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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sanity

Social Inequalities in Suicide: The Role of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

Sean Clouston et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We aimed to examine the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and suicide associated with the introduction and diffusion of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Negative binomial regression was used to estimate county-level suicide rates among persons aged 25 years or older using death certificate data collated by the National Center for Health Statistics from 1968 to 2009; SES was measured using the decennial US Census. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey were used to measure SSRI use. Once SSRIs became available in 1988, a 1% increase in SSRI usage was associated with a 0.5% lower suicide rate. Prior to the introduction of SSRIs, SES was not related to suicide. However, with each 1% increase in SSRI use, a 1–standard deviation (SD) higher SES was associated with a 0.6% lower suicide rate. In 2009, persons living in counties with SES 1 SD above the national average were 13.6% less likely to commit suicide than those living in counties with SES 1 SD below the national average — a difference of 1.9/100,000 adults aged ≥25 years. Higher SSRI use was associated with lower suicide rates among US residents aged ≥25 years; however, SES inequalities modified the association between SSRI use and suicide.

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A “Present” for the Future: The Unexpected Value of Rediscovery

Ting Zhang et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although documenting everyday activities may seem trivial, four studies reveal that creating records of the present generates unexpected benefits by allowing future rediscoveries. In Study 1, we used a time-capsule paradigm to show that individuals underestimate the extent to which rediscovering experiences from the past will be curiosity provoking and interesting in the future. In Studies 2 and 3, we found that people are particularly likely to underestimate the pleasure of rediscovering ordinary, mundane experiences, as opposed to extraordinary experiences. Finally, Study 4 demonstrates that underestimating the pleasure of rediscovery leads to time-inconsistent choices: Individuals forgo opportunities to document the present but then prefer rediscovering those moments in the future to engaging in an alternative fun activity. Underestimating the value of rediscovery is linked to people’s erroneous faith in their memory of everyday events. By documenting the present, people provide themselves with the opportunity to rediscover mundane moments that may otherwise have been forgotten.

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Waiting for Merlot: Anticipatory Consumption of Experiential and Material Purchases

Amit Kumar, Matthew Killingsworth & Thomas Gilovich
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Experiential purchases (money spent on doing) tend to provide more enduring happiness than material purchases (money spent on having). Although most research comparing these two types of purchases has focused on their downstream hedonic consequences, the present research investigated hedonic differences that occur before consumption. We argue that waiting for experiences tends to be more positive than waiting for possessions. Four studies demonstrate that people derive more happiness from the anticipation of experiential purchases and that waiting for an experience tends to be more pleasurable and exciting than waiting to receive a material good. We found these effects in studies using questionnaires involving a variety of actual planned purchases, in a large-scale experience-sampling study, and in an archival analysis of news stories about people waiting in line to make a purchase. Consumers derive value from anticipation, and that value tends to be greater for experiential than for material purchases.

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Youth Depression and Future Criminal Behavior

Mark Anderson, Resul Cesur & Erdal Tekin
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
While the contemporaneous association between mental health problems and criminal behavior has been explored in the literature, the long-term consequences of such problems, depression in particular, have received much less attention. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), we examine the effect of depression during adolescence on the probability of engaging in a number of criminal behaviors later in life. In our analysis, we control for a rich set of individual-, family-, and neighborhood-level factors to account for conditions that may be correlated with both childhood depression and adult criminality. One novelty in our approach is the estimation of school and sibling fixed effects models to account for unobserved heterogeneity at the neighborhood and family levels. Furthermore, we exploit the longitudinal nature of our data set to account for baseline differences in criminal behavior. The empirical estimates show that adolescents who suffer from depression face a substantially increased probability of engaging in property crime. We find little evidence that adolescent depression predicts the likelihood of engaging in violent crime or the selling of illicit drugs. Our estimates imply that the lower-bound economic cost of property crime associated with adolescent depression is approximately 227 million dollars per year.

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An Expectancy-Value Model of Emotion Regulation: Implications for Motivation, Emotional Experience, and Decision Making

Maya Tamir et al.
Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
According to expectancy-value models of self-regulation, people are motivated to act in ways they expect to be useful to them. For instance, people are motivated to run when they believe running is useful, even when they have nothing to run away from. Similarly, we propose an expectancy-value model of emotion regulation, according to which people are motivated to emote in ways they expect to be useful to them, regardless of immediate contextual demands. For instance, people may be motivated to get angry when they believe anger is useful, even when there is nothing to be angry about. In 5 studies, we demonstrate that leading people to expect an emotion to be useful increased their motivation to experience that emotion (Studies 1–5), led them to up-regulate the experience of that emotion (Studies 3–4), and led to emotion-consistent behavior (Study 4). Our hypotheses were supported when we manipulated the expected value of anxiety (Study 1) and anger (Studies 2–5), both consciously (Studies 1–4) and unconsciously (Study 5). We discuss the theoretical and pragmatic implications of the proposed model.

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Credit Card Indebtedness and Psychological Well-Being Over Time: Empirical Evidence from a Household Survey

Shuying Shen, Abdoul Sam & Eugene Jones
Journal of Consumer Affairs, forthcoming

Abstract:
While a number of studies have investigated the relationship between debt and psychological well-being, none so far has explored if and how this relationship evolves over time. We seek to fill this gap in the literature by empirically analyzing the impact of household credit card debt on debt stress. Using cross-sectional data collected by The Ohio State University's Consumer Finance Monthly survey between August 2008 and December 2010, we construct a debt stress index and categorize households into three groups based on the length of credit card indebtedness. Our empirical results provide statistical evidence of time-varying impacts of credit card debt on stress levels. Specifically, we find that debt stress for short-run debtors is more than twice that of long-run debtors. The results are robust across a range of econometric specifications.

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More than words: Contemplating death enhances positive emotional word use

Todd Kashdan et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, December 2014, Pages 171–175

Abstract:
Four experiments, three cross-sectional and one longitudinal, tested the hypothesis that contemplating one’s own death produces a shift toward the use of positive emotion words. Participants who wrote about their own death, compared with those who wrote about dental pain, uncertainty, and meaningless, used more positive emotions words in their narratives (Experiments 1a and 1b). Experiment 2 found that contemplating one’s own death enhanced positive emotional word use across different mortality salience manipulations and remained consistent over the course of a 6-day study. Experiment 3 showed that the more positive emotion words participants used when contemplating their mortality, the greater worldview defense they showed. These results suggest that word use offers insight into how the mind responds to the salience of mortality.

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Environmental enrichment as an effective treatment for autism: A randomized controlled trial

Cynthia Woo & Michael Leon
Behavioral Neuroscience, August 2013, Pages 487-497

Abstract:
Enriched sensorimotor environments enable rodents to compensate for a wide range of neurological challenges, including those induced in animal models of autism. Given the sensorimotor deficits in most children with autism, we attempted to translate that approach to their treatment. In a randomized controlled trial, 3–12 year-old children with autism were assigned to either a sensorimotor enrichment group, which received daily olfactory/tactile stimulation along with exercises that stimulated other paired sensory modalities, or to a control group. We administered tests of cognitive performance and autism severity to both groups at the initiation of the study and after 6 months. Severity of autism, as assessed with the Childhood Autism Rating Scale, improved significantly in the enriched group compared to controls. Indeed, 42% of the enriched group and only 7% of the control group had what we considered to be a clinically significant improvement of 5 points on that scale. Sensorimotor enrichment also produced a clear improvement in cognition, as determined by their Leiter-R Visualization and Reasoning scores. At 6 months, the change in average scores for the enriched group was 11.3 points higher than that for the control group. Finally, 69% of parents in the enriched group and 31% of parents in the control group reported improvement in their child over the 6-month study. Environmental enrichment therefore appears to be effective in ameliorating some of the symptoms of autism in children.

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Interaction of the ADRB2 Gene Polymorphism With Childhood Trauma in Predicting Adult Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Israel Liberzon et al.
JAMA Psychiatry, forthcoming

Objective: To examine the association of 3755 candidate gene single-nucleotide polymorphisms with PTSD development in interaction with a history of childhood trauma.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Genetic association study in an Ohio National Guard longitudinal cohort (n = 810) of predominantly male soldiers of European ancestry, with replication in an independent Grady Trauma Project (Atlanta, Georgia) cohort (n = 2083) of predominantly female African American civilians.

Results: Controlling for the level of lifetime adult trauma exposure, we identified the novel association of a single-nucleotide polymorphism within the promoter region of the ADRB2 (Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man 109690) gene with PTSD symptoms in interaction with childhood trauma (rs2400707, P = 1.02 × 10−5, significant after correction for multiple comparisons). The rs2400707 A allele was associated with relative resilience to childhood adversity. An rs2400707 × childhood trauma interaction predicting adult PTSD symptoms was replicated in the independent predominantly female African American cohort.

Conclusions and Relevance: Altered adrenergic and noradrenergic function has been long believed to have a key etiologic role in PTSD development; however, direct evidence of this link has been missing. The rs2400707 polymorphism has been linked to function of the adrenergic system, but, to our knowledge, this is the first study to date linking the ADRB2 gene to PTSD or any psychiatric disorders. These findings have important implications for PTSD etiology, chronic pain, and stress-related comorbidity, as well as for both primary prevention and treatment strategies.

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The Effect of a “Maintain, Don’t Gain” Approach to Weight Management on Depression Among Black Women: Results From a Randomized Controlled Trial

Dori Steinberg et al.
American Journal of Public Health, September 2014, Pages 1766-1773

Objectives: We evaluated the effect of a weight gain prevention intervention (Shape Program) on depression among socioeconomically disadvantaged overweight and obese Black women.

Methods: Between 2009 and 2012, we conducted a randomized trial comparing a 12-month electronic health–based weight gain prevention intervention to usual primary care at 5 central North Carolina community health centers. We assessed depression with the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-8). We analyzed change in depression score from baseline to 12- and 18-month follow-up across groups with mixed models. We used generalized estimating equation models to analyze group differences in the proportion above the clinical threshold for depression (PHQ-8 score ≥ 10).

Results: At baseline, 20% of participants reported depression. Twelve-month change in depression scores was larger for intervention participants (mean difference = −1.85; 95% confidence interval = −3.08, −0.61; P = .004). There was a significant reduction in the proportion of intervention participants with depression at 12 months with no change in the usual-care group (11% vs 19%; P = .035). All effects persisted after we controlled for weight change and medication use. We saw similar findings at 18 months.

Conclusions: The Shape Program, which includes no mention of mood, improved depression among socioeconomically disadvantaged Black women.

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Deuterium content of water increases depression susceptibility: The potential role of a serotonin-related mechanism

Tatyana Strekalova et al.
Behavioural Brain Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Environmental factors can significantly affect disease prevalence, including neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression. The ratio of deuterium to protium in water shows substantial geographical variation, which could affect disease susceptibility. Thus the link between deuterium content of water and depression was investigated, both epidemiologically, and in a mouse model of chronic mild stress. We performed a correlation analysis between deuterium content of tap water and rates of depression in regions of the USA. Next, we used a 10-day chronic stress paradigm to test whether 2-week deuterium-depleted water treatment (91 ppm) affects depressive-like behavior and hippocampal structure. The effect of deuterium-depletion on sleep electrophysiology was also evaluated in naïve mice. There was a geographic correlation between a content of deuterium and the prevalence of depression across the USA. In the chronic stress model, depressive-like features were reduced in mice fed with deuterium-depleted water, and SERT expression was decreased in mice treated with deuterium-treated water compared with regular water. Five days of predator stress also suppressed proliferation in the dentate gyrus; this effect was attenuated in mice fed with deuterium-depleted water. Finally, in naïve mice, deuterium-depleted water treatment increased EEG indices of wakefulness, and decreased duration of REM sleep, phenomena that have been shown to result from the administration of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). Our data suggest that the deuterium content of water may influence the incidence of affective disorder-related pathophysiology and major depression, which might be mediated by the serotoninergic mechanisms.

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Toxoplasma gondii and anxiety disorders in a community-based sample

Adam Markovitz et al.
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, forthcoming

Abstract:
A growing body of literature suggests that exposure to the neurotropic parasite Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is associated with increased risk of mental disorders, particularly schizophrenia. However, a potential association between T. gondii exposure and anxiety disorders has not been rigorously explored. Here, we examine the association of T. gondii infection with both anxiety and mood disorders. Participants (n = 484) were drawn from the Detroit Neighborhood Health Study, a population-representative sample of Detroit residents. Logistic regression was used to examine the associations between T. gondii exposure (defined by seropositivity and IgG antibody levels) and three mental disorders: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. We found that T. gondii seropositivity was associated with a 2 times greater odds of GAD (odds ratio (OR), 2.25; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.11–4.53) after adjusting for age, gender, race, income, marital status, and medication. Individuals in the highest antibody level category had more than 3 times higher odds of GAD (OR, 3.35; 95% CI, 1.41–7.97). Neither T. gondii seropositivity nor IgG antibody levels was significantly associated with PTSD or depression. Our findings indicate that T. gondii infection is strongly and significantly associated with GAD. While prospective confirmation is needed, T. gondii infection may play a role in the development of GAD.

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Suicidal patients are deficient in vitamin D, associated with a pro-inflammatory status in the blood

Cécile Grudet et al.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, forthcoming

Background: Low levels of vitamin D may play a role in psychiatric disorders, as cross-sectional studies show an association between vitamin D deficiency and depression, schizophrenia and psychotic symptoms. The underlying mechanisms are not well understood, although vitamin D is known to influence the immune system to promote a T helper (Th)-2 phenotype. At the same time, increased inflammation might be of importance in the pathophysiology of depression and suicide. We therefore hypothesized that suicidal patients would be deficient in vitamin D, which could be responsible for the inflammatory changes observed in these patients.

Methods: We compared vitamin D levels in suicide attempters (n = 59), non-suicidal depressed patients (n = 17) and healthy controls (n = 14). Subjects were diagnosed according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, and went through a structured interview by a specialist in psychiatry. 25(OH)D2 and 25(OH)D3 were measured in plasma using liquid-chromatography mass-spectrometry (LC-MS). We further explored vitamin D's association with plasma IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α.

Results: Suicide attempters had significantly lower mean levels of vitamin D than depressed non-suicidal patients and healthy controls. 58 percent of the suicide attempters were vitamin D deficient according to clinical standard. Moreover, there was a significant negative association between vitamin D and pro-inflammatory cytokines in the psychiatric patients. Low vitamin D levels were associated with higher levels of the inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-1β in the blood.

Conclusion: The suicide attempters in our study were deficient in vitamin D. Our data also suggest that vitamin D deficiency could be a contributing factor to the elevated pro-inflammatory cytokines previously reported in suicidal patients. We propose that routine clinical testing of vitamin D levels could be beneficial in patients with suicidal symptoms, with subsequent supplementation in patients found to be deficient.

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Economic Strain and Children's Behavior in the Aftermath of the Great Recession

Lindsey Jeanne Leininger & Ariel Kalil
Journal of Marriage and Family, October 2014, Pages 998–1010

Abstract:
Families across the income spectrum experienced subjective feelings of economic strain during the Great Recession. Existing evidence suggests that much of that economic strain did not arise from individual-specific economic shocks, such as unemployment or income loss, as much as it did from worry and uncertainty about the future. The authors tested a model in which a measure of subjective perceptions of economic strain was the key predictor of children's behavior problems and objective indicators of economic experiences were treated as control variables. To do so, they used new data from a population-based sample of children ages 4–17 (N = 303) living in southeast Michigan during the period 2009–2012. They found that economic strain exhibited a qualitatively large independent association with internalizing behavior problems for White — but not Black — children. This association was statistically significant over and above objective indicators of economic experiences and the family psychosocial context.

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Induction of a depression-like negativity bias by cathodal transcranial direct current stimulation

Larissa Wolkenstein et al.
Cortex, October 2014, Pages 103–112

Abstract:
Cognitive control (CC) over emotional distraction is of particular importance for adaptive human behaviour and is associated with activity in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC). Deficient CC, e.g. presenting as negativity bias, has been suggested to underlie many of the core symptoms of major depression (MD) and is associated with impairments of dlPFC function. Correspondingly, enhancement of dlPFC activity with anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) can ameliorate these impairments in patients with MD. Here, we tested the hypothesis that a reduction of dlPFC activity by cathodal tDCS induces CC deficits, thus triggering a depression-like negativity bias in healthy subjects. Twenty-eight individuals participated in a double-blinded, balanced randomized crossover trial of cathodal (1mA, 20min) and sham tDCS applied to the left dlPFC. To assess CC we conducted a delayed response working memory (DWM) task and an arithmetic inhibition task (AIT) with pictures of varying valent content (negative, neutral, positive) during and immediately after stimulation. Cathodal tDCS led to impaired CC specifically over negative material as assessed by reduced response accuracy in the DWM and prolonged response latency in the AIT. Hence, the current study supports the notion that left dlPFC is critically involved in CC over negative material. Together with previously reported beneficial anodal effects, it indicates that the hypoactivation of left dlPFC causes deficits in CC over negative material, which is a possible aetiological mechanism of depression.

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Effects of Statewide Job Losses on Adolescent Suicide-Related Behaviors

Anna Gassman-Pines, Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat & Christina Gibson-Davis
American Journal of Public Health, October 2014, Pages 1964-1970

Objectives: We investigated the impact of statewide job loss on adolescent suicide-related behaviors.

Methods: We used 1997 to 2009 data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to estimate the effects of statewide job loss on adolescents’ suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and suicide plans. Probit regression models controlled for demographic characteristics, state of residence, and year; samples were divided according to gender and race/ethnicity.

Results: Statewide job losses during the year preceding the survey increased girls’ probability of suicidal ideation and suicide plans and non-Hispanic Black adolescents’ probability of suicidal ideation, suicide plans, and suicide attempts. Job losses among 1% of a state’s working-age population increased the probability of girls and Blacks reporting suicide-related behaviors by 2 to 3 percentage points. Job losses did not affect the suicide-related behaviors of boys, non-Hispanic Whites, or Hispanics. The results were robust to the inclusion of other state economic characteristics.

Conclusions: As are adults, adolescents are affected by economic downturns. Our findings show that statewide job loss increases adolescent girls’ and non-Hispanic Blacks’ suicide-related behaviors.

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Can agonistic striving lead to unexplained illness? Implicit goals, pain tolerance, and somatic symptoms in adolescents and adults

Craig Ewart et al.
Health Psychology, September 2014, Pages 977-985

Objectives: We tested the social action theory hypotheses that (a) psychological stress induced by struggling to control others (agonistic striving) is associated with higher levels of subjective somatic symptoms than stress induced by struggling to control the self (transcendence striving); (b) the association between agonistic striving and symptoms is moderated by the ability to tolerate pain; and (c) associations among agonistic goals, pain tolerance, and subjective symptoms are not explained by personality and affective traits or negative emotional responses to personal stressors.

Methods: Implicit motives and negative emotional reactivity to recurring personal stressors were assessed by Social Competence Interview in 333 adolescents and adults who participated in longitudinal research on functional abdominal pain at a university medical center. Pain tolerance was assessed by graduated thermal pain protocol; subjective somatic symptoms, and personality/affective traits assessed by questionnaires. The primary outcome measure was the self-reported severity of 35 somatic symptoms often experienced in the absence of diagnosable disease.

Results: All hypotheses were supported.

Conclusions: Nonconscious agonistic strivings may increase the perceived frequency and severity of subjective somatic symptoms; this tendency is greatly magnified by difficulty in self-regulating responses to painful stimuli. Implicit agonistic motives and their associations with symptoms are not explained by individual differences in trait neuroticism, anxiety, depression, anger, or low self-esteem or by negative emotional reactivity to a personal stressor. These findings may afford fruitful insights into mechanisms by which stressful social environments undermine health and suggest promising directions for clinical intervention.

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Randomness increases self-reported anxiety and neurophysiological correlates of performance monitoring

Alexa Tullett, Aaron Kay & Michael Inzlicht
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Several prominent theories spanning clinical, social and developmental psychology suggest that people are motivated to see the world as a sensible orderly place. These theories presuppose that randomness is aversive because it is associated with unpredictability. If this is the case, thinking that the world is random should lead to increased anxiety and heightened monitoring of one’s actions and their consequences. Here, we conduct experimental tests of both of these ideas. Participants read one of three passages: (i) comprehensible order, (ii) incomprehensible order and (iii) randomness. In Study 1, we examined the effects of these passages on self-reported anxiety. In Study 2, we examined the effects of the same manipulation on the error-related negativity (ERN), an event-related brain potential associated with performance monitoring. We found that messages about randomness increased self-reported anxiety and ERN amplitude relative to comprehensible order, whereas incomprehensible order had intermediate effects. These results lend support to the theoretically important idea that randomness is unsettling because it implies that the world is unpredictable.

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Relations Between Narrative Coherence, Identity, and Psychological Well-being in Emerging Adulthood

Theodore Waters & Robyn Fivush
Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Objective: The hypothesis that the ability to construct a coherent account of personal experience is reflective, or predictive, of psychological adjustment cuts across numerous domains of psychological science. It has been argued that coherent accounts of identity are especially adaptive. We tested these hypotheses by examining relations between narrative coherence of personally significant autobiographical memories and three psychological well-being components (Purpose and Meaning; Positive Self View; Positive Relationships). We also examined the potential moderation of the relations between coherence and well-being by assessing the identity content of each narrative.

Method: We collected two autobiographical narratives of personally significant events from 103 undergraduate students and coded them for coherence and identity content. Two additional narratives about generic/recurring events were also collected and coded for coherence.

Results: We confirmed the prediction that constructing coherent autobiographical narratives is related to psychological well-being. Further, we found that this relation was moderated by the narratives’ relevance to identity and that this moderation held after controlling for narrative ability more generally (i.e. coherence of generic/recurring events).

Conclusion: These data lend strong support to the coherent narrative identity hypothesis and the prediction that unique events are a critical feature of identity construction in emerging adulthood.

