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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Feeling better

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

Peter Belmi & Jeffrey Pfeffer

Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

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

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

Natalie Dinsdale, MIka Mökkönen & Bernard Crespi

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

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

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

Olga Stavrova, Daniel Ehlebracht & Detlef Fetchenhauer

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

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

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

Edie Greene, Kristin Sturm & Andrew Evelo

Law and Human Behavior, forthcoming

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

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

Jennifer Symonds et al.

Developmental Psychology, forthcoming

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

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

René Proyer et al.

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

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

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Retirement as Meaningful: Positive Retirement Stereotypes Associated with Longevity

Reuben Ng et al.

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

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

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

Mark Egan, Michael Daly & Liam Delaney

Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

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

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

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

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

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

Stephanie Chen, Oleg Urminsky & Daniel Bartels

University of Chicago Working Paper, February 2016

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

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Go ahead

Social Stress Facilitates Risk in Youths

Jeremy Jamieson & Wendy Berry Mendes

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, April 2016, Pages 467-485

Abstract:
This research examined the influence of social stress on risk processes in youths. Study 1 (N = 89) randomly assigned male youths to perform either a stressful social-evaluative or nonstressful control task followed by a risk-perception measure. Compared to controls, social stress participants perceived less risk in their environment. Study 2 (N = 188) extended findings by testing effects of social stress on risk perception in males and females, and across 3 age groups: teenagers (15–19), young adults (25–40), and older adults (60–75). Replicating Study 1, teenagers experiencing social stress perceived less risk than age-matched controls. However, adults assigned to experience social stress reported greater risk perception compared to their age-matched controls. Effects of social stress also extended to risk-taking behavior. Stressed teenagers engaged in more risk-taking behavior relative to controls, and showed increased reward and lowered cost sensitivity during decision-making. These findings offer basic and translational value regarding factors that influence how youths evaluate risk.

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Laughing at Risk: Sitcom Laugh Tracks Communicate Norms for Behavior

Nancy Rhodes & Morgan Ellithorpe

Media Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The role that sitcom laugh tracks play in the communication of social norms was investigated. Participants (n = 112) were exposed to a sitcom narrative in which reckless driving behaviors were exhibited, or a control narrative. One half of the participants viewed a clip with laugh track present, and the other half viewed a clip with the laugh track edited out. Results indicate that laugh tracks do communicate information about what kinds of driving behavior is normative in the target driving clip condition. Specifically, the accessibility of risky driving injunctive norms was influenced by the laugh track and scenario manipulation. This effect was moderated by identification with the character who exhibited reckless behavior. Accessibility of risky driving norms then predicted attitudes, descriptive norms, and behavioral intentions regarding risky driving. The implication of the results is that media narratives can communicate norms for behavior through the laugh track in a sitcom.

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When Is an Adolescent an Adult? Assessing Cognitive Control in Emotional and Nonemotional Contexts

Alexandra Cohen et al.

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
An individual is typically considered an adult at age 18, although the age of adulthood varies for different legal and social policies. A key question is how cognitive capacities relevant to these policies change with development. The current study used an emotional go/no-go paradigm and functional neuroimaging to assess cognitive control under sustained states of negative and positive arousal in a community sample of one hundred ten 13- to 25-year-olds from New York City and Los Angeles. The results showed diminished cognitive performance under brief and prolonged negative emotional arousal in 18- to 21-year-olds relative to adults over 21. This reduction in performance was paralleled by decreased activity in fronto-parietal circuitry, implicated in cognitive control, and increased sustained activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, involved in emotional processes. The findings suggest a developmental shift in cognitive capacity in emotional situations that coincides with dynamic changes in prefrontal circuitry. These findings may inform age-related social policies.

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Did households’ time preference change due to the Great Recession?

Eunice Hong & Sherman Hanna

Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
Household time preference for US households, as measured by the planning horizon, was fairly stable for many years, but sharply changed with the onset of the Great Recession. Based on an analysis of a combination of the 1992–2013 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) datasets, time preference increased in 2010 and remained high in 2013, indicating households were less patient after the onset of the recession. This pattern held up even after controlling for household characteristics.

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Psychopathy and Machiavellianism: A distinction without a difference?

Joshua Miller et al.

Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Abstract:
A robust literature has emerged on the Dark Triad (DT) of personality – Machiavellianism (MACH), psychopathy, and narcissism. Questions remain as to whether MACH and psychopathy are distinguishable and whether MACH's empirical and theoretical networks are consistent. In Study 1 (N = 393), factor analyses were used to compare 2 (MACH and psychopathy combined + narcissism) and 3 factor models with both fitting the data equally well. In Studies 1 and 2 (N = 341), DT scores were examined in relation to a variety of external criteria including self and informant ratings of personality, adverse developmental experiences, and psychopathological symptoms/behaviors. In both studies, MACH and psychopathy manifested nearly identical empirical profiles and both were significantly related to disinhibitory traits thought to be antithetical to MACH. In Study 3 (N = 36), expert ratings of the FFM traits prototypical of MACH were collected and compared with empirically derived profiles. Measures of MACH yielded profiles that were inconsistent with the prototypical expert-rated profile due to their positive relations with a broad spectrum of impulsivity-related traits. Ultimately, measures of psychopathy and MACH appear to be measuring the same construct and MACH assessments fail to capture the construct as articulated in theoretical descriptions.

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Enhanced emotion regulation capacity and its neural substrates in those exposed to moderate childhood adversity

Susanne Schweizer et al.

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, February 2016, Pages 272-281

Abstract:
Individuals exposed to childhood adversities (CA) present with emotion regulation (ER) difficulties in later life, which have been identified as risk and maintenance factors for psychopathologies. However, it is unclear if CA negatively impacts on ER capacity per se or whether observed regulation difficulties are a function of the challenging circumstances in which ER is being deployed. In this longitudinal study, we aimed to clarify this association by investigating the behavioral and neural effects of exposure to common moderate CA (mCA) on a laboratory measure of ER capacity in late adolescence/young adulthood. Our population-derived samples of adolescents/young adults (N = 53) were administered a film-based ER-task during functional magnetic resonance imaging that allowed evaluation of ER across mCA-exposure. mCA-exposure was associated with enhanced ER capacity over both positive and negative affect. At the neural level, the better ER of negative material in those exposed to mCA was associated with reduced recruitment of ER-related brain regions, including the prefrontal cortex and temporal gyrus. In addition mCA-exposure was associated with a greater down-regulation of the amygdala during ER of negative material. The implications of these findings for our understanding of the effects of mCA on the emergence of resilience in adolescence are discussed.

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Emotional Arousal Predicts Intertemporal Choice

Karolina Lempert, Eli Johnson & Elizabeth Phelps

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
People generally prefer immediate rewards to rewards received after a delay, often even when the delayed reward is larger. This phenomenon is known as temporal discounting. It has been suggested that preferences for immediate rewards may be due to their being more concrete than delayed rewards. This concreteness may evoke an enhanced emotional response. Indeed, manipulating the representation of a future reward to make it more concrete has been shown to heighten the reward’s subjective emotional intensity, making people more likely to choose it. Here the authors use an objective measure of arousal — pupil dilation — to investigate if emotional arousal mediates the influence of delayed reward concreteness on choice. They recorded pupil dilation responses while participants made choices between immediate and delayed rewards. They manipulated concreteness through time interval framing: delayed rewards were presented either with the date on which they would be received (e.g., “$30, May 3”; DATE condition, more concrete) or in terms of delay to receipt (e.g., “$30, 7 days; DAYS condition, less concrete). Contrary to prior work, participants were not overall more patient in the DATE condition. However, there was individual variability in response to time framing, and this variability was predicted by differences in pupil dilation between conditions. Emotional arousal increased as the subjective value of delayed rewards increased, and predicted choice of the delayed reward on each trial. This study advances our understanding of the role of emotion in temporal discounting.

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Individual Differences in Delay Discounting: Differences are Quantitative with Gains, but Qualitative with Losses

Joel Myerson, Ana Baumann & Leonard Green

Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on delay discounting and inter-temporal choice has yielded significant insights into decision making. Although research has focused on delayed gains, the discounting of losses is potentially important in precisely those areas where the discounting of gains has proved informative (e.g., substance use and abuse). Participants in the current study completed both a questionnaire consisting of choices between immediate and delayed gains and an analogous questionnaire consisting of choices between immediate and delayed losses. For almost all participants, the likelihood of choosing the delayed gain decreased with increases in the wait until it would be received. In contrast, when losses (i.e., payments) were involved, different participants showed quite different patterns of choices. More specifically, although the majority of the participants became increasingly likely to choose to pay later as the delay was increased, some participants appeared to be debt averse, in that they were more likely to choose the immediate payment option when the delay was long than when it was brief. These debt-averse participants also were more likely to choose to wait for a larger delayed gain than other participants and scored lower on Impulsiveness than those who showed the typical pattern of discounting delayed losses. Taken together, these results suggest that in the case of delayed gains, people differ only quantitatively (i.e., in how steeply they discount), whereas in the case of delayed losses, people differ qualitatively as well as quantitatively, contrary to the common assumption that a single impulsivity trait underlies choices between immediate and delayed outcomes.

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Exposure to acute stress enhances decision-making competence: Evidence for the role of DHEA

Grant Shields et al.

Psychoneuroendocrinology, May 2016, Pages 51–60

Abstract:
Exposure to acute stress can impact performance on numerous cognitive abilities, but little is known about how acute stress affects real-world decision-making ability. In the present study, we induced acute stress with a standard laboratory task involving uncontrollable socio-evaluative stress and subsequently assessed decision-making ability using the Adult Decision Making Competence index. In addition, we took baseline and post-test saliva samples from participants to examine associations between decision-making competence and adrenal hormones. Participants in the stress induction group showed enhanced decision-making competence, relative to controls. Further, although both cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) reactivity predicted decision-making competence when considered in isolation, DHEA was a significantly better predictor than cortisol when both hormones were considered simultaneously. Thus, our results show that exposure to acute stress can have beneficial effects on the cognitive ability underpinning real-world decision-making and that this effect relates to DHEA reactivity more than cortisol.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, March 18, 2016

The establishment

Representation, neighboring districts, and party loyalty in the U.S. Congress

Justin Kirkland & Lucas Williams

Public Choice, December 2015, Pages 263-284

Abstract:
Legislative scholars often assume that legislators are motivated by concerns over re-election. This assumption implies that legislators are forward-looking and are motivated by a concern over what their re-election constituency will look like during their next electoral cycle. In this research, we show how the forward-looking nature of legislators motivates members of the U.S. House of Representatives to represent both their home district and their neighboring districts in their choices regarding when to support their own party. Using survey responses to the 2006, 2008, and 2010 Cooperative Congressional Elections Study to construct measures of Congressional District ideology, empirical analysis is strongly supportive of our claims. Legislators' choices are strongly influenced both by the ideology of their home district and that of the districts that neighbor their home district. Thus, the electoral connection between citizens and representatives extends beyond a legislator's own constituents to include the constituents in neighboring districts.

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Corporate Ownership and News Bias Revisited: Newspaper Coverage of the Supreme Court's Citizens United Ruling

Catie Snow Bailard

Political Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
The clear financial benefits accrued to owners of television stations as a result of the Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (FEC) decision opens the door to an important question: Did the degree to which media corporations benefited from the changes in campaign finance law influence their news outlets' coverage of the Citizens United decision? In other words, is it possible to identify variation in how media outlets covered the Supreme Court decision that correlates with the degree to which those outlets' parent companies profited from the resulting increase in campaign spending? Answering this question will provide an important and much-too-uncommon opportunity to systematically test for bias in news coverage. Replicating the method used by Gilens and Hertzman (2000) in their own test of coverage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, this analysis reveals that newspapers belonging to media corporations that own more television stations covered the Citizens United ruling systematically differently - and more favorably - than those with few or no television stations. This has important implications for the degree to which the news produced by increasingly conglomerated and corporatized media companies may eschew neutral or balanced coverage in favor of news frames that promote their own financial interests.

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Inferences Made Easy: Partisan Voting in Congress, Voter Awareness, and Senator Approval

Logan Dancey & Geoffrey Sheagley

American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article investigates whether constituents are able to accurately infer their senators' votes when the senator frequently votes against the party line. We find that when senators repeatedly vote against the party line, constituents' ability to correctly identify their senators' votes drops precipitously while levels of misinformation rise. We then show that citizens represented by senators who tend to vote against the party line are also less able to connect their policy positions with their evaluations of those senators. These findings indicate that there is substantial variation across senators in the ability of their constituents to hold them accountable for their votes while in office. Constituents simply know less about the positions taken by moderate senators and have a harder time aligning their levels of policy agreement with a senator with their evaluation of that senator if she frequently votes against her party.

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Optimal wages for politicians

Mohammad Reza Mirhosseini

Southern Economic Journal, January 2016, Pages 1004-1020

Abstract:
I consider a society that has to decide on the wage that it offers for an elected official. Potential candidates differ in their abilities, which determines their effectiveness in office and their opportunity cost. They consider the wage when deciding whether to enter as candidates, and if they do, how hard to campaign. The remuneration for the official that maximizes ordinary citizens' expected utility is a function of the proportion of competent voters who are better informed about the quality of the candidates and are not influenced by the campaign. I use the data on U.S. governor salaries over six decades to evaluate some implications of the model. Specifically, the proportion of the state's population with a bachelor's degree - a proxy for the proportion of competent voters - is negatively correlated with the governors' salaries when controlled for other factors.

