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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

By design

The divided mind of a disbeliever: Intuitive beliefs about nature as purposefully created among different groups of non-religious adults

Elisa Järnefelt, Caitlin Canfield & Deborah Kelemen
Cognition, July 2015, Pages 72–88

Abstract:
Do non-religious adults – despite their explicit disavowal of religious beliefs – have a tacit tendency to view nature as purposefully created by some being? This question was explored in three online studies using a speeded judgment procedure, which assessed disbelievers in two different Western cultures (United States and Finland). Despite strong performance on control trials, across all three studies non-religious individuals displayed a default bias to increasingly judge pictures of natural phenomena as “purposefully made by some being” under processing constraints. Personal beliefs in the supernatural agency of nature (“Gaia beliefs”) consistently predicted this tendency. However, beliefs in nature as purposefully made by some being persisted even when such secular agency beliefs were controlled. These results suggest that the tendency to view nature as designed is rooted in evolved cognitive biases as well as cultural socialization.

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What If They’re Right About the Afterlife? Evidence of the Role of Existential Threat on Anti-Atheist Prejudice

Corey Cook, Florette Cohen & Sheldon Solomon
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Terror management theory posits that the uniquely human awareness of death gives rise to potentially paralyzing terror that is assuaged by embracing cultural worldviews that provide a sense that one is a valuable participant in a meaningful universe. We propose that pervasive and pronounced anti-atheist prejudices stem, in part, from the existential threat posed by conflicting worldview beliefs. Two studies were conducted to establish that existential concerns contribute to anti-atheist sentiments. Experiment 1 found that a subtle reminder of death increased disparagement, social distancing, and distrust of atheists. Experiment 2 found that asking people to think about atheism increased the accessibility of implicit death thoughts. These studies provide the first empirical link between existential concerns and anti-atheist prejudices.

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Forbidden Fruits: The Political Economy of Science, Religion, and Growth

Roland Bénabou, Davide Ticchi & Andrea Vindigni
NBER Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
We analyze the joint dynamics of religious beliefs, scientific progress and coalitional politics along both religious and economic lines. History offers many examples of the recurring tensions between science and organized religion, but as part of the paper's motivating evidence we also uncover a new fact: in both international and cross-state U.S. data, there is a significant and robust negative relationship between religiosity and patents per capita. The political-economy model we develop has three main features: (i) the recurrent arrival of scientific discoveries that generate productivity gains but sometimes erode religious beliefs; (ii) a government, endogenously in power, that can allow such innovations to spread or instead censor them; (iii) a religious organization or sector that may invest in adapting the doctrine to new knowledge. Three long-term outcomes emerge. First, a "Secularization" or "Western-European" regime with declining religiosity, unimpeded science, a passive Church and high levels of taxes and transfers. Second, a "Theocratic" regime with knowledge stagnation, extreme religiosity with no modernization effort, and high public spending on religious public goods. In-between is a third, "American" regime that generally (not always) combines scientific progress and stable religiosity within a range where religious institutions engage in doctrinal adaptation. It features low overall taxes, together with fiscal advantages or societal laws benefiting religious citizens. Rising income inequality can, however, lead some of the rich to form a successful Religious-Right alliance with the religious poor and start blocking belief-eroding discoveries and ideas.

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Perceived Openness to Experience Accounts for Religious Homogamy

Joshua Jackson et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Two studies tested the hypothesis that religious homogamy — assortative mating on the basis of religion — can be partly explained by inferences about religious individuals’ openness to experience, rather than attitudes toward religion per se. Results of Study 1 indicated that non-religious participants perceived non-religious targets to be higher in openness and more appealing as romantic partners, with the first effect statistically accounting for the second. Study 2, which manipulated “religious” and “open” behaviors independently, showed that openness guided dating judgments for both non-religious and religious participants, albeit in opposite directions. Thus, regardless of their own religious beliefs, individuals appear to infer the same kind of behaviors from others’ religiosity, behaviors that are seen positively by religious individuals, but negatively by non-religious individuals. These inferences, in turn, partially explain all individuals’ preferences for partners of the same religious orientation.

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Religion and Innovation

Roland Bénabou, Davide Ticchi & Andrea Vindigni
NBER Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
In earlier work (Bénabou, Ticchi and Vindigni 2013) we uncovered a robust negative association between religiosity and patents per capita, holding across countries as well as US states, with and without controls. In this paper we turn to the individual level, examining the relationship between religiosity and a broad set of pro- or anti-innovation attitudes in all five waves of the World Values Survey (1980 to 2005). We thus relate eleven indicators of individual openness to innovation, broadly defined (e.g., attitudes toward science and technology, new versus old ideas, change, risk taking, personal agency, imagination and independence in children) to five different measures of religiosity, including beliefs and attendance. We control for all standard socio-demographics as well as country, year and denomination fixed effects. Across the fifty-two estimated specifications, greater religiosity is almost uniformly and very significantly associated to less favorable views of innovation.

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A re-examination of religious fundamentalism: Positive implications for coping

Russell Phillips & Gene Ano
Mental Health, Religion & Culture, forthcoming

Abstract:
The majority of the research on religious fundamentalism explores its negative implications. Religious coping theory provides an opportunity to examine both positive and negative implications of fundamentalism. The present study incorporated various advanced methodologies utilised in the religious coping literature (mediation analyses, hierarchical regression procedures, and longitudinal design) to assess the relationship between religious fundamentalism and religious coping in 723 American college students. Religious fundamentalism was associated with a number of religious coping strategies that have positive implications and inversely related to religious coping with negative associations. Fundamentalism predicted religious coping over and above right-wing authoritarianism and religious orthodoxy. The religious coping methods mediated the relationship between religious fundamentalism and adjustment to stress both concurrently and over time. Limitations of the current study and suggestions for future research are offered.

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Nonreligious Group Factors Versus Religious Belief in the Prediction of Prosociality

Luke Galen, Michael Sharp & Alison McNulty
Social Indicators Research, June 2015, Pages 411-432

Abstract:
Previous research has suggested that religious belief is associated with a range of prosocial behaviors such as social embeddedness and generosity. However, this literature has often conflated belief in God with group involvement and failed to control for demographic and social network effects. Rather than assessing prosociality by comparing religious group members with the unaffiliated, the present study also includes secular/nonreligious group members. Multiple regression analyses controlling for confounds diminishes many of the apparent differences between religious and nonreligious individuals. Belief in God itself accounts for approximately 1–2 % of the variance in social embeddedness domains and <1 % of the variance in the domains of outside-group charity and community volunteering. Belief in God is associated with homophily and parochial behavior such as within-group charitable donations and constrained contact with different others. These findings indicate that prosocial benefits are more related to general group membership equally available to religious and secular group members alike than they are to specifically religious content. Religious beliefs are related to within-group prosociality as well as homophily and parochialism directed to those outside the group.

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Explanations of changes in church attendance between 1970 and 2009

Erik van Ingen & Nienke Moor
Social Science Research, July 2015, Pages 558–569

Abstract:
We deduce hypotheses from theories on religious change to explain changes in church attendance rates. Using a new dataset with 51 countries across a long period we apply panel regression models, which enable us to test well-known theories in a more strict and dynamic fashion than do cross-sectional studies. Our results provide new evidence for a few old ideas, but also show striking lack of evidence for ideas that appear well-accepted. Tertiary education proved to be a strong predictor of changes in church attendance. Theories about individualization were also supported. The evidence of existential insecurity as a cause of change was ambiguous: economic development and life expectancy showed significant effects but income inequality did not. We found no support for theories on social globalization and social benefit policy. Finally, we found that income inequality and urbanization were driving forces of change during the 70s and 80s, but not since 1990.

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Examining the psychological separation of church and state: The American–Christian effect

David Butz & Jayson Carvalho
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, May 2015, Pages 109-119

Abstract:
Although religious diversity is increasing in the United States, there is strong evidence that many Americans perceive America to be a Christian nation. The present work provides insight into the extent to which American–Christian associations are deeply embedded in the American psyche by exploring implicit and explicit associations between the American identity and Christianity. Additionally, the present work examines the implications of American–Christian associations for behavioral intentions concerning Christian and non-Christian religious groups. In support of strong American–Christian associations, in Study 1 participants from across the United States (N = 100) associated Christian groups with the American identity more strongly than non-Christian groups. In Study 2 (N = 95), a modified Implicit Association Test (IAT) revealed strong implicit American–Christian associations, particularly among self-identified Christian participants. Moreover, strong explicit American–Christian associations were associated with allocating greater resources to Christian groups and fewer resources to non-Christian groups. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for understanding the intersection of national and religious identities and furthering research on American–Christian associations.

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Religious Social Identity, Religious Belief, and Anti-Immigration Sentiment

Pazit Ben-Nun Bloom, Gizem Arikan & Marie Courtemanche
American Political Science Review, May 2015, Pages 203-221

Abstract:
Somewhat paradoxically, numerous scholars in various disciplines have found that religion induces negative attitudes towards immigrants, while others find that it fuels feelings of compassion. We offer a framework that accounts for this discrepancy. Using two priming experiments conducted among American Catholics, Turkish Muslims, and Israeli Jews, we disentangle the role of religious social identity and religious belief, and differentiate among types of immigrants based on their ethnic and religious similarity to, or difference from, members of the host society. We find that religious social identity increases opposition to immigrants who are dissimilar to in-group members in religion or ethnicity, while religious belief engenders welcoming attitudes toward immigrants of the same religion and ethnicity, particularly among the less conservative devout. These results suggest that different elements of the religious experience exert distinct and even contrasting effects on immigration attitudes, manifested in both the citizenry's considerations of beliefs and identity and its sensitivity to cues regarding the religion of the target group.

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Stereotypes and Madrassas: Experimental Evidence from Pakistan

Adeline Delavande & Basit Zafar
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Little is known about the behavior of Madrassa (Islamic religious seminaries) students, and how other groups in their communities interact with them. To investigate this, we use data from economic decision-making experiments embedded in a survey that we collected from students pursuing bachelors-equivalent degrees in Madrassas and other educational institutions of distinct religious tendencies and socioeconomic background in Pakistan. First, we do not find that Madrassa students are less trusting of others; in fact, they exhibit the highest level of other-regarding behavior, and expect others to be the most trustworthy. Second, there is a high level of trust among all groups. Third, within each institution group, we fail to find evidence of in-group bias or systematic out-group bias either in trust or tastes. Fourth, we find that students from certain backgrounds under-estimate the trustworthiness of Madrassa students.

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Dogmatism and Mental Health: A Comparison of the Religious and Secular

Jon Moore & Mark Leach
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, forthcoming

Abstract:
Religiousness has frequently been found to be associated with higher reported mental health levels than those found in individuals lower in reported religiousness. These results have often been inferred by scholars to mean that secular groups have poorer levels of mental health despite the fact that secular populations have rarely been included in studies. In this study, an ideologically diverse sample of 4,667 respondents was included to determine the relationships among general dogmatism levels, existential dogmatism, religiousness, and 5 indicators of mental health. The sample mainly comprised agnostic, atheist, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, and spiritual nonreligious participants. Statistical analyses indicated that atheistic and theistic groups showed no significant differences on 4 of the 5 mental health indicators. Existential dogmatism and religiousness had similar positive relationships with mental health, but each had weak predictive strengths. The implications of the current study are that secular and religious adherents have similar levels of mental health, which is contrary to expectations based on the previous literature.

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When Heterodoxy Becomes Heresy: Using Bourdieu's Concept of Doxa to Describe State-Sanctioned Exclusion in Pakistan

Ali Qadir
Sociology of Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper employs and adapts Bourdieu's concept of doxa to describe the declaration of heresy against the Ahmadiyya in Pakistan. The Ahmadiyya, avowedly Muslim, were declared heretics by constitutional amendment in 1974, leading to their widespread persecution and bans on their use of Islamic symbols. Most analyses of this event — from a statehood and authority/“Othering” perspective — tend to overlook why the Ahmadi were singled out for this unusual exclusion and why emphasis was placed on symbolic violence. It discursively analyzes the recently declassified transcript of parliamentary proceedings to reveal three interlinked theological and political elements of Ahmadi heterodoxy that challenged the sociopolitical order. The analysis also shows how orthodoxy emerged and was institutionalized in a dialectical relationship with that heterodoxy. Further, the discussion focuses on the continuity of symbolic capital inherent in institutionalization and the implications of this for Ahmadis and other religious “heretics” in Pakistan. By exploring how heterodoxy becomes heresy, this case highlights the utility of Bourdieu's schema and proposes some adjustments to it to better understand modern religious heresy and then export lessons into other analytical domains.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, May 11, 2015

In open court

Free at Last? Judicial Discretion and Racial Disparities in Federal Sentencing

Crystal Yang
Journal of Legal Studies, January 2015, Pages 75-111

Abstract:
The federal sentencing guidelines were created to reduce unwarranted sentencing disparities among similar defendants. This paper explores the impact of increased judicial discretion on racial disparities in sentencing after the guidelines were struck down in United States v. Booker (543 U.S. 220 [2005]). Using data on the universe of federal defendants, I find that black defendants received 2 months more in prison compared with their white counterparts after Booker, a 4 percent increase in average sentence length. To identify the sources of racial disparities, I construct a data set linking judges to defendants. Exploiting the random assignment of cases to judges, I find that racial disparities after Booker were greater among judges appointed after Booker, which suggests acculturation to the guidelines by judges with experience sentencing under a mandatory-guidelines regime. Prosecutors also responded to increased judicial discretion after Booker by charging black defendants with binding mandatory minimum sentences.

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Race, Context and Judging on the Courts of Appeals: Race-Based Panel Effects in Death Penalty Cases

Jonathan Kastellec
Princeton Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
I examine how the identities of judges on multimember courts interact with case context to influence judicial decision making. Specifically, I leverage the variation in both panel composition and defendant race to examine race-based panel effects in death penalty cases on the Courts of Appeals. Using a dataset that accounts for several characteristics of a defendant and his crime, I find that the random assignment of a black judge to an otherwise all-non-black panel substantially increases the probability that the panel will grant relief to a defendant on death row - but only in cases where the defendant is black. The size of the increase is substantially large: conditional on the defendant being black, a panel composed of a single African-American judge is 15 percentage points more likely to grant relief than an all-non-black panel. These results have important implications for assessing the role of minority judges in generating substantive representation on the federal courts and contribute to the empirical literature on the application of the death penalty in the United States.

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The Economic Origins of Entrenched Judicial Review

Anna Harvey
Studies in American Political Development, April 2015, Pages 1-22

Abstract:
This article proposes a new explanation for the origins of entrenched judicial review, or judicial review supported by supermajority constitutional amendment requirements. The explanation is based on ex ante levels of economic inequality: Where economic inequality is higher, economic elites have more to lose from the advent of majority rule. These elites will have both greater incentives and greater ability to resist or check institutions responsive to popular majorities. We may then be more likely to see the adoption of less democratically responsive institutions, like entrenched judicial review, where more unequal wealth and income distributions are threatened by majority rule. The theory is consistent with the qualitative historical record from several former British colonies, including that of the United States. It also finds considerable support in an econometric analysis of the presence of entrenched judicial review in the first year of continuous democracy for those former European colonies that had become democracies by 2008, where pre-independence European mortality rates are used as a proxy for pre-independence economic inequality. These findings suggest that the adoption of entrenched judicial review in democracies may have been motivated at least in part because of its anticipated protection for higher levels of economic inequality.

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Trial and Error: Decision Reversal and Panel Size in State Courts

Yosh Halberstam
Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using cross-state and within-court variation, I show that lower court decisions are reversed more frequently by larger, rather than smaller, panels of high court judges. Overall, conditional on being reviewed, the probability that a case is reversed by a high court judicial panel is less than one half. To understand these findings, I develop a simple framework that connects reversals and panel size with the extent to which judicial decision-making is congruent with the law. Assuming the high court rules correctly more often than not, my empirical results suggest that increasing judicial panel size erodes the quality of decision-making in high courts. These results are consistent with a large literature investigating small group size effects on productivity and output.

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Descriptive Representation and Judicial Outcomes in Multiethnic Societies

Guy Grossman et al.
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The extent to which judicial outcomes depend on judges' identities is a central question in multiethnic societies. Past work on the impact of the racial composition of appellate courts has narrowly focused on civil rights cases in the United States. We expand this literature by testing for ethnicity-based panel effects in criminal appeals in Israel. Using randomness in the assignment of cases to panels, we find that appeal outcomes for Jewish defendants are independent of panels' ethnic composition. By contrast, panel composition is highly consequential for Arab defendants, who receive more lenient punishments when their case is heard by a panel that includes at least one Arab judge, compared to all-Jewish panels. The magnitude of these effects is sizable: a 14–20% reduction in incarceration and a 15–26% reduction in prison sentencing. These findings contribute to recent debates on the relationship between descriptive representation and substantive outcomes in judicial bodies.

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Representation on the Courts? The Effects of Trial Judges' Sex and Race

Christina Boyd
University of Georgia Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
Scholars have long sought to resolve whether and to what degree political actor diversity influences the outputs of political institutions like legislatures, administrative agencies, and courts. When it comes to the judiciary, diverse judges may greatly affect outcomes. Despite this potential, no consensus exists for whether judicial diversity affects behavior in trial courts -- i.e., the stage where the vast majority of litigants interact with the judicial branch. After addressing the research design limitations in previous trial court-diversity studies, the statistical results here indicate that a trial judge's sex and race have very large effects on his or her decision making. These results have important implications for how we view diversity throughout the judiciary and are particularly timely given the Obama Administration's nearly 200 female and minority appointments to the federal trial courts.

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After the Override: An Empirical Analysis of Shadow Precedent

Brian Broughman & Deborah Widiss
Indiana University Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
The ability of Congress to override judicial interpretations of statutory language is central to legislative supremacy. Both political science and legal scholarship assume, often implicitly, that enactment of a legislative override will effectively replace the pre-existing precedent, akin to a judicial overruling of a prior decision. Yet, because the superseding language comes from Congress rather than the courts, it is often unclear precisely how an override interacts with the pre-existing precedent. Our study is the first to empirically address this issue. We built an original dataset of annual citations to three different groups of Supreme Court decisions: (i) cases overridden by Congress (ii) cases subsequently overruled by the Court, and (iii) a matched control group of Supreme Court decisions that were neither overridden nor overruled. Using fixed effect regression analysis, we find that, on average, citation levels to cases that have been at least partially superseded — what we call “shadow precedents” — decrease only minimally after an override, while they decrease dramatically after a judicial overruling. Our results suggest that when faced with competing signals from Congress and the courts above them, trial courts look for interpretive guidance from other judicial actors, and that courts often continue to rely extensively on overridden precedents.

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Bias in Open Peer-Review: Evidence from the English Superior Courts

Jordi Blanes i Vidal & Clare Leaver
Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper explores possible biases in open peer-review using data from the English superior courts. Exploiting the random timing of on-the-job interaction between reviewers and reviewees, we find evidence that reviewers are reluctant to reverse the judgments of reviewees with whom they are about to interact, and that this effect is stronger when reviewer and reviewee share the same rank. The average bias is substantial: the proportion of reviewer affirmances is 30% points higher in the group where reviewers know they will soon work with their reviewee, relative to groups where such interaction is absent. Our results suggest reforms for the judicial listing process, and caution against recent trends in performance appraisal techniques and scientific publishing.

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Understanding the Length of State Supreme Court Opinions

Meghan Leonard & Joseph Ross
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The writing of a majority opinion is the most important task for judges and justices on collegial courts because they must be able to explain and justify the court’s decision in a way that will be understood by other legal and political actors. For state supreme court justices, we argue that the opinion-writing process is driven by the information the opinion author has as well as internal institutional constraints. In this article, we examine the length of opinions produced by state supreme courts to determine whether there are differences in the opinion-writing process between elected and appointed courts. Using an original dataset comprising all education cases decided by state supreme courts from 1995 to 2005, we find, consistent with our expectations, that elected justices appear to be more concerned with audiences external to the court in writing opinions, whereas appointed justices are more likely to respond to internal constraints and conditions.

