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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Never tell me the odds

Robots that can adapt like animals

Antoine Cully et al.
Nature, 28 May 2015, Pages 503–507

Abstract:
Robots have transformed many industries, most notably manufacturing, and have the power to deliver tremendous benefits to society, such as in search and rescue, disaster response, health care and transportation. They are also invaluable tools for scientific exploration in environments inaccessible to humans, from distant planets to deep oceans. A major obstacle to their widespread adoption in more complex environments outside factories is their fragility. Whereas animals can quickly adapt to injuries, current robots cannot 'think outside the box' to find a compensatory behaviour when they are damaged: they are limited to their pre-specified self-sensing abilities, can diagnose only anticipated failure modes, and require a pre-programmed contingency plan for every type of potential damage, an impracticality for complex robots. A promising approach to reducing robot fragility involves having robots learn appropriate behaviours in response to damage, but current techniques are slow even with small, constrained search spaces. Here we introduce an intelligent trial-and-error algorithm that allows robots to adapt to damage in less than two minutes in large search spaces without requiring self-diagnosis or pre-specified contingency plans. Before the robot is deployed, it uses a novel technique to create a detailed map of the space of high-performing behaviours. This map represents the robot's prior knowledge about what behaviours it can perform and their value. When the robot is damaged, it uses this prior knowledge to guide a trial-and-error learning algorithm that conducts intelligent experiments to rapidly discover a behaviour that compensates for the damage. Experiments reveal successful adaptations for a legged robot injured in five different ways, including damaged, broken, and missing legs, and for a robotic arm with joints broken in 14 different ways. This new algorithm will enable more robust, effective, autonomous robots, and may shed light on the principles that animals use to adapt to injury.

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Cognitive capacities for cooking in chimpanzees

Felix Warneken & Alexandra Rosati
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 22 June 2015

Abstract:
The transition to a cooked diet represents an important shift in human ecology and evolution. Cooking requires a set of sophisticated cognitive abilities, including causal reasoning, self-control and anticipatory planning. Do humans uniquely possess the cognitive capacities needed to cook food? We address whether one of humans' closest relatives, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), possess the domain-general cognitive skills needed to cook. Across nine studies, we show that chimpanzees: (i) prefer cooked foods; (ii) comprehend the transformation of raw food that occurs when cooking, and generalize this causal understanding to new contexts; (iii) will pay temporal costs to acquire cooked foods; (iv) are willing to actively give up possession of raw foods in order to transform them; and (v) can transport raw food as well as save their raw food in anticipation of future opportunities to cook. Together, our results indicate that several of the fundamental psychological abilities necessary to engage in cooking may have been shared with the last common ancestor of apes and humans, predating the control of fire.

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The Downstream Consequences of Problem-Solving Mindsets: How Playing with Legos Influences Creativity

Page Moreau & Marit Gundersen Engeset
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Business leaders, governments, and scholars are increasingly recognizing the importance of creativity. Recent trends in technology and education, however, suggest that many individuals are facing fewer opportunities to engage in creative thought as they increasingly solve well-defined (versus ill-defined) problems. Using three studies that involve real problem-solving activities (e.g., putting together a Lego kit), the authors examine the mindset created by addressing such well-defined problems. The studies demonstrate the negative downstream impact of such a mindset on both creative task performance and the choice to engage in creative tasks. The research has theoretical implications for the creativity and mindset literatures as well as substantive insights for managers and public-policy makers.

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Knowing More Than We Can Tell: People Are Aware of Their Biased Self-Perceptions

Kathryn Bollich, Katherine Rogers & Simine Vazire
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, July 2015, Pages 918-929

Abstract:
There is no question that biases exist in self-perceptions of personality. To what extent do people have insight into their positive and negative self-biases? In two samples (total N = 130), people with positive biases (i.e., self-perceptions that are more positive than a reputation-based criterion measure) accurately described themselves as positively biased, and people with negative biases accurately described themselves as negatively biased. Furthermore, people were able to distinguish which traits they were more or less biased about. These findings suggest that people may know more about themselves than they initially admit. Implications for the use of self-reports and the study of self-knowledge are discussed.

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The Effect of Foreign Language in Judgments of Risk and Benefit: The Role of Affect

Constantinos Hadjichristidis, Janet Geipel & Lucia Savadori
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, June 2015, Pages 117-129

Abstract:
As a result of globalization, policymakers and citizens are increasingly communicating in foreign languages. This article investigates whether communicating in a foreign language influences lay judgments of risk and benefit regarding specific hazards such as "traveling by airplane," "climate change," and "biotechnology." Merging findings from bilingual and risk perception research, we hypothesized that stimuli described in a foreign language, as opposed to the native tongue, would prompt more positive overall affect and through that induce lower judgments of risk and higher judgments of benefit. Two studies support this foreign language hypothesis. Contrary to recent proposals that foreign language influences judgment by promoting deliberate processing, we show that it can also influence judgment through emotional processing. The present findings carry implications for international policy, such as United Nations decisions on environmental issues.

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Is a 70% Forecast More Accurate than a 30% Forecast? How Level of a Forecast affects Inferences about Forecasts and Forecasters

Rajesh Bagchi & Elise Chandon Ince
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Consumers routinely rely on forecasters to make predictions about uncertain events (e.g., sporting contests, stock fluctuations). The authors demonstrate that when forecasts are higher versus lower (e.g., a 70% vs. 30% chance of team A winning a game) consumers infer that the forecaster is more confident in her prediction, has conducted more in-depth analyses, and is more trustworthy. The prediction is also judged as more accurate. This occurs because forecasts are evaluated based on how well they predict the target event occurring (team A winning). Higher forecasts indicate greater likelihood of the target event occurring, and signal a confident analyst, while lower forecasts indicate lower likelihood and lower confidence in the target event occurring. But because, with lower forecasts, consumers still focus on the target event (and not its complement), lower confidence in the target event occurring is erroneously interpreted as the forecaster being less confident in her overall prediction (instead of more confident in the complementary event occurring — team A losing). The authors identify boundary conditions, generalize to other prediction formats, and demonstrate consequences.

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Learning by Thinking: Overcoming the Bias for Action through Reflection

Giada Di Stefano et al.
Harvard Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
Research on learning has primarily focused on the role of doing (experience) in fostering progress over time. Drawing on literature in cognitive psychology and neuroscience, we propose that one of the critical components of learning is reflection, or the intentional attempt to synthesize, abstract, and articulate the key lessons taught by experience. In particular, we argue that purposeful reflection on one's accumulated experience leads to greater learning than the accumulation of additional experience. We explain this boost in learning through self-efficacy: reflection builds confidence in the ability to achieve a goal, which in turn translates into higher rates of learning. We test the resulting model experimentally, using a mixed-method design that combines two laboratory experiments with a field experiment conducted in a large business-process outsourcing company in India. We find that individuals who are given time to reflect on a task improve their performance at a greater rate than those who are given the same amount of time to practice with the same task. Our results also show that if individuals themselves are given the choice to either reflect or practice, they prefer to allocate their time to gaining more experience with the task – to the detriment of their learning.

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Group discussion improves lie detection

Nadav Klein & Nicholas Epley
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Groups of individuals can sometimes make more accurate judgments than the average individual could make alone. We tested whether this group advantage extends to lie detection, an exceptionally challenging judgment with accuracy rates rarely exceeding chance. In four experiments, we find that groups are consistently more accurate than individuals in distinguishing truths from lies, an effect that comes primarily from an increased ability to correctly identify when a person is lying. These experiments demonstrate that the group advantage in lie detection comes through the process of group discussion, and is not a product of aggregating individual opinions (a "wisdom-of-crowds" effect) or of altering response biases (such as reducing the "truth bias"). Interventions to improve lie detection typically focus on improving individual judgment, a costly and generally ineffective endeavor. Our findings suggest a cheap and simple synergistic approach of enabling group discussion before rendering a judgment.

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Perceiving outcomes as determined by external forces: The role of event construal in attenuating the outcome bias

Krishna Savani & Dan King
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, forthcoming

Abstract:
People view the same decision as better when it is followed by a positive outcome than by a negative outcome, a phenomenon called the outcome bias. Based on the idea that a key cause of the outcome bias is people's failure to appreciate that outcomes are in part determined by external forces, three studies tested a novel method to reduce the outcome bias. Experiment 1 showed that people who construed a person's interactions with the environment as events rather than as actions or choices were less susceptible to the outcome bias in a medical decision making task. Experiments 2 and 3 demonstrated that people who recalled past events rather than actions or choices exhibited lower outcome bias in a risky decision making task and in an ethical judgment task. These findings indicate that an event construal helps people appreciate the role of external factors in causing outcomes.

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The Impact of a Relational Mindset on Information Distortion

Anne-Sophie Chaxel
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2015, Pages 1–7

Abstract:
The preference-supporting bias in information evaluation, known as information distortion, is a ubiquitous phenomenon. The present work demonstrates that priming a relational mindset induces individuals to process independent units of information interdependently and therefore contributes to increasing distortion. In three studies, a relational mindset is activated by asking participants to generate solutions to cross-domain analogies. All three studies show that the activation of a relational mindset then carries over into a second, unrelated choice task and increases distortion. In addition, the present work shows that generating solutions to cross-domain analogies activates a high level of construal, which in turn mediates the effect of relational thinking on information distortion. Finally, the present work also demonstrates that imposing a cognitive load during the choice task reduces the impact of the relational mindset on distortion. In sum, this research demonstrates that the same mechanism that promotes creative thinking (i.e., seeing relationships across concepts) may also induce more biased information processing by prompting individuals to process independent units of information interdependently.

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Who or what to believe: Trust and the differential persuasiveness of human and anthropomorphized messengers

Maferima Touré-Tillery & Ann McGill
Journal of Marketing, forthcoming

Abstract:
Participants in three studies read advertisements in which messages were delivered by people or by anthropomorphized agents, specifically, "talking" products. Results indicate that people low in interpersonal trust are more persuaded by anthropomorphized messengers than by human spokespersons due their greater attentiveness to the nature of the messenger and their belief that humans, more than partial humans (that is, anthropomorphized agents), lack goodwill. People high in interpersonal trust are less attentive about who is trying to persuade them, so respond similarly to human and anthropomorphized messengers. However, when prompted to be attentive, they are more persuaded by human spokespersons than by anthropomorphized messengers, due to their belief that humans, more than partial humans, act with goodwill. Under conditions in which attentiveness is low for all consumers, high and low trusters alike, are unaffected by the nature of persuasion agents. We discuss the implications of our findings for advertisers considering the use of anthropomorphized "spokespersons."

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The double-edged impact of future expectations in groups: Minority influence depends on minorities' and majorities' expectations to interact again

Alvaro San Martin et al.
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, May 2015, Pages 49–60

Abstract:
Two studies examined whether expecting future interaction with the same group members affects minority influence. Holding constant majority members' expectation of future interaction, Study 1 demonstrated that minorities had more influence on majorities' private decisions and the group's public decision when they did not expect future interaction with the majority than when they did. Study 2 demonstrated that this minority influence effect only emerged when majority members themselves expected future interaction. Study 2 also shed light on the early information sharing dynamics underlying this effect: minorities expressed more dissent when they did not expect future interaction and majorities were more open to divergent information when they expected future interaction. These two forces combined promoted more systematic information processing by the group as a whole and, eventually, resulted in greater minority influence on both private and public decisions. Implications for our understanding of minority influence and group decision-making are discussed.

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Facts and Figuring: An Experimental Investigation of Network Structure and Performance in Information and Solution Spaces

Jesse Shore, Ethan Bernstein & David Lazer
Organization Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using data from a novel laboratory experiment on complex problem solving in which we varied the structure of 16-person networks, we investigate how an organization's network structure shapes the performance of problem-solving tasks. Problem solving, we argue, involves both exploration for information and exploration for solutions. Our results show that network clustering has opposite effects for these two important and complementary forms of exploration. Dense clustering encourages members of a network to generate more diverse information but discourages them from generating diverse theories; that is, clustering promotes exploration in information space but decreases exploration in solution space. Previous research, generally focusing on only one of those two spaces at a time, has produced an inconsistent understanding of the value of network clustering. By adopting an experimental platform on which information was measured separately from solutions, we bring disparate results under a single theoretical roof and clarify the effects of network clustering on problem-solving behavior and performance. The finding both provides a sharper tool for structuring organizations for knowledge work and reveals challenges inherent in manipulating network structure to enhance performance, as the communication structure that helps one determinant of successful problem solving may harm the other.

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When Your Decisions Are Not (Quite) Your Own: Action Observation Influences Free Choices

Geoff Cole et al.
PLoS ONE, May 2015

Abstract:
A growing number of studies have begun to assess how the actions of one individual are represented in an observer. Using a variant of an action observation paradigm, four experiments examined whether one person's behaviour can influence the subjective decisions and judgements of another. In Experiment 1, two observers sat adjacent to each other and took turns to freely select and reach to one of two locations. Results showed that participants were less likely to make a response to the same location as their partner. In three further experiments observers were asked to decide which of two familiar products they preferred or which of two faces were most attractive. Results showed that participants were less likely to choose the product or face occupying the location of their partner's previous reaching response. These findings suggest that action observation can influence a range of free choice preferences and decisions. Possible mechanisms through which this influence occurs are discussed.

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Group brainstorming: When regulatory nonfit enhances performance

John Levine et al.
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
In a study investigating motivational factors in group brainstorming, we investigated the impact on performance of regulatory fit/nonfit (based on the group's focus and task strategy). All members of three-person groups were placed in either a promotion focus or a prevention focus and then were all given either an eager strategy or a vigilant strategy for performing a brainstorming task (with an expectancy stop rule). As predicted, groups experiencing nonfit (promotion/vigilant, prevention/eager) spent more time working on the task and generated more nonredundant ideas than did groups experiencing fit (promotion/eager, prevention/vigilant). Also as predicted, task persistence mediated the joint impact of regulatory focus and task strategy on idea generation. Parallel results for idea diversity and quality were accounted for by number of ideas generated. These findings shed light on motivational aspects of group brainstorming and demonstrate the utility of regulatory fit theory for explaining small group phenomena.

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Even better than the real thing: Alternative outcome bias affects decision judgements and decision regret

Catherine Seta et al.
Thinking & Reasoning, forthcoming

Abstract:
Three experiments demonstrated that decisions resulting in considerable amounts of profit, but missed alternative outcomes of greater profits, were rated lower in quality and produced more regret than did decisions that returned lesser (or equal) amounts of profit but either did not miss or missed only slightly better alternatives. These effects were mediated by upward counterfactuals and moderated by participants' orientation to the decision context. That decision evaluations were affected by the availability and magnitude of alternative outcomes rather than the positivity of actual outcomes is counter to the outcome bias effect — a bias in which decisions are rated more positively when they led to more positive outcomes (despite a priori probabilities associated with the decision outcomes). Experiment 3 demonstrated that these effects represent a bias that occurs even when it is clear that the process by which decisions were made followed rational decision processes. This research suggests that when alternative worlds are even better than the desirable outcomes experienced, affect and cognition may be more strongly linked to the magnitude of alternative realities than to obtained outcomes.

