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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Weighty

Genetic Differential Susceptibility to Socioeconomic Status and Childhood Obesogenic Behavior: Why Targeted Prevention May Be the Best Societal Investment

Patricia Silveira et al.

JAMA Pediatrics, forthcoming

Objective: To determine whether children carrying the 7-repeat allele of the DRD4 gene living under adverse economic conditions have worse-than-average fat intake compared with those living in a healthy environment.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Data from an established prospective birth cohort (Maternal Adversity, Vulnerability, and Neurodevelopment) were used to study 4-year-old children from Montreal, Quebec, Canada and Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. A total of 190 children (94 girls and 96 boys) had height and weight measured and complete food diaries and were therefore eligible for the study. The study is derived from a birth cohort started in June 2003 and still ongoing. The last age of follow-up was at 6 years.

Results: The 5 steps to distinguish the differential susceptibility from other types of interaction were followed, and the study confirms that differential susceptibility is a relevant model to address the association between the 7-repeat allele of DRD4 and food choices in girls. Of the 190 children, 112 did not have the DRD4 7-repeat allele and 78 did. Baseline characteristics did not differ in these 2 groups. Although not different in several confounders, such as maternal educational level, maternal smoking during gestation, birth weight, and breastfeeding duration, girls carrying the 7-repeat allele of the DRD4 gene and living in adverse socioeconomic conditions have increased fat intake compared with girls who are noncarriers (DRD4 7+ mean, 33.95% of calories derived from fat; 95% CI, 28.76%-39.13%; DRD4 7− mean, 28.76%; 95% CI, 26.77%-30.83%). However, girls carrying the 7-repeat allele of the same gene and living in better socioeconomic conditions have decreased fat intake compared with noncarriers (DRD4 7+ mean, 29.03% of calories derived from fat; 95% CI, 26.69%-31.51%; DRD4 7− mean, 31.88%; 95% CI, 30.28%-33.58%).

Conclusions and Relevance: Alleles previously considered to be obesity risk alleles might in fact function as plasticity alleles, determining openness to environmental modification and/or intervention, as seen in the girls in this study. This finding has important implications for obesity prevention and social pediatrics.

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Misclassification of cardiometabolic health when using body mass index categories in NHANES 2005–2012

A.J. Tomiyama et al.

International Journal of Obesity, forthcoming

Abstract:
The United States (US) Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has proposed rules allowing employers to penalize employees up to 30% of health insurance costs if they fail to meet ‘health’ criteria such as reaching a specified Body Mass Index (BMI). Our objective was to examine cardiometabolic health misclassifications given standard BMI categories. Participants (N=40 420) were individuals aged 18+ in the nationally representative 2005–2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Using blood pressure, triglyceride, cholesterol, glucose, insulin resistance, and C-reactive protein data, population frequencies/percentages of metabolically healthy versus unhealthy individuals were stratified by BMI. Nearly half of overweight individuals, 29% of obese individuals, and even 16% of obesity type II/III individuals were metabolically healthy. Moreover, over 30% of normal weight individuals were cardiometabolically unhealthy. There was no significant race x BMI interaction, but there was a significant gender x BMI interaction, F(4,64)=3.812, P=0.008. Using BMI categories as the main indicator of health, an estimated 74 936 678 US adults are misclassified as cardiometabolically unhealthy or cardiometabolically healthy. Policymakers should consider the unintended consequences of relying solely on BMI, and researchers should seek to improve diagnostic tools related to weight and cardiometabolic health.

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Disgust proneness and associated neural substrates in obesity

Tristan Watkins et al.

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, March 2016, Pages 458-465

Abstract:
Defects in experiencing disgust may contribute to obesity by allowing for the overconsumption of food. However, the relationship of disgust proneness and its associated neural locus has yet to be explored in the context of obesity. Thirty-three participants (17 obese, 16 lean) completed the Disgust Propensity and Sensitivity Scale-Revised and a functional magnetic resonance imaging paradigm where images from 4 categories (food, contaminates, contaminated food or fixation) were randomly presented. Independent two-sample t-tests revealed significantly lower levels of Disgust Sensitivity for the obese group (mean score = 14.7) compared with the lean group (mean score = 17.6, P = 0.026). The obese group had less activation in the right insula than the lean group when viewing contaminated food images. Multiple regression with interaction analysis revealed one left insula region where the association of Disgust Sensitivity scores with activation differed by group when viewing contaminated food images. These interaction effects were driven by the negative correlation of Disgust Sensitivity scores with beta values extracted from the left insula in the obese group (r = −0.59) compared with a positive correlation in the lean group (r = 0.65). Given these body mass index–dependent differences in Disgust Sensitivity and neural responsiveness to disgusting food images, it is likely that altered Disgust Sensitivity may contribute to obesity.

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Higher body mass index is associated with episodic memory deficits in young adults

Lucy Cheke, Jon Simons & Nicola Clayton

Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Obesity has become an international health crisis. There is accumulating evidence that excess bodyweight is associated with changes to the structure and function of the brain and with a number of cognitive deficits. In particular, research suggests that obesity is associated with hippocampal and frontal lobe dysfunction, which would be predicted to impact memory. However, evidence for such memory impairment is currently limited. We hypothesised that higher body mass index (BMI) would be associated with reduced performance on a test of episodic memory that assesses not only content, but also context and feature integration. A total of 50 participants aged 18–35 years, with BMIs ranging from 18 to 51, were tested on a novel what–where–when style episodic memory test: the “Treasure-Hunt Task”. This test requires recollection of object, location, and temporal order information within the same paradigm, as well as testing the ability to integrate these features into a single event recollection. Higher BMI was associated with significantly lower performance on the what–where–when (WWW) memory task and all individual elements: object identification, location memory, and temporal order memory. After controlling for age, sex, and years in education, the effect of BMI on the individual what, where, and when tasks remained, while the WWW dropped below significance. This finding of episodic memory deficits in obesity is of concern given the emerging evidence for a role for episodic cognition in appetite regulation.

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Adverse family experiences during childhood and adolescent obesity

William Heerman et al.

Obesity, March 2016, Pages 696–702

Objective: To evaluate the association between adverse family experiences (AFEs) during childhood and adolescent obesity and to determine populations at highest risk for AFEs.

Methods: A cross-sectional analysis was performed of the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children's Health, including children aged 10-17 years. Weighted estimates of 31,258,575 children were based on interviews with 42,239 caregivers. Caregiver reports of nine psychosocial risk factors measured AFEs during childhood. Adolescent overweight and obesity were derived by caregiver-reported child height and weight.

Results: Nearly one-third (30.5%) of children had experienced ≥2 AFEs, with geographic variation by state. The prevalence of obesity among children experiencing ≥2 AFEs was 20.4%, when compared with 12.5% among children with 0 AFEs. Adjusted survey regression models were controlled for child, parent, household, and neighborhood characteristics. Children with ≥2 AFEs in childhood were more likely to have obesity (AOR = 1.8; 95% CI = 1.47-2.17; P < 0.001) than those with no AFEs, with Non-Hispanic, White children most affected.

Conclusions: Adolescents in this national sample who were exposed to greater numbers of AFEs in childhood also had higher rates of overweight and obesity. Geographic variation and differential associations based on race/ethnicity identified children at greatest risk.

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Stuck in Unhealthy Places: How Entering, Exiting, and Remaining in Poor and Nonpoor Neighborhoods Is Associated with Obesity during the Transition to Adulthood

Adam Lippert

Journal of Health and Social Behavior, March 2016, Pages 1-21

Abstract:
Adolescents from poor versus nonpoor neighborhoods are more likely to become obese during the transition to adulthood. It is unclear whether this pertains to all adolescents from poor neighborhoods or only those who remain in disadvantaged settings. Further, it is unknown how neighborhood poverty entries and exits are associated with obesity. Using census and interview data from 12,164 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health participants, I find that those who consistently live in poor neighborhoods are more likely to become or remain obese by adulthood than those who never live in poor neighborhoods. Exiting severe neighborhood poverty curtails this risk, while entering and remaining in neighborhood poverty in adulthood increases it. These patterns are more pronounced for young women and robust to adjustments for health behaviors and selection bias. Findings support accumulation of risks and social mobility perspectives and highlight how previous and current neighborhood contexts are relevant for health.

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Prejudice Toward Individuals With Obesity: Evidence for a Pro-Effort Bias

Joanne Beames, Melissa Black & Lenny Vartanian

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, forthcoming

Abstract:
Three studies examined the role of causal beliefs in weight stigma in order to better understand people’s evaluations of individuals with obesity. Participants viewed weight-related information about a target individual and evaluated that target on various dimensions. Study 1 showed that offset effort information (i.e., information about effort to lose weight) had a greater impact on participants’ evaluations of individuals with obesity than did other causal information, such as onset control and offset ability. Study 2 extended this finding by demonstrating that the duration of effort invested to lose weight is also important in determining participants’ evaluations of individuals with obesity. Study 3 replicated the effect of effort (albeit in terms of effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle) on evaluations of individuals without obesity. Furthermore, in all 3 studies, disgust mediated the association between perceived effort and desire for social distance from the target. These findings highlight a key role for effort and disgust in weight stigma, and suggest that the negative evaluations of individuals with obesity might in part reflect a pro-effort bias. The present research has important implications for strategies to reduce weight stigma, and may even inform strategies to reduce social stigma beyond obesity, such as drug addiction.

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Negative Consequences of Nutrition Information Disclosure on Consumption Behavior in Quick-Casual Restaurants

Satheesh Seenivasan & Dominic Thomas

Journal of Economic Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do consumers make nutrition informed and healthier choices in all restaurants where nutrition information is disclosed on the menus? In this study, we investigate whether consumers had better product nutrition knowledge, assigned more importance to healthiness when choosing meals, and chose healthier meals in the stores of a quick-casual restaurant chain that displayed nutrition information on their menus, relative to a control group of stores of the same chain that did not display nutrition information. We find robust evidence for the learning effect: consumers estimated the energy content of meals more accurately in restaurants which displayed nutrition information on menus. However, contrary to prior research findings in the context of fast-food restaurants, we find that consumers overestimated the energy content of meals, and chose healthier meals in quick-casual restaurants which did not display nutrition information on menus. Our findings shed a new light on the previous findings by showing that the effect of menu labeling on the healthiness of meals chosen by consumers depends on their prior nutrition beliefs.

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Computer Interfaces and the “Direct-Touch” Effect: Can iPads Increase the Choice of Hedonic Food?

Hao Shen, Meng Zhang & Aradhna Krishna

Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
People nowadays order food using a variety of computer devices, such as desktops, laptops, and mobile phones. Even in restaurants, patrons can place orders on computer screens. Can the interface a consumer uses affect her choice of food? We focus on the “direct touch” aspect of touch interfaces, whereby users can touch the screen in an interactive manner. In a series of five studies, we show that a touch interface such as that provided by an iPad, compared to a non-touch interface such as that of a desktop computer with a mouse, facilitates the choice of an affect-laden alternative over a cognitively superior one — what we call the “Direct-Touch effect.” Our studies provide some mediational support that the Direct-Touch effect is driven by the enhanced mental simulation of product interaction with the more affective choice alternative on touch interfaces. We also test the moderator of this effect. We obtain consistent results using multiple product pairs as stimuli. Our results have rich theoretical and managerial implications.

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The Crunch Effect: Food Sound Salience as a Consumption Monitoring Cue

Ryan Elder & Gina Mohr

Food Quality and Preference, July 2016, Pages 39–46

Abstract:
While a growing body of research explores the impact of normative and environmental extrinsic factors on food consumption quantity, less attention is given to the intrinsic cues, or sensory properties, of the food being consumed. Our research contributes to this growing literature by examining the effect of food sound salience (i.e., the sound that a food makes during mastication) on consumption quantity. Specifically, we show that increased attention to the sound the food makes, or food sound salience, may serve as a consumption monitoring cue leading to reduced consumption. Across three studies, we show a consistent negative relationship between the salience of a food’s sound and food intake. Our research highlights the importance of intrinsic auditory food cues on consumption. Our findings are valuable to both researchers interested in understanding how sensory cues are connected to consumption and marketers utilizing sound in their communications to consumers.

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The Effects of Increased Serving Sizes on Consumption

Chris Hydock, Anne Wilson & Karthik Easwar

Appetite, June 2016, Pages 71–79

Abstract:
The US Food and Drug Administration recently revealed that it is considering modifying the Nutrition Facts Panels required on packaged foods. One proposed change is increasing serving sizes included on labels, which has two potential implications. Larger serving sizes could increase consumption if consumers use the serving sizes displayed as a reference point for their own consumption (McFerran et al., 2010). Alternatively, larger serving sizes that depict increased values of negative nutrients (e.g. calories) could lead consumers to perceive foods as less healthy, thereby reducing consumption (Russo, 1996). In study 1 (Online Sample, N = 208, Mage= 32, SDage = 12), participants saw pictures of packaged food items and nutrition labels. The labels, depicted either the existing or larger serving size. Across all foods, larger serving sizes led to lower health perceptions. Labels with larger serving sizes were rated as more representative of typical consumption. Study 2 (Online Sample, N = 347, Mage= 31, SDage = 10) used the same design as Study 1, but required participants to virtually portion foods. While serving sizes did not impact the amount of food consumers portioned, those who saw labels with larger serving sizes estimated that they portioned out more calories. In study 3 (Student Sample, N = 198, Mage= 20, SDage = 1), participants were given M&Ms to eat, paired with a nutritional label depicting either the current or a larger serving size, while participating in unrelated surveys. Participants presented with the larger serving size label consumed less than those presented with the current serving size label. Together, the results suggest that the proposed increase in serving sizes on Nutrition Facts Panels could lower consumption of high-calorie foods.

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The effects of pre-ordering and behavioral nudges on national school lunch program participants’ food item selection

Gabrielle Miller et al.

Journal of Economic Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the effects of pre-ordering and pre-ordering with behavioral nudges on the selection of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat milk by National School Lunch Program (NSLP) participants in a Florida school. After collecting two weeks of baseline data, students in grades four and five were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups: the first treatment group pre-ordered their lunches online using a unique software program; the second treatment group received behavioral nudges based on United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) MyPlate recommendations while pre-ordering. Student in grades four and seven served as the control group and continued to obtain their lunches through the normal lunch line. Using difference-in-difference regression analysis, we find that students in the first treatment group selected significantly more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat milk during the pre-ordering intervention phase of the study relative to students in the control group, 27.7%, 15.8%, and 16.3%, respectively, while students in the second treatment group selected significantly more fruits (51.4%), vegetables (29.7%) and low-fat milk (37.3%) than students in the control group. In addition, we find the nudge had a statistically significant positive effect in addition to the effect of pre-ordering; students who received the MyPlate nudge while pre-ordering selected statistically significantly more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat milk than students who pre-ordered without nudging.

