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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

Monday, December 28, 2015

Know nothings

Economic Gains for U.S. States from Educational Reform

Eric Hanushek, Jens Ruhose & Ludger Woessmann
NBER Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
There is limited existing evidence justifying the economic case for state education policy. Using newly-developed measures of the human capital of each state that allow for internal migration and foreign immigration, we estimate growth regressions that incorporate worker skills. We find that educational achievement strongly predicts economic growth across U.S. states over the past four decades. Based on projections from our growth models, we show the enormous scope for state economic development through improving the quality of schools. While we consider the impact for each state of a range of educational reforms, an improvement that moves each state to the best-performing state would in the aggregate yield a present value of long-run economic gains of over four times current GDP.

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Student-Peer Ability Match and Declining Educational Aspirations in College

Sanja Jagešić
Research in Higher Education, November 2015, Pages 673-692

Abstract:
The match between a student's academic ability and the academic ability of the student's peers has been found to exert influence on student educational aspirations. Research on this has garnered mixed results with some finding that students whose peers have higher ability are more likely to develop a poor self-concept and lower their academic aspirations and others finding the opposite, that more able peer increase motivation and aspirations overall. While the effects of peer and student ability match on the educational aspirations of elementary and secondary students have received attention in recent years, these effects have largely been neglected in postsecondary education. In this study, I use recent postsecondary student data to see how the difference between the student's SAT score and the mean institutional SAT affects the likelihood of the student experiencing a decrease in educational aspirations post college entry. Findings indicate that students whose scores are below the mean institutional SAT and who are attending less selective institutions are more likely to experience a decrease in future educational aspirations post college entry than students whose SAT scores are above the mean. However, students attending more selective institutions are protected from this effect, likely because of greater selection in admissions at more selective postsecondary institutions.

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Child Care Services, Socioeconomic Inequalities, and Academic Performance

Julie Laurin et al.
Pediatrics, December 2015, Pages 1112-1124

Objective: To determine if child-care services (CCS) at a population level can reduce social inequalities in academic performance until early adolescence.

Methods: A 12-year population-based prospective cohort study of families with a newborn (n = 1269). Two CCS variables were estimated: "intensity" (low, moderate, and high number of hours) and "center-based CCS type" (early onset, late onset, and never exposed to center-based CCS).

Results: Children from low socioeconomic status (SES) families who received high-intensity CCS (any type), compared with those who received low-intensity CCS, had significantly better reading (standardized effect size [ES] = 0.37), writing (ES = 0.37), and mathematics (ES = 0.46) scores. Children from low-SES families who received center-based CCS, compared with those who never attended center care, had significantly better reading (ESearly onset = 0.68; ESlate onset = 0.37), writing (ESearly onset = 0.79), and mathematics (ESearly onset = 0.66; ESlate onset = 0.39) scores. Furthermore, early participation in center-based CCS eliminated the differences between children of low and adequate SES on all 3 examinations (ES = -0.01, 0.13, and -0.02 for reading, writing, and mathematics, respectively). These results were obtained while controlling for a wide range of child and family variables from birth to school entry.

Conclusions: Child care services (any type) can reduce the social inequalities in academic performance up to early adolescence, while early participation in center-based CCS can eliminate this inequality. CCS use, especially early participation in center-based CCS, should be strongly encouraged for children growing up in a low-SES family.

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The Financial and Competitive Value of NCAA Basketball Recruits

Richard Borghesi
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this article, we examine the value of high school basketball prospects, and results indicate that each five-star (four-star) recruit generates US$625,000 (US$178,000) in marginal revenue for his university. Additionally, university academic donations are strongly related to basketball performance and five-star recruits bring in an additional US$5,800,000 in funding on average as a result of their contribution to team success. Calculations indicate that if five-star players were to be fairly compensated, their earnings would be approximately US$613,000. Four-star prospects would be paid roughly US$166,000, three-star recruits US$91,000, and two- and one-star players US$50,000.

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Does College Influence Sociopolitical Attitudes?

Colin Campbell & Jonathan Horowitz
Sociology of Education, January 2016, Pages 40-58

Abstract:
Past research shows a statistically significant relationship between college completion and sociopolitical attitudes. However, recent scholarship suggests the effects of college on social outcomes may be confounded with unobserved family background. In this study, we leverage the shared family and social background of siblings to better identify the effect of college on sociopolitical attitudes. We draw data from the Study of American Families and General Social Survey and use sibling fixed effects to assess the effect of college on political orientation, support for civil liberties, and beliefs about gender egalitarianism. We find that earning a four-year college degree has a significant impact on support for civil liberties and beliefs about gender egalitarianism, but the effect of college on political orientation is confounded by family background.

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Does Postsecondary Education Result in Civic Benefits?

William Doyle & Benjamin Skinner
Vanderbilt University Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
Public support for higher education depends in part on the idea that additional postsecondary education results in civic benefits. Among these civic benefits are voting, volunteering and donating to non-profit causes. Establishing a causal link between additional postsecondary education and the probability of engaging in civic behaviors for any individual is key. We expand on the literature on the civic benefits for higher education by utilizing a rich set of location-based instruments to identify the relationship between additional postsecondary education and civic behaviors, including voting, volunteering and donating money to non-profit organizations. Using data from the National Longitudinal survey of 1997, we estimate the impact of postsecondary education on civic behaviors for a group of young people who were age 29-33 by 2013. These new estimates indicate that an additional year of higher education increased the probability of voting in the 2008 election by 12.8 percent, and by 7.5 percent in the 2010 election. We also find statistically significant impacts of postsecondary education on both voluntarism and donations to non-profits, with effect sizes of .1 for voluntarism and .18 for donations.

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Changing Environments by Changing Individuals: The Emergent Effects of Psychological Intervention

Joseph Powers et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The two studies reported here tested whether a classroom-based psychological intervention that benefited a few African American 7th graders could trigger emergent ecological effects that benefited their entire classrooms. Multilevel analyses were conducted on data that previously documented the benefits of values affirmations on African American students' grades. The density of African American students who received the intervention in each classroom (i.e., treatment density) was used as an independent predictor of grades. Within a classroom, the greater the density of African American students who participated in the intervention exercise, the higher the grades of all classmates on average, regardless of their race or whether they participated in the intervention exercise. Benefits of treatment density were most pronounced among students with a history of poor performance. Results suggest that the benefits of psychological intervention do not end with the individual. Changed individuals can improve their social environments, and such improvements can benefit others regardless of whether they participated in the intervention. These findings have implications for understanding the emergence of ecological consequences from psychological processes.

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Community Attachment and Voting for School Vouchers

Matthew Burbank & Daniel Levin
Social Science Quarterly, November 2015, Pages 1169-1177

Objective: The analysis of public support for school voucher programs has focused on economic self-interest and has paid little attention to the role of community. We propose a model of support for school vouchers that focuses on community attachment. We theorize that areas with growing residential populations will have less community attachment and be more supportive of school voucher programs while areas with long-established residents will have stronger attachments to their community institutions and be less supportive of voucher programs.

Method: We test this community attachment model using data from a 2007 Utah referendum on school vouchers combined with demographic data.

