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Monday, June 2, 2014

Mi casa es su casa

On the Precipice of a “Majority-Minority” America: Perceived Status Threat From the Racial Demographic Shift Affects White Americans’ Political Ideology

Maureen Craig & Jennifer Richeson
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The U.S. Census Bureau projects that racial minority groups will make up a majority of the U.S. national population in 2042, effectively creating a so-called majority-minority nation. In four experiments, we explored how salience of such racial demographic shifts affects White Americans’ political-party leanings and expressed political ideology. Study 1 revealed that making California’s majority-minority shift salient led politically unaffiliated White Americans to lean more toward the Republican Party and express greater political conservatism. Studies 2, 3a, and 3b revealed that making the changing national racial demographics salient led White Americans (regardless of political affiliation) to endorse conservative policy positions more strongly. Moreover, the results implicate group-status threat as the mechanism underlying these effects. Taken together, this work suggests that the increasing diversity of the nation may engender a widening partisan divide.

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Distributive Justice for Others, Collective Angst, and Support for Exclusion of Immigrants

Todd Lucas et al.
Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Harsh treatment of others can reflect an underlying motivation to view the world as fair and just and also a dispositional tendency to believe in justice. However, there is a critical need to refine and expand existing knowledge, not only to identify underlying psychological processes but also to better understand how justice may be implicated in support for exclusionary policies. Across two studies, we show that support for policies that restrict immigrants is exclusively associated with thoughts about fair outcomes for other people (distributive justice for others). In Study 1, Americans' dispositional tendency to believe in distributive justice for others was associated with greater support for a policy proposing to further restrict immigrant job seekers' capacity to gain employment in the United States. In Study 2, we experimentally primed thoughts about justice in a sample of U.S. police officers. Support for a policy that mandated stricter policing of illegal immigration was strongest among officers who first thought about fair outcomes for other people, relative to other unique justice primes. Across both studies, distributive justice for others was associated with greater collective angst — perceived threat towards the future existence of Americans. Moreover, collective angst mediated the link between distributive justice for others and support for restrictive policies. Overall, this research suggests that thoughts about distributive justice for others can especially diminish compassion towards immigrants and other underprivileged groups via support for exclusionary policies. In addition, merely thinking about distributive justice for others may be sufficient to amplify social callousness.

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Gender and Race Heterogeneity: The Impact of Students with Limited English on Native Students' Performance

Timothy Diette & Ruth Uwaifo Oyelere
American Economic Review, May 2014, Pages 412-417

Abstract:
Recent evidence suggests that exposure to a larger share of Limited English (LE) students is associated with a slight decline in performance for students at the top of the achievement distribution. In this paper we explore whether LE peer effects differ by gender and race. Utilizing school-by-year fixed effect methods that allow us to address possible endogeneity with respect to the schools students attend, we find evidence of heterogeneous peer effects of LE students on natives. Specifically, we find no LE student peer effects on females' achievement in math and reading but significant negative effects on males and black students.

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Latino Immigrant Acculturation and Crime

Lorna Alvarez-Rivera, Matt Nobles & Kim Lersch
American Journal of Criminal Justice, June 2014, Pages 315-330

Abstract:
Recent debate on the future of immigration policy in the United States has spawned much discussion on social costs and consequences for immigrants, such as employment, education, health care, and most notably, crime. Although recent Latino immigrants are often portrayed as outsiders in popular media, their successful acculturation into the American way of life may present more crime-related risk rather than less. This study examines arrest records for Latinos in two southwestern American cities to determine the extent to which Latino acculturation is related to arrests and convictions for both misdemeanors and felonies after controlling for certain legal and extra-legal factors. Results indicate that acculturation is consistently and positively associated with all four crime-related outcomes in this sample. Implications for policy and future research are discussed.

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Foreign STEM Workers and Native Wages and Employment in U.S. Cities

Giovanni Peri, Kevin Shih & Chad Sparber
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
Scientists, Technology professionals, Engineers, and Mathematicians (STEM workers) are fundamental inputs in scientific innovation and technological adoption, the main drivers of productivity growth in the U.S. In this paper we identify the effect of STEM worker growth on the wages and employment of college and non-college educated native workers in 219 U.S. cities from 1990 to 2010. In order to identify a supply-driven and heterogeneous increase in STEM workers across U.S. cities, we use the distribution of foreign-born STEM workers in 1980 and exploit the introduction and variation of the H-1B visa program granting entry to foreign-born college educated (mainly STEM) workers. We find that H-1B-driven increases in STEM workers in a city were associated with significant increases in wages paid to college educated natives. Wage increases for non-college educated natives are smaller but still significant. We do not find significant effects on employment. We also find that STEM workers increased housing rents for college graduates, which eroded part of their wage gains. Together, these results imply a significant effect of foreign STEM on total factor productivity growth in the average US city between 1990 and 2010.

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The Persistent Connection Between Language-of-Interview and Latino Political Opinion

Taeku Lee & Efrén Pérez
Political Behavior, June 2014, Pages 401-425

Abstract:
Since the advent of public opinion polling, scholars have extensively documented the relationship between survey response and interviewer characteristics, including race, ethnicity, and gender. This paper extends this literature to the domain of language-of-interview, with a focus on Latino political opinion. We ascertain whether, and to what degree, Latinos’ reported political attitudes vary by the language they interview in. Using several political surveys, including the 1989–1990 Latino National Political Survey and the 2006 Latino National Survey, we unearth two key patterns. First, language-of-interview produces substantively important differences of opinion between English and Spanish interviewees. This pattern is not isolated to attitudes that directly or indirectly involve Latinos (e.g., immigration policy, language policy). Indeed, it emerges even in the reporting of political facts. Second, the association between Latino opinion and language-of-interview persists even after statistically controlling for, among other things, individual differences in education, national origin, citizenship status, and generational status. Together, these results suggest that a fuller understanding of the contours of Latino public opinion can benefit by acknowledging the influence of language-of-interview.

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Framing Unauthorized Immigrants: The Effects of Labels on Evaluations

Reidar Ommundsen et al.
Psychological Reports, April 2014, Pages 461-478

Abstract:
In the U.S. media, unauthorized immigrants are often interchangeably referred to as “illegal aliens,” “illegal immigrants,” and undocumented immigrants.” In spite of formal equivalence, these terms carry different connotations, but the effects of these labels on people's attitudes toward immigrants are not well documented. In this replication study, 274 undergraduate students in psychology responded to one of three randomly distributed versions of a 20-item scale measuring attitudes toward unauthorized immigration. The items in the three scale versions varyingly referred to immigrants using the three terms. Results showed differences in attitudes toward unauthorized immigration between all experimental conditions. The label “illegal immigrants” yielded significantly less positive attitudes compared to the label “undocumented immigrants,” and respondents exposed to the label “illegal aliens” showed the most positive attitudes. Furthermore, the effects of the experimental conditions were not moderated by the respondents' patriotism, sex, or own immigrant background.

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Tradable Immigration Quotas

Jesús Fernández-Huertas Moraga & Hillel Rapoport
Journal of Public Economics, July 2014, Pages 94–108

Abstract:
International migration is maybe the single most effective way to alleviate global poverty. When a given host country allows more immigrants in, this creates costs and benefits for that particular country as well as a positive externality for individuals and governments who care about world poverty. Host countries quite often restrict immigration due to its important social and political costs, however these costs are never measured and made comparable across countries. In this paper we first show theoretically that tradable immigration quotas (TIQs) can reveal countries’ comparative advantages in hosting immigrants and – once coupled with a matching mechanism taking migrants’ preferences over destinations and countries preferences over migrants’ types into account – allow for exploiting them efficiently. We then discuss three potential applications: a market for the resettlement of international refugees, a market for the resettlement of migrants displaced by climate change, and the creation of an OECD poverty-reduction visa program adapted from the US green card lottery.

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Revealing Discriminatory Intent: Legislator Preferences, Voter Identification, and Responsiveness Bias

Matthew Mendez & Christian Grose
University of Southern California Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
Is bias in responsiveness to constituents conditional on the policy preferences of elected officials? The scholarly conventional wisdom is that constituency groups who do not receive policy representation still obtain some level of responsiveness by legislators outside of the policy realm. In contrast, we present a theory of preference-induced responsiveness bias where constituency responsiveness by legislators is associated with legislator policy preferences. Elected officials who favor laws harming minority groups are also less likely to engage in non-policy responsiveness to minority groups. To test this proposition, we conducted a field experiment in 28 U.S. legislative chambers. Legislators were randomly assigned to receive messages from Latino, Anglo, English-speaking, and Spanish-speaking constituents asking if a driver’s license is required for voting. If legislators supported voter identification, Latino constituents were less likely than Anglo constituents to receive communications from legislators. The implication is that discriminatory intent underlies legislative support for voter identification laws.

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Politics, unemployment, and the enforcement of immigration law

Michael Makowsky & Thomas Stratmann
Public Choice, July 2014, Pages 131-153

Abstract:
Immigration control-related audits and their resulting sanctions are not solely determined by impartial enforcement of laws and regulations. They are also determined by the incentives faced by vote-maximizing politicians, agents acting on their behalf, and workers likely to compete with immigrants in the local labor market. In this paper, we use a unique data set to test the extent to which congressional oversight determines the bureaucratic immigration enforcement process. We examine the decisions made at each stage of enforcement from over 40,000 audits from 1990 to 2000. This includes analysis of (1) whether a firm is found in violation, (2) whether a fine is issued, (3) the size of the fine issued, and (4) how much of a dollar reduction fined employers were able to negotiate. We find that the number of audits conducted increases with local unemployment. We also find that a congressman’s party affiliation and its interaction with committee membership and party majority status, as well as firm size and local union membership, correlate to decisions made at every stage of enforcement.

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Immigration, Search, and Redistribution: A Quantitative Assessment of Native Welfare

Michele Battisti et al.
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
We study the effects of immigration on native welfare in a general equilibrium model featuring two skill types, search frictions, wage bargaining, and a redistributive welfare state. Our quantitative analysis suggests that, in all 20 countries studied, immigration attenuates the effects of search frictions. These gains tend to outweigh the welfare costs of redistribution. Immigration has increased native welfare in almost all countries. Both high-skilled and low-skilled natives benefit in two thirds of countries, contrary to what models without search frictions predict. Median total gains from migration are 1.19% and 1.00% for high and low skilled natives, respectively.

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Hurricane Katrina, a Construction Boom, and a New Labor Force: Latino Immigrants and the New Orleans Construction Industry, 2000 and 2006–2010

Blake Sisk & Carl Bankston
Population Research and Policy Review, June 2014, Pages 309-334

Abstract:
Disasters provide opportunities to study the social and economic dimensions of large-scale shifts. Drawn by the surge in demand for low-skill construction workers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Latino immigrants represented a substantial share of the New Orleans reconstruction workforce. Scholars, however, have yet to examine how the increased presence of immigrants affected U.S.-born workers in New Orleans. In this analysis, we investigate how the influx of Latino immigrant construction workers shaped the demographic composition and occupational-wage structure of the New Orleans construction sector. Using IPUMS-U.S.A. data from the 2000 and 2006–2010 periods for the New Orleans MSA, we employ logistic and multinomial logistic regression models to analyze a sample of 3,206 foreign-born Latinos, U.S.-born whites, U.S.-born blacks, and others employed in the construction industry. Our analysis indicates that the probability of U.S.-born workers being employed in construction remained stable from the pre- to post-storm period, even as we find evidence of an emerging immigrant employment niche in the post-Katrina construction industry. After the storm, however, Latino immigrants were much more heavily concentrated in occupations at the bottom end of the construction industry’s wage structure, while the relative position of U.S.-born workers improved across the two periods. Together, these findings show that disasters, like other structural shifts, can yield the conditions that produce immigrant employment niches. Moreover, our results indicate that while employment niches provide economic opportunities for the foreign-born, they can also intensify the disadvantage experienced by immigrant workers.

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Immigrant employment through the Great Recession: Individual characteristics and metropolitan contexts

Cathy Yang Liu & Jason Edwards
Social Science Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Immigrants continue to settle in metropolitan areas across the United States and bring significant changes to various urban labor markets. Using American Community Survey (ACS) data for 2007 and 2011, we trace the employment outcomes of immigrants compared to native-born workers before and after the recent Great Recession across the 100 largest metropolitan areas and examine individual-level and metropolitan-level factors that shape their employment outcomes. We find that low-skilled workers in general and immigrants without English proficiency and those who are new entrants or earliest arrivals are harder hit in the recession. Latino immigrants and black workers fare worse in areas with high immigrant concentration. Latino immigrants experience employment gains, however, in the South, large urban economies, as well as new immigrant gateways. Asian immigrants see declines in employment likelihood in areas with a large construction sector, while areas with a large trade sector hurt native-born white workers.

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Latinos, Blacks, and the Competition for Low-Skill Jobs: Examining Regional Variations in the Effect of Immigration on Homicide in the U.S.

Raymond Barranco
Sociological Spectrum, May/June 2014, Pages 185-202

Abstract:
Past research has shown that a lack of low-skill jobs increases both unemployment and homicide for blacks. Therefore, it is important for scholars to understand the potentially negative effects brought about by increased competition for these jobs. Given the recent dramatic rise in the number of low-skilled Latinos in the United States, this paper examines how increased Latino competition for low-skill jobs affects black homicide victimization. Using negative binomial regression, I examine black homicide victimization data obtained from coroner's reports. Results indicate that Latino competition for jobs only affects blacks in urban areas that have recently experienced a large increase in its Latino population; however, the effects vary by industry.

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Do Immigrants Bring Good Health?

Osea Giuntella & Fabrizio Mazzonna
University of Oxford Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
This paper studies the effects of immigration on health. We merge information on individual characteristics from the German Socio-Economic Panel with detailed local labor market characteristics for the period 1984 to 2009. We exploit the longitudinal component of the data to analyze how immigration affects the health of both immigrants and natives over time. Immigrants are shown to be healthier than natives upon their arrival ("healthy immigrant effect"), but their health deteriorates over time spent in Germany. We show that the convergence in health is heterogeneous across immigrants and faster among those working in more physically demanding jobs. Immigrants are significantly more likely to work in strenuous occupations. In light of these facts, we investigate whether changes in the spatial concentration of immigrants affect natives' health. Our results suggest that immigration reduces residents' likelihood to report negative health outcomes by improving their working conditions and reducing the average workload. We show that these effects are concentrated in blue-collar occupations and are larger among low educated natives and previous cohorts of immigrants.

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The Impact of Immigration on the Well-Being of Natives

Alpaslan Akay, Amelie Constant & Corrado Giulietti
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, July 2014, Pages 72–92

Abstract:
Combining data from the German Socio-Economic Panel for 1998-2009 with local labor market information, this is the first paper to investigate how the spatial concentration of immigrants affects the life satisfaction of the native Germans. Our results show a positive and robust effect of immigration on natives’ well-being, which is not driven by local labor market characteristics. Immigration has only a weak impact on the subjective well-being of immigrant groups, meanwhile. We also examine potential threats to causality and conclude that our findings are not driven by selectivity and reverse causality. Specifically, natives are not crowded out by immigrants and the sorting of immigrants to regions with higher native happiness is negligible. We further find that the positive effect of immigration on natives’ life satisfaction is a function of the assimilation of immigrants in the region. Immigration's well-being effect is higher in regions with intermediate assimilation levels and is essentially zero in regions with no or complete assimilation.

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The integration paradox: Level of education and immigrants’ attitudes towards natives and the host society

Thomas de Vroome, Borja Martinovic & Maykel Verkuyten
Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, April 2014, Pages 166-175

Abstract:
The so-called integration paradox refers to the phenomenon of the economically more integrated and highly educated immigrants turning away from the host society, instead of becoming more oriented toward it. The present study examined this paradox in the Netherlands among a large sample (N = 3,981) of immigrants, including 2 generations and 4 ethnic groups. The assumed negative relationship between level of education and attitudes toward the host society and the native population was expected to be mediated by two indicators of perceived acceptance by the native majority: discrimination and subgroup respect. Results show that higher educated immigrants perceive more discrimination and less respect for minorities, and these perceptions, in turn, relate to less positive evaluations of the native majority and the host society. This pattern of associations is quite similar for the 2 generations and for the 4 migrant groups.

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Neighborhood Coethnic Immigrant Concentrations and Mexican American Children’s Early Academic Trajectories

Jacob Hibel & Matthew Hall
Population Research and Policy Review, June 2014, Pages 365-391

Abstract:
We use data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998–1999 as well as neighborhood data from the 2000 U.S. Census to examine relationships between neighborhood Mexican immigrant concentration and reading (n = 820) and mathematics (n = 1,540) achievement among children of Mexican descent. Mixed-effects growth curves show that children living in immigrant-rich communities enter school at an achievement disadvantage relative to children in neighborhoods with fewer coethnic immigrant families. However, these disparities are driven by lower-SES families’ concentration in immigrant-heavy neighborhoods as well as these neighborhoods’ structural disadvantages. Controlling for children’s generation status and socioeconomic status, as well as neighborhood-level measures of structural disadvantage, safety, and social support, neighborhood immigrant concentration demonstrates a modest positive association with mathematics achievement among children of Mexican immigrant parents at the time of school entry. However, we do not find strong positive associations between Mexican American children’s rate of achievement growth over the elementary and middle school years and their neighborhoods’ concentration of Mexican immigrants.

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On Consumer Credit Outcomes in the U.S.-Mexico Border Region

Chintal Desai & Andre Mollick
Journal of Financial Services Research, February 2014, Pages 91-115

Abstract:
The ease in mobility of people across the U.S.-Mexico border region provides a natural setting for analyzing the role of economic interdependency on consumer credit outcomes. Since the U.S. and Mexican economies are not entirely synchronized and have different growth rates, the growing Mexican border economy is likely to increase the consumption of U.S. goods and services in the region, and provide additional job opportunities to the U.S. border residents. Thus, the effect of being located at the border (‘border effect’) might reduce default and bankruptcy in the U.S. However, if both economies are nearly perfectly correlated, then the ‘border effect’ is likely to be insignificant. Our results are consistent with the border effect lowering the rate of bankruptcies and mortgage defaults in the U.S. counties that share a border with Mexico. An increase in the level of economic interdependency, as measured by the differential economic growth between Mexican municipalities and their sister U.S. county, decreases the bankruptcy rates in the U.S. border region. Overall, this research helps understand credit risk issues in the U.S.-Mexico border region.

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Immigration Quotas, World War I, and Emigrant Flows from the United States in the Early 20th Century

Michael Greenwood & Zachary Ward
Explorations in Economic History, forthcoming

Abstract:
Little is known about international return migration because governments rarely track out-migrants. However, one exception occurred early in the 20th century when the United States kept records of emigrants. Using within-country changes in quota allocations in 1921, 1924, and 1929 in combination with 1908-1932 data on specific countries of intended destination of the emigrants, we estimate the effect of quotas on (1) out-migration rates, (2) emigration across skill groups, and (3) the duration of temporary migrants’ stays in the U.S. Higher quota restrictions reduced emigration rates, mostly for unskilled laborers and farmers. Higher quota restrictions also increased duration of stay, as the share of migrants staying less than 5 years fell and the share staying 5 to 10 years rose. Return migration behavior was also associated with changes in previous immigrant cohort’s networks and savings. Return migration rates were also low during World War I, and more significant population losses from the War in home countries discouraged return migration. Finally, out-migration of German migrants increased substantially during the 1920s.

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Foreign-Born Voting Behavior in Local Elections: Evidence From New Immigrant Destinations

Melissa Goldsmith & Claudio Holzner
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Approximately half of immigrants to the United States are now settling directly in cities and towns with little prior history of immigration. Because this dispersed settlement pattern is so recent, we know little about the political behavior of naturalized citizens in these new immigrant destinations. This article begins to fill this gap by exploring the determinants of foreign-born voting in municipal elections using a new dataset that combines official voting information from the state of Utah with demographic information about Utah residents from the Utah Population Database (UPDB). We hypothesize that in addition to individual-level predictors of prior experience with democratic politics and community attachment, the size of cities and their form of government will also affect the likelihood that foreign-born citizens will turn out to vote in local elections. We use multilevel modeling techniques to test these hypotheses and find that prior experience with democratic politics, whether in the United States or in their home country, along with the city-level characteristics of city size and form of government, are powerful predictors of foreign-born voting in local elections. Moreover, we find that while large cities experience lower levels of turnout for all citizens, the negative effect on participation is strongest for foreign-born citizens.

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Immigration and House Prices in the UK

Filipa Sá
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article studies the effect of immigration on house prices in the UK. It .finds that immigration has a negative effect on house prices and presents evidence that this negative effect is due to the mobility response of the native population. Natives respond to immigration by moving to different areas and those who leave are at the top of the wage distribution. This generates a negative income effect on housing demand and pushes down house prices. The negative effect of immigration on house prices is driven by local areas where immigrants have lower education.

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Immigration and Structural Change: Evidence from Post-War Germany

Sebastian Braun & Michael Kvasnicka
Journal of International Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does immigration accelerate sectoral change from low- to high-productivity sectors? This paper analyzes the effect of one of the largest population movements in history, the influx of millions of German expellees to West Germany after World War II, on Germany’s speed of transition away from low-productivity agriculture. A simple two-sector specific factors model, in which moving costs prevent the marginal product of labor to be equalized across sectors, predicts that expellee inflows boost output per worker by expanding the high-productivity non-agricultural sector but decrease output per worker within sectors. Using German district-level data from before and after the war, we find empirical support for these predictions.

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The Causal Effect of Trade on Migration: Evidence from Countries of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership

Nadia Campaniello
Labour Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the attempt to reduce migration pressure, since 1995, the European Union has been planning to establish a free trade area with developing countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The process is still ongoing. Our paper tests whether it is likely to be an effective policy. We estimate a gravitational model of bilateral migrations on bilateral exports from the Mediterranean Third Countries (South) to the European Union (North) over the period 1970-2000, using different specifications. We find, in line with most of the literature, a significantly positive correlation (called “complementarity”) between exports and migrations from the South to the North. Then we go one step further, trying to solve the potential endogeneity problem using average trade tariffs and bilateral exchange rate volatility as instruments for trade. Based on the OLS as well as the 2SLS results, liberalizing trade in the area of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership does not seem to be an effective policy to mitigate the migration flows, at least in the short run.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Rough

Childhood bullying involvement predicts low-grade systemic inflammation into adulthood

William Copeland et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 27 May 2014, Pages 7570–7575

Abstract:
Bullying is a common childhood experience that involves repeated mistreatment to improve or maintain one’s status. Victims display long-term social, psychological, and health consequences, whereas bullies display minimal ill effects. The aim of this study is to test how this adverse social experience is biologically embedded to affect short- or long-term levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of low-grade systemic inflammation. The prospective population-based Great Smoky Mountains Study (n = 1,420), with up to nine waves of data per subject, was used, covering childhood/adolescence (ages 9–16) and young adulthood (ages 19 and 21). Structured interviews were used to assess bullying involvement and relevant covariates at all childhood/adolescent observations. Blood spots were collected at each observation and assayed for CRP levels. During childhood and adolescence, the number of waves at which the child was bullied predicted increasing levels of CRP. Although CRP levels rose for all participants from childhood into adulthood, being bullied predicted greater increases in CRP levels, whereas bullying others predicted lower increases in CRP compared with those uninvolved in bullying. This pattern was robust, controlling for body mass index, substance use, physical and mental health status, and exposures to other childhood psychosocial adversities. A child’s role in bullying may serve as either a risk or a protective factor for adult low-grade inflammation, independent of other factors. Inflammation is a physiological response that mediates the effects of both social adversity and dominance on decreases in health.

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Trends in Bullying, Physical Fighting, and Weapon Carrying Among 6th- Through 10th-Grade Students From 1998 to 2010: Findings From a National Study

Jessamyn Perlus et al.
American Journal of Public Health, June 2014, Pages 1100-1106

Objectives: We examined trends from 1998 to 2010 in bullying, bullying victimization, physical fighting, and weapon carrying and variations by gender, grade level, and race/ethnicity among US adolescents.

Methods: The Health Behavior in School-Aged Children surveys of nationally representative samples of students in grades 6 through 10 were completed in 1998 (n = 15 686), 2002 (n = 14 818), 2006 (n = 9229), and 2010 (n = 10 926). We assessed frequency of bullying behaviors, physical fighting, and weapon carrying as well as weapon type and subtypes of bullying. We conducted logistic regression analyses, accounting for the complex sampling design, to identify trends and variations by demographic factors.

Results: Bullying perpetration, bullying victimization, and physical fighting declined from 1998 to 2010. Weapon carrying increased for White students only. Declines in bullying perpetration and victimization were greater for boys than for girls. Declines in bullying perpetration and physical fighting were greater for middle-school students than for high-school students.

Conclusions: Declines in most violent behaviors are encouraging; however, lack of decline in weapon carrying merits further attention.

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Are You Insulting Me? Exposure to Alcohol Primes Increases Aggression Following Ambiguous Provocation

William Pedersen et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Considerable research has shown that alcohol consumption can increase aggression and produce extremes in other social behaviors. Although most theories posit that such effects are caused by pharmacological impairment of cognitive processes, recent research indicates that exposure to alcohol-related constructs, in the absence of consumption, can produce similar effects. Here we tested the hypothesis that alcohol priming is most likely to affect aggression in the context of ambiguous provocation. Experiment 1 showed that exposure to alcohol primes increased aggressive retaliation but only when an initial provocation was ambiguous; unambiguous provocation elicited highly aggressive responses regardless of prime exposure. Experiment 2 showed that alcohol prime exposure effects are relatively short-lived and that perceptions of the provocateur’s hostility mediated effects of prime exposure on aggression. These findings suggest modification and extension of existing models of alcohol-induced aggression.

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Badgrlz? Exploring Sex Differences in Cyberbullying Behaviors

Nadine Connell et al.
Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, July 2014, Pages 209-228

Abstract:
Research on bullying suggests that traditional bullying is gendered such that males participate in physical acts while females engage in relational attacks, but the nature of the relationship between gender and cyberbullying is less defined. Because the Internet is an ideal environment for the relational forms of bullying favored by females, we hypothesize that females engage in more cyberbullying than males. We also hypothesize that there are gender differences in predictors of cyberbullying and cybervictimization. In order to better understand these gender dynamics, we examine self-reported bullying and victimization experiences in a sample of 3,867 middle school students in a northeastern state. Contrary to recent findings, our results show support for the gendered nature of cyberbullying and suggest that females engage in more cyberbullying than males. We also find gender variation in predictors of cybervictimization. We discuss the implication of these findings, especially in light of prevention and intervention needs.

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Short- and Long-Term Effects of Video Game Violence on Interpersonal Trust

Tobias Rothmund et al.
Media Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Two studies investigate the psychological processes underlying short- and long-term effects of video game violence on interpersonal trust. Study 1 demonstrates that interacting with physically aggressive virtual agents decreases players' trust in subsequent interactions. This effect was stronger for players who were dispositionally sensitive to victimization. In Study 2, long-term effects of adolescents' frequent exposure to video game violence on interpersonal trust and victim sensitivity were investigated. Cross-lagged path analyses show that the reported frequency of playing violent video games reduced interpersonal trust over a period of 12 months, particularly among victim-sensitive players. These findings are in line with the sensitivity to mean intentions (SeMI) model, and they suggest that interpersonal mistrust is a relevant long-term outcome of frequent exposure to video game violence.

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Reducing Aggressive Responses to Social Exclusion Using Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)

Paolo Riva et al.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
A vast body of research showed that social exclusion can trigger aggression. However, the neural mechanisms involved in regulating aggressive responses to social exclusion are still largely unknown. Transcranical direct current stimulation (tDCS) modulates the excitability of a target region. Building on studies suggesting that activity in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (rVLPFC) might aid the regulation or inhibition of social exclusion-related distress, we hypothesized that non-invasive brain polarization through tDCS over the rVLPFC would reduce behavioral aggression following social exclusion. Participants were socially excluded or included while they received tDCS or sham stimulation to the rVLPFC. Next, they received an opportunity to aggress. Excluded participants demonstrated cognitive awareness of their inclusionary status, yet tDCS (but not sham stimulation) reduced their behavioral aggression. Excluded participants who received tDCS stimulation were no more aggressive than included participants. tDCS stimulation did not influence socially included participants’ aggression. Our findings provide the first causal test for the role of rVLPFC in modulating aggressive responses to social exclusion. Our findings suggest that modulating activity in a brain area (i.e., the rVLPFC) implicated in self-control and emotion regulation can break the link between social exclusion and aggression.