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Perceived distance and obesity: It's what you weigh, not what you think

Mila Sugovic, Philip Turk & Jessica Witt Acta

Psychologica, March 2016, Pages 1–8

Abstract:
Action abilities are constrained by physical body size and characteristics, which, according to the action-specific account of perception, should influence perceived space. We examined whether physical body size or beliefs about body size affect distance perception by taking advantage of naturally-occurring dissociations typical in people who are obese but believe themselves to weigh less. Normal weight, overweight, and obese individuals made verbal distance estimates. We also collected measures of beliefs about body size and measures of physical body size. Individuals who weighed more than others estimated distances to be farther. Furthermore, physical body weight influenced perceived distance but beliefs about body size did not. The results illustrate that whereas perception is influenced by physical characteristics, it is not influenced by beliefs. The results also have implications for perception as a contributing factor for lifestyle choices: people who weigh more than others may choose to perform less physically demanding actions not as a result of how they perceive their bodies, but as a result of how they perceive the environment.

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Diminishing Health, Rising Health Care Costs and Long-Run Growth in Local Government Spending

Mark Skidmore & William Dyar

Michigan State University Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
Real local government spending in the United States has increased by 240% between 1972 and 2012, faster than can be explained by population growth (a 48% increase), growth in median household income (a 32% increase), or changes in other economic, demographic, and institutional variables typically used to explain the pattern in local government spending. In this paper we examine the role of other potential drivers of local government growth such as growing income disparity, the increasing number of single female-headed households, increasing number of households living in mobile homes, rising healthcare costs, and diminishing health such as increasing in obesity (and associated physical health problems) as well behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, and violence associated with the changing diet of the American people. Since the 1970s, the obesity rate in the United States has increased from 12% to 35%. Using the obesity rate as a proxy for changing health, we find that increasing mental/emotional/physical health problems accounts for a significant portion of increased local government spending growth, particularly in human services such as education that require behavioral management. We also find that local government spending in other spending categories declines with obesity. These findings suggest that deteriorating mental/emotional/physical health resulting from dietary changes and other factors has increased local government spending and shifted spending priorities.

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Who Benefits from Calorie Labeling? An Analysis of its Effects on Body Mass

Partha Deb & Carmen Vargas

NBER Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
This study uses county-level variation in implementation of calorie labeling laws in the US to identify the effects of such laws on body mass. Using the 2003 to 2012 waves of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, we find a statistically insignificant average treatment effect for women and a small, statistically significant and negative average treatment effect for men, indicating a decrease in BMI after implementation of calorie-labeling laws. We estimate finite mixture models and discover that the average treatment effects mask substantial heterogeneity in the effects across three classes of women and men. For both women and men, the three classes, determined within the model, can be described as a subpopulation with normal weight, a second one that is overweight on average and a third one that is obese on average. Estimates from finite mixture models show that the effect is largely concentrated among a class of women with BMI distributions centered on overweight. The effects for men are statistically significant for each of the three classes and large for men in the overweight and obese classes. These results suggest that overweight and obese individuals are especially sensitive to relevant information.

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No Spillover Effect of the Foreclosure Crisis on Weight Change: The Diabetes Study of Northern California (DISTANCE)

Janelle Downing et al.

PLoS ONE, March 2016

Abstract:
The emerging body of research suggests the unprecedented increase in housing foreclosures and unemployment between 2007 and 2009 had detrimental effects on health. Using data from electronic health records of 105,919 patients with diabetes in Northern California, this study examined how increases in foreclosure rates from 2006 to 2010 affected weight change. We anticipated that two of the pathways that explain how the spike in foreclosure rates affects weight gain — increasing stress and declining salutary health behaviors — would be acute in a population with diabetes because of metabolic sensitivity to stressors and health behaviors. Controlling for unemployment, housing prices, temporal trends, and time-invariant confounders with individual fixed effects, we found no evidence of an association between the foreclosure rate in each patient's census block of residence and body mass index. Our results suggest, although more than half of the population was exposed to at least one foreclosure within their census block, the foreclosure crisis did not independently impact weight change.

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Gain Without Pain: The Extended Effects of a Behavioral Health Intervention

Daniel Mochon et al.

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the extended effects of an incentive-based behavioral health intervention designed to improve nutrition behavior. Although the intervention successfully improved the target behavior, less is known about any spillovers, positive or negative, that impacted the program’s net benefit. This novel examination presents an opportunity to advance our knowledge of this important question, particularly because many theories predict that balancing behaviors in other domains (e.g., reduced exercise) can occur. Our results show a positive and long-lasting persistence effect for the treatment group, even after the incentive was removed. Moreover, we observe no negative spillover effects into related domains such as exercise, and no negative impact on customer loyalty. These results support the use of incentive-based interventions and highlight the importance, for both theory and practice, of examining their extended effects.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, March 28, 2016

Go figure

The Long-Run Effects of Disruptive Peers

Scott Carrell, Mark Hoekstra & Elira Kuka

NBER Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
A large and growing literature has documented the importance of peer effects in education. However, there is relatively little evidence on the long-run educational and labor market consequences of childhood peers. We examine this question by linking administrative data on elementary school students to subsequent test scores, college attendance and completion, and earnings. To distinguish the effect of peers from confounding factors, we exploit the population variation in the proportion of children from families linked to domestic violence, who were shown by Carrell and Hoekstra (2010, 2012) to disrupt contemporaneous behavior and learning. Results show that exposure to a disruptive peer in classes of 25 during elementary school reduces earnings at age 26 by 3 to 4 percent. We estimate that differential exposure to children linked to domestic violence explains 5 to 6 percent of the rich-poor earnings gap in our data, and that removing one disruptive peer from a classroom for one year would raise the present discounted value of classmates' future earnings by $100,000.

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An Open Path to the Future: Perceived Financial Resources and School Motivation

Mesmin Destin

Journal of Early Adolescence, forthcoming

Abstract:
One contributing factor to gaps in academic achievement may be that some students perceive long-term educational goals, such as college, as financially out of reach, which can make schoolwork feel meaningless even several years before college. However, information that leads students to perceive that the financial path to college is open for them (i.e., need-based financial aid) can increase school motivation. Two classroom-based field experiments expand this area of theory and research. Early adolescent students who were randomly assigned to receive information about need-based financial aid (open path condition) showed greater school motivation than those who were randomly assigned to a control condition, specifically if they came from low-asset households. In a second exploratory experiment, the open path effect was mediated by an increased likelihood that students envision a future career that includes college (education-dependent identity). Implications for the study of identity and disparities in academic achievement are discussed.

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The Effect of Institutional Expenditures on Employment Outcomes and Earnings

Amanda Griffith & Kevin Rask

Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
In recent decades, public attention on colleges has risen in response to rising college expenditures and costs. This study uses the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 to investigate how spending impacts salaries and employment outcomes, controlling for selection. Our findings indicate that spending on instruction increases salaries, the probability of full-time employment, and job match, particularly for more disadvantaged students, while there are smaller benefits of spending on student services for less disadvantaged students. Spending on research has large positive impacts on salary and the probability of full-time employment, especially for disadvantaged students.

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Financial Education and the Debt Behavior of the Young

Meta Brown et al.

Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Young Americans are heavily reliant on debt and have clear financial literacy shortcomings. In this paper, we study the effects of exposure to financial training on debt outcomes in early adulthood among a large and representative sample of young Americans. Variation in exposure to financial training comes from statewide changes in high school graduation requirements. Using a flexible event study approach, we find that both mathematics and financial education, by and large, decrease reliance on nonstudent debt and improve repayment behavior. Economics training, on the other hand, increases both the likelihood of holding outstanding debt and the prevalence of repayment difficulties.

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Teacher Applicant Hiring and Teacher Performance: Evidence from DC Public Schools

Brian Jacob et al.

NBER Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
Selecting more effective teachers among job applicants during the hiring process could be a highly cost-effective means of improving educational quality, but there is little research that links information gathered during the hiring process to subsequent teacher performance. We study the relationship among applicant characteristics, hiring outcomes, and teacher performance in the Washington DC Public Schools (DCPS). We take advantage of detailed data on a multi-stage application process, which includes written assessments, a personal interview, and sample lessons, as well as the annual evaluations of all DCPS teachers, based on multiple criteria. We identify a number of background characteristics (e.g., undergraduate GPA) as well as screening measures (e.g., applicant performance on a mock teaching lesson) that strongly predict teacher effectiveness. Interestingly, we find that these measures are only weakly, if at all, associated with the likelihood of being hired, suggesting considerable scope for improving teacher quality through the hiring process.

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Long-Lasting Effects of Socialist Education

Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln & Paolo Masella

Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Political regimes influence contents of education and criteria used to select and evaluate students. We study the impact of a socialist education on the likelihood of obtaining a college degree and on several labor market outcomes by exploiting the reorganization of the school system in East Germany after reunification. Our identification strategy utilizes cutoff birth dates for school enrollment that lead to variation in the length of exposure to the socialist education system within the same birth cohort. An additional year of socialist education decreases the probability of obtaining a college degree and affects longer-term male labor market outcomes.

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Teacher Quality and Learning Outcomes in Kindergarten

Caridad Araujo et al.

Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We assigned two cohorts of kindergarten students, totaling more than 24,000 children, to teachers within schools with a rule that is as-good-as-random. We collected data on children at the beginning of the school year, and applied 12 tests of math, language and executive function (EF) at the end of the year. All teachers were filmed teaching for a full day, and the videos were coded using a well-known classroom observation tool, the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (or CLASS). We find substantial classroom effects: A one-standard deviation increase in classroom quality results in 0.11, 0.11, and 0.07 standard deviation higher test scores in language, math, and EF, respectively. Teacher behaviors, as measured by the CLASS, are associated with higher test scores. Parents recognize better teachers, but do not change their behaviors appreciably to take account of differences in teacher quality.

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The Long-term Consequences of Teacher Discretion in Grading of High-stakes Tests

Rebecca Diamond & Petra Persson

Stanford Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
This paper analyzes the long-term consequences of teacher discretion in grading of high-stakes tests. Evidence is currently lacking, both on which students receive test score manipulation and on whether such manipulation has any real, long-term consequences. We document extensive test score manipulation of Swedish nationwide math tests taken in the last year before high school, by showing significant bunching in the distribution of test scores above discrete grade cutoffs. We find that teachers use their discretion to adjust the test scores of students who have “a bad test day,” but that they do not discriminate based on gender or immigration status. We then develop a Wald estimator that allows us to harness quasi-experimental variation in whether a student receives test score manipulation to identify its effect on students’ longer-term outcomes. Despite the fact that test score manipulation does not, per se, raise human capital, it has far-reaching consequences for the beneficiaries, raising their grades in future classes, high school graduation rates, and college initiation rates; lowering teen birth rates; and raising earnings at age 23. The mechanism at play suggests important dynamic complementarities: Getting a higher grade on the test serves as an immediate signaling mechanism within the educational system, motivating students and potentially teachers; this, in turn, raises human capital; and the combination of higher effort and higher human capital ultimately generates substantial labor market gains. This highlights that a higher grade may not primarily have a signaling value in the labor market, but within the educational system itself.

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School Finance Reform and the Distribution of Student Achievement

Julien Lafortune, Jesse Rothstein & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach

NBER Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
We study the impact of post-1990 school finance reforms, during the so-called "adequacy" era, on gaps in spending and achievement between high-income and low-income school districts. Using an event study design, we find that reform events -- court orders and legislative reforms -- lead to sharp, immediate, and sustained increases in absolute and relative spending in low-income school districts. Using representative samples from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, we also find that reforms cause gradual increases in the relative achievement of students in low-income school districts, consistent with the goal of improving educational opportunity for these students. The implied effect of school resources on educational achievement is large.

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Returns for a Touchdown? Universities Entering College Football

Eric Joseph Van Holm & Sandy Zook

Georgia State University Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
Between 2004 and 2014, 50 colleges have started football teams. The expansion of college football, both in terms of new locations and spending at existing programs, can be attributed in part to the belief that athletic success brings other benefits, including increases in donations, student applications, enrollment and student quality (Humphreys and Mondello 2007; Smith 2009; Tucker and Amato 1993). However, is this true for colleges with no football tradition? Given the upfront costs and long odds of on field success, is implementation of a football team enough to expect beneficial outcomes? We analyze a sample of colleges that started football programs in the last decade against a control group without the sport in order to test the short-term benefits of starting a team. Results show that while there is an immediate increase in applications to the college, the quality and retention of students declines.

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Are Expectations Alone Enough? Estimating the Effect of a Mandatory College-Prep Curriculum in Michigan

Brian Jacob et al.

NBER Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
This paper examines the impacts of the Michigan Merit Curriculum, a statewide college preparatory curriculum that applies to the high school graduating class of 2008 and later. We use a student, longitudinal database for all public school students in Michigan for the main analyses, and complement this with analyses from a state-year panel. The study employs several non-experimental approaches, including a comparative interrupted time series and a synthetic control method. Our analyses suggest that the higher expectations embodied in the MMC has had little impact on student outcomes. Looking at student performance on the ACT, the only clear evidence of a change in academic performance comes in science. Our best estimates indicate that ACT science scores improved by 0.2 points (or roughly 0.04 standard deviations) as a result of the MMC. Students who entered high school with the weakest academic preparation saw the largest improvement, gaining 0.35 points (0.15 standard deviations) on the ACT composite score and 0.73 points (0.22 standard deviations) on the ACT science score. Our estimates for high school completion are very sensitive to the sample and methodology used. Some analysis suggests a small negative impact on high school graduation for students who entered high school with the weakest academic preparation, but other analysis finds no such effect.

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Buy the Book? Evidence on the Effect of Textbook Funding on School-level Achievement

Kristian Holden

American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper considers the effect of textbook funding on school-level test performance by using a quasi-experimental setting in the US. I consider a lawsuit in California that provided a one-time payment of $96.90 per student for textbooks if schools fell below a threshold of academic performance. Exploiting this variation with a regression discontinuity (RD) design, I find that textbook funding has significant positive effects on school-level achievement in elementary schools and has a high benefit-per-dollar. In contrast to elementary schools, I find no effect in middle and high schools though these estimates are very imprecise.

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Physically Active Math and Language Lessons Improve Academic Achievement: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial

Marijke Mullender-Wijnsma et al.

Pediatrics, March 2016

Objectives: Using physical activity in the teaching of academic lessons is a new way of learning. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of an innovative physically active academic intervention (“Fit & Vaardig op School” [F&V]) on academic achievement of children.

Methods: Using physical activity to teach math and spelling lessons was studied in a cluster-randomized controlled trial. Participants were 499 children (mean age 8.1 years) from second- and third-grade classes of 12 elementary schools. At each school, a second- and third-grade class were randomly assigned to the intervention or control group. The intervention group participated in F&V lessons for 2 years, 22 weeks per year, 3 times a week. The control group participated in regular classroom lessons. Children’s academic achievement was measured before the intervention started and after the first and second intervention years. Academic achievement was measured by 2 mathematics tests (speed and general math skills) and 2 language tests (reading and spelling).