Result: The data show support for the community attachment model after controlling for the effects of partisanship and socioeconomic factors.

Conclusion: Our analysis suggests that the nature of community life is an important consideration for understanding the appeal of public school voucher programs.

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The Effects of School Construction on Student and District Outcomes: Evidence from a State-Funded Program in Ohio

Felipe Goncalves
Princeton Working Paper, November 2015

Abstract:
I study an ongoing state-subsidized program of rebuilding and renovating Ohio's K-12 public schools and investigate the effect of improved facility quality on student and school district outcomes. The completion of a project increases public school enrollment and district property values. Test scores do not measurably improve upon completion and suffer significant reductions during construction. The implied willingness to pay for a project is lower than total costs but greater than the cost borne by district residents. While the program led to a narrowing in expenditures across district wealth, I find little evidence that it reduced disparities in student outcomes.

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College Major, Internship Experience, and Employment Opportunities: Estimates from a Résumé Audit

John Nunley et al.
Labour Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use experimental data from a résumé audit to estimate the impact of particular college majors and internship experience on employment prospects. Despite applying exclusively to business-related job openings, we find no evidence that business degrees improve employment prospects. By contrast, internship experience increases the interview rate by 14 percent. The returns to internship experience are larger for (a) nonbusiness majors and (b) applicants with high academic ability. Our data support signaling as the most likely explanation regarding the effect of internships on employment opportunities.

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Elementary School Difficulties of Low-Income Latino and African American Youth: The Role of Geographic Context

George Galster, Anna Maria Santiago & Lisa Stack
Journal of Urban Affairs, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do the geographic contexts in which disadvantaged children are raised influence whether they have difficulties in elementary school? We address this question by estimating Cox proportional hazard models with instrumental variable measures of context, using data for 410 low-income Latino and African American children who lived in Denver public housing before age six. The Denver Housing Authority's procedure for allocating families to dwellings mimics random assignment, thus offering an unusual natural experiment for measuring context effects isolated from geographic selection bias. We find that several socioeconomic and demographic contextual indicators are statistically and substantively important predictors of low-income Latino and African American children's difficulties in elementary school, though sometimes in nonlinear and interactive ways. Generally, the hazard of being assigned to special education classes, suspended, or forced to repeat a grade is greater in neighborhoods with higher occupational prestige and percentages of immigrants and lower in those with higher percentages of African American residents.

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Habit formation in children: Evidence from incentives for healthy eating

George Loewenstein, Joseph Price & Kevin Volpp
Journal of Health Economics, January 2016, Pages 47-54

Abstract:
We present findings from a field experiment conducted at 40 elementary schools involving 8,000 children and 400,000 child-day observations, which tested whether providing short-run incentives can create habit formation in children. Over a three or five week period, students received an incentive for eating a serving of fruits or vegetables during lunch. Relative to an average baseline rate of 39%, providing small incentives doubled the fraction of children eating at least one serving of fruits or vegetables. Two months after the end of the intervention, the consumption rate at schools remained 21% above baseline for the three-week treatment and 44% above baseline for the five week treatment. These findings indicate that short-run incentives can produce changes in behavior that persist after incentives are removed.

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School-Based Mindfulness Instruction: An RCT

Erica Sibinga et al.
Pediatrics, forthcoming

Background and objective: Many urban youth experiencesignificant and unremitting negative stressors, including those associated with community violence, multigenerational poverty, failing educational systems, substance use, limited avenues for success, health risks, and trauma. Mindfulness instruction improves psychological functioning in a variety of adult populations; research on mindfulness for youth is promising, but has been conducted in limited populations. Informed by implementation science, we evaluated an adapted mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program to ameliorate the negative effects of stress and trauma among low-income, minority, middle school public school students.

Methods: Participants were students at two Baltimore City Public Schools who were randomly assigned by grade to receive adapted MBSR or health education (Healthy Topics [HT]) programs. Self-report survey data were collected at baseline and postprogram. Deidentified data were analyzed in the aggregate, comparing MBSR and HT classes, by using regression modeling.

Results: Three hundred fifth- to eighth-grade students (mean 12.0 years) were in MBSR and HT classes and provided survey data. Participants were 50.7% female, 99.7% African American, and 99% eligible for free lunch. The groups were comparable at baseline. Postprogram, MBSR students had significantly lower levels of somatization, depression, negative affect, negative coping, rumination, self-hostility, and posttraumatic symptom severity (all Ps < .05) than HT.

Conclusions: These findings support the hypothesis that mindfulness instruction improves psychological functioning and may ameliorate the negative effects of stress and reduce trauma-associated symptoms among vulnerable urban middle school students. Additional research is needed to explore psychological, social, and behavioral outcomes, and mechanisms of mindfulness instruction.

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How Does the Fast Track Intervention Prevent Adverse Outcomes in Young Adulthood?

Lucy Sorensen, Kenneth Dodge & Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group
Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
Numerous studies have shown that childhood interventions can foster improved outcomes in adulthood. Less well understood is precisely how - that is, through which developmental pathways - these interventions work. This study assesses mechanisms by which the Fast Track project (n = 891), a randomized intervention in the early 1990s for high-risk children in four communities (Durham, NC; Nashville, TN; rural PA; and Seattle, WA), reduced delinquency, arrests, and general and mental health service utilization in adolescence through young adulthood (ages 12-20). A decomposition of treatment effects indicates that about a third of Fast Track's impact on later crime outcomes can be accounted for by improvements in social and self-regulation skills during childhood (ages 6-11), such as prosocial behavior, emotion regulation, and problem solving. These skills proved less valuable for the prevention of general and mental health problems.

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Hard lessons: Combat deployment and veteran interest in higher education

Laura Armey & Jonathan Lipow
Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
Over 2.5 million Americans served in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In this short article, we consider the impact of these experiences on their future welfare. Specifically, we ask if those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq are more or less likely to exploit their GI Bill benefits in order to pursue higher education than service members who did not directly participate in these conflicts. We exploit a comprehensive administrative dataset that the US Armed Forces' Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) provided to us. We find across models that deployment to Afghanistan or Iraq significantly increases the likelihood that veterans will take advantage of their educational benefits, but that exposure to violent combat significantly decreases it.

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Are the 'Best and Brightest' Going into Finance? Skill Development and Career Choice of MIT Graduates

Pian Shu
Harvard Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
Using detailed data on recipients of bachelor's degrees from MIT between 2006 and 2012, I examine the selection of students into finance or science and engineering (S&E). I find that academic achievement in college is negatively correlated with a propensity to take a job in finance and positively correlated with a propensity to pursue a graduate degree or taking a job in S&E. This pattern is primarily driven by differences in skill development during college, not by differences in academic qualifications at college entry. In both high school and college, the two groups participate in different activities: students who ultimately choose finance are substantially more likely to be varsity-sports leaders in high school; they are also more likely to join fraternities and sororities, a decision typically made at college entry. Sizable differences in academic performance begin in freshman year and persist throughout college. The 2008 financial crisis, which substantially reduced the availability of entry-level positions in finance, prompted some students with relatively low college-entry qualifications to major in S&E instead of management or economics and/or to improve their academic performance. But there is no evidence that those with top qualifications changed their skill development in response to the crisis. Taken together, the results demonstrate that the preferences and skills of graduates who pursue finance are not comparable to those of graduates who choose a career in S&E.