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Breathing-Based Meditation Decreases Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms in U.S. Military Veterans: A Randomized Controlled Longitudinal Study

Emma Seppälä et al.
Journal of Traumatic Stress, August 2014, Pages 397–405

Abstract:
Given the limited success of conventional treatments for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), investigations of alternative approaches are warranted. We examined the effects of a breathing-based meditation intervention, Sudarshan Kriya yoga, on PTSD outcome variables in U.S. male veterans of the Iraq or Afghanistan war. We randomly assigned 21 veterans to an active (n = 11) or waitlist control (n = 10) group. Laboratory measures of eye-blink startle and respiration rate were obtained before and after the intervention, as were self-report symptom measures; the latter were also obtained 1 month and 1 year later. The active group showed reductions in PTSD scores, d = 1.16, 95% CI [0.20, 2.04], anxiety symptoms, and respiration rate, but the control group did not. Reductions in startle correlated with reductions in hyperarousal symptoms immediately postintervention (r = .93, p < .001) and at 1-year follow-up (r = .77, p = .025). This longitudinal intervention study suggests there may be clinical utility for Sudarshan Kriya yoga for PTSD.

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Positive Effects of Basic Training on Cognitive Performance and Mood of Adult Females

Harris Lieberman et al.
Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, September 2014, Pages 1113-1123

Objective: This study investigated whether a stressful military training program, the 9- to 10-week U.S. Army basic combat training (BCT) course, alters the cognitive performance and mood of healthy young adult females.

Method: Two separate, within-subject studies were conducted with different BCT classes; in total 212 female volunteers were assessed before and after BCT. In Study 1, Four-Choice Reaction Time, Match-to-Sample, and Grammatical Reasoning tests were administered. The Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT) was administered in Study 2. The Profile of Mood States (POMS) was administered in both studies.

Results: In Study 1, reaction time to correct responses on all three of the performance tests improved from pre- to post-BCT. In Study 2, PVT reaction time significantly improved. All POMS subscales improved over time in the second study, whereas POMS subscales in the first study failed to meet criteria for statistically significant differences over time.

Conclusion: Cognition and mood substantially improved over military basic training. These changes may be a result of structured physical and mental training experienced during basic training or other factors not as yet identified.

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FKBP5 and CRHR1 polymorphisms moderate the stress–physical health association in a national sample

Jared Lessard & Alison Holman
Health Psychology, September 2014, Pages 1046-1056

Objective: Stressful life events experienced during childhood and as an adult negatively impact mental and physical health over the life span. This study examined polymorphisms from 2 hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis-related genes previously associated with posttraumatic stress disorder — FKBP5 and CRHR1 — as moderators of the impact of child abuse and adult stress on physical health.

Method: A national, community-based subsample of non-Hispanic European American respondents (n = 527) from a prospective longitudinal 3-year study of stress and coping (N = 2,729) provided saliva for genotyping.

Results: FKBP5 (rs1360780) and CRHR1 (rs12944712) polymorphisms significantly interacted with child abuse and adult stress to predict increases in physical health ailments over 3 years. Child abuse and adult stress were strongly related to physician-diagnosed physical ailments among individuals with the risk alleles of both single nucleotide polymorphisms. Individuals carrying the low-risk homozygotic genotypes were protected from the long-term negative health implications of experiencing both child abuse and adult stress.

Conclusion: Consistent with theories linking the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis with stress-related disease, hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis polymorphism genotypes moderated the association between exposure to child abuse/adult stress and long-term physical health outcomes in a national sample.

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You Are What You See and Choose: Agreeableness and Situation Selection

Konrad Bresin & Michael Robinson
Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Objective: Agreeableness positively predicts subjective well-being, but why does it do so? Recent theorizing has highlighted possible substrates related to emotion regulation. Following suit, the present studies focus on the situation selection stage of the emotion regulation sequence.

Methods: Undergraduate participants reported on their agreeableness levels and completed a picture viewing task (Studies 1 and 2) or a media choice task (Study 3).

Results: Studies 1 and 2 found that the tendency to view negative pictures for a longer period of time than positive pictures was evident at low levels of agreeableness and absent at high levels. The Study 3 paradigm asked individuals whether they typically choose to expose themselves to positive or negative stimuli across diverse media sources. Preferences for positive media were more pronounced at higher levels of agreeableness.

Conclusions: The results have systematic implications for understanding the emotional lives of disagreeable versus agreeable people.

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What matters to the rich and the poor? Subjective well-being, financial satisfaction, and postmaterialist needs across the world

Weiting Ng & Ed Diener
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, August 2014, Pages 326-338

Abstract:
This study explored the importance of financial satisfaction versus postmaterialist needs for subjective well-being (SWB). Using the Gallup World Poll, we examined whether financial satisfaction and postmaterialist needs (pertaining to autonomy, social support, and respect) were universal predictors of the different components of SWB across the world, and whether their effects were moderated by national affluence. Results showed that financial satisfaction was the strongest predictor of life evaluation, whereas respect was the strongest predictor of positive feelings. Both measures predicted negative feelings to some extent. Multilevel analyses also revealed moderating effects of societal wealth. The association between financial satisfaction and SWB and that between postmaterialist needs and SWB were stronger in richer nations compared with poorer ones. This suggests that developed economies should continue to focus on both material and psychological aspects, and not disregard economic gains, as both measures are essential to well-being.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Common senses

Acts of Emptying Promote Self-Focus: A Perceived Resource Deficiency Perspective

Liat Levontin, Danit Ein-Gar & Angela Lee
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
No one likes feeling empty. When people feel empty they seek replenishment, which usually takes the form of increased self-focused behaviors that provide value to the self and decreased other-focused behaviors that provide value to others. This research demonstrates how exposure to the concept of emptiness by simply performing or observing acts of emptying (vs. filling or control) of a glass vase, coat pockets, a glass jar, or a duffle bag triggers the cognitive metaphor of resource deficiency. The resource deficiency metaphor in turn leads people to engage in self-focused behaviors such as eating candy or planning a dream vacation and to disengage from other-focused behaviors such as donating to charities or helping others.

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How Words Transcend and Pictures Immerse: On the Association Between Medium and Level of Construal

SoYon Rim et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Drawing from construal level theory, we test the hypothesis that words promote thinking of events in terms of their abstract and central features (i.e., high-level construal), whereas pictures promote thinking in terms of more concrete and idiosyncratic features (i.e., low-level construal). In Experiments 1a and 1b, we found that verbal (vs. pictorial) presentation of objects led to broader, more inclusive categorization of those objects. In Experiment 2, we found that word (vs. picture) priming led to greater global (vs. local) processing of subsequent perceptual information. Finally, in Experiments 3 and 4, we tested the opposite direction of causality. Thinking about high-level “why” versus relatively low-level “how” (Experiment 3) and thinking about high-level categories versus relatively low-level exemplars (Experiment 4) led to more verbal versus pictorial thought. These findings provide converging evidence that medium (word, picture) is associated with level of construal.

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Targeted enhancement of cortical-hippocampal brain networks and associative memory

Jane Wang et al.
Science, 29 August 2014, Pages 1054-1057

Abstract:
The influential notion that the hippocampus supports associative memory by interacting with functionally distinct and distributed brain regions has not been directly tested in humans. We therefore used targeted noninvasive electromagnetic stimulation to modulate human cortical-hippocampal networks and tested effects of this manipulation on memory. Multiple-session stimulation increased functional connectivity among distributed cortical-hippocampal network regions and concomitantly improved associative memory performance. These alterations involved localized long-term plasticity because increases were highly selective to the targeted brain regions, and enhancements of connectivity and associative memory persisted for ~24 hours after stimulation. Targeted cortical-hippocampal networks can thus be enhanced noninvasively, demonstrating their role in associative memory.

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Social Connection Modulates Perceptions of Animacy

Katherine Powers et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Human survival depends on identifying targets potentially capable of engaging in meaningful social connection. Using sets of morphed images created from animate (human) and inanimate (doll) faces, we found converging evidence across two studies showing that the motivation to connect with other people systematically alters the interpretation of the physical features that signal that a face is alive. Specifically, in their efforts to find and connect with other social agents, individuals who feel socially disconnected actually decrease their thresholds for what it means to be alive, consistently observing animacy when fewer definitively human cues are present. From an evolutionary perspective, overattributing animacy may be an adaptive strategy that allows people to cast a wide net when identifying possible sources of social connection and maximize their opportunities to renew social relationships.

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Prefrontal transcranial direct current stimulation improves fundamental vehicle control abilities

Hiroyuki Sakai et al.
Behavioural Brain Research, 15 October 2014, Pages 57–62

Abstract:
Noninvasive brain stimulation techniques have increasingly attracted the attention of neuroscientists because they enable the identification of the causal role of a targeted brain region. However, few studies have applied such techniques to everyday life situations. Here, we investigate the causal role of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in fundamental vehicle control abilities. Thirteen participants underwent a simulated driving task under prefrontal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on three separate testing days. Each testing day was randomly assigned to either anodal over the right with cathodal over the left DLPFC, cathodal over the right with anodal over the left DLPFC, or sham stimulation. The driving task required the participants to maintain an inter-vehicle distance to a leading car traveling a winding road with a constant speed. Driving performance was quantified using two metrics: the root-mean-square error of inter-vehicle distance as car-following performance, and the standard deviation of lateral position as lane-keeping performance. Results showed that both car-following and lane-keeping performances were significantly greater for right anodal/left cathodal compared with right cathodal/left cathodal and sham stimulation. These results suggest not only the causal involvement of the DLPFC in driving, but also right hemisphere dominance for vehicle control. The findings of this study indicate that tDCS can be a useful tool to examine the causal role of a specific brain region in ecologically valid environments, and also might be a help to drivers with difficulties in vehicle control.

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The effects of negative emotions on sensory perception: Fear but not anger decreases tactile sensitivity

Nicholas Kelley & Brandon Schmeichel
Frontiers in Psychology, August 2014

Abstract:
Emotions and sensory perceptions are closely intertwined. Of the five senses, sight has been by far the most extensively studied sense in emotion research. Relatively less is known about how emotions influence the other four senses. Touch is essential for nonverbal communication in both humans and other animals. The current investigation tested competing hypotheses about the effect of fear on tactile perception. One hypothesis based on evolutionary considerations predicts that fear enhances sensory perception, including tactile sensitivity. A competing hypothesis based on research on peripheral psychophysiology predicts that fear should decrease tactile sensitivity. Two experiments that induced negative emotional states and measured two-point discrimination ability at the fingertip found that fear reduces tactile sensitivity relative to anger or a neutral control condition (Studies 1 and 2). These findings did not appear to be driven by participants’ naïve beliefs about the influence of emotions on touch (Study 3). The results represent the first evidence of the causal impact of emotional states on tactile sensitivity, are consistent with prior evidence for the peripheral physiological effects of fear, and offer novel empirical grounds for developing and advancing theories of emotional influences on sensory perception.

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The Relative Benefits of Green Versus Lean Office Space: Three Field Experiments

Marlon Nieuwenhuis et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, September 2014, Pages 199-214

Abstract:
Principles of lean office management increasingly call for space to be stripped of extraneous decorations so that it can flexibly accommodate changing numbers of people and different office functions within the same area. Yet this practice is at odds with evidence that office workers’ quality of life can be enriched by office landscaping that involves the use of plants that have no formal work-related function. To examine the impact of these competing approaches, 3 field experiments were conducted in large commercial offices in The Netherlands and the U.K. These examined the impact of lean and “green” offices on subjective perceptions of air quality, concentration, and workplace satisfaction as well as objective measures of productivity. Two studies were longitudinal, examining effects of interventions over subsequent weeks and months. In all 3 experiments enhanced outcomes were observed when offices were enriched by plants. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

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Quiet Eye Training Improves Small Arms Maritime Marksmanship

Lee Moore et al.
Military Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Quiet eye training — teaching task-specific gaze control — has been consistently shown to optimize the acquisition of motor skills. The present study aimed to examine the potential benefits of a quiet eye training intervention in a simulated maritime marksmanship task that involved shooting fast approaching moving targets with a decommissioned general-purpose machine gun. Twenty participants were randomly assigned to a quiet eye trained (QET) or technical trained (TT) group and completed 2 baseline, 20 training, and 2 retention trials on the moving-target task. Compared to their TT counterparts, the QET group displayed more effective gaze control (longer quiet eye durations and greater target locking) and more accurate performance (smaller radial error of both the initial shot and average of all shots) at retention. These findings highlight the potential for quiet eye training to be used to support the training of marksmanship skills in military settings.

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Expressing Gambling-Related Cognitive Biases in Motor Behaviour: Rolling Dice to Win Prizes

Matthew Lim, Henrietta Bowden-Jones & Robert Rogers
Journal of Gambling Studies, September 2014, Pages 625-637

Abstract:
Cognitive perspectives on gambling propose that biased thinking plays a significant role in sustaining gambling participation and, in vulnerable individuals, gambling problems. One prominent set of cognitive biases include illusions of control involving beliefs that it is possible to influence random gaming events. Sociologists have reported that (some) gamblers believe that it is possible to throw dice in different ways to achieve gaming outcomes (e.g., ‘dice-setting’ in craps). However, experimental demonstrations of these phenomena are lacking. Here, we asked regular gamblers to roll a computer-simulated, but fair, 6 sided die for monetary prizes. Gamblers allowed the die to roll for longer when attempting to win higher value bets, and when attempting to hit high winning numbers. This behaviour was exaggerated in gamblers motivated to keep gambling following the experience of almost-winning in gambling games. These results suggest that gambling cognitive biases find expression in the motor behaviour of rolling dice for monetary prizes, possibly reflecting embodied substrates.

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Sex differences in the inference and perception of causal relations within a video game

Michael Young
Frontiers in Psychology, August 2014

Abstract:
The learning of immediate causation within a dynamic environment was examined. Participants encountered seven decision points in which they needed to choose, which of three possible candidates was the cause of explosions in the environment. Each candidate was firing a weapon at random every few seconds, but only one of them produced an immediate effect. Some participants showed little learning, but most demonstrated increases in accuracy across time. On average, men showed higher accuracy and shorter latencies that were not explained by differences in self-reported prior video game experience. This result suggests that prior reports of sex differences in causal choice in the game are not specific to situations involving delayed or probabilistic causal relations.

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Moving Time: The Influence of Action on Duration Perception

Clare Press et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Perceiving the sensory consequences of action accurately is essential for appropriate interaction with our physical and social environments. Prediction mechanisms are considered necessary for fine-tuned sensory control of action, yet paradoxically may distort perception. Here, we examine this paradox by addressing how movement influences the perceived duration of sensory outcomes congruent with action. Experiment 1 required participants to make judgments about the duration of vibrations applied to a moving or stationary finger. In Experiments 2 and 3, participants judged observed finger movements that were congruent or incongruent with their own actions. In all experiments, target events were perceived to be longer when congruent with movement. Interestingly, this temporal dilation did not differ as a function of stimulus perspective (1st or 3rd person) or spatial location. We propose that this bias may reflect the operation of an adaptive mechanism for sensorimotor selection and control that preactivates anticipated outcomes of action. The bias itself may have surprising implications for both action control and perception of others: we may be in contact with grasped objects for less time than we realize, and others’ reactions to us may be briefer than we believe.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, September 12, 2014

Two sides

The National News Media's Effect on Congress: How Fox News Affected Elites in Congress

Joshua Clinton & Ted Enamorado
Journal of Politics, October 2014, Pages 928-943

Abstract:
Despite the prominence of the national news media, it is unclear whether elected officials are affected by the national news media in policy-consequential ways because of the difficulty of disentangling the influence of the media on Congress from Congress's influence on the media. We use a unique opportunity to determine whether position-taking behavior in Congress and the likelihood of reelection is affected by the national news media. Using the fact that the Fox News Channel spread gradually across the United States after being launched in October of 1996 in ways unrelated to the ideology of congressional districts and the incumbent representatives, we show that representatives become less supportive of President Clinton in districts where Fox News begins broadcasting than similar representatives in similar districts where Fox News was not broadcast. Moreover, the effects took a few years to be realized, and the entry of Fox News in a district did not appear to affect which representatives were reelected. Consistent with theories emphasizing the anticipatory actions taken by elected officials to maximize their electoral security in the face of changing electoral conditions, our results suggest that the national media may slightly affect the prospects for policy change by altering representatives' expectations and the positions that they take.

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The Balanced U.S. Press

Riccardo Puglisi & James Snyder
Journal of the European Economic Association, forthcoming

Abstract:
We measure the relative ideological positions of newspapers, voters, interest groups, and political parties, using data on ballot propositions. We exploit the fact that newspapers, parties, and interest groups take positions on these propositions, and the fact that citizens ultimately vote on them. We find that, on average, newspapers in the United States are located almost exactly at the median voter in their states - that is, they are balanced around the median voter. Still, there is a significant amount of ideological heterogeneity across newspapers, which is smaller than the one found for interest groups. However, when we group propositions by issue area, we find a sizable amount of ideological imbalance: broadly speaking, newspapers are to the left of the state-level median voter on many social issues, and to the right on many economic issues. To complete the picture, we use two existing methods of measuring bias and show that the news and editorial sections of newspapers have almost identical partisan positions.

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The Subjective Well-Being Political Paradox: Happy Welfare States and Unhappy Liberals

Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn, Oscar Holmes & Derek Avery
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Political scientists traditionally have analyzed the effect of politics on subjective well-being (SWB) at the collective level, finding that more liberal countries report greater SWB. Conversely, psychologists have focused primarily on SWB at the individual level and shown that being more conservative corresponds in greater SWB. We integrate the theoretical foundations of these 2 literatures (e.g., livability and system justification theories) to compare and contrast the effects of country- and individual-level political orientation on SWB simultaneously. Using a panel of 16 West European countries representative of 1,134,384 individuals from 1970 to 2002, we demonstrated this SWB political paradox: More liberal countries and more conservative individuals had higher levels of SWB. More important, we explored measurement as a moderator of the political orientation-SWB relationship to shed some light on why this paradox exists. When orientation is measured in terms of enacted values (i.e., what the government actually does), liberalism corresponds in higher SWB, but when politics is measured in terms of espoused values (i.e., what individuals believe), greater conservatism coincided in higher SWB.

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A Desire for Deviance: The Influence of Leader Normativeness and Inter-group Competition on Group Member Support

Jin Wook Chang, Nazlı Turan & Rosalind Chow
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Group members typically prefer leaders who have characteristics or attitudes that are in line with group norms (i.e., are normative). In this paper, we explore the possibility that in highly competitive inter-group contexts, group members prefer leaders who can more effectively differentiate the in-group from out-groups, leading to a preference for leaders with more extreme attitudes that are in line with group norms (i.e., pro-normative). In three experiments conducted in an election context in the United States, we find that both Democrats' and Republicans' preference for an extreme leader increases under conditions of high inter-group competition. Results indicate that participants' heightened need to differentiate their political party from the competing party drives this effect, and that this effect is stronger for those who identify strongly with their political party. Implications for group members' responses to in-group deviance and leadership support are discussed.

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Persuading Partisans: Targeted Moral Reframing Facilitates Political Influence

Matthew Feinberg & Robb Willer
Stanford Working Paper, June 2013

Abstract:
Political psychologists find that political attitudes are often grounded in moral convictions and, when they are, such attitudes are uniquely rigid and resistant to change. Here, we argue that the tight link between morality and politics also offers a path to political persuasion. Applying Moral Foundations Theory (e.g., Graham, Haidt, Nosek, 2009), we test whether reframing political views in terms of moral convictions endorsed by the target of the message will lead the target to be more supportive of positions he or she would typically oppose, thus offering a mechanism for morally-based political persuasion. Results showed that conservatives supported same-sex marriage (Study 1), universal health care (Study 2), and the re-election of Barack Obama (Study 4) more when arguments supporting these more liberal positions were presented in terms of moral convictions endorsed at higher levels among conservatives (loyalty, authority, and purity). Liberals supported high levels of military spending (Study 3) and making English the official language of the United States (Study 5), traditionally conservative positions, more when arguments for these positions were presented in terms of fairness and equality, values endorsed more by liberals. Mediation and moderation analyses from Studies 3-5 suggest that the reframed moral appeals were persuasive at least in part because they increased the apparent agreement between these political positions and the targeted individuals' moral values.

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The Big Tent Effect: Descriptive Candidates and Black and Latino Political Partisanship

Christopher Stout & Jennifer Garcia
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this study, we assess whether Blacks and/or Latinos are more likely to identify with political parties that nominate a U.S. House candidate who shares their race/ethnicity using the 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES). Our results indicate that Blacks are more likely to identify with both the Democratic and Republican Party when they nominate successful Black candidates for the House of Representatives. To assess the temporal order of the relationship, we examine the differences in Black Democratic partisanship before and after Obama's election to the White House and changes in Republican partisanship among Blacks in districts before and after the nomination of a successful Black Republican candidate. In combination, we find that both political parties can make gains in the Black community through the nomination of co-racial candidates. While descriptive candidates consistently influence Black partisanship, we find that Latino partisanship is not significantly affected by the presence of co-ethnic candidates.

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Going Along Versus Getting it Right: The Role of Self-Integrity in Political Conformity

Kevin Binning et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
People often conform to the opinions of ingroup members, even when available evidence suggests the group is misinformed. Following insights from the social identity approach and self-affirmation theory, it was hypothesized that people conform to salient opinions in an effort to maintain global self-integrity. In a series of experiments examining Americans' approval of President Obama and his policies, approval was consistently swayed by normative information (national polling data) but not by evidentiary information (indicators of national economic health), except under theory-predicted conditions. When participants had satisfied their sense of self-integrity with a self-affirmation exercise (Democrats in Study 1, Republicans in Study 2), or when they had low levels of American identification and thus were less concerned with national norms (Democrats and Republicans in Study 3), they showed the opposite pattern and were swayed by evidence in spite of contradicting normative information. The extent to which people are influenced by norms versus evidence in political judgment is shaped by social identity, one aspect of self-integrity. The results highlight a social psychological means to attenuate and potentially reverse conformity in the face of contradicting evidence, a finding with both practical and theoretical implications.

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Geography, Uncertainty, and Polarization

Nolan McCarty et al.
Princeton Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
Using new data on roll-call votes and public opinion in U.S. state legislative districts, we explain how ideological polarization within districts can lead to legislative polarization. Many of the seemingly 'moderate' districts that switch hands between Democrats and Republicans are internally polarized. The ideological distance between Democrats and Republicans within these districts is often greater than the distance between liberal cities and conservative rural areas. We present a theoretical model in which intra-district ideological polarization causes candidates to be uncertain about the ideological location of the median voter, thereby reducing their incentives for platform moderation. We then demonstrate that in otherwise identical districts, the difference in roll-call voting behavior between Democratic and Republican state legislators is a function of within-district ideological heterogeneity. Our findings suggest that accounting for the subtleties of political geography can help explain the coexistence of a polarized legislature and a moderate mass public.