Results: After 2 years, multilevel analysis showed that children in the intervention group had significantly greater gains in mathematics speed test (P < .001; effect size [ES] 0.51), general mathematics (P < .001; ES 0.42), and spelling (P < .001; ES 0.45) scores. This equates to 4 months more learning gains in comparison with the control group. No differences were found on the reading test.

Conclusions: Physically active academic lessons significantly improved mathematics and spelling performance of elementary school children and are therefore a promising new way of teaching.

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Does High School Employment Develop Marketable Skills?

Russell Ormiston

Journal of Labor Research, March 2016, Pages 53-68

Abstract:
While decades of academic research have consistently demonstrated a positive relationship between high school employment and adult earnings, the literature is empirically silent in regards to why this association exists. This study uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97) to examine the hypothesis that high school employment develops “marketable skills” in the form of occupation-specific human capital. By analyzing wage variation attributable to the commonality of skill portfolios across respondents’ high school and adult (age 20 and 23) occupations, this study fails to find consistent evidence that the types of skills utilized in high school employment are correlated with adult earnings. Within the framework of the human capital model, this would suggest that the positive, post-school economic gains of in-school work are largely attributable to increases in general human capital (e.g., workplace socialization, character building).

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Information and Inflation: An Analysis of Grading Behavior

Brandon Lehr

B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
I study the impact on grades assigned at Occidental College, a selective private liberal arts college, following the introduction of a policy that provides information about average grades across campus to instructors each semester. Using transcript level data from 2009 to 2014, I find that after the information provision, previously below average grading courses increased grades by 0.08 grade points more than the previously above average grading courses. This finding of grade compression holds across all course levels and divisions, expect for in the sciences. With respect to students, the relative increase in grades in the previously low grading courses disproportionately benefited Black and Hispanic students relative to White and Asian students. In addition, the grade distribution shifted with previously below average grading courses increasing the share of A’s and decreasing the share of B’s and C’s following the grade information provision.

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Compensation and Employment Impact of a Full-time MBA Program

Megan Way, Yunwei Gai & Lidija Polutnik

International Advances in Economic Research, February 2016, Pages 49-63

Abstract:
The changing Master of Business Administration (MBA) marketplace and considerable direct and indirect costs for an MBA degree mean that school administrators and other stakeholders need a better understanding of what factors may influence the rate of return to their MBA programs. We investigated the potential of using analytical frameworks to identify those variables that may predict employment probabilities and starting salaries of full-time MBA graduates, in the context of a single, private MBA program. Our results suggest that for graduates of this particular program, pre-MBA salary and work experience in accounting, banking, finance, and consulting industries predicted higher post-MBA salary levels, as did having a liberal arts major as an undergraduate. Other human capital measures, such as Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores or elite undergraduate education, were not associated with higher employment probabilities or salary levels for this program’s students, while having an undergraduate business major was associated with lower employment probability. Although our study has limited inference to determine the value of an MBA education more generally, it has potentially important implications for administrators of MBA programs, who could gain useful insights on applying empirical analysis to their own programs. Although this process can be costly and time consuming without a supportive institutional environment, it could provide useful evidence-based guidelines for practice with substantial payoffs for both the program and the students.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Collaborators

Partial connectivity increases cultural accumulation within groups

Maxime Derex & Robert Boyd]

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 15 March 2016, Pages 2982–2987

Abstract:
Complex technologies used in most human societies are beyond the inventive capacities of individuals. Instead, they result from a cumulative process in which innovations are gradually added to existing cultural traits across many generations. Recent work suggests that a population’s ability to develop complex technologies is positively affected by its size and connectedness. Here, we present a simple computer-based experiment that compares the accumulation of innovations by fully and partially connected groups of the same size in a complex fitness landscape. We find that the propensity to learn from successful individuals drastically reduces cultural diversity within fully connected groups. In comparison, partially connected groups produce more diverse solutions, and this diversity allows them to develop complex solutions that are never produced in fully connected groups. These results suggest that explanations of ancestral patterns of cultural complexity may need to consider levels of population fragmentation and interaction patterns between partially isolated groups.

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Believing there is no free will corrupts intuitive cooperation

John Protzko, Brett Ouimette & Jonathan Schooler

Cognition, June 2016, Pages 6–9

Abstract:
Regardless of whether free will exists, believing that it does affects one’s behavior. When an individual’s belief in free will is challenged, one can become more likely to act in an uncooperative manner. The mechanism behind the relationship between one’s belief in free will and behavior is still debated. The current study uses an economic contribution game under varying time constraints to elucidate whether reducing belief in free will allows one to justify negative behavior or if the effects occur at a more intuitive level of processing. Here we show that although people are intuitively cooperative, challenging their belief in free will corrupts this behavior, leading to impulsive selfishness. If given time to think, however, people are able to override the initial inclination toward self-interest induced by discouraging a belief in free will.

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Unit Cohesion, Resilience, and Mental Health of Soldiers in Basic Combat Training

Jason Williams et al.

Military Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Military unit cohesion has been shown to correlate with physical and psychological outcomes. However, little is known about the development of cohesion in the early days of military service during Basic Combat Training (BCT) and how it relates to positive support and the negative stressors of training. The current study assessed the development of unit cohesion across the 10-week BCT period (N = 1,939), and the relation of cohesion to stress, resilience, mental health measures, and BCT outcomes (graduation, passing the Army Physical Fitness Test, and final Basic Rifle Marksmanship scores). The sample was primarily male (62%), under age 25 (88%), and unmarried (88%). All putative mediators showed significant change over time. Unit cohesion increased over time (slope 0.22; p < .001), and these increases were associated with decreases in psychological distress (p < .001), sleep problems (p < .001), and tolerance of BCT stressors (p < .001), as well as increases in resilience (p < .001), confidence managing stress reactions (p < .001), and positive states of mind (p < .001). Unit cohesion was indirectly associated with successful graduation and passing the Army Physical Fitness Test through cohesion-related improvement in psychological distress, resilience, and confidence managing reactions to stress. Sleep problems also mediated BCT graduation. Cohesion effects on the Basic Rifle Marksmanship scores were mediated by psychological distress and tolerance of BCT stressors only. These results suggest that unit cohesion may play a key role in the development of psychological health among new soldiers.

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Hierarchy and Its Discontents: Status Disagreement Leads to Withdrawal of Contribution and Lower Group Performance

Gavin Kilduff, Robb Willer & Cameron Anderson

Organization Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on status and group productivity has highlighted that status hierarchies tend to emerge quickly and encourage contributions to group efforts by rewarding contributors with enhanced status. This and other status research has tended to assume that status hierarchies are agreed-upon among group members. Here, we build on recent work on status conflict in investigating the prevalence and consequences of situations in which group members hold differing perceptions of the status ordering — that is, of who ranks where — which we call status disagreement. Across two studies of interacting groups, we examined several different types of status disagreement and found that disagreements in which two group members both viewed themselves as higher in status than the other, or upward disagreements, were uniquely harmful for groups. These types of disagreements led the involved members to reduce their contributions to the group, substantially decreasing group performance. However, other forms of dyadic status disagreements, as well as overall levels of status consensus, did not significantly affect group functioning. Furthermore, we found that individuals higher in personality dominance were those most likely to be involved in these harmful upward disagreements. These findings demonstrate the importance of more thoroughly considering status disagreement as a dimension that can vary in quantity and type across groups. In doing so, they contribute to understanding of status dynamics and group performance and suggest important implications for teams within organizations.

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Charismatic Leadership and the Evolution of Cooperation

Allen Grabo & Mark van Vugt

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
A fundamental challenge to understanding our evolved psychology is to explain how cooperative or prosocial behaviors are maintained despite the immediate temptation to free-ride. We propose that charismatic leadership and followership can be best understood as a product of this recurrent, fitness-relevant selection pressure for adaptations that effectively promoted and sustained prosocial behaviors within groups. We describe charismatic leadership and followership as a dynamic process in which leaders signal their ability to benefit the group by increasing the perceived likelihood that cooperation will succeed. A charismatic leader is one who is able to attract the attention of other group members and serve as a focal point for aligning and synchronizing prosocial orientations in followers, suppressing sensitivity to cooperative risks, and enhancing the salience of perceived cooperative rewards. We hypothesize that exposure to such individuals will activate heuristics causing participants to behave more prosocially. The results of three economic experiments (N=500) provide behavioral evidence for the “charismatic prosociality” hypothesis through the use of the Trust, Dictator, and Stag Hunt Games.

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Many Hands Make Overlooked Work: Over-Claiming of Responsibility Increases With Group Size

Juliana Schroeder, Eugene Caruso & Nicholas Epley

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, forthcoming

Abstract:
Logically, group members cannot be responsible for more than 100% of the group’s output, yet claims of responsibility routinely sum to more than 100%. This “over-claiming” occurs partly because of egocentrism: People focus on their own contributions, as focal members of the group, more than on others’ contributions. Therefore, we predicted that over-claiming would increase with group size because larger groups leave more contributions from others to overlook. In 2 field studies, participants claimed more responsibility as the number of academic authors per article and the number of MBA students per study group increased. As predicted by our theoretical account, this over-claiming bias was reduced when group members considered others’ contributions explicitly. Two experiments that directly manipulated group size replicated these results. Members of larger groups may be particularly well advised to consider other members’ contributions before considering their own.

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Status, Identity, and Ability in the Formation of Trust: Four Vignette Experiments

Blaine Robbins

University of California Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
The sources of trust — or actor A’s belief about actor B’s trustworthiness with respect to particular matter Y — are myriad, ranging from the biological to the political. Despite the great amount of research that has investigated decision making as a function of another’s ascribed and achieved characteristics, we still know little about whether and to what extent these characteristics impact A’s trust in B regarding matter Y. In this paper, I draw on classic sociological traditions — status characteristics theory and social identity theory — to formulate hypotheses that link ascribed and achieved characteristics to trust. Four vignette experiments administered to Amazon.com Mechanical Turk workers (N=1,388 and N=1,419) and to public university undergraduate students (N=995 and N=956) showed that diffuse status characteristics (age, race, and gender) and social identities (co-age, co-race, and co-gender) produced weak to null effects depending on the population, hypothetical scenario, and nominal social category under study, while specific status characteristics (actual competence) consistently produced modest effects. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

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To Have Control Over or to Be Free From Others? The Desire for Power Reflects a Need for Autonomy

Joris Lammers et al.

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, April 2016, Pages 498-512

Abstract:
The current research explores why people desire power and how that desire can be satisfied. We propose that a position of power can be subjectively experienced as conferring influence over others or as offering autonomy from the influence of others. Conversely, a low-power position can be experienced as lacking influence or lacking autonomy. Nine studies show that subjectively experiencing one’s power as autonomy predicts the desire for power, whereas the experience of influence over others does not. Furthermore, gaining autonomy quenches the desire for power, but gaining influence does not. The studies demonstrated the primacy of autonomy across both experimental and correlational designs, across measured mediation and manipulated mediator approaches, and across three different continents (Europe, United States, India). Together, these studies offer evidence that people desire power not to be a master over others, but to be master of their own domain, to control their own fate.

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It Depends Who Is Watching You: 3-D Agent Cues Increase Fairness

Jan Krátký et al.

PLoS ONE, February 2016

Abstract:
Laboratory and field studies have demonstrated that exposure to cues of intentional agents in the form of eyes can increase prosocial behavior. However, previous research mostly used 2-dimensional depictions as experimental stimuli. Thus far no study has examined the influence of the spatial properties of agency cues on this prosocial effect. To investigate the role of dimensionality of agency cues on fairness, 345 participants engaged in a decision-making task in a naturalistic setting. The experimental treatment included a 3-dimensional pseudo-realistic model of a human head and a 2-dimensional picture of the same object. The control stimuli consisted of a real plant and its 2-D image. Our results partly support the findings of previous studies that cues of intentional agents increase prosocial behavior. However, this effect was only found for the 3-D cues, suggesting that dimensionality is a critical variable in triggering these effects in a real-world settings. Our research sheds light on a hitherto unexplored aspect of the effects of environmental cues and their morphological properties on decision-making.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, March 26, 2016

You have to want it

The Pandora Effect: The Power and Peril of Curiosity

Christopher Hsee & Bowen Ruan

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Curiosity — the desire for information — underlies many human activities, from reading celebrity gossip to developing nuclear science. Curiosity is well recognized as a human blessing. Is it also a human curse? Tales about such things as Pandora’s box suggest that it is, but scientific evidence is lacking. In four controlled experiments, we demonstrated that curiosity could lead humans to expose themselves to aversive stimuli (even electric shocks) for no apparent benefits. The research suggests that humans possess an inherent desire, independent of consequentialist considerations, to resolve uncertainty; when facing something uncertain and feeling curious, they will act to resolve the uncertainty even if they expect negative consequences. This research reveals the potential perverse side of curiosity, and is particularly relevant to the current epoch, the epoch of information, and to the scientific community, a community with high curiosity.

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When unfair treatment helps performance

Jordan Axt & Shigehiro Oishi

Motivation and Emotion, April 2016, Pages 243-257

Abstract:
Human beings are responsive to fairness violations. People reject unfair offers and go out of their way to punish those who behave unfairly. However, little is known regarding when unfair treatment can either help or harm performance. We found that basketball players were more likely to make free throws after being awarded a foul specific to unfair treatment (Study 1). Similarly, hockey players were more likely to score during a penalty shot compared to a shootout (Study 2). A laboratory experiment showed that participants were more accurate at golf putting after a previous attempt had been unfairly nullified (Study 3). However, a final experiment revealed that when the task was more demanding, unfair treatment resulted in worse performance (Study 4). Moreover, this effect was mediated by feelings of anger and frustration. These results suggest that performance is sensitive to perceptions of fairness and justice.

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A Neural Signature of Private Property Rights

Lauri Sääksvuori et al.

Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, March 2016, Pages 38-49

Abstract:
This study investigates the neural correlates of behavior that leads individuals to ascribe different value to property acquired through their own effort than to property received as a windfall gain. We examine individuals’ neural response to anticipated and experienced monetary losses from earned and unearned monetary endowments using functional MRI. We show that the neural processing of monetary losses is modulated by the effort one has put into earning the money at stake. In particular, we find that the loss of earned monetary endowment leads to a decreasing activity in the brain’s reward system. Our results suggest that the exertion of one’s own effort to gain ownership increases the neurally measured value of ownership rights. Our results and method may prove useful in developing the first steps toward a biologically informed valuation of property rights. Neural methods may help in the future to design efficient and just compensation schemes for property taken by eminent domain.

