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Sunday, May 22, 2016

The ascent of man

Metabolic acceleration and the evolution of human brain size and life history

Herman Pontzer et al.

Nature, 19 May 2016, Pages 390–392

Abstract:
Humans are distinguished from the other living apes in having larger brains and an unusual life history that combines high reproductive output with slow childhood growth and exceptional longevity. This suite of derived traits suggests major changes in energy expenditure and allocation in the human lineage, but direct measures of human and ape metabolism are needed to compare evolved energy strategies among hominoids. Here we used doubly labelled water measurements of total energy expenditure (TEE; kcal day−1) in humans, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans to test the hypothesis that the human lineage has experienced an acceleration in metabolic rate, providing energy for larger brains and faster reproduction without sacrificing maintenance and longevity. In multivariate regressions including body size and physical activity, human TEE exceeded that of chimpanzees and bonobos, gorillas and orangutans by approximately 400, 635 and 820 kcal day−1, respectively, readily accommodating the cost of humans’ greater brain size and reproductive output. Much of the increase in TEE is attributable to humans’ greater basal metabolic rate (kcal day−1), indicating increased organ metabolic activity. Humans also had the greatest body fat percentage. An increased metabolic rate, along with changes in energy allocation, was crucial in the evolution of human brain size and life history.

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Reproductive trade-offs in extant hunter-gatherers suggest adaptive mechanism for the Neolithic expansion

Abigail Page et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 26 April 2016, Pages 4694–4699

Abstract:
The Neolithic demographic transition remains a paradox, because it is associated with both higher rates of population growth and increased morbidity and mortality rates. Here we reconcile the conflicting evidence by proposing that the spread of agriculture involved a life history quality–quantity trade-off whereby mothers traded offspring survival for increased fertility, achieving greater reproductive success despite deteriorating health. We test this hypothesis by investigating fertility, mortality, health, and overall reproductive success in Agta hunter-gatherers whose camps exhibit variable levels of sedentarization, mobility, and involvement in agricultural activities. We conducted blood composition tests in 345 Agta and found that viral and helminthic infections as well as child mortality rates were significantly increased with sedentarization. Nonetheless, both age-controlled fertility and overall reproductive success were positively affected by sedentarization and participation in cultivation. Thus, we provide the first empirical evidence, to our knowledge, of an adaptive mechanism in foragers that reconciles the decline in health and child survival with the observed demographic expansion during the Neolithic.

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Technological Analysis of the World’s Earliest Shamanic Costume: A Multi-Scalar, Experimental Study of a Red Deer Headdress from the Early Holocene Site of Star Carr, North Yorkshire, UK

Aimée Little et al.

PLoS ONE, April 2016

Abstract:
Shamanic belief systems represent the first form of religious practice visible within the global archaeological record. Here we report on the earliest known evidence of shamanic costume: modified red deer crania headdresses from the Early Holocene site of Star Carr (c. 11 kya). More than 90% of the examples from prehistoric Europe come from this one site, establishing it as a place of outstanding shamanistic/cosmological significance. Our work, involving a programme of experimental replication, analysis of macroscopic traces, organic residue analysis and 3D image acquisition, metrology and visualisation, represents the first attempt to understand the manufacturing processes used to create these artefacts. The results produced were unexpected — rather than being carefully crafted objects, elements of their production can only be described as expedient.

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The genetic history of Ice Age Europe

Qiaomei Fu et al.

Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
Modern humans arrived in Europe ~45,000 years ago, but little is known about their genetic composition before the start of farming ~8,500 years ago. Here we analyse genome-wide data from 51 Eurasians from ~45,000–7,000 years ago. Over this time, the proportion of Neanderthal DNA decreased from 3–6% to around 2%, consistent with natural selection against Neanderthal variants in modern humans. Whereas there is no evidence of the earliest modern humans in Europe contributing to the genetic composition of present-day Europeans, all individuals between ~37,000 and ~14,000 years ago descended from a single founder population which forms part of the ancestry of present-day Europeans. An ~35,000-year-old individual from northwest Europe represents an early branch of this founder population which was then displaced across a broad region, before reappearing in southwest Europe at the height of the last Ice Age ~19,000 years ago. During the major warming period after ~14,000 years ago, a genetic component related to present-day Near Easterners became widespread in Europe. These results document how population turnover and migration have been recurring themes of European prehistory.

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Localizing Ashkenazic Jews to Primeval Villages in the Ancient Iranian Lands of Ashkenaz

Ranajit Das et al.

Genome Biology and Evolution, April 2016, Pages 1132-1149

Abstract:
The Yiddish language is over 1,000 years old and incorporates German, Slavic, and Hebrew elements. The prevalent view claims Yiddish has a German origin, whereas the opposing view posits a Slavic origin with strong Iranian and weak Turkic substrata. One of the major difficulties in deciding between these hypotheses is the unknown geographical origin of Yiddish speaking Ashkenazic Jews (AJs). An analysis of 393 Ashkenazic, Iranian, and mountain Jews and over 600 non-Jewish genomes demonstrated that Greeks, Romans, Iranians, and Turks exhibit the highest genetic similarity with AJs. The Geographic Population Structure analysis localized most AJs along major primeval trade routes in northeastern Turkey adjacent to primeval villages with names that may be derived from “Ashkenaz.” Iranian and mountain Jews were localized along trade routes on the Turkey’s eastern border. Loss of maternal haplogroups was evident in non-Yiddish speaking AJs. Our results suggest that AJs originated from a Slavo-Iranian confederation, which the Jews call “Ashkenazic” (i.e., “Scythian”), though these Jews probably spoke Persian and/or Ossete. This is compatible with linguistic evidence suggesting that Yiddish is a Slavic language created by Irano-Turko-Slavic Jewish merchants along the Silk Roads as a cryptic trade language, spoken only by its originators to gain an advantage in trade. Later, in the 9th century, Yiddish underwent relexification by adopting a new vocabulary that consists of a minority of German and Hebrew and a majority of newly coined Germanoid and Hebroid elements that replaced most of the original Eastern Slavic and Sorbian vocabularies, while keeping the original grammars intact.

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Pre-Clovis occupation 14,550 years ago at the Page-Ladson site, Florida, and the peopling of the Americas

Jessi Halligan et al.

Science Advances, May 2016

Abstract:
Stone tools and mastodon bones occur in an undisturbed geological context at the Page-Ladson site, Florida. Seventy-one radiocarbon ages show that ~14,550 calendar years ago (cal yr B.P.), people butchered or scavenged a mastodon next to a pond in a bedrock sinkhole within the Aucilla River. This occupation surface was buried by ~4 m of sediment during the late Pleistocene marine transgression, which also left the site submerged. Sporormiella and other proxy evidence from the sediments indicate that hunter-gatherers along the Gulf Coastal Plain coexisted with and utilized megafauna for ~2000 years before these animals became extinct at ~12,600 cal yr B.P. Page-Ladson expands our understanding of the earliest colonizers of the Americas and human-megafauna interaction before extinction.

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Post-invasion demography of prehistoric humans in South America

Amy Goldberg, Alexis Mychajliw & Elizabeth Hadly

Nature, 14 April 2016, Pages 232–235

Abstract:
As the last habitable continent colonized by humans, the site of multiple domestication hotspots, and the location of the largest Pleistocene megafaunal extinction, South America is central to human prehistory. Yet remarkably little is known about human population dynamics during colonization, subsequent expansions, and domestication. Here we reconstruct the spatiotemporal patterns of human population growth in South America using a newly aggregated database of 1,147 archaeological sites and 5,464 calibrated radiocarbon dates spanning fourteen thousand to two thousand years ago (ka). We demonstrate that, rather than a steady exponential expansion, the demographic history of South Americans is characterized by two distinct phases. First, humans spread rapidly throughout the continent, but remained at low population sizes for 8,000 years, including a 4,000-year period of ‘boom-and-bust’ oscillations with no net growth. Supplementation of hunting with domesticated crops and animals had a minimal impact on population carrying capacity. Only with widespread sedentism, beginning ~5 ka, did a second demographic phase begin, with evidence for exponential population growth in cultural hotspots, characteristic of the Neolithic transition worldwide. The unique extent of humanity’s ability to modify its environment to markedly increase carrying capacity in South America is therefore an unexpectedly recent phenomenon.

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Disease dynamics and costly punishment can foster socially imposed monogamy

Chris Bauch & Richard McElreath

Nature Communications, April 2016

Abstract:
Socially imposed monogamy in humans is an evolutionary puzzle because it requires costly punishment by those who impose the norm. Moreover, most societies were — and are — polygynous; yet many larger human societies transitioned from polygyny to socially imposed monogamy beginning with the advent of agriculture and larger residential groups. We use a simulation model to explore how interactions between group size, sexually transmitted infection (STI) dynamics and social norms can explain the timing and emergence of socially imposed monogamy. Polygyny dominates when groups are too small to sustain STIs. However, in larger groups, STIs become endemic (especially in concurrent polygynist networks) and have an impact on fertility, thereby mediating multilevel selection. Punishment of polygynists improves monogamist fitness within groups by reducing their STI exposure, and between groups by enabling punishing monogamist groups to outcompete polygynists. This suggests pathways for the emergence of socially imposed monogamy, and enriches our understanding of costly punishment evolution.

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Neandertal versus Modern Human Dietary Responses to Climatic Fluctuations

Sireen El Zaatari et al.

PLoS ONE, April 2016

Abstract:
The Neandertal lineage developed successfully throughout western Eurasia and effectively survived the harsh and severely changing environments of the alternating glacial/interglacial cycles from the middle of the Pleistocene until Marine Isotope Stage 3. Yet, towards the end of this stage, at the time of deteriorating climatic conditions that eventually led to the Last Glacial Maximum, and soon after modern humans entered western Eurasia, the Neandertals disappeared. Western Eurasia was by then exclusively occupied by modern humans. We use occlusal molar microwear texture analysis to examine aspects of diet in western Eurasian Paleolithic hominins in relation to fluctuations in food supplies that resulted from the oscillating climatic conditions of the Pleistocene. There is demonstrable evidence for differences in behavior that distinguish Upper Paleolithic humans from members of the Neandertal lineage. Specifically, whereas the Neandertals altered their diets in response to changing paleoecological conditions, the diets of Upper Paleolithic humans seem to have been less affected by slight changes in vegetation/climatic conditions but were linked to changes in their technological complexes. The results of this study also indicate differences in resource exploitation strategies between these two hominin groups. We argue that these differences in subsistence strategies, if they had already been established at the time of the first contact between these two hominin taxa, may have given modern humans an advantage over the Neandertals, and may have contributed to the persistence of our species despite habitat-related changes in food availabilities associated with climate fluctuations.

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Evidence for Quantity-Quality Trade-Offs, Sex-Specific Parental Investment, and Variance Compensation in Colonized Agta Foragers Undergoing Demographic Transition

Cody Ross et al.

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Evolutionary ecological models of human fertility predict that (1) parents will bias investment toward the sex with the highest fitness prospects in a particular socio-ecological context; (2) fertility is subject to quantity-quality trade-offs; and (3) fertility decisions will be sensitive to both predictable and stochastic mortality risk and the relative fitness value of differently sized sib-sets (the variance compensation hypothesis). We test these predictions using demographic records from the Agta, an indigenous population from the Philippines, who, as a result of disruption by loggers, miners, and settlers, are undergoing a demographic and social/ecological transition from foragers to peasant laborers. Leveraging the spatial and temporal variation in the Agta Demographic Database, we conduct a Bayesian analysis of Agta life-history traits across this transition. Specifically, we compare the Casiguran Agta (CA) with the more isolated peninsular San Ildefonso Agta (SIA) sub-population from before (phase 1) and after (phase 2) encroachment. We find: (1) evidence of a decline in overall survival from phase 1 to phase 2, coupled with increased parental investment in first-born daughters compared to first-born sons in the CA population, and increased parental investment in sons versus daughters in the SIA population; (2) evidence of a moderate quantity-quality trade-off in CA and SIA fertility in phase 1; and (3) support for predictions of the variance compensation hypothesis as a driver of the lowered relative fertility in the CA. Our customized methods, comparative framework, and simultaneous focus on fertility and mortality allow us to show how heterogeneity in mortality and fertility are linked to life history trade-offs and environmental context in a manner consistent with the predictions of evolutionary ecological models.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hotness

Facial Contrast Is a Cue for Perceiving Health From the Face

Richard Russell et al.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, forthcoming

Abstract:
How healthy someone appears has important social consequences. Yet the visual cues that determine perceived health remain poorly understood. Here we report evidence that facial contrast — the luminance and color contrast between internal facial features and the surrounding skin — is a cue for the perception of health from the face. Facial contrast was measured from a large sample of Caucasian female faces, and was found to predict ratings of perceived health. Most aspects of facial contrast were positively related to perceived health, meaning that faces with higher facial contrast appeared healthier. In 2 subsequent experiments, we manipulated facial contrast and found that participants perceived faces with increased facial contrast as appearing healthier than faces with decreased facial contrast. These results support the idea that facial contrast is a cue for perceived health. This finding adds to the growing knowledge about perceived health from the face, and helps to ground our understanding of perceived health in terms of lower-level perceptual features such as contrast.

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Selection works both ways: BMI and marital formation among young women

Michael Malcolm & Ilker Kaya

Review of Economics of the Household, June 2016, Pages 293-311

Abstract:
The literature on entry into marriages has almost universally regarded a high body mass index (BMI) to be a disadvantage for women in the marriage market. But the theoretical effect of BMI on marital entry is actually uncertain because women who anticipate poor outcomes in the marriage market are more likely to accept early offers, while women with more desirable characteristics can afford to wait for a better match. Using data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we show that female entry into marriage does decline as BMI rises, but that early marriage is nonlinear in BMI. Women with an extremely high BMI or with a BMI in the most attractive range are less likely to marry early.

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Transitory Environmental Threat Alters Sexually Dimorphic Mate Preferences and Sexual Strategy

Simon Reeve, Kristine Kelly & Lisa Welling

Evolutionary Psychological Science, June 2016, Pages 101-113

Abstract:
The Environmental Security Hypothesis (ESH) proposes that when the environment is less secure, people will show greater preference for mates with survival-promoting traits (Pettijohn and Jungeberg in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30(9), 1186–1197, 2004). In this study, we manipulated perceived environmental security and measured preference for different body and face characteristics as well as attitudes toward long-term (LTM) and short-term mating (STM) strategies. Participants (N = 100) received a cover story designed to lead experimental, but not control, participants to believe they would be required to handle a poisonous snake. Participants then completed a measure of sociosexual orientation and selected the three opposite-sex face and body types that they found most attractive from image matrices depicting physical characteristics varying systematically across body and face shape. Female bodies varied in body fat and waist-to-hip ratio, and male bodies varied in muscle mass and waist-to-chest ratio. Face stimuli varied in masculine–feminine facial shape and masculine–feminine facial coloration. Results indicated that, compared to controls, men in the environmental-threat condition showed a preference for higher body fat, and women in the environmental-threat condition showed a preference for higher muscle mass and more masculine faces. These women also showed a more positive attitude toward STM, but not LTM. In line with the ESH, our findings predominantly support a context-specific pattern of mate preference and sexual strategies.