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#BlackLivesDon'tMatter: Race-of-victim effects in US executions, 1976–2013

Frank Baumgartner, Amanda Grigg & Alisa Mastro
Politics, Groups and Identities, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the role of racial bias in the implementation of capital punishment. First, our analysis of existing literature confirms higher rates of capital punishment for those who kill Whites, particularly for Blacks who kill Whites. Second, we compare homicide victim data with a newly collected data set including information on the victims of every inmate executed in the USA from 1976 through 2013, some 1369 executions. These data reveal that Black males have been the primary victims of homicides, but their killers are much less likely to be put to death. While previous scholars have emphasized the over-representation of killers of White women, we shed additional light on another aspect of the racial and gender biases of the US death penalty. Capital punishment is very rarely used where the victim is a Black male, despite the fact that this is the category most likely to be the victim of homicide.

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When "Best Practices" Win, Employees Lose: Symbolic Compliance and Judicial Inference in Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Cases

Linda Hamilton Krieger, Rachel Kahn Best & Lauren Edelman
Law & Social Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article provides a new account of employers' advantages over employees in federal employment discrimination cases. We analyze the effects of judicial deference, in which judges use institutionalized employment structures to infer nondiscrimination without scrutinizing those structures in any meaningful way. Using logistic regression to analyze a representative sample of judicial opinions in federal EEO cases during the first thirty-five years after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, we find that when judges uncritically use the presence of organizational structures to reason about whether discrimination occurred, employers are much more likely to prevail. This pattern is especially pronounced in opinions written by liberal judges. In light of these findings, we offer recommendations for judges, lawyers, and policy makers — including legal academics — who seek to improve the accuracy and efficacy of employment discrimination adjudications.

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Is the Impact of Cumulative Disadvantage on Sentencing Greater for Black Defendants?

John Wooldredge et al.
Criminology & Public Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examined race-group differences in the effects of how felony defendants are treated at earlier decision points in case processing on case outcomes. Multilevel analyses of 3,459 defendants nested within 123 prosecutors and 34 judges in a large, northern U.S. jurisdiction revealed significant main and interaction effects of a defendant's race on bond amounts, pretrial detention, and nonsuspended prison sentences, but no significant effects on charge reductions and prison sentence length. Evidence of greater “cumulative disadvantages” for Black defendants in general and young Black men in particular was revealed by significant indirect race effects on the odds of pretrial detention via type of attorney, prior imprisonment, and bond amounts, as well as by indirect race effects on prison sentences via pretrial detention and prior imprisonment.

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Testing for Racial Prejudice in the Parole Board Release Process: Theory and Evidence

Shamena Anwar & Hanming Fang
Journal of Legal Studies, January 2015, Pages 1-37

Abstract:
We develop a model of a parole board contemplating whether to grant parole release to a prisoner who has finished serving his minimum sentence. The model implies a simple outcome test for racial prejudice that is based on the released inmate’s rate of recidivism and is robust to the inframarginality problem. Our model has several testable implications for which we show empirical support. Applying our test to data on all prison releases in Pennsylvania between 1999 and 2003, we find no evidence of racial prejudice.

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Assessing Racial Disparities in Parole Release

Stéphane Mechoulan & Nicolas Sahuguet
Journal of Legal Studies, January 2015, Pages 39-74

Abstract:
In a rational choice model of parole release, a color-blind parole board seeking to minimize violations would release all prisoners below a certain risk threshold. To test this prediction, we extend the outcome-test methodology used in assessing discrimination in police searches. We overcome the inframarginality critique by taking advantage of strategic timing of release: within each racial group, violation rates are equalized for a given sentence length. We use the National Corrections Reporting Program data, which record all parole-release decisions in the United States. We find that violation rates are consistently higher for African American parolees, a result not consistent with a parole board bias against African Americans. This conclusion is robust to a variety of tests, including ruling out postrelease discrimination. Evidence on the timing of release suggests a policy aimed at limiting racial disparities in time served rather than in violation rates, which favors fairness over efficiency.

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The Effect of Race/Ethnicity on Sentencing: Examining Sentence Type, Jail Length, and Prison Length

Kareem Jordan & Tina Freiburger
Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, Summer 2015, Pages 179-196

Abstract:
The purpose of this research was to examine the impact of race/ethnicity on criminal sentencing outcomes. The findings from prior studies tend to be mixed on this issue. Using 4 years of data from the State Court Processing Statistics (2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006) and propensity score matching, we examined the impact of race/ethnicity on sentencing outcomes among Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites. The findings suggest that racial/ethnic biases occur in the sentence type (community sanction, jail, or prison) and jail length decisions though not in the prison length decision. It is important to separate jail length and prison length when examining incarceration time. Combining the 2 distinct sentences may confound the true impact of factors on these outcomes.

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Encouraging eyewitnesses to falsely corroborate allegations: Effects of rapport-building and incriminating evidence

Deborah Wright, Robert Nash & Kimberley Wade
Psychology, Crime & Law, forthcoming

Abstract:
Building rapport involves developing a harmonious relationship with another person and conveying understanding and acceptance towards that person. Law enforcement officers use rapport-building to help gather information from witnesses. But could rapport-building, in some situations, work to contaminate eyewitness testimony? Research shows that compelling incriminating evidence can lead people to corroborate false accusations made against another person. We investigated whether rapport-building – when combined with either Verbal or Verbal+Visual false evidence – might boost these corroboration rates. Subjects took part in a pseudo-gambling task, in which their counterpart was falsely accused of cheating. Using a 2 (Rapport: Rapport vs. No-rapport) × 2 (Incriminating Evidence: Verbal vs. Verbal+Visual) between-subjects design, we persuaded subjects to corroborate the accusation. We found that both rapport and verbal+visual incriminating evidence increased the compliance rate. Even when the incriminating evidence was only presented verbally, rapport-building subjects were almost three times as likely to corroborate a false accusation compared to subjects who did not undergo rapport-building. Our results suggest that although there is widespread and strong support for using rapport-building in interviews, doing so also has the potential to aggravate the contaminating power of suggestive interview techniques.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Head case

Association Between Altitude and Regional Variation of ADHD in Youth

Rebekah Huber et al.
Journal of Attention Disorders, forthcoming

Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of altitude on rates of ADHD. As decreased dopamine (DA) activity has been reported with ADHD and hypoxia has shown to be associated with increased DA, we hypothesized that states at higher altitudes would have lower rates of ADHD.

Method: State estimates from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) report and 2010 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs (NS-CSHCN) report were used to extract the percentages of youth ages 4 to 17 diagnosed with ADHD.

Results: Both the datasets independently revealed that the prevalence of ADHD decreases with increasing altitude (R 2 = .38, p < .001; R 2 = .31, p < .001), respectively. This study controlled for potential confounds (e.g., low birth weight, ethnicity, and household size).

Conclusion: These findings suggest a need for further investigation into the extent by which altitude may serve as a protective factor for ADHD.

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Risk of Suicide Among US Military Service Members Following Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom Deployment and Separation From the US Military

Mark Reger et al.
JAMA Psychiatry, forthcoming

Objective: To examine the association between deployment and suicide among all 3.9 million US military personnel who served during Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom, including suicides that occurred after separation.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective cohort design used administrative data to identify dates of deployment for all service members (October 7, 2001, to December 31, 2007) and suicide data (October 7, 2001, to December 31, 2009) to estimate rates of suicide-specific mortality. Hazard ratios were estimated from time-dependent Cox proportional hazards regression models to compare deployed service members with those who did not deploy.

Results: Deployment was not associated with the rate of suicide (hazard ratio, 0.96; 99% CI, 0.87-1.05). There was an increased rate of suicide associated with separation from military service (hazard ratio, 1.63; 99% CI, 1.50-1.77), regardless of whether service members had deployed or not. Rates of suicide were also elevated for service members who separated with less than 4 years of military service or who did not separate with an honorable discharge.

Conclusions and Relevance: Findings do not support an association between deployment and suicide mortality in this cohort. Early military separation (<4 years) and discharge that is not honorable were suicide risk factors.

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Urban vs Rural Residence and the Prevalence of Depression and Mood Disorder Among African American Women and Non-Hispanic White Women

Addie Weaver et al.
JAMA Psychiatry, forthcoming

Objective: To examine the interaction of urbanicity and race/ethnicity on lifetime and 12-month major depressive disorder (MDD) and mood disorder prevalence for African American women and non-Hispanic white women.

Design, Setting, and Participants: The US National Survey of American Life data were used to examine the interaction of urbanicity and race/ethnicity on lifetime and 12-month diagnoses of DSM-IV MDD and mood disorder among female respondents, who included noninstitutionalized African American, Caribbean black, and non-Hispanic white women in the United States between February 2001 and June 2003. Participants included 1462 African American women and 341 non-Hispanic white women recruited from the South because all suburban and rural National Survey of American Life respondents resided in this region. Bivariate multiple logistic regression and adjusted prevalence analyses were performed. Urban, suburban, or rural location (assessed via Rural-Urban Continuum Codes), self-reported race/ethnicity, and sociodemographic factors (age, education, household income, and marital status) were included in the analysis.

Results: Compared with urban African American women, rural African American women had a significantly lower odds of meeting criteria for lifetime (odds ratio [OR], 0.39; 95% CI, 0.23-0.65) and 12-month (OR, 0.29; 95% CI, 0.18-0.46) MDD and for lifetime (F = 0.46; 95% CI, 0.29-0.73) and 12-month (F = 0.42; 95% CI, 0.26-0.66) mood disorder. However, the interaction of urbanicity and race/ethnicity suggested that rural non-Hispanic white women had a significantly higher odds of meeting criteria for lifetime (OR, 2.76; 95% CI, 1.22-6.24) and 12-month (OR, 9.48; 95% CI, 4.65-19.34) MDD and for lifetime (OR, 2.27; 95% CI, 1.06-4.87) and 12-month (OR, 5.99; 95% CI, 3.01-11.94) mood disorder than rural African American women. Adjusted prevalence analyses revealed significantly lower rates of lifetime (4.2%) and 12-month (1.5%) MDD among rural African American women than their urban counterparts (10.4% vs 5.3%; P ≤ .01). The same pattern was found for mood disorder, with rural African American women experiencing significantly lower rates of lifetime (6.7%) and 12-month (3.3%) mood disorder when compared to urban African American women (13.9% vs 7.6%; P ≤ .01) Conversely, rural non-Hispanic white women had significantly higher rates of 12-month MDD (10.3%) and mood disorder (10.3%) than their urban counterparts (3.7% vs 3.8%; P ≤ .01).

Conclusions and Relevance: Rural residence differentially influences MDD and mood disorder prevalence among African American women and non-Hispanic white women. These findings offer a first step toward understanding the cumulative effect of rural residence and race/ethnicity on women’s depression prevalence, suggesting the need for further research in this area.

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The Effect of Grounding the Human Body on Mood

Gaétan Chevalier
Psychological Reports, April 2015, Pages 534-543

Abstract:
Earthing (grounding) refers to bringing the body in contact with the Earth. Health benefits were previously reported, but no study exists about mood. This study was conducted to assess if Earthing improves mood. 40 adult participants were either grounded or sham-grounded (no grounding) for 1 hr. while relaxing in a comfortable recliner chair equipped with a conductive pillow, mat, and patches connecting them to the ground. This pilot project was double-blinded and the Brief Mood Introspection Scale (comprising 4 mood scales) was used. Pleasant and positive moods statistically significantly improved among grounded — but not sham-grounded — participants. It is concluded that the 1-hr. contact with the Earth improved mood more than expected by relaxation alone. More extensive studies are, therefore, warranted.

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A randomized controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood

Laura Steenbergen et al.
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, forthcoming

Objective: Heightened cognitive reactivity to normal, transient changes in sad mood is an established marker of vulnerability to depression and is considered an important target for interventions. The present study aimed to test if a multispecies probiotic containing Bifidobacterium bifidum W23, Bifidobacterium lactis W52, Lactobacillus acidophilus W37, Lactobacillus brevis W63, Lactobacillus casei W56, Lactobacillus salivarius W24, and Lactococcus lactis (W19 and W58) may reduce cognitive reactivity in non-depressed individuals.

Design: In a triple-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, pre- and post-intervention assessment design, 20 healthy participants without current mood disorder received a 4-week probiotic food-supplement intervention with the multispecies probiotics, while 20 control participants received an inert placebo for the same period. In the pre- and post-intervention assessment, cognitive reactivity to sad mood was assessed using the revised Leiden index of depression sensitivity scale.

Results: Compared to participants who received the placebo intervention, participants who received the 4-week multispecies probiotics intervention showed a significantly reduced overall cognitive reactivity to sad mood, which was largely accounted for by reduced rumination and aggressive thoughts.

Conclusion: These results provide the first evidence that the intake of probiotics may help reduce negative thoughts associated with sad mood. Probiotics supplementation warrants further research as a potential preventive strategy for depression.

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Associations of the Ratios of n-3 to n-6 Dietary Fatty Acids With Longitudinal Changes in Depressive Symptoms Among US Women

May Beydoun et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, 1 May 2015, Pages 691-705

Abstract:
In the present study, we examined longitudinal changes in self-reported depressive symptoms (and related domains) in relation to baseline intakes of n-3 fatty acids (absolute and relative to n-6 fatty acids). Sex-specific associations were evaluated in a prospective cohort of adults (n = 2,053) from Baltimore, Maryland, who were 30–64 years of age at baseline and were followed for a mean of 4.65 (standard deviation, 0.93) years (2004–2013). Using mean intakes of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids reported on two 24-hour dietary recalls, we estimated the ratios of n-3 to n-6 fatty acids for both highly unsaturated fatty acids (≥20 carbon atoms) (HUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (≥18 carbon atoms) (PUFAs). Outcomes included total and domain-specific scores on the 20-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale. Based on mixed-effects regression models, among women, both higher n-3 HUFA:n-6 PUFA and n-3 PUFA:n-6 PUFA ratios were associated with a slower rate of increase in total Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scores over time. Higher n-3 HUFA:n-6 HUFA ratios were associated with slower increases in somatic complaints in men, whereas among women, higher n-3 HUFA:n-6 PUFA and n-3 PUFA:n-6 PUFA ratios were both linked to putative longitudinal improvement in positive affect over time. Among US adults, n-3:n-6 dietary fatty acid ratio was associated with longitudinal changes in depressive symptoms, with a higher ratio linked to a slower increase in depressive symptoms over time, particularly among women.

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Why Bother? Death, Failure, and Fatalistic Withdrawal From Life

Joseph Hayes, Cindy Ward & Ian McGregor
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current research examines the conditions under which death contemplation will reduce, rather than increase, goal directed activity. By employing a goal-regulation perspective on the problem of death, we hypothesized that death awareness precipitates withdrawal from the goal for continued life when life is experienced as dissatisfying and hope for the future appears bleak. In Study 1, participants with low life satisfaction who contemplated goal failure responded to mortality salience with reduced desire for continued life. Studies 2–4 examined general goal motivation. Consistent with the idea that withdrawal from life precipitates a general state of reduced goal motivation, parallel effects were observed on the willingness to delay gratification for future outcomes (Study 2), orientation toward the future (Study 3), and behavioral activation system (BAS) sensitivity (Study 4). Moreover, Study 3 showed that these effects were mediated by a generally pessimistic attitude toward life. Finally, Study 5 assessed felt uncertainty and state depression, revealing that withdrawal from life was associated with reduced uncertainty but increased depression. Discussion is focused on implications for theories of threat and defense, and applications for understanding depression and suicide.

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Cumulative Exposure to Prior Collective Trauma and Acute Stress Responses to the Boston Marathon Bombings

Dana Rose Garfin, Alison Holman & Roxane Cohen Silver
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The role of repeated exposure to collective trauma in explaining response to subsequent community-wide trauma is poorly understood. We examined the relationship between acute stress response to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and prior direct and indirect media-based exposure to three collective traumatic events: the September 11, 2001 (9/11) terrorist attacks, Superstorm Sandy, and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Representative samples of residents of metropolitan Boston (n = 846) and New York City (n = 941) completed Internet-based surveys shortly after the Boston Marathon bombings. Cumulative direct exposure and indirect exposure to prior community trauma and acute stress symptoms were assessed. Acute stress levels did not differ between Boston and New York metropolitan residents. Cumulative direct and indirect, live-media-based exposure to 9/11, Superstorm Sandy, and the Sandy Hook shooting were positively associated with acute stress responses in the covariate-adjusted model. People who experience multiple community-based traumas may be sensitized to the negative impact of subsequent events, especially in communities previously exposed to similar disasters.

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Emotional and Physiological Desensitization to Real-Life and Movie Violence

Sylvie Mrug et al.
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, May 2015, Pages 1092-1108

Abstract:
Youth are exposed to large amounts of violence in real life and media, which may lead to desensitization. Given evidence of curvilinear associations between exposure to violence and emotional distress, we examined linear and curvilinear associations of exposure to real-life and movie violence with PTSD symptoms, empathy, and physiological arousal, as well emotional and physiological reactivity to movie violence. College students (N = 209; mean age = 18.74) reported on their exposure to real-life and televised violence, PTSD symptoms, and empathy. Then, students were randomly assigned to view a series of violent or nonviolent high-action movie scenes, providing ratings of emotional distress after each clip. Blood pressure was measured at rest and during video viewing. Results showed that with increasing exposure to real-life violence, youth reported more PTSD symptoms and greater identification with fictional characters. Cognitive and emotional empathy increased from low to medium levels of exposure to violence, but declined at higher levels. For males, exposure to higher levels of real-life violence was associated with diminishing (vs. increasing) emotional distress when viewing violent videos. Exposure to televised violence was generally unrelated to emotional functioning. However, those with medium levels of exposure to TV/movie violence experienced lower elevations of blood pressure when viewing violent videos compared to those with low exposure, and those with higher levels of exposure evidenced rapid increase in blood pressure that quickly declined over time. The results point to diminished empathy and reduced emotional reactivity to violence as key aspects of desensitization to real-life violence, and more limited evidence of physiological desensitization to movie violence among those exposed to high levels of televised violence.

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Placebo ‘serotonin’ increases heart rate variability in recovery from psychosocial stress

Margot Darragh et al.
Physiology & Behavior, 1 June 2015, Pages 45–49

Objective: To investigate placebo effects on heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) in recovery from a psychosocial stressor.

Methods: A healthy sample underwent two mental arithmetic stress tests in one experimental session. After undergoing the baseline test, participants were randomized into control or placebo groups. Prior to the second stress test, the placebo group received an intranasal dose of ‘serotonin’ (placebo) with the suggestion that it would enhance recovery. HR and HRV were assessed throughout procedures.

Results: There was an increase in vagally-mediated HRV in the placebo group. The change in HR did not differ between groups.

Conclusions: Placebo suggestion can enhance autonomic recovery after psychosocial stress. Findings are consistent with the notion of top-down mechanisms of placebo effects, but further research would need to specifically examine the role of top-down regulatory pathways as possible mediators of placebo-induced changes in autonomic function.

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The Use of Painting for Short-Term Mood and Arousal Improvement

Kristen Diliberto-Macaluso & Briana Lyn Stubblefield
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present study examined the use of painting for short-term mood and arousal improvement following an angry mood. Participants’ changes in mood and arousal were measured after viewing 2 short film clips and again after participating in 1 of 4 conditions: painting their current mood (venting), painting something that makes them feel happy (positive distraction), painting a still life (neutral distraction), or completing a word search puzzle (nonart-making control). Results revealed a significant improvement in mood in the positive and neutral distraction conditions as compared with the venting and nonart control conditions, which did not differ from 1 another. There was also a reduction in arousal across conditions. As predicted by broaden-and-build theory (Fredrickson, 2001), participants in the positive distraction condition used a greater number of colors and more positive mood-tone colors than those in the venting condition. These results are the first to experimentally investigate strategies for short-term mood improvement using painting following an angry mood.