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Credit Constraints and Demand for Higher Education: Evidence from Financial Deregulation

Stephen Teng Sun & Constantine Yannelis
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use staggered banking deregulation across states in the US to examine impact of the resulting increased credit supply on college enrollment from the 70s to early 90s. Our research design produces estimates that are not confounded by wealth effects due to changes in income or housing wealth. We find that lifting banking restrictions raises college enrollment by about 2.6 percentage points (4.9%). We rule out alternative interpretations by examining results for different income groups and bankrupt households. We also find similar effects for two-year or four-year college completion and supporting evidence in household educational borrowing.

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Working Memory Training is Associated with Long Term Attainments in Math and Reading

Stina Söderqvist & Sissela Bergman Nutley
Frontiers in Psychology, November 2015

Abstract:
Training working memory (WM) using computerized programs has been shown to improve functions directly linked to WM such as following instructions and attention. These functions influence academic performance, which leads to the question of whether WM training can transfer to improved academic performance. We followed the academic performance of two age-matched groups during 2 years. As part of the curriculum in grade 4 (age 9-10), all students in one classroom (n = 20) completed Cogmed Working Memory Training (CWMT) whereas children in the other classroom (n = 22) received education as usual. Performance on nationally standardized tests in math and reading was used as outcome measures at baseline and two years later. At baseline both classes were normal/high performing according to national standards. At grade 6, reading had improved to a significantly greater extent for the training group compared to the control group (medium effect size, Cohen's d = 0.66, p = 0.045). For math performance the same pattern was observed with a medium effect size (Cohen's d = 0.58) reaching statistical trend levels (p = 0.091). Moreover, the academic attainments were found to correlate with the degree of improvements during training (p < 0.053). This is the first study of long-term (>1 year) effects of WM training on academic performance. We found performance on both reading and math to be positively impacted after completion of CWMT. Since there were no baseline differences between the groups, the results may reflect an influence on learning capacity, with improved WM leading to a boost in students' capacity to learn. This study is also the first to investigate the effects of CWMT on academic performance in typical or high achieving students. The results suggest that WM training can help optimize the academic potential of high performers.

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Examining the Impact of a Highly Targeted State Administered Merit Aid Program on Brain Drain: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Analysis of Missouri's Bright Flight Program

James Harrington et al.
Research in Higher Education, forthcoming

Abstract:
The adoption of state-funded merit-based aid programs has become increasingly popular among policy-makers, particularly in the southeastern part of the United States. One of the primary rationales of state-funded merit-based aid is to provide scholarships to the best and brightest students as a means to retain high quality human capital in the state's labor market. Previous literature largely examines the link between state-funded merit-based aid and instate college enrollment, but it has not extensively examined the link between state-administered merit aid and subsequent instate labor market participation. In this study, we use statewide administrative datasets to estimate the effects of Missouri's Bright Flight Scholarship program, a highly targeted state administered merit aid program, on future instate employment. Using a regression discontinuity approach on the intent to treat, we find that having the opportunity to participate in the Bright Flight Scholarship program has a positive impact on the likelihood of working in the state 8 years after high school graduation. Overall, this study provides evidence that highly targeted state-funded merit-based financial aid programs may have a positive impact on reducing state brain drain.

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"Every Kid Is Money": Market-Like Competition and School Leader Strategies in New Orleans

Huriya Jabbar
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, December 2015, Pages 638-659

Abstract:
One of the primary aims of choice policies is to introduce competition between schools. When parents can choose where to send their children, there is pressure on schools to improve to attract and retain students. However, do school leaders recognize market pressures? What strategies do they use in response? This study examines how choice creates school-level actions using qualitative data from 30 schools in New Orleans. Findings suggest that school leaders did experience market pressures, yet their responses to such pressures varied, depending in part on their perceptions of competition and their status in the market hierarchy. Some took steps toward school improvement, by making academic and operational changes, whereas others engaged in marketing or cream skimming.

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Authoritative School Climate and High School Dropout Rates

Yuane Jia, Timothy Konold & Dewey Cornell
School Psychology Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study tested the association between school-wide measures of an authoritative school climate and high school dropout rates in a statewide sample of 315 high schools. Regression models at the school level of analysis used teacher and student measures of disciplinary structure, student support, and academic expectations to predict overall high school dropout rates. Analyses controlled for school demographics of school enrollment size, percentage of low-income students, percentage of minority students, and urbanicity. Consistent with authoritative school climate theory, moderation analyses found that when students perceive their teachers as supportive, high academic expectations are associated with lower dropout rates.

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The Effects of Changes in Kindergarten Entry Age Policies on Educational Achievement

Jason Fletcher & Taehoon Kim
Economics of Education Review, February 2016, Pages 45-62

Abstract:
This study explores the effects of state kindergarten-entry-age policies on students' outcomes by exploiting variation in the kindergarten entry cutoff dates enacted by states in the United States over the last 40 years. Using the state average and standard deviation in NAEP test scores in 4th, 8th and 12th grades, we estimate the impacts of state entry-age policies on educational achievement and test score dispersion in the state. The estimation results from the baseline state and time fixed effects model show that a one month earlier cutoff increases average state reading and math scores of 4th graders by 21.7 and 13.6 percent of a standard deviation, respectively. Eighth graders' average score increases in math and science are 12.4 and 24.3 percent of a standard deviation, respectively, while the effect on reading score significantly decreases. We find no effect of kindergarten entry date on educational outcomes in 12th grade. We also find that an earlier kindergarten entry date generally reduces the standard deviation of state test scores. Robustness checks support these findings and suggest no evidence of endogeneity of the policy changes. Our findings provide novel evidence that early school start cutoffs have improved state-level achievement measures over the past 40 years.

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Cluster-randomized trial demonstrating impact on academic achievement of elementary social-emotional learning

David Schonfeld et al.
School Psychology Quarterly, September 2015, Pages 406-420

Abstract:
This study evaluated the results of a social and emotional learning (SEL) program on academic achievement among students attending a large, urban, high-risk school district. Using a cluster-randomized design, 24 elementary schools were assigned to receive either the intervention curriculum (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies, or PATHS) or a curriculum that delivered few if any SEL topics (i.e., the control group). In addition to state mastery test scores, demographic data, school attendance, and dosage information were obtained from 705 students who remained in the same group from the 3rd to the 6th grade. Analyses of odds ratios revealed that students enrolled in the intervention schools demonstrated higher levels of basic proficiency in reading, writing, and math at some grade levels. Although these between-groups differences held for race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status, significant within-group differences also were noted across these variables. Collectively, these findings indicated that social development instruction may be a promising approach to promote acquisition of academic proficiency, especially among youth attending high-risk school settings. Implications of these findings with respect to SEL programs conclude the article.