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Views That Are Shared With Others Are Expressed With Greater Confidence and Greater Fluency Independent of Any Social Influence

Asher Koriat, Shiri Adiv & Norbert Schwarz
Personality and Social Psychology Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on group influence has yielded a prototypical majority effect (PME): Majority views are endorsed faster and with greater confidence than minority views, with the difference increasing with majority size. The PME was attributed to conformity pressure enhancing confidence in consensual views and causing inhibition in venturing deviant opinions. Our results, however, indicate that PME for binary choices can arise from the process underlying confidence and latency independent of social influence. PME was demonstrated for tasks and conditions that are stripped of social relevance; it was observed in within-individual analyses in contrasting the individual's more frequent and less frequent responses to the same item, and was found for the predictions of others' responses. A self-consistency model, which assumes that choice and confidence are based on the sampling of representations from a commonly shared pool of representations, yielded a PME for confidence and latency. Behavioral implications of the results are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, June 8, 2015

Growing apart

The effects of economic growth on income inequality in the US

Amir Rubin & Dan Segal
Journal of Macroeconomics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The paper analyzes the relation between growth and income inequality in the US during the post-war years (1953–2008). We show that the income of the top income groups is more sensitive to growth, defined broadly as current growth and changes in expectations of future growth, compared to the income of the lower income groups. We provide evidence that this increased sensitivity arises for two reasons: (a) the top income groups receive a large portion of their income from wealth, which is more sensitive to growth than labor income, and (b) the top income groups receive a large portion of their labor income in the form of pay-for-performance (equity compensation), which is also sensitive to growth. Consequently, we conclude that growth and income inequality are positively associated.

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Global Inequality of Opportunity: How Much of Our Income Is Determined by Where We Live?

Branko Milanovic
Review of Economics and Statistics, May 2015, Pages 452-460

Abstract:
Suppose that all people in the world are allocated only two characteristics over which they have (almost) no control: country of residence and income distribution within that country. Assume further that there is no migration. We show that more than one-half of variability in income of world population classified according to their household per capita in 1% income groups (by country) is accounted for by these two characteristics. The role of effort or luck cannot play a large role in explaining the global distribution of individual income.

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Does Who Votes Matter? Income Bias in Voter Turnout and Economic Inequality in the American States from 1980 to 2010

James Avery
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
A growing body of research examines the political sources of economic inequality in the United States. A second literature examines the political consequences of who votes. The current study contributes to both literatures by examining the influence of income bias in voter turnout on income inequality in the American states from 1980 to 2010. I use power resources theory and research demonstrating growing partisan polarization across income levels as theoretical foundations. Using time-series and cross-sectional analysis, I find that states with greater income bias in turnout have higher levels of income inequality than states with greater parity in voter turnout across income levels, findings that are robust across various model specifications. The implications of these findings for our understanding of economic inequality, low-income voter turnout, and state electoral laws are discussed.

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Economic Inequality and U.S. Public Policy Mood Across Space and Time

Christopher Johnston & Benjamin Newman
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
While classic theories suggest that growing inequality will generate mass support for redistribution, recent research suggests the opposite: increases in inequality in the United States are associated with decreases in support for redistribution among both low and high income citizens. We reconsider this conclusion. First, we examine the methods of this research, and find that the claims made are not robust to important corrections in model specification. We then utilize a distinct methodological approach, leveraging spatial variation in local inequality, and examine average differences in preferences across geographic context. Here we find a small, but positive relationship of inequality to support for redistribution. In both our reexamination of previous work and our extensions, we find little support for the claim that inequality reduces the demand for redistribution.

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The Impacts of Neighborhoods on Intergenerational Mobility: Childhood Exposure Effects and County-Level Estimates

Raj Chetty & Nathaniel Hendren
Harvard Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
We characterize the effects of neighborhoods on children's earnings and other outcomes in adulthood by studying more than five million families who move across counties in the U.S. Our analysis consists of two parts. In the first part, we present quasi-experimental evidence that neighborhoods affect intergenerational mobility through childhood exposure effects. In particular, the outcomes of children whose families move to a better neighborhood – as measured by the outcomes of children already living there – improve linearly in proportion to the time they spend growing up in that area. We distinguish the causal effects of neighborhoods from confounding factors by comparing the outcomes of siblings within families, studying moves triggered by displacement shocks, and exploiting sharp variation in predicted place effects across birth cohorts, genders, and quantiles. We also document analogous childhood exposure effects for college attendance, teenage birth rates, and marriage rates. In the second part of the paper, we identify the causal effect of growing up in every county in the U.S. by estimating a fixed effects model identified from families who move across counties with children of different ages. We use these estimates to decompose observed intergenerational mobility into a causal and sorting component in each county. For children growing up in families at the 25th percentile of the income distribution, each year of childhood exposure to a one standard deviation (SD) better county increases income in adulthood by 0.5%. Hence, growing up in a one SD better county from birth increases a child's income by approximately 10%. Low-income children are most likely to succeed in counties that have less concentrated poverty, less income inequality, better schools, a larger share of two-parent families, and lower crime rates. Boys' outcomes vary more across areas than girls, and boys have especially poor outcomes in highly-segregated areas. In urban areas, better areas have higher house prices, but our analysis uncovers significant variation in neighborhood quality even conditional on prices.

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Firming Up Inequality

Jae Song et al.
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
Earnings inequality in the United States has increased rapidly over the last three decades, but little is known about the role of firms in this trend. For example, how much of the rise in earnings inequality can be attributed to rising dispersion between firms in the average wages they pay, and how much is due to rising wage dispersion among workers within firms? Similarly, how did rising inequality affect the wage earnings of different types of workers working for the same employer — men vs. women, young vs. old, new hires vs. senior employees, and so on? To address questions like these, we begin by constructing a matched employer-employee data set for the United States using administrative records. Covering all U.S. firms between 1978 to 2012, we show that virtually all of the rise in earnings dispersion between workers is accounted for by increasing dispersion in average wages paid by the employers of these individuals. In contrast, pay differences within employers have remained virtually unchanged, a finding that is robust across industries, geographical regions, and firm size groups. Furthermore, the wage gap between the most highly paid employees within these firms (CEOs and high level executives) and the average employee has increased only by a small amount, refuting oft-made claims that such widening gaps account for a large fraction of rising inequality in the population.

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The Great Escape: Intergenerational Mobility Since 1940

Nathaniel Hilger
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
Tax records indicate that intergenerational mobility (IM) has been stable for cohorts entering the labor market since the 1990s. I show that when using educational attainment as a proxy for adult income, stable IM is a new phenomenon: IM rose significantly for cohorts entering the labor market from 1940 to 1980. I measure IM directly in historical Census data for children still living with their parents at ages 22-25, and indirectly for other children using an imputation procedure that I validate in multiple data sets with parent-child links spanning the full 1940-2000 period. Post-war mobility gains were larger in the South and for blacks, and were driven by gains in high school rather than college enrollment. Controlling for region and year, states with higher IM have had lower income inequality, higher income levels, more educational inputs, higher minimum dropout ages, and lower teen birth rates. IM gains plausibly increased aggregate annual earnings growth by 0.125-0.25 percentage points over the 1940-1980 period.

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Turning to Space: Social Density, Social Class and the Value of Things in Stores

Thomas Clayton O'Guinn, Robin Tanner & Ahreum Maeng
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper is about social space and material objects for sale within that space. We draw primarily on Goffman's (1971) concepts of use space and possession territories to predict that as the social density of a given space increases, inferences of the subjective social class and income of people in that space fall. Eight studies confirm that this is indeed the case, with the result holding even for stick figures, thus controlling for typical visual indicators of social class such as clothing or jewelry. Furthermore, these social class inferences mediate a relationship between social density and product valuation, with individuals assessing both higher prices and a greater willingness to pay for products presented in less crowded contexts. This effect of inferred class on product valuation is explained by status motivated individuals desire to associate with higher status people. To the best of our knowledge, this research is the first to reveal the link between social density, status inferences and object valuations. As such it makes a novel contribution to what has come be known in sociology as the topological turn: a renewed focus on social space.

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Socioeconomic Status and Learning from Financial Information

Camelia Kuhnen & Andrei Miu
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
The majority of lower socioeconomic status (SES) households do not have any stock investments, which is detrimental to wealth accumulation. Here, we examine one potential driver of this puzzling fact, namely, that SES may influence the process by which people learn from information in financial markets. In an experimental setting we find that low SES participants, relative to medium or high SES ones, form more pessimistic beliefs about the distribution of stock investment outcomes and are less likely to invest in stocks. The pessimism bias in assessing risky assets induced by low SES is robust to several ways of measuring one's socioeconomic standing and it replicates out of sample. These results suggest that SES shapes in predictable ways people's beliefs about financial assets, which in turn may induce large differences across households in their propensity to participate in financial markets.

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Higher in status, (Even) better-than-average

Michael Varnum
Frontiers in Psychology, April 2015

Abstract:
In 5 studies (total N = 1357) conducted online using Amazon's MTurk the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and the better-than-average effect (BTAE) was tested. Across the studies subjective measures of SES were positively correlated with magnitude of BTAE. Effects of objective measures (income and education) were weaker and less consistent. Measures of childhood SES (both objective and subjective) were positively correlated with BTAE magnitude, though less strongly and less consistently than measures of current subjective SES. Meta-analysis revealed all measures of chronic SES (with the exception of education) were significantly correlated with BTAE. However, manipulations of SES in terms of subjective status (Study 2), power (Study 3), and dominance (Study 4) did not have strong effects on BTAE magnitude (d's ranging from −0.04 to −0.14). Taken together the results suggest that chronic, but not temporary, status may be linked with a stronger tendency to overestimate one's abilities and positive traits.

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Inequality in the very long run: Inferring inequality from data on social groups

Jørgen Modalsli
Journal of Economic Inequality, June 2015, Pages 225-247

Abstract:
This paper presents a new method for calculating Gini coefficients from tabulations of the mean income of social classes. Income distribution data from before the Industrial Revolution usually come in the form of such tabulations, called social tables. Inequality indices generated from social tables are frequently calculated without adjusting for within-group income dispersion, leading to a systematic downward bias in the reporting of pre-industrial inequality. The correction method presented in this paper is applied to an existing collection of twenty-five social tables, from Rome in AD 1 to India in 1947. The corrections, using a variety of assumptions on within-group dispersion, lead to substantial increases in the Gini coefficients.

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Did social mobility increase during the industrialization process? A micro-level study of a transforming community in southern Sweden 1828-1968

Martin Dribe, Jonas Helgertz & Bart van de Putte
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, September 2015, Pages 25–39

Abstract:
This article studies class attainment and mobility in a long-term perspective, covering the entire transition from a preindustrial to a mature industrial society. Using longitudinal individual-level data for men in a community of southern Sweden we test different hypotheses linking changing social mobility and status attainment to the industrialization process. The data allows an analysis of Sweden's complete transition from an agrarian to an industrialized society, and thus to comprehensively address core hypotheses in the stratification literature. Both absolute and relative mobility increased, mainly explained by upward mobility becoming more prevalent. By looking at status attainment into different segments of the middle class and elite, we also clearly see the increasing role played by formal education and meritocracy for the opportunities of people from low-class origin to advance socially. However, this development is more connected with the maturing of industrial society than with industrialization as such.

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New Theoretical Perspectives on the Distribution of Income and Wealth among Individuals: Equilibrium Wealth Distributions

Joseph Stiglitz
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
This paper investigates the determination of the equilibrium distribution of income and wealth among individuals within a simple equilibrium growth model, where there is consistency between the movements of aggregate variables and the savings, bequest, and reproduction behavior of individuals. It describes centrifugal and centripetal forces, (leading to more or less unequal distributions), identifies the factors that may have contributed to the observed increase in inequality, and provides explicit expressions for the level of tail-inequality in terms of the underlying parameters of the economy and policy variables. Among the key results are: (i) The magnitude of wealth inequality does not, in general depend on the difference between the rate of interest (r) and the rate of growth (g); the former is itself an endogenous variable that needs to be explained. In the standard generalization of the Solow model, in the long run not only is r < g, but sr < g (where s is the savings rate). (ii) An increase in capital taxation may be (and in some of the central models is) fully shifted, and so may not lead to lower levels of inequality. (iii) If the capital tax is progressive and/or the proceeds go to public investment, wealth inequality may be reduced the well-being of workers may be increased.

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New Theoretical Perspectives on the Distribution of Income and Wealth among Individuals: Life Cycle Savings vs. Inherited Savings

Joseph Stiglitz
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
This paper extends the standard life cycle model to a world in which there are also capitalists. We obtain simple formulae describing the equilibrium fraction of wealth held by life-cycle savers. Using these formulae, we ascertain the effects of tax policy or changes in the parameters of the economy. The relative role of life cycle savings increases with the rate of growth and with the relative savings rate of life-cycle savers and capitalists. An increase in the savings rate of workers has no effect on output per capita; life cycle savings simply crowds out inherited savings. A tax on capital (even if proceeds are paid out to workers) is so shifted that capitalists are unaffected and that workers' income (after transfers) and their share in national wealth are reduced. If the government invests the proceeds, the share of capital owned by life cycle savers may increase. We extend the analysis to endogenously derive the distribution of the population between life cycle savers and capitalists, in a model in which all individuals have identical non-linear savings functions. When wealth is low enough, bequests drop to zero. With stochastic returns, individuals move between the two groups. A second extension analyzes the effects of land. We ask whether land holding displaces the holding of capital, resulting in workers being worse off. A tax on land, while reducing the value of land, leaves unchanged the capital-labor ratio, output per capita, and wages. But the tax reduces the aggregate value of wealth, and if the proceeds of the tax are distributed to workers, their income and life cycle savings are increased. On both accounts, wealth inequality is reduced. Thus, consistent with Henry George's views, a tax on the returns on land, including capital gains, reduces inequality with no adverse effect on national income.

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National income and its distribution

Markus Brueckner, Era Dabla Norris & Mark Gradstein
Journal of Economic Growth, June 2015, Pages 149-175

Abstract:
This paper revisits the effect of national income on distributional equality. Although the link between the two has featured prominently in the literature, a causal effect has been difficult to pin down due to the endogeneity of these variables. We use plausibly exogenous variations in the incomes of countries' trading partners weighted by the level of trade flows, and international oil price shocks, as instruments for within-country variations in countries' real GDP per capita. Controlling for country and time fixed effects, our instrumental variables regressions show that increases in national income have a significant moderating effect on income inequality: a 1 % increase in real GDP per capita reduces the Gini coefficient by around 0.08 percentage points on average. We document that education is one possible channel that mediates this relationship, and explore the implications of our findings for the welfare effect of national income growth.

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The political economics of redistribution, inequality and tax avoidance

Carlos Bethencourt & Lars Kunze
Public Choice, June 2015, Pages 267-287

Abstract:
A central result in the political economy of taxation is that the degree of redistribution is positively linked to income inequality. However, empirical evidence supporting such a relationship turns out to be mixed. This paper shows how the different empirical reactions can be rationalized within a simple model of tax avoidance and costly tax enforcement. By focusing on structure-induced equilibrium in which taxpayers vote over the size of the income tax and the level of tax enforcement, we show that more inequality may well reduce the extent of redistribution, depending on two opposing effects: the standard political effect and a negative tax base effect working through increases in the average level of tax avoidance and the share of enforcement expenditures in total tax revenue.

