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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Groups

Ecology-driven stereotypes override race stereotypes

Keelah Williams, Oliver Sng & Steven Neuberg

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why do race stereotypes take the forms they do? Life history theory posits that features of the ecology shape individuals' behavior. Harsh and unpredictable ("desperate") ecologies induce fast strategy behaviors such as impulsivity, whereas resource-sufficient and predictable ("hopeful") ecologies induce slow strategy behaviors such as future focus. We suggest that individuals possess a lay understanding of ecology's influence on behavior, resulting in ecology-driven stereotypes. Importantly, because race is confounded with ecology in the United States, we propose that Americans' stereotypes about racial groups actually reflect stereotypes about these groups' presumed home ecologies. Study 1 demonstrates that individuals hold ecology stereotypes, stereotyping people from desperate ecologies as possessing faster life history strategies than people from hopeful ecologies. Studies 2-4 rule out alternative explanations for those findings. Study 5, which independently manipulates race and ecology information, demonstrates that when provided with information about a person's race (but not ecology), individuals' inferences about blacks track stereotypes of people from desperate ecologies, and individuals' inferences about whites track stereotypes of people from hopeful ecologies. However, when provided with information about both the race and ecology of others, individuals' inferences reflect the targets' ecology rather than their race: black and white targets from desperate ecologies are stereotyped as equally fast life history strategists, whereas black and white targets from hopeful ecologies are stereotyped as equally slow life history strategists. These findings suggest that the content of several predominant race stereotypes may not reflect race, per se, but rather inferences about how one's ecology influences behavior.

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Government instability shifts skin tone representations of and intentions to vote for political candidates

Chadly Stern et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, January 2016, Pages 76-95

Abstract:
Does government stability shift the way White and Black Americans represent and make voting decisions about political candidates? Participants judged how representative lightened, darkened, and unaltered photographs were of a racially ambiguous candidate ostensibly running for political office (Studies 1-3). When the governmental system was presented as stable, White participants who shared (vs. did not share) the candidate's political beliefs rated a lightened photo as more representative of the candidate, and Black participants who shared (vs. did not share) the candidate's political beliefs rated a darkened photo as more representative (Studies 1-3). However, under conditions of instability, both Whites and Blacks who shared (vs. did not share) the candidate's political beliefs rated a lightened photo as more representative (Study 3). Representations of (Studies 2 and 3) and actual differences in (Studies 4a and 4b) skin tone predicted intentions to vote for candidates, as a function of government stability and participants' race. Further evidence suggested that system stability shifted the motivations that guided voting decisions (Study 4a and 4b). When the system was stable, the motivation to enhance one's group predicted greater intentions to vote for lighter skinned candidates among Whites, and greater intentions to vote for darker skinned candidates among Blacks. When the system was unstable, however, lacking confidence in the sociopolitical system predicted intentions to vote for lighter skinned candidates among both Whites and Blacks. Implications for political leadership and social perception are discussed.

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Racial Discrimination in the Sharing Economy: Evidence from a Field Experiment

Benjamin Edelman, Michael Luca & Dan Svirsky

Harvard Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
Online marketplaces increasingly choose to reduce the anonymity of buyers and sellers in order to facilitate trust. We demonstrate that this common market design choice results in an important unintended consequence: racial discrimination. In a field experiment on Airbnb, we find that requests from guests with distinctively African-American names are roughly 16% less likely to be accepted than identical guests with distinctively White names. The difference persists whether the host is African American or White, male or female. The difference also persists whether the host shares the property with the guest or not, and whether the property is cheap or expensive. Discrimination is costly for hosts who indulge in it: hosts who reject African-American guests are able to find a replacement guest only 35% of the time. On the whole, our analysis suggests a need for caution: while information can facilitate transactions, it also facilitates discrimination.

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It ain't easy eating greens: Evidence of bias toward vegetarians and vegans from both source and target

Cara MacInnis & Gordon Hodson
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Vegetarianism and veganism are increasingly prevalent in Western countries, yet anecdotal expressions of negativity toward vegetarians and vegans are common. We empirically tested whether bias exists toward vegetarians and vegans. In Study 1 omnivores evaluated vegetarians and vegans equivalently or more negatively than several common prejudice target groups (e.g., Blacks). Bias was heightened among those higher in right-wing ideologies, explained by heightened perceptions of vegetarian/vegan threat. Vegans (vs. vegetarians) and male (vs. female) vegetarians/vegans were evaluated more negatively overall. In Study 2 omnivores evaluated vegetarians and vegans more negatively than several nutritional outgroups (e.g., gluten intolerants) and evaluated vegan/vegetarians motivated by animal rights or environmental concerns (vs. health) especially negatively. In Study 3, vegetarians and especially vegans reported experiencing negativity stemming from their diets. Empirically documenting antivegetarian/vegan bias adds to a growing literature finding bias toward benign yet social norm-challenging others.

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Bias in the Flesh: Skin Complexion and Stereotype Consistency in Political Campaigns

Solomon Messing, Maria Jabon & Ethan Plaut

Public Opinion Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
There is strong evidence linking skin complexion to negative stereotypes and adverse real-world outcomes. We extend these findings to political ad campaigns, in which skin complexion can be easily manipulated in ways that are difficult to detect. Devising a method to measure how dark a candidate appears in an image, this paper examines how complexion varied with ad content during the 2008 presidential election campaign (study 1). Findings show that darker images were more frequent in negative ads - especially those linking Obama to crime - which aired more frequently as Election Day approached. We then conduct an experiment to document how these darker images can activate stereotypes, and show that a subtle darkness manipulation is sufficient to activate the most negative stereotypes about Blacks - even when the candidate is a famous counter-stereotypical exemplar - Barack Obama (study 2). Further evidence of an evaluative penalty for darker skin comes from an observational study measuring affective responses to depictions of Obama with varying skin complexion, presented via the Affect Misattribution Procedure in the 2008 American National Election Study (study 3). This study demonstrates that darker images are used in a way that complements ad content, and shows that doing so can negatively affect how individuals evaluate candidates and think about politics.

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Race, Wealth, and Class Identification in 21st-Century American Society

Isaac Speer
Sociological Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines the determinants of Americans' subjective class identities, using General Social Survey data from 2006. In particular, this study addresses the question of whether individuals' objective class positions, including wealth, account for differences in class identification between whites and blacks. The principal finding is that self-identified blacks have lower odds of identifying as middle class or upper class than self-identified whites, net of their objective class positions and their class origins. This finding suggests that the class identities of blacks are shaped by experiences of racial discrimination or by other elements of racial inequality.

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The Aftermath and After the Aftermath of 9/11: Civility, Hostility, and Increased Friendliness

Carolyn Ristau & Paul Rozin
Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
An attack such as 9/11 engenders both increased in-group solidarity and other prosocial responses and increased hostility to out-group(s) including those perceived as similar to the presumed perpetrators. We report retrospective data collected from 5 to 11 months after 9/11, from 209 New York City taxi drivers. Judgments of their patrons by the taxi drivers indicate changes in civility (friendliness, politeness) that typically were most intense for the first week but continued to some degree for a few weeks to months, and some, the increased positivity experienced by Blacks, were present almost a year later. The direction of change depended on the ethnicity of the cab drivers: African Americans reported an increase in civility, whereas South Asian cab drivers reported a decrease in civility. The 9/11 attack seemed to improve public reaction to African Americans, perhaps because they were replaced by Middle-Easterners/South Asians as part of the "new enemy," the Muslim terrorists.

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Racial attitude (dis)similarity and liking in same-race minority interactions

Randi Garcia, Hilary Bergsieker & Nicole Shelton Group

Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Two studies investigate the relationship between racial attitude (dis)similarity and interpersonal liking for racial minorities and Whites in same-race and cross-race pairs. In nationally representative and local samples, minorities report personally caring about racial issues more than Whites do (Pilot Study), which we theorize makes racial attitude divergence with ingroup members especially disruptive. Both established friendships (Study 1) and face-to-face interactions among strangers (Study 2) provided evidence for the dissimilarity-repulsion hypothesis in same-race interactions for minorities but not Whites. For minorities, disagreeing with a minority partner or friend about racial attitudes decreased their positivity toward that person. Because minorities typically report caring about race more than Whites, same-race friendships involving shared racial attitudes may be particularly critical sources of social support for them, particularly in predominately White contexts. Understanding challenges that arise in same-race interactions, not just cross-race interactions, can help create environments in which same-race minority friendships flourish.

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Exposure to Muslims in Media and Support for Public Policies Harming Muslims

Muniba Saleem et al.
Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Few studies have empirically examined how media stereotypes of Muslims influence Americans' support for public policies exclusively harming Muslims. Across three studies, we tested the short-term and long-term effects of news portraying Muslims as terrorists on Americans' support for public policies harming Muslims domestically and internationally. Study 1 revealed that exposure to news portraying Muslims as terrorists is positively associated with support for military action in Muslim countries. Study 2 revealed that exposure to news portraying Muslims as terrorists is positively associated with support for public policies that harm Muslims domestically and internationally; this effect was fully mediated by perceptions of Muslims as aggressive. Experimental results from Study 3 revealed that exposing participants to negative Muslim media footage, relative to neutral or no-video footage, increased perceptions of Muslims as aggressive, increased support for harsh civil restrictions of Muslim Americans, and increased support for military action in Muslim countries. Exposure to positive Muslim footage yielded opposite results. We discuss the importance of media in exacerbating aggressive attitudes and public policies in the context of intergroup relations.

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Gender Stereotypes in Spanish- and English-Language Television Advertisements in the United States

Michael Prieler
Mass Communication and Society, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study analyzed 394 U.S. Spanish- and English-language television advertisements from 2013 for differences in gender representation. The findings indicate a high prevalence of gender stereotypes in both samples. For example, more females than males were depicted as young and were usually shown at home. Males were generally fully dressed, whereas females were often suggestively dressed. Voiceovers were clearly dominated by males, and product categories were stereotypically associated with gender. Despite allegedly more traditional Latina/o gender role attitudes in society, this study found little variation between Spanish- and English language television advertisements in terms of gender stereotypes. The potential effects of such representations on audiences are discussed based on social cognitive theory and cultivation theory.

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"We Stick Out Like a Sore Thumb...": Underground White Rappers' Hegemonic Masculinity and Racial Evasion

Matthew Oware
Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, forthcoming

Abstract:
Employing the concept of racial evasion - a derivation of Bonilla-Silva's colorblind ideology theory - the author analyzes 237 songs of underground white and nonwhite rappers from 2006 to 2010. Performing a content analysis on their lyrics, the author finds that white artists make fewer references to racially political and social themes (e.g., racial profiling, police brutality, racist policies) than nonwhite artists-what the author terms racial evasion. The author speculates that white rappers, understanding that they operate in a specifically racialized black and brown cultural art form, deemphasize or mask their racial identity in their lyrics. This tactic is achieved through lyrically referencing hypermasculine tropes such as violence, misogyny, and homophobia to a greater degree than nonwhite artists. This work demonstrates the strategic use of hypermasculine discourse as a rhetorical strategy to achieve "hip hop authenticity" by minimizing or evading racial discourse within this popular cultural form. Furthermore, the author illustrates how the maintenance and manifestation of white male privilege operates via the process of deracialization as a form of meaning making. Ultimately, this work elaborates on the debate of "authenticity" within hip hop studies, providing a window into white racial identity construction within popular culture.

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Psychological essentialism, gender, and parenthood: Physical transformation leads to heightened essentialist conceptions

Bernadette Park, Sarah Banchefsky & Elizabeth Reynolds

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, December 2015, Pages 949-967

Abstract:
Psychological essentialism is the tendency to view entities as if they have an underlying, often invisible essence that makes them what they are (Medin & Ortony, 1989), and the presence of a genetic basis for group membership contributes to such conceptions (Dar-Nimrod & Heine, 2011; Keller, 2005). We argue that undergoing visually salient physical transformations in the process of becoming a group member leads to particularly heightened essentialist conceptions. We test this idea in the context of parenthood. Public discourse suggests the category mother is imbued with special properties and is viewed as a deeper, more lasting, and real category than father. Such perceptions may contribute to unequal work outcomes for women relative to men. Collectively, the 5 studies reported show that mothers are perceived in more essentialist terms than fathers, and that physical changes women undergo in the process of becoming mothers play a substantial role in producing this difference. Moreover, viewing mothers as a particularly natural and real category predicted judgments that women struggle to successfully manage their roles as mothers and professionals, but only when motherhood was biological in nature. The role that observable physical transformations may play in the reification of categories is discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

You can bank on it

Bailouts and Financial Fragility

Todd Keister
Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Should policy makers be prevented from bailing out investors in the event of a crisis? I study this question in a model of financial intermediation with limited commitment. When a crisis occurs, the policy maker will respond with fiscal transfers that partially cover intermediaries' losses. The anticipation of this bailout distorts ex ante incentives, leading intermediaries to become excessively illiquid and increasing financial fragility. Prohibiting bailouts is not necessarily desirable, however: while it induces intermediaries to become more liquid, it may nevertheless lower welfare and leave the economy more susceptible to a crisis. A policy of taxing short-term liabilities, in contrast, can both improve the allocation of resources and promote financial stability.