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Direct instruction of metacognition benefits adolescent science learning, transfer, and motivation: An in vivo study

Cristina Zepeda et al.
Journal of Educational Psychology, November 2015, Pages 954-970

Abstract:
Prior studies have not tested whether an instructional intervention aimed at improving metacognitive skills results in changes to student metacognition, motivation, learning, and future learning in the classroom. We examined whether a 6-hr intervention designed to teach the declarative and procedural components of planning, monitoring, and evaluation could increase students' metacognition, motivation, learning, and preparation for future learning for middle school science. Forty-six eighth-grade students were randomly assigned to either a control group, which received extensive problem-solving practice, or an experimental group, which received more limited problem-solving practice along with metacognitive instruction and training. Results revealed that those who received the metacognitive instruction and training were less biased when making metacognitive judgments, p = .03, d = 0.65, endorsed higher levels of motivation after instruction (e.g., there was a large effect on task value, p = .006, d = 0.87), performed better on a conceptual physics test, p = .03, d = 0.64, and performed better on a novel self-guided learning activity, p = .007, d = 0.87. This study demonstrates that metacognitive instruction can lead to better self-regulated learning outcomes during adolescence, a period in which students' academic achievement and motivation often decline.

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Can College Outreach Programs Improve College Readiness? The Case of the College Bound, St. Louis Program

Vi-Nhuan Le, Louis Mariano & Susannah Faxon-Mills
Research in Higher Education, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the past decade, there has been a proliferation of community- and school-based college readiness programs designed to increase the participation of students who have traditionally been underrepresented in higher education. However, few of these college readiness programs have been empirically evaluated. This study examines the impact of one such intervention, the College Bound, St. Louis (CB) program. Using propensity weighting and doubly robust modeling, we found CB participants were more likely to reach proficiency on the End of Course exams, to obtain at least a B grade in a number of foundational college courses, to take more AP or honors courses, and to attend a 4-year postsecondary institution than similarly situated non-participants. Future directions for evaluating similar college readiness programs are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ages ago

Agriculture, population growth, and statistical analysis of the radiocarbon record

Jabran Zahid, Erick Robinson & Robert Kelly
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
The human population has grown significantly since the onset of the Holocene about 12,000 y ago. Despite decades of research, the factors determining prehistoric population growth remain uncertain. Here, we examine measurements of the rate of growth of the prehistoric human population based on statistical analysis of the radiocarbon record. We find that, during most of the Holocene, human populations worldwide grew at a long-term annual rate of 0.04%. Statistical analysis of the radiocarbon record shows that transitioning farming societies experienced the same rate of growth as contemporaneous foraging societies. The same rate of growth measured for populations dwelling in a range of environments and practicing a variety of subsistence strategies suggests that the global climate and/or endogenous biological factors, not adaptability to local environment or subsistence practices, regulated the long-term growth of the human population during most of the Holocene. Our results demonstrate that statistical analyses of large ensembles of radiocarbon dates are robust and valuable for quantitatively investigating the demography of prehistoric human populations worldwide.

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Economic Growth in the Roman Mediterranean World: An Early Good-bye to Malthus?

Paul Erdkamp
Explorations in Economic History, forthcoming

Abstract:
Was the Roman world caught in a Malthusian trap? In this survey, I draw on a wide range of evidence - from archaeological data to city size estimates - to argue that Malthusian constraints were not binding over long periods. Market-size effects allowed the Roman economy to grow substantially in per capita terms, despite population growth. I place these observations in the context of recent debates and contributions by both ancient historians and - for the long run - by economists.

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The Earliest Lead Object in the Levant

Naama Yahalom-Mack et al.
PLoS ONE, December 2015

Abstract:
In the deepest section of a large complex cave in the northern Negev desert, Israel, a bi-conical lead object was found logged onto a wooden shaft. Associated material remains and radiocarbon dating of the shaft place the object within the Late Chalcolithic period, at the late 5th millennium BCE. Based on chemical and lead isotope analysis, we show that this unique object was made of almost pure metallic lead, likely smelted from lead ores originating in the Taurus range in Anatolia. Either the finished object, or the raw material, was brought to the southern Levant, adding another major component to the already-rich Late Chalcolithic metallurgical corpus known to-date. The paper also discusses possible uses of the object, suggesting that it may have been used as a spindle whorl, at least towards its deposition.

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Equality, inequality, and the problem of "Elites" in late Iron Age Eastern Languedoc (Mediterranean France), ca. 400-125 BC

Benjamin Luley
Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, March 2016, Pages 33-54

Abstract:
This article investigates the ways discernible in the material record by which individuals obtained influence and power in late Iron Age (ca. 425-125 BC) Eastern Languedoc in Mediterranean France. Specifically, the article examines the extent to which the control over agricultural production, the control over the circulation of prestige goods, and a monopoly on the use of violence may have been used by individuals to influence and direct group activity. Although archaeologists have often portrayed Iron Age Mediterranean France, as well as Iron Age Europe more generally, as being dominated by a class of warrior aristocrats, an examination of the material evidence in regard to these three aspects of political power suggests that in fact, late Iron Age society in Eastern Languedoc was fairly egalitarian, with political power diffused and open to a large number of competing adults. A real socio-economic hierarchy based upon classes only emerged under the influence of the Roman colonial state in the first century BC. Far from offering any analytical precision, the overly broad term "elite" in this way actually obscures important changes in political strategies occurring under Roman colonialism.

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Genome-wide patterns of selection in 230 ancient Eurasians

Iain Mathieson et al.
Nature, 24 December 2015, Pages 499-503

Abstract:
Ancient DNA makes it possible to observe natural selection directly by analysing samples from populations before, during and after adaptation events. Here we report a genome-wide scan for selection using ancient DNA, capitalizing on the largest ancient DNA data set yet assembled: 230 West Eurasians who lived between 6500 and 300 BC, including 163 with newly reported data. The new samples include, to our knowledge, the first genome-wide ancient DNA from Anatolian Neolithic farmers, whose genetic material we obtained by extracting from petrous bones, and who we show were members of the population that was the source of Europe's first farmers. We also report a transect of the steppe region in Samara between 5600 and 300 BC, which allows us to identify admixture into the steppe from at least two external sources. We detect selection at loci associated with diet, pigmentation and immunity, and two independent episodes of selection on height.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The power of the dark side

When the Bases of Social Hierarchy Collide: Power Without Status Drives Interpersonal Conflict

Eric Anicich et al.
Organization Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Leveraging the social hierarchy literature, the present research offers a role-based account of the antecedents of interpersonal conflict. Specifically, we suggest that the negative feelings and emotions resulting from the experience of occupying a low-status position interact with the action-facilitating effects of power to produce vicious cycles of interpersonal conflict and demeaning behavior. Five studies demonstrate that power without status leads to interpersonal conflict and demeaning treatment, both in specific dyadic work relationships and among organizational members more broadly. Study 1 provides initial support for the prediction that employees in low-status/high-power roles engage in more conflict with coworkers than all other combinations of status and power. In Studies 2a and 2b, a yoked experimental design replicated this effect and established low-status/high-power roles as a direct source of the interpersonal conflict and demeaning treatment. Study 3 used an experimental manipulation of relative status and power within specific dyadic relationships in the workplace and found evidence of a vicious cycle of interpersonal conflict and demeaning treatment within any dyad that included a low-status/high-power individual. Finally, Study 4 utilized survey and human resource data from a large government agency to replicate the power without status effect on interpersonal conflict and demonstrate that power interacts with subjective status change to produce a similar effect; increasing the status of a high-power role reduces conflict whereas decreasing its status increases conflict. Taken together, these findings offer a role-based account of interpersonal conflict and highlight the importance of making a theoretical distinction between status and power.