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Misperceiving Inequality

Vladimir Gimpelson & Daniel Treisman
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
Since Aristotle, a vast literature has suggested that economic inequality has important political consequences. Higher inequality is thought to increase demand for government income redistribution in democracies and to discourage democratization and promote class conflict and revolution in dictatorships. Most such arguments crucially assume that ordinary people know how high inequality is, how it has been changing, and where they fit in the income distribution. Using a variety of large, cross-national surveys, we show that, in recent years, ordinary people have had little idea about such things. What they think they know is often wrong. Widespread ignorance and misperceptions of inequality emerge robustly, regardless of the data source, operationalization, and method of measurement. Moreover, we show that the perceived level of inequality — and not the actual level — correlates strongly with demand for redistribution and reported conflict between rich and poor. We suggest that most theories about political effects of inequality need to be either abandoned or reframed as theories about the effects of perceived inequality.

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Developing Critical Consciousness or Justifying the System? A Qualitative Analysis of Attributions for Poverty and Wealth Among Low-Income Racial/Ethnic Minority and Immigrant Women

Erin Godfrey & Sharon Wolf
Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, forthcoming

Objectives: Economic inequality is a growing concern in the United States and globally. The current study uses qualitative techniques to (a) explore the attributions low-income racial/ethnic minority and immigrant women make for poverty and wealth in the U.S., and (b) clarify important links between attributions, critical consciousness development, and system justification theory.

Methods: In-depth interview transcripts from 19 low-income immigrant Dominican and Mexican and native African American mothers in a large Northeastern city were analyzed using open coding techniques. Interview topics included perceptions of current economic inequality and mobility and experiences of daily economic hardships.

Results: Almost all respondents attributed economic inequality to individual factors (character flaws, lack of hard work). Structural explanations for poverty and wealth were expressed by fewer than half the sample and almost always paired with individual explanations. Moreover, individual attributions included system-justifying beliefs such as the belief in meritocracy and equality of opportunity and structural attributions represented varying levels of critical consciousness.

Conclusions: Our analysis sheds new light on how and why individuals simultaneously hold individual and structural attributions and highlights key links between system justification and critical consciousness. It shows that critical consciousness and system justification do not represent opposite stances along a single underlying continuum, but are distinct belief systems and motivations. It also suggests that the motive to justify the system is a key psychological process impeding the development of critical consciousness. Implications for scholarship and intervention are discussed.

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Preferences over Equality in the Presence of Costly Income Sorting

Gilat Levy & Ronny Razin
American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, May 2015, Pages 308-337

Abstract:
We analyze preferences over redistribution in societies with costly (positive) sorting according to income. We identify a new motivation for redistribution, where individuals support taxation in order to reduce the incentives to sort. We characterize a simple condition over income distributions which implies that even relatively rich voters — with income above the mean — will prefer full equality (and thus no sorting) to societies with costly sorting. We show that the condition is satisfied for relatively equal income distributions. We also relate the condition to several statistical properties which are satisfied by a large family of distribution functions.

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Not Separate and Not Equal? Achievement and Attainment Equity in College Towns

Robert Maranto & Jeffery Dean
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objectives: A vast literature documents unequal outcomes in American public education (e.g., Duncan and Murname, 2011), but no prior research explores whether inequities are moderated in progressive communities such as college towns. We test whether college towns have more equal educational outcomes than similar communities that lack higher education institutions.

Methods: We conduct two tests. First, we employ cross-sectional ordinary least squares (OLS) regression predicting high school graduation (attainment) rates in 8,841 school districts, including 184 college town districts, with data taken from the U.S. Department of Education's Common Core of Data. Since attainment is a blunt measure, we also use OLS regression to predict test score (achievement) results in Pennsylvania, a state with a large number of college town school districts.

Results: Nationally, controlling for a range of characteristics, college towns have slightly but significantly lower attainment rates. Regarding achievement, low-income students in Pennsylvania college towns are at a slight disadvantage in math achievement compared to low-income students elsewhere.

Conclusions: We find some evidence that college towns have less equal educational outcomes and speculate as to causes, with the caveat that given the modest statistical impacts found, more research is needed.

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Income Inequality and Policy Responsiveness

Robert Erikson
Annual Review of Political Science, 2015, Pages 11-29

Abstract:
The growing concern about economic inequality leads to a similar concern about political inequality. This article explores the seeming contradiction between the literature pointing to inequality in political representation in the United States and the literature showing that public policy does tend to represent public opinion in general. Low-income voters are much less likely to vote or to be politically knowledgeable than high-income voters, which limits their influence and creates an upper-income bias to effective public opinion. Considerable research suggests that low-income voters' opinions count for even less than would be implied by their low participation rate, a matter that should continue to be the subject of research. Seemingly contrary to any upper-income bias to policy making, major legislation usually moves policy in the direction favored by low-income voters (e.g., redistribution, government programs). Upper-income voters and interest groups, however, are able to slow the pace of liberal change.

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"All These People Who Can Do Things That I Can't": Adolescents' Reflections on Class, Poverty, and the American Dream

Carol Hostetter, Sabrina Williamson Sullenberger & Leila Wood
Journal of Poverty, Spring 2015, Pages 133-152

Abstract:
This article investigates high school seniors' attitudes about socioeconomic status in two historical contexts: the growing economy of the mid-1990s and the recent economic recession. High school seniors (N = 72) were provided with identical scenarios and questions that prompted them to evaluate social stratification. The 1996 cohort expressed belief in the American Dream and individual mobility whereas the 2011 cohort articulated more understanding of structural issues that affect social class mobility. Analysis showed greater awareness of the economy's impact on family life in the 2011 cohort. Finally, the 2011 cohort noted the strong role of technology as an indicator of status.

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Trust and the Welfare State: The Twin Peaks Curve

Yann Algan, Pierre Cahuc & Marc Sangnier
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We show the existence of a twin peaks relation between trust and the size of the welfare state that stems from two opposing forces. Uncivic people support large welfare states because they expect to benefit from them without bearing their costs. But civic individuals support generous benefits and high taxes only when they are surrounded by trustworthy individuals. We provide empirical evidence for these behaviors and this twin peaks relation in the OECD countries.

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How Status Concerns Can Make Us Rich and Happy

Holger Strulik
Economica, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper considers an overlapping generations model of economic growth populated by two types of individuals. Competitive types compare future consumption (i.e. wealth) with the mean. Self-sufficient types derive utility simply from their own consumption and do not compare themselves with others. I derive a condition under which the utility (happiness) of both types increases when the economy is populated by a larger share of competitive types. I show that a sufficiently high share of competitive types in a society can be inevitable for long-run economic growth to exist.

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Income Inequality, Capitalism, and Ethno-linguistic Fractionalization

Jan-Egbert Sturm & Jakob De Haan
American Economic Review, May 2015, Pages 593-597

Abstract:
We examine the relationship between capitalism and income inequality for a large sample of countries using an adjusted economic freedom index as proxy for capitalism. Our results suggest that there is no robust relationship between economic freedom and Gini coefficients based on gross income. Subsequently, we analyze the relationship between income redistribution and ethno-linguistic fractionalization. We find that the impact of ethno-linguistic fractionalization on income redistribution is conditional on the level of economic freedom: countries that have a high degree of fractionalization redistribute income less, while capitalist countries that have a low degree of fractionalization redistribute income more.

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Gini playing soccer

Paulo Reis Mourão & Joaquim Santos Teixeira
Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The level of income inequality in a European country influences the competitive balance of its major soccer leagues. We test this hypothesis using cointegration techniques for seven male professional soccer leagues (the Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Ukrainian soccer leagues) from the 1980/1981 season to the 2011/2012 season. Controlling for the level of income inequality using variables such as real GDP per capita, trade openness and the emigration rate, we conclude that income inequality (measured by the Gini index) causes changes in the measures of competitive balance that we employ (the Hirschman–Herfindahl index and the SD) concerning the final number of points scored by the various teams.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Talk to me

Choking Under Social Pressure: Social Monitoring Among the Lonely

Megan Knowles et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, June 2015, Pages 805-821

Abstract:
Lonely individuals may decode social cues well but have difficulty putting such skills to use precisely when they need them - in social situations. In four studies, we examined whether lonely people choke under social pressure by asking participants to complete social sensitivity tasks framed as diagnostic of social skills or nonsocial skills. Across studies, lonely participants performed worse than nonlonely participants on social sensitivity tasks framed as tests of social aptitude, but they performed just as well or better than the nonlonely when the same tasks were framed as tests of academic aptitude. Mediational analyses in Study 3 and misattribution effects in Study 4 indicate that anxiety plays an important role in this choking effect. This research suggests that lonely individuals may not need to acquire social skills to escape loneliness; instead, they must learn to cope with performance anxiety in interpersonal interactions.

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Humblebragging: A Distinct - And Ineffective - Self-Presentation Strategy

Ovul Sezer, Francesca Gino & Michael Norton
Harvard Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
Humblebragging - bragging masked by a complaint - is a distinct and, given the rise of social media, increasingly ubiquitous form of self-promotion. We show that although people often choose to humblebrag when motivated to make a good impression, it is an ineffective self-promotional strategy. Five studies offer both correlational and causal evidence that humblebragging has both global costs - reducing liking and perceived sincerity - and specific costs: it is even ineffective in signaling the specific trait that that a person wants to promote. Moreover, humblebragging is less effective than simply complaining, because complainers are at least seen as sincere. Despite people's belief that combining bragging and complaining confers the benefits of both self-promotion strategies, humblebragging fails to pay off.

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From "We" to "Me": Group Identification Enhances Perceived Personal Control With Consequences for Health and Well-Being

Katharine Greenaway et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
There is growing recognition that identification with social groups can protect and enhance health and well-being, thereby constituting a kind of "social cure." The present research explores the role of control as a novel mediator of the relationship between shared group identity and well-being. Five studies provide evidence for this process. Group identification predicted significantly greater perceived personal control across 47 countries (Study 1), and in groups that had experienced success and failure (Study 2). The relationship was observed longitudinally (Study 3) and experimentally (Study 4). Manipulated group identification also buffered a loss of personal control (Study 5). Across the studies, perceived personal control mediated social cure effects in political, academic, community, and national groups. The findings reveal that the personal benefits of social groups come not only from their ability to make people feel good, but also from their ability to make people feel capable and in control of their lives.

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The Way I Make You Feel: Social Exclusion Enhances the Ability to Manage Others' Emotions

Elaine Cheung & Wendi Gardner
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2015, Pages 59-75

Abstract:
Original conceptions of social exclusion focused upon the negative impact of exclusion on intelligent thought (Baumeister, Twenge, & Nuss, 2002). We propose that although exclusion may impair cognitive forms of intelligence, exclusion should enhance more socially relevant forms of intelligence, such as emotional intelligence. Specifically, we examined whether exclusion would enhance performance in one branch of emotional intelligence: the ability to manage others' emotions. Social exclusion heightened the number and breadth of strategies that participants used for managing others' emotions when responding to hypothetical scenarios (Study 1) and when responding to online pen pals (Studies 3 and 4). Furthermore, excluded participants were more effective at energizing an interaction partner in a face-to-face coaching interaction (Study 2) and were rated as more effective at managing their pen pal's emotions in an online pen pal exchange (Studies 3 and 4). Although exclusion heightened the number and breadth of emotion management strategies generated in a social task, exclusion did not heighten the number or breadth of nonsocial strategies (creative uses for common household items) generated in a comparison task (Study 4). Lastly, we found preliminary evidence suggesting that this enhanced emotion management after exclusion may serve to facilitate reconnection; excluded participants were liked more by their interaction partners (Study 2) and were rated to be more likable by objective coders (Studies 3 and 4). Altogether, these findings suggest that individuals may be more effective at managing others' emotions following social exclusion, and this greater effectiveness may promote reconnection.

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Bad habit or social good? How perceptions of gossiper morality are related to gossip content

Kim Peters & Yoshihisa Kashima
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
From a folk perspective, gossipers (individuals who talk about the behaviours of others) are considered to be immoral individuals, doing harm to those they discuss. However, this folk perspective sits uneasily with recent claims that gossipers may actually do some good. In particular, it has been suggested that gossipers who share diagnostic information about the morality of social targets may help audiences to identify targets who are trustworthy and those who are not. In this way, gossipers may help audiences adaptively regulate their relationships. In this paper, we examined whether audience perceptions of gossiper morality are influenced by their perceptions that the content of gossip is able to help them regulate their relationships. Participants in two scenario studies and a realistic interaction study were presented with gossip items drawn from a pool of 24 unique behavioural descriptions and asked to rate their perceptions of the gossiper and the content of the gossip item. As predicted, participants perceived gossipers as more moral when gossipers shared the diagnostic morality gossip that participants perceived to serve relationship regulatory functions.

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Competing for Attention in Social Communication Markets

Ganesh Iyer & Zsolt Katona
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the incentives for social communication in the new social media technologies. Three features of online social communication are represented in the model. First, new social media platforms allow for increased connectivity; i.e., they enable sending messages to many more receivers, for the same fixed cost, compared to traditional word of mouth. Second, users contribute content because they derive status- or image-based utility from being listened to by their peers. Third, we capture the role of social differentiation, or how social distance between people affects their preferences for messages. In the model, agents endogenously decide whether to be a sender of information and then compete for the attention of receivers. An important point of this paper is that social communication incentives diminish even as the reach or the span of communication increases. As the span of communication increases, competition between senders for receiver attention becomes more intense, resulting in senders competing with greater equilibrium messaging effort. This in turn leads to lower equilibrium payoffs and the entry of fewer senders. This result provides a strategic rationale for the so-called participation inequality phenomenon, which is a characteristic of many social media platforms. We also show that social differentiation may enhance or deter sender entry depending on whether it can be endogenously influenced by senders. Finally, we examine how the underlying network structure (in terms of its density and its degree distribution) affects communication and uncover a nonmonotonic pattern in that increased connectivity first increases and then reduces the entry of senders.

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When People Evaluate Others, the Level of Others' Narcissism Matters Less to Evaluators Who Are Narcissistic

Harry Wallace et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Prior studies have documented how people in general respond to others' narcissism, but existing research offers few clues about whether and how evaluator narcissism influences judgments of traits associated with narcissism. Participants completed the Narcissistic Personality Inventory and then evaluated hypothetical target persons. Target narcissism was conveyed through a single trait description (Study 1), a list of traits (Study 2), or Facebook content (Study 3). Narcissistic qualities were reliably viewed unfavorably, but narcissistic participants were comparatively less bothered by target narcissism and less positive in their judgments of targets without narcissistic qualities. In each study, symptoms of the presence or absence of narcissism had less impact on the social judgments of participants who were narcissistic.

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Harmony From Chaos? Perceptual-Motor Delays Enhance Behavioral Anticipation in Social Interaction

Auriel Washburn et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Effective interpersonal coordination is fundamental to robust social interaction, and the ability to anticipate a coactor's behavior is essential for achieving this coordination. However, coordination research has focused on the behavioral synchrony that occurs between the simple periodic movements of coactors and, thus, little is known about the anticipation that occurs during complex, everyday interaction. Research on the dynamics of coupled neurons, human motor control, electrical circuits, and laser semiconductors universally demonstrates that small temporal feedback delays are necessary for the anticipation of chaotic events. We therefore investigated whether similar feedback delays would promote anticipatory behavior during social interaction. Results revealed that coactors were not only able to anticipate others' chaotic movements when experiencing small perceptual-motor delays, but also exhibited movement patterns of equivalent complexity. This suggests that such delays, including those within the human nervous system, may enhance, rather than hinder, the anticipatory processes that underlie successful social interaction.