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Personality disorders and physical comorbidities in adults from the United States: Data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions

Shae Quirk et al.
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, May 2015, Pages 807-820

Purpose: There is a paucity of research examining the relationship between personality disorders (PDs) and chronic physical comorbidities. Consequently, we investigated associations between individual PDs and PD Clusters, and various common disease groups [cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, arthritis and gastrointestinal disease (GI)] in a nationally representative survey of adults from the United States.

Methods: This study utilized pooled data (n = 34,653; ≥20 years) from Waves 1 and 2 of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. PDs were assessed using the Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule- Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. Physical conditions were based on self-reports of being diagnosed by a health professional. Unadjusted and adjusted logistic regressions examined the relationship between PDs and physical conditions.

Results: After adjustment (sociodemographic factors, past-year mood, anxiety and substance use disorders), Clusters A, B and C PDs were each associated with physical conditions (all p ≤ 0.01). Of the individual PDs, schizoid, schizotypal, narcissistic, borderline and obsessive–compulsive PDs were associated with CVD (all p ≤ 0.01) among younger adults. Paranoid, antisocial, borderline and avoidant PDs and younger adults with schizoid, schizotypal and obsessive–compulsive PDs were each associated with arthritis (all p ≤ 0.01). Significant associations were seen between paranoid, schizoid and schizotypal PDs and diabetes (all p ≤ 0.01). Finally, schizotypal, antisocial, borderline and narcissistic PDs were associated with GI conditions (all p ≤ 0.01).

Conclusions: PDs were consistently associated with physical conditions. Investigation of PDs and their relationship with physical health outcomes warrant further research attention as these findings have important clinical implications.

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Individual differences in resting heart rate variability moderate thought suppression success

Brandon Gillie, Michael Vasey & Julian Thayer
Psychophysiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Individual differences in heart rate variability (HRV) at rest are thought to represent an individual's capacity for self-regulation, but it remains unclear whether HRV predicts control over unwanted thoughts. The current study used a thought suppression paradigm in which participants recorded occurrences of a personally relevant intrusive thought over three monitoring periods. Among those instructed to suppress, higher levels of HRV were associated with greater declines in intrusions across the monitoring periods; no such relationship was found among those assigned to a control condition. Resting HRV also interacted with spontaneous thought suppression effort to predict intrusive thought frequency. In both cases, these HRV-related differences in thought suppression success predicted the generalized distress symptoms common to depression and anxiety. These findings enhance understanding of the relationships between HRV and cognitive control and highlight how individual differences in self-regulatory capacity impact thought suppression success and emotion regulation.

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Preliminary evidence of neuropathology in nonhuman primates prenatally exposed to maternal immune activation

Ruth Weir et al.
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, forthcoming

Abstract:
Maternal infection during pregnancy increases the risk for neurodevelopmental disorders in offspring. Rodent models have played a critical role in establishing maternal immune activation (MIA) as a causal factor for altered brain and behavioral development in offspring. We recently extended these findings to a species more closely related to humans by demonstrating that rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) prenatally exposed to MIA also develop abnormal behaviors. Here, for the first time, we present initial evidence of underlying brain pathology in this novel nonhuman primate MIA model. Pregnant rhesus monkeys were injected with a modified form of the viral mimic polyI:C (poly ICLC) or saline at the end of the first trimester. Brain tissue was collected from the offspring at 3.5 years and blocks of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (BA46) were used to analyze neuronal dendritic morphology and spine density using the Golgi-Cox impregnation method. For each case, 10 layer III pyramidal cells were traced in their entirety, including all apical, oblique and basal dendrites, and their spines. We further analyzed somal size and apical dendrite trunk morphology in 30 cells per case over a 30 μm section located 100 ± 10 μm from the soma. Compared to controls, apical dendrites of MIA-treated offspring were smaller in diameter and exhibited a greater number of oblique dendrites. These data provide the first evidence that prenatal exposure to MIA alters dendritic morphology in a nonhuman primate MIA model, which may have profound implications for revealing the underlying neuropathology of neurodevelopmental disorders related to maternal infection.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Stand by your man

Let's Not, and Say We Would: Imagined and Actual Responses to Witnessing Homophobia

Jennifer Randall Crosby & Johannes Wilson
Journal of Homosexuality, July 2015, Pages 957-970

Abstract:
We compared imagined versus actual affective and behavioral responses to witnessing a homophobic slur. Participants (N = 72) witnessed a confederate using a homophobic slur, imagined the same scenario, or were not exposed to the slur. Those who imagined hearing the slur reported significantly higher levels of negative affect than those who actually witnessed the slur, and nearly one half of them reported that they would confront the slur, whereas no participants who actually heard the slur confronted it. These findings reveal a discrepancy between imagined and real responses to homophobic remarks, and they have implications for the likelihood that heterosexuals will actually confront homophobic remarks.

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Opinion Backlash and Public Attitudes: Are Political Advances in Gay Rights Counterproductive?

Benjamin Bishin et al.
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
One long-recognized consequence of the tension between popular sovereignty and democratic values like liberty and equality is public opinion backlash, which occurs when individuals recoil in response to some salient event. For decades, scholars have suggested that opinion backlash impedes policy gains by marginalized groups. Public opinion research, however, suggests that widespread attitude change that backlash proponents theorize is likely to be rare. Examining backlash against gays and lesbians using a series of online and natural experiments about marriage equality, and large-sample survey data, we find no evidence of opinion backlash among the general public, by members of groups predisposed to dislike gays and lesbians, or from those with psychological traits that may predispose them to lash back. The important implication is that groups pursuing rights should not be dissuaded by threats of backlash that will set their movement back in the court of public opinion.

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A Research Note on Time With Children in Different- and Same-Sex Two-Parent Families

Kate Prickett, Alexa Martin-Storey & Robert Crosnoe
Demography, forthcoming

Abstract:
Public debate on same-sex marriage often focuses on the disadvantages that children raised by same-sex couples may face. On one hand, little evidence suggests any difference in the outcomes of children raised by same-sex parents and different-sex parents. On the other hand, most studies are limited by problems of sample selection and size, and few directly measure the parenting practices thought to influence child development. This research note demonstrates how the 2003-2013 American Time Use Survey (n = 44,188) may help to address these limitations. Two-tier Cragg's Tobit alternative models estimated the amount of time that parents in different-sex and same-sex couples engaged in child-focused time. Women in same-sex couples were more likely than either women or men in different-sex couples to spend such time with children. Overall, women (regardless of the gender of their partners) and men coupled with other men spent significantly more time with children than men coupled with women, conditional on spending any child-focused time. These results support prior research that different-sex couples do not invest in children at appreciably different levels than same-sex couples. We highlight the potential for existing nationally representative data sets to provide preliminary insights into the developmental experiences of children in nontraditional families.

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Sexual Orientation Disparities in Psychiatric and Drug Use Disorders among a Nationally Representative Sample of Women with Alcohol Use Disorders

Ethan Mereish et al.
Addictive Behaviors, August 2015, Pages 80-85

Background and Aims: Sexual minority women (SMW) are at greater risk for alcohol use disorders (AUDs) compared to heterosexual women. However, there is a dearth of research on sexual orientation disparities in co-occurring disorders among women with AUDs. We examined disparities in lifetime co-occurring psychiatric and drug use disorders among a nationally representative sample of women with lifetime AUDs.

Methods: Data were analyzed from the 2004-2005 (Wave 2) of the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Condition (NESARC), which was collected in structured diagnostic face-to-face interviews. Adult women with AUDs (N = 4,342) were included in the analyses and approximately 191 of those women self-identified as SMW. Lifetime alcohol and drug use disorders and psychiatric disorders were assessed using DSM-IV criteria. We conducted multivariate logistic regression analyses to compare SMW and heterosexual women with lifetime AUDs on lifetime psychiatric disorders and drug use disorders, while adjusting for sociodemographic variables.

Findings: While accounting for several covariates, SMW with lifetime AUDs were more likely than heterosexual women with lifetime AUDs to have lifetime psychiatric disorders (e.g., mood, anxiety, panic disorders) and drug use disorders (e.g., prescription drugs, cannabis use disorders).

Conclusions: Sexual minority women with lifetime alcohol use disorders are at heightened risk for co-occurring psychiatric and drug use disorders than heterosexual women with lifetime alcohol use disorders. The findings warrant the need for more research and empirically based interventions for the comprehensive treatment and prevention of alcohol use disorders among sexual minority women.

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Young Men Who Have Sex With Men's Experiences With Intimate Partner Violence

Katrina Kubicek, Miles McNeeley & Shardae Collins
Journal of Adolescent Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research estimating the prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) among men who have sex with men (MSM) and other sexual minority populations is limited. However, existing research indicates rates similar to heterosexual women. This mixed-methods study was designed to inform intervention development and provides a description of the types of IPV experienced by young MSM (YMSM) within their dating and intimate relationships. Data collected include 101 surveys with YMSM aged 18 to 25 and 26 semi-structured qualitative interviews. YMSM experienced high levels of psychological aggression, physical assault, and sexual coercion both as victims and perpetrators. The study also found that there were high rates of mutual perpetration, young men reporting being both victim and perpetrator of partner violence. Qualitative data provide context and descriptions of these incidents to provide more information about the circumstances and perceptions of these incidents. The findings indicate that interventions should be multifaceted and include schools, communities, and families to address anger management, conflict resolution, and communication skills within young men's relationships.

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"The Cooties Effect": Amygdala Reactivity to Opposite- versus Same-sex Faces Declines from Childhood to Adolescence

Eva Telzer et al.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
One of the most important social identities that children learn to define themselves and others by is sex, becoming a salient social category by early childhood. Although older children begin to show greater flexibility in their gendered behaviors and attitudes, gender rigidity intensifies again around the time of puberty. In the current study, we assessed behavioral and neural biases to sex across a wide age group. Ninety-three youth (ages 7-17 years) provided behavioral rating of same- and opposite-sex attitudes, and 52 youth (ages 4-18 years) underwent an fMRI scan as they matched the emotion of same- and opposite-sex faces. We demonstrate significant age-related behavioral biases of sex that are mediated by differential amygdala response to opposite-sex relative to same-sex faces in children, an effect that completely attenuates by the teenage years. Moreover, we find a second peak in amygdala sensitivity to opposite-sex faces around the time of puberty. Thus, the amygdala codes for developmentally dependent and motivationally relevant social identification across development.

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"Little Girls Unwilling to Do What's Best for Them": Resurrecting Patriarchy in an LGBT Christian Church

Edward Sumerau, Irene Padavic & Douglas Schrock
Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, June 2015, Pages 306-334

Abstract:
This paper examines how a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Christians resurrected patriarchal patterns of gender inequality in their local church. On the basis of more than 450 hours of fieldwork, we analyze how a group of lesbian and gay members collaborated with a new pastor to transform an egalitarian, inclusive, and democratic organization into one characterized by the elevation of men and the subordination of women via restricting leadership to men, instituting a gendered division of labor, and discrediting women dissidents. In so doing, the pastor and his supporters, regardless of their intentions, collaboratively reproduced patriarchal practices that facilitated the subordination of women. We conclude by suggesting that there is not a one-to-one correspondence between gains for LGBT organizations and gains for women, and we outline implications for understanding how retrenchment from egalitarian practice can undo gender-equality gains.

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Understanding the Educational Attainment of Sexual Minority Women and Men

Stefanie Mollborn & Bethany Everett
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, forthcoming

Abstract:
National studies have not analyzed sexual identity disparities in high school completion, college enrollment, or college completion in the United States. Using Add Health data, we document the relationship between adult sexual orientation and each of these outcomes. Many sexual minority respondents experienced disadvantages in adolescent academic achievement, school experiences, and social environments. This translates into educational attainment in complex, gendered ways. We find that the socially privileged completely heterosexual identity predicts higher educational attainment for women, while for men it is often a liability. Mostly heterosexual and gay identities are educationally beneficial for men but not women. There are college completion disparities between gay and mostly heterosexual women and their completely heterosexual counterparts. Bisexual respondents, especially women, have particularly problematic outcomes. Adolescent experiences, attitudes, and social contexts explain some of these differences. From adolescence through college, sexual minority groups, but especially females, need intervention to reduce substantial educational disparities.

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Morality Politics and Municipal LGBT Policy Adoption: A Rare-event Analysis

Royal Cravens
State and Local Government Review, March 2015, Pages 15-25

Abstract:
Why do municipal governments adopt lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) inclusive policies? The preponderance of literature suggests urbanism and social diversity are the most likely explanations for LGBT municipal policies. This research tests these assumptions using the morality politics model. Using rare-events logistic regression, municipalities in the state of Florida with LGBT antidiscrimination ordinances are compared with municipalities that do not have such policies. The results contradict theories of urbanism and highlight the shortcomings of the morality politics model. Specifically, the results indicate that even under highly salient conditions, LGBT advocacy resources play an important role in the policy adoption process.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, May 8, 2015

To cover, or not to cover

Considering Whether Medicaid Is Worth the Cost: Revisiting the Oregon Health Study

Peter Muennig et al.
American Journal of Public Health, May 2015, Pages 866-871

Abstract:
The Oregon Health Study was a groundbreaking experiment in which uninsured participants were randomized to either apply for Medicaid or stay with their current care. The study showed that Medicaid produced numerous important socioeconomic and health benefits but had no statistically significant impact on hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, or diabetes. Medicaid opponents interpreted the findings to mean that Medicaid is not a worthwhile investment. Medicaid proponents viewed the experiment as statistically underpowered and, irrespective of the laboratory values, suggestive that Medicaid is a good investment. We tested these competing claims and, using a sensitive joint test and statistical power analysis, confirmed that the Oregon Health Study did not improve laboratory values. However, we also found that Medicaid is a good value, with a cost of just $62 000 per quality-adjusted life-years gained.

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If Rollbacks Go Forward, Up To 14 Million Children Could Become Ineligible For Public Or Subsidized Coverage By 2019

Julie Hudson, Steven Hill & Thomas Selden
Health Affairs, May 2015, Pages 864-870

Abstract:
In spring 2015 Congress passed legislation to extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through the end of fiscal year 2017. This two-year extension pushes to 2017 the question of whether CHIP funding will end, allowing states to end their separate state CHIP programs. Also, when the Affordable Care Act’s maintenance-of-effort requirements expire after 2019, states will be allowed to roll back Medicaid- and CHIP-eligibility thresholds to minimum levels allowed by federal law. This study investigated the potential health insurance options available to low-income children if these events happen. If all states roll back coverage to federal statutory minimums, then, among children in families with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, the share ineligible for public coverage or subsidized Marketplace coverage would increase from 22 percent in 2014 (12.5 million children) to 46 percent after 2019 (26.5 million children). While not all states are likely to reduce eligibility to federal statutory minimums, these estimates highlight the fact that many children who do lose public eligibility will not become eligible for subsidized Marketplace coverage.

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How Do Health Insurer Market Concentration and Bargaining Power with Hospitals Affect Health Insurance Premiums?

Erin Trish & Bradley Herring
Journal of Health Economics, July 2015, Pages 104–114

Abstract:
The US health insurance industry is highly concentrated, and health insurance premiums are high and rising rapidly. Policymakers have focused on the possible link between the two, leading to ACA provisions to increase insurer competition. However, while market power may enable insurers to include higher profit margins in their premiums, it may also result in stronger bargaining leverage with hospitals to negotiate lower payment rates to partially offset these higher premiums. We empirically examine the relationship between employer-sponsored fully-insured health insurance premiums and the level of concentration in local insurer and hospital markets using the nationally-representative 2006-2011 KFF/HRET Employer Health Benefits Survey. We exploit a unique feature of employer-sponsored insurance, in which self-insured employers purchase only administrative services from managed care organizations, to disentangle these different effects on insurer concentration by constructing one concentration measure representing fully-insured plans’ transactions with employers and the other concentration measure representing insurers’ bargaining with hospitals. As expected, we find that premiums are indeed higher for plans sold in markets with higher levels of concentration relevant to insurer transactions with employers, lower for plans in markets with higher levels of insurer concentration relevant to insurer bargaining with hospitals, and higher for plans in markets with higher levels of hospital market concentration.

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California Hospital Networks Are Narrower In Marketplace Than In Commercial Plans, But Access And Quality Are Similar

Simon Haeder, David Weimer & Dana Mukamel
Health Affairs, May 2015, Pages 741-748

Abstract:
Do insurance plans offered through the Marketplace implemented by the State of California under the Affordable Care Act restrict consumers’ access to hospitals relative to plans offered on the commercial market? And are the hospitals included in Marketplace networks of lower quality compared to those included in the commercial plans? To answer these questions, we analyzed differences in hospital networks across similar plan types offered both in the Marketplace and commercially, by region and insurer. We found that the common belief that Marketplace plans have narrower networks than their commercial counterparts appears empirically valid. However, there does not appear to be a substantive difference in geographic access as measured by the percentage of people residing in at least one hospital market area. More surprisingly, depending on the measure of hospital quality employed, the Marketplace plans have networks with comparable or even higher average quality than the networks of their commercial counterparts.

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Association of Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations vs Traditional Medicare Fee for Service With Spending, Utilization, and Patient Experience

David Nyweide et al.
Journal of the American Medical Association, forthcoming

Importance: The Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Model aims to drive health care organizations to reduce expenditures while improving quality for fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare beneficiaries.

Objective: To determine whether FFS beneficiaries aligned with Pioneer ACOs had smaller increases in spending and utilization than other FFS beneficiaries while retaining similar levels of care satisfaction in the first 2 years of the Pioneer ACO Model.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Participants were FFS Medicare beneficiaries aligned with 32 ACOs (n = 675 712 in 2012; n = 806 258 in 2013) and a comparison group of alignment-eligible beneficiaries in the same markets (n = 13 203 694 in 2012; n = 12 134 154 in 2013). Analyses comprised difference-in-differences multivariable regression with Oaxaca-Blinder reweighting to model expenditure and utilization outcomes over a 2-year performance period (2012-2013) and 2-year baseline period (2010-2011) as well as adjusted analyses of Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems (CAHPS) survey responses among random samples of beneficiaries in Pioneer ACOs (n = 13 097), FFS (n = 116 255), or Medicare Advantage (n = 203 736) for 2012 care.

Results: Total spending for beneficiaries aligned with Pioneer ACOs in 2012 or 2013 increased from baseline to a lesser degree relative to comparison populations. Differential changes in spending were approximately −$35.62 (95% CI, −$40.12 to −$31.12) per-beneficiary-per-month (PBPM) in 2012 and -$11.18 (95% CI, −$15.84 to −$6.51) PBPM in 2013, which amounted to aggregate reductions in increases of approximately −$280 (95% CI, −$315 to −$244) million in 2012 and −$105 (95% CI, −$148 to −$61) million in 2013. Inpatient spending showed the largest differential change of any spending category (−$14.40 [95% CI, −$17.31 to −$11.49] PBPM in 2012; −$6.46 [95% CI, −$9.26 to −$3.66] PBPM in 2013). Changes in utilization of physician services, emergency department, and postacute care followed a similar pattern. Compared with other Medicare beneficiaries, ACO-aligned beneficiaries reported higher mean scores for timely care (77.2 [ACO] vs 71.2 [FFS] vs 72.7 [MA]) and for clinician communication (91.9 [ACO] vs 88.3 [FFS] vs 88.7 [MA]).