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Senate Dynamics in the Shadow of Money

Matias Iaryczower, Gabriel Lopez-Moctezuma & Adam Meirowitz

Princeton Working Paper, September 2015

Abstract:
Incumbent politicians seeking reelection face an inherently dynamic problem: They observe the change in their poll standing and incoming contributions, and respond by adjusting their political stances and by spending money in political advertising. In this paper, we formulate a model that captures this problem and estimate the model using data for US senators. Our empirical strategy allows us to obtain an estimate of senators' policy preferences that discounts pandering. This approach contrasts with current methods to estimate legislators' ideal points, which assume that all votes are sincere expressions of preference. The difference is consequential: we find that while there are some truly extreme senators, the vast majority is actually relatively moderate, and appear extreme due to electoral pressures. This finding contrasts with the conventional wisdom on the polarization of elites in American politics.

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Constituents' Responses to Descriptive and Substantive Representation in Congress

Philip Edward Jones

Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objectives: This article examines whether the descriptive representation of race and ethnicity influences how constituents respond to the substantive representation of their policy preferences. Hypotheses derived from theories of descriptive representation suggest that voters may overestimate policy congruence, or downplay its importance, while evaluating politicians who "look like" them.

Methods: A unique sample of black, Hispanic, and white Americans was asked to evaluate a (fictitious) member of the U.S. Congress whose race/ethnicity and policy positions are randomly manipulated.

Results: Regardless of their actual policy positions, blacks perceived greater substantive representation from black politicians. Also holding policy congruence constant, whites approved of white politicians at distinctly higher rates. Education moderates this effect, such that less-educated whites respond more negatively to representation by nonwhite legislators.

Conclusions: Being represented by someone of the same race can diminish accountability for legislators' substantive records, an important cost of descriptive representation.

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The Dead Hand of the Past? Toward an Understanding of "Constitutional Veneration"

James Zink & Christopher Dawes

Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Some observers argue that excessive veneration of the U.S. Constitution has blinded Americans to its flaws and made them reluctant to consider necessary reforms. In this paper, we test the assumptions that underlie these claims. We report the results of two survey experiments that examine the existence and effects of constitutional status quo bias at both the state and federal levels. Our findings support the notion that a proposed policy involving constitutional change imbues the constitutional status quo with normative value and, in turn, disposes individuals to resist the proposal. These results hold even at the state level. In addition to the institutional obstacles to constitutional amendment, therefore, we find evidence of another, psychological barrier to constitutional change that is based specifically in a sense of constitutional attachment.

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Who Gets the Credit? Legislative Responsiveness and Evaluations of Members, Parties, and the US Congress

Daniel Butler, Christopher Karpowitz & Jeremy Pope

Political Science Research and Methods, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article considers the hypothesis that the positive actions taken by members of Congress (MCs) influence citizens' evaluations of them, their party, and Congress as an institution. We begin with a look at the available cross-sectional survey data on contact with legislators and legislator and institutional approval. Their legislative responsiveness appears to have a small spillover effect on institutions. However, when we employ a unique panel design that controls for prior levels of opinion and avoids recall bias, we find no evidence of spillover effects. Overall, we find that constituents who received a response from their own MC evaluate that representative more positively than those who did not receive a response, but legislator responsiveness does not predict evaluations of the MC's political party or the Congress.

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Public Corruption in the United States: Implications for Local Firms

Nishant Dass, Vikram Nanda & Steven Chong Xiao

Review of Corporate Finance Studies, March 2016, Pages 102-138

Abstract:
We study the relation between state-level public corruption in the United States and firm-value and firms' disclosure policies. Consistent with our hypotheses, firms have significantly lower value (Tobin's q) and informational transparency in more corrupt areas. Local corruption has a less negative effect on industries that sell primarily to the government, suggesting a quid pro quo between these firms and public officials. Several tests address endogeneity concerns: for example, firms located in different states but close to state borders are affected by differences in state-level corruption, indicating legal jurisdiction matters despite similar local conditions.

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What does It Take for Congress to Enact Good Policies? an Analysis of Roll Call Voting in the US Congress

Matias Iaryczower & Gabriel Katz

Economics & Politics, March 2016, Pages 79-104

Abstract:
We study the conditions under which members of Congress incorporate policy-specific considerations in their decisions. To do this, we estimate a model that accounts for the influence of private information about legislation quality on voting patterns in the House and Senate. We find that minority party members are more likely to evaluate proposals on their merits than majority members, but institutional and electoral considerations significantly attenuate these partisan differences. In particular, seniority, electoral safety, and constituents' political knowledge have a balancing effect on partisan predispositions to rely on policy-relevant information, making minority (majority) members less (more) likely to vote informatively.

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Beyond Lobbying Expenditures: How Lobbying Breadth and Political Connectedness Affect Firm Outcomes

Jason Ridge, Amy Ingram & Aaron Hill

Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Firms are increasingly emphasizing lobbying, yet the theoretical rationale explaining the firm-level implications of lobbying remains limited and the empirical evidence contradictory. In particular, extant research largely focuses on aggregate expenditures, suggesting that more lobbying nets firm benefits (typically measured as firm performance). We argue that focusing solely on aggregate expenditures largely ignores how expenditures are targeted and the connections of firms doing the targeting and, as such, that exploring such factors both will add to our understanding of the theoretical mechanisms underlying lobbying and help clarify contradictory results. Specifically, we argue that a lobbying strategy consists of the amount of agencies and legislation targeted (lobbying breadth) and firms' connections in political circles (political connectedness). Empirical results support our contentions that lobbying breadth and political connectedness affect the benefits firms receive from lobbying, which we operationalize using both government contracts and Tobin's Q. Our results support our theoretical arguments that more is not always better in the case of lobbying breadth, as the benefits firms accrue via dispersing lobbying across more entities reaches a point of diminishing returns. Further, political connectedness has both a direct effect and interacts with lobbying breadth in determining firm benefits from lobbying.

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On the Viability of Conspiratorial Beliefs

David Robert Grimes

PLoS ONE, January 2016

Abstract:
Conspiratorial ideation is the tendency of individuals to believe that events and power relations are secretly manipulated by certain clandestine groups and organisations. Many of these ostensibly explanatory conjectures are non-falsifiable, lacking in evidence or demonstrably false, yet public acceptance remains high. Efforts to convince the general public of the validity of medical and scientific findings can be hampered by such narratives, which can create the impression of doubt or disagreement in areas where the science is well established. Conversely, historical examples of exposed conspiracies do exist and it may be difficult for people to differentiate between reasonable and dubious assertions. In this work, we establish a simple mathematical model for conspiracies involving multiple actors with time, which yields failure probability for any given conspiracy. Parameters for the model are estimated from literature examples of known scandals, and the factors influencing conspiracy success and failure are explored. The model is also used to estimate the likelihood of claims from some commonly-held conspiratorial beliefs; these are namely that the moon-landings were faked, climate-change is a hoax, vaccination is dangerous and that a cure for cancer is being suppressed by vested interests. Simulations of these claims predict that intrinsic failure would be imminent even with the most generous estimates for the secret-keeping ability of active participants - the results of this model suggest that large conspiracies (?1000 agents) quickly become untenable and prone to failure. The theory presented here might be useful in counteracting the potentially deleterious consequences of bogus and anti-science narratives, and examining the hypothetical conditions under which sustainable conspiracy might be possible.

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How Michigan Became a Right to Work State: The Role of Money and Politics

Michelle Kaminski

Labor Studies Journal, December 2015, Pages 362-378

Abstract:
The passage of Right to Work (RTW) legislation in Michigan was a surprise to many, given its relatively high unionization rate. Previous studies that examine state RTW status and the process of passing RTW legislation are not a good fit for the events in Michigan. Instead, single-party Republican control of state government and a wealthy donor who prioritized RTW combined to introduce legislation, pass it, and sign it into law in a one-week period. Contextual factors helped create an opportunity for this campaign to succeed. The Michigan experience raises questions about long-term strategies for labor in similar environments in the era of big-money donors.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, March 17, 2016

How to behave

Heterogeneity of Long-History Migration Predicts Emotion Recognition Accuracy

Adrienne Wood, Magdalena Rychlowska & Paula Niedenthal

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent work (Rychlowska et al., 2015) demonstrated the power of a relatively new cultural dimension, historical heterogeneity, in predicting cultural differences in the endorsement of emotion expression norms. Historical heterogeneity describes the number of source countries that have contributed to a country’s present-day population over the last 500 years. People in cultures originating from a large number of source countries may have historically benefited from greater and clearer emotional expressivity, because they lacked a common language and well-established social norms. We therefore hypothesized that in addition to endorsing more expressive display rules, individuals from heterogeneous cultures will also produce facial expressions that are easier to recognize by people from other cultures. By reanalyzing cross-cultural emotion recognition data from 92 papers and 82 cultures, we show that emotion expressions of people from heterogeneous cultures are more easily recognized by observers from other cultures than are the expressions produced in homogeneous cultures. Heterogeneity influences expression recognition rates alongside the individualism-collectivism of the perceivers’ culture, as more individualistic cultures were more accurate in emotion judgments than collectivistic cultures. This work reveals the present-day behavioral consequences of long-term historical migration patterns and demonstrates the predictive power of historical heterogeneity.

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Suicidality, Economic Shocks, and Egalitarian Gender Norms

Aaron Reeves & David Stuckler

European Sociological Review, February 2016, Pages 39-53

Abstract:
Durkheim conceived of suicide as a product of social integration and regulation. Although the sociology of suicide has focused on the role of disintegration, to our knowledge, the interaction between integration and regulation has yet to be empirically evaluated. In this article we test whether more egalitarian gender norms, an important form of macro-regulation, protects men and women against suicidality during economic shocks. Using cross-national data covering 20 European Union countries from the years 1991 to 2011, including the recent economic crises in Europe, we first assessed the relation between unemployment and suicide. Then we evaluated potential effect modification using three measures of gender equality, the gender ratio in labour force participation, the gender pay gap, and women’s representation in parliament using multiple measures. We found no evidence of a significant, direct link between greater gender equality and suicide rates in either men or women. However, a greater degree of gender equality helped protect against suicidality associated with economic shocks. At relatively high levels of gender equality in Europe, such as those seen in Sweden and Austria, the relationship between rising unemployment rates and suicide in men disappeared altogether. Our findings suggest that more egalitarian forms of gender regulation may help buffer the suicidal consequences of economic shocks, especially in men.

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Popular Attitudes towards Markets and Democracy: Russia and United States Compared 25 Years Later

Maxim Boycko & Robert Shiller

NBER Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
We repeat a survey we did in the waning days of the Soviet Union (Shiller, Boycko and Korobov, AER 1991) comparing attitudes towards free markets between Moscow and New York. Additional survey questions, from Gibson Duch and Tedin (J. Politics 1992) are added to compare attitudes towards democracy. Two comparisons are made: between countries, and through time, to explore the existence of international differences in allegiance to democratic free-market institutions, and the stability of these differences. While we find some differences in attitudes towards markets across countries and through time, we do not find most of the differences large or significant. Our evidence does not support a common view that the Russian personality is fundamentally illiberal or non-democratic.

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Intrinsic honesty and the prevalence of rule violations across societies

Simon Gächter & Jonathan Schulz

Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
Deception is common in nature and humans are no exception. Modern societies have created institutions to control cheating, but many situations remain where only intrinsic honesty keeps people from cheating and violating rules. Psychological, sociological and economic theories suggest causal pathways to explain how the prevalence of rule violations in people’s social environment, such as corruption, tax evasion or political fraud, can compromise individual intrinsic honesty. Here we present cross-societal experiments from 23 countries around the world that demonstrate a robust link between the prevalence of rule violations and intrinsic honesty. We developed an index of the ‘prevalence of rule violations’ (PRV) based on country-level data from the year 2003 of corruption, tax evasion and fraudulent politics. We measured intrinsic honesty in an anonymous die-rolling experiment. We conducted the experiments with 2,568 young participants (students) who, due to their young age in 2003, could not have influenced PRV in 2003. We find individual intrinsic honesty is stronger in the subject pools of low PRV countries than those of high PRV countries. The details of lying patterns support psychological theories of honesty. The results are consistent with theories of the cultural co-evolution of institutions and values, and show that weak institutions and cultural legacies that generate rule violations not only have direct adverse economic consequences, but might also impair individual intrinsic honesty that is crucial for the smooth functioning of society.

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Individualism as the moderator of the relationship between hedonism and happiness: A study in 19 nations

Mohsen Joshanloo & Aaron Jarden

Personality and Individual Differences, May 2016, Pages 149–152

Abstract:
We hypothesize that hedonism (valuing pleasure) as a pathway to happiness is more strongly correlated with happiness in more individualistic (vs collectivistic) cultures. Multi-level modeling is used to test this hypothesis in a sample of 6899 individuals across 19 cultures, controlling for age, gender, and national economic prosperity. As predicted, we find that individualism moderates the relationship between hedonism and happiness, such that hedonism is more strongly related to happiness in more individualistic cultures. These results suggest that culture influences how happiness is most effectively pursued in various cultures.