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Conscious Augmentation of Creative State Enhances “Real” Creativity in Open-Ended Analogical Reasoning

Adam Weinberger, Hari Iyer & Adam Green

PLoS ONE, March 2016

Abstract:
Humans have an impressive ability to augment their creative state (i.e., to consciously try and succeed at thinking more creatively). Though this “thinking cap” phenomenon is commonly experienced, the range of its potential has not been fully explored by creativity research, which has often focused instead on creativity as a trait. A key question concerns the extent to which conscious augmentation of state creativity can improve creative reasoning. Although artistic creativity is also of great interest, it is creative reasoning that frequently leads to innovative advances in science and industry. Here, we studied state creativity in analogical reasoning, a form of relational reasoning that spans the conceptual divide between intelligence and creativity and is a core mechanism for creative innovation. Participants performed a novel Analogy Finding Task paradigm in which they sought valid analogical connections in a matrix of word-pairs. An explicit creativity cue elicited formation of substantially more creative analogical connections (measured via latent semantic analysis). Critically, the increase in creative analogy formation was not due to a generally more liberal criterion for analogy formation (that is, it appeared to reflect “real” creativity rather than divergence at the expense of appropriateness). The use of an online sample provided evidence that state creativity augmentation can be successfully elicited by remote cuing in an online environment. Analysis of an intelligence measure provided preliminary indication that the influential “threshold hypothesis,” which has been proposed to characterize the relationship between intelligence and trait creativity, may be extensible to the new domain of state creativity.

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The Calendar Mindset: Scheduling Takes the Fun Out and Puts the Work In

Gabriela Tonietto & Selin Malkoc

Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Consumers often schedule their activities in an attempt to more efficiently use their time. While the benefits of scheduling are well established, its potential downsides are not well understood. The authors examine if scheduling uniquely undermines the benefits of leisure activities. In thirteen studies using unambiguously leisure activities that are commonly scheduled by consumers (e.g., movies, a coffee break), they find that scheduling a leisure activity (vs. experiencing it impromptu) makes it feel more work-like and diminishes its utility, both in terms of excitement in anticipation of the activity as well as experienced enjoyment. This is because scheduling temporally structures these otherwise free-flowing leisure activities. As a result, maintaining the free-flowing nature of the activity by roughly scheduling (without pre-specified times) eliminates this effect, indicating that the effect is driven by a detriment from scheduling rather than a boost from spontaneity. Furthermore, the negative effects of scheduling are unique to leisure and do not occur for work activities. The reported findings highlight an important opportunity to improve consumers’ experiences and utility by leveraging scheduling behavior.

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Discouraged by Peer Excellence: Exposure to Exemplary Peer Performance Causes Quitting

Todd Rogers & Avi Feller

Psychological Science, March 2016, Pages 365-374

Abstract:
People are exposed to exemplary peer performances often (and sometimes by design in interventions). In two studies, we showed that exposure to exemplary peer performances can undermine motivation and success by causing people to perceive that they cannot attain their peers’ high levels of performance. It also causes de-identification with the relevant domain. We examined such discouragement by peer excellence by exploiting the incidental exposure to peers’ abilities that occurs when students are asked to assess each other’s work. Study 1 was a natural experiment in a massive open online course that employed peer assessment (N = 5,740). Exposure to exemplary peer performances caused a large proportion of students to quit the course. Study 2 explored underlying psychological mechanisms in an online replication (N = 361). Discouragement by peer excellence has theoretical implications for work on social judgment, social comparison, and reference bias and has practical implications for interventions that induce social comparisons.

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Priming States of Mind Can Affect Disclosure of Threatening Self-Information: Effects of Self-Affirmation, Mortality Salience, and Attachment Orientations

Deborah Davis et al.

Law and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Interviewers often face respondents reluctant to disclose sensitive, embarrassing or potentially damaging information. We explored effects of priming 5 states of mind on willingness to disclose: including 2 expected to facilitate disclosure (self-affirmation, attachment security), and 3 expected to inhibit disclosure (self-disaffirmation, attachment insecurity, mortality salience). Israeli Jewish participants completed a survey including a manipulation of 1 of these states of mind, followed by questions concerning hostile thoughts and behaviors toward the Israeli Arab outgroup, past minor criminal behaviors, and socially undesirable traits and behaviors. Self-affirmation led to more disclosures of all undesirable behaviors than neutral priming, whereas self-disaffirmation led to less disclosures. Mortality salience led to fewer disclosures of socially undesirable and criminal behaviors compared to neutral priming, but more disclosures of hostile thoughts and behaviors toward Israeli Arabs. Security priming facilitated disclosure of hostile attitudes toward Israeli Arabs. However, neither security nor insecurity priming had any other significant effects.

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How to tame your BAS: Reward sensitivity and music involvement

Natalie Loxton et al.

Personality and Individual Differences, July 2016, Pages 35–39

Abstract:
High reward sensitivity is typically associated with negative outcomes such as addiction. However, this trait has been recently linked with purposeful approach behaviours that are related to positive outcomes, such as hope and life satisfaction. The present study applied the revised Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (rRST) to the relationship between reward sensitivity (rBAS) and music involvement. The tendency to be absorbed by music and the tendency to experience a positive emotional response to music were tested as potential mediators of the association. An international online survey of adults (N = 378; 65% females; Mage = 34 years) incorporated questionnaires assessing rBAS, involvement with music, absorption, and affective response to music. Consistent with rRST, those high in reward sensitivity were more likely to be involved in music and have stronger positive responses to music. Bootstrapped tests of indirect effects found the relationship between rBAS and music involvement to be uniquely mediated by greater absorption in music. This study further supports the argument that high levels of reward sensitivity may be involved in both functional and dysfunctional behaviours. Engagement in musical activities may be a useful approach to assist in the directing of behaviour in highly reward sensitive individuals.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, March 25, 2016

Ballot issues

Infections and Elections: Did an Ebola Outbreak Influence the 2014 U.S. Federal Elections (and if so, How)?

Alec Beall, Marlise Hofer & Mark Schaller

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the studies reported here, we conducted longitudinal analyses of preelection polling data to test whether an Ebola outbreak predicted voting intentions preceding the 2014 U.S. federal elections. Analyses were conducted on nationwide polls pertaining to 435 House of Representatives elections and on state-specific polls pertaining to 34 Senate elections. Analyses compared voting intentions before and after the initial Ebola outbreak and assessed correlations between Internet search activity for the term "Ebola" and voting intentions. Results revealed that (a) the psychological salience of Ebola was associated with increased intention to vote for Republican candidates and (b) this effect occurred primarily in states characterized by norms favoring Republican Party candidates (the effect did not occur in states with norms favoring Democratic Party candidates). Ancillary analyses addressed several interpretational issues. Overall, these results suggest that disease outbreaks may influence voter behavior in two psychologically distinct ways: increased inclination to vote for politically conservative candidates and increased inclination to conform to popular opinion.

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Campaign Civility under Preferential and Plurality Voting

Todd Donovan, Caroline Tolbert & Kellen Gracey

Electoral Studies, June 2016, Pages 157-163

Abstract:
We present reasons to expect that campaigns are less negative under preferential voting. We then examine if preferential voting systems affect how people perceive the conduct of elections. This paper reports results from surveys designed to measure voters' perceptions of candidates' campaigns, comparing places with plurality elections to those that used preferential voting rules. Our surveys of voters indicate that people in cities using preferential voting were significantly more satisfied with the conduct of local campaigns than people in similar cities with plurality elections. People in cities with preferential voting were also less likely to view campaigns as negative, and less likely to respond that candidates were frequently criticizing each other. Results are consistent across a series of robustness checks.

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The Appearance and the Reality of Quid Pro Quo Corruption: An Empirical Investigation

Christopher Robertson et al.

Journal of Legal Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Supreme Court says that campaign finance regulations are unconstitutional unless they target "quid pro quo" corruption or its appearance. The Court has used this doctrine to strike down many efforts at campaign finance reform. However, the court has merely speculated or reasoned in a conclusory way about when that criterion is satisfied. To operationalize and test the "appearances" standard, we fielded two empirical studies. First, in a highly realistic simulation, three grand juries deliberated on charges that "independent" campaign spending in a Congressional race met the legal standard for bribery of the candidate. Second, 1276 nationally-representative online respondents considered whether to convict in such a scenario, with five variables manipulated randomly to enhance generalizability. In both studies, jurors found quid pro quo corruption for behaviors they believed to be common in contemporary politics. Because these tests use the procedural and substantive apparatus of Federal law to operationalize the quid pro quo corruption concept and draw from a diverse population of respondents, they are a stronger test of the "appearances" standard than mere opinion polling or judicial speculation. The data suggest that prior Supreme Court's decisions were wrong, and that Congress and the states have greater authority to regulate campaign finance. This research also suggests that actual prosecutions under current bribery laws are surprisingly viable, but this risk is deeply problematic under the First Amendment, Due Process, and Separation of Powers doctrines. A regulatory system using safe harbors may be a solution.

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The Determinants of State Legislator Support for Restrictive Voter ID Laws

William Hicks, Seth McKee & Daniel Smith

State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine state legislator behavior on restrictive voter identification (ID) bills from 2005 to 2013. Partisan polarization of state lawmakers on voter ID laws is well known, but we know very little with respect to other determinants driving this political division. A major shortcoming of extant research evaluating the passage of voter ID bills stems from using the state legislature as the unit of analysis. We depart from existing scholarship by using the state legislator as our unit of analysis, and we cover the entirety of the period when restrictive voter ID laws became a frequent agenda item in state legislatures. Beyond the obviously significant effect of party affiliation, we find a notable relationship between the racial composition of a member's district, region, and electoral competition and the likelihood that a state lawmaker supports a voter ID bill. Democratic lawmakers representing substantial black district populations are more opposed to restrictive voter ID laws, whereas Republican legislators with substantial black district populations are more supportive. We also find Southern lawmakers (particularly Democrats) are more opposed to restrictive voter ID legislation. In particular, we find black legislators in the South are the least supportive of restrictive voter ID bills, which is likely tied to the historical context associated with state laws restricting electoral participation. Finally, in those state legislatures where electoral competition is not intense, polarization over voter ID laws is less stark, which likely reflects the expectation that the reform will have little bearing on the outcome of state legislative contests.

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From Open to Secret Ballot: Vote Buying and Modernization

Toke Aidt & Peter Jensen

Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
The secret ballot is one of the cornerstones of democracy. We contend that the historical process of modernization caused the switch from open to secret ballot with the underlying mechanism being that income growth, urbanization, and rising education standards undermined vote markets. We undertake event history studies of ballot reform in Western Europe and the U.S. states during the 19th and 20th centuries to establish that modernization was systematically related to ballot reform. We study electoral turnout before and after ballot reform among the U.S. states and British parliamentary constituencies to substantiate the hypothesis that modernization reduced the volume of trade in the vote market.

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Gender Inequalities in Campaign Finance

Michael Barber, Daniel Butler & Jessica Preece

Quarterly Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research suggests that female candidates do not face fundraising barriers; however, female politicians consistently report that fundraising is more difficult for them than their male colleagues. Using a regression discontinuity design to hold district characteristics constant, we study whether there is a gender gap in campaign fundraising for state legislators from 1990 to 2010. We find that male candidates raise substantially more money than female candidates. Further, male donors give more money to male candidates, while female donors, political parties, and PACs give approximately equally to men and women. At the same time, men face challengers who raise more money; consequently, male and female incumbents do not differ in the proportion of the overall district money that they raise in their next reelection bid. These results suggest that there are large gender inequalities in campaign finance, but they may not have immediate consequences for women's representation.

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Effects of Welfare Reform on Women's Voting Participation

Dhaval Dave, Hope Corman & Nancy Reichman

NBER Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
Voting is an important form of civic participation in democratic societies but a fundamental right that many citizens do not exercise. This study investigates the effects of welfare reform in the U.S. in the 1990s on voting of low income women. Using the November Current Population Surveys with the added Voting and Registration Supplement for the years 1990 through 2004 and exploiting changes in welfare policy across states and over time, we estimate the causal effects of welfare reform on women's voting registration and voting participation during the period during which welfare reform unfolded. We find robust evidence that welfare reform increased the likelihood of voting by about 4 percentage points, which translates to about a 10% increase relative to the baseline mean. The effects were largely confined to Presidential elections, were stronger in Democratic than Republican states, were stronger in states with stronger work incentive policies, and appeared to operate through employment, education, and income.

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Inferring Roll-Call Scores from Campaign Contributions Using Supervised Machine Learning

Adam Bonica

Stanford Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
This paper develops a generalized supervised learning methodology for inferring roll call scores for incumbent and non-incumbent candidates from campaign contribution data. Rather than use unsupervised methods to recover the latent dimension that best explains patterns in giving, donation patterns are instead mapped onto a target measure of legislative voting behavior. Supervised learning methods applied to contribution data are shown to significantly outperform alternative measures of ideology in predicting legislative voting behavior. Fundraising prior to entering office provides a highly informative signal about future voting behavior. Impressively, contribution-based forecasts of non-incumbent roll call ideology predict voting behavior with the same accuracy as that achieved by in-sample forecasts based on votes casts during a legislator's first two years in Congress. The combined results demonstrate campaign contributions to be powerful predictors of roll call ideology and stand to resolve an ongoing debate as to whether contributions records can be used to make accurate within-party comparisons.

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From Miss World to World Leader: Beauty Queens, Paths to Power, and Political Representations

Magda Hinojosa & Jill Carle

Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, Winter 2016, Pages 24-46

Abstract:
This article argues that participation in beauty pageants can serve as a path to power for women. This previously unidentified route to political office is unique to women, builds on representational elements of beauty pageants, and provides girls and women with skills necessary to political achievement. We analyze how this path to power is different from celebrity politicians, which has recently received much academic attention. We use examples from Venezuela, Jamaica, the United States, and France to illustrate this path to power and differentiate between two types of beauty queens turned politicians.

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The Declining Relevance of Candidate Personal Attributes in Presidential Elections

Martin Wattenberg

Presidential Studies Quarterly, March 2016, Pages 125-139

Abstract:
This article examines sixty years of data from the American National Election Studies, and finds that the electorate's focus on candidate attributes has declined substantially. Whereas 80% of respondents had mentioned personal attributes in the past, in recent elections only about 60% have done so. Furthermore, such comments are now more tied to partisan identification and have less of an independent impact on voting behavior. The chances of presidential image makers successfully making a difference by emphasizing a president's personal character are now much less than in the era of Johnson, Nixon, and Reagan.

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Fact-Checking Polarized Politics: Does The Fact-Check Industry Provide Consistent Guidance on Disputed Realities?

