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Monday, February 29, 2016

Cornered office

Large Market Declines and Securities Litigation: Implications for Disclosing Adverse Earnings News

Dain Donelson & Justin Hopkins

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study finds that large marketwide declines in stock prices are associated with higher litigation incidence and settlements even though marketwide events are legally irrelevant. The probability of litigation nearly doubles (from 0.29% to 0.55%) and the amount of settlements also doubles (from $5.0 million to $10.1 million) when earnings disclosures occur during a large market decline, even after controlling for the firm’s market-adjusted return. Furthermore, judges with (without) specialized experience in securities litigation are more (less) likely to dismiss cases triggered by disclosures during large market declines. This pattern is consistent with experienced judges recognizing and dismissing weaker cases. Finally, managers are less likely to disclose adverse news at the end of trading days with large market declines. Although we cannot definitively identify the motive behind this pattern, it is consistent with managers recognizing increased litigation risk during large market declines.

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SEC Investigations and Securities Class Actions: An Empirical Comparison

Stephen Choi & A.C. Pritchard

Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, March 2016, Pages 27–49

Abstract:
Using actions with both an SEC investigation and a class action as our baseline, we compare the targeting of SEC-only investigations with class-action-only lawsuits. Looking at measures of information asymmetry, we find that investors in the market perceive greater information asymmetry following the public announcement of the underlying violation for class-action-only lawsuits compared with SEC-only investigations. Turning to sanctions, we find that the incidence of top officer resignation is greater for class-action-only lawsuits relative to SEC-only investigations. Our findings are consistent with the private enforcement targeting disclosure violations at least as precisely as (if not more so than) SEC enforcement.

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Executive Compensation and Misconduct: Environmental Harm

Dylan Minor

Harvard Working Paper, January 2016

Abstract:
We explore the relationship between managerial incentives and misconduct using the setting of environmental harm. We find that high powered executive compensation can increase the odds of environmental law-breaking by 40-60% and the magnitude of environmental harm by over 100%. We document similar results for the setting of executive compensation and illegal financial accounting. Finally, we outline some managerial and policy implications to blunt these adverse incentive effects.

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How Do Accounting Practices Spread? An Examination of Law Firm Networks and Stock Option Backdating

Patricia Dechow & Samuel Tan

University of California Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
We hypothesize that one way accounting practices spread is through law firm connections. We investigate this prediction by examining companies that avoided reporting compensation expense by engaging in stock option backdating. We hypothesize that executives engaged in backdating because they were desensitized to its inappropriateness when they learned through their legal counsel that other companies were engaging in this practice. Using network analysis we find that backdating companies are highly connected to one another via shared law firms. In addition, we find that backdating spread first to the more highly connected companies and then to less well connected companies. Further, the likelihood that a company backdates is 1.4 to 3.3 times higher when its law firm has had another backdating company as a client. We find that sharing a law firm is incremental to and more economically significant than the impact of board interlocks and geographical location for explaining backdating. Our evidence is consistent with law firms acting as “observers” or “system supporters” in enabling executives to engage in backdating.

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Shareholder Perceptions of the Changing Impact of CEOs: Market Reactions to Unexpected CEO Deaths, 1950–2009

Timothy Quigley, Craig Crossland & Robert Campbell

Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite a number of studies highlighting the important impact CEOs have on firms, several theoretical and methodological questions cloud existing findings. This study takes an alternative approach by examining how shareholders’ perceptions of CEO significance have changed over time. Using an event study methodology and a sample of 240 sudden and unexpected CEO deaths, we show that absolute (unsigned) market reactions to these events in U.S. public firms have increased markedly between 1950 and 2009. Our results indicate that shareholders act in ways consistent with the belief that CEOs have become increasingly more influential in recent decades.

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Executive Overconfidence and Compensation Structure

Mark Humphery-Jenner et al.

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the impact of overconfidence on compensation structure. Our findings support the exploitation hypothesis: firms offer incentive-heavy compensation contracts to overconfident Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) to exploit their positively biased views of firm prospects. Overconfident CEOs receive more option-intensive compensation and this relation increases with CEO bargaining power. Exogenous shocks (Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) and Financial Accounting Standard (FAS) 123R) provide additional support for the findings. Overconfident non-CEO executives also receive more incentive-based pay, independent of CEO overconfidence, buttressing the notion that firms tailor compensation contracts to individual behavioral traits such as overconfidence.

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Conglomerate Investment, Skewness, and the CEO Long-Shot Bias

Christoph Schneider & Oliver Spalt

Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do behavioral biases of executives matter for corporate investment decisions? Using segment-level capital allocation in multi-segment firms (“conglomerates”) as a laboratory, we show that capital expenditure is increasing in the expected skewness of segment returns. Conglomerates invest more in high-skewness segments than matched standalone firms, and trade at a discount, which indicates overinvestment that is detrimental to shareholder wealth. Using geographical variation in gambling norms, we find that the skewness-investment relation is particularly pronounced when CEOs are likely to find long shots attractive. Our findings suggest that CEOs allocate capital with a long-shot bias.

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The causal effect of option pay on corporate risk management

Tor-Erik Bakke et al.

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study provides strong evidence of a causal effect of risk-taking incentives provided by option compensation on corporate risk management. We utilize the passage of Financial Accounting Standard (FAS) 123R, which required firms to expense options, to investigate how chief executive officer option compensation affects the hedging behavior of oil and gas firms. Firms that did not expense options before FAS 123R significantly reduced option pay, which resulted in a large increase in their hedging intensity compared with firms that did not use options or expensed their options voluntarily prior to FAS 123R.

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The cost of financial flexibility: Evidence from share repurchases

Alice Bonaimé, Kristine Hankins & Bradford Jordan

Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Over the last two decades, share repurchases have emerged as the dominant payout channel, offering a more flexible means of returning excess cash to investors. However, little is known about the costs associated with payout-related financial flexibility. Using a unique identification strategy, we document a significant cost. We find that actual repurchase investments underperform hypothetical investments that mechanically smooth repurchase dollars through time by approximately two percentage points per year on average. This cost of financial flexibility is correlated with earnings management, managerial entrenchment, and less institutional monitoring.

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Does PCAOB inspection access improve audit quality? An examination of foreign firms listed in the United States

Phillip Lamoreaux

Journal of Accounting and Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
To gain insight into the impact of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s (PCAOB) auditor inspection program, I examine the association between the PCAOB’s access to inspect auditors of foreign SEC registrants and audit quality. Although the PCAOB is mandated to inspect all auditors of SEC registrants, certain foreign governments prohibit PCAOB inspections of their domestic auditors, providing variation in PCAOB inspection access that is not available when studying a sample of US companies. I find that auditors subject to PCAOB inspection access provide higher quality audits as measured by more going concern opinions, more reported material weaknesses, and less earnings management, relative to auditors not subject to PCAOB inspection access. There is no observable difference between the two sets of auditors prior to the PCAOB inspection regime. The positive effect of PCAOB inspection access on audit quality is observed in jurisdictions with, and without, a local audit regulator. Overall, the results are consistent with PCAOB inspection access being positively associated with audit quality.

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The Role of Activist Hedge Funds in Financially Distressed Firms

Jongha Lim

Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, December 2015, Pages 1321-1351

Abstract:
In this paper I investigate the role of activist hedge funds in the restructuring of a sample of 469 firms that attempted to resolve distress either out of court, in conventional Chapter 11, or via prepackaged restructuring. Activist hedge funds strategically gain a position of influence in the restructuring of economically viable firms with contracting problems that prevent efficient restructuring without outside intervention. I find that hedge fund involvement is associated with a higher probability of completing prepackaged restructurings, faster restructurings, and greater debt reduction. Overall, the evidence in this article suggests that activist hedge funds can create value by enabling more efficient contracting.

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Geography and the Market for CEOs

Scott Yonker

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
I examine the role of geography in the market for CEOs and find that firms hire locally five times more often than expected if geography were irrelevant to the matching process. This local matching bias is widespread and exists even among the largest U.S. firms. Tests reveal that both labor supply and demand influence local matching. Compensation and unforced turnover are lower for local than for nonlocal CEOs, and the compensation of local CEOs depends on local labor market factors, unlike that of nonlocal CEOs. These findings suggest the presence of market segmentation and contrast with much of the prior literature, which explicitly or implicitly assumes a single national market.

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Industry Expertise of Independent Directors and Board Monitoring

Cong Wang, Fei Xie & Min Zhu

Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, October 2015, Pages 929-962

Abstract:
We examine whether the industry expertise of independent directors affects board monitoring effectiveness. We find that the presence of independent directors with industry experience on a firm’s audit committee significantly curtails firms’ earnings management. In addition, a greater representation of independent directors with industry expertise on a firm’s compensation committee reduces chief executive officer (CEO) excess compensation, and a greater presence of such directors on the full board increases the CEO turnover-performance sensitivity and improves acquirer returns from diversifying acquisitions. Overall, the evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that having relevant industry expertise enhances independent directors’ ability to perform their monitoring function.

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The effect of internal control weakness on firm valuation: Evidence from SOX Section 404 disclosures

Yingqi Li et al.

Finance Research Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
We find that firms reporting internal control material weakness (ICW) under Section 404 of Sarbanes–Oxley Act (SOX) have 13% lower valuation than non-ICW firms based on Tobin's q. This valuation difference is mainly driven by stock underperformance of more than 13% during the year before ICW disclosure. The ICW firms that remedy the internal control weakness in the subsequent year have much better stock performance compared to those firms that fail to remedy existing ICW problems. We further show a better stock performance in the year before disclosure if a SOX 404 ICW firm has prior SOX 302 ICW disclosure more than one year earlier. All these results are consistent with the hypothesis that the equity market has incorporated the negative information associated with SOX 404 ICW reports before the actual disclosures are made.

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Managerial Entrenchment and Firm Value: A Dynamic Perspective

Xin Chang & Hong Feng Zhang

Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, October 2015, Pages 1083-1103

Abstract:
We examine the impact of managerial entrenchment on firm value using a dynamic model with firm fixed effects. To estimate the model, we employ the long-difference technique, which is shown by our simulation to deliver the least biased estimates. Based on a large sample of U.S. companies, we document a significantly negative and causal effect of managerial entrenchment on firm value after taking into account omitted variables, reverse causality, and highly persistent endogenous variables. Additional analysis suggests that the causality running from managerial entrenchment to firm value is more pronounced than that for reverse causality.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, February 28, 2016

You noticed

Economic Insecurity Increases Physical Pain

Eileen Chou, Bidhan Parmar & Adam Galinsky

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The past decade has seen a rise in both economic insecurity and frequency of physical pain. The current research reveals a causal connection between these two growing and consequential social trends. In five studies, we found that economic insecurity produced physical pain and reduced pain tolerance. In a sixth study, with data from 33,720 geographically diverse households across the United States, economic insecurity predicted consumption of over-the-counter painkillers. The link between economic insecurity and physical pain emerged when people experienced the insecurity personally (unemployment), when they were in an insecure context (they were informed that their state had a relatively high level of unemployment), and when they contemplated past and future economic insecurity. Using both experimental-causal-chain and measurement-of-mediation approaches, we also established that the psychological experience of lacking control helped generate the causal link from economic insecurity to physical pain. Meta-analyses including all of our studies testing the link from economic insecurity to physical pain revealed that this link is reliable. Overall, the findings show that it physically hurts to be economically insecure.

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Core disgust is attenuated by ingroup relations

Stephen Reicher et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
We present the first experimental evidence to our knowledge that ingroup relations attenuate core disgust and that this helps explain the ability of groups to coact. In study 1, 45 student participants smelled a sweaty t-shirt bearing the logo of another university, with either their student identity (ingroup condition), their specific university identity (outgroup condition), or their personal identity (interpersonal condition) made salient. Self-reported disgust was lower in the ingroup condition than in the other conditions, and disgust mediated the relationship between condition and willingness to interact with target. In study 2, 90 student participants smelled a sweaty target t-shirt bearing either the logo of their own university, another university, or no logo, with either their student identity or their specific university identity made salient. Walking time to wash hands and pumps of soap indicated that disgust was lower where the relationship between participant and target was ingroup rather than outgroup or ambivalent (no logo).

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Logic Brightens My Day: Evidence for Implicit Sensitivity to Logical Validity

Dries Trippas et al.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, forthcoming

Abstract:
A key assumption of dual process theory is that reasoning is an explicit, effortful, deliberative process. The present study offers evidence for an implicit, possibly intuitive component of reasoning. Participants were shown sentences embedded in logically valid or invalid arguments. Participants were not asked to reason but instead rated the sentences for liking (Experiment 1) and physical brightness (Experiments 2–3). Sentences that followed logically from preceding sentences were judged to be more likable and brighter. Two other factors thought to be linked to implicit processing — sentence believability and facial expression — had similar effects on liking and brightness ratings. The authors conclude that sensitivity to logical structure was implicit, occurring potentially automatically and outside of awareness. They discuss the results within a fluency misattribution framework and make reference to the literature on discourse comprehension.

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Unconscious arithmetic processing: A direct replication

Andrew Karpinski, Miriam Yale & Jessie Briggs

European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Across two experiments involving four conditions, Sklar et al. (2012) found that complex subtraction equations can be solved without awareness of the equations. These findings challenge the current position that consciousness is necessary for performing abstract, rule-following tasks. Given the important implications of their work, we directly replicate Sklar's findings using a larger sample (n = 94) from a different population. Using Continuous Flash Suppression, we investigated if people were able to solve an equation after subliminal (1300 ms) exposure to it. We found evidence for unconscious addition but not subtraction. The effect of unconscious addition was eliminated when participants reported subjective awareness of the primes. Critical review of our results and implications for further research are discussed.

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Effects of disfluency in writing

Srdan Medimorec & Evan Risko

British Journal of Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
While much previous research has suggested that decreased transcription fluency has a detrimental effect on writing, there is recent evidence that decreased fluency can actually benefit cognitive processing. Across a series of experiments, we manipulated transcription fluency of ostensibly skilled typewriters by asking them to type essays in two conditions: both-handed and one-handed typewriting. We used the Coh-Metrix text analyser to investigate the effects of decreased transcription fluency on various aspects of essay writing, such as lexical sophistication, sentence complexity, and cohesion of essays (important indicators of successful writing). We demonstrate that decreased fluency can benefit certain aspects of writing and discuss potential mechanisms underlying disfluency effects in essay writing.