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Dignity, face, and honor cultures: A study of negotiation strategy and outcomes in three cultures

Soroush Aslani et al.

Journal of Organizational Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study compares negotiation strategy and outcomes in countries illustrating dignity, face, and honor cultures. Hypotheses predict cultural differences in negotiators' aspirations, use of strategy, and outcomes based on the implications of differences in self-worth and social structures in dignity, face, and honor cultures. Data were from a face-to-face negotiation simulation; participants were intra-cultural samples from the USA (dignity), China (face), and Qatar (honor). The empirical results provide strong evidence for the predictions concerning the reliance on more competitive negotiation strategies in honor and face cultures relative to dignity cultures in this context of negotiating a new business relationship. The study makes two important theoretical contributions. First, it proposes how and why people in a previously understudied part of the world, that is, the Middle East, use negotiation strategy. Second, it addresses a conundrum in the East Asian literature on negotiation: the theory and research that emphasize the norms of harmony and cooperation in social interaction versus empirical evidence that negotiations in East Asia are highly competitive.

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What Makes Some Intercultural Negotiations More Difficult Than Others? Power Distance and Culture-Role Combinations

Meina Liu, Lin Zhu & Ioana Cionea

Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines whether and how intercultural negotiation dyads that vary in culture-role combinations experience different negotiation processes and outcomes. Participants completed an employment contract negotiation with a culturally different counterpart. Results indicated that high-status, high-power distance negotiators paired with low-status, low-power distance negotiators experienced more anger, placed less emphasis on cooperative goals, used less priority information exchange, and, consequently, gained less joint profits than high-status, low-power distance negotiators paired with low-status, high-power distance negotiators. Theoretical and practical implications of the study are discussed.

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Influence of Cultural Meaning System and Socioeconomic Change on Indecisiveness in Three Cultures

Liman Man Wai Li, Takahiko Masuda & Feng Jiang

Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Psychologists have debated two external factors that influence human behaviors: current socioeconomic changes and historically shared cultural meaning systems. By conducting triangular comparisons among Hong Kong Chinese, mainland Chinese, and European Canadians, the current study examined whether these two factors differentially influence people’s indecisiveness. We found that (a) Hong Kong Chinese participants’ level of indecisiveness was highest, and there were no differences between the two other groups; (b) dialectical beliefs facilitated participants’ indecisiveness whereas optimism toward the future attenuated it across cultures and both factors explained cultural variations in indecisiveness; and (c) different from European Canadians’ optimism, optimism about the future promoted by perception of current rapid societal change made mainland Chinese more decisive. The importance of within-region analyses to disentangle varying factors in decision-making processes is discussed.

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Television exposure predicts body size ideals in rural Nicaragua

Lynda Boothroyd et al.

British Journal of Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Internalization of a thin ideal has been posited as a key risk factor in the development of pathological eating attitudes. Cross-culturally, studies have found a preference for heavier bodies in populations with reduced access to visual media compared to Western populations. As yet, however, there has been little attempt to control for confounding variables in order to isolate the effects of media exposure from other cultural and ecological factors. Here, we examined preferences for female body size in relation to television consumption in Nicaraguan men and women, while controlling for the potential confounding effects of other aspects of Westernization and hunger. We included an urban sample, a sample from a village with established television access, and a sample from a nearby village with very limited television access. The highest BMI preferences were found in the village with least media access, while the lowest BMI preferences were found in the urban sample. Data from the rural sample with established television access were intermediate between the two. Amongst rural women in particular, greater television consumption was a stronger predictor of body weight preferences than acculturation, education, hunger, or income. We also found some evidence for television consumption increasing the likelihood of women seeking to lose weight, possibly via body shape preferences. Overall, these results strongly implicate television access in establishing risk factors for body image disturbances in populations newly gaining access to Western media.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Staying alive

The Current and Projected Taxpayer Shares of US Health Costs

David Himmelstein & Steffie Woolhandler

American Journal of Public Health, March 2016, Pages 449-452

Objectives: We estimated taxpayers’ current and projected share of US health expenditures, including government payments for public employees’ health benefits as well as tax subsidies to private health spending.

Methods: We tabulated official Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services figures on direct government spending for health programs and public employees’ health benefits for 2013, and projected figures through 2024. We calculated the value of tax subsidies for private spending from official federal budget documents and figures for state and local tax collections.

Results: Tax-funded health expenditures totaled $1.877 trillion in 2013 and are projected to increase to $3.642 trillion in 2024. Government’s share of overall health spending was 64.3% of national health expenditures in 2013 and will rise to 67.1% in 2024. Government health expenditures in the United States account for a larger share of gross domestic product (11.2% in 2013) than do total health expenditures in any other nation.

Conclusions: Contrary to public perceptions and official Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates, government funds most health care in the United States. Appreciation of government’s predominant role in health funding might encourage more appropriate and equitable targeting of health expenditures.

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Including Health Insurance in Poverty Measurement: The Impact of Massachusetts Health Reform on Poverty

Sanders Korenman & Dahlia Remler

NBER Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
We develop and implement what we believe is the first conceptually valid health-inclusive poverty measure (HIPM) — a measure that includes health care or insurance in the poverty needs threshold and health insurance benefits in family resources — and we discuss its limitations. Building on the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, we construct a pilot HIPM for the under-65 population under ACA-like health reform in Massachusetts. This pilot is intended to demonstrate the practicality, face validity and value of a HIPM. Results suggest that public health insurance benefits and premium subsidies accounted for a substantial, one-third reduction in the poverty rate. Among low-income families who purchased individual insurance, premium subsidies reduced poverty by 9.4 percentage points.

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Beyond Job Lock: Impacts of Public Health Insurance on Occupational and Industrial Mobility

Adriana Kugler & Ammar Farooq

Georgetown University Working Paper, January 2016

Abstract:
In this paper, we examine the impacts of public health insurance on labor mobility and the quality of job matches. In particular, we test the insurance value of Medicaid. We examine whether greater Medicaid generosity encourages mobility towards riskier but better jobs in higher paid occupations and industries. To estimate these effects, we use Current Population Survey Data and exploit variation in Medicaid income and age thresholds across states and over time through the 1990s and 2000s. We find that moving from a state in the 10th to the 90th percentile in terms of Medicaid income threshold generosity increases occupational and industrial mobility by 7.6% and 7.8%, respectively. In addition, we find that increases in Medicaid generosity encourage workers to move towards riskier occupations and industries, with greater wage spreads and higher separation probabilities. At the same time, greater Medicaid generosity allows workers to move towards jobs in occupations and industries that are higher paid and have higher educational requirements.

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Massachusetts Inpatient Medicaid Cost Response to Increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits

Rajan Anthony Sonik et al.

American Journal of Public Health, March 2016, Pages 443-448

Objectives: To investigate the impact of an increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits on Medicaid costs and use in Massachusetts.

Methods: Using single and multigroup interrupted time series models, I examined the effect of an April 2009 increase in SNAP benefits on inpatient Medicaid cost and use patterns. I analyzed monthly Medicaid discharge data from 2006 to 2012 collected by the Massachusetts Center for Health Information and Analysis.

Results: Inpatient costs for the overall Massachusetts Medicaid population grew by 0.55 percentage points per month (P < .001) before the SNAP increase. After the increase, cost growth fell by 73% to 0.15 percentage points per month (–0.40; P = .003). Compared with the overall Medicaid population, cost growth for people with the selected chronic illnesses was significantly greater before the SNAP increase, as was the decline in growth afterward. Reduced hospital admissions after the SNAP increase drove the cost declines.

Conclusions: Medicaid cost growth fell in Massachusetts after SNAP benefits increased, especially for people with chronic illnesses with high sensitivity to food insecurity.

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Private versus Social Incentives for Pharmaceutical Innovation

Paula González, Inés Macho-Stadler & David Pérez-Castrillo

Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We provide a theoretical framework to contribute to the current debate regarding the tendency of pharmaceutical companies to direct their R&D toward marketing products that are “follow-on” drugs of already existing drugs, rather than toward the development of breakthrough drugs. We construct a model with a population of patients who can be treated with drugs that are horizontally and vertically differentiated. In addition to a pioneering drug, a new drug can be marketed as the result of an innovative process. We analyze physician prescription choices and the optimal pricing decision of an innovative firm. We also characterize the incentives of the innovative firm to conduct R&D activities, disentangling the quest for breakthrough drugs from the firm effort to develop follow-on drugs. Our results offer theoretical support for the conventional wisdom that pharmaceutical firms devote too many resources to conducting R&D activities that lead to incremental innovations.

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The Impact of Medicare Part D on Emergency Department Visits

Padmaja Ayyagari, Dan Shane & George Wehby

Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Medicare Part D program introduced prescription drug coverage for seniors in 2006. We examine the impact of this program on the use of emergency department (ED) care. Using a difference-in-differences model, we find declines in the number of ED visits for non-emergency care but not for emergency care, suggesting that Part D may have led to better management of health and reduced unnecessary use of EDs.

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Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Enrollees Report Less Positive Experiences Than Their Medicare Advantage Counterparts

Marc Elliott et al.

Health Affairs, March 2016, Pages 456-463

Abstract:
Since 2006, Medicare beneficiaries have been able to obtain prescription drug coverage through standalone prescription drug plans or their Medicare Advantage (MA) health plan, options exercised in 2015 by 72 percent of beneficiaries. Using data from community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries older than age sixty-four in 700 plans surveyed from 2007 to 2014, we compared beneficiaries’ assessments of Medicare prescription drug coverage when provided by standalone plans or integrated into an MA plan. Beneficiaries in standalone plans consistently reported less positive experiences with prescription drug plans (ease of getting medications, getting coverage information, and getting cost information) than their MA counterparts. Because MA plans are responsible for overall health care costs, they might have more integrated systems and greater incentives than standalone prescription drug plans to provide enrollees medications and information effectively, including, since 2010, quality bonus payments to these MA plans under provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

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Practice Style and Patient Health Outcomes: The Case of Heart Attacks

Janet Currie, Bentley MacLeod & Jessica Van Parys

Journal of Health Economics, May 2016, Pages 64–80

Abstract:
When a patient arrives at the Emergency Room with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), the provider on duty must quickly decide how aggressively the patient should be treated. Using Florida data on all such patients from 1992-2014, we decompose practice style into two components: The provider's probability of conducting invasive procedures on the average patient (which we characterize as aggressiveness), and the responsiveness of the choice of procedure to the patient's characteristics. We show that within hospitals and years, patients with more aggressive providers have consistently higher costs and better outcomes. Since all patients benefit from higher utilization of invasive procedures, targeting procedure use to the most appropriate patients benefits these patients at the expense of the less appropriate patients. We also find that the most aggressive and responsive physicians are young, male, and trained in top 20 schools.

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Fee-For-Service, While Much Maligned, Remains The Dominant Payment Method For Physician Visits

Samuel Zuvekas & Joel Cohen

Health Affairs, March 2016, Pages 411-414

Abstract:
Recent concerted efforts have sought to shift provider payment away from fee-for-service and toward risk-based alternatives. Despite these efforts, fee-for-service not only remains the dominant payment method but has continued to grow, with nearly 95 percent of all physician office visits in 2013 reimbursed in this fashion.

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Buying cures versus renting health: Financing health care with consumer loans

Vahid Montazerhodjat, David Weinstock & Andrew Lo

Science Translational Medicine, 24 February 2016

Abstract:
A crisis is building over the prices of new transformative therapies for cancer, hepatitis C virus infection, and rare diseases. The clinical imperative is to offer these therapies as broadly and rapidly as possible. We propose a practical way to increase drug affordability through health care loans (HCLs) — the equivalent of mortgages for large health care expenses. HCLs allow patients in both multipayer and single-payer markets to access a broader set of therapeutics, including expensive short-duration treatments that are curative. HCLs also link payment to clinical benefit and should help lower per-patient cost while incentivizing the development of transformative therapies rather than those that offer small incremental advances. Moreover, we propose the use of securitization — a well-known financial engineering method — to finance a large diversified pool of HCLs through both debt and equity. Numerical simulations suggest that securitization is viable for a wide range of economic environments and cost parameters, allowing a much broader patient population to access transformative therapies while also aligning the interests of patients, payers, and the pharmaceutical industry.

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Kentucky’s Medicaid Expansion Showing Early Promise On Coverage And Access To Care

Joseph Benitez, Liza Creel & J’Aime Jennings

Health Affairs, March 2016, Pages 528-534

Abstract:
Kentucky is one of only two southern states, at the time of this writing, to have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The expansion raised Medicaid eligibility levels as a means to make coverage more accessible and make health care more affordable for a population likely to face financial barriers in using medical care. This article examines the first-year impact of Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion on insurance coverage and access to care. Focusing on Kentucky’s low-income population, we observed large reductions in the low-income uninsurance rate from 35 percent at the end of 2013 to just below 11 percent by the end of 2014. Other findings revealed declines in unmet medical needs because of cost and declines in the number of people without a readily identifiable source of regular care among low-income groups. While our results are limited to Kentucky’s experience with Medicaid expansion, they may hold lessons for other states looking to address health care access issues among their historically vulnerable and low-income populations.