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Effects of Viewing Relational Aggression on Television on Aggressive Behavior in Adolescents: A Three-Year Longitudinal Study

Sarah Coyne
Developmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Most researchers on media and aggression have examined the behavioral effects of viewing physical aggression in the media. Conversely, in the current study, I examined longitudinal associations between viewing relational aggression on TV and subsequent aggressive behavior. Participants included 467 adolescents who completed a number of different questionnaires involving media and aggression at 3 different time points. Results revealed that viewing relational aggression on TV was longitudinally associated with future relational aggression. However, early levels of relational aggression did not predict future exposure to televised relational aggression. Conversely, there was a bidirectional relationship between TV violence and physical aggression over time. No longitudinal evidence was found for a general effect of viewing TV, as all significant media effects were specific to the type of aggression viewed. These results support the general aggression model and suggest that viewing relational aggression in the media can have a long-term effect on aggressive behavior during adolescence.

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Sexual Harassment, Bullying, and School Outcomes for High School Girls and Boys

James Gruber & Susan Fineran
Violence Against Women, January 2016, Pages 112-133

Abstract:
A comparison of the impact of bullying and sexual harassment on five school outcomes was conducted on a sample of high school students. Results revealed that sexual harassment was a stronger predictor than bullying of all school outcomes for both sexes, but especially for girls. This study suggests that sexual harassment, which activates sexist and heterosexist stereotypes, erodes school engagement, alienates students from teachers, and adversely affects academic achievement, to a greater degree than bullying does.

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The Meaningful Roles Intervention: An Evolutionary Approach to Reducing Bullying and Increasing Prosocial Behavior

Bruce Ellis et al.
Journal of Research on Adolescence, forthcoming

Abstract:
Bullying is a problem that affects adolescents worldwide. Efforts to prevent bullying have been moderately successful at best, or iatrogenic at worst. We offer an explanation for this limited success by employing an evolutionary-psychological perspective to analyze antibullying interventions. We argue that bullying is a goal-directed behavior that is sensitive to benefits as well as costs, and that interventions must address these benefits. This perspective led us to develop a novel antibullying intervention, Meaningful Roles, which offers bullies prosocial alternatives - meaningful roles and responsibilities implemented through a school jobs program and reinforced through peer-to-peer praise notes - that effectively meet the same status goals as bullying behavior. We describe this new intervention and how its theoretical evolutionary roots may be applicable to other intervention programs.

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Exogenous testosterone increases men's perceptions of their own physical dominance

Lisa Welling et al.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, February 2016, Pages 136-142

Abstract:
Men's testosterone is associated with several constructs that are linked to dominance rank, such as risk-taking, mating success, and aggression. However, no study has directly tested the relationship between men's self-perceived dominance and testosterone using an experimental design. We employed a within-subjects, double-blind, placebo-controlled paradigm to assess whether testosterone influences men's self-perceived dominance. Exogenous testosterone or a placebo was administered to healthy adult men and self-perceptions of physical dominance were subsequently assessed by having participants select what they believed to be their true face from an array of images digitally manipulated in masculinity. Men picked a more masculine version of their own face after testosterone versus placebo - an effect that was particularly pronounced among men with relatively low baseline testosterone. These findings indicate that a single administration of testosterone can rapidly modulate men's perceptions of their own physical dominance, which may explain links between testosterone and dominance-related behaviors.

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The Influence of Facial Characteristics on the Relation between Male 2D:4D and Dominance

Jan Ryckmans, Kobe Millet & Luk Warlop
PLoS ONE, November 2015

Abstract:
Although relations between 2D:4D and dominance rank in both baboons and rhesus macaques have been observed, evidence in humans is mixed. Whereas behavioral patterns in humans have been discovered that are consistent with these animal findings, the evidence for a relation between dominance and 2D:4D is weak or inconsistent. The present study provides experimental evidence that male 2D:4D is related to dominance after (fictitious) male-male interaction when the other man has a dominant, but not a submissive or neutral face. This finding provides evidence that the relationship between 2D:4D and dominance emerges in particular, predictable situations and that merely dominant facial characteristics of another person are enough to activate supposed relationships between 2D:4D and dominance.

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If not fear, then what? A preliminary examination of psychopathic traits and the Fear Enjoyment Hypothesis

Ashley Hosker-Field, Nathalie Gauthier & Angela Book
Personality and Individual Differences, February 2016, Pages 278-282

Abstract:
Psychopathy is characterized by emotional and interpersonal dysfunction, an erratic lifestyle and antisocial behaviour. Research suggests that psychopaths lack fear (Fowles & Dindo, 2009; Lykken, 1995). Accordingly research demonstrates that psychopathy is associated with impaired fear acquisition/conditioning (Lopez et al., 2013), diminished fear-potentiated startle, (Patrick et al., 1993) and atypical physiological responses to fear-provoking stimuli (Benning et al., 2005). While one possible explanation is a lack of fear, another would be that psychopaths simply have a different interpretation of fear. The current study examined whether psychopathic traits are associated with positive experience and appraisal of fear-inducing situations. A sample of 114 students completed the SRP-III (Paulhus et al., 2015), described their own experience of fear (affective and physiological symptoms), and rated the extent to which they experienced positive and negative emotions in response to an excitement-inducing and a fear-inducing video stimulus. After viewing the "fear" video, people scoring higher on psychopathy gave higher ratings to positive affect items, and lower ratings to negative affect items. Further, when asked to define fear, individuals with psychopathic traits listed more positive descriptors of emotional and physiological experiences of fear. Findings provide preliminary support for the Fear Enjoyment Hypothesis.

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Violence at the Box Office: Considering Ratings, Ticket Sales, and Content of Movies

Raymond Barranco, Nicole Rader & Anna Smith
Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The negative effects of violent content in movies have recently been a hot topic among both researchers and the general public. Despite growing concern, violence in movies has persisted over time. Few studies have examined why this pattern continues. To fill this gap in the literature, we examine how Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) movie rating descriptors predict ticket sales of 2,094 movies from 1992 to 2012. We test the validity of three theoretical models: (1) the reflective model, (2) the reactance model, and (3) the market model. We find that violent content is linked neither to violence in the broader U.S. culture (i.e., the reflective model) nor to a psychological reactance by adolescents (i.e., the reactance model). Rather, we find, especially among PG-13 (parents strongly cautioned) movies, that violent content leads to increased ticket sales, suggesting that market demand (i.e., audience preferences) is responsible for continued violent content. We discuss the implications of our findings.