Conclusions and Relevance: In the first 2 years of the Pioneer ACO Model, beneficiaries aligned with Pioneer ACOs, as compared with general Medicare FFS beneficiaries, exhibited smaller increases in total Medicare expenditures and differential reductions in utilization of different health services, with little difference in patient experience.

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Most Uninsured Adults Could Schedule Primary Care Appointments Before The ACA, But Average Price Was $160

Brendan Saloner et al.
Health Affairs, May 2015, Pages 773-780

Abstract:
Provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allow millions more Americans to obtain health insurance. However, a sizable number of people remain uninsured because they live in states that have not expanded Medicaid coverage or because they feel that Marketplace coverage is not affordable. Using data from a ten-state telephone survey in which callers posed as patients, we examined prices for primary care visits offered by physician offices to new uninsured patients in 2012–13, prior to ACA insurance expansions. Patients were quoted a mean price of $160. Significantly lower prices for the uninsured were offered by family practice offices compared to general internists, in offices participating in Medicaid managed care plans, and in federally qualified health centers. Prices were also lower for offices in ZIP codes with higher poverty rates. Only 18 percent of uninsured callers were told that they could bring less than the full amount to the visit and arrange to pay the rest later. ACA insurance expansions could greatly decrease out-of-pocket spending for low-income adults seeking primary care. However, benefits of health reform are likely to be greater in states expanding Medicaid eligibility.

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Conflicts of Interest in Medical Technology Markets: Evidence from Orthopedic Surgery

Fabrice Smieliauskas
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Financial relationships between physicians and industry are vital to biomedical innovation yet create the potential for conflicts of interest in medical practice. I consider an inducement model of the role of financial relationships in health care markets, where consulting payments induce physicians to use more devices of the firms that sponsor them. To test the model, I exploit a policy shock, whereby government monitoring of payments to joint replacement surgeons resulted in declines of over 60% in both total payments and in the number of physicians receiving payments from 2007 to 2008. Using hospital discharge data from three states, I find that the loss of payments leads physicians to switch 7 percentage points of their device utilization from their sponsoring firms' devices to other firms' devices, an effect which is concentrated among surgeons with low switching costs. These results offer support for the inducement model. I also find evidence of an increase in medical productivity following the policy intervention, which suggests conditions under which regulation of financial relationships would be socially beneficial.

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Quality-Adjusted Cost Of Care: A Meaningful Way To Measure Growth In Innovation Cost Versus The Value Of Health Gains

Darius Lakdawalla et al.
Health Affairs, April 2015, Pages 555-561

Abstract:
Technology drives both health care spending and health improvement. Yet policy makers rarely see measures of cost growth that account for both effects. To fill this gap, we present the quality-adjusted cost of care, which illustrates cost growth net of growth in the value of health improvements, measured as survival gains multiplied by the value of survival. We applied the quality-adjusted cost of care to two cases. For colorectal cancer, drug cost per patient increased by $34,493 between 1998 and 2005 as a result of new drug launches, but value from offsetting health improvements netted a modest $1,377 increase in quality-adjusted cost of care. For multiple myeloma, new therapies increased treatment cost by $72,937 between 2004 and 2009, but offsetting health benefits lowered overall quality-adjusted cost of care by $67,863. However, patients with multiple myeloma on established first-line therapies saw costs rise without corresponding benefits. All three examples document rapid cost growth, but they provide starkly different answers to the question of whether society got what it paid for.

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Performance Differences in Year 1 of Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations

Michael McWilliams et al.
New England Journal of Medicine, forthcoming

Background: In 2012, a total of 32 organizations entered the Pioneer accountable care organization (ACO) program, in which providers can share savings with Medicare if spending falls below a financial benchmark. Performance differences associated with characteristics of Pioneer ACOs have not been well described.

Methods: In a difference-in-differences analysis of Medicare fee-for-service claims, we compared Medicare spending for beneficiaries attributed to Pioneer ACOs (ACO group) with other beneficiaries (control group) before (2009 through 2011) and after (2012) the start of Pioneer ACO contracts, with adjustment for geographic area and beneficiaries' sociodemographic and clinical characteristics. We estimated differential changes in spending for several subgroups of ACOs: those with and those without clear financial integration between hospitals and physician groups, those with higher and those with lower baseline spending, and the 13 ACOs that withdrew from the Pioneer program after 2012 and the 19 that did not.

Results: Adjusted Medicare spending and spending trends were similar in the ACO group and the control group during the precontract period. In 2012, the total adjusted per-beneficiary spending differentially changed in the ACO group as compared with the control group (−$29.2 per quarter, P=0.007), consistent with a 1.2% savings. Savings were significantly greater for ACOs with baseline spending above the local average, as compared with those with baseline spending below the local average (P=0.05 for interaction), and for those serving high-spending areas, as compared with those serving low-spending areas (P=0.04). Savings were similar in ACOs with financial integration between hospitals and physician groups and those without, as well as in ACOs that withdrew from the program and those that did not.

Conclusions: Year 1 of the Pioneer ACO program was associated with modest reductions in Medicare spending. Savings were greater for ACOs with higher baseline spending than for those with lower baseline spending and were unrelated to withdrawal from the program.

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Job Lock: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design

Robert Fairlie, Kanika Kapur & Susan Gates
University of California Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
Employer-provided health insurance may restrict job mobility, resulting in “job lock.” Previous research on job lock finds mixed results using several methodologies. We take a new approach to examine job-lock by exploiting the discontinuity created at age 65 through the qualification for Medicare. Using a novel procedure for identifying age in months from matched monthly CPS data and a relatively unexplored administration measure of job mobility, we compare job mobility among male workers in the months just prior to turning age 65 to job mobility in the months just after turning age 65. We find no evidence that job mobility increases at the age 65 threshold when Medicare eligibility starts. We also do not find evidence that other factors such as retirement, reduction in hours worked, social security eligibility, pension eligibility, and sample changes confound the results on job mobility in the month individuals turn 65.

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Is There a Link between Employer-Provided Health Insurance and Job Mobility? Evidence from Recent Micro Data

Benjamin Chute & Phani Wunnava
Middlebury College Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
This study investigates the prevalence and severity of job immobility induced by the provision of employer-sponsored health insurance – a phenomenon known as 'job-lock'. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth from 1994 to 2010, job-lock is identified by measuring the impact of employer-sponsored health insurance on voluntary job turnover frequency. Estimates from a logistic regression with random effects indicate that job-lock reduces voluntary job turnover by 20% per year. These results that are consistent with past research and are also supported by two alternative identification strategies employed in this paper. Our results indicate a persistence of the job-lock effect, despite two major policy interventions designed to mitigate it (COBRA and HIPAA) and signal a fundamental misunderstanding of its causes. Both policies made health insurance more portable between employers, but this paper presents evidence from a quasi-natural experiment to suggest that the problem is a lack of viable alternative private sources of health insurance. In this model, we find evidence that access to health insurance through one's spouse or partner dramatically increases voluntary job turnover. This finding has significant bearing on predicted impacts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) and the individual health insurance exchanges catalyzed by it; these new markets will create risk pools that may 'unlock' a job-locked individual by providing them a viable alternative to employer-sponsored health insurance.

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Cancer Mortality Reductions Were Greatest Among Countries Where Cancer Care Spending Rose The Most, 1995–2007

Warren Stevens et al.
Health Affairs, April 2015, Pages 562-570

Abstract:
Health care spending and health outcomes vary markedly across countries, but the association between spending and outcomes remains unclear. This inevitably raises questions as to whether continuing growth in spending is justified, especially relative to the rising cost of cancer care. We compared cancer care across sixteen countries over time, examining changes in cancer spending and two measures of cancer mortality (amenable and excess mortality). We found that compared to low-spending health systems, high-spending systems had consistently lower cancer mortality in the period 1995–2007. Similarly, we found that the countries that increased spending the most had a 17 percent decrease in amenable mortality, compared to 8 percent in the countries with the lowest growth in cancer spending. For excess mortality, the corresponding decreases were 13 percent and 9 percent. Additionally, the rate of decrease for the countries with the highest spending growth was faster than the all-country trend. These findings are consistent with the existence of a link between higher cancer spending and lower cancer mortality. However, further work is needed to investigate the mechanisms that underlie this correlation.

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An Early Look At SHOP Marketplaces: Low Premiums, Adequate Plan Choice In Many, But Not All, States

Jon Gabel et al.
Health Affairs, May 2015, Pages 732-740

Abstract:
The Affordable Care Act created the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplaces to help small businesses provide health insurance to their employees. To attract the participation of substantial numbers of small employers, SHOP Marketplaces must demonstrate value-added features unavailable in the traditional small-group market. Such features could include lower premiums than those for plans offered outside the Marketplace and more extensive choices of carriers and plans. More choices are necessary for SHOP Marketplaces to offer the “employee choice model,” in which employees may choose from many carriers and plans. This study compared the numbers of carriers and plans and premium levels in 2014 for plans offered through SHOP Marketplaces with those of plans offered only outside of the Marketplaces. An average of 4.3 carriers participated in each state’s Marketplace, offering a total of forty-seven plans. Premiums for plans offered through SHOP Marketplaces were, on average, 7 percent less than those in the same metal tier offered only outside of the Marketplaces. Lower premiums and the participation of multiple carriers in most states are a source of optimism for future enrollment growth in SHOP Marketplaces. Lack of broker buy-in in many states and burdensome enrollment processes are major impediments to success.

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Racial and Regional Disparities in the Effect of the Affordable Care Act’s Dependent Coverage Provision on Young Adult Trauma Patients

John Scott et al.
Journal of the American College of Surgeons, forthcoming

Background: Disparities in trauma outcomes based on insurance and race are especially pronounced among young adults who have relatively high uninsured rates and incur a disproportionate share of trauma in the population. The 2010 dependent coverage provision (DCP) of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowed young adults to remain on their parent’s health insurance plans until age 26, leading to over 3 million young adults gaining insurance. We investigated the impact of the DCP on racial disparities in coverage expansion among trauma patients.

Study Design: Using the 2007-2012 National Trauma Databank, we compared changes in coverage among 529,844 19-25 year-olds to 484,974 controls aged 27-34 not affected by the DCP. Subgroup analyses were conducted by race and ethnicity and by census region.

Results: The pre-DCP uninsured rates among young adults were highest among black patients (48.1%) and Hispanic patients (44.3%), and significantly lower among Non-Hispanic white patients (28.9%). However, Non-Hispanic white young adults experienced a significantly greater absolute reduction in the uninsured rate (-4.9 percentage points) than black (-2.9, p=0.01) and Hispanic (-1.7, p<0.001) young adults. These absolute reductions correspond to a 17.0% relative reduction in the uninsured rate for white patients, 6.1% for black patients, and 3.7% for Hispanic patients. Racial disparities in the provision’s impact on coverage among trauma patients were largest in the South and West census regions (p<0.01).

Conclusions: While the DCP increased insurance coverage for young adult trauma patients of all races, both absolute and relative racial disparities in insurance coverage widened. The extent of these racial disparities also differed by geographic region. Though this policy produced overall progress towards greater coverage among young adults, its heterogeneous impact by race has important implications for future disparities research in trauma.

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Care Coordination Program For Washington State Medicaid Enrollees Reduced Inpatient Hospital Costs

Jingping Xing, Candace Goehring & David Mancuso
Health Affairs, April 2015, Pages 653-661

Abstract:
Managing clinically complex populations poses a major challenge for state agencies trying to control health care costs and improve quality of care for Medicaid beneficiaries. In Washington State a care coordination intervention, the Chronic Care Management program, was implemented for clinically complex Medicaid beneficiaries who met risk criteria defined by a predictive modeling algorithm. We used propensity score matching to evaluate the program’s impact on health care spending and utilization and mortality. We found large and significant reductions in inpatient hospital costs ($318 per member per month) among patients who used the program. The estimated reduction in overall medical costs of $248 per member per month exceeded the cost of the intervention but did not reach statistical significance. These results suggest that well-designed targeted care coordination services could reduce health care spending for Medicaid beneficiaries with complex health care needs.

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Large Performance Incentives Had The Greatest Impact On Providers Whose Quality Metrics Were Lowest At Baseline

Jessica Greene, Judith Hibbard & Valerie Overton
Health Affairs, April 2015, Pages 673-680

Abstract:
This study examined the impact of Fairview Health Services’ primary care provider compensation model, in which 40 percent of compensation was based on clinic-level quality outcomes. Fairview Health Services is a Pioneer accountable care organization in Minnesota. Using publicly reported performance data from 2010 and 2012, we found that Fairview’s improvement in quality metrics was not greater than the improvement in other comparable Minnesota medical groups. An analysis of Fairview’s administrative data found that the largest predictor of improvement over the first two years of the compensation model was primary care providers’ baseline quality performance. Providers whose baseline performance was in the lowest tertile improved three times more, on average, across the three quality metrics studied than those in the middle tertile, and almost six times more than those in the top tertile. As a result, there was a narrowing of variation in performance across all primary care providers at Fairview and a narrowing of the gap in quality between providers who treated the highest-income patient panels and those who treated the lowest-income panels. The large quality incentive fell short of its overall quality improvement aim. However, the results suggest that payment reform may help narrow variation in primary care provider performance, which can translate into narrowing socioeconomic disparities.

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Implementation of Patient-Centered Medical Homes in Adult Primary Care Practices

Jeffrey Alexander et al.
Medical Care Research and Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
There has been relatively little empirical evidence about the effects of patient-centered medical home (PCMH) implementation on patient-related outcomes and costs. Using a longitudinal design and a large study group of 2,218 Michigan adult primary care practices, our study examined the following research questions: Is the level of, and change in, implementation of PCMH associated with medical surgical cost, preventive services utilization, and quality of care in the following year? Results indicated that both level and amount of change in practice implementation of PCMH are independently and positively associated with measures of quality of care and use of preventive services, after controlling for a variety of practice, patient cohort, and practice environmental characteristics. Results also indicate that lower overall medical and surgical costs are associated with higher levels of PCMH implementation, although change in PCMH implementation did not achieve statistical significance.

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Early Diffusion Of Gene Expression Profiling In Breast Cancer Patients Associated With Areas Of High Income Inequality

Ninez Ponce et al.
Health Affairs, April 2015, Pages 609-615

Abstract:
With the Affordable Care Act reducing coverage disparities, social factors could prominently determine where and for whom innovations first diffuse in health care markets. Gene expression profiling is a potentially cost-effective innovation that guides chemotherapy decisions in early-stage breast cancer, but adoption has been uneven across the United States. Using a sample of commercially insured women, we evaluated whether income inequality in metropolitan areas was associated with receipt of gene expression profiling during its initial diffusion in 2006–07. In areas with high income inequality, gene expression profiling receipt was higher than elsewhere, but it was associated with a 10.6-percentage-point gap between high- and low-income women. In areas with low rates of income inequality, gene expression profiling receipt was lower, with no significant differences by income. Even among insured women, income inequality may indirectly shape diffusion of gene expression profiling, with benefits accruing to the highest-income patients in the most unequal places. Policies reducing gene expression profiling disparities should address low-inequality areas and, in unequal places, practice settings serving low-income patients.

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Determinants of US Prescription Drug Utilization using County Level Data

Thierry Nianogo et al.
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Prescription drugs are the third largest component of US healthcare expenditures. The 2006 Medicare Part D and the 2010 Affordable Care Act are catalysts for further growths in utilization becuase of insurance expansion effects. This research investigating the determinants of prescription drug utilization is timely, methodologically novel, and policy relevant. Differences in population health status, access to care, socioeconomics, demographics, and variations in per capita number of scripts filled at retail pharmacies across the USA justify fitting separate econometric models to county data of the states partitioned into low, medium, and high prescription drug users. Given the skewed distribution of per capita number of filled prescriptions (response variable), we fit the variance stabilizing Box–Cox power transformation regression models to 2011 county level data for investigating the correlates of prescription drug utilization separately for low, medium, and high utilization states. Maximum likelihood regression parameter estimates, including the optimal Box–Cox λ power transformations, differ across high (λ = 0.214), medium (λ = 0.942), and low (λ = 0.302) prescription drug utilization models. The estimated income elasticities of −0.634, 0.031, and −0.532 in high, medium, and low utilization models suggest that the economic behavior of prescriptions is not invariant across different utilization levels.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, May 7, 2015

She has a chance

Is There an Implicit Quota on Women in Top Management? A Large-Sample Statistical Analysis

Cristian Dezső, David Gaddis Ross & Jose Uribe
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although extant research suggests that the presence of women in top management could be self-reinforcing, we propose an alternative theory: that women in top management face an implicit quota, whereby a firm's leadership makes an effort to have a small number of women on the top management team but makes less effort to have, or even resists having, larger numbers of women. As a result, the presence of a woman on a top management team reduces the likelihood that another woman occupies a position on that team. Using twenty years of data on the S&P 1,500 firms and a novel econometric design that compares simulated populations of top managers with the actual population, we find strong evidence in support of our theory.

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Beauty and the feast: Examining the effect of beauty on earnings using restaurant tipping data

Matt Parrett
Journal of Economic Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper looks at the effect of beauty on earnings using restaurant tipping data. Customers were surveyed as they left a set of five Virginia restaurants about the dining experience, their server, and themselves, including about their tip and their server's beauty and productivity. I find that attractive servers earn approximately $1,261 more per year in tips than unattractive servers, the primary driver of which is female customers tipping attractive females more than unattractive females. Potential explanations of this earnings gap are drawn from both the labor and experimental economics literatures, the most compelling of which is customer taste-based discrimination.

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Million Dollar Maybe? The Effect of Female Presence in Movies on Box Office Returns

Andrew Lindner, Melissa Lindquist & Julie Arnold
Sociological Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines processes that contribute to the underrepresentation of women in film by linking the depiction of gender in film to its impact on domestic box office returns. Drawing on a sample of widely distributed movies from 2000 to 2009 (n = 974), we test whether the box office under-performance of films with an independent female presence results primarily from "downstream" public rejection or from an gendered "upstream" division of resources that provides greater studio support to movies about men. Using a series of multivariate regression analyses and controlling for genre, critical appraisal, arthouse label, being a sequel, and including a popular star, films with a female presence earn less at the box office. This effect, however, appears to be largely the consequence of movies that feature women having smaller production budgets, suggesting that the underrepresentation of women in film stems from "upstream" routines of film industry gatekeepers, not a lesser interest in stories about women in the minds of the public.

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Does the sex difference in competitiveness decrease in selective sub-populations? A test with intercollegiate distance runners

Robert Deaner et al.
PeerJ, April 2015

Abstract:
Sex differences in some preferences and motivations are well established, but it is unclear whether they persist in selective sub-populations, such as expert financial decision makers, top scientists, or elite athletes. We addressed this issue by studying competitiveness in 1,147 varsity intercollegiate distance runners. As expected, across all runners, men reported greater competitiveness with two previously validated instruments, greater competitiveness on a new elite competitiveness scale, and greater training volume, a known correlate of competitiveness. Among faster runners, the sex difference decreased for one measure of competitiveness but did not decrease for the two other competitiveness measures or either measure of training volume. Across NCAA athletic divisions (DI, DII, DIII), the sex difference did not decrease for any competitiveness or training measure. Further analyses showed that these sex differences could not be attributed to women suffering more injuries or facing greater childcare responsibilities. However, women did report greater commitment than men to their academic studies, suggesting a sex difference in priorities. Therefore, policies aiming to provide men and women with equal opportunities to flourish should acknowledge that sex differences in some kinds of preferences and motivation may persist even in selective sub-populations.