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Self-insuring against Liability Risk: Evidence from Physician Home Values in States with Unlimited Homestead Exemptions

Eric Helland et al.

NBER Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
When faced with financial uncertainty, rational agents have incentives to take steps ex ante to reduce the probability (self-protection) or size (self-insurance) of a loss. However, in the case of liability risk, especially physician responses to malpractice risk, most empirical analyses have focused exclusively on measuring self-protection. This paper studies whether physicians invest in self-insurance by exploring how they respond to policies that allow them to lower the financial cost of malpractice liability. Specifically, we test whether physicians exploit provisions of bankruptcy laws and adjust the value of their home purchases to protect assets from liability claims exceeding their malpractice policy limits. We find that in states with unlimited “homestead” exceptions — provisions of state law that protect home equity when individuals file for bankruptcy — physicians invest 13% more in the value of their homes compared to what they would have invested in the absence of an exemption, whereas no such effect is true for other professionals of similar family income, family size, demographics, and city of residence. Additionally, the response of physicians to unlimited homestead exemptions is larger in areas with higher liability risk, where physicians would have greater incentive to insure against financial risks. Our findings suggest that physicians take financially costly decisions to protect themselves from uninsured malpractice risk, implying more generally that individuals self-insure against liability risk when insurance markets are incomplete.

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Innovation in the Pharmaceutical Industry: New Estimates of R&D Costs

Joseph DiMasi, Henry Grabowski & Ronald Hansen

Journal of Health Economics, May 2016, Pages 20–33

Abstract:
The research and development costs of 106 randomly selected new drugs were obtained from a survey of 10 pharmaceutical firms. These data were used to estimate the average pre-tax cost of new drug and biologics development. The costs of compounds abandoned during testing were linked to the costs of compounds that obtained marketing approval. The estimated average out-of-pocket cost per approved new compound is $1,395 million (2013 dollars). Capitalizing out-of-pocket costs to the point of marketing approval at a real discount rate of 10.5% yields a total pre-approval cost estimate of $2,588 million (2013 dollars). When compared to the results of the previous study in this series, total capitalized costs were shown to have increased at an annual rate of 8.5% above general price inflation. Adding an estimate of post-approval R&D costs increases the cost estimate to $2,870 million (2013 dollars).

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Understanding Characteristics Of Likely Marketplace Enrollees And How They Choose Plans

Fredric Blavin, Michael Karpman & Stephen Zuckerman

Health Affairs, March 2016, Pages 535-539

Abstract:
In 2015, adults likely to have enrolled in the Affordable Care Act Marketplace were predominantly non-Hispanic whites and, on average, older and more aware of the availability of Marketplace subsidies than adults who remained uninsured. Enrollees were also significantly more likely than adults who remained uninsured to rely on some type of application assistance instead of exclusively looking for information through the Marketplace website.

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Superbugs vs. Outsourced Cleaners: Employment Arrangements and the Spread of Healthcare-Associated Infections

Adam Seth Litwin, Ariel Avgar & Edmund Becker

Industrial and Labor Relations Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
On any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients in the U.S. has a healthcare-associated infection (HAI) that the patient contracts as a direct result of his or her treatment. Fortunately, the spread of most HAIs can be halted through proper disinfection of surfaces and equipment. Consequently, cleaners — “environmental services” (EVS) in hospital parlance — must take on the important task of defending hospital patients (as well as employees and the broader community) from the spread of HAIs. Nevertheless, despite the importance of this task, hospitals frequently outsource this function, increasing the likelihood that these workers are under-rewarded, undertrained, and detached from the organization and the rest of the care team. As a result, the outsourcing of EVS workers could have the unintended consequence of increasing the incidence of HAIs. We demonstrate this relationship empirically, finding support for our theory by using a self-constructed dataset that marries infection data to structural, organizational, and workforce features of California’s general acute care hospitals. The study thus advances the literature on nonstandard work arrangements — outsourcing, in particular — while sounding a cautionary note to hospital administrators and healthcare policymakers.

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US Physician Practices Spend More Than $15.4 Billion Annually To Report Quality Measures

Lawrence Casalino et al.

Health Affairs, March 2016, Pages 401-406

Abstract:
Each year US physician practices in four common specialties spend, on average, 785 hours per physician and more than $15.4 billion dealing with the reporting of quality measures. While much is to be gained from quality measurement, the current system is unnecessarily costly, and greater effort is needed to standardize measures and make them easier to report.

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The Impact of the ACA's Extension of Coverage to Dependents on Young Adults’ Access to Care and Prescription Drugs

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Mehmet Yaya

Southern Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)'s extension of coverage to dependents on young adults’ access to care as captured by their likelihood of delaying needed medical care or forgoing prescription drugs. Using data from the 2002 through 2013 waves of the National Health Interview Survey, we find that the federal mandate has not only significantly lowered their likelihood of being uninsured, but also significantly reduced their likelihood of delaying needed medical care or forgoing prescription drugs by 13% and by 31%, respectively. Because these early impacts might still underestimate the long-run effect of greater health insurance coverage on health care utilization, the findings hint on the success of the ACA's expansion of dependent coverage to young adults in improving their access to health care.

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Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program: An Economic and Operational Analysis

Dennis Zhang et al.

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP), a part of the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to penalize hospitals with excess readmissions. We take an economic and operational (patient flow) perspective to analyze the effectiveness of this policy in encouraging hospitals to reduce readmissions. We develop a game-theoretic model that captures the competition among hospitals inherent in HRRP’s benchmarking mechanism. We show that this competition can be counterproductive: it increases the number of nonincentivized hospitals, which prefer paying penalties over reducing readmissions in any equilibrium. We calibrate our model with a data set of more than 3,000 hospitals in the United States and show that under the current policy, and for a large set of parameters, 4%–13% of the hospitals remain nonincentivized to reduce readmissions. We also validate our model against the actual performance of hospitals in the three years since the introduction of the policy. We draw several policy recommendations to improve this policy’s outcome. For example, localizing the benchmarking process — comparing hospitals against similar peers — improves the performance of the policy.

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Transparency and Negotiated Prices: The Value of Information in Hospital-Supplier Bargaining

Matthew Grennan & Ashley Swanson

NBER Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
We empirically examine the role of information in business-to-business bargaining between hospitals and suppliers of medical technologies. Using a new data set including all purchase orders issued by over sixteen percent of US hospitals 2009-14, and differences-in-differences identification strategies based on both timing of hospitals’ joining a benchmarking database and on new products entering the market, we find that access to information on purchasing by peer hospitals leads to reductions in prices. These reductions are concentrated among hospitals previously paying high prices relative to other hospitals and for products purchased in relatively large volumes, and we demonstrate that they are consistent with hospitals resolving asymmetric information problems between themselves and their suppliers. We estimate that the achieved savings due to information provision amount to 26 percent of the savings we would observe if all hospitals paying above average prices for a given product at a point in time were to instead pay the average price. These results have implications for understanding the economic effects of introducing more information into relatively opaque business-to-business markets, including the emerging role of intermediaries offering benchmarking data and policymakers’ calls for transparency in medical device pricing.

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Do Nursing Home Chain Size and Proprietary Status Affect Experiences With Care?

Kai You et al.

Medical Care, March 2016, Pages 229–234

Objectives: To study the relationship between nursing home chain characteristics (chain size and profit status) with patients’ family member reported ratings on experiences with care.

Data Sources and Study Design: Maryland nursing home care experience reports, the Online Survey, Certification, And Reporting (OSCAR) files, and Area Resource Files are used. Our sample consists of all nongovernmental nursing homes in Maryland from 2007 to 2010. Consumer ratings were reported for: overall care; recommendation of the facility; staff performance; care provided; food and meals; physical environment; and autonomy and personal rights. We identified chain characteristics from OSCAR, and estimated multivariate random effect linear models to test the effects of chain ownership on care experience ratings.

Results: Independent nonprofit nursing homes have the highest overall rating score of 8.9, followed by 8.6 for facilities in small nonprofit chains, and 8.5 for independent for-profit facilities. Facilities in small, medium, and large for-profit chains have even lower overall ratings of 8.2, 7.9, and 8.0, respectively. We find similar patterns of differences in terms of recommendation rate, and important areas such as staff communication and quality of care.

Conclusions: Evidence suggests that Maryland nursing homes affiliated with large-for-profit and medium-for-profit chains had lower ratings of family reported experience with care.

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Retail Clinic Visits for Low-Acuity Conditions Increase Utilization and Spending

Scott Ashwood et al.

Health Affairs, March 2016, Pages 449-455

Abstract:
Retail clinics have been viewed by policy makers and insurers as a mechanism to decrease health care spending, by substituting less expensive clinic visits for more expensive emergency department or physician office visits. However, retail clinics may actually increase spending if they drive new health care utilization. To assess whether retail clinic visits represent new utilization or a substitute for more expensive care, we used insurance claims data from Aetna for the period 2010–12 to track utilization and spending for eleven low-acuity conditions. We found that 58 percent of retail clinic visits for low-acuity conditions represented new utilization and that retail clinic use was associated with a modest increase in spending, of $14 per person per year. These findings do not support the idea that retail clinics decrease health care spending.

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Changes in Consumer Demand Following Public Reporting of Summary Quality Ratings: An Evaluation in Nursing Homes

Rachel Werner, Tamara Konetzka & Daniel Polsky

Health Services Research, forthcoming

Study Design: In December 2008, Medicare converted its nursing home report card to summary or star ratings. We test whether there was a change in consumer demand for nursing homes related to the nursing home's star rating after the information was released.

Principal Findings: The star rating system was associated with a significant change in consumer demand for low- and high-scoring facilities. After the star-based rating system was released, 1-star facilities typically lost 8 percent of their market share and 5-star facilities gained over 6 percent of their market share.

Conclusions: The nursing home star rating system significantly affected consumer demand for high- and low-rated nursing homes. These results support the use of summary measures in report cards.

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Ambulatory Surgery Centers and Prices in Hospital Outpatient Departments

Kathleen Carey

Medical Care Research and Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Specialty providers claim to offer a new competitive benchmark for efficient delivery of health care. This article explores this view by examining evidence for price competition between ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) and hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs). I studied the impact of ASC market presence on actual prices paid to HOPDs during 2007-2010 for four common surgical procedures that were performed in both provider types. For the procedures examined, HOPDs received payments from commercial insurers in the range of 3.25% to 5.15% lower for each additional ASC per 100,000 persons in a market. HOPDs may have less negotiating leverage with commercial insurers on price in markets with high ASC market penetration, resulting in relatively lower prices.

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Health Care Expenditures After Initiating Long-term Services and Supports in the Community Versus in a Nursing Facility

Robert Newcomer et al.

Medical Care, March 2016, Pages 221–228

Background: Individuals who receive long-term services and supports (LTSS) are among the most costly participants in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Objectives: To compare health care expenditures among users of Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) versus those using extended nursing facility care.

Research Design: Retrospective cohort analysis of California dually eligible adult Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries who initiated Medicaid LTSS, identified as HCBS or extended nursing facility care, in 2006 or 2007.

Subjects: Propensity score matching for demographic, health, and functional characteristics resulted in a subsample of 34,660 users who initiated Medicaid HCBS versus extended nursing facility use. Those with developmental disabilities or in managed care plans were excluded.

Measures: Average monthly adjusted acute, postacute, long-term, and total Medicare and Medicaid expenditures for the 12 months following initiation of either HCBS or extended nursing facility care.

Results: Those initiating extended nursing facility care had, on average, $2919 higher adjusted total health care expenditures per month compared with those who initiated HCBS. The difference was primarily attributable to spending on LTSS $2855. On average, the monthly LTSS expenditures were higher for Medicare $1501 and for Medicaid $1344 when LTSS was provided in a nursing facility rather than in the community.

Conclusions: The higher cost of delivering LTSS in a nursing facility rather than in the community was not offset by lower acute and postacute spending. Medicare and Medicaid contribute similar amounts to the LTSS cost difference and both could benefit financially by redirecting care from institutions to the community.

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Preventive Dental Care and Long-Term Dental Outcomes among ALL Kids Enrollees

Bisakha Sen et al.

Health Services Research, forthcoming

Objective: To investigate whether early or regular preventive dental visit (PDV) reduces restorative or emergency dental care and costs for low-income children.

Study Setting: Enrollees during 1998–2012 in the Alabama CHIP program, ALL Kids.

Study Design: Retrospective cohort study using claims data for children continuously enrolled in ALL Kids for at least 4 years. Analyses are conducted separately for children 0–4 years, 4–9 years, and >9 years. For 0–4 years, the intervention of interest is whether they have at least one PDV before age 3. For the other two age groups, interventions of interest are if they have regular PDVs during each of the first 3 years, and if they have claims for a sealant in the first 3 years. Outcomes—namely restorative and emergency dental service and costs—are measured in the fourth year. To account for selection into PDV, a high-dimensional propensity scores approach is utilized.

Principal Findings: Only sealants are associated with a reduced likelihood of using restorative and emergency services and costs.

