks in situations that require analytical reasoning.

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Effect of Temporal Spacing between Advertising Exposures: Evidence from Online Field Experiments

Navdeep Sahni
Stanford Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
This paper aims to understand the impact of temporal spacing between ad exposures on the likelihood of a consumer purchasing the advertised product. I create an individual-level data set with exogenous variation in the spacing and intensity of ads by running online field experiments. Using this data set, I first show that (1) ads significantly increase the likelihood of the consumers purchasing from the advertiser and (2) this increase carries over to future purchase occasions. Importantly, I find evidence for the spacing effect: the likelihood of a product's purchase increases if the product's past ads are spread apart rather than bunched together, even if the spreading apart of ads involves shifting some ads away from the purchase occasion. Because the traditional models of advertising do not explain the data patterns, I build a new memory-based model of how advertising influences consumer behavior. Using a nested test, I reject the restrictions imposed by the canonical goodwill stock model based on the Nerlove and Arrow [1962] approach, in favor of the more general memory-based model. Counterfactual simulations using the parameter estimates show that not accounting for the features of the memory model might lead to significantly lower profits for the advertisers.

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An Investigation of the Endowment Effect in the Context of a College Housing Lottery

Jane Gradwohl Nash & Robert Rosenthal
Journal of Economic Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The endowment effect was examined in a two-part study in the context of a college housing lottery. Students who were awarded their first choice of residence hall were asked the lowest dollar amount they would be willing to accept (WTA) to give up their first choice hall whereas students who were denied their first choice were asked the highest dollar amount they would be willing to pay (WTP) to obtain their first choice. Results from the Initial Assessment showed the presence of the endowment effect regarding students’ valuation of their first choice residence hall immediately after the housing lottery (i.e., WTA price was significantly higher than WTP price). The Follow-Up surveyed participants from the Initial Assessment who responded when contacted a second time after they had experienced two months of life in the residence hall they were awarded in the lottery. Results from the Follow-Up showed that the endowment effect was still present after experiencing life in the residence hall. Moreover, further analyses revealed that the endowment effect was, in fact, enhanced after the living experience. These findings demonstrate that within the context of a housing lottery, a highly-valued commodity, long-term experiences substantially increase the magnitude of the endowment effect, even when controlling for other factors that have been shown to impact this effect.

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Limited Availability Reduces the Rate of Satiation

Julio Sevilla & Joseph Redden
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Consumers generally enjoy products less with repeated consumption. Unfortunately, there are few known ways to slow such satiation. We show that consumers satiate slower on a product when it is available for consumption only at limited times. Specifically, perceived limited availability made a product more enjoyable, yet this effect largely emerged only after repeated consumption. We attribute this finding to an urge to take advantage of a rare consumption opportunity, which leads people to pay less attention to the quantity consumed and subsequently to experience less satiation. A series of studies establish the effect of perceived limited availability on the rate of satiation, show it influences how much people eat, provide mediation evidence of our proposed theoretical account, and eliminate the effect by making salient the total amount consumed. We conclude with implications of our findings.

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It Tastes As Good As It Looks! The Effect of Food Presentation on Liking for the Flavor of Food

Debra Zellner et al.
Appetite, forthcoming

Abstract:
Diners in a restaurant were served the same meal (composed of a sautéed chicken breast with a fines herbes sauce, brown rice pilaf, and sautéed green beans with toasted almonds served on a round white china plate). The same food was presented in two different arrangements on two different nights. Although the two presentations were judged as equally “neat”, one was judged as more attractive. Subjects reported liking the food on the plate (when all items were judged together) more when it was presented in the more attractive than the less attractive manner. When food items were judged separately, subjects reported liking the chicken and the sauce significantly more when presented in the more attractive manner. Subjects also reported more positive responses to the brown rice pilaf when presented in the more attractive plating style. How attractively food is plated can affect liking for the flavor of the food and could be used to increase acceptance of “healthy” foods.

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Acceleration With Steering: The Synergistic Benefits of Combining Power and Perspective-Taking

Adam Galinsky et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Power is a psychological accelerator, propelling people toward their goals; however, these goals are often egocentrically focused. Perspective-taking is a psychological steering wheel that helps people navigate their social worlds; however, perspective-taking needs a catalyst to be effective. The current research explores whether combining power with perspective-taking can lead to fairer interpersonal treatment and higher quality decisions by increasing other-oriented information sharing, the propensity to communicate and integrate information that recognizes the knowledge and interests of others. Experiments 1 and 2 found that the combining power with perspective-taking or accountability increased interactional justice, the tendency for decision makers to explain their decisions candidly and respectfully. Experiment 3 involved role-based power embedded in a face-to-face dyadic decision-making task; the combination of power and perspective-taking facilitated the sharing of critical information and led to more accurate dyadic decisions. Combining power and perspective-taking had synergistic effects, producing superior outcomes to what each one achieved separately.

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Keeping your gains close but your money closer: The prepayment effect in riskless choices

Guy Hochman, Shahar Ayal & Dan Ariely
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although research on loss aversion now spans more than three decades, researchers are still debating whether (or in which cases) the finding holds true for money. We contribute to this debate by exploring how prepayment affects financial decisions. In one set of experiments, we show that when faced with a tradeoff between post- and prepayment, participants overvalue prepaid money, and sometimes even prefer it over objectively higher gains. Importantly, this effect was more pronounced when prepayment was more distant from its pure representation in dollars and cents (Experiment 1A), as well as when potential losses were directly linked to specific options (Experiment 1B). As far as the processes involved, our results suggest that prepayment leads to increased personal commitment to prepaid options (Experiment 1 C). In a second set of experiments, we show that even when the tradeoff element is eliminated, participants are more motivated and engaged in a task that is prepaid rather than post-paid (Experiments 2A and 2B). Based on our findings, we discuss how firms can use prepayment mechanisms to get more out of their agents, and how individuals can be motivated to better utilize their money.

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Because I (Don't) Deserve it: How Relationship Reminders and Deservingness Influence Consumer Indulgence

Lisa Cavanaugh
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Marketers regularly remind consumers of valued social relationships (e.g. close friends, family, romantic couples) in order to influence choice and consumption. Interestingly, my research shows that such relationship reminders can backfire when consumers do not or no longer have these highlighted relationships. I show that reminding consumers of relationships they lack reduces consumers’ perceptions of deservingness and causes them to restrict indulgent consumption. Five studies establish the effect of relationship reminders on indulgence and provide support for the underlying process by both measuring and manipulating perceptions of deservingness.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tell it to the judge

She’ll Settle It?