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When beauty helps and when it hurts: An organizational context model of attractiveness discrimination in selection decisions

Sunyoung Lee et al.
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, May 2015, Pages 15-28

Abstract:
We propose and test a theory explaining how and why decision makers engage in attractiveness discrimination in selection decisions. We integrate status generalization with interdependence theories and contextualize attractiveness discrimination within interdependent relationships among decision makers and candidates. Drawing on status generalization theory, we propose that decision makers associate attractiveness with competence in male but not in female candidates. We then draw on interdependence theory to propose that cooperative and competitive interdependence result in opposing patterns of attractiveness discrimination. When decision makers expect to cooperate with the candidate, they perceive attractive male candidates as more capable cooperators and discriminate in their favor. When decision makers expect to compete with the candidate, they perceive attractive male candidates as more capable competitors, and discriminate against them. Four studies, using different samples, selection tasks, manipulations of candidate attractiveness, and manipulations of interdependence, found evidence consistent with the theory.

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Women are underrepresented in fields where success is believed to require brilliance

Meredith Meyer, Andrei Cimpian & Sarah-Jane Leslie
Frontiers in Psychology, March 2015

Abstract:
Women's underrepresentation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is a prominent concern in our society and many others. Closer inspection of this phenomenon reveals a more nuanced picture, however, with women achieving parity with men at the Ph.D. level in certain STEM fields, while also being underrepresented in some non-STEM fields. It is important to consider and provide an account of this field-by-field variability. The field-specific ability beliefs (FAB) hypothesis aims to provide such an account, proposing that women are likely to be underrepresented in fields thought to require raw intellectual talent-a sort of talent that women are stereotyped to possess less of than men. In two studies, we provide evidence for the FAB hypothesis, demonstrating that the academic fields believed by laypeople to require brilliance are also the fields with lower female representation. We also found that the FABs of participants with college-level exposure to a field were more predictive of its female representation than those of participants without college exposure, presumably because the former beliefs mirror more closely those of the field's practitioners (the direct "gatekeepers"). Moreover, the FABs of participants with college exposure to a field predicted the magnitude of the field's gender gap above and beyond their beliefs about the level of mathematical and verbal skills required. Finally, we found that beliefs about the importance of brilliance to success in a field may predict its female representation in part by fostering the impression that the field demands solitary work and competition with others. These results suggest new solutions for enhancing diversity within STEM and across the academic spectrum.

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The paradox of progress: The emergence of wage discrimination in US manufacturing

Joyce Burnette
European Review of Economic History, May 2015, Pages 128-148

Abstract:
This article tests for wage discrimination in US manufacturing during the nineteenth century and in 2002 by estimating the female-to-male productivity ratio and comparing it to the wage ratio. This method will not identify all forms of discrimination, but will determine whether women were paid wages commensurate with their productivity. There was no significant difference between the wage ratio and the productivity ratio in the nineteenth century, but in 1900 there is evidence of gender discrimination among white-collar workers. In 2002 the female-to-male productivity ratio was higher than in the nineteenth century, and the wage ratio was also higher, but the wage ratio was significantly lower than the productivity ratio, at least for workers older than thirty-five. The movement from the spot labor markets of the nineteenth century to the internal labor markets has allowed for the emergence of gender wage discrimination.

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Gender Profiling: A Gendered Race Perspective on Person-Position Fit

Erika Hall, Adam Galinsky & Katherine Phillips
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current research integrates perspectives on gendered race and person-position fit to introduce the concept of a gender profile. We propose that both the "gender" of a person's biological sex and the "gender" of a person's race (Asians are perceived as feminine and Blacks as masculine) help comprise an individual's gender profile - the overall femininity or masculinity associated with their demographic characteristics. We also propose that occupational positions have gender profiles. Finally, we argue that the overall gender profile of one's demographics, rather than just one's biological sex, determines one's fit and hirability for feminine or masculine occupational roles. The current five studies establish the gender profiles of different races and sexes, and then demonstrate that individuals with feminine-typed and masculine-typed gender profiles are selected for feminine and masculine positions, respectively. These studies provide new insights on who gets ahead in different environments.

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National hiring experiments reveal 2:1 faculty preference for women on STEM tenure track

Wendy Williams & Stephen Ceci
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 28 April 2015, Pages 5360-5365

Abstract:
National randomized experiments and validation studies were conducted on 873 tenure-track faculty (439 male, 434 female) from biology, engineering, economics, and psychology at 371 universities/colleges from 50 US states and the District of Columbia. In the main experiment, 363 faculty members evaluated narrative summaries describing hypothetical female and male applicants for tenure-track assistant professorships who shared the same lifestyle (e.g., single without children, married with children). Applicants' profiles were systematically varied to disguise identically rated scholarship; profiles were counterbalanced by gender across faculty to enable between-faculty comparisons of hiring preferences for identically qualified women versus men. Results revealed a 2:1 preference for women by faculty of both genders across both math-intensive and non-math-intensive fields, with the single exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference. Results were replicated using weighted analyses to control for national sample characteristics. In follow-up experiments, 144 faculty evaluated competing applicants with differing lifestyles (e.g., divorced mother vs. married father), and 204 faculty compared same-gender candidates with children, but differing in whether they took 1-y-parental leaves in graduate school. Women preferred divorced mothers to married fathers; men preferred mothers who took leaves to mothers who did not. In two validation studies, 35 engineering faculty provided rankings using full curricula vitae instead of narratives, and 127 faculty rated one applicant rather than choosing from a mixed-gender group; the same preference for women was shown by faculty of both genders. These results suggest it is a propitious time for women launching careers in academic science. Messages to the contrary may discourage women from applying for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) tenure-track assistant professorships.

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Friendship at Work: Can Peer Effects Catalyze Female Entrepreneurship?

Erica Field et al.
NBER Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
Does the lack of peers contribute to the observed gender gap in entrepreneurial success, and is the constraint stronger for women facing more restrictive social norms? We offered two days of business counseling to a random sample of customers of India's largest women's bank. A random subsample was invited to attend with a friend. The intervention had a significant immediate impact on participants' business activity, but only if they were trained in the presence of a friend. Four months later, those trained with a friend were more likely to have taken out business loans, were less likely to be housewives, and reported increased business activity and higher household income. The positive impacts of training with a friend were stronger among women from religious or caste groups with social norms that restrict female mobility.

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Are male leaders penalized for seeking help? The influence of gender and asking behaviors on competence perceptions

Ashleigh Shelby Rosette, Jennifer Mueller & David Lebel
Leadership Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study draws on research derived from role congruity theory (RCT) and the status incongruity hypothesis (SIH) to test the prediction that male leaders who seek help will be evaluated as less competent than male leaders who do not seek help. In a field setting, Study 1 showed that seeking help was negatively related to perceived competence for male (but not female) leaders. In an experimental setting, Study 2 showed that this effect was not moderated by leadership style (Study 2a) or a gender-specific context (Study 2b). Study 2b further showed that the cognitive tenets of RCT rather than the motivational view espoused by the SIH explained our findings. Specifically, leader typicality (perceptions of help seeking as an atypical behavior for male leaders; the RCT view), and not leader weakness (a proscribed behavior for male leaders; the SIH view), mediated our predicted moderation.

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The hidden gender effect in online collaboration: An experimental study of team performance under anonymity

Hyang-gi Song et al.
Computers in Human Behavior, September 2015, Pages 274-282

Abstract:
It has been argued that the generally positive effect that female participation exerts on team performance ceases to exist under conditions of anonymity. We evaluate this thesis in the context of an online learning environment in which the gender of fellow student team members was not disclosed to subjects. To circumvent selection effects in the composition of teams we employed an experimental design in which female and male students were randomly assigned to teams of varying gender composition. Against expectations, we find that under anonymity gender composition continues to impact team performance, with all-female teams being most productive. Counter-intuitively, this team effect occurred in our study without female students individually being more productive than their male counterparts. These findings indicate that the presence of females on anonymous teams can have a hidden effect on the productivity of other team members. Our results underscore that despite face-to-face interaction in higher education increasingly being substituted by Internet-enabled communication, a student's social environment continues to impact academic learning in important ways.

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High School Grades, Admissions Policies, and the Gender Gap in College Enrollment

Dylan Conger
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
The female advantage in college enrollment and completion has generated concern among university officials and sparked debate about gender-conscious college admissions. There are a number of explanations for this increasing gender imbalance on college campuses. This paper focuses on the role played by admissions policies that base decisions solely on applicants' high school grades. Given that females earn higher grades than males, such policies can contribute to growing female shares in admissions. To exemplify this trend, I use publicly-available data from Texas to show that the Texas Top 10 percent plan, which guarantees public university admission to students who graduate in the top decile of their high school class, led to a an increase in the female share of accepted students. The increase was particularly large among black students, where the female share of admitted students was already highest among the major racial/ethnic groups.

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Female peers in small work groups enhance women's motivation, verbal participation, and career aspirations in engineering

Nilanjana Dasgupta, Melissa McManus Scircle & Matthew Hunsinger
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 21 April 2015, Pages 4988-4993

Abstract:
For years, public discourse in science education, technology, and policy-making has focused on the "leaky pipeline" problem: the observation that fewer women than men enter science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields and more women than men leave. Less attention has focused on experimentally testing solutions to this problem. We report an experiment investigating one solution: we created "microenvironments" (small groups) in engineering with varying proportions of women to identify which environment increases motivation and participation, and whether outcomes depend on students' academic stage. Female engineering students were randomly assigned to one of three engineering groups of varying sex composition: 75% women, 50% women, or 25% women. For first-years, group composition had a large effect: women in female-majority and sex-parity groups felt less anxious than women in female-minority groups. However, among advanced students, sex composition had no effect on anxiety. Importantly, group composition significantly affected verbal participation, regardless of women's academic seniority: women participated more in female-majority groups than sex-parity or female-minority groups. Additionally, when assigned to female-minority groups, women who harbored implicit masculine stereotypes about engineering reported less confidence and engineering career aspirations. However, in sex-parity and female-majority groups, confidence and career aspirations remained high regardless of implicit stereotypes. These data suggest that creating small groups with high proportions of women in otherwise male-dominated fields is one way to keep women engaged and aspiring toward engineering careers. Although sex parity works sometimes, it is insufficient to boost women's verbal participation in group work, which often affects learning and mastery.

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The Leader-in-Social-Network Schema: Perceptions of Network Structure Affect Gendered Attributions of Charisma

Raina Brands, Jochen Menges & Martin Kilduff
Organization Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Charisma is crucially important for a range of leadership outcomes. Charisma is also in the eye of the beholder - an attribute perceived by followers. Traditional leadership theory has tended to assume charismatic attributions flow to men rather than women. We challenge this assumption of an inevitable charismatic bias toward men leaders. We propose that gender-biased attributions about the charismatic leadership of men and women are facilitated by the operation of a leader-in-social-network schema. Attributions of charismatic leadership depend on the match between the gender of the leader and the perceived structure of the network. In three studies encompassing both experimental and survey data, we show that when team advice networks are perceived to be centralized around one or a few individuals, women leaders are seen as less charismatic than men leaders. However, when networks are perceived to be cohesive (many connections among individuals), it is men who suffer a charismatic leadership disadvantage relative to women. Perceptions of leadership depend not only on whether the leader is a man or a woman but also on the social network context in which the leader is embedded.

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Biology and Selection Into Entrepreneurship - The Relevance of Prenatal Testosterone Exposure

Werner Bönte, Vivien Procher & Diemo Urbig
Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines the relationship between prenatal testosterone exposure (PTE) and selection into entrepreneurship. We argue that the relationship between PTE and entrepreneurial intent is positive and mediated by general and domain-specific risk-taking related to financial investment and professional career. Using the second-to-fourth digit ratio (2D:4D) as noninvasive retrospective marker for PTE, we identify two-step mediation effects of PTE on entrepreneurial intent through both general and domain-specific risk-taking. To account for possible socialization-based effects, we control for gender and parental self-employment. Applying ordinary least squares (OLS) regression analyses and structural equation models, we provide empirical evidence for a biological association between 2D:4D and entrepreneurial intent.

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Salary Differences Between Male and Female Registered Nurses in the United States

Ulrike Muench et al.
Journal of the American Medical Association, 24/31 March 2015, Pages 1265-1267

"Male RNs outearned female RNs across settings, specialties, and positions with no narrowing of the pay gap over time. About half of the gap was accounted for by employment and other measured characteristics. This gap is similar in magnitude to the salary differences found for physicians."

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For Love or Money? Gender Differences in How One Approaches Getting a Job

Weiyi Ng & Ming Leung
University of California Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
Extant supply-side labor market theories conclude that women and men apply to different jobs but are unable to explain differences in how they may behave when applying to the same job. We correct this discrepancy by considering gendered approaches to the hiring process. We propose that applicants can emphasize either the relational or the transactional aspects of the job and that this affects getting hired. Relational job seekers focus on developing a social connection with their employer. Transactional job seekers focus on quantitative and pecuniary aspects of the job. We expect women to be more relational and men to be more transactional and that this contributes to differences in hiring outcomes. Being relational suggests that one is more committed to the job and therefore should increases the chances of being hired. We examine behaviors in an online contract labor market for graphic designers, Elance.com where we find that women are more likely to be hired than men by about 5.2%. Quantitative linguistic analysis on the unstructured text of job proposals reveals that women (men) adopt more relational (transactional) language in their applications. These different approaches affect a job seeker's likelihood of being hired and attenuate the gender gap we identified.

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A University-Wide Field Experiment on Gender Differences in Job Entry Decisions

Anya Samek
University of Wisconsin Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
The gender difference in competitiveness has been cited as an important factor driving the gender gap in labor market outcomes. Using a natural field experiment with 35,000 university students, I explore the impact of compensation scheme on willingness to apply for a job. I find that competitive compensation schemes disproportionately deter women from applying, which cannot be explained by differences in risk preferences alone. I also vary whether the job is introduced as helping a non-profit, which increases application rates, suggesting a role for social preferences in application decisions. Finally, I observe a correlation between competitiveness preferences and career choice.

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Should He Chitchat? The Benefits of Small Talk for Male Versus Female Negotiators

Brooke Shaughnessy, Alexandra Mislin & Tanja Hentschel
Basic and Applied Social Psychology, March/April 2015, Pages 105-117

Abstract:
Past research links the use of small talk in negotiations to positive outcomes. We posit that men and women may not benefit equally from small talk. Building on stereotype and environmental certainty theories, we propose contexts when male negotiators who small talk are perceived more favorably. Studies 1a/1b show that men enjoy a social boost from small talk when cues for behavior are not strongly articulated. Study 2 identifies a social boost from small talk to both genders when cues for behavior are clearly articulated, but this boost only translates into better deals for men who small talk. Overall, small talk in negotiations has a stronger, more consistent effect for men.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Caveat emptor

'Be Careless with That!' Availability of Product Upgrades Increases Cavalier Behavior Toward Possessions

Silvia Bellezza, Joshua Ackerman & Francesca Gino
Harvard Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
Consumers are often faced with the opportunity to purchase a new, enhanced product (e.g., a new phone), even though the device they currently own is still fully functional. We propose that consumers act more recklessly with their current products and are less concerned about losing or damaging them when in the presence of appealing product upgrades. Careless behaviors and cognitions toward currently owned products stem from a desire to justify the attainment of upgrades without appearing wasteful. A series of studies with actual owners of a wide array of durable goods and evidence from a real-word dataset of lost Apple iPhones demonstrate how the availability of product upgrades increases cavalier behavior toward possessions. These patterns are moderated by motivation to attain the upgrade, such that consumers who are particularly interested in upgrading will be more careless with owned products relative to individuals who are less interested in upgrading. Moreover, we demonstrate that product neglect in the presence of upgrades can occur without explicit, careless intentions. Finally, theoretical and managerial implications of these findings are discussed.

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The Effect of the Internet on Performance and Quality: Evidence from the Airline Industry

Itai Ater & Eugene Orlov
Review of Economics and Statistics, March 2015, Pages 180-194

Abstract:
We argue that the rise of online travel agencies changed the nature of competition in the airline industry - from competition on elapsed scheduled flight times to price competition. Using flight-level data between 1997 and 2007 and geographical Internet growth patterns, we find a positive relationship between Internet access and flight times. The magnitude of this relationship is larger in competitive markets without low-cost carriers and for flights with shortest scheduled times. We also find that flight delays increased as more passengers gained Internet access. These findings suggest that the Internet may adversely affect firms' performance and incentives to provide high-quality products.

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Should Firms Use Small Financial Benefits to Express Appreciation to Consumers? Understanding and Avoiding Trivialization Effects

Peggy Liu, Cait Lamberton & Kelly Haws
Journal of Marketing, May 2015, Pages 74-90

Abstract:
Firms commonly add small financial benefits to communications designed to acknowledge consumers' loyalty or support. But is it always better to provide some financial benefit as opposed to simply saying "thank you?" Although this question has important implications for customer relationship management, little research provides an answer. This paper demonstrates that, in fact, a financial acknowledgment (defined herein as an acknowledgment with a monetary benefit) can lead to less positive outcomes than offering a verbal acknowledgement (defined herein as an acknowledgment without a monetary benefit), a phenomenon termed the "trivialization effect." Results explain this effect in terms of shifting evaluation standards: whereas a verbal acknowledgement is evaluated relative to verbal gratitude expression norms, a financial acknowledgment is evaluated relative to both verbal norms and customers' monetary expectations. The authors also demonstrate two practical, theory consistent ways in which firms can structure financial acknowledgments to eliminate the trivialization effect. Thus, this research shows both the peril of small financial benefits as a means of expressing customer appreciation and practical, low-cost ways to salvage their potential.

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Music piracy: Bad for record sales but good for the iPod?

Tin Cheuk Leung
Information Economics and Policy, June 2015, Pages 1-12

Abstract:
Music piracy is a double-edged sword for the music industry. On the one hand, it hurts record sales. On the other hand, it increases sales of its complements. To quantify the effect of music piracy, I construct a unique survey data set and use a Bayesian method to estimate the demand for music and iPods, and find three things. First, music piracy decreases music sales by 24% to 42%. Second, music piracy contributes 12% to iPod sales. Finally, counterfactual experiments show that, if music were free, the increase in Apple's profits from iPod can more than compensate the loss of musicians. The last result implies that a Pareto improving iPod tax is possible.

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Consumers, Experts, and Online Product Evaluations: Evidence from the Brewing Industry

Grant Jacobsen
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The growth of the Internet has led to a dramatic increase in the number of consumer or "user" product ratings, which are posted online by individuals who have consumed a good, and are available to other individuals as they make decisions about which products to purchase. These ratings have the potential to substantially improve the match between products and consumers, however the extent to which they do so likely depends on whether the ratings reflect actual consumer experiences. This paper evaluates one potential source of bias in consumer ratings: mimicry of the reviews of experts. Using a rich dataset on consumer product ratings from the brewing industry and a regression discontinuity empirical framework, I show that expert reviews influence consumer ratings. Consumer ratings fall in response to negative expert reviews and increase in response to positive expert reviews. The results are most pronounced for strongly negative or strongly positive expert reviews. This mimicry limits the extent to which information on product quality from actual consumer experiences diffuses to the population. I suggest that "nudges" could be implemented to limit the extent to which mimicry affects ratings.

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The Effect of Competition on eBay

Peter Newberry
International Journal of Industrial Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
I examine the effect of competition on eBay Motors. I specify a simple model of auction choice and show that the expected transaction price falls with an increase in the number of competitors. I then test for this effect using data from 5,500 auctions for Chevrolet Corvettes. To address potential endogeneity of the level of competition, I introduce an instrument which takes advantage of the unique features of eBay. Results indicate that an additional competitor leads to a 6% reduction in the final transacted price ($960 for the average car). Further, I provide evidence that this effect is due to the thinning of the bidder market rather than dynamic bidding.