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Environmental transmission of violent criminal behavior in siblings: A Swedish national study

K.S. Kendler
Psychological Medicine, forthcoming

Background: Violent criminal behaviour (VCB) runs strongly in families partly because of shared environmental factors. Can we clarify the environmental processes that contribute to similarity of risk for VCB in siblings?

Method: We assessed VCB from the Swedish National Crime Register for the years 1973–2011 in siblings born 1950–1991. We examined by conditional logistic and Cox proportional hazard regression, respectively, whether resemblance for VCB in sibling pairs was influenced by their age difference and whether VCB was more strongly ‘transmitted’ from older→younger versus younger→older siblings.

Results: In our best-fit logistic model, for each year of age difference in full sibling pairs, the risk for VCB in the sibling of a case versus control proband declined by 2.6% [95% confidence interval (CI) 2.2–3.0]. In our best-fit Cox model, the hazard rate for VCB in a sibling when the affected proband was older versus younger was 1.4, 2.1 and 2.9 respectively for a 1-, 5- and 10-year difference in siblings.

Conclusions: Controlling for genetic effects by examining only full siblings, sibling resemblance for risk for VCB was significantly greater in pairs closer versus more distant in age. Older siblings more strongly transmitted risk for VCB to their younger siblings than vice versa. These results strongly support the importance of familial–environmental influences on VCB and provide some insight into the possible mechanisms at work.

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Men in the Mirror: The Role of Men’s Body Shame in Sexual Aggression

Kris Mescher & Laurie Rudman
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Because research on body shame has predominantly focused on women, the consequences of male body shame for gender relations have been under-investigated. Following up on preliminary findings suggesting that men high on body shame were hostile toward women, in two experiments, we uniquely observed that body shame predisposes men to sexual aggression when they react negatively to masculinity threats. In Experiment 1, men rejected by a female confederate for being unattractive showed rape proclivity to the extent they were high on both body shame and post-rejection negative affect. In Experiment 2, the same pattern emerged on the part of men rejected by a female (but not a male) confederate for ostensibly being gay. In concert, the findings suggest that men’s body shame is an overlooked factor in sexual aggression, which has implications for extant rape theories and precarious manhood theory.

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Averting School Rampage: Student Intervention Amid a Persistent Code of Silence

Eric Madfis
Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, July 2014, Pages 229-249

Abstract:
Pulling from in-depth interviews with school administrators, counselors, security and police officers, and teachers directly involved in thwarting rampage attacks at 11 Northeastern schools, this study considers the extent to which students have broken through a “code of silence,” discouraging them from informing on their peers. While findings support prior research indicating the vital preventative role of students’ coming forward with information about threats, close scrutiny of averted incidents reveals that scholars and educational practitioners have overestimated the extent to which the student code of silence has diminished post-Columbine. Even in these successfully averted incidents, numerous students exposed to threats still did not come forward; those who did were rarely close associates or confidants of accused students; and some who did ultimately come forward did so as a result of being personally threatened or in order to deflect blame away from themselves, rather than out of altruistic concern for others.

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Here we go again: Bullying history and cardiovascular responses to social exclusion

Matthew Newman
Physiology & Behavior, 22 June 2014, Pages 76–80

Abstract:
Previous research suggests that social exclusion — both acute and chronic — may be associated with a pattern of blunted cardiovascular responding. But it is unknown to what extent acute and chronic exclusion interact. That is, what happens when victims of long-term social rejection encounter an instance of exclusion later in life? The goal of the present study was to test whether prior experience being bullied would alter cardiovascular responses to an acute experience of social exclusion. Participants took part in a short online chat, during which they were either included or excluded from the conversation. Consistent with hypotheses, all participants showed an increase in sympathetic activity in the exclusion condition, but this response was significantly blunted among those with more chronic history of bullying victimization. No differences were observed for parasympathetic activity. This pattern suggests that a history of chronic victimization magnifies the cardiovascular “blunting” shown previously among victims of ostracism. This line of work suggests that bullying victims may develop regulatory mechanisms in response to social threats, and this may ultimately provide valuable information for helping victims become more resilient.

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The facial width-to-height ratio shares stronger links with judgments of aggression than with judgments of trustworthiness

Shawn Geniole et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Variation in the facial width-to-height ratio (face ratio) is associated with judgments of aggression and of trustworthiness made by observers when viewing men’s faces. Although judgments of aggression and of trustworthiness are correlated, they represent distinct constructs. We thus investigated the hypothesis that judgments of aggression share stronger associations with the face ratio than judgments of trustworthiness, and that judgments of aggression mediate the link between the face ratio and trustworthiness. Across 4 separate studies, involving 129 observers rating subsets of 141 photographs (original photographs of individuals who provided consent for their use) of clean-shaven (65 faces), unshaved (22 faces), or digitized male faces (54 faces; digitized faces were creating using facial modeling software), this hypothesis was supported. The correlations between the face ratio and judgments of aggression were moderate to strong in all 4 studies (rs = .45 to .70). Reaction time was measured in Study 4: Participants judged aggression faster than trustworthiness; thus, temporal precedence also supports the hypothesis that aggression mediates the link between the face ratio and trustworthiness. Sensitivity to the face ratio may therefore be part of a perceptual mechanism specialized to assess aggressiveness rather than trustworthiness in others, likely because of the greater necessity for rapid judgments of aggressive potential than trustworthiness.

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Is popularity associated with aggression toward socially preferred or marginalized targets?

Kätlin Peets & Ernest Hodges
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, August 2014, Pages 112–123

Abstract:
This study was designed to test whether aggression toward easy or challenging targets is more likely to be associated with popularity. More specifically, we tested two alternative hypotheses with a sample of 224 adolescents (12- and 13-year-olds): (a) whether aggression toward highly disliked peers is associated with popularity (the easy target hypothesis) or (b) whether aggression toward highly liked peers is associated with popularity (the challenging target hypothesis). Support was found only for the challenging target hypothesis. In particular, our results indicate that aggressiveness toward peers who are liked by many others has social benefits in the form of greater popularity (particularly for highly preferred adolescents) without social costs (i.e., is unrelated to social preference). In contrast, aggressiveness toward peers who are disliked by many others is associated with lower social preference but bears no association with popularity. These results highlight the importance of studying contextualized aggression in order to understand the conditions under which aggression is most, and least, likely to be associated with social power and dominance.

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Triple Entitlement and Homicidal Anger: An Exploration of the Intersectional Identities of American Mass Murderers

Eric Madfis
Men and Masculinities, April 2014, Pages 67-86

Abstract:
In the Unites States, middle-class Caucasian heterosexual males in their teenage years and in middle age commit mass murder, the killing of at least three victims during a single episode at one or more closely related locations, in numbers disproportionately high relative to their share of the population. Utilizing an intersectional theoretical approach, this article investigates the convergences of (1) white entitlement, (2) middle-class instability and downward mobility in the postindustrial economy, and (3) heterosexual masculinity and its relationship to violence. Such analysis concludes that, among many mass killers, the triple privileges of white heterosexual masculinity which make subsequent life course losses more unexpected and thus more painfully shameful ultimately buckle under the failures of downward mobility and result in a final cumulative act of violence to stave off subordinated masculinity.

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Gender differences in oxytocin-associated disruption of decision bias during emotion perception

Spencer Lynn et al.
Psychiatry Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Oxytocin is associated with differences in the perception of and response to socially mediated information, such as facial expressions. Across studies, however, oxytocin's effect on emotion perception has been inconsistent. Outside the laboratory, emotion perception involves interpretation of perceptual uncertainty and assessment of behavioral risk. An account of these factors is largely missing from studies of oxytocin's effect on emotion perception and might explain inconsistent results across studies. Of relevance, studies of oxytocin's effect on learning and decision-making indicate that oxytocin attenuates risk aversion. We used the probability of encountering angry faces and the cost of misidentifying them as not angry to create a risky environment wherein bias to categorize faces as angry would maximize point earnings. Consistent with an underestimation of the factors creating risk (i.e., encounter rate and cost), men given oxytocin exhibited a worse (i.e., less liberal) response bias than men given placebo. Oxytocin did not influence women's performance. These results suggest that oxytocin may impair men's ability to adapt to changes in risk and uncertainty when introduced to novel or changing social environments. Because oxytocin also influences behavior in non-social realms, oxytocin pharmacotherapy could have unintended consequences (i.e., risk-prone decision-making) while nonetheless normalizing pathological social interaction.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Pairing off

Genetic and educational assortative mating among US adults

Benjamin Domingue et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Understanding the social and biological mechanisms that lead to homogamy (similar individuals marrying one another) has been a long-standing issue across many fields of scientific inquiry. Using a nationally representative sample of non-Hispanic white US adults from the Health and Retirement Study and information from 1.7 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms, we compare genetic similarity among married couples to noncoupled pairs in the population. We provide evidence for genetic assortative mating in this population but the strength of this association is substantially smaller than the strength of educational assortative mating in the same sample. Furthermore, genetic similarity explains at most 10% of the assortative mating by education levels. Results are replicated using comparable data from the Framingham Heart Study.

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A New Standard of Sexual Behavior? Are Claims Associated With the “Hookup Culture” Supported by General Social Survey Data?

Martin Monto & Anna Carey
Journal of Sex Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Popular media have described intimate relationships among contemporary college students as dominated by a pervasive sexual “hookup culture,” implying that students are involved in frequent sexual encounters pursued by both participants without the expectation of a continuing relationship. The hookup culture has been described as “a nationwide phenomenon that has largely replaced traditional dating on college campuses” (Bogle, 2008, p. 5). We tested whether these claims are supported among young adults (18–25) who had completed at least one year of college. Contrasting 1988–1996 waves of the General Social Survey with 2004–2012 waves, we found respondents from the current era did not report more sexual partners since age 18, more frequent sex, or more partners during the past year than respondents from the earlier era. Sexually active respondents from the current era were more likely than those from the earlier era to report sex with a casual date/pickup or friend, and less likely to report sex with a spouse/regular partner. These modest changes are consistent with cultural shifts in the “scripts” and terminology surrounding sexuality. We find no evidence of substantial changes in sexual behavior that would indicate a new or pervasive pattern of non-relational sex among contemporary college students.

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Gender and Sexual Economics: Do Women View Sex as a Female Commodity?

Laurie Rudman & Janell Fetterolf
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the study reported here, data from implicit and behavioral choice measures did not support sexual economics theory’s (SET’s) central tenet that women view female sexuality as a commodity. Instead, men endorsed sexual exchange more than women did, which supports the idea that SET is a vestige of patriarchy. Further, men’s sexual advice, more than women’s, enforced the sexual double standard (i.e., men encouraged men more than women to have casual sex) — a gender difference that was mediated by hostile sexism, but also by men’s greater implicit investment in sexual economics. That is, men were more likely to suppress female sexuality because they resisted female empowerment and automatically associated sex with money more than women did. It appears that women are not invested in sexual economics, but rather, men are invested in patriarchy, even when it means raising the price of sexual relations.

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Prioritization of Potential Mates’ History of Sexual Fidelity During a Conjoint Ranking Task

Justin Mogilski, Joel Wade & Lisa Welling
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
This series of studies is the first to use conjoint analysis to examine how individuals make trade-offs during mate selection when provided information about a partner’s history of sexual infidelity. Across three studies, participants ranked profiles of potential mates, with each profile varying across five attributes: financial stability, physical attractiveness, sexual fidelity, emotional investment, and similarity. They also rated each attribute separately for importance in an ideal mate. Overall, we found that for a long-term mate, participants prioritized a potential partner’s history of sexual fidelity over other attributes when profiles were ranked conjointly. For a short-term mate, sexual fidelity, physical attractiveness, and financial stability were equally important, and each was more important than emotional investment and similarity. These patterns contrast with participants’ self-reported importance ratings of each individual attribute. Our results are interpreted within the context of previous literature examining how making trade-offs affect mate selection.

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Non-linear associations between stature and mate choice characteristics for American men and their spouses

Gert Stulp et al.
American Journal of Human Biology, forthcoming

Objectives: Although male height is positively associated with many aspects of mate quality, average height men attain higher reproductive success in US populations. We hypothesize that this is because the advantages associated with taller stature accrue mainly from not being short, rather than from being taller than average. Lower fertility by short men may be a consequence of their and their partner's lower scores on aspects of mate quality. Taller men, although they score higher on mate quality compared to average height men, may have lower fertility because they are more likely to be paired with taller women, who are potentially less fertile.

Methods: We analyzed data from The Integrated Health Interview Series (IHIS) of the United States (N = 165,606). Segmented regression was used to examine patterns across the height continuum.

Results: On all aspects of own and partner quality, shorter men scored lower than both average height and taller men. Height more strongly predicted these aspects when moving from short to average height, than when moving from average to taller heights. Women of a given height who scored lower on mate quality also had shorter partners.

Conclusions: Shorter men faced a double disadvantage with respect to both their own mate quality and that of their spouses. Scores of taller men were only marginally higher than those of average height men, suggesting that being tall is less important than not being short. Although effect sizes were small, our results may partly explain why shorter and taller men have lower fertility than those of average stature.

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Dating and Hooking Up in College: Meeting Contexts, Sex, and Variation by Gender, Partner's Gender, and Class Standing

Arielle Kuperberg & Joseph Padgett
Journal of Sex Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined 13,976 dates and 12,068 hookup encounters at 22 colleges in the United States reported by students surveyed between 2005 and 2011 in the Online College Social Life Survey (OCSLS) to determine differences between dates and hookups in partner meeting context and sex during the encounter. Students most often met date and hookup partners through institutional settings or bars and parties, with approximately two-thirds of partners met in these venues. Those who had fewer potential partners on campus (women) were less likely to find partners in campus locations and less likely to find male sexual or dating partners but more likely to date women. Men and women engaging in same-sex encounters had higher rates of meeting partners through Internet sources. Hookups were associated with partners met in bars, parties, nightclubs, and college dormitories, and were twice as likely as dates to include sex. Students were more likely to go on dates with partners met on the Internet, which we theorize is a result of low levels of trust associated with that context. Patterns found are related to the association of meeting contexts with hookup scripts, risk and trust, and local partnering markets.

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Negative frequency-dependent preferences and variation in male facial hair

Zinnia Janif, Robert Brooks & Barnaby Dixson
Biology Letters, April 2014

Abstract:
Negative frequency-dependent sexual selection maintains striking polymorphisms in secondary sexual traits in several animal species. Here, we test whether frequency of beardedness modulates perceived attractiveness of men's facial hair, a secondary sexual trait subject to considerable cultural variation. We first showed participants a suite of faces, within which we manipulated the frequency of beard thicknesses and then measured preferences for four standard levels of beardedness. Women and men judged heavy stubble and full beards more attractive when presented in treatments where beards were rare than when they were common, with intermediate preferences when intermediate frequencies of beardedness were presented. Likewise, clean-shaven faces were least attractive when clean-shaven faces were most common and more attractive when rare. This pattern in preferences is consistent with negative frequency-dependent selection.

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Menstrual cycle phase alters women's sexual preferences for composers of more complex music

Benjamin Charlton
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 7 June 2014

Abstract:
Over 140 years ago Charles Darwin first argued that birdsong and human music, having no clear survival benefit, were obvious candidates for sexual selection. Whereas the first contention is now universally accepted, his theory that music is a product of sexual selection through mate choice has largely been neglected. Here, I provide the first, to my knowledge, empirical support for the sexual selection hypothesis of music evolution by showing that women have sexual preferences during peak conception times for men that are able to create more complex music. Two-alternative forced-choice experiments revealed that woman only preferred composers of more complex music as short-term sexual partners when conception risk was highest. No preferences were displayed when women chose which composer they would prefer as a long-term partner in a committed relationship, and control experiments failed to reveal an effect of conception risk on women's preferences for visual artists. These results suggest that women may acquire genetic benefits for offspring by selecting musicians able to create more complex music as sexual partners, and provide compelling support for Darwin's assertion ‘that musical notes and rhythm were first acquired by the male or female progenitors of mankind for the sake of charming the opposite sex’.

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Estimating the Sex-Specific Effects of Genes on Facial Attractiveness and Sexual Dimorphism

Dorian Mitchem et al.
Behavior Genetics, May 2014, Pages 270-281

Abstract:
Human facial attractiveness and facial sexual dimorphism (masculinity–femininity) are important facets of mate choice and are hypothesized to honestly advertise genetic quality. However, it is unclear whether genes influencing facial attractiveness and masculinity–femininity have similar, opposing, or independent effects across sex, and the heritability of these phenotypes is poorly characterized. To investigate these issues, we assessed facial attractiveness and facial masculinity–femininity in the largest genetically informative sample (n = 1,580 same- and opposite-sex twin pairs and siblings) to assess these questions to date. The heritability was ~0.50–0.70 for attractiveness and ~0.40–0.50 for facial masculinity–femininity, indicating that, despite ostensible selection on genes influencing these traits, substantial genetic variation persists in both. Importantly, we found evidence for intralocus sexual conflict, whereby alleles that increase masculinity in males have the same effect in females. Additionally, genetic influences on attractiveness were shared across the sexes, suggesting that attractive fathers tend to have attractive daughters and attractive mothers tend to have attractive sons.

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Individual differences in preferences for cues to intelligence in the face

F.R. Moore, M.J. Law Smith & D.I. Perrett
Intelligence, May–June 2014, Pages 19–25

Abstract:
We tested for individual differences in women's preferences for cues to intelligence in male faces in accordance with hormonal status (i.e. menstrual cycle phase and use of hormonal contraceptives), relationship status and context, and self-rated intelligence. There were no effects of hormonal or relationship status (Studies 1 and 2) on preferences. There was, however, a positive relationship between self-rated intelligence and preferences for cues to intelligence in the face in the context of a long-term relationship, suggesting context-specific assortment (Study 3). In Study 4, self-rated partner intelligence correlated with preferences for facial cues to intelligence. We discuss these results in the context of intelligence as a fitness indicator and suggest that future research must control for assortative mating for cognitive traits in order to better understand intelligence in mate choice.

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Accurately Detecting Flirting: Error Management Theory, the Traditional Sexual Script, and Flirting Base Rate

Jeffrey Hall, Chong Xing & Seth Brooks
Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article reports two studies on the accuracy of flirting detection. In Study 1, 52 pairs (n = 104) of opposite-sex heterosexual strangers interacted for 10 to 12 minutes, then self-reported flirting and perceived partner flirting. The results indicated that interactions where flirting did not occur were more accurately perceived than interactions where flirting occurred. In Study 2, twenty-six 1-minute video clips drawn from Study 1 were randomly assigned to one of eight experimental conditions that varied flirting base rate and the traditional sexual script. Participant observers (n = 261) attempted to determine if flirting occurred. The results indicated that base rate affected accuracy; flirting was more accurately detected in clips where flirting did not occur than in clips where flirting occurred. Study 2 also indicated that female targets’ flirting was more accurately judged than male targets’ flirting. Findings are discussed in relation to theory and courtship context.

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Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption: The Brain on Porn

Simone Kühn & Jürgen Gallinat
JAMA Psychiatry, forthcoming

Objective: To determine whether frequent pornography consumption is associated with the frontostriatal network.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Sixty-four healthy male adults with a broad range of pornography consumption at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany, reported hours of pornography consumption per week. Pornography consumption was associated with neural structure, task-related activation, and functional resting-state connectivity.

Results: We found a significant negative association between reported pornography hours per week and gray matter volume in the right caudate (P < .001, corrected for multiple comparisons) as well as with functional activity during a sexual cue–reactivity paradigm in the left putamen (P < .001). Functional connectivity of the right caudate to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was negatively associated with hours of pornography consumption.

Conclusions and Relevance: The negative association of self-reported pornography consumption with the right striatum (caudate) volume, left striatum (putamen) activation during cue reactivity, and lower functional connectivity of the right caudate to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex could reflect change in neural plasticity as a consequence of an intense stimulation of the reward system, together with a lower top-down modulation of prefrontal cortical areas. Alternatively, it could be a precondition that makes pornography consumption more rewarding.

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Affective implications of the mating/parenting trade-off: Short-term mating motives and desirability as a short-term mate predict less intense tenderness responses to infants

Alec Beall & Mark Schaller
Personality and Individual Differences, October 2014, Pages 112–117

Abstract:
Drawing on life-history theory, it is predicted that individuals’ attitudinal orientation toward unrestricted short-term mating behavior, as well as their ability to engage in such behavior, are inversely related to nurturant emotional responses (tenderness) to infants. To test these hypotheses, participants (N = 305) completed measures assessing individual differences in short-term mating orientation, self-perceived physical attractiveness, dispositional tendency to experience tenderness, and their affective responses to photographs of human infants. Results revealed that (when controlling for other relevant individual difference variables) men’s short-term mating orientation and self-perceived attractiveness were inversely associated with dispositional tenderness. Also, among men only, short-term mating orientation and self-perceived attractiveness predicted less intense tenderness responses to infants.

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Social dialect and men’s voice pitch influence women’s mate preferences

Jillian O’Connor et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Low male voice pitch may communicate potential benefits for offspring in the form of heritable health and/or dominance, whereas access to resources may be indicated by correlates of socioeconomic status, such as sociolinguistic features. Here, we examine if voice pitch and social dialect influence women’s perceptions of men’s socioeconomic status and attractiveness. In Study 1, women perceived lower pitched male voices as higher in socioeconomic status than higher pitched male voices. In Study 2, women independently perceived lower pitched voices and higher status sociolinguistic dialects as higher in socioeconomic status and attractiveness. We also found a significant interaction wherein women preferred lower pitched men’s voices more often when dialects were lower in sociolinguistic status than when they were higher in sociolinguistic status. Women also perceived lower pitched voices as higher in socioeconomic status more often when dialects were higher in sociolinguistic status than when lower in sociolinguistic status. Finally, women’s own self-rated socioeconomic status was positively related to their preferences for voices with higher status sociolinguistic dialects, but not to their preferences for voice pitch. Hence, women’s preferences for traits associated with potentially biologically heritable benefits, such as low voice pitch, are moderated by the presence of traits associated with resource accrual, such as social dialect markers. However, women’s preferences for language markers of resource accrual may be functionally independent from preferences for potential biological indicators of heritable benefits, such as voice pitch.

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Conformity to the Opinions of Other People Lasts for No More Than 3 Days

Yi Huang, Keith Kendrick & Rongjun Yu
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
When people are faced with opinions different from their own, they often revise their own opinions to match those held by other people. This is known as the social-conformity effect. Although the immediate impact of social influence on people’s decision making is well established, it is unclear whether this reflects a transient capitulation to public opinion or a more enduring change in privately held views. In an experiment using a facial-attractiveness rating task, we asked participants to rate each face; after providing their rating, they were informed of the rating given by a peer group. They then rerated the same faces after 1, 3, or 7 days or 3 months. Results show that individuals’ initial judgments are altered by the differing opinions of other people for no more than 3 days. Our findings suggest that because the social-conformity effect lasts several days, it reflects a short-term change in privately held views rather than a transient public compliance.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, May 30, 2014

I'm right, you're wrong

“I Disrespectfully Agree”: The Differential Effects of Partisan Sorting on Social and Issue Polarization

Lilliana Mason
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Disagreements over whether polarization exists in the mass public have confounded two separate types of polarization. When social polarization is separated from issue position polarization, both sides of the polarization debate can be simultaneously correct. Social polarization, characterized by increased levels of partisan bias, activism, and anger, is increasing, driven by partisan identity and political identity alignment, and does not require the same magnitude of issue position polarization. The partisan-ideological sorting that has occurred in recent decades has caused the nation as a whole to hold more aligned political identities, which has strengthened partisan identity and the activism, bias, and anger that result from strong identities, even though issue positions have not undergone the same degree of polarization. The result is a nation that agrees on many things but is bitterly divided nonetheless. An examination of ANES data finds strong support for these hypotheses.

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Resolving Ideological Conflicts by Affirming Opponent’s Status: The Tea Party, Obamacare and the 2013 government shutdown

Corinne Bendersky
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, July 2014, Pages 163–168

Abstract:
Ideological conflicts, like those over the Affordable Care Act (ACA), are highly intractable, as demonstrated by the October 2013 partial government shutdown. The current research offers a potential resolution of ideological conflicts by affirming an opponent’s status. Results of one experiment collected during the 2013 government shutdown and a second conducted shortly after the implementation of the health insurance marketplaces in early 2014 indicate that status affirmation induces conciliatory attitudes and a willingness to sacrifice one’s own outcomes in favor of ideological opponents’ by decreasing adversarial perceptions. These studies demonstrate that status is an important social dimension whose affirmation by an ideological opponent buffers the integrity of one’s identity, thereby reducing defensiveness and resistance to compromising in political conflicts.

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The Culture War and Issue Salience: An Analysis of American Sentiment on Traditional Moral Issues

Andrew Wroe, Edward Ashbee & Amanda Gosling
Journal of American Studies, May 2014, Pages 595-612

Abstract:
Despite much talk of a culture war, scholars continue to argue over whether the American public is divided on cultural and social issues. Some of the most prominent work in this area, such as Fiorina's Culture War?, has rejected the idea. However, this work has in turn been criticized for focussing only on the distribution of attitudes within the American public and ignoring the possibility that the culture war may also be driven by the increasing strength with which sections of the population hold their opinions. This paper tests the strength, or saliency, hypothesis using individual-level over-time data and nonlinear regression. It finds (1) that there was a steady and significant increase in concern about traditional moral issues between the early 1980s and 2000, but (2) that the over-time increase was driven by an upward and equal shift in the importance attached to traditional moral issues by Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, evangelicals and non-evangelicals, and frequent and infrequent worshippers alike. While the first finding offers support for the saliency hypothesis and the culture war thesis, the second challenges the idea that Americans are engaged in a war over culture. Both findings enhance but also complicate our theoretical understanding of the culture war, and have important real-world consequences for American politics.

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Reframing Polarization: Social Groups and “Culture Wars”

Christopher Muste
PS: Political Science & Politics, April 2014, Pages 432-442

Abstract:
Recent analyses of American politics often invoke the term “culture war” depicting sharp and increasing divisions within the American polity. Most of this research defines culture in terms of values and beliefs about social issues and defines polarization in terms of partisan and issue divisions. I evaluate the claim of worsening “culture wars” by using a conceptualization of political culture that focuses on social groups and measuring polarization as both social group members’ attitudes toward their own social in-groups and out-groups, and the effects of group attitudes on partisanship. Analyzing inter-group attitudes from 1964 to 2012 for social group cleavages defined by race, class, age, sex, and religion shows that polarization in attitudes toward social groups is minimal and generally stable, and most group members feel positively toward out-groups. Partisan and issue polarization seen in prior research do not extend to deep or increasing inter-group hostility that could reinforce issue-based and partisan polarization.

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My Country, Right or Wrong: Does Activating System Justification Motivation Eliminate the Liberal-Conservative Gap in Patriotic Attachment?

Jojanneke van der Toorn et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2014, Pages 50–60

Abstract:
Ideological differences in nationalism and patriotism are well-known and frequently exploited, but the question of why conservatives exhibit stronger national attachment than liberals has been inadequately addressed. Drawing on theories of system justification and political ideology as motivated social cognition, we proposed that increased patriotism is one means of satisfying the system justification goal. Thus, we hypothesized that temporarily activating system justification motivation should raise national attachment among liberals to the level of conservatives. Three experiments conducted in New York, Arkansas, and Wisconsin support this hypothesis. In the first two experiments, liberals exhibited weaker national attachment than conservatives in the absence of system justification activation, consistent with prior research. However, exposure to system criticism (Experiment 1) and system-level injustice (Experiment 2) caused liberals to strengthen their national attachment, eliminating the ideological gap. Using a system dependence manipulation in Experiment 3, this pattern was conceptually replicated with respect to patriotic but not nationalistic attachment, as hypothesized. Thus, chronic and temporary variability in system justification motivation helps to explain when liberals and conservatives do (and do not) differ in terms of national attachment and why.