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Silent Disco: Dancing in synchrony leads to elevated pain thresholds and social closeness

Bronwyn Tarr, Jacques Launay & R.I.M. Dunbar

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Moving in synchrony leads to cooperative behaviour and feelings of social closeness, and dance (involving synchronisation to others and music) may cause social bonding, possibly as a consequence of released endorphins. This study uses an experimental paradigm to determine which aspects of synchrony in dance are associated with changes in pain threshold (a proxy for endorphin release) and social bonding between strangers. Those who danced in synchrony experienced elevated pain thresholds, whereas those in the partial and asynchrony conditions experienced no analgesic effects. Similarly, those in the synchrony condition reported being more socially bonded, although they did not perform more cooperatively in an economic game. This experiment suggests that dance encourages social bonding amongst co-actors by stimulating the production of endorphins, but may not make people more altruistic. We conclude that dance may have been an important human behaviour evolved to encourage social closeness between strangers.

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An Attentional Bias for LEGO® People Using a Change Detection Task: Are LEGO® People Animate?

Mitchell LaPointe et al.

Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Animate objects have been shown to elicit attentional priority in a change detection task. This benefit has been seen for both human and nonhuman animals compared with inanimate objects. One explanation for these results has been based on the importance animate objects have served over the course of our species’ history. In the present set of experiments, we present stimuli, which could be perceived as animate, but with which our distant ancestors would have had no experience, and natural selection could have no direct pressure on their prioritization. In the first experiment, we compared LEGO® “people” with LEGO “nonpeople” in a change detection task. In a second experiment, we attempt to control the heterogeneity of the nonanimate objects by using LEGO blocks, matched in size and colour to LEGO people. In the third experiment, we occlude the faces of the LEGO people to control for facial pattern recognition. In the final 2 experiments, we attempt to obscure high-level categorical information processing of the stimuli by inverting and blurring the scenes.

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Endogenous Rhythms Influence Interpersonal Synchrony

Anna Zamm, Chelsea Wellman & Caroline Palmer

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Interpersonal synchrony, the temporal coordination of actions between individuals, is fundamental to social behaviors from conversational speech to dance and music-making. Animal models indicate constraints on synchrony that arise from endogenous rhythms: Intrinsic periodic behaviors or processes that continue in the absence of change in external stimulus conditions. We report evidence for a direct causal link between endogenous rhythms and interpersonal synchrony in a music performance task, which places high demands on temporal coordination. We first establish that endogenous rhythms, measured by spontaneous rates of individual performance, are stable within individuals across stimulus materials, limb movements, and time points. We then test a causal link between endogenous rhythms and interpersonal synchrony by pairing each musician with a partner who is either matched or mismatched in spontaneous rate and by measuring their joint behavior up to 1 year later. Partners performed melodies together, using either the same or different hands. Partners who were matched for spontaneous rate showed greater interpersonal synchrony in joint performance than mismatched partners, regardless of hand used. Endogenous rhythms offer potential to predict optimal group membership in joint behaviors that require temporal coordination.

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Truths About Beauty and Goodness: Disgust Affects Moral but Not Aesthetic Judgments

Nathaniel Rabb et al.

Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, forthcoming

Abstract:
Aesthetic judgments typically involve assessments of one’s own responses and thus are partly or largely subjective. Moral judgments may seem otherwise, but their susceptibility to influence by factors extrinsic to the object of judgment — notably, by irrelevant sensations of disgust — has led some to argue that moral and aesthetic judgments are functionally alike, a view consistent with philosophical arguments and neuropsychological evidence. We examined the behavioral consequences of this view by adapting Eskine, Kacinik, and Prinz’s (2011) procedure for studying the effect of disgust on moral judgments. In Study 1, participants drank bitter, sweet, or neutral liquids and rated liking and quality of abstract paintings. To rule out a possible asymmetry in the effect of disgust on negative rather than positive stimuli, we had participants in Study 2 drink bitter or neutral drinks and rate the ugliness and badness of aesthetic violations — Komar and Melamid’s abstract paintings using undesirable art elements. Participants also rated the moral wrongness of harm and purity violations, allowing for direct comparison of moral and aesthetic judgments. To rule out concerns that participants failed to engage with abstract artworks, Study 3 used representational paintings with disturbing subject matter. Across all studies, disgust had no effect on aesthetic judgments but reliably increased the severity of moral judgments. Thus we replicate Eskine et al. (2011) while uncovering an important functional distinction between aesthetic and moral judgments, a difference that may reflect a “disinterestedness” in aesthetic evaluations not seen in moral evaluations because of the latter’s comparatively practical and action-guiding consequences.

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Counterintuitive effects of negative social feedback on attention

Brian Anderson

Cognition and Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Which stimuli we pay attention to is strongly influenced by learning. Stimuli previously associated with reward outcomes, such as money and food, and stimuli previously associated with aversive outcomes, such as monetary loss and electric shock, automatically capture attention. Social reward (happy expressions) can bias attention towards associated stimuli, but the role of negative social feedback in biasing attentional selection remains unexplored. On the one hand, negative social feedback often serves to discourage particular behaviours. If attentional selection can be curbed much like any other behavioural preference, we might expect stimuli associated with negative social feedback to be more readily ignored. On the other hand, if negative social feedback influences attention in the same way that other aversive outcomes do, such feedback might ironically bias attention towards the stimuli it is intended to discourage selection of. In the present study, participants first completed a training phase in which colour targets were associated with negative social feedback. Then, in a subsequent test phase, these same colour stimuli served as task-irrelevant distractors during a visual search task. The results strongly support the latter interpretation in that stimuli previously associated with negative social feedback impaired search performance.

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Adaptive Attention: How Preference for Animacy Impacts Change Detection

Meaghan Altman et al.

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
The selective nature of visual attention prioritizes objects in a scene that are most perceptually salient, those relevant to personal goals, and animate objects. Here we present data from two intentional change detection studies designed to determine the extent to which animals in a scene distract from other changes. Our stimuli depicted camouflaged animals in their natural habitats. We compared participants’ responses to changing animals and inanimate objects selected from the same pictures, thus improving on other methodologies studying this effect. Experiment 1 results suggest that animals are noticed rapidly and accurately, even when they share bottom-up features with the rest of the scene. Additionally, the unchanging presence of camouflaged animals distract from detecting inanimate changes. Experiment 2 employed Signal Detection Theory (SDT) to measure the sensitivity (d’) and response bias (β) related to changing animate versus inanimate stimuli. Experiment 2 outcomes indicate that participants tend to adopt a liberal response bias and are most sensitive to animate changes. Presence of an animal in a scene also influences sensitivity (d’) when participants had to attend to and notice inanimate changes. Our findings are interpreted as additional support for the animate-monitoring hypothesis which suggests that early detection of animacy may have endowed our hunter-gather ancestors with survival advantages.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, February 27, 2016

He or she

Fat Chance! Experiences and Expectations of Antifat Bias in the Gay Male Community

Olivia Foster-Gimbel & Renee Engeln

Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although popular culture suggests that weight-based prejudice is especially common among gay men, no studies have examined this issue empirically. In Study 1, we explored experiences of antifat bias among gay men and the body image correlates of these experiences. Participants (215 gay men, ranging in age from 18 to 78) completed measures of antifat bias, body image disturbance, and open-ended questions about their experience with antifat bias. Over one third of gay men (many of whom were not overweight using common body mass index [BMI] guidelines) reported directly experiencing antifat bias. The most common type of antifat bias reported was rejection by potential romantic partners on the basis of weight. Both experiencing and witnessing antifat bias was associated with several types of body image disturbance. As a follow-up to Study 1, Study 2 compared gay and heterosexual college men’s expectations of antifat bias from a potential romantic partner. Participants rated how likely certain outcomes would be if they saw an overweight man hit on an attractive target (a man for gay participants or a woman for heterosexual participants). Gay men reported greater likelihood that the overweight man would be blatantly ignored, treated rudely, or mocked behind his back if he approached an attractive potential romantic partner. These studies suggest that antifat bias is a challenge for many members of the gay community, even those who are not technically overweight. Additionally, gay men expect other gay men to show these antifat biases when looking for a romantic partner.

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The Political Divide Over Same-Sex Marriage: Mating Strategies in Conflict?

David Pinsof & Martie Haselton

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although support for same-sex marriage has grown dramatically over the past decade, public opinion remains markedly divided. Here, we propose that the political divide over same-sex marriage represents a deeper divide between conflicting mating strategies. Specifically, we propose that opposition to same-sex marriage can be explained in terms of (a) individual differences in short-term mating orientation and (b) mental associations between homosexuality and sexual promiscuity. We created a novel Implicit Association Test to measure mental associations between homosexuality and promiscuity. We found that mental associations between homosexuality and promiscuity, at both the implicit and the explicit levels, interacted with short-term mating orientation to predict opposition to same-sex marriage. Our model accounted for 42.3% of the variation in attitudes toward same-sex marriage, and all predictors remained robust when we controlled for potential confounds. Our results reveal the centrality of mating psychology in attitudes toward same-sex marriage.

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Prenatal androgen exposure alters girls' responses to information indicating gender-appropriate behavior

Melissa Hines et al.

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 19 February 2016

Abstract:
Individual variability in human gender-related behaviour is influenced by many factors, including androgen exposure prenatally, as well as self-socialization and socialization by others postnatally. Many studies have looked at these types of influences in isolation, but little is known about how they work together. Here, we report that girls exposed to high concentrations of androgens prenatally, because they have the genetic condition congenital adrenal hyperplasia, show changes in processes related to self-socialization of gender-related behaviour. Specifically, they are less responsive than other girls to information that particular objects are for girls and they show reduced imitation of female models choosing particular objects. These findings suggest that prenatal androgen exposure may influence subsequent gender-related behaviours, including object (toy) choices, in part by changing processes involved in the self-socialization of gendered behaviour, rather than only by inducing permanent changes in the brain during early development. In addition, the findings suggest that some of the behavioural effects of prenatal androgen exposure might be subject to alteration by postnatal socialization processes. The findings also suggest a previously unknown influence of early androgen exposure on later processes involved in self-socialization of gender-related behaviour, and thus expand understanding of the developmental systems regulating human gender development.

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Gender Role Discrepancy Stress, High-Risk Sexual Behavior, and Sexually Transmitted Disease

Dennis Reidy et al.

Archives of Sexual Behavior, February 2016, Pages 459-465

Abstract:
Nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year in the United States. Traditionally, men have demonstrated much greater risk for contraction of and mortality from STDs perhaps because they tend to engage in a number of risky sexual activities. Research on masculinity suggests that gender roles influence males’ sexual health by encouraging risk-taking behavior, discouraging access to health services, and narrowly defining their roles as partners. However, despite the propensity of highly masculine men to engage in high-risk sexual behavior, there is reason to suspect that men at the other end of the continuum may still be driven to engage in similar high-risk behaviors as a consequence of gender socialization. Discrepancy stress is a form of gender role stress that occurs when men fail to live up to the ideal manhood derived from societal prescriptions (i.e., Gender Role Discrepancy). In the present study, we surveyed a national sample of 600 men via Amazon Mechanical Turk to assess perceived gender role discrepancy, experience of discrepancy stress, and the associations with risky sexual behavior and potential contraction of STDs. Results indicated that men who believe they are less masculine than the typical man (i.e., gender role discrepancy) and experience distress stemming from this discrepancy (i.e., discrepancy stress) engage in high-risk sexual behavior and are subsequently diagnosed with more STDs. Findings are discussed in relation to implications for primary prevention strategies.

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Sexual orientation and sexual assault victimization among US college students

Lee Michael Johnson, Todd Matthews & Sarah Napper Social

Science Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Sexual victimization continues to be a problem on college campuses across the United States. Research on risk focuses on victimization of heterosexual women while that of sexual minority students is under-studied. The current study uses National College Health Assessment data to examine the relationship between sexual identity and four measures of self-reported sexual victimization. Several victimization correlates identified in prior research are included in analyses. Logistic regression results show that gay men and bisexual men and women were more likely compared to heterosexuals to report all four victimization types, and unsure students are more likely to report three types. However, lesbian students are no more likely than heterosexual students to report any sexual victimization. Also, transgendered students were more likely compared to female students to report three victimization types.

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Johnny Depp, Reconsidered: How Category-Relative Processing Fluency Determines the Appeal of Gender Ambiguity

Helen Owen et al.

PLoS ONE, February 2016

Abstract:
Individuals that combine features of both genders – gender blends – are sometimes appealing and sometimes not. Heretofore, this difference was explained entirely in terms of sexual selection. In contrast, we propose that part of individuals’ preference for gender blends is due to the cognitive effort required to classify them, and that such effort depends on the context in which a blend is judged. In two studies, participants judged the attractiveness of male-female morphs. Participants did so after classifying each face in terms of its gender, which was selectively more effortful for gender blends, or classifying faces on a gender-irrelevant dimension, which was equally effortful for gender blends. In both studies, gender blends were disliked when, and only when, the faces were first classified by gender, despite an overall preference for feminine features in all conditions. Critically, the preferences were mediated by the effort of stimulus classification. The results suggest that the variation in attractiveness of gender-ambiguous faces may derive from context-dependent requirements to determine gender membership. More generally, the results show that the difficulty of resolving social category membership – not just attitudes toward a social category – feed into perceivers’ overall evaluations toward category members.

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Establishing a link between sex-related differences in the structural connectome and behavior

Birkan Tunç et al.

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 19 February 2016

Abstract:
Recent years have witnessed an increased attention to studies of sex differences, partly because such differences offer important considerations for personalized medicine. While the presence of sex differences in human behaviour is well documented, our knowledge of their anatomical foundations in the brain is still relatively limited. As a natural gateway to fathom the human mind and behaviour, studies concentrating on the human brain network constitute an important segment of the research effort to investigate sex differences. Using a large sample of healthy young individuals, each assessed with diffusion MRI and a computerized neurocognitive battery, we conducted a comprehensive set of experiments examining sex-related differences in the meso-scale structures of the human connectome and elucidated how these differences may relate to sex differences at the level of behaviour. Our results suggest that behavioural sex differences, which indicate complementarity of males and females, are accompanied by related differences in brain structure across development. When using subnetworks that are defined over functional and behavioural domains, we observed increased structural connectivity related to the motor, sensory and executive function subnetworks in males. In females, subnetworks associated with social motivation, attention and memory tasks had higher connectivity. Males showed higher modularity compared to females, with females having higher inter-modular connectivity. Applying multivariate analysis, we showed an increasing separation between males and females in the course of development, not only in behavioural patterns but also in brain structure. We also showed that these behavioural and structural patterns correlate with each other, establishing a reliable link between brain and behaviour.