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Conception Risk and the Ultimatum Game: When Fertility is High, Women Demand More

Adar Eisenbruch & James Roney

Personality and Individual Differences, August 2016, Pages 272–274

Abstract:
Evidence suggests that women become more intrasexually competitive in the fertile window of the menstrual cycle. Studies using the ultimatum game have extended this to economic decisions, finding that women in the fertile window are less generous towards and more likely to punish other women. In the present study, we used continuous estimates of conception risk to test replication of these findings in a sample of women who played the ultimatum game with same-sex partners. We found that women at higher conception risk made higher demands of their partners, indicating less inclination to cooperate and perhaps greater willingness to engage in costly punishment. Possible functions of cycle-phase shifts in intrasexual competition are discussed, and directions for future research on the psychology of cooperation are suggested.

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Gender Interacts with Opioid Receptor Polymorphism A118G and Serotonin Receptor Polymorphism −1438 A/G on Speed-Dating Success

Karen Wu et al.

Human Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examined an understudied but potentially important source of romantic attraction — genetics — using a speed-dating paradigm. The mu opioid receptor (OPRM1) polymorphism A118G (rs1799971) and the serotonin receptor (HTR2A) polymorphism −1438 A/G (rs6311) were studied because they have been implicated in social affiliation. Guided by the social role theory of mate selection and prior genetic evidence, we examined these polymorphisms’ gender-specific associations with speed-dating success (i.e., date offers, mate desirability). A total of 262 single Asian Americans went on speed-dates with members of the opposite gender and completed interaction questionnaires about their partners. Consistent with our prediction, significant gender-by-genotype interactions were found for speed-dating success. Specifically, the minor variant of A118G (G-allele), which has been linked to submissiveness/social sensitivity, predicted greater speed-dating success for women, whereas the minor variant of −1438 A/G (G-allele), which has been linked to leadership/social dominance, predicted greater speed-dating success for men. For both polymorphisms, reverse “dampening” effects of minor variants were found for opposite-gender counterparts. These results support previous research on the importance of the opioid and serotonergic systems in social affiliation, indicating that their influence extends to dating success, with opposite, yet gender-norm consistent, effects for men and women.

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The impact of artificial fragrances on the assessment of mate quality cues in body odor

Caroline Allen et al.

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Cultural practices may either enhance or interfere with evolved preferences as predicted by culture-gene coevolution theory. Here, we investigated the impact of artificial fragrances on the assessment of biologically relevant information in human body odor. To do this, we examined cross-sensory consistency (across faces and odors) in the perception of masculinity and femininity in men and women, and how consistency is influenced by the use of artificial fragrance. Independent sets of same and opposite-sex participants rated odor samples (with and without a fragrance, N = 239 raters), and photographs (N = 130) of 20 men and 20 women. In female, but not male raters, judgments of masculinity/femininity of non-fragranced odor and faces were correlated. However, the correlation between female ratings of male facial and odor masculinity was not evident when assessing a fragranced body odor. Further analysis also indicated that differences in ratings of male odor masculinity between men with high and low levels of facial masculinity were not present in fragranced body odor samples. This effect was absent in ratings of female odors by both female and male raters, suggesting sex-specificity in the effects of fragrance on odor perception. Our findings suggest that women may be more attentive to these odor cues, and therefore also to disruption of this information through fragrance use. Our results show that cultural practices might both enhance and interfere with evolved preferences.

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Variation in Men’s Masculinity Affects Preferences for Women’s Voices at Different Points in the Menstrual Cycle

Nathan Pipitone, Gordon Gallup & Astrid Bartels

Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent work shows that humans respond to subtle shifts in women’s behavior across the menstrual cycle. In the present study, males rated voice recordings for attractiveness that had been taken from females at times of high and low fertility to determine whether levels of masculinity in men affect preferences for fertile female voices. Using a principle component analysis, we discovered that men with lower aggregate levels of body and vocal masculinity were more likely to prefer voices from naturally cycling women at high fertility. The present study replicates previous findings showing that voices from women at high fertility are more attractive, and provides some of the first evidence showing that between-subjects variation in levels of masculinity among men affect their preferences for women’s voices at different points in the menstrual cycle. These results add to previous work that show pair-bonded men who are judged to be lower in mate quality may have a vested interest in their female partners at times of higher fertility.

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Sexual selection on male vocal fundamental frequency in humans and other anthropoids

David Puts et al.

Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 27 April 2016

Abstract:
In many primates, including humans, the vocalizations of males and females differ dramatically, with male vocalizations and vocal anatomy often seeming to exaggerate apparent body size. These traits may be favoured by sexual selection because low-frequency male vocalizations intimidate rivals and/or attract females, but this hypothesis has not been systematically tested across primates, nor is it clear why competitors and potential mates should attend to vocalization frequencies. Here we show across anthropoids that sexual dimorphism in fundamental frequency (F0) increased during evolutionary transitions towards polygyny, and decreased during transitions towards monogamy. Surprisingly, humans exhibit greater F0 sexual dimorphism than any other ape. We also show that low-F0 vocalizations predict perceptions of men's dominance and attractiveness, and predict hormone profiles (low cortisol and high testosterone) related to immune function. These results suggest that low male F0 signals condition to competitors and mates, and evolved in male anthropoids in response to the intensity of mating competition.

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The Effects of Disease Vulnerability on Preferences for Self-Similar Scent

Naomi Muggleton & Corey Fincher

Evolutionary Psychological Science, June 2016, Pages 129-139

Abstract:
Humans possess disease avoidance mechanisms, which promote xenophobic attitudes under conditions of perceived vulnerability to disease (PVD). We investigate whether concerns about disease vulnerability influence attraction to olfactory cues of self-similarity. Participants donated a sample of their body odour, then completed a PVD questionnaire (subscales: germ aversion, perceived infectability; Duncan et al. 2009). Told that they were rating strangers’ odours, participants rated self, versus non-self, scent donations. Among women, attraction to self-scent was positively predicted by germ aversion (but not perceived infectability); surprisingly, men’s ratings of self-scent were negatively associated with germ aversion. Priming with pathogenic cues did not influence scent preferences. This association between germ aversion and odour preference suggests that mere scent exposure can inform the receiver of the immunological similarity between self and sender, which can influence social responses (i.e. attraction to vs. avoidance of scent sender). We discuss these results, as well as implications for the study of intergroup biases.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, May 20, 2016

Officialdom

Gridlock: Ethnic Diversity in Government and the Provision of Public Goods

Brian Beach & Daniel Jones

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
How does ethnic diversity in government impact public good provision? We construct a novel dataset linking the ethnicity of California city council candidates to election outcomes and expenditure decisions. Using a regression discontinuity approach, we find that increased diversity on the council leads to less spending on public goods. This is especially true in cities with high segregation and economic inequality. Those serving on councils that experience an increase in diversity also receive fewer votes when they run for reelection. These results point towards disagreement within the council generating lower spending.

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Representing the Preferences of Donors, Partisans, and Voters in the US Senate

Michael Barber

Public Opinion Quarterly, Spring 2016, Pages 225-249

Abstract:
Who do legislators best represent? This paper addresses this question by investigating the degree of ideological congruence between senators and constituents on a unified scale. Specifically, I measure congruence between legislators and four constituent subsets - donors, co-partisans, supporters, and registered voters. To estimate the preferences of these groups, I use a large survey of voters and an original survey of campaign contributors that samples both in- and out-of-state contributors in the 2012 election cycle. I find that senators' preferences reflect the preferences of the average donor better than any other group. Senators from both parties are slightly more ideologically extreme than the average co-partisan in their state and those who voted for them in 2012. Finally, senators' preferences diverge dramatically from the preference of the average voter in their state. The degree of divergence is nearly as large as if voters were randomly assigned to a senator. These results show that in the case of the Senate, there is a dearth of congruence between constituents and senators - unless these constituents are those who write checks and attend fund-raisers.

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Extremity in Congress: Communications versus Votes

Lindsey Cormack

Legislative Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
I propose a theory of legislator-to-constituent communication that describes a relationship between the types of votes a legislator reveals and the partisan composition of her constituency. To test this theory, I use an original data set of 40,000 official communications containing 30,000 vote revelations from the 111th Congress. I find evidence substantiating this theory; the extent to which a legislator endeavors to appear more ideologically extreme in communications varies systematically with the relative amounts of different types of voters in her district. This result is contrasted with an analysis of voting extremism where I find that the ideological preferences of donors better explain voting patterns.

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Leadership Power in Congress, 1890-2014: Evidence from PAC Contributions and Newspaper Coverage

Pamela Ban, Daniel Moskowitz & James Snyder

Harvard Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
For decades, scholars have studied the relative power of parties and committees in the U.S. Congress. An influential theory, Conditional Party Government (CPG), hypothesizes that as intra-party preferences converge and inter-party preferences diverge, rank-and-file members and committees transfer power to party leaders. Most previous tests of CPG and other theories of party power rely on roll call votes to measure both the distribution of preferences within the chamber and the relative power of party leaders. We propose an alternative that assesses shifts of power within Congress by using PAC contributions and newspaper coverage. Since PACs are sophisticated donors who target their contributions to gain access and influence in Congress, following the money allows us to construct a measure of relative power. During the period 1978-2014, we find that party leaders receive an increasing share of the donations over time at the expense of committee leaders and rank-and-file. The share of PAC donations to party leaders closely tracks standard measures of CPG. Another measure of power, based on newspaper coverage, produces similar patterns for an even longer period, from 1890-2014. Overall, our results provide strong support for the CPG theory.

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The Political Economy of Program Design: Overcoming Principal-Agent Goal Disparities Between Congress and the Executive Using Grants to States

Stuart Kasdin & Federica Iorio

American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
When programs are grants to states, federal funds will be used to meet both the national objectives and the local priorities of the state or local government recipients. This article examines the decision to design new federal programs as either a grant to states or as administered by federal agencies. We predict that Congress will choose either the states or the federal bureaucracy based on which agent is more likely to manage the program consistent with the preferences of the Congressional majority. We examine the political and economic conditions present in the year before Congress created a program. We find that Congress's perception of a government agency's partisan orientation matters: A perceived divergence in partisan orientation between the Congress and federal agency increases the likelihood of a grant design. In addition, we see evidence that a grant design is preferred when the president is not a co-partisan of Congress.

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Bypassing Congressional Committees: Parties, Panel Rosters, and Deliberative Processes

William Bendix

Legislative Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although scholars have examined committee rosters extensively, no study has considered the relationship between the ideological composition of panels and their participation in bill drafting. I thus ask: Which committees are frequently excluded from legislative deliberations? Does the composition of committees affect the degree to which they contribute to bill development? Using DW-NOMINATE data, I calculate ideological scores for congressional panels between 1989 and 2010 to see whether certain committees are routinely bypassed. I find that moderate panels, polarized panels, and panels with moderate chairs are often excluded, while extreme committees in the majority direction tend to retain bill-writing duties.

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Corporate lobbying, CEO political ideology and firm performance

Omer Unsal, Kabir Hassan & Duygu Zirek

Journal of Corporate Finance, June 2016, Pages 126-149

Abstract:
In this paper, we investigate the influence of CEO political orientation on corporate lobbying efforts. Specifically, we study whether CEO political ideology, in terms of manager-level campaign donations, determines the choice and amount of firm lobbying involvement and the impact of lobbying on firm value. We find a generous engagement in lobbying efforts by firms with Republican leaning-managers, which lobby a larger number of bills and have higher lobbying expenditures. However, the cost of lobbying offsets the benefit for firms with Republican CEOs. We report higher agency costs of free cash flow, lower Tobin's Q, and smaller increases in buy and hold abnormal returns following lobbying activities for firms with Republican managers, compared to Democratic and Apolitical rivals. Overall, our results suggest that the effects of lobbying on firm performance vary across firms with different managerial political orientations.

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Lobbying, political connectedness and financial performance in the air transportation industry

Richard Brown

Journal of Air Transport Management, July 2016, Pages 61-69

Abstract:
While there is a deeper understanding of the outcomes to firm-level political activities in general, there are very few papers that address this relationship in transportation studies. In this paper, I empirically test firm-level rent-seeking through corporate political activity (CPA) in the air transportation industry. I find, in a sample of 46 firms over 15 years, that lobbying intensity and political connections are positively related to subsequent profitability in both fixed-effects and random-effects estimations. I also test the interaction of these two main effects and find mixed support for the moderating effect of political connections on lobbying intensity. This paper contributes to the theoretical literature on political rent-seeking and the topical literature on political action in air transportation.

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US political corruption and firm financial policies

Jared Smith

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using US Department of Justice data on local political corruption, I find that firms in more corrupt areas hold less cash and have greater leverage than firms in less corrupt areas. The results are robust to including a range of controls and to using an instrumental variable approach, two alternative survey measures of corruption, and propensity score matching. Further, the association between corruption and leverage is largest among firms that operate primarily around their headquarters. Overall, the evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that firms manage liquidity downward and debt obligations upward to limit expropriation by corrupt local officials.

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When Voters Pull the Trigger: Can Direct Democracy Restrain Legislative Excesses?

Vladimir Kogan

Legislative Studies Quarterly, May 2016, Pages 297-325

Abstract:
Direct democracy is sometimes described as a "gun behind the door," but how do legislators react when voters pull the trigger? Leveraging the high-profile referendum defeat of a controversial law passed by the Ohio legislature, I examine how legislators respond to voter disaffection. Using interest groups to "bridge" votes before and after the election, I show that the measure's defeat induced moderation on the part of the Republican legislative majority, while leaving the behavior of opposition Democrats largely unchanged. The results suggest that direct democracy has the potential to restrain legislative excesses and alleviate polarization in state legislatures.

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Slow-Rolling, Fast-Tracking, and the Pace of Bureaucratic Decisions in Rulemaking

Rachel Augustine Potter

University of Virginia Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
The slow pace of administrative action is arguably a defining characteristic of modern bureaucracy. The reasons proffered for delay are numerous, often centering on procedural hurdles or bureaucrats' ineptitude. I offer a different perspective on delay in one important bureaucratic venue: the federal rulemaking process. I argue that agencies can speed up (fast-track) or slow down (slow-roll) the rulemaking process in order to undermine political oversight provided by Congress, the president, and the courts. That is, when the political climate is favorable agencies rush to lock in a rule, but when it is less favorable they "wait out" the tenure of current political overseers. I find empirical support for this proposition using an event history analysis of more than 9,600 agency rules from 147 agencies. The results support the interpretation that agencies strategically delay, and that delay is not simply evidence of increased bureaucratic effort.

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Getting Short-Changed? The Impact of Outside Money on District Representation

Anne Baker

Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objective: As incumbent House members increasingly recruit campaign contributions from individuals who reside outside of their districts, this raises the question of whether a dependency on outside money affects members' responsiveness and ideological proximity to district constituents.