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The Effectiveness of Field Price Discretion: Empirical Evidence from Auto Lending

Robert Phillips, Serdar Şimşek & Garrett van Ryzin
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In many markets, it is common for headquarters to create a price list but grant local salespeople discretion to negotiate prices for individual transactions. How much (if any) pricing discretion headquarters should grant is a topic of debate within many firms. We investigate this issue using a unique data set from an indirect lender with local pricing discretion. We estimate that the local sales force adjusted prices in a way that improved profits by approximately 11% on average. A counterfactual analysis shows that using a centralized, data-driven pricing optimization system could improve profits even further, up to 20% over those actually realized. This suggests that centralized pricing - if appropriately optimized - can be more effective than field price discretion. We discuss the implications of these findings for auto lending and other industries with similar pricing processes.

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The Chief Marketing Officer Matters!

Frank Germann, Peter Ebbes & Rajdeep Grewal
Journal of Marketing, May 2015, Pages 1-22

Abstract:
Marketing academics and practitioners alike remain unconvinced about the Chief Marketing Officer's (CMO's) performance implications. While some propose that firms benefit financially from having a CMO in the C-Suite, others conclude that the CMO has little or no effect on firm performance. Accordingly, strong calls for additional academic research regarding the CMO's performance implications exist. In response to these calls, we employ model specifications with varying identifying assumptions (i.e., rich data models, unobserved effects models, instrumental variable models, and panel internal instruments models) and use data from up to 155 publically traded firms over a 12 year period (i.e., 2000 - 2011) to find that firms can indeed expect to benefit financially from having a CMO at the strategy table. Specifically, our findings suggest that the performance (measured in terms of Tobin's q) of the sample firms that employ a CMO is, on average, about 15% greater than that of the sample firms that do not employ a CMO. This result appears to be quite robust to the type of model specification used. Marketing academics and practitioners should find our results intriguing given the existing uncertainty surrounding the CMO's performance implications. We also contribute to the methodology literature by collating diverse empirical model specifications, which can be used to model causal effects with observational data, into a coherent and comprehensive framework.

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Pay-What-You-Want or Mark-Off-Your-Own-Price - A Framing Effect in Customer-Selected Pricing

Marina Schröder, Annemarie Lüer & Abdolkarim Sadrieh
Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We conduct a natural field experiment to test for the effect of framing on prices paid in two customer-selected price mechanisms. In two framing conditions, we sell a soft drink and provide customers with a reference price for this drink. In the pay-what-you-want (PWYW) condition, customers are told that they can pay much as they want. In the mark-off-your-own-price (MOYOP) condition, customers are told that they can reduce the price by as much as they want. We find that prices are significantly lower and that more customers choose a price of zero in the MOYOP compared to the PWYW condition. We conjecture that the explicit request to reduce the price in MOYOP is a strong signal for customers to adjust their perception of the appropriate price downwards.

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It's All Good: Corporate Social Responsibility Reduces Negative and Promotes Positive Responses to Service Failures Among Value-Aligned Customers

Jeff Joireman et al.
Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Spring 2015, Pages 32-49

Abstract:
The present research investigates whether corporate social responsibility (CSR) reduces negative and promotes positive responses to service failures among value-aligned customers. Study 1 shows that customers are less likely to experience anger and spread negative word of mouth following a service failure when a firm engages in high (donating 15% of profits to environmental conservation) but not low (donating 2% of profits) levels of environmental CSR, but only if customers are high in environmental concern. In Study 2, the authors explore the benefits of CSR policies that target a broader range of beneficiaries versus policies that offer customers a choice over the firm's CSR allocations. Compared with a no-CSR policy, CSR with choice has a stronger effect on customers' emotions and intentions by enhancing perceived value alignment, reducing anger and regret over choosing the firm, and increasing guilt over harming the firm. These emotions subsequently reduce negative word of mouth and increase positive word of mouth and repurchase intentions. The results support the benefits of value-aligned and choice-based CSR policies in the wake of service failures.

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The Uncertainty-of-Outcome Hypothesis and the Industrial Organization of Sports Leagues: Evidence From U.S. College Football

Woodrow Eckard
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The uncertainty-of-outcome hypothesis (UOH) posits that sports fans value competitive contests, implying that competitive imbalance within a league will motivate stronger teams to leave. Testable hypotheses can be formulated utilizing the many college football conference realignments over the last century. The results support the UOH. For example, schools leaving an existing conference to form a new major conference, or join a preexisting one, were on average stronger than their former associates in the years before their departure. Also, the number of seed conference championships won by departing schools generally exceeded their "fair share" under an equal-likelihood assumption.

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A Dollar for Your Thoughts: Feedback-Conditional Rebates on eBay

Luís Cabral & Lingfang (Ivy) Li
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We run a series of controlled field experiments on eBay where buyers are rewarded for providing feedback. Our results provide little support for the hypothesis of buyers' rational economic behavior: the likelihood of feedback barely increases as we increase feedback rebate values; also, the speed of feedback, bid levels, and the number of bids are all insensitive to rebate values. By contrast, we find evidence consistent with reciprocal buyer behavior. Lower transaction quality leads to a higher probability of negative feedback as well as a speeding up of such negative feedback. However, when transaction quality is low (as measured by slow shipping), offering a rebate significantly decreases the likelihood of negative feedback. All in all, our results are consistent with the hypothesis that buyers reciprocate the sellers' "good deeds" (feedback rebate, high transaction quality) with more frequent and more favorable feedback. As a result, sellers can "buy" feedback, but such feedback is likely to be biased.

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Classical Deviation: Organizational and Individual Status as Antecedents of Conformity

Rodolphe Durand & Pierre-Antoine Kremp
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Beside making organizations look like their peers through the adoption of similar attributes (which we call alignment), this paper highlights the fact that conformity also enables organizations to stand out by exhibiting highly salient attributes key to their field or industry (which we call conventionality). Building on the conformity and status literatures, and using the case of major U.S. symphony orchestras and the changes in their concert programing between 1879 and 1969, we hypothesize and find that middle-status organizations are more aligned, and middle-status individual leaders make more conventional choices than their low- and high-status peers. In addition, the extent to which middle-status leaders adopt conventional programming is moderated by the status of the organization and by its level of alignment. This paper offers a novel theory and operationalization of organizational conformity, and contributes to the literature on status effects, and more broadly to the understanding of the key issues of distinctiveness and conformity.

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The Hidden Cost of Accommodating Crowdfunder Privacy Preferences: A Randomized Field Experiment

Gordon Burtch, Anindya Ghose & Sunil Wattal
Management Science, May 2015, Pages 949-962

Abstract:
Online crowdfunding has received a great deal of attention as a promising avenue to fostering entrepreneurship and innovation. Because online settings bring increased visibility and traceability of transactions, many crowdfunding platforms provide mechanisms that enable a campaign contributor to conceal his or her identity or contribution amount from peers. We study the impact of these information (privacy) control mechanisms on crowdfunder behavior. Employing a randomized experiment at one of the world's largest online crowdfunding platforms, we find evidence of both positive (e.g., comfort) and negative (e.g., privacy priming) causal effects. We find that reducing access to information controls induces a net increase in fund-raising, yet this outcome results from two competing influences - treatment increases willingness to engage with the platform (a 4.9% increase in the probability of contribution) and simultaneously decreases the average contribution (a $5.81 decline). This decline derives from a publicity effect, wherein contributors respond to a lack of privacy by tempering extreme contributions. We unravel the causal mechanisms that drive the results and discuss the implications of our findings for the design of online platforms.

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Consumer Heterogeneity and Paid Search Effectiveness: A Large-Scale Field Experiment

Thomas Blake, Chris Nosko & Steven Tadelis
Econometrica, January 2015, Pages 155-174

Abstract:
Internet advertising has been the fastest growing advertising channel in recent years, with paid search ads comprising the bulk of this revenue. We present results from a series of large-scale field experiments done at eBay that were designed to measure the causal effectiveness of paid search ads. Because search clicks and purchase intent are correlated, we show that returns from paid search are a fraction of non-experimental estimates. As an extreme case, we show that brand keyword ads have no measurable short-term benefits. For non-brand keywords, we find that new and infrequent users are positively influenced by ads but that more frequent users whose purchasing behavior is not influenced by ads account for most of the advertising expenses, resulting in average returns that are negative.

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The Role of Social Media in the Capital Market: Evidence from Consumer Product Recalls

Lian Fen Lee, Amy Hutton & Susan Shu
Journal of Accounting Research, May 2015, Pages 367-404

Abstract:
We examine how corporate social media affects the capital market consequences of firms' disclosure in the context of consumer product recalls. Product recalls constitute a "product crisis" exposing the firm to reputational damage, loss of future sales and legal liability. During such a crisis it is crucial for the firm to quickly and directly communicate its intended message to a wide network of stakeholders, which in turn, renders corporate social media a potentially useful channel of disclosure. While we document that corporate social media, on average, attenuates the negative price reaction to recall announcements, the attenuation benefits of corporate social media vary with the level of control the firm has over its social media content. In particular, with the arrival of Facebook and Twitter, firms relinquished complete control over their social media content, and the attenuation benefits of corporate social media, while still significant, lessened. Detailed Twitter analysis confirms that the moderating effect of social media varies with the level of firm involvement and with the amount of control exerted by other users: the negative price reaction to recall is attenuated by the frequency of tweets by the firm, while exacerbated by the frequency of tweets by other users.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Refined taste

Nutritional advice from George Orwell. Exploring the social mechanisms behind the overconsumption of unhealthy foods by people with low socio-economic status

Morten Larsen
Appetite, August 2015, Pages 150–156

Abstract:
Despite a general consensus and recognition of the importance of the “social gradient” on nutritional standards and ultimately people's health, the body of literature identifying and describing the actual underlying social mechanisms which could explain this association is small, fragmented and not contained within one single discipline of thought – the effects of this conundrum seem easier to describe than to explain. The aim of this article is therefore to explore and identify social mechanisms, which could help explain why people with low socio-economic status consume a disproportionate amount of unhealthy foods and therefore also observe poorer diets. It is therefore in many ways an exploration into the nature of (relative) poverty. The point of departure for this exploration and identification is historical descriptions (in the form of excerpts) from George Orwell's (1937) book “The Road to Wigan Pier” on the living conditions of the British working classes. These descriptions will be aligned with results from contemporary research into nutritional behaviour. Strong similarities are identified between George Orwell's historical descriptions of the working-class's unhealthy diet and the findings from contemporary research into nutritional behaviour of people with a low socio-economic status. The article, on this basis, argues that certain social mechanisms influencing nutritional choices are readily identifiable across disciplines, and even partly reproduced in different historical, social and spatial contexts, with stronger negative (ill health) consequences for people with low socio-economic status especially. Finally the article discusses how social mechanisms affecting our nutritional choices could challenge the underlying rationalities and assumptions of the rational yet “knowledge deficient” individual consumer implicitly present in much nutritional advice – both past and present. The disregard of social mechanisms, and therefore implicitly issues of class, could indicate a general “de-socialization” of nutritional advice also in its dispersal through various health-promotion initiatives and campaigns, which raises serious questions about the usefulness of much nutritional advice, already tentatively questioned by some nutritionists (Burr et al., 2007) as well as “food” sociologists (Smith & Holm, 2010).

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What Drives Nutritional Disparities? Retail Access and Food Purchases Across the Socioeconomic Spectrum

Jessie Handbury, Ilya Rahkovsky & Molly Schnell
NBER Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
The poor diets of many consumers are often attributed to limited access to healthy foods. In this paper, we use detailed data describing the healthfulness of household food purchases and the retail landscapes in which these consumers are making these decisions to study the role of access in explaining why some people in the United States eat more nutritious foods than others. We first confirm that households with lower income and education purchase less healthful foods. We then measure the spatial variation in the average nutritional quality of available food products across local markets, revealing that healthy foods are less likely to be available in low-income neighborhoods. Though significant, spatial differences in access are small and explain only a fraction of the variation that we observe in the nutritional content of household purchases. Systematic socioeconomic disparities in household purchases persist after controlling for access: even in the same store, more educated households purchase more healthful foods. Consistent with this result, we further find that the nutritional quality of purchases made by households with low levels of income and education respond very little when new stores enter or when existing stores change their product offerings. Together, our results indicate that policies aimed at improving access to healthy foods in underserved areas will leave most of the socioeconomic disparities in nutritional consumption intact.

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The affective and interpersonal consequences of obesity

Emma Levine & Maurice Schweitzer
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, March 2015, Pages 66–84

Abstract:
The incidence of obesity in the United States has tripled over the past fifty years, posing significant challenges for organizations. We build on stereotype content research and offer an overarching framework to understand individuals’ affective, cognitive, and behavioral responses to obesity. Across five studies, we demonstrate that individuals associate obesity with perceptions of low competence. Perceptions of low competence predict affective (disgust, sympathy) and behavioral (low help, high harm) responses to obesity. Consistent with the BIAS Map (Cuddy, Fiske, & Glick, 2007), these discriminatory responses are moderated by perceptions of warmth. We demonstrate that, in some cases, shifting perceptions of warmth is just as effective as losing weight for curtailing discrimination towards the obese. Our findings demonstrate that social categorization is labile and we offer prescriptive advice for individuals seeking to change the way others perceive them.

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So Many Brands and Varieties to Choose from: Does This Compromise the Control of Food Intake in Humans?

Charlotte Hardman et al.
PLoS ONE, April 2015

Abstract:
The recent rise in obesity is widely attributed to changes in the dietary environment (e.g., increased availability of energy-dense foods and larger portion sizes). However, a critical feature of our “obesogenic environment” may have been overlooked - the dramatic increase in “dietary variability” (the tendency for specific mass-produced foods to be available in numerous varieties that differ in energy content). In this study we tested the hypothesis that dietary variability compromises the control of food intake in humans. Specifically, we examined the effects of dietary variability in pepperoni pizza on two key outcome variables; i) compensation for calories in pepperoni pizza and ii) expectations about the satiating properties of pepperoni pizza (expected satiation). We reasoned that dietary variability might generate uncertainty about the postingestive effects of a food. An internet-based questionnaire was completed by 199 adults. This revealed substantial variation in exposure to different varieties of pepperoni pizza. In a follow-up study (n= 66; 65% female), high pizza variability was associated with i) poorer compensation for calories in pepperoni pizza and ii) lower expected satiation for pepperoni pizza. Furthermore, the effect of uncertainty on caloric compensation was moderated by individual differences in decision making (loss aversion). For the first time, these findings highlight a process by which dietary variability may compromise food-intake control in humans. This is important because it exposes a new feature of Western diets (processed foods in particular) that might contribute to overeating and obesity.

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Greater perceived ability to form vivid mental images in individuals with high compared to low BMI

Barkha Patel et al.
Appetite, August 2015, Pages 185–189

Abstract:
Obese individuals report more frequent food cravings than their lean counterparts. Since mental imagery plays a role in eliciting and maintaining craving we hypothesized that one's ability to image may be associated with body mass index (BMI) and account, at least in part, for the association between BMI and craving. Twenty-five participants (BMI range: 17.7 kg/m2 – 34.2 kg/m2) completed three measures of perceived mental imagery ability (The Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire, The Vividness of Olfactory Imagery Questionnaire, The Vividness of Food Imagery Questionnaire), and one measure of craving (Food-Craving Inventory). As predicted, correlation analyses revealed positive associations between BMI and perceived ability to image odors and foods, but not visual objects. Olfactory imagery was singled out as the best predictor of BMI in a hierarchical regression analysis. A second experiment with 57 participants (BMI range: 19.1 kg/m2 – 38.7 kg/m2) then confirmed the significant positive association between BMI and perceived ability to image odors. These results raise the possibility that imagery ability may play a role in the heightened food cue reactivity observed in obese individuals.

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Eaten up by boredom: Consuming food to escape awareness of the bored self

Andrew Moynihan et al.
Frontiers in Psychology, April 2015

Abstract:
Research indicates that being bored affectively marks an appraised lack of meaning in the present situation and in life. We propose that state boredom increases eating in an attempt to distract from this experience, especially among people high in objective self-awareness. Three studies were conducted to investigate boredom’s effects on eating, both naturally occurring in a diary study and manipulated in two experiments. In Study 1, a week-long diary study showed that state boredom positively predicted calorie, fat, carbohydrate, and protein consumption. In Study 2, a high (vs. low) boredom task increased the desire to snack as opposed to eating something healthy, especially amongst those participants high in objective self-awareness. In addition, Study 3 demonstrated that among people high in objective self-awareness, high (vs. low) boredom increased the consumption of less healthy foods and the consumption of more exciting, healthy foods. However, this did not extend to unexciting, healthy food. Collectively, these novel findings signify the role of boredom in predicting maladaptive and adaptive eating behaviors as a function of the need to distant from the experience of boredom. Further, our results suggest that more exciting, healthy food serves as alternative to maladaptive consumption following boredom.

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Threatened belonging and preference for comfort food among the securely attached

Jordan Troisi et al.
Appetite, July 2015, Pages 58–64

Abstract:
Research has shown that comfort food triggers relationship-related cognitions and can fulfill belongingness needs for those secure in attachment (i.e., for those with positive relationship cognitions) (Troisi & Gabriel, 2011). Building on these ideas, we examined if securely attached individuals prefer comfort food because of its “social utility” (i.e., its capacity to fulfill belongingness needs) in one experiment and one daily diary study using two samples of university students from the United States. Study 1 utilized a belongingness threat essay among half of the participants, and the results showed that securely attached participants preferred the taste of a comfort food (i.e., potato chips) more after the belongingness threat. Study 2 utilized a 14-day daily diary design and found that securely attached individuals consumed more comfort food in response to naturally occurring feelings of isolation. Implications for the social nature of food preferences are discussed.

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Associations of Family and Neighborhood Socioeconomic Characteristics with Longitudinal Adiposity Patterns in a Biracial Cohort of Adolescent Girls

Catherine Crespi et al.
Biodemography and Social Biology, Spring 2015, Pages 81-97

Abstract:
Although many studies have examined the relationship of adiposity with neighborhood socioeconomic context in adults, few studies have investigated this relationship during adolescence. Using 10-year annual measurements of body mass index, expressed as z-scores (BMIz), obtained from 775 black and white participants of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study, a prospective cohort study of girls from pre- to postadolescence, we used multilevel modeling to investigate whether family socioeconomic status (SES) and neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics (measured by census-tract median family income) explain variation in BMIz trajectory parameters. Analyses controlled for pubertal maturation. We found that lower SES was associated with higher overall levels of BMIz for both white and black girls. Additionally, lower-SES black girls had a more sustained increase in BMIz during early adolescence and reached a higher peak compared to higher-SES black girls and to white girls. Neighborhood income was associated with BMIz trajectory for black girls only. Unexpectedly, among black girls, living in higher-income neighborhoods was associated with higher overall levels of BMIz, controlling for SES. Our findings suggest that neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics may affect adolescent BMIz trajectories differently in different racial/ethnic groups.

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Impact of Baltimore Healthy Eating Zones: An Environmental Intervention to Improve Diet Among African American Youth

Ahyoung Shin et al.
Health Education & Behavior, April 2015, Pages 97S-105S

Abstract:
This study assessed the impact of a youth-targeted multilevel nutrition intervention in Baltimore City. The study used a clustered randomized design in which 7 recreation centers and 21 corner stores received interventions and 7 additional recreation centers served as comparison. The 8-month intervention aimed to increase availability and selection of healthful foods through nutrition promotion and education using point-of purchase materials such as posters and flyers in stores and interactive sessions such as taste test and cooking demonstrations. Two hundred forty-two youth–caregiver dyads residing in low-income areas of Baltimore City recruited from recreation centers were surveyed at baseline using detailed instruments that contained questions about food-related psychosocial indicators (behavioral intentions, self-efficacy, outcome expectancies, and knowledge), healthful food purchasing and preparation methods, and anthropometric measures (height and weight). The Baltimore Healthy Eating Zones intervention was associated with reductions in youth body mass index percentile (p = .04). In subgroup analyses among overweight and obese girls, body mass index for age percentile decreased significantly in girls assigned to the intervention group (p = .03) and in girls with high exposure to the intervention (p = .013), as opposed to those in comparison or lower exposure groups. Intervention youth significantly improved food-related outcome expectancies (p = .02) and knowledge (p < .001). The study results suggest that the Baltimore Healthy Eating Zones multilevel intervention had a modest impact in reducing overweight or obesity among already overweight low-income African American youth living in an environment where healthful foods are less available. Additional studies are needed to determine the relative impact of health communications and environmental interventions in this population, both alone and in combination.