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Are All the Nice Guys Gay? The Impact of Sociability and Competence on the Social Perception of Male Sexual Orientation

Dirk Kranz, Katharina Pröbstle & Alkis Evidis

Psychology of Men & Masculinity, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a person perception paradigm, two studies explored the interplay between target males’ sociability and competence (the “big two” personality dimensions), gender role, and sexual orientation. Study 1 (N = 180) showed that sociable men were considered more likely to be gay than were competent men, which was mediated by the attribution of lower masculinity. In Study 2 (N = 120), target sexual orientation was considered as an independent variable. In the stereotype-congruent condition (gay/sociable vs. heterosexual/competent), gay men were rated more feminine and less masculine than were heterosexual men, whereas in the stereotype-incongruent condition (gay/competent vs. heterosexual/sociable), gay targets were rated less feminine but only equally masculine. Across both studies, the apparent stereotype of the “nice gay guy” was uncorrelated with participants’ attitudes toward or contact with gay men. Results are discussed with regard to the gender-inversion hypothesis, the distinction between (anti)gay stereotypes and prejudice, and the stereotype content model.

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Moderate Effects of Same-Sex Legislation on Dependent Employer-Based Insurance Coverage Among Sexual Minorities

Linda Diem Tran

Medical Care Research and Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
A difference-in-difference approach was used to compare the effects of same-sex domestic partnership, civil union, and marriage policies on same- and different-sex partners who could have benefitted from their partners’ employer-based insurance (EBI) coverage. Same-sex partners had 78% lower odds (Marginal Effect = −21%) of having EBI compared with different-sex partners, adjusting for socioeconomic and health-related factors. Same-sex partners living in states that recognized same-sex marriage or domestic partnership had 89% greater odds of having EBI compared with those in states that did not recognize same-sex unions (ME = 5%). The impact of same-sex legislation on increasing take-up of dependent EBI coverage among lesbians, gay men, and bisexual individuals was modest, and domestic partnership legislation was equally as effective as same-sex marriage in increasing same-sex partner EBI coverage. Extending dependent EBI coverage to same-sex partners can mitigate gaps in coverage for a segment of the lesbians, gay men, and bisexual population but will not eliminate them.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, February 26, 2016

Precedent setting

Judicial Retirements and the Staying Power of U.S. Supreme Court Decisions

Stuart Minor Benjamin & Georg Vanberg

Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, March 2016, Pages 5–26

Abstract:
The influence of U.S. Supreme Court majority opinions depends critically on how these opinions are received and treated by lower courts, which decide the vast majority of legal disputes. We argue that the retirement of justices on the Supreme Court serves as a simple heuristic device for lower court judges in deciding how much deference to show to Supreme Court precedent. Using a unique data set of the treatment of all Supreme Court majority opinions in the courts of appeals from 1953 to 2012, we find that negative treatments of Supreme Court opinions increase, and positive treatments decrease, as the justices who supported a decision retire from the Court. Importantly, this effect exists over and above the impact of retirements on the ideological makeup of the Supreme Court.

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Hypothetical Sentencing Decisions Are Associated With Actual Capital Punishment Outcomes: The Role of Facial Trustworthiness

John Paul Wilson & Nicholas Rule

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent research has highlighted a relationship between perceptions of trustworthiness from faces and capital sentencing outcomes. Here, we extended those findings by replicating the relationship between trustworthiness and the death penalty among a new sample of targets convicted of capital murder in Arkansas and by demonstrating that facial trustworthiness guides naive sentencing decisions. First, trustworthiness differentiated convicted murderers sentenced to life from those sentenced to death using a novel stimulus population. Next, we found experimental evidence that people used inferences of trustworthiness from faces when making hypothetical capital sentencing judgments for noncriminal targets presented as murderers. Finally, naive participants viewing photographs of actual convicted criminals without any additional information allocated hypothetical sentences that matched those that were actually received in court. Facial trustworthiness, but not other inferences (i.e., Afrocentricity, attractiveness, and maturity), accounted for this relationship. These data therefore suggest that perceptions of trustworthiness guide individuals’ decisions about legal punishment.

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Does the Chief Justice Make Partisan Appointments to Special Courts and Panels?

Maxwell Palmer

Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, March 2016, Pages 153–177

Abstract:
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has the exclusive and independent power to appoint federal judges to various special courts and panels, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the court that oversees all domestic surveillance for national security, including domestic data collection by the National Security Agency (NSA). This article examines the propensity of Chief Justices to appoint co-partisan judges to these panels. Such appointments may serve to produce decisions and policies that align with the Chief Justice's preferences. I use computational simulations to model the appointment decisions made by Chief Justices. I find that there is less than a 1 percent chance that a neutral Chief Justice would appoint as many Republicans to the FISC as have been appointed in the last 36 years. I further show that the Chief Justice is not selecting appointees on other observable judicial characteristics, such as age, experience, gender, senior status, or caseload. These results have important implications for the creation of judicial institutions, the internal politics of the judiciary, legislative delegation, and the powers and oversight of the national security state.

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Keep It Secret, Keep It Safe: An Empirical Analysis of the State Secrets Doctrine

Daniel Cassman

Stanford Law Review, May 2015, Pages 1173- 1217

Abstract:
The state secrets doctrine provides both an evidentiary privilege and a categorical bar against litigation that implicates national security concerns. The U.S. government has invoked the state secrets doctrine to insulate certain programs, including rendition and surveillance operations, from oversight by the courts. Despite a surge of interest in the state secrets doctrine after September 11, 2001, few scholars have used statistical analysis to evaluate courts’ treatment of the issue. This Note employs a dataset containing over 300 state secrets cases — larger and more complete than in any previous statistical study — to explore state secrets jurisprudence. I find that the state secrets doctrine has been asserted much more frequently after September 11 than it was before. However, in cases to which the government is a party, courts tend to uphold and deny those assertions at roughly the same rate. In litigation between private parties, courts have mostly avoided ruling on state secrets issues since September 11, a dramatic change from the pre-September 11 era. I also identify and analyze two other important trends: First, courts appear to be more skeptical of state secrets claims in Fourth Amendment cases than in most other types of cases. Second, criminal defendants have particular difficulty in overcoming state secrets privilege claims, especially after September 11. Through case analysis, I conclude that the data alone reveal no obvious abuse of the state secrets doctrine by either the executive or the judiciary. Nonetheless, the frequency with which courts uphold the government’s invocation of the state secrets privilege, and the circumstances under which they do so, suggest that the state secrets doctrine often conflicts with some of our most fundamental democratic principles.

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Judges, Juveniles and In-group Bias

Briggs Depew, Ozkan Eren & Naci Mocan

NBER Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
We investigate the existence of in-group bias (preferential treatment of one’s own group) in court decisions. Using the universe of juvenile court cases in a U.S. state between 1996 and 2012 and exploiting random assignment of juvenile defendants to judges, we find evidence for negative racial in-group bias in judicial decisions. All else the same, black (white) juveniles who are randomly assigned to black (white) judges are more likely to get incarcerated (as opposed to being placed on probation), and they receive longer sentences. Although observed in experimental settings, this is the first empirical evidence of negative in-group bias, based on a randomization design outside of the lab. Explanations for this finding are provided.

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A Critical Examination of “Being Black” in the Juvenile Justice System

Jennifer Peck & Wesley Jennings

Law and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current study examined the role of race in juvenile court outcomes across 3 decision-making stages. This analysis was conducted with a random sample of all delinquent referrals in a Northeast state from January 2000 through December 2010 (N = 68,188). In addition to traditional logistic regression analysis, a propensity score matching (PSM) approach was utilized to create comparable samples of Black and White youth and provide a more rigorous methodological test of the relationship between race and juvenile court processing. Results indicated that even after the use of PSM techniques, race was still found to influence the likelihood of intake (OR = 1.54; 95% C.I. = 1.48–1.62, p < .001), adjudication (OR = 0.80; 95% C.I. = 0.76–0.84, p < .001), and disposition (OR = 1.64; 95% C.I. = 1.54–1.76, p < .001) outcomes. The findings show that Black youth received disadvantaged court outcomes at 2 of the 3 stages, even after balancing both groups on a number of confounders. Black youth were treated harsher at intake and judicial disposition, but received leniency at adjudication compared with similarly situated Whites. These relationships were the most evident at the stage of judicial disposition. The findings impact both researchers’ and policymakers’ strategies to more fully understand the complex relationship between race and social control. They also reaffirm the noticeable role that selection bias can play in the research surrounding race differences in juvenile court outcomes, and highlight the importance of utilizing a more stringent statistical model to control for selection bias.

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The Intersection of Crime Seriousness, Discretion, and Race: A Test of the Liberation Hypothesis

William Hauser & Jennifer Peck

Justice Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Spohn and Cederblom’s interpretation of the liberation hypothesis asserts that with trivial crimes, judges are “liberated” to consider extra-legal attributes such as race when making sentencing decisions. The current study posits that this perspective may be too theoretically simplistic because it fails to distinguish between the concepts of discretion and uncertainty. In light of this argument, we examine the sentencing decisions of felony cases in the Florida circuit courts. Results indicate that blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be imprisoned than whites, and males more so than females. Contrary to expectations, this disparity increases with crime seriousness. Consistent with the imprisonment model, blacks and males receive longer sentences and the effect increases with case seriousness. We found no evidence that the effect of offender extra-legal attributes depends upon the characteristics of the judges handling the cases. Suggestions for future research and implications for the liberation hypothesis are discussed.

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Why are There So Few Conservatives and Libertarians in Legal Academia? An Empirical Exploration of Three Hypotheses

James Phillips

Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Winter 2016, Pages 153-207

Abstract:
There are few conservatives and libertarians in legal academia. Why? Three explanations are usually provided: the Brainpower, Interest, and Greed Hypotheses. Alternatively, it could be because of Discrimination. This paper explores these possibilities by looking at citation and publication rates by law professors at the 16 highest-ranked law schools in the country. Using regression analysis, propensity score matching, propensity score reweighting, nearest neighbor matching, and coarsened exact matching, this paper finds that after taking into account traditional correlates of scholarly ability, conservative and libertarian law professors are cited more and publish more than their peers. The paper also finds that they tend to have more of the traditional qualifications required of law professors than their peers, with a few exceptions. This paper indicates that, at least in the schools sampled, conservative and libertarian law professors are not few in number because of a lack of scholarly ability or professional qualifications. Further, the patterns do not prove, but are consistent with, a story of discrimination. The downsides to having so few conservatives and libertarians in the legal academy are also briefly explored.

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An Evaluation of the Federal Legal Services Program: Evidence from Crime Rates and Property Values

Jamein Cunningham

Journal of Urban Economics, March 2016, Pages 76–90

Abstract:
This paper uses the city-level roll-out of legal service grants to evaluate their effects on crime. Using Uniform Crime Reports from 1960 to 1985, the results show that there is a short-run increase of 7 percent in crimes reported and a 16 percent increase in crimes cleared by arrest. Results show an increase in the staffing of police officers in cities that received legal services. These cities are also associated with having higher median property values 10 years later. This supports the narrative that legal services changed police behavior through litigation or threats of litigation.

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Nuclear Fallout: Investigating the Effect of Senate Procedural Reform on Judicial Nominations

Christina Boyd, Michael Lynch & Anthony Madonna

The Forum, December 2015, Pages 623–641

Abstract:
On November 21, 2013, U.S. Senate Democrats utilized the long threatened “nuclear option,” thereby allowing a simple-majority of the chamber to end debate on lower federal court judicial nominations. Formal theory predicts that this change should permit the president to nominate more ideologically extreme nominees. By comparing President Obama’s nominees before and after the Senate’s change to the confirmation process, we are able to provide the first comprehensive examination of how the nuclear option is likely to impact the ideological makeup of the lower federal courts. We additionally examine the impact of the nuclear option on time to confirmation and nominee success. Our results indicate, while post-nuclear option nominees are not significantly more liberal, they are being confirmed more often and more quickly, allowing Obama and Senate Democrats to more efficiently fill the federal judiciary with Democratic-leaning judges.

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Is the Expert Admissibility Game Fixed?: Judicial Gatekeeping of Fire and Arson Evidence

Rachel Dioso-Villa

Law & Policy, January 2016, Pages 54–80

Abstract:
Anecdotal evidence claims that in criminal cases, trial judges admit the prosecution's expert witnesses more readily than the defendants', and in civil cases the reverse is true; judges exclude plaintiffs' experts more often than civil defendants' experts. This occurs despite the fact that, with few exceptions, the same rules of admissibility apply to all parties and, in most jurisdictions, across criminal and civil cases. This article empirically tests this differential by reviewing judicial decisions to admit or exclude evidence holding the type of expert testimony constant, fire and arson evidence, across criminal and civil cases in the United States. The study examines the admissibility of fire and arson investigation experts in criminal and civil cases across all legal parties in fifty-seven federal and state opinions in the United States. The findings offer empirical support of a bias in criminal cases and in civil cases which present expert witnesses at trial, and is less pronounced, but still evident, on appeal. Specifically, the role of the party that offers the evidence has a profound effect on whether arson evidence is admitted, even when factors around the judge's political affiliation, attorney experience, expert qualifications, and rules of evidence are taken into account.

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Who Wins in the Supreme Court? An Examination of Attorney and Law Firm Influence

Adam Feldman

University of Southern California Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
Who are the most successful attorneys in the Supreme Court? A novel way to answer this question is by looking at attorneys' relative influence on the course of the law. This article performs macro and micro-level analyses of the most successful Supreme Court litigators by examining the amount of language shared between nearly 9,500 Supreme Court merits briefs and their respective Supreme Court opinions from 1946 through 2013. The article also includes analyses of the most successful law firms according to the same metric.

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The influence of pretrial exposure to community outrage and victim hardship on guilt judgments

David Zimmerman et al.

Psychology, Crime & Law. forthcoming

Abstract:
Although the courts have explicitly expressed concerns about the effects of public sentiment on juries in highly publicized cases, no research has isolated the degree to which jurors’ exposure to community outrage and/or prospective social interactions in the community independently influence judgments of guilt. In the current research, jury eligible undergraduates were randomly assigned to conditions in a 2 (negative defendant facts pretrial publicity (PTP): present vs. absent) × 2 (community outrage PTP: present vs. absent) × 2 (anticipated social interaction: present vs. absent) between subjects factorial design. In an online session, participants read articles containing PTP (or not), and two days later they arrived at the lab to serve as mock jurors in a murder case – before the trial they were instructed (or not) that they would interact with people from the community in which the case was taking place. Neither PTP containing extra-evidentiary facts about the defendant nor prospective interaction with the community had main or interactive effects on guilt measures; however, mock jurors rated the defendant as more likely to be guilty when they read information about community outrage and hardships on victims. These findings suggest future avenues of PTP research focusing on community outrage and victim impacts.