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Deposit Shocks and Credit Supply: Evidence from U.S. Lottery Winners

Carlos Parra
University of Texas Working Paper, August 2015

Abstract:
This paper estimates the impact of exogenous deposit shocks on credit supply. The empirical strategy exploits a novel quasi-natural experiment: U.S. lottery jackpot winners of Powerball and Mega Millions. I find that the banks that receive the jackpot winner shock experience a large increase in deposits and total lending. The estimate of the elasticity of total small business lending with respect to deposits is 0.934. I control for local credit demand by identifying banks that receive the winners' shocks and by studying their loan origination at the different locations where they operate. Consistent with frictions that originate from adverse selection, the set of small and medium-sized banks and those with the most illiquid balance sheets significantly increase loan origination after the winners' shocks. Finally, the results show that a bank's charter choice matters for credit supply, which suggests that the regulatory mix in the U.S. can have real effects.

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Systematically important banks and increased capital requirements in the Dodd-Frank era

Chandler Lutz
Economics Letters, January 2016, Pages 75-77

Abstract:
This paper analyzes the effects of new capital requirements for systematically important financial institutions proposed by the Federal Reserve on September 8, 2014. Results from an event study indicate this announcement led to lower abnormal initial stock returns for systemically important financial firms that then reverse and dissipate after three days. Further, findings suggest that the announcement of the proposed rule change had no impact on key interest series. Overall, the results are consistent with an initial overreaction and subsequent market correction to the announcement of the proposed regulation by equity market investors.

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Inflation Targeting Does Not Anchor Inflation Expectations: Evidence from Firms in New Zealand

Saten Kumar et al.
NBER Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
We study the (lack of) anchoring of inflation expectations in New Zealand using a new survey of firms. Managers of these firms display little anchoring of inflation expectations, despite twenty-five years of inflation targeting by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, a fact which we document along a number of dimensions. Managers are unaware of the identities of central bankers as well as central banks' objectives, and are generally poorly informed about recent inflation dynamics. Their forecasts of future inflation reflect high levels of uncertainty and are extremely dispersed as well as volatile at both short and long-run horizons. Similar results can be found in the U.S. using currently available surveys as shown in Binder (2015).

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Borrowing High versus Borrowing Higher: Price Dispersion and Shopping Behavior in the U.S. Credit Card Market

Victor Stango & Jonathan Zinman
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
We document substantial cross-individual dispersion in U.S. credit card borrowing costs, even after controlling for borrower risk and card characteristics. That remaining dispersion arises because cross-lender pricing heterogeneity generates dispersion in annual percentage rate (APR) offers to borrowers, and borrowers vary in shopping intensity. Our empirics match administrative data to self-reported card shopping intensity and use instruments suggested by fair lending law to account for the endogeneity between APRs and search. The results show that shoppers versus nonshoppers pay APRs as different as those paid by borrowers in the best versus worst credit score deciles. We discuss implications for policy and practice.

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Subprime Governance: Agency Costs in Vertically Integrated Banks and the 2008 Mortgage Crisis

Claudine Gartenberg & Lamar Pierce
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study uses the 2008 mortgage crisis to demonstrate how the relationship between vertical integration and performance crucially depends on corporate governance. Prior research has argued that the vertical integration of mortgage origination and securitization aligned divisional incentives and improved lending quality. We show that vertical integration improved loan performance only in those firms with strong corporate governance and that this performance-integration relationship strongly decreases and actually reverses as governance quality decreases. We interpret these findings as suggesting that the additional control afforded by vertical integration can, in the hands of poorly monitored managers, offset gains from aligned divisional incentives. These findings support the view that corporate governance influences the strategic outcomes of a firm, in our case, by influencing the effectiveness of boundary decisions.

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What Fuels the Boom Drives the Bust: Regulation and the Mortgage Crisis

Jihad Dagher & Ning Fu
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
The weakly regulated independent mortgage companies (IMCs) had a vastly disproportional contribution to the expansion in risky credit during the mortgage boom and to the ensuing foreclosure crisis. We exploit a quasi-experimental setting, created by the inconsistency of state lender regulations between banks and IMCs and their heterogeneity across states, to isolate the impact of regulation on lending standards using county-pairs straddling state borders. We find that weaker state regulation of IMCs is associated with a sharper expansion of IMCs, particularly in risky high-yield loans, which were also of worse quality in the weakly regulated states, based on subsequent delinquency.

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How Do Speed and Security Influence Consumers' Payment Behavior?

Scott Schuh & Joanna Stavins
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Federal Reserve named improvements in the speed and security of the payment system as two of its policy initiatives for 2012-2016. Using new data from the 2013 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice (SCPC) and models from earlier research, we estimate how various aspects of speed and security influence consumers' decisions to adopt and use payment instruments. Some aspects of speed and security have a statistically significant influence on the adoption and use of selected payment instruments, but not as much as other characteristics of payment instruments. Using econometric models to simulate selected policies proposed by the Fed, we show that faster speed of payment deduction for Automatic Clearing House (ACH) transactions would slightly increase consumers' adoption of ACH-based payment methods, while enhanced security of payment cards would marginally increase the use of credit and debit cards. However, neither improvement is likely to increase consumer welfare much because consumer demand for payments is very inelastic with respect to speed and security. Our analysis focuses exclusively on consumers' behavior and does not include potential benefits of improvements to the payment system that would directly benefit businesses or financial institutions. In addition, preventing security breaches may preserve public confidence in the payment system, benefitting consumers even if they do not change their payment behavior.

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Uncertainty and Business Cycles: Exogenous Impulse or Endogenous Response?

Sydney Ludvigson, Sai Ma & Serena Ng
NBER Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
Uncertainty about the future rises in recessions. But is uncertainty a source of business cycle fluctuations or an endogenous response to them, and does the type of uncertainty matter? Answer: sharply higher uncertainty about real economic activity in recessions is fully an endogenous response to other shocks that cause business cycle fluctuations, while uncertainty about financial markets is a likely source of the fluctuations. Financial market uncertainty has quantitatively large negative consequences for several measures of real activity including employment, production, and orders. Such are the main conclusions drawn from estimation of three-variable structural vector autoregressions. To establish causal effects, we use information contained in external instruments that we construct in a novel way to be valid under credible interpretations of the structural shocks.

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Assessing Financial Education: Evidence From Boot Camp

William Skimmyhorn
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study estimates the effects of Personal Financial Management Course attendance and enrollment assistance using a natural experiment in the US Army. New enlistees' course attendance reduces the probability of having credit account balances, average balances, delinquencies, and adverse legal actions in the first year after the course, but it has no effects on accounts in the second year or credit scores in either year. The course and its enrollment assistance substantially increase retirement savings rates and average monthly contributions, with effects that persist through at least two years. The course has no significant effects on military labor market outcomes.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Trim

Will a Fat Tax Work?

Romana Khan, Kanishka Misra & Vishal Singh

Marketing Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Of the many proposals to reverse the obesity epidemic, the most contentious is the use of price-based interventions such as the fat tax. Previous investigations of the efficacy of such initiatives in altering consumption behavior yielded contradictory findings. In this article, we use six years of point-of-sale scanner data for milk from a sample of over 1,700 supermarkets across the United States to investigate the potential of small price incentives for inducing substitution of healthier alternatives. We exploit a pricing pattern particular to milk in the United States, whereby prices in some geographical regions are flat across whole, 2%, 1%, and skim milk; whereas in other regions they are decreasing with the fat content level. The prevailing price structure is determined at a chain and regional level, and is independent of local demand conditions. This exogenous variation in price structure provides a quasi-experimental set-up to analyze the impact of small price differences on substitution across fat content. We use detailed demographics to evaluate price sensitivity and substitution patterns for different socioeconomic groups. Results show that small price differences are highly effective in inducing substitution to lower calorie options. The impact is highest for low-income households who are also most at risk for obesity. Our results suggest that a selective taxation mechanism that lowers the relative prices of healthier options, such that those price changes are reflected in shelf prices at the point-of-purchase, can serve as an effective health policy tool in the efforts to control obesity.

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The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Body Weight

Joseph Sabia, Jeffrey Swigert & Timothy

Young Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study is the first to examine the effects of medical marijuana laws (MMLs) on body weight, physical wellness, and exercise. Using data from the 1990 to 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and a difference-in-difference approach, we find that the enforcement of MMLs is associated with a 2% to 6% decline in the probability of obesity. We find some evidence of age-specific heterogeneity in mechanisms. For older individuals, MML-induced increases in physical mobility may be a relatively important channel, while for younger individuals, a reduction in consumption of alcohol, a substitute for marijuana, appears more important. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that MMLs may be more likely to induce marijuana use for health-related reasons among older individuals, and cause substitution toward lower-calorie recreational ‘highs’ among younger individuals. Our estimates suggest that MMLs induce a $58 to $115 per-person annual reduction in obesity-related medical costs.

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Obesity and Bariatric Surgery Drive Epigenetic Variation of Spermatozoa in Humans

Ida Donkin et al.
Cell Metabolism, forthcoming

Abstract:
Obesity is a heritable disorder, with children of obese fathers at higher risk of developing obesity. Environmental factors epigenetically influence somatic tissues, but the contribution of these factors to the establishment of epigenetic patterns in human gametes is unknown. Here, we hypothesized that weight loss remodels the epigenetic signature of spermatozoa in human obesity. Comprehensive profiling of the epigenome of sperm from lean and obese men showed similar histone positioning, but small non-coding RNA expression and DNA methylation patterns were markedly different. In a separate cohort of morbidly obese men, surgery-induced weight loss was associated with a dramatic remodeling of sperm DNA methylation, notably at genetic locations implicated in the central control of appetite. Our data provide evidence that the epigenome of human spermatozoa dynamically changes under environmental pressure and offers insight into how obesity may propagate metabolic dysfunction to the next generation.

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Becoming Overweight without Gaining a Pound: Weight Evaluations and the Social Integration of Mexicans in the United States

Claire Altman, Jennifer Van Hook & Jonathan Gonzalez

International Migration Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Mexican women gain weight with increasing duration in the United States. In the United States, body dissatisfaction tends to be associated with depression, disordered eating, and incongruent weight evaluations, particularly among white women and women of higher socioeconomic status. However, it remains unclear how being overweight and obesity are interpreted by Mexican women. Using comparable data of women aged 20–64 from both Mexico (the 2006 Encuesta Nacional de Salud y Nutricion; N = 17,012) and the United States (the 1999–2009 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys; N = 8,487), we compare weight status evaluations among Mexican nationals, Mexican immigrants, US-born Mexicans, US-born non-Hispanic whites, and US-born non-Hispanic blacks. Logistic regression analyses, which control for demographic and socioeconomic variables and measured body mass index and adjust for the likelihood of migration for Mexican nationals, indicate that the tendency to self-evaluate as overweight among Mexicans converges with levels among non-Hispanic whites and diverges from blacks over time in the United States. Overall, the results suggest a US integration process in which Mexican-American women's less critical self-evaluations originate in Mexico but fade with time in the United States as they gradually adopt US white norms for thinner body sizes. These results are discussed in light of prior research about social comparison and negative health assimilation.

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Unpacking the psychological weight of weight stigma: A rejection-expectation pathway

Alison Blodorn et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, March 2016, Pages 69–76

Abstract:
The present research tested the hypothesis that the negative effects of weight stigma among higher body-weight individuals are mediated by expectations of social rejection. Women and men who varied in objective body-weight (body mass index; BMI) gave a speech describing why they would make a good date. Half believed that a potential dating partner would see a videotape of their speech (weight seen) and half believed that a potential dating partner would listen to an audiotape of their speech (weight unseen). Among women, but not men, higher body-weight predicted increased expectations of social rejection, decreased executive control resources, decreased self-esteem, increased self-conscious emotions and behavioral displays of self-consciousness when weight was seen but not when weight was unseen. As predicted, higher body-weight women reported increased expectations of social rejection when weight was seen (versus unseen), which in turn predicted decreased self-esteem, increased self-conscious emotions, and increased stress. In contrast, lower body-weight women reported decreased expectations of social rejection when weight was seen (versus unseen), which in turn predicted increased self-esteem, decreased self-conscious emotions, and decreased stress. Men's responses were largely unaffected by body-weight or visibility, suggesting that a dating context may not be identity threatening for higher body-weight men. Overall, the present research illuminates a rejection-expectation pathway by which weight stigma undermines higher body-weight women's health.

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Economic Constraints on Taste Formation and the True Cost of Healthy Eating

Caitlin Daniel
Social Science & Medicine, January 2016, Pages 34–41

Abstract:
This paper shows how an interaction between economic constraints and children’s taste preferences shapes low-income families’ food decisions. According to studies of eating behavior, children often refuse unfamiliar foods 8 to 15 times before accepting them. Using 80 interviews and 41 grocery-shopping observations with 73 primary caregivers in the Boston area in 2013-2015, I find that many low-income respondents minimize the risk of food waste by purchasing what their children like — often calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods. High-income study participants, who have greater resources to withstand the cost of uneaten food, are more likely to repeatedly introduce foods that their children initially refuse. Several conditions moderate the relationship between children’s taste aversion and respondents’ risk aversion, including household-level food preferences, respondents’ conceptions of adult authority, and children’s experiences outside of the home. Low-income participants’ risk aversion may affect children’s taste acquisition and eating habits, with implications for socioeconomic disparities in diet quality. This paper proposes that the cost of providing children a healthy diet may include the possible cost of foods that children waste as they acquire new tastes.