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Verbal intelligence is correlated with socially and economically liberal beliefs

Noah Carl
Intelligence, May–June 2014, Pages 142–148

Abstract:
Research has consistently shown that intelligence is positively correlated with socially liberal beliefs and negatively correlated with religious beliefs. This should lead one to expect that Republicans are less intelligent than Democrats. However, I find that individuals who identify as Republican have slightly higher verbal intelligence than those who identify as Democrat (2–5 IQ points), and that individuals who supported the Republican Party in elections have slightly higher verbal intelligence than those who supported the Democratic Party (2 IQ points). I reconcile these findings with the previous literature by showing that verbal intelligence is correlated with both socially and economically liberal beliefs (β = .10–.32). My findings suggest that higher intelligence among classically liberal Republicans compensates for lower intelligence among socially conservative Republicans.

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A Primary Cause of Partisanship? Nomination Systems and Legislator Ideology

Eric McGhee et al.
American Journal of Political Science, April 2014, Pages 337–351

Abstract:
Many theoretical and empirical accounts of representation argue that primary elections are a polarizing influence. Likewise, many reformers advocate opening party nominations to nonmembers as a way of increasing the number of moderate elected officials. Data and measurement constraints, however, have limited the range of empirical tests of this argument. We marry a unique new data set of state legislator ideal points to a detailed accounting of primary systems in the United States to gauge the effect of primary systems on polarization. We find that the openness of a primary election has little, if any, effect on the extremism of the politicians it produces.

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A Theory of Partisan Sorting and Geographic Polarization: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Jason Anastasopoulos
Harvard Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
Do partisans sort? If so, why? I address both questions in this paper by developing the Migration-Assimilation-Polarization (MAP) theory of partisan sorting which is tested using Hurricane Katrina migration to Houston, Texas as a natural experiment. According to the MAP Theory, conservative flight induced by changes in diversity provides a mechanism for partisan sorting which can at least partially account for trends in geographic polarization. Using a variety of empirical tools including synthetic controls, I demonstrate that Hurricane Katrina migration led to increases in conservative white flight and geographic polarization between Houston and surrounding counties.

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Does More Speech Correct Falsehoods?

Edward Glaeser & Cass Sunstein
Journal of Legal Studies, January 2014, Pages 65-93

Abstract:
According to a standard principle in free-speech law, the remedy for falsehoods is more speech, not enforced silence. But empirical research demonstrates that corrections of falsehoods can backfire, by increasing people’s commitment to their inaccurate beliefs, and that presentation of balanced information can promote polarization, thus increasing preexisting social divisions. We attempt to explain these apparently puzzling phenomena by reference to what we call asymmetric Bayesianism: purported corrections may be taken to establish the truth of the proposition that is being denied, and the same information can have diametrically opposite effects if those who receive it have opposing antecedent convictions. We also show that the same information can activate radically different memories and associated convictions, thus producing polarized responses to that information, or what we call a memory boomerang. These explanations help account for the potential influence of surprising validators.

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The Imperfect Beliefs Voting Model

Benjamin Ogden
Boston University Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
In real-life elections, voters do not have full information over the policy platforms proposed by political parties. Instead, they may form (potentially incorrect) beliefs based upon the information provided by the candidates, with noise generated by the fact that different cultural groups have difficulty communicating with each other. I propose a new voting model to represent this interaction of beliefs, culture, and communication. The model shows that if policy preferences are uncorrelated with social groups, the classic median voter theorem is recovered. However, when they are correlated, I find that we should expect divergence away from the median voter as both parties gain more from appealing to the voters with whom they can communicate more easily. Therefore, as the population becomes polarized on cultural grounds, we should expect them to become polarized on political grounds as well, providing an explanation for recent political polarization in the United States. Under realistic assumptions, this division increases with the presence of extreme voters within the party bases, and decreases with the presence of a natural majority party. The model is applied to an examination of the size of government and the level of redistribution, with results more in line with the empirical evidence than models with perfect observability, and to make predictions about the informativeness of campaign advertising.

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The President, Polarization and the Party Platforms, 1944–2012

Soren Jordan, Clayton McLaughlin Webb & Dan Wood
The Forum, May 2014, Pages 169–189

Abstract:
Scholars generally agree that political elites in the US are polarized. Yet most of our evidence, especially longitudinal evidence, is built on proxy measures of elite ideology that fail to identify the unique dimensions that drive the cleavages between the parties. And our understanding of when elite polarization reemerged is also unclear. This study leverages the party platforms, along with the tools of content analysis, to shed new light on elite polarization. We find that, consistent with the literature, elite polarization is an asymmetric phenomenon driven by Republicans primarily motivated by economic issues. Further, we show that modern elite polarization emerged starting with the 1980 election.

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Perceptions of Others' Political Affiliation Are Moderated by Individual Perceivers' Own Political Attitudes

John Paul Wilson & Nicholas Rule
PLoS ONE, April 2014

Abstract:
Previous research has shown that perceivers can accurately extract information about perceptually ambiguous group memberships from facial information alone. For example, people demonstrate above-chance accuracy in categorizing political ideology from faces. Further, they ascribe particular personality traits to faces according to political party (e.g., Republicans are dominant and mature, Democrats are likeable and trustworthy). Here, we report three studies that replicated and extended these effects. In Study 1a, we provide evidence that, in addition to showing accuracy in categorization, politically-conservative participants expressed a bias toward categorizing targets as outgroup members. In Study 1b, we replicate this relationship with a larger sample and a stimulus set consisting of faces of professional politicians. In Study 2, we find that trait ascriptions based on target political affiliation are moderated by perceiver political ideology. Specifically, although Democrats are stereotyped as more likeable and trustworthy, conservative participants rated faces that were categorized as Republicans in Study 1a as more likeable and trustworthy than faces categorized as Democrats. Thus, this paper joins a growing literature showing that it is critical to consider perceiver identity in examining perceptions of identities and traits from faces.

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Social Incentives in Contributions: Field Experiment Evidence from the 2012 U.S. Presidential Campaigns

Ricardo Perez Truglia & Guillermo Cruces
Harvard Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
This paper exploits the unique institutional setting of U.S. campaign finance to provide new evidence on social incentives in political participation. We conducted a field experiment in which letters with individualized information about campaign contributions were sent to 91,998 contributors in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. The effect of those letters on recipients’ subsequent contributions are examined using administrative data. We find that exogenously making an individual’s contributions more visible to her neighbors significantly increased her subsequent contributions if the majority of her neighbors support her same party, but decreased her contribution if the majority of her neighbors support the opposite party. This constitutes evidence that individuals give preferential treatment to neighbors of the same party. In another treatment arm, we randomized the information observed by recipients about neighbors’ contribution behavior. Consistent with existing evidence on social norms, individuals contribute more when neighbors of the same party contribute higher average amounts. Furthermore, we find that the individuals also care about the total amounts raised by the same and opposite parties. These findings result in implications for fundraising strategies, the design of optimal disclosure policies and the understanding of geographic polarization.

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Conformity Effects and Geographic Polarization: Evidence from an Event-Study Analysis of Residential Mobility in the U.S.

Ricardo Perez Truglia
Harvard Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
The sorting of individuals into areas with like-minded neighbors has led to considerable geographic polarization in the United States. This paper argues that this phenomena is exacerbated by conformity effects, defined as the tendency of individuals to be more politically active when surrounded by like-minded neighbors. Disentangling conformity effects from sorting effects constitutes a difficult empirical challenge: it is difficult to separate whether Democrats are more politically active when living near other Democrats, or whether more active Democrats are more likely to live near other Democrats. We present quasi-experimental evidence with contributors to U.S. presidential campaigns. We matched data from the administrative records of the Federal Election Commission to mail forwarding data from the United States Postal Service to form a unique panel of nearly 100,000 contributors who changed residence over the period 2008-2013. We disentangle conformity effects by exploiting the timing of residential mobility in an event-study fashion. We find evidence of significant conformity effects: living in a ZIP-code where the share of same-party neighbors is 10% higher increases an individual's own likelihood of contributing by about 1.1%. We are able to conduct counterfactual analysis by combining the quasi-experimental estimates with an stylized model. The evidence suggests that geographic polarization in contributions during the 2012 U.S. presidential cycle was nearly 20% higher than it would have been in the absence of conformity effects.

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The serial reproduction of conflict: Third parties escalate conflict through communication biases

Tiane Lee, Michele Gelfand & Yoshihisa Kashima
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2014, Pages 68–72

Abstract:
We apply a communication perspective to study third party conflict contagion, a phenomenon in which partisan spectators to others’ disputes not only become involved in, but escalate, the dispute to a multitude of others. Using the serial reproduction method, we demonstrate the role of third parties’ communication biases in conflict escalation, revealing that successive generations of partisan observers share and reproduce conflict narratives that become increasingly biased in their moral framing, attributions for the conflict, evaluations of the disputing parties, and quest for revenge. Despite equal fault between the disputing parties at the beginning, these communication biases increased, rather than subsided, with each iteration throughout communication chains, cumulating in distortions and group biases far above and beyond initial ingroup favoritism. Implications for strategies to debias conflict information transmission are discussed.

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Belief polarization is not always irrational

Alan Jern, Kai-min Chang & Charles Kemp
Psychological Review, April 2014, Pages 206-224

Abstract:
Belief polarization occurs when 2 people with opposing prior beliefs both strengthen their beliefs after observing the same data. Many authors have cited belief polarization as evidence of irrational behavior. We show, however, that some instances of polarization are consistent with a normative account of belief revision. Our analysis uses Bayesian networks to characterize different kinds of relationships between hypotheses and data, and distinguishes between cases in which normative reasoners with opposing beliefs should both strengthen their beliefs, cases in which both should weaken their beliefs, and cases in which one should strengthen and the other should weaken his or her belief. We apply our analysis to several previous studies of belief polarization and present a new experiment that suggests that people tend to update their beliefs in the directions predicted by our normative account.

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The Consequences of Broader Media Choice: Evidence from the Expansion of Fox News

Daniel Hopkins & Jonathan Ladd
Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Winter 2014, Pages 115-135

Abstract:
In recent decades, the diversity of Americans' news choices has expanded substantially. This paper examines whether access to an ideologically distinctive news source — the Fox News cable channel — influences vote intentions and whether any such effect is concentrated among those likely to agree with Fox's partisan viewpoint. To test these possibilities with individual-level data, we identify local Fox News availability for 22,595 respondents to the 2000 National Annenberg Election Survey. Overall, we find a pro-Republican average treatment effect that is statistically indistinguishable from zero. Yet, when separating respondents by party, we find a sizable effect of Fox access only on the vote intentions of Republicans and pure independents, a result that is bolstered by placebo tests. Contrary to fears about pervasive media influence, access to an ideologically distinctive media source reinforces the loyalties of co-partisans and possibly persuades independents without influencing out-partisans.

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Nominal Partisanship: Names as Political Identity Signals

R. Urbatsch
PS: Political Science & Politics, April 2014, Pages 463-467

Abstract:
Sending a signal of partisan identity carries greater expressive benefit, but also greater expected cost, for members of the public when they are more exposed to adherents of the other party. To see whether the cost or the benefit dominates in the decision to send partisan signals, this article considers partisan signals sent by names of newborns, particularly girls named “Reagan,” in US state-years from 1976 to 2011. Results indicate that the benefits of expressing identity increase more than do costs in the face of a large out-group: higher proportions of Democrats in a state increase the relationship between Republican populations and the tendency to name daughters “Reagan.”

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The “Deliberative Digital Divide:” Opinion Leadership and Integrative Complexity in the U.S. Political Blogosphere

Jennifer Brundidge et al.
Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined the association between political ideology and linguistic indicators of integrative complexity and opinion leadership in U.S. political blog posts (N = 519). Using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) text analysis, we found that the posts of conservative bloggers were more integratively simple than those of liberal bloggers. Furthermore, in support of a proposed opinion leadership model of integrative complexity, the relationship between ideology and integrative complexity was mediated by psychological distancing (an indicator of a hierarchical communication style). These findings demonstrate an ideological divide in the extent to which the blogosphere reflects deliberative democratic ideals.

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Genetic Influences on Political Ideologies: Twin Analyses of 19 Measures of Political Ideologies from Five Democracies and Genome-Wide Findings from Three Populations

Peter Hatemi et al.
Behavior Genetics, May 2014, Pages 282-294

Abstract:
Almost 40 years ago, evidence from large studies of adult twins and their relatives suggested that between 30 and 60 % of the variance in social and political attitudes could be explained by genetic influences. However, these findings have not been widely accepted or incorporated into the dominant paradigms that explain the etiology of political ideology. This has been attributed in part to measurement and sample limitations, as well the relative absence of molecular genetic studies. Here we present results from original analyses of a combined sample of over 12,000 twins pairs, ascertained from nine different studies conducted in five democracies, sampled over the course of four decades. We provide evidence that genetic factors play a role in the formation of political ideology, regardless of how ideology is measured, the era, or the population sampled. The only exception is a question that explicitly uses the phrase “Left–Right”. We then present results from one of the first genome-wide association studies on political ideology using data from three samples: a 1990 Australian sample involving 6,894 individuals from 3,516 families; a 2008 Australian sample of 1,160 related individuals from 635 families and a 2010 Swedish sample involving 3,334 individuals from 2,607 families. No polymorphisms reached genome-wide significance in the meta-analysis. The combined evidence suggests that political ideology constitutes a fundamental aspect of one’s genetically informed psychological disposition, but as Fisher proposed long ago, genetic influences on complex traits will be composed of thousands of markers of very small effects and it will require extremely large samples to have enough power in order to identify specific polymorphisms related to complex social traits.

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Homophily in the Guise of Cross-Linking: Political Blogs and Content

Karine Nahon & Jeff Hemsley
American Behavioral Scientist, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines the behavior of influential political blogs (conservative and liberal) in reference to external viral content during March 2007 and June 2009. We analyze homophily and cross-ideological (heterophily) practices. We propose a multidimensional model that employs both qualitative and quantitative methods for examining homophily behaviors by looking at three dimensions: blog-to-blog, blog-to-video, blog post-to-video. Findings show that while homophily patterns prevail, some limited occurrences of cross-ideological practices exist. The cross-linking practices may include deliberative motives, but in essence they are not created for the purposes of discourse. Instead, these cross-linking practices strengthen previously held political stances of the users who create them and negatively portray and reframe content of alternative views. This represents homophily in the guise of cross-linking.

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Implications of Pro- and Counterattitudinal Information Exposure for Affective Polarization

Kelly Garrett et al.
Human Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The American electorate is characterized by political polarization, and especially by increasingly negative affective responses toward opposing party members. To what extent might this be attributed to exposure to information reinforcing individuals' partisan identity versus information representing the views of partisan opponents? And is this a uniquely American phenomenon? This study uses survey data collected immediately following recent national elections in two countries, the United States and Israel, to address these questions. Results across the two nations are generally consistent, and indicate that pro- and counterattitudinal information exposure has distinct influences on perceptions of and attitudes toward members of opposing parties, despite numerous cross-cultural differences. We discuss implications in light of recent evidence about partisans' tendency to engage in selective exposure.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, May 29, 2014

On drugs

The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Marijuana, Alcohol, and Hard Drug Use

Hefei Wen, Jason Hockenberry & Janet Cummings
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
21 states and the District of Columbia currently have laws that permit marijuana use for medical purposes, often termed medical marijuana laws (MMLs). We tested the effects of MMLs adopted in seven states between 2004 and 2011 on adolescent and adult marijuana, alcohol, and hard drug use. We employed a restricted-access version of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) micro-level data with geographic identifiers. For those 21 and older, we found that MMLs led to a relative increase in the probability of marijuana use of 16 percent, an increase in marijuana use frequency of 12-17 percent, and an increase in the probability of marijuana abuse/dependence of 15-27 percent. For those 12-20 years old, we found a relative increase in marijuana use initiation of 5-6 percent. Among those aged 21 or above, MMLs increased the frequency of binge drinking by 6-9 percent, but MMLs did not affect drinking behavior among those 12-20 years old. MMLs had no discernible impact on hard drug use in either age group. Taken together, MML implementation increases marijuana use mainly among those over 21, where there is also a spillover effect of increased binge drinking, but there is no evidence of spillovers to other substance use.

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The Dow is Killing Me: Risky Health Behaviors and the Stock Market

Chad Cotti, Richard Dunn & Nathan Tefft
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate how risky health behaviors and self-reported health vary with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and during stock market crashes. Because stock market indices are leading indicators of economic performance, this research contributes to our understanding of the macroeconomic determinants of health. Existing studies typically rely on the unemployment rate to proxy for economic performance, but this measure captures only one of many channels through which the economic environment may influence individual health decisions. We find that large, negative monthly DJIA returns, decreases in the level of the DJIA, and stock market crashes are widely associated with worsening self-reported mental health and more cigarette smoking, binge drinking, and fatal car accidents involving alcohol. These results are consistent with predictions from rational addiction models and have implications for research on the association between consumption and stock prices.

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Life Stress in Adolescence Predicts Early Adult Reward-related Brain Function and Alcohol Dependence

Melynda Casement et al.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Stressful life events increase vulnerability to problematic alcohol use, and they may do this by disrupting reward-related neural circuitry. This is particularly relevant for adolescents because alcohol use rises sharply after mid-adolescence and alcohol abuse peaks at age 20. Adolescents also report more stressors compared to children, and neural reward circuitry may be especially vulnerable to stressors during adolescence due to prefrontal cortex remodeling. Using a large sample of male participants in a longitudinal fMRI study (N = 157), we evaluated whether cumulative stressful life events between the ages of 15 and 18 were associated with reward-related brain function and problematic alcohol use at age 20. Higher cumulative stressful life events during adolescence were associated with decreased response in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) during monetary reward anticipation and following the receipt of monetary rewards. Stress-related decreases in mPFC response during reward anticipation and following rewarding outcomes were associated with the severity of alcohol dependence. Furthermore, mPFC response mediated the association between stressful life events and later symptoms of alcohol dependence. These data are consistent with neurobiological models of addiction that propose that stressors during adolescence increase risk for problematic alcohol use by disrupting reward circuit function.

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Cannabis use and violence: Is there a link?

Thor Norström & Ingeborg Rossow
Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, June 2014, Pages 358-363

Background: While several studies suggest that cannabis users are at increased risk of interpersonal violence, it is not clear to what extent the association is causal. Our paper aims to assess the association between cannabis use and violence by using a method that diminishes the risk of confounding.

Methods: We analysed data on cannabis use and violent behaviour from the second (1994) and third (1999) waves of the Young in Norway Longitudinal Study (cumulative response rate: 68.1%, n = 2681). We applied fixed-effects modelling to estimate the association between these behaviours, implying that changes in the frequency of violence were regressed on changes in the frequency of cannabis use. The effects of time-invariant confounders were hence eliminated. In addition, we included two time-varying covariates.

Results: The elasticity estimate implies that a 10% increase in cannabis use frequency is associated with a 0.4% increase in frequency of violence (p=.024).

Conclusions: Analyses of panel data on Norwegian youths reveals a statistically significant association between cannabis use and violence.

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Is Smoking Inferior? Evidence from Variation in the Earned Income Tax Credit

Donald Kenkel, Maximilian Schmeiser & Carly Urban
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
In this paper we estimate the causal income elasticity of smoking participation, cessation, and cigarette demand conditional upon participation. Using an instrumental variables (IV) estimation strategy we find that smoking appears to be a normal good among low-income adults: higher instrumented income is associated with an increase in the number of cigarettes consumed and a decrease in smoking cessation. The magnitude and direction of the changes in the income coefficients from our OLS to IV estimates are consistent with the hypothesis that correlational estimates between income and smoking related outcomes are biased by unobservable characteristics that differentiate higher income smokers from lower income smokers.

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Temporal trends in marijuana attitudes, availability and use in Colorado compared to non-medical marijuana states: 2003-2011

Joseph Schuermeyer et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: In 2009, policy changes were accompanied by a rapid increase in the number of medical marijuana cardholders in Colorado. Little published epidemiological work has tracked changes in the state around this time.

Methods: Using the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, we tested for temporal changes in marijuana attitudes and marijuana-use-related outcomes in Colorado (2003-2011) and differences within-year between Colorado and thirty-four non-medical-marijuana states (NMMS). Using regression analyses, we further tested whether patterns seen in Colorado prior to (2006-8) and during (2009-11) marijuana commercialization differed from patterns in NMMS while controlling for demographics.

Results: Within Colorado those reporting “great-risk” to using marijuana 1-2 times/week dropped significantly in all age groups studied between 2007-8 and 2010-11 (e.g. from 45% to 31% among those 26 years and older; p = 0.0006). By 2010-11 past-year marijuana abuse/dependence had become more prevalent in Colorado for 12-17 year olds (5% in Colorado, 3% in NMMS; p = 0.03) and 18-25 year olds (9% vs. 5%; p = 0.02). Regressions demonstrated significantly greater reductions in perceived risk (12-17 year olds, p = 0.005; those 26 years and older, p = 0.01), and trend for difference in changes in availability among those 26 years and older and marijuana abuse/dependence among 12-17 year olds in Colorado compared to NMMS in more recent years (2009-11 vs. 2006-8).

Conclusions: Our results show that commercialization of marijuana in Colorado has been associated with lower risk perception. Evidence is suggestive for marijuana abuse/dependence. Analyses including subsequent years 2012+ once available, will help determine whether such changes represent momentary vs. sustained effects.

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The Changing Face of Heroin Use in the United States: A Retrospective Analysis of the Past 50 Years

Theodore Cicero et al.
JAMA Psychiatry, forthcoming

Design, Setting, and Participants: Using a mixed-methods approach, we analyzed (1) data from an ongoing study that uses structured, self-administered surveys to gather retrospective data on past drug use patterns among patients entering substance abuse treatment programs across the country who received a primary (DSM-IV) diagnosis of heroin use/dependence (n = 2797) and (2) data from unstructured qualitative interviews with a subset of patients (n = 54) who completed the structured interview.

Main Outcomes and Measures: In addition to data on population demographics and current residential location, we used cross-tabulations to assess prevalence rates as a function of the decade of the initiation of abuse for (1) first opioid used (prescription opioid or heroin), (2) sex, (3) race/ethnicity, and (4) age at first use. Respondents indicated in an open-ended format why they chose heroin as their primary drug and the interrelationship between their use of heroin and their use of prescription opioids.

Results: Approximately 85% of treatment-seeking patients approached to complete the Survey of Key Informants’ Patients Program did so. Respondents who began using heroin in the 1960s were predominantly young men (82.8%; mean age, 16.5 years) whose first opioid of abuse was heroin (80%). However, more recent users were older (mean age, 22.9 years) men and women living in less urban areas (75.2%) who were introduced to opioids through prescription drugs (75.0%). Whites and nonwhites were equally represented in those initiating use prior to the 1980s, but nearly 90% of respondents who began use in the last decade were white. Although the “high” produced by heroin was described as a significant factor in its selection, it was often used because it was more readily accessible and much less expensive than prescription opioids.

Conclusion and Relevance: Our data show that the demographic composition of heroin users entering treatment has shifted over the last 50 years such that heroin use has changed from an inner-city, minority-centered problem to one that has a more widespread geographical distribution, involving primarily white men and women in their late 20s living outside of large urban areas.

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Portrayal of Alcohol Consumption in Movies and Drinking Initiation in Low-Risk Adolescents

Reiner Hanewinkel et al.
Pediatrics, forthcoming

Objectives: To investigate the hypothesis that exposure to alcohol consumption in movies affects the likelihood that low-risk adolescents will start to drink alcohol.

Methods: Longitudinal study of 2346 adolescent never drinkers who also reported at baseline intent to not to do so in the next 12 months (mean age 12.9 years, SD = 1.08). Recruitment was carried out in 2009 and 2010 in 112 state-funded schools in Germany, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, and Scotland. Exposure to movie alcohol consumption was estimated from 250 top-grossing movies in each country in the years 2004 to 2009. Multilevel mixed-effects Poisson regressions assessed the relationship between baseline exposure to movie alcohol consumption and initiation of trying alcohol, and binge drinking (≥ 5 consecutive drinks) at follow-up.

Results: Overall, 40% of the sample initiated alcohol use and 6% initiated binge drinking by follow-up. Estimated mean exposure to movie alcohol consumption was 3653 (SD = 2448) occurrences. After age, gender, family affluence, school performance, TV screen time, personality characteristics, and drinking behavior of peers, parents, and siblings were controlled for, exposure to each additional 1000 movie alcohol occurrences was significantly associated with increased relative risk for trying alcohol, incidence rate ratio = 1.05 (95% confidence interval, 1.02–1.08; P = .003), and for binge drinking, incidence rate ratio = 1.13 (95% confidence interval, 1.06–1.20; P < .001).

Conclusions: Seeing alcohol depictions in movies is an independent predictor of drinking initiation, particularly for more risky patterns of drinking. This result was shown in a heterogeneous sample of European youths who had a low affinity for drinking alcohol at the time of exposure.

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The Effect of Positive and Negative Movie Alcohol Portrayals on Transportation and Attitude Toward the Movie

Renske Koordeman, Doeschka Anschutz & Rutger Engels
Alcoholism, forthcoming

Background: This study examined the effects of alcohol portrayals on transportation and attitude toward a movie. In addition, we examined whether positive and negative movie alcohol portrayals affect transportation into and attitude toward the movie.

Methods: A within-subject design was used in which participants were exposed to 8 different movie clips containing alcohol (positive or negative context) or no alcohol portrayals in a controlled laboratory setting. A total of 159 college students (84 males and 75 females) ages 18 to 30 participated in the experiment. Transportation and attitude toward the movie were measured after each movie clip.

Results: Participants were more transported into and had a more positive attitude toward movie clips with alcohol portrayals compared to the same movie clips with no alcohol portrayal. In addition, participants were more transported into movie clips with negative alcohol (NA) portrayals compared to clips with positive alcohol (PA) portrayals. For attitude toward the movie, opposite results were found. Participants had a more positive attitudes toward clips with PA portrayals compared to clips with NA portrayals.

Conclusions: The way alcohol is portrayed in movies may contribute to how people evaluate and get transported in movies.

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Tobacco use vs. helminths in Congo basin hunter-gatherers: Self-medication in humans?

Casey Roulette et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
We tested a novel hypothesis that recreational use of neurotoxic plants helps defend against parasites. Specifically, we investigated the relationship between smoking and helminthiasis among the Aka, a remote population of Central African foragers who are avid tobacco smokers, suffer high rates of helminthiasis, and have little-to-no access to commercial anthelmintics. Two hundred and six healthy Aka men provided saliva and stool samples. Saliva samples were assayed for cotinine, a nicotine metabolite; a subsample was genotyped for the CYP2A6 enzyme, which metabolizes nicotine. Stool samples were assayed for intestinal helminth eggs as an index of worm burden. After 1 year, a subsample of participants was located and provided additional saliva and stool samples. We found (1) an exceptionally high prevalence of tobacco use, (2) a strong negative correlation between cotinine (a nicotine metabolite) and worm burden, (3) that treating helminths with albendazole, a commercial anthelmintic, reduced cotinine concentration two weeks later, compared to placebo controls, (4) among treated participants, higher cotinine concentrations in year 1 predicted less reinfection by year 2, and (5) younger and older participants with slow nicotine-metabolizing CYP2A6 alleles had lower worm burdens compared to those with extensive metabolizing alleles. These results provide the first evidence of a link between helminthiasis and smoking. They also suggest that, in populations where intestinal helminths are endemic, tobacco use might protect against helminth infection and reduce worm burden among infected individuals, and that individuals modulate nicotine exposure in response to infection. The results thus support the hypothesis that substance use helps defend against parasites.