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Sentencing discretion and burdens of proof

Alexander Lundberg

International Review of Law and Economics, June 2016, Pages 34–42

Abstract:
In the US, judges typically retain sentencing discretion in criminal cases, but in some states this discretion is given to juries. One criticism of jury sentencing is that jurors will be tempted to issue “compromise verdicts,” where they return a guilty verdict but a light sentence when they are uncertain about the facts of a case. A simple expected utility model shows that any fact finder with sentencing discretion should engage in behavior that is observationally equivalent to a compromise verdict. Intuitively, the fact finder chooses a more lenient sentence than the punishment that fits the crime because he wants to mitigate the potential cost of a wrongful conviction; in turn, a lower cost of a wrongful conviction leads him to reduce his standard of proof. Although critics of jury sentencing intuit the risk of compromise, a bench trial poses the same risk for a judge. Alternatively, the jury trial format (jury verdict, judge sentence) can lessen the risk of compromise if juries are denied punishment information.

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Measuring Precedent in a Judicial Hierarchy

Matthew Hitt

Law & Society Review, March 2016, Pages 57–81

Abstract:
Identifying the U.S. Supreme Court's most influential precedents is integral to understanding its impact on society. To make these identifications, scholars often analyze the network of citations in Supreme Court opinions. I contend that the broader jurisprudential significance of precedent can be better captured by considering how frequently a precedent is followed across the federal judicial hierarchy. In support of this contention, I present an analysis of original data on the treatment of every Court precedent 1946–2010 in all three levels of the federal judicial hierarchy. I show that a class of complex and ambiguous precedents are followed significantly less at all levels of the hierarchy. Yet these same fractious precedents exhibit high citation rates in Supreme Court opinions. The results show that different methodological choices capture strikingly different theoretical concepts, ones that are easily conflated in the study of legal precedent.

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The Influence of Defendant Immigration Status, Country of Origin, and Ethnicity on Juror Decisions: An Aversive Racism Explanation for Juror Bias

Laura Minero & Russ Espinoza

Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, February 2016, Pages 55-74

Abstract:
This study examined prejudicial attitudes toward immigrant defendants who vary on legal status, country of origin, and ethnicity. Three hundred twenty mock juror participants read a trial transcript that varied defendants’ immigration status (documented or undocumented), defendant country of origin (Canada or Mexico), and defendant race/ethnicity (Caucasian or Latino). Dependent measures included verdict, sentencing, culpability ratings, and trait assessments. European American mock jurors found undocumented, Latino immigrants from Mexico guilty significantly more often, more culpable, and rated this defendant more negatively on various trait measures in comparison with all other conditions. Latino mock jurors did not demonstrate ingroup favoritism or outgroup bias. This study examines aversive racism as a factor of this bias. Limitations and future directions are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, February 25, 2016

For good or evil

Moral Heroes Look Up and to the Right

Jeremy Frimer & Lisa Sinclair

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, March 2016, Pages 400-410

Abstract:
Portraits of moral heroes often portray the hero gazing up and to the viewer’s right in part because ideologically minded followers select and propagate these images of their leaders. Study 1 found that the gaze direction of portraits of moral heroes (e.g., Martin Luther King, Jr.) tend to show the hero looking up-and-right more often than chance would predict, and more often than portraits of celebrities (e.g., Elvis Presley) do. In Studies 2 and 3, we asked participants to play the role of an ideologically motivated follower, and select an image of their leader to promote the cause. Participants preferentially selected the up-and-right version. In Study 4, we found that conceptual metaphors linking directionality to personal virtues of warmth, pride, and future-mindedness helped explain why the up-and-right posture looks most heroic. Followers play an active role in advancing social causes by portraying their leaders as moral heroes.

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Winning a competition predicts dishonest behavior

Amos Schurr & Ilana Ritov

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 16 February 2016, Pages 1754–1759

Abstract:
Winning a competition engenders subsequent unrelated unethical behavior. Five studies reveal that after a competition has taken place winners behave more dishonestly than competition losers. Studies 1 and 2 demonstrate that winning a competition increases the likelihood of winners to steal money from their counterparts in a subsequent unrelated task. Studies 3a and 3b demonstrate that the effect holds only when winning means performing better than others (i.e., determined in reference to others) but not when success is determined by chance or in reference to a personal goal. Finally, study 4 demonstrates that a possible mechanism underlying the effect is an enhanced sense of entitlement among competition winners.

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Suffering and Compassion: The Links Among Adverse Life Experiences, Empathy, Compassion, and Prosocial Behavior

Daniel Lim & David DeSteno

Emotion, March 2016, Pages 175-182

Abstract:
Experiencing past adversity traditionally has been linked to negative life outcomes. However, emerging evidence suggests that heterogeneity exists with respect to links between adversity and resilience, with adversity often enhancing cooperation in the face of joint suffering. Here, the authors present 2 studies designed to examine if the severity of past adversity is associated with an enduring propensity for empathy-mediated compassion, and, if so, whether the resulting compassion directly is, in turn, linked to behavior meant to relieve the suffering of others. Using both MTurk and laboratory-based paradigms, the authors find that increasing severity of past adversity predicts increased empathy, which in turn, is linked to a stable tendency to feel compassion for others in need. In addition, they demonstrate that the resulting individual differences in compassion appear to engender behavioral responses meant to assist others (i.e., charitable giving, helping a stranger).

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When are Do-Gooders Treated Badly? Legitimate Power, Role Expectations, and Reactions to Moral Objection in Organizations

Ned Wellman et al.

Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Organization members who engage in “moral objection” by taking a principled stand against ethically questionable activities help to prevent such activities from persisting. Unfortunately, research suggests that they also may be perceived as less warm (i.e., pleasant, nice) than members who comply with ethically questionable procedures. In this article, we draw on role theory to explore how legitimate power influences observers’ responses to moral objection. We argue that individuals expect those high in legitimate power to engage in moral objection, but expect those low in legitimate power to comply with ethically questionable practices. We further propose that these contrasting role expectations influence the extent to which moral objectors are perceived as warm and subjected to social sanctions (i.e., insults, pressure, unfriendly behavior). We test our predictions with 3 experiments. Study 1, which draws on participants’ prior workplace experiences, supports the first section of our mediated moderation model in which the negative association between an actor’s moral objection (vs. compliance) and observers’ warmth perceptions is weaker when the actor is high rather than low in legitimate power and this effect is mediated by observers’ met role expectations. Study 2, an online experiment featuring a biased hiring task, reveals that the warmth perceptions fostered by the Behavior × Legitimate Power interaction influence observers’ social sanctioning intentions. Finally, Study 3, a laboratory experiment which exposes participants to unethical behavior in a virtual team task, replicates Study 2’s findings and extends the results to actual as well as intended social sanctions.

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When Ethical Leader Behavior Breaks Bad: How Ethical Leader Behavior Can Turn Abusive via Ego Depletion and Moral Licensing

Szu-Han (Joanna) Lin, Jingjing Ma & Russell Johnson

Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The literature to date has predominantly focused on the benefits of ethical leader behaviors for recipients (e.g., employees and teams). Adopting an actor-centric perspective, in this study we examined whether exhibiting ethical leader behaviors may come at some cost to leaders. Drawing from ego depletion and moral licensing theories, we explored the potential challenges of ethical leader behavior for actors. Across 2 studies which employed multiwave designs that tracked behaviors over consecutive days, we found that leaders’ displays of ethical behavior were positively associated with increases in abusive behavior the following day. This association was mediated by increases in depletion and moral credits owing to their earlier displays of ethical behavior. These results suggest that attention is needed to balance the benefits of ethical leader behaviors for recipients against the challenges that such behaviors pose for actors, which include feelings of mental fatigue and psychological license and ultimately abusive interpersonal behaviors.

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No Compromise: Political Consequences of Moralized Attitudes

Timothy Ryan

American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Evolutionary, neuroscientific, and cognitive perspectives in psychology have converged on the idea that some attitudes are moralized — a distinctive characteristic. Moralized attitudes reorient behavior from maximizing gains to adhering to rules. Here, I examine a political consequence of this tendency. In three studies, I measure attitude moralization and examine how it relates to approval of political compromise. I find that moralized attitudes lead citizens to oppose compromises, punish compromising politicians, and forsake material gains. These patterns emerge on economic and noneconomic issues alike and identify a psychological phenomenon that contributes to intractable political disputes.

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On the misguided pursuit of happiness and ethical decision making: The roles of focalism and the impact bias in unethical and selfish behavior

Laura Noval

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, March 2016, Pages 1–16

Abstract:
An important body of research in the field of behavioral ethics argues that individuals behave unethically and selfishly because they want to obtain desired outcomes, such as career advancement and monetary rewards. Concurrently, a large body of literature in social psychology has shown that the subjective value of an outcome is determined by its anticipated emotional impact. Such impact has been consistently found to be overestimated both in its intensity and in its duration (i.e. impact bias) due to focalism (i.e. excessive focus on the desired outcome). Across four empirical studies, this investigation demonstrates that reducing focalism and thereby attenuating the impact bias in regards to desired outcomes decreases people’s tendency to engage in both unethical and selfish behavior to obtain those outcomes.

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From Good Soldiers to Psychologically Entitled: Examining When and Why Citizenship Behavior Leads to Deviance

Kai Chi Yam et al.

Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research has consistently demonstrated that organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) produce a wide array of positive outcomes for employees and organizations. Recent work, however, suggests that employees often engage in OCBs not because they want to but because they feel they have to, and it is not clear if OCBs performed for external motives have the same positive effects on individuals and organizational functioning as do traditional OCBs. In this paper, we draw from self-determination and moral licensing theories to suggest a potential negative consequence of OCB. Specifically, we argue that when employees feel compelled to engage in OCB by external forces, they will subsequently feel psychologically entitled for having gone above and beyond the call of duty. Furthermore, these feelings of entitlement can act as moral credentials that psychologically free employees to engage in both interpersonal and organizational deviance. Data from two multi-source field studies and an online experiment provide support for these hypotheses. In addition, we demonstrate that OCB-generated feelings of entitlement transcend organizational boundaries and lead to deviance outside of the organization.

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Careful what you wish for: Fantasizing about revenge increases justice dissatisfaction in the chronically powerless

Meredith Lillie & Peter Strelan

Personality and Individual Differences, May 2016, Pages 290–294

Abstract:
Victims grappling with transgressions where justice has not been done sometimes resort to fantasizing about revenge. This may particularly be the case among people who are chronically powerless since, by definition, they are often not in a position to get justice when transgressed against. In an experimental design in which all participants (N = 84) recalled a highly hurtful and as yet unresolved transgression, participants wrote down a revenge fantasy (or not). As hypothesised, chronically powerless victims who described a revenge fantasy expressed greater dissatisfaction with the extent to which they had got justice for their transgression. The results suggest that, while people might like the idea of revenge, fantasizing about it can be deleterious for the chronically powerless.

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If I am free, you can’t own me: Autonomy makes entities less ownable

Christina Starmans & Ori Friedman

Cognition, March 2016, Pages 145–153

Abstract:
Although people own myriad objects, land, and even ideas, it is currently illegal to own other humans. This reluctance to view people as property raises interesting questions about our conceptions of people and about our conceptions of ownership. We suggest that one factor contributing to this reluctance is that humans are normally considered to be autonomous, and autonomy is incompatible with being owned by someone else. To investigate whether autonomy impacts judgments of ownership, participants recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk read vignettes where a person paid for an entity (Experiments 1 and 3) or created it (Experiment 2). Participants were less likely to judge that the entity was owned when it was described as autonomous compared with when it was described as non-autonomous, and this pattern held regardless of whether the entity was a human or an alien (Experiments 1 and 3), a robot (Experiments 2 and 3), or a human-like biological creation (Experiment 2). The effect of autonomy was specific to judgments of whether entities were owned, and it did not influence judgments of the moral acceptability of paying for and keeping entities (Experiment 3). These experiments also found that judgments of ownership were separately impacted by ontological type, with participants less likely to judge that humans are owned compared with other kinds of entities. A fourth experiment tested a further prediction of the autonomy account, and showed that participants are more likely to view a person as owned if he willingly sells himself. Together these findings show that attributions of autonomy constrain judgments of what can be owned.

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Morality in Context: A Multilevel Analysis of the Relationship between Religion and Values in Europe

Ingrid Storm

Politics and Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
The exact relationship between religiosity and moral values is understudied, and it is unclear what the process of secularization means for the morality of Europeans. Previous research shows that religion is associated with low levels of political and economic development. A potential explanation is that religion provides an alternative moral authority to the authority of the state. Using data from four waves of the European Values Study 1981–2008, I analyze attitudes to personal autonomy (vs tradition) and self-interest (vs social norms) in a multilevel model of 48 European countries. The results show that religious decline has been accompanied by an increase in autonomy values, but not self-interest, that the relationship between religion and morality is stronger in more religious countries, and that it has declined since the 1980s. We also show that religiosity is more negatively associated with self-interest among people with low confidence in state authorities.

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Effects of “literariness” on emotions and on empathy and reflection after reading

Eva Maria (Emy) Koopman

Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, February 2016, Pages 82-98

Abstract:
This study investigated the effects of foregrounding on affective responses (i.e., emotions) during reading, and on empathy and reflection after reading, using both quantitative and qualitative measures. In addition, the influence of personal factors (trait empathy, personal experience, exposure to literature) on empathy and reflection was explored. Participants (N = 142) were randomly assigned to read 1 of 3 versions of an excerpt from a literary novel about the loss of a child. Versions differed in the level of foregrounded textual features: the “original” version possessed a high level of semantic, phonetic, and grammatical foregrounding; semantic foregrounding was removed in the manipulated version “without imagery”; and semantic, phonetic and grammatical foregrounding were removed in the manipulated version “without foregrounding.” Results showed that readers who had read the “original” version scored higher on empathy after reading than those who had read the version “without foregrounding.” A quantitative analysis of qualitative data showed that participants reading the original version experienced significantly more ambivalent emotions than those in the version without foregrounding. Reflection did not seem to be influenced by foregrounding. Results suggest that personal factors may be more important in evoking reflection.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Money supply

Financial Literacy, Broker–Borrower Interaction and Mortgage Default

James Conklin

Real Estate Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines the relationship between broker–borrower interaction in the origination process and subsequent mortgage performance. I show that face-to-face interaction between a mortgage broker and borrower before the loan funds is associated with lower levels of ex post default. The relation between face-to-face broker–borrower interaction and mortgage performance holds only for borrowers that have characteristics associated with low levels of financial literacy. Specifically, face-to-face interaction is negatively related to default for minorities, borrowers located in areas with low levels of education, low-income borrowers and borrowers with low FICO scores. My results suggest that face-to-face interaction between the mortgage broker and borrower may reduce problems associated with financial illiteracy.

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Discrimination in Mortgage Lending: Evidence from a Correspondence Experiment

Andrew Hanson et al.