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Economic Preferences and Obesity among a Low-Income African American Community

Angela de Oliveira et al.
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the US, with a significantly higher fraction of African Americans who are obese than whites. Yet there is little understanding of why some individuals become obese while others do not. We conduct a lab-in-field experiment in a low-income African American community to investigate whether risk and time preferences play a role in the tendency to become obese. We examine the relationship between incentivized measures of risk and time preferences and weight status (BMI), and find that individuals who are more tolerant of risk are more likely to have a higher BMI. This result is driven by the most risk tolerant individuals. Patience is not independently statistically related to BMI in this sample, but those who are more risk averse and patient are less likely to be obese.

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Culture, Health, and Bigotry: How Exposure to Cultural Accounts of Fatness Shape Attitudes about Health Risk, Health Policies, and Weight-Based Prejudice

David Frederick, Abigail Saguy & Kjerstin Gruys

Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Rationale: We conducted three experiments to examine how cultural frames shape attitudes about health, focusing on obesity, which is considered a public health crisis and is imbued with symbolic meaning.

Methods: College students (Ns = 99, 114, and 293) read news articles that presented high body weight according to one or more of the following frames: 1) public health crisis; 2) personal responsibility; 3) health at every size (HAES); or 4) fat rights.

Results: Compared to people who read the HAES and Fat Rights articles, those who read the Public Health Crisis and Personal Responsibility articles expressed more belief in the health risks of being fat (ds = 1.28 to 1.79), belief that fat people should pay more for insurance (ds = 0.53 to 0.71), anti-fat prejudice (ds = 0.61 to 0.69), willingness to discriminate against fat people (ds = 0.41 to 0.59), and less willingness to celebrate body-size diversity (ds = 0.77 to .1.07). They were less willing to say women at the lower end of the obese range could be healthy. Exposure to these articles increased support for price-raising policies to curb obesity but not support for redistributive or compensatory policies. In Experiment 3, in comparison to a control condition, exposure to HAES or Fat Rights frames significantly reduced beliefs in the risks of obesity and support for charging fat people more for insurance. However, only people exposed to the Fat Rights frame expressed fewer anti-fat attitudes and more willingness to celebrate body-size diversity.

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Does Self-Prepared Food Taste Better? Effects of Food Preparation on Liking

Simone Dohle, Sina Rall & Michael Siegrist

Health Psychology, forthcoming

Objective: The aim was to examine whether self-preparation of food increases the liking of healthy and unhealthy foods.

Method: The study used a 2 (preparation: self-prepared vs. other-prepared) × 2 (healthiness: healthy vs. unhealthy) between-subjects design. Female participants (N = 120) tasted food that was either self-prepared or other-prepared, and that either contained markedly healthy or unhealthy ingredients. Interindividual differences in dietary restraint were also assessed. Liking and perceived healthiness of the food served as the main dependent variables.

Results: A significant interaction effect of food preparation and healthiness of the food on liking was revealed: Self-preparation increased the liking of the healthy but not of the unhealthy food. This effect was particularly strong for individuals with high levels of dietary restraint. Moreover, the combined effect of food preparation and healthiness of the food on liking was mediated by perceived healthiness of the food.

Conclusion: The results bolster public health programs trying to encourage people to eat less prepared ready-to-eat foods and more self-prepared food. Because time available for home food preparation is often limited, programmatic efforts to encourage food preparation could be extended to schools and workplaces.

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Half-Size Me? How Calorie and Price Information Influence Ordering on Restaurant Menus with Both Half and Full Entrée Portion Sizes

Kelly Haws & Peggy Liu
Appetite, February 2016, Pages 127–137

Abstract:
Many restaurants are increasingly required to display calorie information on their menus. We present a study examining how consumers’ food choices are affected by the presence of calorie information on restaurant menus. However, unlike prior research on this topic, we focus on the effect of calorie information on food choices made from a menu that contains both full size portions and half size portions of entrées. This different focus is important because many restaurants increasingly provide more than one portion size option per entrée. Additionally, we examine whether the impact of calorie information differs depending on whether full portions are cheaper per unit than half portions (non-linear pricing) or whether they have a similar per unit price (linear pricing). We find that when linear pricing is used, calorie information leads people to order fewer calories. This decrease occurs as people switch from unhealthy full sized portions to healthy full sized portions, not to unhealthy half sized portions. In contrast, when non-linear pricing is used, calorie information has no impact on calories selected. Considering the impact of calorie information on consumers’ choices from menus with more than one entrée portion size option is increasingly important given restaurant and legislative trends, and the present research demonstrates that calorie information and pricing scheme may interact to affect choices from such menus.

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Impact of Health Labels on Flavor Perception and Emotional Profiling: A Consumer Study on Cheese

Joachim Schouteten et al.
Nutrients, December 2015, Pages 10251-10268

Abstract:
The global increase of cardiovascular diseases is linked to the shift towards unbalanced diets with increasing salt and fat intake. This has led to a growing consumers’ interest in more balanced food products, which explains the growing number of health-related claims on food products (e.g., “low in salt” or “light”). Based on a within-subjects design, consumers (n = 129) evaluated the same cheese product with different labels. Participants rated liking, saltiness and fat flavor intensity before and after consuming four labeled cheeses. Even though the cheese products were identical, inclusion of health labels influenced consumer perceptions. Cheese with a “light” label had a lower overall expected and perceived liking compared to regular cheese. Although cheese with a “salt reduced” label had a lower expected liking compared to regular cheese, no lower liking was found when consumers actually consumed the labeled cheese. All labels also influenced the perceived intensities of the attributes related to these labels, e.g., for example salt intensity for reduced salt label. While emotional profiles of the labeled cheeses differed before tasting, little differences were found when actual tasting these cheeses. In conclusion, this study shows that health-related labels might influence the perceived flavor and emotional profiles of cheese products.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, January 4, 2016

Shell games

Are offshore firms worth more?

Art Durnev, TieMei Li & Michel Magnan
Journal of Corporate Finance, February 2016, Pages 131–156

Abstract:
We examine how firms’ reliance on Offshore Financial Centers (OFCs), either by registering or setting up subsidiaries in OFCs, affects their financial performance. Using multilevel mixed (fixed and random) effects regressions, we provide evidence that is consistent with the agency costs of tax avoidance. Information asymmetry and lax legal environments in OFCs offset tax benefits, especially for firms directly registered in OFCs. Firms directly registered in OFCs are valued 14% lower than onshore firms, while firms with subsidiaries in OFCs enjoy an 11% higher valuation than onshore firms. However, it appears that investors do not fully appreciate the extent of the agency costs due to increased information asymmetry of firms that set up subsidiaries in OFCs. We argue that the assessment of firm value must encompass the registration status of its subsidiaries rather than the parent company’s origin.

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Discipline or Disruption? Stakeholder Relationships and the Effect of Takeover Threat

Ling Cen, Sudipto Dasgupta & Rik Sen
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although a sizable literature suggests that firms benefit from vulnerability to takeovers because it reduces agency problems, the threat of takeovers can also impose ex ante costs on firms by adversely affecting relationships with important stakeholders, such as major customers. We find that when firms have corporate customers as important stakeholders, an exogenous reduction in the threat of takeovers increases their ability to attract new customers and strengthens their relationships with existing customers, resulting in improvement in operating performance. The positive effect on operating performance is greater for suppliers that are likely to offer unique and durable products to their customers. Our results suggest a beneficial aspect of protection from takeovers when stakeholder relationships are important.

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The Shareholder Value of Empowered Boards

Martijn Cremers & Simone Sepe
Stanford Law Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the last decade, the balance of power between shareholders and boards has shifted dramatically. Changes in both the marketplace and the legal landscape governing it have turned the call for empowered shareholders into a new reality. Correspondingly, the authority that boards of directors have historically held in U.S. corporate law has been eroded. Empirical studies associating staggered boards with lower firm value have been interpreted to favor this shift of authority, supporting the view that protecting boards from shareholder pressure is detrimental to shareholder interests. This Article presents new empirical evidence on staggered boards that not only exposes the limitations of prior empirical studies, but also, and more importantly, suggests the opposite conclusion. Employing a unique and comprehensive dataset covering thirty-four years of board staggering and destaggering decisions — from 1978 to 2011 — we show that staggered boards are associated with a statistically and economically significant increase in firm value. In light of these novel empirical results, we then show theoretically that a corporate model with staggered boards emerges as a rational institutional response to market imperfections that are more complex and more significant than shareholder advocates have realized. Boards that retain their historical authority — empowered boards — benefit, rather than hurt, shareholders. This Article concludes with a normative proposal to revitalize the authority of U.S. boards.

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Do aircraft perquisites cause CEOs to withhold bad news?

Chia-Wei Huang & Chih-Yen Lin
North American Journal of Economics and Finance, January 2016, Pages 189–202

Abstract:
This paper explores the relation between management forecasts and expensive perquisites. We investigate Yermack's (2006) conjecture that managers withhold bad news in order to receive expensive perquisites. We provide direct evidence supporting Yermack's (2006) conjecture. The frequency and magnitude of bad news release is greater than that of good news after the chief executive officer (CEO) first discloses aircraft perks. In addition, managers with greater numbers of disclosed perks are more inclined to withhold bad news. Additional subsample analyses provide further support for managerial bad news withholding behavior.

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Do External Labor Market Incentives Motivate CEOs to Adopt More Aggressive Corporate Tax Reporting Preferences?

Thomas Kubick & Brandon Lockhart
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Building on recent theory, we find strong and robust evidence that external labor market incentives motivate CEOs to adopt more aggressive tax policies in order to improve firm performance and their own labor market value. In addition, we find that the tax aggressiveness-labor market incentives relation varies in the cross-section consistently with theory. We find that the relation is attenuated in industries for which the CEO has more outside employment options, and we find it to be amplified in industries for which competition for CEO talent is likely greatest, and also among CEOs estimated to have greater ability. Overall, our results suggest that the market for CEOs – an incentive device external to the firm – has a meaningful impact on corporate tax policy.

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Are Corporate Inversions Good for Shareholders?

Anton Babkin, Brent Glover & Oliver Levine

University of Wisconsin Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
In 2014 alone, U.S. firms worth over half a trillion dollars announced their intention to expatriate to a foreign country -- a corporate inversion -- in order to reduce corporate income taxes. To discourage expatriation, U.S. law requires shareholders of inverting firms to realize a personal capital gains tax liability at the completion of the transaction. Thus, while reduced corporate taxes benefit all shareholders equally, a corporate inversion results in a personal tax cost that depends on the individual investor's tax basis and standing. We develop a model to value the net benefits of inversion and we show that the private returns to investors varies widely across individuals. We find that the benefits of inversion disproportionately accrue to the CEO, foreign shareholders, and short-term investors, while many long-term investors suffer a net loss.

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Antitakeover Statutes and Internal Corporate Governance

Choonsik Lee & Kee Chung
Corporate Governance, forthcoming

Research Question/Issue: This paper examines the relation between internal corporate governance and the market for corporate control by analyzing how firms' internal governance mechanisms are related to states' antitakeover statutes (ATS). Specifically, we test two competing hypotheses concerning the effect of ATS on internal governance: the substitution hypothesis and the complementarity hypothesis.

Research Findings/Insights: We provide evidence that is consistent with the complementarity hypothesis that exposure to a possible takeover increases rather than decreases the need for better internal governance mechanisms. Specifically, firms that are exposed to takeover threats (i.e., firms in states without ATS or firms that opt out of states' ATS) have stronger internal governance mechanisms (i.e., adopt a greater number of governance standards) than do firms that are not exposed to takeover threats (i.e., firms in states with ATS). In a similar vein, firms adopt more internal governance standards when states abolish existing ATS.

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Do Nonexecutive Employees Have Valuable Information? Evidence from Employee Stock Purchase Plans

Ilona Babenko & Rik Sen
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using novel data on employee stock purchase plans (ESPPs), we show that aggregate purchases of company stock by lower-level employees predict future stock returns. Firms in the top quartile of ESPP purchases outperform those in the bottom quartile by 10% in the year after purchase. The relation between ESPP purchases and future stock returns is stronger for firms with high information asymmetry. Furthermore, we find that high ESPP purchases are associated with a lower likelihood of breaks in strings of consecutive earnings increases, as well as higher future sales growth and more innovation. These findings support the hypothesis that lower-level employees have information about future firm performance. We examine and reject a number of alternative explanations. Our results have implications for firms using employees as a source of capital, accounting issues related to expensing of equity-based compensation, and disclosure policy.

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The Throne vs. the Kingdom: Founder Control and Value Creation in Startups

Noam Wasserman
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does the degree to which founders keep control of their startups affect company value? I argue that founders face a “control dilemma” in which a startup's resource dependence drives a wedge between the startup's value and the founder's ability to retain control of decision making. I develop hypotheses about this tradeoff and test the hypotheses on a unique dataset of 6,130 American startups. I find that startups in which the founder is still in control of the board of directors and/or the CEO position are significantly less valuable than those in which the founder has given up control. On average, each additional level of founder control (i.e., controlling the board and/or the CEO position) reduces the pre-money valuation of the startup by 17.1%-22.0%.