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An Ideological House of Mirrors: Political Stereotypes as Exaggerations of Motivated Social Cognition Differences

Aaron Scherer, Paul Windschitl & Jesse Graham
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research on political stereotypes has focused on the perceived moral values or political attitudes of conservatives and liberals. The current studies examined whether laypeople hold stereotypes about the psychological traits of Republicans and Democrats and whether those stereotypes represent exaggerations of actual political differences. Participants completed measures of epistemic (Study 1), existential (Study 2), and ideological (Study 2) motives. Participants also completed these measures based on how they thought the average Republican and average Democrat would respond. Consistent with previous research, Republicans scored higher on these measures of motivated social cognition than Democrats. Critically, political stereotypes about Democrats and Republicans mirrored, but exaggerated, the actual differences. Despite an overall tendency of participants to engage in stereotype exaggeration, Democrats engaged in greater stereotype exaggeration compared to Republicans, and partisans (individuals who strongly identified with either party) engaged in greater stereotype exaggeration compared to more moderate party members.

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Linking Genes and Political Orientations: Testing the Cognitive Ability as Mediator Hypothesis

Sven Oskarsson et al.
Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent research has demonstrated that genetic differences explain a sizeable fraction of the variance in political orientations, but little is known about the pathways through which genes might affect political preferences. In this article, we use a uniquely assembled dataset of almost 1,000 Swedish male twin pairs containing detailed information on cognitive ability and political attitudes in order to further examine the genetic and environmental causes of political orientations. Our study makes three distinct contributions to our understanding of the etiology of political orientations: (1) we report heritability estimates across different dimensions of political ideology; (2) we show that cognitive ability and political orientations are related; and (3) we provide evidence consistent with the hypothesis that cognitive ability mediates part of the genetic influence on political orientations. These findings provide important clues about the nature of the complex pathways from molecular genetic variation to political orientations.

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The Paradoxes of Politics in Colorado Springs

Joshua Dunn
The Forum, August 2014, Pages 329-342

Abstract:
Despite being known as the "Evangelical Vatican," politics in Colorado Springs is more pluralistic, and interesting, than its reputation suggests. The city is overwhelmingly conservative, but all major factions of modern conservatism - social, economic, and defense-related - have a significant presence in the city, leading to unusual controversies among them and with the city's erstwhile liberals. Three paradoxes reveal the more complicated nature of this politics: 1) even though Colorado Springs is a bastion of evangelicalism, it is a largely secular city; 2) it loathes but is simultaneously dependent on the federal government; and 3) its social conservatives exercise more power nationally than locally.

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Political and Cultural Dimensions of Tea Party Support, 2009-2012

Andrew Perrin et al.
Sociological Quarterly, Fall 2014, Pages 625-652

Abstract:
The Tea Party Movement (TPM) burst onto the political scene following the 2008 elections. Early on, the movement attracted broad public support and seemed to tap into a variety of cultural concerns rooted in the changing demographic, political, and economic face of the nation. However, some observers questioned whether the Tea Party represented anything more than routine partisan backlash. And what had started as a seemingly grassroots movement that changed the face of American politics in the 2010 election was reduced to being mainly a caucus within Congress by 2012. In this article, we examine the cultural and political dimensions of Tea Party support over time. Using polling data from North Carolina and Tennessee and quantitative media analysis, we provide new evidence that cultural dispositions in addition to conservative identification were associated with TPM favorability in 2010; that these dispositions crystallized into shared political positions in 2011; and that by 2012 little distinguished TPM adherents from other conservatives.

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The Impact of Partisan Sponsorship on Political Surveys

Roger Tourangeau, Stanley Presser & Hanyu Sun
Public Opinion Quarterly, Summer 2014, Pages 510-522

Abstract:
Although it is widely believed that revealing the topic or sponsor of a survey to potential respondents can produce large nonresponse biases, measurement errors, or both, recent research has shown that the effects of the framing of the survey request are often quite modest. However, research has not experimented with partisan or candidate sponsors, which are most likely to produce large effects. We carried out three experiments with political surveys that varied whether a partisan sponsor was identified (and in one of the experiments also varied the identity of that sponsor), expecting that this would have dramatic effects. Instead, all three studies found only minor effects. Thus, even in the context of partisan election surveys, sponsorship may not be the powerful cue it is often thought to be.

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Mobilizing Marginalized Groups among Party Elites

Seth Masket, Michael Heaney & Dara Strolovitch
The Forum, August 2014, Pages 257-280

Abstract:
The Democratic Party has long used a system of caucuses and councils to reach out to marginalized groups among convention delegates. This article tests two hypotheses about how this system works within the party. First, the Parties in Service to Candidates Hypothesis holds that caucuses and councils mobilize elites from marginalized groups to increase support for the party nominee. Second, the Group Solidarity Hypothesis holds that caucuses and councils mobilize elites from marginalized groups to enhance group solidarity. Regression analysis of data drawn from an original survey of delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention provides no support to the Service Hypothesis, while the evidence supports the Solidarity Hypothesis in the case of the Women's Caucus, which became a rallying point for women who were disappointed that Hillary Clinton was not the Democratic Party nominee. A similar survey of delegates to the 2008 Republican National Convention did not uncover a parallel system of representing marginalized groups within the Republican Party.

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The Social Structure of Political Echo Chambers: Ideology and Political Homophily in Online Communication Networks

Andrei Boutyline and Robb Willer
University of California Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
We predict that people with different political orientations will exhibit systematically different levels of political homophily, the tendency to associate with others similar to oneself in political ideology. Research on personality differences across the political spectrum finds that both more conservative and more politically extreme individuals tend to exhibit greater orientations towards cognitive stability, clarity, and familiarity. We reason that such a "preference for certainty" may make these individuals more inclined to seek out the company of those who reaffirm, rather than challenge, their views. Since survey studies of political homophily face well-documented methodological challenges, we instead test this proposition on a large sample of politically engaged users of the social networking platform Twitter, whose ideologies we infer from the politicians and policy non-profits they follow. As predicted, we find that both more extreme and more conservative individuals tend to be more homophilous than more liberal and more moderate ones.

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An emotional signature of political ideology: Evidence from two linguistic content-coding studies

Michael Robinson, Ryan Boyd & Adam Fetterman
Personality and Individual Differences, December 2014, Pages 98-102

Abstract:
Approach-avoidance frameworks for political ideology have been proposed with increasing frequency. Following such frameworks and a wider motivation-emotion literature, it was hypothesized that political ideology would be predictive of the extent to which anxiety (avoidance-related) versus anger (approach-related) words would be evident in written texts. Study 1 sampled user-generated text within conservative versus liberal Internet chat rooms. After correcting for the greater normative frequency of anger words, a crossover ideology by emotion type interaction was found. Study 2 found a parallel interaction among college students writing about a non-political topic. Political ideology thus has a discrete emotional signature, one favoring anxiety among conservatives and anger among liberals.

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Party Registration and Party Self-Identification: Exploring the Role of Electoral Institutions in Attitudes and Behaviors

Matthew Thornburg
Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
How do electoral institutions affect self-identified partisanship? I hypothesize that party registration acts to anchor a person's party identification, tying a person to a political party even when their underlying preferences may align them with the other party. Estimating a random effects multinomial logit model, I find individuals registered with a party are more likely to self-identify with that party and away from the other party. Party registration also affects voting in presidential elections but not in House elections, leading to greater defection in the former where voters have more information about the candidates. These insights illuminate varying rates of electoral realignment, particularly among southern states, and the makeup of primary electorates in states with and without party registration.

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Civility 2.0: A comparative analysis of incivility in online political discussion

Ian Rowe
Information, Communication & Society, forthcoming

Abstract:
In an effort to clean up user comment sections, news organizations have turned to Facebook, the world's largest social network site, as a way to make users more identifiable and accountable for the content they produce. It is hypothesized that users leaving comments via their Facebook profile will be less likely to engage in uncivil and impolite discussion, even when it comes to discussing politically sensitive and potentially divisive issues. By analysing the content of discussion as it occurs in response to political news content on the Washington Post Facebook, and comparing it to that which occurs on the Washington Post website where users are afforded a relatively high level of anonymity, the present study determines the extent to which Facebook increases the level of civility and impoliteness in an area of political discussion renowned for uncivil and impolite communicative behaviour. In line with earlier theories of social interaction, the paper finds that political discussion on The Washington Post website is significantly more likely to be uncivil than discussion of the same content on the Washington Post Facebook page. Moreover, the incivility and impoliteness on the Washington Post website are significantly more likely to be directed towards other participants in the discussion compared to The Washington Post Facebook page.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Two for one

Believe You Can and You Will: The Belief in High Self-Control Decreases Interest in Attractive Alternatives

Myrte Hamburg & Tila Pronk
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the present research, we examined the effects of self-control beliefs on relationship protective behavior. We hypothesized that providing participants with feedback on their level of self-control would help them shield their relationship from attractive alternatives. Study 1 showed that romantically involved participants who received positive feedback on their level of self-control showed less interest in attractive alternatives as compared to participants who did not receive self-control feedback. Study 2 replicated these results and, additionally, showed that negative feedback increased interest in alternative others for romantically involved, but not for single participants. Together, these studies showed that in the context of close relationships, providing people with self-control feedback increases their ability to exercise self-control.

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Pluralistic ignorance and misperception of social norms concerning cheating in dating relationships

Susan Boon, Sarah Watkins & Rowan Sciban
Personal Relationships, September 2014, Pages 482–496

Abstract:
Two studies tested the hypothesis that beliefs about infidelity in dating relationships reflect pluralistic ignorance, a misperception in which people mistakenly believe that their own personal attitudes and behavior differ from others' when they do not. Consistent with pluralistic ignorance findings in other domains, undergraduates reported that the average university student (a) saw dating infidelity as more acceptable and (b) engaged in unfaithful acts more frequently than they themselves did. Neither type of infidelity (sexual, emotional, both sexual and emotional, or unspecified; Study 1, N = 176) nor motivated reasoning (i.e., defensiveness; Study 2, N = 359) moderated this pattern of results. Possible sources of misperceived norms concerning fidelity in dating relationships and the implications of such misperceptions are discussed.

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What do you get when you make somebody else’s partner your own? An analysis of relationships formed via mate poaching

Joshua Foster et al.
Journal of Research in Personality, October 2014, Pages 78–90

Abstract:
It is well documented that many relationships form via mate poaching (i.e., stealing someone’s partner), but almost nothing is known about how these relationships function. Across three studies, we observed reliable evidence that individuals who were poached by their current romantic partners were less committed, less satisfied, and less invested in their relationships. They also paid more attention to romantic alternatives, perceived their alternatives to be of higher quality, and engaged in higher rates of infidelity compared to non-poached participants. Two longitudinal studies offered conflicting evidence regarding whether relationship dysfunction associated with mate poaching develops over time or is a stable quality. Evidence from a cross-sectional study suggests that individual differences in sociosexual-orientation help to explain link between mate poaching and relationship dysfunction.

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Partner attractiveness moderates the relationship between number of sexual rivals and in-pair copulation frequency in humans (Homo sapiens)

Michael Pham et al.
Journal of Comparative Psychology, August 2014, Pages 328-331

Abstract:
Nonhuman males attend to the number of potential sexual rivals in the local environment to assess sperm competition risk. Males of these species sometimes perform more frequent in-pair copulations to increase the likelihood of success in sperm competition. Here, we extend this research to humans, Homo sapiens. We secured self-report data from 393 men in a committed, sexual, heterosexual relationship. The results indicate that men whose in-pair partner has more male coworkers and friends (i.e., potential sexual rivals) also perform more frequent in-pair copulations, but only among men who perceive their partner to be particularly attractive relative to assessments of partners by other men in the sample. This research is the first to empirically investigate the number of potential male rivals in the local environment as a cue to sperm competition risk in humans. Discussion addresses limitations of the current research and highlights directions for future research.

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A Randomized Controlled Trial of Relationship Education in the U.S. Army: 2-Year Outcomes

Scott Stanley et al.
Family Relations, October 2014, Pages 482–495

Abstract:
This study examined the effectiveness of an evidence-based, community-delivered adaptation of couple relationship education (CRE) program (specifically, The Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program [PREP]) delivered at two Army installations. The study is a randomized controlled trial with 2 years of follow-up examining marital quality and stability. Sample composition was 662 married couples with a spouse in the U.S. Army. Analyses yielded no evidence of overall enduring intervention effects on relationship quality, but couples assigned to intervention at the higher risk site were significantly less likely than controls to be divorced at the 2-year follow-up (8.1% vs. 14.9%, p < .01). This effect was moderated by ethnic minority status. Specifically, the impact of the intervention on divorce was strongest for minority couples. The findings add to the literature on who may benefit most from CRE.

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A Social Network Comparison of Low-Income Black and White Newlywed Couples

Grace Jackson et al.
Journal of Marriage and Family, October 2014, Pages 967–982

Abstract:
Relative to White families, Black families have been described as relying on extended social networks to compensate for other social and economic disadvantages. The presence or absence of supportive social networks should be especially relevant to young couples entering marriage, but to date there has been little effort to describe the social networks of comparable Black and White newlyweds. The current study addressed this gap by drawing on interviews with 57 first-married newlyweds from low-income communities to compare the composition and structure of Black and White couples' duocentric social networks. The results indicated that low-income Black couples entered marriage at a social disadvantage relative to White couples, with more family relationships but fewer positive relationships and fewer sources of emotional support (for wives), fewer connections to married individuals, and fewer shared relationships between spouses. Black couples' relative social disadvantages persisted even when various economic and demographic variables were controlled.

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The Reversal of the Gender Gap in Education and Trends in Marital Dissolution

Christine Schwartz & Hongyun Han
American Sociological Review, August 2014, Pages 605-629

Abstract:
The reversal of the gender gap in education has potentially far-reaching consequences for marriage markets, family formation, and relationship outcomes. One possible consequence is the growing number of marriages in which wives have more education than their husbands. Past research shows that this type of union is at higher risk of dissolution. Using data on marriages formed between 1950 and 2004 in the United States, we evaluate whether this association has persisted as the prevalence of this relationship type has increased. Our results show a large shift in the association between spouses’ relative education and marital dissolution. Specifically, marriages in which wives have the educational advantage were once more likely to dissolve, but this association has disappeared in more recent marriage cohorts. Another key finding is that the relative stability of marriages between educational equals has increased. These results are consistent with a shift away from rigid gender specialization toward more flexible, egalitarian partnerships, and they provide an important counterpoint to claims that progress toward gender equality in heterosexual relationships has stalled.

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Does the European Marriage Pattern Explain Economic Growth?

Tracy Dennison & Sheilagh Ogilvie
Journal of Economic History, September 2014, Pages 651-693

Abstract:
This article scrutinizes the recently postulated link between the European Marriage Pattern (EMP) and economic success. Multivariate analysis of 4,705 demographic observations, covering women's marriage age, female lifetime celibacy, and household complexity in 39 European countries, shows that the most extreme manifestations of the EMP were associated with economic stagnation rather than growth. There is no evidence that the EMP improved economic performance by empowering women, increasing human capital investment, adjusting population to economic trends, or sustaining beneficial cultural norms. European economic success was not caused by the EMP and its sources must therefore be sought in other factors.

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Effect of Abortion vs. Carrying to Term on a Woman's Relationship with the Man Involved in the Pregnancy

Jane Mauldon, Diana Greene Foster & Sarah Roberts
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, forthcoming

Context: When a woman who seeks an abortion cannot obtain one, having a child may reshape her relationship with the man involved in the pregnancy. No research has compared how relationship trajectories are affected by different outcomes of an unwanted pregnancy.

Methods: Data from the Turnaway Study, a prospective longitudinal study of women who sought abortion in 2008–2010 at one of 30 U.S. facilities, are used to assess relationships over two years among 862 women who had abortions or were denied them because they had passed the facility's gestational age limit. Mixed-effects models analyze effects of abortion or birth on women's relationships with the men involved.

Results: At conception, most women (80%) were in romantic relationships with the men involved. One week after seeking abortion, 61% were; two years later, 37% were. Compared with women who obtained an abortion near the facility's gestational age limit, women who gave birth had greater odds of having ongoing contact with the man (odds ratio at two years, 1.7). The odds of romantic involvement at two years did not differ by group; however, the decline in romantic involvement was initially slower among those giving birth. Relationship quality did not differ between groups.

Conclusions: Giving birth temporarily prolonged romantic relationships of women in this study; most romantic relationships ended soon, whether or not the woman had an abortion. However, giving birth increased the odds of nonromantic contact between women and the men involved throughout the ensuing two years.

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Can’t We Just Live Together? New Evidence on the Effect of Relationship Status on Health

Jennifer Kohn & Susan Averett
Journal of Family and Economic Issues, September 2014, Pages 295-312

Abstract:
There has been a large empirical literature on the effect of marriage on health, but scant empirical evidence on the effect of cohabitation on health, although cohabitation is increasingly common. We contributed to this literature in three ways. First we explicitly modeled cohabitation distinct from marriage. Second, we included lagged health in our models to address the dynamic process of health and health-related selection into relationships. Extant literature has failed to control for lagged health risking omitted variable bias. Rather, it has controlled for general unobservable heterogeneity using fixed effects models that have relied on limited variation in relationship status over time to identify the effect of relationship status on health. Third, we employed a continuous health index that aids in estimation and inference of dynamic models. Using the Blundell and Bond dynamic panel data estimator and 18 years of the British Household Panel Survey of nearly 18,000 adults, we found that being in a relationship is good for health, but the benefits are not unique to marriage. Our finding that cohabitation is as beneficial as marriage for health was good news for health policy as changing social norms and economic instability have delayed or impaired family formation.

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The cost of forgiveness: Observers prefer victims who leave unfaithful romantic partners

Heather Smith et al.
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Ninety-six male fraternity members (Study 1), 112 female voters (Study 2), and 219 undergraduates (Study 3) read scenarios in which a group representative forgave, retaliated, or left a romantic partner after the partner's sexual infidelity was publically revealed. Observers rated a victim who forgave his or her partner to be as mature as a victim who ended the relationship, but also as weaker and less competent. They rated a victim who forgave to be more mature but almost as weak and incompetent as a victim who retaliated. Symbolic concerns that the victim's behavior violated shared values (all three studies) or damaged the group's power/status (Study 3) mediated the relationship between victim behavior and victim ratings. These data demonstrate how the symbolic concerns that shape observers' judgments of an offender can extend to observers' judgments of the victim.

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Coping with mate poaching: Gender differences in detection of infidelity-related threats

Tsachi Ein-Dor et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
People often aspire for true love and committed romantic relationships. These relationships, however, are recurrently threatened by partner infidelity. The present research tested a new infidelity-detection model, the rivalry sensitivity hypothesis, that posits that women are more sensitive to cues of infidelity than men are, and tend to focus their attention on potential rivals in their mate’s vicinity, whereas men show increased sensitivity of their own partners. In a series of four studies, we found that women displayed greater alertness to cues of potential partner unfaithfulness than did men, were quicker and more accurate in detecting cues of infidelity, but were not better than men in detecting other threats. Women also focused their attention on potential rivals (other women), whereas men’s attention was specifically directed at monitoring their own partner’s intents. These findings suggest that women and men have developed different strategies aimed at achieving a similar outcome – mate retention.

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Daily interpersonal coping strategies: Implications for self-reported well-being and cortisol

Kira Birditt, Michael Nevitt & David Almeida
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
An important pathway by which relationships influence health may involve how people cope with interpersonal tensions. This study examined whether same day and previous day avoidance and engagement in arguments are differentially associated with self-reported well-being (emotional and physical) and diurnal cortisol patterns. Participants from Wave 2 of the National Study of Daily Experiences (N = 1,512; aged 33–84, 57% women) completed daily phone interviews for eight consecutive days and provided useable saliva samples that were assayed for cortisol for four of those days at specific times: waking, 30 min after waking, before lunch, and at bedtime. Multilevel models revealed same day arguments were associated with lower well-being (higher negative affect and lower positive affect) than same day avoidance or no tension. In contrast, previous day avoidance was associated with lower next day well-being (higher negative affect and more physical symptoms) and higher next day cortisol than having no interpersonal tension the previous day. Arguments have greater same day consequences for well-being, whereas avoided arguments have greater next day consequences, which may indicate delayed effects of avoidance.

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Thou Shalt Not Covet Another Man? Exploring Constructions of Same-Sex and Different-Sex Infidelity Using Story Completion

Victoria Clarke, Virginia Braun & Kate Wooles
Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study explores conceptualisations of same- versus different-sex infidelity in the context of a heterosexual marriage using story completion. A convenience sample of 57 female and male participants completed one of four versions of a story stem featuring a husband who is either emotionally or sexually unfaithful with a woman or a man. A social constructionist thematic analysis found that same-sex infidelity was conceptualised as the ‘worst case scenario’ and was underpinned by a heteronormative framing of repressed homosexuality. By contrast, heterosexual infidelity was understood in terms of relational deficits and the wife assuming responsibility for these. Overall, the analysis shows that in making sense of same-sex and heterosexual infidelity, the participants drew on familiar discourses of sexuality and gender, suggesting that despite social psychological theorising related to sexual fluidity, essentialist ideas remain firmly in place. Methodologically, the study demonstrates the usefulness of a rarely used tool — the story completion task — for accessing socio-cultural discourses and dominant meanings surrounding a particular topic.

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Couples’ Marijuana Use Is Inversely Related to Their Intimate Partner Violence Over the First 9 Years of Marriage

Philip Smith et al.
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on the association between marijuana use and intimate partner violence (IPV) has generated inconsistent findings, and has been primarily based on cross-sectional data. We examined whether husbands’ and wives’ marijuana use predicted both husbands’ and wives’ IPV perpetration over the first 9 years of marriage (Wave 1, n = 634 couples). We also examined moderation by antisocial behavior, the spouse’s marijuana use, and whether IPV was reported during the year before marriage. These predictive associations were calculated using a time-lagged multivariate generalized multilevel model, simultaneously estimating predictors of husband and wife IPV. In fully adjusted models, we found that more frequent marijuana use by husbands and wives predicted less frequent IPV perpetration by husbands. Husbands’ marijuana use also predicted less frequent IPV perpetration by wives. Moderation analyses demonstrated that couples in which both spouses used marijuana frequently reported the least frequent IPV perpetration. There was a significant positive association between wives’ marijuana use and wives’ IPV perpetration, but only among wives who had already reported IPV perpetration during the year before marriage. These findings suggest there may be an overall inverse association between marijuana use and IPV perpetration in newly married couples, although use may be associated with greater risk of perpetration among women with a history of IPV perpetration.