Method: Using data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Studies of 2006, 2008, and 2010 as well as individual contribution data corresponding to those years from the U.S. Federal Election Commission, I examine this relationship using responsiveness and proximity models of representation.

Results: I find a dependency on outside contributions decreases members' responsiveness to their districts and increases the members' ideological extremity. Moreover, within-district contributions only minimally improve ideological alignment between the member and the district.

Conclusion: Donors receive additional representation from members of the House at the expense of constituents.

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Up the Hill and Across the Aisle: Discovering the Path to Bipartisanship in Washington

Matthew Beckmann

Legislative Studies Quarterly, May 2016, Pages 269-295

Abstract:
Appeals for bipartisan diplomacy pepper popular commentary, often with wistful references to a bygone era where leaders (like Lyndon Johnson and Everett Dirksen) set aside partisan point scoring to serve the public interest. Here we reconsider the elements driving bipartisan contact in Washington. Stepping back from popular narratives, we situate the president-opposing leader relationship within a more general class of institutional bargaining, leading to the prediction that bipartisan negotiation emerges from a particular combination of incentives and institutions - namely, when the president is strong politically (rendering opposing leaders willing to compromise) but opposing party leaders are strong institutionally (rendering them crucial to passing the deal). Utilizing Presidential Daily Diaries, hypotheses are tested against original data on presidents' personal interactions with opposing Senate leaders across 40 years, 20 Congresses, and eight presidencies (1961-2000).

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Congressional Assertions of the Spending Power: Institutional Conflict and Regulatory Authority

Miranda Yaver

Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, May 2016, Pages 272-305

Abstract:
This study seeks to answer a crucial and unexplored question about American regulatory law and policy: How do majority coalitions in Congress use the spending power to circumvent intra-branch conflict and judicial constraints against regulating by finding alternate avenues to regulate states and private actors? This study provides the first large-scale empirical evidence of congressional use of the spending power to assert implementation authority in the face of constraints against more direct legislating. It is through this process of conditioning funds upon regulatory compliance that Congress works toward ideal policy outcomes without inciting institutional conflict with the other branches or from the opposing party. I base my conditional spending analysis on data on statutory specificity and congressional delegation from the 80th to the 110th Congresses provided by Farhang, and include additional measures of institutional conflict. The above argument is supported by the empirical analysis.

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Legislative Error and the "Politics of Haste"

Jonathan Lewallen

PS: Political Science & Politics, April 2016, Pages 239-243

Abstract:
Legislative error is an important and understudied element of the policy process. Even simple clerical mistakes - if unnoticed before enactment - can lead to ambiguity about a law's meaning, spark political battles concerning rulemaking and implementation, and involve the courts in statutory interpretation. Understanding how and why error occurs can help us better understand how political institutions are intertwined in the design, enactment, and implementation of public policy. This article analyzes the sources of legislative error using data on corrected legislation in the US Senate from 1981 to 2012. The author finds that Senate drafting error is related to unified control of Congress and new majority parties, inexperienced committee members, and committee workload. In addition to bringing in different perspectives and preferences, elections can affect a legislature's ability to draft clear, error-free statutes.

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Measuring Elite Personality Using Speech

Adam Ramey, Jonathan Klingler & Gary Hollibaugh

Political Science Research and Methods, forthcoming

Abstract:
We apply recent advances in machine learning to measure Congressmember personality traits using floor speeches from 1996 to 2014. We also demonstrate the superiority of text-based measurement over survey-based measurement by showing that personality traits are correlated with survey response rates for members of Congress. Finally, we provide one empirical application showcasing the importance of personality on congressional behavior.

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Informal Consequences of Budget Institutions in the US Congress

Andrew Clarke & Kenneth Lowande

Legislative Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Though considerable research focuses on formal institutions in Congress, scholars have long acknowledged that much of what guides legislative behavior is unwritten. To advance this area, we leverage a tool that allows appropriators to redirect billions of dollars from mandatory programs to discretionary projects. Changes in mandatory program spending - known as "CHIMPs" - show that existing institutions are often maintained by the strategic action of legislators. In the case of CHIMPs, we find their use is largely a response to formal constraints and that they are preserved through avoidance of minimum reform coalitions. This highlights that the legislative process - and budgetary outcomes in particular - cannot be understood without attention to procedures which remain "off the books."

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Transparency by Conformity: A Field Experiment Evaluating Openness in Local Governments

Jim ben-Aaron et al.

Public Administration Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Sunshine laws establishing government transparency are ubiquitous in the United States; however, the intended degree of openness is often unclear or unrealized. Although researchers have identified characteristics of government organizations or officials that affect the fulfillment of public records requests, they have not considered the influence that government organizations have on each other. This picture of independently acting organizations does not accord with the literature on diffusion in public policy and administration. In this article, we present a field experiment to test whether a county government's fulfillment of a public records request is influenced by the knowledge that its peers have already complied. We argue that knowledge of peer compliance should (1) induce competitive pressures to comply and (2) resolve legal ambiguity in favor of compliance. We find evidence of peer conformity effects both in the time to initial response and in the rate of complete request fulfillment.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Race and history

Race and Consumption: Black and White Disparities in Household Spending

Raphaël Charron-Chénier, Joshua Fink & Lisa Keister

Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, forthcoming

Abstract:
Differences in consumption patterns are usually treated as a matter of preferences. In this article, the authors examine consumption from a structural perspective and argue that black households face unique constraints restricting their ability to acquire important goods and services. Using data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys, the authors examine racial differences in total spending and in spending on major categories of goods and services (food, transportation, utilities, housing, health care, and entertainment). The authors also capture heterogeneous effects of racial stratification across class by modeling racial consumption gaps across household income levels. The results show that black households tend to have lower levels of total spending than their white counterparts and that these disparities tend to persist across income levels. Overall, these analyses indicate that racial disparities in consumption exist independently of other economic disparities and may be a key unexamined factor in the reproduction of racial inequality.

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Race, Class, Religion and the Southern Party System: A Field Report from Dixie

M.V. Hood

The Forum, April 2016, Pages 83–96

Abstract:
The purpose of this essay is to provide a contemporary examination of the political party system in the Southern US. In doing so, an assessment is undertaken to determine which cleavage line – race, class, or religion – does the best job of explaining the division between Republicans and Democrats in the region. Using survey research data from the 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study three multivariate models are employed to study partisan affiliation, presidential voting, and voting in US Senate elections. The results indicate that race, especially the Black-White dichotomy, is the largest dividing line between the Republican and Democratic Parties in the region. In fact, in terms of party identification race dwarfs the effects of religion and class. As related to presidential and Senate voting behavior race continues to exert a significant influence, even after controlling for partisan identification. Conversely, class and religion produced minimal or no effects in models of vote choice. In conclusion, it would appear that the contemporary Southern political landscape, like its predecessor, continues to be defined by racial divisions.

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The (Non)Politics of Emergency Political Intervention: The Racial Geography of Urban Crisis Management in Michigan

Owen Kirkpatrick & Nate Breznau

Southern Methodist University Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
The following mixed method study investigates Michigan’s system of fiscal emergency management, which disproportionately impacts African Americans. According to conventional explanations, the overrepresentation of emergency political intervention (EPI) in black communities is a happenstance product of African American populations being concentrated in fiscally distressed urban areas. We first investigate this hypothetically spurious association using multivariate methods. While the State’s objective fiscal scoring of local political units explains a great deal in terms of the distribution of EPI, black population is also an independently significant predictor. When we control for fiscal score, the odds of intervention in a local political unit (e.g. city, township, school district) increase by 50% for every 10 percentage-point increase in the local black population. Second, a qualitative analysis of the EPI law and its application both supports our statistical findings and points to two explanations of the role of race in EPI. First, racial bias and segregation may have a direct impact on EPI distribution. Second, race may play an indirect role, insofar as its effects are intertwined in complex ways with other processes and mechanisms. Specifically, we emphasize the relationship between post-crisis patterns of urban value extraction and the racial logic of emergency fiscal intervention.

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Contested Terrain: The State versus Threatened Lynch Mob Violence

E.M. Beck, Stewart Tolnay & Amy Kate

Bailey American Journal of Sociology, May 2016, Pages 1856-1884

Abstract:
Prior research on mob violence in the American South has focused on lynchings that were successfully completed. Here, the authors explore new territory by studying the relationship between state interventions in threatened mob violence and industrial expansion in the South. Using a newly available inventory of lynching threats, they find that the frequency of extraordinary state interventions to avoid mob violence between 1880 and 1909 was positively related to the strength of the manufacturing sector within counties and negatively related to the prevalence of a “Deep South cotton culture.” The authors’ research offers support for the hypothesis that mob violence was incompatible with the image of the “New South” and that contradiction motivated state authorities to make extraordinary interventions when lynching was threatened.

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Obama, Katrina, and the Persistence of Racial Inequality

Robert Margo

Journal of Economic History, June 2016, Pages 301-341

Abstract:
New benchmark estimates of Black-White income ratios for 1870, 1900, and 1940 are combined with standard post-World War census data. The resulting time series reveals that the pace of racial income convergence has generally been steady but slow, quickening only during the 1940s and the modern Civil Rights era. I explore the interpretation of the time series with a model of intergenerational transmission of inequality in which racial differences in causal factors that determine income are very large just after the Civil War and which erode slowly across subsequent generations.

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The Electoral Determinants of State Welfare Effort in the U.S. South, 1960–2008

William Terry

State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines the impact of electoral politics on state welfare policy in the post-civil rights era South. In contrast to an emerging consensus concluding that southern African Americans materially benefited from rejoining the electorate, this study suggests that higher black registration rates actually reduced states’ poverty relief efforts. In the years immediately following the Voting Rights Act (VRA), when Democrats controlled state government, the significant negative relationship between the size of the black electorate and state welfare generosity was moderated to some extent by high levels of partisan competition. In such cases, Democrats ostensibly chose a “core” targeting strategy of pursuing lower-income votes and had the institutional wherewithal to purchase these votes with policy concessions. Overall, however, the liberal “Downsian” policy response to African American mobilization was dominated by an antiredistributive response. In the South, welfare policies were relatively conservative vis-à-vis the other states during Jim Crow and became more so in response to black voting.

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African Ancestry, Social Factors, and Hypertension Among Non-Hispanic Blacks in the Health and Retirement Study

Jessica Marden et al.

Biodemography and Social Biology, Spring 2016, Pages 19-35

Abstract:
The biomedical literature contains much speculation about possible genetic explanations for the large and persistent black–white disparities in hypertension, but profound social inequalities are also hypothesized to contribute to this outcome. Our goal is to evaluate whether socioeconomic status (SES) differences provide a plausible mechanism for associations between African ancestry and hypertension in a U.S. cohort of older non-Hispanic blacks. We included only non-Hispanic black participants (N = 998) from the Health and Retirement Study who provided genetic data. We estimated percent African ancestry based on 84,075 independent single nucleotide polymorphisms using ADMIXTURE V1.23, imposing K = 4 ancestral populations, and categorized into quartiles. Hypertension status was self-reported in the year 2000. We used linear probability models (adjusted for age, sex, and southern birth) to predict prevalent hypertension with African ancestry quartile, before and after accounting for a small set of SES measures. Respondents with the highest quartile of African ancestry had 8 percentage points’ (RD = 0.081; 95% CI: −0.001, 0.164) higher prevalence of hypertension compared to the lowest quartile. Adjustment for childhood disadvantage, education, income, and wealth explained over one-third (RD = 0.050; 95% CI: −0.034, 0.135) of the disparity. Explanations for the residual disparity remain unspecified and may include other indicators of SES or diet, lifestyle, and psychosocial mechanisms.

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Maternal Age and Infant Mortality for White, Black, and Mexican Mothers in the United States

Philip Cohen

Sociological Science, January 2016

Abstract:
This paper assesses the pattern of infant mortality by maternal age for white, black, and Mexican mothers using the 2013 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Public Use File from the Centers for Disease Control. The results are consistent with the “weathering” hypothesis, which suggests that white women benefit from delayed childbearing while for black women early childbearing is adaptive because of deteriorating health status through the childbearing years. For white women, the risk (adjusted for covariates) of infant death is U-shaped — lowest in the early thirties — while for black women the risk increases linearly with age. Mexican-origin women show a J-shape, with highest risk at the oldest ages. The results underscore the need for understanding the relationship between maternal age and infant mortality in the context of unequal health experiences across race/ethnic groups in the US.

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Black Pioneers, Intermetropolitan Movers, and Housing Desegregation

Yana Kucheva & Richard Sander

U.S. Census Bureau Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
In this project, we examine the mobility choices of black households between 1960 and 2000. We use household-level Decennial Census data geocoded down to the census tract level. Our results indicate that, for black households, one’s status as an intermetropolitan migrant – especially from an urban area outside the South – is a powerful predictor of pioneering into a white neighborhood. Moreover, and perhaps even more importantly, the ratio of these intermetropolitan black arrivals to the incumbent metropolitan black population is a powerful predictor of whether a metropolitan area experiences substantial declines in housing segregation.

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Civil Rights, World War II, and U.S. Public Opinion

Steven White

Studies in American Political Development, April 2016, Pages 38-61

Abstract:
Scholars of American politics often assume World War II liberalized white racial attitudes. This conjecture is generally premised on the existence of an ideological tension between a war against Nazism and the maintenance of white supremacy at home, particularly the Southern system of Jim Crow. A possible relationship between the war and civil rights was also suggested by a range of contemporaneous voices, including academics like Gunnar Myrdal and activists like Walter White and A. Philip Randolph. However, while intuitively plausible, this relationship is generally not well verified empirically. A common flaw is the lack of attention to public opinion polls from the 1940s. Using the best available survey evidence, I argue the war's impact on white racial attitudes is more limited than is often claimed. First, I demonstrate that for whites in the mass public, while there is some evidence of liberalization on issues of racial prejudice, this generally does not extend to policies addressing racial inequities. White opposition to federal anti-lynching legislation actually seems to have increased during the war. Second, there is some evidence of racial moderation among white veterans, relative to their counterparts who did not serve. White veterans were more supportive of anti-lynching legislation in the immediate postwar period, and they offered stronger support for black voting rights in the early 1960s. However, they were not distinguishable on many other issues, including measures of racial prejudice and attitudes toward segregation.

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Pickup Basketball in the Production of Black Community

Francisco Vieyra

Qualitative Sociology, June 2016, Pages 101-123

Abstract:
Recent studies on basketball employ Elijah Anderson’s decent-street dichotomy. In these works, institutional basketball is “decent” and unifying, whereas pickup basketball is “street” and atomizing. Based on ethnographic research in New York City’s pickup basketball scene, this article argues that such an approach obscures many of the ways in which pickup basketball actually strengthens Black community. The article shows that through practice, contests, competitions, and its embeddedness in everyday life pickup basketball directly produces Black community by bringing together diverse people. Pickup basketball also indirectly produces community by: 1) articulating, enacting, and disseminating essential communal values; and 2) serving as a collective depot for information and support. In rejecting the institutional basketball-pickup basketball as decent-street binary, the article attempts to reorient the very understanding of pickup basketball and its place in the urban Black community.