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Managers set the tone: Equity incentives and the tone of earnings press releases

Özgür Arslan-Ayaydin & Kris Boudt & James Thewissen

Journal of Banking & Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Earnings press releases, as a timely vehicle for communicating a firm’s performance to third parties, can be used by managers to influence the perception of the firm’s achievements. Taking the stock price reaction to the tone of earnings press releases at earnings announcements into account, we argue that equity-based incentives induce managers to inflate the tone. We further posit that the impact of tone on the abnormal stock returns at the earnings announcements depends on the magnitude of the equity-based incentives. Based on over 26,000 earnings press releases of S&P1500 firms between 2004Q4 and 2012Q4, we find that the tone of earnings press releases tends to be more positive when the managerial portfolio value is more closely tied to the firm’s stock price. We also find that investors react proportionally less to the tone as managers’ equity incentives increase.

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The global corporate elite after the financial crisis: Evidence from the transnational network of interlocking directorates

Eelke Heemskerk, Meindert Fennema & William Carroll

Global Networks, January 2016, Pages 68–88

Abstract:
What impact did the recent financial crisis have on the corporate elite's international network? Has corporate governance taken on an essentially national structure or have transnational networks remained robust? We investigate this issue by comparing the networks of interlocking directorates among the 176 largest corporations in the world economy in 1976, 1996, 2006 and 2013. We find that corporate elites have not retrenched into their national business communities: the transnational network increased in relative importance and remained largely intact during the crisis lasting from 2006 to 2013. However, this network does not depend – as it used to do – on a small number of big linkers but on a growing number of single linkers. The network has become less hierarchical. As a group, the corporate elite has become more transnational in character. We see this as indicative of a recomposition of the corporate elite from a national to a transnational orientation.

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Silverback CEOs: Age, Experience, and Firm Value

Brandon Cline & Adam Yore
Journal of Empirical Finance, January 2016, Pages 169–188

Abstract:
Approximately half of S&P 1500 firms have adopted policies mandating retirement based on age. This study investigates the merits of CEO mandatory retirement policies (MRPs) using a sample of 12,610 firm-year observations from 2,143 unique firms. It also addresses the question of whether CEO age is relevant to the success of an organization. We fail to find consistent evidence that MRPs are intended to limit CEO entrenchment. MRPs are, however, positively associated with CEO age and negatively associated with firm-specific human capital. Further analysis reveals that CEO age is significantly negatively related to firm value, operating performance, and corporate deal-making activity. Splitting our sample according to whether an MRP is in place, we observe that the negative impact of age exists only for those firms which do not have MRPs. We therefore conclude that MRPs represent an effective form of firm governance designed to mitigate the underperformance of older CEOs.

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The impact of say-on-pay on executive compensation

Steven Balsam et al.
Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the impact of say-on-pay on 2010 executive compensation, finding that affected firms reduced compensation and made it more performance-based in advance of the initial 2011 vote, with the decrease being greater for firms that previously overpaid their CEOs. We also find that the percentage of votes cast against executive pay is lower when the firm reduced executive compensation in advance of that initial say-on-pay vote, but higher when the firm pays higher total compensation, has a large increase in compensation, has a larger amount of compensation that cannot be explained by economic factors, or has a higher amount of “other compensation,” a category which includes perquisites. Last, but not least, we find that the tone and prominence of the Compensation Discussion and Analysis (CD&A) are associated with the vote, as is the recommendation of Institutional Shareholders Services.

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Local Economic Consequences of Stock Market Listings

Alexander Butler, Larry Fauver & Ioannis Spyridopoulos

Rice University Working Paper, November 2015

Abstract:
When a firm goes public there is, on average, a positive spillover effect on the local economy where the firm’s headquarters is. This effect is an incremental 2% growth in local per capita income over the next year and is twice as large for high-proceeds IPOs. We mitigate concerns about unobserved heterogeneity with MSA fixed effects and a matching procedure. We provide evidence that our result is not due to reverse causality, and show that it is the listing decision, rather than raising capital, that induces the growth. The channel for the growth effect appears to be through employment.

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Director Liability Protection, Earnings Management, and Audit Pricing

Sarfraz Khan & John Wald
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, December 2015, Pages 781–814

Abstract:
We examine how a firm's director liability protection is related to earnings management and audit pricing. Firms whose directors are protected from litigation either by state laws or through clauses in the firm's charter have significantly more accruals management. This relation is significant after the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act but not before. We also find evidence of a positive association between director protection and auditor fees. The results are robust to a number of alternative specifications, including one that instruments for director liability protection.

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Cheap talk? Strategy presentations as a form of chief executive officer impression management

Richard Whittington, Basak Yakis-Douglas & Kwangwon Ahn

Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We develop and test a set of hypotheses on investors’ reactions to a specific form of impression management, public presentations of overall strategy by Chief Executive Officers (CEOs). Contrary to expectations from a ‘cheap talk’ perspective, we suggest that such strategy presentations convey valuable information to investors, especially in conditions of heightened information asymmetry associated with varying types of new CEOs. Broad empirical support for our theoretical arguments is shown in a sample of strategy presentations carried out by NYSE and NASDAQ listed organizations over 10 years. Our research contributes to literature on new CEOs and impression management. We draw out implications both for management and for further research.

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Examining the Role of the Media in Influencing Corporate Tax Avoidance and Disclosure

Shannon Chen, Kathleen Powers & Bridget Stomberg

University of Texas Working Paper, September 2015

Abstract:
We examine the determinants of negative media coverage of corporate taxes as well as whether and how firms respond to media scrutiny. Prior literature demonstrates that the business press can act as an information intermediary and/or an entertainment provider. We test which of these roles the media primarily serve in their coverage of corporate income taxes by developing a selection model to identify which firm characteristics increase the probability of negative coverage. Our analysis reveals that negative media coverage is increasing in firms’ tax aggressiveness and in the extent of firms’ foreign operations, which suggests the media serve at least some role as information intermediaries. We find no evidence that firms reduce their level of tax avoidance following negative media attention but do find they report smaller reserves for uncertain tax positions. We also test for changes in disclosure quality and document an increase in passive voice and ambiguous language in income tax footnote disclosures. Thus, it appears firms’ primary response to negative media coverage is a decrease in disclosure readability rather than a change in economic activity. Our findings suggest that the media do not influence firms’ tax avoidance activity, which should be of interest to boards and shareholders.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Brains

Biological Sensitivity to Family Income: Differential Effects on Early Executive Functioning

Jelena Obradović, Ximena Portilla & Parissa Ballard

Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
The study examined how the interplay between children's cortisol response and family income is related to executive function (EF) skills. The sample included one hundred and two 5- to 6-year-olds (64% minority). EF skills were measured using laboratory tasks and observer ratings. Physiological reactivity was assessed via cortisol response during a laboratory visit. A consistent, positive association between family income and EF skills emerged only for children who showed high cortisol response, a marker of biological sensitivity to context. In contrast, family income was not related to EF skills in children who displayed low cortisol response. Follow-up analyses revealed a disordinal interaction, suggesting that differential susceptibility can be detected at the level of basic cognitive and self-regulatory skills that support adaptive functioning.

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Relaxed genetic control of cortical organization in human brains compared with chimpanzees

Aida Gómez-Robles et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1 December 2015, Pages 14799–14804

Abstract:
The study of hominin brain evolution has focused largely on the neocortical expansion and reorganization undergone by humans as inferred from the endocranial fossil record. Comparisons of modern human brains with those of chimpanzees provide an additional line of evidence to define key neural traits that have emerged in human evolution and that underlie our unique behavioral specializations. In an attempt to identify fundamental developmental differences, we have estimated the genetic bases of brain size and cortical organization in chimpanzees and humans by studying phenotypic similarities between individuals with known kinship relationships. We show that, although heritability for brain size and cortical organization is high in chimpanzees, cerebral cortical anatomy is substantially less genetically heritable than brain size in humans, indicating greater plasticity and increased environmental influence on neurodevelopment in our species. This relaxed genetic control on cortical organization is especially marked in association areas and likely is related to underlying microstructural changes in neural circuitry. A major result of increased plasticity is that the development of neural circuits that underlie behavior is shaped by the environmental, social, and cultural context more intensively in humans than in other primate species, thus providing an anatomical basis for behavioral and cognitive evolution.

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Effects of short-term music and second-language training on executive control

Monika Janus et al.
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, April 2016, Pages 84–97

Abstract:
Separate lines of research have identified enhanced performance on nonverbal executive control (EC) tasks for bilinguals and those with music training, but little is known about the relation between them in terms of the specificity of the effects of each experience or the degree of exposure necessary to induce these changes. Using an intervention design, the current study pseudorandomly assigned 57 4- to 6-year-old children (matched on age, maternal education, and cognitive scores) to a 20-day training program offering instruction in either music or conversational French. The test battery consisted of verbal and nonverbal tasks requiring EC. All children improved on these tasks following training with some training-specific differences. No changes were observed on background or working memory measures after either training, ruling out simple practice effects. Children in both groups had better scores on the most challenging condition of a grammaticality sentence judgment task in which it was necessary to ignore conflict introduced through misleading semantic content. Children in both training groups also showed better accuracy on the easier condition of a nonverbal visual search task at post-test, but children in the French training group also showed significant improvement on the more challenging condition of this task. These results are discussed in terms of emergent EC benefits of language and music training.

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It's getting bigger all the time: Estimating the Flynn effect from secular brain mass increases in Britain and Germany

Michael Woodley of Menie et al.
Learning and Individual Differences, January 2016, Pages 95–100

Abstract:
Secular increases in brain mass over nearly a century have been noted for both males and females in the UK and Germany. It has been argued that such trends may be associated with the Flynn effect. The IQ gain predicted on the basis of these trends is 0.19 and 0.08 points per decade for UK, and 0.2 and 0.15 points per decade for German males and females respectively, indicating a small contribution to the Fullscale IQ trends in these countries (2.95% of the German decadal gain and 12.73% of the UK gain). There is also a sex difference in the rates of brain mass gain in both countries, favoring males. Temporal correlations between the secular trend in UK brain mass and European Flynn effects on Fullscale IQ, Crystallized, Fluid and Spatial abilities reveal correlations ranging from 0.751 in the case of Fluid ability to 0.761 in the case of Crystallized ability. The brain mass increase may be an imperfect proxy for changes in specific neuroanatomical structures important for IQ gains. Its small contribution to these gains is also consistent with the influence of other contributing factors. Increasing brain mass is predicted by the life history model of the Flynn effect as it suggests increased somatic effort allocation into bioenergetically expensive cortical real estate facilitating the development of specialized cognitive abilities.

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Individual Differences and Specificity of Prefrontal Gamma Frequency-tACS on Fluid Intelligence Capabilities

E. Santarnecchi et al.
Cortex, February 2016, Pages 33–43

Abstract:
Emerging evidence suggests that transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) is an effective, frequency-specific modulator of endogenous brain oscillations, with the potential to alter cognitive performance. Here, we show that reduction in response latencies to solve complex logic problem indexing fluid intelligence is obtained through 40Hz-tACS (γ-band) applied to the prefrontal cortex. This improvement in human performance depends on individual ability, with slower performers at baseline receiving greater benefits. The effect could have not being explained by regression to the mean, and showed task and frequency specificity: it was not observed for trials not involving logical reasoning, as well as with the application of low frequency 5Hz-tACS (theta band) or non-periodic high frequency random noise stimulation (101-640Hz). Moreover, performance in a spatial working memory task was not affected by brain stimulation, excluding possible effects on fluid intelligence enhancement through an increase in memory performance. We suggest that such high-level cognitive functions are dissociable by frequency-specific neuromodulatory effects, possibly related to entrainment of specific brain rhythms. We conclude that individual differences in cognitive abilities, due to acquired or developmental origins, could be reduced during frequency-specific tACS, a finding that should be taken into account for future individual cognitive rehabilitation studies.

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The effect of γ-tACS on working memory performance in healthy controls

Kate Hoy et al.
Brain and Cognition, December 2015, Pages 51–56

Abstract:
Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) has been widely investigated for its potential to enhance cognition, and in particular working memory, however to date standard approaches to stimulation have shown only modest effects. Alternative, more specialised, forms of current delivery may be better suited to cognitive enhancement. One such method is transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) which delivers stimulation at a specific frequency and has been shown to entrain endogenous cortical oscillations which underlie cognitive functioning. To date there has been no comparison of the effects of tACS to those of tDCS on cognitive enhancement. In a randomised repeated-measures study design we assessed the effect of gamma (γ)-tACS, tDCS and sham tDCS on working memory in 18 healthy participants who attended three sessions held at least 72 h apart. Pre- and post-stimulation working memory performance was assessed using the 2 and 3-back. Our findings indicated the presence of a selective improvement in performance on the 3-back task following γ-tACS compared with tDCS and sham stimulation. The current findings provide support for further and more detailed investigation of the role of γ-tACS as a more specialised approach to neuromodulation.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Push yourself

Cream Puffs: Why Do Elite College Football Programs Schedule Games Against Vastly Inferior Opponents?