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The Impact of Premarital Cycling on Early Marriage

Amber Vennum & Matthew Johnson
Family Relations, October 2014, Pages 439–452

Abstract:
Using a sample of 564 newlywed couples and the enduring dynamics model of marriage, the study examined the impact of premarital cycling (breaking up and renewing) on the entrance into marriage and relationship dynamics over the first 5 years. Consistent with the enduring dynamics model, results demonstrated cyclical couples (compared to noncyclical couples) exhibited worse adjustment on a variety of relationship indicators at the entrance to marriage and were more likely to experience a trial separation over the first 5 years. Dyadic parallel process growth curve analysis further revealed that premarital cycling predicted lower initial relationship satisfaction that was sustained over the first 5 years of marriage. Implications for theory, research, and intervention with premarital couples are discussed. These results provide evidence that courtships characterized by breakups and renewals represent a relational vulnerability with negative implications extending years into the future.

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The Object of Desire: How Being Objectified Creates Sexual Pressure for Women in Heterosexual Relationships

Laura Ramsey & Tiffany Hoyt
Psychology of Women Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although the objectification of women is widespread, there is relatively little research on objectification in romantic relationships. The purpose of our research was to explore how partner-objectification might be related to sexual pressure and coercion in heterosexual relationships. Two studies were conducted, one with heterosexual men and one with heterosexual women as participants. An online survey of 119 heterosexual men in the United States demonstrated that men who frequently survey their partners’ bodies are more likely to sexually pressure and coerce their partners — primarily because partner-surveillance is related to feelings of shame regarding one’s partner’s body, which in turn is related to increased sexual pressure and coercion. An online survey of 162 heterosexual women in the United States demonstrated feeling objectified by a partner is related to several (but not all) measures of sexual pressure and coercion. Furthermore, women who felt that their partners frequently surveyed their bodies were more likely to experience self-surveillance, which in turn predicted increased body shame and lowered sexual agency. Our research can inform interventions aimed at reducing sexual coercion and spark future research on the distinction between physical attraction and objectification in the context of romantic relationships.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Market research

“A” Business by Any Other Name: Firm Name Choice as a Signal of Firm Quality

Ryan McDevitt
Journal of Political Economy, August 2014, Pages 909-944

Abstract:
This paper considers when a firm’s deliberately chosen name can signal meaningful information. The average plumbing firm whose name begins with A or a number receives five times more service complaints than other firms and also charges higher prices. Relatedly, plumbers with A names advertise more in the Yellow Pages and on Google, and doing so is positively correlated with receiving complaints. As the use of A names is more prevalent in larger markets, I reconcile these findings with a simple model in which firms have different qualities and consumers have heterogeneous search costs.

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Suspense-Optimal College Football Play-Offs

Jarrod Olson & Daniel Stone
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
U.S. college football’s traditional bowl system, and lack of a postseason play-off tournament, has been controversial for years. The conventional wisdom is that a play-off would be a more fair way to determine the national champion, and more fun for fans to watch. The colleges finally agreed to begin a play-off in the 2014-2015 season, but with just four teams, and speculation continues that more teams will be added soon. A subtle downside to adding play-off teams is that it reduces the significance of regular season games. We use the framework of Ely, Frankel, and Kamenica (in press) to directly estimate the utility fans would get from this significance, that is, utility from suspense, under a range of play-off scenarios. Our results consistently indicate that play-off expansion causes a loss in regular season suspense utility greater than the gain in the postseason, implying the traditional bowl system (two team play-off) is suspense-optimal. We analyze and discuss implications for TV viewership and other contexts.

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Asymmetrical Social Mach Bands: Exaggeration of Social Identities on the More Esteemed Side of Group Borders

Paul Rozin et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Perceptual processes generally enhance borders, because of their high information value. Mach bands are an example in vision. In the social world, borders are also of special significance; one side of a border is generally more esteemed or valued than the other. We claim that entities (individuals, groups) that are just over the border on the positive side tend to exaggerate their membership on the positive side (asymmetrical social Mach bands). We demonstrate this by showing that (a) master’s-degree universities use the word university to describe themselves more than major graduate universities do, (b) small international airports use the word international to describe themselves more than major airports do, and (c) University of Pennsylvania students, who are affiliated with a “marginal” Ivy League school, use the word Ivy to describe their school more than Harvard students do.

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Creating Reciprocal Value Through Operational Transparency

Ryan Buell, Tami Kim & Chia-Jung Tsay
Harvard Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
We investigate whether organizations can create value by introducing visual transparency between consumers and producers. Although existing theory posits that increased contact between the two parties can diminish work performance, we conducted two field and two laboratory experiments in food service contexts that suggest that the introduction of operational transparency improves service quality and efficiency. The introduction of reciprocal operational transparency contributed to a 22.5% increase in customer-reported quality and reduced throughput times to 67.5% of standard. Customers who observed employees engaged in labor perceived greater effort, appreciated that effort, and valued the service more. Employees who observed customers felt more appreciated, and in turn, were more satisfied with their work and exerted increased levels of effort. We find that transparency, by visually revealing operating processes to both producers and consumers, generates a positive feedback loop through which value is created for both parties.

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Navigating by the Stars: What Do Online User Ratings Reveal About Product Quality?

Bart de Langhe, Philip Fernbach & Donald Lichtenstein
University of Colorado Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
Consumers increasingly turn to online user ratings to inform purchase decisions, but little is known about whether these ratings are valid indicators of product quality. We developed a database of (1) quality scores from Consumer Reports, (2) user ratings from Amazon.com, (3) selling prices from Amazon.com, and (4) brand perceptions from a proprietary industry survey. Analyses reveal that the average and number of user ratings are only weakly related to quality and far less diagnostic than price (Study 1). Yet, when consumers infer quality, they rely mostly on the average user rating and much less on the number of ratings and price (Study 2). The dissociation between user ratings and quality can be traced in part to the influence of firm marketing actions on users’ evaluations. Controlling for quality, average user ratings are higher for more expensive products, higher for brands with a reputation for offering more functional and emotional benefits, and lower for brands with a reputation for affordability (Study 3). We conclude that consumer trust in online user ratings is largely misplaced.

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Counterfactual Decomposition of Movie Star Effects with Star Selection

Angela (Xia) Liu, Tridib Mazumdar & Bo Li
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the effects of a movie star on the movie's opening week theater allocations and box office revenue. Because the pairing of a star and a movie involves a bilateral matching process between the studio and the star, the star (hence the nonstar) movie samples are nonrandom and the star variable is potentially endogenous. To assess the star as well as movie characteristics effects, we utilize a switching model to account for endogenous assignment of stars and nonstars into respective movie samples. In addition to controlling for selection biases, the endogenous switching model generates managerially relevant insights into the factors that influence a star's assignment to a movie. Additionally, because the star and nonstar movie characteristics (e.g., movie budget, distribution, genre, etc.) are often systematically different, we counterfactually estimate the theater allocations and revenues that nonstars (stars) would have generated had they acted in movies endowed with the same characteristics as the star (nonstar) movies. The decomposition analysis, conducted at different quantiles of theater and revenue distributions, shows that the presence of a star has a much stronger effect on theater allocations than the movie characteristics have. However, the revenue difference is entirely contributed by the differences in the characteristics of the star and nonstar movies. Thus, the star effects on revenue come indirectly through the theater allocations as well as from the characteristics of the movies in which they participate.

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When the Leader Follows: Avoiding Dethronement through Imitation

Jan-Michael Ross & Dmitry Sharapov
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
When is imitation of follower actions an effective competitive strategy for a leader? Building on prior work in competitive dynamics from the Austrian School perspective, we propose that imitation can be an effective means of staying ahead, even in the absence of mimetic social pressures. This is because the leader's imitation of follower actions represents equilibrating moves to maintain the status quo in reaction to the disequilibrating actions that the follower undertakes to catch up with the leader. Furthermore, reduction of difference in competitive positioning between leader and follower serves the same purpose, and both imitation strategies are complementary. These effects of 'action imitation' and 'positioning imitation', we argue, are moderated by the degree of environmental uncertainty, by the extent of the leader's initial advantage, and by the difference between leader and follower capabilities. Our theoretical arguments are supported by an analysis of data on head-to-head boat races from the America's Cup World Series. By developing mechanisms which take endogenous and exogenous contingencies of competitive interactions into account, this paper advances competitive dynamics as a predictive theory of performance outcomes.

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Exposure to Product Placement in Text Can Influence Consumer Judgments

Benjamin Storm & Eve Stoller
Applied Cognitive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Five experiments explored the consequences of exposure to product placement in text. In each experiment, participants read three short stories containing the names of several brand-name products. When given a surprise judgment task asking them to rate their likelihood of purchasing a number of brands — some of which were placed and some of which were not placed — participants rated placed brands significantly higher than non-placed brands. This effect of product placement was observed even when participants were warned about product placement prior to reading the stories, and even when participants reported having a negative opinion about product placement as a form of advertisement. Under some conditions, however, the effect did interact with brand familiarity, such that judgments of familiar brands were affected less by product placement than were judgments of unfamiliar brands.

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Consumer Demand for the Fair Trade Label: Evidence from a Multi-Store Field Experiment

Jens Hainmueller, Michael Hiscox & Sandra Sequeira
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We provide new evidence on consumer demand for ethical products from experiments conducted in a U.S. grocery store chain. We find that sales of the two most popular coffees rose by almost 10% when they carried a Fair Trade label as compared to a generic placebo label. Demand for the higher priced coffee remained steady when its price was raised by 8%, but demand for the lower priced coffee was elastic: a 9% price increase led to a 30% decline in sales. While consumers attach value to ethical sourcing, there is significant heterogeneity in willingness to pay for it.

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Do Incumbents Improve Service Quality in Response to Entry? Evidence from Airlines' On-Time Performance

Jeffrey Prince & Daniel Simon
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine if and how incumbent firms respond to entry and entry threats using nonprice modes of competition. Our analysis focuses on airline service quality. We find that incumbent on-time performance (OTP) actually worsens in response to entry, and even entry threats, by Southwest Airlines. Since Southwest is both a top-performing airline in OTP and a low-cost carrier (LCC), we conjecture that this response by incumbents may be due to a cost-cutting strategy that allows for intense postentry price competition along with preentry deterrence, or it may be due to a postentry differentiation strategy along with preentry accommodation. Further analysis of entry and entry threats by other airlines is inconclusive, providing evidence that is partially consistent with both hypotheses. Nonetheless, the phenomenon of worsening OTP can only be observed when the (potential) entrant is a LCC (Southwest, Jet Blue, and AirTran).

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Do Pharmacists Buy Bayer? Informed Shoppers and the Brand Premium

Bart Bronnenberg et al.
NBER Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
We estimate the effect of information on consumers' willingness to pay for national brands in physically homogeneous product categories. We measure consumer information using education, occupation, and a survey-based measure of product knowledge. In a detailed case study of headache remedies we find that more informed consumers are less likely to pay extra to buy national brands, with pharmacists choosing them over store brands only 9 percent of the time, compared to 26 percent of the time for the average consumer. In a similar case study of pantry staples such as salt and sugar, we show that chefs devote 12 percentage points less of their purchases to national brands than demographically similar non-chefs. We extend our analysis to cover 50 retail health categories and 241 food and drink categories and use the resulting estimates to fit a stylized model of demand and pricing. The model allows us to quantify the extent to which brand premia result from misinformation, and the way more accurate beliefs would change the division of surplus among manufacturers, retailers, and consumers.

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When Companies Do Good, Are Their Products Good For You? How Corporate Social Responsibility Creates A Health Halo

John Peloza, Christine Ye & William Montford
Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research demonstrates that consumers frequently engage in inference making when evaluating food products. These inferences can be highly inaccurate, leading to unintended, unhealthy consumer choices. Previous research has examined the role of inference making in consumption settings from either an intra- or inter-attribute perspective. The current research highlights extra-attribute inferences, in which consumers use corporate-level information to make inferences about product level attributes. Across four studies the authors demonstrate the existence of a health halo resulting from corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. When consumers evaluate food products marketed by firms with strong CSR reputations, they underestimate the calorie content. Further, the authors demonstrate that this calorie underestimation can lead to overconsumption by consumers.

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Superbowl Ads

Wesley Hartmann & Daniel Klapper
Stanford Working Paper, June 2014

Abstract:
We explore the effects of television advertising in the setting of the NFL’s Super Bowl telecast. The Super Bowl is the largest advertising event of the year and is well suited for measurement. The event has the potential to create significant increases in “brand capital” because ratings average over 40 percent of households and ads are a focal point of the broadcast. Furthermore, variation in exposures is exogenous because a brand cannot choose how many impressions it receives in each market. Viewership is determined based on local preferences for watching the two competing teams. With this significant and exogenous variation in Super Bowl advertising exposures we test whether advertisers’ sales are affected accordingly. We run our analysis using Nielsen ratings and store level sales data in the beer and soda categories. We find that Super Bowl ads generate significant increases in revenue and volume per household. However, when two major brands both advertise, they erode most of the gain. The largest effects occur during weeks with spikes in other sports events suggesting that placing an advertisement in the most watched sporting event of the year generates associations with sports more broadly. We test this using local viewership data of NCAA basketball in the second month after the Super Bowl and find strong evidence that advertising can generate or augment complementarities between a brand and the ways potential consumers spend their time.

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Consumer Price Search and Platform Design in Internet Commerce

Michael Dinerstein et al.
NBER Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
Search frictions can explain why the "law of one price" fails in retail markets and why even firms selling commodity products have pricing power. In online commerce, physical search costs are low, yet price dispersion is common. We use browsing data from eBay to estimate a model of consumer search and price competition when retailers offer homogeneous goods. We find that retail margins are on the order of 10%, and use the model to analyze the design of search rankings. Our model explains most of the effects of a major re-design of eBay's product search, and allows us to identify conditions where narrowing consumer choice sets can be pro-competitive. Finally, we examine a subsequent A/B experiment run by eBay that illustrates the greater difficulties in designing search algorithms for differentiated products, where price is only one of the relevant product attributes.

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The role of customer expectations in name-your-own-price markets

Scott Fay & Seung Hwan (Shawn) Lee
Journal of Business Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research analyzes how consumers' bidding costs and expectations about the threshold price impact a Name-Your-Own-Price (NYOP) retailer. We find that an NYOP retailer's profit may increase if consumers learn the product's true price threshold distribution. Inaccurate expectations can be detrimental to the firm either if consumers are too optimistic (i.e., expect the threshold price to be lower, on average, than really is) OR if consumers are overly pessimistic (i.e., expect the price threshold to be much higher than it is in reality). Furthermore, if customers accurately anticipate the true distribution of threshold prices, a seller may benefit from either (1) rejecting profitable bids in order to induce higher expectations of the threshold price (and thus higher bids) or (2) accepting bids below its costs (in order to raise participation rates). Using data from a real-world NYOP retailer, we find that bidding behavior is consistent with our analytical predictions.

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Valuing historic battlefields: An application of the travel cost method to three American Civil War battlefields

Richard Melstrom
Journal of Cultural Economics, August 2014, Pages 223-236

Abstract:
This paper presents individual demand models for three historic battlefield sites maintained by the US National Park Service. Preserved battlefields are valuable cultural resources that make up a significant portion of the US National Park system, but have received scant attention from economists. The demand for trips is modeled as a count data process. Visitor data for these battlefields were collected on-site, so the models account for truncation in the observed number of trips and endogenous stratification. The travel cost method, which is seeing increasing application in cultural heritage research, is used to estimate the use value of each battlefield. The results indicate an average individual willingness to pay for a battlefield trip ranging from about $8–$25, depending on the site.

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Keeping It Real: Exploring the Roles of Conversational Human Voice and Source Credibility in Crisis Communication via Blogs

Hyojung Park & Glen Cameron
Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, September 2014, Pages 487-507

Abstract:
The purpose of this study was to understand better how a conversational human voice versus a corporate tone of voice in blogs affects key publics’ responses to an organization in the context of a crisis, using a 2 (tone of voice: human/organizational) × 2 (source: public relations executive/private citizen) × 2 (crisis response: defensive/accommodative) mixed experimental design. Results indicate that first-person voice and personal narratives increased perceptions of social presence and interactivity in online communication. These perceptions subsequently resulted in positive post-crisis outcomes, such as reputation and behavioral intentions.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Economies of scale

Too Much of a Good Thing? Exploring the Impact of Wealth on Weight

Nicole Au & David Johnston
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Obesity, like many health conditions, is more prevalent among the socioeconomically disadvantaged. In our data, very poor women are three times more likely to be obese and five times more likely to be severely obese than rich women. Despite this strong correlation, it remains unclear whether higher wealth causes lower obesity. In this paper, we use nationally representative panel data and exogenous wealth shocks (primarily inheritances and lottery wins) to shed light on this issue. Our estimates show that wealth improvements increase weight for women, but not men. This effect differs by initial wealth and weight — an average-sized wealth shock received by initially poor and obese women is estimated to increase weight by almost 10 lb. Importantly, for some females, the effects appear permanent. We also find that a change in diet is the most likely explanation for the weight gain. Overall, the results suggest that additional wealth may exacerbate rather than alleviate weight problems.

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Caloric Beverage Intake among Adult Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participants

Jessica Todd & Michele Ver Ploeg
American Journal of Public Health, September 2014, Pages e80-e85

Objectives: We compared sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB), alcohol, and other caloric beverage (juice and milk) consumption of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants with that of low-income nonparticipants.

Methods: We used 1 day of dietary intake data from the 2005–2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 4594 adults aged 20 years and older with household income at or below 250% of the federal poverty line. We used bivariate and multivariate methods to compare the probability of consuming and the amount of calories consumed for each beverage type across 3 groups: current SNAP participants, former participants, and nonparticipants. We used instrumental variable methods to control for unobservable differences in participant groups.

Results: After controlling for observable characteristics, SNAP participants were no more likely to consume SSBs than were nonparticipants. Instrumental variable estimates showed that current participants consumed fewer calories from SSBs than did similar nonparticipants. We found no differences in alcoholic beverage consumption, which cannot be purchased with SNAP benefits.

Conclusions: SNAP participants are not unique in their consumption of SSBs or alcoholic beverages. Purchase restrictions may have little effect on SSB consumption.

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The Myth of Comfort Food

Heather Scherschel Wagner et al.
Health Psychology, forthcoming

Objective: People seek out their own idiosyncratic comfort foods when in negative moods, and they believe that these foods rapidly improve their mood. The purpose of these studies is to investigate whether comfort foods actually provide psychological benefits, and if so, whether they improve mood better than comparison foods or no food.

Methods: Participants first completed an online questionnaire to indicate their comfort foods and a variety of comparison foods. During two lab sessions a week apart from each other (and at least a week after the online questionnaire, counterbalanced in order), participants watched films that induced negative affect. In one session, participants were then served their comfort food. In the other, participants were served an equally liked noncomfort food (Study 1), a neutral food (Study 2), or no food (Studies 3 and 4). Short-term mood changes were measured so that we could seek out psychological effects of these foods, rather than biochemical effects on mood from particular food components (e.g., sugars or vitamins).

Results: Comfort foods led to significant improvements in mood, but no more than other foods or no food.

Conclusions: Although people believe that comfort foods provide them with mood benefits, comfort foods do not provide comfort beyond that of other foods (or no food). These results are likely not due to a floor effect because participants’ moods did not return to baseline levels. Individuals may be giving comfort food “credit” for mood effects that would have occurred even in the absence of the comfort food.

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Reducing Childhood Obesity through U.S. Federal Policy: A Microsimulation Analysis

Alyson Kristensen et al.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, forthcoming

Background: Childhood obesity prevalence remains high in the U.S., especially among racial/ethnic minorities and low-income populations. Federal policy is important in improving public health given its broad reach. Information is needed about federal policies that could reduce childhood obesity rates and by how much.

Purpose: To estimate the impact of three federal policies on childhood obesity prevalence in 2032, after 20 years of implementation.

Methods: Criteria were used to select the three following policies to reduce childhood obesity from 26 recommended policies: afterschool physical activity programs, a $0.01/ounce sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) excise tax, and a ban on child-directed fast food TV advertising. For each policy, the literature was reviewed from January 2000 through July 2012 to find evidence of effectiveness and create average effect sizes. In 2012, a Markov microsimulation model estimated each policy’s impact on diet or physical activity, and then BMI, in a simulated school-aged population in 2032.

Results: The microsimulation predicted that afterschool physical activity programs would reduce obesity the most among children aged 6–12 years (1.8 percentage points) and the advertising ban would reduce obesity the least (0.9 percentage points). The SSB excise tax would reduce obesity the most among adolescents aged 13–18 years (2.4 percentage points). All three policies would reduce obesity more among blacks and Hispanics than whites, with the SSB excise tax reducing obesity disparities the most.

Conclusions: All three policies would reduce childhood obesity prevalence by 2032. However, a national $0.01/ounce SSB excise tax is the best option.

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From Coke to Coors: A Field Study of a Fat Tax and its Unintended Consequences

Brian Wansink et al.
Cornell University Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
Could taxation of calorie-dense foods such as soft drinks be used to reduce obesity? To address this question, a six-month field experiment was conducted in an American city of 62,000 where half of the 113 households recruited into the study faced a 10% tax on calorie-dense foods and beverages and half did not. The tax resulted in a short-term (1-month) decrease in soft drink purchases, but no decrease over a 3-month or 6-month period. Moreover, in beer-purchasing households, this tax led to increased purchases of beer. To behavior scholars, this underscores the importance of investigating unexpected substitutions. To public health officials and policy makers, this presents an important empirical result and more generally points toward wide ranging contributions that marketing scholarship can make in their decisions.

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How State Taxes and Policies Targeting Soda Consumption Modify the Association between School Vending Machines and Student Dietary Behaviors: A Cross-Sectional Analysis

Daniel Taber et al.
PLoS ONE, August 2014

Background: Sodas are widely sold in vending machines and other school venues in the United States, particularly in high school. Research suggests that policy changes have reduced soda access, but the impact of reduced access on consumption is unclear. This study was designed to identify student, environmental, or policy characteristics that modify the associations between school vending machines and student dietary behaviors.