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You Call It "Self-Exuberance"; I Call It "Bragging": Miscalibrated Predictions of Emotional Responses to Self-Promotion

Irene Scopelliti, George Loewenstein & Joachim Vosgerau
Psychological Science, June 2015, Pages 903-914

Abstract:
People engage in self-promotional behavior because they want others to hold favorable images of them. Self-promotion, however, entails a trade-off between conveying one's positive attributes and being seen as bragging. We propose that people get this trade-off wrong because they erroneously project their own feelings onto their interaction partners. As a consequence, people overestimate the extent to which recipients of their self-promotion will feel proud of and happy for them, and underestimate the extent to which recipients will feel annoyed (Experiments 1 and 2). Because people tend to promote themselves excessively when trying to make a favorable impression on others, such efforts often backfire, causing targets of self-promotion to view self-promoters as less likeable and as braggarts (Experiment 3).

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A natural experiment of social network formation and dynamics

Tuan Phan & Edoardo Airoldi
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 26 May 2015, Pages 6595-6600

Abstract:
Social networks affect many aspects of life, including the spread of diseases, the diffusion of information, the workers' productivity, and consumers' behavior. Little is known, however, about how these networks form and change. Estimating causal effects and mechanisms that drive social network formation and dynamics is challenging because of the complexity of engineering social relations in a controlled environment, endogeneity between network structure and individual characteristics, and the lack of time-resolved data about individuals' behavior. We leverage data from a sample of 1.5 million college students on Facebook, who wrote more than 630 million messages and 590 million posts over 4 y, to design a long-term natural experiment of friendship formation and social dynamics in the aftermath of a natural disaster. The analysis shows that affected individuals are more likely to strengthen interactions, while maintaining the same number of friends as unaffected individuals. Our findings suggest that the formation of social relationships may serve as a coping mechanism to deal with high-stress situations and build resilience in communities.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Don't mess with me

Seeing red: How perceptions of social status and worth influence hostile attributions and endorsement of aggression

James Davis & Christine Reyna
British Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Within social hierarchies, low social status is associated with increased vigilance, hostile expectations, and reactive aggression. We propose that societal devaluation is common across many low social status groups and produces a sense of threatened social worth. Threatened social worth may lead those of low status to be more vigilant towards social threats, thereby increasing the likelihood of hostile attributions and endorsement of aggression. Integrating theory on belongingness, social rejection, and stigma compensation, two studies test a sequential process model demonstrating that threatened social worth mediates the relationship between status, hostile attributions, and endorsement of aggression. Employing a relative status manipulation, Study 2 reveals a causal effect of status and highlights the importance of perceptions of low social status on threatened social worth. These data demonstrate the role of social worth in explaining the link between status and hostility and have implications for research in the social, health, and developmental domains.

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Digital poison? Three studies examining the influence of violent video games on youth

Christopher Ferguson et al.
Computers in Human Behavior, September 2015, Pages 399-410

Abstract:
The role of violent video games in the development of aggression and mental health issues in youth continues to be controversial in the scholarly community and general public. Compared to college students, few studies have directly examined the potential impact of violent video games on youth and current evidence is mixed. The current article attempts to address this with three studies examining violent game play in youth aged 12-18. In Study 1, youth were randomized to play closely matched action games with either violent or non-violent content. Youth were given the opportunity to act aggressively using an ice water task. Study 2 was a conceptual replication of Study 1, with slower narrative games rather than action games. Study 3 examined the issue in a correlational study of youth, contrasting exposure to violent video games in youth's personal lives to their exposure to violence in controversial books while controlling for other variables including family, peer and personality variables. None of the studies provided evidence for concerns linking video game violence to aggressive behaviors or reduced empathy in youth.

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The Mainstreaming of Verbally Aggressive Online Political Behaviors

Vincent Cicchirillo, Jay Hmielowski & Myiah Hutchens
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, May 2015, Pages 253-259

Abstract:
The purpose of this paper was to investigate the relationship between verbal aggression and uncivil media attention on political flaming. More specifically, this paper examines whether the use of uncivil media programming is associated with the perceived acceptability and intention to engage in aggressive online discussions (i.e., online political flaming) and whether this relationship varies by verbal aggression. The results show that individuals less inclined to engage in aggressive communication tactics (i.e., low in verbal aggression) become more accepting of flaming and show greater intention to flame as their attention to uncivil media increases. By contrast, those with comparatively higher levels of verbal aggression show a decrease in acceptance and intention to flame as their attention to these same media increases.

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Not Just Black and White: Peer Victimization and the Intersectionality of School Diversity and Race

Sycarah Fisher et al.
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, June 2015, Pages 1241-1250

Abstract:
Although bullying is a prevalent issue in the United States, limited research has explored the impact of school diversity on types of bullying behavior. This study explores the relationship between school diversity, student race, and bullying within the school context. The participants were African American and Caucasian middle school students (n = 4,581; 53.4 % female). Among the participants, 89.4 % were Caucasian and 10.6 % were African American. The research questions examined the relationship between school diversity, student race and bullying behaviors, specifically race-based victimization. The findings suggested that Caucasian middle school students experience more bullying than African American students generally, and specifically when minorities in school settings. Caucasian students also experienced almost three times the amount of race-based victimization than African American students when school diversity was held constant. Interestingly, African American students experienced twice the amount of race-based victimization than Caucasian students when in settings with more students of color. The present study provides insight into bullying behaviors across different contexts for different races and highlights the need to further investigate interactions between personal and environmental factors on the bulling experiences of youth.

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Competition Makes Observers Remember Faces as More Aggressive

Benjamin Balas & Laura Thomas
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
People use facial appearance to predict social behavior, but can social context also influence face perception? Leveraging a link between competition and aggression, we investigated the effects of competitive interactions with confederates on participants' performance in a face reconstruction task. Participants played a game either in competition or cooperation with confederates and were then asked to create facial portraits of these confederates by arranging their component features into their best estimate of an accurate configuration. Across 2 experiments, participants who played in a competitive context reconstructed faces in a more aggressive configuration - with higher width-to-height ratios - than did participants who played cooperatively or alone. This result demonstrates that the social perception of faces is not merely a feed-forward process, but instead that the social contexts in which people interact can shape memory for faces.

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Red clothing increases perceived dominance, aggression and anger

Diana Wiedemann et al.
Biology Letters, May 2015

Abstract:
The presence and intensity of red coloration correlate with male dominance and testosterone in a variety of animal species, and even artificial red stimuli can influence dominance interactions. In humans, red stimuli are perceived as more threatening and dominant than other colours, and wearing red increases the probability of winning sporting contests. We investigated whether red clothing biases the perception of aggression and dominance outside of competitive settings, and whether red influences decoding of emotional expressions. Participants rated digitally manipulated images of men for aggression and dominance and categorized the emotional state of these stimuli. Men were rated as more aggressive and more dominant when presented in red than when presented in either blue or grey. The effect on perceived aggression was found for male and female raters, but only male raters were sensitive to red as a signal of dominance. In a categorization test, images were significantly more often categorized as 'angry' when presented in the red condition, demonstrating that colour stimuli affect perceptions of emotions. This suggests that the colour red may be a cue used to predict propensity for dominance and aggression in human males.

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Physical and Verbal Assaults Behind Bars: Does Military Experience Matter?

Melissa Stacer & Monica Solinas-Saunders
Prison Journal, June 2015, Pages 199-222

Abstract:
Returning military troops have garnered attention, but there is little focus on veterans in the correctional setting. Approximately 11% of U.S. inmates are veterans, and there are striking similarities between military and prison life. Because veterans have experience with institutional settings, one hypothesis is that incarcerated veterans will better adapt to prison compared with non-veterans and will be less likely to engage in misconduct. This article measures prison misconduct, focusing on serious interpersonal violations, specifically verbal and physical assaults. Findings illustrate that there are no differences between veteran and non-veteran inmates in the likelihood of this kind of misconduct.

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Violent Video Games Increase Voice Stress: An Experimental Study

Youssef Hasan
Psychology of Popular Media Culture, forthcoming

Abstract:
In most violent video games, players are put in stressful situations where enemies are trying to kill them. This is reflected by the results of previous research showing that violent video games increase physiological arousal (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure, galvanic skin response). In this study, I investigate the effect of playing violent video games on emotional stress detected by a new methodology: voice analysis. Because changes and disturbances in vocal responses can be understood as reactions to emotional stress, I expected that violent videogames would increase voice stress. Participants (N = 87 French university students; 40% female; Mage = 21.2) played either a violent or nonviolent game for 20 min. After game play, participants read a stress-provoking story aloud while their voices were recorded. Voice recordings were analyzed to determine the amount of emotional stress in participants' voices using Automated Voice Stress Analysis. As hypothesized, voice stress was higher among violent video game players than among nonviolent video game players. Voice stress was also higher for men than for women. No interaction between video game content and the gender of participants was observed. This study confirms that violent video games have physiological consequences on players, as predicted by the General Aggression Model and also introduces a promising nonobtrusive physiological measure in media psychology research.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, June 5, 2015

Popularity contest

When Politics Is a Woman's Game: Party and Gender Ownership in Woman-Versus-Woman Elections

Lindsey Meeks & David Domke
Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on the interplay of gender and political party in voters' candidate evaluations has long focused on all-male elections and more recently on mixed-gender elections. This study takes the next theoretical step and focuses on woman-versus-woman elections. Specifically, we examine political party- and gender-based "ownerships" of political issues and character traits in the context of female-only elections. With an experimental design, adult participants were randomly assigned to read news articles that presented either two Republican or two Democratic women competing for Governor. Candidates were presented as "owning" stereotypically masculine or feminine issues and traits. Findings show that self-identified Democrats and Republicans eschewed the so-called masculine candidate, and preferred instead a partisan woman who created a gender balance of masculinity and femininity.

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The Gendered Face of Partisan Politics: Consequences of Facial Sex Typicality for Vote Choice

Colleen Carpinella et al.
Political Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
Facial cues are consequential for voters' behavior at the polls. Yet the facial cues that are associated with vote choice remain under-examined. We predicted that vote choice judgments rely, in part, on the sex typicality of facial cues (i.e., the degree of facial masculinity and femininity) that vary as a function of candidate gender and partisan identification. Stimuli included image pairs of winners and runners-up in the elections for the 111th U.S. House of Representatives. In Study 1, we found that female Republican candidates who appeared relatively more feminine and male Republican candidates who looked relatively less masculine in their appearance were more likely to win their election. Democratic candidates' electoral success was not related to their sex typicality. In Study 2, we found that relatively masculine-appearing Democrats and feminine-appearing Republicans were more likely to be selected in a hypothetical vote choice task. Implications for U.S. partisan politics are discussed.

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Electoral institutions, gender stereotypes, and women's local representation

Melody Crowder-Meyer, Shana Kushner Gadarian & Jessica Trounstine
Politics, Groups and Identities, Spring 2015, Pages 318-334

Abstract:
Despite dramatic progress in winning election to political office, women remain underrepresented at all levels of government in the USA. A great deal of research has focused on institutional barriers to equal representation, particularly at the city level. Yet, the findings have been inconsistent across studies and little attention has been paid to the possible mechanisms that might account for the relationships between institutions and representation. In this paper, we focus on one particularly well-studied institution – the method of election for city councilors. We use a decade of candidate-level data from a single, large state (California) to show that women are significantly advantaged in district (versus at-large) elections and in city clerkships compared with mayoralties and council positions. We suggest that this may be the result of the competitiveness of elections, the status of the offices, and gender stereotypes. We offer support for this argument by analyzing the proportion of women elected to city councils and the probability of victory for different types of offices including city council, mayor, and city clerk.

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Political uncertainty and the 2012 US presidential election: A cointegration study of prediction markets, polls and a stand-out expert

John Goodell, Frank McGroarty & Andrew Urquhart
International Review of Financial Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
Political uncertainty is increasingly seen as important to financial markets. Particularly US presidential election uncertainty is linked to uncertainty regarding future US macroeconomic policy. But what is the best vehicle to measure political uncertainty? We examine both the cointegration and causal relationships between the Iowa and Intrade presidential futures markets (IOWA, INTRADE), along with the results of election polls (POLLS); as well as published election predictions of Nate Silver (SILVER), who was arguably the most followed political forecaster during the 2012 presidential election season. We document strong evidence that SILVER and the two prediction markets were all highly cointegrated; while POLLS was not. Consistent with the assertion made by others that INTRADE prices were manipulated in 2012 for non-pecuniary reasons, we also evidence that IOWA and SILVER both Granger-caused INTRADE. Our findings are also consistent with previous findings that election markets outperform polls as prediction vehicles. Overall, while confirming that INTRADE, IOWA and SILVER are cointegrated, we note that the three series consistently differed in the degree of optimism in an Obama victor. These results pose important questions for researchers interested in estimating political uncertainty, and assessing the efficacy of prediction markets and their international integration.

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Under-performing, over-performing, or just performing? The limitations of fundamentals-based presidential election forecasting

Benjamin Lauderdale & Drew Linzer
International Journal of Forecasting, forthcoming

Abstract:
U.S. presidential election forecasts are of widespread interest to political commentators, campaign strategists, research scientists, and the public. We argue that most fundamentals-based political science forecasts overstate what historical political and economic factors can tell us about the probable outcome of a forthcoming presidential election. Existing approaches generally overlook the uncertainty in coefficient estimates, decisions about model specifications, and the translation from popular vote shares to Electoral College outcomes. We introduce a Bayesian forecasting model for state-level presidential elections that accounts for each of these sources of error, and allows for the inclusion of structural predictors at both the national and state levels. Applying the model to presidential election data from 1952 to 2012, we demonstrate that, for covariates with typical levels of predictive power, the 95% prediction intervals for presidential vote shares should span approximately ±10% at the state level and ±7% at the national level.

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Origins of Presidential poll aggregation: A perspective from 2004 to 2012

Samuel Wang
International Journal of Forecasting, forthcoming

Abstract:
US political reporting has become extraordinarily rich in polling data. However, this increase in information availability has not been matched by an improvement in the accuracy of poll-based news stories, which usually examine a single survey at a time, rather than providing an aggregated, more accurate view. In 2004, I developed a meta-analysis that reduced the polling noise for the Presidential race by reducing all available state polls to a snapshot at a single time, known as the Electoral Vote estimator. Assuming that Presidential pollsters are accurate in the aggregate, the snapshot has an accuracy equivalent to less than ±0.5% in the national popular-vote margin. The estimator outperforms both the aggregator FiveThirtyEight and the betting market InTrade. Complex models, which adjust individual polls and employ pre-campaign "fundamental" variables, improve the accuracy in individual states but provide little or no advantage in overall performance, while at the same time reducing transparency. A polls-only snapshot can also identify shifts in the race, with a time resolution of a single day, thus assisting in the identification of discrete events that influence a race. Finally, starting at around Memorial Day, variations in the polling snapshot over time are sufficient to enable the production of a high-quality, random-drift-based prediction without a need for the fundamentals that are traditionally used by political science models. In summary, the use of polls by themselves can capture the detailed dynamics of Presidential races and make predictions. Taken together, these qualities make the meta-analysis a sensitive indicator of the ups and downs of a national campaign — in short, a precise electoral thermometer.