Daniel Simundza
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article provides a novel answer to the question of why elite college football programs schedule so-called “cream puff” games against vastly inferior out-of-conference opponents. Using data on college football games from 2002 to 2010, I find that a team’s chances of winning are 5.3–15.6% greater in the game following their victory over a cream puff. In my preferred estimation, this “cream puff effect” is roughly half as large as the estimated home field advantage. I also show that the U.S. Today/Sagarin rating system, which I use to control for team abilities, penalizes teams for playing vastly inferior opponents. I devise two empirical strategies that deal with this potential problem and show that the cream puff effect is not simply an artifact of the rating system. These results contribute to the literature on dynamic contests by showing that not only does the timing of one’s efforts within a contest matter but so does the schedule of one’s opponents.

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The freedom to excel: Belief in free will predicts better academic performance

Gilad Feldman, Subramanya Prasad Chandrashekar & Kin Fai Ellick Wong

Personality and Individual Differences, February 2016, Pages 377–383

Abstract:
Increasing evidence supports the importance of beliefs in predicting positive outcomes in life. We examined the performance implications of the belief in free will as an abstract, philosophical belief that views the self as free from internal and external constraints and capable of choosing and directing one's own path. In Study 1 (N = 116, undergraduates), belief in free will was associated with higher performance on an academic proofreading task. In Study 2 (N = 614, undergraduates), we examined performance in real academic settings, and the belief in free will measured at the beginning of the semester predicted better course and semester grades at the end of the semester. Importantly, we found support for the distinctive contribution of the belief in free will in comparison to well-established predictors of academic performance — trait self-control and implicit theories. We conclude that individual differences in the endorsement of the belief in free will are a significant and unique predictor of academic achievement.

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Pictorial and mental arid landscape images reduce the motivation to change negative habits

Idit Shalev
Journal of Environmental Psychology, March 2016, Pages 30–39

Abstract:
Recent research has demonstrated that physical or environmental cues may signal the availability of resources for goal pursuit. However, the effects that pictorial and mental arid environments may have on one’s estimated levels of resources for habit change are not known. Three studies examined the idea that an arid landscape is associated with reduced subjective vitality and, consequently, low motivation for change. Consistent with our prediction, the first two studies indicated that viewing pictorial images or visualizing mental images of a desert (versus a landscape with water or a control) reduced participant confidence in their ability to change negative habits. The relations between the type of environment and the motivation for change were mediated by subjective vitality. The third study supported these findings, suggesting pictorial images of arid landscapes were perceived as more depleting and stressful than images of landscapes with water but less stressful and more attractive than urban environment images.

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Improving Cycling Performance: Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Increases Time to Exhaustion in Cycling

Marcelo Vitor-Costa et al.
PLoS ONE, December 2015

Abstract:
The central nervous system seems to have an important role in fatigue and exercise tolerance. Novel noninvasive techniques of neuromodulation can provide insights on the relationship between brain function and exercise performance. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on physical performance and physiological and perceptual variables with regard to fatigue and exercise tolerance. Eleven physically active subjects participated in an incremental test on a cycle simulator to define peak power output. During 3 visits, the subjects experienced 3 stimulation conditions (anodal, cathodal, or sham tDCS—with an interval of at least 48 h between conditions) in a randomized, counterbalanced order to measure the effects of tDCS on time to exhaustion at 80% of peak power. Stimulation was administered before each test over 13 min at a current intensity of 2.0 mA. In each session, the Brunel Mood State questionnaire was given twice: after stimulation and after the time-to-exhaustion test. Further, during the tests, the electromyographic activity of the vastus lateralis and rectus femoris muscles, perceived exertion, and heart rate were recorded. RM-ANOVA showed that the subjects performed better during anodal primary motor cortex stimulation (491 ± 100 s) compared with cathodal stimulation (443 ± 11 s) and sham (407 ± 69 s). No significant difference was observed between the cathodal and sham conditions. The effect sizes confirmed the greater effect of anodal M1 tDCS (anodal x cathodal = 0.47; anodal x sham = 0.77; and cathodal x sham = 0.29). Magnitude-based inference suggested the anodal condition to be positive versus the cathodal and sham conditions. There were no differences among the three stimulation conditions in RPE (p = 0.07) or heart rate (p = 0.73). However, as hypothesized, RM- ANOVA revealed a main effect of time for the two variables (RPE and HR: p < 0.001). EMG activity also did not differ during the test accross the different conditions. We conclude that anodal tDCS increases exercise tolerance in a cycling-based, constant-load exercise test, performed at 80% of peak power. Performance was enhanced in the absence of changes in physiological and perceptual variables.

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Thinking Concretely or Abstractly: The Influence of Fit between Goal Progress and Goal Construal on Subsequent Self-Regulation

Jooyoung Park & William Hedgcock
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines the relationship between goal progress and construal level and its influence on subsequent goal pursuit. Using action identification theory, we hypothesized that greater perceived goal progress leads to higher-level construals and that the fit between goal progress and goal construal is more likely to enhance self-regulation than nonfit. Our findings indicate that, compared with lesser perceived goal progress, greater perceived goal progress induces higher-level construals (studies 1a - 2a). Moreover, as people perceive greater goal progress, abstract goal construal (i.e., “why”) is more likely to promote goal-consistent behavior than concrete goal construal (i.e., “how”; studies 2a - 2b). We also observed that this fit between goal progress and goal construal influences actual self-regulatory behavior (study 3).

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, January 1, 2016

Parallel universes

Differences in Sensitivity to Deviance Partly Explain Ideological Divides in Social Policy Support

Tyler Okimoto & Dena Gromet
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We propose that political differences in social policy support may be partly driven by the tendency for conservatives to show greater sensitivity to deviance than liberals, even among targets lacking social or functional relevance. In 3 studies, participants were shown geometric figures and were asked to identify the extent to which they were “triangles” (or circles, squares, etc.). More conservative participants reported greater differentiation between perfect and imperfect shapes than more liberal participants, indicating greater sensitivity to deviance. Moreover, shape differentiation partly accounted for the relationship between political ideology and social policy, partially mediating the link between conservatism and harsher punishment of wrongdoers (Studies 1 and 4), less support for public aid for disadvantaged groups (Study 2), and less financial backing for policies that benefit marginalized groups in society (Study 3). This effect was specific to policies that targeted deviant groups (Study 3) and who were not too highly deviant (Study 4). Results suggest that, in addition to commonly cited affective and motivational reactions to deviant actors, political differences in social policy may also be driven by conservatives’ greater cognitive propensity to distinguish deviance.

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The Hostile Audience: The Effect of Access to Broadband Internet on Partisan Affect

Yphtach Lelkes, Gaurav Sood & Shanto Iyengar
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Over the last two decades, as the number of media choices available to consumers has exploded, so too have worries over self-selection into media audiences. Some fear greater apathy, others heightened polarization. In this article, we shed light on the latter possibility. We identify the impact of access to broadband Internet on affective polarization by exploiting differences in broadband availability brought about by variation in state right-of-way regulations (ROW). We merge state-level regulation data with county-level broadband penetration data and a large-N sample of survey data from 2004 to 2008 and find that access to broadband Internet increases partisan hostility. The effect occurs in both years and is stable across levels of political interest. We also find that access to broadband Internet boosts partisans' consumption of partisan media, a likely cause of increased polarization.

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The View from Up Here: Higher-Status Individuals' Beliefs about Their Own Objectivity Exacerbate Political Division

Kristjen Lundberg, Keith Payne & Aaron Kay
University of North Carolina Working Paper, January 2016

Abstract:
Unsurprisingly, opposing views on income inequality have been accompanied by a lack of compromise on how to address the rising gap between rich and poor. Naïve realism, the belief that one sees the world objectively and that contrary views are biased or uninformed, may be one cause of this gridlock. We specifically hypothesize that subjective socioeconomic status (SSES) is associated with an asymmetry in naïve realism. Across three studies, using both measured and manipulated SSES, we show that higher (versus lower) SSES individuals were more likely to perceive the redistributive policy preferences of those who disagreed with them as biased. Importantly, we also demonstrate that higher SSES individuals showed a greater tendency to exclude contrary views in a democratic voting process. Together, these data suggest that higher SSES individuals are more likely to believe that they see the world objectively and to discount the (ostensibly biased) views of others.

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Institution of Nomination and the Policy Ideology of Primary Electorates

Seth Hill
Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Fall 2015, Pages 461-487

Abstract:
Many hypothesize that the divergence between Democratic and Republican members of Congress is partly attributable to partisan primary elections. Yet most empirical evidence on the influence of primary elections finds small to no effect on member behavior. I argue that existing designs that compare members elected out of nomination systems with more open rules of access to members elected out of more closed systems rest on the crucial and untested assumption that more closed institutions lead to more polarized primary electorates. With survey opinions, turnout validated to voter files, and an IRT model of ideology, I characterize the preferences of Democratic and Republican primary electorates and general electorates in each House district in 2010 and 2012. To the extent that there is a relationship between primary ideology and closed primary institution, it is in the direction opposite that hypothesized. I then show that the primary electorate diverges from the general electorate in every House district and even from supporters of the party in the general election in almost every district, which is consistent with a centrifugal influence of primary voters. These results suggest that institution of nomination may not have a large influence on the type of voters who turn out, and that some other feature of nominating contests must be implicated in polarized primary voters.

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Do People Naturally Cluster into Liberals and Conservatives?

Jason Weeden & Robert Kurzban
Evolutionary Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many researchers have attempted to link evolutionary notions to political psychology by proposing a natural tendency for people to cluster into liberals and conservatives across various social and economic opinion domains. We review evidence showing that, in contrast, for the large majority of Americans, racial and economic opinions are only trivially correlated with opinions regarding matters of lifestyle and religious fundamentalism. The key exception is a group that does, in fact, show reasonably robust ideological alignment across diverse domains: whites with high levels of human capital (measured by education and test performance). Further, since the early 1980s, while the US public as a whole has increasingly tended to choose liberal/conservative labels and political parties in line with their issue opinions, substantial increases in cross-issue correlations have occurred only among whites with high levels of human capital. Nonetheless, mass public opinion is not unstructured — it maintains an underlying coherence grounded in domain-specific demographic connections relating to different opinion areas.

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The effect of race, partisanship, and income on perceptions of the economy before and after the election of Barack Obama

Richard Seltzer & Jonathan Wesley Hutto
Social Science Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Scholars and practitioners have debated and analyzed the effect of President Obama's election and presidency on the society. This article looks at the impact of the presidency of Barack Obama had on people's perceptions of the economy. We examined this phenomenon using three survey questions about the economy and respondents’ own financial situation. These questions, within 53 separate surveys, were asked before the start of the Great Recession in 2008 and through the end of President Obama's first term in 2012. We compare Whites and Blacks, while examining within each race the effects of party identification, income, and whether the respondent came from a high unemployment state. During the last term of President George W. Bush, Whites were more likely than Blacks to have a positive assessment of the economy and their own economic condition compared to the previous year. Our results reveal that, while a reversal took place in the 2008 election with Blacks having a more favorable assessment of the economy than Whites, a stronger difference occurred between White Republicans and White Democrats. First, our analysis demonstrates that partisanship is the most salient variable impacting the economic assessments of persons across the political, social, and economic spectrums despite the actual fiscal environment within the country. Second, our research confirms an Obama effect further validating Michael Dawson's utility heuristic that Blacks prioritize perceived group interest over individual interest. Lastly, we found that this Obama effect extends to low-income Whites, suggesting that class is also an important determinant of citizen perceptions of the economy.

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Bully Partisan or Partisan Bully?: Partisanship, Elite Polarization, and U.S. Presidential Communication

Brian Harrison
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objective: The objective of the study was to investigate the impact of perceptions of elite polarization on presidential communication. Polarization among political elites has been a well-studied aspect of political science scholarship. Party competition is seen as healthy for democracy; however, polarization often leads to gridlock and legislative inaction. There is ongoing debate about how elite polarization affects individual attitude formation, particularly in relation to important political institutions like the American presidency.

Methods: I conducted randomized laboratory experiments in which respondents read information about the state of partisanship in American politics, viewed videos of President Obama, and then answered questions about issues and presidential approval.

Results: The results show that when participants were primed to think about elite polarization as high, presidential communication yields job-approval ratings, issue-importance ratings, and issue stances closer to the party line, compared to participants primed to think elite polarization is low or when there was no prime at all.

Conclusion: The findings suggest that when primed to think about strong partisan disagreements, partisan identity overwhelms respondents, and makes them focus most on their partisan identity, regardless of content; without such a prime, respondents are more likely to consider the content of presidential communication. Perceptions of partisan acrimony can affect how partisans perceive important institutions like the presidency in terms of job approval and issue stance.

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You Cannot be Serious: The Impact of Accuracy Incentives on Partisan Bias in Reports of Economic Perceptions

Markus Prior, Gaurav Sood & Kabir Khanna
Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Fall 2015, Pages 489-518

Abstract:
When surveyed about economic conditions, supporters of the president's party often report more positive conditions than its opponents. Scholars have interpreted this finding to mean that partisans cannot even agree on matters of fact. We test an alternative interpretation: Partisans give partisan congenial answers even when they have, or could have inferred, information less flattering to the party they identify with. To test this hypothesis, we administered two surveys to nationally representative samples, experimentally manipulating respondents' motivation to be accurate via monetary incentives and on-screen appeals. Both treatments reduced partisan differences in reports of economic conditions significantly. Many partisans interpret factual questions about economic conditions as opinion questions, unless motivated to see them otherwise. Typical survey conditions thus reveal a mix of what partisans know about the economy, and what they would like to be true.