Conclusions: Whether PDVs without sealants actually reduce restorative/emergency pediatric dental services is questionable. Further research into benefits of PDV is needed.

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An Evaluation of Performance Thresholds in Nursing Home Pay-for-Performance

Rachel Werner, Meghan Skira & Tamara Konetzka

Health Services Research, forthcoming

Objective: Performance thresholds are commonly used in pay-for-performance (P4P) incentives, where providers receive a bonus payment for achieving a prespecified target threshold but may produce discontinuous incentives, with providers just below the threshold having the strongest incentive to improve and providers either far below or above the threshold having little incentive. We investigate the effect of performance thresholds on provider response in the setting of nursing home P4P.

Study Setting and Design: Difference-in-differences design to test for changes in nursing home performance in three states that implemented threshold-based P4P (Colorado, Georgia, and Oklahoma) versus three comparator states (Arizona, Tennessee, and Arkansas) between 2006 and 2009.

Principal Findings: We find that those farthest below the threshold (i.e., the worst-performing nursing homes) had the largest improvements under threshold-based P4P while those farthest above the threshold worsened. This effect did not vary with the percentage of Medicaid residents in a nursing home.

Conclusions: Threshold-based P4P may provide perverse incentives for nursing homes above the performance threshold, but we do not find evidence to support concerns about the effects of performance thresholds on low-performing nursing homes.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Out of proportion

Does Racial Isolation in School Lead to Long-Term Disadvantages? Labor Market Consequences of High School Racial Composition

Adam Gamoran, Ana Cristina Collares & Sarah Barfels

American Journal of Sociology, January 2016, Pages 1116-1167

Abstract:
School racial composition has modest effects on test score gaps, but evidence of a longer-term impact is scarce. Perpetuation theory suggests that blacks who attend schools with higher proportions of white classmates may have better job outcomes. Multilevel analyses of two national longitudinal surveys reveal no effects of high school racial composition on occupational status, employment, or annual earnings for blacks or whites. For other minority groups, attending schools with more whites impedes occupational advancement. For all groups, however, school racial composition predicts workplace racial composition: Whites who attend high schools with higher proportions of white students have higher proportions of white coworkers, while nonwhites who attend schools with higher proportions of whites have fewer same-race coworkers. The findings are modest in size but robust to alternative specifications, and sensitivity analyses support a causal interpretation for same-race coworkers. These results support perpetuation theory for workplace composition but not for stratification outcomes.

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The Causal Effects of Cultural Relevance: Evidence from an Ethnic Studies Curriculum

Thomas Dee & Emily Penner

NBER Working Paper, January 2016

Abstract:
An extensive theoretical and qualitative literature stresses the promise of instructional practices and content aligned with the cultural experiences of minority students. Ethnic studies courses provide a growing but controversial example of such "culturally relevant pedagogy." However, the empirical evidence on the effectiveness of these courses is limited. In this study, we estimate the causal effects of an ethnic studies curriculum piloted in several San Francisco high schools. We rely on a "fuzzy" regression discontinuity design based on the fact that several schools assigned students with eighth-grade GPAs below a threshold to take the course in ninth grade. Our results indicate that assignment to this course increased ninth-grade student attendance by 21 percentage points, GPA by 1.4 grade points, and credits earned by 23. These surprisingly large effects are consistent with the hypothesis that the course reduced dropout rates and suggest that culturally relevant teaching, when implemented in a supportive, high-fidelity context, can provide effective support to at-risk students.

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Does diversity-valuing behavior result in diminished performance ratings for nonwhite and female leaders?

David Hekman et al.

Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We seek to help solve the puzzle of why top-level leaders are disproportionately white men. We suggest that this race- and sex-based status and power gap persists, in part, because ethnic minority and women leaders are discouraged from engaging in diversity-valuing behavior. We hypothesize and test in both field and laboratory samples that ethnic minority or female leaders who engage in diversity-valuing behavior are penalized with worse performance ratings; whereas white or male leaders who engage in diversity-valuing behavior are not penalized for doing so. We find that this divergent effect results from traditional negative race and sex stereotypes (i.e. lower competence judgments) placed upon diversity-valuing ethnic minority and women leaders. We discuss how our findings extend and enrich the vast literatures on the glass ceiling, tokenism, and workplace discrimination.

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Discretion and Disproportionality: Explaining the Underrepresentation of High-Achieving Students of Color in Gifted Programs

Jason Grissom & Christopher Redding

AERA Open, December 2015

Abstract:
Students of color are underrepresented in gifted programs relative to White students, but the reasons for this underrepresentation are poorly understood. We investigate the predictors of gifted assignment using nationally representative, longitudinal data on elementary students. We document that even among students with high standardized test scores, Black students are less likely to be assigned to gifted services in both math and reading, a pattern that persists when controlling for other background factors, such as health and socioeconomic status, and characteristics of classrooms and schools. We then investigate the role of teacher discretion, leveraging research from political science suggesting that clients of government services from traditionally underrepresented groups benefit from diversity in the providers of those services, including teachers. Even after conditioning on test scores and other factors, Black students indeed are referred to gifted programs, particularly in reading, at significantly lower rates when taught by non-Black teachers, a concerning result given the relatively low incidence of assignment to own-race teachers among Black students.

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The Frequency of "Brilliant" and "Genius" in Teaching Evaluations Predicts the Representation of Women and African Americans across Fields

Daniel Storage et al.

PLoS ONE, March 2016

Abstract:
Women and African Americans - groups targeted by negative stereotypes about their intellectual abilities - may be underrepresented in careers that prize brilliance and genius. A recent nationwide survey of academics provided initial support for this possibility. Fields whose practitioners believed that natural talent is crucial for success had fewer female and African American PhDs. The present study seeks to replicate this initial finding with a different, and arguably more naturalistic, measure of the extent to which brilliance and genius are prized within a field. Specifically, we measured field-by-field variability in the emphasis on these intellectual qualities by tallying - with the use of a recently released online tool - the frequency of the words "brilliant" and "genius" in over 14 million reviews on RateMyProfessors.com, a popular website where students can write anonymous evaluations of their instructors. This simple word count predicted both women's and African Americans' representation across the academic spectrum. That is, we found that fields in which the words "brilliant" and "genius" were used more frequently on RateMyProfessors.com also had fewer female and African American PhDs. Looking at an earlier stage in students' educational careers, we found that brilliance-focused fields also had fewer women and African Americans obtaining bachelor's degrees. These relationships held even when accounting for field-specific averages on standardized mathematics assessments, as well as several competing hypotheses concerning group differences in representation. The fact that this naturalistic measure of a field's focus on brilliance predicted the magnitude of its gender and race gaps speaks to the tight link between ability beliefs and diversity.

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Seeing Potential: The Effects of Student-Teacher Demographic Congruence on Teacher Expectations and Recommendations

Lindsay Fox

AERA Open, December 2015

Abstract:
I present new evidence on the effects of having a same-sex or same-race teacher on two salient outcomes: teacher expectations for postsecondary attainment and teacher recommendations for advanced courses. My identification strategy conditions on all subject-invariant student traits to provide causal estimates of the effects using data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002. Across the full sample, there is little evidence of an effect of having a same-sex or a same-race teacher on expectations or recommendations. However, I find surprisingly large effects for Black students on teacher expectations. For these students, the effect of a same-race teacher on teacher expectations to complete more than high school is between 11 and 17 percentage points. This effect is at least 70% of the White-Black race gap in teacher expectations.

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The Impact of School Racial Compositions on Neighborhood Racial Compositions: Evidence from School Redistricting

Jeffrey Weinstein

Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
I use data surrounding public school redistricting to study how school racial compositions affect neighborhood racial compositions. This redistricting followed from the end of court-ordered busing for racial desegregation, significantly changing the racial composition of the assigned school for many neighborhoods. Over a 5-year period, the impact of an increase in the percent black of the assigned elementary school on the percent black of the neighborhood was positive. The effects increased over time, consistent with a simple model of short-run neighborhood racial dynamics. These results have implications for potential effects of school racial desegregation policy changes on neighborhood racial compositions.

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The Accumulation of (Dis)advantage: The Intersection of Gender and Race in the Long-Term Wage Effect of Marriage

Siwei Cheng

American Sociological Review, February 2016, Pages 29-56

Abstract:
A sizable literature examines whether and why marriage affects men's and women's wages. This study advances current research in two ways. First, whereas most prior studies treat the effect of marriage as time-invariant, I examine how the wage effect of marriage unfolds over the life course. Second, whereas prior work often focuses on the population-average effect of marriage or is limited to some particular gender or racial group, I examine the intersection of gender and race in the effect of marriage. Analyzing data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, I find that the marriage wage premium grows steadily and at a similar pace among white and black men. The marriage wage premium declines toward negative among white women, yet it grows steadily among black women. Furthermore, measured work experience explains a substantial amount of the wage premium among black men, yet it has little explanatory power among white men, pointing to the importance of unobserved factors in white men's marriage premium. Changes in work experience negatively affect married white women's wages, yet they positively affect married black women's wages, pointing to the important differences between black and white families.

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Separate and Unequal in the Labor Market: Human Capital and the Jim Crow Wage Gap

Celeste Carruthers & Marianne Wanamaker

NBER Working Paper, January 2016

Abstract:
The gap between black and white earnings is a longstanding feature of the United States labor market. Competing explanations attribute different weight to wage discrimination and access to human capital. Using new data on local school quality, we find that human capital played a predominant role in determining 1940 wage and occupational status gaps in the South despite the effective disenfranchisement of blacks, entrenched racial discrimination in civic life, and lack of federal employment protections. The 1940 conditional black-white wage gap coincides with the higher end of the range of estimates from the post-Civil Rights era. We estimate that a truly "separate but equal" school system would have reduced wage inequality by 40 - 51 percent.

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Race, Supervisorial Change, and Job Outcomes: Employability Resilience in NCAA Division I College Basketball Coaching

Scott Savage & Ryan Seebruck

Sociological Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine how race affects the employment status of subordinates following a job change by their immediate supervisors. We test whether racial homophily between a subordinate and a supervisor affects the odds of being let go. We also consider whether a racial match between an incoming head coach and assistant affects whether assistants retain their assistant coaching position. Data for these analyses come from a unique data set that explores what happens to 704 NCAA Division I college basketball assistant coaches after the head coach leaves the school. Logistic regression analyses confirm the benefit of working for a white head coach as this decreases the likelihood of being let go, compared to more positive outcomes such as following the coach to a new school, being internally promoted or retained after the head coach's departure. Furthermore, racial homophily with incoming head coaches insulates subordinates from having to search for new employment by increasing the likelihood of assistants being retained.

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What's in a (School) Name? Racial Discrimination in Higher Education Bond Markets

Casey Dougal et al.

Duke University Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) pay more in underwriting fees to issue tax-exempt bonds, compared to similar, non-HBCU schools. This appears to reflect higher deadweight costs of finding willing buyers: the effect is three times larger in the Deep South, where racial animus has historically been the highest. School attributes or credit quality explain almost none of the effects. For example, identical differences are observed between HBCU and non-HBCU bonds: 1) having AAA credit ratings, and 2) insured by the same company, even prior to the Financial Crisis of 2008. HBCU-issued bonds are also more expensive to trade in the secondary market, and when they do, sit in dealer inventory longer.

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People notice and use an applicant's religion in job suitability evaluations

Debbie Van Camp, Lloyd Sloan & Amanda ElBassiouny

Social Science Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Social identity theory suggests that people use social categories such as race and gender as the basis of interpersonal judgments and demonstrate biases favoring their ingroups, and that this discrimination against out-groups includes hiring and other personnel decisions. This research examines whether, in the context of other information, participants will use a person's religion and show typical intergroup biases often seen between racial groups. One hundred and seventy-five Black Christian participants viewed fictional job applicants of different religions (Christian/Muslim/atheist) and races (Black/White). Thirty-two percent of participants explicitly reported using the applicant's religion (but seldom reported using their race) as a source of evaluation and showed a consistent preference for Christian (ingroup) over Muslim and atheist (outgroup) applicants. In contrast, those who did not acknowledge using religion showed some racial ingroup bias but none for religion. This research has implications for workplace discrimination, hiring practices, and racial and religious group relations.

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Affirming the Interdependent Self: Implications for Latino Student Performance

Rebecca Covarrubias, Sarah Herrmann & Stephanie Fryberg

Basic and Applied Social Psychology, January/February 2016, Pages 47-57

Abstract:
We examined whether culture-relevant affirmations that focus on family (i.e., family affirmation) would enhance performance for Latino students compared to affirmations that focus on the individual (i.e., self-affirmation). In Study 1 (N = 82), Latino middle school students exposed to a family affirmation outperformed Latino students exposed to a self-affirmation. In Study 2 (N = 269), Latino college students exposed to a family affirmation outperformed Latino students exposed to a self-affirmation and outperformed European American students across conditions. European American students performed equally well across conditions. The findings suggest that culture provides a meaningful framework for developing effective classroom strategies.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, March 14, 2016

Rulers

HIV/AIDS, Life Expectancy, and the Opportunity Cost Model of Civil War

Tyler Kustra

Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article views death in battle as an opportunity cost whose size is determined by the number of years a rebel would have lived as a civilian. As civilian life expectancy declines, this opportunity cost does too, increasing the probability of rebellion. This theory is tested with a tragic natural experiment: the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. Using male circumcision rates as an instrument for life expectancy, the analysis shows that a one-year increase in life expectancy decreases the probability of civil war by 2.6 percentage points. This supports the theory that opportunity costs are important determinants of conflict onset and that nonpecuniary opportunity costs should be taken into account. This article concludes by noting that cost–benefit analyses of public health interventions should include decreases in the probability of civil war, and the attendant benefits in terms of lives saved and material damage prevented, in their calculations.