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Saving Face: Identifying Voter Responses to Black Candidates and Female Candidates

Yanna Krupnikov, Spencer Piston & Nichole Bauer
Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Much of what we know about the responses of voters to Black candidates and female candidates comes from experimental research. Yet the accuracy of experimental data can be threatened by the possibility that social desirability pressures contaminate self-reporting. We address this threat in a project that considers psychological approaches to reducing social desirability pressures. Offering participants the opportunity to explain their decisions about sensitive subjects, such as voting for a Black or female candidate, can lessen social desirability pressures. We analyze this approach across three commonly used samples: undergraduate, adult convenience, and adult national. Our results suggest that existing experimental research overestimates voter support for Black and female candidates, but these issues can be mitigated with the simple innovation presented here.

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Media competition and electoral politics

Amedeo Piolatto & Florian Schuett
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We build a framework linking competition in the media market to political participation. Media outlets report on the ability of candidates running for office and compete for audience through their choice of slant. Citizens consume news only if the expected utility of being informed about candidates' ability is sufficiently large for their group collectively. Our results can reconcile seemingly contradictory empirical evidence showing that entry in the media market can either increase or decrease turnout. While information pushes up independent turnout, partisans adjust their turnout to the ability of their preferred candidate, and on average they vote less when informed.

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Realizing "strategic" voting in presidential primaries

Gar Culbert
Rationality and Society, May 2015, Pages 224-256

Abstract:
Those who study vote choice in presidential nominating contests often ask, "Are voters sincere (voting with their 'true' preferences), are they sophisticated (giving more weight to a candidate's chances of winning the nomination), or are they strategic (placing greater value on a candidate's chances of winning a general election)?" By analyzing survey data from the 1984, 1988, 2000, and 2004 presidential nominating contests, this study argues that voters are more strategic than previously understood, and that prior studies, confined by methodology and data, are often mistaken when they maintain that primary voters are sophisticated. In actuality, primary voters are more likely to cast strategic votes, and not sophisticated ones.

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Passion or Dollars? How Mobilization Can Spoil the Mother's Milk of Politics

Jeff Smith
Political Research Quarterly, June 2015, Pages 253-265

Abstract:
Evidence regarding the influence of campaign donations and lobbying efforts on legislative behavior is mixed. Much research — not to mention conventional wisdom — suggests that well-funded interest groups exploit their resource advantage by making campaign contributions and deploying lobbyists to gain informational advantages and influence legislation. Using contribution data, information about interest group support for legislation, and a rare data set — constituent contacts to six state legislative offices — this paper examines how interest group donations and constituent activism influence outcomes. Although the amount of money contributed by groups supporting or opposing a bill did not affect its prospects, constituent contacts had a substantial impact. Political expenditures by business firms appear primarily to sustain an entrenched class of lobbyists and consultants.

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Early Voting: Do More Sites Lead to Higher Turnout?

Elliott Fullmer
Election Law Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
In both 2008 and 2012, about one-third of U.S. voters cast their ballots before Election Day. Reformers have argued that early voting lowers participation costs and should therefore increase turnout. Recent research, however, has reported that no positive relationship exists. The literature widely omits consideration of important differences in early voting implementation within states. I break from past research and measure early voting availability at the county level, where it often varies considerably. I rely on Election Assistance Commission data on the number of early voting sites available in 2008 and 2012. Specifically, I measure the effect of a county's early voting site density on turnout. My model controls for other known participation predictors, including lagged turnout, demographics, political variables, and voter identification requirements. Ultimately, I find that early voting site density has a significant and positive effect on voter turnout.

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State Party Competition and Citizens' Political Engagement

Patrick Flavin & Gregory Shufeldt
Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, forthcoming

Abstract:
Is living in a politically competitive state beneficial for democratic citizenship? Given citizens' generally limited information about state politics, we argue that the most effective method of evaluating this question is by examining the degree to which the two parties generally compete for control of state government. Using data on citizens' political attitudes and participation from the American National Election Studies and the Ranney measure of state party competition, we investigate the relationship between state party competition and citizen engagement from 1952 to 2008. Our analysis reveals that citizens report more interest in politics and participate at higher rates when there is greater competition between the two parties in their state. We also find that the relationship between competition and engagement has varied over time and that it is the strongest among citizens with lower levels of education and income. These findings suggest that vigorous competition for control of state government has important implications for citizens' political engagement and, ultimately, the quality of democracy in the American states.

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Talking the Talk but Not Walking the Walk: Public Reactions to Hypocrisy in Political Scandal

Monika McDermott, Douglas Schwartz & Sebastian Vallejo
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Aggregate, survey, and experimental research into political scandal teaches us how the public reacts to revelations of misdeeds on behalf of its elected representatives. One common scenario, however, has been largely overlooked in scandal studies: the effects of hypocrisy in scandal. Examples abound of politicians who campaign on values that they then directly betray with their actions in office. Conventional wisdom, however, holds that such hypocrisy is an unpardonable transgression. We examine whether and how hypocrisy affects public reactions to political scandal and its perpetrators. Using a Quinnipiac University survey experiment, we demonstrate that negative judgments of a hypothetical politician caught in an adulterous relationship not only vary by degree depending on the presence or absence of hypocrisy but that they also vary by type of judgment. Individuals generally react more negatively to politicians in hypocritical scandal situations than nonhypocritical ones. In addition, a hypocritical situation affects public judgments of a politician's competence in office, above and beyond other judgments, demonstrating an added professional aspect to judgments of scandals when they involve hypocrisy.

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Super Tuesday: Campaign finance and the dynamics of sequential elections

Rainer Schwabe
Social Choice and Welfare, April 2015, Pages 927-951

Abstract:
I develop a model of campaign finance in primary elections in which campaigns, which supply hard information about candidates' electability, must be financed by strategic donors. I provide a rationale for Super Tuesday electoral calendars in which a block of voters vote simultaneously early in the election followed by other voters voting sequentially. For a range of campaign costs, such a calendar maximizes expected donations to nomination campaigns and, thus, the ex-ante probability of electing the best candidate over all possible electoral calendars.

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Voice Lessons: Rethinking the Relationship Between Education and Political Participation

Meghan Condon
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
The association between education and political participation is one of the strongest and most reliable in American politics, but it is poorly understood. Whether human capital acquired through education affects participation remains unknown. Most studies of this question restrict measurement of human capital to years of schooling (attainment) or civics knowledge. But attainment is a weak instrument for human capital, which varies considerably within attainment levels. And skills beyond civics — particularly verbal communication skills — are politically important. With data from the National Education Longitudinal Study, I examine the relationship between verbal skills acquired in school during adolescence and participation later in life. I find a strong positive effect, showing that when young people learn to use their voices in school, they are more likely to speak up as participatory adults. The findings reveal an important mechanism by which education affects democratic life, call for a broadening of the empirical treatment of education in political science, and suggest an answer to the puzzle of participation.

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The Long and Short of It: The Unpredictability of Late Deciding Voters

Janet Box-Steffensmeier et al.
Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the long- and short-campaign forces and their effects on the error variance in models of presidential voting decisions. Using a heteroskedastic probit allows a separate equation for the error variance and thus insight into campaign effects on uncertainty. Controlling for political sophistication, partisan strength and ambivalence, the choices of voters deciding later in the campaign are consistently less predictable. This is important because the number of late deciders has increased in recent elections. Furthermore, ambivalence and residing in a battleground state are stronger sources of error variance among late deciders.

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Party Nomination Rules and Campaign Participation

Georgia Kernell
Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines how political party organizations shape campaign participation in advanced industrialized parliamentary democracies. In some parties, members directly nominate candidates to run for parliament. In others, selection is the sole responsibility of the party leadership. Two countervailing arguments are presented: one stating that member participation will increase incentives to get involved in campaigns; the other contending that democratic nominations expose internal party divisions and depress participation. The hypotheses are tested using cross-national election surveys and original candidate selection data. Participation is measured in two ways: campaign activity and political persuasion. The results suggest that partisans are more likely to participate when leaders, rather than members, select candidates. In addition, the article examines the role of party ideology, size, incumbency, and heterogeneity in shaping participation.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Such a happy couple

Can Marriage Education Mitigate the Risks Associated With Premarital Cohabitation?

Galena Rhoades et al.
Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study tested whether relationship education (i.e., the Prevention and Relationship Education Program; PREP) can mitigate the risk of having cohabited before making a mutual commitment to marry (i.e., "precommitment cohabitation") for marital distress and divorce. Using data from a study of PREP for married couples in the U.S. Army (N = 662 couples), we found that there was a significant association between precommitment cohabitation and lower marital satisfaction and dedication before random assignment to intervention. After intervention, this precommitment cohabitation effect was only apparent in the control group. Specifically, significant interactions between intervention condition and cohabitation history indicated that for the control group, but not the PREP group, precommitment cohabitation was associated with lower dedication as well as declines in marital satisfaction and increases in negative communication over time. Furthermore, those with precommitment cohabitation were more likely to divorce by the 2-year follow-up only in the control group; there were no differences in divorce based on premarital cohabitation history in the PREP group. These findings are discussed in light of current research on cohabitation and relationship education; potential implications are also considered.

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Does Increased Sexual Frequency Enhance Happiness?

George Loewenstein et al.
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, August 2015, Pages 206–218

Abstract:
Prior research observing a positive correlation between happiness and sexual frequency has not been able to determine whether increased frequency leads, causally, to an increase in happiness. We present results from the first experimental study to address the question of causality. We recruited couples and randomly assigned half to double their frequency of intercourse. We find that increased frequency does not lead to increased happiness, perhaps because it leads to a decline in wanting for, and enjoyment of, sex.

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Effect of relationship status on perceptions of physical attractiveness for alternative partners

Whitney Petit & Thomas Ford
Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
Coupled people, those in a relationship, devaluate the attractiveness of an alternative partner compared to noncoupled people (D. J. Johnson & C. E. Rusbult, 1989). The present research tested two competing hypotheses about the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon. According to the motivational hypothesis, coupled and noncoupled people initially perceive opposite-sex others as equally attractive. Coupled people, however, recalibrate their perceptions. In contrast, the perceptual hypothesis proposes that coupled people do not perceive opposite-sex others as attractive. The present study tested these competing hypotheses by measuring both involuntary and self-reported perceptions of attractiveness of opposite-sex models. Supporting the motivational hypothesis, coupled participants (n = 38) and noncoupled participants (n = 34) exhibited the same degree of pupil dilation, however, coupled participants reported lower attractiveness ratings.

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Variation in Marital Quality in a National Sample of Divorced Women

Spencer James
Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous work has compared marital quality between stably married and divorced individuals. Less work has examined the possibility of variation among divorcés in trajectories of marital quality as divorce approaches. This study addressed that hole by first examining whether distinct trajectories of marital quality can be discerned among women whose marriages ended in divorce and, second, the profile of women who experienced each trajectory. Latent class growth analyses with longitudinal data from a nationally representative sample were used to "look backward" from the time of divorce. Although demographic and socioeconomic variables from this national sample did not predict the trajectories well, nearly 66% of divorced women reported relatively high levels of both happiness and communication and either low or moderate levels of conflict. Future research including personality or interactional patterns may lead to theoretical insights about patterns of marital quality in the years leading to divorce.

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The effects of being in a "new relationship" on levels of testosterone in men

Daniel Farrelly et al.
Evolutionary Psychology, March 2015, Pages 250-261

Abstract:
In light of previous research showing that different types of relationships affect levels of testosterone in men, this study examined whether categorizing relationship types according to relationship length can shed further light on variations in levels of testosterone. Salivary testosterone samples were obtained from a sample of men and details about their relationship status, sociosexual orientation, extra-pair sexual interest, and their perceptions of their relationships were recorded. Using a median split analysis, participants who indicated that they had been in their relationship for less than 12 months were categorized as being in "new relationships" and those in longer relationships being categorized as in long-term relationships. Results showed that levels of testosterone of single men and men in new relationships did not differ, but both had significantly greater levels of testosterone than men in long-term relationships. Differences in levels of testosterone were unrelated to sociosexual orientation and extra-pair sexual interest. These findings support the evolutionary explanation of levels of testosterone in men varying in accordance with their internal motivation to seek new potential mates.

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Perceived Partner Responsiveness Predicts Diurnal Cortisol Profiles 10 Years Later

Richard Slatcher, Emre Selcuk & Anthony Ong
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Several decades of research have demonstrated that marital relationships have a powerful influence on physical health. However, surprisingly little is known about how marriage affects health — both in terms of psychological processes and biological ones. Over a 10-year period, we investigated the associations between perceived partner responsiveness — the extent to which people feel understood, cared for, and appreciated by their romantic partners — and diurnal cortisol in a large sample of married and cohabitating couples in the United States. Partner responsiveness predicted higher cortisol values at awakening and steeper (i.e., healthier) cortisol slopes at the 10-year follow-up. These associations remained strong after we controlled for demographic factors, depressive symptoms, agreeableness, and other positive and negative relationship factors. Furthermore, declines in negative affect over the 10-year period mediated the prospective association between responsiveness and cortisol slope. These findings suggest that diurnal cortisol may be a key biological pathway through which social relationships affect long-term health.

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Relationship quality and oxytocin: Influence of stable and modifiable aspects of relationships

Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Wendy Birmingham & Kathleen Light
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, June 2015, Pages 472-490

Abstract:
Prior studies report that couples with higher relationship quality show higher oxytocin (OT) levels, yet other studies report those with higher distress have increased OT. This study investigated these competing predictions in the context of a support enhancement intervention among 34 young married couples (N = 68). Preintervention marital quality (Dyadic Adjustment Scale) was examined for associations with plasma and salivary OT levels 4 weeks apart and for changes between these time points within the intervention group. High relationship quality, not distress, was associated with higher OT in both saliva and plasma at both time points. No significant interaction was found between marital quality and intervention condition; relationship quality and support intervention were both independently associated with higher postintervention OT levels.

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Different Dimensions, Different Mechanisms? Distinguishing Relationship Status and Quality Effects on Desistance

Ashley Brooke Barr & Ronald Simons
Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study follows from a long line of research aimed at understanding the effects of romantic relationships on desistance from crime. We expanded this work by testing the differential effects of relationship status (i.e., single, dating, cohabiting, married) and relationship quality on crime and the different mechanisms explaining these effects. We drew upon longitudinal data on African American young adults, and utilized a fixed effects approach to examine intraindividual change in relationship status, relationship quality, and offending. Results suggested that, for men, relationship status was directly associated with crime, in that coresidential unions reduced offending independent of their quality. High-quality relationships, however, were found to deter crime for both men and women no matter their form. The effect of relationship status was largely accounted for by social control processes, whereas the relationship quality effect was explained by cognitive transformation, particularly a change in the "criminogenic knowledge structure." These findings demand greater attention to multiple dimensions of relationships and the unique mechanisms through which they may foster desistance.

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The Socioeconomic Pathways Leading to Romantic Relationship Outcomes: A Genetically Informed Early Life Course Investigation

Kandauda (K.A.S.) Wickrama & Catherine O'Neal
Journal of Research on Adolescence, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present study tests a multilevel comprehensive model incorporating both life course processes and genetic influences leading to young adults' romantic relationship quality using data from 1,560 adolescents over 13 years in the nationally representative Add Health sample. Results provided evidence of a socioeconomic mediating pathway linking early family and community contexts to young adults' romantic relationship quality, and novel evidence for both direct and interactive genetic associations that relate to these mediating pathways. A cumulative genetic index showed (a) direct associations with young adults' socioeconomic attainment and (b) interactions with community adversity and mothers' marital stability on young adults' achieved socioeconomic context and relationship quality.