Christina Boyd
Journal of Law and Courts, Fall 2013, Pages 193-219

Abstract:
Relying on research that posits that female leaders and managers will be more likely than men to adopt a management style that favors participation, collaboration, and consensus building, I argue that female district court judges, using this style in their case management environments, should be more likely than their male colleagues to successfully foster intracourt case settlements. To test this, I compile data from nearly 18,000 civil rights and tort cases terminated in four federal district courts across 9 years. The regression and duration analyses provide confirmation that the sex of a case’s assigned judge matters, with female judges successfully fostering settlement in their cases more often and more quickly than their male colleagues. In addition to having significance for litigants, these findings have broad implications for female decision makers across different institutions and organizations as well as the future of the judging profession and diversity appointments to the judiciary.

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Do Judges Follow the Law? An Empirical Test of Congressional Control Over Judicial Behavior

Todd Henderson & William Hubbard
University of Chicago Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
Do judges follow the law? In a naïve model of judging, Congress writes statutes, which courts know about and then slavishly apply. Although interpretation differences could explain deviation between congressional will and the law as applied, in this model there should be no divergence where the law is unambiguous. Section 21D(c)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act is such a clear law: it requires courts to certify attorneys complied with Rule 11(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which forbids frivolous or unsupported claims, in every case arising under the Act. In this paper, we provide data that rejects the naïve model: courts make the required findings in less than 14 percent of cases in which such findings were required by law. This suggests judges either do not know of the law or, if they do, fail to follow it. We also show that required Rule 11(b) findings about sanctions are made overwhelmingly in cases where sanctions would be least likely – that is, in orders approving settlements – and such findings are extremely rare in cases where sanctions would other be more likely – that is, where motions to dismiss are granted. To explain this seeming paradox, we offer an account that highlights crucial ways in which the incentives of the judge and of the attorneys may interact in complex cases.

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Diversity, Deliberation, and Judicial Opinion Writing

Susan Haire, Laura Moyer & Shawn Treier
Journal of Law and Courts, Fall 2013, Pages 303-330

Abstract:
Underlying scholarly interest in diversity is the premise that a representative body contributes to robust decision-making processes. Using an innovative measure of opinion content, we examine this premise by analyzing deliberative outputs in the US courts of appeals (1997–2002). While the presence of a single female or minority did not affect the attention to issues in the majority opinion, panels composed of a majority of women or minorities produced opinions with significantly more points of law compared to panels with three Caucasian males.

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Detecting Racial Bias in Speed Discounting: Evidence from Speeding Tickets in Boston

Nejat Anbarci & Jungmin Lee
International Review of Law and Economics, June 2014, Pages 11–24

Abstract:
We focus on a particular kind of discretionary behavior on the part of traffic officers when issuing speeding tickets – what we term speed discounting. It is anecdotally said that officers often give motorists a break by reporting a lower speed on their citation than the actual speed that they observe the vehicle doing. Verifying the level of police discretion in the speed discounting behavior and ascertaining the presence of racial bias among police officers are the main objectives of this paper. Using a unique dataset that contains the race of the officer and of the motorist and cited vehicle speed, we apply the rank order test and the difference-in-differences method to detect racial prejudice in the speed discounting behavior.

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How the Supreme Court Alters Opinion Language to Evade Congressional Review

Ryan Owens, Justin Wedeking & Patrick Wohlfarth
Journal of Law and Courts, March 2013, Pages 35-59

Abstract:
We argue that actors can attempt to shield their policy choices from unfavorable review by crafting them in a manner that will increase the costs necessary for supervisory institutions to review them. We apply this theory to the US Supreme Court and demonstrate how justices strategically obfuscate the language of majority opinions in the attempt to circumvent unfavorable review from a politically hostile Congress. The results suggest that Supreme Court justices can and do alter the language of their opinions to raise the costs of legislative review and thereby protect their decisions.

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The Probability of Guilt in Criminal Cases: Are People Aware of Being ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt’?

Svein Magnussen et al.
Applied Cognitive Psychology, March/April 2014, Pages 196–203

Abstract:
Data from a series of studies presenting video recorded witness statements to laypersons and legal professionals were examined to trace the relationship between judged probability of guilt and the willingness to vote guilty or not guilty in hypothetical trials, in the absence of specific jury instructions. The results show that a majority of jury-eligible young and elderly participants, and police officers, were willing to convict a defendant when the judged probability of guilt exceeded .6. This is considerably below the legally accepted standard of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, which usually is equated with a very high, around .9 perceived certainty. When jury deliberations were allowed, the threshold for conviction rose, approaching the standard evinced by trial judges under the same conditions. The results suggest that people prefer to vote for guilt according to a balance of probabilities principle, considering only the individual case, and disregarding the implied frequencies of false convictions.

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Reevaluating the Implications of Decision-Making Models: The Role of Summary Decisions in US Supreme Court Analysis

Ali Masood & Donald Songer
Journal of Law and Courts, Fall 2013, Pages 363-389

Abstract:
Most empirical analyses of the US Supreme Court are limited to the Court’s plenary decisions. We contend that summary decisions are an important component of the total decisional output of the Court and, as such, should be included in any overall assessment of the decision making of the Court or its impact on the courts below. We analyze the universe of the Court’s summary decisions from 1995 to 2005. We assess the conventional wisdom that a conservative Court should primarily disturb liberal lower-court decisions and that, in all cases granted certiorari, the policy preferences of the justices should have a major impact on their votes. We find support for neither of these expectations.

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Disgust and biological descriptions bias logical reasoning during legal decision-making

Beatrice Capestany & Lasana Harris
Social Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Legal decisions often require logical reasoning about the mental states of people who perform gruesome behaviors. We use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine how brain regions implicated in logical reasoning are modulated by emotion and social cognition during legal decision-making. Participants read vignettes describing crimes that elicit strong or weak disgust matched on punishment severity using the US Federal Sentencing Guidelines. An extraneous sentence at the end of each vignette described the perpetrator’s personality using traits or biological language, mimicking the increased use of scientific evidence presented in courts. Behavioral results indicate that crimes weak in disgust receive significantly less punishment than the guidelines recommend. Neuroimaging results indicate that brain regions active during logical reasoning respond less to crimes weak in disgust and biological descriptions of personality, demonstrating the impact of emotion and social cognition on logical reasoning mechanisms necessary for legal decision-making.

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Responsive Justice?: Retention Elections, Prosecutors, and Public Opinion

Michael Nelson
Journal of Law and Courts, Spring 2014, Pages 117-152

Abstract:
Do elected judges and prosecutors change their behavior to reflect public opinion after they receive information about constituent preferences? In this article I use a unique measure of public opinion — votes on an initiative to legalize marijuana — to examine the responsiveness of prosecutors and trial court judges to a strong, issue-specific, constituency-level opinion signal. I find that, at least in recent drug cases in Colorado, both prosecutors and judges changed their sentencing behavior after receiving that signal. Prosecutors responded only to local-level opinion, while judges responded to both local and statewide opinion.