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With a Little Help from My Friends? Asymmetrical Social Influence on Adolescent Smoking Initiation and Cessation

Steven Haas & David Schaefer
Journal of Health and Social Behavior, June 2014, Pages 126-143

Abstract:
This study investigates whether peer influence on smoking among adolescents is asymmetrical. We hypothesize that several features of smoking lead peers to have a stronger effect on smoking initiation than cessation. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health we estimate a dynamic network model that includes separate effects for increases versus decreases in smoking, while also controlling for endogenous network change. We find that the impact of peer influence is stronger for the initiation of smoking than smoking cessation. Adolescents rarely initiate smoking without peer influence but will cease smoking while their friends continue smoking. We discuss the implications of these results for theories of peer influence and health policy.

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Effect of Prenatal Exposure to Tobacco Smoke on Inhibitory Control: Neuroimaging Results From a 25-Year Prospective Study

Nathalie Holz et al.
JAMA Psychiatry, forthcoming

Objective: To clarify the influence of maternal smoking during pregnancy (hereafter referred to as prenatal smoking) on the neural circuitry of response inhibition and its association with related behavioral phenotypes such as ADHD and novelty seeking in the mother’s offspring.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Functional magnetic resonance imaging was performed for the offspring at 25 years of age during a modified Eriksen flanker/NoGo task, and voxel-based morphometry was performed to study brain volume differences of the offspring. Prenatal smoking (1-5 cigarettes per day [14 mothers] or >5 cigarettes per day [24 mothers]) and lifetime ADHD symptoms were determined using standardized parent interviews at the offspring’s age of 3 months and over a period of 13 years (from 2 to 15 years of age), respectively. Novelty seeking was assessed at 19 years of age. Analyses were adjusted for sex, parental postnatal smoking, psychosocial and obstetric adversity, maternal prenatal stress, and lifetime substance abuse. A total of 178 young adults (73 males) without current psychopathology from a community sample followed since birth (Mannheim, Germany) participated in the study.

Results: Participants prenatally exposed to nicotine exhibited a weaker response in the anterior cingulate cortex (t168 = 4.46; peak Montreal Neurological Institute [MNI] coordinates x = −2, y = 20, z = 30; familywise error [FWE]–corrected P = .003), the right inferior frontal gyrus (t168 = 3.65; peak MNI coordinates x = 44, y = 38, z = 12; FWE-corrected P = .04), the left inferior frontal gyrus (t168 = 4.09; peak MNI coordinates x = −38, y = 36, z = 8; FWE-corrected P = .009), and the supramarginal gyrus (t168 = 5.03; peak MNI coordinates x = 64, y = −28, z = 22; FWE-corrected P = .02) during the processing of the NoGo compared to neutral stimuli, while presenting a decreased volume in the right inferior frontal gyrus. These findings were obtained irrespective of the adjustment of confounders, ADHD symptoms, and novelty seeking. There was an inverse relationship between inferior frontal gyrus activity and ADHD symptoms and between anterior cingulate cortex activity and novelty seeking.

Conclusions and Relevance: These findings point to a functional involvement of prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke in neural alterations similar to ADHD, which underlines the importance of smoking prevention treatments.

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Smoking Bans, Maternal Smoking and Birth Outcomes

Prashant Bharadwaj, Julian Johnsen & Katrine Løken
Journal of Public Economics, July 2014, Pages 72–93

Abstract:
An important externality of smoking is the harm it might cause to those who do not smoke. This paper examines the impact on birth outcomes of children of female workers who are affected by smoking bans in the workplace. Analyzing a 2004 law change in Norway that extended smoking restrictions to bars and restaurants, we find that children of female workers in restaurants and bars born after the law change saw significantly lower rates of being born below the very low birth weight (VLBW) threshold and were less likely to be born pre-term. We do not find an effect of the ban along other birth outcomes like APGAR scores and birth defects. Using detailed data on smoking status during pregnancy we find that most of the health benefits come from changes in smoking behavior of the mother. Using individual tax data, we find that the law change did not result in changes in earnings or employment opportunities for those affected, suggesting that the effects seen are likely a direct result of changes in smoke exposure in utero.

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Understanding the links between education and smoking

Vida Maralani
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study extends the theoretical and empirical literature on the relationship between education and smoking by focusing on the life course links between experiences from adolescence and health outcomes in adulthood. Differences in smoking by completed education are apparent at ages 12 to 18, long before that education is acquired. I use characteristics from the teenage years, including social networks, future expectations, and school experiences measured before the start of smoking regularly to predict smoking in adulthood. Results show that school policies, peers, and youths’ mortality expectations predict smoking in adulthood but that college aspirations and analytical skills do not. I also show that smoking status at age 16 predicts both completed education and adult smoking, controlling for an extensive set of covariates. Overall, educational inequalities in smoking are better understood as a bundling of advantageous statuses that develops in childhood, rather than the effect of education producing better health.

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Trends in drug use among drivers killed in U.S. traffic crashes, 1999–2010

Toni Rudisill et al.
Accident Analysis & Prevention, September 2014, Pages 178–187

Objective: Driving under the influence of drugs is a global traffic safety and public health concern. This trend analysis examines the changes in general drug usage other than alcohol, broad categories, and typical prescription and illegal drugs among drivers fatally injured in motor vehicle crashes from 1999 to 2010 in the U.S.

Methods: Data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System were analyzed from 1999 to 2010. Drug prevalence rates and prevalence ratios (PR) were determined comparing rates in 2009–2010 to 1999–2000 using a random effects model. Changes in general drug usage, broad categories, and representative prescription and illegal drugs including, methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and cocaine, were explored.

Results: Comparing 2009–2010 to 1999–2000, prevalence of drug usage increased 49% (PR = 1.49; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.42, 1.55). The largest increases in broad drug categories were narcotics (PR = 2.73; 95% CI 2.41, 3.08), depressants (PR = 2.01; 95% CI 1.80, 2.25), and cannabinoids (PR = 1.99; 95% CI 1.84, 2.16). The PR were 6.37 (95% CI 5.07, 8.02) for hydrocodone/oxycodone, 4.29 (95% CI 2.88, 6.37) for methadone, and 2.27 (95% CI 2.00, 2.58) for benzodiazepines. Barbiturates declined in rate over the 12-year period (PR = 0.53; 95% CI 0.37, 0.75). Cocaine use increased until 2005 then progressively declined, though the rate remained relatively unchanged (PR = 0.94; 95% CI 0.84, 1.06).

Conclusions: While more drivers are being tested and found drug-positive, there is evidence that a shift from illegal to prescription drugs may be occurring among fatally injured drivers in the U.S. Driving under the influence of prescription drugs is a growing traffic concern.

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Trends in fatal motor vehicle crashes before and after marijuana commercialization in Colorado

Stacy Salomonsen-Sautel et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Legal medical marijuana has been commercially available on a widespread basis in Colorado since mid-2009; however, there is a dearth of information about the impact of marijuana commercialization on impaired driving. This study examined if the proportions of drivers in a fatal motor vehicle crash who were marijuana-positive and alcohol-impaired, respectively, have changed in Colorado before and after mid-2009 and then compared changes in Colorado with 34 non-medical marijuana states (NMMS).

Methods: Thirty-six 6-month intervals (1994–2011) from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System were used to examine temporal changes in the proportions of drivers in a fatal motor vehicle crash who were alcohol-impaired (≥ 0.08 g/dl) and marijuana-positive, respectively. The pre-commercial marijuana time period in Colorado was defined as 1994–June 2009 while July 2009–2011 represented the post-commercialization period.

Results: In Colorado, since mid-2009 when medical marijuana became commercially available and prevalent, the trend became positive in the proportion of drivers in a fatal motor vehicle crash who were marijuana-positive (change in trend, 2.16 (0.45), p < 0.0001); in contrast, no significant changes were seen in NMMS. For both Colorado and NMMS, no significant changes were seen in the proportion of drivers in a fatal motor vehicle crash who were alcohol-impaired.

Conclusions: Prevention efforts and policy changes in Colorado are needed to address this concerning trend in marijuana-positive drivers. In addition, education on the risks of marijuana-positive driving needs to be implemented.

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The effects of social and health consequence framing on heavy drinking intentions among college students

John Kingsbury, Frederick Gibbons & Meg Gerrard
British Journal of Health Psychology, forthcoming

Objectives: Many interventions targeting college student drinking have focused on negative health effects of drinking heavily; however, some research suggests that social factors may have a stronger influence on the drinking behaviour of young people. Moreover, few studies have examined message framing effects in the context of alcohol consumption. This study investigated the effects of social and health consequence framing on college students' intentions to engage in heavy drinking.

Methods: One hundred and twenty-four college students (74 women; Mage = 18.9) participated in this study for course credit. Participants read vignettes that were ostensibly written by a recent graduate from the university, who described an episode of drinking in which he or she experienced either social or health consequences. These consequences were framed as either a gain (i.e., positive consequences of not drinking heavily) or a loss (i.e., negative consequences of drinking heavily). After reading the vignette, participants completed a measure of heavy drinking intentions.

Results: Regression analyses revealed that social consequences were associated with lower heavy drinking intentions when framed as a loss and that health consequences were associated with lower heavy drinking intentions when framed as a gain. These effects were stronger among those who reported higher (vs. lower) levels of previous drinking.

Conclusions: Results suggest that interventions that focus on the negative health effects of heavy drinking may be improved by instead emphasizing the negative social consequences of drinking heavily and the positive health consequences of avoiding this behaviour.

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Prenatal Drug Exposure, Behavioral Problems, and Drug Experimentation Among African-American Urban Adolescents

Yan Wang et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Purpose: To examine how prenatal drug exposure (PDE) to heroin/cocaine and behavioral problems relate to adolescent drug experimentation.

Methods: The sample included African-American adolescents (mean age = 14.2 years, SD = 1.2) with PDE (n = 73) and a nonexposed community comparison (n = 61). PDE status was determined at delivery through toxicology analysis and maternal report. Internalizing/externalizing problems were assessed during adolescence with the Behavior Assessment System for Children, Second Edition. Drug experimentation was assessed by adolescent report and urine analysis. Logistic regression evaluated the likelihood of drug experimentation related to PDE and behavioral problems, adjusting for age, gender, PDE, perceived peer drug use, and caregiver drug use. Interaction terms examined gender modification.

Results: Sixty-seven subjects (50%) used drugs: 25 (19%) used tobacco/alcohol only and 42 (31%) used marijuana/illegal drugs. Ninety-four subjects (70%) perceived peer drug use. PDE significantly increased the risk of tobacco/alcohol experimentation (odds ratio = 3.07, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.09–8.66, p = .034) but not after covariate adjustment (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.16, 95% CI .31–4.33, p > .05). PDE was not related to the overall or marijuana/illegal drug experimentation. The likelihood of overall drug experimentation was doubled per SD increase in externalizing problems (aOR = 2.28, 95% CI 1.33–3.91, p = .003) and, among girls, 2.82 times greater (aOR = 2.82, 95% CI 1.34–5.94, p = .006) per SD increase in internalizing problems. Age and perceived peer drug use were significant covariates.

Conclusions: Drug experimentation was relatively common (50%), especially in the context of externalizing problems, internalizing problems (girls only), older age, and perceived peer drug use. Findings support the Problem Behavior Theory and suggest that adolescent drug prevention addresses behavioral problems and promotes prosocial peer groups.

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Self-Reported Lifetime Marijuana Use and Interleukin-6 Levels In Middle-Aged African Americans

Larry Keen, Deidre Pereira & William Latimer
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Research examining the relationship between marijuana and cytokine function has been well developed in the biochemical literature. However, scant literature exists regarding this relationship between inflammatory markers and marijuana use in public health or behavioral studies and is virtually nonexistent in non-neurologically compromised African American samples.

Methods. The current study examined the differences in serum interleukin-6 (IL-6), a proinflammatory cytokine, between non-drug users (n = 78), marijuana only users (n = 46) and marijuana plus other drugs users (n = 45) in a community-based sample of middle aged, African Americans. Participants included 169 African American adults (50.30% female), with a mean age of 45.68 years (SD = 11.72 years) from the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Serum was drawn upon entry into the study and the participants completed a demographic questionnaire, which included questions regarding drug use history.

Results. After adjusting for demographic and physiological covariates, analysis of covariance revealed a significant difference between the three groups, F(2,158) = 3.08, p = 0.04). Post hoc analyses revealed lifetime marijuana only users had significantly lower IL-6 levels (M = 2.20 pg/mL, SD = 1.93) than their lifetime nonuser counterparts (M = 3.73 pg/mL, SD = 6.28). No other comparisons among the groups were statistically significantly different.

Conclusion. The current findings extend previous cellular and biochemical literature, which identifies an inverse association between IL-6 and marijuana use. Examining this relationship in the psychological and behavioral literature could be informative to the development of clinical interventions for inflammatory diseases.

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The effect of retirement on alcohol consumption: Results from the US Health and Retirement Study

Xu Wang, Jessica Steier & William Gallo
European Journal of Public Health, June 2014, Pages 485-489

Background: Prior research examining the association between retirement and alcohol consumption is inconsistent with respect to salience, direction and magnitude. Reasonable conceptual arguments for both positive (e.g. coping, introduction of leisure time) and negative (e.g. severance of work-related social relationships) changes further complicate investigations of this critical association, as do differences in study design, national setting and measurement of alcohol use.

Methods: This prospective longitudinal study analyses 2-year wave-pairs drawn from seven waves (14 years) of data from the US Health and Retirement Study to assess the effect of complete retirement on weekly alcohol consumption (n = 9979 observations; 4674 unique participants). We use multiple regression analysis in a two-period follow-up design and account for potential selection bias and reverse causality not addressed in prior research on this topic.

Results: We find that retirement is positively associated with subsequent weekly alcohol consumption for men who reported drinking at both follow-up and the prior study wave (β = 1.9, 95% confidence interval = 0.43–3.36). No association was observed among women.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that health care professionals should monitor the drinking habits of retired men, as older individuals are particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of heavy alcohol use.

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A Smartphone Application to Support Recovery From Alcoholism: A Randomized Clinical Trial

David Gustafson et al.
JAMA Psychiatry, May 2014, Pages 566-572

Objective: To determine whether patients leaving residential treatment for alcohol use disorders with a smartphone application to support recovery have fewer risky drinking days than control patients.

Design, Setting, and Participants: An unmasked randomized clinical trial involving 3 residential programs operated by 1 nonprofit treatment organization in the Midwestern United States and 2 residential programs operated by 1 nonprofit organization in the Northeastern United States. In total, 349 patients who met the criteria for DSM-IV alcohol dependence when they entered residential treatment were randomized to treatment as usual (n = 179) or treatment as usual plus a smartphone (n = 170) with the Addiction–Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (A-CHESS), an application designed to improve continuing care for alcohol use disorders.

Interventions: Treatment as usual varied across programs; none offered patients coordinated continuing care after discharge. A-CHESS provides monitoring, information, communication, and support services to patients, including ways for patients and counselors to stay in contact. The intervention and follow-up period lasted 8 and 4 months, respectively.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Risky drinking days — the number of days during which a patient’s drinking in a 2-hour period exceeded 4 standard drinks for men and 3 standard drinks for women, with standard drink defined as one that contains roughly 14 g of pure alcohol (12 oz of regular beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of distilled spirits). Patients were asked to report their risky drinking days in the previous 30 days on surveys taken 4, 8, and 12 months after discharge from residential treatment.

Results: For the 8 months of the intervention and 4 months of follow-up, patients in the A-CHESS group reported significantly fewer risky drinking days than did patients in the control group, with a mean of 1.39 vs 2.75 days (mean difference, 1.37; 95% CI, 0.46-2.27; P = .003).

Conclusions and Relevance: The findings suggest that a multifeatured smartphone application may have significant benefit to patients in continuing care for alcohol use disorders.

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Frequent binge drinking five to six years after exposure to 9/11: Findings from the World Trade Center Health Registry

Alice Welch et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Exposure to 9/11 may have considerable long-term impact on health behaviors, including increased alcohol consumption. We examined the association between frequent binge drinking, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and number of 9/11-specific experiences among World Trade Center Health Registry (Registry) enrollees five-to-six years after 9/11.

Methods: Participants included 41,284 lower Manhattan residents, workers, passers-by and rescue/recovery workers aged 18 or older without a pre-9/11 PTSD diagnosis who completed Wave 1 (2003-04) and Wave 2 (2006-07) interviews. Frequent binge drinking was defined as consuming five or more drinks on five or more occasions in the prior 30 days at Wave 2. Probable PTSD was defined as scoring 44 or greater on the PTSD Checklist. 9/11 exposure was measured as the sum of 12 experiences and grouped as none/low (0-1), medium (2-3), high (4-5) and very high (6 + ).

Results: Frequent binge drinking was significantly associated with increasing 9/11 exposure and PTSD. Those with very high and high exposures had a higher prevalence of frequent binge drinking (13.7% and 9.8%, respectively) than those with medium and low exposures (7.5% and 4.4%, respectively). Upon stratification, very high and high exposures were associated with frequent binge drinking in both the PTSD and no PTSD subgroups.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that 9/11 exposure had an impact on frequent binge drinking five-to-six years later among Registry enrollees. Understanding the effects of traumatic exposure on alcohol use is important to identify risk factors for post-disaster alcohol misuse, inform policy, and improve post-disaster psychological and alcohol screening and counseling.

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Spicing up the military: Use and effects of synthetic cannabis in substance abusing army personnel

Denise Walker et al.
Addictive Behaviors, July 2014, Pages 1139–1144

Abstract:
Synthetic cannabis (SC) use has been increasing within the United States. Due to difficulties with its detection through standard testing, it may be an attractive substance of abuse for military personnel. However, few studies have examined the consequences of its use in this population, including evidence for its potential for abuse and dependence. Participants included 368 active-duty Army personnel who expressed interest in participating in a “check-up” around their alcohol or substance use, of whom 294 (80%) met DSM-IV criteria for substance abuse or dependence (including alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription medications) and were not engaged in substance abuse treatment. Forty-one participants (11%) reported using SC in the last 90 days. Of those, 27 listed SC as their drug of choice. There were no significant differences in race, ethnicity, deployment history, or religion between SC users and others. Users of SC were generally younger and had less education and income than those who used only alcohol. Among SC users, 12% met criteria for drug abuse and 68% for dependence. Participants perceived SC use to be significantly more prevalent among military personnel than among civilians. Results suggest that SC is prevalent among substance-using soldiers and that DSM-IV criteria for abuse and dependence apply to SC. In addition, results highlight the importance of assessing and treating SC use among active-duty military personnel.

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Profiting and Providing Less Care: Comprehensive Services at For-Profit, Nonprofit, and Public Opioid Treatment Programs in the United States

Marcus Bachhuber, William Southern & Chinazo Cunningham
Medical Care, May 2014, Pages 428-434

Objective: To compare the proportion of for-profit, nonprofit, and public opioid treatment programs offering comprehensive services, which are not mandated by government regulations.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Cross-sectional analysis of opioid treatment programs offering outpatient care in the United States (n=1036).

Main Outcome Measure: Self-reported offering of communicable disease (HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and viral hepatitis) testing, psychiatric services (screening, assessment and diagnostic evaluation, and pharmacotherapy), and social services support (assistance in applying for programs such as Medicaid). Mixed-effects logistic regression models were developed to adjust for several county-level factors.

Results: Of opioid treatment programs, 58.0% were for profit, 33.5% were nonprofit, and 8.5% were public. Nonprofit programs were more likely than for-profit programs to offer testing for all communicable diseases [adjusted odds ratios (AOR), 1.7; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.2, 2.5], all psychiatric services (AOR, 8.0; 95% CI, 4.9, 13.1), and social services support (AOR, 3.3; 95% CI, 2.3, 4.8). Public programs were also more likely than for-profit programs to offer communicable disease testing (AOR, 6.4; 95% CI, 3.5, 11.7), all psychiatric services (AOR, 25.8; 95% CI, 12.6, 52.5), and social services support (AOR, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.4, 4.3).

Conclusions: For-profit programs were significantly less likely than nonprofit and public programs to offer comprehensive services. Interventions to increase the offering of comprehensive services are needed, particularly among for-profit programs.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Earth, sea, and sky

How Effective Are US Renewable Energy Subsidies in Cutting Greenhouse Gases?

Brian Murray et al.
American Economic Review, May 2014, Pages 569-574

Abstract:
The federal tax code provides preferential treatment for the production and use of renewable energy. We report estimates of the subsidies' effects on greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions developed in a recent National Research Council (NRC) Report. Due to lack of estimates of the impact of tax provisions on GHG emissions, new modeling studies were commissioned. The studies found, at best, a small impact of subsidies in reducing GHG emissions; in some cases, emissions increased. The NRC report also identified the need to capture the complex interactions among subsidies, pre-existing regulations, and commodity markets.

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Impact of natural disaster on public sector corruption

Eiji Yamamura
Public Choice, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper uses inter-country panel data from 1990 through 2010 to examine how the occurrence of natural disasters affects corruption within the public sector. For a closer analysis, disaster is classified into various categories, including general floods, other floods, tropical storms, other storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and landslides. Furthermore, this paper explores whether natural disasters have different impacts on corruption levels in developed and developing countries. The study reveals a number of novel findings. (1) Natural disasters that cause substantial damage increase public sector corruption in both developing and developed countries. (2) Natural disasters have a greater impact on public sector corruption in developed countries than in developing countries. (3) In developed countries, natural disaster frequency has a significant impact on the level of corruption. Hence, foreseeable disasters increase corruption in general. In developed countries, an incentive may exist to live within disaster-prone areas because of the potential for disaster compensation payments.

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Increasing Storm Tides in New York Harbor, 1844-2013

S.A. Talke, P. Orton & D.A. Jay
Geophysical Research Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
Three of the nine highest recorded water levels in the New York Harbor (NYH) region have occurred since 2010 (Mar. 2010, Aug. 2011, and Oct. 2012), and eight of the largest twenty have occurred since 1990. To investigate whether this cluster of high waters is a random occurrence or indicative of intensified storm tides, we recover archival tide gauge data back to 1844 and evaluate the trajectory of the annual maximum storm tide (AMST). Approximately half of long-term variance is anti-correlated with decadal-scale variations in the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), while long-term trends explain the remainder. The 10-year storm-tide has increased by 0.28 m. Combined with a 0.44 m increase in local sea-level since 1856, the 10-year flood-level has increased by approximately 0.72 ± 0.25 m, and magnified the annual probability of overtopping the typical Manhattan seawall from less than 1% to about 20-25%.

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The Impact of a Carbon Tax on Manufacturing: Evidence From Microdata

Ralf Martin, Laure de Preux & Ulrich Wagner
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We estimate the impact of a carbon tax on manufacturing plants using panel data from the UK production census. Our identification strategy builds on the comparison of outcomes between plants subject to the full tax and plants that paid only 20% of the tax. Exploiting exogenous variation in eligibility for the tax discount, we find that the carbon tax had a strong negative impact on energy intensity and electricity use. No statistically significant impacts are found for employment, revenue or plant exit.

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Mechanisms of Reef Coral Resistance to Future Climate Change

Stephen Palumbi et al.
Science, 23 May 2014, Pages 895-898

Abstract:
Reef corals are highly sensitive to heat, yet populations resistant to climate change have recently been identified. To determine the mechanisms of temperature tolerance, we reciprocally transplanted corals between reef sites experiencing distinct temperature regimes, and tested subsequent physiological and gene expression profiles. Local acclimatization and fixed effects, such as adaptation, contributed about equally to heat tolerance and are reflected in patterns of gene expression. In less than two years, acclimatization achieves the same heat tolerance that we would expect from strong natural selection over many generations for these long-lived organisms. Our results show both short-term acclimatory and longer-term adaptive acquisition of climate resistance. Adding these adaptive abilities to ecosystem models is likely to slow predictions of demise for coral reef ecosystems.

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Evolving Comparative Advantage and the Impact of Climate Change in Agricultural Markets: Evidence from 1.7 Million Fields around the World

Arnaud Costinot, Dave Donaldson & Cory Smith
NBER Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
A large agronomic literature models the implications of climate change for a variety of crops and locations around the world. The goal of the present paper is to quantify the macro-level consequences of these micro-level shocks. Using an extremely rich micro-level dataset that contains information about the productivity -- both before and after climate change -- of each of 10 crops for each of 1.7 million fields covering the surface of the Earth, we find that the impact of climate change on these agricultural markets would amount to a 0.26% reduction in global GDP when trade and production patterns are allowed to adjust.

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Implications of Shale Gas Development for Climate Change

Richard Newell & Daniel Raimi
Environmental Science & Technology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Advances in technologies for extracting oil and gas from shale formations have dramatically increased U.S. production of natural gas. As production expands domestically and abroad, natural gas prices will be lower than without shale gas. Lower prices have two main effects: increasing overall energy consumption, and encouraging substitution away from sources such as coal, nuclear, renewables, and electricity. We examine the evidence and analyze modeling projections to understand how these two dynamics affect greenhouse gas emissions. Most evidence indicates that natural gas as a substitute for coal in electricity production, gasoline in transport, and electricity in buildings decreases greenhouse gases, although as an electricity substitute this depends on the electricity mix displaced. Modeling suggests that absent substantial policy changes, increased natural gas production slightly increases overall energy use, more substantially encourages fuel-switching, and that the combined effect slightly alters economy wide GHG emissions; whether the net effect is a slight decrease or increase depends on modeling assumptions including upstream methane emissions. Our main conclusions are that natural gas can help reduce GHG emissions, but in the absence of targeted climate policy measures, it will not substantially change the course of global GHG concentrations. Abundant natural gas can, however, help reduce the costs of achieving GHG reduction goals.

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A comparative analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions intensity of wheat and beef in the United States

Kelly Twomey Sanders & Michael Webber
Environmental Research Letters, April 2014

Abstract:
The US food system utilizes large quantities of liquid fuels, electricity, and chemicals yielding significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are not considered in current retail prices, especially when the contribution of biogenic emissions is considered. However, because GHG emissions might be assigned a price in prospective climate policy frameworks, it would be useful to know the extent to which those policies would increase the incremental production costs to food within the US food system. This analysis uses lifecycle assessment (LCA) to (1) estimate the magnitude of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions from typical US food production practices, using wheat and beef as examples, and (2) quantify the cost of those emissions in the context of a GHG-pricing regime over a range of policy constructs. Wheat and beef were chosen as benchmark staples to provide a representative range of less intensive and more intensive agricultural goods, respectively. Results suggest that 1.1 ± 0.13 and 31 ± 8.1 kg of lifecycle CO2e emissions are embedded in 1 kg of wheat and beef production, respectively. Consequently, the cost of lifecycle CO2e emissions for wheat (i.e. cultivation, processing, transportation, storage, and end-use preparation) over an emissions price range of $10 and $85 per tonne CO2e is estimated to be between $0.01 and $0.09 per kg of wheat, respectively, which would increase total wheat production costs by approximately 0.3–2% per kg. By comparison, the estimated lifecycle CO2e price of beef over the same range of CO2e prices is between $0.31 and $2.60 per kg of beef, representing a total production cost increase of approximately 5–40% per kg based on average 2010 food prices. This range indicates that the incremental cost to total US food production might be anywhere between $0.63–5.4 Billion per year for grain and $3.70 and $32 Billion per year for beef based on CO2e emissions assuming that total production volumes stay the same.

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Hurricane strikes and local migration in US coastal counties

B. Ouattara, E. Strobl
Economics Letters, July 2014, Pages 17–20

Abstract:
We examine the effects of hurricane shocks on key migration variables in US coastal counties. Results show that hurricane strikes increase outward migration rate and that these migrants were somewhat wealthier; but that there was no impact on inward migration.