Methods: Data on school vending machine access and student diet were obtained as part of the National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Study (NYPANS) and linked to state-level data on soda taxes, restaurant taxes, and state laws governing the sale of soda in schools. Regression models were used to: 1) estimate associations between vending machine access and soda consumption, fast food consumption, and lunch source, and 2) determine if associations were modified by state soda taxes, restaurant taxes, laws banning in-school soda sales, or student characteristics (race/ethnicity, sex, home food access, weight loss behaviors.)

Results: Contrary to the hypothesis, students tended to consume 0.53 fewer servings of soda/week (95% CI: -1.17, 0.11) and consume fast food on 0.24 fewer days/week (95% CI: -0.44, -0.05) if they had in-school access to vending machines. They were also less likely to consume soda daily (23.9% vs. 27.9%, average difference = -4.02, 95% CI: -7.28, -0.76). However, these inverse associations were observed primarily among states with lower soda and restaurant tax rates (relative to general food tax rates) and states that did not ban in-school soda sales. Associations did not vary by any student characteristics except for weight loss behaviors.

Conclusion: Isolated changes to the school food environment may have unintended consequences unless policymakers incorporate other initiatives designed to discourage overall soda consumption.

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Peer-Effects in Obesity among Public Elementary School Children: A Grade-Level Analysis

Jebaraj Asirvatham, Rodolfo Nayga & Michael Thomsen
Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, September 2014, Pages 438-459

Abstract:
Using a panel dataset at the grade level from Arkansas public schools, this study finds that changes in the obesity prevalence at the oldest grade are associated with changes in obesity prevalence at younger grades. Furthermore, analysis across different school types shows that the peer effects are statistically significant but the magnitude of the effect is greater in kindergarten to fourth-grade schools than in kindergarten to sixth-grade schools. We also use tests on spatial and temporal dimensions, as well as by weight status grouping, to provide evidence that these peer effects are more than just a statistical correlation.

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Generational Shift in Parental Perceptions of Overweight Among School-Aged Children

Andrew Hansen et al.
Pediatrics, September 2014, Pages 481 -488

Background: Parental perceptions of child’s weight status may influence family readiness to foster healthy behaviors. This study investigated the generational shifting of parental perceptions about children’s weight.

Methods: Data were collected in the NHANES 1988–1994 (n = 2871) and 2005–2010 (n = 3202). Parents, mainly mothers, were asked whether they considered their child, ages 6 to 11 years, to be overweight, underweight, or just about the right weight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2000 growth chart was used for reference. We ran Poisson regression to estimate the probability ratio between the 2 surveys for parents perceiving their child as overweight after controlling for actual weight.

Results: The 10th percentile of BMI z scores for children who were parentally perceived as overweight shifted with statistical significance from 84th percentile of reference population in the early survey to 91st percentile of reference population in the recent survey (P < .05). The mean z score of children parentally perceived as overweight also increased between surveys with the largest increase among children from poor families (from 1.60 [SE: 0.20] to 1.98 [0.08], P < .05), followed by African Americans (from 1.65 [0.09] to 2.02 [0.05], P < .05). The probability of overweight/obese children being correctly perceived as overweight by the parents declined by 24% between surveys (probability ratio = 0.76 [95% confidence interval: 0.67–0.87]).

Conclusions: Overweight/obese children were less likely to be perceived as overweight in the recent survey compared with peers of similar weight but surveyed 10+ years earlier. The declining tendency among parents to perceive overweight children appropriately may indicate a generational shift in social norms related to body weight.

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Comparison of Weight Loss Among Named Diet Programs in Overweight and Obese Adults: A Meta-analysis

Bradley Johnston et al.
Journal of the American Medical Association, September 2014, Pages 923-933

Objective: To determine weight loss outcomes for popular diets based on diet class (macronutrient composition) and named diet.

Data Extraction and Synthesis: Two reviewers independently extracted data on populations, interventions, outcomes, risk of bias, and quality of evidence. A Bayesian framework was used to perform a series of random-effects network meta-analyses with meta-regression to estimate the relative effectiveness of diet classes and programs for change in weight and body mass index from baseline. Our analyses adjusted for behavioral support and exercise.

Results: Among 59 eligible articles reporting 48 unique randomized trials (including 7286 individuals) and compared with no diet, the largest weight loss was associated with low-carbohydrate diets (8.73 kg [95% credible interval {CI}, 7.27 to 10.20 kg] at 6-month follow-up and 7.25 kg [95% CI, 5.33 to 9.25 kg] at 12-month follow-up) and low-fat diets (7.99 kg [95% CI, 6.01 to 9.92 kg] at 6-month follow-up and 7.27 kg [95% CI, 5.26 to 9.34 kg] at 12-month follow-up). Weight loss differences between individual diets were minimal. For example, the Atkins diet resulted in a 1.71 kg greater weight loss than the Zone diet at 6-month follow-up. Between 6- and 12-month follow-up, the influence of behavioral support (3.23 kg [95% CI, 2.23 to 4.23 kg] at 6-month follow-up vs 1.08 kg [95% CI, −1.82 to 3.96 kg] at 12-month follow-up) and exercise (0.64 kg [95% CI, −0.35 to 1.66 kg] vs 2.13 kg [95% CI, 0.43 to 3.85 kg], respectively) on weight loss differed.

Conclusions and Relevance: Significant weight loss was observed with any low-carbohydrate or low-fat diet. Weight loss differences between individual named diets were small. This supports the practice of recommending any diet that a patient will adhere to in order to lose weight.

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Stairs or Escalator? Using Theories of Persuasion and Motivation to Facilitate Healthy Decision Making

Gaurav Suri et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, forthcoming

Abstract:
To encourage an increase in daily activity, researchers have tried a variety of health-related communications, but with mixed results. In the present research — using the stair escalator choice context — we examined predictions derived from the Heuristic Systematic Model (HSM), Self Determination Theory (SDT), and related theories. Specifically, we tested whether (as predicted by HSM) signs that encourage heuristic processing (“Take the Stairs”) would have greatest impact when placed at the stair/escalator point of choice (when processing time is limited), whereas signs that encourage systematic processing (“Will You Take the Stairs?”) would have greatest impact when placed at some distance from the point of choice (when processing time is less limited). We also tested whether (as predicted by SDT) messages promoting autonomy would be more likely to result in sustained motivated behavior (i.e., stair taking at subsequent uncued choice points) than messages that use commands. A series of studies involving more than 9,000 pedestrians provided support for these predictions.

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Prompting healthier eating: Testing the use of health and social norm based messages

Eric Robinson, Alexander Fleming & Suzanne Higgs
Health Psychology, September 2014, Pages 1057-1064

Objective: Health based messages are commonly used to promote fruit and vegetable intake, but are limited in their effectiveness. Social norm messages, which suggest other people are eating healthily, may be more effective. Our aim was to compare the effect on food selection of a message containing health related information about fruit and vegetable consumption with a message containing social normative information about consumption of fruit and vegetables.

Method: In two laboratory studies, predominantly young female adult students were exposed to a health or social norm message about fruit and vegetables. In Study 1, lunch meal food selections and intake were assessed and in Study 2, snack food selections and intake were assessed. Study 1 examined the effect of a descriptive social norm (information about what others are eating) versus a health message and Study 2 examined the effect of both a descriptive norm and an injunctive norm message (information about what others approve of) versus a health message.

Results: In Study 1, exposure to a descriptive social norm message resulted in significantly more vegetables being selected and eaten than exposure to a health message. In Study 2, exposure to a descriptive social norm message resulted in significantly more fruit and vegetables and less high energy dense snack food being selected and eaten than exposure to a health message. There was no effect of exposure to the injunctive norm message. In both studies, significant differences between the social norm and health message conditions were observed in low but not high usual consumers of fruit and vegetables.

Conclusions: For the promotion of healthy eating, social norm messages may be more effective than health messages for consumers failing to adhere to dietary guidelines.

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Impact of non-physician health professionals' BMI on obesity care and beliefs

Sara Bleich et al.
Obesity, forthcoming

Objective: Examine the impact of non-physician health professional body mass index (BMI) on obesity care, self-efficacy, and perceptions of patient trust in weight loss advice.

Methods: A national cross-sectional internet-based survey of 500 US non-physician health professionals specializing in nutrition, nursing, behavioral/mental health, exercise, and pharmacy collected between January 20 and February 5, 2014 was analyzed.

Results: Normal BMI professionals were more likely than overweight/obese professionals to report success in helping patients achieve clinically significant weight loss (52% vs. 29%, P = 0.01). No differences by health professional BMI about the appropriate patient body weight for weight-related care (initiate weight loss discussions and success in helping patients lose weight), confidence in ability to help patients lose weight, or in perceived patient trust in their advice were observed. Most health professionals (71%) do not feel successful in helping patients lose weight until they are morbidly obese, regardless of BMI.

Conclusions: Normal BMI non-physician health professionals report being more successful than overweight and obese health professionals at helping obese patients lose weight. More research is needed to understand how to improve self-efficiency for delivering obesity care, particularly among overweight and class I obese patients.

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The effect of non-caloric sweeteners on cognition, choice, and post-consumption satisfaction

Sarah Hill et al.
Appetite, December 2014, Pages 82–88

Abstract:
Consumers often turn to non-caloric sweeteners (NCS) as a means of promoting a healthy body weight. However, several studies have now linked their long-term use to increased weight gain, raising the question of whether these products produce unintended psychological, physiological, or behavioral changes that have implications for weight management goals. In the following, we present the results of three experiments bearing on this issue, testing whether NCS-consumption influences how individuals think about and respond to food. Participants in each of our three experiments were randomly assigned to consume a sugar-sweetened beverage, an unsweetened beverage, or a beverage sweetened with NCS. We then measured their cognition (Experiment 1), product choice (Experiment 2), and subjective responses to a sugar-sweetened food (Experiment 3). Results revealed that consuming NCS-sweetened beverages influence psychological processes in ways that – over time – may increase calorie intake.

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Public and health professionals’ misconceptions about the dynamics of body weight gain/loss

Tarek Abdel-Hamid et al.
System Dynamics Review, January-June 2014, Pages 58–74

Abstract:
Human body energy storage operates as a stock-and-flow system with inflow (food intake) and outflow (energy expenditure). In spite of the ubiquity of stock-and-flow structures, evidence suggests that human beings fail to understand stock accumulation and rates of change, a difficulty called the stock–flow failure. This study examines the influence of health care training and cultural background in overcoming stock–flow failure. A standardized protocol assessed lay people's and health care professionals’ ability to apply stock-and-flow reasoning to infer the dynamics of weight gain/loss during the holiday season (621 subjects from seven countries). Our results indicate that both types of subjects exhibited systematic errors indicative of use of erroneous heuristics. Indeed 76% of lay subjects and 71% of health care professionals failed to understand the simple dynamic impact of energy intake and energy expenditure on body weight. Stock–flow failure was found across cultures and was not improved by professional health training. The problem of stock–flow failure as a transcultural global issue with education and policy implications is discussed.

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Measures of adiposity predict interleukin-6 responses to repeated psychosocial stress

Christine McInnis et al.
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, forthcoming

Objective: Overweight and obese individuals, who comprise approximately two-thirds of the U.S. population, are at increased risk for developing a range of diseases. This increased risk may be due in part to maladaptive stress responses within this group, including heightened low-grade inflammation and HPA axis non-habituation. In this study we tested the relationship between adiposity, plasma interleukin-6 (IL-6) and HPA axis responses to repeated stress.

Methods: Sixty-seven healthy participants were exposed to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) on two consecutive days. We collected saliva for cortisol measurements at baseline and at 1, 10, 30, 60 and 120 min post-TSST, and blood for plasma IL-6 measurements at baseline and 30 and 120 min post-TSST.

Results: Stress exposure induced significant increases of cortisol and IL-6 on both days (cortisol: F = 38, p < 0.001; IL-6: F = 90.8; p < 0.001), and repeated exposure was related with cortisol habituation (F = 8.2; p < 0.001) and IL-6 sensitization (F = 5.2; p = 0.022). BMI and body fat were related with higher cortisol responses to repeated stress (BMI: beta = 0.34; p = 0.014; body fat: beta = 0.29; p = 0.045), and with higher IL-6 responses to repeated stress (BMI: beta = 0.27, p = 0.044; body fat: beta = 0.37; p = 0.006).

Conclusions: Taken together, individuals with higher measures of adiposity showed less efficient HPA axis habituation as well as sensitization of IL-6 responses to repeated acute stress. These findings point to maladaptive stress response patterns in overweight humans, which, through exposure to higher levels of inflammatory mediators, might partially explain diseases related with overweight and/or obesity.

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Individual differences in striatum activity to food commercials predict weight gain in adolescents

Sonja Yokum et al.
Obesity, forthcoming

Objective: Adolescents view thousands of food commercials annually, but little is known about how individual differences in neural response to food commercials relate to weight gain. To add to our understanding of individual risk factors for unhealthy weight gain and environmental contributions to the obesity epidemic, we tested the associations between reward region (striatum and orbitofrontal cortex [OFC]) responsivity to food commercials and future change in body mass index (BMI).

Methods: Adolescents (N = 30) underwent a scan session at baseline while watching a television show edited to include 20 food commercials and 20 nonfood commercials. BMI was measured at baseline and 1-year follow-up.

Results: Activation in the striatum, but not OFC, in response to food commercials relative to nonfood commercials and in response to food commercials relative to the television show was positively associated with change in BMI over 1-year follow-up. Baseline BMI did not moderate these effects.

Conclusions: The results suggest that there are individual differences in neural susceptibility to food advertising. These findings highlight a potential mechanism for the impact of food marketing on adolescent obesity.

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Concrete images of the sugar content in sugar-sweetened beverages reduces attraction to and selection of these beverages

John Milton Adams et al.
Appetite, December 2014, Pages 10–18

Abstract:
In the present research, we offer a novel method for informing consumers about the sugar content in sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). With a series of experiments, we present evidence that this method curbs preference for SSBs and leads to more negative attitudes toward SSBs. We propose that people view SSBs more negatively and show less preference for SSBs when they are able to concretely visualize the quantity of sugar in SSBs. For example, we suggest that people might have more negative views toward the idea of consuming 28 sugar cubes (concrete information), compared to consuming “70g” of sugar (abstract information). Indeed, we found that, without any intervention, people struggle to convert sugar grams into a concrete, physical sugar representation (Experiment 1). But, when people are provided ways to convert abstract sugar-nutrition information into a concrete representation, they find SSBs less attractive (Experiment 2) and are less likely to select SSBs in favor of sugar-free beverage options (Experiments 3 and 4). These findings offer direct applications to the design of public-health messages and nutrition-education interventions. Such applications might benefit society in its battle with the obesity epidemic.

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Gender and Reinforcing Associations between Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Body Mass over the Life Course

Tetyana Pudrovska et al.
Journal of Health and Social Behavior, September 2014, Pages 283-301

Abstract:
Using the 1957–1993 data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, we explore reciprocal associations between socioeconomic status (SES) and body mass in the 1939 birth cohort of non-Hispanic white men and women. We integrate the fundamental cause theory, the gender relations theory, and the life course perspective to analyze gender differences in (a) the ways that early socioeconomic disadvantage launches bidirectional associations of body mass and SES and (b) the extent to which these mutually reinforcing effects generate socioeconomic disparities in midlife body mass. Using structural equation modeling, we find that socioeconomic disadvantage at age 18 is related to higher body mass index and a greater risk of obesity at age 54, and that this relationship is significantly stronger for women than men. Moreover, women are more adversely affected by two mechanisms underlying the focal association: the obesogenic effect of socioeconomic disadvantage and the SES-impeding effect of obesity. These patterns were also replicated in propensity score–matching models. We conclude that gender and SES act synergistically over the life course to shape reciprocal chains of two disadvantaged statuses: heavier body mass and lower SES.

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Occupational Conditions, Self-Care, and Obesity among Clergy in the United States

Todd Ferguson et al.
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Prior research has shown that a variety of occupational conditions such as long work hours are associated with increased likelihood of obesity. In this study, we use the specific case of the clergy to explore how occupational conditions are linked to increased or decreased odds of being obese. We hypothesize that stressful conditions are associated with increased odds of obesity and that self-care practices are associated with decreased odds. Using the 2008/9 U.S. Congregational Life Survey’s national sample of clergy from multiple religious traditions, we find support for our hypotheses. Clergy who experience more stress, work more hours, or are bi-vocational have higher odds of obesity. Those who take a day off each week, have taken a sabbatical, or are involved in a support group experience lower odds. For Protestant clergy, being involved in a support group or taking a day off moderates the association between certain stressful occupational conditions and obesity.

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Vice-Virtue Bundles

Peggy Liu et al.
Duke University Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
We introduce a simple solution to help consumers manage choices between healthy and unhealthy food options: vice-virtue bundles. Vice-virtue bundles are item aggregates with varying proportions of both vice and virtue, holding overall quantity constant. Four studies compare choice and perceptions of differently composed vice-virtue bundles relative to one another and to pure vice and pure virtue options. Results suggest that people tend to prefer vice-virtue bundles with small (¼) to medium (½) proportions of vice rather than large (¾) proportions of vice. Moreover, people rate vice-virtue bundles with small vice proportions as healthier but equally tasty as bundles with larger vice proportions. For most individuals, choice patterns are different from those predicted by variety-seeking accounts alone. Instead, these findings provide evidence that bundle choice can be predicted by the identification of a taste-health balance point, determined based on consumers’ perceptions of tastiness and healthiness as a function of the relative proportion of vice in an option.

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Obesity history and male employment

Francesco Renna
Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, this article computes the stock of obesity as the number of obese years in the adult life of an individual. Then it estimates the effect of the stock of obesity on the probability of being employed. It is found that the accumulated years of morbid obesity (i.e. obesity associated with a body mass index above 40) has a large negative impact on employment status. This effect remains significant even after conditioning on time-invariant unobserved heterogeneity. The results of the IV probit analysis indicate that the stock of morbid obese years can be regarded as exogenous. Less severe levels of obesity do not seem to have an impact on employment.

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Explaining educational disparities in adiposity: The role of neighborhood environments

Gavin Abbott et al.
Obesity, forthcoming

Objective: To examine the extent to which characteristics of the neighborhood built environment explain the association between adiposity and educational qualifications in Australian women.

Methods: A community sample of 1,819 women (aged 18-66) from the Melbourne SESAW study provided information regarding their body mass index (BMI) and level of education. Objective measures of participants' residential neighborhood built environments were obtained using a Geographic Information System.

Results: Compared with women with a high school degree or above, women who did not complete high school had higher average BMI, which was partially explained by lower density of sports facilities and living less proximally to the coastline and to supermarkets. In a multiple mediator model, which explained 16.6% of the educational disparity in BMI, the number of sports facilities and presence of the coastline within 2 km of participants' homes were significant mediators of the observed socioeconomic disparity in BMI.

Conclusions: The residential neighborhood environment may help to explain socioeconomic patterning of overweight and obesity in Australian women. These results provide further support for considering the built environment in obesity prevention initiatives, suggesting a potential role in decreasing social inequalities in obesity.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, September 8, 2014

Justice of the peace

An experimental evaluation of a nationally recognized employment-focused offender reentry program

David Farabee, Sheldon Zhang & Benjamin Wright
Journal of Experimental Criminology, September 2014, Pages 309-322

Objectives: The need for re-entry assistance is widely acknowledged, but specifics about what services actually lead to reduced recidivism are hard to find—at least among rigorous studies. This is a critical issue: at a time when there appears to be unprecedented support for expanding rehabilitative programs for offenders, there is a dearth of rigorously vetted program options from which to choose.

Methods: Collaborating with a nationally known employment-focused reentry program in Southern California, the authors compared employment, housing, and recidivism outcomes of reentering offenders (n = 217) who were either randomized into the program or simply provided with a list of community resources. This approach was possible because the number of applicants at the time exceeded program capacity. Outcomes were based on self-report interviews conducted 1-year post-randomization and arrest records reflecting a 2-year follow-up period. The follow-up rate for interviews was 87 %.

Results: No significant differences were found for any of the between-group comparisons on any of the major intervention outcomes.

Conclusions: Findings from the study suggest a greater need to apply randomized designs to more carefully evaluate current reentry efforts. Methodological challenges of field experiments are also discussed.

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The Persistent Significance of Racial and Economic Inequality on the Size of Municipal Police Forces in the United States, 1980–2010

Jason Carmichael & Stephanie Kent
Social Problems, May 2014, Pages 259-282

Abstract:
Recent empirical analyses of the social factors that predict municipal police force size support racial threat theory by suggesting that the racial composition of cities leads to enhanced social control efforts; however, these studies largely ignore explanations based on social class or the influence of an ethnic threat. We examine these alternative threat hypotheses by assessing the potential influence that recent increases in economic inequality and the substantial rise in the Hispanic population in the United States may have had on efforts to control crime. Using an advanced estimation technique to isolate the determinants of police force size in a large sample of U.S. cities between 1980 and 2010, we find that racial threat and economic inequality work both independently and jointly to produce substantial shifts in the size of police forces after accounting for levels of crime as well as other important demographic and structural characteristics. Furthermore, period interactions suggest that racial threat appears to have expanded over the last several decades. Together, our study uncovers novel interactive effects and identifies shifts over time, thus refining existing theoretical assumptions.

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A False Dichotomy? Mental Illness and Lone-Actor Terrorism

Emily Corner & Paul Gill
Law and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
We test whether significant differences in mental illness exist in a matched sample of lone- and group-based terrorists. We then test whether there are distinct behavioral differences between lone-actor terrorists with and without mental illness. We then stratify our sample across a range of diagnoses and again test whether significant differences exist. We conduct a series of bivariate, multivariate, and multinomial statistical tests using a unique dataset of 119 lone-actor terrorists and a matched sample of group-based terrorists. The odds of a lone-actor terrorist having a mental illness is 13.49 times higher than the odds of a group actor having a mental illness. Lone actors who were mentally ill were 18.07 times more likely to have a spouse or partner who was involved in a wider movement than those without a history of mental illness. Those with a mental illness were more likely to have a proximate upcoming life change, more likely to have been a recent victim of prejudice, and experienced proximate and chronic stress. The results identify behaviors and traits that security agencies can utilize to monitor and prevent lone-actor terrorism events. The correlated behaviors provide an image of how risk can crystalize within the individual offender and that our understanding of lone-actor terrorism should be multivariate in nature.