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Unbidden confession as an evolved pre-emptive strategy against punishment: A preliminary investigation with prisoners

Todd Shackelford et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, April–May 2014, Pages 86–90

Abstract
Unbidden confession — confession made by a transgressor in the absence of interrogation — presents an evolutionary puzzle because it guarantees social exposure and places the person at risk of punishment. We hypothesize that unbidden confession may be an ancestrally adaptive behavior and is difficult to inhibit under certain social conditions, particularly when one perceives imminent and inevitable social exposure. This serves as a pre-emptive strategy that, in the ancestral past, may have attenuated punishment from retributive in-group members. Using self-report data from a sample of 78 federal inmates, we report analyses supporting this hypothesis. Inmates who made unbidden confessions were more confident that they would be caught by police, and this confession was usually made to someone who had a stake in the transgressors’ genetic interests, most often a family member or friend. These results suggest: (1) a possible role for natural selection in shaping cognitive mechanisms that motivate confession; (2) a potential mismatch in the efficacy of unbidden confession today compared with our ancestral past, given that the law is now administered by strangers rather than in-group members; and (3) new avenues for research on the origins of sophisticated cognitive strategies.

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Trial and Settlement: A Study of High-Low Agreements

J.J. Prescott, Kathryn Spier & Albert Yoon
NBER Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
This paper presents the first systematic theoretical and empirical study of high-low agreements in civil litigation. A high-low agreement is a private contract that, if signed by litigants before the conclusion of a trial, constrains any plaintiff recovery to a specified range. Whereas existing work describes litigation as a choice between trial and settlement, our examination of high-low agreements—an increasingly popular phenomenon in civil litigation—introduces partial or incomplete settlements. In our theoretical model, trial is both costly and risky. When litigants have divergent subjective beliefs and are mutually optimistic about their trial prospects, cases may fail to settle. In these cases, high-low agreements can be in litigants’ mutual interest because they limit the risk of outlier awards while still allowing an optimal degree of speculation. Using claims data from a national insurance company, we describe the features of these agreements and empirically investigate the factors that may influence whether litigants discuss or enter into them. Our empirical findings are consistent with the predictions of the theoretical model. We also explore extensions and alternative explanations for high-low agreements, including their use to mitigate excessive, offsetting trial expenditures and the role that negotiation costs might play. Other applications include the use of collars in mergers and acquisitions.

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The use of tactical polygraph with sex offenders

Michael Bourke et al.
Journal of Sexual Aggression, forthcoming

Abstract:
Professionals who work with sexual abusers often are faced with a significant obstacle: offenders' failure to accurately report their histories of undetected offences, particularly hands-on crimes against children. The implications are significant and include poor risk assessment, misguided treatment planning, inadequate sentences, and insufficient supervision conditions. This problem is particularly important with so called child pornographers —offenders whose known criminality is limited to the Internet, and who may be reluctant to admit they have engaged in the hands-on abuse of children. The current study examines an investigative method that we refer to as tactical polygraph and describes its effectiveness in identifying previously undetected sexual offending within this population. In our sample of 127 suspects with no known history of hands-on offending, only 4.7% admitted to sexually abusing at least one child. During polygraph procedures, an additional 52.8% of the study sample provided disclosures about hands-on abuse they perpetrated.

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Blame attribution in sexual victimization

Carin Perilloux, Joshua Duntley & David Buss
Personality and Individual Differences, June 2014, Pages 81–86

Abstract:
The current study explored how victims and third-parties attribute blame and perpetrator motivation for actual sexual victimization experiences. Although we do not assert that victims are responsible for perpetrators’ behavior, we found that some victims do not allocate all blame to their perpetrator. We sought to examine how victims and third-parties allocate blame in instances of actual completed and attempted sexual victimization and how they perceived perpetrator motivations. Victims of completed rape (n = 49) and attempted sexual assault (n = 91), and third-parties who knew a victim of sexual assault (n = 152) allocated blame across multiple targets: perpetrator, self/victim, friends, family, and the situation. Participants also described their perceptions of perpetrator’s motivation for the sexual assault. Victims tended to assign more blame to themselves than third-parties assigned to victims. Furthermore, victims perceived perpetrators as being more sexually-motivated than third-parties did, who viewed perpetrators as more power-motivated. Results suggest that perceptions of rape and sexual assault significantly differ between victims and third-party individuals who have never directly experienced such a trauma.

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Perceptions of Similarity and Responsibility Attributions to an Acquaintance Sexual Assault Victim

Amanda Amacker & Heather Littleton
Violence Against Women, November 2013, Pages 1384-1407

Abstract:
Individuals view similar rape victims as less responsible for the rape than victims perceived as dissimilar. However, it is unclear if individuals hold victims they perceive as similar less responsible for the assault, or if individuals view themselves as more similar to victims they do not view as responsible for the assault. The current study, therefore, examined the temporal relationship between these constructs. A total of 167 college women listened to a date narrative that ended in sexual assault, consensual sex, or no sexual activity (these last two served as controls). Results supported that participants viewed themselves as less similar to the woman in the narrative when the date ended in sexual assault. Only similarity ratings made following learning that the woman was sexually assaulted predicted responsibility attributions suggesting that viewing a victim as responsible for the assault results in decreased perceptions of similarity toward her. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

On sale

The Paradox of Publicity: How Awards Can Negatively Affect the Evaluation of Quality

Balázs Kovács & Amanda Sharkey
Administrative Science Quarterly, March 2014, Pages 1-33

Abstract:
Although increases in status often lead to more favorable inferences about quality in subsequent evaluations, in this paper, we examine a setting in which an increase to an actor’s status results in less favorable quality evaluations, contrary to what much of sociological and management theory would predict. Comparing thousands of reader reviews on Goodreads.com of 64 English-language books that either won or were short-listed for prestigious book awards between 2007 and 2011, we find that prizewinning books tend to attract more readers following the announcement of an award and that readers’ ratings of award-winning books tend to decline more precipitously following the announcement of an award relative to books that were named as finalists but did not win. We explain this surprising result, focusing on two mechanisms whereby signals of quality that tend to promote adoption can subsequently have a negative impact on evaluation. First, we propose that the audience evaluating a high-status actor or object tends to shift as a result of a public status shock, like an award, increasing in number but also in diverse tastes. We outline how this shift might translate into less favorable evaluations of quality. Second, we show that the increase in popularity that tends to follow a status shock is off-putting to some, also resulting in more negative evaluations. We show that our proposed mechanisms together explain the negative effect of status on evaluations in the context of the literary world.