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Institutionally Constrained Technology Adoption: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

Douglas Allen & Peter Leeson

Journal of Law and Economics, August 2015, Pages 683-715

Abstract:
For over a century the longbow reigned as undisputed king of medieval European missile weapons. Yet only England used the longbow as a mainstay in its military arsenal; France and Scotland clung to the technologically inferior crossbow. This longbow puzzle has perplexed historians for decades. We resolve it by developing a theory of institutionally constrained technology adoption. Unlike the crossbow, the longbow was cheap and easy to make and required rulers who adopted the weapon to train large numbers of citizens in its use. These features enabled usurping nobles whose rulers adopted the longbow to potentially organize effective rebellions against them. Rulers choosing between missile technologies thus confronted a trade-off with respect to internal and external security. England alone in late medieval Europe was sufficiently politically stable to allow its rulers the first-best technology option. In France and Scotland political instability prevailed, constraining rulers in these nations to the crossbow.

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Queens

Oeindrila Dube & S.P. Harish

NYU Working Paper, October 2015

Abstract:
A large scholarship claims that states led by women are less conflictual than states led by men. However, it is theoretically unclear why female leaders would favor more conciliatory war policies. And, it is empirically challenging to identify the effect of female rule, since women may gain power disproportionately during periods of peace. We surmount this challenge by exploiting features of hereditary succession in European polities over the 15th-20th centuries. In this context, women were more likely to acquire power if the previous monarch lacked a male first-born child, or had a sister who could follow as successor. Using these factors as instruments for female rule, we find that queenly reigns participated more in inter-state conflicts, without experiencing more internal conflict. Moreover, the tendency of queens to participate as conflict aggressors varied based on marital status. Among married monarchs, queens were more likely to participate as attackers than kings. Among unmarried monarchs, queens were more likely to be attacked than kings. These results are consistent with an account in which queens relied on their spouses to manage state affairs, enabling them to pursue more aggressive war policies. Kings, on the other hand, were less inclined to utilize a similar division of labor. This asymmetry in how queens relied on male spouses and kings relied on female spouses strengthened the relative capacity of queenly reigns, facilitating their greater participation in warfare.

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When the Fourth Estate Becomes a Fifth Column: The Effect of Media Freedom and Social Intolerance on Civil Conflict

Marc Hutchison, Salvatore Schiano & Jenifer Whitten-Woodring

International Journal of Press/Politics, April 2016, Pages 165-187

Abstract:
Media freedom is typically viewed as crucial to democracy and development. The idea is that independent news media will facilitate free and fair elections and shine a spotlight on corruption — thereby serving as a fourth estate. Yet political leaders often justify restricting media freedom on the grounds that irresponsible news coverage will incite political violence — potentially undermining government and in effect acting as a fifth column. So is media freedom a force for democracy or a source of civil conflict? We hypothesize that the effect of media freedom on civil conflict is conditioned by a country’s level of intolerance. Specifically, we predict when social intolerance is low, media freedom will discourage domestic conflict because the tone of the news coverage will reflect the level of tolerance and ameliorate any inflammatory coverage. In contrast, we predict that high levels of social intolerance will fuel and be fueled by inflammatory news coverage if the media are free, thereby promoting civil conflict. We test our hypotheses across countries and over time drawing from World Values and European Values Surveys and the Global Media Freedom Dataset and find that the combination of media freedom and high social intolerance is associated with increased civil conflict.

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Recruitment by Petition: American Antislavery, French Protestantism, English Suppression

Daniel Carpenter

Perspectives on Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why do petitions flourish when they are often denied if not ignored by the sovereigns who receive them? When activists seek to build political organizations in network-rich but information-poor environments, petitioning as institutional technology facilitates recruitment. A petition’s signatory list identifies and locates individuals sympathetic to its prayer and expresses to other citizens who and how many agree with the prayer. Three historical moments – the explosion of antislavery petitioning in the antebellum United States, the emergence of Protestantism in sixteenth-century France, and England’s suppression of petitioning after the Restoration Settlement of 1660 – provide vivid demonstrations of the theory. A recruitment-based theory implies that petition drives mobilize as much as they express, that well-established groups and parties petition less frequently, and that the most important readers of a petition are those asked to sign it. Contemporary digital petitioning both routinizes and takes its force from the petition’s embedded recruitment technology.

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Causal Effect of Witnessing Political Protest on Civic Engagement

Han Zhang

Princeton University Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
How does physically witnessing a protest in a democratic society affect citizens in authoritarian societies? Existing methods are unable to answer this question because of their difficulty in capturing witnesses, constructing meaningful comparison groups, and obtaining information on pre-protest political behaviors. Using a quasi-experiment design, I report a first causal estimation of the impact of 13 protests in Hong Kong from 2012-14 on witnesses from mainland China. I used geocoded posts from Chinese social networking site to construct a panel of Chinese users who had visited Hong Kong at different timing: treated users were physically close to one of the protests when it occurred while control users already left Hong Kong before the protests occurred and therefore could not witness them. I used difference-in-differences methods to estimate changes of intensities of and issues of discussion of civic and political problems. The treated users published 40.39% more posts that discuss civic and political problems after protest, relative to the change of the control users. This increase is robust under several replication and placebo tests, and remains significant within three months after the protests. Treated users discussed more issues that are related to their daily lives such as pollution, food safety. They also discussed more about democracy but mainly in the context of Hong Kong instead of treating it as a topic for China proper, and expressed mixed feelings about democracy. The results suggest that witnessing protests driven by democratic claims lead citizens from authoritarian regimes to be more civically engaged.

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Changes in the menu of manipulation: Electoral fraud, ballot stuffing, and voter pressure in the 2011 Russian election

Cole Harvey

Electoral Studies, March 2016, Pages 105–117

Abstract:
Vote-buying and voter intimidation are costly, complicated, and risky ways to manage elections. Why, then, do hybrid regimes utilize such tactics rather than ballot stuffing or election falsification? Such methods to mobilize voters require the construction of patronage networks that can be used to mobilize or demobilize clients beyond the election, and to display the incumbent's organizational strength. These networks are most valuable in places where opposition groups are active; consequently direct voter pressure should be more common in competitive areas. This paper uses data from Russia's 83 regions during the 2011 election to compare patterns of extra-legal mobilization with patterns of ballot stuffing and falsification. I conclude that local political competitiveness structures the mix of electoral manipulation tactics employed.

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Institutions, information, and commitment: The role of democracy in conflict

James Bang & Aniruddha Mitra

Defence and Peace Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper explores the hypothesis that both the preexisting quality of democracy in a polity at the onset of conflict and the quality of democracy expected to emerge in the aftermath influence the likelihood of civil war. An empirical investigation of the hypothesis presents a challenge due to concerns of endogeneity and selection: the post-conflict level of democracy is endogenous to the pre-conflict level. Further, for a given time period, either a number of countries have not experienced civil war; or if they did, did not resolve the conflict. We overcome this selection bias by implementing a three-step extension to the Heckman procedure using an unbalanced cross-country panel of 77 countries over the period 1971–2005. Consistent with our hypothesis, we find that a standard deviation improvement in the existing level of democracy reduces the probability of civil war by approximately 9 percentage points and a corresponding improvement in expected post-conflict democratization increases the probability of conflict by approximately 48 percentage points.

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Does poverty cause conflict? Isolating the causal origins of the conflict trap

Alex Braithwaite, Niheer Dasandi & David Hudson

Conflict Management and Peace Science, February 2016, Pages 45-66

Abstract:
Does poverty cause civil conflict? A considerable literature seeks to answer this question, yet concerns about reverse causality threaten the validity of extant conclusions. To estimate the impact of poverty on conflict and to determine whether the relationship between them is causal, it is necessary to identify a source of exogenous variation in poverty. We do this by introducing a robust instrument for poverty: a time-varying measure of international inequalities. We draw upon existing theories about the structural position of a country in the international economic network — specifically, the expectation that countries in the core tend to be wealthier and those on the periphery struggle to develop. This instrument is plausibly exogenous and satisfies the exclusion restriction, which suggests that it affects conflict only through its influence upon poverty. Instrumental variables probit regression is employed to demonstrate that the impact of poverty upon conflict appears to be causal.

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Coup d’État and Democracy

Curtis Bell

Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article explains coup activity in democracies by adapting insights from the literature on commitment problems and framing coup around the threats leaders and potential coup plotters pose to each other. I claim democratic constraints on executive power inhibit a leader’s ability to repress threats from political rivals. Though this decreases motivations for coup attempts, it also makes democracies more vulnerable should a coup attempt occur. Consequently, democratic constraints on executive power do not reduce the frequency of coup attempts, but coups attempted against democracies are much more likely to succeed. Using several data sets of coup activity and democratic constraints, I find significant differences in coup activity in democracies and non-democracies. Relative to civilian non-democracies, democracies are about half as likely to use coup-related repression, but they face a similar frequency of coup attempts. Plots against democracies are nearly twice as likely to succeed.

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Attitudinal Differences within the Cultural Revolution Cohort: Effects of the Sent-down Experience

Robert Harmel & Yao-Yuan Yeh

China Quarterly, March 2016, Pages 234-252

Abstract:
This study addresses whether individuals who were sent down during the Cultural Revolution reveal different political attitudes from those who were socialized during the same period but were not themselves sent down. Using data from the urban sample of the 2006 General Social Survey of China, the authors find evidence that formerly sent-down youth – and particularly sent-down women – as compared to their not-sent-down peers, are today more willing to accept the class-struggle foundation of Mao's communist ideology but are, at the same time, more willing to assess the performance and structure of the communist regime critically.

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Naming, Shaming, and International Sporting Events: Does the Host Nation Play Fair?

Zack Bowersox

Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recently, the Winter Olympic Games in Russia and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup in Brazil have drawn attention as much for politics as the excitement of the competitions. Russia’s pursuance of discriminatory homosexual policies made it the target of international rights groups; Brazil’s exploitation of the poor for the sake of hosting the World Cup led to several high-profile protests ahead of the event. These large-scale international sporting competitions provide a ready-made platform for naming and shaming states that may have dubious human rights records. The question remains as to whether or not the shaming of these host states by international groups effectively changes a state’s behavior. This paper argues that states facing increased global media attention while hosting an event are likely to substitute repression of physical integrity rights with repression of civil and political rights in an effort to maintain favorable appearances internationally. However, I find support for both physical and expressive rights improving in states when shaming is conditioned on the selection to host an international sporting event.

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Natural Disasters and the Size of Nations

Muhammet Bas & Elena McLean

International Interactions, forthcoming

Abstract:
What is the relationship between natural disasters and country size? Is an increasing likelihood of environmental shocks linked to political integration or secessionism? We argue that natural disasters are associated with a decline in country size. This relationship arises because costs generated by disasters are higher for citizens located farther away from the political center of a country and costs are amplified as disasters affect a larger area in a country, which in turn makes it less desirable for citizens in remote regions to remain part of a larger country. Our empirical results show that greater risks of environmental shocks are indeed associated with smaller countries, and conflict likely serves as a key mechanism in this process.

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Youth bulge and civil war: Why a country’s share of young adults explains only non-ethnic wars

Omer Yair & Dan Miodownik

Conflict Management and Peace Science, February 2016, Pages 25-44

Abstract:
Scholars agree that young men carry out most acts of political violence. Still, there is no consensus on the link between relatively large youth cohorts and the onset of violent, armed intra-state conflicts. In this paper, we examine the effect of youth bulge, a measure of the relative abundance of youth in a country, on the onset of two different types of civil wars — ethnic and non-ethnic wars. Building on and extending three datasets used by other scholars, we theoretically argue and empirically substantiate that, as a result of the negative effects of youth bulge on the economic conditions of the youth cohorts in the country, youth bulge affects the onset of non-ethnic wars, but not the onset of ethnic wars. Possible implications and directions for further research are then suggested.

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Fuel to the Fire: Natural Disasters and the Duration of Civil Conflict

Joshua Eastin

International Interactions, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do natural disasters prolong civil conflict? Or are disasters more likely to encourage peace as hostilities diminish when confronting shared hardship or as shifts in the balance of power between insurgents and the state hasten cessation? To address these questions, this study performs an event history analysis of disasters’ impact on the duration of 224 armed intrastate conflicts occurring in 86 states between 1946 and 2005. I contend that natural disasters increase conflict duration by decreasing the state’s capacity to suppress insurgency, while reinforcing insurgent groups’ ability to evade capture and avoid defeat. First, disasters’ economic impact coupled with state financial outlays for disaster relief and reconstruction, reduce resources available for counterinsurgency and nation building in conflict zones. Second, the military’s role in administering humanitarian assistance can reduce the availability of troops and military hardware for counterinsurgency, prompt temporary ceasefires with insurgents, or both. Third, natural disasters can cause infrastructural damages that disproportionately hinder the state’s capacity to execute counterinsurgency missions, thereby making insurgent forces more difficult to capture and overcome. The combination of these dynamics should encourage longer conflicts in states with higher incidence of disaster. Empirical evidence strongly supports this contention, indicating that states with greater disaster vulnerability fight longer wars.