Journal of Urban Economics, March 2016, Pages 48–65

Abstract:
We design and implement an experimental test for differential response by Mortgage Loan Originators (MLOs) to requests for information about loans. Our e-mail correspondence experiment is designed to analyze differential treatment by client race and credit score. Our results show net discrimination by 1.8 percent of MLOs through non-response. We also find that MLOs offer more details about loans and are more likely to send follow up correspondence to whites. The effect of being African American on MLO response is equivalent to the effect of having a credit score that is 71 points lower.

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Crises and the Development of Economic Institutions: Some Microeconomic Evidence

Raghuram Rajan & Rodney Ramcharan

American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper studies the long run effects of financial crises using new bank and town level data from around the Great Depression. We find evidence that banking markets became much more concentrated in areas that experienced a greater initial collapse in the local banking system. There is also evidence that financial regulation after the Great Depression, and in particular limits on bank branching, may have helped to render the effects of the initial collapse persistent. All of this suggests a reason why post-crisis financial regulation, while potentially reducing financial instability, might also have longer run real consequences.

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Borrower protection and the supply of credit: Evidence from foreclosure laws

Jihad Dagher & Yangfan Sun

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Laws governing the foreclosure process can have direct consequences for the costs of foreclosure and, therefore could affect lending decisions. We exploit the heterogeneity in judicial requirements across US states to examine their impact on banks’ lending decisions in a sample of urban areas straddling state borders. A key feature of our study is the way it exploits an exogenous cutoff in loan eligibility to government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) guarantees, which shift the burden of foreclosure costs onto the GSEs. We find that judicial requirements reduce the supply of credit only for jumbo loans, which are ineligible for GSE guarantees, i.e., in the nonsubsidized segment of the market. Thus, while we find a significant effect on credit supply, the aggregate impact is muted by the indirect cross-subsidy by the GSEs to borrower-friendly states.

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Racial Differences in Mortgage Denials Over the Housing Cycle: Evidence from U.S. Metropolitan Areas

Christopher Wheeler & Luke Olson

Journal of Housing Economics, December 2015, Pages 33–49

Abstract:
The cyclical movement of housing prices likely affects the supply of and demand for credit for home purchases, but little is known about how this process might influence differential access to credit between minority and non-minority borrowers. This paper uses data reported through the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) over the period 1990-2013 to estimate the relationship between annual metropolitan area-level house price inflation and the extent to which Black borrowers are denied relative to ‘comparable’ White borrowers on their loan applications. The results indicate that, on average, Black borrowers are denied more frequently than White borrowers, but this difference in denial rates decreases significantly as house prices rise more rapidly. Such results demonstrate the importance of considering local housing market conditions when using HMDA data to assess lender compliance with fair lending laws.

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Where Are All the New Banks? The Role of Regulatory Burden in New Bank Formation

Robert Adams & Jacob Gramlich

Review of Industrial Organization, March 2016, Pages 181-208

Abstract:
New bank formation in the U.S. has declined dramatically since the financial crisis, from over 130 new banks per year to less than 1. Many have suggested that this is due to newly-instituted regulation, but the current weak economy and low interest rates (which both depress banking profits) could also have played a role. We estimate a model of bank entry decisions on data from 1976 to 2013 which indicates that at least 75 % of the decline in new bank formation would have occurred without any regulatory change. The standalone effect of regulation is more difficult to quantify.

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Ripples of Fear: The Diffusion of a Bank Panic

Henrich Greve, Ji-Yub (Jay) Kim & Daphne

The American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Community reactions against organizations can be driven by negative information spread through a diffusion process that is distinct from the diffusion of organizational practices. Bank panics offer a classic example of selective diffusion of negative information. Bank panics involve widespread bank runs, although a low proportion of banks experience a run. We develop theory on how organizational similarity, community similarity, and network proximity create selective diffusion paths for resistance against organizations. Using data from the largest customer-driven bank panic in the United States, we find significant effects of organizational and community similarity on the diffusion of bank runs. Runs on banks are more likely to diffuse across communities with similar ethnicities, national origins, religion, and wealth, and across banks that are structurally equivalent or have the same organizational form. We also find stronger influence from runs that are spatially proximate and in the same state.

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ATM Fees at Black and Hispanic Owned Single Market Banks: A Comparative Analysis

Russ Kashian, Richard McGregory & Robert Drago

Review of Black Political Economy, March 2016, Pages 69-84

Abstract:
This paper presents evidence regarding three types of ATM fees: foreign fees charged for use of a non-bank ATM by the bank’s customers, surcharges for use of bank ATMs by non-customers, and balance inquiry charges for the bank’s own customers. It is hypothesized that, among single market banks, fees will be positively correlated with bank size, a lack of market competition, market penetration by multimarket banks, banks serving low income communities, and Black owned banks (BOBs) and Hispanic owned banks (HOBs), although banks may try to confuse depositors with fees that exhibit a low correlation, or may set low surcharges as part of a loss leader strategy. A 2013 sample of approximately 1500 single market banks, including 21 Black owned banks (BOBs) and 19 Hispanic owned banks (HOBs) is used for correlation and regression analyses. It is found that BOBs charge an average of $0.50 higher foreign fees, and are more likely to charge balance inquiry fees. We also find that larger banks tend to charge higher fees, and that banks may set higher fees where they serve disadvantaged communities of color. Surprisingly, market competition is never significantly associated with ATM fees, and there is minimal correlation across fees, and both results are consistent with banks setting fees strategically to confuse customers.

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Decision-Making During the Credit Crisis: Did the Treasury Let Commercial Banks Fail?

Ettore Croci, Gerard Hertig & Eric Nowak

Journal of Empirical Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Limited attention has been paid to the comparative fate of banks benefiting from Capital Purchase Program (CPP) funding and less fortunate banks subject to FDIC resolution. We address this omission by investigating two core issues. One is whether commercial banks that ended up being subject to FDIC resolution received CPP funds. The other is whether the non-allocation of CPP funds made FDIC receivership more likely for viable commercial banks. Our findings show almost no overlap between CPP-funded and FDIC-resolved commercial banks, but we provide evidence that a significant number of FDIC-resolved banks could have avoided receivership if they had been allocated CPP funding. By comparing estimated funding and resolution costs we also show that bailing out more banks would have been cost-efficient. While our results do not allow for any policy suggestion on the optimality of bail-outs per se, they suggest that once a bail-out program is already on the table, it is better to err on the side of rescuing too many rather than too few banks.

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Assessment Inequity in a Declining Housing Market: The Case of Detroit

Timothy Hodge et al.

Real Estate Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the degree to which assessment practices in the City of Detroit have created substantial inequities in property tax payments across residential properties. Two key contributions of this article include: (1) inequities created by assessment practices are examined in a collapsed real estate market, and (2) quantile regression techniques are used to determine how assessment practices have altered assessment distributions within and across property value groups. Results show that current practices have created a wide range of property tax payments across properties with similar value (horizontal inequity), and similar tax payments for properties of differing values (vertical inequity).

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Owner Occupancy Fraud and Mortgage Performance

Ronel Elul & Sebastian Tilson

Federal Reserve Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
We use a matched credit bureau and mortgage data set to identify occupancy fraud in residential mortgage originations, that is, borrowers who misrepresented their occupancy status as owner occupants rather than residential real estate investors. In contrast to previous studies, our data set allows us to show that such fraud was broad based, appearing in the government-sponsored enterprise market and in loans held on bank portfolios as well. Mortgage borrowers who misrepresented their occupancy status performed worse than otherwise similar owner occupants and declared investors, defaulting at nearly twice the rate. In addition, these defaults are significantly more likely to be 'strategic' in the sense that their bank card performance is better and utilization is lower.

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Do Federal Reserve Bank presidents’ interest rate votes in the FOMC follow an electoral cycle?

Stefan Eichler & Tom Lähner

Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
We find that Federal Reserve Bank presidents’ regional bias in their dissenting interest rate votes in the Federal Open Market Committee follows an electoral cycle. Presidents put more weight on their district’s economic environment during the year prior to their (re-)election relative to nonelection years.

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Bank overdraft pricing and myopic consumers

Marlon Williams

Economics Letters, February 2016, Pages 84–87

Abstract:
In recent years, banks have routinely earned annual percentage rates of over 1,000 percent on overdraft services. Such returns are staggeringly high, especially in an arguably competitive industry; and consequently, consumer protection groups have been lobbying for increased oversight of bank overdraft fees (and similar fees). In the context of a model proposed by Gabaix and Laibson 2006, I find support for the argument that banks target myopic consumers – consumers who do not consider the add-on good when choosing the base product. Using demographic characteristics to proxy for the proportion of myopic consumers, I find results that are consistent with Gabaix and Laibson 2006 in the pricing of bank overdraft services.

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Timing Is Money: Does Lump-Sum Payment of Tax Credits Induce High-Cost Borrowing?

Lauren Eden Jones & Katherine Michelmore

University of Michigan Working Paper, January 2016

Abstract:
One important feature of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is that many families receive a large lump-sum payment when they file their taxes each year. In this paper, we use the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) wealth topical modules from 1990 to 2008 to analyze the impact of the expansions of the EITC at the federal and state level over the last twenty years on household savings and unsecured debt. Results suggest that increases in tax credit generosity are associated with increases in both household savings and debt. Using the Consumer Finance Monthly survey (CFM), we then show a seasonal pattern of debt accumulation for low-income households that reflects the once-a-year timing of benefits structure: low-income households are much more likely to pay down their debt in the months surrounding tax filing compared to their higher-income counterparts, while there is little or no difference in their debt accumulation and payoff compared to higher-income families throughout the rest of the year. We estimate that the use of high-cost credit to finance consumption during non-EITC months results in approximately 8 percent of all EITC funds being paid in consumer interest payments.

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What's in an education? Implications of CEO education for bank performance

Timothy King, Abhishek Srivastav & Jonathan Williams

Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Exploiting a unique hand-built dataset, this paper finds that CEO educational attainment, both level and quality, matters for bank performance. We offer robust evidence that banks led by CEOs with MBAs outperform their peers. Such CEOs improve performance when compensation structures are geared towards greater risk-taking incentives, and when banks follow riskier or more innovative business models. Our findings suggest that management education delivers skills enabling CEOs to manage increasingly larger and complex banking firms and achieve successful performance outcomes.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Sickening

Anger, frustration, boredom and the Department of Motor Vehicles: Can negative emotions impede organ donor registration?

Jason Siegel et al.

Social Science & Medicine, March 2016, Pages 174–181

Methods: Three studies were conducted through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. In Study 1, we randomly assigned participants to either recall a prior DMV experience or to a comparison condition. Emotions associated with the recalled experiences were the dependent variable. Study 2 assessed the correlations between nine different emotions and donor registration intentions. Study 3 randomly assigned participants to recall a prior frustrating DMV experience or to a comparison condition. Intention to register to donate was the dependent variable.

Results: Study 1 found that recalling a prior DMV experience was associated with more negative and less positive emotions than the comparison condition. Study 2 found that increased levels of negative emotion could be problematic, as negative emotions were negatively associated with donor intentions. Study 3 found that recalling a frustrating DMV experience resulted in significantly lower intentions to register as an organ donor (vs. a control condition).

Conclusion: Although not all DMV experiences are negative, these data indicated a relationship between the DMV and negative emotions; an association between negative emotions and lower donor registration intentions; and a causal relationship between negative DMV experiences and decreased registration intentions.

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Experiencing breast cancer at the workplace

Giulio Zanella & Ritesh Banerjee

Journal of Public Economics, February 2016, Pages 53–66

Abstract:
We study a dynamic natural experiment involving nearly 3,000 American women of age 50–64 to understand how a woman’s propensity to receive an annual mammography changes over time after a co-worker is diagnosed with breast cancer. We find that in the year this event occurs the probability of screening drops by about 6 percentage points, off a base level of 70%. This impact effect is persistent for at least two years. Underlying mechanisms and implications for health policy are discussed.

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Chocolate intake is associated with better cognitive function: The Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study

Georgina Crichton, Merrill Elias & Ala’a Alkerwi

Appetite, forthcoming

Abstract:
Chocolate and cocoa flavanols have been associated with improvements in a range of health complaints dating from ancient times, and has established cardiovascular benefits. Less is known about the effects of chocolate on neurocognition and behavior. The aim of this study was to investigate whether chocolate intake was associated with cognitive function, with adjustment for cardiovascular, lifestyle and dietary factors. Cross-sectional analyses were undertaken on 968 community-dwelling participants, aged 23-98 years, from the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study (MSLS). Habitual chocolate intake was related to cognitive performance, measured with an extensive battery of neuropsychological tests. More frequent chocolate consumption was significantly associated with better performance on the Global Composite score, Visual-Spatial Memory and Organization, Working Memory, Scanning and Tracking, Abstract Reasoning, and the Mini-Mental State Examination. With the exception of Working Memory, these relations were not attenuated with statistical control for cardiovascular, lifestyle and dietary factors. Prospective analyses revealed no association between cognitive function and chocolate intake measured up to 18 years later. Further intervention trials and longitudinal studies are needed to explore relations between chocolate, cocoa flavanols and cognition, and the underlying causal mechanisms.

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Driving through the Great Recession: Why does motor vehicle fatality decrease when the economy slows down?

Monica He

Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
The relationship between short-term macroeconomic growth and temporary mortality increases remains strongest for motor vehicle (MV) crashes. In this paper, I investigate the mechanisms that explain falling MV fatality rates during the recent Great Recession. Using U.S. state-level panel data from 2003-2013, I first estimate the relationship between unemployment and MV fatality rate and then decompose it into risk and exposure factors for different types of MV crashes. Results reveal a significant 2.9 percent decrease in MV fatality rate for each percentage point increase in unemployment rate. This relationship is almost entirely explained by changes in the risk of driving rather than exposure to the amount of driving and is particularly robust for crashes involving large commercial trucks, multiple vehicles, and speeding cars. These findings provide evidence suggesting traffic patterns directly related to economic activity lead to higher risk of MV fatality rates when the economy improves.

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Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in high-rise buildings: Delays to patient care and effect on survival

Ian Drennan et al.

Canadian Medical Association Journal, forthcoming

Background: Increasing number of people living in high-rise buildings presents unique challenges to care and may cause delays for 911-initiated first responders (including paramedics and fire department personnel) responding to calls for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. We examined the relation between floor of patient contact and survival after cardiac arrest in residential buildings.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective observational study using data from the Toronto Regional RescuNet Epistry database for the period January 2007 to December 2012. We included all adult patients (≥ 18 yr) with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest of no obvious cause who were treated in private residences. We excluded cardiac arrests witnessed by 911-initiated first responders and those with an obvious cause. We used multivariable logistic regression to determine the effect on survival of the floor of patient contact, with adjustment for standard Utstein variables.