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Digital complements or substitutes? A quasi-field experiment from the Royal National Theatre

Hasan Bakhshi & David Throsby
Journal of Cultural Economics, February 2014, Pages 1-8

Abstract:
Digital broadcast technologies have expanded the virtual capacity of live performing arts venues, but they have also raised concerns about possible cannibalisation of box office revenues. We report the results of a quasi-field experiment involving the Royal National Theatre’s live broadcasts of theatre to digital cinemas in the UK and find that, if anything, live broadcasts generate greater, not fewer, audiences at the theatre.

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Reviews without a Purchase: Low Ratings, Loyal Customers and Deception

Eric Anderson & Duncan Simester
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
We document that approximately 5% of product reviews on the website of a large private label retailer are submitted by customers for which there is no record they have purchased the product they are reviewing. These reviews are significantly more negative than other reviews. They are also less likely to contain expressions describing the fit or feel of the items, but more likely to contain linguistic cues associated with deception. The reviews without confirmed transactions are written by over twelve thousand of the firm's best customers, who on average have each made over 150 purchases from the firm. This makes it very unlikely that the reviews are written by the employees or agents of a competitor, suggesting that deceptive reviews may not be limited to just the strategic actions of firms. Instead, the phenomenon may be far more prevalent, extending to individual customers who have no financial incentive to influence product ratings.

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Softening the Blow: Company Self-Disclosure of Negative Information Lessens Damaging Effects on Consumer Judgment and Decision Making

Bob Fennis & Wolfgang Stroebe
Journal of Business Ethics, March 2014, Pages 109-120

Abstract:
Is self-disclosure of negative information a viable strategy for a company to lessen the damage done to consumer responses? Three experiments assessed whether self-disclosing negative information in itself lessened the damaging impact of this information compared to third-party disclosure of the same information. Results indicated that mere self-disclosure of a negative event positively affected consumers’ choice behavior, perceived company trustworthiness, and company evaluations compared to third-party disclosure. The effectiveness of the self-disclosure strategy was moderated by the initial reputation of a company, such that its impact was only observed for companies that had a poor reputation at the outset. For them, self-disclosure considerably lessened the impact of negative information compared to third-party disclosure. For companies that enjoyed a positive reputation, type of disclosure did not affect consumer responses. Mediation analysis showed that perceptions of company trustworthiness underlie the effects of the self-disclosure strategy on consumer judgment.

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Learning from Peers: Knowledge Transfer and Sales Force Productivity Growth

Tat Chan, Jia Li & Lamar Pierce
Marketing Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study how peers impact worker productivity growth among salespeople in the cosmetics department of a department store. We first exploit a shift assignment policy that creates exogenous variation in salespersons' peers each week to identify and quantify sources of worker learning. We find that peer-based learning is more important than learning-by-doing for individuals, and there is no evidence of forgetting. Working with high-ability peers substantially increases the long-term productivity growth of new salespeople. We then examine possible mechanisms behind peer-based learning by exploiting the multiple colocated firms in our setting that sell products with different task difficulties and compensate their sales forces using either team-based or individual-based compensation systems. The variation in incentives to compete and cooperate within and across firm boundaries, combined with variation in sales difficulty for different product classes, allows us to suggest two mechanisms behind peer-based learning: observing successful sales techniques of peers and direct teaching. Our paper advocates the importance of learning from one another in the workplace and suggests that individual peer-based learning is a foundation of both organizational learning curves and knowledge spillovers across firms.

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When Do Group Incentives for Salespeople Work?

Noah Lim & Hua Chen
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
When should sales managers employ group incentives over individual incentives to motivate their sales force? Using economic experiments, the authors show that two-person group incentives can outperform individual incentives and that its relative efficacy depends on three important factors. First, the strength of social ties among the group members matters. Effort decisions in group-based incentives increase significantly when subjects socialize briefly before committing effort. Second, the design of the group incentive matters. For the group incentive to work better than the individual incentive, the group-based component (i.e., how much the payment scheme weights the contribution of others) in the former cannot be too large. Third, the informational feedback that group members receive matters. When group members who were socialized could observe each other's true effort, rather than just the output alone, effort surprisingly decreases. The authors show that a model that accounts for social preferences and psychological loss from having one's effort underestimated by teammates can explain salesperson behavior in group incentives well.

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Internet Penetration and Capacity Utilization in the US Airline Industry

James Dana & Eugene Orlov
American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Airline capacity utilization increased dramatically between 1993 and 2007, after staying fairly level following deregulation. We argue that consumers' use of the Internet to investigate and purchase airline tickets reduces market frictions and allows airlines to meet demand with less capacity and higher load factors. We find that differences in the rate of change of metropolitan area Internet penetration are positively correlated with differences in the rate of change of airlines' airport-pair load factors. Consistent with our explanation, this correlation is greater on flights in more competitive markets and on flights with fewer total passengers.

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Are low-cost carrier passengers less likely to complain about service quality?

Michael Wittman
Journal of Air Transport Management, March 2014, Pages 64–71

Abstract:
Complaints made by airline passengers to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) are often used in academic research and in the media as a proxy for the quality of commercial air service in the United States. In this paper, we test whether passengers of network carriers are more likely to make a complaint to the DOT about service quality failures than passengers of low-cost carriers. Through a fixed-effects regression, we find that passengers of low-cost carriers like Southwest Airlines are less likely to complain about service quality than passengers of network carriers like United Airlines, given the same levels of service quality and controlling for yearly fixed effects. This behavior could be explained by price-based expectations of service quality, lack of information about how to complain to the DOT, or qualitative differences in front-line customer service between airlines.

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Empirical Analysis of Data Breach Litigation

Sasha Romanosky, David Hoffman & Alessandro Acquisti
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, March 2014, Pages 74–104

Abstract:
In recent years, many lawsuits have been filed by individuals seeking legal redress for harms caused by the loss or theft of their personal information. However, very little is known about the drivers, mechanics, and outcomes of those lawsuits, making it difficult to assess the effectiveness of litigation at balancing organizations' usage of personal data with individual privacy rights. Using a unique and manually collected database, we analyze court dockets for more than 230 federal data breach lawsuits from 2000 to 2010. We investigate two questions: Which data breaches are being litigated? and Which data breach lawsuits are settling? Our results suggest that the odds of a firm being sued are 3.5 times greater when individuals suffer financial harm, but 6 times lower when the firm provides free credit monitoring. Moreover, defendants settle 30 percent more often when plaintiffs allege financial loss, or when faced with a certified class action suit. By providing the first comprehensive empirical analysis of data breach litigation, our findings offer insight into the debate over privacy litigation versus privacy regulation.