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Unfair Partisan Gerrymanders in Politics and Law: A Diagnostic Applied to Six Cases

Michael McDonald & Robin Best
Election Law Journal, December 2015, Pages 312-330

Abstract:
We propose standards for detecting partisan gerrymandering as a finding of fact and for determining whether the factual finding is legally significant. The standard is grounded in the U.S. constitutional principle of equal voting rights and is easily manageable inasmuch as its prime analytical feature requires comparing a party's district median vote percentage to its district mean vote percentage. Equally important, the median-mean comparison serves as an effective indicator of whether gerrymandering is the cause of the inequitable treatment. We apply the standard to six alleged cases of gerrymandering of congressional districts and find three cases are not gerrymanders, three are gerrymanders, and one of the three gerrymanders crosses the threshold to legal significance.

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Does US partisan conflict matter for the Euro area?

Chak Hung Jack Cheng, William Hankins & Ching-Wai (Jeremy) Chiu
Economics Letters, January 2016, Pages 64–67

Abstract:
This paper highlights the international transmission of political uncertainty originated from a US partisan conflict shock, a newly identified shock that transmits a type of uncertainty beyond the economic policy uncertainty spillovers identified by Colombo (2013). Using the recently developed US Partisan Conflict Index (USPC) developed by Azzimonti (2014), we find that a one standard deviation USPC shock leads to a 0.2 percent decline in European industrial production. We also show that, compared with US policy uncertainty shocks, a shock to US partisan conflict creates deeper and more persistent spill-over effects to the Euro area.

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Cognitive Dissonance or Credibility? A Comparison of Two Theoretical Explanations for Selective Exposure to Partisan News

Miriam Metzger, Ethan Hartsell & Andrew Flanagin
Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Selective exposure research indicates that news consumers tend to seek out attitude-consistent information and avoid attitude-challenging information. This study examines online news credibility and cognitive dissonance as theoretical explanations for partisan selective exposure behavior. After viewing an attitudinally consistent, challenging, or politically balanced online news source, cognitive dissonance, credibility perceptions, and likelihood of selective exposure were measured. Results showed that people judge attitude-consistent and neutral news sources as more credible than attitude-challenging news sources, and although people experience slightly more cognitive dissonance when exposed to attitude-challenging news sources, overall dissonance levels were quite low. These results refute the cognitive dissonance explanation for selective exposure and suggest a new explanation that is based on credibility perceptions rather than psychological discomfort with attitude-challenging information.

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Can intelligence explain the overrepresentation of liberals and leftists in American academia?

Noah Carl
Intelligence, November–December 2015, Pages 181–193

Abstract:
It is well known that individuals with so-called liberal or leftist views are overrepresented in American academia. By bringing together data on American academics, the general population and a high-IQ population, the present study investigates how much of this overrepresentation can be explained by intelligence. It finds that intelligence can account for most of the disparity between academics and the general population on the issues of abortion, homosexuality and traditional gender roles. By contrast, it finds that intelligence cannot account for any of the disparity between academics and the general population on the issue of income inequality. But for methodological reasons, this finding is tentative. Furthermore, the paper finds that intelligence may account for less than half of the disparity on liberal versus conservative ideology, and much less than half the disparity on Democrat versus Republican identity. Following the analysis, eight alternative explanations for liberal and leftist overrepresentation are reviewed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Moderation

Peer Influence, Genetic Propensity, and Binge Drinking: A Natural Experiment and a Replication

Guang Guo et al.
American Journal of Sociology, November 2015, Pages 914-954

Abstract:
The authors draw data from the College Roommate Study (ROOM) and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to investigate gene-environment interaction effects on youth binge drinking. In ROOM, the environmental influence was measured by the precollege drinking behavior of randomly assigned roommates. Random assignment safeguards against friend selection and removes the threat of gene-environment correlation that makes gene-environment interaction effects difficult to interpret. On average, being randomly assigned a drinking peer as opposed to a nondrinking peer increased college binge drinking by 0.5–1.0 episodes per month, or 20%–40% the average amount of binge drinking. However, this peer influence was found only among youths with a medium level of genetic propensity for alcohol use; those with either a low or high genetic propensity were not influenced by peer drinking. A replication of the findings is provided in data drawn from Add Health. The study shows that gene-environment interaction analysis can uncover social-contextual effects likely to be missed by traditional sociological approaches.

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The Association of Low Parental Monitoring With Early Substance Use in European American and African American Adolescent Girls

Erica Blustein et al.
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, November 2015, Pages 852–861

Objective: Research indicates that low parental monitoring increases the risk for early substance use. Because low parental monitoring tends to co-occur with other familial and neighborhood factors, the specificity of the association is challenging to establish. Using logistic regression and propensity score analyses, we examined associations between low parental monitoring and early substance use in European American (EA) and African American (AA) girls, controlling for risk factors associated with low parental monitoring.

Method: Participants were 3,133 EA and 523 AA girls from the Missouri Adolescent Female Twin Study with data on parental monitoring assessed via self-report questionnaire, and with ages at first use of alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis queried in at least one of three diagnostic interviews (median ages = 15, 22, and 24 years).

Results: The rate of early alcohol use was greater in EA than AA girls, whereas the proportion of AA girls reporting low parental monitoring was higher than in EA girls. EA girls who experienced low parental monitoring were at elevated risk for early alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis use, findings supported in both logistic regression and propensity score analyses. Evidence regarding associations between low parental monitoring and risk for early substance use was less definitive for AA girls.

Conclusions: Findings highlight the role of parental monitoring in modifying risk for early substance use in EA girls. However, we know little regarding the unique effects, if any, of low parental monitoring on the timing of first substance use in AA girls.

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A Discrete-Time Analysis of the Effects of More Prolonged Exposure to Neighborhood Poverty on the Risk of Smoking Initiation by Age 25

Nicole Kravitz-Wirtz
Social Science & Medicine, January 2016, Pages 79–92

Abstract:
Evidence suggests that individuals who initiate smoking at younger ages are at increased risk for future tobacco dependence and continued use as well as for numerous smoking-attributable health problems. Identifying individual, household, and to a far lesser extent, contextual factors that predict early cigarette use has garnered considerable attention over the last several decades. However, the majority of scholarship in this area has been cross-sectional or conducted over relatively short windows of observation. Few studies have investigated the effects of more prolonged exposure to smoking-related risk factors, particularly neighborhood characteristics, from childhood through early adulthood. Using the 1970-2011 waves of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics merged with census data on respondents’ neighborhoods, this study estimates a series of race-specific discrete-time marginal structural logit models for the risk of smoking initiation as a function of neighborhood poverty, as well as individual and household characteristics, from ages four through 25. Neighborhood selection bias is addressed using inverse-probability-of-treatment weights. Results indicate that more prolonged exposure to high (>20%) as opposed to low (<10%) poverty neighborhoods is associated with an increased risk of smoking onset by age 25, although consistent with prior literature, this effect is only evident among white and not nonwhite youth and young adults.

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Menthol Cigarette Advertising and Cigarette Demand

Donald Kenkel, Alan Mathios & Hua Wang
NBER Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
The FDA is considering using its regulatory authority over the tobacco industry to promote public health by restricting the advertising of menthol cigarettes. In this paper we contribute new empirical evidence on the effects of magazine advertisements for menthol cigarettes on cigarette demand. Unlike previous research on cigarette advertising and demand, we use individual-level data and a measure of advertising exposure based on each consumer’s magazine-reading habits. These data allow us to control for individual heterogeneity that influences both advertising exposure and cigarette demand. We exploit quasi-experimental variation in advertising exposure in the 2000s created by sharply different supply-side variation in menthol and non-menthol advertising. We examine the importance of controlling for heterogeneity by estimating simple models relating advertising exposure to behavior and then adding specifications that take advantage of the richness of our individual-level data. We examine advertising effects on multiple margins of cigarette demand. Our empirical results do not provide any evidence that menthol advertising in magazines affects cigarette demand at various margins: the probability of menthol use; smoking participation; the number of cigarettes smoked per day; the probability of a past-year quit attempt; and anti-smoking attitudes among teens.

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On the Effects of Enforcement on Illegal Markets: Evidence from a Quasi-experiment in Colombia

Daniel Mejía, Pascual Restrepo & Sandra Rozo
World Bank Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper studies the effects of enforcement on illegal behavior in the context of a large aerial spraying program designed to curb coca cultivation in Colombia. In 2006, the Colombian government pledged not to spray a 10 km band around the frontier with Ecuador due to diplomatic frictions arising from the possibly negative collateral effects of this policy on the Ecuadorian side of the border. We exploit this variation to estimate the effect of spraying on coca cultivation by regression discontinuity around the 10 km threshold and by conditional differences in differences. Our results suggest that spraying one additional hectare reduces coca cultivation by 0.022 to 0.03 hectares; these effects are too small to make aerial spraying a cost-effective policy for reducing cocaine production in Colombia.

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The Great Recession and Employee Alcohol Use: A U.S. Population Study

Michael Frone
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
This is the first study to examine broadly the overall net change in U.S. population estimates of alcohol use related to a recession — The Great Recession — among individuals who remain employed. The alcohol variables included drinker status, usual frequency and quantity of alcohol use, frequency of heavy drinking and intoxication, as well as contextual assessments of the frequency and quantity of alcohol use during the workday and after work. The moderating influence of gender, race, and age also was explored. Data for this repeated cross-sectional study were obtained from 2 national telephone surveys of U.S. workers. The first survey occurred prior to the Great Recession (2002–2003; N = 2,501), whereas the second survey occurred during and after the official end of the Great Recession (2008–2011; N = 2,581). The results revealed that the recession was related to a higher proportion of drinkers among middle-aged employees, but not among young employees. Gender and race did not moderate the relation of the recession to drinker status. Among drinkers, the recession was not related to usual alcohol use (frequency and quantity), but was positively related to the frequency of heavy drinking and intoxication. Further, the recession had a differential relation to the contextual alcohol measures. It was negatively related to the frequency and quantity of workday alcohol use, but was positively related to the frequency and quantity of afterwork alcohol use. Among drinkers, gender, race, and age did not moderate the relation of the recession to alcohol use.

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Sociocultural Influences on Gambling and Alcohol Use Among Native Americans in the United States

David Patterson-Silver Wolf (Adelv unegv Waya) et al.
Journal of Gambling Studies, December 2015, Pages 1387-1404

Abstract:
Gambling opportunities on and near Native American lands have increased in recent decades; yet there is a lack of research examining the patterns of problem gambling and alcohol abuse among Native Americans in the US. Traditional Native American cultural identity may be a protective factor for problem gambling and alcohol abuse among Native Americans. Telephone interviews were conducted with 415 Native American adults aged 18 years and older across the US. The past-year prevalence of gambling among Native Americans is similar to the rate for non-Native Americans in the US (80 vs. 77 %). However, Native Americans have over twice the rate of problem gambling as the US sample (18 vs. 8 %). Although Native Americans have a lower rate of past-year alcohol use than the US population (47 vs. 68 %), they have a somewhat higher rate of alcohol abuse than their US counterparts (5.5 vs. 4.3 %). Logistic regression analysis, with problem gambling as the dependent variable, revealed that lower socioeconomic status is significantly associated with an increased odds of problem gambling for Native Americans. Counter to the hypothesis, the higher the score on the Native American orientation, the higher the odds of being a problem gambler. Further, living by the “White way of life” was associated with a decreased odds of being a problem gambler; and perceived gambling convenience was associated with an increased odds of being a problem gambler. None of the Native American factors was significant in predicting alcohol abuse. These findings highlight the need for further investigation into the influence of cultural factors on Native American gambling.

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Do Drinking Episodes Contribute to Sexual Aggression Perpetration in College Men?

Maria Testa et al.
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, July 2015, Pages 507–515

Objective: Survey and experimental analog studies suggest that alcohol consumption contributes to perpetration of sexual aggression. However, few studies have considered the temporal association between naturally occurring episodes of drinking and subsequent sexual aggression. This daily report study was designed to examine whether alcohol consumption increases the odds of aggressive sexual activity within the next 4 hours.

Method: First-year male college students (N = 427) completed daily online reports of drinking and sexual activity for up to 56 days. Multilevel modeling was used to determine whether drinking episodes increased the odds of the following outcomes occurring within 4 hours: (a) aggressive sex with a new partner, (b) non-aggressive sex with a new partner, (c) aggressive sex with a previous partner, and (d) non-aggressive sex with a previous partner.

Results: Drinking episodes increased the odds of both aggressive and non-aggressive sex with a new partner. In contrast, drinking episodes did not predict aggression involving previous partners and decreased the odds of non-aggressive sex with a previous partner. Contrary to hypotheses, individual difference variables associated with propensity toward sexual aggression (sexual misperception, antisocial behavior, hostility toward women) did not interact with daily alcohol.

Conclusions: The complex pattern of results is more consistent with situational as opposed to pharmacological effects of alcohol on sexual aggression and suggests that prevention efforts focus on drinking contexts known to facilitate sexual activity.