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Manipulation of heart rate variability can modify response to anger-inducing stimuli

Heather Francis, Kathryn Penglis & Skye McDonald
Social Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research suggests that heart rate variability (HRV) is a physiological indicator of the flexibility of the autonomic nervous system and can provide an objective measure of an individual's ability to appropriately match emotional responses to environmental demands. The present study investigated whether angry response to emotional stimuli was related to HRV, and whether manipulation of HRV using biofeedback could change the anger response in a healthy adult population. Fifty-eight participants received HRV biofeedback (n = 29) or an active control condition (n = 29). HRV measures included standard deviation of normal-to-normal intervals (SDNN), low-frequency (LF) and high-frequency (HF) power, and was recorded across three sessions: baseline, training, and anger induction. The anger induction procedure resulted in increased subjective experience of anger, as well as physiological changes. The biofeedback group had higher HRV than active controls both during the training session (SDNN and LF HRV) and during anger induction (LF HRV). HRV during anger induction was significantly associated with self-reported emotional response for participants receiving biofeedback but not for active controls. Results provide support for HRV as an index of emotion regulation, specifically anger. Further research is needed to determine whether long-term HRV biofeedback can have a lasting effect on managing anger.

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Authenticity Attenuates the Negative Effects of Interpersonal Conflict on Daily Well-being

Robert Wickham et al.
Journal of Research in Personality, February 2016, Pages 56-62

Abstract:
Prior research has established a consistent relationship between felt authenticity and greater psychological and physical well-being. Nevertheless, a number of important questions remain regarding the role of authenticity in shaping individuals' responses to stressful events in daily life. Interpersonal conflict in particular, has been established as one of the strongest contributors to daily stress, and a number of prior studies suggest that the negative effects of interpersonal conflict may be moderated by personality factors. The present work used a diary design to examine the role of trait authenticity in buffering individuals from the negative effects of interpersonal conflict. More importantly, we show that the protective role of trait authenticity functions independently from the previously established effects of agreeableness and neuroticism.

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Looking for reward in all the wrong places: Dopamine receptor gene polymorphisms indirectly affect aggression through sensation-seeking

David Chester et al.
Social Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Individuals with genotypes that code for reduced dopaminergic brain activity often exhibit a predisposition toward aggression. However, it remains largely unknown how dopaminergic genotypes may increase aggression. Lower-functioning dopamine systems motivate individuals to seek reward from external sources such as illicit drugs and other risky experiences. Based on emerging evidence that aggression is a rewarding experience, we predicted that the effect of lower-functioning dopaminergic functioning on aggression would be mediated by tendencies to seek the environment for rewards. Caucasian female and male undergraduates (N = 277) were genotyped for five polymorphisms of the dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) gene; they reported their previous history of aggression and their dispositional reward-seeking. Lower-functioning DRD2 profiles were associated with greater sensation-seeking, which then predicted greater aggression. Our findings suggest that lower-functioning dopaminergic activity puts individuals at risk for violence because it motivates them to experience aggression's hedonically rewarding qualities.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, December 25, 2015

What we have

Educational Homogamy in Two Gilded Ages: Evidence from Inter-generational Social Mobility Data

Robert Mare
ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, January 2016, Pages 117-139

Abstract:
Patterns of intermarriage between persons who have varying levels of educational attainment are indicators of socioeconomic closure and affect the family backgrounds of children. This article documents trends in educational assortative mating throughout the twentieth century in the United States, using socioeconomic data on adults observed in several large cross section surveys collected between 1972 and 2010 and on their parents who married a generation earlier. Spousal resemblance on educational attainment was very high in the early twentieth century, declined to an all-time low for young couples in the early 1950s, and has increased steadily since then. These trends broadly parallel the compression and expansion of socioeconomic inequality in the United States over the twentieth century. Additionally, educationally similar parents are more likely to have offspring who themselves marry within their own educational level. If homogamy in the parent generation leads to homogamy in the offspring generation, this may reinforce the secular trend toward increased homogamy.

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Invisibility Cloaks and Knapsacks: How the Advantaged Work to Conceal Privilege

Taylor Phillips & Brian Lowery
Stanford Working Paper, January 2016

Abstract:
We suggest the experience of unfair advantage pits two critical motives: the merit motive and the maintenance motive. Together, these motives lead people to mobilize their advantage in order to secure desired outcomes, but to conceal these advantages under the cloak of merit as they do so. In Experiments 1a and 1b, we find that when their advantages are exposed, the wealthy (but not the non-wealthy) claim increased effort at work. In Experiment 2, we show that the social elite claim their social advantages (family connections) were the result of effort, but suggest others’ social advantages were not. In Experiment 3, we find that the wealthy not only claim, but commit greater effort when their class advantages are exposed. Finally, in Experiment 4, we show that the educational elite claim that advantage resources are not useful, but then continue to take these resources and use them to their benefit anyway.

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Americans Still Overestimate Social Class Mobility: A Pre-Registered Self-Replication

Michael Kraus
Frontiers in Psychology, November 2015

Abstract:
Kraus and Tan (2015) hypothesized that Americans tend to overestimate social class mobility in society, and do so because they seek to protect the self. This paper reports a pre-registered exact replication of Study 3 from this original paper and finds, consistent with the original study, that Americans substantially overestimate social class mobility, that people provide greater overestimates when made while thinking of similar others, and that high perceived social class is related to greater overestimates. The current results provide additional evidence consistent with the idea that people overestimate class mobility to protect their beliefs in the promise of equality of opportunity. Discussion considers the utility of pre-registered self-replications as one tool for encouraging replication efforts and assessing the robustness of effect sizes.

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Money and Morale: Growing Inequality Affects How Americans View Themselves and Others

Michael Hout
ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, January 2016, Pages 204-228

Abstract:
Dozens of past studies document how affluent people feel somewhat better about life than middle-class people feel and much better than poor people do. New analyses of the General Social Surveys from 1974 to 2012 address questions in the literature regarding aggregate responses to hard times, whether the income-class relationship is linear or not, and whether inequality affects happiness. General happiness dropped significantly during the Great Recession, suggesting that the income-happiness relationship might also exist at the macro level. People with extremely low incomes are not as unhappy as a linear model expects, but there is no evidence of a threshold beyond which personal happiness stops increasing. Comparing happiness over the long term, the affluent were about as happy in 2012 as they were in the 1970s, but the poor were much less happy. Consequently, the gross happiness gap by income was about 30 percent bigger in 2012 than it was in the 1970s. A multivariate model shows that the net effect of income on happiness also increased significantly over time.

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Economic inequality is related to cross-national prevalence of psychotic symptoms

Sheri Johnson, Erik Wibbels & Richard Wilkinson
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, December 2015, Pages 1799-1807

Purpose: A burgeoning literature documents robust links of income inequality with the prevalence of psychological disorders. The aim of this paper is to extend this literature by examining the effects of cross-national income inequality on prevalence of psychotic symptoms.

Method: Analyses used archival data of representative samples from 50 countries (N = 249,217). Four types of psychotic symptoms were assessed using the well-validated CIDI interview. We examined the effects of Standardized World Income Inequality Database (SWIID) measures of the concentration of income in the top percentile of people and the Gini coefficient of income inequality.

Results: Income inequality was significantly correlated with the national prevalence of hallucinations, delusions of thought control, and delusional mood, and effects withstood control over national indices of per capita income and regime type. Findings were also robust to nonparametric bootstrapping.

Conclusions: Although the cross-sectional design limits ability to claim causality, income inequality appears important for understanding psychotic symptoms.