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Maternal adiposity negatively influences infant brain white matter development

Xiawei Ou et al.
Obesity, May 2015, Pages 1047–1054

Objective: To study potential effects of maternal body composition on central nervous system (CNS) development of newborn infants.

Methods: Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was used to evaluate brain white matter development in 2-week-old, full-term, appropriate for gestational age (AGA) infants from uncomplicated pregnancies of normal-weight (BMI < 25 at conception) or obese ( BMI = 30 at conception) and otherwise healthy mothers. Tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) analyses were used for voxel-wise group comparison of fractional anisotropy (FA), a sensitive measure of white matter integrity. DNA methylation analyses of umbilical cord tissue focused on genes known to be important in CNS development were also performed.

Results: Newborns from obese women had significantly lower FA values in multiple white matter regions than those born of normal-weight mothers. Global and regional FA values negatively correlated (P < 0.05) with maternal fat mass percentage. Linear regression analysis followed by gene ontology enrichment showed that methylation status of 68 CpG sites representing 57 genes with GO terms related to CNS development was significantly associated with maternal adiposity status.

Conclusions: These results suggest a negative association between maternal adiposity and white matter development in offspring.

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The relationship between acculturation and infant feeding styles in a Latino population

Liz Dancel et al.
Obesity, April 2015, Pages 840–846

Objective: To assess the relationship between parental acculturation and infant feeding style in a sample of Latino parents.

Methods: A post hoc analysis was performed using data from an ongoing four-site randomized controlled trial to promote early childhood obesity prevention. Cross-sectional data of parent–child dyads at the 12-month well-child visit who self-reported their Latino ethnicity were analyzed. The Short Acculturation Scale for Hispanics (SASH) and a subset of the Infant Feeding Style Questionnaire (IFSQ) that assessed four primary feeding styles were administered. SASH level (low vs. high) with each feeding style was compared by analyses.

Results: Complete SASH data were available for 398 of 431 Latino dyads. Median SASH score was 1.8 (IQR 1.4-2.7); 82% of participants had low acculturation (score < 3). Of the nine outcome variables, four were significantly associated with SASH: “Laissez-Faire/attention” (AOR: 2.3; 95% CI: 1.06-5.13; P = 0.004), “Laissez-Faire/diet quality” (AOR: 3.9; 95% CI: 1.7-8.75; P = 0.005), “Pressuring as soothing” (AOR: 3.6; 95% CI:1.63-8.05; P = 0.007), and “Restrictive/diet quality” (AOR: 0.4; 95% CI: 0.19-0.94; P = 0.031).

Conclusions: Latino parents with lower acculturation were more likely than those with higher acculturation to endorse feeding styles that are associated with child obesity. Further research is needed to determine why acculturation and feeding style relate.

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Oxytocin reduces caloric intake in men

Elizabeth Lawson et al.
Obesity, May 2015, Pages 950–956

Objective: Preclinical studies indicate that oxytocin is anorexigenic and has beneficial metabolic effects. Oxytocin effects on nutrition and metabolism in humans are not well defined. It was hypothesized that oxytocin would reduce caloric intake and appetite, and alter levels of appetite-regulating hormones. Metabolic effects of oxytocin were also explored.

Methods: A randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study of single-dose intranasal oxytocin (24 IU) in 25 fasting healthy men was performed. After oxytocin/placebo, subjects selected breakfast from a menu, and were given double portions. Caloric content of food consumed was measured. Visual analog scales were used to assess appetite and blood was drawn for appetite-regulating hormones, insulin, and glucose before and after oxytocin/placebo. Indirect calorimetry assessed resting energy expenditure (REE) and substrate utilization.

Results: Oxytocin reduced caloric intake with a preferential effect on fat intake and increased levels of the anorexigenic hormone cholecystokinin without affecting appetite or other appetite-regulating hormones. There was no effect of oxytocin on REE. Oxytocin resulted in a shift from carbohydrate to fat utilization and improved insulin sensitivity.

Conclusions: Intranasal oxytocin reduces caloric intake and has beneficial metabolic effects in men without concerning side effects. The efficacy and safety of sustained oxytocin administration in the treatment of obesity warrants investigation.

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Efficacy of SmartLoss, a smartphone-based weight loss intervention: Results from a randomized controlled trial

Corby Martin et al.
Obesity, May 2015, Pages 935–942

Objective: Test the efficacy of SmartLoss, a smartphone-based weight loss intervention, in a pilot study.

Design and Methods: A 12-week randomized controlled trial. Adults (25 ≤ BMI ≤ 35 kg/m2) were randomized to SmartLoss (n = 20) or an attention-matched Health Education control group (n = 20). SmartLoss participants were prescribed a 1,200 to 1,400 kcal/d diet and were provided with a smartphone, body weight scale, and accelerometer that wirelessly transmitted body weight and step data to a website. In the SmartLoss Group, mathematical models were used to quantify dietary adherence based on body weight and counselors remotely delivered treatment recommendations based on these objective data. The Health Education group received health tips via smartphone. A mixed model determined if change in weight and other endpoints differed between the groups (baseline was a covariate).

Results: The sample was 82.5% female. Mean ± SD baseline age, weight (kg), and BMI were 44.4 ± 11.8 years, 80.3 ± 11.5 kg, and 29.8 ± 2.9 kg/m2, respectively. One participant was lost to follow-up in each group before week 4. Weight loss was significantly (P < 0.001) larger in the SmartLoss (least squares mean ± SEM: −9.4 ± 0.5%) compared with the Health Education group (−0.6 ± 0.5%).

Conclusions: SmartLoss efficaciously promote clinically meaningful weight loss compared with an attention-matched control group. Smartphone-based interventions might prove useful in intervention dissemination.

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Paying people to eat or not to eat? Carryover effects of monetary incentives on eating behavior

Paul Dolan, Matteo Galizzi & Daniel Navarro-Martinez
Social Science & Medicine, May 2015, Pages 153–158

Abstract:
There is no evidence comparing head-to-head the effects of monetary incentives to act and to abstain from acting on behaviour. We present an experiment, conducted between June and September 2012, that directly compares the effects of those two different monetary incentive schemes on eating behaviour: we evaluate incentives to eat against incentives not to eat. A large number of participants (n = 353) had bowls of sweets next to them while they watched different videos over two experimental sessions that were two days apart. Sweets eating was monitored and monetary incentives to eat or not to eat were introduced during one of the videos for participants randomly allocated to these conditions. Our results show that, while both types of incentives were effective in changing sweets-eating behaviour when they were in place, only incentives not to eat had significant carryover effects after they were removed. Those effects were still significant two days after the monetary incentives had been eliminated. We also present some additional results on personality and health-related variables that shed further light on these effects. Overall, our study shows that incentives not to eat can be more effective in producing carryover effects on behaviour in domains like the one explored here.

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Less Sitting and More Moving in the Office: Using Descriptive Norm Messages to Decrease Sedentary Behavior and Increase Light Physical Activity at Work

Carly Priebe & Kevin Spink
Psychology of Sport and Exercise, July 2015, Pages 76–84

Method: Office workers were randomly assigned to receive one of four email messages containing descriptive norms about co-workers’ behavior. Sedentary behavior and activity were measured before and after message receipt.

Results: A repeated measures MANOVA revealed a main effect for time, p < .001, ηp2 = .316. Those who received descriptive norm messages about co-workers’ lower sedentary behavior and greater stair use and walking decreased their own sitting time while increasing stair use and walking at the office, respectively, p’s < .05. No differences emerged between participants receiving information about groups that varied in reference group characteristics, p’s > .10.

Conclusion: Results provide experimental evidence that descriptive norm messages may serve to decrease sedentary and increase light activity in an office setting.

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Excessive Sugar Consumption May Be a Difficult Habit to Break: A View From the Brain and Body

Matthew Tryon et al.
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, forthcoming

Context: Sugar overconsumption and chronic stress are growing health concerns because they both may increase the risk for obesity and its related diseases. Rodent studies suggest that sugar consumption may activate a glucocorticoid-metabolic-brain-negative feedback pathway, which may turn off the stress response and thereby reinforce habitual sugar overconsumption.

Intervention: The intervention consisted of sucrose- or aspartame-sweetened beverage consumption three times per day for 2 weeks.

Results: Compared with aspartame, sucrose consumption was associated with significantly higher activity in the left hippocampus (P = .001). Sucrose, but not aspartame, consumption associated with reduced (P = .024) stress-induced cortisol. The sucrose group also had a lower reactivity to naltrexone, significantly (P = .041) lower nausea, and a trend (P = .080) toward lower cortisol.

Conclusion: These experimental findings support a metabolic-brain-negative feedback pathway that is affected by sugar and may make some people under stress more hooked on sugar and possibly more vulnerable to obesity and its related conditions.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, May 4, 2015

You know something

The Impact of Voluntary Youth Service on Future Outcomes: Evidence from Teach For America

Will Dobbie & Roland Fryer
B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper provides causal estimates of the impact of service programs on those who serve, using data from a web-based survey of former Teach For America (TFA) applicants. We estimate the effect of voluntary youth service using a discontinuity in the TFA application process. Participating in TFA increases racial tolerance, makes individuals more optimistic about the life prospects of poor children, and makes them more likely to work in education.

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Mind-Set Interventions Are a Scalable Treatment for Academic Underachievement

David Paunesku et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The efficacy of academic-mind-set interventions has been demonstrated by small-scale, proof-of-concept interventions, generally delivered in person in one school at a time. Whether this approach could be a practical way to raise school achievement on a large scale remains unknown. We therefore delivered brief growth-mind-set and sense-of-purpose interventions through online modules to 1,594 students in 13 geographically diverse high schools. Both interventions were intended to help students persist when they experienced academic difficulty; thus, both were predicted to be most beneficial for poorly performing students. This was the case. Among students at risk of dropping out of high school (one third of the sample), each intervention raised students’ semester grade point averages in core academic courses and increased the rate at which students performed satisfactorily in core courses by 6.4 percentage points. We discuss implications for the pipeline from theory to practice and for education reform.

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Social Interactions and College Enrollment: A Combined School Fixed Effects/Instrumental Variables Approach

Jason Fletcher
Social Science Research, July 2015, Pages 494–507

Abstract:
This paper provides some of the first evidence of peer effects in college enrollment decisions. There are several empirical challenges in assessing the influences of peers in this context, including the endogeneity of high school, shared group-level unobservables, and identifying policy-relevant parameters of social interactions models. This paper addresses these issues by using an instrumental variables/fixed effects approach that compares students in the same school but different grade-levels who are thus exposed to different sets of classmates. In particular, plausibly exogenous variation in peers’ parents’ college expectations are used as an instrument for peers’ college choices. Preferred specifications indicate that increasing a student’s exposure to college-going peers by ten percentage points is predicted to raise the student’s probability of enrolling in college by 4 percentage points. This effect is roughly half the magnitude of growing up in a household with married parents (vs. an unmarried household).

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The Impact of Guaranteed Tuition Policies on Postsecondary Tuition Levels: A Difference-in-Difference Approach

Jennifer Delaney & Tyler Kearney
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study considers the impact of state-level guaranteed tuition programs on postsecondary tuition levels. The analytic framework argues that state-level laws requiring flat tuition rates for four years contain inflationary risk, which encourages institutions to set tuition higher than they otherwise would with annual adjustments. To empirically test this idea, this study uses a national panel dataset and a quasi-experimental difference-in-difference methodological approach, with Illinois’ Truth-in-Tuition law serving as the treatment condition. On average, institutions subject to this law increased annual tuition by approximately 26-30% and aggregate four-year tuition by approximately 6-7% in excess of the amount predicted by the trend for institutions not subject to the law. These findings are robust to multiple alternative specifications and support the idea that state-level guaranteed tuition programs encourage large institutional tuition increases. Implications of these findings for state policymakers, higher education institutional leaders, and college-age students and their families are also discussed.

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College Expansion and Curriculum Choice

Michael Kaganovich & Xuejuan Su
Indiana University Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
This paper analyzes the impact of college enrollment expansion on student academic achievements and labor market outcomes in the context of competition among colleges. When public policies promote “access” to college education, colleges adjust their curricula: Less selective public colleges adopt a less demanding curriculum in order to accommodate the influx of less able students. As we argue in the paper, this adjustment benefits low-ability college students at the expense of those of medium ability. At the same time, this reduces the competitive pressure faced by elite colleges, as less selective colleges become a less appealing alternative for the medium ability students. The selective, elite colleges therefore adopt a more demanding curriculum to better serve their most able students, again at the expense of medium ability students. The model offers an explanation to two sets of empirical phenomena: (i) the observed U-shaped earnings growth profile among college-educated workers in the U.S. and (ii) the diverging selectivity trends of American colleges.

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Does Small High School Reform Lift Urban Districts? Evidence From New York City

Leanna Stiefel, Amy Ellen Schwartz & Matthew Wiswall
Educational Researcher, April 2015, Pages 161-172

Abstract:
Research finds that small high schools deliver better outcomes than large high schools for urban students. An important outstanding question is whether this better performance is gained at the expense of losses elsewhere: Does small school reform lift the whole district? We explore New York City’s small high school reform in which hundreds of new small high schools were built in less than a decade. We use rich individual student data on four cohorts of New York City high school students and estimate effects of schools on student outcomes. Our results suggest that the introduction of small schools improved outcomes for students in all types of schools: large, small, continuously operating, and new. Small school reform lifted all boats.

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Teachers’ Unions, Compensation, and Tenure

Kristine West
Industrial Relations, April 2015, Pages 294–320

Abstract:
In this paper I show that school districts in which teachers negotiate via collective bargaining have greater returns to experience and grant tenure earlier than districts without collective bargaining. Districts that are unionized, either with or without legal collective bargaining protections, have higher returns to degrees and higher starting salaries than districts without a union. Unionization is not strongly correlated with the existence of output-based pay for performance but is correlated with the use of output-based measures in tenure decisions. Unionization is positively correlated with the number of junior teachers dismissed for poor performance but not strongly correlated with the number of senior teachers dismissed for poor performance.

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Do Student Loan Borrowers Opportunistically Default? Evidence from Bankruptcy Reform

Rajeev Darolia & Dubravka Ritter
Federal Reserve Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
Bankruptcy reform in 2005 eliminated debtors’ ability to discharge private student loan debt in bankruptcy. This law aimed to reduce costly defaults by diminishing the perceived incentive of some private student loan borrowers to declare bankruptcy even if they had sufficient income to service their debt. Using a unique, nationally representative sample of anonymized credit bureau files, we examine the bankruptcy filing and delinquency rates of private student loan borrowers in response to the 2005 bankruptcy reform. We do not find evidence that the nondischargeability provision reduced the likelihood of filing bankruptcy among private student loan borrowers as compared with other debtors whose incentives were not directly affected by the policy.

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The Cost of Financing Education: Can Student Debt Hinder Entrepreneurship?

Karthik Krishnan & Pinshuo Wang
Northeastern University Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
Student loans can impose a significant cost of undertaking risky endeavors such as starting up businesses. Using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), we find evidence supportive of the recent policy decisions to reduce the burden of student debt to promote entrepreneurship. First, we find that a greater amount of student debt is negatively related to the propensity to start a firm. Second, conditional on starting up a firm, individuals having more student debt have less profitable firms. Further, these effects are stronger among younger cohorts and for individuals in high-technology industries. Using the Higher Education Amendments of 1992, which made federal Stafford loans more widely available, as an exogenous shock to student debt, we find that student debt negatively impact entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial success. The negative relation between student debt and entrepreneurship is stronger when the individual has a dependent spouse. Further, we find that student debt reduces the tendency of high-reward and high risk-preferring individuals to take on entrepreneurial ventures. Our evidence indicates that student debt may inhibit entrepreneurship by reducing the expected payoff of these ventures to individuals by exacerbating the effect of negative outcomes on the individual. Given the high value of student loans outstanding (more than $1 trillion) and its potentially significant impact on entrepreneurship, we believe that our results shine some light on an important phenomenon.

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An axiomatization of multiple-choice test scoring

Andriy Zapechelnyuk
Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
This note axiomatically justifies a simple scoring rule for multiple-choice tests. The rule permits choosing any number, k, of available options and grants 1/k-th of the maximum score if one of the chosen options is correct, and zero otherwise. This rule satisfies a few desirable properties: simplicity of implementation, non-negative scores, discouragement of random guessing, and rewards for partial answers. This is a novel rule that has not been discussed or empirically tested in the literature.

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Curricular Policy as a Collective Effects Problem: A Distributional Approach

Andrew Penner et al.
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Current educational policies in the United States attempt to boost student achievement and promote equality by intensifying the curriculum and exposing students to more advanced coursework. This paper investigates the relationship between one such effort -- California’s push to enroll all 8th grade students in Algebra -- and the distribution of student achievement. We suggest that this effort is an instance of a “collective effects” problem, where the population-level effects of a policy are different from its effects at the individual level. In such contexts, we argue that it is important to consider broader population effects as well as the difference between “treated” and “untreated” individuals. To do so, we present differences in inverse propensity score weighted distributions to investigate how this curricular policy changed the distribution of student achievement more broadly. We find that California’s attempt to intensify the curriculum did not raise test scores at the bottom of the distribution, but did lower scores at the top of the distribution. These results highlight the efficacy of inverse propensity score weighting approaches for estimating collective effects, and provide a cautionary tale for curricular intensification efforts and other policies with collective effects.

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The Underutilized Potential of Teacher-to-Parent Communication: Evidence from a Field Experiment

Matthew Kraft
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Parental involvement is correlated with student performance, though the causal relationship is less well established. This experiment examined an intervention that delivered weekly one-sentence individualized messages from teachers to the parents of high school students in a credit recovery program. Messages decreased the percentage of students who failed to earn course credit from 15.8% to 9.3% – a 41% reduction. This reduction resulted primarily from preventing drop-outs, rather than from reducing failure or dismissal rates. The intervention shaped the content of parent-child conversations with messages emphasizing what students could improve, versus what students were doing well, producing the largest effects. We estimate the cost of this intervention per additional student credit earned to be less than one-tenth the typical cost per credit earned for the district. These findings underscore the value of educational policies that encourage and facilitate teacher-to-parent communication to empower parental involvement in their children's education.

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Can Improvements in Schools Spur Neighborhood Revitalization? Evidence from Building Investments

Keren Horn
Regional Science and Urban Economics, May 2015, Pages 108–118

Abstract:
For most households in the U.S. the public school to which they send their children is tied to the geographic location of their home. Economic theory predicts that households take into account the quality of the public school when making residential decisions. A large body of literature has documented that school quality alters the demand for housing in a neighborhood as measured by the capitalization of school quality into house prices. Demand for schools may also affect the quality of the housing stock by creating incentives for property owners to better maintain their buildings and units. Exploration of this potential relationship has been absent from the discussion on how schools influence communities. I attempt to fill this gap through investigating the relationship between school quality and capital investments in the housing stock. To investigate whether a relationship exists between schools and property owner capital investment activity, I rely on detailed building level investment data in New York City as well as measures of school performance. I explore whether consistent measures of school performance are associated with higher levels of investment activity. To identify whether this relationship is causal, that good schools can spur investment activity, I incorporate a boundary discontinuity identification strategy. Further, I test whether households respond to changes in school performance, exploring whether improvements in test scores over a five-year period are associated with higher levels of residential investments. Finally, I control for differences in populations across attendance zone boundaries through incorporating information on the composition of students at each school. My results suggest a significant relationship between performance in math and English Language Arts and property owner capital investment behavior. In my preferred specification, I estimate that a one standard deviation improvement in test scores is associated with a 2.5 percent increase in dollars invested in a building.