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Abortion and Crime: Cross-Country Evidence from Europe

Abel François, Raul Magni-Berton & Laurent Weill
International Review of Law and Economics, October 2014, Pages 24–35

Abstract:
The publication of Donohue and Levitt (2001)’s paper on the impact of legalized abortion on the decline of crime in the US has created a wide debate in the literature. However, the vast majority of papers have been implemented in the US setting, and the few other works were single-country studies. In this research, we aim to provide new evidence on the abortion-crime link by examining this issue using a sample of 16 Western European countries. The cross-country investigation allows the exploitation of the different dates of abortion legalization in Europe. We perform regressions of crime rates on different measurements of abortion especially the share of aborted adults, defined as the accumulation of aborted children in the past that would have become adults. We find that abortion rate has a significant and negative impact on crime rates, specifically, homicide and theft. We also observe support for the impact of legalization of abortion on the reduction of crime when considering different calculations of the accumulation of abortions based on different criteria for the legalization of abortion. Thus, our results are consistent with the findings of Donohue and Levitt (2001) for the US.

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Social Norms and the Enforcement of Laws

Daron Acemoglu & Matthew Jackson
NBER Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
We examine the interplay between social norms and the enforcement of laws. Agents choose a behavior (e.g., tax evasion, production of low-quality products, corruption, substance abuse, etc.) and then are randomly matched with another agent. An agent's payoff decreases with the mismatch between her behavior and her partner's, as well as average behavior in society. A law is an upper bound (cap) on behavior and a law-breaker, when detected, pays a fine and has her behavior forced down to the level of the law. Law-breaking depends on social norms because detection relies, at least in part, on private cooperation and whistle-blowing. Law-abiding agents have an incentive to whistle-blow because this reduces the mismatch with their partner's behavior as well as the overall negative externality. When laws are in conflict with norms so that many agents are breaking the law, each agent anticipates little whistle-blowing and is more likely to also break the law. Tighter laws (banning more behaviors) have counteracting effects, reducing behavior among law-abiding individuals but inducing more law-breaking. Greater fines for law breaking and better public enforcement reduce the number of law-breakers and behavior among law-abiding agents, but increase levels of law breaking among law-breakers (who effectively choose their behavior targeting other high-behavior law-breakers). Within a dynamic version of the model, we show that laws that are in strong conflict with prevailing social norms may backfire, while gradual tightening of laws can be more effective by changing social norms.

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Recidivism Among Released State Prison Inmates Who Received Mental Health Treatment While Incarcerated

William Fisher et al.
Crime & Delinquency, September 2014, Pages 811-832

Abstract:
This study assesses the likelihood of rearrest among a cohort of all adults (N = 1,438) released from the Massachusetts state prison system who received mental health services while they were incarcerated. All individuals were followed for 24 months. The analysis focused on four classes of variables: demographic characteristics, clinical history, criminal justice history, and postrelease supervision. These analyses showed that criminal history factors — a juvenile record and a history of multiple previous incarcerations — were significant risk factors, but that clinical factors, including a history of substance abuse, were not. Overall, the models developed here look much like the ones that would be observed in the general offender population. The implications of these findings for criminal justice and mental health policy are discussed.

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Where Have All the (White and Hispanic) Inmates Gone? Comparing the Racial Composition of Private and Public Adult Correctional Facilities

Brett Burkhardt
Race and Justice, forthcoming

Abstract:
A great deal of research has documented racial disparities in imprisonment rates in the United States, but little work has been done to understand the process by which inmates are assigned to individual correctional facilities. This article extends research on racial disparities in imprisonment rates to consider racial disparities in inmate populations across prisons. Specifically, it examines the racial pattern of inmate placement in privately operated and publicly operated correctional facilities. Analysis of American adult correctional facilities reveals that, in 2005, White inmates were significantly underrepresented (and Hispanic inmates overrepresented) in private correctional facilities relative to public ones. Results from multilevel models show that being privately operated (as opposed to publicly operated) decreased the White share of a facility’s population by more than eight percentage points and increased the Hispanic share of a facility’s population by nearly two percentage points, net of facility- and state-level controls. These findings raise legal questions about equal protection of inmates and economic questions about the reliance of private correctional firms on Hispanic inmates.

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The effect of interpreters on eliciting information, cues to deceit and rapport

Sarah Ewens et al.
Legal and Criminological Psychology, forthcoming

Background: The present experiment examined how the presence of an interpreter during investigative interviews affects eliciting information, cues to deceit and rapport.

Method: A total of 60 native English speakers were interviewed in English and 183 non-native English speakers were interviewed in English (a foreign language) or through an interpreter who interpreted their answers sentence by sentence (short consecutive interpretation) or summarized their answers (long consecutive interpretation). Interviewees discussed the job they had (truth tellers) or pretended to have (liars).

Results: Interviewees who spoke through an interpreter provided less detail than interviewees who spoke in their first language and a foreign language (English) without an interpreter. Additionally, cues to deceit occurred more frequently when interviewees spoke without an interpreter. The presence of an interpreter had no effect on rapport.

Conclusion: The findings suggest that at present there are no benefits to using an interpreter with regard to eliciting information. Future research should investigate how best to utilize an interpreter to gain maximum detail from an interview.

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The Spatial Extent of the Effect of Foreclosures on Crime

Seth Payton, Thomas Stucky & John Ottensmann
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although neighborhood stability has long been considered a substantial determinant of crime, foreclosures have not been the subject of concerted research among criminologists until recently. A number of recent studies have examined the linkage between home foreclosures and crime. Though generally finding a significant relationship, studies have used different approaches and units of analysis. This variation led us to examine the spatial extent to which foreclosures affect a relatively small surrounding area. In this paper, we consider the spatial extent of the foreclosure effect on crime by estimating fixed effect negative binomial models using geocoded UCR data for 2003-2008 and foreclosure data to predict crime counts using the number of foreclosures within various small area radii. Results show that, independently and jointly, foreclosures are a predictor of crime up to at least a distance of 2,250 feet. Importantly, that effect declines with distance. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of those findings.

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Life and Death in the Fast Lane: Police Enforcement and Traffic Fatalities

Gregory DeAngelo & Benjamin Hansen
American Economic Review: Economic Policy, May 2014, Pages 231-257

Abstract:
Simultaneity complicates the estimation of the causal effect of police on crime. We overcome this obstacle by focusing on a mass layoff of Oregon State Police in February of 2003. Due solely to budget cuts, 35 percent of the roadway troopers were laid off, which dramatically reduced citations. The subsequent decrease in enforcement is associated with a significant increase in injuries and fatalities. The effects are similar using control groups chosen either geographically or through data-driven methods. Our estimates suggest that a highway fatality can be prevented with $309,000 of expenditures on state police.

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Reduction in Fatalities, Ambulance Calls, and Hospital Admissions for Road Trauma After Implementation of New Traffic Laws

Jeffrey Brubacher et al.
American Journal of Public Health, forthcoming

Objectives: We evaluated the public health benefits of traffic laws targeting speeding and drunk drivers (British Columbia, Canada, September 2010).

Methods: We studied fatal crashes and ambulance dispatches and hospital admissions for road trauma, using interrupted time series with multiple nonequivalent comparison series. We determined estimates of effect using linear regression models incorporating an autoregressive integrated moving average error term. We used neighboring jurisdictions (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Washington State) as external controls.

Results: In the 2 years after implementation of the new laws, significant decreases occurred in fatal crashes (21.0%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 15.3, 26.4) and in hospital admissions (8.0%; 95% CI = 0.6, 14.9) and ambulance calls (7.2%; 95% CI = 1.1, 13.0) for road trauma. We found a very large reduction in alcohol-related fatal crashes (52.0%; 95% CI = 34.5, 69.5), and the benefits of the new laws are likely primarily the result of a reduction in drinking and driving.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that laws calling for immediate sanctions for dangerous drivers can reduce road trauma and should be supported.

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The Power of the Racketeer: An Empirical Approach

Griffin Sims Edwards
Review of Law & Economics, July 2014, Pages 219–234

Abstract:
Using a quasi-maximum likelihood Poisson estimator with fixed effects, this paper tests a theory presented in Rubin (1973) that organized criminal firms extract monopoly rents from victim firms that gain monopoly power through the offering of goods and services in a non-native language. Using a US state panel and data on federal racketeering cases charged, I find that all else equal, a 0.1 percentage point increase in the amount of non-English speakers in a state will increase the expected number of racketeering cases per state per year by about 1. This is weakly supported by the fact that states with fewer small businesses, and thus a higher probability of earning monopoly rents, experience less racketeering activity.

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Regulating harmless activity to fight crime

Florian Baumann & Tim Friehe
Journal of Economics, September 2014, Pages 79-95

Abstract:
This paper establishes that regulating harmless activity can be an effective instrument of law enforcement when the harmless activity and the harmful activity are interdependent. This type of regulation is not without cost, as it distorts the individual choices made by both law-abiding and non-law-abiding individuals. However, it can be socially advantageous when the impact on welfare resulting from changes in the choices of offenders dominates the impact of changes in non-offenders’ decisions; in addition, increasing deterrence by other means (such as raising the probability of detection or the magnitude of sanctions) can incur much higher costs.

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Uncommonly Observed: The Impact of New Jersey’s Halfway House System

Zachary Hamilton & Christopher Campbell
Criminal Justice and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite the nationwide use of halfway houses (HWHs), empirical findings documenting their impact have been generally infrequent over the last 30 years. Recent high-profile incidents have increased public attention and raised questions regarding their effectiveness and appropriate use. In response, this study provides information needed to fill the knowledge gap and answer policy questions through an analysis of 6,599 participants across 18 HWH programs in New Jersey. Participants were matched and compared with released inmates who were not provided a HWH placement. Using frailty models, an examination of five correctional outcomes revealed support for the effectiveness and continued use of HWH interventions, with regard to violating conditions of release resulting in revocations. Nonsignificant findings were identified for rearrests and convictions.

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How Far From the Tree Does the Apple Fall? Field Training Officers, Their Trainees, and Allegations of Misconduct

Ryan Getty, John Worrall & Robert Morris
Crime & Delinquency, forthcoming

Abstract:
Grounded in both organizational- and individual-level theories, this study examined the relationship between police field training officers (FTOs) and their trainees’ subsequent allegations of misconduct. Trainees in the sample were each exposed to multiple FTOs, which presented a unique methodological problem. As such, multilevel models that permitted the nesting of individual trainees within multiple higher order groups of FTOs were estimated. Results revealed that approximately one quarter of the variation in trainees’ allegations of postsupervision misconduct was attributed to FTOs, suggesting the apple (trainee) indeed falls close to the tree (FTO). Implications for FTO selection and training are discussed.

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Stress Proliferation across Generations? Examining the Relationship between Parental Incarceration and Childhood Health

Kristin Turney
Journal of Health and Social Behavior, September 2014, Pages 302-319

Abstract:
Stress proliferation theory suggests that parental incarceration may have deleterious intergenerational health consequences. In this study, I use data from the 2011–2012 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) to estimate the relationship between parental incarceration and children’s fair or poor overall health, a range of physical and mental health conditions, activity limitations, and chronic school absence. Descriptive statistics show that children of incarcerated parents are a vulnerable population who experience disadvantages across an array of health outcomes. After adjusting for demographic, socioeconomic, and familial characteristics, I find that parental incarceration is independently associated with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, behavioral or conduct problems, developmental delays, and speech or language problems. Taken together, results suggest that children’s health disadvantages are an overlooked and unintended consequence of mass incarceration and that incarceration, given its unequal distribution across the population, may have implications for population-level racial-ethnic and social class inequalities in children’s health.

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Group Model-Building to Support Public Policy: Addressing a Conflicted Situation in a Problem Neighbourhood

Etiënne Rouwette, Inge Bleijenbergh & Jac Vennix
Systems Research and Behavioral Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper evaluates a group model-building project concerning safety in a city neighbourhood. Stakeholders such as inhabitants, housing association managers, and police were directly involved in constructing a system dynamics model of their situation and defining actions to improve safety. Evaluation studies of group model-building typically assume that participants in modelling sessions share their insights, and in turn, the information exchanged changes their opinions. The modelling project addressed in this paper concerns a messy problem in a public multi-organizational setting, a situation characterized by ambiguity and conflict. We show that modelling in an ambiguous and conflicted situation helps participants to exchange information and change their opinions on the issue, even when not all conflicts are openly discussed. Group model-building positively impacts the quality of conclusions reached. The paper ends with a discussion of limitations and areas for future research.

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The Truth Behind the Lies: The Complex Motivations for False Allegations of Sexual Assault

Eryn Nicole O'Neal et al.
Women & Criminal Justice, Fall 2014, Pages 324-340

Abstract:
The issue of false allegations is arguably the most controversial topic in the area of sexual violence. Portrayals of women who make false allegations are largely negative and leave little room for a comprehensive understanding of the complex motivations behind false complaints of sexual assault. The current study uses detailed qualitative data on 55 sexual assault cases that were reported to the Los Angeles Police Department in 2008 and that were subsequently unfounded. Our study focuses on identifying the factors that motivated complainants to file false allegations. Results reveal that motivations for false allegations fall into five overlapping categories: avoiding trouble/providing an alibi, anger or revenge, attention seeking, mental illness, and guilt/remorse. In addition, our findings more obviously suggest that motivations for filing false reports are varied and complex, often resulting from a need to alleviate social and personal distress. Given that we centered our study on motivations, this research is more comprehensive than prior examinations of motivations that have tackled numerous facets of false sexual assault reports.

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Who Gets Visited in Prison? Individual- and Community-Level Disparities in Inmate Visitation Experiences

Joshua Cochran, Daniel Mears & William Bales
Crime & Delinquency, forthcoming

Abstract:
Scholarship has shown that visitation helps individuals maintain social ties during imprisonment, which, in turn, can improve inmate behavior and reduce recidivism. Not being visited can result in collateral consequences and inequality in punishment. Few studies, however, have explored the factors associated with visitation. This study uses data on Florida inmates to identify individual- and community-level factors that may affect visitation. Consistent with expectations derived from prior theory and research, the study finds that inmates who are older, Black, and who have been incarcerated more frequently experience less visitation. In addition, inmates who come from areas with higher incarceration rates and higher levels of social altruism experience more visits. Unexpectedly, however, sentence length and economic disadvantage are not associated with visitation. Implications of these findings are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Pulling your weight

Pain as Social Glue: Shared Pain Increases Cooperation

Brock Bastian, Jolanda Jetten & Laura Ferris
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Even though painful experiences are employed within social rituals across the world, little is known about the social effects of pain. We examined the possibility that painful experiences can promote cooperation within social groups. In Experiments 1 and 2, we induced pain by asking some participants to insert their hands in ice water and to perform leg squats. In Experiment 3, we induced pain by asking some participants to eat a hot chili pepper. Participants performed these tasks in small groups. We found evidence for a causal link: Sharing painful experiences with other people, compared with a no-pain control treatment, promoted trusting interpersonal relationships by increasing perceived bonding among strangers (Experiment 1) and increased cooperation in an economic game (Experiments 2 and 3). Our findings shed light on the social effects of pain, demonstrating that shared pain may be an important trigger for group formation.

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Declines in Trust in Others and Confidence in Institutions Among American Adults and Late Adolescents, 1972–2012

Jean Twenge, Keith Campbell & Nathan Carter
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Between 1972 and 2012, Americans became significantly less trusting of each other and less confident in large institutions, such as the news media, business, religious organizations, the medical establishment, Congress, and the presidency. Levels of trust and confidence, key indicators of social capital, reached all-time or near-all-time lows in 2012 in the nationally representative General Social Survey of adults (1972–2012; N = 37,493) and the nationally representative Monitoring the Future survey of 12th graders (1976–2012; N = 101,633). Hierarchical modeling analyses separating the effects of time period, generation, and age show that this decline in social capital is primarily a time-period effect. Confidence in institutions is also influenced by generation, with Baby Boomers lowest. Trust was lowest when income inequality was high, and confidence in institutions was lowest when poverty rates were high. The prediction of a sustained revival in social capital after 2001 seems to have been premature.

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Amygdala Responsivity to High-Level Social Information from Unseen Faces

Jonathan Freeman et al.
Journal of Neuroscience, 6 August 2014, Pages 10573-10581

Abstract:
Previous research shows that the amygdala automatically responds to a face’s trustworthiness when a face is clearly visible. However, it is unclear whether the amygdala could evaluate such high-level facial information without a face being consciously perceived. Using a backward masking paradigm, we demonstrate in two functional neuroimaging experiments that the human amygdala is sensitive to subliminal variation in facial trustworthiness. Regions in the amygdala tracked how untrustworthy a face appeared (i.e., negative-linear responses) as well as the overall strength of a face’s trustworthiness signal (i.e., nonlinear responses), despite faces not being subjectively seen. This tracking was robust across blocked and event-related designs and both real and computer-generated faces. The findings demonstrate that the amygdala can be influenced by even high-level facial information before that information is consciously perceived, suggesting that the amygdala’s processing of social cues in the absence of awareness may be more extensive than previously described.

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Are Proactive Personalities Always Beneficial? Political Skill as a Moderator

Shuhua Sun & Hetty van Emmerik
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does proactive personality always enhance job success? The authors of this study draw on socioanalytic theory of personality and organizational political perspectives to study employees’ political skill in moderating the effects of proactive personality on supervisory ratings of employee task performance, helping behaviors, and learning behaviors. Multisource data from 225 subordinates and their 75 immediate supervisors reveal that proactive personality is associated negatively with supervisory evaluations when political skill is low, and the negative relationship disappears when political skill is high. Implications and future research directions are discussed.

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The Psychology of Coordination and Common Knowledge

Kyle Thomas et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on human cooperation has concentrated on the puzzle of altruism, in which 1 actor incurs a cost to benefit another, and the psychology of reciprocity, which evolved to solve this problem. We examine the complementary puzzle of mutualism, in which actors can benefit each other simultaneously, and the psychology of coordination, which ensures such benefits. Coordination is facilitated by common knowledge: the recursive belief state in which A knows X, B knows X, A knows that B knows X, B knows that A knows X, ad infinitum. We test whether people are sensitive to common knowledge when deciding whether to engage in risky coordination. Participants decided between working alone for a certain profit and working together for a potentially higher profit that they would receive only if their partner made the same choice. Results showed that more participants attempted risky coordination when they and their prospective partner had common knowledge of the payoffs (broadcast over a loudspeaker) than when they had only shared knowledge (conveyed to both by a messenger) or private knowledge (revealed to each partner separately). These results support the hypothesis that people represent common knowledge as a distinct cognitive category that licenses them to coordinate with others for mutual gain. We discuss how this hypothesis can provide a unified explanation for diverse phenomena in human social life, including recursive mentalizing, performative speech acts, public protests, hypocrisy, and self-conscious emotional expressions.

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The effect of social fragmentation on public good provision: An experimental study

Surajeet Chakravarty & Miguel Fonseca
Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, December 2014, Pages 1–9

Abstract:
We study the role of social identity in determining the impact of social fragmentation on public good provision using laboratory experiments. We find that as long as there is some degree of social fragmentation, increasing it leads to lower public good provision by majority group members. This is mainly because the share of those in the majority group who contribute fully to the public good diminishes with social fragmentation, while the share of free-riders is unchanged. This suggests social identity preferences drive our result, as opposed to self-interest. Importantly, we find no difference in contribution between homogeneous and maximally-fragmented treatments, reinforcing our finding that majority groups contribute most in the presence of some diversity.

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Perceptions of leadership success from nonverbal cues communicated by orchestra conductors

Konstantin Tskhay, Honghao Xu & Nicholas Rule
Leadership Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research has suggested that people can extract information relevant to leadership from thin slices of behavior. Nearly all of this research has been conducted in the context of large organizations where the relationships between leaders and followers are relatively indirect, however. We therefore examined here whether participants could extract similar information about leadership success from contexts with direct leader–follower interactions: conductors of orchestras. We found that perceivers could accurately discern conductors' success from brief video clips and that perceptions of expressiveness and age formed the basis for this accuracy. Thus, the current work demonstrates that leadership success is perceptible from nonverbal cues not only for the leaders of large organizations, but also in the context of groups where leaders and followers must continually and dynamically interact to produce successful outcomes.

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The Effect of Status on Role-Taking Accuracy

Tony Love & Jenny Davis
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We conducted two experiments to test the effects of status on the relationship between gender and role-taking accuracy. Role-taking accuracy denotes the accuracy with which one can predict another’s behavior. In Study 1, we examine self-evaluative measures of role-taking accuracy and find they do not correlate with actual role-taking accuracy. In addition, women were more accurate role-takers than men, regardless of interaction history. In Study 2, we disentangle gender differences from status differences, hypothesizing that role-taking accuracy is structurally situated. To test this hypothesis, we examine variations in role-taking accuracy when interaction partners are assigned differential status. Results indicate that status differentials account for variations in role-taking accuracy, whereas gender and gender composition of the dyad do not.

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Examining Emotion Regulation in an Isolated Performance Team in Antarctica

Christopher Wagstaff & Neil Weston
Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined the emotions experienced by a team of 12 military personnel during a 2-month Antarctic mountaineering expedition, the strategies these individuals used to manage these emotions, the perceived effectiveness of these strategies, and the impact of such strategies on team dynamics and performance. To address the research aims, participants completed daily diaries with standardized checklists throughout the expedition and took part in pre- and postexpedition semistructured interviews. The data showed that participants experienced a broad range of discrete emotions and reported similar frequency of use of adaptive and maladaptive emotion regulation strategies. Surprisingly, 2 maladaptive strategies, acceptance and expressive suppression, were rated as the most effective regulation strategies despite their use being correlated with negative intrapersonal and interpersonal outcomes. The results confirm the complex social nature of the emotion process and illuminate our understanding of emotional experiences in performance teams. The findings support the existence of affective linkages between team members and highlight the importance of emotional contagion and labor for intrapersonal and interpersonal outcomes.