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Labor supply and household meal production among working adults in the Health and Retirement Survey

Richard Dunn
Review of Economics of the Household, June 2015, Pages 437-457

Abstract:
In this paper, I consider how working adults near retirement age in the United States allocate time and monetary resources to meal production. Using the Consumption and Activities Mail Survey supplement to the Health and Retirement Survey, I use a fixed-effects tobit specification to estimate the effect of hours worked, labor income, non-labor income and assets on meal production decisions for respondents between 45 and 75 years of age who either live alone or with their spouse/partner. These relationships are estimated separately by gender and household structure (single-headed and dual-headed households). Among single males, increasing labor supply by 10 h per week was associated with 33.8 fewer minutes per week allocated to at-home meal preparation, 39.5 fewer minutes per month eating at restaurants, and $6.73 more per week spent on groceries. In contrast, the time and expenditure allocations of single females did not respond to changes in hours worked. Within dual-member households, increasing own-labor supply by 10 h per week was associated with a decrease in time allocated to preparing meals for both the male (30.4 min per week) and female member (30.5 min per week) with only weak evidence that the spouse/partner compensated by increasing their allocation of time.

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When in Doubt, Reach Out: Touch Is a Covert but Effective Mode of Soliciting and Providing Social Support

Kelley Robinson, Lisa Hoplock & Jessica Cameron
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Social support is critical to personal and relational well-being. Yet, receiving support appears to be contingent upon adequately conveying need to a receptive partner who both understands and is willing to provide said support. Or is it? We provide the first evidence of a covert haptic support system between adult intimates, showing that literally reaching out to a loved one can result in feeling supported even when the receiver of haptic support requests does not perceive them as bids for comfort. We tested this by unobtrusively observing support interactions between dating partners. As expected, those experiencing distress were more likely to seek touch from their partners, which elicited responsive touch — even though receivers failed to discern need from support-seekers' touch. Importantly, those who received responsive touch from their romantic partners felt more supported. Because touch begets touch, clear communication between intimates is not always necessary for successful support interactions.

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Can't get you off my mind: Relationship reflection creates cognitive load for more anxiously attached individuals

Sarah Stanton & Lorne Campbell
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, June 2015, Pages 441-455

Abstract:
Attachment anxiety is characterized by rumination about romantic relationships, particularly when the attachment system is activated. Two studies investigated the hypothesis that more anxiously attached individuals would experience cognitive load when attachment concerns were activated (vs. not activated). Study 1 found that more anxious persons encountering relationship threat (vs. no threat) demonstrated greater holistic processing on a shape categorization task, a type of processing reflective of cognitive load. Study 2 found that more anxious persons encountering relationship threat (vs. no threat or academic threat) exhibited slower reaction times on a Stroop task, a pattern also reflective of cognitive load. This research lends novel insight into how attachment system activation and relationship reflection pose a cognitive vulnerability for more anxious individuals.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Random walks

Are institutions informed about news?

Terrence Hendershott, Dmitry Livdan & Norman Schürhoff
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract
This paper combines daily buy and sell institutional trading volume with all news announcements from Reuters. Using institutional order flow (buy volume minus sell volume) we find a variety of evidence that institutions are informed. Institutional trading volume predicts the occurrence of news announcements. Institutional order flow predicts: (i) the sentiment of the news; (ii) the stock market reaction on news announcement days; (iii) the stock market reaction on crisis news days; and (iv) earnings announcement surprises. These results suggest that significant price discovery related to news stories occurs through institutional trading prior to the news announcement date.

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Market-wide attention, trading, and stock returns

Yu Yuan
Journal of Financial Economics, June 2015, Pages 548-564

Abstract:
Market-wide attention-grabbing events - record levels for the Dow and front-page articles about the stock market - predict the trading behavior of investors and, in turn, market returns. Both aggregate and household-level data reveal that high market-wide attention events lead investors to sell their stock holdings dramatically when the level of the stock market is high. Such aggressive selling has a negative impact on market prices, reducing market returns by 19 basis points on days following attention-grabbing events.

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Seasonal Variation in Treasury Returns

Mark Kamstra, Lisa Kramer & Maurice Levi
Critical Finance Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We document a novel and striking annual cycle in the U.S. Treasury market, with a variation in mean monthly returns of over 80 basis points from peak to trough. We show that this seasonal Treasury return pattern does not arise due to macroeconomic seasonalities, seasonal variation in risk, crosshedging between equity and Treasury markets, conventional measures of investor sentiment, the weather, seasonalities in the Treasury market auction schedule, seasonalities in the Treasury debt supply, seasonalities in the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) cycle, or peculiarities of the sample period considered. Rather, the seasonal pattern in Treasury returns is significantly correlated with a proxy for variation in investor risk aversion linked to mood changes across the seasons, and a model based on that proxy is able to explain more than sixty percent of the average seasonal variation in monthly Treasury returns. The White (White, 2000) reality test confirms that the correlation between returns and the proxy for seasonal variation in investor risk aversion cannot be easily dismissed as the simple result of data snooping.

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Mobile Communication and Local Information Flow: Evidence from Distracted Driving Laws

Nerissa Brown, Han Stice & Roger White
Journal of Accounting Research, May 2015, Pages 275-329

Abstract:
We examine the influence of mobile communication on local information flow and local investor activity using the enforcement of statewide distracted driving restrictions, which are exogenous events that constrain mobile communication while driving. By restricting mobile communication across a potentially sizable set of local individuals, these restrictions could inhibit local information flow and, in turn, the market activity of stocks headquartered in enforcement states. We first document a decline in Google search activity for local stocks when restrictions take effect, suggesting that constraints on mobile communication significantly affect individuals' information search activity. We further find significant declines in local trading volume when restrictions are enforced. This drop in liquidity is (1) attenuated when laws provide substitutive means of mobile communication and (2) magnified when locals have long car commutes and when their daily commutes overlap with regular exchange hours. Moreover, trading volume suffers the most for local stocks with lower institutional ownership, less analyst coverage, and more intangible information. Additional analyses show lower intraday volume during local commute times when mobile connectivity is constrained. Together, our results suggest that local information and local investors matter in stock markets and that mobile communication is an important mechanism through which these elements operate to affect liquidity and price discovery.

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Social Trust and Differential Reactions of Local and Foreign Investors to Public News

Chunxin Jia, Yaping Wang & Wei Xiong
NBER Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
This paper uses the segmented dual-class shares issued by several dozen Chinese firms -- A shares to local Chinese investors and H shares to foreign investors -- to compare reactions of local and foreign investors to the same public news. We find that local investors react more strongly to earnings forecasts by local analysts, while foreign investors react more strongly to forecasts of foreign analysts. This finding highlights social trust as a force driving people with different social backgrounds to react differently to the same information.

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Rational speculative bubbles in the US stock market and political cycles

Miao Wang & Sunny Wong
Finance Research Letters, May 2015, Pages 1-9

Abstract:
This paper tests the existence of rational speculative bubbles during Democratic and Republican presidential terms, which has not been systematically researched in existing studies. With monthly real returns on equally-weighted and value-weighted portfolios in the U.S. from January 1927 to December 2012, we find that there are rational speculative bubbles under Republican Presidents but not under Democratic Presidents. Our results are robust to different specifications.

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The U.S. listing gap

Craig Doidge, Andrew Karolyi & René Stulz
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
The U.S. had 14% fewer exchange-listed firms in 2012 than in 1975. Relative to other countries, the U.S. now has abnormally few listed firms given its level of development and the quality of its institutions. We call this the "U.S. listing gap" and investigate possible explanations for it. We rule out industry changes, changes in listing requirements, and the reforms of the early 2000s as explanations for the gap. We show that the probability that a firm is listed has fallen since the listing peak in 1996 for all firm size categories though more so for smaller firms. From 1997 to the end of our sample period in 2012, the new list rate is low and the delist rate is high compared to U.S. history and to other countries. High delists account for roughly 46% of the listing gap and low new lists for 54%. The high delist rate is explained by an unusually high rate of acquisitions of publicly-listed firms compared to previous U.S. history and to other countries.

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Hidden Liquidity: Some New Light on Dark Trading

Robert Bloomfield, Maureen O'Hara & Gideon Saar
Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a laboratory market, we investigate how the ability to hide orders affects traders' strategies and market outcomes in a limit order book environment. We find that order strategies are greatly affected by allowing hidden liquidity, with traders substituting nondisplayed for displayed shares and changing the aggressiveness of their trading. As traders adapt their behavior to the different opacity regimes, however, most aggregate market outcomes (such as liquidity and informational efficiency) are not affected as much. We also find that opacity appears to increase the profits of informed traders but only when their private information is very valuable.

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Yankee Doodle went to London: Anglo-American breweries and the London securities market, 1888-92

Mary O'Sullivan
Economic History Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
The enthusiasm of British portfolio investors for US industry in the late 1880s has been seen as evidence of the liberalism of the London Stock Exchange and the conservatism of the New York Stock Exchange. Based on a study of Anglo-American brewing issues on the London market between 1888 and 1892, in this article it is argued that such an interpretation cannot be sustained. For these issues, securing access to the London market proved more demanding than accounts of its liberalism would lead us to expect: in fact, Anglo-American brewing companies submitted to strictures from London that were more constraining than those of the New York market. Promoters accepted London's constraints to take advantage of the high valuations assigned to Anglo-American brewing securities there, which reflected the city's success in building demand based on financial machinery that did not exist in New York. That machinery included underwriting syndicates, accounting standards, and the London Stock Exchange's listing rules, although, from this perspective, it was the rigour of the exchange's rules that was important. Still, vetting securities for quotation was not the same as for investment, as the disappointing performance of the Anglo-American brewing securities soon revealed.

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Equilibrium Fast Trading

Bruno Biais, Thierry Foucault & Sophie Moinas
Journal of Financial Economics, May 2015, Pages 292-313

Abstract:
High speed market connections improve investors' ability to search for attractive quotes in fragmented markets, raising gains from trade. They also enable fast traders to obtain information before slow traders, generating adverse selection, and thus negative externalities. When investing in fast trading technologies, institutions do not internalize these externalities. Accordingly, they overinvest in equilibrium. Completely banning fast trading is dominated by offering two types of markets: one accepting fast traders, the other banning them. Utilitarian welfare is maximized with (i) a single market type on which fast and slow traders coexist and (ii) Pigovian taxes on investment in the fast trading technology.

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Picking Winners? Investment Consultants' Recommendations of Fund Managers

Tim Jenkinson, Howard Jones & Jose Vicente Martinez
Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Investment consultants advise institutional investors on their choice of fund manager. Focusing on U.S. actively managed equity funds, we analyze the factors that drive consultants' recommendations, what impact these recommendations have on flows, and how well the recommended funds perform. We find that investment consultants' recommendations of funds are driven largely by soft factors, rather than the funds' past performance, and that their recommendations have a significant effect on fund flows. However, we find no evidence that these recommendations add value, suggesting that the search for winners, encouraged and guided by investment consultants, is fruitless.

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Tax-Efficient Asset Management: Evidence from Equity Mutual Funds

Clemens Sialm & Hanjiang Zhang
NBER Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
Investment taxes have a substantial impact on the performance of taxable mutual fund investors. Mutual funds can reduce the tax burdens of their shareholders by avoiding securities that are heavily taxed and by avoiding realizing capital gains that trigger higher tax burdens to the funds' investors. Such tax avoidance strategies constrain the investment opportunities of the mutual funds and might reduce their before-tax performance. Our paper empirically investigates the costs and benefits of tax-efficient asset management based on U.S. equity mutual funds. We find that mutual funds that follow tax-efficient asset management strategies generate superior after-tax returns. Surprisingly, more tax-efficient mutual funds do not underperform other funds before taxes, indicating that the constraints imposed by tax-efficient asset management do not have significant performance consequences.

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Spillover Effects in Mutual Fund Companies

Clemens Sialm & Mandy Tham
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Our paper investigates spillover effects across different business segments of publicly traded financial conglomerates. We find that the investment decisions of mutual fund shareholders do not depend only on the prior performance of the mutual funds; they also depend on the prior performance of the funds' management companies. Flows into equity and bond mutual funds increase with the prior stock price performance of the funds' management companies after controlling for fund performance and other fund characteristics. The sensitivity of flows to the management company's performance is not justified by the subsequent performance of the affiliated funds. The results indicate that the reputation of a company's brand has a significant impact on the behavior of its customers.

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News Trading and Speed

Thierry Foucault, Johan Hombert & Ioanid Roşu
Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
We compare the optimal trading strategy of an informed speculator when he can trade ahead of incoming news (is "fast"), versus when he cannot (is "slow"). We find that speed matters: the fast speculator's trades account for a larger fraction of trading volume, and are more correlated with short-run price changes. Nevertheless, he realizes a large fraction of his profits from trading on long-term price changes. The fast speculator's behavior matches evidence about high frequency traders. We predict that stocks with more informative news are more liquid even though they attract more activity from informed high frequency traders.

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Do Stock Analysts Influence Merger Completion? An Examination of Postmerger Announcement Recommendations

David Becher, Jonathan Cohn & Jennifer Juergens
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates the effects of analyst recommendations issued after a merger announcement on deal completion. We find the probability of completion increases (decreases) with the favorability of acquirer (target) recommendations. Results from instrumental variables tests support causality running from recommendations to merger outcomes. Additional tests suggest that these relations are driven by target shareholders reassessing the merger offer in response to movements in acquirer and target valuations. We also find that favorably recommended firms in a proposed merger underperform following deal resolution, suggesting that investors overreact to postmerger announcement recommendations.

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Hoard Behavior and Commodity Bubbles

Harrison Hong, Áureo de Paula & Vishal Singh
NBER Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
Hoarding by large speculators is often blamed for contributing to commodity market panics and bubbles. Using supermarket scanner data on US household purchases during the 2008 Rice Bubble, we show that hoarding is in fact more systemic, affecting even households who have no resale motive. Export bans led to a spike in prices worldwide in the first half of 2008, which spilled over into US markets. Anticipating shortages, US households with previous purchases of rice, especially those of Asian ethnicity, nearly doubled their buying around the peak of the bubble. We document transmission mechanisms through over-extrapolation from high prices and contagion, as many households bought rice for the first and last time during the bubble.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Foreign to me

Heterogeneity of long-history migration explains cultural differences in reports of emotional expressivity and the functions of smiles

Magdalena Rychlowska et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 12 May 2015, Pages E2429-E2436

Abstract:
A small number of facial expressions may be universal in that they are produced by the same basic affective states and recognized as such throughout the world. However, other aspects of emotionally expressive behavior also vary widely across culture. Just why do they vary? We propose that some cultural differences in expressive behavior are determined by historical heterogeneity, or the extent to which a country's present-day population descended from migration from numerous vs. few source countries over a period of 500 y. Our reanalysis of data on cultural rules for displaying emotion from 32 countries [n = 5,340; Matsumoto D, Yoo S, Fontaine J (2008) J Cross Cult Psychol 39:55-74] reveals that historical heterogeneity explains substantial, unique variance in the degree to which individuals believe that emotions should be openly expressed. We also report an original study of the underlying states that people believe are signified by a smile. Cluster analysis applied to data from nine countries (n = 726), including Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States, reveals that countries group into "cultures of smiling" determined by historical heterogeneity. Factor analysis shows that smiles sort into three social-functional subtypes: pleasure, affiliative, and dominance. The relative importance of these smile subtypes varies as a function of historical heterogeneity. These findings thus highlight the power of social-historical factors to explain cross-cultural variation in emotional expression and smile behavior.