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Impulsivity and Polysubstance Use: A Systematic Comparison of Delay Discounting in Mono-, Dual-, and Trisubstance Use

Lara Moody et al.
Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Understanding the association between polysubstance use and impulsivity is pertinent to treatment planning and efficacy. Delay discounting, a measure of impulsivity, supplies the rate at which a reinforcer loses value as the temporal delay to its receipt increases. Excessive delay discounting has been widely observed among drug-using individuals, though the impact of using more than 1 substance has been only minimally studied. Here, after controlling for demographic variables, we systematically compared delay discounting in community controls, heavy smokers, and alcohol- and cocaine-dependent individuals to assess the impact of non-, mono-, dual-, and trisubstance use. All substance-using groups discounted significantly more than did community controls (p < .05). Additionally, groups that smoked cigarettes in addition to another substance dependency discounted significantly more than did the group that smoked cigarettes only (p < .05). Last, trisubstance users who were alcohol-dependent, cocaine-dependent, and heavy cigarette smokers discounted significantly more than did heavy smokers (p < .01). However, trisubstance users did not discount significantly more than did any dual-substance group. Trisubstance use was associated with greater impulsivity than was monosubstance smoking but exhibited no greater impulsivity than did dual-substance use, suggesting a ceiling effect on discounting when more than 2 substances are in use. The present study suggests that smokers who engage in additional substance use may experience worse treatment outcomes, given that excessive discounting is predictive of poor therapeutic outcomes in several studies.

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Fear of fatness and drive for thinness in predicting smoking status in college women

Amy Copeland et al.
Addictive Behaviors, March 2016, Pages 1–6

Abstract:
Recent research has identified fear of fatness (FF) as a related yet distinct construct from drive for thinness (DT). Whereas DT may be associated with need for approval and an “approach” tendency, FF may be more strongly related to avoidance of disapproval and an avoidant problem-solving style. Although no research has directly compared the influence of FF vs. DT with regard to smoking behavior, FF and DT might represent distinct motivations for smoking. We predicted that both FF and DT would be significantly associated with cigarette smoking, but that FF would be a stronger predictor of smoking behavior, even after controlling for variables such as body mass index (BMI) and nicotine dependence. Participants (N = 289) were female college undergraduate students. Daily smokers had the highest scores on measures of DT and FF, followed sequentially by infrequent smokers, “triers,” and never smokers. More frequent smokers also reported greater levels of body dissatisfaction and eating pathology than less frequent and never-smokers. Hierarchical regression analyses showed that greater DT predicted higher likelihood of smoking on a daily basis; however, higher FF predicted fewer cigarettes smoked per day. FF and DT may each play a role in the relationship between eating pathology and smoking, but they might be differentially related to specific smoking patterns. Both FF and DT and their coinciding coping styles should be further researched in the role of smoking initiation and maintenance.

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Maryland Alcohol Sales Tax and Sexually Transmitted Infections: A Natural Experiment

Stephanie Staras, Melvin Livingston & Alexander Wagenaar
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, forthcoming

Introduction: Sexually transmitted infections are common causes of morbidity and mortality, including infertility and certain types of cancer. Alcohol tax increases may decrease sexually transmitted infection rates overall and differentially across population subgroups by decreasing alcohol consumption in general and prior to sex, thus decreasing sexual risk taking and sexually transmitted infection acquisition. This study investigated the effects of a Maryland increase in alcohol beverage sales tax on statewide gonorrhea and chlamydia rates overall and within age, gender, and race/ethnicity subpopulations.

Methods: This study used an interrupted time series design, including multiple cross-state comparisons, to examine the effects of the 2011 alcohol tax increase in Maryland on chlamydia and gonorrhea cases reported to the U.S. National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System for January 2003 to December 2012 (N=120 repeated monthly observations, analyzed in 2015). Effects were assessed with Box−Jenkins autoregressive moving average models with structural parameters.

Results: After the alcohol-specific sales tax increase, gonorrhea rates decreased 24% (95% CI=11%, 37%), resulting in 1,600 fewer statewide gonorrhea cases annually. Cohen’s d indicated a substantial effect of the tax increase on gonorrhea rates (range across control group models, −1.25 to −1.42). The study did not find evidence of an effect on chlamydia or differential effects across age, race/ethnicity, or gender subgroups.

Conclusions: Results strengthen the evidence from prior studies of alcohol taxes influencing gonorrhea rates and extend health prevention effects from alcohol excise to sales taxes. Alcohol tax increases may be an efficient strategy for reducing sexually transmitted infections.

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Cigarette Tax Increase and Infant Mortality

Stephen Patrick et al.
Pediatrics, forthcoming

Background and objective: Maternal smoking increases the risk for preterm birth, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome, which are all causes of infant mortality. Our objective was to evaluate if changes in cigarette taxes and prices over time in the United States were associated with a decrease in infant mortality.

Methods: We compiled data for all states from 1999 to 2010. Time-series models were constructed by infant race for cigarette tax and price with infant mortality as the outcome, controlling for state per-capita income, educational attainment, time trend, and state random effects.

Results: From 1999 through 2010, the mean overall state infant mortality rate in the United States decreased from 7.3 to 6.2 per 1000 live births, with decreases of 6.0 to 5.3 for non-Hispanic white and 14.3 to 11.3 for non-Hispanic African American infants (P < .001). Mean inflation-adjusted state and federal cigarette taxes increased from $0.84 to $2.37 per pack (P < .001). In multivariable regression models, we found that every $1 increase per pack in cigarette tax was associated with a change in infant deaths of −0.19 (95% confidence interval −0.33 to −0.05) per 1000 live births overall, including changes of −0.21 (−0.33 to −0.08) for non-Hispanic white infants and −0.46 (−0.90 to −0.01) for non-Hispanic African American infants. Models for cigarette price yielded similar findings.

Conclusions: Increases in cigarette taxes and prices are associated with decreases in infant mortality rates, with stronger impact for African American infants. Federal and state policymakers may consider increases in cigarette taxes as a primary prevention strategy for infant mortality.

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The Developmental Effect of State Alcohol Prohibitions at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Mary Evans et al.
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the quasi-randomization of alcohol consumption created by state-level alcohol prohibition laws passed in the United States in the early part of the twentieth century. Using a large dataset of World War II enlistees, we exploit the differential timing of these laws to examine their effects on adult educational attainment, obesity, and height. We find statistically significant effects for education and obesity that do not appear to be the result of pre-existing trends. Our findings add to the growing body of economic studies that examine the long-run impacts of in utero and childhood environmental conditions.

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Adolescent Friend Similarity on Alcohol Abuse as a Function of Participation in Romantic Relationships: Sometimes a New Love Comes Between Old Friends

Dawn DeLay et al.
Developmental Psychology, January 2016, Pages 117-129

Abstract:
This study tests the hypothesis that adolescents with romantic partners are less similar to their friends on rates of alcohol abuse than adolescents without romantic partners. Participants (662 girls, 574 boys) ranging in age from 12 to 19 years nominated friends and romantic partners, and completed a measure of alcohol abuse. In hierarchical linear models, friends with romantic partners were less similar on rates of alcohol abuse than friends without romantic partners, especially if they were older and less accepted. Follow-up longitudinal analyses were conducted on a subsample (266 boys, 374 girls) of adolescents who reported friendships that were stable across 2 consecutive years. Associations between friend reports of alcohol abuse declined after adolescents became involved in a romantic relationship, to the point at which they became more similar to their romantic partners than to their friends.

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Hiding the tobacco power wall reduces cigarette smoking risk in adolescents: Using an experimental convenience store to assess tobacco regulatory options at retail point-of-sale

William Shadel et al.
Tobacco Control, forthcoming

Objectives: This experiment tested whether changing the location or visibility of the tobacco power wall in a life sized replica of a convenience store had any effect on adolescents’ susceptibility to future cigarette smoking.

Methods: The study was conducted in the RAND StoreLab (RSL), a life sized replica of a convenience store that was developed to experimentally evaluate how changing aspects of tobacco advertising displays in retail point-of-sale environments influences tobacco use risk and behaviour. A randomised, between-subjects experimental design with three conditions that varied the location or visibility of the tobacco power wall within the RSL was used. The conditions were: cashier (the tobacco power wall was located in its typical position behind the cash register counter); sidewall (the tobacco power wall was located on a sidewall away from the cash register); or hidden (the tobacco power wall was located behind the cashier but was hidden behind an opaque wall). The sample included 241 adolescents.

Results: Hiding the tobacco power wall significantly reduced adolescents’ susceptibility to future cigarette smoking compared to leaving it exposed (ie, the cashier condition; p=0.02). Locating the tobacco power wall on a sidewall away from the cashier had no effect on future cigarette smoking susceptibility compared to the cashier condition (p=0.80).

Conclusions: Hiding the tobacco power wall at retail point-of-sale locations is a strong regulatory option for reducing the impact of the retail environment on cigarette smoking risk in adolescents.

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Alcohol Doesn’t Always Compromise Cognitive Function: Exploring Moderate Doses in Young Adults

Lauren Hoffman & Sara Jo Nixon
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, November 2015, Pages 952–956

Objective: The purpose of this study was to clarify inconsistent findings regarding the acute cognitive effects of subintoxicating alcohol doses (i.e., <80 mg/dl) by controlling for and evaluating variables that might modulate dose-related outcomes.

Method: The current study examined the effects of sex/gender and alcohol concentration on select cognitive functions in 94 individuals (49 men) between 25 and 35 years of age. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three dose conditions: target peak breath alcohol concentration of 0 mg/dl (placebo), 40 mg/dl (low), or 65 mg/dl (moderate). After beverage consumption, they completed tasks assessing psychomotor, set-shifting, and working memory ability.

Results: Analyses revealed no significant effect of dose for any cognitive domain. A trend-level effect of dose on psychomotor performance was observed, with the low-dose group performing somewhat better than the moderate-dose and placebo groups. No sex main effects or interactions were revealed.

Conclusions: Consistent with our previous studies, these data suggest that low and moderate doses of alcohol may not compromise cognitive ability in non–problem drinkers under certain task conditions. Given the outcomes, sex differences cannot be meaningfully addressed. Future consideration of potentially influential variables and assessment of similarly well-defined cohorts might yield a clearer interpretation of alcohol’s behavioral consequences.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

In with the new

Does Science Advance One Funeral at a Time?

Pierre Azoulay, Christian Fons-Rosen & Joshua Graff Zivin
NBER Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
We study the extent to which eminent scientists shape the vitality of their fields by examining entry rates into the fields of 452 academic life scientists who pass away while at the peak of their scientific abilities. Key to our analyses is a novel way to delineate boundaries around scientific fields by appealing solely to intellectual linkages between scientists and their publications, rather than collaboration or co-citation patterns. Consistent with previous research, the flow of articles by collaborators into affected fields decreases precipitously after the death of a star scientist (relative to control fields). In contrast, we find that the flow of articles by non-collaborators increases by 8% on average. These additional contributions are disproportionately likely to be highly cited. They are also more likely to be authored by scientists who were not previously active in the deceased superstar's field. Overall, these results suggest that outsiders are reluctant to challenge leadership within a field when the star is alive and that a number of barriers may constrain entry even after she is gone. Intellectual, social, and resource barriers all impede entry, with outsiders only entering subfields that offer a less hostile landscape for the support and acceptance of "foreign" ideas.

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Bombs, Brains, and Science: The Role of Human and Physical Capital for the Creation of Scientific Knowledge

Fabian Waldinger
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
I examine the role of human and physical capital for the creation of scientific knowledge. I address the endogeneity of human and physical capital with two exogenous shocks: the dismissal of scientists in Nazi Germany and WWII bombings. A 10% shock to human capital reduced output by 0.2 sd in the short-run, and the reduction persisted in the long-run. A 10% shock to physical capital reduced output by 0.05 sd in the short-run, and the reduction did not persist. The dismissal of "star scientists" caused much larger reductions in output because they are key for attracting other successful scientists.

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The Impact of Stakeholder Orientation on Innovation: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Caroline Flammer & Aleksandra Kacperczyk
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this study, we assess the causal impact of stakeholder orientation on innovation. To obtain exogenous variation in stakeholder orientation, we exploit the enactment of state-level constituency statutes, which allow directors to consider stakeholders' interests when making business decisions. Using a difference-in-differences methodology, we find that the enactment of constituency statutes leads to a significant increase in the number of patents and citations per patent. We further argue and provide evidence suggesting that stakeholder orientation sparks innovation by encouraging experimentation and enhancing employees' innovative productivity. Finally, we find that the positive effect of stakeholder orientation on innovation is larger in consumer-focused and less eco-friendly industries.

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How Do Patents Affect Follow-On Innovation? Evidence from the Human Genome

Bhaven Sampat & Heidi Williams
NBER Working Paper, October 2015

Abstract:
We investigate whether patents on human genes have affected follow-on scientific research and product development. Using administrative data on successful and unsuccessful patent applications submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office, we link the exact gene sequences claimed in each application with data measuring follow-on scientific research and commercial investments. Using this data, we document novel evidence of selection into patenting: patented genes appear more valuable - prior to being patented - than non-patented genes. This evidence of selection motivates two quasi-experimental approaches, both of which suggest that on average gene patents have had no effect on follow-on innovation.