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The Risk of Civil Conflicts as a Determinant of Political Institutions

Alvaro Aguirre

European Journal of Political Economy, March 2016, Pages 36–59

Abstract:
This paper proposes a mechanism to explain differences in political institutions based on a particular feature of civil conflicts that has not been previously explored. Under asymmetric and uncertain costs of civil conflicts members of the elite would like to commit in advance to a strong response to insurgencies, but ex-post they have the incentives to block any response if the conflict mainly affects other members of the elite. One way of solving this commitment problem is empowering the executive so he may react forcefully to conflicts, despite the opposition of some fraction of the elite. The main prediction is that, conditional on asymmetric and uncertain costs, the higher is the likelihood of a conflict in the future, the lower are the constraints imposed on the executive. The paper validates this implication using a sample of former colonies and geographic variables to identify the exogenous component of the likelihood of conflicts.

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Terrorism and spatial disparities: Does interregional inequality matter?

Roberto Ezcurra & David Palacios

European Journal of Political Economy, March 2016, Pages 60–74

Abstract:
This article examines the relationship between interregional inequality and the incidence of domestic terrorism in a panel of 48 countries over the period 1990–2010. The results show that a high level of interregional inequality increases the number of domestic terror events in the sample countries. This finding is robust to the inclusion of additional explanatory variables that may affect both interregional inequality and domestic terrorism. Furthermore, the observed link between interregional inequality and terrorist activity does not depend on the choice of the specific measure used to quantify the degree of dispersion in the regional distribution of GDP per capita within the sample countries.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Outsmart

Intelligence and Early Life Mortality: Findings From a Longitudinal Sample of Youth

Kevin Beaver et al.

Death Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current study examined whether adolescent IQ predicted risk for mortality by the age of 32. Analyses of data from the Add Health revealed that IQ was related to mortality risk, such that respondents with relatively lower IQs were significantly more likely to experience early life mortality when compared with respondents with comparatively higher IQs. This association remained statistically significant even after controlling for a host of covariates such as race, gender, involvement in violent behaviors, levels of self-control, and poverty. The average IQ of deceased respondents was approximately 95 while the average IQ of living respondents was about 100.

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Standing Up for Learning: A Pilot Investigation on the Neurocognitive Benefits of Stand-Biased School Desks

Ranjana Mehta, Ashley Shortz & Mark Benden

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, January 2016

Abstract:
Standing desks have proven to be effective and viable solutions to combat sedentary behavior among children during the school day in studies around the world. However, little is known regarding the potential of such interventions on cognitive outcomes in children over time. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine the neurocognitive benefits, i.e., improvements in executive functioning and working memory, of stand-biased desks and explore any associated changes in frontal brain function. 34 freshman high school students were recruited for neurocognitive testing at two time points during the school year: (1) in the fall semester and (2) in the spring semester (after 27.57 (1.63) weeks of continued exposure). Executive function and working memory was evaluated using a computerized neurocognitive test battery, and brain activation patterns of the prefrontal cortex were obtained using functional near infrared spectroscopy. Continued utilization of the stand-biased desks was associated with significant improvements in executive function and working memory capabilities. Changes in corresponding brain activation patterns were also observed. These findings provide the first preliminary evidence on the neurocognitive benefits of standing desks, which to date have focused largely on energy expenditure. Findings obtained here can drive future research with larger samples and multiple schools, with comparison groups that may in turn implicate the importance of stand-biased desks, as simple environmental changes in classrooms, on enhancing children's cognitive functioning that drive their cognitive development and impact educational outcomes.

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The effects of fantastical pretend-play on the development of executive functions: An intervention study

Rachel Thibodeau et al.

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, May 2016, Pages 120-138

Abstract:
Although recent correlational studies have found a relationship between fantasy orientation (FO; i.e., a child's propensity to play in a fantastical realm) and higher order cognitive skills called executive functions (EFs), no work has addressed the causality and directionality of this relationship. The current study experimentally examined the directionality of the observed relationship between FO and EF development in preschool-aged children through an innovative play intervention employing a randomized controlled design. A sample of 110 children between the ages of 3 and 5 years were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: fantastical pretend-play intervention, non-imaginative play intervention, or business-as-usual control. Results revealed that children who participated in a 5-week fantastical pretend-play intervention showed improvements in EFs, whereas children in the other two conditions did not. Within the fantastical pretend-play condition, children who were highly engaged in the play and those who were highly fantastical demonstrated the greatest gains in EFs. These data provide evidence for the equifinal relationship between fantasy-oriented play and EF development, such that engaging in fantasy-oriented play may be one of many ways to directly enhance EF development.

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Intensive Working Memory Training Produces Functional Changes in Large-scale Frontoparietal Networks

Todd Thompson, Michael Waskom & John Gabrieli

Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, April 2016, Pages 575-588

Abstract:
Working memory is central to human cognition, and intensive cognitive training has been shown to expand working memory capacity in a given domain. It remains unknown, however, how the neural systems that support working memory are altered through intensive training to enable the expansion of working memory capacity. We used fMRI to measure plasticity in activations associated with complex working memory before and after 20 days of training. Healthy young adults were randomly assigned to train on either a dual n-back working memory task or a demanding visuospatial attention task. Training resulted in substantial and task-specific expansion of dual n-back abilities accompanied by changes in the relationship between working memory load and activation. Training differentially affected activations in two large-scale frontoparietal networks thought to underlie working memory: the executive control network and the dorsal attention network. Activations in both networks linearly scaled with working memory load before training, but training dissociated the role of the two networks and eliminated this relationship in the executive control network. Load-dependent functional connectivity both within and between these two networks increased following training, and the magnitudes of increased connectivity were positively correlated with improvements in task performance. These results provide insight into the adaptive neural systems that underlie large gains in working memory capacity through training.

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Dopamine and the Creative Mind: Individual Differences in Creativity Are Predicted by Interactions between Dopamine Genes DAT and COMT

Darya Zabelina et al.

PLoS ONE, January 2016

Abstract:
The dopaminergic (DA) system may be involved in creativity, however results of past studies are mixed. We attempted to clarify this putative relation by considering the mediofrontal and the nigrostriatal DA pathways, uniquely and in combination, and their contribution to two different measures of creativity-an abbreviated version of the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, assessing divergent thinking, and a real-world creative achievement index. We found that creativity can be predicted from interactions between genetic polymorphisms related to frontal (COMT) and striatal (DAT) DA pathways. Importantly, the Torrance test and the real-world creative achievement index related to different genetic patterns, suggesting that these two measures tap into different aspects of creativity, and depend on distinct, but interacting, DA sub-systems. Specifically, we report that successful performance on the Torrance test is linked with dopaminergic polymorphisms associated with good cognitive flexibility and medium top-down control, or with weak cognitive flexibility and strong top-down control. The latter is particularly true for the originality factor of divergent thinking. High real-world creative achievement, on the other hand, as assessed by the Creative Achievement Questionnaire, is linked with dopaminergic polymorphisms associated with weak cognitive flexibility and weak top-down control. Taken altogether, our findings support the idea that human creativity relies on dopamine, and on the interaction between frontal and striatal dopaminergic pathways in particular. This interaction may help clarify some apparent inconsistencies in the prior literature, especially if the genes and/or creativity measures were analyzed separately.

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Dopaminergic Genetic Polymorphisms Predict Rule-based Category Learning

Kaileigh Byrne, Tyler Davis & Darrell Worthy

Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Dopaminergic genes play an important role in cognitive function. DRD2 and DARPP-32 dopamine receptor gene polymorphisms affect striatal dopamine binding potential, whereas the Val158Met single-nucleotide polymorphism of the COMT gene moderates dopamine availability in the pFC. Our study assesses the role of these gene polymorphisms on performance in two rule-based category learning tasks. Participants completed unidimensional and conjunctive rule-based tasks. In the unidimensional task, a rule along a single stimulus dimension can be used to distinguish category members. In contrast, a conjunctive rule utilizes a combination of two dimensions to distinguish category members. DRD2 C957T TT homozygotes outperformed C allele carriers on both tasks, and DARPP-32 AA homozygotes outperformed G allele carriers on both tasks. However, we found an interaction between COMT and task type where Met allele carriers outperformed Val homozygotes in the conjunctive rule task, but both groups performed equally well in the unidimensional task. Thus, striatal dopamine binding may play a critical role in both types of rule-based tasks, whereas prefrontal dopamine binding is important for learning more complex conjunctive rule tasks. Modeling results suggest that striatal dopaminergic genes influence selective attention processes whereas cortical genes mediate the ability to update complex rule representations.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Date night

There Are Plenty of Fish in the Sea: The Effects of Choice Overload and Reversibility on Online Daters’ Satisfaction With Selected Partners

Jonathan D’Angelo & Catalina Toma

Media Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Online dating is often lauded for improving the dating experience by giving singles large pools of potential partners from whom to choose. This experiment investigates how the number of choices online daters are given, and whether these choices are reversible, affects romantic outcomes. Drawing on the choice overload and decision reversibility theoretical frameworks, we show that, a week after making their selection, online daters who chose from a large set of potential partners (i.e., 24) were less satisfied with their choice than those who selected from a small set (i.e., 6), and were more likely to change their selection. While choice reversibility did not affect daters’ satisfaction, those who selected from a large pool and had the ability to reverse their choice were the least satisfied with their selected partner after one week. The results advance understanding of how media features related to choice affect interpersonal evaluations.

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Nice guys finish first when presented second: Responsive daters are evaluated more positively following exposure to unresponsive daters

Stephanie Spielmann & Geoff MacDonald

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, May 2016, Pages 99-105

Abstract:
Decisions about who to date are increasingly being made while viewing a large pool of dating prospects simultaneously or sequentially (e.g., online dating). The present research explores how the order in which dating prospects are evaluated affects the role in dating decisions of a variable crucial to relationship success - partner responsiveness. In Study 1, participants viewed dating profiles varying in physical attractiveness and responsiveness. Some participants viewed responsive profiles first whereas others viewed unresponsive profiles first. Results revealed that responsive targets were rated more favorably following exposure to unresponsive targets, regardless of level of attractiveness. Study 2 specifically targeted how contrast effects affect romantic evaluations of a physically unattractive, yet responsive, target. Results again revealed that unattractive, responsive targets were viewed more favorably after exposure to unresponsive dating prospects, regardless of these unresponsive prospects' physical attractiveness. These results highlight the importance of the context in which dating decisions are made.

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Accounting for Age in Marital Search Decisions

Nuray Akın & Brennan Platt

European Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract
Spouse quality, measured by educational attainment, varies significantly with the age at which an individual marries, peaking in the mid-twenties then declining through the early-forties. Interestingly, this decline is much sharper for women than men, meaning women increasingly marry less educated men as they age. Moreover, quality has worsened for educated women over several decades, while it has improved for men. Using a non-stationary sequential search model, we identify and quantify the search frictions that generate these age-dependent marriage outcomes. We find that single-life utility is typically the dominant friction, though college women in the 1950 and 1970 cohorts are affected even more by deteriorating suitor quality. Regardless of educational status, individual choice (as opposed to pure luck) is pivotal in explaining marriage market outcomes earlier in life.

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Men's revealed preferences regarding women's promiscuity

Kitae Sohn

Personality and Individual Differences, June 2016, Pages 140-146

Abstract:
Men have evolved to exhibit a desire for chastity and sexual fidelity and an abhorrence of promiscuity in long-term mates. We investigated whether these preferences manifest themselves even in an unlikely situation (prostitution) by observing men's behavior. We considered 8817 prostitutes under age 45 who worked in Indonesian cities in 2002-2004. We measured female promiscuity by experience in prostitution and applied OLS to determine whether clients paid more to less experienced prostitutes. After controlling for a set of characteristics of prostitutes and clients, we found that compared to prostitutes with an experience ≤ 1 year, prostitutes with an experience of 2-4 years earned 4.2% less, and those with an experience > 4 years earned 7.7% less. The difference is great because a value of 4.2% is just under the daily expenditure per capita on food. The relationship was more pronounced for prostitutes of high fertile age and for prostitutes with greater negotiability. It seems that the preferences are strongly built in men's psychology.