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Large Cross-National Differences in Gene × Socioeconomic Status Interaction on Intelligence

Elliot Tucker-Drob & Timothy Bates
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
A core hypothesis in developmental theory predicts that genetic influences on intelligence and academic achievement are suppressed under conditions of socioeconomic privation and more fully realized under conditions of socioeconomic advantage: a Gene × Childhood Socioeconomic Status (SES) interaction. Tests of this hypothesis have produced apparently inconsistent results. We performed a meta-analysis of tests of Gene × SES interaction on intelligence and academic-achievement test scores, allowing for stratification by nation (United States vs. non–United States), and we conducted rigorous tests for publication bias and between-studies heterogeneity. In U.S. studies, we found clear support for moderately sized Gene × SES effects. In studies from Western Europe and Australia, where social policies ensure more uniform access to high-quality education and health care, Gene × SES effects were zero or reversed.

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An Experimental Study of the Impact of Social Comparison on Investment

Gary Hoover & Erik Kimbrough
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objectives: With increasing attention being paid to inequality and poverty, this article attempts to shed light on mechanisms by which the poor arrive at decisions that are suboptimal and lead to “poverty traps.”

Methods: We design a laboratory experiment in which we induce wealth and income differences between subjects to compare their behavior in a simple, two-period life-cycle savings and consumption task that controls subjects’ homegrown risk preferences and isolates the impact of social comparison.

Results: We find evidence that social comparison leads to suboptimal investment choices among the income-poor.

Conclusions: One interpretation is that this is driven by a discouragement effect among those who are less likely to benefit from their investments — despite that fact that, by design, investment by all types leads to the same increase in expected utility.

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Inequality and Trust: New Evidence from Panel Data

Guglielmo Barone & Sauro Mocetti
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
We estimate the causal link from income inequality to generalized trust by reconsidering the country-level evidence on this issue. First, we exploit the panel dimension of the data, thus controlling for any country unobservable time-invariant variables, and find a negative relationship between the two variables that holds only for developed countries. Second, we focus on these advanced economies and provide instrumental variable estimates using the predicted exposure to technological change as an exogenous driver of inequality. According to our findings, the negative causal effect of inequality on trust is even larger than that coming from ordinary least squares estimation. We also provide new insights on the effects of different dimensions of inequality, exploiting measures of both static inequality — such as the Gini index and top income shares — and dynamic inequality — proxied by intergenerational income mobility.

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More Unequal Income but Less Progressive Taxation: Economics or Politics?

Chunzan Wu
University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, November 2015

Abstract:
Since the 1970s, income inequality in the U.S. has increased sharply. During the same time span, the U.S. federal income tax has become less progressive. Why? I examine this question in a Ramsey optimal tax policy framework. Within this framework, the tax policy is determined by: (1) a set of Pareto weights representing the government’s preference over different households; and (2) household lifetime utilities summarizing the effects of economic fundamentals. I first study the changes in economic fundamentals using an overlapping generations incomplete-markets life-cycle model with heterogeneous households. The model features both endogenous human capital accumulation and household labor supply and is calibrated to the U.S. economy in the 1970s and 2010s. Then I use this economic model to determine whether the change in income tax is the result of an optimal policy response to changing economic fundamentals or the consequence of a change in Pareto weights. I interpret the latter as changes in the political influences of various income groups. I find that: (1) changes in economic fundamentals alone induce a less progressive optimal income tax and can account for 40% of the reduction in progressivity we observe; and (2) the change in Pareto weights required to explain the remaining part of tax policy change favors high-income households and also implies less valued government services. Finally, using a stylized political economy model, I discuss potential explanations for this change in Pareto weights such as the lower cost of conveying information to swing voters and the rising inequality of voter turnout among different socioeconomic groups.

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The tyranny puzzle in social preferences: An empirical investigation

Frank Cowell, Marc Fleurbaey & Bertil Tungodden
Social Choice and Welfare, December 2015, Pages 765-792

Abstract:
When forming their preferences about the distribution of income, rational people may be caught between two opposite forms of “tyranny.” Giving absolute priority to the worst-off imposes a sort of tyranny on the rest of the population, but giving less than absolute priority imposes a reverse form of tyranny where the worst-off may be sacrificed for the sake of small benefits to many well-off individuals. We formally show that this intriguing dilemma is more severe than previously recognised, and we examine how people negotiate such conflicts with a questionnaire-experimental study. Our study shows that both tyrannies are rejected by a majority of the participants, which makes it problematic for them to define consistent distributive preferences on the distribution.

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The path and performance of a company leader: A historical examination of the education and cognitive ability of Fortune 500 CEOs

Jonathan Wai & Heiner Rindermann
Intelligence, November–December 2015, Pages 102–107

Abstract:
The path to becoming a CEO (and performance on the job) can be viewed as a difficult cognitive challenge. One way to examine this idea is to see how highly selected CEOs are in terms of education and cognitive ability. The extent to which Fortune 500 CEOs were selected on education and cognitive ability at an earlier age was retrospectively assessed at four time points that spanned 1996 to 2014 (Total N = 1991). Across the last 19 years, between 37.5% and 41.0% of these CEOs were found to attend an elite school which likely placed them in the top 1% of cognitive ability. People in the top 1% of ability, therefore, were likely overrepresented among these CEOs, at about 37 to 41 times the base rate. Even within each of the four samples, higher CEO education and cognitive ability was associated with higher gross revenue of the CEO's company. Although Fortune 500 CEOs were highly selected on education and cognitive ability, when placed in the context of a broader array of occupations in the extreme right tail of achievement (e.g., politicians, judges, billionaires, journalists, academics, powerful people, and other business elites), CEOs were not at the top. This showed the wide cognitive ability range (and mental test difficulty) across various occupations that compose the U.S. elite. That Fortune 500 CEOs had similar education and cognitive ability selectivity over time shows that the CEO (and perhaps business) occupational and filtering structure has remained relatively unchanged across the last two decades.

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The Minimum Wage and Inequality: The Effects of Education and Technology

Zsófia Bárány
Journal of Labor Economics, January 2016, Pages 237-274

Abstract:
In the past 30 years, wage inequality has increased steeply while real minimum wages have fallen. This paper demonstrates that a general equilibrium model with endogenous skill choice is required to correctly evaluate the implications of minimum wage changes. The minimum wage not only truncates the wage distribution but also affects skill prices and therefore changes the incentives that people face when making educational decisions. The calibrated model suggests — in line with recent empirical literature — that even though minimum wages affect the bottom end of the wage distribution more, their impact on the top end is significant as well.

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Who cares about relative status? A quantile approach to consumption of relative house size

Susane Leguizamon
Applied Economics Letters, Winter 2016, Pages 307-312

Abstract:
I estimate the willingness to pay (WTP) to live in a house near neighbours with relatively smaller (or larger) houses using housing transaction data. I find that consumers in the 50th and 75th percentile are willing to pay the most for an increase in relative housing consumption while consumers in the lower percentiles and the highest percentile yield a smaller, and statistically insignificant, WTP. This gives evidence to popular media reports that the middle class values relative status the most.