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Patent Office Cohorts

Michael Frakes & Melissa Wasserman
Duke Law Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Concerns regarding low quality patents and inconsistent decisions prompted Congress to enact the first major patent reform act in over sixty years and likewise spurred the Supreme Court to take a renewed interest in substantive patent law. Since little compelling empirical evidence exists as to what features affect the Agency's granting behavior, policymakers have been trying to fix the patent system without understanding the root causes of its dysfunction. This Article aims to fill at least part of this gap by examining one feature of patent examiners that may affect their grant rate throughout their tenure: the year in which they were hired by the Patent Office. An examiner may develop a general examination "style" in the critical early stages of her career that persists even in the face of changes in application quality or patent allowance culture at the agency. To the extent initial hiring environments influence a newly hired examiner's practice style, variations in such initial conditions suggests examiners of different hiring cohorts may follow distinct, enduring pathways with their examination practices. Consistent with this prediction, we find strong evidence that the year an examiner was hired has a lasting effect on her granting patterns over the tenure of her career. Moreover, we find that the variation in the particular pathways adopted by different Patent Office cohorts aligns with observed fluctuations in the initial conditions faced by such cohorts. By documenting the existence of cohort effects and by demonstrating the importance of initial environments in explaining certain long-term outcomes, this analysis holds various implications for patent policy and the administrative state more generally.

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Team-Specific Capital and Innovation

Xavier Jaravel, Neviana Petkova & Alex Bell
Harvard Working Paper, July 2015

Abstract:
We establish the importance of team-specific capital in the typical inventor's career. Using administrative tax and patent data for the population of US patent inventors from 1996 to 2012 and the premature deaths of 4,714 inventors, we find that an inventor's premature death causes a large and long-lasting decline in their co-inventor's earnings and citation-weighted patents (-4% and -15% after 8 years, respectively). We rule out firm disruption, network effects and top-down spillovers as primary drivers of this result. Consistent with the team-specific capital interpretation, the effect is larger for more closely-knit teams and primarily applies to co-invention activities.

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The effect of patent litigation and patent assertion entities on entrepreneurial activity

Stephen Kiebzak, Greg Rafert & Catherine Tucker
Research Policy, February 2016, Pages 218-231

Abstract:
This paper empirically investigates the statistical relationship between levels of patent litigation and venture capital investment in the U.S. We find that VC investment, a major funding source for entrepreneurial activity, initially increases with the number of litigated patents. However, there is a "tipping point" where further increases in the number of patents litigated are associated with decreased VC investment, which suggests an inverted U-shaped relation between patent litigation and VC investment. This appears strongest for technology patents, and negligible for products such as pharmaceuticals. Strikingly, we find evidence that litigation by frequent patent litigators, a proxy for litigation by patent assertion entities, is directly associated with decreased VC investment, with no positive effects initially.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I don't know

Belief Echoes: The Persistent Effects of Corrected Misinformation

Emily Thorson
Political Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
Across three separate experiments, I find that exposure to negative political information continues to shape attitudes even after the information has been effectively discredited. I call these effects “belief echoes.” Results suggest that belief echoes can be created through an automatic or deliberative process. Belief echoes occur even when the misinformation is corrected immediately, the “gold standard” of journalistic fact-checking. The existence of belief echoes raises ethical concerns about journalists’ and fact-checking organizations’ efforts to publicly correct false claims.

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A science confidence gap: Education, trust in scientific methods, and trust in scientific institutions in the United States, 2014

Peter Achterberg, Willem de Koster & Jeroen van der Waal
Public Understanding of Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Following up on suggestions that attitudes toward science are multi-dimensional, we analyze nationally representative survey data collected in the United States in 2014 (N = 2006), and demonstrate the existence of a science confidence gap: some people place great trust in scientific methods and principles, but simultaneously distrust scientific institutions. This science confidence gap is strongly associated with level of education: it is larger among the less educated than among the more educated. We investigate explanations for these educational differences. Whereas hypotheses deduced from reflexive-modernization theory do not pass the test, those derived from theorizing on the role of anomie are corroborated. The less educated are more anomic (they have more modernity-induced cultural discontents), which not only underlies their distrust in scientific institutions, but also fuels their trust in scientific methods and principles. This explains why this science confidence gap is most pronounced among the less educated.

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How Multiple Social Identities Are Related to Creativity

Niklas Steffens et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present research examined whether possessing multiple social identities (i.e., groups relevant to one’s sense of self) is associated with creativity. In Study 1, the more identities individuals reported having, the more names they generated for a new commercial product (i.e., greater idea fluency). In Study 2, multiple identities were associated with greater fluency and originality (mediated by cognitive flexibility, but not by persistence). Study 3 validated these findings using a highly powered sample. We again found that multiple identities increase fluency and originality, and that flexibility (but not persistence) mediated the effect on originality. Study 3 also ruled out several alternative explanations (self-affirmation, novelty seeking, and generalized persistence). Across all studies, the findings were robust to controlling for personality, and there was no evidence of a curvilinear relationship between multiple identities and creativity. These results suggest that possessing multiple social identities is associated with enhanced creativity via cognitive flexibility.

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Expense Neglect in Forecasting Personal Finances

Jonathan Berman et al.
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines how consumers forecast their future spare money or “financial slack.” While consumers generally think that both their income and expenses will rise in the future, they underweight the extent to which their expected expenses will cut into their spare money, a phenomenon we term “expense neglect.” We test and rule out several possible explanations, and conclude that expense neglect is due in part to insufficient attention towards expectations about future expenses compared to future income. “Tightwad” consumers who are chronically attuned to expenses show less severe expense neglect than “spendthrifts” who are not. We further find that expectations regarding changes in income (and not changes in expenses) predict the Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiments — a leading macro-economic indicator. Finally, we conduct a meta-analysis of our entire file-drawer (27 studies, 8,418 participants) and find that, across studies, participants place 2.9 times the weight on income change as they do on expense change when forecasting changes in their financial slack, and that expense neglect is stronger for distant than near future forecasts.

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Power and Categorization: Power Increases the Number and Abstractness of Categories

Pamela Smith, Rachel Smallman & Derek Rucker
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Across three experiments, participants formed a larger number of categories when in a state of high, compared to low, psychological power. Moreover, in contrast to prior categorization research, which suggests forming more categories is tantamount to reduced breadth of categorization, high-power participants also formed a larger number of superordinate (i.e., more abstract) categories than low-power participants. The present findings enhance the understanding of power in relation to categorization and simultaneously highlight the distinction between number and abstraction as fundamental aspects of categorization.

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The Reputational Consequences of Failed Replications and Wrongness Admission among Scientists

Adam Fetterman & Kai Sassenberg
PLoS ONE, December 2015

Abstract:
Scientists are dedicating more attention to replication efforts. While the scientific utility of replications is unquestionable, the impact of failed replication efforts and the discussions surrounding them deserve more attention. Specifically, the debates about failed replications on social media have led to worry, in some scientists, regarding reputation. In order to gain data-informed insights into these issues, we collected data from 281 published scientists. We assessed whether scientists overestimate the negative reputational effects of a failed replication in a scenario-based study. Second, we assessed the reputational consequences of admitting wrongness (versus not) as an original scientist of an effect that has failed to replicate. Our data suggests that scientists overestimate the negative reputational impact of a hypothetical failed replication effort. We also show that admitting wrongness about a non-replicated finding is less harmful to one’s reputation than not admitting. Finally, we discovered a hint of evidence that feelings about the replication movement can be affected by whether replication efforts are aimed one’s own work versus the work of another. Given these findings, we then present potential ways forward in these discussions.

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Exogenous cortisol causes a shift from deliberative to intuitive thinking

Zsofia Margittai et al.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, February 2016, Pages 131–135

Abstract:
People often rely on intuitive judgments at the expense of deliberate reasoning, but what determines the dominance of intuition over deliberation is not well understood. Here, we employed a psychopharmacological approach to unravel the role of two major endocrine stress mediators, cortisol and noradrenaline, in cognitive reasoning. Healthy participants received placebo, cortisol (hydrocortisone) and/or yohimbine, a drug that increases noradrenergic stimulation, before performing the cognitive reflection test (CRT). We found that cortisol impaired performance in the CRT by biasing responses towards intuitive, but incorrect answers. Elevated stimulation of the noradrenergic system, however, had no effect. We interpret our results in the context of the dual systems theory of judgment and decision making. We propose that cortisol causes a shift from deliberate, reflective cognition towards automatic, reflexive information processing.

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The Alternative Omen Effect: Illusory negative correlation between the outcomes of choice options

Déborah Marciano-Romm et al.
Cognition, January 2016, Pages 324–338

Abstract:
In situations of choice between uncertain options, one might get feedback on both the outcome of the chosen option and the outcome of the unchosen option (“the alternative”). Extensive research has shown that when both outcomes are eventually revealed, the alternative’s outcome influences the way people evaluate their own outcome. In a series of experiments, we examined whether the outcome of the alternative plays an additional role in the decision-making process by creating expectations regarding the outcome of the chosen option. Specifically, we hypothesized that people see a good (bad) alternative’s outcome as a bad (good) sign regarding their own outcome when the two outcomes are in fact uncorrelated, a phenomenon we call the “Alternative Omen Effect” (ALOE). Subjects had to repeatedly choose between two boxes, the outcomes of which were then sequentially revealed. In Experiments 1 and 2 the alternative’s outcome was presented first, and we assessed the individual’s prediction of their own outcome. In Experiment 3, subjects had to predict the alternative’s outcome after seeing their own. We find that even though the two outcomes were in fact uncorrelated, people tended to see a good (bad) alternative outcome as a bad (good) sign regarding their own outcome. Importantly, this illusory negative correlation affected subsequent behavior and led to irrational choices. Furthermore, the order of presentation was critical: when the outcome of the chosen option was presented first, the effect disappeared, suggesting that this illusory negative correlation is influenced by self-relevance. We discuss the possible sources of this illusory correlation as well as its implications for research on counterfactual thinking.

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When Enough Is Not Enough: Information Overload and Metacognitive Decisions to Stop Studying Information

Kou Murayama et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, forthcoming

Abstract:
People are often exposed to more information than they can actually remember. Despite this frequent form of information overload, little is known about how much information people choose to remember. Using a novel “stop” paradigm, the current research examined whether and how people choose to stop receiving new — possibly overwhelming — information with the intent to maximize memory performance. Participants were presented with a long list of items and were rewarded for the number of correctly remembered words in a following free recall test. Critically, participants in a stop condition were provided with the option to stop the presentation of the remaining words at any time during the list, whereas participants in a control condition were presented with all items. Across 5 experiments, the authors found that participants tended to stop the presentation of the items to maximize the number of recalled items, but this decision ironically led to decreased memory performance relative to the control group. This pattern was consistent even after controlling for possible confounding factors (e.g., task demands). The results indicated a general, false belief that we can remember a larger number of items if we restrict the quantity of learning materials. These findings suggest people have an incomplete understanding of how we remember excessive amounts of information.

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Failure of Intuition When Choosing Whether to Invest in a Single Goal or Split Resources Between Two Goals

Alasdair Clarke & Amelia Hunt
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In a series of related experiments, we asked people to choose whether to split their attention between two equally likely potential tasks or to prioritize one task at the expense of the other. In such a choice, when the tasks are easy, the best strategy is to prepare for both of them. As difficulty increases beyond the point at which people can perform both tasks accurately, they should switch strategy and focus on one task at the expense of the other. Across three very different tasks (target detection, throwing, and memory), none of the participants switched their strategy at the correct point. Moreover, the majority consistently failed to modify their strategy in response to changes in task difficulty. This failure may have been related to uncertainty about their own ability, because in a version of the experiment in which there was no uncertainty, participants uniformly switched at an optimal point.

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On the genetics of loss aversion: An interaction effect of BDNF Val66Met and DRD2/ANKK1 Taq1a

Gesine Voigt et al.
Behavioral Neuroscience, December 2015, Pages 801-811

Abstract:
Loss aversion is the tendency to overweight losses compared with gains in decision situations. Several studies have investigated the neurobiological background of this phenomenon and it was found that activation in the mesolimbic-mesocortical dopamine system during a gambling decision correlates with loss aversion. In a behavioral experiment with N = 143 subjects, the present study investigates the influence of 2 functional single-nucleotide polymorphisms on the BDNF gene (BDNF Val66Met polymorphism) and ANKK1 gene (DRD2 Taq1a/ANKK1 polymorphism), that are known to affect the dopamine system, on loss aversion. Additionally, associations of alexithymia, a personality construct describing the disability to consciously experience emotions in the self, with loss aversion and with the mentioned polymorphisms were assessed using the TAS-20 questionnaire, to replicate associations that have been reported before. Results revealed a significant interaction effect of the 2 polymorphisms on loss aversion. Carriers of the genetic constellation 66Met+/A1+ had the lowest loss aversion scores, compared with all other allelic groups. According to the literature this allelic configuration is characterized by a relatively low D2/3 receptor binding in the striatum and an impaired activity-dependent secretion of BDNF. This is the first study showing that loss aversion is related to naturally occurring differences in dopamine function.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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