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Responses to Entry in Multi-Sided Markets: The Impact of Craigslist on Local Newspapers

Robert Seamans & Feng Zhu
Management Science, February 2014, Pages 476-493

Abstract:
How do firms respond to entry in multi-sided markets? We address this question by studying the impact of Craigslist, a website providing classified-advertising services, on local U.S. newspapers. We exploit temporal and geographical variation in Craigslist's entry to show that newspapers with greater reliance on classified-ad revenue experience a larger drop in classified-ad rates after Craigslist's entry. The impact of Craigslist's entry on the classified-ad side appears to propagate to other sides of the newspapers' market. On the subscriber side, these newspapers experience an increase in subscription prices, a decrease in circulation, and an increase in differentiation from each other. On the display-ad side, affected newspapers experience a decrease in display-ad rates. We also find evidence that affected newspapers are less likely to make their content available online. Finally, we estimate that Craigslist's entry leads to $5.0 billion (year 2000 dollars) in savings to classified-ad buyers during 2000–2007.

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The effect of Internet distribution on brick-and-mortar sales

Andrea Pozzi
RAND Journal of Economics, Fall 2013, Pages 569–583

Abstract:
I examine the introduction of an online shopping service by a large supermarket chain also operating a network of brick-and-mortar stores. The establishment of the Internet channel led to a 13 percent increase in overall revenues, with limited cannibalization of traditional sales. I study the mechanisms underlying this result, focusing on two areas. First, I demonstrate the importance of the reduction of customers' travel costs in the attraction of new business. Second, I provide some evidence that revenues increase more in markets where the chain faces more competitors, suggesting that the online channel can help divert business from rival supermarkets.

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The Importance of the Raw Idea in Innovation: Testing the Sow's Ear Hypothesis

Laura Kornish & Karl Ulrich
Journal of Marketing Research, February 2014, Pages 14-26

Abstract:
How important is the original conception of an idea — the “raw” idea — to an innovation's success? In this article, the authors explore whether raw ideas judged as “better” fare better in the market and also determine the strength of that relationship. The empirical context is Quirky.com, a community-driven product development company for household consumer products. The data include descriptions of the raw ideas as originally proposed, the ultimate product designs that resulted from those ideas, and sales figures. In addition, they contain two measures of idea quality: those from online consumer panelists and those from expert evaluators. The authors note the following findings: First, online consumer panels are a better way to determine a “good” idea than are ratings by experts. Second, predictions with samples as small as 20 consumers are reliable. Third, there is a stronger predictive link between raw ideas and consumers' purchase intent of final product designs than there is between those intentions and market outcomes. Fourth, the commercial importance of the raw idea is large, with ideas one standard deviation better translating to an approximately 50% increase in sales rate.

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When to Sell Your Idea: Theory and Evidence from the Movie Industry

Hong Luo
Harvard Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
When to sell a novel idea is a difficult decision for many innovators. Selling early has financial benefits. But a later-stage sale of a more fully developed idea may attract greater buyer interest and allow the innovator to better protect his idea. I study the decision in a model that features a seller with private information and costly buyer participation. The empirical context of the study is the market for original movie ideas. Consistent with the theory, I find that inexperienced writers are excluded from selling early-stage ideas, restricting their choice to developing the idea fully or abandoning it. By contrast, writers who can attract buyers at any stage sell worse ideas earlier and better ideas later. The results have interesting implications not only for the timing of the sale of ideas, but also for the role of intellectual property protection and the value of intermediaries in the market for ideas.

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Cash is surprisingly valuable as a strategic asset

Changhyun Kim & Richard Bettis
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Academics, politicians, and journalists are often highly critical of U.S. firms for holding too much cash. Cash holdings are stockpiled free-cash flow and incur substantial opportunity costs from the perspectives of economics. However, behavioral theory highlights the benefits of cash holdings as fungible slack resources facilitating adaptive advantages. We use the countervailing forces embodied in these two theories to hypothesize and test a quadratic functional relationship of returns to cash measured by Tobin's q. We also build and test a related novel hypothesis of scale-dependent returns to cash based on the competitive strategy concept of strategic deterrence. Tests for both of these hypotheses are positive and show that returns to cash continue to increase far beyond transactional needs.

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Product Market Competition and the Value of Corporate Cash: Evidence from Trade Liberalization

Azizjon Alimov
Journal of Corporate Finance, April 2014, Pages 122–139

Abstract:
This paper uses the 1989 Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement as a source of exogenous variation in product markets to establish the impact of increased competition on the market valuation of corporate cash reserves. I find that the trade liberalization leads to a significant increase in the value of cash for firms experiencing a larger shock to their competitive environment. The impact of the trade liberalization is stronger among firms that face greater risk of losing investment opportunities to rivals. I also show that these inferences about the valuation effect of competition apply more broadly to a large sample of firms.

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The Demand for Expert Opinion: Bordeaux Wine

Orley Ashenfelter & Gregory Jones
Journal of Wine Economics, December 2013, Pages 285-293

Abstract:
In this paper, we use unique data from the market for Bordeaux wine to test the hypothesis that consumers are willing to pay for expert opinion because it is accurate. Using proprietary indicators of the quality of the vintage, which are based on both publicly and privately available information, we find that additional publicly available information on the weather improves the expert's predictions of subsequent prices. This establishes that the expert opinions are not efficient, in the sense that they can be easily improved, and that these opinions must be demanded, at least in part, for some purpose other than their accuracy.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, March 10, 2014

Gut check

“Obesity Is a Disease”: Examining the Self-Regulatory Impact of This Public-Health Message

Crystal Hoyt, Jeni Burnette & Lisa Auster-Gussman
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the current work, we examined the impact of the American Medical Association’s recent classification of obesity as a disease on weight-management processes. Across three experimental studies, we highlighted the potential hidden costs associated with labeling obesity as a disease, showing that this message, presented in an actual New York Times article, undermined beneficial weight-loss self-regulatory processes. A disease-based, relative to an information-based, weight-management message weakened the importance placed on health-focused dieting and reduced concerns about weight among obese individuals — the very people whom such public-health messages are targeting. Further, the decreased concern about weight predicted higher-calorie food choices. In addition, the disease message, relative to a message that obesity is not a disease, lowered body-image dissatisfaction, but this too predicted higher-calorie food choices. Thus, although defining obesity as a disease may be beneficial for body image, results from the current work emphasize the negative implications of this message for self-regulation.

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Occupational Characteristics and the Obesity Wage Penalty

Jennifer Bennett Shinall
Vanderbilt University Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
This paper demonstrates that accounting for two key occupational characteristics eliminates the unexplained wage gap experienced by the heaviest women in the labor market. Obese women are more likely to work in jobs that emphasize personal interaction, but they are less likely to work in jobs that emphasize physical activity. Although jobs that emphasize personal interaction are higher paying, obese women who work in such jobs receive lower wages than non-obese women, and their wage penalty offsets the premium to working in a job emphasizing personal interaction. Together, these results suggest that taste-based discrimination may be driving occupational sorting among obese women and, as a result, is at least one source of the wage penalty experienced by obese women.