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Multiscale observations of CO2, 13-CO2, and pollutants at Four Corners for emission verification and attribution

Rodica Lindenmaier et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
There is a pressing need to verify air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions from anthropogenic fossil energy sources to enforce current and future regulations. We demonstrate the feasibility of using simultaneous remote sensing observations of column abundances of CO2, CO, and NO2 to inform and verify emission inventories. We report, to our knowledge, the first ever simultaneous column enhancements in CO2 (3–10 ppm) and NO2 (1–3 Dobson Units), and evidence of δ13-CO2 depletion in an urban region with two large coal-fired power plants with distinct scrubbing technologies that have resulted in ∆NOx/∆CO2 emission ratios that differ by a factor of two. Ground-based total atmospheric column trace gas abundances change synchronously and correlate well with simultaneous in situ point measurements during plume interceptions. Emission ratios of ∆NOx/∆CO2 and ∆SO2/∆CO2 derived from in situ atmospheric observations agree with those reported by in-stack monitors. Forward simulations using in-stack emissions agree with remote column CO2 and NO2 plume observations after fine scale adjustments. Both observed and simulated column ∆NO2/∆CO2 ratios indicate that a large fraction (70–75%) of the region is polluted. We demonstrate that the column emission ratios of ∆NO2/∆CO2 can resolve changes from day-to-day variation in sources with distinct emission factors (clean and dirty power plants, urban, and fires). We apportion these sources by using NO2, SO2, and CO as signatures. Our high-frequency remote sensing observations of CO2 and coemitted pollutants offer promise for the verification of power plant emission factors and abatement technologies from ground and space.

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Abnormal Daily Temperature and Concern about Climate Change Across the United States

Jeremy Brooks et al.
Review of Policy Research, May 2014, Pages 199–217

Abstract:
The relatively low level of concern about climate change among Americans has important implications for climate policy. While many studies have examined individual characteristics associated with climate change attitudes, fewer studies have considered the effects of environmental conditions on such attitudes. Here, we use two national samples of American adults to explore the impact of abnormal daily temperatures on levels of concern about climate change. We test the hypotheses that (1) abnormally warm temperatures, and (2) both abnormally warm and abnormally cool temperatures are associated with higher levels of concern. Using a generalized ordinal logit, we find that the quadratic form of deviation from mean temperature on the date of the survey is significantly associated with higher levels of concern, thus supporting the second hypothesis. We discuss several theoretical frameworks that may explain this result including availability bias, mental models, and implicit stimuli, and the implications for climate policy.

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Public interest in climate change over the past decade and the effects of the 'climategate' media event

William Anderegg & Gregory Goldsmith
Environmental Research Letters, May 2014

Abstract:
Despite overwhelming scientific consensus concerning anthropogenic climate change, many in the non-expert public perceive climate change as debated and contentious. There is concern that two recent high-profile media events — the hacking of the University of East Anglia emails and the Himalayan glacier melt rate presented in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — may have altered public opinion of climate change. While survey data is valuable for tracking public perception and opinion over time, including in response to climate-related media events, emerging methods that facilitate rapid assessment of spatial and temporal patterns in public interest and opinion could be exceptionally valuable for understanding and responding to these events' effects. We use a novel, freely-available dataset of worldwide web search term volumes to assess temporal patterns of interest in climate change over the past ten years, with a particular focus on looking at indicators of climate change skepticism around the high-profile media events. We find that both around the world and in the US, the public searches for the issue as 'global warming,' rather than 'climate change,' and that search volumes have been declining since a 2007 peak. We observe high, but transient spikes of search terms indicating skepticism around the two media events, but find no evidence of effects lasting more than a few months. Our results indicate that while such media events are visible in the short-term, they have little effect on salience of skeptical climate search terms on longer time-scales.

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Greater Sensitivity to Drought Accompanies Maize Yield Increase in the U.S. Midwest

David Lobell et al.
Science, 2 May 2014, Pages 516-519

Abstract:
A key question for climate change adaptation is whether existing cropping systems can become less sensitive to climate variations. We use a field-level data set on maize and soybean yields in the central United States for 1995 through 2012 to examine changes in drought sensitivity. Although yields have increased in absolute value under all levels of stress for both crops, the sensitivity of maize yields to drought stress associated with high vapor pressure deficits has increased. The greater sensitivity has occurred despite cultivar improvements and increased carbon dioxide and reflects the agronomic trend toward higher sowing densities. The results suggest that agronomic changes tend to translate improved drought tolerance of plants to higher average yields but not to decreasing drought sensitivity of yields at the field scale.

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Increasing CO2 threatens human nutrition

Samuel Myers et al.
Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
Dietary deficiencies of zinc and iron are a substantial global public health problem. An estimated two billion people suffer these deficiencies, causing a loss of 63 million life-years annually. Most of these people depend on C3 grains and legumes as their primary dietary source of zinc and iron. Here we report that C3 grains and legumes have lower concentrations of zinc and iron when grown under field conditions at the elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration predicted for the middle of this century. C3 crops other than legumes also have lower concentrations of protein, whereas C4 crops seem to be less affected. Differences between cultivars of a single crop suggest that breeding for decreased sensitivity to atmospheric CO2 concentration could partly address these new challenges to global health.

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The Costs and Consequences of Clean Air Act Regulation of CO2 from Power Plants

Dallas Burtraw et al.
American Economic Review, May 2014, Pages 557-562

Abstract:
US climate policy is unfolding under the Clean Air Act. Mobile source and construction permitting regulations are in place. Most important, EPA and the states will determine the form and stringency of the regulations for power plants. Various approaches would create an implicit price on emitting greenhouse gases and create valuable assets that would be distributed differently among electricity producers, consumers, and the government. We compare a tradable performance standard with several cap-and-trade policies. Distributing asset values to fossil-fueled producers and consumers has small effects on average electricity prices but imposes greater social cost than a revenue-raising policy.

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Half of the world's population experience robust changes in the water cycle for a 2 °C warmer world

Jan Sedláček & Reto Knutti
Environmental Research Letters, April 2014

Abstract:
Fresh water is a critical resource on Earth, yet projections of changes in the water cycle resulting from anthropogenic warming are challenging. It is important to not only know the best estimate of change, but also how robust these projections are, where changes occur, which variables will change, and how many people are affected by it. Here we synthesize the changes in the water cycle, based on results of the latest climate model intercomparison (CMIP5). Several variables of the water cycle, such as evaporation and relative humidity, show robust changes over more than 50% of the land area already with an anthropogenic global warming of 1 °C. A warming of 2 °C shows more than half of the world's population to be directly affected by robust local changes in the water cycle, and everybody experiences a robust change in at least one variable of the water cycle. While the physical changes are widespread, the affected people are concentrated in a few hot-spots mainly in Asia and Central Africa. The occurrence of these hot-spots is driven by population density, as well as by the early emergence of the anthropogenic signal from variability in these areas. Large uncertainties remain in projections of soil moisture and runoff changes.

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The poleward migration of the location of tropical cyclone maximum intensity

James Kossin, Kerry Emanuel & Gabriel Vecchi
Nature, 15 May 2014, Pages 349–352

Abstract:
Temporally inconsistent and potentially unreliable global historical data hinder the detection of trends in tropical cyclone activity. This limits our confidence in evaluating proposed linkages between observed trends in tropical cyclones and in the environment. Here we mitigate this difficulty by focusing on a metric that is comparatively insensitive to past data uncertainty, and identify a pronounced poleward migration in the average latitude at which tropical cyclones have achieved their lifetime-maximum intensity over the past 30 years. The poleward trends are evident in the global historical data in both the Northern and the Southern hemispheres, with rates of 53 and 62 kilometres per decade, respectively, and are statistically significant. When considered together, the trends in each hemisphere depict a global-average migration of tropical cyclone activity away from the tropics at a rate of about one degree of latitude per decade, which lies within the range of estimates of the observed expansion of the tropics over the same period. The global migration remains evident and statistically significant under a formal data homogenization procedure, and is unlikely to be a data artefact. The migration away from the tropics is apparently linked to marked changes in the mean meridional structure of environmental vertical wind shear and potential intensity, and can plausibly be linked to tropical expansion, which is thought to have anthropogenic contributions.

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Global distribution and risk to shipping of very extreme sea states (VESS)

V.J. Cardone et al.
International Journal of Climatology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The impact of extreme sea states on offshore infrastructure is of intense interest in the ocean engineering community at the present time. In this study, a new quality-controlled database of global satellite-derived estimates of significant wave height (HS) and surface marine wind speed from seven missions spanning the period August 1991–March 2010, known as GlobWave, is scanned to yield over 5000 ocean basin specific orbit segments with peak HS > 12 m. This population was subsequently distilled to a population of 120 individual storms [so-called very extreme sea states (VESS) storms], in which there was at least one altimeter estimate of HS > 16 m. The highest HSs were observed in the Northern Hemisphere with ten orbit segments in the North Atlantic Ocean (NAO) with a peak HS of >18 m followed by four segments in the North Pacific Ocean (NPO). Only three HS peaks >18 m were seen in the entire Southern Oceans. Three of the >5000 orbit segments had a peak HS >20 m with the highest at 20.6 m. The number of VESS storms detected is greatest in the NAO (the smallest basin), a result that appears to be consistent with general circulation studies of extratropical cyclogenesis frequency and intensity in general atmospheric circulation models. A new continuous 33-year global wave hindcast (GROW2012) based on a new atmospheric reanalysis wind field product appears to provide unbiased estimates of the probability of exceedance of VESS in extratropical storms and small-basin dependent biases (0.5–1.5 m) of peak HS greater than ∼16 m. GROW2012 was, therefore, applied with a voyage simulator for nine trade routes to assess the risk of a merchant vessel that does not avail itself of weather routing of encountering VESS. The highest monthly exceedance probabilities (MEPs) at the VESS threshold of 14 m are found in the NAO and NPO at ∼0.1% during winter months. The alternative statistical distribution of the MEP of the single maximum peak sea state to be expected for a voyage for any month (MEPm) shows that the highest MEPm is for the month of December in the NAO along the great circle route between the middle US East Coast and entrance to English Channel and in the NPO along the Yokohama–Seattle route, at about 3%. Still, the overall probability of a vessel encountering sea states that may contain waves capable of catastrophic damage over a 33-year lifetime is quite small with mean number of hours of exposure to a vessel typically less than ∼3 h for six of the nine routes and a maximum of 10 h for two of the routes.

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Climate change and forest fires synergistically drive widespread melt events of the Greenland Ice Sheet

Kaitlin Keegan et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
In July 2012, over 97% of the Greenland Ice Sheet experienced surface melt, the first widespread melt during the era of satellite remote sensing. Analysis of six Greenland shallow firn cores from the dry snow region confirms that the most recent prior widespread melt occurred in 1889. A firn core from the center of the ice sheet demonstrated that exceptionally warm temperatures combined with black carbon sediments from Northern Hemisphere forest fires reduced albedo below a critical threshold in the dry snow region, and caused the melting events in both 1889 and 2012. We use these data to project the frequency of widespread melt into the year 2100. Since Arctic temperatures and the frequency of forest fires are both expected to rise with climate change, our results suggest that widespread melt events on the Greenland Ice Sheet may begin to occur almost annually by the end of century. These events are likely to alter the surface mass balance of the ice sheet, leaving the surface susceptible to further melting.

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Elevated CO2 further lengthens growing season under warming conditions

Melissa Reyes-Fox et al.
Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
Observations of a longer growing season through earlier plant growth in temperate to polar regions have been thought to be a response to climate warming. However, data from experimental warming studies indicate that many species that initiate leaf growth and flowering earlier also reach seed maturation and senesce earlier, shortening their active and reproductive periods. A conceptual model to explain this apparent contradiction, and an analysis of the effect of elevated CO2 — which can delay annual life cycle events — on changing season length, have not been tested. Here we show that experimental warming in a temperate grassland led to a longer growing season through earlier leaf emergence by the first species to leaf, often a grass, and constant or delayed senescence by other species that were the last to senesce, supporting the conceptual model. Elevated CO2 further extended growing, but not reproductive, season length in the warmed grassland by conserving water, which enabled most species to remain active longer. Our results suggest that a longer growing season, especially in years or biomes where water is a limiting factor, is not due to warming alone, but also to higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations that extend the active period of plant annual life cycles.

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Explicit feedback and the management of uncertainty in meeting climate objectives with solar geoengineering

Ben Kravitz et al.
Environmental Research Letters, April 2014

Abstract:
Solar geoengineering has been proposed as a method of meeting climate objectives, such as reduced globally averaged surface temperatures. However, because of incomplete understanding of the effects of geoengineering on the climate system, its implementation would be in the presence of substantial uncertainties. In our study, we use two fully coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation models: one in which the geoengineering strategy is designed, and one in which geoengineering is implemented (a real-world proxy). We show that regularly adjusting the amount of solar geoengineering in response to departures of the observed global mean climate state from the predetermined objective (sequential decision making; an explicit feedback approach) can manage uncertainties and result in achievement of the climate objective in both the design model and the real-world proxy. This approach results in substantially less error in meeting global climate objectives than using a predetermined time series of how much geoengineering to use, especially if the estimated sensitivity to geoengineering is inaccurate.

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Extinction and recolonization of coastal megafauna following human arrival in New Zealand

Catherine Collins et al.
Procedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 7 July 2014

Abstract:
Extinctions can dramatically reshape biological communities. As a case in point, ancient mass extinction events apparently facilitated dramatic new evolutionary radiations of surviving lineages. However, scientists have yet to fully understand the consequences of more recent biological upheaval, such as the megafaunal extinctions that occurred globally over the past 50 kyr. New Zealand was the world's last large landmass to be colonized by humans, and its exceptional archaeological record documents a vast number of vertebrate extinctions in the immediate aftermath of Polynesian arrival approximately AD 1280. This recently colonized archipelago thus presents an outstanding opportunity to test for rapid biological responses to extinction. Here, we use ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis to show that extinction of an endemic sea lion lineage (Phocarctos spp.) apparently facilitated a subsequent northward range expansion of a previously subantarctic-limited lineage. This finding parallels a similar extinction–replacement event in penguins (Megadyptes spp.). In both cases, an endemic mainland clade was completely eliminated soon after human arrival, and then replaced by a genetically divergent clade from the remote subantarctic region, all within the space of a few centuries. These data suggest that ecological and demographic processes can play a role in constraining lineage distributions, even for highly dispersive species, and highlight the potential for dynamic biological responses to extinction.

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Evolution of land surface air temperature trend

Fei Ji et al.
Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
The global climate has been experiencing significant warming at an unprecedented pace in the past century. This warming is spatially and temporally non-uniform, and one needs to understand its evolution to better evaluate its potential societal and economic impact. Here, the evolution of global land surface air temperature trend in the past century is diagnosed using the spatial–temporally multidimensional ensemble empirical mode decomposition method. We find that the noticeable warming (>0.5 K) started sporadically over the global land and accelerated until around 1980. Both the warming rate and spatial structure have changed little since. The fastest warming in recent decades (>0.4 K per decade) occurred in northern mid-latitudes. From a zonal average perspective, noticeable warming (>0.2 K since 1900) first took place in the subtropical and subpolar regions of the Northern Hemisphere, followed by subtropical warming in the Southern Hemisphere. The two bands of warming in the Northern Hemisphere expanded from 1950 to 1985 and merged to cover the entire Northern Hemisphere.

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Public Support for Policies to Reduce Risk After Hurricane Sandy

Michael Greenberg et al.
Risk Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
A phone survey was conducted in New Jersey in 2013 four months after the second of two major devastating tropical storms (Sandy in 2012 and Irene in 2011). The objective was to estimate public support for restricting land uses in flood zones, requiring housing to be built to resist storm waters, and otherwise increasing mitigation and resilience. Respondents who supported these mitigation and resilience policies disproportionately were concerned about global climate change, trusted climate scientists and the federal government, and were willing to contribute to a redevelopment program through taxes, bonds, and fees. They also tended to have collectivist and egalitarian worldviews. Half of the respondents supported at least four of the seven risk-reducing policies. How their support translates into public policy remains to be seen. Lack of willingness to personally fund these policies is an obstacle.

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North Sea Storminess from a Novel Storm Surge Record since AD 1843

Sönke Dangendorf et al.
Journal of Climate, May 2014, Pages 3582–3595

Abstract:
The detection of potential long-term changes in historical storm statistics and storm surges plays a vitally important role for protecting coastal communities. In the absence of long homogeneous wind records, the authors present a novel, independent, and homogeneous storm surge record based on water level observations in the North Sea since 1843. Storm surges are characterized by considerable interannual-to-decadal variability linked to large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns. Time periods of increased storm surge levels prevailed in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries without any evidence for significant long-term trends. This contradicts with recent findings based on reanalysis data, which suggest increasing storminess in the region since the late nineteenth century. The authors compare the wind and pressure fields from the Twentieth-Century Reanalysis (20CRv2) with the storm surge record by applying state-of-the-art empirical wind surge formulas. The comparison reveals that the reanalysis is a valuable tool that leads to good results over the past 100 yr; previously the statistical relationship fails, leaving significantly lower values in the upper percentiles of the predicted surge time series. These low values lead to significant upward trends over the entire investigation period, which are in turn supported by neither the storm surge record nor an independent circulation index based on homogeneous pressure readings. The authors therefore suggest that these differences are related to higher uncertainties in the earlier years of the 20CRv2 over the North Sea region.

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Climate change and frog calls: Long-term correlations along a tropical altitudinal gradient

Peter Narins & Sebastiaan Meenderink
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 22 May 2014

Abstract:
Temperature affects nearly all biological processes, including acoustic signal production and reception. Here, we report on advertisement calls of the Puerto Rican coqui frog (Eleutherodactylus coqui) that were recorded along an altitudinal gradient and compared these with similar recordings along the same altitudinal gradient obtained 23 years earlier. We found that over this period, at any given elevation, calls exhibited both significant increases in pitch and shortening of their duration. All of the observed differences are consistent with a shift to higher elevations for the population, a well-known strategy for adapting to a rise in ambient temperature. Using independent temperature data over the same time period, we confirm a significant increase in temperature, the magnitude of which closely predicts the observed changes in the frogs’ calls. Physiological responses to long-term temperature rises include reduction in individual body size and concomitantly, population biomass. These can have potentially dire consequences, as coqui frogs form an integral component of the food web in the Puerto Rican rainforest.

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Elements of emission market design: An experimental analysis of California's market for greenhouse gas allowances

William Shobe, Charles Holt & Thaddeus Huetteman
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use a set of economic experiments to test the effects of some novel features of California's new controls on greenhouse gas emissions. The California cap and trade scheme imposes limits on allowance ownership, uses a tiered price containment reserve sale, and settles allowance auctions based on the lowest accepted bid. We examine the effects of these features on market liquidity, efficiency, and price variability. We find that tight holding limits substantially reduce banking, which, in turn reduces market liquidity. This impairs the ability of traders to smooth prices over time, resulting in lower efficiency and higher price variability. The price containment reserve, while increasing the supply of allowances available to traders, does not appear to mitigate the effects of tight holding limits on market outcomes. As a result, the imposition of holding limits in the allowance market may have the consequence of increasing the likelihood of the market manipulation that they were intended to prevent. Finally, we find that the choice between lowest accepted bid and highest rejected bid for the allowance auction pricing rule does not have a significant effect on market outcomes.

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The Role of Energy Conservation and Natural Gas Prices in the Costs of Achieving California’s Renewable Energy Goals

Timothy Considine & Edward Manderson
Energy Economics, July 2014, Pages 291–301

Abstract:
This paper develops an econometric forecasting system of energy demand coupled with engineering-economic models of energy supply. The framework is used to quantify the energy and environmental impacts of renewable and natural gas based electricity power generation in California, considering the role of on-going energy conservation efforts and incorporating different natural gas price scenarios over the forecast horizon (2011–2035). The results indicate that, relative to a business-as-usual scenario of continuing to rely on imported electricity to meet future demand, California’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of 33% renewables by 2020 will increase electricity rates by over 10%. However, the RPS will also provide substantial annual savings in carbon dioxide emissions of 40 million metric tons in 2020. Continuing non-price induced energy conservation at the historic rate will only result in a marginal reduction in electricity rates, although lower electricity use means substantial savings are nonetheless achieved in electricity expenditures. In addition, continuing trend energy conservation leads to substantial savings in carbon dioxide emissions. Like the RPS, developing domestic natural gas generation also leads to rate increases and reductions in carbon dioxide emissions (relative to the baseline). However, these impacts are minor compared to the RPS scenario.

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The rate of sea-level rise

Anny Cazenave et al.
Nature Climate Change, May 2014, Pages 358–361

Abstract:
Present-day sea-level rise is a major indicator of climate change. Since the early 1990s, sea level rose at a mean rate of ~3.1 mm yr−1. However, over the last decade a slowdown of this rate, of about 30%, has been recorded. It coincides with a plateau in Earth’s mean surface temperature evolution, known as the recent pause in warming. Here we present an analysis based on sea-level data from the altimetry record of the past ~20 years that separates interannual natural variability in sea level from the longer-term change probably related to anthropogenic global warming. The most prominent signature in the global mean sea level interannual variability is caused by El Niño–Southern Oscillation, through its impact on the global water cycle. We find that when correcting for interannual variability, the past decade’s slowdown of the global mean sea level disappears, leading to a similar rate of sea-level rise (of 3.3 ± 0.4 mm yr−1) during the first and second decade of the altimetry era. Our results confirm the need for quantifying and further removing from the climate records the short-term natural climate variability if one wants to extract the global warming signal.

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The “I” in climate: The role of individual responsibility in systematic processing of climate change information

Laura Rickard et al.
Global Environmental Change, May 2014, Pages 39–52

Abstract:
Past research suggests that how we perceive risk can be related to how we attribute responsibility for risk-related issues, such as climate change; however, a gap in research lies in exploring possible connections between attribution of responsibility, risk perception, and information processing. Using the Risk Information Seeking and Processing model, this study fills this gap by examining how RISP-based variables are related to information processing and whether attribution of responsibility for mitigating climate change influences communication behaviors that are often predicted by elevated risk perceptions. Undergraduates at two large research universities (N = 572) were randomly assigned to read one of two newspaper articles that emphasized either individual responsibility (by highlighting personal actions) or societal responsibility (by highlighting government policy) for climate change mitigation. Results indicate that subjects in the individual responsibility condition were significantly more likely to process the message in a systematic manner; however, attribution of responsibility did not interact with risk perception to influence systematic processing. Moreover, attitudes toward climate change information and negative affect mediated the relationship between other key variables and systematic processing. These and other findings suggest that strategic communication about climate change may benefit from emphasizing individual responsibility to attract more attention from diverse audiences and to promote deeper thinking about the issue. Additional theoretical implications are presented.

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Widespread decline of Congo rainforest greenness in the past decade

Liming Zhou et al.
Nature, 1 May 2014, Pages 86–90

Abstract:
Tropical forests are global epicentres of biodiversity and important modulators of climate change1, and are mainly constrained by rainfall patterns. The severe short-term droughts that occurred recently in Amazonia have drawn attention to the vulnerability of tropical forests to climatic disturbances. The central African rainforests, the second-largest on Earth, have experienced a long-term drying trend whose impacts on vegetation dynamics remain mostly unknown because in situ observations are very limited. The Congolese forest, with its drier conditions and higher percentage of semi-evergreen trees, may be more tolerant to short-term rainfall reduction than are wetter tropical forests, but for a long-term drought there may be critical thresholds of water availability below which higher-biomass, closed-canopy forests transition to more open, lower-biomass forests. Here we present observational evidence for a widespread decline in forest greenness over the past decade based on analyses of satellite data (optical, thermal, microwave and gravity) from several independent sensors over the Congo basin. This decline in vegetation greenness, particularly in the northern Congolese forest, is generally consistent with decreases in rainfall, terrestrial water storage, water content in aboveground woody and leaf biomass, and the canopy backscatter anomaly caused by changes in structure and moisture in upper forest layers. It is also consistent with increases in photosynthetically active radiation and land surface temperature. These multiple lines of evidence indicate that this large-scale vegetation browning, or loss of photosynthetic capacity, may be partially attributable to the long-term drying trend. Our results suggest that a continued gradual decline of photosynthetic capacity and moisture content driven by the persistent drying trend could alter the composition and structure of the Congolese forest to favour the spread of drought-tolerant species.

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Ice plug prevents irreversible discharge from East Antarctica

M. Mengel & A. Levermann
Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Changes in ice discharge from Antarctica constitute the largest uncertainty in future sea-level projections, mainly because of the unknown response of its marine basins. Most of West Antarctica’s marine ice sheet lies on an inland-sloping bed and is thereby prone to a marine ice sheet instability. A similar topographic configuration is found in large parts of East Antarctica, which holds marine ice equivalent to 19 m of global sea-level rise, that is, more than five times that of West Antarctica. Within East Antarctica, the Wilkes Basin holds the largest volume of marine ice that is fully connected by subglacial troughs. This ice body was significantly reduced during the Pliocene epoch. Strong melting underneath adjacent ice shelves with similar bathymetry indicates the ice sheet’s sensitivity to climatic perturbations. The stability of the Wilkes marine ice sheet has not been the subject of any comprehensive assessment of future sea level. Using recently improved topographic data in combination with ice-dynamic simulations, we show here that the removal of a specific coastal ice volume equivalent to less than 80 mm of global sea-level rise at the margin of the Wilkes Basin destabilizes the regional ice flow and leads to a self-sustained discharge of the entire basin and a global sea-level rise of 3–4 m. Our results are robust with respect to variation in ice parameters, forcing details and model resolution as well as increased surface mass balance, indicating that East Antarctica may become a large contributor to future sea-level rise on timescales beyond a century.

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Evaluation of extreme climate events using a regional climate model for China

Zhenming Ji & Shichang Kang
International Journal of Climatology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Extreme climate events over China at the end of the 21st century (2080–2099) are investigated using the regional climate model RegCM4. Model performance is validated through comparison between observations and simulations over the period 1985–2005. The results show that RegCM4 can satisfactorily reproduce the spatial distribution of extreme climate events over China. The model simulates temperature extremes more accurately than precipitation. Under the RCP8.5 (high emission) scenario, the number of frost days decreases, and both the heat wave duration index and the growing season length increase dramatically towards the end of the 21st century. Changes in extreme temperature become increasingly pronounced from South to North China, with the most significant changes occurring on the Tibetan Plateau (TP). The proportion of heavy precipitation generally increases, except on the southern TP. The number of very heavy precipitation days increases by 25–50% in Northwest and East China. In winter, the number of consecutive dry days (CDD) decreases in North China and increases in South China. The greatest increases in CDD are found in June, July and August (JJA) in Southwest China. In a future that follows this scenario, drought events may be aggravated in Southwest China, and decrease in North China. In contrast, when repeating these projections under the assumption of the RCP4.5 scenario for emissions, the frequency of extreme climate events is reduced. These results suggest that reductions in greenhouse gas emissions may mitigate the effects of climate change over the coming decades.

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Model Simulation and Projection of European Heat Waves in Present-Day and Future Climates

Ngar-Cheung Lau & Mary Jo Nath
Journal of Climate, May 2014, Pages 3713–3730

Abstract:
The synoptic behavior of present-day heat waves (HW) over Europe is studied using the GFDL high-resolution atmospheric model (HiRAM) with 50-km grid spacing. Three regions of enhanced and coherent temperature variability are identified over western Russia, eastern Europe, and western Europe. The simulated HW characteristics are compared with those derived from Climate Forecast System Reanalysis products. Composite charts for outstanding HW episodes resemble well-known recurrent circulation types. The HW region is overlain by a prominent upper-level anticyclone, which blocks the passage of synoptic-scale transients. The altered eddy vorticity transports in turn reinforce the anticyclone. The anticyclone is part of a planetary-scale wave train. The successive downstream development of this wave train is indicative of Rossby wave dispersion. Additional runs of HiRAM are conducted for the “time slices” of 2026–35 and 2086–95 in the climate scenario corresponding to representative concentration pathway 4.5 (RCP4.5). By the end of the twenty-first century, the average duration and frequency of HW in the three European sites are projected to increase by a factor of 1.4–2.0 and 2.2–4.5, respectively, from the present-day values. These changes can be reproduced by adding the mean shift between the present and future climatological temperatures to the daily fluctuations in the present-day simulation. The output from a continuous integration of a coupled general circulation model through the 1901–2100 period indicates a monotonic increase in severity, duration, and HW days during the twenty-first century.