Morgan Marietta, David Barker & Todd Bowser

The Forum, December 2015, Pages 577-596

Abstract:
In the contemporary political environment of polarized claims about disputed realities, the online fact-check industry was born. These enterprises have received awards and praise but also accusations of bias and error, bringing their methods and conclusions into question. This paper examines the comparative epistemology of the three major fact-check sites: do they examine the same questions and reach the same conclusions? A content analysis of the published fact-checks addressing three disputed realties - the existence of climate change, the influence of racism, and the consequences of the national debt - suggests substantial differences in the questions asked and the answers offered, limiting the usefulness of fact-checking for citizens trying to decide which version of disputed realities to believe.

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Open Versus Closed Primaries and the Ideological Composition of Presidential Primary Electorates

Barbara Norrander & Jay Wendland

Electoral Studies, June 2016, Pages 229-236

Abstract:
Many journalists, political reformers and social scientists assume that electorates in open versus closed primaries are distinctive, especially in terms of their ideological orientations. Because voting in closed primaries is restricted to registered partisans, voters in this setting are assumed to be more ideologically extreme. Independents voting in open primaries are seen as moderating the ideological orientation of these primary electorates. However, our research demonstrates that the ideological orientations of voters in these two primary settings are quite similar. Prior research demonstrates the influence of primary laws on voters' self-identifications as partisans or independents. We expand upon this research to show how this influences the number and ideological positions of partisans and independents as they vote in presidential primaries held under differing participation rules.

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Voter Turnout in Presidential Nominating Contests

Michael McDonald & Thessalia Merivaki

The Forum, December 2015, Pages 597-622

Abstract:
Presidential elections are conducted in two stages. The November general election is proceeded by a series of contests where delegates are selected to national party conventions, which is where the parties select their candidates for the fall election. These nominating contests' political environments vary: the rules regarding who can participate; the levels of electoral competition, which are related to when they are held; and that other offices present on the ballot, if any. We explore the effects of these conditions on voter participation in recent presidential contests and generally find turnout highest in competitive and inclusive contests where other offices are on the ballot. Examining the 2008 American National Election Panel Study, we find primary voters are more ideologically extreme than general election voters, but there is little difference between voters in closed and open primary states. We suggest primary type has little effect on the ideological composition of the electorate because modern nomination contests are low turnout elections that draw only the most politically interested.

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Informing the Informed: How Content Preferences Limit the Impact of Voting Aids

Jonathan Mummolo & Erik Peterson

Stanford Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
Voters are often uninformed about the political candidates they choose between. Governments, media outlets and civic organizations devote substantial resources to correcting these knowledge deficits by creating tools to provide candidate information to voters. Despite the widespread production of these aids, it remains unclear who they reach. We collect validated measures of online voter guide use for over 40,000 newspaper readers during a state primary election. We show these guides are primarily used by individuals with high levels of political interest and knowledge, a finding in contrast to earlier hypotheses that providing these guides directly to voters online would reduce disparities in use based on political interest. A field experiment promoting voter guides failed to diminish these consumption gaps. These results show that the same content preferences that contribute to an unequal distribution of political knowledge also impede the effectiveness of subsequent efforts to close knowledge gaps.

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When style obscures substance: Visual attention to display appropriateness in the 2012 presidential debates

Zijian Harrison Gong & Erik Bucy

Communication Monographs, forthcoming

Abstract:
As with the first televised debates in 1960, the 2012 US presidential debates accentuated the importance of nonverbal behavior in political competition, with President Obama receiving widespread criticism for his disengaged and arguably inappropriate communication style in the first debate. To investigate the perceptual impact of such nonverbal expectancy violations, this study first employs an experimental design to examine the consequence of inappropriate leader displays, operationalized as nonverbal behaviors that are incongruent with the rhetorical setting. Theoretical explanations about the evaluative consequences of inappropriate leader displays are described in light of expectancy violations theory. Results of a repeated measures eye-tracking experiment find support for the prediction that inappropriate facial expressions increase visual attention on the source of violation, prompt critical scrutiny, and elicit negative evaluations. These findings are further explored with qualitative analysis of focus group responses to key moments from the first and third presidential debates. The discussion considers the broader implications of nonverbal communication in politics and how expressive leader displays serve as meaningful cues for citizens when making sense of televised political encounters.

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Women's Equality, Candidate Difference, and the Vote

Susan Hansen

Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, Winter 2016, Pages 47-67

Abstract:
This article argues that the status of women continues to be a major issue in the ongoing culture wars over morality politics. While more scholarly and media attention has focused on abortion and gay marriage, since the 1970s the Democratic and Republican Parties have also taken divergent positions on the status of women. Data from the American National Election Studies show that while the general public has become more supportive of equal roles for women, the presidential candidates are perceived to differ considerably on gender roles and positions on abortion. Since the 1970s perceptions of candidate differences on gender equity have been strong predictors of the presidential vote, even after controlling for party identification, abortion attitudes, religiosity, retrospective assessments of the economy, and perceived candidate differences on other issues, including abortion.

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Do Public Matching Funds and Tax Credits Encourage Political Contributions? Evidence from Three Field Experiments Using Nonpartisan Messages

Michael Schwam-Baird et al.

Election Law Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We report the results of three field experiments that provided nonpartisan information about municipal- and state-level incentives for making political contributions to potential donors. Our experiments examine two types of contribution incentive programs, public matching funds and tax credits, in three different jurisdictions: New York City, Virginia, and Ohio. We find that providing information about matching funds and tax credits has negligible effects on both the probability that an individual will make a contribution and the amount that an individual donates. Our findings suggest that publicizing contribution incentive programs using nonpartisan messages does little to enhance the pool of new donors. Our research leaves open the possibility that contribution incentive programs, and donation matching programs in particular, may nonetheless affect campaign behavior and encourage campaigns to pursue more small donors.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Proper identification

Identity and Group Conflict

Subhasish Chowdhury, Joo Young Jeon & Abhijit Ramalingam

European Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We experimentally investigate the effects of real and minimal identities on group conflict. In turn we provide a direct empirical test of the hypotheses coined by Amartya Sen that the salience of a real identity escalates conflict but that of a mere classification would not do so. In a baseline treatment, two groups - East Asians and Caucasians - engage in a group contest, but information on the racial composition of the groups is not revealed. In the minimal identity treatment each group is arbitrarily given a different color code, whereas in the real identity treatment the race information is revealed. Supporting Sen's hypotheses, we find that compared to the baseline, free-riding declines and conflict effort increases in the real identity treatment but not in the minimal identity treatment. Moreover, this occurs due to an increase in efforts in the real identity treatment by females in both racial groups.

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Racial Resentment and Whites' Gun Policy Preferences in Contemporary America

Alexandra Filindra & Noah Kaplan

Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Our study investigates how and why racial prejudice can fuel white opposition to gun restrictions. Drawing on research across disciplines, we suggest that the language of individual freedom used by the gun rights movement utilizes the same racially meaningful tropes as the rhetoric of the white resistance to black civil rights that developed after WWII and into the 1970s. This indicates that the gun rights narrative is color-coded and evocative of racial resentment. To determine whether racial prejudice depresses white support for gun control, we designed a priming experiment which exposed respondents to pictures of blacks and whites drawn from the IAT. Results show that exposure to the prime suppressed support for gun control compared to the control, conditional upon a respondent's level of racial resentment. Analyses of ANES data (2004-2013) reaffirm these findings. Racial resentment is a statistically significant and substantively important predictor of white opposition to gun control.

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American Football and National Pride: Racial Differences

Tamir Sorek & Robert White

Social Science Research, forthcoming

"We examine the relationship between fandom in football and national pride, as a specific dimension of national identity, with data that we assembled from nationally representative opinion surveys over the period 1981-2014. Aggregating seventy-five opinion polls with questions about football fandom, national pride and race we compare national pride and NFL fandom among white and black Americans in this period...We find that since the early 1980s, national pride has been in decline among American men and women of all races. Among black men, this decline has been especially sharp and it accompanied a marked increase in interest in the NFL. While these findings by themselves may be interpreted as coincidence, our analysis of individual fandom and national pride demonstrates a close relationship that is independent of the well-known predictors of national pride, implying a much deeper affinity. We also find that these ties are strikingly different between whites and African-Americans. The sizable positive association between football fandom and national pride among whites suggests that the football spectacle may facilitate more favorable national sentiment among white fans. The negative association among African-Americans suggests black fans may experience a very different game."

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The Times They Are a-Changing . or Are They Not? A Comparison of Gender Stereotypes, 1983-2014

Elizabeth Haines, Kay Deaux & Nicole Lofaro

Psychology of Women Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
During the past 30 years, women's participation in the workforce, in athletics, and in professional education has increased, while men's activities have been more stable. Have gender stereotypes changed over this time period to reflect the new realities? And, to what extent does gender stereotyping exist today? We address these questions by comparing data collected in the early 1980s to new data collected in 2014. In each study, participants rated the likelihood that a typical man or woman has a set of gendered characteristics (traits, role behaviors, occupations, and physical characteristics). Results indicate that people perceive strong differences between men and women on stereotype components today, as they did in the past. Comparisons between the two time periods show stability of gender stereotypes across all components except female gender roles, which showed a significant increase in gender stereotyping. These results attest to the durability of basic stereotypes about how men and women are perceived to differ, despite changes in the participation and acceptance of women and men in nontraditional domains. Because gender stereotypes are apparently so deeply embedded in our society, those in a position to evaluate women and men, as well as women and men themselves, need to be constantly vigilant to the possible influence of stereotypes on their judgments, choices, and actions.

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An identity-based motivational model of the effects of perceived discrimination on health-related behaviors

Laura Smart Richman, Alison Blodorn & Brenda Major

Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Perceived discrimination is associated with increased engagement in unhealthy behaviors. We propose an identity-based pathway to explain this link. Drawing on an identity-based motivation model of health behaviors (Oyserman, Fryberg, & Yoder, 2007), we propose that perceptions of discrimination lead individuals to engage in ingroup-prototypical behaviors in the service of validating their identity and creating a sense of ingroup belonging. To the extent that people perceive unhealthy behaviors as ingroup-prototypical, perceived discrimination may thus increase motivation to engage in unhealthy behaviors. We describe our theoretical model and two studies that demonstrate initial support for some paths in this model. In Study 1, African American participants who reflected on racial discrimination were more likely to endorse unhealthy ingroup-prototypical behavior as self-characteristic than those who reflected on a neutral event. In Study 2, among African American participants who perceived unhealthy behaviors to be ingroup-prototypical, discrimination predicted greater endorsement of unhealthy behaviors as self-characteristic as compared to a control condition. These effects held both with and without controlling for body mass index (BMI) and income. Broader implications of this model for how discrimination adversely affects health-related decisions are discussed.

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Are Group Cues Necessary? How Anger Makes Ethnocentrism Among Whites a Stronger Predictor of Racial and Immigration Policy Opinions

Antoine Banks

Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research shows that group conflict sets ethnocentric thinking into motion. However, when group threat is not salient, can ethnocentrism still influence people's political decision-making? In this paper, I argue that anger, unrelated to racial and ethnic groups, can activate the attitudes of ethnocentric whites and those that score low in ethnocentrism thereby causing these attitudes to be a stronger predictor of racial and immigration policy opinions. Using an adult national experiment over two waves, I induced several emotions to elicit anger, fear, or relaxation (unrelated to racial or ethnic groups). The experimental findings show that anger increases opposition to racial and immigration policies among whites that score high in ethnocentrism and enhances support for these policies among those that score low in ethnocentrism. Using data from the American National Election Study cumulative file, I find a similar non-racial/ethnic anger effect. The survey findings also demonstrate that non-racial/ethnic fear increases opposition to immigration among whites that don't have strong out-group attitudes.

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Tattoos, Employment, and Labor Market Earnings: Is There a Link in the Ink?

Michael French et al.

Southern Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
The popularity of tattooing has increased substantially in recent years, particularly among adolescents and young adults. Moreover, tattooed images are permanent unless the individual opts for expensive, time consuming, and painful removal procedures. Given the increasing popularity of tattooing, and the permanent nature of this action, it is of interest to know whether tattooed workers are more or less likely to be employed and, conditional on employment, if they receive wages that are different from the wages of their non-tattooed peers. To investigate these questions, we analyze two large data sets - from the United States and Australia - with measures of tattoo status, employment, earnings, and other pertinent variables. Regardless of country, gender, specific measures, or estimation technique, the results consistently show that having a tattoo is negatively and significantly related to employment and earnings in bivariate analyses, but the estimates become smaller and nonsignificant after controlling for human capital, occupation, behavioral choices, lifestyle factors, and other individual characteristics related to labor market outcomes. Various robustness checks confirm the stability of the core findings. These results suggest that, once differences in personal characteristics are taken into account, tattooed and non-tattooed workers are treated similarly in the labor market. We offer suggestions for improving future surveys to enable a better understanding of the relationships between tattooed workers and their labor market outcomes.

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The threat of racial progress and the self-protective nature of perceiving anti-White bias

Clara Wilkins et al.

Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
In two studies we tested whether racial progress is threatening to Whites and whether perceiving anti-White bias assuages that threat. Study 1 revealed that Whites primed with racial progress exhibited evidence of threat (lower implicit self-worth relative to baseline). Study 2 replicated the threat effect from Study 1 and examined how perceiving discrimination may buffer Whites' self-worth. After White participants primed with high racial progress attributed a negative event to their race, their implicit self-worth rebounded. Participants primed to perceive low racial progress did not experience fluctuations in implicit self-worth. Furthermore, among those primed with high racial progress, greater racial discounting (attributing rejection to race rather than to the self) was associated with greater self-worth protection. These studies suggest that changes to the racial status quo are threatening to Whites and that perceiving greater racial bias is a way to manage that threat.

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The Voiced Pronunciation of Initial Phonemes Predicts the Gender of Names

Michael Slepian & Adam Galinsky

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although it is known that certain names gain popularity within a culture because of historical events, it is unknown how names become associated with different social categories in the first place. We propose that vocal cord vibration during the pronunciation of an initial phoneme plays a critical role in explaining which names are assigned to males versus females. This produces a voiced gendered name effect, whereby voiced phonemes (vibration of the vocal cords) are more associated with male names, and unvoiced phonemes (no vibration of the vocal cords) are more associated with female names. Eleven studies test this association between voiced names and gender (a) using 270 million names (more than 80,000 unique names) given to children over 75 years, (b) names across 2 cultures (the U.S. and India), and (c) hundreds of novel names. The voiced gendered name effect was mediated through how hard or soft names sounded, and moderated by gender stereotype endorsement. Although extensive work has demonstrated morphological and physical cues to gender (e.g., facial, bodily, vocal), this work provides a systematic account of name-based cues to gender. Overall, the current research extends work on sound symbolism to names; the way in which a name sounds can be symbolically related to stereotypes associated with its social category.