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Fifty Shades Flipped: Effects of Reading Erotica Depicting a Sexually Dominant Woman Compared to a Sexually Dominant Man

Emily Ann Harris, Michael Thai & Fiona Kate Barlow

Journal of Sex Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present study examined the effects of reading submission- and dominance-themed erotica on attitudes toward women and rape, ideal partner preferences, and subjective sexual arousal. Heterosexual male (n = 241) and female (n = 240) participants read one of three erotic stories depicting male dominance, female dominance, or no dominance, or a fourth nonerotic control story. First, we found that after reading about a sexually dominant man, women reported increased benevolent sexism compared to men, and men reported increased rape myth acceptance compared to women. Second, men and women showed a similar level of preference for partner dominance after reading about a sexually dominant woman. This was in contrast to the typical pattern revealed in all other conditions, whereby women were more likely to favor dominant partners relative to men. Finally, we found no evidence to support the hypothesis that the story describing male dominance would be the most arousing. Rather, all three erotic stories were equally sexually arousing compared to the control condition, and men and women did not differ in the extent to which the erotic stories aroused them. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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Men's sociosexuality is sensitive to changes in mate availability

Steven Arnocky, Nathan Woodruff & David Schmitt

Personal Relationships, March 2016, Pages 172-181

Abstract:
Correlational research has linked mate availability to human sexual behavior, whereby unrestricted sociosexuality seems to be most common under conditions of female abundance. In this study, 71 heterosexual men were randomly assigned to one of two mate availability priming conditions, mate scarcity or mate abundance, and subsequently completed measures of sociosexuality as well as infidelity intentions. Results indicated that men in the mate abundance condition reported stronger sociosexual attitudes and desires, and among those currently in relationships, stronger infidelity intentions. These findings were contrasted with those from a separate sample of 66 heterosexual undergraduate women. Mate scarcity had no effects on women's sociosexuality or infidelity intentions. Findings suggest that when mates are scarce, men will adopt a sociosexual orientation aimed at maintaining a single partner.

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The effects of resource availability and relationship status on women's preference for facial masculinity in men: An eye-tracking study

Minna Lyons et al.

Personality and Individual Differences, June 2016, Pages 25-28

Abstract:
Previous research has demonstrated that perceived availability of environmental resources affects the mate choice of females. However, it is unclear whether women's partnership status influences the effects of environmental circumstances on masculinity preference. Further, the role of environmental scarcity on women's gaze patterns when evaluating male faces has not been investigated. The current study investigated how relationship status and environmental factors affected women's gaze patterns and preference towards masculinised and feminised male faces. Twenty-two participants in a long-term romantic relationship, and 26 who were single, were primed with either a high (‘wealthy’) or low (‘scarcity’) resource availability scenario. They then completed a facial masculinity/femininity preference task while eye-gaze behaviour was measured. Women in a relationship (but not single women) had an increased preference towards masculine faces in the scarcity condition, compared to the wealthy condition; this preference was also reflected in eye gaze behaviour. In contrast, single women had longer first fixations on feminine rather than masculine faces when evaluating them as long-term partners in the wealthy condition, but no overt preference for either face type. These findings reveal the importance of taking women's relationship status into account in investigations of the role of environmental influences on masculinity preferences.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, March 11, 2016

Let's agree to disagree

Do Campaign Donors Influence Polarization? Evidence from Public Financing in the American States

Jeffrey Harden & Justin Kirkland

Legislative Studies Quarterly, February 2016, Pages 119–152

Abstract:
Does the source of campaign funds influence legislative polarization? We develop competing theoretical expectations regarding the effects of publicly financed elections on legislative voting behavior. To test these expectations, we leverage a natural experiment in the New Jersey Assembly in which public financing was made available to a subset of members. We find that public financing exerts substantively negligible effects on roll-call voting. We then find a similar result in an examination of state legislatures. We conclude that, counter to the logic of the US Supreme Court, pundits, and reformers, the source of campaign funds exerts minimal influence on polarization.

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Moral Opinion Polarization and the Erosion of Trust

Carolin Rapp

Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Since Puntam’s seminal work on declining levels of social capital, the question of how social trust is formed has reached unprecedented heights of critical enquiry. While most of the current research concentrates on ethnic diversity and income inequality as the main influences driving down generalized trust, we focus on opinion polarization as another potential impact factor on trust. In more detail, we investigate the extent to which polarization over morally charged issues such as homsexuality, abortion and euthanasia affects individuals’ likelihood to trust others. We hypothesize that moral issues have a natural tendency to divide societies’ opinions into opposing poles and, thus, to challenge social cohesion in modern civil societies. Based on hierarchical analyses of the fifth wave of the World Values Survey (WVS) ― comprising a sample of 39 countries ― our results reveal that individuals living in countries characterized by more opinion polarization tend to have less trust in other people.

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When the Spatial and Ideological Collide: Metaphorical Conflict Shapes Social Perception

Tali Kleiman, Chadly Stern & Yaacov Trope

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the present article, we introduce the concept of metaphorical conflict — a conflict between the concrete and abstract aspects of a metaphor. We used the association between the concrete (spatial) and abstract (ideological) components of the political left-right metaphor to demonstrate that metaphorical conflict has marked implications for cognitive processing and social perception. Specifically, we showed that creating conflict between a spatial location and a metaphorically linked concept reduces perceived differences between the attitudes of partisans who are generally viewed as possessing fundamentally different worldviews (Democrats and Republicans). We further demonstrated that metaphorical conflict reduces perceived attitude differences by creating a mind-set in which categories are represented as possessing broader boundaries than when concepts are metaphorically compatible. These results suggest that metaphorical conflict shapes social perception by making members of distinct groups appear more similar than they are generally thought to be. These findings have important implications for research on conflict, embodied cognition, and social perception.

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On the Grammar of Politics — or Why Conservatives Prefer Nouns

Aleksandra Cichocka et al.

Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research indicates that political conservatism is associated with epistemic needs for structure and certainty (Jost et al., 2003) and that nouns elicit clearer and more definite perceptions of reality than other parts of speech (Carnaghi et al., 2008). We therefore hypothesized that conservatives would exhibit preferences for nouns (vs. verbs and adjectives), insofar as nouns are better suited to satisfy epistemic needs. In Study 1, we observed that social conservatism was associated with noun preferences in Polish and that personal need for structure accounted for the association between ideology and grammatical preferences. In Study 2, conducted in Arabic, social conservatism was associated with a preference for the use of nominal sentences (composed of nouns only) over verbal sentences (which included verbs and adjectives). In Study 3, we found that more conservative U.S. presidents used greater proportions of nouns in major speeches, and this effect was related to integrative complexity. We discuss the possibility that conservative ideology is linked to grammatical preferences that foster feelings of stability and predictability.

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Scientific literacy, optimism about science and conservatism

Noah Carl, Nathan Cofnas & Michael Woodley of Menie

Personality and Individual Differences, May 2016, Pages 299–302

Abstract:
It is frequently asserted that conservatives exhibit a cognitive style that renders them less well disposed toward science than progressives, and that they are correspondingly less trusting of scientific institutions and less knowledgeable about scientific ideas. Here we scrutinize these assertions, using data from the U.S. General Social Survey. We distinguish between three different definitions of ‘conservative’: first, identifying as conservative, rather than as liberal; second, holding socially conservative views, rather than socially progressive views; and third, holding economically conservative views, rather than economically leftist views. We find that self-identified conservatives and social conservatives are less scientifically literate and optimistic about science than, respectively, self-identified liberals and social progressives. However, we find that economic conservatives are as or more scientifically literate and optimistic about science than economic leftists. Our results highlight the importance of separating different sub-dimensions of political orientation when studying the relationships between political beliefs, scientific literacy and optimism about science.

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The Politics of Insight

Carola Salvi et al.

Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous studies showed that liberals and conservatives differ in cognitive style. Liberals are more flexible, and tolerant of complexity and novelty, whereas conservatives are more rigid, resistant to change and prefer clear answers. We administered a set of Compound Remote Associate problems, a task extensively used to differentiate problem solving styles (via insight or analysis). Using this task, several researches have proven that self-reports, which differentiate between insight and analytic problem solving, to be reliable and associated with two different neural circuits. In our research we found that participants self-identifying with distinct political orientations demonstrated differences in problem solving strategy. Liberals solved significantly more problems via insight instead of a step-by-step analytic fashion. Our findings extend previous observations that self-identified political orientations reflect differences in cognitive styles. More specifically, we show that type of political orientation is associated with problem solving strategy. The data converge with previous neurobehavioral and cognitive studies indicating a link between cognitive style and the psychological mechanisms that mediate political beliefs.

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Ideologically Motivated Perceptions of Complexity: Believing Those Who Agree With You Are More Complex Than They Are

Lucian Gideon Conway et al.

Journal of Language and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
While prior research has found linguistic complexity to be predictive across multiple domains, little research has examined how people perceive — or misperceive — linguistic complexity when they encounter it. Drawing from a model of the motivated ideological lens through which people view linguistic complexity, two studies examined the hypotheses that (a) participants are more likely to overestimate the complexity of political candidates when they believe they align with their own political views and (b) this complexity overestimation effect will be particularly strong for political liberals. Both studies presented participants with paragraphs from political candidates that varied in their actual integrative complexity levels and asked them to estimate the complexity of the paragraph. Consistent with expectations, Study 1 found that participants were significantly more likely to overestimate complexity levels for political candidates with whom they shared ideological beliefs and that this effect was particularly in evidence for political liberals. Study 2 replicated this basic pattern and further demonstrated that this effect was dependent on participants’ knowledge of their ideological agreement with the paragraph author. Because people misperceive linguistic complexity, researchers should move beyond thinking solely about how complex political rhetoric is; we have to also consider the degree that the intended audience may over- or underestimate complexity when they see it.

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Religion and Secularism among American Party Activists

Geoffrey Layman & Christopher Weaver

Politics and Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Prior work has shown party activists and religious divisions to be two of the leading causes of party polarization in American politics. Using the Convention Delegate Studies, we examine the interaction between these two culprits and their impact on party polarization. We leverage a novel measure of secularism in the latest wave of the Convention Delegate Studies to demonstrate that active secularism is distinct both conceptually and statistically from low religiosity. Furthermore, we show that both religiosity and secularism drive party activists to take more extreme policy positions, to identify themselves as more ideologically extreme, and to exhibit less support for compromise. As the Democratic and Republican Parties have become more secular and religious, respectively, these results suggest religious polarization may compound existing divisions between the two parties and exacerbate the partisan divide in American politics.

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Tea Party Support and Perceptions of Local Economic Conditions

Jonathan Rogers

Electoral Studies, June 2016, Pages 91–98

Abstract:
Researchers have long studied the underpinnings of voter perceptions of national economic conditions. Of growing interest though, is the effect of local economic evaluations on approval and voting behavior. Even though individuals engage more directly with the local economy than with that of the nation, perceptions of local conditions are colored as much by individual attitudes and demographics as by objective measures. Metropolitan area unemployment rates strongly predict local evaluations, but so do education, age, sex, and political attitudes. Of particular interest, even controlling for objective conditions, support for the Tea Party strongly predicts more negative evaluations and overpowers most other sources of bias.

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Numeracy and the Persuasive Effect of Policy Information and Party Cues

Vittorio Mérola & Matthew Hitt

Public Opinion Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Numeric political appeals represent a prevalent but overlooked domain of public opinion research. When can quantitative information change political attitudes, and is this change trumped by partisan effects? We analyze how numeracy — or individual differences in citizens’ ability to process and apply numeric policy information — moderates the effectiveness of numeric political appeals on a moderately salient policy issue. Results show that those low in numeracy exhibit a strong party-cue effect, treating numeric information in a superficial and heuristic fashion. Conversely, those high in numeracy are persuaded by numeric information, even when it is sponsored by the opposing party, overcoming the party-cue effect. Our results make clear that overlooking numeric ability when analyzing quantitative political appeals can mask significant persuasion effects, and we build on recent work advancing the understanding of individual differences in public opinion.

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News from the Other Side: How Topic Relevance Limits the Prevalence of Partisan Selective Exposure

Jonathan Mummolo

Journal of Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Prior research has demonstrated a preference among partisans for likeminded news outlets, a key mechanism through which the media may be polarizing Americans. But in order for source reputations to cause selective exposure, individuals must prioritize them above other competing attributes of news content. Evaluating the relative influence of various contributors to media choice is therefore critical. This study pits two such factors, source reputation and topic relevance, against one another in conjoint survey experiments offering randomly paired news items to partisans. Making a news source’s reputation politically un-friendly lowers the probability that an individual chooses an item, but this negative effect is often eclipsed by the positive effect of making a news topic relevant to the individual. In many popular modern news consumption environments, where consumers encounter a diverse mixture of sources and topics, the ability of source reputations to contribute to polarization via partisan selective exposure is limited.

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The Language of Extremity: The Language of Extreme Members and How the Presence of Extremity Affects Group Discussion

Lyn Van Swol et al.

Journal of Language and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using the linguistic software Linguistic Inquiry Word Count, we analyzed transcripts of group discussions of whether the words “under God” should be in the Pledge of Allegiance. We hypothesized that members with an extreme opinion would use less complex language and more you pronouns than other members. Furthermore, extreme members would have less influence when they used you pronouns or more complex language consistent with the illusion of understanding. Extreme members were more confident and perceived themselves as more knowledgeable, but they did not use less complex language than other members. When extreme members did use complex language, they were less influential. Extreme members used more you pronouns and use of you pronouns reduced their influence in the group. Groups containing at least one extreme member had a much lower level of complexity in their discourse than groups without extreme members. Results are situated within research in integrative complexity, illusion of understanding, and attitude extremity.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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