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Contribution of semi-arid ecosystems to interannual variability of the global carbon cycle

Benjamin Poulter et al.
Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
The land and ocean act as a sink for fossil-fuel emissions, thereby slowing the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations1. Although the uptake of carbon by oceanic and terrestrial processes has kept pace with accelerating carbon dioxide emissions until now, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations exhibit a large variability on interannual timescales2, considered to be driven primarily by terrestrial ecosystem processes dominated by tropical rainforests3. We use a terrestrial biogeochemical model, atmospheric carbon dioxide inversion and global carbon budget accounting methods to investigate the evolution of the terrestrial carbon sink over the past 30 years, with a focus on the underlying mechanisms responsible for the exceptionally large land carbon sink reported in 2011 (ref. 2). Here we show that our three terrestrial carbon sink estimates are in good agreement and support the finding of a 2011 record land carbon sink. Surprisingly, we find that the global carbon sink anomaly was driven by growth of semi-arid vegetation in the Southern Hemisphere, with almost 60 per cent of carbon uptake attributed to Australian ecosystems, where prevalent La Niña conditions caused up to six consecutive seasons of increased precipitation. In addition, since 1981, a six per cent expansion of vegetation cover over Australia was associated with a fourfold increase in the sensitivity of continental net carbon uptake to precipitation. Our findings suggest that the higher turnover rates of carbon pools in semi-arid biomes are an increasingly important driver of global carbon cycle inter-annual variability and that tropical rainforests may become less relevant drivers in the future. More research is needed to identify to what extent the carbon stocks accumulated during wet years are vulnerable to rapid decomposition or loss through fire in subsequent years.

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The risk implications of insurance securitization: The case of catastrophe bonds

Bjoern Hagendorff et al.
Journal of Corporate Finance, April 2014, Pages 387–402

Abstract:
Catastrophe (Cat) bonds are insurance securitization vehicles which are supposed to transfer catastrophe-related underwriting risk from issuers to capital markets. This paper addresses key, unanswered questions concerning Cat bonds and offers the following results. First, our findings show firms that issue Cat bonds exhibit less risky underwriting portfolios with less exposure to catastrophe risks and overall less need to hedge catastrophe risk. These results show that the access to the market for insurance securitization is easiest for firms with less risky portfolios. Second, firms that issue Cat bonds are found to experience a reduction in their default risk relative to non-issuing firms and our results, therefore, demonstrate that Cat bonds provide effective catastrophe hedging for issuing firms. Third, firms with less catastrophe exposure, increase their catastrophe exposure following an issue. Therefore, our paper cautions that the ability to hedge catastrophe risk causes some firms to seek additional catastrophe risk.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Morbid curiosity

The long run health returns to college quality

Jason Fletcher & David Frisvold
Review of Economics of the Household, June 2014, Pages 295-325

Abstract:
The link between education and health is one of the most robust empirical relationships in the social sciences. However, little research has examined the effects of educational quality on health outcomes. We estimate the long run relationship between health behaviors and graduating from a selective college in the 1960s using the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, which has tracked siblings for over 50 years. Importantly, we control for measures of health endowments, ability, and time preferences before college enrollment as well as shared family and environmental factors. We find large effects of college selectivity on reducing overweight for individuals in their 60s.

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Access to Treatment and Educational Inequalities in Cancer Survival

Jon Fiva et al.
Journal of Health Economics, July 2014, Pages 98–111

Abstract:
The public health care systems in the Nordic countries provide high quality care almost free of charge to all citizens. However, social inequalities in health persist. Previous research has, for example, documented substantial educational inequalities in cancer survival. We investigate to what extent this may be driven by differential access to and utilization of high quality treatment options. Quasi-experimental evidence based on the establishment of regional cancer wards indicates that i) highly educated individuals utilized centralized specialized treatment to a greater extent than less educated patients and ii) the use of such treatment improved these patients’ survival.

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The impact of early-life economic conditions on cause-specific mortality during adulthood

Gary Yeung et al.
Journal of Population Economics, July 2014, Pages 895-919

Abstract:
The aim of this study is to assess the effects of economic conditions in early life on cause-specific mortality during adulthood. The analyses are performed on a unique historical sample of 14,520 Dutch individuals born in 1880–1918, who are followed throughout life. The economic conditions in early life are characterized using cyclical variations in annual real per capital gross domestic product during pregnancy and the first year of life. Exposure to recessions in early life appears to significantly increase cancer mortality risks of older males and females. It also significantly increases other mortality risks especially for older females. The residual life expectancies are up to about 8 and 6 % lower for male and female cancer mortality, respectively, and up to about 5 % lower for female cardiovascular mortality. Our analyses show that cardiovascular and cancer mortality risks are related and that not taking this association into account leads to biased inference.

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Unemployment and Mortality: Evidence from the PSID

Timothy Halliday
Social Science & Medicine, July 2014, Pages 15–22

Abstract:
We use micro-data to investigate the relationship between unemployment and mortality in the United States using Logistic regression on a sample of over 16,000 individuals. We consider baselines from 1984 to 1993 and investigate mortality up to ten years from the baseline. We show that poor local labor market conditions are associated with higher mortality risk for working-aged men and, specifically, that a one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate increases their probability of dying within one year of baseline by 6%. There is little to no such relationship for people with weaker labor force attachments such as women or the elderly. Our results contribute to a growing body of work that suggests that poor economic conditions pose health risks and illustrate an important contrast with studies based on aggregate data.

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Equity in the Receipt of Oseltamivir in the United States During the H1N1 Pandemic

Jessica Franklin et al.
American Journal of Public Health, June 2014, Pages 1052-1058

Objectives: We assessed the relationship between individual characteristics and receipt of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) in the United States during the H1N1 pandemic and other flu seasons.

Methods: In a cohort of individuals enrolled in pharmacy benefit plans, we used a multivariate logistic regression model to measure associations between subscriber characteristics and filling a prescription for oseltamivir during 3 flu seasons (October 2006–May 2007, October 2007–May 2008, and October 2008–May 2010). In 19 states with county-level influenza rates reported, we controlled for disease burden.

Results: Approximately 56 million subscribers throughout the United States were included in 1 or more study periods. During pandemic flu, beneficiaries in the highest income category had 97% greater odds of receiving oseltamivir than those in the lowest category (P < .001). After we controlled for disease burden, subscribers in the 2 highest income categories had 2.18 and 1.72 times the odds of receiving oseltamivir compared with those in the lowest category (P < .001 for both).

Conclusions: Income was a stronger predictor of oseltamivir receipt than prevalence of influenza. These findings corroborate concerns about equity of treatment in pandemics, and they call for improved approaches to distributing potentially life-saving treatments.

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Education as “the Great Equalizer”: Health Benefits for Black and White Adults

Christopher Holmes & Anna Zajacova
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objective: Many social policies and academic studies assume that education is “the great equalizer” that is capable of counteracting the unequal social resources of different demographic groups. This study aims to determine whether non-Hispanic whites and racial/ethnic minorities indeed experience comparable health benefits with greater educational attainment.

Methods: Data from the National Health Interview Survey 1997–2012 were used to conduct ordered logistic models comparing the self-rated health of 518,288 non-Hispanic whites and racial/ethnic minorities aged 30–65 across the full spectrum of educational attainment.

Results: Educational attainment was found to affect the health of whites more than minorities, even with the inclusion of a wide range of potential sociodemographic, behavioral, and economic mediators.

Conclusion: We discuss the possibility that unmeasured variables, such as childhood environment and other individual characteristics, are responsible for the stronger effect of education for whites than minorities, and what the implications are for future policy and research.

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Sleep Behavior and Unemployment Conditions

Marina Antillón, Diane Lauderdale & John Mullahy
Economics & Human Biology, July 2014, Pages 22–32

Abstract:
Recent research has reported that habitually short sleep duration is a risk factor for declining health, including increased risk of obesity, diabetes and coronary heart disease. In this study we investigate whether macroeconomic conditions are associated with variation in mean sleep time in the United States, and if so, whether the effect is procyclical or countercyclical. We merge state unemployment rates from 2003 through 2012 with the American Time Use Survey, a nationally representative sample of adults with 24 hour time diaries. We find that higher aggregate unemployment is associated with longer mean sleep duration, with each additional point of state unemployment associated with an additional average 0.83 minutes of sleep (p < 0.001), after adjusting for a secular trend of increasing sleep over the time period. Despite a national poll in 2009 that found one-third of Americans reporting losing sleep over the economy, we do not find that higher state unemployment is associated with more sleeplessness. Instead, we find that higher state unemployment is associated with less frequent time use described as “sleeplessness” (marginal effect = 0.05 at 4% unemployment and 0.034 at 14% unemployment, p < 0.001), after controlling for a secular trend.

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Cause of Death and Development in the US

Casper Worm Hansen
Journal of Development Economics, July 2014, Pages 143–153

Abstract:
Exploiting cross-state variation in infectious causes of death, along with time variation arising from medical innovations toward the middle of the twentieth century, this study examines the consequences of a positive health shock in the US. It establishes that states with higher levels of mortality from infectious causes prior to the onset of the era of big medicine experienced greater increases in life expectancy, population, and total GDP after its onset, whereas per capita GDP remained largely unchanged. Together the evidence suggests that the rise in life expectancy had no significant effect on living standards in the US during the time period 1940–1980. These results are robust to controlling for initial health and initial economic conditions.

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Effects of Proximate Foreclosed Properties on Individuals' Systolic Blood Pressure in Massachusetts, 1987-2008

Mariana Arcaya et al.
Circulation, forthcoming

Background: No studies have examined the effects of local foreclosure activity on neighbors' blood pressure, despite the fact that spillover effects of nearby foreclosures include many known risk factors for increased blood pressure. We assessed the extent to which living near foreclosed properties is associated with subsequent systolic blood pressure (SBP).

Methods and Results: We used geocoded 6,590 observations collected from 1,740 participants in the Framingham Offspring Cohort across five waves (1987-2008) of the Framingham Heart Study to create a longitudinal record of exposure to nearby foreclosure activity. We distinguished between Real Estate Owned foreclosures (REOs), which typically sit vacant, and foreclosures purchased by third party buyers, which are generally put into productive use. Counts of lender-owned foreclosed properties within 100 meters of participants' homes were used to predict measured SBP and odds of being hypertensive. We assessed whether self-reported alcoholic drinks per week and measured BMI helped explain the foreclosure activity-SBP relationship. Each additional REO located within 100 meters of a participant's home was associated with an increase in SBP of 1.71 mm/hg (p=.03; 95%CI = 0.18 - 3.24) after adjusting for individual- and area-level confounders, but not with odds of hypertension. The presence of foreclosures purchased by third party buyers was not associated with SBP nor with hypertension. BMI and alcohol consumption attenuated the effect of living near REOs on SBP in fully adjusted models.

Conclusions: Real Estate Owned foreclosed properties may put nearby neighbors at risk for increased SBP, with higher alcohol consumption and body mass index partially mediating this relationship.

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Testing the relationship between income inequality and life expectancy: A simple correction for the aggregation effect when using aggregated data

Thomas Mayrhofer & Hendrik Schmitz
Journal of Population Economics, July 2014, Pages 841-856

Abstract:
In this paper, we show a simple correction for the aggregation effect when testing the relationship between income inequality and life expectancy using aggregated data. While there is evidence for a negative correlation between income inequality and a population’s average life expectancy, it is not clear whether this is due to an aggregation effect based on a non-linear relationship between income and life expectancy or to income inequality being a health hazard in itself. The proposed correction method is general and independent of measures of income inequality, functional form assumptions of the health production function, and assumptions on the income distribution. We apply it to data from the Human Development Report and find that the relationship between income inequality and life expectancy can be explained entirely by the aggregation effect. Hence, there is no evidence that income inequality itself is a health hazard.

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Conditional Health-Related Benefits of Higher Education: An Assessment of Compensatory versus Accumulative Mechanisms

Shawn Bauldry
Social Science & Medicine, June 2014, Pages 94–100

Abstract:
A college degree is associated with a range of health-related benefits, but the effects of higher education are known to vary across different population subgroups. Competing theories have been proposed for whether people from more or less advantaged backgrounds or circumstances will gain greater health-related benefits from a college degree. This study draws on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) and recently developed models for analyzing heterogeneous treatment effects to examine how the effect of obtaining a college degree on the self-rated health of young adults varies across the likelihood of obtaining a college degree, a summary measure of advantage/disadvantage. Results indicate that a college degree has a greater effect on self-rated health for people from advantaged backgrounds. This finding differs from two recent studies, and possible reasons for the contrasting findings are discussed.

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Widening Rural–Urban Disparities in All-Cause Mortality and Mortality from Major Causes of Death in the USA, 1969–2009

Gopal Singh & Mohammad Siahpush
Journal of Urban Health, April 2014, Pages 272-292

Abstract:
This study examined trends in rural–urban disparities in all-cause and cause-specific mortality in the USA between 1969 and 2009. A rural–urban continuum measure was linked to county-level mortality data. Age-adjusted death rates were calculated by sex, race, cause-of-death, area-poverty, and urbanization level for 13 time periods between 1969 and 2009. Cause-of-death decomposition and log-linear and Poisson regression were used to analyze rural–urban differentials. Mortality rates increased with increasing levels of rurality overall and for non-Hispanic whites, blacks, and American Indians/Alaska Natives. Despite the declining mortality trends, mortality risks for both males and females and for blacks and whites have been increasingly higher in non-metropolitan than metropolitan areas, particularly since 1990. In 2005–2009, mortality rates varied from 391.9 per 100,000 population for Asians/Pacific Islanders in rural areas to 1,063.2 for blacks in small-urban towns. Poverty gradients were steeper in rural areas, which maintained higher mortality than urban areas after adjustment for poverty level. Poor blacks in non-metropolitan areas experienced two to three times higher all-cause and premature mortality risks than affluent blacks and whites in metropolitan areas. Disparities widened over time; excess mortality from all causes combined and from several major causes of death in non-metropolitan areas was greater in 2005–2009 than in 1990–1992. Causes of death contributing most to the increasing rural–urban disparity and higher rural mortality include heart disease, unintentional injuries, COPD, lung cancer, stroke, suicide, diabetes, nephritis, pneumonia/influenza, cirrhosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. Residents in metropolitan areas experienced larger mortality reductions during the past four decades than non-metropolitan residents, contributing to the widening gap.

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Are Investments in Disease Prevention Complements? The Case of Statins and Health Behaviors

Robert Kaestner, Michael Darden & Darius Lakdawalla
Journal of Health Economics, July 2014, Pages 151–163

Abstract:
We obtain estimates of associations between statin use and health behaviors. Statin use is associated with a small increase in BMI and moderate (20% to 33%) increases in the probability of being obese. Statin use was also associated with a significant (e.g., 15% of mean) increase in moderate alcohol use among men. There was no consistent evidence of a decrease in smoking associated with statin use, and exercise worsened somewhat for females. Statin use was associated with increased physical activity among males. Finally, there was evidence that statin use increased the use of blood pressure medication and aspirin for both males and females, although estimates varied considerably in magnitude. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that healthy diet is a strong substitute for statins, but there is only uneven evidence for the hypothesis that investments in disease prevention are complementary.

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The Impact of Michigan's Text Messaging Restriction on Motor Vehicle Crashes

Johnathon Ehsani et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, May 2014, Pages S68–S74

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of Michigan's universal text messaging restriction (effective July 2010) across different age groups of drivers and crash severities.

Methods: Changes in monthly crash rates and crash trends per 10,000 licensed drivers aged 16, 17, 18, 19, 20–24, and 25–50 years were estimated using time series analysis for three levels of crash severity: (1) fatal/disabling injury; (2) nondisabling injury; and (3) possible injury/property damage only (PDO) crashes for the period 2005–2012. Analyses were adjusted for crash rates of drivers' aged 65–99 years, Michigan's unemployment rate, and gasoline prices.

Results: After the introduction of the texting restriction, significant increases were observed in crash rates and monthly trends in fatal/disabling injury crashes and nondisabling injury crashes, and significant decreases in possible injury/PDO crashes. The magnitude of the effects where significant changes were observed was small.

Conclusions: The introduction of the texting restriction was not associated with a reduction in crash rates or trends in severe crash types. On the contrary, small increases in the most severe crash types (fatal/disabling and nondisabling injury) and small decreases in the least severe crash types (possible injury/PDO) were observed. These findings extend the literature on the effects of cell phone restrictions by examining the effects of the restriction on newly licensed adolescent drivers and adult drivers separately by crash severity.

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Pregnancy and the risk of a traffic crash

Donald Redelmeier et al.
Canadian Medical Association Journal, forthcoming

Background: Pregnancy causes diverse physiologic and lifestyle changes that may contribute to increased driving and driving error. We compared the risk of a serious motor vehicle crash during the second trimester to the baseline risk before pregnancy.

Methods: We conducted a population-based self-matched longitudinal cohort analysis of women who gave birth in Ontario between April 1, 2006, and March 31, 2011. We excluded women less than age 18 years, those living outside Ontario, those who lacked a valid healthcard identifier under universal insurance, and those under the care of a midwife. The primary outcome was a motor vehicle crash resulting in a visit to an emergency department.

Results: A total of 507 262 women gave birth during the study period. These women accounted for 6922 motor vehicle crashes as drivers during the 3-year baseline interval (177 per mo) and 757 motor vehicle crashes as drivers during the second trimester (252 per mo), equivalent to a 42% relative increase (95% confidence interval 32%–53%; p < 0.001). The increased risk extended to diverse populations, varied obstetrical cases and different crash characteristics. The increased risk was largest in the early second trimester and compensated for by the third trimester. No similar increase was observed in crashes as passengers or pedestrians, cases of intentional injury or inadvertent falls, or selfreported risky behaviours.

Interpretation: Pregnancy is associated with a substantial risk of a serious motor vehicle crash during the second trimester. This risk merits attention for prenatal care.

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Relationship of Collegiate Football Experience and Concussion With Hippocampal Volume and Cognitive Outcomes

Rashmi Singh et al.
Journal of the American Medical Association, 14 May 2014, Pages 1883-1888

Objective: To assess the relationships of concussion history and years of football experience with hippocampal volume and cognitive performance in collegiate football athletes.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Cross-sectional study conducted between June 2011 and August 2013 at a US psychiatric research institute specializing in neuroimaging among collegiate football players with a history of clinician-diagnosed concussion (n = 25), collegiate football players without a history of concussion (n = 25), and non–football-playing, age-, sex-, and education-matched healthy controls (n = 25).

Results: Players with and without a history of concussion had smaller hippocampal volumes relative to healthy control participants (with concussion: t48 = 7.58; P < .001; mean difference, 1788 μL; 95% CI, 1317-2258 μL; without concussion: t48 = 4.35; P < .001, mean difference, 1027 μL; 95% CI, 556-1498 μL). Players with a history of concussion had smaller hippocampal volumes than players without concussion (t48 = 3.15; P < .001; mean difference, 761 μL; 95% CI, 280-1242 μL). In both athlete groups, there was a statistically significant inverse relationship between left hippocampal volume and number of years of football played (t46 = −3.62; P < .001; coefficient = −43.54; 95% CI, −67.66 to −19.41). Behavioral testing demonstrated no differences between athletes with and without a concussion history on 5 cognitive measures but did show an inverse correlation between years of playing football and reaction time (ρ42 = −0.43; 95% CI, −0.46 to −0.40; P = .005).

Conclusions and Relevance: Among a group of collegiate football athletes, there was a significant inverse relationship of concussion and years of football played with hippocampal volume. Years of football experience also correlated with slower reaction time. Further research is needed to determine the temporal relationships of these findings.

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Reduced Fatalism and Increased Prevention Behavior After Two High-Profile Lung Cancer Events

David Portnoy et al.
Journal of Health Communication, May 2014, Pages 577-592

Abstract:
The positive impact of media coverage of high-profile cancer events on cancer prevention behaviors is well-established. However, less work has focused on potential adverse psychological reactions to such events, such as fatalism. Conducting 3 studies, the authors explored how the lung cancer death of Peter Jennings and diagnosis of Dana Reeve in 2005 related to fatalism. Analysis of a national media sample in Study 1 found that media coverage of these events often focused on reiterating the typical profile of those diagnosed with lung cancer; 38% of the media mentioned at least 1 known risk factor for lung cancer, most often smoking. Data from a nationally representative survey in Study 2 found that respondents reported lower lung cancer fatalism, after, compared with before, the events (OR = 0.16, 95% CI [0.03, 0.93]). A sustained increase in call volume to the national tobacco Quitline after these events was found in Study 3. These results suggest that there is a temporal association between high-profile cancer events, the subsequent media coverage, psychological outcomes, and cancer prevention behaviors. These results suggest that high-profile cancer events could be leveraged as an opportunity for large-scale public heath communication campaigns through the dissemination of cancer prevention messages and services.

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Using Friends as Sensors to Detect Global-Scale Contagious Outbreaks

Manuel Garcia-Herranz et al.
PLoS ONE, April 2014

Abstract:
Recent research has focused on the monitoring of global–scale online data for improved detection of epidemics, mood patterns, movements in the stock market political revolutions, box-office revenues, consumer behaviour and many other important phenomena. However, privacy considerations and the sheer scale of data available online are quickly making global monitoring infeasible, and existing methods do not take full advantage of local network structure to identify key nodes for monitoring. Here, we develop a model of the contagious spread of information in a global-scale, publicly-articulated social network and show that a simple method can yield not just early detection, but advance warning of contagious outbreaks. In this method, we randomly choose a small fraction of nodes in the network and then we randomly choose a friend of each node to include in a group for local monitoring. Using six months of data from most of the full Twittersphere, we show that this friend group is more central in the network and it helps us to detect viral outbreaks of the use of novel hashtags about 7 days earlier than we could with an equal-sized randomly chosen group. Moreover, the method actually works better than expected due to network structure alone because highly central actors are both more active and exhibit increased diversity in the information they transmit to others. These results suggest that local monitoring is not just more efficient, but also more effective, and it may be applied to monitor contagious processes in global–scale networks.

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Income and Income Inequality as Social Determinants of Health: Do Social Comparisons Play a Role?

Patrick Präg, Melinda Mills & Rafael Wittek
European Sociological Review, April 2014, Pages 218-229

Abstract:
Two of the most prominent phenomena in the study of social determinants of health, the socio-economic gradient in health and the income inequality–health association, have both been suggested to be explainable by the mechanism of status comparisons. This, however, has rarely ever been tested in a direct fashion. In this article, we explicate and test this mechanism by assessing the role of social comparison orientation. Research has shown that individuals vary in their propensity to engage in social comparisons, and those with a higher propensity are also more likely to be affected by the outcomes of such comparisons. In our analysis, we check whether the tendency to compare one’s income to that of others can contribute to explaining socio-economic disparities in health. Using individual-level data (N = 18,356) from 23 European countries on self-rated overall health and psychological well-being, we show that a high-income comparison orientation neither moderates the negative effect of income inequality on health nor the health differences by relative income. Our findings cast doubt on the crucial role that researchers such as Wilkinson and Pickett (2010) have attributed to the mechanism of status differentiation as the link between social stratification and health outcomes.

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When Does Education Matter? The Protective Effect of Education for Cohorts Graduating in Bad Times

David Cutler, Wei Huang & Adriana Lleras-Muney
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
Using Eurobarometer data, we document large variation across European countries in education gradients in income, self-reported health, life satisfaction, obesity, smoking and drinking. While this variation has been documented previously, the reasons why the effect of education on income, health and health behaviors varies is not well understood. We build on previous literature documenting that cohorts graduating in bad times have lower wages and poorer health for many years after graduation, compared to those graduating in good times. We investigate whether more educated individuals suffer smaller income and health losses as a result of poor labor market conditions upon labor market entry. We confirm that a higher unemployment rate at graduation is associated with lower income, lower life satisfaction, greater obesity, more smoking and drinking later in life. Further, education plays a protective role for these outcomes, especially when unemployment rates are high: the losses associated with poor labor market outcomes are substantially lower for more educated individuals. Variation in unemployment rates upon graduation can potentially explain a large fraction of the variance in gradients across different countries.

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Resveratrol Levels and All-Cause Mortality in Older Community-Dwelling Adults

Richard Semba et al.
JAMA Internal Medicine, forthcoming

Importance: Resveratrol, a polyphenol found in grapes, red wine, chocolate, and certain berries and roots, is considered to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects in humans and is related to longevity in some lower organisms.

Objective: To determine whether resveratrol levels achieved with diet are associated with inflammation, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and mortality in humans.

Design: Prospective cohort study, the Invecchiare in Chianti (InCHIANTI) Study (“Aging in the Chianti Region”), 1998 to 2009 conducted in 2 villages in the Chianti area in a population-based sample of 783 community-dwelling men and women 65 years or older.

Results: Mean (95% CI) log total urinary resveratrol metabolite concentrations were 7.08 (6.69-7.48) nmol/g of creatinine. During 9 years of follow-up, 268 (34.3%) of the participants died. From the lowest to the highest quartile of baseline total urinary resveratrol metabolites, the proportion of participants who died from all causes was 34.4%, 31.6%, 33.5%, and 37.4%, respectively (P = .67). Participants in the lowest quartile had a hazards ratio for mortality of 0.80 (95% CI, 0.54-1.17) compared with those in the highest quartile of total urinary resveratrol in a multivariable Cox proportional hazards model that adjusted for potential confounders. Resveratrol levels were not significantly associated with serum CRP, IL-6, IL-1β, TNF, prevalent or incident cardiovascular disease, or cancer.

Conclusions and Relevance: In older community-dwelling adults, total urinary resveratrol metabolite concentration was not associated with inflammatory markers, cardiovascular disease, or cancer or predictive of all-cause mortality. Resveratrol levels achieved with a Western diet did not have a substantial influence on health status and mortality risk of the population in this study.

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Targeted Health Department Expenditures Benefit Birth Outcomes at the County Level

Betty Bekemeier et al.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, June 2014, Pages 569–577

Purpose: This study used unique, detailed LHD [local health department] expenditure data gathered from state health departments to examine the influence of maternal and child health (MCH) service investments by LHDs on health outcomes.

Methods: A multivariate panel time-series design was used in 2013 to estimate ecologic relationships between 2000−2010 LHD expenditures on MCH and county-level rates of low birth weight and infant mortality. The unit of analysis was 102 LHD jurisdictions in Washington and Florida.

Results: Results indicate that LHD expenditures on MCH services have a beneficial relationship with county-level low birth weight rates, particularly in counties with high concentrations of poverty. This relationship is stronger for more targeted expenditure categories, with expenditures in each of the three specific examined MCH service areas demonstrating the strongest effects.

Conclusions: Findings indicate that specific LHD investments in MCH have an important effect on related health outcomes for populations in poverty and likely help reduce the costly burden of poor birth outcomes for families and communities. These findings underscore the importance of monitoring the impact of these evolving investments and ensuring that targeted, beneficial investments are not lost but expanded upon across care delivery systems.

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Public Estimates of Cancer Frequency: Cancer Incidence Perceptions Mirror Distorted Media Depictions

Jakob Jensen et al.
Journal of Health Communication, May 2014, Pages 609-624

Abstract:
Compared with incidence rates, certain cancers are over- or underrepresented in news coverage. Past content analytic research has consistently documented these news distortions, but no study has examined whether they are related to public perception of cancer incidence. Adults (N = 400) completed a survey with questions about perceived cancer incidence, news consumption, and attention to health news. Cancer incidence perceptions paralleled previously documented news distortions. Overrepresented cancers were overestimated (e.g., blood, head/brain) and underrepresented cancers were underestimated (e.g., male reproductive, lymphatic, thyroid, and bladder). Self-reported news consumption was related to perceptual distortions such that heavier consumers were more likely to demonstrate distorted perceptions of four cancers (bladder, blood, breast, and kidney). Distortions in risk perception and news coverage also mirrored discrepancies in federal funding for cancer research. Health care professionals, journalists, and the public should be educated about these distortions to reduce or mitigate potential negative effects on health behavior and decision making.

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Association between resting heart rate across the life course and all-cause mortality: Longitudinal findings from the Medical Research Council (MRC) National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD)

Bríain Ó Hartaigh et al.
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Background: Resting heart rate (RHR) is an independent risk factor for mortality. Nevertheless, it is unclear whether elevations in childhood and mid-adulthood RHR, including changes over time, are associated with mortality later in life. We sought to evaluate the association between RHR across the life course, along with its changes and all-cause mortality.