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The Relative Costs of New York City's New Small Public High Schools of Choice

Robert Bifulco
Syracuse University Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Building on prior research by two of the present authors, which uses lottery-like features in New York City’s high school admissions process to rigorously demonstrate that new small public high schools in the district are markedly improving graduation prospects for disadvantaged students, the present paper demonstrates that these graduation benefits do not come at the cost of higher expenditures per graduate. The basis for these findings are two cost comparisons: (1) a "descriptive" comparison of per-pupil operating costs for the new small high schools with those for all other district high schools, and (2) an "experimental" comparison of per-pupil operating costs for the new small high schools with those attended by their control group counterparts. The descriptive comparison demonstrates that the new small schools spend a little more per pupil than the average district high school and a lot more than the largest of these other schools. By contrast, results of the experimental comparisons together with previous findings of two of the present authors about the substantial positive effects of the new small schools on high school graduation rates indicate that the cost per high school graduate is substantially lower for the small-school enrollees than for their control group counterparts. This seemingly counterintuitive result occurs because control group counterparts (1) attend high schools with annual per-pupil costs that are about the same as those for the new small schools, (2) are more likely to attend a fifth year of high school because they do not graduate in four years, and (3) are less likely to graduate from high school at all.

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Need-Based Aid and College Persistence: The Effects of the Ohio College Opportunity Grant

Eric Bettinger
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, May 2015, Pages 102S-119S

Abstract:
This article exploits a natural experiment to estimate the effects of need-based aid policies on first-year college persistence rates. In fall 2006, Ohio abruptly adopted a new state financial aid policy that was significantly more generous than the previous plan. Using student-level data and very narrowly defined sets of students, I estimate a difference-in-differences model to identify the program effects. Students who benefited from the program received awards about US$800 higher than they would have received under the prior program. These students’ drop-out rates fell by 2% as a result of the program. The new program also increased the likelihood that students attend 4-year campuses and increased their first-year grade point averages. The program may not have been cost-effective given the combination of its generosity and inability to target the marginal students who would be most sensitive to financial aid.

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Quantifying Variation in Head Start Effects on Young Children's Cognitive and Socio-Emotional Skills Using Data from the National Head Start Impact Study

Howard Bloom & Christina Weiland
MDRC Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
This paper uses data from the Head Start Impact Study (HSIS), a nationally representative multisite randomized trial, to quantify variation in effects of Head Start during 2002-2003 on children’s cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes relative to the effects of other local alternatives, including parent care. We find that (1) treatment and control group differences in child care and educational settings varied substantially across Head Start centers (program sites); (2) Head Start exhibited a compensatory pattern of program effects that reduced disparities in cognitive outcomes among program-eligible children; (3) Head Start produced a striking pattern of subgroup effects that indicates it substantially compensated dual language learners and Spanish-speaking children with low pretest scores (two highly overlapping groups) for their limited prior exposure to English; and (4) Head Start centers ranged from much more effective to much less effective than their local alternatives, including parent care.

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Disruption, learning, and the heterogeneous benefits of smaller classes

Graham McKee, Katharine Sims & Steven Rivkin
Empirical Economics, May 2015, Pages 1267-1286

Abstract:
Prior research suggests that the benefits from smaller classes may vary along multiple dimensions. In this paper we develop a flexible model of education production that incorporates the classroom-level time lost to disruption and the rate of learning during productive time as a function of teacher quality and individual propensity to acquire knowledge. We then investigate heterogeneity in class size effects by school poverty share, family income, teacher experience, and achievement percentile using data from Project STAR. We find that the benefits of small classes are consistently higher in schools with a larger low-income enrollment share. Conditional on school poverty share, we find little or no evidence that lower-income or lower-achieving students tend to realize larger benefits of smaller classes. Instead, we find that the return to smaller classes tends to increase with achievement regardless of school poverty share. Given the generally higher levels of disruption reported in higher poverty schools, this set of findings is consistent with, though not direct evidence of, the notion that reduced time lost to disruption is a primary mechanism through which smaller classes raise achievement and a compelling explanation for the empirical finding that class-size effects tend to be larger for lower-income children.

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The Effect of Primary School Size on Academic Achievement

Seth Gershenson & Laura Langbein
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, May 2015, Pages 135S-155S

Abstract:
Evidence on optimal school size is mixed. We estimate the effect of transitory changes in school size on the academic achievement of fourth- and fifth-grade students in North Carolina using student-level longitudinal administrative data. Estimates of value-added models that condition on school-specific linear time trends and a variety of teacher-by-school, student, and school-by-year fixed effects suggest that, on average, there is no causal relationship between school size and academic performance. However, two subgroups of interest are significantly harmed by school size: socioeconomically disadvantaged students and students with learning disabilities. The largest effects are observed among students with learning disabilities: A 10-student increase in grade size is found to decrease their math and reading achievement by about 0.015 test-score standard deviations.

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The disjuncture between raw scores and pass rates in New York State public schools: Turning success into failure

William Mangino, Marc Silver & Jonathan Cavalieri
Studies in Educational Evaluation, June 2015, Pages 46–54

Abstract:
This paper demonstrates that ‘failure’ is not a direct reflection of student knowledge. Using five years of New York State school-level data, we compare passing rates to raw-scores. We find, first, that when ‘cut scores’ are raised, more students fail even if raw scores are increasing. Second, increasing cut scores disproportionately fails more poor students than non-poor students, despite that poor students have the fastest rates of raw score improvement. Third, raised cut scores transform the smallest raw score gaps between high- and low-poverty schools into the largest passing gaps. Thus, while students in poor schools know more than they did previously, and although they have learned at superior rates, they are recast as the biggest ‘failures’ they have ever been.

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Spatial Variation in Higher Education Financing and the Supply of College Graduates

John Kennan
NBER Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
In the U.S. there are large differences across States in the extent to which college education is subsidized, and there are also large differences across States in the proportion of college graduates in the labor force. State subsidies are apparently motivated in part by the perceived benefits of having a more educated workforce. The paper extends the migration model of Kennan and Walker (2011) to analyze how geographical variation in college education subsidies affects the migration decisions of college graduates. The model is estimated using NLSY data, and used to quantify the sensitivity of migration and college enrollment decisions to differences in expected net lifetime income, focusing on how cross-State differences in public college financing affect the educational composition of the labor force. The main finding is that these differences have substantial effects on college enrollment, with no evidence that these effects are dissipated through migration.

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The Uneven Performance of Arizona’s Charter Schools

Matthew Chingos & Martin West
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, May 2015, Pages 120S-134S

Abstract:
Arizona enrolls a larger share of its students in charter schools than any other state in the country, but no comprehensive examination exists of the impact of those schools on student achievement. Using student-level data covering all Arizona students from 2006 to 2012, we find that the performance of charter schools in Arizona in improving student achievement varies widely, and more so than that of traditional public schools (TPS). On average, charter schools at every grade level have been modestly less effective than TPS in raising student achievement in some subjects. But charter schools that closed during this period have been lower performing than schools that remained open, a pattern that is not evident in the traditional public sector.

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The Growing Segmentation of the Charter School Sector in North Carolina

Helen Ladd, Charles Clotfelter & John Holbein
NBER Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
A defining characteristic of charter schools is that they introduce a strong market element into public education. In this paper, we examine the evolution of the charter school sector in North Carolina between 1999 and 2012 through the lens of a market model. We examine trends in the mix of students enrolled in charter schools, the racial imbalance of charter schools, the quality of the match between parental preferences in charter schools relative to the quality of match in traditional public schools, and the distribution of test score performance across charter schools relative those in traditional public schools serving similar students over time. Taken together, our findings imply that the charter schools in North Carolina are increasingly serving the interests of relatively able white students in racially imbalanced schools.

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Independent Schools and Long-run Educational Outcomes: Evidence from Sweden's Large-scale Voucher Reform

Anders Böhlmark & Mikael Lindahl
Economica, forthcoming

Abstract:
We estimate effects on educational outcomes from the expansion of the independent school sector in Sweden, which followed as a consequence of the radical 1992 voucher reform. Using variation in this expansion across municipalities, we find that an increase in the share of independent school students improves average short- and long-run outcomes, explained primarily by external effects (e.g. school competition). For most outcomes, we observe significant effects first a decade after the reform. By using regional level TIMSS data, we can reconcile our results with the negative national trend for Swedish students in international achievement tests.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Company

Romance and Reproduction Are Socially Costly

Maxwell Burton-Chellew & Robin Dunbar
Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Close social relationships provide the primary source of many important, beneficial forms of social support. However, such relationships can deteriorate without regular contact and communication and therefore entail maintenance costs. Consequently, the number of close network members that an individual can afford to maintain is likely to be constrained by factors such as the time they have to devote to servicing such relationships. New romantic relationships, despite providing large evolutionary benefits in the form of increased reproduction, may be unusually costly in this respect because the individual’s attention is intensely focused on the partner, and, ultimately, their offspring. This change of focus may impact on other relationships, reducing the availability of help from kin and friends. We used an Internet sample of 540 respondents to test and show that the average size of support networks is reduced for individuals in a romantic relationship. We also found approximately 9% of our sample reported having an “extra” romantic partner they could call on for help, however these respondents did not have an even smaller network than those in just 1 relationship. The support network is also further reduced for those who have offspring, however these effects are contingent on age, primarily affecting those under the age of 36 years. Taking into account the acquisition of a new member to the network when entering a relationship, the cost of romance is the loss of nearly 2 members. On average, these social costs are spread equally among related and nonrelated members of the network.

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Narcissism and the Use of Personal Pronouns Revisited

Angela Carey et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Among both laypersons and researchers, extensive use of first-person singular pronouns (i.e., I-talk) is considered a face-valid linguistic marker of narcissism. However, the assumed relation between narcissism and I-talk has yet to be subjected to a strong empirical test. Accordingly, we conducted a large-scale (N = 4,811), multisite (5 labs), multimeasure (5 narcissism measures) and dual-language (English and German) investigation to quantify how strongly narcissism is related to using more first-person singular pronouns across different theoretically relevant communication contexts (identity-related, personal, impersonal, private, public, and stream-of-consciousness tasks). Overall (r = .02, 95% CI [−.02, .04]) and within the sampled contexts, narcissism was unrelated to use of first-person singular pronouns (total, subjective, objective, and possessive). This consistent near-zero effect has important implications for making inferences about narcissism from pronoun use and prompts questions about why I-talk tends to be strongly perceived as an indicator of narcissism in the absence of an underlying actual association between the 2 variables.

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Having a Thicker Skin: Social Power Buffers the Negative Effects of Social Rejection

Maya Kuehn, Serena Chen & Amie Gordon
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Social power elicits an array of psychological tendencies that likely impact processes related to the fundamental need for belonging — including how people respond to social rejection. Across three studies, using multiple methods and instantiations of power and rejection, we hypothesized that power buffers people from the typically adverse emotional and self-esteem consequences of rejection. Supporting this, power buffered participants from increases in negative emotion and/or decreases in self-esteem in response to rejection from a romantic partner (Study 1), an anticipated interaction partner (Study 2), and a hypothetical coworker (Study 3). These findings document a direct link between power and emotional and self-esteem reactions to rejection.

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Jealousy Increased by Induced Relative Left Frontal Cortical Activity

Nicholas Kelley et al.
Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Asymmetric frontal cortical activity may be one key to the process linking social exclusion to jealous feelings. The current research examined the causal role of asymmetric frontal brain activity in modulating jealousy in response to social exclusion. Transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) over the frontal cortex to manipulate asymmetric frontal cortical activity was combined with a modified version of the Cyberball paradigm designed to induce jealousy. After receiving 15 min of tDCS, participants were excluded by a desired partner and reported how jealous they felt. Among individuals who were excluded, tDCS to increase relative left frontal cortical activity caused greater levels of self-reported jealousy compared to tDCS to increase relative right frontal cortical activity or sham stimulation. Limitations concerning the specificity of this effect and implications for the role of the asymmetric prefrontal cortical activity in motivated behaviors are discussed.

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I only like the idea of you: Narcissists tolerate others’ narcissistic traits but not their corresponding behaviors

John Milton Adams, Will Hart & Alex Burton
Personality and Individual Differences, August 2015, Pages 232–236

Abstract:
Do narcissists really like other narcissists? Although some research suggests that the answer is ‘yes,’ the current study demonstrates that the answer to this question is not so simple. In this study, participants (N = 370) completed a survey in which they responded on a measure of trait narcissism and then were randomly assigned to rate the likability of people who were described by either 13 narcissistic traits (abstract-trait description condition) or 13 behavioral manifestations of these traits (concrete-behavior description condition). Results showed that narcissists (vs. non-narcissists) rated narcissistic others significantly more positively in the abstract-trait description condition, whereas this effect was non-significant (and slightly reversed) in the concrete-behavior description condition. Interestingly, this interaction effect was not modified by the contextual salience of one’s own (non)narcissistic identity. In sum, the present research presents a case of ‘narcissistic hypocrisy’ – narcissists claim to be more forgiving of narcissistic traits but do not follow through with this claim when led to confront manifestations of these traits. This finding adds to a growing body of work examining narcissists’ attitudes toward narcissism.

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Do Mean Guys Always Finish First or Just Say That They Do? Narcissists’ Awareness of Their Social Status and Popularity Over Time

Erika Carlson & Nicole Lawless DesJardins
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Narcissists crave respect and admiration. Do they attain the status and popularity they crave, or do they just think that they do? In two studies (Ns = 133 and 94), participants completed the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, described themselves on core personality traits (e.g., extraversion), and were described by an informant on those traits. Participants also provided self- and peer ratings of status and liking in small groups after an initial meeting and over the course of 4 months (Study 2). Relative to people lower, people higher in narcissism initially attained, but eventually lost status; yet, they were aware that they tended to lose status. Narcissists were not especially popular, although they tended to think they were more popular. These patterns differed among narcissism facets, providing further support for the idea that the mixed adaptiveness of narcissism may be due to the heterogeneity of the construct.

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Inhibited from Bowling Alone

Rebecca Ratner & Rebecca Hamilton
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present research demonstrates that consumers often feel inhibited from engaging in hedonic activities alone, especially when these activities are observable by others. When considering whether to engage in a hedonic and public activity such as going to a movie alone, individuals anticipate negative inferences from others about their social connectedness, which reduce their interest in engaging in the activity. Notably, consumers seem to overestimate how much their enjoyment of these activities depends on whether they are accompanied by a companion. Cues that attenuate consumers’ anticipation of negative inferences by making an activity seem more utilitarian or by reducing the anticipated number of observers systematically increase interest in engaging in unaccompanied public activities.

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Animals may act as social buffers: Skin conductance arousal in children with autism spectrum disorder in a social context

Marguerite O'Haire et al.
Developmental Psychobiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience high rates of social stress and anxious arousal. Preliminary evidence suggests that companion animals can act as buffers against the adverse effects of social stress in adults. We measured continuous physiological arousal in children with ASD and typically developing (TD) children in a social context during four conditions: (a) a baseline of reading silently, (b) a scripted classroom activity involving reading aloud, (c) free play with peers and toys, and (d) free play with peers and animals (guinea pigs). Our results confirmed heightened arousal among children with ASD compared to TD children in all conditions, except when the animals were present. Children with ASD showed a 43% decrease in skin conductance responses during free play with peers in the presence of animals, compared to toys. Thus, animals may act as social buffers for children with ASD, conferring unique anxiolytic effects.

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Introversion and human-contaminant disgust sensitivity predict personal space

Justin Park
Personality and Individual Differences, August 2015, Pages 185–187

Abstract:
How far do people prefer to stand from others during interpersonal interactions? Individuals vary in what has been termed personal space, and this variation appears to be systematic. For instance, personal space tends to be larger among more introverted individuals. The present study investigated whether personality variables relevant to threat perceptions may predict personal space. One type of threat that may be neutralized via physical distancing is infectious disease. This study examined whether individual differences in pathogen-relevant disgust sensitivity (particularly with respect to other humans) may predict personal space. In a study employing a behavioral measure of personal space (N = 134), human-contaminant disgust sensitivity (but not nonhuman-contaminant disgust sensitivity) was found to predict personal space while controlling for trait anxiety and introversion. Introversion was found to exert an independent predictive effect.

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Social Anxiety and Narrowed Attentional Breadth Toward Faces

Lira Yoon et al.
Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
The amount of information that can be perceived and processed will be partly determined by attentional breadth (i.e., the scope of attention), which might be narrowed in social anxiety due to a negative attentional bias. The current study examined the effects of stimulus valence on socially anxious individuals’ attentional breadth. Seventy-three undergraduate students completed a computerized dual-task experiment during which they were simultaneously presented with a facial picture at the center of the screen and a black circle (i.e., a target) at the periphery. Participants’ task was to indicate the gender of the model in the picture and the location of the peripheral target. The peripheral target was presented either close to or far from the central picture. Higher levels of social anxiety were significantly associated with greater difficulties detecting the target presented far from the central facial pictures, suggesting that social anxiety is associated with narrowed attentional breadth around social cues. Narrowing of attentional breadth among socially anxious individuals might hamper their ability to process all available social cues, thereby perpetuating social anxiety.

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Delinquent Peer Influence on Offending Versatility: Can Peers Promote Specialized Delinquency?

Kyle Thomas
Criminology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The consistent and robust relationship between peers and frequency of offending is often cited as evidence that friends play an important role in adolescent behavioral tendencies. But Warr (2002) has argued that the empirical support for peer perspectives remains equivocal in part because research has not demonstrated that individuals and their peers display similarities in the qualitative form of their delinquent behavior (i.e., the tendency to specialize in delinquent acts). By using data from the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) evaluation (N = 1,390) and the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (AddHealth) (N = 1,848), this study seeks to fill this void in the literature by examining whether having friends who display specialization in specific delinquent acts relative to other offense types predicts an individual's own tendency to display specializing in those same crime types. Consistent with peer influence perspectives, the results of multilevel latent-trait models (Osgood and Schreck, 2007) suggest that individuals who associate with friends who demonstrate specialization in violence, theft, and substance use are more likely to display greater levels of specialization in those offense types themselves.

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Loneliness and the social monitoring system: Emotion recognition and eye gaze in a real-life conversation

Gerine Lodder et al.
British Journal of Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Based on the belongingness regulation theory (Gardner et al., 2005, Pers. Soc. Psychol. Bull., 31, 1549), this study focuses on the relationship between loneliness and social monitoring. Specifically, we examined whether loneliness relates to performance on three emotion recognition tasks and whether lonely individuals show increased gazing towards their conversation partner's faces in a real-life conversation. Study 1 examined 170 college students (Mage = 19.26; SD = 1.21) who completed an emotion recognition task with dynamic stimuli (morph task) and a micro(-emotion) expression recognition task. Study 2 examined 130 college students (Mage = 19.33; SD = 2.00) who completed the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test and who had a conversation with an unfamiliar peer while their gaze direction was videotaped. In both studies, loneliness was measured using the UCLA Loneliness Scale version 3 (Russell, 1996, J. Pers. Assess., 66, 20). The results showed that loneliness was unrelated to emotion recognition on all emotion recognition tasks, but that it was related to increased gaze towards their conversation partner's faces. Implications for the belongingness regulation system of lonely individuals are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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