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“A Grain of Salt in a Pepper Shaker”: Interviewing Whites, Blacks, and Latinos about their Neighborhood Preferences

Cassi Meyerhoffer

Sociological Forum, forthcoming

Abstract:
Several perspectives dominate as explanations for neighborhood preferences: pure race, racial proxy, race-based neighborhood stereotyping, and race-associated neighborhood factors. This analysis extends and supports the pure race and race-associated neighborhood factors arguments by showing that these theories are applied differently depending on respondents' social class, race and ethnicity, and whether they are talking about white, black, or Latino neighborhoods. Race-associated factors are emphasized for white and black neighborhoods, but pure race serves as a better theoretical framework for understanding people's preferences for Latino neighborhoods. I analyze qualitative interview data, using maps of real neighborhoods and hypothetical neighborhood show cards, to examine the neighborhood preferences of 65 white, black, and Latino residents in Ogden, Utah, and Buffalo, New York.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Management advice

Do Unions Affect Innovation?

Daniel Bradley, Incheol Kim & Xuan Tian

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the effect of unionization on firm innovation, using a regression discontinuity design that relies on “locally” exogenous variation generated by elections that pass or fail by a small margin of votes. Passing a union election results in an 8.7% (12.5%) decline in patent quantity (quality) three years after the election. A reduction in R&D expenditures, reduced productivity of inventors, and departures of innovative inventors appear to be plausible underlying mechanisms through which unionization impedes firm innovation. In response to unionization, firms move their innovation activities away from states where union elections win. Our paper provides new insights into the real effects of unionization.

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Social Responsibility Messages and Worker Wage Requirements: Field Experimental Evidence from Online Labor Marketplaces

Vanessa Burbano

Organization Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the effects of employer social responsibility on the wages workers demand through randomized field experiments in two online labor marketplaces. Workers were recruited for short-term jobs and I manipulated whether or not they received information about the employer’s social responsibility. I then observed the payment workers were willing to accept for the job. In the first experiment, information about the employer’s social responsibility marginally reduced prospective workers’ wage requirements on average, and had a significant effect on the highest performers, who were willing to give up the wage differential they would otherwise demand. In the second, prospective workers submitted 44% lower wage bids for the same job after learning about the employer’s social responsibility. This paper provides causal empirical evidence of a revealed preference for social responsibility in the workplace, and of a greater preference amongst the highest performers. More broadly, it provides evidence that workers value purpose and meaningfulness at work, and demonstrates that workers are willing to give up pecuniary benefits for non-pecuniary benefits. It furthermore highlights heterogeneity in worker preferences for non-pecuniary benefits by worker performance type.

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Productivity and Selection of Human Capital with Machine Learning

Aaron Chalfin et al.

American Economic Review, May 2016, Pages 124-127

Abstract:
Economists have become increasingly interested in studying the nature of production functions in social policy applications, with the goal of improving productivity. Traditionally models have assumed workers are homogenous inputs. However, in practice, substantial variability in productivity means the marginal productivity of labor depends substantially on which new workers are hired -- which requires not an estimate of a causal effect, but rather a prediction. We demonstrate that there can be large social welfare gains from using machine learning tools to predict worker productivity, using data from two important applications - police hiring and teacher tenure decisions.

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How Does Reducing Pay Dispersion Affect Employee Behavior?

Conor Brown et al.

University of Pittsburgh Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
Prior research suggests that pay dispersion among employees can cause lower-paid employees to feel unfairly treated and thus lower their effort. Recently, some firms have reduced pay dispersion by raising lower-paid employee’s wages in an attempt to mitigate this effect. However, popular press articles suggest that reducing pay dispersion could also cause higher-paid employees to leave the firm. We conduct a series of experiments to examine the effect of reduced pay dispersion on lower-paid employees’ effort and higher-paid employees’ turnover intentions. In Experiment 1, we find that reducing pay dispersion can increase lower-paid employees’ effort by increasing their perceived pay fairness. We also show that it is the reduction in pay dispersion rather than merely the increase in the lower-paid employees’ wages that yields these results. In Experiment 2, we replicate the results of our first experiment without collecting data on perceptions of pay fairness to ensure that the results of the first experiment were not the result of demand effects. Finally, in Experiment 3 we find that, contrary to concerns expressed in the popular press, higher-paid employees indicate that they are not more likely to leave the firm for a comparable job when lower-paid employees’ wages are increased, and may even be less likely to leave. Our results suggest that firms should consider whether the benefit of increased effort from the lower-paid employees is worth the extra cost they incur by increasing their wages.

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More Time, More Work: How Time Limits Bias Estimates of Project Duration and Scope

Indranil Goswami & Oleg Urminsky

University of Chicago Working Paper, January 2016

Abstract:
We propose that time limits systematically bias predictions of workers’ completion times, even when the limits are uninformative and cannot affect worker’s behavior. We show evidence for this bias in controlled laboratory studies and in a field survey. We find that longer time limits contribute to a misperception that the task involves more work, even for experienced managers making estimates in a familiar setting. This scope and duration bias has important behavioral implications, including an excessive preference for flat fee compensation contracts over contracts based on time spent working.

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Fifty Shades of Corporate Culture

William David Grieser et al.

Tulane University Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
We develop a new measure of integrity as it relates to corporate culture - the number of employees who use corporate emails to register for a website that facilitates extramarital affairs. This measure is associated with firm-level unethical behavior: it predicts a greater probability of SEC enforcement actions for accounting misstatements, and lower corporate ethics ratings by external analysts. However, consistent with research in psychology, we find that the measure also predicts more innovation (R&D intensity, successful patenting rates, subsequent patent citations, and patent diversity) and risk-taking (leverage, volatility, probability of default). Our results suggest that it is difficult to engineer a perfect corporate culture due to potential trade-offs between employee creativity, risk-taking, and integrity.

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Private Equity and Workers’ Career Paths: The Role of Technological Change

Ashwini Agrawal & Prasanna Tambe

Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
We analyze a new dataset on workers’ career paths to examine whether private equity (PE) investments can have positive spillover effects on workers. We study leveraged buyouts in the context of recent information technology (IT) diffusion, and find evidence supporting the argument that many employees of companies acquired by PE investors gain transferable, IT-complementary human capital. Our estimates indicate that these workers experience increases in both long-run employability and wages relative to what they would have realized in the absence of PE investment. The findings underscore PE’s role in mitigating the effects of workforce skill obsolescence resulting from technological change.

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The Rapid Adoption of Data-Driven Decision-Making

Erik Brynjolfsson & Kristina McElheran

American Economic Review, May 2016, Pages 133-139

Abstract:
We provide a systematic empirical study of the diffusion and adoption patterns of data-driven decision making (DDD) in the U.S. Using data collected by the Census Bureau for a large representative sample of manufacturing plants, we find that DDD rates nearly tripled (11%-30%) between 2005 and 2010. This rapid diffusion, along with results from a companion paper, are consistent with case-based evidence that DDD tends to be productivity-enhancing. Yet certain plants are significantly more likely to adopt than others. Key correlates of adoption are size, presence of potential complements such as information technology and educated workers, and firm learning.

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Complementary or Competing Climates? Examining the Interactive Effect of Service and Ethical Climates on Company-Level Financial Performance

Adam Myer, Christian Thoroughgood & Susan Mohammed

Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
By bending rules to please their customers, companies with high service climates may be less ethical but ultimately more profitable. In this article, we pose the question of whether being ethical comes at a cost to profits in customer-oriented firms. Despite the organizational reality that multiple climates coexist at a given time, research has largely ignored these types of questions, and the simultaneous analysis of multiple climate dimensions has received little empirical attention to date. Given their scientific and practical importance, this study tested complementary and conflicting perspectives regarding interactions between service (outcome-focused) and ethical (process-focused) climates on company-level financial performance. Drawing on a sample of 16,862 medical sales representatives spread across 77 subsidiary companies of a large multinational corporation in the health care product industry, we found support for a complementary view. More precisely, results revealed that profitability was enhanced, not diminished, in service-oriented firms that also stressed the importance of ethics. Results suggest studying the interactive effects of multiple climates is a more fruitful approach than examining main effects alone.

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Are CEOs Different? Characteristics of Top Managers

Steven Kaplan & Morten Sorensen

University of Chicago Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
We use a data set of over 2,600 executive assessments to study thirty individual characteristics of candidates for top executive positions – CEO, CFO, COO and others. Candidate characteristics can be classified by four primary factors: general ability, execution skills, charisma and strategic skills. CEO candidates tend to score higher on all four of these factors; CFO candidates score lower. Hired candidates score higher than all assessed candidates on interpersonal skills (for each job category) suggesting that such skills are important in the selection process. Scores on the four factors also predict future career progression. Non-CEO candidates who score higher on the four factors are subsequently more likely to become CEOs. The patterns are qualitatively similar for public, private equity and venture capital owned companies. We do not find economically large differences in the four factors for men and women. Women, however, are ultimately less likely to become CEOs holding the four factors constant.

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Executive Compensation in American Unions

Kevin Hallock & Felice Klein

Industrial Relations, April 2016, Pages 219–234

Abstract:
We explore compensation of labor union leaders using U.S. panel data on more than 75,000 organization-years from 2000 to 2007. We find that membership, estimated average wages, and dues are strongly related to the compensation of the leaders of American labor unions, even after controlling for organization size and organization fixed effects. That is, within the same union over time, higher levels of these measures are associated with higher levels of pay for union leaders.

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Balancing on the Creative Highwire: Forecasting the Success of Novel Ideas in Organizations

Justin Berg

Administrative Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Betting on the most promising new ideas is key to creativity and innovation in organizations, but predicting the success of novel ideas can be difficult. To select the best ideas, creators and managers must excel at creative forecasting, the skill of predicting the outcomes of new ideas. Using both a field study of 339 professionals in the circus arts industry and a lab experiment, I examine the conditions for accurate creative forecasting, focusing on the effect of creators’ and managers’ roles. In the field study, creators and managers forecasted the success of new circus acts with audiences, and the accuracy of these forecasts was assessed using data from 13,248 audience members. Results suggest that creators were more accurate than managers when forecasting about others’ novel ideas, but not their own. This advantage over managers was undermined when creators previously had poor ideas that were successful in the marketplace anyway. Results from the lab experiment show that creators’ advantage over managers in predicting success may be tied to the emphasis on both divergent thinking (idea generation) and convergent thinking (idea evaluation) in the creator role, while the manager role emphasizes only convergent thinking. These studies highlight that creative forecasting is a critical bridge linking creativity and innovation, shed light on the importance of roles in creative forecasting, and advance theory on why creative success is difficult to sustain over time.

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Does It Pay to Build Through the Draft in the National Basketball Association?

Akira Motomura et al.

Journal of Sports Economics, June 2016, Pages 501-516

Abstract:
Many National Basketball Association executives and analysts claim that the best way to contend for a championship is to get very high draft picks, which may require losing many games. We test whether building through the draft promotes winning in several ways. We test whether having more and higher draft picks promotes improvement and whether giving draft picks more playing time helps teams win more. We find that the draft is not necessarily the best road to success. An excellent organization and General Manager better enable teams to succeed even without high draft picks.

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Recognizing “Me” Benefits “We”: Investigating the Positive Spillover Effects of Formal Individual Recognition in Teams

Ning Li et al.

Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many organizations use formal recognition programs (e.g., “employee of the month”) as a way to publically acknowledge an individual employee’s outstanding performance and motivate continued high performance. However, it remains unclear whether emphasizing individual achievement in a team context is beneficial or detrimental for recipients’ teammates and, by extension, the team as a whole. Drawing on a social influence perspective, we examine potential spillover effects of individual formal recognition programs in teams. We hypothesize that a single team member’s recognition will produce positive spillover effects on other team members’ performance, as well as overall team performance, via social influence processes, especially when the award recipient is located in a central position in a team. Findings from 2 lab experiments of 24 teams and 40 teams (Study 1 and Study 2, respectively) and a field experiment of 52 manufacturing teams (Study 3) reveal that formally recognizing a team member leads to positive changes in her/his teammates’ individual and collective performance. Thus, formal social recognition programs can potentially provide a motivational effect beyond individual recipients.

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Whistleblowing in Audit Firms: Do Explicit Protections from Retaliation Activate Implicit Threats of Reprisal?

James Wainberg & Stephen Perreault

Behavioral Research in Accounting, Spring 2016, Pages 83-93

Abstract:
Despite the increasing number of statutory protections now provided to whistleblowers, fear of reprisal remains a primary reason why individuals fail to report misconduct. In order to alleviate such fears and encourage reporting, hotline policies often describe explicit whistleblower protections from specific types of retaliation (e.g., harassment, threats or intimidation, loss of job, etc.). However, we posit that such vivid descriptions may actually achieve the opposite of their intended effect by increasing the salience of retaliatory threats, thereby discouraging whistleblower reporting. We conduct an experiment and find evidence that when explicit protections are added to an audit firm's whistleblower hotline policy, auditors assess the risk of reporting as higher and, as a result, are less likely to indicate that the misconduct will be reported through the hotline. To our knowledge, our study is the first to demonstrate that offering explicit protections to whistleblowers can have these unintended and counter-intuitive consequences.

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The Structure of Internal Job Mobility and Organizational Wage Inequality

Steve McDonald & Richard Benton

Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, forthcoming

Abstract:
The movement of people among jobs within an organization reflects a process of relational position-taking − a contest among individuals for valued resources. The structure of this mobility offers clues regarding the relational dynamics associated with position-taking and how these processes might vary across low and high inequality organizations. We explore these issues using data on intra-organizational mobility networks from 7347 workers in 428 positions in 11 distribution centers from a national grocery store chain. Exponential random graph models are used to identify the local network features that characterize each organization’s pattern of job mobility. This approach is then supplemented with meta-regression that examines the extent to which those network features are associated with organizational inequality (the wage gap between supervisors and non-supervisors). Organizational inequality is unrelated to the presence of purely structural mobility features (density, reciprocity, or transitivity), but instead is characterized by the confluence of mobility structure and positional hierarchy. The findings demonstrate that workers have fewer mobility pathways into high wage jobs in high inequality organizations than in low inequality organizations.

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Initial Investigation Into Computer Scoring of Candidate Essays for Personnel Selection

Michael Campion et al.

Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Emerging advancements including the exponentially growing availability of computer-collected data and increasingly sophisticated statistical software have led to a “Big Data Movement” wherein organizations have begun attempting to use large-scale data analysis to improve their effectiveness. Yet, little is known regarding how organizations can leverage these advancements to develop more effective personnel selection procedures, especially when the data are unstructured (text-based). Drawing on literature on natural language processing, we critically examine the possibility of leveraging advances in text mining and predictive modeling computer software programs as a surrogate for human raters in a selection context. We explain how to “train” a computer program to emulate a human rater when scoring accomplishment records. We then examine the reliability of the computer’s scores, provide preliminary evidence of their construct validity, demonstrate that this practice does not produce scores that disadvantage minority groups, illustrate the positive financial impact of adopting this practice in an organization (N ∼ 46,000 candidates), and discuss implementation issues. Finally, we discuss the potential implications of using computer scoring to address the adverse impact-validity dilemma. We suggest that it may provide a cost-effective means of using predictors that have comparable validity but have previously been too expensive for large-scale screening.