Methods: We studied 4638 men and women from the Medical Research Council (MRC) National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD) cohort born during 1 week in 1946. RHR was obtained during childhood at ages 6, 7 and 11, and in mid-adulthood at ages 36 and 43. Using multivariable Cox regression, we calculated the HR for incident mortality according to RHR measured at each time point, along with changes in mid-adulthood RHR.

Results: At age 11, those in the top fifth of the RHR distribution (≥97 bpm) had an increased adjusted hazard of 1.42 (95% CI 1.04 to 1.93) for all-cause mortality. A higher adjusted risk (HR, 95% CI 2.17, 1.40 to 3.36) of death was also observed for those in the highest fifth (≥81 bpm) at age 43. For a >25 bpm increased change in the RHR over the course of 7 years (age 36–43), the adjusted hazard was elevated more than threefold (HR, 95% CI 3.26, 1.54 to 6.90). After adjustment, RHR at ages 6, 7 and 36 were not associated with all-cause mortality.

Conclusions: Elevated RHR during childhood and midlife, along with greater changes in mid-adulthood RHR, are associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality.

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Sub-therapeutic Antibiotics and the Efficiency of U.S. Hog Farms

Nigel Key & William McBride
American Journal of Agricultural Economics, April 2014, Pages 831-850

Abstract:
A substantial share of U.S. hog producers incorporate antimicrobial drugs into their livestock's feed or water at sub-therapeutic levels to promote feed efficiency and weight gain. Recently, in response to concerns that the overuse of antibiotics in livestock could promote the development of antimicrobial drug-resistant bacteria, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration adopted a strategy to phase out the use of antibiotics for production purposes. This study uses a stochastic frontier model and data from the 2009 USDA Agricultural Resource Management Survey of feeder-to-finish hog producers to estimate the potential effects on hog output and output variability resulting from a ban on antibiotics used for growth promotion. We use propensity score nearest neighbor matching to create a balanced sample of sub-therapeutic antibiotic (STA) users and nonusers. We estimate the frontier model for the pooled sample and separately for users and non-users — which allows for a flexible interaction between STA use and the production technology. Point estimates for the matched sample indicate that STA use has a small positive effect on productivity and production risk, increasing output by 1.0–1.3% and reducing the standard deviation of unexplained output by 1.4%. The results indicate that improvements in productivity resulted exclusively from technological improvement rather than from an increase in technical efficiency.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, May 26, 2014

People's republics

Delivering Stability — Primogeniture and Autocratic Survival in European Monarchies 1000–1800

Andrej Kokkonen & Anders Sundell
American Political Science Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Building a strong autocratic state requires stability in ruler-elite relations. From this perspective the absence of a successor is problematic, as the elite have few incentives to remain loyal if the autocrat cannot reward them for their loyalty after his death. However, an appointed successor has both the capacity and the motive to challenge the autocrat. We argue that a succession based on primogeniture solves the dilemma, by providing the regime with a successor who can afford to wait to inherit the throne peacefully. We test our hypothesis on a dataset covering 961 monarchs ruling 42 European states between 1000 and 1800, and show that fewer monarchs were deposed in states practicing primogeniture than in states practicing alternative succession orders. A similar pattern persists in the world's remaining absolute monarchies. Primogeniture also contributed to building strong states: In 1801 all European monarchies had adopted primogeniture or succumbed to foreign enemies.

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Democracy Does Not Promote Well-Being Except in Rich Countries With Demanding Climates

Evert Van de Vliert & Tom Postmes
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Is democracy really a good thing because it improves well-being? Everywhere? Here we use multiple regression analysis to examine continuous associations between democracy and well-being across 137 countries. The results are clarified by breaking them down for 20 poor countries with demanding winters or summers (threatening habitats), 48 poor countries with undemanding temperate climates (unthreatening habitats), 23 rich countries with undemanding temperate climates (unchallenging habitats), and 46 rich countries with demanding winters or summers (challenging habitats). We show that democratic governance is negatively related to satisfaction with freedom of choice and overall happiness in threatening habitats and unrelated in unthreatening and unchallenging habitats. Only in challenging habitats of rich countries with demanding climates is democracy positively related to satisfaction with freedom of choice and overall happiness. This pattern of findings, which persists when controlling for a variety of societal risks, might suggest that the link between democracy and well-being can be particularly strengthened by empowering poorer populations in more demanding climates to generate more income.

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Good Fences: The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Peaceful Coexistence

Alex Rutherford et al.
PLoS ONE, May 2014

Abstract:
We consider the conditions of peace and violence among ethnic groups, testing a theory designed to predict the locations of violence and interventions that can promote peace. Characterizing the model's success in predicting peace requires examples where peace prevails despite diversity. Switzerland is recognized as a country of peace, stability and prosperity. This is surprising because of its linguistic and religious diversity that in other parts of the world lead to conflict and violence. Here we analyze how peaceful stability is maintained. Our analysis shows that peace does not depend on integrated coexistence, but rather on well defined topographical and political boundaries separating groups, allowing for partial autonomy within a single country. In Switzerland, mountains and lakes are an important part of the boundaries between sharply defined linguistic areas. Political canton and circle (sub-canton) boundaries often separate religious groups. Where such boundaries do not appear to be sufficient, we find that specific aspects of the population distribution guarantee either sufficient separation or sufficient mixing to inhibit intergroup violence according to the quantitative theory of conflict. In exactly one region, a porous mountain range does not adequately separate linguistic groups and that region has experienced significant violent conflict, leading to the recent creation of the canton of Jura. Our analysis supports the hypothesis that violence between groups can be inhibited by physical and political boundaries. A similar analysis of the area of the former Yugoslavia shows that during widespread ethnic violence existing political boundaries did not coincide with the boundaries of distinct groups, but peace prevailed in specific areas where they did coincide. The success of peace in Switzerland may serve as a model to resolve conflict in other ethnically diverse countries and regions of the world.

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Respect for Human Rights has Improved Over Time: Modeling the Changing Standard of Accountability

Christopher Fariss
American Political Science Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
According to indicators of political repression currently used by scholars, human rights practices have not improved over the past 35 years, despite the spread of human rights norms, better monitoring, and the increasing prevalence of electoral democracy. I argue that this empirical pattern is not an indication of stagnating human rights practices. Instead, it reflects a systematic change in the way monitors, like Amnesty International and the U.S. State Department, encounter and interpret information about abuses. The standard of accountability used to assess state behaviors becomes more stringent as monitors look harder for abuse, look in more places for abuse, and classify more acts as abuse. In this article, I present a new, theoretically informed measurement model, which generates unbiased estimates of repression using existing data. I then show that respect for human rights has improved over time and that the relationship between human rights respect and ratification of the UN Convention Against Torture is positive, which contradicts findings from existing research.

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“The People Want the Fall of the Regime”: Schooling, Political Protest, and the Economy

Filipe Campante & Davin Chor
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We provide evidence that economic circumstances are a key intermediating variable for understanding the relationship between schooling and political protest. Using the World Values Survey, we find that individuals with higher levels of schooling, but whose income outcomes fall short of that predicted by their biographical characteristics, in turn display a greater propensity to engage in protest activities. We discuss a number of interpretations that are consistent with this finding, including the idea that economic conditions can affect how individuals trade off the use of their human capital between production and political activities. Our results could also reflect a link between education, “grievance”, and political protest, although we argue that this is unlikely to be the sole explanation. Separately, we show that the interaction between schooling and economic conditions matters too at the country level: Rising education levels coupled with macroeconomic weakness are associated with increased incumbent turnover, as well as subsequent pressures toward democratization.

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Military Rule

Barbara Geddes, Erica Frantz & Joseph Wright
Annual Review of Political Science, 2014, Pages 147-162

Abstract:
Military rule as a form of autocratic governance can mean either rule by a military strongman unconstrained by other officers or rule by a group of high-ranking officers who can limit the dictator's discretion. We label the latter form a military regime. Both military strongmen and military regimes are more likely to commit human rights abuses and become embroiled in civil wars than are civilian dictatorships. The behavior of strongmen diverges from that of more constrained military rulers in other areas, however. Military strongmen start more international wars than either military regimes or civilian dictators, perhaps because they have more reason to fear postouster exile, prison, or assassination. Fear of the future may also motivate their resistance to transition. Military strongmen are more often ousted by insurgency, popular uprising, or invasion than are military regimes or civilian dictators. Their tenures rarely end in democratization, whereas the opposite is true of military regimes.

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Electoral Rules and the Quality of Politicians: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan

Andrew Beath et al.
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
We examine the effect of electoral rules on the quality of elected officials using a unique field experiment which induced randomized variation in the method of council elections in 250 villages in Afghanistan. In particular, we compare at-large elections, with a single multi-member district, to district elections, with multiple single member districts. We propose a theoretical model where the difference in the quality of elected officials between the two electoral systems occurs because elected legislators have to bargain over policy, which induces citizens in district elections to vote strategically for candidates with more polarized policy positions even at the expense of candidates' competence. Consistent with the predictions of the model, we find that elected officials in at-large elections are more educated than those in district elections and that this effect is stronger in more heterogeneous villages. We also find evidence that elected officials in district elections have more biased preferences.

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Taxation and democracy: An instrumental variable approach

Nurullah Gur
Applied Economics Letters, Summer 2014, Pages 763-766

Abstract:
Our article investigates the effect of taxation on democracy. We exploit exogenous variation in taxation driven by wars from the pre-modern era and document a positive and highly significant first-stage relationship between pre-modern war casualties and taxation. Using this instrumental variable strategy, we find that taxation has a positive effect on democracy.

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Coup d’état or Coup d'Autocracy? How Coups Impact Democratization, 1950–2008

Clayton Thyne & Jonathan Powell
Foreign Policy Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper considers how coups impact democratization. Current research focuses on coups as a threat to consolidated and fledgling democracies. Policymakers have adapted to this viewpoint by treating coups as unjustifiable maneuvers that must be curtailed, with states frequently terminating aid and IOs suspending membership following a coup. While coups clearly confound democratic consolidation, it is notable that the vast majority of coups do not happen in democracies. Therefore, we focus on authoritarian regimes in seeking to discover how coups might open paths toward democratization. We first argue that successful coups should promote democratization because leaders have incentives to democratize quickly in order to establish political legitimacy and economic growth. Second, we view failed coups as credible signals that leaders must enact meaningful reforms to remain in power. Empirical analyses strongly support the argument that coups promote democratization, particularly among states that are least likely to democratize otherwise.

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Rewarding Bad Behavior: How Governments Respond to Terrorism in Civil War

Jakana Thomas
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although violent organizations often use terrorism as a means to achieve political aims, recent studies suggest the tactic is ineffective because it fails to help groups gain concessions. While focused exclusively on concessions, these studies overlook other important markers of success, specifically whether groups are invited to participate in negotiations as a result of their use of terrorism. Extant studies also conduct statistical analyses on overly aggregated data, masking any effect terrorism has on important bargaining outcomes. Using new monthly data on the incidence of negotiations and the number of concessions offered to groups involved in African civil wars, this paper demonstrates that rebel groups are both more likely to be granted the opportunity to participate in negotiations and offered more concessions when they execute a greater number of terror attacks during civil wars.

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Resource Concentration and Civil Wars

Massimo Morelli & Dominic Rohner
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
This paper highlights the importance of natural resource concentration and ethnic group regional concentration for ethnic conflict. A new type of bargaining failure due to multiple types of potential conflicts (and hence multiple threat points) is identified. The theory predicts war to be more likely when resource and group concentration are high, and the empirical analysis, both at the country level and at the ethnic group level, confirms the essential role of geographic concentration variables for civil war.

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Income Growth, Ethnic Polarization, and Political Risk: Evidence from International Oil Price Shocks

Markus Brückner & Mark Gradstein
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper studies the effects of growth in countries’ national incomes on political risk. To address causality, we use the annual growth rate of the international oil price weighted with countries’ average oil net-export GDP shares as an instrument for national income growth. Our instrumental variables analysis yields two main results: (i) income growth has on average a significant negative effect on countries’ political risk; (ii) the marginal effect of income growth on political risk is significantly decreasing in cross-country differences in ethnic polarization, so much so that at high levels of ethnic polarization income growth increases political risk while at low levels of ethnic polarization income growth reduces political risk.

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Intergroup Violence and Political Attitudes: Evidence from a Dividing Sudan

Bernd Beber, Philip Roessler & Alexandra Scacco
Journal of Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
How do episodes of intergroup violence affect political opinions toward outgroup members? Recent studies offer divergent answers. Some suggest violence deepens antagonism and reduces support for compromise, while others contend it encourages moderation and concessions to prevent further conflict. We argue that violence can fuel both hostility toward the outgroup and acceptance of outgroup objectives and provide evidence from a unique survey of 1,380 respondents implemented by the authors in greater Khartoum in Sudan in 2010 and 2011. We find that Northerners who experienced rioting by Southerners in Khartoum in 2005 were more likely to support Southern independence but less likely to support citizenship for Southerners remaining in the North. In combination, these results suggest that political violence hardens negative intergroup attitudes and makes individuals willing to concede separation to avoid living alongside outgroup members.

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Sexual violence in armed conflict: Introducing the SVAC dataset, 1989–2009

Dara Kay Cohen & Ragnhild Nordås
Journal of Peace Research, May 2014, Pages 418-428

Abstract:
Which armed groups have perpetrated sexual violence in recent conflicts? This article presents patterns from the new Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict (SVAC) dataset. The dataset, coded from the three most widely used sources in the quantitative human rights literature, covers 129 active conflicts, and the 625 armed actors involved in these conflicts, during the period 1989–2009. The unit of observation is the conflict-actor-year, allowing for detailed analysis of the patterns of perpetration of sexual violence for each conflict actor. The dataset captures six dimensions of sexual violence: prevalence, perpetrators, victims, forms, location, and timing. In addition to active conflict-years, the dataset also includes reports of sexual violence committed by conflict actors in the five years post-conflict. We use the data to trace variation in reported conflict-related sexual violence over time, space, and actor type, and outline the dataset's potential utility for scholars. Among the insights offered are that the prevalence of sexual violence varies dramatically by perpetrator group, suggesting that sexual violations are common – but not ubiquitous. In addition, we find that state militaries are more likely to be reported as perpetrators of sexual violence than either rebel groups or militias. Finally, reports of sexual violence continue into the post-conflict period, sometimes at very high levels. The data may be helpful both to scholars and policymakers for better understanding the patterns of sexual violence, its causes, and its consequences.

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The Distributive Politics of Enforcement

Alisha Holland
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why do some politicians tolerate the violation of the law? In contexts where the poor are the primary violators of property laws, I argue that the answer lies in the electoral costs of enforcement: Enforcement can decrease support from poor voters even while it generates support among nonpoor voters. Using an original data set on unlicensed street vending and enforcement operations at the subcity district level in three Latin American capital cities, I show that the combination of voter demographics and electoral rules explains enforcement. Supported by qualitative interviews, these findings suggest how the intentional nonenforcement of law, or forbearance, can be an electoral strategy. Dominant theories based on state capacity poorly explain the results.

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Authoritarian Parochialism: Local Congressional Representation in China

Melanie Manion
China Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article draws on evidence from loosely structured interviews and data from original surveys of 5,130 delegates in township, county and municipal congresses to argue that congressional representation unfolds as authoritarian parochialism in China. It makes three new arguments. First, popularly elected local congresses that once only mechanically stood in for the Chinese mass public, through demographically descriptive and politically symbolic representation, now work as substantively representative institutions. Chinese local congressmen and women view themselves and act as “delegates,” not Burkean trustees or Leninist party agents. Second, this congressional representation is not commonly expressed in the quintessentially legislative activities familiar in other regime types. Rather, it is an extra-legislative variant of pork-barrel politics: parochial activity by delegates to deliver targeted public goods to the geographic constituency. Third, this authoritarian parochialism is due to institutional arrangements and regime priorities, some common to single-party dictatorships and some distinct to Chinese authoritarianism.

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Regime Spoiler or Regime Pawn: The Military and Distributional Conflict in Non-Democracies

Atsu Amegashie
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
I consider a model in which an autocrat can be removed from power either through a military coup or a revolution by the citizens. In the event of a revolt by the citizens, the military may choose to support the autocrat to crush the revolt or play a passive role. The autocrat determines the distribution of the country’s wealth among himself, the military, and the citizens. I find that, under certain conditions, there exists a unique Markov perfect equilibrium in which there are no coups, the citizens revolt in each period, and the military fights on behalf of the autocrat. Under a different set of conditions, there is another equilibrium in which there are no coups, the citizens always revolt, but the military does not fight the revolt. However, peace (no revolts) is also an equilibrium of the model. The model is consistent with the persistence of social unrest or civil wars in certain countries and the different roles played by the military in different countries. Surprisingly, I find that if the citizens’ outside option (i.e., payoff in a democracy) improves, this is likely to make them worse off. Furthermore, an increase in natural resources is likely to make the citizens worse off because it reduces the probability of a transition to democracy or the prospect of good governance in autocracy. I discuss other implications of the model and relate it to real-world events.

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Yesterday’s heroes, today’s villains: Ideology, corruption, and democratic performance

Daniel Gingerich
Journal of Theoretical Politics, April 2014, Pages 249-282

Abstract:
This paper develops a game-theoretic model for assessing the relationship between ideological divisions in a society and prospects for good governance. Synthesizing the insights of the literature on political career concerns with those from the literature on issue framing, the model emphasizes that ideological balance — rough equality in the ideological component of utility the median voter derives from government and opposition — is the key to good governance. Polities which are ideologically balanced are ruled by elites who attempt to impress their merit upon the electorate through the provision of public goods. Ideologically imbalanced polities are ruled by elites who use public resources for their own consumption and who court voters through socially unproductive issue framing. The cases of pre-revolutionary Cuba, post-apartheid South Africa, and post-Pinochet Chile are used to illustrate the crucial importance of ideological balance for good governance.

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A Checkpoint Effect? Evidence from a Natural Experiment on Travel Restrictions in the West Bank

Matthew Longo, Daphna Canetti & Nancy Hite-Rubin
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does nonviolent repression prompt subject groups to obey or rebel? By what mechanism does it do so? To address these questions, we exploit a natural experiment based on a 2009 policy toward the “easement” of checkpoints — nonviolent impediments to movement — in the West Bank. We sample populations across 17 villages (n = 599), beside one checkpoint slated for easement (treatment) and one that will undergo no change (control), before and after the intervention. We then pursue difference-in-difference estimation. This design is experimental, as easement was orthogonal to Palestinian attitudes; for robustness, we test our findings against an independent panel (n = 1,200). We find that easement makes subject populations less likely to support violence; we suggest humiliation as the mechanism bridging nonviolent repression with militancy. This warrants rethinking Israeli security policy, as short-term concerns over Palestinian mobility may be compromising Israel's long-term interests. By extension, checkpoint easement may positively affect peace negotiations.

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On the Wrong Side of the Law – Causes and Consequences of a Corrupt Judiciary

Stefan Voigt & Jerg Gutmann
International Review of Law and Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Empirical research on the determinants of corruption has made substantial progress over the last decade. To date, the consequences of different structures of the legal enforcement institutions have, however, only played a marginal role. This contribution deals with both the determinants of corruption in the judiciary and the consequences of judicial organization for corruption at large. Regarding the latter, it is shown that the actual independence of the judiciary as well as that of prosecution agencies is correlated with lower levels of corruption. This is also true for a third indicator that measures the degree to which judges are held accountable for their decisions (“judicial accountability”). Furthermore, independence and accountability function as complements in preventing corruption – judicial accountability without independence appears to be ineffective, whereas judicial or prosecutorial independence alone can even have adverse effects.

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The Returns to Office in a “Rubber Stamp” Parliament

Rory Truex
American Political Science Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Are there returns to office in an authoritarian parliament? A new dataset shows that over 500 deputies to China’s National People’s Congress are CEOs of various companies. Entropy balancing is used to construct a weighted portfolio of Chinese companies that matches companies with NPC representation on relevant financial characteristics prior to the 11th Congress (2008–2012). The weighted fixed effect analysis suggests that a seat in the NPC is worth an additional 1.5 percentage points in returns and a 3 to 4 percentage point boost in operating profit margin in a given year. Additional evidence reveals that these rents stem primarily from the “reputation boost” of the position, and not necessarily formal policy influence. These findings confirm the assumptions of several prominent theories of authoritarian politics but suggest the need to further probe the nature of these institutions.

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Capitalism and (versus?) democracy: Stock markets and democratization in transition

Christopher Hartwell
Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article takes a look at the determinants of democracy in transition economies, with reference to the role of financial markets. Using three different proxies for financial market development, I find that stock exchanges appear to correlate with lower levels of democracy on average, although the most successful democracies also have the largest stock markets. Nonlinearities thus appear to exist in the relationship between financial markets and political institutions in transition.

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Curriculum and Ideology

Davide Cantoni et al.
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
We study the causal effect of school curricula on students’ stated beliefs and attitudes. We exploit a major textbook reform in China that was rolled out between 2004 and 2010 with the explicit intention of shaping youths’ ideology. To measure its effect, we present evidence from a novel survey we conducted among 2000 students at Peking University. The sharp, staggered introduction of the new curriculum across provinces allows us to identify the effects of the new educational content in a generalized difference in differences framework. We examine government documents articulating desired consequences of the reform, and identify changes in textbook content and college entrance exams that reflect the government’s aims. These changes were often effective: study under the new curriculum is robustly associated with changed views on political participation and democracy in China, increased trust in government officials, and a more skeptical view of free markets.

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The election trap: The cycle of post-electoral repression and opposition fragmentation in Lukashenko's Belarus

Konstantin Ash
Democratization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent work on competitive authoritarianism has not explored the full consequences of electoral participation for opposition movements. While prominent work argues that the government must employ a mix of side-payments and repression to fragment opposition to its rule, Belarus’ history since the ascension of President Alexander Lukashenko in 1994 shows that the opposition has been repressed after most parliamentary and presidential elections without any substantial co-optation. I argue that electoral contestation and subsequent post-electoral repression have led to the Belarusian opposition's fragmented state. This state is grounded in competition for foreign aid, which creates a need among Belarusian opposition leaders to demonstrate their ability to mobilize support through campaigns. Invariably, successful opposition leaders emerge as the principal challengers to the regime, leading to their arrest or exile. Repression then fosters division within anti-government movements and restarts the cycle for new aid-seeking parties and leaders. A quantitative test establishes that repression concentrates in post-electoral periods and a qualitative assessment shows that opposition fragmentation stems from the arrest or exile of opposition leaders. The empirical findings provide contrasting evidence to work on co-optation in autocracies while suggesting an adverse effect of foreign democracy assistance around the world.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, May 25, 2014

When the going gets tough

Modifying Resilience Mechanisms in At-Risk Individuals: A Controlled Study of Mindfulness Training in Marines Preparing for Deployment

Douglas Johnson et al.
American Journal of Psychiatry, forthcoming

Objective: Military deployment can have profound effects on physical and mental health. Few studies have examined whether interventions prior to deployment can improve mechanisms underlying resilience. Mindfulness-based techniques have been shown to aid recovery from stress and may affect brain-behavior relationships prior to deployment. The authors examined the effect of mindfulness training on resilience mechanisms in active-duty Marines preparing for deployment.

Method: Eight Marine infantry platoons (N=281) were randomly selected. Four platoons were assigned to receive mindfulness training (N=147) and four were assigned to a training-as-usual control condition (N=134). Platoons were assessed at baseline, 8 weeks after baseline, and during and after a stressful combat training session approximately 9 weeks after baseline. The mindfulness training condition was delivered in the form of 8 weeks of Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT), a program comprising 20 hours of classroom instruction plus daily homework exercises. MMFT emphasizes interoceptive awareness, attentional control, and tolerance of present-moment experiences. The main outcome measures were heart rate, breathing rate, plasma neuropeptide Y concentration, score on the Response to Stressful Experiences Scale, and brain activation as measured by functional MRI.

Results: Marines who received MMFT showed greater reactivity (heart rate [d=0.43]) and enhanced recovery (heart rate [d=0.67], breathing rate [d=0.93]) after stressful training; lower plasma neuropeptide Y concentration after stressful training (d=0.38); and attenuated blood-oxygen-level-dependent signal in the right insula and anterior cingulate.

Conclusions: The results show that mechanisms related to stress recovery can be modified in healthy individuals prior to stress exposure, with important implications for evidence-based mental health research and treatment.

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Entering Adulthood in a Recession Tempers Later Narcissism

Emily Bianchi
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite widespread interest in narcissism, relatively little is known about the conditions that encourage or dampen it. Drawing on research showing that macroenvironmental conditions in emerging adulthood can leave a lasting imprint on attitudes and behaviors, I argue that people who enter adulthood during recessions are less likely to be narcissistic later in life than those who come of age in more prosperous times. Using large samples of American adults, Studies 1 and 2 showed that people who entered adulthood during worse economic times endorsed fewer narcissistic items as older adults. Study 3 extended these findings to a behavioral manifestation of narcissism: the relative pay of CEOs. CEOs who came of age in worse economic times paid themselves less relative to other top executives in their firms. These findings suggest that macroenvironmental experiences at a critical life stage can have lasting implications for how unique, special, and deserving people believe themselves to be.

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Untreated Depression Predicts Higher Suicide Rates in U.S. Honor Cultures

Marisa Crowder & Markus Kemmelmeier
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Osterman and Brown demonstrated that U.S. honor states had higher rates of suicide than non-honor states and related this phenomenon to the higher incidence of depression and a reduced readiness to seek antidepression treatment in honor states. The present study critiques their research and re-examines the origin of the association between honor culture and suicide using a more expansive multi-year data set and controlling for culturally relevant factors (i.e., climate, gun ownership, population density, collectivism, access to health care, economic deprivation). Replicating some of their findings, higher rates of depression were related to higher levels of suicide in honor states but not non-honor states. In addition, we found state levels of antidepressant drug prescriptions to be related to lower levels of suicide in honor states but not non-honor states. A mediation analysis further revealed that levels of antidepressant drug prescriptions, but not levels of depression, mediated the relationship between honor culture and suicide, consistent with higher suicide rates in honor states being the result of a lack of treatment. The discussion focuses on clinical and cultural implications for suicide prevention in honor states.

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High Positive Affect Shortly After Missile Attacks and the Heightened Risk of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Among Israeli Adolescents

Yael Israel-Cohen, Gabriela Kashy-Rosenbaum & Oren Kaplan
Journal of Traumatic Stress, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research has demonstrated that positive emotions help build psychological resources and facilitate adaptation to stress, yet few studies have considered the possible negative effects of positive emotions on stress. This study examined the relationship between high arousal, positive and negative affect, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms among 503 Israeli adolescents following a period of escalated missile attacks on their city. Our findings revealed that not only negative affect, but also positive affect at very high levels exhibited 2 weeks following missile attacks were independently associated with PTSD symptoms 2½ months later (η2 = .09, η2 = .02, respectively). Although the literature recognizes the risk factor of negative affect on the development of PTSD, we suggest that also positive affect at high levels immediately after such experiences may be a case of emotion context insensitivity and thus a maladaptive response to trauma. Further research should examine the mechanisms associated with positive emotions and PTSD.

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The Home Foreclosure Crisis and Rising Suicide Rates, 2005 to 2010

Jason Houle & Michael Light
American Journal of Public Health, June 2014, Pages 1073-1079

Objectives: We examined the association between state-level foreclosure and suicide rates from 2005 to 2010 and considered variation in the effect of foreclosure on suicide by age.

Methods: We used hybrid random- and fixed-effects models to examine the relation between state foreclosure rates and total and age-specific suicide rates from 2005 to 2010 (n = 306 state-years).

Results: Net of other factors, an increase in the within-state total foreclosure rate was associated with a within-state increase in the crude suicide rates (b = 0.04; P < .1), and effects were stronger for the real estate–owned foreclosure rate (b = 0.16; P < .05). Analysis of age-specific suicide rates indicated that the effects were strongest among the middle-aged (46–64 years: total foreclosure rate, b = 0.21; P < .001; real estate–owned foreclosure rate, b = 0.83; P < .001). Rising home foreclosure rates explained 18% of the variance in the middle-aged suicide rate between 2005 and 2010.