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Dependency Status and Demand for Social Insurance: Evidence from Experiments and Surveys

John Ahlquist, John Hamman & Bradley Jones
Political Science Research and Methods, forthcoming

Abstract:
Current thinking on the origins and size of the welfare state often ignores household relations in which people may depend on others for income or have dependents themselves. The influence of “dependency status” on individuals’ political preferences is unknown. We report results from a laboratory experiment designed to estimate the effect of dependency on preferences for policies that insure against labor market risk. Results indicate that (1) willingness to vote in favor of a social insurance policy is highly responsive to unemployment risk, (2) symmetric, mutual dependence is unrelated to support for insurance, but (3) asymmetric dependence (being dependent on someone else) increases support for social insurance. We connect our lab results to observational survey data and find similar relationships.

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Globalization and Wage Polarization

Guido Cozzi & Giammario Impullitti
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the 1980s and 1990s, the US labour market experiences a remarkable polarization along with fast technological catch-up, as Europe and Japan improve their global innovation performance. Is foreign technological convergence an important source of wage polarization? To answer this question, we build a multi-country Schumpeterian growth model with heterogeneous workers, endogenous skill formation and occupational choice. We show that convergence produces polarization through business stealing and increasing competition in global innovation races. Quantitative analysis shows that these channels can be important sources of US polarization. Moreover, the model delivers predictions on the US wealth-income ratio consistent with empirical evidence.

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Decomposing US regional income inequality from 1969 to 2009

Justin Doran & Declan Jordan
Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article analyses changes in levels and composition of income inequality among US counties from 1969 to 2009. It also decomposes inequality using the Theil coefficient into between-State and within-State inequality. The article finds that income inequality has increased in the period studied with between-State inequality decreasing and within-State inequality increasing. We subsequently decompose income inequality into the proportion arising from differences in productivity and employment–population ratios across counties. The results suggest that inequality arising from differentials in labour productivity has fallen over the period studied while those arising from employment–population ratio differences have increased.

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Bright Minds, Big Rent: Gentrification and the Rising Returns to Skill

Lena Edlund, Cecilia Machado & Michaela Sviatchi
NBER Working Paper, November 2015

Abstract:
In 1980, housing prices in the main US cities rose with distance to the city center. By 2010, that relationship had reversed. We propose that this development can be traced to greater labor supply of high-income households through reduced tolerance for commuting. In a tract-level data set covering the 27 largest US cities, years 1980-2010, we employ a city-level Bartik demand shifter for skilled labor and find support for our hypothesis: full-time skilled workers favor proximity to the city center and their increased presence can account for the observed price changes, notably the rising price premium commanded by centrality.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, December 24, 2015

First comes love

Sexual Frequency Predicts Greater Well-Being, But More is Not Always Better

Amy Muise, Ulrich Schimmack & Emily Impett
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Is it true that engaging in more frequent sex is associated with greater well-being? The media emphasizes — and research supports — the claim that the more sex you have, the happier you will feel. Across three studies (N = 30,645), we demonstrate that the association between sexual frequency and well-being is best described by a curvilinear (as opposed to a linear) association where sex is no longer associated with well-being at a frequency of more than once a week. In Study 1, the association between sexual frequency and well-being is only significant for people in relationships. In Studies 2 and 3, which included only people in relationships, sexual frequency had a curvilinear association with relationship satisfaction, and relationship satisfaction mediated the association between sexual frequency and well-being. For people in relationships, sexual frequency is no longer significantly associated with well-being at a frequency greater than once a week.

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Hormonal predictors of women's extra-pair vs. in-pair sexual attraction in natural cycles: Implications for extended sexuality

Nicholas Grebe, Melissa Emery Thompson & Steven Gangestad
Hormones and Behavior, February 2016, Pages 211–219

Abstract:
In naturally cycling women, Roney and Simmons (2013) examined hormonal correlates of their desire for sexual contact. Estradiol was positively associated, and progesterone negatively associated, with self-reported desire. The current study extended these findings by examining, within a sample of 33 naturally cycling women involved in romantic relationships, hormonal correlates of sexual attraction to or interests in specific targets: women's own primary partner or men other than women's primary partner. Women's sexual interests and hormone (estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone) levels were assessed at two different time points. Whereas estradiol levels were associated with relatively greater extra-pair sexual interests than in-pair sexual interests, progesterone levels were associated with relatively greater in-pair sexual interests. Both hormones specifically predicted in-pair sexual desire, estradiol negatively and progesterone positively. These findings have implications for understanding the function of women's extended sexuality — their sexual proceptivity and receptivity outside the fertile phase, especially during the luteal phase.

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Toward a Post-Sex Disclosures Model: Exploring the Associations Among Orgasm, Self-Disclosure, and Relationship Satisfaction

Amanda Denes
Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study investigates communication during the post-sex time interval (PSTI) and extends previous work on communication after sexual activity by testing a post-sex disclosures model (PSDM) using structural equation modeling (SEM). Two-hundred six individuals completed surveys after sexual activity regarding their communication behaviors during the PSTI. The results revealed that individuals who orgasmed assessed greater benefits/fewer risks to disclosing after sexual activity, and orgasm was indirectly associated with positive relational disclosures through risk-benefit assessments. However, positive relational disclosures after sexual activity were not predictive of relationship satisfaction. Rather, perceiving greater benefits/fewer risks to disclosing was associated with increased relationship satisfaction, and orgasm was indirectly related to relationship satisfaction through risk-benefit assessments. Together, these findings suggest that fundamental communication and relational processes occur after sexual activity and that assessments of the potential outcomes of post-sex communication have important effects on relationship well-being.

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Ease of Retrieval Effects on Relationship Commitment: The Role of Future Plans

Kenneth Tan & Christopher Agnew
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
How do perceptions of future romantic plans affect close relationships? In three studies, we examined the effects of ease of retrieval of future plans on romantic relationship commitment. We hypothesized that greater ease of retrieval would be associated with greater relationship commitment among those who were high in need for cognition. Study 1 participants listed either two or 10 future plans and completed a measure assessing need for cognition. Results showed that high need for cognition individuals asked to list two instead of 10 future plans reported greater commitment, but those low in need for cognition showed the opposite pattern. Study 2 replicated this effect while controlling for plan substitutability. Study 3 examined the mediational role of commitment doubt. Those high in need for cognition listing more plans had more doubts and reported lower commitment. These findings suggest that perceptions of future plans can influence relationship commitment under specific conditions.

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Birds of a Feather Have Babies Together? Family Structure Homogamy and Union Stability Among Cohabiting Parents

Robin Högnäs & Jason Thomas
Journal of Family Issues, January 2016, Pages 29-52

Abstract:
The association between childhood family structure and offspring well-being is well-documented. Recent research shows that adult children of divorced parents will likely marry someone whose parents’ divorced (i.e., family structure homogamy) and are subsequently likely to divorce themselves. This literature has focused primarily on marital unions, despite the rise in cohabitation and nonmarital childbearing. Research suggests that marriage and cohabitation are different types of unions and have different implications for the well-being of children. Therefore, we extend the literature by examining the role of family structure homogamy in matching patterns and union stability among unmarried, cohabiting couples. Data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study suggest that unmarried, cohabiting mothers and fathers are both more likely to be from nonintact childhood family structures and are significantly more likely to dissolve their unions compared to married parents who both tend to be from intact childhood family structures.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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