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Beyond Black and White: Biracial Attitudes in Contemporary U.S. Politics

Lauren Davenport

American Political Science Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
The 2000 U.S. census was the first in which respondents were permitted to self-identify with more than one race. A decade later, multiple-race identifiers have become one of the fastest-growing groups in the nation. Such broadening multiracial identification poses important political ramifications and raises questions about the future of minority group political solidarity. Yet we know little about the opinions of multiple-race identifiers and from where those opinions emerge. Bridging literatures in racial politics and political socialization, and drawing upon a multimethod approach, this article provides insight into the consequences of the U.S.'s increasingly blurred racial boundaries by examining the attitudes of Americans of White-Black parentage, a population whose identification was traditionally constrained by the one-drop rule. Findings show that on racial issues such as discrimination and affirmative action, biracials who identify as both White and Black generally hold views akin to Blacks. But on nonracial political issues including abortion and gender/marriage equality, biracials who identify as White-Black or as Black express more liberal views than their peers of monoracial parentage. Being biracial and labeling oneself a racial minority is thus associated with a more progressive outlook on matters that affect socially marginalized groups. Two explanations are examined for these findings: the transmission of political outlook from parents to children, and biracials' experiences straddling a long-standing racial divide.

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A Perceptual Pathway to Bias: Interracial Exposure Reduces Abrupt Shifts in Real-Time Race Perception That Predict Mixed-Race Bias

Jonathan Freeman, Kristin Pauker & Diana Sanchez

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In two national samples, we examined the influence of interracial exposure in one's local environment on the dynamic process underlying race perception and its evaluative consequences. Using a mouse-tracking paradigm, we found in Study 1 that White individuals with low interracial exposure exhibited a unique effect of abrupt, unstable White-Black category shifting during real-time perception of mixed-race faces, consistent with predictions from a neural-dynamic model of social categorization and computational simulations. In Study 2, this shifting effect was replicated and shown to predict a trust bias against mixed-race individuals and to mediate the effect of low interracial exposure on that trust bias. Taken together, the findings demonstrate that interracial exposure shapes the dynamics through which racial categories activate and resolve during real-time perceptions, and these initial perceptual dynamics, in turn, may help drive evaluative biases against mixed-race individuals. Thus, lower-level perceptual aspects of encounters with racial ambiguity may serve as a foundation for mixed-race prejudice.

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Eyelid-Openness and Mouth Curvature Influence Perceived Intelligence Beyond Attractiveness

Sean Talamas et al.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Impression formation is profoundly influenced by facial attractiveness, but the existence of facial cues which affect judgments beyond such an "attractiveness halo" may be underestimated. Because depression and tiredness adversely affect cognitive capacity, we reasoned that facial cues to mood (mouth curvature) and alertness (eyelid-openness) affect impressions of intellectual capacity. Over 4 studies we investigated the influence of these malleable facial cues on first impressions of intelligence. In Studies 1 and 2 we scrutinize the perceived intelligence and attractiveness ratings of images of 100 adults (aged 18-33) and 90 school-age children (aged 5-17), respectively. Intelligence impression was partially mediated by attractiveness, but independent effects of eyelid-openness and subtle smiling were found that enhanced intelligence ratings independent of attractiveness. In Study 3 we digitally manipulated stimuli to have altered eyelid-openness or mouth curvature and found that each independent manipulation had an influence on perceptions of intelligence. In a final set of stimuli (Study 4) we explored changes in these cues before and after sleep restriction, to examine whether natural variations in these cues according to sleep condition can influence perceptions. In Studies 3 and 4 variations with increased eyelid-openness and mouth curvature were found to relate positively to intelligence ratings. These findings suggest potential overgeneralizations based on subtle facial cues that indicate mood and tiredness, both of which alter cognitive ability. These findings also have important implications for students who are directly influenced by expectations of ability and teachers who may form expectations based on initial perceptions of intelligence.

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Conflict and the Ethnic Structure of the Marketplace: Evidence from Israel

Asaf Zussman

European Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
How and why does ethnic conflict affect the ethnic structure of the marketplace? To answer these questions, this paper merges a unique administrative dataset covering the universe of transactions in the Israeli market for used cars during 1998-2010 with data on the intensity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The analysis shows that violence reduces the number of transactions between Arab sellers and Jewish buyers while increasing the number of transactions between Arab sellers and Arab buyers; violence has no effect on the number of transactions involving Jewish sellers. I relate these findings to the economic literature studying the sources of discrimination.

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Social Status Attainment and Racial Category Selection in the Contemporary United States

Robert DeFina & Lance Hannon

Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, forthcoming

Abstract:
Numerous studies have shown that individuals can change how they racially self-identify over time, potentially in response to changes in educational and occupational attainment. The value of that evidence is somewhat diminished, however, by reliance on survey questions about racial identity that are inconsistent over time. This study offers new evidence based on the 2008-2012 General Social Survey panel, which uses a consistent question about self-declared race throughout. Those data are used to estimate transition tables and fixed effects panel models, in which an individual's probability of choosing a racial category depends on social status indicators. We find that, on average, fluctuations in an individual's income, educational attainment and employment status are not significantly related to changes in racial self-identity in the contemporary United States. These results obtain for the total sample and for populations that historically have been more likely to change (Hispanics, Native Americans and individuals who identify as multi-racial). Implications for theory and policy are discussed.

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On implicit racial prejudice against infants

Lukas Wolf et al.

Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Because of the innocence and dependence of children, it would be reassuring to believe that implicit racial prejudice against out-group children is lower than implicit prejudice against out-group adults. Yet, prior research has not directly tested whether or not adults exhibit less spontaneous prejudice toward child targets than adult targets. Three studies addressed this issue, contrasting adults with very young child targets. Studies 1A and B revealed that participants belonging to an ethnic majority group (White Europeans) showed greater spontaneous favorability toward their ethnic in-group than toward an ethnic out-group (South Asians), and this prejudice emerged equally for infant and adult targets. Study 2 found that this pattern occurred even when race was not a salient dimension of categorization in the implicit measure. Thus, there was a robust preference for in-group children over out-group children, and there was no evidence that this prejudice is weaker than that exhibited toward adults.

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Take it Like a Man: Gender-Threatened Men's Experience of Gender Role Discrepancy, Emotion Activation, and Pain Tolerance

Danielle Berke et al.

Psychology of Men & Masculinity, forthcoming

Abstract:
Theory suggests that men respond to situations in which their gender status is threatened with emotions and behaviors meant to reaffirm manhood. However, the extent to which threats to masculine status impact gender role discrepancy (perceived failure to conform to socially prescribed masculine gender role norms) has yet to be demonstrated empirically. Nor has research established whether gender role discrepancy is itself predictive of engagement in gender-stereotyped behavior following threats to gender status. In the present study, we assessed the effect of threats to masculinity on gender role discrepancy and a unique gender-shaped phenomenon, pain tolerance. Two-hundred twelve undergraduate men were randomly assigned to receive feedback that was either threatening to masculine identity or nonthreatening. Over the course of the study, participants also completed measures of gender role discrepancy, emotion activation, and objectively measured pain tolerance. Results indicated that gender threat predicted increased self-perceived gender role discrepancy and elicited aggression, but not anxiety-related cognitions in men. Moreover, gender-threatened men evinced higher pain tolerance than their nonthreatened counterparts. Collectively, these findings provide compelling support for the theory that engagement in stereotyped masculine behavior may serve a socially expressive function intended to quell negative affect and realign men with the status of "manhood."

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Fairly safe

On sweatshop jobs and decent work

Nancy Chau

Journal of Development Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper argues that while rooting out sweatshop conditions raises unemployment, the potential gains include an increase in decent work employment, a pro-worker shift in distribution, and an improvement in overall efficiency. In a search model of employment inspired by firm- and household-level evidence about the harm that sweatshop conditions pose to workers' capability to be productive at work and to be vertically mobile, this paper unpacks the irony of job losses and efficiency gains by examining equilibria where, unless regulations are in place, employers tolerate unproductive sweatshop conditions, and where workers accept insufficiently compensating sweatshop wages.

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Disruptive Change in the Taxi Business: The Case of Uber

Judd Cramer & Alan Krueger

NBER Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
In most cities, the taxi industry is highly regulated and utilizes technology developed in the 1940s. Ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, which use modern internet-based mobile technology to connect passengers and drivers, have begun to compete with traditional taxis. This paper examines the efficiency of ride sharing services vis-à-vis taxis by comparing the capacity utilization rate of UberX drivers with that of traditional taxi drivers in five cities. The capacity utilization rate is measured by the fraction of time a driver has a fare-paying passenger in the car while he or she is working, and by the share of total miles that drivers log in which a passenger is in their car. The main conclusion is that, in most cities with data available, UberX drivers spend a significantly higher fraction of their time, and drive a substantially higher share of miles, with a passenger in their car than do taxi drivers. Four factors likely contribute to the higher capacity utilization rate of UberX drivers: 1) Uber’s more efficient driver-passenger matching technology; 2) the larger scale of Uber than taxi companies; 3) inefficient taxi regulations; and 4) Uber’s flexible labor supply model and surge pricing more closely match supply with demand throughout the day.

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A spatial analysis of incomes and institutional quality: Evidence from US metropolitan areas

Jamie Bologna, Andrew Young & Donald Lacombe

Journal of Institutional Economics, March 2016, Pages 191-216

Abstract:
We use the Stansel (2013) metropolitan area economic freedom index and 25 conditioning variables to analyze the spatial relationships between institutional quality and economic outcomes across 381 U.S. metropolitan areas. Specifically, we allow for spatial dependence in both the dependent and independent variables and estimate how economic freedom impacts both per capita income growth and per capita income levels. We find that economic freedom and per capita income growth and income levels are directly and positively related. Furthermore, we find that the total (direct plus indirect) effects on all metropolitan areas are positive and larger in magnitude than the direct effects alone, indicating that freedom-enhancing reforms in one metropolitan area lead to positive-sum games with neighboring metropolitan areas.

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Product Liability versus Reputation

Juan José Ganuza, Fernando Gomez & Marta Robles

Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Market reputation is often perceived as a cheaper alternative to product liability in the provision of safety incentives. We explore the interaction between legal and reputational sanctions using the idea that inducing safety through reputation requires implementing costly “market sanctioning” mechanisms. We show that law positively affects the functioning of market reputation by reducing its costs. We also show that reputation and product liability are not just substitutes but also complements. We analyze the effects of different legal policies, and namely that negligence reduces reputational costs more intensely than strict liability, and that court errors in determining liability interfere with reputational cost reduction through law. A more general result is that any variant of an ex post liability rule will improve the functioning of market reputation in isolation. We complicate the basic analysis with endogenous prices and observability by consumers of the outcome of court’s decisions.

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Simplification of Privacy Disclosures: An Experimental Test

Omri Ben-Shahar & Adam Chilton

University of Chicago Working Paper, January 2016

Abstract:
Simplification of disclosures is widely regarded as an important goal and is increasingly mandated by regulations in a variety of areas of the law. In privacy law, simplification of disclosures is near universally supported. To guide this simplification, various “Best Practices” presentation techniques have been recommended, aimed at transforming privacy notices into clear and accessible information aids for consumers. In addition, some have proposed “Warning Labels” designed to familiarize consumers with only a short list the least expected privacy practices. But do such simplifications actually inform consumers and prevent unwise behavior? Since this question has not been rigorously studied, we conducted a survey experiment designed to test whether simplifying privacy disclosures affects respondents: (1) comprehension of the disclosure; (2) willingness to disclose personal information; and (3) expectations about their privacy rights. Our results reveal that none of the simplification techniques help inform respondents or affect their behavior. They call into further question the wisdom of focusing much regulatory effort on improved disclosures.

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Does antitrust policy promote competition?

Robert Lawson & Ryan Murphy

Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using new measures of the scope and strength of antitrust policies, we find no evidence that more robust antitrust regimes correlate with more intense local competition or less corporate dominance. The results cast doubt on the common textbook assumption that antitrust policies improve levels of competition.

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Economic Freedom and Crashes in Financial Markets

Benjamin Blau

Utah State University Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
Using a unique empirical approach that accounts for the possibility that financial market crashes are endogenously determined by market structures, this study examines how economic freedom contribute to crashes in financial markets. On one hand, economic freedom might provide an unregulated framework that contributes to the likelihood of crashes. On the other hand, economic freedom may mitigate regulatory uncertainty thus providing a level of transparency that reduces the likelihood of crashes. Results in this study provide strong support for the latter idea as countries with higher economic freedom experience lower probabilities of market crashes and more positive skewness in asset returns. A closer examination of the data suggest that the components of economic freedom that contribute most to the reduction in crash risk is the level of free trade and, to some extent, the strength of property right protection.

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Efficiency and regulation: A comparison of dairy farms in Ontario and New York State

Peter Slade & Getu Hailu

Journal of Productivity Analysis, February 2016, Pages 103-115

Abstract:
We study the cost efficiency of dairy farms operating under two different regulatory regimes. While neo-classical economic theory suggests that farms should maximize their efficiency regardless of their regulatory system, we find that farms operating in a more regulated environment have, on average, a lower cost efficiency. Differences in cost efficiency are primarily explained by allocative decisions — farms in the more regulated environment are overcapitalized and overly reliant on homegrown feed. Efficiency is estimated using bootstrapped data envelopment analysis and a stochastic distance function. We discuss the implications of these results for welfare and policy.

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Hidden Baggage: Behavioral Responses to Changes in Airline Ticket Tax Disclosure

Sebastien Bradley & Naomi Feldman

Federal Reserve Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
We examine the impact on air travelers of an enforcement action issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in 2012 requiring that domestic air carriers and online travel agents incorporate all mandatory taxes and fees in their advertised fares. Consistent with the literature on tax salience, we find quasi-experimental evidence that the more prominent display of tax-inclusive prices is associated with a reduction in tax incidence on consumers, and this effect varies non-monotonically with market concentration. Ticket revenues are commensurately reduced, while passenger demand and average per-passenger tax revenue between origin and destination airport-pairs likewise decline following the introduction of full-fare advertising.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Caring

Parental supervision and adolescent risky behaviors

Sarah Grace See

Review of Economics of the Household, March 2016, Pages 185-206

Abstract:
This paper re-examines the relationship between parental supervision and adolescents' engagement in risky behaviors. Using the Child Development Supplement and Transition to Adulthood of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, I consider different measures of supervision among a sample of adolescents 10-21 years old. Issues relating to endogeneity bias and unobserved heterogeneity are accounted for using lagged amounts of supervision and fixed effects as an estimation strategy. The results highlight the role of fathers in mitigating cigarette smoking in the past month, regular alcohol consumption in the past year, and marijuana smoking in the past month. The research emphasizes the need to account for unobserved heterogeneity and supports the idea of looking at the different roles of each parent in affecting child outcomes.