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“I’d Only Let You Down”: Guilt Proneness and the Avoidance of Harmful Interdependence

Scott Wiltermuth & Taya Cohen
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Five studies demonstrated that highly guilt-prone people may avoid forming interdependent partnerships with others whom they perceive to be more competent than themselves, as benefitting a partner less than the partner benefits one’s self could trigger feelings of guilt. Highly guilt-prone people who lacked expertise in a domain were less willing than were those low in guilt proneness who lacked expertise in that domain to create outcome–interdependent relationships with people who possessed domain-specific expertise. These highly guilt-prone people were more likely than others both to opt to be paid on their performance alone (Studies 1, 3, 4, and 5) and to opt to be paid on the basis of the average of their performance and that of others whose competence was more similar to their own (Studies 2 and 5). Guilt proneness did not predict people’s willingness to form outcome–interdependent relationships with potential partners who lacked domain-specific expertise (Studies 4 and 5). It also did not predict people’s willingness to form relationships when poor individual performance would not negatively affect partner outcomes (Study 4). Guilt proneness therefore predicts whether, and with whom, people develop interdependent relationships. The findings also demonstrate that highly guilt-prone people sacrifice financial gain out of concern about how their actions would influence others’ welfare. As such, the findings demonstrate a novel way in which guilt proneness limits free-riding and therefore reduces the incidence of potentially unethical behavior. Lastly, the findings demonstrate that people who lack competence may not always seek out competence in others when choosing partners.

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Rethinking Reciprocity

Ulrike Malmendier, Vera te Velde & Roberto Weber
Annual Review of Economics, 2014, Pages 849-874

Abstract:
Reciprocal behavior has been found to play a significant role in many economic domains, including labor supply, tax compliance, voting behavior, and fund-raising. What explains individuals’ tendency to respond to the kindness of others? Existing theories posit internal preferences for the welfare of others, inequality aversion, or utility from repaying others’ kindness. However, recent evidence on the determinants of (unilateral) sharing decisions suggests that external factors such as social pressure are equally important. So far, this second wave of social preference theories has had little spillover to two-sided reciprocity environments, in which one individual responds to the actions of another. We present a novel laboratory reciprocity experiment (the double-dictator game with sorting) and show that failure to account for external motives leads to a significant overestimation of internal motives such as fairness and altruism. The experimental data illustrate the importance of combining reduced-form and structural analyses to disentangle internal and external determinants of prosocial behavior.

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Be Nice if You Have to - The Neurobiological Roots of Strategic Fairness

Sabrina Strang et al.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Social norms, such as treating others fairly regardless of kin relations, are essential for the functioning of human societies. Their existence may explain why humans, among all species, show unique patterns of pro-social behaviour (Sethi and Somanathan, 1996; Gintis, 2000; Ostrom, 2000; Fehr and Fischbacher, 2003; Gintis, 2003). The maintenance of social norms often depends on external enforcement, as in the absence of credible sanctioning mechanisms pro-social behaviour deteriorates quickly (Fehr and Gächter, 2000; Fehr and Fischbacher, 2004). This sanction-dependent pro-social behaviour suggests that humans strategically adapt their behaviour and act selfishly if possible but control selfish impulses if necessary. Recent studies point at the role of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in controlling selfish impulses (Wout et al., 2005; Knoch et al., 2006; Knoch et al., 2009; Ruff et al., 2013). We test, whether the DLPFC is indeed involved in the control of selfish impulses as well as the strategic acquisition of this control mechanism. Using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, we provide evidence for the causal role of the right DLPFC in strategic fairness. Since the DLPFC is phylogenetically one of the latest developed neocortical regions (Fuster, 2001) this could explain why complex norm systems exist in humans but not in other social animals.

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Trusting Others: The Polarization Effect of Need for Closure

Sinem Acar-Burkay, Bob Fennis & Luk Warlop
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Because trust-related issues inherently involve uncertainty, we expected individuals’ social-cognitive motivation to manage uncertainty — which is captured by their need for closure — to influence their level of trust in others. Through the results of 6 studies, we showed that higher need for closure was related to more polarized trust judgments (i.e., low trust in distant others and high trust in close others) in the case of both chronic and situational need for closure. Moreover, participants with high need for closure did not revise their level of trust when they received feedback about the trustees’ actual trustworthiness, whereas participants with low need for closure did. Overall, our findings indicate that polarized (either high or low, as opposed to moderate) and persistent levels of trust may serve people’s seizing and freezing needs for achieving cognitive closure.

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When choosing to be almost certain of winning can be better than choosing to win with certainty

Avichai Snir
European Journal of Political Economy, December 2014, Pages 135–146

Abstract:
Participants in dictator games often contribute significant sums to unknown beneficiaries. This has been interpreted as suggesting that participants like to be perceived as generous even in anonymous situations. We show that when participants choose the probabilities with which they contribute, they tend to bias the probabilities in their favor without respect to whether others know only the outcomes or also the probabilities assigned. These results, together with the results of ultimatum games with similar frameworks suggest that participants that choose probabilities make self-oriented choices even when others are likely to blame them rather than the random mechanism for the outcomes.

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Oxytocin Tempers Calculated Greed but not Impulsive Defense in Predator-Prey Contests

Carsten De Dreu et al.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Human cooperation and competition is modulated by oxytocin, a hypothalamic neuropeptide that functions as both hormone and neurotransmitter. Oxytocin's functions can be captured in two explanatory yet largely contradictory frameworks: the fear-dampening (FD) hypothesis that oxytocin has anxiolytic effects and reduces fear-motivated action; and the social approach/avoidance (SAA) hypothesis that oxytocin increases cooperative approach and facilitates protection against aversive stimuli and threat. We tested derivations from both frameworks in a novel predator-prey contest game. Healthy males given oxytocin or placebo invested as predator to win their prey's endowment, or as prey to protect their endowment against predation. Neural activity was registered using 3T-MRI. In prey, (fear-motivated) investments were fast and conditioned on the amygdala. Inconsistent with FD, oxytocin did not modulate neural and behavioral responding in prey. In predators, (greed-motivated) investments were slower, and conditioned on the superior frontal gyrus. Consistent with SAA, oxytocin reduced predator investment, time to decide, and activation in superior frontal gyrus. Thus, whereas oxytocin does not incapacitate the impulsive ability to protect and defend oneself, it lowers the greedy and more calculated appetite for coming out ahead.

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Dynamic adjustments of cognitive control during economic decision making

Alexander Soutschek & Torsten Schubert
Acta Psychologica, October 2014, Pages 42–46

Abstract:
Decision making in the Ultimatum game requires the resolution of conflicts between economic self-interest and fairness intuitions. Since cognitive control processes play an important role in conflict resolution, the present study examined how control processes that are triggered by conflicts between fairness and self-interest in unfair offers affect subsequent decisions in the Ultimatum game. Our results revealed that more unfair offers were accepted following previously unfair, compared to previously fair offers. Interestingly, the magnitude of this conflict adaptation effect correlated with the individual subjects' focus on economic self-interest. We concluded that conflicts between fairness and self-interest trigger cognitive control processes, which reinforce the focus on the current task goal.

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Sympathy for the devil? The physiological and psychological effects of being an agent (and target) of dissent during intragroup conflict

Jeremy Jamieson, Piercarlo Valdesolo & Brett Peters
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, November 2014, Pages 221–227

Abstract:
Research has accumulated on the impact of intragroup conflict on group outcomes, but little is known about the effects of dissent on the individuals who provide it. Here, we examined how being the agent and target of dissent impacted physiological responses and psychological needs. Groups of three (a participant and two confederates) completed a marketing task. Participants were assigned to an agent of dissent, target of dissent, or inclusion control role. Agents of dissent exhibited an approach-motivated cardiovascular profile: low vascular resistance and rapid sympathetic recovery. Conversely, targets displayed avoidance responses: vasoconstriction. Role assignment also impacted basic psychological needs. Targets experienced threats to all fundamental needs, but agents only exhibited threats to belonging and self-esteem (not control or meaningful existence) needs. Taken together, agents and targets of dissent responded vastly differently in this group performance context. Implications for health and performance are discussed.

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Trust, reciprocity, and a preference for economic freedom: Experimental evidence

Bryan McCannon
Journal of Institutional Economics, September 2014, Pages 451-470

Abstract:
Do those who prefer economic freedom behave differently than those who prefer government intervention? Experiments of the Dictator and Trust games are studied. A survey elicits preference for private solutions to potential market failures. Trust and reciprocation are highest for those who score both high and low on the assessment. In the Dictator Game, there is a strong inverse relationship between one's preference for economic freedom and giving. Thus, the results can be interpreted as those with a strong preference for government intervention altruistically give, while those with a preference for economic freedom give primarily in response to wealth-generating investments.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Pals

Does implied community size predict likeability of a similar stranger?

Jacques Launay & Robin Dunbar
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Homophily, the tendency for people to cluster with similar others, has primarily been studied in terms of proximal, psychological causes, such as a tendency to have positive associations with people who share traits with us. Here we investigate whether homophily could be correlated with perceived group membership, given that sharing traits with other people might signify membership of a specific community. In order to investigate this, we tested whether the amount of homophily that occurs between strangers is dependent on the number of people they believe share the common trait (i.e. the size of group that the trait identifies). In two experiments, we show that more exclusive (smaller) groups evoke more positive ratings of the likeability of a stranger. When groups appear to be too inclusive (i.e. large) homophily no longer occurs, suggesting that it is not only positive associations with a trait that cause homophily, but a sense of the exclusiveness of a group is also important. These results suggest that group membership based on a variety of traits can encourage cohesion between people from diverse backgrounds, and may be a useful tool in overcoming differences between groups.

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Impact of Money on Emotional Expression

Yuwei Jiang, Zhansheng Chen & Robert Wyer
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, November 2014, Pages 228–233

Abstract:
Activating the concept of money can influence people’s own expressions of emotion as well as their reactions to the emotional expressions of others. Thinking about money increases individuals’ disposition to perceive themselves in a business-like relationship with others in which transactions are based on objective criteria and the expression of emotion is considered inappropriate. Therefore, these individuals express less emotion in public and expect others to do likewise. Six experiments show that subtle reminders of money lead people to have more negative attitudes toward expressing emotions in public and to avoid expressing emotion in their written communications. In addition, money-primed participants judge others’ emotions to be more extreme and are disposed to avoid interacting with persons who display these emotions, especially when participants believe that these emotions are expressed in public.

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Multidimensional homophily in friendship networks

Per Block & Thomas Grund
Network Science, August 2014, Pages 189-212

Abstract:
Homophily — the tendency for individuals to associate with similar others — is one of the most persistent findings in social network analysis. Its importance is established along the lines of a multitude of sociologically relevant dimensions, e.g. sex, ethnicity and social class. Existing research, however, mostly focuses on one dimension at a time. But people are inherently multidimensional, have many attributes and are members of multiple groups. In this article, we explore such multidimensionality further in the context of network dynamics. Are friendship ties increasingly likely to emerge and persist when individuals have an increasing number of attributes in common? We analyze eleven friendship networks of adolescents, draw on stochastic actor-oriented network models and focus on the interaction of established homophily effects. Our results indicate that main effects for homophily on various dimensions are positive. At the same time, the interaction of these homophily effects is negative. There seems to be a diminishing effect for having more than one attribute in common. We conclude that studies of homophily and friendship formation need to address such multidimensionality further.

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What's the Value of Social Capital? A Within-Person Job Offer and Choice Test

Jason Greenberg & Roberto M. Fernandez
MIT Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
Whether and how social capital derived through social ties creates value has animated substantial research in sociology, economics, and political science. Amongst the most active lines of research on the matter considers whether social ties improve labor market outcomes. Two primary analytical approaches have been employed to this end. One considers whether social ties help individuals find work. A second approach considers whether social ties lead to jobs with better attributes (e.g., pay), contingent on finding work. Sociologists are generally inclined to believe that social ties have a causal impact on labor market outcomes — that is, it is "who you know that counts" to some degree. However, the evidence informing this belief is circumstantial and often inconsistent. This is particularly true with respect to the second approach concerning whether the use of social ties leads to jobs with more favorable characteristics. In this research we propose and test a model that addresses prior criticisms of the latter approach by leveraging unique data on contemporaneous job search with detailed information about job search channels and offer characteristics. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we find that search through social networks typically results in job offers with lower total compensation (e.g., -18.2% for those derived through family and friends v. formal recruiting). However, net of compensation, job offers derived through alumni contacts (weak ties) as well as through family and friends are more likely to be accepted.

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Network effects across the earnings distribution: Payoffs to visible and invisible job finding assistance

Steve McDonald
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study makes three critical contributions to the “Do Contacts Matter?” debate. First, the widely reported null relationship between informal job searching and wages is shown to be mostly the artifact of a coding error and sample selection restrictions. Second, previous analyses examined only active informal job searching without fully considering the benefits derived from unsolicited network assistance (the “invisible hand of social capital”) – thereby underestimating the network effect. Third, wage returns to networks are examined across the earnings distribution. Longitudinal data from the NLSY reveal significant wage returns for network-based job finding over formal job searching, especially for individuals who were informally recruited into their jobs (non-searchers). Fixed effects quantile regression analyses show that contacts generate wage premiums among middle and high wage jobs, but not low wage jobs. These findings challenge conventional wisdom on contact effects and advance understanding of how social networks affect wage attainment and inequality.

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Feeling More Together: Group Attention Intensifies Emotion

Garriy Shteynberg et al.
Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
The idea that group contexts can intensify emotions is centuries old. Yet, evidence that speaks to how, or if, emotions become more intense in groups remains elusive. Here we examine the novel possibility that group attention — the experience of simultaneous coattention with one’s group members — increases emotional intensity relative to attending alone, coattending with strangers, or attending nonsimultaneously with one’s group members. In Study 1, scary advertisements felt scarier under group attention. In Study 2, group attention intensified feelings of sadness to negative images, and feelings of happiness to positive images. In Study 3, group attention during a video depicting homelessness led to greater sadness that prompted larger donations to charities benefiting the homeless. In Studies 4 and 5, group attention increased the amount of cognitive resources allocated toward sad and amusing videos (as indexed by the percentage of thoughts referencing video content), leading to more sadness and happiness, respectively. In all, these effects could not be explained by differences in physiological arousal, emotional contagion, or vicarious emotional experience. Greater fear, gloom, and glee can thus result from group attention to scary, sad, and happy events, respectively.

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Five days at outdoor education camp without screens improves preteen skills with nonverbal emotion cues

Yalda Uhls et al.
Computers in Human Behavior, October 2014, Pages 387–392

Abstract:
A field experiment examined whether increasing opportunities for face-to-face interaction while eliminating the use of screen-based media and communication tools improved nonverbal emotion–cue recognition in preteens. Fifty-one preteens spent five days at an overnight nature camp where television, computers and mobile phones were not allowed; this group was compared with school-based matched controls (n = 54) that retained usual media practices. Both groups took pre- and post-tests that required participants to infer emotional states from photographs of facial expressions and videotaped scenes with verbal cues removed. Change scores for the two groups were compared using gender, ethnicity, media use, and age as covariates. After five days interacting face-to-face without the use of any screen-based media, preteens’ recognition of nonverbal emotion cues improved significantly more than that of the control group for both facial expressions and videotaped scenes. Implications are that the short-term effects of increased opportunities for social interaction, combined with time away from screen-based media and digital communication tools, improves a preteen’s understanding of nonverbal emotional cues.

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Teasing, Taunting, and the Politics of Politeness: High Sociometric Status Is Associated with Expectation-Consistent Behavior

Michael Kraus et al.
PLoS ONE, August 2014

Abstract:
Research examining face-to-face status hierarchies suggests that individuals attain respect and admiration by engaging in behavior that influences others' judgments of their value to the group. Building on this research, we expected that high-status individuals would be less likely to engage in behaviors that violate group norms and expectations, relative to low-status individuals. Adolescent participants took part in an interaction in which they teased an opposite-gender friend (Study 1) or an experiment in which taunting or cheering expectations were manipulated (Study 2). Consistent with the hypothesis, high-status boys and girls engaged in teasing behaviors consistent with their gender roles, relative to their low status counterparts (Study 1). In Study 2, high-status boys engaged in more direct provocation and off-record commentary while taunting, and more affiliative behavior while cheering on their partner, relative to low-status boys. Discussion focused on how expectation-consistent actions help individuals maintain elevated status.

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Are Smiles a Sign of Happiness? Spontaneous Expressions of Judo Winners

Carlos Crivelli, Pilar Carrera & José-aMiguel Fernández-Dols
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Which is the strongest predictor of Duchenne smiles? Is it emotion or sociality? Two field studies on the production of facial behavior by winning judo fighters (N = 174) are presented, testing if judo fighters smiled while being happy or while they were engaged in social interaction with the audience. Our studies simultaneously meet important methodological requirements: intense emotions; precise moment-to-moment coding of facial expressions; behavioral records long enough to allow smiles to unfold; discrimination between records of interactive and non-interactive behavior, and self-reports of emotional experience after winning a medal. We found that Duchenne smiles were not a necessary sign of happiness. Although all the judo fighters won their respective matches, they displayed a very low proportion of Duchenne smiles (.15 in Study 1, and .21 in Study 2). Being engaged in social interaction (communicative gestures with arms and hands while facing the audience) was found to be the strongest predictor for the occurrence of Duchenne smiles. Our studies provide support for the view that facial expressions are tools for social interaction (Behavioral Ecology Theory), rather than read-outs of basic emotions (Facial Expression Program).

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The involuntary excluder effect: Those included by an excluder are seen as exclusive themselves

Clayton Critcher & Vivian Zayas
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, September 2014, Pages 454-474

Abstract:
People are highly vigilant for and alarmed by social exclusion. Previous research has focused largely on the emotional and motivational consequences of being unambiguously excluded by others. The present research instead examines how people make sense of a more ambiguous dynamic, 1-person exclusion — situations in which one person (the excluder) excludes someone (the rejected) while including someone else (the included). Using different methodological paradigms, converging outcome measures, and complementary comparison standards, 5 studies present evidence of an involuntary excluder effect: Social perceivers are quick to see included persons as though they are excluders themselves. Included individuals are seen as belonging to an exclusive alliance with the excluder, as liking the excluder more than the rejected, and as likely to perpetuate future exclusion against the rejected. Behavioral evidence reinforced these findings: The included was approached with caution and suspicion. Notably, such perceptions of the included as an excluder were drawn by the rejected themselves and outside observers alike, did not reflect the attitudes and intentions of included persons or those who simulated 1-person exclusion from the vantage point of the included, applied specifically to the included (but not someone who simply witnessed the rejected’s rejection), and arose as a consequence of intentional acts of exclusion (and thus, not just because 2 individuals shared an exclusive experience). Consistencies with and contributions to literatures on balance theory, minimal groups, group entitativity, and the ostracism detection system literatures are discussed.

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Social Comparison, Social Media, and Self-Esteem

Erin Vogel et al.
Psychology of Popular Media Culture, forthcoming

Abstract:
Social networking sites (SNSs), such as Facebook, provide abundant social comparison opportunities. Given the widespread use of SNSs, the purpose of the present set of studies was to examine the impact of chronic and temporary exposure to social media-based social comparison information on self-esteem. Using a correlational approach, Study 1 examined whether frequent Facebook use is associated with lower trait self-esteem. Indeed, the results showed that participants who used Facebook most often had poorer trait self-esteem, and this was mediated by greater exposure to upward social comparisons on social media. Using an experimental approach, Study 2 examined the impact of temporary exposure to social media profiles on state self-esteem and relative self-evaluations. The results revealed that participants’ state self-esteem and relative self-evaluations were lower when the target person’s profile contained upward comparison information (e.g., a high activity social network, healthy habits) than when the target person’s profile contained downward comparison information (e.g., a low activity social network, unhealthy habits). Results are discussed in terms of extant research and their implications for the role of social media in well-being.

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Perceived neighbourhood social cohesion and myocardial infarction

Eric Kim, Armani Hawes & Jacqui Smith
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Background: The main strategy for alleviating heart disease has been to target individuals and encourage them to change their health behaviours. Although important, emphasis on individuals has diverted focus and responsibility away from neighbourhood characteristics, which also strongly influence people's behaviours. Although a growing body of research has repeatedly demonstrated strong associations between neighbourhood characteristics and cardiovascular health, it has typically focused on negative neighbourhood characteristics. Only a few studies have examined the potential health enhancing effects of positive neighbourhood characteristics, such as perceived neighbourhood social cohesion.

Methods: Using multiple logistic regression models, we tested whether higher perceived neighbourhood social cohesion was associated with lower incidence of myocardial infarction. Prospective data from the Health and Retirement Study — a nationally representative panel study of American adults over the age of 50 — were used to analyse 5276 participants with no history of heart disease. Respondents were tracked for 4 years and analyses adjusted for relevant sociodemographic, behavioural, biological and psychosocial factors.

Results: In a model that adjusted for age, gender, race, marital status, education and total wealth, each SD increase in perceived neighbourhood social cohesion was associated with a 22% reduced odds of myocardial infarction (OR=0.78, 95% CI 0.63 to 0.94. The association between perceived neighbourhood social cohesion and myocardial infarction remained even after adjusting for behavioural, biological and psychosocial covariates.

Conclusions: Higher perceived neighbourhood social cohesion may have a protective effect against myocardial infarction.

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Plasma oxytocin concentrations and OXTR polymorphisms predict social impairments in children with and without autism spectrum disorder

Karen Parker et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 19 August 2014, Pages 12258–12263

Abstract:
The neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) and its receptor (OXTR) regulate social functioning in animals and humans. Initial clinical research suggests that dysregulated plasma OXT concentrations and/or OXTR SNPs may be biomarkers of social impairments in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We do not know, however, whether OXT dysregulation is unique to ASD or whether OXT biology influences social functioning more generally, thus contributing to, but not causing, ASD phenotypes. To distinguish between these possibilities, we tested in a child ASD cohort, which included unaffected siblings and unrelated neurotypical controls (ages 3–12 y; n = 193), whether plasma OXT concentrations and OXTR SNPs (i) interact to produce ASD phenotypes, (ii) exert differential phenotypic effects in ASD vs. non-ASD children, or (iii) have similar phenotypic effects independent of disease status. In the largest cohort tested to date, we found no evidence to support the OXT deficit hypothesis of ASD. Rather, OXT concentrations strongly and positively predicted theory of mind and social communication performance in all groups. Furthermore, OXT concentrations showed significant heritability between ASD-discordant siblings (h2 = 85.5%); a heritability estimate on par with that of height in humans. Finally, carriers of the “G” allele of rs53576 showed impaired affect recognition performance and carriers of the “A” allele of rs2254298 exhibited greater global social impairments in all groups. These findings indicate that OXT biology is not uniquely associated with ASD, but instead exerts independent, additive, and highly heritable influences on individual differences in human social functioning, including the severe social impairments which characterize ASD.