Results: During the study period, 7842 cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest met the inclusion criteria, of which 5998 (76.5%) occurred below the third floor and 1844 (23.5%) occurred on the third floor or higher. Survival was greater on the lower floors (4.2% v. 2.6%, p = 0.002). Lower adjusted survival to hospital discharge was independently associated with higher floor of patient contact, older age, male sex and longer 911 response time. In an analysis by floor, survival was 0.9% above floor 16 (i.e., below the 1% threshold for futility), and there were no survivors above the 25th floor.

Interpretation: In high-rise buildings, the survival rate after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest was lower for patients residing on higher floors. Interventions aimed at shortening response times to treatment of cardiac arrest in high-rise buildings may increase survival.

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How Effective is Population-Based Cancer Screening? Regression Discontinuity Estimates from the US Guideline Screening Initiation Ages

Srikanth Kadiyala & Erin Strumpf

Forum for Health Economics and Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
We estimate the marginal benefits of population-based cancer screening by comparing cancer test and detection rates on either side of US guideline-recommended initiation ages (age 40 for breast cancer and age 50 for colorectal cancer during the study period). Using a regression discontinuity design and self-reported test data from national health surveys, we find test rates for breast and colorectal cancer increase at the guideline age thresholds by 109% and 78%, respectively. Data from cancer registries in twelve US states indicate that cancer detection rates increase at the same thresholds by 50% and 49%, respectively. We estimate significant effects of screening on earlier breast cancer detection (1.2 cases/1000 screened) at age 40 and colorectal cancer detection (1.1 cases/1000 individuals screened) at age 50. Forty-eight and 73% of the increases in breast and colorectal case detection occur among middle-stage cancers (localized and regional) with most of the remainder among early-stage (in-situ). Our analysis suggests that the cost of detecting an asymptomatic case of breast cancer at age 40 via population-based screening is $107,000–134,000 and that the cost of detecting an asymptomatic case of colorectal cancer at age 50 is $473,000–485,000.

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Smart as a Whip and Fit as a Fiddle: The effect of a diploma on health

Lindsey Woodworth

American Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines the causal effect of a diploma on health using a regression discontinuity approach. During WWII, cohorts of men in the U.S. whose birthdays fell within particular intervals of time were required to register for the draft on specific dates. These policies created discontinuities in registration age, which subsequently resulted in discontinuities in graduation rates. Because mandatory registration ages fell as the war progressed, the independent variable, diploma receipt, can be measured in terms of both a high school and college diploma. The results indicate that both forms of credentialing directly improve physical wellness and increase the utilization of healthcare. These effects are larger than those estimated using ordinary least squares.

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Double-Jeopardy: The Joint Impact of Neighborhood Disadvantage and Low Social Cohesion on Cumulative Risk of Disease Among African American Men and Women in the Jackson Heart Study

Sharrelle Barber et al.

Social Science & Medicine, March 2016, Pages 107–115

Objectives: Few studies have examined the joint impact of neighborhood disadvantage and low social cohesion on health. Moreover, no study has considered the joint impact of these factors on a cumulative disease risk profile among a large sample of African American adults. Using data from the Jackson Heart Study, we examined the extent to which social cohesion modifies the relationship between neighborhood disadvantage and cumulative biological risk (CBR)—a measure of accumulated risk across multiple physiological systems.

Methods: Our analysis included 4,408 African American women and men ages 21-85 residing in the Jackson, MS Metropolitan Area. We measured neighborhood disadvantage using a composite score of socioeconomic indicators from the 2000 US Census and social cohesion was assessed using a 5-item validated scale. Standardized z-scores of biomarkers representing cardiovascular, metabolic, inflammatory, and neuroendocrine systems were combined to create a CBR score. We used two-level linear regression models with random intercepts adjusting for socio-demographic and behavioral covariates in the analysis. A three-way interaction term was included to examine whether the relationship between neighborhood disadvantage and CBR differed by levels of social cohesion and gender.

Results: The interaction between neighborhood disadvantage, social cohesion and gender was statistically significant (p=0.05) such that the association between living in a disadvantaged neighborhood and CBR was strongest for men living in neighborhoods with low levels of social cohesion (B=0.63, SE: 0.32). In gender-specific models, we found a statistically significant interaction between neighborhood disadvantage and social cohesion for men (p=0.05) but not for women (p=0.50).

Conclusion: Neighborhoods characterized by high levels of economic disadvantage and low levels of social cohesion contribute to higher cumulative risk of disease among African American men. This suggests that they may face a unique set of challenges that put them at greater risk in these settings.

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Sociodemographic Predictors of Vaccination Exemptions on the Basis of Personal Belief in California

Tony Yang et al.

American Journal of Public Health, January 2016, Pages 172-177

Objectives: We examined the variability in the percentage of students with personal belief exemptions (PBEs) from mandatory vaccinations in California schools and communities according to income, education, race, and school characteristics.

Methods: We used spatial lag models to analyze 2007–2013 PBE data from the California Department of Public Health. The analyses included school- and regional-level models, and separately examined the percentage of students with exemptions in 2013 and the change in percentages over time.

Results: The percentage of students with PBEs doubled from 2007 to 2013, from 1.54% to 3.06%. Across all models, higher median household income and higher percentage of White race in the population, but not educational attainment, significantly predicted higher percentages of students with PBEs in 2013. Higher income, White population, and private school type significantly predicted greater increases in exemptions from 2007 to 2013, whereas higher educational attainment was associated with smaller increases.

Conclusions: Personal belief exemptions are more common in areas with a higher percentage of White race and higher income.

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The Physiological Impacts of Wealth Shocks in Late Life: Evidence from the Great Recession

Courtney Boen & Claire Yang

Social Science & Medicine, February 2016, Pages 221–230

Abstract:
Given documented links between individual socioeconomic status (SES) and health, it is likely that — in addition to its impacts on individuals’ wallets and bank accounts — the Great Recession also took a toll on individuals’ disease and mortality risk. Exploiting a quasi-natural experiment design, this study utilizes nationally representative, longitudinal data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP) (2005-2011) (N=930) and individual fixed effects models to examine how household-level wealth shocks experienced during the Great Recession relate to changes in biophysiological functioning in older adults. Results indicate that wealth shocks significantly predicted changes in physiological functioning, such that losses in net worth from the pre-to the post-Recession period were associated with increases in systolic blood pressure and C-reactive protein over the six year period. Further, while the association between wealth shocks and changes in blood pressure was unattenuated with the inclusion of other indicators of SES, psychosocial well-being, and health behaviors in analytic models, we document some evidence of mediation in the association between changes in wealth and changes in C-reactive protein, which suggests specificity in the social and biophysiological mechanisms relating wealth shocks and health at older ages. Linking macro-level conditions, meso-level household environments, and micro-level biological processes, this study provides new insights into the mechanisms through which economic inequality contributes to disease and mortality risk in late life.

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Association between maternal education and objectively measured physical activity and sedentary time in adolescents

Lauren Sherar et al.

Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Background: Investigating socioeconomic variation in physical activity (PA) and sedentary time is important as it may represent a pathway by which socioeconomic position (SEP) leads to ill health. Findings on the association between children's SEP and objectively assessed PA and/or sedentary time are mixed, and few studies have included international samples.

Methods: This is an observational study of 12 770 adolescents (10–18 years) pooled from 10 studies from Europe, Australia, Brazil and the USA. Original PA data were collected between 1997 and 2009. The associations between maternal education and accelerometer variables were examined using robust multivariable regression, adjusted for a priori confounders (ie, body mass index, monitor wear time, season, age and sex) and regression coefficients combined across studies using random effects meta-analyses. Analyses were conducted in March 2014.

Results: Adolescents of university educated mothers spent more time sedentary (9.5 min/day, p=0.005) and less time in light activity (10 min/day, p<0.001) compared with adolescents of high school educated mothers. Pooled analysis across two studies from Brazil and Portugal (analysed separately because of the different coding of maternal education) showed that children of higher educated mothers (tertiary vs primary/secondary) spent less time in moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) (6.6 min/day, p=0.001) and in light PA (39.2 min/day: p<0.001), and more time sedentary (45.9 min/day, p<0.001).

Conclusions: Across a number of international samples, adolescents of mothers with lower education may not be at a disadvantage in terms of overall objectively measured PA.

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The Association of Socioeconomic Status With Subclinical Myocardial Damage, Incident Cardiovascular Events, and Mortality in the ARIC Study

Anna Fretz et al.

American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The association between socioeconomic status (SES) and subclinical cardiovascular disease is not well understood. Using data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, we sought to evaluate the cross-sectional and prospective associations of SES, measured by annual income and educational level, with elevated high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T (hs-cTnT) concentrations (≥14 ng/L) using Poisson and multinomial logistic regressions, respectively. We used Cox proportional hazard models to compare the risks of coronary heart disease, heart failure, and mortality according to SES, stratified by baseline hs-cTnT concentration. Our study baseline was 1990–1992, with follow-up through 2011. We found an independent association between SES and hs-cTnT. When comparing participants in the lowest educational level group to those in the highest, the adjusted prevalence ratios for elevated hs-cTnT were 1.36 (95% confidence interval: 1.05, 1.75) overall, 1.83 (95% confidence interval: 1.23, 2.71) in blacks, and 1.05 (95% confidence interval: 0.73, 1.52) in whites (P for interaction = 0.08). Among participants with nonelevated hs-cTnT concentrations, when comparing those in the lowest income groups to those in the highest, the adjusted hazard ratios were strongest for heart failure and death. Having elevated baseline hs-cTnT doubled the risk of heart failure and death. Persons with low SES and elevated hs-cTnT concentrations have the greatest risk of cardiovascular events, which suggests that this group should be aggressively targeted for cardiovascular risk reduction.

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Socioeconomic Status Discrimination is Associated with Poor Sleep in African-Americans, but not Whites

Miriam Van Dyke et al.

Social Science & Medicine, March 2016, Pages 141–147

Objective: We sought to examine the cross-sectional association between self-reported SES discrimination and subjective sleep quality, an emerging risk factor for disease. We further examined whether associations differed by race or SES.

Methods: We used logistic and linear regression to analyze data from a population-based cohort of 425 African-American and White middle-aged adults (67.5% female) in the Southeastern United States. SES discrimination was assessed with a modified Experiences of Discrimination Scale and poor subjective sleep quality was assessed with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index.

Results: In logistic regression models adjusted for age, gender, and education, reports of SES discrimination were associated with poor sleep quality among African-Americans (OR=2.39 95%, CI =1.35, 4.24), but not Whites (OR=1.03, 95% CI= 0.57, 1.87), and the race × SES discrimination interaction was significant at p=0.04. After additional adjustments for reports of racial and gender discrimination, other psychosocial stressors, body mass index and depressive symptoms, SES discrimination remained a significant predictor of poor sleep among African-Americans, but not Whites. In contrast to findings by race, SES discrimination and sleep associations did not significantly differ by SES.

Conclusion: Findings suggest that reports of SES discrimination may be an important risk factor for subjective sleep quality among African-Americans and support the need to consider the health impact of SES-related stressors in the context of race.

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Time to burn (calories)? The impact of retirement on physical activity among mature Americans

Fabrice Kämpfen & Jürgen Maurer

Journal of Health Economics, January 2016, Pages 91–102

Abstract:
Physical activity is crucial for maintaining and improving health, especially at advanced ages. While retirement increases the amount of time available for physical activity, there is only limited evidence regarding the causal effect of retirement on recommended levels of physical activity. Addressing this gap in the literature, we use data from the U.S. Health and Retirement Study to estimate the causal impact of retirement on meeting the federal government's 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Using official early and normal retirement ages as instruments for retirement, our causal IV analyses suggest significant positive effects of retirement on meeting the Guidelines. These effects are robust with regard to the treatment of unobserved individual-specific heterogeneity, the measurement of guideline compliance, the definition of retirement and respondents’ health insurance status. We also show that the effects of retirement on physical activity are larger for persons with higher levels of education and wealth.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, February 22, 2016

Where credits are due

Status-Aspirational Pricing: The "Chivas Regal" Strategy in U.S. Higher Education, 2006-2012

Noah Askin & Matthew Bothner

Administrative Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the effect of status loss on organizations' price-setting behavior. We predict, counter to current status theory and aligned with performance feedback theory, that a status decline prompts certain organizations to charge higher prices and that there are two kinds of organizations most prone to make such price increases: those with broad appeal across disconnected types of customers and those whose most strategically similar rivals have charged high prices previously. Using panel data from U.S. News & World Report's annual rankings of private colleges and universities from 2005 to 2012, we model the effect of drops in rank that take a school below an aspiration level. We find that schools set tuition higher after a sharp decline in rank, particularly those that appeal widely to college applicants and whose rivals are relatively more expensive. This study presents a dynamic conception of status that differs from the prevailing view of status as a stable asset that yields concrete benefits. In contrast to past work that has assumed that organizations passively experience negative effects when their status falls, our results show that organizations actively respond to status loss. Status is a performance-related goal for such producers, who may increase prices as they work to recover lost ground after a status decline.

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The Effects of Revenue Changes on NCAA Athletic Departments' Expenditures

Adam Hoffer & Jared Pincin

Journal of Sport and Social Issues, February 2016, Pages 82-102

Abstract:
This study uses a panel of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I athletic department revenue and expenditure data from 225 public colleges and universities to empirically investigate the behavior of athletic departments over the period 2006-2011. Three empirical relationships were explored: (a) how changes in total revenue affect disaggregated expenditure categories, (b) how disaggregated revenue streams influence total expenditures, and (c) whether changes in revenue categories change the size of the athletic department's subsidy. The results show that additional athletic revenue increases expenditures for coaches 7.5 times more than direct expenditures for student-athletes, a ratio that increases for schools in power conferences. For every US$1 increase in ticket sale revenue, total expenditures can rise by US$0.83 and reduce a school's athletic subsidy by US$0.19.

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Accounting for the Rise in College Tuition

Grey Gordon & Aaron Hedlund

NBER Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
We develop a quantitative model of higher education to test explanations for the steep rise in college tuition between 1987 and 2010. The framework extends the quality-maximizing college paradigm of Epple, Romano, Sarpca, and Sieg (2013) and embeds it in an incomplete markets, life-cycle environment. We measure how much changes in underlying costs, reforms to the Federal Student Loan Program (FSLP), and changes in the college earnings premium have caused tuition to increase. All these changes combined generate a 106% rise in net tuition between 1987 and 2010, which more than accounts for the 78% increase seen in the data. Changes in the FSLP alone generate a 102% tuition increase, and changes in the college premium generate a 24% increase. Our findings cast doubt on Baumol's cost disease as a driver of higher tuition.

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Surprising Ripple Effects: How Changing the SAT Score-Sending Policy for Low-Income Students Impacts College Access and Success

Michael Hurwitz et al.