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Applicant reactions as a function of test length: Is there reason to fret over using longer tests?

Andrew Speer, Brandon King & Michael Grossenbacher

Journal of Personnel Psychology, Spring 2016, Pages 15-24

Abstract:
This study investigated how the length of preemployment assessments affects applicant reactions to the testing process and organization. Using a between-subjects design, participants took one of four assessments (short personality, long personality, short cognitive, long cognitive) where they were incentivized to perform well, followed by a survey assessing perceptions of procedural justice, organizational attractiveness, and likelihood of accepting a job offer. Longer tests did not worsen applicant reactions for either personality or cognitive tests, and in fact individuals taking a longer cognitive assessment reported more favorable applicant reactions. Implications are discussed.

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Motivating Process Compliance Through Individual Electronic Monitoring: An Empirical Examination of Hand Hygiene in Healthcare

Bradley Staats et al.

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The design and use of standard processes are foundational recommendations in many operations practices. Yet, given the demonstrated performance benefits of standardized processes, it is surprising that they are often not followed consistently. One way to ensure greater compliance is by electronically monitoring the activities of individuals, although such aggressive monitoring poses the risk of inducing backlash. In the setting of hand hygiene in healthcare, a context where compliance with standard processes is frequently less than 50% and where this lack of compliance can result in negative consequences, we investigated the effectiveness of electronic monitoring. We did so using a unique, radio frequency identification (RFID)-based system deployed in 71 hospital units. We found that electronically monitoring individual compliance resulted in a large, positive increase in compliance. We also found that there was substantial variability in the effect across units and that units with higher levels of preactivation compliance experienced increased benefits from monitoring relative to units with lower levels of prepreactivation compliance. By observing compliance rates over three and a half years, we investigated the persistent effects of individual monitoring and found that compliance rates initially increased before they gradually declined. Additionally, in multiple units, individual monitoring was discontinued, allowing for an investigation of the impact of removing the intervention on compliance. Surprisingly, we found that, after removal, compliance rates declined to below prepreactivation levels. Our findings suggest that, although individual electronic monitoring can dramatically improve process compliance, it requires sustained managerial commitment.

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Motivating Effort In Contributing to Public Goods Inside Organizations: Field Experimental Evidence

Andrea Blasco et al.

NBER Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
We investigate the factors driving workers’ decisions to generate public goods inside an organization through a randomized solicitation of workplace improvement proposals in a medical center with 1200 employees. We find that pecuniary incentives, such as winning a prize, generate a threefold increase in participation compared to non-pecuniary incentives alone, such as prestige or recognition. Participation is also increased by a solicitation appealing to improving the workplace. However, emphasizing the patient mission of the organization led to countervailing effects on participation. Overall, these results are consistent with workers having multiple underlying motivations to contribute to public goods inside the organization consisting of a combination of pecuniary and altruistic incentives associated with the mission of the organization.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

World of differences

Cut From the Same Cloth: Similarly Dishonest Individuals Across Countries

Heather Mann et al.

Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Norms for dishonest behaviors vary across societies, but whether this variation is related to differences in individuals’ core tendencies toward dishonesty is unknown. We compare individual dishonesty on a novel task across 10 participant samples from five countries varying in corruption and cultural values. In each country, a die-rolling task was administered to students at major public universities and the general public in coffee shops. A separate group of participants in each country predicted that dishonesty would vary across countries and demonstrated a home country dishonesty bias. In contrast to predictions from independent samples, observed dishonesty was limited in magnitude and similar across countries. We found no meaningful relationships between dishonesty on our task and macro-level indicators, including corruption ratings and cultural values. These findings suggest that individuals around the world are similarly dishonest at their core.

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Shared Cultural History as a Predictor of Political and Economic Changes among Nation States

Luke Matthews et al.

PLoS ONE, April 2016

Abstract:
Political and economic risks arise from social phenomena that spread within and across countries. Regime changes, protest movements, and stock market and default shocks can have ramifications across the globe. Quantitative models have made great strides at predicting these events in recent decades but incorporate few explicitly measured cultural variables. However, in recent years cultural evolutionary theory has emerged as a major paradigm to understand the inheritance and diffusion of human cultural variation. Here, we combine these two strands of research by proposing that measures of socio-linguistic affiliation derived from language phylogenies track variation in cultural norms that influence how political and economic changes diffuse across the globe. First, we show that changes over time in a country’s democratic or autocratic character correlate with simultaneous changes among their socio-linguistic affiliations more than with changes of spatially proximate countries. Second, we find that models of changes in sovereign default status favor including socio-linguistic affiliations in addition to spatial data. These findings suggest that better measurement of cultural networks could be profoundly useful to policy makers who wish to diversify commercial, social, and other forms of investment across political and economic risks on an international scale.

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Consequences of ‘tiger’ parenting: A cross-cultural study of maternal psychological control and children's cortisol stress response

Stacey Doan et al.

Developmental Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Parenting strategies involving psychological control are associated with increased adjustment problems in children. However, no research has examined the extent to which culture and psychological control predict children's stress physiology. We examine cultural differences in maternal psychological control and its associations with children's cortisol. Chinese (N = 59) and American (N = 45) mother-child dyads participated in the study. Mothers reported on psychological control. Children's cortisol was collected during a stressor and two indices of Area Under the Curve (AUC) were computed: AUCg which accounts for total output, and AUCi, which captures reactivity. Results indicate that Chinese mothers reported higher levels of psychological control and Chinese children had higher levels of AUCg than their American counterparts. Across both cultures, psychological control was significantly associated with increased cortisol levels as indexed by AUCg. There were no associations for AUCi. Finally, mediation analyses demonstrated that psychological control fully explained cultural differences in children's cortisol stress response as indexed by AUCg.

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The Impact of Culture on Well-Being: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Gábor Hajdu & Tamás Hajdu

Journal of Happiness Studies, June 2016, Pages 1089-1110

Abstract:
This paper examines the effect of culture on subjective well-being. By exploiting the natural experiment of migration we are able to separate the effect of culture (intrinsic cultural disposition, values, beliefs, norms) from other extrinsic institutional, economic and social factors. Using data from five rounds of the European Social Survey we find that holding constant the external environment (living in the same residence country) and controlling for the important socio-demographic attributes, immigrants from countries with high levels of life satisfaction report higher life satisfaction than immigrants from countries with low levels of life satisfaction. The effect of satisfaction in the birth country lasts across generations and is stronger for immigrants who are more attached to the culture of their birth country. Since any observed differences among the immigrants is their cultural background (their birth countries), the results can be interpreted as the effect of culture on life satisfaction. Our results suggest that besides economic and social variables, institutions and personal characteristics, cultural factors play an important role in satisfaction.

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The Biogeographic Origins of Novelty-Seeking Traits

Erkan Gören

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper empirically investigates the evolutionary drivers of between-population variation of the human DRD4 exon III locus, a particular gene associated with the human personality trait of novelty-seeking behavior. Providing a novel compilation of worldwide DRD4 exon III allele frequencies in a large sample of indigenous populations around the world, this study employs population-specific biogeographic indicators to test the hypothesis of natural selection acting on the set of DRD4 exon III allele variants. The estimates suggest that migratory distance from East Africa and various population-specific biogeographic indicators, such as latitude, land suitability for agriculture, pasture land, and terrain ruggedness, contributed significantly to overall between-population DRD4 exon III polymorphism.

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Does Causality Matter More Now? Increase in the Proportion of Causal Language in English Texts

Rumen Iliev & Robert Axelrod

Psychological Science, May 2016, Pages 635-643

Abstract:
The vast majority of the work on culture and cognition has focused on cross-cultural comparisons, largely ignoring the dynamic aspects of culture. In this article, we provide a diachronic analysis of causal cognition over time. We hypothesized that the increased role of education, science, and technology in Western societies should be accompanied by greater attention to causal connections. To test this hypothesis, we compared word frequencies in English texts from different time periods and found an increase in the use of causal language of about 40% over the past two centuries. The observed increase was not attributable to general language effects or to changing semantics of causal words. We also found that there was a consistent difference between the 19th and the 20th centuries, and that the increase happened mainly in the 20th century.

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Nastiness, Morality and Religiosity in 33 nations

Lazar Stankov & Jihyun Lee

Personality and Individual Differences, September 2016, Pages 56–66

Abstract:
This study aimed to identify the main dimensions of social attitudes across 33 countries. Altogether, 20 social attitude scales were administered, mostly to university students (N = 6938). A series of factor analyses showed that three factors exist at the pancultural level: Morality, Nastiness and Religiosity. Furthermore, Morality and Nastiness did not correlate with each other, but Religiosity correlated with both Morality and Nastiness. This suggests that one can be religious and both moral or nasty. Only one factor – Conservatism – emerged at the ecological level (i.e., between-countries analysis). The largest cross-cultural differences were found on the dimension of Religiosity, followed by Nastiness and then by Morality. The clear distinction emerged between South East Asia, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa on one hand, scoring high on all three factors, and Western Europe, Eastern Europe and Anglo regions on the other, scoring low on all three factors.

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Managers’ cultural background and disclosure attributes

Francois Brochet et al.

Harvard Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
We examine how cultural background, inferred from a manager’s ethnicity, affects managers’ communication with investors. Using a sample of earnings conference calls transcripts with 26,430 executives from 42 countries, we find that managers from ethnic groups that have a more individualistic culture (i) use a more optimistic tone, (ii) exhibit greater self-reference, and (iii) make fewer apologies in their disclosure narratives. Managers’ ethnic culture has a lasting effect on their narratives — the effects persist even for executives who are later exposed to different ethnic cultures through work experience. We find that the capital market responds positively to optimistic tone yet does not distinguish between the optimism in tone of managers from different ethnic backgrounds. The findings suggest that managers’ ethnic backgrounds have a significant effect on how they communicate with the capital markets and how the markets respond to the disclosure event.

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Gender bias in nineteenth-century England: Evidence from factory children

Sara Horrell & Deborah Oxley

Economics & Human Biology, September 2016, Pages 47–64

Abstract:
Gender bias against girls in nineteenth-century England has received much interest but establishing its existence has proved difficult. We utilise data on heights of 16,402 children working in northern textile factories in 1837 to examine whether gender bias was evident. Current interpretations argue against any difference. Here our comparisons with modern height standards reveal greater deprivation for girls than for boys. Discrimination is measured in girls’ height-for-age score (HAZ) falling eight standard deviations below boys’ at ages 11, 11.5 and 12 years of age, capturing the very poor performance of factory girls. But this result cannot be taken at face value. We query whether modern standards require adjustment to account for the later timing of puberty in historical populations and develop an alternative. We also test the validity of the age data, considering whether parents were more prone to lie about the ages of their daughters, and question whether the supply of girls was fundamentally different from that of boys. We conclude that neither proposition is justified. Disadvantage to girls remains, although its absence amongst younger children precludes an indictment of culturally-founded gender bias. The height data must remain mute on the source of this discrimination but we utilise additional information to examine some hypotheses: occupational sorting, differential susceptibility to disease, poorer nutrition for girls, disproportionate stunting from the effects of nutritional deprivation, and type and amount of work undertaken. Of these we suggest that girls had to do arduous physical labour in the home alongside their factory work and that girls may possibly have been more likely than boys to be put into factory work below the legal age limit. Both represent forms of gender bias.

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Culture modulates implicit ownership-induced self-bias in memory

Samuel Sparks, Sheila Cunningham & Ada Kritikos

Cognition, August 2016, Pages 89–98

Abstract:
The relation of incoming stimuli to the self implicitly determines the allocation of cognitive resources. Cultural variations in the self-concept shape cognition, but the extent is unclear because the majority of studies sample only Western participants. We report cultural differences (Asian versus Western) in ownership-induced self-bias in recognition memory for objects. In two experiments, participants allocated a series of images depicting household objects to self-owned or other-owned virtual baskets based on colour cues before completing a surprise recognition memory test for the objects. The ‘other’ was either a stranger or a close other. In both experiments, Western participants showed greater recognition memory accuracy for self-owned compared with other-owned objects, consistent with an independent self-construal. In Experiment 1, which required minimal attention to the owned objects, Asian participants showed no such ownership-related bias in recognition accuracy. In Experiment 2, which required attention to owned objects to move them along the screen, Asian participants again showed no overall memory advantage for self-owned items and actually exhibited higher recognition accuracy for mother-owned than self-owned objects, reversing the pattern observed for Westerners. This is consistent with an interdependent self-construal which is sensitive to the particular relationship between the self and other. Overall, our results suggest that the self acts as an organising principle for allocating cognitive resources, but that the way it is constructed depends upon cultural experience. Additionally, the manifestation of these cultural differences in self-representation depends on the allocation of attentional resources to self- and other-associated stimuli.

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Cultural differences in visual object recognition in 3-year-old children

Megumi Kuwabara & Linda Smith

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, July 2016, Pages 22–38

Abstract:
Recent research indicates that culture penetrates fundamental processes of perception and cognition. Here, we provide evidence that these influences begin early and influence how preschool children recognize common objects. The three tasks (N = 128) examined the degree to which nonface object recognition by 3-year-olds was based on individual diagnostic features versus more configural and holistic processing. Task 1 used a 6-alternative forced choice task in which children were asked to find a named category in arrays of masked objects where only three diagnostic features were visible for each object. U.S. children outperformed age-matched Japanese children. Task 2 presented pictures of objects to children piece by piece. U.S. children recognized the objects given fewer pieces than Japanese children, and the likelihood of recognition increased for U.S. children, but not Japanese children, when the piece added was rated by both U.S. and Japanese adults as highly defining. Task 3 used a standard measure of configural progressing, asking the degree to which recognition of matching pictures was disrupted by the rotation of one picture. Japanese children’s recognition was more disrupted by inversion than was that of U.S. children, indicating more configural processing by Japanese than U.S. children. The pattern suggests early cross-cultural differences in visual processing; findings that raise important questions about how visual experiences differ across cultures and about universal patterns of cognitive development.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, May 16, 2016

Long or short

Short Interest and Aggregate Stock Returns

David Rapach, Matthew Ringgenberg & Guofu Zhou

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We show that short interest is arguably the strongest known predictor of aggregate stock returns. It outperforms a host of popular return predictors both in and out of sample, with annual R2 statistics of 12.89% and 13.24%, respectively. In addition, short interest can generate utility gains of over 300 basis points per annum for a mean-variance investor. A vector autoregression decomposition shows that the economic source of short interest’s predictive power stems predominantly from a cash flow channel. Overall, our evidence indicates that short sellers are informed traders who are able to anticipate future aggregate cash flows and associated market returns.