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Physiological and cognitive consequences of suppressing and expressing emotion in dyadic interactions

Brett Peters, Nickola Overall & Jeremy Jamieson
International Journal of Psychophysiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Engaging in emotional suppression typically has negative consequences. However, relatively little is known about response-focused emotion regulation processes in dyadic interactions. We hypothesized that interacting with suppressive partners would be more threatening than interacting with expressive partners. To test predictions, two participants independently watched a negatively-valenced video and then discussed their emotional responses. One participant (the regulator) was assigned to express/suppress affective signals during the interaction. Their partner was given no special instructions prior to the interaction. Engaging in suppression versus expression elicited physiological responses consistent with threat — sympathetic arousal and increased vasoconstriction — in anticipation of and during dyadic interactions. Partners of emotional suppressors also exhibited more threat responses during the interaction, but not before, compared to partners of emotional expressors. Partner and interaction appraisals mirrored physiological findings. Emotional suppressors found the task more uncomfortable and intense while their partners reported them as being poor communicators. This work broadens our understanding of connections between emotion regulation, physiological responses, and cognitive processes in dyads.

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Close adult friendships, gender, and the life cycle

Brian Joseph Gillespie et al.
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
Drawing on 25,185 responses collected via an online news website, our findings extend and update Fischer and Oliker’s (1983) classic study on gender and life cycle differences in friendship. We found no substantial gender differences in number of friends people can count on to celebrate birthdays, discuss intimate matters like one’s sex life, or depend upon when experiencing trouble late at night (ds = .04–.20); however, number of friendships varied substantially according to marital status, age, and parental status. Residential population size was not associated with number of friendships. We also found that virtually all respondents reported having at least one close friend. Satisfaction with friends was a better predictor of life satisfaction than was number of friends.

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The Interplay of Oxytocin and Collectivistic Orientation Shields against Negative Effects of Ostracism

Michaela Pfundmair et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, November 2014, Pages 246–251

Abstract:
Surprisingly, oxytocin, a socially potent neuropeptide, has not been found to affect responses to ostracism. However, these effects may depend on individual differences, specifically the propensity for cooperation and social connectedness. We thus predicted that oxytocin is more likely to attenuate negative responses to ostracism in people with collectivistic (vs. individualistic) orientation, particularly horizontal collectivism, which is oriented toward cooperation among equals. After intranasal administration of oxytocin or a placebo, participants were ostracized or included during the computer-based ball-tossing game Cyberball and indicated their sense of social comfort regarding the Cyberball game. Under oxytocin, responses to ostracism were less negative in participants with a horizontal collectivistic (vs. individualistic) orientation. The results could not be explained by affect, including anxiety. The results suggest that collectivistic beliefs facilitate oxytocin’s shielding effect against negative consequences of ostracism. We discuss underlying mechanisms and factors other than collectivistic orientation that could explain the findings.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, September 5, 2014

Campaign season

How the Gender of U.S. Senators Influences People's Understanding and Engagement in Politics

Kim Fridkin & Patrick Kenney
Journal of Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Electoral accountability depends on citizens making informed choices at the voting booth. We explore whether the gender of U.S. Senators influences what people know about their senators. We also examine whether people's level of information about men and women senators affects their participation in politics. We develop theoretical expectations to explain why a senator's gender may influence citizens' knowledge and behaviors. We rely on the 2006 Congressional Cooperative Election Survey and examine the population of U.S. Senators serving in the 109th Congress. We find that women know far less about their senators than men. Second, the gap in political knowledge closes sharply when women senators represent women citizens. Third, perhaps most importantly, women citizens are more active in politics when represented by women senators. These findings suggest the confluence of more women senators and additional women voters may produce important changes in the policy outcomes of the U.S. Congress.

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The Politics of Race and Voter ID Laws in the States: The Return of Jim Crow?

Rene Rocha & Tetsuya Matsubayashi
Political Research Quarterly, September 2014, Pages 666-679

Abstract:
Does partisan and racial context have an effect on the likelihood that states will adopt stringent requirements for voting? Our duration analysis shows that Republican governments increase the likelihood that a new law requiring citizens to have a photo ID to vote will be passed. This effect is weakened by minority group size. We then examine whether the adoption of voter ID regulations affects turnout across racial groups. Our analysis, using state-level data and the Current Population Survey (CPS) November Supplement File (NSF) for 1980 to 2010, offers little evidence for the belief that minority turnout is uniquely affected by voter ID regulations.

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An Econometric Evaluation of Competing Explanations for The Midterm Gap

Brian Knight
NBER Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
This paper provides a unified theoretical and empirical analysis of three longstanding explanations for the consistent loss of support for the President's party in midterm Congressional elections: (1) a Presidential penalty, defined as a preference for supporting the opposition during midterm years, (2) a surge and decline in voter turnout, and (3) a reversion to the mean in voter ideology. To quantify the contribution of each of these factors, we build an econometric model in which voters jointly choose whether or not to participate and which party to support in both House and Presidential elections. Estimated using ANES data from both Presidential and midterm years, the model can fully explain the observed midterm gaps, and counterfactual simulations demonstrate that each factor makes a sizeable contribution towards the midterm gap, with the Presidential penalty playing the largest role.

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Who Asks For Voter Identification? Explaining Poll-Worker Discretion

Lonna Rae Atkeson et al.
Journal of Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
As street-level bureaucrats, poll workers bear the primary responsibility for implementing voter identification requirements. Voter identification requirements are not implemented equally across groups of voters, and poll workers exercise substantial discretion in how they apply election law. In states with minimal and varying identification requirements, poll workers appear to treat especially minority voters differently, requesting more stringent voter identification. We explain why poll workers are different from other street-level bureaucrats and how traditional mechanisms of control have little impact on limiting poll-worker discretion. We test why many poll workers appear not to follow the law using a post-election survey of New Mexico poll workers. We find little evidence that race, training, or partisanship matters. Instead, poll worker attitudes toward photo-identification policies and their educational attainment influences implementation of voter-identification laws.

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The Site Gap: Racial Inequalities in Early Voting Access

Elliott Fullmer
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
In both 2008 and 2012, about one third of the American electorate cast their votes early. While early voting programs are established by states, counties have considerable discretion with regard to implementing them. While some counties offer only a single early voting site, others offer dozens. Previous research suggests that site density may affect the degree to which programs increase turnout. I use county-level data from the 2008 and 2012 elections to measure whether a county's racial and ethnic composition predicts high (or low) levels of site density. Applying county-level data from the Election Assistance Commission and American Community Survey, I find that the percentage of a county identifying as Black has a significantly negative association with early voting site density. This relationship persists when numerous demographic covariates are included in ordinary least squares models. These site disparities suggest that early voting may not be achieving its full potential in heavily African American communities.

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The Business of American Democracy: Citizens United, Independent Spending, and Elections

Tilman Klumpp, Hugo Mialon & Michael Williams
Emory University Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
In Citizens United v. FEC (2010), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that restrictions on independent political expenditures by corporations and labor unions are unconstitutional. We analyze the effects of Citizens United on state election outcomes. We find that Citizens United is associated with an increase in Republican election probabilities in state House races of approximately four percentage points overall and ten or more percentage points in several states. We link these estimates to "on the ground" evidence of significant spending by corporations through channels enabled by Citizens United. We also explore the effects of Citizens United on reelection rates, candidate entry, and direct contributions. Implications for national elections and economic policy are discussed.

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Red Scare? Revisiting Joe McCarthy's Influence on 1950s Elections

Adam Berinsky & Gabriel Lenz
Public Opinion Quarterly, Summer 2014, Pages 369-391

Abstract:
In the early 1950s, politicians apparently allowed themselves to be spectators to the anticommunist witch hunt of Senator Joe McCarthy and his supporters, leading to a particularly grim chapter in American politics. In part, they did so because they thought the public supported McCarthy. Although politicians lacked contemporary public opinion data, they apparently inferred McCarthy's support from key Senate race outcomes. The few senators who initially stood up to McCarthy lost their reelections when McCarthy campaigned against them. In this article, we revisit the case of McCarthy's influence and investigate whether politicians fundamentally misinterpreted support for McCarthy. Using county- and state-level election data from across the twentieth century, we develop plausible counterfactual measures of normal electoral support to assess McCarthy's influence on electoral outcomes. We adopt a variety of analytic strategies that lead to a single conclusion: There is little evidence that McCarthy's attacks mattered to the election outcomes. Our results imply that politicians can greatly err when interpreting the meaning of elections, and point to the importance of research on elections to help prevent such errors.

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Strategic Choices in Election Campaigns: Measuring the Vice-Presidential Home State Advantage with Synthetic Controls

Boris Heersink & Brenton Peterson
University of Virginia Working Paper, June 2014

Abstract:
Political actors make strategic choices during campaigns with the hopes of winning elections. However, researchers face difficulties measuring the effect of such choices since this requires knowledge of the outcome under a counterfactual that is not observed in practice. In this article we extend the synthetic control approach for causal inference to circumstances with multiple treated cases and use it to estimate the effect of vice-presidential candidates on their home states' vote totals. The results from elections spanning 1884-2012, and a systematic review of cases where our estimates run counter to prior studies, suggest that vice-presidential candidates increase their tickets' performance in their home states by 2.78 percentage points on average. Contrary to past findings, we show that the choice of running mates can influence electoral outcomes in their home states and potentially swing entire presidential elections.

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Candidate Gender and the Political Engagement of Women and Men

Jennifer Wolak
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does the presence of descriptive representation have symbolic consequences for women's engagement in politics? Given mixed results from prior survey-based studies, I use experiments to investigate whether there is a direct psychological effect of candidate gender on voters' interest in political engagement. By holding the features of the campaign and attributes of the candidates constant, I investigate the specific effects of candidate gender on people's perceptions of the candidates and their desire to engage in politics. I find that women's interest and engagement with the campaign is insensitive to the gender of the candidates, while men are less interested in participating in the election when the congressional candidate from their party is female. The mere presence of women candidates does not animate women's engagement in campaigns.

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Is Voter Competence Good for Voters?: Information, Rationality, and Democratic Performance

Scott Ashworth & Ethan Bueno De Mesquita
American Political Science Review, August 2014, Pages 565-587

Abstract:
A long research tradition in behavioral political science evaluates the performance of democracy by examining voter competence. This literature got its start arguing that voters' lack of information undermines a defense of democracy rooted in electoral accountability. A more recent literature deepens the debate, with some authors claiming that voters effectively use cues to substitute for information about candidates and policies, and other authors claiming that voters are insufficiently rational to do so. We argue that, regardless of its conclusions about voter competence, this literature's single-minded focus on voter behavior is misguided. We use a sequence of formal models to show that traditional intuitions are incomplete because they ignore the effect that changes in voter behavior have on the equilibrium behavior of politicians. When this strategic interaction is taken into account, increases in voter information or voter rationality sometimes make democratic performance better and sometimes make democratic performance worse. One simply cannot assess the implications of voter characteristics for democratic performance without also studying how those characteristics affect the behavior of politicians.

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Winning with a Bad Economy

Justine D'Elia & Helmut Norpoth
Presidential Studies Quarterly, September 2014, Pages 467-483

Abstract:
How can an incumbent win reelection with a bad economy, as Barack Obama did in 2012, defying many forecasts? We focus on the attribution of responsibility at times of severe economic change. When the national economy goes into recession before a new administration takes office, it is highly likely that the old one bears the brunt of responsibility. Using the American National Election Studies Winter 2012 survey, we find that Obama escaped much of the punishment for the poor economic conditions while his predecessor, under whom the economic collapse began, was blamed far more heavily. Moreover, bad conditions notwithstanding, Obama was also credited for an improving economy. It was a combination of blame and credit that greatly helped Obama win reelection with a bad economy.

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How Negativity Can Increase and Decrease Voter Turnout: The Effect of Timing

Yanna Krupnikov
Political Communication, Summer 2014, Pages 446-466

Abstract:
Negative ads dominate campaign communication, but scholars continue to disagree over the effects of negativity on voter turnout. While some studies show that negativity leads to a lower likelihood of turnout, others find precisely the opposite. In this article, I leverage the role of timing to unify findings that were heretofore perceived as largely conflicting. I use the same data to show that at a certain time exposure to negativity can be mobilizing, but at other points in time exposure can be demobilizing. A combination of observational data and experimental results highlight these crucial conditions.

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Disclosing Disclosure: Lessons from a "Failed" Field Experiment

Dick Carpenter et al.
The Forum, August 2014, Pages 343-356

Abstract:
In a recent issue of The Forum, Fortier and Malbin call for more research into the effects of disclosure requirements for campaign finance. In this paper, we report the results of a field experiment designed to assess whether such rules dissuade potential contributors due to privacy concerns. The paper is unique in that we explain why the field experiment never happened, and what we can learn from its "failure." Specifically, we show that 2012 Congressional candidates were fearful about letting potential contributors know that their donations would be made available on the Internet, along with their address, employer, and other personal information. In trying to learn directly about whether contributors would be spooked by this knowledge, we ended up learning indirectly, through the actions of candidates, that privacy concerns may in fact limit participation in the political process, including among small donors.

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Retrospective Economic Voting and the Intertemporal Dynamics of Electoral Accountability in the American States

George Krause & Benjamin Melusky
Journal of Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
How durable are politicians' policymaking reputations with the electorate? A theory of reputation depreciation is advanced to explain why the electorate's capacity to hold former officeholders accountable for prior economic stewardship is weakening not only in the time elapsed between prior elective office and seeking subsequent elective office, but also diminishing at a greater rate as the evaluative window for making retrospective economic assessments widens. Aggregate electoral data on ex-governors in the American states suggests that while prior economic stewardship evaluated over entire tenure in office for ex-governors offer the strongest initial retrospective economic attributions, it also yields the greatest rate of reputation depreciation for ex-governors seeking future elective office. Reputational slippage transpires with the passage of time between prior elective office and returning to the electoral arena, whereby voters experience increasing difficulty when it comes to rewarding competent experienced politicians, as well as sanctioning their incompetent counterparts.

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Gender Stereotypes and Corruption: How Candidates Affect Perceptions of Election Fraud

Tiffany Barnes & Emily Beaulieu
Politics & Gender, September 2014, Pages 365-391

Abstract:
How do stereotypes of female candidates influence citizens' perceptions of political fraud and corruption? Because gender stereotypes characterize female politicians as more ethical, honest, and trustworthy than male politicians, there are important theoretical reasons for expecting female politicians to mitigate perceptions of fraud and corruption. Research using observational data, however, is limited in its ability to establish a causal relationship between women's involvement in politics and reduced concerns about corruption. Using a novel experimental survey design, we find that the presence of a female candidate systematically reduces the probability that individuals will express strong suspicion of election fraud in what would otherwise be considered suspicious circumstances. Results from this experiment also reveal interesting heterogeneous effects: individuals who are not influenced by shared partisanship are even more responsive to gender cues; and male respondents are more responsive to those cues than females. These findings have potential implications for women running for office, both with respect to election fraud and corruption more broadly, particularly in low-information electoral settings.

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Call Your Legislator: A Field Experimental Study of the Impact of a Constituency Mobilization Campaign on Legislative Voting

Daniel Bergan & Richard Cole
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do campaigns encouraging constituents to contact their legislator influence public policy? We answer this question with a field experiment in which Michigan state legislators are randomly assigned to be contacted by their constituents about a specific bill or to a control group. The field experimental design allows us to produce internally and externally valid estimates of the effects on legislative voting of a campaign in which constituents are urged to contact their legislator. The estimated effect is substantial: being targeted by constituent contacts increases the probability of supporting the relevant legislation by about 12 percentage points. We discuss the normative and theoretical implications of these results.

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Voter turnout in US presidential elections: Does Carville's law explain the time series?

Tony Caporale & & Marc Poitras
Applied Economics, Fall 2014, Pages 3630-3638

Abstract:
We estimate a time series model of voter turnout for 34 US presidential elections, 1880-2012. Employing a variety of econometric techniques, our major results are as follows. (1) A negative and significant structural shift in voter turnout occurs in 1972 and is too large to be explained by the lowering of the voting age. (2) The 1972 shift is the only statistically significant structural shift to occur since the first decade of the twentieth century. (3) Short-term macroeconomic conditions significantly impact turnout, with unemployment having a positive effect. (4) Turnout in recent presidential elections has not deviated significantly from the post-1972 norm. (5) Turnout is positively related to the expected closeness of the election outcome, but contrary to some theoretical predictions, closeness exhibits no trend over time.

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Independent Spending in State Elections, 2006-2010: Vertically Networked Political Parties Were the Real Story, Not Business

Keith Hamm et al.
The Forum, August 2014, Pages 305-328

Abstract:
This article examines independent spending in state elections before and after the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC. We find that the decision did not have much of a direct effect on business spending, despite public expectations. Increases were higher in the aggregate in states that prohibited corporate spending before the decision. However, the major growth was not in the business or labor sectors, but in the network organizations of political parties - and most particularly the national organizations of state elected and party officials. Contrary to some contemporary views, these developments cannot be understood as a displacement of within-state money from parties to interest groups. Instead, national party organizations were operating across state lines, deciding whether to contribute to formal party committees or their party allies as local circumstances might dictate. This complex movement of money belies any theorizing that would treat a decline in the proportional role of formal party spending as equivalent to a zero-sum increase in the non-party power of interest groups. Rather, we see the pattern of independent spending as part of a larger story of change in American political parties. These changes now include vertically networked parties operating across levels of jurisdiction, alongside the horizontal networks receiving attention in recent scholarship.

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Are Ballot Initiative Outcomes Influenced by the Campaigns of Independent Groups? A Precinct-Randomized Field Experiment Showing That They Are

Todd Rogers & Joel Middleton
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Ballot initiatives are consequential and common, with total spending on initiative campaigns in the US rivaling that of Presidential campaigns. Past work using observational data has alternately found that initiative campaign spending cannot affect initiative outcomes, can increase the number of votes rejecting (but not approving) initiatives, or can affect outcomes in either direction. We report the first field experiment to evaluate an initiative advocacy campaign with precision. We find that campaigns can influence both rejection and approval of initiatives by changing how citizens vote, as opposed to by influencing turnout or ballot completion. Our experiment (involving around 18 % of Oregon households in 2008) studied a statewide mail program conducted by a Political Action Committee. Results further suggest that two initiatives would have passed if not for the advocacy campaign to reject them. We discuss implications for theories about direct democracy, campaign finance, and campaign effects.

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(Where) Do Campaigns Matter? The Impact of National Party Convention Location

Matthew Atkinson et al.
Journal of Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The quadrennial presidential nominating conventions are the biggest campaign events of the election cycle. Previous studies find that conventions significantly impact national-level candidate preferences; however, scholars have not yet specified the effects that such large campaign events have on residents of the host areas. As fairly uniform and one-sided interventions across years and parties, the conventions offer an opportunity for a cross time, cross-sectional analysis of the local effect of campaign events. We develop a difference-in-difference analysis to show conventions significantly affect the presidential candidates' county-level vote shares. Individual-level data from panel surveys from before and after the 2000 and 2004 conventions are used to validate the aggregate-level findings. Beyond providing strong evidence of meaningful campaign event effects, the results demonstrate how campaign effects can be conditional on local political characteristics and geography. Overall, we find Democrats are more likely to gain support in convention host communities than Republicans.

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Ballot Titles and Voter Decision Making on Ballot Questions

Jeff Hastings & Damon Cann
State and Local Government Review, June 2014, Pages 118-127

Abstract:
From gay marriage to taxation to environmental issues, many of our nation's most important policy issues are decided by voters through ballot questions. Conventional wisdom holds that information provided on the ballot about the ballot questions heavily influences voters' choices in those elections, but there is little empirical evidence of this. We apply theories of framing to voters' choices on ballot questions and design an experiment to test the hypothesis that ballot title wording influences voters' decisions. Even on a matter that is hotly contested and where the policy is relatively noncomplex and relatively well understood by voters, we find strong framing effects for changes in ballot title wording, though the effects are driven primarily by influencing whether individuals who previously supported the measure abstained from participation.

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Do Ballot Initiatives Increase General Political Knowledge?

Nicholas Seabrook, Joshua Dyck & Edward Lascher
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Current literature often suggests that more information and choices will enhance citizens' general political knowledge. Notably, some studies indicate that a greater number of state ballot initiatives raise Americans' knowledge through increases in motivation and supply of political information. By contrast, we contend that political psychology theory and findings indicate that, at best, more ballot measures will have no effect on knowledge. At worst greater use of direct democracy should make it more costly to learn about institutions of representative government and lessen motivation by overwhelming voters with choices. To test this proposition, we develop a new research design and draw upon data more appropriate to assessing the question at hand. We also make use of a propensity score matching algorithm to assess the balance in the data between initiative state and non-initiative state voters. Controlling for a wide variety of variables, we find that there is no empirical relationship between ballot initiatives and political knowledge. These results add to a growing list of findings which cast serious doubt on the educative potential of direct democracy.

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The Redistricting Cycle, Partisan Tides, and Party Strategy in State Legislative Elections

Todd Makse
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, September 2014, Pages 342-363

Abstract:
State legislative elections are increasingly shaped by two factors that influence the prospects of winning a majority: the redistricting cycle and partisan tide elections. Winning control of the redistricting process offers the prospect of shaping elections for the next decade, making majority status significantly more valuable than it otherwise might be. Partisan tides, on the contrary, can dramatically alter perceptions of which seats are safe or vulnerable and of whether majority status is obtainable or not. In this article, I examine how the proximity of redistricting and the presence of partisan tides are reflected in the strategies of the party organizations that contest state legislative elections. Using party finance data from 29 states during the period from 1996 to 2010, I find that parties' majority-seeking behavior is more intense in states with legislative redistricting, when redistricting is imminent, and when partisan tides favor the minority party.

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Toward More Usable Electronic Voting: Testing the Usability of a Smartphone Voting System

Bryan Campbell et al.
Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, August 2014, Pages 973-985

Objective: The goal of this research was to assess the usability of a voting system designed for smartphones.

Method: A mobile voting system optimized for use on a smartphone was designed and tested against traditional voting platforms for usability.

Results: There were no reliable differences between the smartphone-based system and other voting methods in efficiency and perceived usability. More important, though, smartphone owners committed fewer errors on the mobile voting system than on the traditional voting systems.

Conclusion: Even with the known limitations of small mobile platforms in both displays and controls, a carefully designed system can provide a usable voting method. Much of the concern about mobile voting is in the area of security; therefore, although these results are promising, security concerns and usability issues arising from mitigating them must be strongly considered.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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