Harvard Working Paper, January 2016

Abstract:
A growing economics literature reveals that small and subtle policy adjustments can induce relatively large "ripple effects." We contribute to this literature by evaluating a College Board initiative, launched in the fall of 2007, which increased the number of free official SAT score reports afforded to low-income students and changed the time horizon over which these free score sends could be used. By resetting the default number of free SAT score reports from four to eight for SAT fee-waiver recipients, the College Board hoped to increase the number of college applications submitted by these students and to improve their college match. Using a difference-in-differences analytic strategy, we show that low-income students took advantage of this policy and were roughly 10 percentage points more likely to send eight or more score reports. We find that this policy achieved its intended goal of increasing college access and that it also favorably impacted college completion rates. Specifically, we estimate that inducing a low-income student to send one more score report, on average, increased on-time college attendance by nearly 5 percentage points and five-year bachelor's completion by slightly more than 3 percentage points. The policy impact was driven entirely by students who, based on SAT scores, were competitive candidates for admission to four-year colleges.

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Do For-Profit Universities Induce Bad Student Loans?

John Goodell

Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite its great social and financial importance, little of the prior empirical research on student-loan default focuses on the role of for-profit universities. This study finds a positive association between student loan default and an institution's for-profit status - even when controlling for previously identified important factors, including graduation rates, the percentage of students who are low-income and from minority groups, and whether the institution is two- or four-year. Overall, my results are consistent with for-profit institutions systematically encouraging ill-advised loans. The results are economically significant, with default rates generally 5-6 percentage points higher for for-profit institutions.

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Learning Job Skills from Colleagues at Work: Evidence from a Field Experiment Using Teacher Performance Data

John Papay et al.

NBER Working Paper, February 2016

Abstract:
We study on-the-job learning among classroom teachers, especially learning skills from coworkers. Using data from a new field experiment, we document meaningful improvements in teacher job performance when high- and low-performing teachers working at the same school are paired and asked to work together on improving the low-performer's skills. In particular, pairs are asked to focus on specific skills identified in the low-performer's prior performance evaluations. In the classrooms of low-performing teachers treated by the intervention, students scored 0.12 standard deviations higher than students in control classrooms. These improvements in teacher performance persisted, and perhaps grew, in the year after treatment. Empirical tests suggest the improvements are likely the result of low-performing teachers learning skills from their partner.

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Creating Birds of Similar Feathers: Leveraging Similarity to Improve Teacher-Student Relationships and Academic Achievement

Hunter Gehlbach et al.

Journal of Educational Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
When people perceive themselves as similar to others, greater liking and closer relationships typically result. In the first randomized field experiment that leverages actual similarities to improve real-world relationships, we examined the affiliations between 315 9th grade students and their 25 teachers. Students in the treatment condition received feedback on 5 similarities that they shared with their teachers; each teacher received parallel feedback regarding about half of his or her 9th grade students. Five weeks after our intervention, those in the treatment conditions perceived greater similarity with their counterparts. Furthermore, when teachers received feedback about their similarities with specific students, they perceived better relationships with those students, and those students earned higher course grades. Exploratory analyses suggest that these effects are concentrated within relationships between teachers and their "underserved" students. This brief intervention appears to close the achievement gap at this school by over 60%.

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Can States Take Over and Turn Around School Districts? Evidence from Lawrence, Massachusetts

Beth Schueler, Joshua Goodman & David Deming

NBER Working Paper, January 2016

Abstract:
The Federal government has spent billions of dollars to support turnarounds of low-achieving schools, yet most evidence on the impact of such turnarounds comes from high-profile, exceptional settings and not from examples driven by state policy decisions at scale. In this paper, we study the impact of state takeover and district-level turnaround in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Takeover of the Lawrence Public School (LPS) district was driven by the state's accountability system, which increases state control in response to chronic underperformance. We find that the first two years of the LPS turnaround produced large achievement gains in math and modest gains in reading. Our preferred estimates compare LPS to other low income school districts in a differences-in-differences framework, although the results are robust to a wide variety of specifications, including student fixed effects. While the LPS turnaround was a package of interventions that cannot be fully separated, we find evidence that intensive small-group instruction led to particularly large achievement gains for participating students.

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Even Einstein Struggled: Effects of Learning About Great Scientists' Struggles on High School Students' Motivation to Learn Science

Xiaodong Lin-Siegler et al.

Journal of Educational Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Students' beliefs that success in science depends on exceptional talent negatively impact their motivation to learn. For example, such beliefs have been shown to be a major factor steering students away from taking science and math courses in high school and college. In the present study, we tested a novel story-based instruction that models how scientists achieve through failures and struggles. We designed this instruction to challenge this belief, thereby improving science learning in classroom settings. A demographically diverse group of 402 9th and 10th grade students read 1 of 3 types of stories about eminent scientists that described how the scientists (a) struggled intellectually (e.g., made mistakes in investigating scientific problems, and overcame the mistakes through effort), (b) struggled in their personal life (e.g., suffered family poverty and lack of parental support but overcame it), or (c) made great discoveries (a control condition, similar to the instructional material that appears in many science textbooks, that did not describe any struggles). Results showed that participation in either of the struggle story conditions improved science learning postintervention, relative to that of students in the control condition. Additionally, the effect of our intervention was more pronounced for low-performing students. Moreover, far more students in either of the struggle story conditions felt connected to the stories and scientists than did students in the control condition. The use of struggle stories provides a promising and implementable instructional approach that can improve student motivation and academic performance in science and perhaps other subjects as well.

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Peer Effects in Disadvantaged Primary Schools: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment

Heather Antecol, Ozkan Eren & Serkan Ozbeklik

Journal of Human Resources, Winter 2016, Pages 95-132

Abstract:
Using data from a well-executed randomized experiment, we find that the average classroom peer achievement adversely influences own student achievement in math and reading in primary schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods. In addition, using a unique feature of our data, we provide tentative evidence that our focus on students in primary schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods may potentially be the driving force behind the divergence in our results and the results in the existing literature. Finally, we show that these different peer dynamics in disadvantaged neighborhoods can potentially be explained by the frame of reference and the invidious comparison models.

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An Effort to Close Achievement Gaps at Scale Through Self-Affirmation

Geoffrey Borman, Jeffrey Grigg & Paul Hanselman

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, March 2016, Pages 21-42

Abstract:
In this districtwide scale-up, we randomly assigned seventh-grade students within 11 schools to receive a series of writing exercises designed to promote values affirmation. Impacts on cumulative seventh-grade grade point average (GPA) for the district's racial/ethnic minority students who may be subject to stereotype threat are consistent with but smaller than those from prior smaller scale studies. Also, we find some evidence of impact on minority students' standardized mathematics test scores. These effects address a substantial portion of the achievement gap unexplained by demographics and prior achievement - the portion of the gap potentially attributable to stereotype threat. Our results suggest that persistent achievement gaps, which may be explained by subtle social and psychological phenomena, can be mitigated by brief, yet theoretically precise, social-psychological interventions.

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School Vouchers and Student Achievement: First-Year Evidence from the Louisiana Scholarship Program

Atila Abdulkadiroglu, Parag Pathak & Christopher Walters

NBER Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
We evaluate the Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP), a prominent school voucher plan. The LSP provides public funds for disadvantaged students at low-performing Louisiana public schools to attend private schools of their choice. LSP vouchers are allocated by random lottery at schools with more eligible applicants than available seats. We estimate causal effects of voucher receipt by comparing outcomes for lottery winners and losers in the first year after the program expanded statewide. This comparison reveals that LSP participation substantially reduces academic achievement. Attendance at an LSP-eligible private school lowers math scores by 0.4 standard deviations and increases the likelihood of a failing score by 50 percent. Voucher effects for reading, science and social studies are also negative and large. The negative impacts of vouchers are consistent across income groups, geographic areas, and private school characteristics, and are larger for younger children. These effects are not explained by the quality of fallback public schools for LSP applicants: students lotteried out of the program attend public schools with scores below the Louisiana average. Survey data show that LSP-eligible private schools experience rapid enrollment declines prior to entering the program, indicating that the LSP may attract private schools struggling to maintain enrollment. These results suggest caution in the design of voucher systems aimed at expanding school choice for disadvantaged students.

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Quantile Treatment Effects of College Quality on Earnings

Rodney Andrews, Jing Li & Michael Lovenheim

Journal of Human Resources, Winter 2016, Pages 200-238

Abstract:
We use administrative data from Texas to estimate how graduating from a state flagship or a community college relative to a nonflagship university affects the distribution of earnings. We control for the selection of students across sectors using a rich set of observable ability and background characteristics and find evidence of substantial heterogeneity in the returns to quality. Returns increase with earnings among UT-Austin graduates but decline among Texas A&M graduates. For community colleges, returns are negative for lower earners but go to zero for higher earners. Our estimates also point to differences in the distribution of returns by race/ethnicity.

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Accountability Pressure, Academic Standards, and Educational Triage

Douglas Lee Lauen & Michael Gaddis

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, March 2016, Pages 127-147

Abstract:
Despite common conceptions, evidence on whether No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has had adverse effects for low achieving students is mixed. We hypothesize that the incentive to shift attention away from the lowest achieving students increases with the rigor of state standards. Using panel data from students in North Carolina, we exploit two natural experiments: increases in the rigor of standards in math in 2006 and then again in reading in 2008. We report an increase in test score gaps between low and high achievers and students near grade level. Adverse effects on low achievers are largest in the lowest achieving schools. We discuss the policy implications of our findings given the widespread adoption of more rigorous Common Core Standards.

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Comparing public, private, and informal preschool programs in a national sample of low-income children

Rebekah Levine Coley et al.

Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Summer 2016, Pages 91-105

Abstract:
Recent research has found that center-based early education and care (EEC) programs promote gains in cognitive skills for low-income children, but knowledge is limited concerning diverse types of EEC arrangements. This paper contrasts the primary EEC arrangements (Head Start, public centers, private centers, and home care) attended by economically disadvantaged children in the US with data on 4250 low-income children from the nationally-representative ECLS-B cohort. Results found public centers and Head Start programs provided children with the most educated and highly trained teachers and with the most enriching learning activities and global quality, with private centers showing moderate levels and home EEC very low levels of quality. Nonetheless, after adjusting for differential selection into EEC through propensity score weighting, low-income children who attended private EEC centers showed the highest math, reading, and language skills at age 5, with children attending Head Start and public centers also showing heightened math and reading skills in comparison to children experiencing only parent care. No differences were found in children's behavioral skills at age five in relation to EEC type. Results support enhanced access to all center preschool programs for low-income children, and suggest the need for greater understanding of the processes through which EEC affects children's school readiness skills.

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Head Start at Ages 3 and 4 Versus Head Start Followed by State Pre-K: Which Is More Effective?

Jade Marcus Jenkins et al.

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, March 2016, Pages 88-112

Abstract:
As policymakers contemplate expanding preschool opportunities for low-income children, one possibility is to fund 2, rather than 1 year of Head Start for children at ages 3 and 4. Another option is to offer 1 year of Head Start followed by 1 year of pre-K. We ask which of these options is more effective. We use data from the Oklahoma pre-K study to examine these two "pathways" into kindergarten using regression discontinuity to estimate the effects of each age 4 program, and propensity score weighting to address selection. We find that children attending Head Start at age 3 develop stronger prereading skills in a high-quality pre-kindergarten at age 4 compared with attending Head Start at age 4. Pre-K and Head Start were not differentially linked to improvements in children's prewriting skills or premath skills. This suggests that some impacts of early learning programs may be related to the sequencing of learning experiences to more academic programming.

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When Inputs are Outputs: The Case of Graduate Student Instructors

Eric Bettinger, Bridget Terry Long & Eric Taylor

Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine graduate student teaching as an input to two production processes: the education of undergraduates and the development of graduate students themselves. Using fluctuations in full-time faculty availability as an instrument, we find undergraduates are more likely to major in a subject if their first course in the subject was taught by a graduate student, a result opposite of estimates that ignore selection. Additionally, graduate students who teach more frequently graduate earlier and are more likely to subsequently be employed by a college or university.

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Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?

Daphna Bassok, Scott Latham & Anna Rorem

AERA Open, January 2016

Abstract:
Recent accounts suggest that accountability pressures have trickled down into the early elementary grades and that kindergarten today is characterized by a heightened focus on academic skills and a reduction in opportunities for play. This paper compares public school kindergarten classrooms between 1998 and 2010 using two large, nationally representative data sets. We show substantial changes in each of the five dimensions considered: kindergarten teachers' beliefs about school readiness, time spent on academic and nonacademic content, classroom organization, pedagogical approach, and use of standardized assessments. Kindergarten teachers in the later period held far higher academic expectations for children both prior to kindergarten entry and during the kindergarten year. They devoted more time to advanced literacy and math content, teacher-directed instruction, and assessment and substantially less time to art, music, science, and child-selected activities.

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Student Selection, Attrition, and Replacement in KIPP Middle Schools

Ira Nichols-Barrer et al.

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, March 2016, Pages 5-20

Abstract:
Skeptics of the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) charter school network argue that these schools rely on selective admission, attrition, and replacement of students to produce positive achievement results. We investigate this using data covering 19 KIPP middle schools. On average, KIPP schools admit students disadvantaged in ways similar to other local students, and attrition patterns are typically no different at KIPP than at nearby schools. Unlike district schools, however, KIPP schools tend to replace students who exit with higher achieving students, and fewer students are replaced in the later years of middle school. Overall, KIPP's positive achievement impacts do not appear to be explained by advantages in the prior achievement of KIPP students, even when attrition and replacement patterns are taken into account.

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Can Incentives for Parents and Students Change Educational Inputs? Experimental Evidence from Summer School

Paco Martorell et al.

Economics of Education Review, February 2016, Pages 113-126

Abstract:
This paper examines whether incentives for parents and students can increase educational inputs, in this case, specifically, attendance. We evaluate the impact of randomly-assigned incentives for improving attendance at the summer program of a large metropolitan school district. Students were assigned to one of three experimental conditions: (1) financial incentives for parents combined with non-financial incentives for students, (2) non-financial incentives for students (no incentives for parents), and (3) control. We find that the combination of the parent and student incentives increased the daily attendance rate by 9 percent and the likelihood of having perfect attendance by 63 percent. The student-only incentives had a smaller and statistically insignificant effect on attendance. We find little evidence that these incentives affected attendance rates or standardized test scores during the regular school year following the summer program, but we do find that they increased the likelihood of re-enrolling in the district.