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The Wisdom of Twitter Crowds: Predicting Stock Market Reactions to FOMC Meetings via Twitter Feeds

Pablo Azar & Andrew Lo

MIT Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
With the rise of social media, investors have a new tool to measure sentiment in real time. However, the nature of these sources of data raises serious questions about its quality. Since anyone on social media can participate in a conversation about markets -- whether they are informed or not -- it is possible that this data may have very little information about future asset prices. In this paper, we show that this is not the case by analyzing a recurring event that has a high impact on asset prices: Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings. We exploit a new dataset of tweets referencing the Federal Reserve and shows that the content of tweets can be used to predict future returns, even after controlling for common asset pricing factors. To gauge the economic magnitude of these predictions, the authors construct a simple hypothetical trading strategy based on this data. They find that a tweet-based asset-allocation strategy outperforms several benchmarks, including a strategy that buys and holds a market index as well as a comparable dynamic asset allocation strategy that does not use Twitter information.

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The Customer Knows Best: The Investment Value of Consumer Opinions

Jiekun Huang

University of Illinois Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
This paper investigates the investment value of consumer opinions. Using a dataset of over 5.9 million customer product reviews on Amazon.com from 2004 through 2015, I find evidence that consumer opinions contain information for stock pricing. A spread portfolio that buys stocks in the top tercile of abnormal customer ratings and sells stocks in the bottom tercile delivers an abnormal return of about 72-80 basis points per month. There is no evidence of return reversals in the subsequent year. I also find that abnormal customer ratings positively predict revenues and earnings surprises. Furthermore, there is evidence suggesting that hedge funds exploit information contained in customer reviews. These results suggest that consumer opinions contain novel information about firms' fundamentals and stock pricing.

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The Realization Effect: Risk-Taking After Realized Versus Paper Losses

Alex Imas

American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Understanding how prior outcomes affect risk attitudes is critical for the study of choice under uncertainty. A large literature documents the significant influence of prior losses on risk attitudes. The findings appear contradictory: some studies find greater risk-taking after a loss, whereas others show the opposite – that people take on less risk. I reconcile these seemingly inconsistent findings by distinguishing between realized versus paper losses. Using new and existing data, I replicate prior findings and demonstrate that following a realized loss, individuals avoid risk; if the same loss is not realized, a paper loss, individuals take on greater risk.

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Local Ownership, Crises, and Asset Prices: Evidence from US Mutual Funds

Mariassunta Giannetti & Luc Laeven

Review of Finance, May 2016, Pages 947-978

Abstract:
We exploit the domestic portfolios of US mutual funds to provide microeconomic evidence that investors are more likely to liquidate geographically remote investments at times of high aggregate market volatility. This has important implications for asset prices. The valuations of stocks with ex ante less local ownership decline more when aggregate market volatility is high. Furthermore, the returns of stocks with geographically distant owners are more exposed to changes in aggregate market volatility.

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The Value of Crowdsourced Earnings Forecasts

Russell Jame et al.

Journal of Accounting Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Crowdsourcing — when a task normally performed by employees is outsourced to a large network of people via an open call — is making inroads into the investment research industry. We shed light on this new phenomenon by examining the value of crowdsourced earnings forecasts. Our sample includes 51,012 forecasts provided by Estimize, an open platform that solicits and reports forecasts from over 3,000 contributors. We find that Estimize forecasts are incrementally useful in forecasting earnings and measuring the market's expectations of earnings. Our results are stronger when the number of Estimize contributors is larger, consistent with the benefits of crowdsourcing increasing with the size of the crowd. Finally, Estimize consensus revisions generate significant two-day size-adjusted returns. The combined evidence suggests that crowdsourced forecasts are a useful supplementary source of information in capital markets.

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Further evidence on the strategic timing of earnings news: Joint analysis of weekdays and times of day

Roni Michaely, Amir Rubin & Alexander Vedrashko

Journal of Accounting and Economics, August 2016, Pages 24–45

Abstract:
Using combinations of weekdays and times of day (before, during, and after trading hours) of earnings announcements, we examine whether managers attempt to strategically time these announcements. We document that the worst earnings news is announced on Friday evening and find robust evidence that only Friday evening announcements represent managers’ rational opportunistic behavior. Friday evening announcements are followed by insider trading in the direction of earnings news and the largest post-earnings announcement drift. Managers also attempt to reduce interaction with investors and hide more than just earnings news by announcing on Friday evening. We find that Friday evening announcements occur later in the evening than announcements on other evenings, firms have a reduced propensity to hold conference calls, and major firm restructuring events are relatively more likely to occur after Friday evening announcements.

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It Pays to Set the Menu: Mutual Fund Investment Options in 401(k) Plans

Veronika Pool, Clemens Sialm & Irina Stefanescu

Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates whether mutual fund families acting as service providers in 401(k) plans display favoritism toward their own affiliated funds. Using a hand-collected data set on the menu of investment options offered to plan participants, we show that fund deletions and additions are less sensitive to prior performance for affiliated than unaffiliated funds. We find no evidence that plan participants undo this affiliation bias through their investment choices. Finally, we find that the subsequent performance of poorly performing affiliated funds indicates that this favoritism is not information driven.

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Rating friends: The effect of personal connections on credit ratings

Seyed Hossein Khatami, Maria-Teresa Marchica & Roberto Mura

Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a large sample of US public debt issues we show that personal connections between directors of issuing companies and rating agencies result in higher credit ratings. We estimate the average effect to be about one notch. Moreover, our tests indicate that issues by connected firms are 30% more likely to be rated A3. Results are robust to several alternative tests including additional controls for managerial traits, firm fixed effects, and propensity score matching. Furthermore, our tests on default rates and bond yields suggest that personal connections act as a mechanism to reduce asymmetric information between the rating agency and the issuer.

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Do Earnings Estimates Add Value to Sell-Side Analysts’ Investment Recommendations?

Ambrus Kecskés, Roni Michaely & Kent Womack

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Sell-side analysts change their stock recommendations when their valuations differ from the market’s. These valuation differences can arise from either differences in earnings estimates or the nonearnings components of valuation methodologies. We find that recommendation changes motivated by earnings estimate revisions have a greater initial price reaction than the same recommendation changes without earnings estimate revisions: about +1.3% (−2.8%) greater for upgrades (downgrades). Nevertheless, the postrecommendation drift is also greater, suggesting that investors underreact to earnings-based recommendation changes. Implemented as a trading strategy, earnings-based recommendation changes earn risk-adjusted returns of 3% per month, considerably more than non-earnings-based recommendation changes. Evidence from variation in firms’ information environment and analysts’ regulatory environment suggests that recommendation changes with earnings estimate revisions are less affected by analysts’ cognitive and incentive biases.

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Pseudo-Precision? Precise Forecasts and Impression Management in Managerial Earnings Forecasts

Mathew Hayward & Markus Fitza

Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine earnings guidance precision as a mechanism of organization impression management (OIM) and, specifically, suggest that strategic leaders use very precise earnings forecasts as an OIM tactic to convey a greater sense of authority and control over organizational performance after material organizational setbacks. Contributing to the OIM literature, we argue that the use of more precise judgment makes use of different physiological mechanisms than kinds of OIM that have been previously studied. Results presented here suggest that a) OIM is an important motivation for more precise earnings forecasts b) precision as an OIM tactic is more likely to arise when managers convey impressions of brighter performance prospects and c) investors generally respond favorably to the tactic.

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Social Media, News Media and the Stock Market

Peiran Jiao, Andre Veiga & Ansgar Walther

University of Oxford Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
We contrast the impact of traditional news media and social media coverage on stock market volatility and trading volume. We develop a theoretical model of asset pricing and information processing, which allows for both rational traders and a variety of commonly studied behavioural biases. The model yields several novel and testable predictions about the impact of news and social media on asset prices. We then test the model’s theoretical predictions using a unique dataset which measures coverage of individual stocks in social and news media using a broad spectrum of print and online sources. Stocks with high social media coverage in one month experience high idiosyncratic volatility of returns and trading volume in the following month. Conversely, stocks with high news media coverage experience low volatility and low trading volume in the following month. These effects are statistically and economically significant and robust to controlling for stock and time fixed effects, as well as time-varying stock characteristics. The empirical evidence on news media is consistent with a market in which some traders are overconfident when interpreting new information. The evidence on social media is consistent with Tetlock’s (2011) “stale news” hypothesis (investors treat repeated information on social networks as though it were new) and with a model where investors’ perceptions are subject to random sentiment shocks.

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It Hurts (Stock Prices) When Your Team is about to Lose a Soccer Match

Michael Ehrmann & David-Jan Jansen

Review of Finance, May 2016, Pages 1215-1233

Abstract:
The end result of major sporting events has been shown to affect next day stock returns through shifts in investor mood. By studying intraday data during the soccer matches that led to the elimination of France and Italy from the 2010 FIFA World Cup, we test whether mood-related pricing effects already materialize as events unfold. We use data for a cross-listed firm, which allows for a straightforward identification of underpricing. During the matches, the firm’s stock is underpriced by up to 7 basis points in the country that eventually loses. The probability of underpricing increases as elimination becomes more likely.

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Gambling and Comovement

Alok Kumar, Jeremy Page & Oliver Spalt

Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, February 2016, Pages 85-111

Abstract:
This study shows that correlated trading by gambling-motivated investors generates excess return comovement among stocks with lottery features. Lottery-like stocks comove strongly with one another, and this return comovement is strongest among lottery stocks located in regions where investors exhibit stronger gambling propensity. Looking directly at investor trades, we find that investors with a greater propensity to gamble trade lottery-like stocks more actively and that those trades are more strongly correlated. Finally, we demonstrate that time variation in general gambling enthusiasm and income shocks from fluctuating economic conditions induce a systematic component in investors’ demand for lottery-like stocks.

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Trading Skill: Evidence from Trades of Corporate Insiders in Their Personal Portfolios

Itzhak Ben-David, Justin Birru & Andrea Rossi

NBER Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
We study trading patterns of corporate insiders in their own personal portfolios. To do so, we identify accounts of corporate insiders in a large dataset provided by a retail discount broker. We show that insiders overweight firms from their own industry. Furthermore, insiders earn substantial abnormal returns only on stocks from their industry, especially obscure stocks (small, low analyst coverage, high volatility). In a battery of tests, we find no evidence that corporate insiders use private information and conclude that insiders have an informational advantage in trading stocks from their own industry over outsiders to the industry.

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Is There a “Boom Bias” in Agency Ratings?

Mark Dilly & Thomas Mählmann

Review of Finance, May 2016, Pages 979-1011

Abstract:
Theory predicts rating agencies’ incentive conflicts to be stronger in boom periods, leading to biased ratings and a reduced level of rating quality. We investigate this prediction empirically based on three different approaches. First, we show that initial ratings disagree with bond spread levels during boom periods in the way that rating agencies hold a systematically more optimistic view. Second, we reveal that boom bond ratings tend to be more heavily downgraded from an ex post perspective; and, third, we demonstrate that boom ratings are inflated compared with “conflicts-free” benchmark ratings. In several robustness tests we show that the observed “boom bias” does not result from changes in credit-worthiness, adjustments in rating standards, competitive pressure, or market supply, but rather from rating agencies’ incentive conflicts.

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Political Conflict and Foreign Portfolio Investment: Evidence from North Korean Attacks

Jeffrey Gerlach & Youngsuk Yook

Federal Reserve Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
We examine the response of foreign (i.e., non-South Korean) investors to escalating political conflict and its impact on the South Korean stock market surrounding 13 North Korean military attacks between 1999 and 2010. Using domestic (i.e., South Korean) institutions and individuals as benchmarks, we evaluate the trading behavior and performance of foreign investors. Following attacks, foreigners increase their holdings of Korean stocks and buy more shares of risky stocks. Performance results show foreigners maintain their pre-attack level of performance while domestic individuals, who make the overwhelming majority of domestic trades, perform worse. In addition, domestic institutions improve their performance. Overall, the results are consistent with the predictions based on the benefits of international diversification. Unlike domestic individuals, foreigners trade more shares than usual and deviate from their general strategy of positive feedback trading.

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The Capital Market Consequences of Language Barriers in the Conference Calls of Non-U.S. Firms

Francois Brochet, Patricia Naranjo & Gwen Yu

Accounting Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine how language barriers affect the capital market reaction to information disclosures. Using transcripts from non-U.S. firms' English-language conference calls, we find that the calls of firms in countries with greater language barriers are more likely to contain non-plain English and erroneous expressions. For non-U.S. firms that hire an English-speaking manager, we find less use of non-plain English and fewer erroneous expressions. Calls with a greater use of non-plain English and more erroneous expressions show lower intraday price movement and trading volume. The capital market responses to non-plain English and erroneous expressions are more negative when the firm is located in a non-English-speaking country and has more English-speaking analysts participating in the call. Our results highlight that, when disclosure happens verbally, language barriers between speakers and listeners affect its transparency, which in turn impacts the market's reaction.

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Why Don't We Agree? Evidence from a Social Network of Investors

Anthony Cookson & Marina Niessner

Yale Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
We develop a new measure of disagreement based on the sentiment expressed by investors on a social network investing platform. Changes in our measure of disagreement robustly forecast abnormal trading volume, even though it is unlikely that investor trades from those on the investing platform move the market. Using information on the investment philosophies of the investors (e.g., technical, fundamental, short term, long term), we test existing theories that suggest that differing investment philosophies are an important source of disagreement. Although we also find significant scope for disagreement among investors with the same investment philosophy, our findings suggest that investment approaches matter fundamentally to disagreement. Therefore, even with perfectly informationally efficient markets, investor disagreement, and thus high trading volume and volatility, would likely persist.

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Why Do Traders Choose Dark Markets?

Ryan Garvey, Tao Huang & Fei Wu

Journal of Banking & Finance, July 2016, Pages 12–28

Abstract:
We examine U.S. equity trader use of dark and lit markets. Marketable orders executed in the dark have lower information content and smaller fill rates. Dark orders take longer to execute, but they execute at more favorable prices. Traders are more likely to go dark when the bid-ask spread is wider and those with higher dark participation are more sophisticated. Although market regulators have expressed concern over the rise in dark trading, our results indicate that dark markets provide important benefits to traders that lit markets do not.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Heartwarming

Whole-Body Hyperthermia for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Clemens Janssen et al.

JAMA Psychiatry, forthcoming

Design, Setting, and Participants: A 6-week, randomized, double-blind study conducted between February 2013 and May 2015 at a university-based medical center comparing WBH with a sham condition. All research staff conducting screening and outcome procedures were blinded to randomization status. Of 338 individuals screened, 34 were randomized, 30 received a study intervention, and 29 provided at least 1 postintervention assessment and were included in a modified intent-to-treat efficacy analysis. Participants were medically healthy, aged 18 to 65 years, met criteria for major depressive disorder, were free of psychotropic medication use, and had a baseline 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale score of 16 or greater.

Interventions: A single session of active WBH vs a sham condition matched for length of WBH that mimicked all aspects of WBH except intense heat.