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Racism, Segregation, and Risk of Obesity in the Black Women's Health Study

Yvette Cozier et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We assessed the relation of experiences of racism to the incidence of obesity and the modifying impact of residential racial segregation in the Black Women's Health Study, a follow-up study of US black women. Racism scores were created from 8 questions asked in 1997 and 2009 about the frequency of “everyday” racism (e.g., “people act as if you are dishonest”) and of “lifetime” racism (e.g., unfair treatment on the job). Residential segregation was measured by linking participant addresses to 2000 and 2010 US Census block group data on the percent of black residents. We used Cox proportional hazard models to estimate incidence rate ratios and 95% confidence intervals. Based on 4,315 incident cases of obesity identified from 1997 through 2009, both everyday racism and lifetime racism were positively associated with increased incidence. The incidence rate ratios for women who were in the highest category of everyday racism or lifetime racism in both 1997 and 2009, relative to those in the lowest category, were 1.69 (95% confidence interval: 1.45, 1.96; Ptrend < 0.01) and 1.38 (95% confidence interval: 1.15, 1.66; Ptrend < 0.01), respectively. These associations were not modified by residential segregation. These results suggest that racism contributes to the higher incidence of obesity among African American women.

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The income body weight gradients in the developing economy of China

Darjusch Tafreschi
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Existing theories predict the income gradient of individual body weight to change sign from positive to negative in process of economic development. However, there are only few empirical studies which test this hypothesis. This paper adds to the literature on that topic by investigating the case of China. Using individual and community data from the 1991-2009 waves of the China Health and Nutrition Survey regression analyses suggest that after controlling for important confounding factors (1) higher income is positively related to future growth of individuals’ BMI in less developed areas (i.e. BMI growth is 0.7-1.5 percentage points higher when comparing the richest with the poorest individuals), but negatively related to BMI growth in more developed areas (i.e. BMI growth is 0.8-1.6 percentage points lower for the richest individuals), and (2) that concentrations of overweight are “trickling down” to lower income ranks as regions become more developed. Moreover, the reversal of the income gradient appears to happen at earlier stages of development for females.

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The Impact of Restaurant Calorie Labels on Food Choice: Results from a Field Experiment

Brenna Ellison, Jayson Lusk & David Davis
Economic Inquiry, April 2014, Pages 666–681

Abstract:
Using field experiment data, we compare the effectiveness of calorie labels to a “fat tax” at reducing calories ordered. Results from a structural model of consumer demand show that numeric labels did not influence food choice, but symbolic traffic light labels caused restaurant patrons to select lower-calorie menu items; thus, adding a traffic light symbol could enhance the effectiveness of the numeric calorie label (as currently proposed by the Food and Drug Administration). Additionally, our model projects that labels can both reduce intake more than a 10% tax on high-calorie items and a 10% subsidy on low-calorie items.

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New Neighborhood Grocery Store Increased Awareness Of Food Access But Did Not Alter Dietary Habits Or Obesity

Steven Cummins, Ellen Flint & Stephen Matthews
Health Affairs, February 2014, Pages 283-291

Abstract:
National and local policies to improve diet in low-income US populations include increasing physical access to grocery stores and supermarkets in underserved neighborhoods. In a pilot study that evaluated the impacts of opening a new supermarket in a Philadelphia community considered a “food desert” — part of the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative — we found that the intervention moderately improved residents’ perceptions of food accessibility. However, it did not lead to changes in reported fruit and vegetable intake or body mass index. The effectiveness of interventions to improve physical access to food and reduce obesity by encouraging supermarkets to locate in underserved areas therefore remains unclear. Nevertheless, the present findings suggest that simply improving a community’s retail food infrastructure may not produce desired changes in food purchasing and consumption patterns. Complementary policy changes and interventions may be needed to help consumers bridge the gap between perception and action. The replication of our findings in other settings and research into the factors that influence community residents’ receptivity to improved food access are urgently required.

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Association of a Television in the Bedroom With Increased Adiposity Gain in a Nationally Representative Sample of Children and Adolescents

Diane Gilbert-Diamond et al.
JAMA Pediatrics, forthcoming

Objective: To assess the prospective association between the presence of a bedroom television and change in body mass index (BMI; calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared), independent of television viewing, in a nationally representative sample of US children and adolescents.

Design, Setting, and Participants: We conducted a random-digit prospective telephone survey that captured children and adolescents from across the United States. Participants included 6522 boys and girls aged 10 to 14 years at baseline who were surveyed via telephone about media risk factors for obesity. Weighted regressions assessed adiposity at 2- and 4-year follow-up, controlling for television and movie viewing, video-game playing, parenting, age, sex, race or ethnicity, household income, and parental educational level.

Results: Distributions for age, sex, race or ethnicity, and socioeconomic status were similar to census estimates for the US population. Sample weighting methods accounted for higher dropout rates among ethnic minorities and those with lower socioeconomic status. Bedroom televisions were reported by 59.1% of participants at baseline, with boys, ethnic minorities, and those of lower socioeconomic status having significantly higher rates. In multivariate analyses, having a bedroom television was associated with an excess BMI of 0.57 (95% CI, 0.31-0.82) and 0.75 (0.38-1.12) at years 2 and 4, respectively, and a BMI gain of 0.24 (0.02-0.45) from years 2 to 4.

Conclusions and Relevance: Having a bedroom television is associated with weight gain beyond the effect of television viewing time. This association could be the result of uncaptured effects of television viewing or of disrupted sleep patterns. With the high prevalence of bedroom televisions, the effect attributable to this risk factor among US children and adolescents is excess weight of 8.7 million kg/y.

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How negative descriptive norms for healthy eating undermine the effects of positive injunctive norms

Mina Staunton et al.
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Healthy eating intentions were assessed as a function of theory of planned behavior variables and manipulated group norm salience. Participants (n = 119) were exposed (or not) to a positive injunctive norm that their fellow students approve of eating healthily, and (or not) to a negative descriptive norm that their fellow students do not eat healthily. A significant interaction emerged. When a negative descriptive norm was made salient, participants exposed to a positive injunctive norm reported significantly lower intentions to eat healthily. When no descriptive norm was given, exposure to a positive injunctive norm had no effect. The results suggest the weakness of manipulated injunctive norm salience in the health domain, and the importance of investigating the interactive effects of referent group norms.