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Does It Matter Where You Came From? Ancestry Composition and Economic Performance of U.S. Counties, 1850-2010

Scott Fulford, Ivan Petkov & Fabio Schiantarelli
Boston College Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
The United States provides a unique laboratory for understanding how the cultural, institutional, and human capital endowments of immigrant groups shape economic outcomes. In this paper, we use census micro-sample information to reconstruct the country-of-ancestry distribution for US counties from 1850 to 2010. We also develop a county-level measure of GDP per capita over the same period. Using this novel panel data set, we investigate whether changes in the ancestry composition of a county matter for local economic development and the channels through which the cultural, institutional, and educational legacy of the country of origin affects economic outcomes in the US. Our results show that the evolution of the country-of-origin composition of a county matters. Moreover, the culture, institutions, and human capital that the immigrant groups brought with them and pass on to their children are positively associated with local development in the US. Among these factors, measures of culture that capture attitudes towards cooperation play the most important and robust role. Finally, our results suggest that while fractionalization of ancestry groups is positively related with county GDP, fractionalization in attributes such as trust, is negatively related to local economic performance.

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Culture and current account balances

Mika Nieminen, Kari Heimonen & Esa Mangeloja
Applied Economics Letters, Summer 2015, Pages 886-890

Abstract:
This article contributes to the literature of current account balances by introducing cultural variables that until now have been omitted. The World Values Survey indicates that the Roman Catholics do not consider thrift as important as others. We propose that Catholic countries tend to run current account deficits. This result remains robust even if we control for close to all of the determinants that have been included in previous studies. We find evidence that the inclination of Catholic countries to have high levels of uncertainty avoidance goes to a great length in explaining the result.

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Risk taking in adversarial situations: Civilization differences in chess experts

Philippe Chassy & Fernand Gobet
Cognition, August 2015, Pages 36-40

Abstract:
The projections of experts in politics predict that a new world order will emerge within two decades. Being multipolar, this world will inevitably lead to frictions where civilizations and states will have to decide whether to risk conflict. Very often these decisions are informed if not taken by experts. To estimate risk-taking across civilizations, we examined strategies used in 667,617 chess games played over ten years by chess experts from 12 different civilizations. We show that some civilizations are more inclined to settle for peace. Similarly, we show that once engaged in the battle, the level of risk taking varies significantly across civilizations, the boldest civilization using the riskiest strategy about 35% more than the most conservative civilization. We discuss which psychological factors might underpin these civilizational differences.

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National Culture and Home Advantage in Football

Garry Gelade
Cross-Cultural Research, July 2015, Pages 281-296

Abstract:
This article examines home advantage (HA) in association football (soccer). HA is the tendency for teams to perform better when playing on their home ground than when playing away. National variations in HA are found to be related to national cultural and social characteristics. HA tends to be elevated in countries with high levels of collectivism and in-group favoritism, and in countries where governance is prone to corruption and where the rule of law is not strictly adhered to. These findings are consistent with the concept of HA as a social phenomenon that derives from the influence of spectators on the match officials. HA is also found to be elevated in countries with diverse terrain, but the effects of culture persist even when diversity of terrain is controlled for. On the other hand, the hypothesis that HA is elevated in the presence of large crowds or potentially violent spectators was not supported.

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The Mesh of Civilizations in the Global Network of Digital Communication

Bogdan State et al.
PLoS ONE, May 2015

Abstract:
Conflicts fueled by popular religious mobilization have rekindled the controversy surrounding Samuel Huntington's theory of changing international alignments in the Post-Cold War era. In The Clash of Civilizations, Huntington challenged Fukuyama's "end of history" thesis that liberal democracy had emerged victorious out of Post-war ideological and economic rivalries. Based on a top-down analysis of the alignments of nation states, Huntington famously concluded that the axes of international geo-political conflicts had reverted to the ancient cultural divisions that had characterized most of human history. Until recently, however, the debate has had to rely more on polemics than empirical evidence. Moreover, Huntington made this prediction in 1993, before social media connected the world's population. Do digital communications attenuate or echo the cultural, religious, and ethnic "fault lines" posited by Huntington prior to the global diffusion of social media? We revisit Huntington's thesis using hundreds of millions of anonymized email and Twitter communications among tens of millions of worldwide users to map the global alignment of interpersonal relations. Contrary to the supposedly borderless world of cyberspace, a bottom-up analysis confirms the persistence of the eight culturally differentiated civilizations posited by Huntington, with the divisions corresponding to differences in language, religion, economic development, and spatial distance.

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Redistribution and Group Participation: Comparative Experimental Evidence from Africa and the UK

Marcel Fafchamps & Ruth Vargas Hill
NBER Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
We design an original laboratory experiment to investigate whether redistributive actions hinder the formation of Pareto-improving groups. We test, in an anonymous setting with no feedback, whether people choose to destroy or steal the endowment of others and whether they choose to give to others, when granted the option. We then test whether subjects join a group that increases their endowment but exposes them to redistribution. We conduct the experiment in three very different settings with a priori different norms of pro-social behavior: a university town in the UK, the largest urban slum in Kenya, and rural Uganda. We find a lot of commonality but also large differences between sites. UK subjects behave in a more selfish and strategic way -- giving less, stealing more. Kenyan and Ugandan subjects behave in a more altruistic and less strategic manner. However, pro-social norms are not always predictive of joining behavior. African subjects are less likely to join a group when destruction or stealing is permitted. It is as if they are less trusting even though they are more trustworthy. These findings contradict the view that African current underdevelopment is due to a failure of generalized morality.

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Exposure to Television and Individual Beliefs: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Tanja Hennighausen
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does the information provided by mass media have the power to persistently affect individual beliefs about the drivers of success in life? To answer this question empirically, this contribution exploits a natural experiment on the reception of West German television in the former German Democratic Republic. After identifying the impact of Western television on individual beliefs and attitudes in the late 1980s, longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel is used to test the persistence of the television effect on individual beliefs during the 1990s. The empirical findings indicate that Western television exposure has made East Germans more inclined to believe that effort rather than luck determines success in life. Furthermore, this effect still persists several years after the German reunification.

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Relationship Standards and Satisfaction in Chinese, Western, and Intercultural Chinese-Western Couples in Australia

Danika Hiew et al.
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, June 2015, Pages 684-701

Abstract:
This study compared the endorsement of Chinese and Western relationship standards by Chinese, Western, and intercultural Chinese-Western couples. All couples were living in Australia. Couples' relationship standards differed in line with predictions. Western couples rated intimacy and the demonstration of love and caring (assessed by the Couple Bond scale) as more important for a successful couple relationship than Chinese couples. Chinese couples rated relations with the extended family, relational harmony, face maintenance, and traditional gender roles (assessed by the Family Responsibility scale) as more important than Western couples. Intercultural couples endorsed the standards to an extent that was intermediate between the Chinese and Western couples. Cultural differences were smaller on Couple Bond standards (small to medium effects) than on Family Responsibility standards (medium to large effects). Almost all cultural combinations of partners shared greater similarity on Couple Bond and Family Responsibility standards than would be expected by chance, with the notable exception that Chinese women's standards were less similar to their male partner's standards than was the case for Western women. Across cultural combinations of partners, high endorsement of Couple Bond standards, low endorsement of Family Responsibility standards, and high agreement between partners on both standards predicted high relationship satisfaction. Our results suggest that partner selection and convergence on relationship standards are important avenues for future research.

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Competence Judgments Based on Facial Appearance Are Better Predictors of American Elections Than of Korean Elections

Jinkyung Na et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Competence judgments based on facial appearance predict election results in Western countries, which indicates that these inferences contribute to decisions with social and political consequence. Because trait inferences are less pronounced in Asian cultures, such competence judgments should predict Asian election results less accurately than they do Western elections. In the study reported here, we compared Koreans' and Americans' competence judgments from face-to-trait inferences for candidates in U.S. Senate and state gubernatorial elections and Korean Assembly elections. Perceived competence was a far better predictor of the outcomes of real elections held in the United States than of elections held in Korea. When deciding which of two candidates to vote for in hypothetical elections, however, Koreans and Americans both voted on the basis of perceived competence inferred from facial appearance. Combining actual and hypothetical election results, we conclude that for Koreans, competence judgments from face-to-trait inferences are critical in voting only when other information is unavailable. However, in the United States, such competence judgments are substantially important, even in the presence of other information.

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English as a gatekeeper: Inequality between Jews and Arabs in access to higher education in Israel

Yariv Feniger & Hanna Ayalon
International Journal of Educational Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Access to the universities and many colleges in Israel is conditioned on the attainment of a specific matriculation certificate that includes a passing grade in advanced level English. Arab students in Israel are required to study English in addition to Arabic and Hebrew, unlike Jewish students, who are not obliged to take a second foreign language in addition to English. This puts Arab students in an inferior position. An analysis of a large sample of high school graduates showed that the English requirement incurs larger gaps than two other subjects that were examined: history and math. Logistic regression models confirmed that the gaps in meeting the English requirement can help explain the Jewish-Arab discrepancy in enrollment in higher education.

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A Cross-Cultural Examination of the Disjuncture Between Aspirations and Expectations/Perceived Outcomes: Strain and Academic Deviance in the United States and Japan

Miyuki Fukushima Tedor, Susan Sharp & Emiko Kobayashi
Sociological Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using comparable self-reported survey data collected among college students in the United States (n = 502) and Japan (n = 441), this study examines a paradox of higher academic deviance among otherwise more conforming Japanese youth while revisiting the debate concerning the disjuncture between aspirations and expectations/perceived outcomes in Agnew's general strain theory (GST). Confirming the paradox, our results indicate that Japanese students are significantly more deviant academically than American students. However, contrary to the expectation of GST, but in support of past empirical studies, the higher academic deviance among the Japanese, as compared to Americans, is explained by their lower aspirations, irrespective of the levels of expectations/perceived outcomes.

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To Lend Helping Hands: In-Group Favoritism, Uncertainty Avoidance, and the National Frequency of Pro-Social Behaviors

Peter Smith
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Nation-level differences in individuals' reports of helping strangers, donating money to charity, and volunteering time were analyzed, drawing on nationally representative survey data from 135 nations. Frequency of these three behaviors yielded a reliable index of pro-social behavior. All three behaviors were found to be more frequent in nations that score low on an index of in-group favoritism and score low on uncertainty avoidance. Helping a stranger was also more frequent in nations with greater income inequality. The use of a wide sample of nations provides a more valid understanding of what kinds of cultures favor pro-social actions and indicates that national wealth is a less important contributor to the differences that are found than is the case in other aspects of cultural difference.

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Event representations constrain the structure of language: Sign language as a window into universally accessible linguistic biases

Brent Strickland et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 12 May 2015, Pages 5968-5973

Abstract:
According to a theoretical tradition dating back to Aristotle, verbs can be classified into two broad categories. Telic verbs (e.g., "decide," "sell," "die") encode a logical endpoint, whereas atelic verbs (e.g., "think," "negotiate," "run") do not, and the denoted event could therefore logically continue indefinitely. Here we show that sign languages encode telicity in a seemingly universal way and moreover that even nonsigners lacking any prior experience with sign language understand these encodings. In experiments 1-5, nonsigning English speakers accurately distinguished between telic (e.g., "decide") and atelic (e.g., "think") signs from (the historically unrelated) Italian Sign Language, Sign Language of the Netherlands, and Turkish Sign Language. These results were not due to participants' inferring that the sign merely imitated the action in question. In experiment 6, we used pseudosigns to show that the presence of a salient visual boundary at the end of a gesture was sufficient to elicit telic interpretations, whereas repeated movement without salient boundaries elicited atelic interpretations. Experiments 7-10 confirmed that these visual cues were used by all of the sign languages studied here. Together, these results suggest that signers and nonsigners share universally accessible notions of telicity as well as universally accessible "mapping biases" between telicity and visual form.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, June 1, 2015

Position of authority

A decline in prosocial language helps explain public disapproval of the US Congress

Jeremy Frimer et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 26 May 2015, Pages 6591-6594

Abstract:
Talking about helping others makes a person seem warm and leads to social approval. This work examines the real world consequences of this basic, social-cognitive phenomenon by examining whether record-low levels of public approval of the US Congress may, in part, be a product of declining use of prosocial language during Congressional debates. A text analysis of all 124 million words spoken in the House of Representatives between 1996 and 2014 found that declining levels of prosocial language strongly predicted public disapproval of Congress 6 mo later. Warm, prosocial language still predicted public approval when removing the effects of societal and global factors (e.g., the September 11 attacks) and Congressional efficacy (e.g., passing bills), suggesting that prosocial language has an independent, direct effect on social approval.

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Is the Revolving Door of Washington a Back Door to Excess Corporate Returns?

Mehmet İhsan Canayaz, Jose Vicente Martinez & Han Ozsoylev
University of Oxford Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
In this paper, we look into the so-called "revolving door of Washington", which is the movement of individuals between federal government positions and jobs in the private sector, and examine its link to long-run stock returns. We find that firms where current public officials become future employees outperform other firms by a statistically significant 7.43% per year in terms of four-factor alpha. This result is robust to different weighting methodologies and risk adjustments, and to plausible reverse causality arguments. We also show that firms receive more valuable government contracts from a government agency when a future firm employee is holding a post at that agency. Such financial gains are significantly reduced during periods in which presidential executive orders restrict revolving door movements. Our results are consistent with the notion that some public officials could be favoring certain companies while in office with a view to gaining future corporate employment.

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Meet the Press or Meet the Men? Examining Women's Presence in American News Media

Gail Baitinger
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why are women still a minority presence in American news media? Some accounts attribute the dearth of women as political newsmakers to sexism, but journalistic norms to attain the best source for a story suggest that sex should be irrelevant. To date, however, no study has systematically tested these competing hypotheses. Based on a new, original data set of more than 4,200 appearances by elected officials and non-elected political actors on the Sunday morning talk shows, I find that female elected officials, journalists, and political activists appear as guests less frequently than men do. But the gender gap does not result from overt sexism. Rather, the characteristics that contribute to repeated appearances on Sunday morning are consistent with journalistic norms to provide balance and credibility in reporting. Because there are few women in the positions and professions from which guests are selected, though, these norms also perpetuate a gendered news environment.

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Why So Few (Republican) Women? Explaining the Partisan Imbalance of Women in the U.S. Congress

Danielle Thomsen
Legislative Studies Quarterly, May 2015, Pages 295-323

Abstract:
This article examines why the percentage of Democratic women in Congress has increased dramatically since the 1980s while the percentage of Republican women has barely grown. The central claim is that ideological conformity with the party influences the decision to run for office, and I suggest that partisan polarization has discouraged ideological moderates in the pipeline from pursuing a congressional career. The findings have gendered implications because, first, Republican women in the pipeline have historically been to the left of their male counterparts, and second, there is a dearth of conservative women in the pipeline.