Conclusions: The foreclosure crisis has likely contributed to increased suicides, independent of other economic factors associated with the recession. Rising foreclosure rates may be partially responsible for the recent uptick in suicide among middle-aged adults.

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Authenticity and self-esteem across temporal horizons

William Davis et al.
Journal of Positive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Extending research on optimal self-esteem and authenticity, three studies tested the hypothesis that authenticity would be a stronger predictor of self-esteem levels when time was perceived as limited as opposed to open ended. Study 1 provided a cross-sectional examination of the relationship between authenticity, future time perspective, and self-esteem in an adult sample, and Studies 2 and 3 assessed this relationship using repeated measures methodologies across both the short term and long term in college student samples. Results supported the hypothesis that authenticity would be a stronger predictor of self-esteem levels when time was perceived as limited. Across studies, individuals who felt inauthentic reported lower levels of self-esteem when they perceived time as limited.

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Is Having a Taste of Luxury a Good Idea? How Use vs. Ownership of Luxury Products Affects Satisfaction with Life

L. Hudders & M. Pandelaere
Applied Research in Quality of Life, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research showing that luxury consumption can be beneficial for one’s well-being equate consumption with ownership. The current paper experimentally investigates whether the impact of luxury consumption on one’s satisfaction with life differs when this consumption implies ownership versus mere use of (democratized) luxury products. While we find that ownership of luxury products is associated with a higher satisfaction with life compared to ownership of non-luxury products, the mere use of luxuries decreases an individual’s satisfaction with life. This finding is obtained for both a durable (a pen) and a non-durable (a chocolate).

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Motivated Happiness: Self-Enhancement Inflates Self-Reported Subjective Well-Being

Sean Wojcik & Peter Ditto
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Three studies support the contention that self-enhancement motivation distorts self-reports of subjective well-being (SWB). Both individual differences in self-enhancement (Studies 1 and 2) and experimental manipulations of self-enhancement motivation (Study 2) predicted an increased likelihood of reporting SWB at unrealistically favorable levels relative to others — a “happier-than-average effect.” Study 3a and 3b showed that both trait self-enhancement and experimentally manipulated differences in self-enhancement motivation also affected self-reports on established measures of SWB. Specifically, individuals prone to self-enhancement were more affected than low self-enhancers by the desirability of happiness when reporting SWB. The current studies suggest that reports of SWB are susceptible to the same self-enhancement biases that influence self-reports of other positively valued traits. Implications and recommendations for the measurement of SWB and the use of well-being data in policy decision-making are discussed.

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Economic indicators predict changes in college student optimism for life events

Heather Lench & Shane Bench
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This investigation explored the extent to which an economic recession predicted changes in college students' optimism about the length and quality of their futures. In a cross-sectional design, college students in the United States rated their likelihood of divorcing, being unhappy in their career, and living past age 60, at time points before, during, and in the aftermath of an economic recession (2007–2010). Economic indicators, particularly gas prices, predicted decreased optimism as the indicators worsened. After the recession, however, optimism rebounded. The findings reveal that people's expectations for their personal futures are generally sensitive to the state of the national economy.

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Birth Order and Suicide in Adulthood: Evidence From Swedish Population Data

Mikael Rostila, Jan Saarela & Ichiro Kawachi
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Each year, almost 1 million people die from suicide, which is among the leading causes of death in young people. We studied how birth order was associated with suicide and other main causes of death. A follow-up study based on the Swedish population register was conducted for sibling groups born from 1932 to 1980 who were observed during the period 1981–2002. Focus was on the within-family variation in suicide risk, meaning that we studied sibling groups that consisted of 2 or more children in which at least 1 died from suicide. These family–fixed effects analyses revealed that each increase in birth order was related to an 18% higher suicide risk (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.14, 1.23, P = 0.000). The association was slightly lower among sibling groups born in 1932–1955 (hazard ratio = 1.13, 95% CI: 1.06, 1.21, P = 0.000) than among those born in 1967–1980 (hazard ratio = 1.24, 95% CI: 0.97, 1.57, P = 0.080). Further analyses suggested that the association between birth order and suicide was only modestly influenced by sex, birth spacing, size of the sibling group, own socioeconomic position, own marital status, and socioeconomic rank within the sibling group. Causes of death other than suicide and other external causes were not associated with birth order.

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Psilocybin-Induced Decrease in Amygdala Reactivity Correlates with Enhanced Positive Mood in Healthy Volunteers

Rainer Kraehenmann et al.
Biological Psychiatry, forthcoming

Background: The amygdala is a key structure in serotonergic emotion-processing circuits. In healthy volunteers, acute administration of the serotonin 1A/2A/2C receptor agonist psilocybin reduces neural responses to negative stimuli and induces mood changes towards positive states. However, it is little-known whether psilocybin reduces amygdala reactivity to negative stimuli and whether any change in amygdala reactivity is related to mood change.

Methods: This study assessed the effects of acute administration of the hallucinogen psilocybin (0.16 mg/kg) vs. placebo on amygdala reactivity to negative stimuli in 25 healthy volunteers using blood oxygenation level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging. Mood changes were assessed using the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule and the state portion of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. A double-blind, randomized, cross-over design was used with volunteers counterbalanced to receive psilocybin and placebo in two separate sessions at least 14 days apart.

Results: Amygdala reactivity to negative and neutral stimuli was lower after psilocybin administration than after placebo administration. The psilocybin-induced attenuation of right amygdala reactivity in response to negative stimuli was related to the psilocybin-induced increase in positive mood state.

Conclusions: These results demonstrate that acute treatment with psilocybin decreased amygdala reactivity during emotion processing, and that this was associated with an increase of positive mood in healthy volunteers. These findings may be relevant to the normalization of amygdala hyperactivity and negative mood states in patients with major depression.

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Sad Mood and Music Choice: Does the Self-Relevance of the Mood-Eliciting Stimulus Moderate Song Preference?

Christa Taylor & Ronald Friedman
Media Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent findings regarding the influence of sad mood on music preference have been inconsistent, with some research suggesting that sadness promotes selective exposure to happy music and other work suggesting the very opposite. In three experiments, we investigated whether this discrepancy may have resulted from differences in the extent to which sadness was elicited by having participants think about personally relevant versus personally irrelevant negative events. To this end, we manipulated sad mood via a guided visualization technique in which participants were led to imagine experiencing a loss that was relevant either to their own or to an unfamiliar individual's concerns. Results revealed that irrespective of the self-relevance of the mood induction, individuals in sad, relative to happy, or neutral moods preferred to avoid expressively happy music. This aversion was partially mediated by beliefs that choosing happy music while sad would be inappropriate and thereby ineffectual in mood repair. Together, these findings contribute to resolving discrepancies in the literature and help advance understanding of the influence of mood on music choice.

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Pubertal Timing, Peer Victimization, and Body Esteem Differentially Predict Depressive Symptoms in African American and Caucasian Girls

Elissa Hamlat et al.
Journal of Early Adolescence, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study prospectively examined pubertal timing and peer victimization as interactive predictors of depressive symptoms in a racially diverse community sample of adolescents. We also expanded on past research by assessing body esteem as a mechanism by which pubertal timing and peer victimization confer risk for depression. In all, 218 adolescents (53.4% female, 49.3% African American, 50.7% Caucasian) completed both a baseline assessment and a follow-up assessment approximately 8 months later. Early maturing Caucasian girls and late maturing African American girls experienced the greatest increases in depressive symptoms at follow-up if they experienced higher levels of peer victimization between baseline and follow-up. Furthermore, body esteem significantly mediated the relationship between pubertal timing, peer victimization, and depressive symptoms for girls of both races. The interaction of pubertal timing and peer victimization did not predict depressive symptoms for boys of either race. These results support body esteem as a mechanism that contributes to increased depression among girls in adolescence — despite a differential impact of pubertal timing for Caucasian and African American girls.

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Multi-modal frontostriatal connectivity underlies individual differences in self-esteem

Robert Chavez & Todd Heatherton
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
A heightened sense of self-esteem is associated with a reduced risk for several types of affective and psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. However, little is known about how brain systems integrate self-referential processing and positive evaluation to give rise to these feelings. To address this, we combined diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to test how frontostriatal connectivity reflects long-term trait and short-term state aspects of self-esteem. Using DTI, we found individual variability in white matter structural integrity between the medial prefrontal cortex and the ventral striatum was related to trait measures of self-esteem, reflecting long-term stability of self-esteem maintenance. Using fMRI, we found that functional connectivity of these regions during positive self-evaluation was related to current feelings of self-esteem, reflecting short-term state self-esteem. These results provide convergent anatomical and functional evidence that self-esteem is related to the connectivity of frontostriatal circuits and suggest that feelings of self-worth may emerge from neural systems integrating information about the self with positive affect and reward. This information could potentially inform the etiology of diminished self-esteem underlying multiple psychiatric conditions and inform future studies of evaluative self-referential processing.

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Enhancing the Gene-Environment Interaction Framework Through a Quasi-Experimental Research Design: Evidence from Differential Responses to September 11

Jason Fletcher
Biodemography and Social Biology, Spring 2014, Pages 1-20

Abstract:
This article uses a gene-environment interaction framework to examine the differential responses to an objective external stressor based on genetic variation in the production of depressive symptoms. This article advances the literature by utilizing a quasi-experimental environmental exposure design, as well as a regression discontinuity design, to control for seasonal trends, which limit the potential for gene-environment correlation and allow stronger causal claims. Replications are attempted for two prominent genes (5-HTT and MAOA), and three additional genes are explored (DRD2, DRD4, and DAT1). This article provides evidence of a main effect of 9/11 on reports of feelings of sadness and fails to replicate a common finding of interaction using 5-HTT but does show support for interaction with MAOA in men. It also provides new evidence that variation in the DRD4 gene modifies an individual’s response to the exposure, with individuals with no 7-repeats found to have a muted response.

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Can irritability act as a marker of psychopathology?

Melissa Mulraney, Glenn Melvin & Bruce Tonge
Journal of Adolescence, June 2014, Pages 419–423

Abstract:
Irritability is ubiquitous in child and adolescent psychopathology. This study aimed to determine if the Affective Reactivity Index (ARI), a measure of irritability, could be used to screen for psychopathology in adolescents. The clinical sample comprised 31 adolescents with a DSM-IV diagnosis. The control sample was 31 gender and age matched adolescents recruited through schools. Both samples completed a test battery that included the Affective Reactivity Index. The clinical participants reported significantly higher levels of irritability than the control sample by both self- and parent-report. Using ROC analysis a cut off value of 4 on the self-report ARI was found to be optimal for indicating psychopathology; with a specificity of 77.4% and a sensitivity of 77.4%, the area under the curve was 0.86. This paper provides evidence to suggest that irritability may be used as a general predictor of psychopathology in adolescents.

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Cognitive Vulnerabilities Amplify the Effect of Early Pubertal Timing on Interpersonal Stress Generation During Adolescence

Jessica Hamilton et al.
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, May 2014, Pages 824-833

Abstract:
Early pubertal timing has been found to confer risk for the occurrence of interpersonal stressful events during adolescence. However, pre-existing vulnerabilities may exacerbate the effects of early pubertal timing on the occurrence of stressors. Thus, the current study prospectively examined whether cognitive vulnerabilities amplified the effects of early pubertal timing on interpersonal stress generation. In a diverse sample of 310 adolescents (M age = 12.83 years, 55 % female; 53 % African American), early pubertal timing predicted higher levels of interpersonal dependent events among adolescents with more negative cognitive style and rumination, but not among adolescents with lower levels of these cognitive vulnerabilities. These findings suggest that cognitive vulnerabilities may heighten the risk of generating interpersonal stress for adolescents who undergo early pubertal maturation, which may subsequently place adolescents at greater risk for the development of psychopathology.

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Difference By Sex But Not By Race/ethnicity in the Visceral Adipose Tissue-Depressive Symptoms Association: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis

Rosemay Remigio-Baker et al.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, forthcoming

Background: Prior studies have investigated the association of clinical depression and depressive symptoms with body weight (i.e. body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference), but few have examined the association between depressive symptoms and intra-abdominal fat. Of these a limited number assessed the relationship in a multi-racial/ethnic population.

Methods: Using data on 1,017 men and women (45-84 years) from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) Body Composition, Inflammation and Cardiovascular Disease Study, we examined the cross-sectional association between elevated depressive symptoms (EDS) and CT-measured visceral fat mass at L2-L5 with multivariable linear regression models. EDS were defined as a Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression score ≥ 16 and/or anti-depressant use. Covariates included socio-demographics, inflammatory markers, health behaviors, comorbidities, and body mass index (BMI). Race/ethnicity (Whites [referent group], Chinese, Blacks and Hispanics) and sex were also assessed as potential modifiers.

Results: The association between depressive symptoms and visceral fat differed significantly by sex (p = 0.007), but not by race/ethnicity. Among men, compared to participants without EDS, those with EDS had greater visceral adiposity adjusted for BMI and age (difference = 122.5 cm2, 95% CI = 34.3, 210.7, p = 0.007). Estimates were attenuated but remained significant after further adjustment by socio-demographics, inflammatory markers, health behaviors and co-morbidities (difference = 94.7 cm2, 95% CI = 10.5, 178.9, p = 0.028). Among women, EDS was not significantly related to visceral adiposity in the fully-adjusted model.

Conclusions: Sex, but not race/ethnicity, was found to modify the relationship between EDS and visceral fat mass. Among men, a significant positive association was found between depressive symptoms and visceral adiposity. No significant relationship was found among women.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, May 24, 2014

My sense is

The Power to Control Time: Power Influences How Much Time (You Think) You Have

Alice Moon & Serena Chen
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2014, Pages 97–101

Abstract:
Time, because of its unrenewable nature, has often been called an equalizing resource. Though objectively, time is identical for everyone, time perception has been found to be a subjective experience that can be distorted by psychological cues; however, little research has examined individual and situational factors that influence time availability. Based on past research on power and illusory control, we hypothesized that powerful individuals would perceive having more available time as a consequence of their perceived control over time. Four studies experimentally demonstrated that power increases perceptions of available time, and that perceived control over time underlies this effect (Study 3). Finally, we provided initial evidence that increases in perceived time availability leads powerful individuals to feel less stressed (Study 5).

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Supernatural believers attribute more intentions to random movement than skeptics: An fMRI study

Tapani Riekki, Marjaana Lindeman & Tuukka Raij
Social Neuroscience, July/August 2014, Pages 400-411

Abstract:
A host of research has attempted to explain why some believe in the supernatural and some do not. One suggested explanation for commonly held supernatural beliefs is that they are a by-product of theory of mind (ToM) processing. However, this does not explain why skeptics with intact ToM processes do not believe. We employed fMRI to investigate activation differences in ToM-related brain circuitries between supernatural believers (N = 12) and skeptics (N = 11) while they watched 2D animations of geometric objects moving intentionally or randomly and rated the intentionality of the animations. The ToM-related circuitries in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) were localized by contrasting intention-rating-related and control-rating-related brain activation. Compared with the skeptics, the supernatural believers rated the random movements as more intentional and had stronger activation of the ToM-related circuitries during the animation with random movement. The strength of the ToM-related activation covaried with the intentionality ratings. These findings provide evidence that differences in ToM-related activations are associated with supernatural believers’ tendency to interpret random phenomena in mental terms. Thus, differences in ToM processing may contribute to differences between believing and unbelieving.

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Free will and paranormal beliefs

Ken Mogi
Frontiers in Psychology, April 2014

Abstract:
Free will is one of the fundamental aspects of human cognition. In the context of cognitive neuroscience, various experiments on time perception, sensorimotor coordination, and agency suggest the possibility that it is a robust illusion (a feeling independent of actual causal relationship with actions) constructed by neural mechanisms. Humans are known to suffer from various cognitive biases and failures, and the sense of free will might be one of them. Here I report a positive correlation between the belief in free will and paranormal beliefs (UFO, reincarnation, astrology, and psi). Web questionnaires involving 2076 subjects (978 males, 1087 females, and 11 other genders) were conducted, which revealed significant positive correlations between belief in free will (theory and practice) and paranormal beliefs. There was no significant correlation between belief in free will and knowledge in paranormal phenomena. Paranormal belief scores for females were significantly higher than those for males, with corresponding significant (albeit weaker) difference in belief in free will. These results are consistent with the view that free will is an illusion which shares common cognitive elements with paranormal beliefs.

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What you hear shapes how you think: Sound patterns change level of construal

Jochim Hansen & Johann Melzner
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2014, Pages 131–138

Abstract:
Psychological distance and abstractness primes have been shown to increase one’s level of construal. We tested the idea that auditory cues which are related to distance and abstractness (vs. proximity and concreteness) trigger abstract (vs. concrete) construal. Participants listened to musical sounds that varied in reverberation, novelty of harmonic modulation, and metrical segmentation. In line with the hypothesis, distance/abstractness cues in the sounds instigated the formation of broader categories, increased the preference for global as compared to local aspects of visual patterns, and caused participants to put more weight on aggregated than on individualized product evaluations. The relative influence of distance/abstractness cues in sounds, as well as broader implications of the findings for basic research and applied settings are discussed.

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Gaze direction and brightness can affect self-reported emotion

Xiaobin Zhang, Qiong Li & Bin Zuo
Journal of Environmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous studies revealed that emotion (pleased or depressed) could bias perception in a metaphorically consistent manner (e.g., happy = white (up), depressed = dark (down)). The present study extended this view by investigating whether these metaphors can also affect the emotion of an observer in a metaphorically consistent manner. In Experiment 1, after gazing at a black screen, participants became more depressed and less pleased temporarily. Conversely, after gazing at a white screen, participants became more pleased and less depressed temporarily. Results from Experiment 2 revealed that after gazing at the top of the screen, participants felt more pleased and less depressed temporarily but felt the reverse when gazing at the bottom of the screen. These results suggest that metaphors can, at least temporarily, affect the emotion of an observer along a pleased-depressed dimension.

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Failure to see money on a tree: Inattentional blindness for objects that guided behavior

Ira Hyman, Benjamin Sarb & Breanne Wise-Swanson
Frontiers in Psychology, April 2014

Abstract:
How is it possible to drive home and have no awareness of the trip? We documented a new form of inattentional blindness in which people fail to become aware of obstacles that had guided their behavior. In our first study, we found that people talking on cell phones while walking waited longer to avoid an obstacle and were less likely to be aware that they had avoided an obstacle than other individual walkers. In our second study, cell phone talkers and texters were less likely to show awareness of money on a tree over the pathway they were traversing. Nonetheless, they managed to avoid walking into the money tree. Perceptual information may be processed in two distinct pathways – one guiding behavior and the other leading to awareness. We observed that people can appropriately use information to guide behavior without awareness.

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Soft Assurance: Coping with Uncertainty Through Haptic Sensations

Femke van Horen & Thomas Mussweiler
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2014, Pages 73–80

Abstract:
Uncertainty is an inescapable element of human life. But how do people deal with it? To date, most research has focused on the cognitive strategies people adopt to do so. In four experiments we examine, whether people may also use an alternative experiential route to cope with uncertainty. We demonstrate that (1) when faced with uncertainty, people seek soft haptic sensations (Experiments 1 and 2) and (2) that doing so is functional (Experiments 3 and 4). More specifically, we show that people shift their preference to objects with soft (i.e., soft-grip pen, soft candy) rather than hard properties (i.e., hard-grip pen, hard candy) when feeling uncertain. Furthermore, we show that holding something soft (i.e., a soft-grip pen, a soft cloth) as compared to something hard (i.e., a hard-grip pen, a hard cloth) reduces uncertainty on a subsequent ambiguous task and helps to shield against uncertainty in daily life by increasing tolerance towards uncertainty. Overall, this research reveals that humans may use their oldest and most fundamental sense – touch – as a basic experiential device to cope with uncertainty.

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Speakers’ Acceptance of Real-Time Speech Exchange Indicates That We Use Auditory Feedback to Specify the Meaning of What We Say

Andreas Lind et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Speech is usually assumed to start with a clearly defined preverbal message, which provides a benchmark for self-monitoring and a robust sense of agency for one’s utterances. However, an alternative hypothesis states that speakers often have no detailed preview of what they are about to say, and that they instead use auditory feedback to infer the meaning of their words. In the experiment reported here, participants performed a Stroop color-naming task while we covertly manipulated their auditory feedback in real time so that they said one thing but heard themselves saying something else. Under ideal timing conditions, two thirds of these semantic exchanges went undetected by the participants, and in 85% of all nondetected exchanges, the inserted words were experienced as self-produced. These findings indicate that the sense of agency for speech has a strong inferential component, and that auditory feedback of one’s own voice acts as a pathway for semantic monitoring, potentially overriding other feedback loops.

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If looks could kill: Anger attributions are intensified by affordances for doing harm

Colin Holbrook et al.
Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Emotion perception is necessarily imprecise, leading to possible overperception or underperception of a given emotion extant in a target individual. When the costs of these two types of errors are recurrently asymmetrical, categorization mechanisms can be expected to be biased to commit the less costly error. Contextual factors can influence this asymmetry, resulting in a concomitant increase in biases in the perception of a given emotion. Anger motivates aggression, hence an important contextual factor in anger perception is the capacity of the perceived individual to inflict harm. The greater the capacity to harm, the more costly it is to underestimate the extent to which the target is angry, and therefore the more that perception should be biased in favor of overestimation. Consonant with this prediction, in two studies, U.S. adults perceived greater anger when models were holding household objects having affordances as weapons (e.g., garden shears) than when they were holding objects lacking such affordances (e.g., a watering can) or were empty-handed. Consistent with the unique relationship between anger and aggression, this positive bias did not appear in judgments of other negative emotions.

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Close Replication Attempts of the Heat Priming-Hostile Perception Effect

Randy McCarthy
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2014, Pages 165–169

Abstract:
DeWall and Bushman (2009; Experiment 2) reported a study in which participants were exposed to heat-related, cold-related, or neutral (i.e., non-temperature-related) primes prior to reading an ambiguously aggressive vignette. Participants exposed to the heat-related primes judged the vignette’s protagonist as more hostile than participants in the cold-priming condition (d = 0.67) or neutral-priming condition (d = 0.63). This suggests that people mentally associate heat-related constructs with aggression-related constructs. To test the reliability of the effect and to estimate a more precise effect size, the current studies closely replicated DeWall and Bushman in two independent samples, each of which were more than two and a half times greater than the samples in the original study (total N = 688). These replication attempts failed to find any evidence that exposure to heat primes affected hostile perceptions relative to the cold primes (ds < − 0.06) or neutral primes (ds < 0.00). Further, a meta-analysis estimated that the difference in hostile perceptions between those in a heat priming condition and those in a neutral condition was about one-fifth of a standard deviation and not significantly different from zero, d = 0.18, 95% CI[− 0.09, 0.44]. Thus, I conclude that priming individuals with heat-related constructs does not reliably affect hostile perceptions.

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Producing a commentary slows concurrent hazard perception responses

Angela Young, Peter Chapman & David Crundall
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, forthcoming

Abstract:
Commentary driver training involves teaching drivers how to verbally acknowledge their perceptual and cognitive processes while driving, and has been shown to improve performance in driving-related tasks. However, those studies demonstrating benefits of commentary training have not done so under conditions of live commentary, which is the typical protocol used with advanced drivers. In the current study we present the results of 2 experiments that show that producing a commentary can actually slow responses to hazards on a concurrent hazard perception task. In Experiment 1, participants producing a live commentary showed significantly longer hazard response times than an untrained, silent, control group. In Experiment 2, a shorter, clipped commentary was introduced to attempt to reduce the demands placed upon participants. However, both the clipped and full commentary conditions showed reduced accuracy and longer response times, relative to a silent condition, and no difference was observed between the 2 types of commentary. Analysis of eye movements in both experiments revealed that fixation durations were shorter when a commentary was produced but time to first fixate the hazard was not affected. This suggests that commentaries encourage more active interrogation of the visual scene, but that this can be detrimental to performance in average drivers.

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Stress enhances reconsolidation of declarative memory

Marieke Bos et al.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, August 2014, Pages 102–113

Abstract:
Retrieval of negative emotional memories is often accompanied by the experience of stress. Upon retrieval, a memory trace can temporarily return into a labile state, where it is vulnerable to change. An unresolved question is whether post-retrieval stress may affect the strength of declarative memory in humans by modulating the reconsolidation process. Here, we tested in two experiments whether post-reactivation stress may affect the strength of declarative memory in humans. In both experiments, participants were instructed to learn neutral, positive and negative words. Approximately 24 h later, participants received a reminder of the word list followed by exposure to the social evaluative cold pressor task (reactivation/stress group, nexp1 = 20; nexp2 = 18) or control task (reactivation/no-stress group, nexp1 = 23; nexp2 = 18). An additional control group was solely exposed to the stress task, without memory reactivation (no-reactivation/stress group, nexp1 = 23; nexp2 = 21). The next day, memory performance was tested using a free recall and a recognition task. In the first experiment we showed that participants in the reactivation/stress group recalled more words than participants in the reactivation/no-stress and no-reactivation/stress group, irrespective of valence of the word stimuli. Furthermore, participants in the reactivation/stress group made more false recognition errors. In the second experiment we replicated our observations on the free recall task for a new set of word stimuli, but we did not find any differences in false recognition. The current findings indicate that post-reactivation stress can improve declarative memory performance by modulating the process of reconsolidation. This finding contributes to our understanding why some memories are more persistent than others.

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Hippocampal Neurogenesis Regulates Forgetting During Adulthood and Infancy

Katherine Akers et al.
Science, 9 May 2014, Pages 598-602

Abstract:
Throughout life, new neurons are continuously added to the dentate gyrus. As this continuous addition remodels hippocampal circuits, computational models predict that neurogenesis leads to degradation or forgetting of established memories. Consistent with this, increasing neurogenesis after the formation of a memory was sufficient to induce forgetting in adult mice. By contrast, during infancy, when hippocampal neurogenesis levels are high and freshly generated memories tend to be rapidly forgotten (infantile amnesia), decreasing neurogenesis after memory formation mitigated forgetting. In precocial species, including guinea pigs and degus, most granule cells are generated prenatally. Consistent with reduced levels of postnatal hippocampal neurogenesis, infant guinea pigs and degus did not exhibit forgetting. However, increasing neurogenesis after memory formation induced infantile amnesia in these species.

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It Feels Fluent, But Not Right: The Interactive Effect of Expected and Experienced Processing Fluency on Evaluative Judgment

Yuwei Jiang & Jiewen Hong
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2014, Pages 147–152

Abstract:
In this research, we examined the malleability of processing fluency from the angle of people's a priori expectation of how fluently stimuli will be processed. Results from three studies suggest that the value of the fluency experience is contingent on how easy or difficult people expect the incoming information would be processed. Specifically, participants had higher evaluations of the target when their experienced processing fluency conformed (vs. did not conform) to their expected processing fluency. We also found that the interactive effect between expected fluency and experienced fluency was mediated by a sense of assurance when people’s subjective fluency experience conformed to their expectations. Moreover, we showed that a positive effect of processing fluency occurred when people are under cognitive load (affective route); and interpreting the fluency experience in terms of one's expected fluency occurs when people had enough cognitive capacity (interpretive route).

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Sample size bias in judgments of perceptual averages

Paul Price et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research has shown that people exhibit a sample size bias when judging the average of a set of stimuli on a single dimension. The more stimuli there are in the set, the greater people judge the average to be. This effect has been demonstrated reliably for judgments of the average likelihood that groups of people will experience negative, positive, and neutral events (Price, 2001; Price, Smith, & Lench, 2006) and also for estimates of the mean of sets of numbers (Smith & Price, 2010). The present research focuses on whether this effect is observed for judgments of average on a perceptual dimension. In 5 experiments we show that people’s judgments of the average size of the squares in a set increase as the number of squares in the set increases. This effect occurs regardless of whether the squares in each set are presented simultaneously or sequentially; whether the squares in each set are different sizes or all the same size; and whether the response is a rating of size, an estimate of area, or a comparative judgment. These results are consistent with a priming account of the sample size bias, in which the sample size activates a representation of magnitude that directly biases the judgment of average.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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