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Sticker Shock: How Information Affects Citizen Support for Public School Funding

Beth Schueler & Martin West

Public Opinion Quarterly, Spring 2016, Pages 90-113

Abstract:
This study examines the role of information in shaping public opinion in the context of support for education spending. While there is broad public support for increasing government funding for public schools, Americans tend to underestimate what is currently spent. We embed a series of experiments in a nationally representative survey administered in 2012 (n = 2,993) to examine whether informing citizens about current levels of education spending alters public opinion about whether funding should increase. Providing information on per-pupil spending in a respondent's local school district reduces the probability that he or she will express support for increasing spending by 22 percentage points on average. Informing respondents about state-average teacher salaries similarly depresses support for salary increases. These effects are larger among respondents who underestimate per-pupil spending and teacher salaries by a greater amount, consistent with the idea that the observed changes in opinion are driven, at least in part, by informational effects, as opposed to priming alone.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Early on

The Paradox of Civilization: Pre-Institutional Sources of Security and Prosperity

Ernesto Dal Bó, Pablo Hernández & Sebastián Mazzuca

NBER Working Paper, December 2015

Abstract:
The rise of civilizations involved the dual emergence of economies that could produce surplus (“prosperity”) and states that could protect surplus (“security”). But the joint achievement of security and prosperity had to escape a paradox: prosperity attracts predation, and higher insecurity discourages the investments that create prosperity. We study the trade-offs facing a proto-state on its path to civilization through a formal model informed by the anthropological and historical literatures on the origin of civilizations. We emphasize pre-institutional forces, such as physical aspects of the geographical environment, that shape productive and defense capabilities. The solution of the civilizational paradox relies on high defense capabilities, natural or manmade. We show that higher initial productivity and investments that yield prosperity exacerbate conflict when defense capability is fixed, but may allow for security and prosperity when defense capability is endogenous. Some economic shocks and military innovations deliver security and prosperity while others force societies back into a trap of conflict and stagnation. We illustrate the model by analyzing the rise of civilization in Sumeria and Egypt, the first two historical cases, and the civilizational collapse at the end of the Bronze Age.

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The phenotypic legacy of admixture between modern humans and Neandertals

Corinne Simonti et al.

Science, 12 February 2016, Pages 737-741

Abstract:
Many modern human genomes retain DNA inherited from interbreeding with archaic hominins, such as Neandertals, yet the influence of this admixture on human traits is largely unknown. We analyzed the contribution of common Neandertal variants to over 1000 electronic health record (EHR)–derived phenotypes in ~28,000 adults of European ancestry. We discovered and replicated associations of Neandertal alleles with neurological, psychiatric, immunological, and dermatological phenotypes. Neandertal alleles together explained a significant fraction of the variation in risk for depression and skin lesions resulting from sun exposure (actinic keratosis), and individual Neandertal alleles were significantly associated with specific human phenotypes, including hypercoagulation and tobacco use. Our results establish that archaic admixture influences disease risk in modern humans, provide hypotheses about the effects of hundreds of Neandertal haplotypes, and demonstrate the utility of EHR data in evolutionary analyses.

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Early Life Conditions and Physiological Stress following the Transition to Farming in Central/Southeast Europe: Skeletal Growth Impairment and 6000 Years of Gradual Recovery

Alison Macintosh, Ron Pinhasi & Jay Stock

PLoS ONE, February 2016

Abstract:
Early life conditions play an important role in determining adult body size. In particular, childhood malnutrition and disease can elicit growth delays and affect adult body size if severe or prolonged enough. In the earliest stages of farming, skeletal growth impairment and small adult body size are often documented relative to hunter-gatherer groups, though this pattern is regionally variable. In Central/Southeast Europe, it is unclear how early life stress, growth history, and adult body size were impacted by the introduction of agriculture and ensuing long-term demographic, social, and behavioral change. The current study assesses this impact through the reconstruction and analysis of mean stature, body mass, limb proportion indices, and sexual dimorphism among 407 skeletally mature men and women from foraging and farming populations spanning the Late Mesolithic through Early Medieval periods in Central/Southeast Europe (~7100 calBC to 850 AD). Results document significantly reduced mean stature, body mass, and crural index in Neolithic agriculturalists relative both to Late Mesolithic hunter-gatherer-fishers and to later farming populations. This indication of relative growth impairment in the Neolithic, particularly among women, is supported by existing evidence of high developmental stress, intensive physical activity, and variable access to animal protein in these early agricultural populations. Among subsequent agriculturalists, temporal increases in mean stature, body mass, and crural index were more pronounced among Central European women, driving declines in the magnitude of sexual dimorphism through time. Overall, results suggest that the transition to agriculture in Central/Southeast Europe was challenging for early farming populations, but was followed by gradual amelioration across thousands of years, particularly among Central European women. This sex difference may be indicative, in part, of greater temporal variation in the social status afforded to young girls, in their access to resources during growth, and/or in their health status than was experienced by men.

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Ancient gene flow from early modern humans into Eastern Neanderthals

Martin Kuhlwilm et al.

Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
It has been shown that Neanderthals contributed genetically to modern humans outside Africa 47,000–65,000 years ago. Here we analyse the genomes of a Neanderthal and a Denisovan from the Altai Mountains in Siberia together with the sequences of chromosome 21 of two Neanderthals from Spain and Croatia. We find that a population that diverged early from other modern humans in Africa contributed genetically to the ancestors of Neanderthals from the Altai Mountains roughly 100,000 years ago. By contrast, we do not detect such a genetic contribution in the Denisovan or the two European Neanderthals. We conclude that in addition to later interbreeding events, the ancestors of Neanderthals from the Altai Mountains and early modern humans met and interbred, possibly in the Near East, many thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

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Distance from sub-Saharan Africa predicts mutational load in diverse human genomes

Brenna Henn et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 26 January 2016, Pages E440–E449

Abstract:
The Out-of-Africa (OOA) dispersal ∼50,000 y ago is characterized by a series of founder events as modern humans expanded into multiple continents. Population genetics theory predicts an increase of mutational load in populations undergoing serial founder effects during range expansions. To test this hypothesis, we have sequenced full genomes and high-coverage exomes from seven geographically divergent human populations from Namibia, Congo, Algeria, Pakistan, Cambodia, Siberia, and Mexico. We find that individual genomes vary modestly in the overall number of predicted deleterious alleles. We show via spatially explicit simulations that the observed distribution of deleterious allele frequencies is consistent with the OOA dispersal, particularly under a model where deleterious mutations are recessive. We conclude that there is a strong signal of purifying selection at conserved genomic positions within Africa, but that many predicted deleterious mutations have evolved as if they were neutral during the expansion out of Africa. Under a model where selection is inversely related to dominance, we show that OOA populations are likely to have a higher mutation load due to increased allele frequencies of nearly neutral variants that are recessive or partially recessive.

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Early human presence in the Arctic: Evidence from 45,000-year-old mammoth remains

Vladimir Pitulko et al.

Science, 15 January 2016, Pages 260-263

Abstract:
Archaeological evidence for human dispersal through northern Eurasia before 40,000 years ago is rare. In west Siberia, the northernmost find of that age is located at 57°N. Elsewhere, the earliest presence of humans in the Arctic is commonly thought to be circa 35,000 to 30,000 years before the present. A mammoth kill site in the central Siberian Arctic, dated to 45,000 years before the present, expands the populated area to almost 72°N. The advancement of mammoth hunting probably allowed people to survive and spread widely across northernmost Arctic Siberia.

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Inter-group violence among early Holocene hunter-gatherers of West Turkana, Kenya

M. Mirazón Lahr et al.

Nature, 21 January 2016, Pages 394–398

Abstract:
The nature of inter-group relations among prehistoric hunter-gatherers remains disputed, with arguments in favour and against the existence of warfare before the development of sedentary societies. Here we report on a case of inter-group violence towards a group of hunter-gatherers from Nataruk, west of Lake Turkana, which during the late Pleistocene/early Holocene period extended about 30 km beyond its present-day shore. Ten of the twelve articulated skeletons found at Nataruk show evidence of having died violently at the edge of a lagoon, into which some of the bodies fell. The remains from Nataruk are unique, preserved by the particular conditions of the lagoon with no evidence of deliberate burial. They offer a rare glimpse into the life and death of past foraging people, and evidence that warfare was part of the repertoire of inter-group relations among prehistoric hunter-gatherers.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, February 20, 2016

How motivated

The Hidden Cost of Personal Quantification

Jordan Etkin

Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
From sleep and energy use to exercise and health, consumers have access to more information about their behavior than ever before. The appeal of personal quantification seems clear. By better understanding their behavior, consumers can make the necessary changes to live happier, healthier lives. But might the new tools consumers are using - quantifying life - rob them of some of the benefits of engaging in those activities? Six experiments demonstrate that while measurement increases how much of an activity people do (e.g., walk or read more), it can simultaneously reduce how much people enjoy those activities. This occurs because measurement can undermine intrinsic motivation. By drawing attention to output, measurement can make enjoyable activities feel more like work, which reduces their enjoyment. As a result, measurement can decrease continued engagement in the activity and subjective well-being. Even in the absence of explicit external incentives, measurement itself can thus have similar effects. The findings have implications for measurement's use, as well as for the psychology of external incentives and intrinsic motivation.

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Does a "Triple Package" of traits predict success?

Joshua Hart & Christopher Chabris

Personality and Individual Differences, May 2016, Pages 216-222

Abstract:
What individual factors predict success? We tested Chua and Rubenfeld's (2014) widely publicized "Triple Package" hypothesis that a tendency toward impulse control, personal insecurity, and a belief in the superiority of one's cultural or ethnic group combine to increase the odds that individuals will attain exceptional achievement. Consistent with previous research, we found in two sizable samples (combined N = 1258) that parents' level of education and individuals' own cognitive ability robustly predicted a composite measure of success that included income, education, and awards. Other factors such as impulse control and emotional stability also appeared to be salutary. But despite measuring personal insecurity in four different ways and measuring success in three different ways, we did not find support for any plausible version of Chua and Rubenfeld's proposed synergistic trinity of success-engendering personality traits.

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When You Say Nothing at All: The Predictive Power of Student Effort on Surveys

Collin Hitt, Julie Trivitt & Albert Cheng

Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Character traits and noncognitive skills are important for human capital development and long-run life outcomes. Research in economics and psychology now shows this convincingly. But research into the exact determinants of noncognitive skills has been slowed by a common data limitation: most large-scale datasets do not contain adequate measures of noncognitive skills. This is particularly problematic in education policy evaluation. We demonstrate that within any survey dataset, there is important latent information that can be used as a proxy measure of noncognitive skills. Specifically, we examine the amount of conscientious effort that students exhibit on surveys, as measured by their item response rates. We use six nationally-representative, longitudinal surveys of American youth. We find that the percentage of questions skipped during the baseline year when respondents were adolescents is a significant predictor of later-life educational attainment, net of cognitive ability. Insofar as item response rates affect employment and income, they do so through their effect on education attainment. The pattern of findings gives compelling reasons to view item response rates as a promising behavioral measure of noncognitive skills for use in future research. We posit that response rates are a measure of conscientiousness, though additional research is required to determine what exact noncognitive skills are being captured by item response rates.

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Performance Brand Placebos: How Brands Improve Performance and Consumers Take the Credit

Aaron Garvey, Frank Germann & Lisa Bolton

Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research examines how consumption of a performance branded product systematically improves objective outcomes in a variety of contexts. Five field and laboratory studies demonstrate that this performance brand effect emerges through psychological mechanisms unrelated to functional product differences, consistent with a placebo. Furthermore, whereas this effect emerges only when there is an expectation that the performance branded product affects outcomes, consumers attribute gains to themselves. The performance brand placebo is due to a lowering of task induced anxiety, driven by heightened state self-esteem. Several theoretically relevant boundaries are revealed. Stress mindset moderates the effect, strengthening with the belief that stress is debilitating and weakening (to the point of reversal) with the belief that stress is enhancing. Moreover, those consumers lower in pre-existing domain self-efficacy beliefs exhibit more substantial performance gains, whereas for those particularly high in domain self-efficacy the placebo is mitigated.

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The Creative Stereotype Effect

Denis Dumas & Kevin Dunbar

PLoS ONE, February 2016

Abstract:
Because of its fundamental relevance to scientific innovation, artistic expression, and human ingenuity, creativity has long been the subject of systematic psychological investigation. Concomitantly, the far-reaching effects of stereotypes on various cognitive and social processes have been widely researched. Bridging these two literatures, we show in a series of two studies that stereotypes related to creativity can both enhance and diminish individuals' performance on a divergent thinking task. Specifically, Study 1 demonstrated that participants asked to take on a stereotypically uninhibited perspective performed significantly better on a divergent thinking task than those participants who took on a stereotypically inhibited perspective, and a control group. Relatedly, Study 2 showed that the same effect is found within-subjects, with divergent thinking significantly improving when participants invoke an uninhibited stereotype. Moreover, we demonstrate the efficacy of Latent Semantic Analysis as an objective measure of the originality of ideas, and discuss implications of our findings for the nature of creativity. Namely, that creativity may not be best described as a stable individual trait, but as a malleable product of context and perspective.

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Unconscious Desire: The Affective and Motivational Aspects of Subliminal Sexual Priming

Omri Gillath & Tara Collins

Archives of Sexual Behavior, January 2016, Pages 5-20

Abstract:
Sexual arousal is thought to be the result of the processing of sexual cues at two levels: conscious and unconscious. Whereas numerous studies have examined the affective and motivational responses to supraliminal (consciously processed) sexual cues, much less is known regarding the responses to subliminal (processed outside of one's awareness) sexual cues. Five studies examined responses to subliminal sexual cues. Studies 1-3 demonstrated increases in adult's positive affect following exposure to subliminal sexual cues compared to control cues. Study 4 demonstrated that the positive affect resulting from exposure to subliminal sexual cues increased motivation to further engage in a neutral task. Study 5 provided evidence suggesting that the affect and motivation found in Studies 1-4 were associated with motivation to engage in sex specifically, rather than a general approach motivation. The implications of these findings for the processing of subliminal sexual cues and for human sexuality are discussed.

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Mating and Memory: Can Mating Cues Enhance Cognitive Performance?

Michael Baker et al.

Evolutionary Psychology, December 2015

Abstract:
The literature on sexual selection and the social brain hypothesis suggest that human cognition and communication evolved, in part, for the purpose of displaying desirable cognitive abilities to potential mates. An evolutionary approach to social cognition implies that proximate mating motives may lead people to display desirable mental traits. In signaling such traits, one can increase the likelihood of attracting a potential mate. Two experiments demonstrated that exposure to mating cues - highly attractive opposite-sex faces - led people to display enhancements in declarative memory - a process underlying a variety of abilities such as resource acquisition, intelligence, and creativity. Experiment 1 showed that men (but not women) displayed enhanced memory for details of a story that was presented during exposure to highly attractive opposite-sex faces. Experiment 2 demonstrated that heightened displays of declarative memory reflect an enhancement in retrieval rather than in encoding. Findings contribute to the literatures on human mating and cognitive performance and provide novel insight into links between social processes and basic cognition.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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