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Healthful Food Decision Making in Response to Traffic Light Color-Coded Nutrition Labeling

Joerg Koenigstorfer, Andrea Groeppel-Klein & Friederike Kamm
Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article investigates whether traffic light color-coded nutrition information helps low- (vs. high-) self-control consumers make more healthful food choices within a given product category. Two in-store lab studies assess the effects of traffic light colors. The colors indicate low (green), medium (amber), and high (red) levels of four negative food nutrients (sugar, fat, saturated fat, and salt). The color-coding was implemented on nutrition labeling schemes shown on the front of actual food packages (pasta meals in Study 1; cereal bars in Study 2). Consumers with low self-control to resist food temptations, but not those with high self-control, make more healthful food choices in response to the color-coded labeling. The behavior is congruent with their long-term goals of controlling their food choices and is evident when traffic light colors vary between both nutrients and products (Study 1) and when traffic light colors vary between nutrients but not products (Study 2). The authors derive theoretical implications and draw conclusions from the perspectives of public policy, retailing, and manufacturers.

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Better Moods for Better Eating?: How Mood Influences Food Choice

Meryl Gardner et al.
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
How do moods influence one’s preference for foods? By introducing the role of enjoyment- versus health-oriented benefits of foods in the mood and food consumption relationship, this research informs both temporal construal theory and mood management framework by positing that mood influences the choice between healthy versus indulgent foods through its impact on temporal construal, which alters the weights people put on long-term health benefits versus short-term mood management benefits when making choices. The results from four experiments show that a positive mood cues distal, abstract construal and increases the salience of long-term goals such as health, leading to greater preference for healthy foods over indulgent foods. The results also show that a negative mood cues proximal construal and increases the salience of immediate, concrete goals such as mood management, leading to greater preference for indulgent foods over healthy foods.

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Sleep duration and body mass index and waist circumference among US adults

Earl Ford et al.
Obesity, February 2014, Pages 598–607

Objective: To examine the form of the relationship between sleep duration and anthropometric measures and possible differences in these relationships by gender and race or ethnicity.

Design and Methods: Data for 13,742 participants aged ≥20 years from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2010 were used. Sleep duration was categorized as ≤6 (short sleepers), 7-9, and ≥10 hours (long sleepers).

Results: Short sleepers were as much as 1.7 kg/m2 (SE 0.4) heavier and had 3.4 cm (SE 1.0) more girth than long sleepers. Among participants without depression or a diagnosed sleep disorder, sleep duration was significantly associated with body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference in an inverse linear association in the entire sample, men, women, whites, African Americans, and participants aged 20-39 years. No evidence for statistical interaction by gender and race or ethnicity was observed. Regression coefficients were notably stronger among adults aged 20-39 years. Compared to participants who reported sleeping 7-9 hours per night, short sleepers were more likely to be obese and have abdominal obesity.

Conclusions: In this nationally representative sample of US adults, an inverse linear association most consistently characterized the association between sleep duration and BMI and waist circumference.

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Proximity of foods in a competitive food environment influences consumption of a low calorie and a high calorie food

Gregory Privitera & Faris Zuraikat
Appetite, forthcoming

Abstract:
The objective of this study was to test if proximity of a food or preference for a food influences food intake in a competitive food environment in which one low calorie/low fat (apple slices) and one higher calorie/higher fat (buttered popcorn) food was available in the same environment. The proximity of popcorn and apple slices was manipulated and 56 participants were randomly assigned to groups. In Group Apples Near, apple slices were placed near (within arms reach) a participant and popcorn was placed far (2 m away). In Group Popcorn Near, buttered popcorn was placed near and apple slices were placed far. As a control for the absence of a proximity manipulation, Group Both Near had both test foods placed near. Although participants rated the popcorn as more liked than apples, the food that was placed closer to the participant was consumed most in the two experimental groups, regardless of preference (R2 = 0.38). Total energy intake was reduced most when popcorn was placed far from a participant compared to when it was placed near (R2 = 0.24). The effects reported here were not moderated by BMI and did not vary by sex. In all, the results support the hypothesis that making a low calorie food more proximate will reduce total energy intake and increase intake of a low calorie food, even when a higher calorie and more preferred food is also available, but less proximate.

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Association Between Casino Opening or Expansion and Risk of Childhood Overweight and Obesity

Jessica Jones-Smith, William Dow & Kristal Chichlowska
Journal of the American Medical Association, 5 March 2014, Pages 929-936

Importance: Economic resources have been inversely associated with risk of childhood overweight/obesity. Few studies have evaluated whether this association is a direct effect of economic resources or is attributable to unmeasured confounding or reverse causation. American Indian–owned casinos have resulted in increased economic resources for some tribes and provide an opportunity to test whether these resources are associated with overweight/obesity.

Objective: To assess whether openings or expansions of American Indian–owned casinos were associated with childhood overweight/obesity risk.

Design, Setting, and Participants: We used repeated cross-sectional anthropometric measurements from fitness testing of American Indian children (aged 7-18 years) from 117 school districts that encompassed tribal lands in California between 2001 and 2012. Children in school districts encompassing American Indian tribal lands that either gained or expanded a casino were compared with children in districts with tribal lands that did not gain or expand a casino.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Per capita annual income, median annual household income, percentage of population in poverty, total population, child overweight/obesity (body mass index [BMI] ≥85th age- and sex-specific percentile) and BMI z score.

Results: Of the 117 school districts, 57 gained or expanded a casino, 24 had a preexisting casino but did not expand, and 36 never had a casino. The mean slots per capita was 7 (SD, 12) and the median was 3 (interquartile range [IQR], 0.3-8). Among districts where a casino opened or expanded, the mean change in slots per capita was 13 (SD, 19) and the median was 3 (IQR, 1-11). Forty-eight percent of the anthropometric measurements were classified as overweight/obese (11 048/22 863). Every casino slot machine per capita gained was associated with an increase in per capita annual income (β = $541; 95% CI, $245-$836) and a decrease in percentage in poverty (β = −0.6%; 95% CI, −1.1% to −0.20%) among American Indians living on tribal lands. Among American Indian children, every slot machine per capita gained was associated with a decreased probability of overweight/obesity by 0.19 percentage points (95% CI, −0.26 to −0.11 percentage points) and a decrease in BMI z score (β = −0.003; 95% CI, −0.005 to −0.0002).

Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, opening or expanding a casino was associated with increased economic resources and decreased risk of childhood overweight/obesity. Given the limitations of an ecological study, further research is needed to better understand the mechanisms behind this association.

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The association between ownership of common household devices and obesity and diabetes in high, middle and low income countries

Scott Lear et al.
Canadian Medical Association Journal, 4 March 2014, Pages 258-266

Background: Household devices (e.g., television, car, computer) are common in high income countries, and their use has been linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. We hypothesized that device ownership is associated with obesity and diabetes and that these effects are explained through reduced physical activity, increased sitting time and increased energy intake.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis using data from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology study involving 153 996 adults from high, upper-middle, lower-middle and low income countries. We used multilevel regression models to account for clustering at the community and country levels.