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Parental Influences on Health and Longevity: Lessons from a Large Sample of Adoptees

Mikael Lindahl et al.

NBER Working Paper, January 2016

Abstract:
To what extent is the length of our lives determined by pre-birth factors? And to what extent is it affected by parental resources during our upbringing that can be influenced by public policy? We study the formation of adult health and mortality using data on about 21,000 adoptees born between 1940 and 1967. The data include detailed information on both biological and adopting parents. We find that the health of the biological parents affects the health of their adopted children. Thus, we confirm that genes and conditions in utero are important intergenerational transmission channels for long-term health. However, we also find strong evidence that the educational attainment of the adopting mother has a significant impact on the health of her adoptive children, suggesting that family environment and resources in the post-birth years have long-term consequences for children's health.

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Paid family leave's effect on hospital admissions for pediatric abusive head trauma

Joanne Klevens et al.

Injury Prevention, forthcoming

Abstract:
Paediatric abusive head trauma (AHT) is a leading cause of fatal child maltreatment among young children. Current prevention efforts have not been consistently effective. Policies such as paid parental leave could potentially prevent AHT, given its impacts on risk factors for child maltreatment. To explore associations between California's 2004 paid family leave (PFL) policy and hospital admissions for AHT, we used difference-in-difference analyses of 1995-2011 US state-level data before and after the policy in California and seven comparison states. Compared with seven states with no PFL policies, California's 2004 PFL showed a significant decrease in AHT admissions in both <1 and <2-year-olds. Analyses using additional data years and comparators could yield different results.

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The Costs of Suppressing Negative Emotions and Amplifying Positive Emotions During Parental Caregiving

Bonnie Le & Emily Impett

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, March 2016, Pages 323-336

Abstract:
How do parents feel when they regulate their emotional expressions in ways that are incongruent with their genuine feelings? In an experimental study, parents reported experiencing lower authenticity, emotional well-being, relationship quality, and responsiveness to their children's needs when they recalled caregiving experiences in which they suppressed negative emotions and amplified positive emotions, relative to a control condition. In a 10-day daily experience study, parents tended to use both regulation strategies simultaneously. In addition, assessing their unique effects indicated that positive emotion amplification, but not negative emotion suppression, had an indirect effect on parental outcomes via authenticity, with negative emotion suppression no longer being costly. This indirect effect was dampened when accounting for care difficulty. In both studies, effects were independent of a child's mood. The current results suggest that parents' attempts to suppress negative and amplify positive emotions during child care can detract from their well-being and high-quality parent-child bonds.

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Match quality and maternal investments in children

Erin Fletcher

Review of Economics of the Household, March 2016, Pages 83-102

Abstract:
Marriage advocates contend that the unstable environment caused by divorce can have adverse effects on children's educational and behavioral outcomes. However, the assignment of poor outcomes to the divorce itself fails to take into account relationship quality and heterogeneity in place before or in the absence of union dissolution. I explore the link between heterogeneity of relationship quality and investments in children by showing that women who report less satisfaction in their relationships spend less time reading with their children. I test various theoretical mechanisms by which we would expect women to decrease their investments in a child using information about the match including reported argument frequency and whether the union dissolves. The results suggest that subjective measures tell a more complete story about investments in children than indicated by future union status, argument frequency or parental quality.

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Birth order and child cognitive outcomes: An exploration of the parental time mechanism

Chiara Monfardini & Sarah Grace See

Education Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Higher birth order positions are associated with poorer outcomes due to smaller shares of resources received within the household. Using a sample of Panel Study of Income Dynamics-Child Development Supplement children, we investigate if the negative birth order effect we find in cognitive outcomes is due to unequal allocation of mother and father time investments. Exploiting the presence of siblings in the sample, we show that birth order differences in parental time are mostly driven by between-families variation rather than within-family variation. This finding suggests that birth order effects are unlikely to be driven by differences in quality time spent with either parent.

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Is time spent playing video games associated with mental health, cognitive and social skills in young children?

Viviane Kovess-Masfety et al.

Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, forthcoming

Methods: Data were drawn from the School Children Mental Health Europe project conducted in six European Union countries (youth ages 6-11, n = 3195). Child mental health was assessed by parents and teachers using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and by children themselves with the Dominic Interactive. Child video game usage was reported by the parents. Teachers evaluated academic functioning. Multivariable logistic regressions were used.

Results: 20 % of the children played video games more than 5 h per week. Factors associated with time spent playing video games included being a boy, being older, and belonging to a medium size family. Having a less educated, single, inactive, or psychologically distressed mother decreased time spent playing video games. Children living in Western European countries were significantly less likely to have high video game usage (9.66 vs 20.49 %) though this was not homogenous. Once adjusted for child age and gender, number of children, mothers age, marital status, education, employment status, psychological distress, and region, high usage was associated with 1.75 times the odds of high intellectual functioning (95 % CI 1.31-2.33), and 1.88 times the odds of high overall school competence (95 % CI 1.44-2.47). Once controlled for high usage predictors, there were no significant associations with any child self-reported or mother- or teacher-reported mental health problems. High usage was associated with decreases in peer relationship problems [OR 0.41 (0.2-0.86) and in prosocial deficits (0.23 (0.07, 0.81)].

Conclusions: Playing video games may have positive effects on young children. Understanding the mechanisms through which video game use may stimulate children should be further investigated.

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Secure Infant-Mother Attachment Buffers the Effect of Early-Life Stress on Age of Menarche

Sooyeon Sung et al.

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Prior research indicates that being reared in stressful environments is associated with earlier onset of menarche in girls. In this research, we examined (a) whether these effects are driven by exposure to certain dimensions of stress (harshness or unpredictability) during the first 5 years of life and (b) whether the negative effects of stress on the timing of menarche are buffered by secure infant-mother attachment. Results revealed that (a) exposure to greater harshness (but not unpredictability) during the first 5 years of life predicted earlier menarche and (b) secure infant-mother attachment buffered girls from this effect of harsh environments. By connecting attachment research to its evolutionary foundations, these results illuminate how environmental stressors and relationships early in life jointly affect pubertal timing.

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Mothers' Involuntary Job Loss and Children's Academic Achievement

Elif Filiz

Journal of Labor Research, March 2016, Pages 98-127

Abstract:
Using matched mother-child data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, I examine the impact of mothers' involuntary job loss on children's academic achievement. Single mothers' job displacement affects children's math and reading test scores negatively and statistically significantly in the short run. Displacement of married mothers has no impact on their children's test scores. The decline in income and a worsening of child's behavioral problems are two channels through which single mothers' job loss impacts test scores.

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Single Mothers by Choice: Mother-Child Relationships and Children's Psychological Adjustment

Susan Golombok et al.

Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Fifty-one solo mother families were compared with 52 two-parent families all with a 4-9-year-old child conceived by donor insemination. Standardized interview, observational and questionnaire measures of maternal wellbeing, mother-child relationships and child adjustment were administered to mothers, children and teachers. There were no differences in parenting quality between family types apart from lower mother-child conflict in solo mother families. Neither were there differences in child adjustment. Perceived financial difficulties, child's gender, and parenting stress were associated with children's adjustment problems in both family types. The findings suggest that solo motherhood, in itself, does not result in psychological problems for children.

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Home-Based Early Intervention and the Influence of Family Resources on Cognitive Development

Carla Bann et al.

Pediatrics, forthcoming

Objective: To investigate whether early developmental intervention (EDI) can positively affect the trajectories of cognitive development among children from low-resource families.

Methods: Longitudinal analyses were conducted of data from 293 children in the Brain Research to Ameliorate Impaired Neurodevelopment Home-based Intervention Trial, a randomized controlled trial of a home-based EDI program, to examine trajectories of Bayley Scales of Infant Development-Second Edition Mental Development Index (MDI) scores from 12 to 36 months of age among young children from high- and low-resource families in 3 low- to middle-resource countries.

Results: A 3-way interaction among family resources, intervention group, and age was statistically significant after controlling for maternal, child, and birth characteristics (Wald χ2(1) = 9.41, P = .002). Among children of families with high resources, both the intervention and control groups had significant increases in MDI scores over time (P < .001 and P = .002, respectively), and 36-month MDI scores for these 2 groups did not differ significantly (P = .602). However, in families with low resources, the EDI group displayed greater improvement, resulting in significantly higher 36-month MDI scores than the control group (P < .001). In addition, the 36-month MDI scores for children in families with low resources receiving EDI did not differ significantly from children from high-resource families in either the EDI (P = .509) or control (P = .882) groups.

Conclusions: A home-based EDI during the first 3 years of life can substantially decrease the developmental gap between children from families with lower versus higher resources, even among children in low- to middle-resource countries.

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The Mobility of Elite Life Scientists: Professional and Personal Determinants

Pierre Azoulay, Ina Ganguli & Joshua Graff Zivin

NBER Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
As scientists' careers unfold, mobility can allow researchers to find environments where they are more productive and more effectively contribute to the generation of new knowledge. In this paper, we examine the determinants of mobility of elite academics within the life sciences, including individual productivity measures and for the first time, measures of the peer environment and family factors. Using a unique data set compiled from the career histories of 10,004 elite life scientists in the U.S., we paint a nuanced picture of mobility. Prolific scientists are more likely to move, but this impulse is constrained by recent NIH funding. The quality of peer environments both near and far is an additional factor that influences mobility decisions. Interestingly, we also identify a significant role for family structure. Scientists appear to be unwilling to move when their children are between the ages of 14-17, which is when US children are typically enrolled in middle school or high school. This suggests that even elite scientists find it costly to disrupt the social networks of their children and take these costs into account when making career decisions.

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The Impact of Maternal Depression on Child Academic and Socioemotional Outcomes

Heather Dahlen

Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines how maternal depression affects children's test scores and socioemotional outcomes. An empirical challenge surrounding this research is to address the omission of unobserved factors affecting both maternal depression and child outcomes. By implementing bounding, an underutilized estimation technique not previously applied to maternal depression studies, I am able to generate ranges of the causal impact of maternal depression on child test scores and socioemotional outcomes. Primary findings include moderately-sized reductions in children's socioemotional measures and slight reductions in children's test scores when a mother reported any level of depression in single-period analyses, an increase in magnitude of the findings for kindergarten students as severity of depression increased, and larger impacts on reading scores of third graders when their mother was depressed in multiple time periods.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, March 21, 2016

Fabulous investments

Corporate Scandals and Household Stock Market Participation

Mariassunta Giannetti & Tracy Yue Wang

Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
We show that after the revelation of corporate fraud in a state, household stock market participation in that state decreases. Households decrease holdings in fraudulent as well as non fraudulent firms, even if they do not hold stocks in fraudulent firms. Within a state, households with more lifetime experience of corporate fraud hold less equity. Following the exogenous increase in fraud revelation due to Arthur Andersen's demise, states with more Arthur Andersen clients experience a larger decrease in stock market participation. We provide evidence that the documented effect is likely to reflect a loss of trust in the stock market.

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Frenemies: How Do Financial Firms Vote on Their Own Kind?

Aneel Keswani, David Stolin & Anh Tran

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The financial sector is unique in being largely self-governed: the majority of financial firms' shares are held by other financial institutions. This raises the possibility that the monitoring of financial firms is especially undermined by conflicts of interest as a result of personal and professional links between these firms and their shareholders. To investigate this possibility, we scrutinize the aspect of the financial sector's self-governance that is directly observable: mutual fund companies' voting on their peers' stocks. We find that considerations specific to investee firms' membership in the same industry as their investors do indeed impact voting. This impact is in the direction of supporting the investee's management. We show that the own-industry effect reduces director efficacy and lowers firm value as a result. We extend our analysis to other financial companies and show that they also tend to vote more favorably when it comes to their peers. Our results suggest that peer support is a corrupting factor in the financial sector's governance.

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The Leverage Externalities of Credit Default Swaps

Jay Li & Dragon Yongjun Tang

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper provides the first empirical evidence of the externalities of credit default swaps (CDS). We find that a firm's leverage is lower when a larger proportion of its revenue is derived from CDS-referenced customers. This finding is robust to alternative samples and measures, placebo tests, and the selection of customers by suppliers. Moreover, firms affected by customer CDS trading issue equity to lower leverage, and their equity issuance costs are lower. These findings are consistent with the view that CDS trading on customers improves the information environment for suppliers. Therefore, while many firms are not directly linked to CDS trading, CDS trading on their customers has spillover effects on these firms' financial policies.

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The Market for Financial Adviser Misconduct

Mark Egan, Gregor Matvos & Amit Seru

NBER Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
We construct a novel database containing the universe of financial advisers in the United States from 2005 to 2015, representing approximately 10% of employment of the finance and insurance sector. Roughly 7% of advisers have misconduct records. Prior offenders are five times as likely to engage in new misconduct as the average financial adviser. Firms discipline misconduct: approximately half of financial advisers lose their job after misconduct. The labor market partially undoes firm-level discipline: of these advisers, 44% are reemployed in the financial services industry within a year. Reemployment is not costless. Following misconduct, advisers face longer unemployment spells, and move to less reputable firms, with a 10% reduction in compensation. Additionally, firms that hire these advisers also have higher rates of prior misconduct themselves. We find similar results for advisers of dissolved firms, in which all advisers are forced to find new employment independent of past misconduct or performance. Firms that persistently engage in misconduct coexist with firms that have clean records. We show that differences in consumer sophistication may be partially responsible for this phenomenon: misconduct is concentrated in firms with retail customers and in counties with low education, elderly populations, and high incomes. Our findings suggest that some firms "specialize" in misconduct and cater to unsophisticated consumers, while others use their reputation to attract sophisticated consumers.

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ABCs of Trading: Behavioral Biases affect Stock Turnover and Value

Jennifer Itzkowitz, Jesse Itzkowitz & Scott Rothbort

Review of Finance, March 2016, Pages 663-692

Abstract:
Psychological research suggests that individuals are satisficers. That is, when confronted with a large number of options, individuals often choose the first acceptable option, rather than the best possible option (Simon, 1957). Given the vast quantity of information available and the widespread convention of listing stocks in alphabetical order, we conjecture that investors are more likely to buy and sell stocks with early alphabet names. Consistent with this view, we find that early alphabet stocks are traded more frequently than later alphabet stocks and that alphabeticity also affects firm value. We also document how these effects have changed over time.

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Alphabetic Bias, Investor Recognition, and Trading Behavior

Heiko Jacobs & Alexander Hillert

Review of Finance, March 2016, Pages 693-723

Abstract:
Extensive research has revealed that alphabetical name ordering tends to provide an advantage to those positioned in the beginning of an alphabetical listing. This article is the first to explore the implications of this alphabetic bias in financial markets. We find that US stocks that appear near the top of an alphabetical listing have about 5-15% higher trading activity and liquidity than stocks that appear toward the bottom. The magnitude of these results is negatively related to firm visibility and investor sophistication. International evidence and fund flows further indicate that ordering effects can affect trading activity and liquidity.