Results: The mean (SD) age was 36.7 (15.2) years in the WBH group and 41.47 (12.54) years in the sham group. Immediately following the intervention, 10 participants (71.4%) randomized to sham treatment believed they had received WBH compared with 15 (93.8%) randomized to WBH. When compared with the sham group, the active WBH group showed significantly reduced Hamilton Depression Rating Scale scores across the 6-week postintervention study period (WBH vs sham; week 1: −6.53, 95% CI, −9.90 to −3.16, P < .001; week 2: −6.35, 95% CI, −9.95 to −2.74, P = .001; week 4: −4.50, 95% CI, −8.17 to −0.84, P = .02; and week 6: −4.27, 95% CI, −7.94 to −0.61, P = .02). These outcomes remained significant after evaluating potential moderating effects of between-group differences in baseline expectancy scores. Adverse events in both groups were generally mild.

Conclusions and Relevance: Whole-body hyperthermia holds promise as a safe, rapid-acting, antidepressant modality with a prolonged therapeutic benefit.

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Antidepressants and Age: A New Form of Evidence for U-shaped Well-being Through Life

David Blanchflower & Andrew Oswald

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, July 2016, Pages 46–58

Abstract:
A growing literature argues that mental well-being follows an approximate U-shape through life. Yet in the eyes of some scholars this evidence remains controversial. The reason is that it relies on people’s answers to ‘happiness’ surveys. The present paper explores a different approach. It examines modern data on the use of antidepressant pills (as an implicit signal of mental distress) in 27 European nations. The regression-adjusted probability of using antidepressants reaches a peak in people’s late 40s. This pattern – one that does not rely on well-being survey answers – is thus consistent with the claim that human beings experience a midlife low.

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Walking Facilitates Positive Affect (Even When Expecting the Opposite)

Jeffrey Conrath Miller & Zlatan Krizan

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Across 3 experiments, we rely on theoretical advancements that connect movement, embodiment, and reward-seeking behavior to test the proposal that walking incidental to routine activity (heretofore referred to as “incidental ambulation”) — not specifically “exercise” — is a robust facilitator of positive affect. Experiment 1 reveals that ambulation facilitates positive affect even when participants are blind to the purpose of this activity. Experiment 2 further demonstrates the robustness of this effect of incidental ambulation by documenting its operation under conditions of low interest, as well as its power to override expectations of mood worsening. Experiment 3 replicates the main finding while eliminating the possibility that posture, ambient events, or experimenter bias account for the results. Taken together, the experiments demonstrate that incidental ambulation systematically promotes positive affect regardless of the focus on such movement, and that it can override the effects of other emotionally relevant events such as boredom and dread. The findings hold key implications for understanding the role of movement in shaping affect as well as for clarifying the embodied nature of emotion.

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Family Ruptures, Stress, and the Mental Health of the Next Generation

Petra Persson & Maya Rossin-Slater

NBER Working Paper, May 2016

Abstract:
This paper studies how in utero exposure to maternal stress from family ruptures affects later mental health. We find that prenatal exposure to the death of a maternal relative increases take-up of ADHD medications during childhood and anti-anxiety and depression medications in adulthood. Further, family ruptures during pregnancy depress birth outcomes and raise the risk of perinatal complications necessitating hospitalization. Our results suggest large welfare gains from preventing fetal stress from family ruptures and possibly from economically induced stressors such as unemployment. They further suggest that greater stress exposure among the poor may partially explain the intergenerational persistence of poverty.

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Social Support and Mental Health Outcomes Among U.S. Army Special Operations Personnel

Dale Russell et al.

Military Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Mental health disorders continue to plague service members and veterans; thus, new approaches are required to help address such outcomes. The identification of risk and resilience factors for these disorders in specific populations can better inform both treatment and prevention strategies. This study focuses on a unique population of U.S. Army Special Operations personnel to assess how specific avenues of social support and personal morale are related to mental health outcomes. The results indicate that, whereas personal morale and friend support reduce the relationship between combat experiences and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), strong unit support exacerbates the negative effects of combat experiences in relation to PTSD. The study thus shows that although informal social support can lessen postdeployment mental health concerns, military populations with strong internal bonds may be at greater risk of PTSD because the support that they receive from fellow service members may heighten the traumatic impact of combat experiences.

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Cortisol alters reward processing in the human brain

Valerie Kinner, Oliver Wolf & Christian Merz

Hormones and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Dysfunctional reward processing is known to play a central role for the development of psychiatric disorders. Glucocorticoids that are secreted in response to stress have been shown to attenuate reward sensitivity and thereby might promote the onset of psychopathology. However, the underlying neurobiological mechanisms mediating stress hormone effects on reward processing as well as potential sex differences remain elusive. In this neuroimaging study, we administered 30mg cortisol or a placebo to 30 men and 30 women and subsequently tested them in the Monetary Incentive Delay Task. Cortisol attenuated anticipatory neural responses to a verbal and a monetary reward in the left pallidum and the right anterior parahippocampal gyrus. Furthermore, in men, activation in the amygdala, the precuneus, the anterior cingulate, and in hippocampal regions was reduced under cortisol, whereas in cortisol-treated women a signal increase was observed in these regions. Behavioral performance also indicated that reward learning in men is impaired under high cortisol concentrations, while it is augmented in women. These findings illustrate that the stress hormone cortisol substantially diminishes reward anticipation and provide first evidence that cortisol effects on the neural reward system are sensitive to sex differences, which might translate into different vulnerabilities for psychiatric disorders.

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Specific and Individuated Death Reflection Fosters Identity Integration

Laura Blackie, Philip Cozzolino & Constantine Sedikides

PLoS ONE, May 2016

Abstract:
Identity integration is the process wherein a person assimilates multiple or conflicting identities (e.g., beliefs, values, needs) into a coherent, unified self-concept. Three experiments examined whether contemplating mortality in a specific and individuated manner (i.e., via the death reflection manipulation) facilitated outcomes indicative of identity integration. Participants in the death reflection condition (vs. control conditions) considered positive and negative life experiences as equally important in shaping their current identity (Experiment 1), regarded self-serving values and other-serving values as equally important life principles (Experiment 2), and were equally motivated to pursue growth-oriented and security-oriented needs (Experiment 3). Death reflection motivates individuals to integrate conflicting aspects of their identity into a coherent self-concept. Given that identity integration is associated with higher well-being, the findings have implications for understanding the psychological benefits of existential contemplation.

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Beauty in Mind: The Effects of Physical Attractiveness on Psychological Well-Being and Distress

Nabanita Datta Gupta, Nancy Etcoff & Mads Jaeger

Journal of Happiness Studies, June 2016, Pages 1313-1325

Abstract:
Attractive people enjoy many social and economic advantages. Most studies find effects of attractiveness on happiness or life satisfaction, but based on traditional cross-sectional approaches. We use a large longitudinal survey consisting of a sample of male and female high school graduates from Wisconsin followed from their late teens to their mid-1960s. The panel construction of the data and the fact that interviews of the siblings of the respondents are available allow us to analyze the effects of physical appearance on psychological well-being (human flourishing) and ill-being (distress and depression) conditioning on unobserved individual heterogeneity via random effects. We find a significant positive relationship between measures of physical attractiveness (greater facial attractiveness at high school, and lower BMI and greater height in middle age) and a measure of psychological well-being, and a significant negative relationship between measures of physical attractiveness and distress/depression. These effects are slightly smaller when we adjust for demographics and mental ability but, with the exception of height, remain significant. Our results suggest that attractiveness impacts psychological well-being and depression directly as well as through its effects on other life outcomes.

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The effects of the Make a Wish intervention on psychiatric symptoms and health-related quality of life of children with cancer: A randomised controlled trial

Anat Shoshani, Keren Mifano & Johanna Czamanski-Cohen

Quality of Life Research, May 2016, Pages 1209-1218

Methods: The design was a wait-list-controlled trial with two parallel groups. Sixty-six children aged 5–12 with an initial diagnosis of life-threatening cancer were identified and randomly assigned to the Make a Wish intervention (n = 32) or a wait-list control group (n = 34). Children completed measures of psychiatric and health-related symptoms, positive and negative affect, hope, and optimism pre-intervention and post-intervention. After baseline data collection, children were interviewed and made an authentic wish that they wanted to come true. These wishes were made possible 5–6 months after baseline data collection, to fuel anticipation and excitement over the wish-fulfillment event. The post-intervention assessment point was 5 weeks after wish fulfillment (approximately 7 months after baseline data collection).

Results: Children in the intervention group exhibited a significant reduction in general distress (d = 0.54), depression (d = 0.70), and anxiety symptoms (d = 0.41), improved health-related quality of life (d = 0.59), hope (d = 0.71), and positive affect (d = 0.80) compared to decrease in positive affect and no significant changes in the other measures in the control group.

Conclusions: These findings emphasize the role of hope and positive emotions in fostering the well-being of children who suffer from serious illnesses.

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Heart Rate Variability and Suicidal Behavior

Scott Wilson et al.

Psychiatry Research, 30 June 2016, Pages 241–247

Abstract:
Identification of biological indicators of suicide risk is important given advantages of biomarker-based models. Decreased high frequency heart rate variability (HF HRV) may be a biomarker of suicide risk. The aim of this research was to determine whether HF HRV differs between suicide attempters and non-attempters. Using the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), we compared HF HRV between females with and without a history of suicide attempt, all with a lifetime diagnosis of a mood disorder. To investigate a potential mechanism explaining association between HF HRV and suicide, we examined the association between self-reported anger and HF HRV. Results of an Area under the Curve (AUC) analysis showed attempters had a lower cumulative HF HRV during the TSST than non-attempters. In addition, while there was no difference in self-reported anger at baseline, the increase in anger was greater in attempters, and negatively associated with HF HRV. Results suggest that suicide attempters have a reduced capacity to regulate their response to stress, and that reduced capacity to regulate anger may be a mechanism through decreased HR HRV can lead to an increase in suicide risk. Our results have implications for the prevention of suicidal behavior in at-risk populations.

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Do Unto Others or Treat Yourself? The Effects of Prosocial and Self-Focused Behavior on Psychological Flourishing

Katherine Nelson et al.

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
When it comes to the pursuit of happiness, popular culture encourages a focus on oneself. By contrast, substantial evidence suggests that what consistently makes people happy is focusing prosocially on others. In the current study, we contrasted the mood- and well-being-boosting effects of prosocial behavior (i.e., doing acts of kindness for others or for the world) and self-oriented behavior (i.e., doing acts of kindness for oneself) in a 6-week longitudinal experiment. Across a diverse sample of participants (N = 473), we found that the 2 types of prosocial behavior led to greater increases in psychological flourishing than did self-focused and neutral behavior. In addition, we provide evidence for mechanisms explaining the relative improvements in flourishing among those prompted to do acts of kindness — namely, increases in positive emotions and decreases in negative emotions. Those assigned to engage in self-focused behavior did not report improved psychological flourishing, positive emotions, or negative emotions relative to controls. The results of this study contribute to a growing literature supporting the benefits of prosocial behavior and challenge the popular perception that focusing on oneself is an optimal strategy to boost one’s mood. People striving for happiness may be tempted to treat themselves. Our results, however, suggest that they may be more successful if they opt to treat someone else instead.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Do your best

The Green Eggs and Ham Hypothesis: How Constraints Facilitate Creativity

Catrinel Haught-Tromp

Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, forthcoming

Abstract:
Two experiments tested the hypothesis that constraints imposed on a common writing task yield more creative outputs. In the 1st study, participants were asked to include a given noun in a 2-line rhyme for a special occasion. In the 2nd study, they generated their own nouns, which they then had to include in their rhymes. Both studies show a main effect of constraints on creativity and an interaction with order of presentation, which suggests a carryover effect: Mere practice with constraints can stimulate creativity. The Green Eggs and Ham model is put forth to explain the current findings and why Dr. Seuss's best-seller, written using only 50 words, was such a creative and commercial success.

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Keep in touch: The effects of imagined touch support on stress and exploration

Brittany Jakubiak & Brooke Feeney

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although social support buffers stress and helps individuals to embrace challenges (exploration), individuals often experience stressors when close others are not proximally available to provide support. The current research tested whether imagining supportive touch from a romantic partner promotes exploration and buffers stress better than imagining verbal support or control imagination tasks. Participants completed a 5-min imagined support manipulation prior to experiencing a physical stressor, the cold pressor pain task (Exp. 1) or social/performance stressors, the Trier Social Stress task (Exp. 2). In Experiment 1, participants who imagined touch support experienced pain-buffering benefits compared to participants who imagined verbal support, and women who imagined touch support were more likely than women in other conditions to accept the challenge of a more difficult cold pressor task. In Experiment 2, participants who imagined touch support were more buffered from the stress of the socially-evaluative tasks and viewed these tasks with more enthusiasm than participants in all other imagination conditions. Potential mechanisms and implications are discussed.

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Do People Anticipate Loss Aversion?

Alex Imas, Sally Sadoff & Anya Samek

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
There is growing interest in the use of loss contracts that offer performance incentives as up-front payments that employees can lose. Standard behavioral models predict a trade-off in the use of loss contracts: employees will work harder under loss contracts than under gain contracts, but, anticipating loss aversion, they will prefer gain contracts to loss contracts. In a series of experiments, we test these predictions by measuring performance and preferences for payoff-equivalent gain and loss contracts. We find that people indeed work harder under loss than gain contracts, as the theory predicts. Surprisingly, rather than a preference for the gain contract, we find that people actually prefer loss contracts. In exploring mechanisms for our results, we find suggestive evidence that people do anticipate loss aversion but select into loss contracts as a commitment device to improve performance, using one bias, loss aversion, to address another, dynamic inconsistency.

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Thinking Cap Plus Thinking Zap: tDCS of Frontopolar Cortex Improves Creative Analogical Reasoning and Facilitates Conscious Augmentation of State Creativity in Verb Generation

Adam Green et al.

Cerebral Cortex, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent neuroimaging evidence indicates neural mechanisms that support transient improvements in creative performance (augmented state creativity) in response to cognitive interventions (creativity cueing). Separately, neural interventions via tDCS show encouraging potential for modulating neuronal function during creative performance. If cognitive and neural interventions are separately effective, can they be combined? Does state creativity augmentation represent "real" creativity, or do interventions simply yield divergence by diminishing meaningfulness/appropriateness? Can augmenting state creativity bolster creative reasoning that supports innovation, particularly analogical reasoning? To address these questions, we combined tDCS with creativity cueing. Testing a regionally specific hypothesis from neuroimaging, high-definition tDCS-targeted frontopolar cortex activity recently shown to predict state creativity augmentation. In a novel analogy finding task, participants under tDCS formulated substantially more creative analogical connections in a large matrix search space (creativity indexed via latent semantic analysis). Critically, increased analogical creativity was not due to diminished accuracy in discerning valid analogies, indicating "real" creativity rather than inappropriate divergence. A simpler relational creativity paradigm (modified verb generation) revealed a tDCS-by-cue interaction; tDCS further enhanced creativity cue-related increases in semantic distance. Findings point to the potential of noninvasive neuromodulation to enhance creative relational cognition, including augmentation of the deliberate effort to formulate connections between distant concepts.

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When Red Means Go: Non-Normative Effects of Red Under Sensation-Seeking

Ravi Mehta et al.

Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although previous research has identified red as the color of compliance, the current work proposes that this effect of red may not hold under high sensation-seeking propensity conditions. It is argued that the color red has the capability to induce arousal, which in turn has been shown to enhance a person's default tendencies. Further, because high sensation-seekers have a higher tendency to react, the exposure to the color red for these individuals will increase reactance and thereby non-compliant behavior. One field study and two lab experiments provide support for this theorizing. The first experiment, a field study, examines prank-chatting incidences at a child helpline and shows a positive effect of red on such non-compliant behavior. Experiment 2 confirms this finding in a controlled lab setting and shows that when one has a high sensation-seeking propensity, the color red positively affects one's attitude towards non-compliance. The final study illuminates the underlying process and explicates the role of arousal and reactance in the color - non-compliance relationship. Both theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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Disentangling Sunk-Costs and Completion Proximity: The Role of Regulatory Focus

Adam Barsky & Michael Zyphur

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why do some people escalate commitment to a project that is unlikely to succeed? Existing research shows that people tend to escalate when prior expenditures (e.g., sunk costs) are high, whereas other research suggests that people tend to escalate when a project nears completion, regardless of prior expenditures. In this paper, we argue decision-makers have diverse goals driven by regulatory foci that represent alternative motivations for escalation. Specifically, people who regulate their behavior towards achieving gains (i.e., a promotion focus) are influenced more strongly by proximity to project completion than those who focus on the presence or absence of losses (i.e., a prevention focus). Across empirical studies using different operationalizations of regulatory focus, we show that increased promotion focus, but not prevention focus, exacerbates escalation behavior as a project nears completion. Our findings highlight the importance of accounting for individual motivations when designing interventions to curb escalation behavior.

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When the Frame Fits the Social Picture: The Effects of Framed Social Norm Messages on Healthy and Unhealthy Food Consumption

Saar Mollen et al.

Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigated the influence of framed norm messages about food consumption on motivation to consume, and actual consumption of, healthy and unhealthy foods. We proposed that the effects of positive and negative message frames would vary by the type of underlying norms (i.e., injunctive, descriptive). More specifically, based on information processing theories, it was expected that injunctive norms would be more effective when framed negatively compared with positively, while the opposite was expected for descriptive norms. In both experiments, participants were randomly assigned to one of four framed social norm conditions or a no-norm control condition. In Experiment 1, motivation to consume healthy and unhealthy foods was assessed by means of both indirect and self-report measures. In Experiment 2, actual food consumption was assessed. In both experiments, the predicted interaction was found. Results show that injunctive norms benefit from a negative (vs. positive) frame, while preliminary evidence suggests the opposite for descriptive norms.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, May 13, 2016

Party line

Delayed Gratification: Party Competition for White House Control in the U.S. House of Representatives

Travis Baker

Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Americans expect the president to lead Congress, but Congress's partisan divide typically widens on presidential priorities. More often, presidents are reduced to leading their copartisans rather than Congress as a whole, but why? In this paper, I argue that competition for White House control creates incentives for parties to disagree on presidents' policy agendas, regardless of the contents of those agendas. I use an original data set of members' roll-call vote decisions on presidents' agendas between 1971 and 2010 to show that partisan polarization is larger on presidents' priorities and largest on their top priorities, above and beyond what we would expect from members' ideologies and standard party effects. These findings persist over time and under a wide range of alternative model specifications, bringing us closer to understanding the partisan conflict so prevalent in today's politics.

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Misperceiving Bullshit as Profound Is Associated with Favorable Views of Cruz, Rubio, Trump and Conservatism

Stefan Pfattheicher & Simon Schindler

PLoS ONE, April 2016

Abstract:
The present research investigates the associations between holding favorable views of potential Democratic or Republican candidates for the US presidency 2016 and seeing profoundness in bullshit statements. In this contribution, bullshit is used as a technical term which is defined as communicative expression that lacks content, logic, or truth from the perspective of natural science. We used the Bullshit Receptivity scale (BSR) to measure seeing profoundness in bullshit statements. The BSR scale contains statements that have a correct syntactic structure and seem to be sound and meaningful on first reading but are actually vacuous. Participants (N = 196; obtained via Amazon Mechanical Turk) rated the profoundness of bullshit statements (using the BSR) and provided favorability ratings of three Democratic (Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, and Bernie Sanders) and three Republican candidates for US president (Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump). Participants also completed a measure of political liberalism/conservatism. Results revealed that favorable views of all three Republican candidates were positively related to judging bullshit statements as profound. The smallest correlation was found for Donald Trump. Although we observe a positive association between bullshit and support for the three Democrat candidates, this relationship is both substantively small and statistically insignificant. The general measure of political liberalism/conservatism was also related to judging bullshit statements as profound in that individuals who were more politically conservative had a higher tendency to see profoundness in bullshit statements. Of note, these results were not due to a general tendency among conservatives to see profoundness in everything: Favorable views of Republican candidates and conservatism were not significantly related to profoundness ratings of mundane statements. In contrast, this was the case for Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley. Overall, small-to-medium sized correlations were found, indicating that far from all conservatives see profoundness in bullshit statements.

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Where's the Tea Party? An Examination of the Tea Party's Voting Behavior in the House of Representatives

Jordan Ragusa & Anthony Gaspar

Political Research Quarterly, June 2016, Pages 361-372

Abstract:
Does the Tea Party affect how lawmakers vote? Given the possible spurious effect of a representative's ideology, we leverage natural variation in the Tea Party's existence and examine this question through the lens of party switching. Like when lawmakers change parties, representatives who (1) joined Tea Party Caucus and (2) had a large volume of Tea Party activists in their district underwent a significant shift to the right in the 112th Congress. We believe these findings support both legislative-centered and extended network theorists. An additional analysis reveals that, unlike Democrats and non-Tea Party aligned Republicans who also shifted to the extremes in the 112th Congress, Tea Party Republicans did not "bounce back" in the 113th Congress. Lastly, we find no equivalent rightward shift in comparable conservative caucuses or among Republicans with similar ideologies and districts. In the end, although the Tea Party is not a "party" in the classic sense of the word, we claim that it is having "party like" effects in Congress. In the conclusion section, we discuss the implications of these results for the stability of the current two-party system. Given our findings, a major realignment or split within the Republican Party would not be surprising.

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Partisan underestimation of the polarizing influence of group discussion

Jessica Keating, Leaf Van Boven & Charles Judd

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, July 2016, Pages 52-58

Abstract:
Group polarization occurs when people's attitudes become more extreme following discussion with like-minded others. We hypothesized that people underestimate how much a relatively brief group discussion polarizes their own attitudes. People often perceive their own attitudes as unbiased and stable over time. Therefore, people's polarized postdiscussion attitudes may cause them to misremember their pre-discussion attitudes as having been more extreme than they were. In two experiments, participants engaged in 15-minute discussions with 4-6 like-minded others regarding two political topics: whether Barack Obama or George W. Bush was the better president (Experiment 1) and whether they supported Barack Obama or Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential election (Experiment 2). Group discussion polarized participants' attitudes, and participants misremembered their pre-discussion attitudes as having been more extreme than they actually were. Participants' polarized post-discussion attitudes significantly predicted their recalled pre-discussion attitudes, controlling for their actual pre-discussion attitudes, suggesting that their post-discussion attitudes guided reconstruction of their pre-discussion attitudes. These findings have implications for people's awareness of psychological biases and for the societal effects of partisan enclavement.

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Walking the Line: The White Working Class and the Economic Consequences of Morality

Monica Prasad, Steve Hoffman & Kieran Bezila

Politics & Society, June 2016, Pages 281-304

Abstract:
Over one-third of the white working class in America vote for Republicans. Some scholars argue that these voters support Republican economic policies, while others argue that these voters' preferences on cultural and moral issues override their economic preferences. We draw on in-depth interviews with 120 white working-class voters to defend a broadly "economic" interpretation: for this segment of voters, moral and cultural appeals have an economic dimension, because these voters believe certain moral behaviors will help them prosper economically. Even the very word "conservative" is understood as referencing not respect for tradition generally, but avoidance of debt and excessive consumption specifically. For many respondents, the need to focus on morality and personal responsibility as a means of prospering economically - what we call "walking the line" - accords with the rhetoric they associate with Republicans. Deindustrialization may have heightened the appeal of this rhetoric.

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Just the Facts? Partisan Media and the Political Conditioning of Economic Perceptions

Ian Anson

Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper analyzes the effects of biases in economic information on partisans' economic perceptions. In survey experiments, I manipulate the presence of partisan cues and the direction of proattitudinal information in news stories about the American economy. Results demonstrate that although proattitudinal tone in factual economic news stories most strongly affects partisans' economic perceptions, inclusion of partisan cues alongside proattitudinal information results in weaker shifts in economic sentiment relative to stories lacking partisan content. These findings suggest that the relatively subtle process of agenda setting in economic news may be the most effective tool used by partisan news outlets to drive polarization in citizens' factual economic perceptions.

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Divisive Topics as Social Threats

Joseph Simons & Melanie Green

Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current work provides evidence for a psychological obstacle to the resolution of divisive social issues (e.g., affirmative action, drug legalization); specifically, people approach discussions of these issues with a threatened mind-set. Across three studies, it is shown that the prospect of discussing topics which divide social opinion is associated with threatened responding (the dissensus effect). Divisive discussion topics are associated with both a greater level of self-reported threat (Studies 1 and 3) and a greater tendency to perceive neutral faces as threatening (Study 2). Furthermore, the effect is shown to be robust across manipulations of social opinion (ratings of multiple social issues in Studies 1 and 2; fictional polling data in Study 3), and was not reducible to individual attitude extremity (Studies 1 and 3) or a valence effect (Study 2).

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Revisiting the Myth: New Evidence of a Polarized Electorate

Marc Hetherington, Meri Long & Thomas Rudolph

Public Opinion Quarterly, Spring 2016, Pages 321-350

Abstract:
This study uncovers strong evidence that polarization has developed in presidential candidate trait evaluations. Unlike for ideology or policy preferences, the distribution of trait evaluations has become increasingly bimodal and clustered toward the poles. This change stems in part from a more polarized choice set, but perceptions of candidate extremeness are asymmetric, with partisans perceiving the other party's candidate, but not their own, as extreme. In addition, the increased salience of racial and moral issues helps explain trait polarization. Racial attitudes among Republicans have become both more conservative over time and more potent in explaining trait evaluations; among Democrats, racial attitudes have neither changed over time nor become more potent. Moral values among Democrats have grown more liberal over time and more potent in explaining trait evaluations. Among Republicans, however, moral values have not become more conservative, but have become a more potent predictor of trait evaluations. We discuss the implications of the emergence of trait polarization for understanding problematic features of contemporary American politics.

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On the determinants of political polarization

Daryna Grechyna

Economics Letters, July 2016, Pages 10-14

Abstract:
In this article, we aim to identify the main determinants of political polarization using Bayesian Model Averaging to overcome the problem of model uncertainty. We find that the level of trust within a country and the degree of income inequality are the most robust determinants of political polarization.

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Choosing peers: Homophily and polarization in groups

Mariagiovanna Baccara & Leeat Yariv

Journal of Economic Theory, September 2016, Pages 152-178

Abstract:
This paper studies the formation of peer groups entailing the joint production of public goods. In our model agents choose their peers and have to pay a connection cost for each member added to the group. After groups are formed, each agent selects a public project to make a costly contribution to, and all members of the group experience the benefits of these contributions. Since agents differ in how much they value one project relative to the other, the group's preferences affect the generated profile of public goods. We characterize mutually optimal groups, groups that are optimal for all their members. When contribution costs are low relative to connection costs, mutually optimal groups must be sufficiently homogeneous. As contribution costs increase relative to connection costs, agents desire more connections, which in turn raises the risk of free riding. Extreme peers are then more appealing, since they are more willing to contribute, and polarization arises.

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Sympathy for the Devil: How Broadcast News Reduces Negativity Toward Political Leaders

Glen Smith

American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines whether broadcast news reduces negativity toward political leaders by exposing partisans to opposing viewpoints. For analysis, both exposure to broadcast news and variation in media content are used to predict changes in feelings toward the candidates during the 2008 presidential election. The results suggest that increased exposure to broadcast news increased partisans' favorability toward the out-party candidate. In addition, increased coverage of the candidates was followed by increased favorability among members of the opposing party. These results demonstrate the benefits of exposure to two-sided communications flows for the reduction of animosity between the political parties. Moreover, these results suggest that public negativity toward political leaders might be even worse if not for the large amount of overlap between the audiences for partisan and mainstream news outlets.

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Fair and Balanced? Quantifying Media Bias through Crowdsourced Content Analysis

Ceren Budak, Sharad Goel & Justin Rao

Public Opinion Quarterly, Spring 2016, Pages 250-271

Abstract:
It is widely thought that news organizations exhibit ideological bias, but rigorously quantifying such slant has proven methodologically challenging. Through a combination of machine-learning and crowdsourcing techniques, we investigate the selection and framing of political issues in fifteen major US news outlets. Starting with 803,146 news stories published over twelve months, we first used supervised learning algorithms to identify the 14 percent of articles pertaining to political events. We then recruited 749 online human judges to classify a random subset of 10,502 of these political articles according to topic and ideological position. Our analysis yields an ideological ordering of outlets consistent with prior work. However, news outlets are considerably more similar than generally believed. Specifically, with the exception of political scandals, major news organizations present topics in a largely nonpartisan manner, casting neither Democrats nor Republicans in a particularly favorable or unfavorable light. Moreover, again with the exception of political scandals, little evidence exists of systematic differences in story selection, with all major news outlets covering a wide variety of topics with frequency largely unrelated to the outlet's ideological position. Finally, news organizations express their ideological bias not by directly advocating for a preferred political party, but rather by disproportionately criticizing one side, a convention that further moderates overall differences.

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Are Conservatives Happier than Liberals? Not Always and not Everywhere

Olga Stavrova & Maike Luhmann

Journal of Research in Personality, forthcoming

Abstract:
Prior research has shown that conservatives report higher levels of subjective well-being than liberals (happiness gap). We investigate to what extent this phenomenon exists in different time periods within the United States (Study 1, N = 40,000) and in different countries (Study 2, N = 230,000). Consistent with our hypotheses grounded in the "shared reality" and person-culture fit literature, conservatives were happier and more satisfied with their lives than liberals to the extent that the conservative political ideology prevailed in their socio-cultural context, be it a specific time period in the U.S. or a specific country. These results show that the happiness gap between conservatives and liberals is less universal than previously assumed.

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The Impact of Uncertainty, Threat, and Political Identity on Support for Political Compromise

Ingrid Haas

Basic and Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This work examines the impact of uncertainty and threat on support for political compromise. In Study 1, uncertainty, threat, and support for compromise were measured. Uncertainty increased support for compromise only when paired with positive or neutral affect. Studies 2 and 3 used an experimental design to examine the impact of incidental affect on support for political compromise as a function of political identification. Uncertainty was more likely to increase support for compromise in positive or neutral contexts and for political moderates and liberals. The combination of uncertainty and threat led conservatives to express reduced support for compromise.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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