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Campaign Contributions Facilitate Access to Congressional Officials: A Randomized Field Experiment

Joshua Kalla & David Broockman
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Concern that donations to political campaigns secure preferential treatment from policy makers has long occupied judges, scholars, and the public. However, the effects of contributions on policy makers' behavior are notoriously difficult to assess. We present the first randomized field experiment on the topic. The experiment focuses on whether contributions facilitate access to influential policy makers. In the experiment, a political organization attempted to schedule meetings between 191 congressional offices and the organization's members in their districts who were campaign donors. However, the organization randomly assigned whether it revealed to congressional offices that prospective attendees had contributed to campaigns. When informed prospective attendees were political donors, senior policy makers made themselves available between three and four times more often. These findings underscore concerns about the Supreme Court's recent decisions deregulating campaign finance.

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Does Economics Make Politicians Corrupt? Empirical Evidence from the United States Congress

René Ruske
Kyklos, May 2015, Pages 240-254

Abstract:
The present article analyzes the differences between economists and non-economists with respect to observed corruption behavior used as a proxy for selfishness. For this purpose, I analyzed real world data of relating to the 109th-111th US Congress between 2005 and 2009, including 695 representatives and senators. I show that those who hold a degree in economics are significantly more prone to corruption than 'non-economists'. These findings hence support the widespread, but controversial hypothesis in the 'economist vs. non-economist literature' that economists lack what Frey and Meier (2004) call 'social behavior'. Moreover, by using real world data, these findings overcome the lack of external validity, which impact on the (low cost) experiments and surveys to date.

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How Do Public Goods Providers Play Public Goods Games?

Daniel Butler & Thad Kousser
Legislative Studies Quarterly, May 2015, Pages 211-240

Abstract:
We study how policymakers play public goods games, and how their behavior compares to the typical subjects we study, by conducting parallel experiments on college undergraduates and American state legislators. We find that the legislators play public goods games more cooperatively and more consistently than the undergraduates. Legislators are also less responsive to treatments that involve social elements but are more likely to respond to additional information that they receive. Further, legislators' fixed characteristics explain much of the variation in how legislators play the game. We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding how institutions affect the provision of public goods.

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The Dysfunctional Congress

Sarah Binder
Annual Review of Political Science, 2015, Pages 85-101

Abstract:
Is the US Congress dysfunctional? The American public thinks so: In the summer of 2014, just 7% approved strongly of Congress (Riffkin 2014). Still, legislative scholars disagree about the severity of Congress's legislative challenges. Is legislative deadlock a sign that Congress can no longer identify and resolve major public problems? Or are Congress's difficulties temporary and correctable? In this article, I review theoretical and empirical literatures on the dynamics of lawmaking and evaluate alternative methods for testing lawmaking theories. Finally, I draw on recent research to put contemporary stalemate into historical perspective. I argue that even when Congress and the president have reached agreement on the big issues of the day, Congress's problem-solving capacity appears to have fallen to new lows in recent years. Whether and how well our political system can or will self-correct in the coming years remains an open question.

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Congressional dysfunction: An information processing perspective

Jonathan Lewallen, Sean Theriault & Bryan Jones
Regulation & Governance, forthcoming

Abstract:
The public's approval of Congress is at an all time low. The parties seem to have taken the legislative process hostage for their own electoral gain. Whereas traditional arguments about congressional dysfunction focus on polarized voting coalitions or outputs - particularly legislation - in this article we highlight congressional information processing and how it has changed in this highly partisan era. By coding congressional hearings according to the kind of information on which they focus, we find that members of Congress are receiving one-sided information to a greater degree and are spending less time learning about potential solutions. We use these results to make numerous recommendations for improving how Congress gathers its information.

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Divided Government and the Fragmentation of American Law

Sean Farhang & Miranda Yaver
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate institutional explanations for Congress's choice to fragment statutory frameworks for policy implementation. We argue that divided party government, which fuels legislative-executive conflict over control of the bureaucracy, motivates Congress to fragment implementation power as a strategy to enhance its control over implementation. We develop a novel measure of fragmentation in policy implementation, collect data on it over the period 1947-2008, and test hypotheses linking separation-of-powers structures to legislative design of fragmented implementation power. We find that divided party government is powerfully associated with fragmentation in policy implementation, and that this association contributed to the long-run growth of fragmentation in the postwar United States. We further find that legislative coalitions are more likely to fragment implementation power in the face of greater uncertainty about remaining in the majority.

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Political Connections, Incentives and Innovation: Evidence from Contract-Level Data

Jonathan Brogaard, Matthew Denes & Ran Duchin
University of Washington Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
This paper studies the relation between corporate political connections and the allocation, design, and outcomes of government contracts. Using hand-collected data on federal procurement contracts, we find that connected firms are 10% more likely to win a contract. Connected firms receive larger contracts, with longer durations and weaker incentive structures. Politically-connected firms are also more likely to increase contract amounts and extend deadlines through contract renegotiations. While government contracts enhance firm-level innovation on average, political connections and weak contractual incentives are associated with less innovation, as measured by patents and patent citations. Overall, we show that connections between firms and politicians are associated with distortions in contract allocation and design.

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A Structural Model of Electoral Accountability

Boragan Aruoba, Allan Drazen & Razvan Vlaicu
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
This paper proposes a structural approach to measuring the effects of electoral accountability. We estimate a political agency model with imperfect information in order to identify and quantify discipline and selection effects, using data on U.S. governors for 1982-2012. We find that the possibility of reelection provides a significant incentive for incumbents to exert effort. We also find a selection effect, although it is weaker in terms of its effect on average governor performance. According to our model, the widely-used two-term regime improves voter welfare by 4.2% compared to a one-term regime, and find that a three-term regime may improve voter welfare even further.

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How Policy and Procedure Shape Citizens' Evaluations of Senators

David Doherty
Legislative Studies Quarterly, May 2015, Pages 241-272

Abstract:
I report findings from survey experiments that improve our understanding of how people want individual Senators to approach their role as representatives. The findings show that people are committed to the idea that Senators should prioritize their states' preferences over those of the national public. This preference persists in situations where a Senator's advocacy for her state plays a key role in defeating nationally supported legislation. This finding contradicts popular claims that voters are hungry for Senators who prioritize national preferences over those of their constituents. I also find that people who support a piece of legislation - but not those who oppose it - evaluate a Senator who helps to defeat the legislation by filibustering substantially less favorably than one who accomplishes the same ends through majoritarian means. This suggests that how people respond to some procedural characteristics of politicians' behavior depends on how they feel about the outcomes it yields.

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Taking Matters into Their Own Hands: Presidents' Personality Traits and the Use of Executive Orders

Maryann Gallagher & Bethany Blackstone
Presidential Studies Quarterly, June 2015, Pages 221-246

Abstract:
Existing studies of executive orders tend to focus on two issues: how the frequency of executive orders has changed over time and whether the nature of presidential power has changed such that we should reconsider Neustadt's thesis that bargaining is the essence of presidential power. Although institutionalists bemoan the literature's focus on the "personal presidency," no study of unilateral uses of power has taken into account the systematic influence of presidents' personalities. Instead, studies that consider why some presidents issue more executive orders than others focus on contextual factors, not attributes of the presidents. In this article we address this gap in the literature by examining whether presidents' personality traits significantly influence their propensity to issue executive orders. The results of our analysis demonstrate that both personality and institutional factors play a significant role in presidents' decisions to act unilaterally.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, June 1, 2015

Smart growth

One Century of Global IQ Gains: A Formal Meta-Analysis of the Flynn Effect (1909–2013)

Jakob Pietschnig & Martin Voracek
Perspectives on Psychological Science, May 2015, Pages 282-306

Abstract:
The Flynn effect (rising intelligence test performance in the general population over time and generations) varies enigmatically across countries and intelligence domains; its substantive meaning and causes remain elusive. This first formal meta-analysis on the topic revealed worldwide IQ gains across more than one century (1909–2013), based on 271 independent samples, totaling almost 4 million participants, from 31 countries. Key findings include that IQ gains vary according to domain (estimated 0.41, 0.30, 0.28, and 0.21 IQ points annually for fluid, spatial, full-scale, and crystallized IQ test performance, respectively), are stronger for adults than children, and have decreased in more recent decades. Altogether, these findings narrow down proposed theories and candidate factors presumably accounting for the Flynn effect. Factors associated with life history speed seem mainly responsible for the Flynn effect's general trajectory, whereas favorable social multiplier effects and effects related to economic prosperity appear to be responsible for observed differences of the Flynn effect across intelligence domains.

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The Origins of Counting Algorithms

Jessica Cantlon et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Humans' ability to count by verbally labeling discrete quantities is unique in animal cognition. The evolutionary origins of counting algorithms are not understood. We report that nonhuman primates exhibit a cognitive ability that is algorithmically and logically similar to human counting. Monkeys were given the task of choosing between two food caches. First, they saw one cache baited with some number of food items, one item at a time. Then, a second cache was baited with food items, one at a time. At the point when the second set was approximately equal to the first set, the monkeys spontaneously moved to choose the second set even before that cache was completely baited. Using a novel Bayesian analysis, we show that the monkeys used an approximate counting algorithm for comparing quantities in sequence that is incremental, iterative, and condition controlled. This proto-counting algorithm is structurally similar to formal counting in humans and thus may have been an important evolutionary precursor to human counting.

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Cognitive Aging in Older Black and White Persons

Robert Wilson et al.
Psychology and Aging, forthcoming

Abstract:
During a mean of 5.2 years of annual follow-up, older Black (n = 647) and White (n = 647) persons of equivalent age and education completed a battery of 17 cognitive tests from which composite measures of 5 abilities were derived. Baseline level of each ability was lower in the Black subgroup. Decline in episodic and working memory was not related to race. Decline in semantic memory, perceptual speed, and visuospatial ability was slower in Black persons than White persons, and in semantic memory and perceptual speed this effect was stronger in older than younger participants. Racial differences persisted after adjustment for retest effects. The results suggest subtle cognitive aging differences between Black persons and White persons.

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What would Batman do? Self-distancing improves executive function in young children

Rachel White & Stephanie Carlson
Developmental Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This experimental research assessed the influence of graded levels of self-distancing – psychological distancing from one's egocentric perspective – on executive function (EF) in young children. Three- (n = 48) and 5-year-old (n = 48) children were randomly assigned to one of four manipulations of distance from the self (from proximal to distal: self-immersed, control, third person, and exemplar) on a comprehensive measure of EF. Performance increased as a function of self-distancing across age groups. Follow-up analyses indicated that 5-year-olds were driving this effect. They showed significant improvements in EF with increased distance from the self, outperforming controls both when taking a third person perspective on the self and when taking the perspective of an exemplar other (e.g., Batman) through role play. Three-year-olds, however, did not show increased EF performance as a function of greater distance from the self. Preliminary results suggest that developments in theory of mind might contribute to these age-related differences in efficacy. These findings speak to the importance of psychological distancing in the expression of conscious control over thought and action from a young age and suggest a promising new avenue for early EF intervention.

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Is Playing Video Games Related to Cognitive Abilities?

Nash Unsworth et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The relations between video-game experience and cognitive abilities were examined in the current study. In two experiments, subjects performed a number of working memory, fluid intelligence, and attention-control measures and filled out a questionnaire about their video-game experience. In Experiment 1, an extreme-groups analysis indicated that experienced video-game players outperformed nonplayers on several cognitive-ability measures. However, in Experiments 1 and 2, when analyses examined the full range of subjects at both the task level and the latent-construct level, nearly all of the relations between video-game experience and cognitive abilities were near zero. These results cast doubt on recent claims that playing video games leads to enhanced cognitive abilities. Statistical and methodological issues with prior studies of video-game experience are discussed along with recommendations for future studies.

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Functional role of frontal alpha oscillations in creativity

Caroline Lustenberger et al.
Cortex, June 2015, Pages 74–82

Abstract:
Creativity, the ability to produce innovative ideas, is a key higher-order cognitive function that is poorly understood. At the level of macroscopic cortical network dynamics, recent electroencephalography (EEG) data suggests that cortical oscillations in the alpha frequency band (8–12 Hz) are correlated with creative thinking. However, whether alpha oscillations play a fundamental role in creativity has remained unknown. Here we show that creativity is increased by enhancing alpha power using 10 Hz transcranial alternating current stimulation (10 Hz-tACS) of the frontal cortex. In a study of 20 healthy participants with a randomized, balanced cross-over design, we found a significant improvement of 7.4% in the Creativity Index measured by the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT), a comprehensive and most frequently used assay of creative potential and strengths. In a second similar study with 20 subjects, 40 Hz-tACS was used in instead of 10 Hz-tACS to rule out a general "electrical stimulation" effect. No significant change in the Creativity Index was found for such frontal gamma stimulation. Our results suggest that alpha activity in frontal brain areas is selectively involved in creativity; this enhancement represents the first demonstration of specific neuronal dynamics that drive creativity and can be modulated by non-invasive brain stimulation. Our findings agree with the model that alpha recruitment increases with internal processing demands and is involved in inhibitory top-down control, which is an important requirement for creative ideation.

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Association between perinatal methylation of the neuronal differentiation regulator HES1 and later childhood neurocognitive function and behavior

Karen Lillycrop et al.
International Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Background: Early life environments induce long-term changes in neurocognitive development and behaviour. In animal models, early environmental cues affect neuropsychological phenotypes via epigenetic processes but, as yet, there is little direct evidence for such mechanisms in humans.

Method: We examined the relation between DNA methylation at birth and child neuropsychological outcomes in two culturally diverse populations using a genome-wide methylation analysis and validation by pyrosequencing.

Results: Within the UK Southampton Women's Survey (SWS) we first identified 41 differentially methylated regions of interest (DMROI) at birth associated with child's full-scale IQ at age 4 years. Associations between HES1 DMROI methylation and later cognitive function were confirmed by pyrosequencing in 175 SWS children. Consistent with these findings, higher HES1 methylation was associated with higher executive memory function in a second independent group of 200 SWS 7-year-olds. Finally, we examined a pathway for this relationship within a Singaporean cohort (n = 108). Here, HES1 DMROI methylation predicted differences in early infant behaviour, known to be associated with academic success. In vitro, methylation of HES1 inhibited ETS transcription factor binding, suggesting a functional role of this site.

Conclusions: Thus, our findings suggest that perinatal epigenetic processes mark later neurocognitive function and behaviour, providing support for a role of epigenetic processes in mediating the long-term consequences of early life environment on cognitive development.

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Remembering to Prepare: The Benefits (and Costs) of High Working Memory Capacity

Lauren Richmond, Thomas Redick & Todd Braver
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, forthcoming

Abstract:
The dual mechanisms of control framework postulates that cognitive control can operate in 2 distinct modes: a "proactive" preparatory mode and a "reactive" wait-and-see mode. Importantly, the 2 modes are associated with both costs and benefits in cognitive performance. Here we explore this framework, in terms of its relationship with working memory capacity (WMC). We hypothesize that high-WMC individuals are more likely to utilize proactive control yielding not only benefits, but also specific costs to performance. Across 2 separate, large-sample experiments, healthy young adults performed different variants of the AX-Continuous Performance Test context processing task, a well-established probe of proactive and reactive cognitive control. In 2 experiments, WMC predicted both improvements and relative impairments in task performance in a manner that was consistent with usage of proactive control. These findings suggest that individuals differ in the degree to which they utilize proactive control based on WMC.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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