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Influential Investors in online stock forums

Lucy Ackert et al.

International Review of Financial Analysis, May 2016, Pages 39-46

Abstract:
This paper uses data from an online stock forum to examine the behavior of influential investors, posters who are popular among forum members. Unlike prior research, we find that influential investors post messages based on information and target actively traded large firms. Their predictions are more likely to indicate subsequent returns, as compared to other investors. Influential investors exhibit a preference for local investments and, furthermore, their predictions for local firms are more likely to be correct, suggesting a true information advantage. Thus, these investors contribute to the overall functioning of the market by providing insight into targeted companies.

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IPO pricing as a function of your investment banks' past mistakes: The case of Facebook

Laurie Krigman & Wendy Jeffus

Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
On May 18, 2012 Facebook held its initial public offering (IPO), raising over $16 billion making it one of the largest IPOs in history. To the surprise of many investors, there was no underpricing―the stock closed the first day of trading flat from its offer price. The Facebook IPO was described as not only disappointing but also detrimental to the broader market. We explore why one IPO should have such widespread consequences. We document that the IPO market was silent for 41 days following Facebook. When it re-opened 41 days later, the average level of underpricing increased from 11% pre-Facebook to 20% post-Facebook. The common blame was an overall increase in risk-aversion among investors. We offer an alternative explanation. We show that the entire increase in underpricing is concentrated in the IPOs of the Facebook lead underwriters. We find no statistical difference in underpricing pre and post-Facebook for non-Facebook underwriters. We argue that investment bank loyalty to their institutional investor client based propelled the Facebook underwriters to increase underpricing to compensate for the perceived losses on Facebook.

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The Social Value of Financial Expertise

Pablo Kurlat

NBER Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
I study expertise acquisition in a model of trading under asymmetric information. I propose and implement a method to estimate the ratio of social to private marginal value of expertise. This can be decomposed into three sufficient statistics: traders' average profits, the fraction of bad assets among traded assets and the elasticity of good assets traded with respect to capital inflows. For venture capital, the ratio is between 0.64 and 0.83 and for junk bond underwriting, it is between 0.09 and 0.26. In both cases this is less than one so at the margin financial expertise destroys surplus.

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Does rating analyst subjectivity affect corporate debt pricing?

Cesare Fracassi, Stefan Petry & Geoffrey Tate

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We find evidence of systematic optimism and pessimism among credit analysts, comparing contemporaneous ratings of the same firm across rating agencies. These differences in perspectives carry through to debt prices and negatively predict future changes in credit spreads, consistent with mispricing. Moreover, the pricing effects are the largest among firms that are the most opaque, likely exacerbating financing constraints. We find that masters of business administration (MBAs) provide higher quality ratings. However, optimism increases and accuracy decreases with tenure covering the firm. Our analysis demonstrates the role analysts play in shaping investor expectations and its effect on corporate debt markets.

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Invisible walls: Do psychological barriers really exist in stock index levels?

Sam Alan Woodhouse et al.

North American Journal of Economics and Finance, April 2016, Pages 267-278

Abstract:
We investigate whether the levels of a stock market index contain any evidence of a behavioural bias depending on the proximity of the index level to 'psychological barriers'. These are certain index levels (usually in multiples of 100) at which the market tends to stick before breaking out either up or down. Extant behavioural finance literature has attributed this to investors' subjective perception of 'something special' about certain index levels where in fact no rational economic basis exists for such a perception. We carry out an empirical analysis of the NASDAQ Composite index and find that barrier effects are indeed present in that stock index. We employ simulation analysis to validate of our obtained results.

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Soft Strategic Information and IPO Underpricing

James Brau, James Cicon & Grant McQueen

Journal of Behavioral Finance, Winter 2016, Pages 1-17

Abstract:
Using content analysis, we measure the impact of soft information, derived from words in initial public offering (IPO) registration documents, on IPO pricing efficiency. First, using 2,298 U.S. IPOs from 1996-2008, we find that an IPO document's strategic tone correlates positively with the stock's first-day return; more frequent usage of positive and/or less frequent usage of negative strategic words leads to more IPO underpricing. Second, we find that an IPO document's strategic tone is negatively correlated with the stock's long-run return. Together, these findings imply that investors initially misprice soft information in registration statements, which mispricing is eventually corrected. Additionally, we create new content-analysis libraries for strategic words and introduce a survey-based library creation method and word-weighting system.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Feeling better

Power and Death: Mortality Salience Increases Power Seeking While Feeling Powerful Reduces Death Anxiety

Peter Belmi & Jeffrey Pfeffer

Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
According to Terror Management Theory, people respond to reminders of mortality by seeking psychological security and bolstering their self-esteem. Because previous research suggests that having power can provide individuals a sense of security and self-worth, we hypothesize that mortality salience leads to an increased motivation to acquire power, especially among men. Study 1 found that men (but not women) who wrote about their death reported more interest in acquiring power. Study 2A and Study 2B demonstrated that when primed with reminders of death, men (but not women) reported behaving more dominantly during the subsequent week, while both men and women reported behaving more prosocially during that week. Thus, mortality salience prompts people to respond in ways that help them manage their death anxiety but in ways consistent with normative gender expectations. Furthermore, Studies 3–5 showed that feeling powerful reduces anxiety when mortality is salient. Specifically, we found that when primed to feel more powerful, both men and women experienced less mortality anxiety.

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The 'Extreme Female Brain': Increased Cognitive Empathy as a Dimension of Psychopathology

Natalie Dinsdale, MIka Mökkönen & Bernard Crespi

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Baron-Cohen's 'extreme male brain' theory postulates that autism involves exaggerated male-typical psychology, with reduced empathizing (considered here as social-emotional interest, motivation and abilities) and increased systemizing (non-social, physical-world and rule-based interest, motivation and abilities), in association with its male-biased sex ratio. The concept of an 'extreme female brain', involving some combination of increased empathizing and reduced systemizing, and its possible role in psychiatric conditions, has been considerably less well investigated. Female-biased sex ratios have been described in two conditions, depression and borderline personality disorder (BPD), that also show evidence of increases in aspects of empathy in some studies. We evaluated the hypothesis that BPD and depression can be conceptualized in the context of the 'extreme female brain' by: (1) describing previous conceptualizations of the extreme female brain model, (2) reviewing evidence of female-biased sex ratios in BPD and depression, (3) conducting meta-analyses of performance on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test (RMET) among individuals with BPD, clinical or subclinical depression, and other psychiatric conditions involving altered social cognition and mood (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and autism), in relation to disorder sex ratios, and (4) evaluating previous evidence of increased empathic performance in these, and related, psychiatric conditions, and (5) synthesizing these lines of evidence into models for causes and effects of an 'extreme female brain'. Our primary empirical results are that RMET performance is enhanced in subclinical depression, preserved in borderline personality disorder, and reduced in other disorders (by meta-analyses), and that across disorders, more male-biased patient sex ratios are strongly associated with worse RMET performance of patients relative to controls. Our findings, in conjunction with previous work, suggest that increased cognitive empathizing mediates risk and expression of some psychiatric conditions with evidence of female biases, especially non-clinical depression and borderline personality disorder, in association with increased attention to social stimuli, higher levels of social and emotional sensitivity, negative emotion biases, and over-developed mentalist thought. These results link evolved human sex differences with psychiatric vulnerabilities and symptoms, and lead to specific suggestions for future work.

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Belief in scientific–technological progress and life satisfaction: The role of personal control

Olga Stavrova, Daniel Ehlebracht & Detlef Fetchenhauer

Personality and Individual Differences, July 2016, Pages 227–236

Abstract:
While numerous studies have examined the positive association between religious beliefs and subjective well-being, there is a notable absence of research addressing the potential role of secular beliefs as a source of happiness and life satisfaction. Drawing from literature on compensatory control, the present research fills this void by exploring the association between belief in scientific–technological progress and life satisfaction, investigating its underlying mechanism and examining cross-cultural moderators. The results showed that belief in scientific–technological progress is a stronger predictor of life satisfaction than religious beliefs in a nationally representative sample of the Dutch population (Study 1) and across 69 out of 72 countries (Study 2). Additional analyses highlighted the role of personal control beliefs as the mechanism driving this effect: a strong belief in scientific–technological progress was associated with an enhanced sense of personal control, which in turn contributed to higher life satisfaction. Consistent with previous research on “shared reality” and person–culture fit, the beneficial consequences of an individual's belief in scientific–technological progress were enhanced when this belief was widely held within a specific culture.

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Affective Forecasting About Hedonic Loss and Adaptation: Implications for Damage Awards

Edie Greene, Kristin Sturm & Andrew Evelo

Law and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
In tort lawsuits, plaintiffs may seek damages for loss of enjoyment of life, so-called hedonic loss, which occurred as a result of an accident or injury. In 2 studies, we examined how people judge others’ adaptation and hedonic loss after an injury. Laypeople’s forecasts of hedonic loss are relevant to concerns about whether jurors appropriately compensate plaintiffs. Longitudinal data of subjective well-being (e.g., Binder & Coad, 2013) show that hedonic loss is domain-specific: Many physical impairments (e.g., strokes) inflict less hedonic loss than many persistent yet invisible ailments (e.g., mental illness and conditions that cause chronic pain). We used vignette methodology to determine whether laypeople (n = 68 community members and 65 students in Study 1; 87 community members and 93 students in Study 2) and rehabilitation professionals (n = 47 in Study 2) were aware of this fact. In Study 1, participants’ ratings of hedonic loss subsequent to a physical injury and a comparably severe psychological impairment did not differ. In Study 2, ratings of short- and long-term hedonic loss stemming from paraplegia and chronic back pain showed that neither laypeople nor professionals understood that hedonic loss is domain-specific. These findings imply that observers may forecast a future for people who suffered serious physical injuries as grimmer than it is likely to be, and a future for people who experience chronic pain and psychological disorders as rosier than is likely.

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Mental Health Improves After Transition From Comprehensive School to Vocational Education or Employment in England: A National Cohort Study

Jennifer Symonds et al.

Developmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Underpinned by stage-environment fit and job demands-resources theories, this study examined how adolescents’ anxiety, depressive symptoms, and positive functioning developed as they transferred from comprehensive school to further education, employment or training, or became NEET (not in education, employment, or training), at age 16 years, in the longitudinal English national cohort study Next Steps (N = 13,342). Controlling for childhood achievement, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and gender, we found that NEET adolescents had the largest losses in mental health. This pattern was similar to adolescents staying on at school who had increased anxiety and depression, and decreased positive functioning, after transition. In comparison, adolescents transferring to full-time work, apprenticeships, or vocational college experienced gains in mental health.

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Nine beautiful things: A self-administered online positive psychology intervention on the beauty in nature, arts, and behaviors increases happiness and ameliorates depressive symptoms

René Proyer et al.

Personality and Individual Differences, May 2016, Pages 189–193

Abstract:
We tested the effectiveness of a self-administered online positive psychology intervention which addressed the appreciation of beauty and excellence on happiness and depression directly after the intervention, after one week, and one, three, and six months. One hundred thirteen adults were randomly assigned to a “9 beautiful things” intervention (IG; n = 59), or a placebo control group (“early memories”; n = 54). Participants in the IG were asked to write down (a) three beautiful things in human behavior; (b) three things they experienced as beautiful in nature and/or the environment; and (c) three beautiful things related to beauty in general that they observed. Findings show increased levels of happiness in the intervention group at post-test, after one week and one month, and amelioration of depressive symptoms at the post-test and one week after the intervention. The effect sizes were small to medium (η2 = .03 to .07). Overall, this initial study provides support for the notion that the “9 beautiful things” intervention may be effective in increasing people's well-being — at least in a short term.

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Retirement as Meaningful: Positive Retirement Stereotypes Associated with Longevity

Reuben Ng et al.

Journal of Social Issues, March 2016, Pages 69–85

Abstract:
Studies examining the association between retirement and health have produced mixed results. This may be due to previous studies treating retirement as merely a change in job status rather than a transition associated with stereotypes or societal beliefs (e.g., retirement is a time of mental decline or retirement is a time of growth). To examine whether these stereotypes are associated with health, we studied retirement stereotypes and survival over a 23-year period among 1,011 older adults. As predicted by stereotype embodiment theory, it was found that positive stereotypes about physical health during retirement showed a survival advantage of 4.5 years (hazard ratio = 0.88, p = .022) and positive stereotypes about mental health during retirement tended to show a survival advantage of 2.5 years (hazard ratio = 0.87, p = .034). Models adjusted for relevant covariates such as age, gender, race, employment status, functional health, and self-rated health. These results suggest that retirement preparation could benefit from considering retirement stereotypes.

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Adolescent Psychological Distress, Unemployment, and the Great Recession: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997

Mark Egan, Michael Daly & Liam Delaney

Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Objective: This paper uses the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997 data to examine whether adolescent psychological distress in 2000 predicts higher unemployment over 2000-11, whether this relationship changed in the period following the Great Recession, and whether it is robust to adjustment for family effects.

Methods: 7,125 cohort members (2,986 siblings) self-reported their mental health in 2000 and employment activities over 2000-11. This association was examined using Probit and ordinary least squares regressions controlling for intelligence, physical health, other sociodemographic characteristics and family background.

Results: After adjustment for covariates and compared to those with low distress, highly distressed adolescents were 2.7 percentage points (32%) more likely to be unemployed, 5.1 points (26%) more likely to be unemployed or out of the labor force and experienced 11 weeks (28%) more unemployment. The impact of high distress was similar to a one standard deviation decrease in intelligence, and double the magnitude of having a serious physical health problem, and these estimates were robust to adjustment for family fixed-effects. The highly distressed were also disproportionately more likely to become unemployed or exit the labor force in the years following the Great Recession.

Conclusion: These findings provide strong evidence of the unemployment penalty of early-life psychological distress and suggest that this relationship may be intensified during economic recessions. Investing in mental health in early life may be an effective way to reduce unemployment.

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Beliefs About the Causal Structure of the Self-Concept Determine Which Changes Disrupt Personal Identity

Stephanie Chen, Oleg Urminsky & Daniel Bartels

University of Chicago Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
Personal identity is an important determinant of behavior, yet how people mentally represent their self-concept is not well understood. In the studies reported in this paper, we examine the age-old question of what makes us who we are. We propose a novel approach to identity which suggests that the answer lies in people’s beliefs about how the features of identity (e.g., memories, moral qualities, personality traits) are causally related to each other. Features that are involved in many cause-effect relationships with other features of one’s identity are perceived as more defining to a person’s self-concept. In three experiments, using both measured and manipulated causal centrality, we find support for this approach. For both judgments of one’s self and of others, we find that some features are perceived as more causally central than others and that changes in those more causally central features are believed to be more disruptive to identity.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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