Results: Ownership of a household device increased from low to high income countries (4% to 83% for all 3 devices) and was associated with decreased physical activity and increased sitting, dietary energy intake, body mass index and waist circumference. There was an increased odds of obesity and diabetes with the ownership of any 1 household device compared to no device ownership (obesity: odds ratio [OR] 1.43, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.32–1.55; diabetes: OR 1.38, 95% CI 1.28–1.50). Ownership of a second device increased the odds further but ownership of a third device did not. Subsequent adjustment for lifestyle factors modestly attenuated these associations. Of the 3 devices, ownership of a television had the strongest association with obesity (OR 1.39, 95% CI 1.29–1.49) and diabetes (OR 1.33, 95% CI 1.23–1.44). When stratified by country income level, the odds of obesity and diabetes when owning all 3 devices was greatest in low income countries (obesity: OR 3.15, 95% CI 2.33-4.25; diabetes: OR 1.97, 95% CI 1.53–2.53) and decreased through country income levels such that we did not detect an association in high income countries.

Interpretation: The ownership of household devices increased the likelihood of obesity and diabetes, and this was mediated in part by effects on physical activity, sitting time and dietary energy intake. With increasing ownership of household devices in developing countries, societal interventions are needed to mitigate their effects on poor health.

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The relationship between body fat mass percentiles and inflammation in children

Kanakadurga Singer et al.
Obesity, forthcoming

Objective: Obesity has been associated with markers of increased systemic inflammation in both human and animal studies. Increased inflammation is linked to metabolic and cardiovascular disease. The objective of this study was to evaluate the association between percentile body fat and inflammation in a nationally representative sample of US children.

Design and Methods: We studied 6,950 children aged 8 to 18 years of age between 1999-2004. Measurement of body fat percentage was measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry DEXA scan and converted to an age- and sex-adjusted percentile. The main outcome measures were abnormal c-reactive protein (CRP > 1.0 mg/dl) and absolute neutrophil count (ANC > 6000).

Results: Children with higher levels of body fat (≥70th%) had a higher odds of having elevated CRP (OR 2.88-10.69) and elevated ANC (OR 2.14 to 3.24) compared with children with body fat <70th percentile.

Conclusions: The link between inflammation and body fat in children warrants further longitudinal research to understand the temporal relationship between overweight/obesity and inflammation in the pediatric obese population and its implications for chronic disease risk.

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The Economics of Information, Deep Capture, and the Obesity Debate

Trenton Smith & Attila Tasnádi
American Journal of Agricultural Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The economic theory of regulatory capture predicts that industry groups will attempt to influence their regulators (for example, by lobbying for rules that exclude competition). It has been suggested that the same logic applies to any powerful institution with the ability to affect industry profits. When the aim of industry is to alter the public’s perception of its product (for example, by disseminating favorable messages to the news media or via an advertising campaign, or by funding industry-friendly scientific research), the end result has been dubbed deep capture. We develop a formal model of deep capture, in which consumers have imperfect information about product quality, and a dominant producer is able to increase his profits by altering the parameters of the consumer’s search problem. We demonstrate the empirical relevance of the phenomenon with a discussion of the food industry response to the obesity epidemic.

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Legal Largesse or Big, Fat Failure: Do Weight Discrimination Laws Improve Employment Outcomes of the Obese?

Jennifer Bennett Shinall
Vanderbilt University Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
Obesity rates have more than doubled in the last two decades, and yet obese individuals continue to experience both wage and employment penalties in the labor market. This paper conducts the first in-depth review of the ten local and state laws protecting obese workers across the United States. After reviewing the legislative history, enforcement procedures, and remedies available under each law, I use empirical methods to assess each law’s efficacy in improving labor market outcomes of the obese. From this analysis, I conclude that the laws in two cities — Madison, Wisconsin and Urbana, Illinois — have been the most effective because they provide discrimination victims with swift, low-cost access to justice.

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Local Food Prices and Their Associations With Children’s Weight and Food Security

Taryn Morrissey, Alison Jacknowitz & Katie Vinopal
Pediatrics, March 2014, Pages 422-430

Objectives: Both obesity and food insecurity are important public health problems facing young children in the United States. A lack of affordable, healthy foods is one of the neighborhood factors presumed to underlie both food insecurity and obesity among children. We examine associations between local food prices and children’s BMI, weight, and food security outcomes.

Methods: We linked data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort, a nationally representative study of children from infancy to age 5, to local food price data from the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) Cost-of-Living Index (n = 11 700 observations). Using ordinary least squares (OLS), linear probability, and within-child fixed effects (FE) models, we exploit the variability in food price data over time and among children who move residences focusing on a subsample of households under 300% of the Federal Poverty Level.

Results: Results from ordinary least squares and FE models indicate that higher-priced fruits and vegetables are associated with higher child BMI, and this relationship is driven by the prices of fresh (versus frozen or canned) fruits and vegetables. In the FE models, higher-priced soft drinks are associated with a lower likelihood of being overweight, and surprisingly, higher fast food prices are associated with a greater likelihood of being overweight.

Conclusions: Policies that reduce the costs of fresh fruits and vegetables may be effective in promoting healthy weight outcomes among young children.

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Home-schooled children are thinner, leaner, and report better diets relative to traditionally schooled children

Michelle Cardel et al.
Obesity, February 2014, Pages 497–503

Objective: To examine and compare the relationships among diet, physical activity, and adiposity between home-schooled children (HSC) and traditionally schooled children (TSC).

Design and Methods: Subjects were HSC (n = 47) and TSC (n = 48) aged 7-12 years old. Dietary intakes were determined via two 24-h recalls and physical activity was assessed with 7 days of accelerometry. Fat mass (FM), trunk fat, and percent body fat (¿) were measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA).

Results: Relative to HSC, TSC demonstrated significantly higher BMI percentiles, FM, trunk fat, and ¿; consumed 120 total kilocalories more per day; and reported increased intakes of trans fats, total sugar, added sugars, calcium, and lower intakes of fiber, fruits, and vegetables (P < 0.05). At lunch, TSC consumed significantly more calories, sugar, sodium, potassium, and calcium compared to HSC (P < 0.05). Physical activity did not differ between groups. Traditional schooling was associated with increased consumption of trans fat, sugar, calcium (P < 0.05); lower intakes of fiber, and fruits and vegetables (P < 0.05); and higher FM, ¿, and trunk fat (P < 0.01), after adjustment for covariates.

Conclusions: These data suggest HSC may consume diets that differ in energy and nutrient density relative to TSC, potentially contributing to differences in weight and adiposity.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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